Wheeling Park Ch. 02byAmeaner©
I stepped outside while mom was in the bathroom the next morning, Jarid looking at me like I was making an attempt at the prison wall. In the cool, still dewy grass with my bare feet and the same shorts and T-shirt I slept in, I walked around in aimless circles, really just to feel the wet grass and look at my surroundings.
'Naturalized' was the word that hit me. Across the lane was the first row of trailers and RVs, only partially visible within all the trees that had been left standing. The lot we occupied was nice too, with a large shade tree and thick woods behind, bordered by a drainage ditch. In the not too far distance, I could hear a chainsaw running and two or more men talking from a different direction as the park woke up.
There was a sound a lot like Jarid's motorbike coming down the lane. It turned out to be an ATV being ridden by a big guy with long hair, beard and mustache, and a red headband. He looked surprised when he saw me, but smiled and did something that looked like a waving salute with a bottle of orange juice he was holding.
I smiled and returned a little wave as he went by.
It was nice there, I had to admit. Whether 'nice' was enough to dump my hard earned spot in hockey school down the crapper was another matter, but it seemed I had no choice either way. As for Mom, Jarid and I had come to the conclusion in Junior's truck the night before that she was going through some kind of midlife crisis thing that people talked about. That, or her mind snapped at Dad's wedding. I was a bit worried, yeah, but not like I was the night before, when we were turning off the highway. No, standing there at the time, any worries were more about her mental condition. She was acting totally unusual, standing on things she never would have before and a lot more decisive in a funny way. Like she was on some kind of mission.
But, as I looked around myself and after having met Junior, I had to admit that, next to hockey school, this was the best way I could think of to spend at least some of my Summer. We never were able to pin her down to a timeline, but overall mom had actually done good for someone who never left the couch if she could help it. I wondered if she even brought any of her Oprah magazines.
"Jen, I told you we're having breakfast, would you please get in here?" she called from inside the RV.
"Yuuup.", I agreed, walking over to the drainage ditch to look at the incredibly dense trees and undergrowth, imagining a time when there were no white people on the continent and the whole place was just full of trees, with no roads or-"
"Whatcha lookin at sweetheart?" a slightly rough voice from behind asked.
I turned to see an older guy making his way over the grass towards me. He looked like he was in his late fifties, or maybe early sixties, short legged, barrel chested, but a powerful looking man, nonetheless. He wore khaki shorts, a loud, half buttoned Hawaiian shirt, sandals and Foster Grant style sunglasses with an amber shade. He puffed from a cigarette as he joined me.
"Um,... I was just looking at how thick the woods are and wondering how the Indians ever got around."
He seemed to find that a little amusing and offered, "Well I'll tell you, it's a pain in the ass to clear and it goes back a ways from what we can tell. Lotsa pickery bushes in there, too, but it's all good for security."
"Yeah. What's your name, sweetheart?"
This made me blush. The old guy had a funny way about him that made it okay for him to call me 'sweetheart', where I might have kicked some other old guy in the nads for it back home.
"I'm Jenifer. We got in last night, I hope its okay."
"Well now, who's 'us'?", he asked, politely.
"Me, my Mom and my Brother. We were kinda stuck for a place, but a man named Junior came along and let us in."
"Yup." Mom's supposed to talk to someone named Elmo this morning."
"Jen, I told you to get in here- Oh. Hello." my surprised mother said in the opened side door of the RV.
"You'd be Mum, I take it?" the man asked.
"Uh,... yes. My name is Trudy." she said, moving further from the door and offering her hand.
He shook it and replied, "Pleased to meet you, Trudy. Name's Ollie. Just got in last night, huh?"
"Yes, I'm afraid we were unprepared for our little vacation."
"Nice rig ya got there. The branches didn't do her any favours, though."
"Thank you. The scratches are alright, these things are meant to be enjoyed, right?"
"That they are." Ollie smiled.
"Would you like a coffee?"
"Sure.", he accepted, his entire face now embracing his smile.
"Please come in. Jenifer, you too, I'm not telling you again."
"Yup.", I answered, following Ollie into the RV. This guy was interesting.
Once Jarid was introduced and we were all sitting at the booth table, Ollie with a coffee, he asked, "So, Jenifer tells me Junior let you in."
"Yes.", Mom confirmed, "I sure hope it's okay with everyone, he did tell me that this is a private park."
