Duck Boat Captain Murph wants to know if I know CPR.
I say, “Not anymore.” Our local minor league team throws CPR Certification Night every May, and I did go once. I got to take the field. Two hundred CPR dummies lying ‘cross the outfield. Two hundred Good Samaritans and vile opportunists (admission was free for all who agreed to learn something new that night) wetting their knees in the grass. One lab-coated MC on the Jumbotron singing “Stayin’ Alive” and “Another One Bites the Dust” like this is line dancing, and when two hundred people are prompted to restart their partner’s heart and bend low for a kiss, and then another kiss, well, what else could it be?
But I was nine. I didn’t bring the $12 I needed for the CPR license and related paperwork. I remember that during an eighth-inning rain delay, a streaker slipped on the infield tarp and didn’t even end up needing CPR. I don’t remember the order of operations that will bring a beige and limbless man back from whatever comes next.
“We only consider applicants who can perform CPR,” says Duck Boat Captain Murph.
“Well that’s pretty stupid of you,” I tell him. I snatch my resume from his weathered seadog hands. We’re standing in the middle of a duck boat tour company parking lot that’s miles from either of our dirty city’s two proud rivers, but my resume is somehow soggy. “I will be taking my expertise elsewhere. And you suck. Your breath stinks like Taco Night.”
Only then I can’t leave, because three full duck boats pull into the lot and block my escape. The de-boarding tourists look overjoyed and windswept. Nobody looks seasick. Everyone has a yellow plastic duckbill-shaped kazoo lanyarded ‘round their neck. One little boy in a striped t-shirt and $35 Nationals hat blows his right in my face, one long and loud HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNK.
“All these people have life jackets,” I tell Duck Boat Captain Murph, “even the children and the babies and the olds.”
“What?” Duck Boat Captain Murph is no longer listening. There are kids who want him to sign their duckbills and parents who want him to supply restaurant recommendations.
I say to nobody, “Just makes knowing CPR unnecessary,” and turn away. I turn right into Nationals boy, the honker. He wants his duckbill signed. I am in his way. He raises the duckbill to his mouth again.
I lean in and whisper, “You will get hurt. You think a kid can’t get hurt but they can and they do, all the time and badly. You will get hurt and no adult—not even Mom or Dad—will know what to do. They will panic. They will break your ribs trying to save you. They will fail. You will die. Then you will be reborn a worm for ten-thousand lifetimes and in every one I will find and devour you because after I die, I swear, I will be reborn as one asshole of a goose.”