Episode 15 – Aftermath

As Dean and I rest on the raft, the sun comes out…warmth bakes into us.

Courtney yells anxiously from the dock: “You two okay?”

It occurs to me I’m not being conscientious. Dean could be in a coma. He hasn’t said a word.

“Psst, Dean,” I whisper. “How’re you doing. That was pretty wild out there.”

“I’m okay,” he says quietly, “It was scary. The canoe was twisting and turning so bad, I could barely hold on.”

I sit up. “You did great, dude. Not many kids your age could have hung on like that.”

He smiles, a spunky little Eurasian guy with black hair, almond eyes and a freckled nose.

Another yell from the dock. Ben this time. “Do we need an ambulance?”

Dean sits up. “No way! I’m fine.”

We look at each other. “Ready to go back?” I ask, “There’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

He stands beside me staring at his feet and scratching his head…like he’s about to make a big confession.

“Dean, what’s the matter?” I ask.

“I took the canoe without signing out. I just wanted to paddle around, but when the storm hit, the wind flipped it over. I’m really really sorry. I didn’t mean to cause so much trouble.You think I’ll get kicked out?”

I smile. “No way I’m telling a soul. Can you swim back?”

“Yeah, of course.” He dives off the raft, and swims like a fish. I follow, and in no time, we’re on the dock with Ben and Courtney.

They’re freaked about the accident. Ask Dean a million questions. Anything hurt, did you hit your head, do you need to lie down, etc., etc.,?

“No!” He says. “I want to help Jesse clean up. What should I do first?”

We tell him to gather up the debris from the beach and he immediately starts working like a wild man, running everywhere at once. “Dean, take it easy,” I tell him, but he waves me off. “I’m fine!” In no time he’s stacked up an impressive pile.

Courtney’s wading among the boats, checking them, as Ben and I pull out the damaged ones.

“I can’t believe I let this happen!” She says. “The storm came up so fast!”

Ben and I turn to her. “Stop!” Ben exclaims. “It was a bloody tempest. No way you could have seen it coming.”

I totally agree. “That was like a hundred-year event…like a tornado. We’re lucky nobody got killed. Fuck a few boats! But where the hell’s Mr. Fix-it. Isn’t Lowell supposed to be down here?”

“Definitely,” Courtney says. “He’s among the missing.”

“Fuck that!” I say. “What cabin’s he in?”

“Cabin 2, by to the office, but I’ll go. You’ve had enough trouble with him.”

“Fuck that,” I say. “He’s a great one for raising hell, but doesn’t do shit.”

Ben and Courtney glance at each other. “Jesse,” Ben says. “I don’t mind going,” but I’m already on my way.

As I get closer, I hear Lowell and Kyle bullshitting in loud slurry voices. “With all the cleanup and shit, nobody’s gonna notice an extra trip to Kramer’s.”

“You going again tonight?” Kyle asks.

“Damn right, they’re fucking swingers. Last night, we were in bed sucking and fucking until 2:00 am. It was awesome. Come over tonight, dude, seriously. Marilyn loves jocks…pass me another beer?”

“I’ve got a girlfriend.”

“Shit, I do too, but you get off…sure beats jacking in the woods.”

“I wish Sue or Hadley would come. They’re smoking hot!”

“We’re working on it, and Kramers have a neighbor, Tina, who comes over sometimes. She’s not as old as Marilyn, and loves to fuck young guys!”

“Count me in! That sounds s-o-o-o cool!”

“Hey! How many jobs are there like this…beer from the kitchen, sex every night and hot girls to hit on. Hard to beat, right!”

I stay out of sight…can’t believe what I’m hearing! What kind of a place is this, especially with all those weird Kramer slogans about worshipping youth? Evidently, his idea of worship is an orgy! I crouch down and move away from the cabin, then re approach and knock on the door.

“Who the fuck is it?”

“Me, Jesse. You’re wanted down at the dock. There’s a lot of damage.”

“Okay, get lost. I’ll be down. Tell Sue to call Pedro. He works like a fucking dog.”

I’m wondering: Who the fuck does he think I am? “Excuse me,” I say, “but you call Pedro. I’m down cleaning up.”

