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Crimson Summer - Chapter Nine

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“Louie”
"Thank fuck that's over," Louie said, pouring half of a beer down his throat. All of the counselors, consisting of Marion, Diane, Keith, Barry, and of course Louie, were gathered around the fire, beers in hand. Carol was noticeably absent as she rarely joined them at night, disapproving of their alcohol consumption. It was time for their celebration of being done with the first day of dealing with campers. The beer somehow tasted even better than the previous two weeks of late night drinking. Maybe because now they had a purpose: stress relief. Louie wasn't sure but he popped open another beer to take part in the increased experience, at least that's what he told himself. "If I have to deal with one more immature little shithead, I may just lose it."
"Oh, they're not that bad this year," Marion said and was probably right, but Louie couldn't resist the urge to argue.
"Yeah, easy for you to say miss 'I pick the best campers.'" Louie immediately made everyone uncomfortable, like he was one to do. It was hard to tell if he was joking or being serious, just the way he liked it.
"You realize I have absolutely no background on eighty percent of these kids right? And the court-assigned ones I give to our perfect citizen molder, Carol. So if you get stuck with shit then that's all by chance. No collusion necessary," Marion stated. Louie could sense how annoyed she was by the accusation. He was never quite good at sarcasm.
"Yeah, I know you don't. Just . . . yeah, ignore me," Louie said.
"Done and done," said Barry, returning from a pee.  Fuckin Barry. Louie didn't like Barry. Not at all. Barry reminded him of every bully he had ever encountered in high school. The way he talked, the words he used, his mannerisms. There was no one that left a worse first impression on him. Unfortunately, he ended up being perfectly cast in the role, being as big of a douchebag as his appearance let on. The years had just soured their relationship further with Barry constantly berating him in front of everyone else. This time though, Barry followed it with a, "Only messing with you, Louie."
        Louie? What the hell is he playing at? Louie thought. Barry wasn't one to say he was joking. Because he rarely was. Let alone the fact that he wasn't calling him 'Louise', a nickname that only Barry prescribed to.
"Why did the last two weeks have to end?" Diane said, shaking her fists at the sky. Diane was pretty cool but a little too girly for Louie's liking. She would often get too drunk and become the "we need to be friends forever" kind of person. Not that it wasn't cute, but her lack of contact during the off season made Louie question her honesty in it. And not to mention that he found it difficult being friends with those that couldn't hold their own. The multiple nights of getting carried back to her cabin the last two weeks made it clear which category she fell into. Still, she was a lot of fun, and Louie still held out hope she'd drunkenly stumble into his cabin one night. A guy can dream.
"Best part of camp for sure. Makes me feel like a little kid in a candy shop. The whole camp to ourselves and no kids around," said Barry.
"Minus one Carol and you really have yourself a party," Louie said, Diane and Barry nodding in agreement. 
"Oh she's not that bad," Keith proclaimed. Keith was Louie's cabin-mate, so they knew each other pretty well. Outside of the occasional beer by the fire, Keith was the definition of health and fitness. He ran five miles and did yoga every day, keeping a strict diet in the process. How someone could be that handsome and not bang every hot girl he came in contact with, Louie would never know. Still, it was a nice change of pace having someone around that seemed genuinely good.
"Not that bad? Excuse me?!" Marion said, clearly with loads of ammunition, "She wakes up at 5:00 AM every day. And her being the loudest person ever when she's getting ready means that I get up at 5:00 AM every day. Then I get to wake up, terrified, as she's staring directly at me. Every time. So yes, she really is that bad."
"At least you don't have to deal with Mr. Pushups over there," Louie said, signaling to Keith, "The man does like a thousand a day --"
"Five hundred," Keith corrected him.
"Oh, I'm sorry, don't mean to be hyperbolic, Mr. Pushups," Louie snorted, "Regardless, that man sounds like Hulk Hogan in No Holds Barred when he does pushups, and he wakes his ass up at 6:00 AM to do them so yeah, I think I feel you."
"Hear that, Keith?  You're getting compared to ole Carol. How you feeling about that, chief?" Diane asked.
"I'm perfectly fine with it. Carol is a pleasant person. She's just really passionate about her job," said Keith.
"That's putting it lightly," Diane said, taking another swig of her beer. She was well past the point of hammered. Maybe tonight.
"Who needs one?" Barry said as he stood up, walking to the beer filled cooler, "Diane? Louie? Marion?"
Diane and Louie motioned for one while Marion just shook her head.
"Oh come on, one and done?" Barry questioned her.
"You know I like to smoke more than drink," Marion said and shrugged her shoulders.
"I don't know why you waste your time with that stuff. Rots your brain." Barry said defiantly.
"You say after you've killed how many brain cells chugging down that thirty rack?" Marion shot back.
"Are we seriously gonna argue about this, in this day and age? Put your dunce hat down and chill the fuck out, Barry," Diane said. The words seemed to have great effect as Barry just sat there, quietly sipping on his beer. Goddammit, he's into her, Louie thought, hating Barry a little more. "You've been hanging around those little kids too much."
"And how is it with our little toddlers?" Marion asked.
"Hardly toddlers. I think the youngest is nine. I swear we had more last year. Though there's this little girl Holly and she is absolutely adorable. Little chubby but always has a big smile on her face. Oh my god and that giggle. Slay me now. I want to adopt her."  Diane couldn't be more honest if she tried.
"I wish I could be guaranteed a fat daughter," said Louie, apparently trying to outdo Diane. 
"Wait, you want a fat daughter? What on earth would make you specifically want a fat daughter?" asked Diane, hardly able to control her laughter, "And I mean that in the health way, not in the superficial way you're all thinking."
"Are you kidding me? I'd much rather have to take her for some dialysis appointment than have her getting railed by every guy from here to California," said Louie.
"People have sex. Deal with it dude," Diane said as casually as possible. Was that a hint?
"While that may be true, when it comes 'Daddy's little princess', sex is not to be had. Ever. In the eyes of her father, she will die a virgin," said Louie.