"It's okay." he said with finality. "Damned good coffee, thanks."
"Oh, please, think nothing of it."
"Junior's my pup, by the way."
"Oh, really? I bet it's good to spend time with your family in the summer at a nice place like this."
"We love it out here." Ollie agreed, nodding. "Junior and some of the boys even come out in the winter with their skidoos. Gonna get himself killed on that bastard thing one of these days, but the older they get, the less they listen."
I expected Mom to faint at his casual use of the word 'bastard' in front of us, but she barely winced, was more surprised and amused than anything.
"Tell me about it. You should see these ones, it's like I'm not even there when I speak half the time."
"I blame those idiot computers."
"Yes,...", mom said, "But, it was the TV for us, wasn't it?"
He laughed a little, shaking his head and explaining, "I got a whole god dam box of World War Two videos and shit that I watch over there at night."
Moms smile darkened just a little at this as she looked down for a moment.
"I'm right next door on your right, by the way. Feel free to come on over and say hi to Shelly and me sometime, you kids too."
"Thanks, we will. In fact, if it's alright with Elmo, I'd like to stay on here and try out a cheap little hibachi I bought yesterday, maybe later this evening, once I figure out how to pop the sides of the RV out and everything else. You and Shelly are more than welcome to come over, we've got plenty.
"Mighty neighbourly of you, Trudy. And like I said, you're in if you want. I'll tell Elmo."
I was just finishing up the breakfast I'd bolted with Jarid, both of us watching and listening to this conversation, when someone called from outside.
"B'right out!" Ollie called, getting up and taking the mug of coffee with him. Mom, Jarid and I followed him out the door to meet who, I guessed, was Elmo.
Far from the cuddly, orange critter from Sesame Street, this guy was big and tall. Taller than Junior and, while not as finely muscled, stocky and solid nonetheless. Green eyes, short dark hair with a slightly graying beard, I guessed him to be in his early forties, but I was never a great judge of older people's ages. He stepped forward with a huge, beat up work boot that went with his short sleeved jackshirt, ruined blue jeans covered in woodchips and a dirty old cap that said 'Harley Davidson' on it as Ollie introduced us. We all shook his large, calloused paw and then Ollie started taking over.
"Trudy and her kids would like to stay for a little while, so why not give her a week to week billing deal- if that's good with you, Trudy?"
"Um, yes, that sounds ideal." mom agreed, listening to Ollie pave the way for us.
"This way," the older man went on, speaking to Elmo again, "if they decide they wanna stay, Trudy can just pay in advance later on when she wants."
"Okay.", the giant owner agreed readily. "The lot rent is a hundred bucks a week, you good with that?"
"Yes, that's great, way lower than at Victoria Park."
"Another thing that's better here than at Vicky is that we're clean. Nobody litters here, so if you go exploring in the woods, you gotta pack out everything you bring in and there's garbage barrels all over the park here."
"Of course, I Understand, that's only reasonable. Kids?" mom asked us.
We both nodded and said we understood, still in awe of the giant, I think. (Who would say otherwise to a guy like that anyway, right?)
"We got no lifeguards, so the general rule here is that nobody swims alone." Elmo went on. "And if someone can't swim, they gotta be supervised by two people who can, unless they're over twentyfive."
"You all swim?" Ollie asked?"
We all informed him that we did, to which he nodded.
"Okay,", Elmo went on, "we do have our organized events, so people can party without bugging others, but you're okay the rest of the time too, as long as your music isn't too loud and there isn't a lot of hollering, just common sense stuff, right?"
Mom nodded, understanding 'low key' if anyone on the planet did.
"Basically, just as long as you don't mess the place up and try not to get on peoples nerves, you're good. Jarid, Junior tells me you got a bike."
"Yes.", he answered, nodding.
"Here's the rule, Jar': Keep it quiet at night and you're alright, make your noise during the day and you're still okay. And keep the speed down in the park, got it?"
"Yes.", he answered again.
"Good. Whaddya got, anyway?" he asked, looking around the lot.
"Eighty-four XR 250." Jarid answered hesitantly, yet still with pride in his tone. "It's tied to the back of the Winnebago."
"Cool. Dirt bikes are the only rice-rockets we don't look down on here."
