Kristen Chapter #20: Signs

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Published on 23.02.06 11:39 Age: 16 yrs

Letters : 18296 Words : 3120

By: Nemo

Kristen and Janet install the sign announcing the beach

“This end’s done,” Janet said.

Kristen cranked the socket wrench a couple times to snug up the second bolt on her end of the four-foot redwood signboard. She tugged firmly on the sign to test that it was securely fastened to the wooden upright. “Solid as a rock on this end,” she said with satisfaction.

“That’s good,” Janet said. She pulled something from the plastic tool bucket and offered it to Kristen. “Here are some little wooden plugs—you get four, and I get four. Stick them into the bolt holes, front and back. They make the sign look a little nicer, and they help keep the metal hardware from getting wet and rusting.”

Kristen pressed one of the wooden plugs into place. “Oh, I see!” she said. “The end of the plug makes it look like the sign’s joined together with wooden pegs instead of metal bolts,” she said, pushing another plug into a bolt hole with the heel of her hand. “I’ve always liked the fact that the Parks and Recreation Department uses these redwood signs. They stand out, and they really look nice.”

Kristen forced the final plug into its hole, and stepped back to admire her handiwork. She studied the sign, and frowned. She tilted her head back as her eyes followed the trail up the cliffside that towered before her. She looked back down at the sign. “Janet,” she asked, “are—are you sure it’s okay for us to go up like this?”

Janet worked the last of the wooden plugs into place on her end of the sign, and looked up. She followed Kristen’s worried gaze to the sign, which read “NUDITY PROHIBITED OFF BEACH.” Janet laughed and shook her head. “Don’t worry, Kristen,” she said. “The sign’s really more of a friendly reminder than a warning—after a day here, some people tend to forget that clothes are still the norm out in the so-called real world. The parking lot is Parks Department property, and the trees screen it from the highway. At Black Knife, it’s all clothing-optional.”

Kristen nervously looked up at the rugged cliff again. “Okay,” she said, “if you’re sure.”

“Well,” Janet said, “we’d better be getting up there. What do you want—the bucket or the water?”

“I’ll carry the water,” Kristen said. She picked up the large bota bag—a wineskin, really—that Janet had filled with water back at the lifeguard station, and slung its strap over her shoulder. “I’m so sick of carrying those buckets,” she said. “I feel like my shoulder’s about to come out of its socket.”

“Well, it’s a handy way to carry a random mish-mosh of stuff,” Janet said, putting her socket wrench into the plastic bucket and grabbing the bucket’s handle. “And this one’s really not that heavy. Go ahead and get one end of the other sign,” she said.

Kristen stepped over to the long signboard lying in the sand. This sign looked much like the one they had just put up. It was larger—about eight feet long—and it read, “NUDITY MANDATORY ON BEACH.” Janet had looped a short piece of rope through the bolt holes on each end of the sign, rigging up a pair of makeshift handles. Kristen picked up one end of the sign and laughed. “You know,” she said, “if this sign had been up when I came out here on Saturday, I never would have come down here.”

Janet laughed. “Too horrible to contemplate. You would probably be wearing clothes this very minute,” she said. “See? Ignorance is bliss.” She picked up the other end of the sign. “Ready, Kristen?” she asked. Kristen nodded. “Okay—forward, march!” Janet said, and the two women started climbing the long trail up to the parking lot, with Janet leading the way.

The steep trail was challenging under the best of circumstances. Laden as they were, with the long signboard between them, Kristen and Janet climbed in awkward fits and starts. The sign seemed to slap against Kristen’s thigh at every step. She felt she was more fortunate than Janet—with the water bag slung over her shoulder, at least she had one hand free to help maintain her balance.

As they struggled up the trail, Kristen studied rhythmic motions—the way the signboard swung from the rope handles, the way the bucket Janet carried rocked gently from its wire handle. She watched the way Janet’s naked body moved. The smooth rolling rhythm of the feminine gait was gone—well, not gone entirely, but drowned out by the struggle to maintain her balance and make her way over the uneven terrain. She watched the motion of Janet’s buttocks, and was intrigued by the way Janet flexed the muscles in her back as she moved. There was a fascinating interplay of forces at work here.

After a short time, Janet’s body was slick with sweat. Kristen looked down at her own body. Rivulets of perspiration rolled down over her breasts and stomach. Her pubic hair glistened with tiny dew-like beads of moisture. For a moment—a very brief moment—she again felt self-conscious, uneasy at the realization that she was fully exposed to all eyes.

When they reached the foot of one of the redwood staircases that connected parts of the trail, Janet lowered the bucket and the sign to the ground. “Let’s take a break,” she said, panting. She sat wearily on one of the steps. “Let me have some of that water,” she said.

Kristen put down her end of the sign and handed the water bag to Janet. Janet squirted some water into her mouth, swallowed, and sighed. “I wish there was an easier way to do this,” she said.

