Read Sunday Billy Sunday Online

Authors: Mark Wheaton

Tags: #General Fiction

Sunday Billy Sunday (3 page)

BOOK: Sunday Billy Sunday
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“Excellent,” she nodded to Pamela, who had been following behind.

“They give you any trouble?”

The two counselors turned and saw Humberto climbing up into the bus. Pamela smiled wide and raced down to embrace him, giving him a quick, discreet peck, but only after making sure they were unobserved.

“Not a bit,” Pamela replied. “Were you guys pretty lonely out here all week?”

Humberto smirked, but then nodded. “Definitely. Judy’s been her typical nutcase self – girl needs to get

“Humberto! Shh!!” Pamela admonished, nodding to Cindy, who merely rolled her eyes.

“You don’t think I’ve heard worse?” Cindy asked.

“Sorry, Cindy,” Humberto said, then continued. “As nutty as Judy’s been, though, Father’s Billy been nuttier. I mean, there’s always stuff to be done at the start of camp, but it was like he didn’t sleep. If something needed doing, he was there, on top of it, even if it was the dead of night.”

“Jeez,” said Pamela. “Hopefully, he’ll be all right now that we’re here.”

“Hopefully,” Humberto echoed, not sounding too optimistic. “But as long as you’re here, I’m not too worried.”

Pamela giggled as Humberto worked his hand around her, but she quickly batted it away, catching Cindy’s second eye roll in as many minutes.

,” Pamela winked.

Cindy sighed to herself and squeezed by the two to exit the bus. As she heard them tittering and stealing another kiss behind her, she began to wonder if eleven years might prove to be one year too many.

Over at the rear of the bus, Faith was having a hard time finding her bag. Well, that wasn’t true – she saw it as soon as the driver tossed it out of the trailer — but when she went to retrieve it, another two bags landed in the way. Two more came after that and then another two and another two, each drop-off causing their owners to surge forward, pushing Faith out of the way.

,” she swore, a word she’d picked up from her older brother who used it instead of taking the Lord’s name in vain. “Finnegan!”

Phil happened to be standing nearby and had witnessed the comedy of errors, but also had kept track of which bag she’d reached for when the luggage avalanche began. He took a deep breath, but then started pushing past the larger kids who stood between him and the bag pile.

“Excuse me, sorry,” he said, nudging shoving a couple of them aside as he dove in. “Sorry. Excuse me...”

Wiry, glasses-wearing and pale-skinned, Phil wasn’t going to be giving any of his high school’s weightlifters a run for their money any time soon, but he was determined and quickly burrowed through the mass of fellow campers.

, dick,” said one of the boys – David Boss, as it turned out, the object of Leilani’s lust and a member of just about every sports team Hardin had to offer, at least ones that’s schedules didn’t conflict.

Phil looked up at David, said nothing, but then turned and reached into the bag pile and grabbed the handle of Faith’s green suitcase. It took some doing, but eventually he managed to yank it out, though he upset about half a dozen other bags at the same time to the disdain of the surrounding jocks.

“What’s your problem?” asked someone, but Phil didn’t respond, his prize already secure. He was a little off-balance and out-of-breath, but quickly righted himself before walking over to Faith and presenting her with the suitcase.

“Is this yours?” he asked.

“Nope, not mine,” Faith replied, straight-faced.

As Phil’s face fell, Faith rolled her eyes and took the suitcase. “Yes, it’s mine, Phil. Thanks. You didn’t have to start a riot.”

“Oh, you thought that was all for you?” Phil asked, nodding over his shoulder. “Actually, I was using your suitcase as an excuse to practice my pickpocketing skills. Got three wallets, four pints of cologne, ten jock straps and a thirty-two syringes full of anabolic steroids.”

Faith grinned, her brown eyes smiling back at Phil. He drank in the sight like a parched plant.

“Are you and Mark bunking together?” Faith asked.

“Yeah, probably,” Phil admitted. “If they put us in with the jocks, they’ll only be doing it to torture us. You know what cabin you’re in yet?”

“No clue. I just hope it’s close to the mess hall so I don’t always end up last in line.”

“Well, good luck,” Phil said. “And if you don’t get the cabin you want, I’d be happy to show you how expert pick pocketing can translate into some stellar food-sneaking techniques.”

Faith laughed, and then nodded. “Yeah, well. See you later.”

