Episode 21 – Strange Clues

Ben calls his campers out of the water and they head off to their next activity. To my surprise, Duncan hangs around. Makes a couple of comments about the beauty of the lake …like he wants to start a conversation, but all I want to do is stay away from him. He’s so fucking strange! I sprint to the end of the dock and dive in. The water feels awesome and I swim out to the float, then back as fast as I can. Nearing the dock, I see Duncan waiting. Fuck! What does he want? Half-curious, I climb the ladder…glance up…catch him staring right at my crotch. Our eyes meet. “You’re a strong swimmer,” he says with a smile.

Nearby, Lowell’s dragging damaged boats up on the grass. “Aren’t you were going to help him,” I ask. The guy acts like he’s just visiting.

“In a minute,” he says. “What do you think of Chandler? I hear you two had a run-in.”

Immediately I’m on guard. “Who told you that?”

“It’s not important. What do you think of him, seriously?”

“I think he needs help. He’s pretty messed up.” I pull on my hoodie. He’s studying every inch of my body.

“Why is he messed up?”

I glance at the guy. He looks amused or something. No way I’m telling him zip. “It’s confidential,” I say. “Not something I can talk about.”

He nods. “Oh, okay. I was just wondering…rumor has it there was an incident.”

The snooping gets under my skin. “Why are you so interested?”

“He’s an underclassman at my school. I’m his student advisor. I helped his father pick Camp Cedar Lake. Lowell always talked about it a lot and, as a classical scholar, I was fascinated by the Kramer’s ideals and philosophy.”

“What do you mean? It seems like a regular camp to me.”

“On the surface maybe, but the Kramer’s view camp as a place where boys and girls transition from childhood to adulthood. It begins with the youngest and culminates with the counselors. They believe in celebrating rites of passage…along very ancient lines.”

The guy’s totally losing me. Except for the few silly slogans posted around, the place seems more like a preppy breeding ground…no deviation allowed. “I haven’t noticed anything like that…even remotely,” I say.

“You’re new, but you will.”

How does he know? Maybe getting beat up one of the rites? “Where do you and Chandler go to school?” I ask.

“Highbrook Academy.”

I’m surprised. Highbrook is a school for seriously troubled kids. “How did you end up there?” I ask.

“Oh…I used to be extremely ADHD. Couldn’t focus for ten seconds…was kicked out of three schools before I got my act together at Highbrook.”

“Couldn’t your family get you in anywhere else?” I ask.

“They didn’t want to. I fell under the spell of the founder, Dr. Ezra Jewell, who’s a close friend of my father’s. He treats ADHD with a special protocol…a balanced combination of counseling, diet, medication and exercise. It worked wonders in my case…made me the disciplined student I am today. Believe me, I was doomed until I met Dr. Jewell.”

“It’s hard to imagine. You seem so…uh…restrained.”

He gives me a sidelong glance. “Based on my history. That’s a compliment.”

The next group of swimmers files onto the dock.

“I see you’re busy,” Duncan says. “We can talk more later. I assumed you’d understand, since you’re troubled yourself.”

I’m startled. “I am? Why do you say that?”

“Don’t worry. I’ve heard everything. The Kramers feel you have a lot to offer…unlimited potential. That was obvious when you were swimming.”

At that moment, Lowell calls Duncan away, and I’m left with more questions than answers. As groups of swimmers come through, I puzzle over what Duncan said. Can’t figure if he was taking me in confidence, or something more devious…wonder if the reference to “being troubled” is about my supposed inner city background, or Lowell’s accusations that I’m a perve….seems like Duncan has some personal agenda involving me, but whether it’s solely his concoction, or something dreamed up with Lowell, is a total mystery. Can’t shake the the way he hung on the dock watching my every move, then shared all the mumbo-jumbo about ancient rites of passage. What the fuck was that all about, and how does that apply to me? I almost get the impression his interest is because of my rumored social status…maybe he assumes all low-class ethnics are sexual deviates.

As I puzzle it through, I wonder how much of the bullshit was actually true. Are there rites of passage going on in secret or what?

To be continued….Read next episode!