TITLE: Dwarves Etc. Ch 2
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Meant for the same audience as 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".
Chapter 2: Third Party
The next day, in school, Beth was sitting on the playground eating her lunch and watching the boys at soccer, when Susan Henderson came and sat next to her. Beth knew Susan, and liked her well enough, altho they weren’t ‘best friends’ or any such thing. Beth had never made really special girl friends, perhaps because other girls often thought that she was to close to her brother for anyone else to compete. And they considered her slightly odd, since most girls in her school wore their hair short, and wore pants or shorts; while she wore over-large sweats, skirts, and dresses. She frequently wore something ‘cultural’ that her mother had gotten from Latin America or Africa or somewhere equally foreign; whereas the rest of her class thought that ‘made in America’, preferably within the last year, the be-all and end-all of dress code. Not that the girls disliked her, though.
“Hey Sue. What’s up?”
“Oh, just thought I would watch the boys, and you seem to have found the best seat.” Susan sat down, scooching her skirt up so it wouldn’t scrape on the concrete of the low wall. Susan also wore skirts, hoping that they succeeded in emphasizing her hips (nicely feminine) and de-emphasized her thighs (fat).
“And you? Anything exciting happening in your neck of the woods?”
“Ben and I signed up for a summer camp last night, first time we’ve ever done that on the internet. Whenever we’ve gone before we’ve always found an ad in some magazine, sent away for the brochure, filled in the form, etc. But this time my darling brother didn’t decide until last week that he wanted to go, and so we had no time at all. I’ve spent the last week on every night trying to find us something within a thousand miles of here.”
“So you couldn’t get in at Big Bend Lake Camp, like where we went that other year?”
“Nope, full. I could not find anything with any space except this one little camp. It sounds really great though, the facilities and everything anyway. Half-way up a mountain, with its own small lake. You can go canoeing anywhere the lake, land on any of the shores, and go on walks all over the area. They own all the land for miles around.
“Wow. It does sound neat.” Susan’s idea of a great camp did not involve long walks around lakes, but she liked agreeing with others.
“Yeah. We like the fact that it’s a small camp. Most of the camps we have gone to before have been so big, you just kind of get lost in the crowd. This one only has six cabins, three for the boys and three for the girls.
“Ben’s thrilled because the boys cabins are out in the woods… you can’t even see the main buildings from them. Boys are so insane. Can you imagine, having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night by traipsing through the woods and over a field… and then having to come back again when you’re done?”
“So you don’t like the cabins?”
“Not the boys cabins, but I love the girls’ cabins! They are all in the top of this three story converted barn, inside and with a bathroom right there… and the view! The web site had a bunch of pictures taken from the windows of the various girls cabins… you can see all the way down the valley, and across to the other mountains and everything…. Ooooh.”
“Wow, sounds perfect!”
“Almost? It sounded like it has everything you wanted.”
“Ben and I don’t know how we feel about going to a church camp.”
“Oh. A church camp? I went to one once. It was no different from the other camps I’ve been to, not really. Prayer at meals, some ‘inspirational’ speaker or something. We once had this fantastic puppeteer come. He would have his puppets put on stories about loving people with some handicap-- that kind of thing.”
Susan’s family, unlike Ben and Beth’s, went faithfully to the local, popular, Presbyterian Church. Beth, and Ben for that matter, had gone there several times to see various programs etc. A socially conscious church; all the important families of the town felt more or less obligated to attend it.
Mr. and Mrs. Fredrick’s, Ben and Beth’s parents, felt no such calling. He wrote books, both in his own right and as a ghostwriter for various celebrities. She worked mostly as a homemaker, but also dabbled in various types of art. They were not part of the town ‘elite’, politically or socially speaking. They had a pottery shed behind the house, with a second story that served for painting. Several times a year they would take trips around the countryside taking pictures, and then she would use these for the rest of the time as inspiration for her landscapes. Ben, Beth, and sometimes their friends, would often serve as models when she felt in the mood to paint humans. A variety of animals, captured and held for the short time also came and went as artistic subjects.
“Well we should be able to survive that. You’ll have to talk to my brother and reassure him. He went a bit ballistic about the church camp business.”
“Sure, no problem. What’s the name of the camp?”
“I forget but I have a print out of their home page in my pocket-- here.” She passed the crumpled page over to Susan.
“Deeper Truth Bible Camp,” Susan read out, Oh.” A long pause. “Oh.”
“Have you heard of it?” Asked Beth, who had been watching the soccer game and eating a particularly messy piece of cherry pie that her mother had sent her in her lunch box and not paying attention to Susan’s reaction.
“Well, sort of. Did you… do you…”
Finally Beth began to notice Susan’s strange attitude. “What is it?”
“This camp… its… it’s… well, I’ve heard some strange things about it.”
“What? Something wrong with the staff? Somebody involved in abuse or something?” The school they went to had just had a special program on avoiding child abuse, called ‘Playing it Safe’, and it had everyone still on edge.
“Oh, no, nothing like that… it’s just, well, spooky.”
“Spooky??!? Like in ghosts or something?” Beth stared. “You believe nonsense like that?”
“Hey. I didn’t say I believed it. I just said I had heard it.”