“Okay,” Phil nodded. “Bye.”

Faith turned and walked towards the counselors while Phil watched. It had taken everything in his being to prevent himself from reaching out and touching her hand or, worse, leaning in and kissing her. He couldn’t believe how much he was in love with her when he was on his own, much less when they were standing toe-to-toe, her Converse sneaks almost touching the tips of his Pumas. As much as he tried to play it down around Mark, he was crazy for Faith and got a reminder of that every time he was in her presence.

“That was pretty hardcore,” said Mark, who walked up with his bag. “You had a whole conversation and everything.”

“Yep,” was all Phil managed to reply, infuriating Mark.

But what was he supposed to say? That he was still too lost in Faith’s auburn eyes to speak? That he’d found just a touch of blue sapphire hidden deep within them that he thought, maybe, he was the first and only person to have ever seen? That he thought overalls were just about the cutest thing a girl with glasses could ever wear?

“Yep,” Phil repeated.

“You’re a moron,” Mark said. “Let’s go.”

The campers all checked in one at a time, Phil in the A-M line, Mark in the N-Z line a few spaces ahead of Faith. When Mark reached Humberto, he squinted up at him.

“Can I be in the same cabin as Phil?”

“You think we’re stupid?” Humberto scoffed. “Couple of troublemakers like you are going to be on opposite ends of the camp if not the

“Oh, come on,” Mark complained. “That’s bullsh...”

Humberto cut off his ‘swear’ with a look. Judy glanced over, Phil now in front of her.

“Sorry,” Mark said hastily. “But man, come on. You really think we’re going to do anything?”

Humberto took his time to consider this, but then finally nodded as if having reached an equitable solution.

“Okay, look – there are some optional Bible classes,” Humberto began. “‘New Testament,’ ‘Where Science Meets Scripture,’ ‘St. Peter and St. Paul,’ and so on. We’re having trouble filling some of them up, so if I can count on you both for at least three of those, well...”

Humberto trailed off the thought, eyeing Mark expectantly.

“We’re in,” declared Mark. “Anything you want. Acts. Deuteronomy. Proverbs. I’m your huckleberry or, well, gilded ass.”

“Excellent, then, Mark Willoughby and...” Humberto said, checking over on Judy’s clipboard and then looking back at his own, which he allowed Mark to glimpse. “... Phil Gray, I guess you’ll both be in Cabin 2.”

Mark looked from Humberto’s clipboard over to Judy’s where Phil was also already marked down for Cabin 2.

“Ah, you
” Mark exclaimed, looking at Humberto with incredulity.

“Hey, watch it,” Humberto cautioned, raising a finger. “We still make the work assignments. You guys could be scrubbing toilets all month.”

Mark said nothing and sullenly picked up his bag, heading to Cabin 3. Phil gave Humberto a half-apologetic shrug and followed suit.

Humberto watched them go, and then turned to Judy, who laughed.

“Sound familiar?” she groaned, eyeing Humberto.

I wasn’t like that when I was their age,” he said, shaking his head.

The camp layout was simple – six cabins in two rows of three, girl’s side facing north, boy’s side facing the girls across a large courtyard area. The cabins were all fairly large and each could hold fifteen or so campers. While the cabins had windows that could be opened, they were usually kept closed now matter how stifling it got due to the mosquito population rising from around Lake Carlisle. The mess hall was similarly functional in its design, but about fifty percent larger with a dining hall separate from an industrial kitchen in back. Campers would come in one door of the dining area, proceed along racks of steam trays set up at the back and serve themselves buffet-style. When they were done, they bussed their own trays and exited out a door on the opposite side from the one they entered.

In a shed behind the mess hall were large laundry machines where they kitchen towels and aprons would be washed, as well as the camp’s linens, but napkins and table cloths were disposable and simply trashed after use. The campers were allowed to use the machines once a week for their own clothes and towels.

Beside the mess hall was another building of about the same size, but unlike the cabins, it was screened in on three sides like a porch and used as an indoor teaching facility, though this could be torture as the students would be only fifty yards of so from the lake and could easily watch other campers frolicking in the water from their desks. For the most part, however, classes were held out of doors in either a nearby atrium cut into the rocks near the lakeshore complete with wooden benches or in a small clearing in the woods behind the girl’s cabins where the “chairs” were several different-sized tree stumps set up in a semi-circle.