They laugh. “I thought he’d understand you better.”

“Why are acting like such assholes? Can’t you get off your asses and come down and help?”

Lowell jumps up and charges the door. “Didn’t you fucking hear me, newbie? Get your faggoty ass out of here!”

I don’t budge. “Courtney needs help.”

“Jeez, we’ll be out when were ready,” Kyle says. “Can’t you get that!”

I wave my arm over the whole camp. “Can’t you see the devastation? Isn’t this a big deal to you?”

“The big deal is, we don’t like you,” Lowell says. “I don’t know what made that kid Chandler change his story, but to me, it’s total bullshit! You’ve got queer written all over you…your voice, the fashion, everything.”

I’m fucking livid. “Did it ever occur to you you’re totally wrong?”

“No.” Kyles says with a laugh.

Suddenly, Courtney yells from the dock. “Come on, you guys, we need a little help down here.!”

I turn and walk away. It’s hopeless. Guys like that are clueless. Everything’s black or white…there’s no in-between.They think their athletic prowess gives them the right to judge everybody.”

As I walk back down the hill, I feel like crap….the shit about the Kramers and Lowell’s elitist attitude have me steamed…Lowell may be tough, but I’m determined to get revenge, no matter what. As I approach the dock, it hits me a big crowd’s gathered and they’re watching me. As I get closer, they cheer, and Dean grins…gives me thumbs up, then Hadley runs up and throws her arms around me. “What?” I ask numbly. I’m so pissed at Lowell and Kyle, I’ve totally zoned on Dean, the storm, everything.

“Courtney told us how brave you were,” Hadley squeals, and people cluster around…it’s overwhelming!

Alden Kramer steps up and extends his hand. “Jesse, I want to express the camp’s deepest appreciation for your brave actions. It could have turned out very differently.”

“It wasn’t that hard to swim,” I say, “and Dean stayed cool and helped me push the canoe. He’s a terrific swimmer.”

In spite of my embarrassment, Kramer won’t let up. “You’re very modest, but we owe you a debt of gratitude. Let’s all give Jesse a round of applause!” There’s lots of clapping, hoots and hollers.

“Thanks a lot, Mr. Kramer,” I say, imagining his body entwined with Lowell and Marilyn.

He pats me on the back. “I need you and Dean to come up to the office. We need to notify his mother of this incident, and with approval, notify the local papers.”

“No need for that,” I say, but he leads us up the hill where Sue and Marilyn Kramer are waiting in the office. Marilyn’s grinning from ear to ear. “Alden called me the minute he heard the news. I’m so proud we have such a brave, handsome counselor!” She stares right at my crotch. If she thinks I’m gonna fuck her instead of Hadley, she better think again.

Mr. Kramer explains we all need to be upbeat, makes a few suggestions to set the right tone, then places the phone on speaker, dials. Dean’s mom answers. Kramer cues Dean who, says, “Hi, Mom,” and immediately eases the tension. Kramer explains the near miss, and tells her my bravery and quick thinking saved the day. I downplay it…tell her Dean is a strong swimmer and kept his head. Dean’s mom says she heard about the storm on the news and worried it might hit the camp. “The radar showed it passing right over you.”

Dean regales her with scary stuff about the wind, waves and flying branches.

Kramer quickly wraps things up, and gets authorization to release the information to the papers.

“Well, that certainly went well!” Marilyn Kramer gushes. “Jesse, please do us the honor of visiting soon, so Alden and I can express our appreciation appropriately.” She checks me out with a little wink. Holy shit!

Soon all the campers and staff are assembled at the dock, including the two drunks. Alden Kramer discusses the storm, the extent of the damage, and hands out repair assignments. Since Courtney’s working on the boats with Lowell, he assigns me to Hadley’s group. “I didn’t think you’d mind,” he says with a sly smile. Jesus, the place is freaky! Everybody is into everybody else’s business.

Hadley’s girls and I are assigned to “police” the cabin area, pile the broken limbs, rake up debris, and tidy up. As we go by my cabin, I show Hadley my handiwork. “Looks cozy,” she says, “can’t wait ’til tonight.”

To be continued…Read next episode!