I'm at about 11,500 with less than 2 days to go. I'd have to skip work tonight and church tomorrow to have any hope of reaching 50k.
Here's a couple scenes I'm particularly fond of to wet yall's whistle...
Thanks to all who have sent words of encouragement my way!
The sun bore down on Oakledge, hot and bright. Some of the campers sought refuge in what shade was available: a bare spot under trees near the creek, the bench on the porch of the hall entrance or inside the darkened building.
For others, swimming was the only remedy. That’s why they stood in near panic on the hot concrete looking over the pool’s edge. Romeo and Rashied had said that they could only go swimming after it was cleaned…but THIS?
Julius’ fears had been confirmed. As he clutched the towel hung over his shoulder he craned his neck at the murky, muck green water in the pool. He couldn’t see the bottom, heck he could barely see down three inches. Small creatures wiggled over the surface making weird moving waves. And with every splash and mighty swing, Rashied’s net pulled out at least two small frogs/toads, which he flung into the grass over the short fence.
“I told you it was too early to be swimmin’” Romeo said from the shed, holding a net himself. “It takes too long to clean out this thing!”
“Come on, I mean what you want to do? They want to swim,” Rashied said exasperated. “We got most of the crap out yeste-day anyhow.”
“Really? That’s what’s this crap, huh?” Romeo declared as he presented a net full of frog eggs, dragonfliers, water-spiders and algae.
‘Oh, God! I ain’t swimmin in that!”
“… the hell?”
“That’s just nassstee!”
Tami’s tomboy tendencies quickly began to fade. The murky green water mocked her, daring her to even step in a toe. And this was one dare she was willing to lose.
She glanced to her left again. Sure enough, Monica and her crew were still looking her up and down. Only the top of Tami’s one piece lightblue suit was visible, as she wore thin yellow gym shorts over it. Yet it was enough to show her figure which left Roderick tripping all over himself and the girls more than a bit jealous.
“Think she all that,” Ramona whispered.
Tami just laughed. Not even worth it, she thought. But then she caught Ramona’s eye. The other girl was not much taller than her, pretty as well, but with a fierce angry brown face. And when she cocked her head and bucked her eyes at Tami, it was then that she decided maybe it was worth hanging around the pool a little while longer.
Tami turned and right way met Roderick’s gaze. She relaxed her posture and softened her tone.
“Hmmph. You going in?”
“Huh, what?” Roderick stammered. “You?”
“I’m not going in by myself.”
“I’ll go in with you,” Roderick laughed. “Me and you girl, we can do this thing!”
“No you won’t,” Tami said. She turned to the Ramona-girls. Sure enough they were fuming. Mission accopmplished, she thought and turned to walk out the gate.
“No, never mind, I think I’ll wait on swimming.”
“Hol on, girl, I swear I’ll get in with you!” Roderick pleaded and walked over to Tami’s side brushing by other boys.
Julius had been half-listening. He focused on the net in Rashied’s hand and how it emerged emptier than the last time. No, it wasn’t the pool at the Y or school. But what could it hurt? The camp wouldn’t let them swim there if it was dangerous he deduced. And as a far as he knew, copperheads weren’t into getting wet.
He dropped his towel and took of his T-shirt. He tipped his head at Romeo, who nodded back cautiously. And then he jumped.
There was mininmal splash when Julius hit the water, but the sudden noised sounded like a dynamite blast. The water was warm and thick, and Julius stretched his toes searching for the bottom. The pool was deeper than he expected. Why, he thought, it looked deep! Still, he took a chance, closed his eyes and let his head submerge under into the cloudy depths.
Julius’ foot reached the bottom soon after. He took a few strokes to get his balance and check for signs of wildlife. No water serpent had bit and no frogs slithered nearby, so all was well.
He pushed his luck and decided to open his eyes. Julius was taken aback by the blackness. No green like the surface, just a deep wide darkness was in front of him. The shock used up most of his air and Julius began to blow bubbles – and was immediately sorry.
The water’s taste thoroughly surprised. It was like slimly, wet dirt mixed with the worst tasting vegetables ever. A gag reflex stuck in his throat, Julius began to panic, and shot his body toward the surface.
He broke through with a huge gasp splashing the icky water on the other campers. With two wild but effective strokes he reached the side of the pool. He dragged himself out, choking and gagging, and wiping his mouth.
“Cool breeze, you alright,?” Romeo said rushing to his side.
Rashied came up next to him and clapped Julius on the back.
“Ugh, bleech,” Julius muttered as he fiercely rubbed his eyes and face. “Tastes…nasty.”
“My bad, shoulda told ya not to drink it,” Rashied said. He grasped Julius shoulders. “See, not that bad though, was it.”
“Uh-uh,” Julius answered blinking.
“Brave man ain’t!” Romeo said standing and looking back at the others.
“Yea, I’ll give you that one, J,” Montel said from outside the fence. The girl standing next him smiled and shook her head.
The sun’s warmth on his back was nothing compared to the proud burning in his chest. He stood slowly, to full height, picking up his towel in the process. He wiped his eyes and looked to the other side of the pool. As kids began plopping into the water behind, he watched Tami and Roderick walking back to the dining hall, laughing the whole way.
The day started to cool off and Tami took that as a sign she really didn’t need to go swimming in slime. But there was something she was still dying to do. She tucked the T-shirt into her shorts as she walked purposely out the cabin door. She moistened her lips and felt the hot air drying them off instantly. Her bare feet squished in her damp tennis shoes and she kept her steady pace down the hill. She could feel it calling to her, whispering in the air.