Kristen accepted the water bag from Janet, and took a drink. “Why don’t they just put a little shed up at the edge of the parking lot, and keep some of this stuff up there?” Kristen asked.

“I guess they used to,” Janet said. “But during the off-season, vandals always broke into the shed and stole stuff. I suppose that sign would be a real prize on some frat boy’s wall. I guess it’s too much trouble for them to haul it up from the beach, but not too much trouble for us to haul it up and down every year.”

Kristen looked at the sign for a minute, deep in thought. “Do you have any more of that rope?” she asked.

“Plenty,” Janet said. “What you want to do—hang yourself?”

Kristen laughed. “It’s certainly not a glamour job, is it?” she said.

“Are you kidding?” Janet said, smiling. “Two hot naked chicks—how can it not be glamorous?”

“You’re right about the hot part,” Kristen said, wiping sweat from her brow. “It must be 90 degrees out here. But we’re not really naked, are we? We’re both wearing shoes.”

Janet laughed. “I’ve heard there’s nothing more glamorous than a woman wearing nothing but shoes. Oh—but I think they have to be stiletto heels,” she said.

Kristen snickered. “Are they wearing high-heeled shoes on Baywatch now?” she asked.

“It wouldn’t surprise me,” Janet said. “Maybe Pam Anderson can get heel implants.”

Kristen guffawed. “The world’s first totally bionic woman,” she said.

Janet pulled a coil of thin rope from the plastic bucket. “So, if you don’t want to hang yourself, what do you want the rope for?” she asked.

Kristen tried to subdue her mirth. “I was thinking,” she said, “if we could rig a couple strands of rope between the two ends of the sign, we could hang the bucket in the middle. Tie it in place, so it doesn’t slip back and forth as we go up the hill. It would balance the load better between us, and you would have a free hand to help you keep your balance.”

Janet furrowed her brow for a moment, then nodded. “It’s worth a try, at least.” She pulled a small utility knife from the bucket, and the two women set to work rigging up Kristen’s impromptu design.

“The bucket’s not going to swing too much, is it?” Janet asked.

“I don’t think so,” Kristen answered. “I’ve been watching the way the bucket moves, and it’s never come close to tipping over. It might swing a little more this way, but I think we’re safe.” She threaded the rope through one of the top holes on the sign and tied a knot, as Janet stood by and watched.

“I think this is a pretty glamorous job, Kristen,” Janet said. “I’ll bet you that if the guys who watch Baywatch could see the two of us now, they would switch over to the Black Knife Beach channel in a heartbeat.”

Kristen laughed. “I guess you’re right,” she said. “I’d tune in myself, if they had a Don-cam.”

“Kristen!” Janet said, “I’m surprised at you! You seemed so sweet and innocent!”

Kristen blushed. “I’m still sweet and innocent,” she said. “But I’m a growing girl. And I’m starting to notice some things that I hadn’t noticed before. Did you see his shoulders?”

Janet smiled and nodded gently. “Yes, I’ve seen his shoulders,” she said.

Kristen looked at her fingers. “I helped him put sunscreen on his back this morning. Those muscles are so hard! And I could feel his body heat. Very hot.”

“Don definitely has the looks,” Janet said. “He’s actually had a few assignments as a male model. What did you think of the other two guys?”

“The other two guys?” Kristen said. “Oh—I didn’t really pay much attention to the old guy, uh, Richard.”

“The old guy?” Janet said. “He’s just thirty years old.”

“Well, that’s pretty old,” Kristen said. “George is a nice-looking guy, but nothing like Don. And is it just me, or is there something kind of pathetic about George?”

Janet was laughing. “You’re amazing, Kristen,” she said. “Your razor-sharp insight has penetrated right to the very surface of the matter. It’s like X-ray vision in reverse.”

“Oh, give me a break,” Kristen chuckled. “It’s not like I said I was going to marry Don, or anything like that. I’ve barely met these guys. I don’t know anything about them but what’s on the surface.”

“Okay,” Janet said. “Here’s a little clue about what’s under the surface. Richard is the best lifeguard you’re ever likely to meet. He’s in great shape—for the things that matter, he’s in a lot better shape than Don or anybody else here—and he’s smart. Very smart. It’s like he has a sixth sense or something—he can spot trouble before it happens, and he’s great at showing up in the right place at the right time. Pay close attention to Richard, and you’re going to learn a lot.”

Kristen nodded. “Okay,” she said.

“Another interesting fact about Richard is that he’s rich,” Janet continued. “He made a fortune seven or eight years ago from some computer software thing he wrote. He owns a lot of real estate around here, too. He doesn’t have to work another day in his life, but he keeps coming back to Black Knife Beach because he likes it.”

Kristen threaded a strand of rope through the bucket handle, and tied a loose knot around the handle.