"You don't go fuckin' off on that thing without the boys around, dear." Ollie admonished with a severe finger at Jarid. (Mom never even said anything about this language!) "The locals don't like us here. You won't even see Elmo taking his machine out alone, so don't you,... got it?"
"I got it.", he assured, looking like he'd suddenly found himself on a different planet and probably taken by surprise at being called 'dear'.
"I see you got no car.", Ollie said to mom.
"No, and I was actually wondering how I'd resupply. Something else I'm afraid I forgot about."
"Just as well, cause the same safety rules apply in town as in the trails. You three need something, you ask me, Junior or Elmo here and, if we don't have it, we can get it, or take you out to get it with the boys. You go see Junior about gas for your bike, dear."
This was almost amusing, despite the severe tone he used when warning us about the locals. These people were very different from any I ever ran into, before then.
"Don't any of you go wandering off from the boys when you're out and don't associate with the locals, no matter what they sa- What are you smirkin' about, sweetheart?"
I started, my smirk gone as he pointed at me.
"I'm sorry, I just-"
"You just nothin, this is serious shit."
"Junior says they had a run-in with Mathis at the station last night." Elmo told Ollie.
"Listen to him, Jen, you too, Jarid." Mom said sternly.
"You listen too, Trudy." Ollie said, pointing at her now. "No offense, but you three stick out like a sore thumb and they,..." He paused, regarding the three of us in turn from behind his Foster Grants before dropping his finger. "Just don't leave the park without the boys, not even all three of yas at once, until you're ready to go back home."
"There you are!" a female voice said from around a tall hedge of trees. "What in hell are you sounding off about at this hour of- Oh! New people! Hello, my name is Shelly!"
Shelly, the woman Ollie mentioned earlier and who I figured was his wife, was about his age, plump, friendly faced and possessed of a bust line that dwarfed even Moms and mine put together. They were huge, probably with their own gravitational pull, still with some lift and bouncing up and down slightly as the curly haired blonde hurried across the lawn toward us.
"Awww, there goes the neighborhood." Ollie moaned sarcastically.
"Oh, shut up, you old fart!" She said before cheerily introducing herself to all of us while Ollie rolled his eyes and dug out a cell phone.
After the laughing, the enthusiastic woman introduced herself to Mom, who obviously found her smile infectious, then moved on to Jared, pecking his cheek with her lips and actually hitting his chest with her knockers in the process. He looked like he was going to blow a neuron and I was smiling at this when she did the same thing to me.
"Yeah, whatcha doin?" Ollie asked somebody on the other end of his call.
"I'll run in and get the first weeks rent now, just one moment please." Mom asked Elmo before turning for the camper.
"Later. I got some shit to do and I don't want the money on me, plus I gotta get you a key to the gate."
"Well, get up to lot seven, Trudy's stayin' and she needs to get hooked up.", Ollie answered.
"Oh, but I don't have a car.", Mom said. "I probably don't really need a key."
"Then send the boys up, they ain't doin' anything." Ollie said to his phone. "And send Maddie with 'em on their way."
"We got plenty of vehicles and, if you're here for any amount of time, it'll Prob'ly be easier if you got your own key.", Elmo said.
"Talk to ya later, bout three?" Elmo asked."
"Well fuck, Junior, just send some fuckin' food along, how hard is it? ..... Yeah."
"Oh, please, please don't go to any trouble, Ollie.", Mom asked, her only answer being one of the old guy's hands waving her off as Elmo disappeared around the corner on some other business.
"Oh, it's fine, it's what they do.", Shelly assured her with a laugh and a more flamboyant wave of her own hand. "Is this one of those pop-out models?", she asked, looking at the Winnebago.
"Yeah? One sec- Elmo!", Ollie called. "Junior says we got spare lanterns?"
"Can you grab em when you come back at three?"
"No prob, where's Junior?"
"Be at your place in ten. -Junior,... Yeah I just told him. Good, see ya later on."
"Ollie, do you know anything about pop-outs?" Shelly called.
"No, that what this is?" he asked, putting the phone in his pocket.
"Yes, but Trudy doesn't know how to operate it, shouldn't that be done before it's leveled?"
"Probably. You know anything about it, Jarid?"
"Well, go help your mum find the owner's manual and we'll see what the hell."
"Okay.", he said, glad to have something to do, it seemed.
He, Shelly and Mom went in as I approached Ollie.
"Can I help?"
