Kristen Chapter #4: On the Beach

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Published on 23.02.06 11:16 Age: 14 yrs

Letters : 14346 Words : 2417

By: Nemo

Kristen walks on the beach with Beth, and meet some of the regulars visiting prior to the opening

Beth moved into the doorway and gazed down the long stretch of white sand. “This is a beautiful beach,” she said, “probably one of the finest in the state.” Kristen stepped up to look out at the beach over Beth’s shoulder. Far down the beach she could see several people running about playfully. At this distance, she couldn’t be sure whether they were naked, too. There didn’t seem to be anyone else on the beach or in the water.

“For years,” Beth continued, “Black Knife Beach was deserted. It was too remote, and access was too difficult—and too dangerous.” She looked over her shoulder at Kristen. “If you think it was tough walking down the trail, you should have seen it before the trail was built. You practically needed to be a mountain climber.” She stepped just outside the office doorway and tilted her head back to look up the steep face of the cliff. Kristen moved into the doorway and leaned forward so that she could follow Beth’s gaze.

“Sometime in the 1950s—maybe even a little earlier—a small group of brave or foolhardy folks started coming down here and using the beach in the nude. It was illegal, strictly speaking, but they weren’t bothering anyone—there was no one here to take offense—and it was too difficult and expensive to get police down here to start making arrests, so the city ignored them. Live and let live.

“The nudists got together and did a lot of work to improve the access and make it easier and safer to get down to the beach. They built the first real trails, which are mostly gone now. That little ridge there,”—Beth moved a few steps farther from the building and pointed to a place high on the cliff, behind the lifeguard station—“is just about the only thing left.” Kristen craned her neck to see where Beth was pointing, but she kept her bare feet firmly planted on the door sill. The back of the building blocked her view of the ridge. She stole a quick glance down the beach, which was empty except for the small group in the distance. With a deep breath, Kristen stepped through the doorway and walked over to stand beside Beth, who had taken another couple steps away from the building. Kristen tilted her head back, and saw the small ridge where Beth was pointing.

“During the 1960s and 1970s, the beach started to get a reputation among nudists and hippies. Access had been improved enough that you no longer needed to be a mountain climber to get down here, and the beach started to attract larger crowds. A few politicians started complaining, and threatening arrests, but it was still too expensive for the city to enforce the anti-nudity laws here, so the nudists just ignored the uproar and continued to enjoy the beach.”

A gentle gust of wind moved across the beach. Kristen gasped as she felt the sea air moving over every inch of her body. For the first time she felt the wind against her stomach, her chest, her bare buttocks, moving between her legs and over her naked hips, even gently ruffling her pubic hair. “Oh, my!” she cried. It was as if she had never felt a breeze before.

Beth smiled broadly. “Nice, isn’t it?”

Suddenly self-conscious, Kristen looked nervously down the long stretch of empty beach. “Yes,” she said, blushing. “Very nice.”

“You know, nobody wants to be assigned to lifeguard duty on Black Knife Beach, except the people who have already worked here,” Beth said. “They never want to be assigned anywhere else.”

Kristen smiled meekly, embarrassed and confused by her own reaction.

Beth started to walk down the beach, very slowly. “About this time a new crowd started coming to the beach—the gawkers.”

“Gawkers?” Kristen repeated.

“That’s what the nudists called them. They would come down just to look—to gawk. They kept their clothes on, and lurked on the cliffs or among some of the boulders back here.” Beth indicated the field of rocky debris near the base of the cliff. “They brought binoculars and cameras with telephoto lenses, and they spied on the nudists on the beach. When the politicians got more worked up about the wicked, immoral nudists, the gawkers got bolder. They started coming right down onto the beach, making indecent advances, taking photos without asking permission, making rude and threatening remarks, and generally harassing the nudists. In part because the city couldn’t afford to put police on the beach, things got ugly—very ugly. One summer there was a series of terrible crimes on Black Knife Beach, all committed by gawkers against nudists. Something had to give.” Beth sighed and turned back toward Kristen.

Kristen walked quickly to catch up with Beth, who had moved about a dozen yards down the beach. “What happened?” she asked.

“They punished the victims. The politicians decided that Black Knife Beach had to be closed permanently. They sent city crews out to destroy the trails that the nudists had built. They wanted to make it impossible to get down to the beach. They passed new ordinances outlawing nudity specifically on Black Knife Beach, as if all the other anti-nudity laws weren’t enough. For a couple years, it seemed to work, but some of the braver nudists came back anyway. Because it was so difficult to get down to the beach, the gawkers stayed home, and the nudists were once again able to enjoy the beach peacefully.

“One summer, after heavy rains, several people were killed by a rock slide while they tried to climb down the cliff. There’s actually a little memorial plaque up here,” Beth said, quickening her pace as she walked toward a large boulder at the edge of the rocky debris field. Timidly, Kristen followed.

“The news caused a political scandal, since it was the city that had destroyed the safe trails.” Beth stopped near the large boulder, and pointed out a little metal plaque embedded in the rock, listing the names of the people who had been killed. “Embarrassed, the city sent out a crew to build the trail we have now. That’s when they put in the improvements—the restrooms, the parking lot—and that’s when the city started to provide lifeguard service on Black Knife Beach. The beach patrol came by a couple times a day. The beach was officially reopened, as a clothing-optional beach.”

“Clothing-optional?” Kristen asked.

“It meant that people could wear as much or as little as they chose. For the first time, nudity was officially legal on Black Knife Beach. Lifeguards had to stay in uniform—the same uniform they wore at every other city beach, park and pool.”

“Those were the good old days,” Kristen whispered. She cast another nervous glance down the long, nearly deserted beach.