Tami arrived at the bottom of the hill onto the gravelly main driveway of Oakledge. She turned her head slightly to the left and right, deciding it was safe to proceed and started walking again. The calling became louder, the force’s pull on her stronger. Tisha and Cleo, walking by in the opposite direction, managed to break her trance.
“Hulllo,” Cleo sung.
“We’re going to see who wants to do some double-dutch, you wanna?” Tisha added.
“Not right now,” Tami said quickly barely looking their way and her trance resumed.
The girls shrugged and walked toward the hall. Tami kept heading down and away from the building.
To the creek.
Tami was mesmerized as she looked at the still, glistening water. She slowly bent down and gently poked at it with her finger, as if she touching a living creature, a strangers puppy while although cute it didn’t know her so she had to be careful not to spook it. As she had hoped, it was cool to the touch, spared from the sun’s searing rays by the canopy of leaves on the side away from the drive. She immediately found a dry rock and sat down. With a preschooler’s earnest, she whipped off her sneakers. She stood back up and took a step. The creek bed was full of rocks, and woody debris, but Tami remained steady. She gracefully navigated the trail of stones, sizes and textures constantly changing. In few feet and the water rose just over the tops of her round, pudgy feet. She watched it run slowly over the apple-red polish on her nails and smiled.
Tami looked to her left and was made a startling discovery. The line of trees opened here, the stretch split by what looked like a spot where rocks had fallen from the opposite ledge. The result was a short clearing, a trail of smooth rocks that lead up into the trees. Tami immediately began climbing, slowly making her way up the first rock steps. She made it to the top, a giant rock slab and sat down.
It was perfect. She looked out on the creek and the rest of the camp beyond it. The campers cries and laughs were dim. She could see them, playing by the hall, in the driveway, sitting on the porch.
She could see them, but she was hidden away in her private stony paradise.
Or so she thought. She turned her head back toward the end of the creek to see Roderick and that kid with the baseball cap lumbering in her direction.
“Knew that was homegirl,” Roderick snickered back to Julius who was slowly maneuvering his way over the slippery rocks. Every step seemed precarious and he’d had enough swimming for a day. Roderick moved with determined steps, no care for treacherous terrain, Julius thought. He seemed hell bent on reaching that outcrop and that girl he’d called “superfine.”
Tami was slipping on her last shoe when the Roderick’s face reappeared. She looked the dark, lanky kid over. He was not unattractive and he had a likeable air about him. But his smile. She stared at the perfectly white teeth, set against the black skin. Roderick’s smile was both disarming and alluring. It was congenial and creepy all in one toothy expanse. Combined with his manical cackle, you wanted to laugh with him and get away from him. Tami folded her knees to her chest and closed her eyes.
“What’s up, sexy,” Roderick said madly and plopped down on the rock beside Tami. He misjudged his seat and slipped, almost sliding down into the creek. He stopped his slide, recovering his footing, and just laughed. Julius stood near the creek bed and just shook his head.
Tami opened one eye.
“Sure you wanna sit here,” she asked slyly.
“Just wanted to see why you up here all by yourself,” Roderick replied, entering full flirt mode. “And keep you company.”
“Company?” Tami giggle-snorted. “That’s what you call you being?”
“Rod, quit bothering her, man,” Julius called up to them. He was now standing a few feet away at the base of the outcrop. To Tami it seemed he had established a buffer zone of some kind, as if he was trying to give her and Roderick privacy while still being in the picture. Probably why she’d forgotten he was there, she thought.
“Ya’ll not botherin’ me,” Tami sighed.
All three noticed the inclusionary “ya’ll.” Roderick looked at Julius who looked at Tami who looked straight ahead. Julius’ attention quickly returned to a compelling rock structure in the creek. Roderick, sighed quietly, and turned back to Tami locking his eyes on her heaving chest.
“What’s your shirt say?”
Tami turned and looked quizzically at him.
“There,” he said pointing and coming within a fingertip of touching her chest. “Whatsit say?”
Tami grinned. She tugged slowly on her shirt, a flirtatious move that made it easier to see the writing on her shirt -- and other things.
Tami shrugged, leaning back on her elbows to give Roderick a clearer view.
“Think it’s sheek, ain’t it,’ Julius chimed in from below. “Think that’s French.”
“Oh, see that’s more like what I was thinkin’,” Roderick laughed.
Tami raised an eyebrow at him.
“You know it girl, you know what you like! Make me wanna sing some Rick James!”
Roderick jumped up on the rock and an air guitar instantly appeared in his hands. He began to strum it wildly: “Boooom, boom, boom, buh-bump, buh-bump! Boooom, boom, boom, buh-bump, buh-bump!”
The he started to sing -- loudly.
“She’s a very kinky girl, the kind you don’t take home to mama!”
Tami rolled her eyes.
“She’s a super freak, super freak, she’s soooper freaky, ya’ll!”
Roderick ended the verse with a wild shriek and cackled. Tami couldn’t stifle her laugh. Julius just stared in utter amazement at Roderick, who bolstered by his audience’s response, sang the chorus louder and louder while adding pelvic thrusts and wagging his tongue.
“Super freak, super freak!” “That’s what you are aint, Tam,” he cackled. “You like that don’t you,” he said accentuating his hip movements.
Tami laughed loudly, clapping her hands and throwing her head back. Julius cracked up as well, but then he noticed that the commotion caused those nearby to look over at the creek. He felt a wave of embarrassment rush through his body, and suddenly he wanted to run over and pull the plug on Roderick’s performance. But he paused. Smiled, and then just kept laughing.