"Oh yeah, then how would you explain all the pregnancies in the world?" asked Marion sarcastically.
"Mary."
"Wait you mean of--"
"Of Mary and Joseph.  No sex had, yet babies were made.  I'll just make sure she takes that route," Louie said.
"Oh yeah, is this what your dad taught you?" asked Diane, shaking her head.
"I have three sisters. Where do you think I got this from? I learn by example, darling." Louie's dad certainly gave him more than enough reason to actually think this, but it was less an ideal and more a general thought on the subject. Louie just found it funny.
"I think you're taking more of the learn through fear route," said Keith, "Always fearing that your hypothetical daughter is gonna do what's only human nature."
"No, taking the fear route is the Al Rodgers way of living, am I right?" Louie said, trying to make a joke but without any proceeding laughter. Shit, these guys can't really be that tense about this. People even joke about 9/11 now. I probably shouldn't say that.
"Hey, I mean nine --" Louie started, but was quickly interrupted.
"Louie, you certainly do love sticking your foot in your mouth don't ya, buddy," said Keith. Charming even when you don't want him to be.
"What's it been, three years since Julia passed?" Louie asked.
"Four. It's been four," said Marion. Given her time spent with Al going over boring business stuff, it would have been more surprising had she not known. Marion was the go-to for information on the camp since no one had the time to listen to Carol's hour long explanation.
"Either way, I was making a joke about Al. Not like I was talking about his dead dau --"
"Louie!" everyone exclaimed. Further putting his foot in his mouth always seemed to be Louie's specialty.
"Okay, I'm just going to shut up now," Louie said, settling back into his chair. He had embarrassed himself enough.
"So do you know if Liz did her scary story night?" asked Barry.
"Oh god, I hope not. The last time that one girl's parents threatened to sue us for 'allowing them to sleep where such grisly crimes happened,'" said Marion with a mocking tone, "What a fucking joke."  
Louie remembered that. He thought it was a joke when it was first mentioned but soon enough a lawyer turned up at the camp, delivering papers and nearly causing Al to have a heart attack. The family didn't have much to go on but they were clearly out for money and willing to do anything to get it. (Un?)Fortunately for Al, he didn't have any money for them to take so the lawsuit died, but as did Al's passion for the camp. Louie was glad though, the less Al cared, the more fun could be had.
"Wait, I thought they happened in the house?" asked Keith, referring to the murders.
"They did.  That cabin wasn't even built in '91," Marion explained, "Liz just likes to say it happened in that cabin and make my life a living hell."
"As long as that story stays far away from my campers ears, Liz can continue living," Diane stated. Louie imagined Liz telling Diane's group of younger campers the story and the mayhem that it would cause. He couldn't help but smile thinking about it.
"Oh please in this day and age, I bet that's not anything big. The Internet has scarier stories than that. Honestly I've never seen the big deal," Louie reasoned. It was honestly what he believed too. The way he saw it, murders were such rare occurrences that a repeat was much less likely given that one had already happened there. Marion once told him that was just him trying to reason with his fear. He wasn't sure which he believed. "I feel like that's life though. A series of lessons and interactions that ultimately lead to an untimely demise."
"Okay, Psych 101. I'd just like to think that not everyone just up and dies," Diane said.
"Oh so you're one of those immortal sympathizers?" Marion joked.
"No, I'd just like to think that there's something more at the end of the tunnel than just suffering. Like, I wanna go out quietly, in my own bed, in my sleep, at the ripe old age of two hundred -- shut up, we'll be advanced enough by then -- and not to mention with a dozen grandchildren filling my house."
"Wait, so in this scenario do the grandchildren all live with you or are they there for like a party?" Marion asked
"Yeah, like celebrating your death?" said Louie.
"I think it's usually called celebrating life." Keith clarified.
"I know what I said."
"They can't really be that great of grandchildren if they're celebrating your death like that. Who's going to watch them now? Is this a Lord of the Flies scenario?" Marion continued.
"You guys suck. They would be there because they would want to be around their sweet grandmother while she's dying," Diane reasoned but the others just wouldn't let up.
"You know, I've heard no mention of their parents. So are they dead in this scenario? Is that why you only have grandchildren at your house?"
"Are you trying to be a makeshift foster care?" Louie asked.
"Wait, did you kill your children and take their children because you secretly hate adults and only want to be around children?"  Marion would let up.
"So she's just going to kill her grandchildren and take their children when they have them?"
"Don't be silly . . . she'll be long dead by then,"
"I hate you all," Diane pouted.
This was a pretty common occurrence in the group, going off on long tangents of nonsense for the sake of a good time. Diane was usually the brunt of it, but she often brought it upon herself, what with her oddly Stepford Wife way of thinking.
"I get what you mean though," said Marion, trying to save the conversation, "No one wants to go out in some horrific, painful way. That sounds terrible. But the likelihood of one happening above the other? Yeah, I'd bet I’m much more likely to die in a car crash than die peacefully in my sleep."
"That's just being pessimistic," Diane said, shaking her head.
"Or maybe you're just being too optimistic," Barry finally chimed in, but not really adding much to the conversation. Fuckin Barry.
"If wanting to die in my sleep is being optimistic then the world is a sad place."  Diane certainly wasn't wrong.
"Hell, if you're just wanting to die in your sleep, I've got a pretty stiff pillow and I've seen enough Cuckoo's Nest to know the technique," Marion joked. She proceeded to put her hands up, holding an imaginary pillow and pushing it towards Diane, who acted like she was suffocating. She stopped suddenly and cocked her head to one side, genuinely curious.
"Wait, does that make me Jack Nicholson? Because I can totally deal with that."
"It also makes you brain dead," stated Keith.
"Worth it. I'm now a badass." Louie could have sworn Diane shot him a seductive look after saying this, but he couldn't be sure. The lack of blood rushing to his head and heading elsewhere was at a peak. Or maybe that was for a different reason.
"I've got to go drain the lizard," said Louie.