“Unfortunately,” Beth said, “when the beach opened, the gawkers came back, too, in greater numbers than before. For a while, the presence of the lifeguards and the beach patrol seemed to keep them in line, but as time went by the gawkers grew more aggressive, and things started getting ugly again. Several times, lifeguards and members of the beach patrol were attacked when they tried to break up a bad situation. One member of the beach patrol had his neck broken when several gawkers ganged up on him.”

“Oh, my God!” Kristen gasped. The job was not just embarrassing, but dangerous.

 “Some politicians started talking again about outlawing nudity on Black Knife Beach,” Beth continued, “but everyone knew that it was the clothed gawkers, not the nudists, who were causing trouble. So the city council surprised everyone: instead of banning nudity, they made it mandatory. They felt it would scare the gawkers away. The lifeguards and the beach patrol kept their uniforms. Everyone else had to be naked.”

“Did it work? Did it get rid of the gawkers?” Kristen asked.

“Only for a few weeks. From time to time one or two gawkers would venture down. When a lifeguard challenged them, and told them to strip or get off the beach, the gawkers quickly tucked their tails between their legs and left. But slowly it dawned in their primitive little gawker brains that if the city hadn’t been able to enforce the anti-nudity laws, we couldn’t enforce the mandatory nudity law, either.

“One beautiful day, when there were over a thousand people enjoying the beach, a gang of about twenty gawkers came down together. They were looking for trouble, and everyone on the beach watched apprehensively. They were led by a particularly nasty character named Tony, who had already spent some time in jail because of his involvement in some of the earlier assaults.

“A young lifeguard named Lisa stepped forward to confront the gang. She was a petite girl, barely five feet tall, and very shy—like you. Her entire body was shaking, but she stood her ground. She planted her feet, put her hands on her hips, and with her voice trembling, told the gang that they would have to take off their clothes or get off the beach.

“People all along the beach watched the confrontation with a rising sense of dread. Tony spat on the ground and stepped forward, standing just inches in front of Lisa. ‘Listen, bitch,” he said, shoving Lisa back two or three steps, ‘we’ll take our clothes off when you take yours off first.’

“Frightened and trembling, Lisa stood there for a long moment. She didn’t back down. In a voice loud enough to be heard by many of the hundreds of people who watched in stunned silence, she said, ‘Fair enough!’ She quickly stripped off her lifeguard uniform. The crowd gasped, and Tony and his gang, amazed, shrunk back a few steps. ‘Okay,’ Lisa said, ‘now it’s your turn!’

“The gang seemed paralyzed. Tony’s face grew purple with rage. He burst forward and knocked Lisa to the ground. ‘The hell with you, slut!’ he screamed at the girl prone on the sand. He and his gang started to advance onto the beach, past Lisa. They stopped suddenly, surprised to find themselves surrounded by several hundred angry nudists.

“’You heard the young lady,’ someone said. ‘It’s your turn now. Get your clothes off!’”

Beth lowered her head, as if trying to remember something. “You know, I’m still not sure what happened to those gawkers’ clothes. They certainly weren’t wearing anything when they left the beach that day. And I don’t think any of them have ever come back.”

Kristen was stunned. “It sounds as if I should have dropped some swimming classes and signed up for martial arts training instead. Was Lisa okay?”

“Lisa was shaken up, but not hurt,” Beth said. “That afternoon, in recognition of Lisa’s bravery and in solidarity with the nudists who had come to her aid, the Black Knife Beach lifeguard crew voted unanimously to adopt our current uniforms. The city approved, and provided our caps so that people on the beach could identify the lifeguards. And that’s the story.”

Kristen’s knees felt weak. She was once again intensely conscious of the fact that she was outdoors, completely naked. She turned and looked back at the lifeguard station. To her surprise, she saw that she and Beth had walked more than a hundred yards down the beach. She turned and looked toward the small group at the other end of the beach. They were still some distance away, but she could now see clearly that they were all naked. Undoubtedly, they could see that she was naked, too. She started to tremble from a renewed wave of embarrassment.

Kristen hunched her shoulders and positioned her hands to try to cover as much of her nudity as possible. “Beth, I think we’d better go back now,” she said with a trembling voice. “I thinkI’ve done as much as I can for today.”

Beth looked at Kristen with a knowing smile. “A sudden flash of the heebie-jeebies, eh?” Kristen nodded meekly. “Well, going back is no cure. Walk it off!” Beth turned and started walking toward the water’s edge. With a forlorn sigh, and a wistful look back at the relative privacy of the lifeguard station, Kristen followed. She vainly tried to preserve her modesty by covering herself with her hands, but she quickly realized how ridiculous she must look, and gave it up.

Beth reached the water’s edge and turned, waiting for Kristen to catch up. As Kristen came near, Beth pointed into the water and said, “There’s a reef out here, and sometimes the currents can get a little tricky in this area. You’ll want to keep a sharp eye out here, especially during high tides.” Kristen stopped, a little startled by the sudden change of subject, and nodded.

All business now, Beth turned and started walking along the beach, pointing out offshore features and hazards. She showed Kristen one area near the cliff where there was still a danger of rock slides. “As much as possible, we try to keep people away from the cliff.” She pointed out the concrete block structure where the city had put water fountains and public restrooms. There were two entrances, marked “Men” and “Women.” “Everybody is naked,” Beth said, “but people don’t seem to be able to handle unisex bathrooms.” She shrugged.

Beth pointed out the two strategically located lifeguard towers. “I’ll show you the inside on Monday,” she said.

Kristen felt increasingly nervous as they walked ever closer to the small group of naked people at the end of the beach. The closer she got to them, the more she wanted to cover herself, and the more she realized how foolish she would look, trying to cover herself in this place.

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