Pulse

Pulse by Edna Buchanan Read Free Book Online

Book: Pulse by Edna Buchanan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Edna Buchanan
across the sky. Cool, scattered raindrops began to fall. He was alone on the beach now, except for a lifeguard closeted in his pastel art deco station.
    More lightning. Frank never flinched. The storm’s awesome power thrilled him. The odds against being struck by lightning were huge, at least six hundred thousand to one, he knew. He was more likely to win the lottery or be mauled by a shark. The odds would be no consolation, of course, should a bolt seek him out. Even if he saw it coming at sixty thousand miles a second, he could never outdistance it. He could run, but he couldn’t hide. But he felt confident, almost cocky. God had granted him a new heart, a medical miracle, a new life. He certainly would not take it away now in a bolt from the blue.
    Frank turned to leave, then saw it. A small boat tossed viciously, out beyond the breakers, helplessly buffeted by the storm. A man stood precariously in the bow, waving both arms, signaling frantically.
    Jesus Christ, he thought. The guy’s in trouble. His cell phone was in the car blocks away. Rain pelted faster now. Frank jogged toward the lifeguard station, shouting, “Call the Coast Guard!”
    He nearly staggered up the wooden steps and pounded on the door. The window slid to one side with a gritty rasp.
    “What’s your problem, buddy?” The guard, snug and dry, eyed him suspiciously.
    Frank gasped for breath. His doctors should see him now, he thought. “Did you call the Coast Guard? That guy’s in trouble out there!”
    The guard’s blue eyes remained flat and uncomprehending. “What guy?”
    “The boat, goddammit! The boat!” He couldn’t help but see it. Frank turned in to the pounding rain to point back to where he had seen the floundering craft. All he saw was raging surf.
    “My God, he capsized.” He squinted, searching for a survivor in the water.
    The guard looked unperturbed, hunched in his Beach Patrol windbreaker. “I didn’t see anybody out there, and if I were you, buddy, I’d get off the beach in an electrical storm. It’s not safe.”
    “Are you crazy? Call the Coast Guard! He was right there.”
    The guard lifted his binoculars, focused, scanned, then shook his head and put them down.
    “I’m telling you, he was right out there. A small boat, about a sixteen-footer.” The needlelike downpour, hard and cold, soaked his shirt, slacks and shoes. This was not the soft, warm, splashy rain of summer. Lightning lit up the sky, thunder crashed.
    The guard picked up his walkie-talkie. “Randy, you see anything out there? Got a guy who claims he just saw a boat in trouble right here off forty-one.” He paused. “Yeah. Me too. Right.”
    He hit another button, apparently accessing a central frequency. “This is forty-one, anybody see a small boat in trouble offshore?”
    The replies were all negative.
    Wet to the skin, hair plastered flat, water cascading down his face, Frank knew how he must look to this stranger.
    “Listen,” the lifeguard shouted, over the sounds of the storm, “sometimes the waves are like clouds. You think you see things. Now, get off the beach, buddy, before you drown. You’re soaked.” He slammed the window shut.
    Gusts of wind-blasted rain nearly shoved Frank off balance as he went down the stairs. He stared at where he had last seen the doomed boater. Nothing but stormy sea. The stretch of beach that curved north toward the Fontainebleau was empty except for the raging surf.
    “You’d better make a report on this,” he shouted furiously, knowing his words would be drowned out by the wind and the rain, “ ‘cuz when that guy and his boat wash up onshore, ‘buddy,’ I’m turning you in!” His eyes stung and his shoes made squishing sounds as he slogged across the wet sand, climbed the steps to the boardwalk and trudged back to his car through the rain.
    He sat shivering in the Mercedes, his water-soaked clothes oozing onto the sculpted leather seats. His Italian-made shoes were ruined. Some poor son of

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