He looked me up and down and said with a smile, "No, you're just a girl!"
"I'm not just a girl, I play hockey." I said with a big smile.
He laughed, saying, "Now that's just wrong, sweetheart. Listen, why don't you go put something on your feet and take a look around? Come back later, if you wanna help, 'bout two hours."
"Go tell your mother you're going." he said, taking a drink of coffee, which had to be cold by then. "And remember, don't leave the park without the boys."
I stepped up into the RV where Mom was trying to serve Shelly Coffee and help Jarid find the owner's manual at the same time.
"Mom, Ollie said I could go walk around, I'll be back in a couple of hours."
"Just remember what he said, don't leave the park!"
"I won't!" I yelled on my way out the door with a pair of orange crocs in my hand.
I should explain a few things about myself, here. First, I'm not the same person at home and around the neighborhood as I am at school. School is business, like hockey is business, and I take my studies every bit as seriously as Jarid does and like we've always been told to by both mom and dad, so we wouldn't end up as penniless street people, begging for cigarettes in a homeless shelter. So, when I'm at school, I don't 'hang out', other than with the girls on the team and, even then, only in the locker room. At lunch, I study, or prepare for afternoon classes with Jarid in the library and, if that sounds weird, or boring, that's just what it takes to graduate with honours, like we both did.
At home, once the school uniform is off, things are different. Once my homework is done, or on the weekends when I don't think it's necessary to study for some test or semester exams, I'll go out and you'll think I'm like any one of the girls, by the way I dress and act. Actually, I'm probably a little worse than the average girl because I, as people have said, am the aggressive type. I play Offensive Forward and hey, if you think the talk is bad in the boy's locker room, you should hear the girls. Sometimes, some of that locker room talk has surprised friends at home, not to mention their parents. I'd even once had sex with my ex-boyfriend, less than a year before, while I was pretty sure Jarid was still a virgin.
So, if you're wondering how I could go meandering about a strange campground wearing what I woke up in, all I can say is that it seemed natural for that place. I never even thought of it at first, not until I saw what had to be Junior's lot at the end of the row, judging by the big familiar truck in the short dirt drive amidst several motorcycles and ATVs. Remembering how big and attractive he was, I naturally thought to check my look and that's when I remembered. I would have expected Mom to say something about it, but I guessed it was such a busy morning that she didn't take any more notice than I did.
The thing was, though, those campers who I saw outside their trailers were dressed more or less like I was anyway, with housecoats and even a few nighties, proving that it was natural there which, in my mind, would only make it natural for me to act the same way. When in Rome. That's what they say, right?
A lot of these people would wave, even call out a 'hello' or 'good morning', and, while I was reserved in my replies at first, as the new kid in town, my greetings in return became more casual and sincere. These were very friendly and laid back people.
At one point, I was walking along the track in front of the first row, looking down at the water and wondering if it was okay to just wade in up to my knees alone, when I heard another greeting. I turned, shading my eyes with the edge of my hand on my brow.
"Hi! C'mere, hon!"
It was a black woman in a skimpy, lime green bikini with a white smile that stood out to be seen for miles, waving me over from under the awning of a trailer I'd already passed. My reserve returning in some measure, I walked back along the track and into the lot to see what she wanted with a polite smile on my face, despite those reserves.
"Day-um! a real live Barbie doll!", the tall, curvy woman exclaimed with a smile, looking me up and down. "You one of the ones that came in last night? What's your name, hon?"
"Yes, we came with a man named Junior. I'm Jenifer."
"Bull-shit, you're Barbie now." she laughed. "I'm Robbie."
"Hi, Robbie, how are you?" I asked politely.
"Well, I'd be a lot better if I could have my morning swim, but I don't think my friend was out of bed like she said she was on the phone. You swim?"
Just then, a big black man, Robbies husband, I guessed, came out of the trailer wearing a pair of grey boxer briefs and nothing else. He did a double take at me and, embarrassingly, I did one of my own at the obvious heavy cargo those boxers held. Luckily, if either one of them noticed, they didn't indicate so in any way.
"Jet, this is Barbie."
"Shit, I guess she is!" he said with an appreciative smile, offering his hand. "How are ya, baby?"
Now I'm embarrassed, self conscious and a little paranoid about if they saw where I'd pointedly looked as I felt a flush coming. Not something that happens to me very often.