CHAPTER TWO

11/09/2015 


2.

 

Somewhere off highway 101, in the redwood forest north of San Francisco, you will find a place called Camp Galaxy. Or if it no longer exists, then you should find the remains of such a place. I should mention that the owner’s choice to brand it as such is perhaps the camp’s only actual connection to outer space.

Now for me nothing’s ever been really been easy, but nothing’s ever really been that hard either. I mean there are exceptions obviously, like with my stupid mental complex, but my family was rich, or decently rich, and I guess that gave me a bit of an ego, or at least when I first arrived at the camp, I didn’t really warm up to the other kids, or like any of them really, at all. At least not until later: after second day – after we all got into a brawl in the bunkhouse.

I can’t remember why we were fighting, I think somebody spilt a yogurt tube on somebody or something, but our counselor must have been nearby because he heard the noise and caught the end of the show. As consequence the seven of us were made to jump together into a very small and cold lake. Actually it was probably more of a pond, no doubt fed by a small mountain stream. It is important because the pond happened to be situated several yards to the side of one of the girls’ cabins. When the girls came out on their veranda, to see what was happening, they laughed at us, and it was in those moments that the seven of us bonded. You really have to give credit to that counselor. I can’t remember his name, but I’m sure he would have made an excellent candidate. But anyway that night after light out we devised our plan of vengeance – to get the girls back for their discourteous sniggering. The plan involved the soiling of their shoes, the ones left outside, the next day, during the break hour after lunch.

It had been a rainy week, and a muddy morning, and so our actions followed suit. There, kneeling carefully on the thin shore of the misty pond, our hands cupped mudcakes in bowls made from palm and finger. Then, at the steps of the veranda we crawled up slowly, silently, over rows of even wooden planks, so careful not to make a sound. We picked a pair and, with small grins of oversized teeth, filled their booties with our filthy gifts. I remember looking up, then, as a lacy curtain was pulled back, to reveal a face staring back at me through oily unwashed glass. It was Anne; in the first moment I ever saw her, rosy cheeks flushed red. Our eyes stayed locked like that for a curious and tepid moment, until she saw what I was doing, and then a frown crossed above her grey-blue eyes. After that she turned her head to shout something unheard, and in that instant the seven of us scrambled, giggling fiercely, in a mad dash to get off the deck, and back through the wet grass to the safety of our lodge.

Even better, and to our giddy pride, the event only seemed to amuse the grownups, the counselors, which thus only served to reinforce the resolution of our tribe. The girls were upset of course, at first, and they duly complained, but their anger did not last, as it did not take long for the washing machine promptly to clean and dry their shoes for them.

Two days later, during an activity course on the tightrope jungle, I asked a counselor to be excused back to the house to retrieve a sweater. I remember, as I walked back, seeing a chipmunk in the center of the road, nibbling away on something with great effort. I can remember that as I approached my thoughts wandered, pondering the cuteness of his species, how the coordinated stripes and spots that dressed his furry body seemed to outline a map of winsome decency. A naïve assessment on my part, for it was then that I realized the subject of his attention. There beneath him, lay not an acorn, but the flattened, dusty body of another, another chipmunk.

I can remember the corpse was more than a few weeks past its expiration, and had been ground into a dusty pancake by the weight of many tires, so much so that the only discernable trademark left was the dead creature’s tail. I watched the no longer cute but still-living chipmunk as it maneuvered the dead thing in its little hands, chewing at the base of tail in an anxious fury, as it attempted to separate a leathery meal from its companion. I walked slowly to the side so as not to scare him off, while close enough to still allow examination. He watched me carefully the whole time but never stopped chewing. At one point I could even hear the remains of a withered spine snapping under the grind of tiny teeth. Soon the tail separated, and then the rodent and his prize disappeared into the bushes. I scoffed at him, and then continued on down the road, with a sense of betrayal in my stomach, the reputation of all future chipmunks now held in peril of illusion.

Upon my return to the boy’s cabin, I found Anne making her way through the rows, as she distributed to each bed a portion of mud from a red bucket. She dropped the plastic cauldron when I caught her, and as she flinched and dropped the spatula, it flicked a spray of mud up across her neck. She froze, and once more our eyes locked, unsure as how to yet proceed.

When her eyes left mine, they moved behind me to the open door, whose metal handle still remained within my grasp. And so I closed the door behind me, her only exit, and leaned my back against it. She stood up straight, raising her two fists above her waist, whilst her flat chest inflated, perhaps in an attempt to intimidate, as an animal might when threatened. I decided to play the part, and so wore the bravado of a predator.

“What am I going to do with you?” I said as I cocked my head to one side.

“You’re going to let me go.” She demanded with shaking confidence.

“I don’t think so…” I looked at the bucket on the floor. Somehow it had remained upright. “I think that bucket would be more better on top your head.” I feigned my foot forward as a bluff. She flinched again, her hands pushing outwards to stop me, but I hadn’t actually moved, and we weren’t actually even very close. She was about the same size as me. There was no guarantee that I could take her in a fight. I was scared, but I could not let my fear show, and as of yet I did not want to let this strange encounter end.

Her demeanor changed, and she let her hand down to rest on the side of her hip, which now jutted out, in a relaxed pose.

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

“Hunh?” I said, caught off guard by the banal suggestion.

She stepped around the bucket, and then took one more cautious step forward. It was my turn to put my hand up to stop her advance. She was still about two yards away.

“I’ve never done that before.” I said uneasily.

“It’s easy, just pull down your pants.” Her voice sounded impatient.

“And my underwear?”

“Obviously.”

It occurred then to me how little interest I actually had in seeing a vagina. Hers, or anybody’s, and I found myself to far more curious about the oddity of her body’s language. But I remember thinking it would make a good story for my new friends.

“Common, don’t be a pussy.” She tapped her foot and played my pride.

I looked down to drop my pants, and back up in time to see her swing a leg, and her hard boot as it met my helpless groin, and then blinding pain as I fell over. When I opened my eyes again the door was closed, and she was gone. The shock subsided as an unwelcome disturbance welled within my abdomen. I worried briefly that my bits had been rendered useless, but a quick and painful examination revealed no visible damage. With a permanent grimace I maneuvered my back up against the corner of the wall, and with slow deliberation, returned my garments to their proper places. I finished, and exhaled deeply, then retrieved my sweater, and put it on only to find my body overheating. So I took it off, but kept it with me as I returned to join the others.