Episode 8 – Accused

I return to the parking lot without Chandler.

“What happened?” Ben asks. “Where is he?”

“There’s been a slight disaster,” I confess…explain the whole ordeal.

“Christ!” Ben exclaims, “but no worries. You’ve got friends who’ll back you one hundred percent. Sue and Hadley are tight…I hear you’re a regular Casanova.”

“Thanks, but if those fuckers are determined to get me, I don’t want to drag you guys down.”

“No sweat. Hadley’s just as senior as Kyle.”

I’m feeling lower than whale shit, but we round up the campers and their luggage. Call their names to be sure we’ve got the right kids: Andy Cutler, Jason Feinstein, Drew McIntosh, Tommy Murphy, and Dean Vance. As we walk toward the cabin, Ben explains what’s where…the dining hall, arts and crafts, archery, tennis, the boathouse, and so on…I’m feeling blank, don’t say a word.

Ben slaps me on the back. “Cheer up, man. You’re not guilty of anything,” but I’m not so confident. Felt like a marked man since day one. “If I don’t see you after today, have a nice life,” I whisper.

Ben chuckles. “The death penalty is highly unlikely.”

It’s a surreal moment. As we walk along, the afternoon sun’s filtering through the trees. The lake’s filled with sailboats…people are out there without a care in the world.

As we approach the office, Kyle’s in the doorway. Wags his finger at me. “Get your ass in here.”

Ben leans toward me. “He’s definitely not a diplomat.”

“Tell me about it.”

I walk in. The mood’s somber. Everyone looks up expectantly, wondering if I’m some sort of monster. Chandler’s crying, Kyle’s trying to look bad ass, Sue’s frowning, and Alden Kramer’s stern, arms crossed.

“Jesse, we have a troubling situation to discuss,” Kramer says. “This boy has made serious allegations, and Kyle’s corroborated some details, but we need your side of the story.”

I explain exactly what happened. When I’m finished, they stare, frowns all around.

“So, that’s your version?” Kyle asks pointedly.

I shake my head in disgust. The guy’s such a fucking asshole. “No,” I correct him, “those are the facts.”

Alden Kramer cuts in. “The boy claims you showed him internet porn.”

I’m shocked. Glance at Chandler who’s staring at his sneakers. “That’s totally untrue.”

“But you’re gay, right?” Kyle asks, eyes filled with hate.

“Hold on, Kyle,” Kramer says. “Let’s not jump to conclusions. Your question is irrelevant.”

“I’m not jumping anywhere,” Kyle grumbles. “He might as well admit it. Have you heard the fashion shit he talks about?”

I step toward him. “What about it?” I’m ready for all-out war.

“It’s totally fucked up. This is a sports camp, in case you haven’t noticed.”

“Kyle!” Kramer exclaims. “You’re on shaky ground. Let me do the talking. Jesse, look at this incident from our standpoint. This boy has made accusations we must act on. If true, and I’m not saying they are, we have to take precautionary steps.”

“Look,” I say. “I haven’t done anything wrong. If you want character references, talk to Hadley, Sue and Ben. They’ll tell you I’m not a deviate, or whatever you think, but there are personal issues here that need to be dealt with. Chandler’s pretty stressed out.”

Kramer’s brushes the comment aside. “Whatever the circumstances, we have to inform the boy’s parents immediately, and Jesse, until we get to the bottom of this, you’ll need to stay in an empty cabin.”

I shrug. “Whatever.”

“Chandler’s parents will undoubtedly want him home. It’s a shame, because they were considering us for their three younger children.’

“I don’t wanna go home!” Chandler wails.

We turn to him. It’s obvious the kid needs help, but Kramer’s so focused on his own ass, he’s not thinking of anything else.

“It’s unlikely your family will let you stay,” Kramer says.

“Can’t I stay in a cabin that allows PC’s?” Chandler pleads.

“I’m afraid not, son.”

Chandler sobs. Shakes his head hopelessly.

“What do you want me?” I ask.

“Cabin 9’s empty,” Sue says. Her face is sad, troubled…obviously doesn’t know what to think. I’m a total unknown, so she probably thinks anything could be true. Hopefully, Ben and Hadley will convince her I’m okay.

“Can I at least stop and get my stuff?” I ask.

“Make it quick,” Kyle says.

I turn and walk out in the afternoon sunshine. The camp’s alive with laughter and excited voices, but I’m no longer part of it. Walk to cabin 6 and stare through the screen. Ben’s running through the next day’s schedule. Instead of going in, I sit on the steps feeling invisible…beyond, I hear the muffled pop of tennis balls, splashing water, feet pounding on the dock…Ben sticks his head out. “What’s up, man?” I give him the blow by blow. “That’s total crap!” He exclaims. “People are irrational about accusations like that.”

“No kidding.” I rest my head in my hands. What a fucking mess!

“Can you be arrested? Maybe you should call your parents before they hear from Kramer.”

“Shit! Let’s hope it doesn’t get that far! My reputation’d be ruined forever. I have no idea what my father would say. Growing up, we didn’t talk much. He was usually at the hospital, but even at home, he was totally preoccupied. My mother excused it…telling us what a great surgeon he was, how people depended on him, yada yada, but it was rough on my sisters and me. We were walking on egg shells when he was around.”

Ben pats me on the back. “Our kids are a good bunch. Hope you rejoin us soon.”

I nod. “Me too. Sue was at the office, but didn’t say much.”

“I’m sure she was as surprised as you. I’ll talk to her…Hadley as well.”

“Thanks.” I go inside and get my duffel. The kids are excited…want to do stuff with me. I tell them I have to go, but will be back in a day or two. They’re confused…but, so am I.

Ben shakes my hand. “I’ll let you know if I hear anything.”

“Thanks.” I shuffle down the steps feeling like there’s a curse on me.

To be continued…. Read next episode!