The moon was out in full force so it illuminated most of the walk away from the fire towards the woods. Trying to get far enough away that the others couldn't hear his stream, he stopped at the tree-line, satisfied with the distance. It was hard to see too far into the woods buts still, he took a quick peek to make sure no one was there. Last thing he needed was a camper saying he had exposed himself to them. He unzipped his pants and relief washed over him. He had been holding that in for too long considering he had drained a six pack without breaking the pee seal. It was long overdue.
He could hear the others back at the fire laughing and hollering something. It must have been Barry being an idiot, only he would make such a mongoloid noise. Otherwise the night was oddly quiet and Louie couldn't believe how much he enjoyed it. He knew that some of the people at the camp didn't want to be there but getting the opportunity to be out at a lake for two months during the summer? It didn't get much better than that.
He leaned his head back, taking a deep breath of the fresh air and looked up at the stars. They were so bright tonight. So beautiful.
A twig snapped from what seemed like just feet away and Louie was quickly drawn out of his daze. He swiftly finished up peeing and zipped his pants back up. His eyes scanned the forest, trying to see if there was a deer or something nearby. No matter how much he squinted, it was nearly impossible to see more than fifteen feet given the thick coverage of the trees. He leaned against the tree he had been peeing next to and peered deep into the forest.
"Hello?" Louie said and immediately regretted. Great, now you're going to get murdered by a psycho axe-man. He quickly retreated away from the tree-line, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up. He didn't like this. He had seen far too many horror movies and drank far too much beer to not be paranoid. And he knew he shouldn't have smoked that joint. Diane once told him that the paranoia would die down but Louie wasn't sure if Diane realized how much his brother had tortured him with scary movies. He didn't trust the dark.
Deciding that he'd had enough of the woods scaring him, he retreated back towards the fire, glancing over his shoulder as he did. What the hell? Louie thought as he saw something move behind the tree where he was standing. Did he just see that? Did that really happen? No, must have just been his eyes playing tricks on him. He returned to the fire, still unsure of the movement in the woods.

*****************

        Louie sat back down with the others at the fire and a figure in the tree-line continued to watch him.  To watch all of them.

        Time to get started.
END CHAPTER NINE

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