“Now, George doesn’t seem to care at all about material things,” Janet said. “He doesn’t have much, and he doesn’t seem to want anything he doesn’t have.”

“Well, that’s smart,” Kristen said.

“You don’t realize what a rare quality that is until you run into someone who actually has it. Still waters run deep, you know?” Janet said. “I think George is a kind of philosopher, and there’s a lot more going on inside his head than you would think. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard him make some strange remark that seemed to come from out of the blue, and maybe even seemed a little stupid. And then a couple hours later, I would ‘get it,’ and realize that he had explained some complicated thing or solved some major problem in just a few words.”

“This should do it,” Kristen said, knotting the rope to one of the holes in the signboard. She looked up at Janet. “Why don’t you pick up that end, and we’ll see whether anything needs adjusting.”

“Okay,” Janet said, bending to pick up her end of the sign. Kristen lifted the opposite end of the sign. The bucket hung suspended just a few inches below the center of the sign. “Whoa!” Janet said. “You’ve got talent, girl!”

“Well,” Kristen laughed, “I’m glad you’re able to see past my dazzling surface beauty.”

“Okay, I deserved that,” Janet said, shaking her head.

“And speaking of seeing past dazzling surface beauty,” Kristen said, “what does Don do when he’s not working as a lifeguard?”

“He’s trying to break into show biz,” Janet said. “He wants to be a screen writer. Like a lot of people, he’s worked all sorts of jobs while trying to get his big break. I mentioned that he’s worked as a male model. And he’s been a waiter, a cab driver, a personal trainer—you name it.”

“A screen writer, eh?” Kristen said.

“A would-be screen writer,” Janet answered. “There is a difference.” She looked up the stairs to the next leg of the trail. “Ready to head on up, Kristen?” she asked.

Kristen slung the bota bag over her shoulder. “Ready when you are,” she said, and the two women resumed their climb.

After a few minutes, Janet looked back at Kristen. “This is working a lot better,” she said. “I think we’re making better progress now. Great idea, Kristen.”

“Thanks,” Kristen replied. “Uh, looks like we’re going to have company.” She saw two men dressed in black moving quickly along the trail higher up on the cliff. The men would pass them on the trail within a couple minutes.

“Oh, I see them,” Janet said cheerfully. “Ugh. I sure wouldn’t want to be dressed in black on a hot day like today.”

“Maybe that’s why they’re in such a hurry to get down to the beach,” Kristen said.

“I bet they wish they were liberated, like us,” Janet said.

Kristen fought the sense of uneasiness that was rising in the pit of her stomach. An encounter with clothed hikers on the trail was a new experience. She steeled her nerves. She had been through a lot of new experiences in the past few days, and she had come through them all just fine. She was with Janet. She was wearing her lifeguard cap. She was on the job. This first encounter would be fun.

They met the two men as they approached the foot of another wooden staircase. The men, dressed alike in black t-shirts and chinos, trotted down the steps, and stopped suddenly when they saw the two naked lifeguards. Janet and Kristen stepped to the side to let the men pass on the narrow path.

“Oh, ho!” said the older man, a stocky character of about thirty with a two-day stubble and beery breath. He made an exaggerated bow, and said, “Hello, ladies. My, you’re certainly looking lovely today.”

The second man looked about 19 or 20 years old. He was skinny, with yellow teeth, and his face was pocked with acne scars. He eyed the two nude women hungrily, and chortled stupidly. “Lookin’ good,” he said.

“Thanks,” Janet said, her voice tense. Kristen, confused, stood stiff and silent.

The older man looked at Kristen and let out a low whistle. “You must be new here,” he said. Kristen nodded. “Look,” the man said, pointing at Kristen. “She’s got a bunny tail.” Kristen’s face reddened.

The younger man ran his eyes over Kristen’s body and snickered. “I like bunnies,” he said.

“We’d love to stay and talk with you ladies, but we’ve gotta run,” the older man said. “Hope to see a lot more of you later.” He continued his walk down the trail, with the younger man following.

“Hey, Tone, there ain’t a lot more to see,” the younger man said, with a dirty snicker.

Kristen stood in stunned silence. Janet watched with a furrowed brow as the two men walked down the trail. After a moment, she leaned toward Kristen and asked “Do you recognize either of those guys?”

Kristen shook her head and looked at Janet. “Who—who are they?” she asked.

Janet bit her lower lip and slowly shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “I’m not sure. When we get back down there, I want to talk to Beth.” She stood for a long moment, watching the men making their way down the trail.

“Janet, what did he mean when he said I’ve got a bunny tail?” Kristen asked.

Janet looked at Kristen and gave her a reassuring smile. “It means you’ve got tan lines. It’s a way of telling a long-time nudist from a fresh convert.” She looked up the stairs. “Come on, Kristen,” she said. “Let’s go get this sign up.”

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