Separate latrines for the boys and girls were set back a little ways into the woods behind either row of cabins and had eight shower stalls and a dozen toilets (no urinals in the boy’s latrine). The latrines were fairly open-air and, at a properly elevated angle, one could see directly into the showers. But, the campers were good at policing themselves and each gender cut the other’s latrine a wide swath for modesty’s sake and even pranks were kept to a minimum.

There were only two other buildings at the camp, the largest two, and they were both at the top of the site, closest to the parking lot and furthest from the lake. One was the counselor’s cabin which was far more of a house than the single room, barracks-style living space the campers were sleeping in and had a living room, kitchen, two bathrooms, three bedrooms and multiple closets for the counselors to divide seven ways. Outside in an attached shed was the camp’s sports equipment haul which included a volleyball net, badminton racquets and birdies, snorkeling masks and baseball bats, as well as a revolving hodge-podge of footballs, baseballs, tennis balls, even a lacrosse stick as well as anything else that got left behind in previous years and never claimed.

The last building was for the camp administrator who, in this case, was Father Billy. Like the counselor’s cabins, it was semi-luxurious, complete with its own laundry facility in back, a master bedroom, a study and a large living area that doubled as a planning suite/conference room for the counselors and the presiding priest. It also had a kitchen, a bathroom and a porch complete with two rustic-looking rocking chairs that were never sat in.

The camp had no chapel as Sunday services were held in the mess hall in three shifts. There were almost no outward signs that this was a church camp aside from a large cross erected out by the lake, but that was used more as a marker by swimmers out on the lake to see how far to the left or right of the camp they were than for religious observance. The camp had a dock that extended out into the water about twelve feet, but there no boats moored to its pilings as that was the first thing the church had dropped from its insurance rider when the council felt the need to tighten its belt a couple of years back.

There was, however, a fairly large diving platform about thirty feet out from the dock. Made of wood and anchored deep below on the lake floor by chains attached to concrete blocks, it was designed to roll with the waves and winds, bobbing easily along the surface. Storms and the remnants of Gulf-borne hurricanes routinely trashed the campsite requiring serious repairs to the standing structures, but the diving platform had never so much as broken a chain or U-bolt in all its years of service.

By any standard, it was a substantial campsite, surrounded on three sides by deep forest that extended for miles. The land for the camp had been donated by an oil man, Charles Van Ness, whose company used it as an annual tax write-off and had been named for the founding priest of the Church of the Lamb, Howard Easley, who had come to Dallas in 1922 from a parish outside Pascagoula. The woods around the camp were still owned by the Van Ness Trust and were kept completely wild and uninhabited, save for a few dozen pump jacks that occasionally pulled oil from small stakes around the acreage. It was commonly believed that there was actually a vast amount of oil still under the property, but the Van Ness family had decided not to drill it yet, as if saving it for a rainy day.

Their family’s name would never recover from the events soon to take place in and around their property.

“Mind if I bunk next to you?”

Faith looked up and saw Maia standing at the foot of the bed she’d chosen, closest to the front door, but on the opposite side from the east-facing windows that got the sun first thing in the morning.

“Um, sure,” Faith replied.

“Cool,” said Maia, dropping two mismatched sports bags on the bunk to Faith’s right.

Faith eyed the bags, obviously a couple of decades old a piece, and figured them for Salvation Army refugees as well.

“So, how’s this all going to work?” Maia asked. “I’ve never been to camp before.”

“Well, we’ll have a few minutes to unpack and get settled,” Faith explained, reciting from memory the order from previous years. “Then we go out to the yard where Father Billy will talk for a few minutes and then we sign up for our work assignments. After that, everybody just kind of goes off on their own for the rest of the day and then classes and activities start tomorrow.”

“Work assignments?”

“Yeah, ‘meal-prep,’ ‘meal-prep clean-up,’ ‘laundry,’ ‘yard work,’ ‘trash and recycling,’” Faith recited. “Oh, yeah – ‘sports equipment.’ That’s just making sure everything’s back in the equipment shed at the end of the day. That’s about it. Oh, and, ‘classroom clean-up.’ I think there are a couple of others. You can sign up for your first choice, but as everyone picks the same stuff, most just get assigned.”

BOOK: Sunday Billy Sunday
3.7Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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