“Ha, Ben will be thrilled. A Ghost camp for Christians. Or perhaps a camp for Christian ghosts… Ha.”
Susan was a bit put out. She always felt very uncomfortable talking about ‘Christian’ things… especially outside of church. “That’s not the important thing, of course, I just thought you would find it funny to hear. But you do realize that it is a Bible camp.”
Beth stared at her. “Well, it says Bible right in the title. You say it as if it had some great and awesome significance. Christians all believe in the Bible, don’t they?”
Now Susan squirmed uncomfortably. “Well, yes, I mean, no, I mean…” She trailed off. What did she mean? “People who put the word “Bible” in the title of something, they’re usually not our kind of Christian.”
Among people of her own group, attending her own church, this code phrase would have signaled something very significant. Beth, who had only attended an occasional Christmas type program, missed her careful inference entirely.
“Oh, that… well, I don’t particularly care about different brands of Christians. Why should we? We don’t believe any of it. Not that I even know enough of it to disbelieve. I guess I’ll get to learn about this other kind of Christian and then afterwards you can tell me about all the differences.”
Susan didn’t like that idea, but she figured she could just conveniently forget about it. As she sat there, the two of them chatting aimlessly about the game, she thought more about the idea of summer camp. Finally, she said,
“Say, did that camp have any more room?”
Beth turned and stared casually at her, surprised. Did Susan want to go to the camp just to go with her? Or was she interested in Ben??
Susan caught her look and explained,
“I hadn’t signed up for a camp this year because I thought lots of people going to stay in town this summer. But all of my friends have started telling me about trips that they are going to take, or that they are going to go to camp. And my parents, well, I had thought that they at least would stay home and that I could spend some time with them. But my dad told me last night that he and mom are going some big bank conference, and so I will have to stay home with a babysitter.”
“But if it would bother you guys…”
“Bother? No, it wouldn’t bother us. I’d love to have you go. I enjoy going to a summer camp with someone else around that I already know. I think the camp still has room for another girl, it still did last night anyway. I’ll call you on the internet tonight, and tell you what I’ve found.”
“Great,” Beth mumbled to herself. Then she opened up her NetVideoPhone program and clicked on Susan’s address.
“What’s great?” asked Ben from his beanbag chair behind her.
Beth turned in her chair, “Hey, you better scram; I’m about to NetVideo with Susan.”
“Why, what’s the matter with me? Is my underwear dirty or something?” asked Ben, staring down at his Jockey shorts.
“Whatever, it’s your funeral.” Beth replied. “She’s just coming on now.”
Ben looked up, startled, and saw that the “Connecting” bar on the computer screen, and almost fully across.
“Hey!” He yelled, and darted out of the NetVideo Cameras range, “You might warn a guy.”
“I did warn you, you just didn’t believe me.”
“I thought you were kidding… why are you…?”
“Hey Beth” The speakers came alive with Susan’s voice.
“Hey Sue, great news, I got on the website and they still have a couple of places left for girls. Do you really want to go? And have you talked with your parents?”
“Yes, and yes. They said it I could go.”
“So they weren’t freaked out by your going to a ‘ghost’ camp, or a camp that wasn’t your kind of Christian?”
“Oh, I didn’t tell them about any of that. I just said that a group of my friends and I had suddenly decided to go to a camp, and that the only camp we could find left this season was this little one off in the woods, but that we thought it would be fun, and different. What they wanted to know what who I was going with. When I told them, they said I could go.” (Actually, they had said, “The Fredricks? A rather Bohemian couple, but no one seems to object to them. I have heard that she is well respected in the art world. And of course, his books sell extraordinarily well. Quite acceptable people, in a strange sort of way.” But Susan saw no more need to tell Beth that then that she had felt like she had needed to tell her parents the name of the camp; which they would have objected to. The less her parents knew about the camp, the better. Which reminded her…) “Say, could I get a ride up with you two, it doesn’t make sense really to take two cars, and that way we can talk in the car on the way there.”
”Sure, no problem. I guess my dad will drive us… but neither of them would mind if you came along. As long as you don’t mind going in our bus J.”
“Ha, I remember, you guys have that big van thing. Why do you have that, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Oh, we take these trips all over for my mom’s art stuff… and sometimes for my Dads writing. And we can sleep five, and it has a little stove and a little PortaPotty that can fit into it when we go on an overnight. We really enjoy traveling around in it, and it is much cheaper than staying at hotels and stuff.”
“Oh. Wow, that would be fun.” Replied Susan, who had never worried about the price of hotels, or the price of anything else for that matter.
“Yeah, it will be… we’ll probably get to overnight on the way to the camp.”
“Will we have to travel a long way?”
“Pretty far, and in a funny direction where there aren’t many freeways. Of course, it wouldn’t make much sense to put a camp right on a major freeway, eh? Not very rustic.”
Susan giggled, and the girls chatted about this and that for a while, and then signed off.
“What were you doing?” queried Ben, coming out of hiding.
“I was talking with Susan; she wants to come to camp with us. I figured you wouldn’t mind?”
“No, Susan’s boring and stuck up, but I don’t care who you bring with you.” Ben shrugged. “Just warn me next time when you get ready to go online with one of your girl friends.”
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