Barbara and Lisa gathered old wood from the crumbling house and twigs and small branches from the surrounding area.
Just outside the tent, I built a pit of rocks and started a small fire. We huddled around, stretching our arms and legs from our long drive. Before the gloaming, we explored the house once more and found an old placard with the name of, ‘Elbert Johnson.’ To the best of my recollection, it could have even been ‘Egbert Johnson.’
We were a fantastic world away. Out came the cassette player. Otis Redding sang ‘These Arms of Mine,’ I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.’ I worried about moisture saturation but the steep canvas slope repelled the water before it soaked through. Sleep found us as the rain increased.
At some point the rain had stopped. I woke to a buzzing mosquito at my ear. The others slept, heads covered under blankets and towels. Light snores the only evidence of their existence.
Sweat discomfited my face and neck. I propped on one elbow. The soft stamp of pine needles underfoot alerted my inherent fear. Who isn’t afraid of the dark? Maybe only Virginia Wolf.
I have to admit I froze. The buzzing mosquito wouldn’t quit no matter how many times I swiped at the irritating insect and blew hard breaths from my upturned lip. If I didn’t stir and lay in total quiet the footsteps would disappear. The fire had died. Smoke drifted from the darkened embers.
Was that Johnson guy living somewhere in the woods. I should never have agreed to the whole idea. I could have been in my own bed or my girlfriend’s bed, provided her parents weren’t home instead of some hair-brain idea to commune with nature.
Eastern Long Island was a beautiful place during the day. I grabbed my father’s hatchet and held it to my chest. I had to relieve myself and squeezed my legs and shut my eyes to hold it together. I even
shifted my thoughts to tomorrows ocean romp and the possible sight of beautiful women in bikinis. Thank god my girlfriend wasn’t a mind reader. Vic was.
The steps in the woods seemed to circle us, but I didn’t move. Back and forth the rustling continued. One corner of the tent dripped water. At last I could take the drama no longer and bounded to my knees, scurried out from under the tent and faced my worst fear with a raised hatchet.
One will never know the difficulty of relieving oneself with a buzzing mosquito at one’s ear, wary to a perceived intruder while holding a sharp hatchet too close to one’s private parts. But the discharge was luxurious.
The next morning we awoke to some other interloper in a car who pulled alongside our tent without the care of how close he came with his tires to our abode. His broody, sullen dark face and eyes scanned the four of us as we sat under the canvas tarp. After I exchanged a few words with the stranger, I stepped out of the tent with the hatchet in my hand.
He never introduced himself, or turned off the motor, or exited the vehicle.
I told him he was parked too close to us when he had the whole of the property to position his vehicle. I guess he got my meaning when I pointed at him with the hatchet as I apprised him of his gross ill-mannered approach. Who ever said inanimate objects couldn’t talk.
That was long ago.
Today I split my time between Florida and Bridgehampton. Who said once you left you could never come back. Eastern Long Island is a beautiful area.
Oh yeah, I’m really digging this place.
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