Episode 9 – Intruders
I plod to exile in the most isolated building at camp, Cabin 9, a dark, musty relic, hidden by overhanging pines. I stand on the doorstep, scanning the stacks of discarded bed frames, mattresses, chairs and miscellaneous shit. Mice skitter away. I walk to the mattresses. Can’t figure out why they’re saving shit so old and stained. I pick through, looking for one that isn’t totally disgusting. Hear creaking behind me. Start to turn as a blanket’s flung around me. “What the fuck!” Feel strong arms surrounding me, pushing me to the floor. My adrenaline’s surging…I kick and thrash to get free, but can’t see a thing…just hear voices…”Hold him! Pin his legs! Nail him!” Feel savage kicks and punches everywhere…head, legs and body. Curl up to protect myself, but get hammered anyway. Feel groggy, disoriented…suddenly, the pounding stops.
“You got off easy, fucking pedophile!” Kyle hisses.
I lie still…pain everywhere.
Kyle and whomever take off. The door slams.
Time passes. I feel like raw meat, dazed. Too sore to move.
I hear footsteps. “Jesse?” Hadley’s voice. “Why are you on the floor?”
She switches on the light. “Are you okay?” Rising panic in her voice. “Jesse, what happened?”
“I got mugged.”
“What?!” She uncovers my head…takes a deep breath. I shield my eyes from the light.
“My god! Who did this to you?”
“Kyle and somebody…maybe Lowell? I don’t know.”
Hadley’s eyes are wide and panicky, and her mouth’s dropped open…guess I look nasty.
“Don’t move. I’ll get help.”
“Hadley, no! Just stay, please? You’re the only help I need.”
“I’ll fix a bed.”
“I’m okay here.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re hurt.”
I watch her pull down a bed and mattress. Everything hurts. She helps me up. Feel a thousand years old.
“Let me look at you.” She cries, wide eyed, horrified. Pulls off my shirt, shrieks: “Oh my god!” My chest is covered with purple blotches..one eye is swollen shut. “Jesse, you’re brutalized! You need to go to the hospital!”
“Please. Just stay here. That’s the last thing I need.”
“Let me at least get the first aide kit.”
“Okay, but that’s all. I don’t want a bunch of people going crazy.”
She helps me onto bed. Covers me gently. I pull my knees up to my chest…feel like sleeping a week. Shut my eyes.
Hadley’s back before I know it. “How you doing?” Slides a pillow under my head. It’s feels s-o-o-o cool and soft. I study those green eyes, freckles, and even in pain, feel incredibly lucky.
She pulls down the blanket. Runs her hand down my bare back. “You poor thing! Is anything broken?”
“Beats me. At least my balls are intact.”
She chuckles. “I’m glad you’ve got your priorities straight.”
She rests the kit on the bed beside me and shuffles through. It’s an ancient red cross box covered with layer on layer of old paint.
“Jesse, you’re bleeding. Let me take your sneakers and pants off. I’ll make sure everything’s bandaged and clean.”
In minutes, I’m totally naked. “Don’t molest me, okay?”
“No promises. Here take these.” Hands me four Tylenol. Wash them down with water from my knapsack. She sees a bad spot on my ankle…examines it carefully. Guess it was uncovered.
“I can’t believe what they did to you. I knew Lowell and Kyle loved to act tough, but never thought they’d stoop to this.”
“I guess you’ve heard the accusations. Kyle’s convinced I’m a pedophile.”
“It’s so stupid! They called me to the office and Alden Kramer, Kyle and Sue questioned me. It was really arrogant and secretive. They fired questions.”What do you know about him?” “Does he act inappropriate?” “Does anything make you suspicious?” I thought they were pissed because we had sex, but then they started focusing on your interest in fashion, and asked if I thought you were a proper role model. I totally couldn’t figure it…finally had to ask: ‘What’s going on? I can’t help you guys if you keep me in the dark.’ ” So, they told me.
“Did you straighten them out?”
“I tried. Told them you definitely weren’t gay, and the charges were ridiculous. Also, that you’re a kind, gentle person and a great role model, but they kept interrupting and it got really aggravating. It was like police amateur hour, especially with Kyle. Kramer kept telling him to shut him up, because he obviously assumed you were guilty, but Sue was okay. She know’s it’s all bullshit.”
“That poor kid Chandler’s all screwed up. His father’s like this major homophobe, and the kid’s totally fucked up. When I got to the cabin, he was naked in his bunk, obsessed by some website.”
“It was a gay porn site.”
“The so-called hearing was a joke. Kyle kept implying I was covering for you. I guess he was bent because my story didn’t match his. He tried to throw me under the bus…claimed my statements weren’t logical because the site was serious porn that no kid would watch.”
Suddenly, I feel a wave of exhaustion. Want to just close my eyes. Can’t bear to re-hash all the bullshit. Figure they’re kicking me out anyway…but it’s a total bummer because I’m so addicted to Hadley. Want her with me every second. “Lie next to me,” I plead. “Forget the first aide for now. I just need company…but, no worries. I’m too wrecked to try anything.”
“I’m not worried…god, Jesse, the bruises on your ribs are terrible.”
“Yeah. A couple of ribs are probably fucked, but I’m still breathing. That’s a plus.” For Hadley’s sake, I’m trying to keep it light, but the pain’s intense.
Hadley’s wiping and patching. “Some of the bruises are swelling. You need ice packs. Maybe I should call the nurse. She only works days, but lives like a mile down the road.”
“No. Just stay. Chill. I’m a fast healer.”
“I hope I don’t overlook something serious.”
“You won’t. You’re super conscientious.” I pat the bed next to me. “Lie down, okay?”
“How do you know I’m conscientious?”
“Hadley, it’s obvious. You’re amazing.”
She laughs. “Whatever you say. Listen, I’ll be with you in a second. I’m going to the kitchen to get ice. It’ll take the swelling down.”
“I’m totally in your hands, doctor. Hurry back, okay?”
To be continued…. Read next episode!