I was such a wimp.
As before, start from the beginning before reading this section. Thanks.
THE SCENT OF VANILLA - PART THREE
Saturday morning arrived.
Much too early.
Everyone had talked about the previous evening's events well into the night and after finding another six pack of dad-beer, I learned the deep, personal meaning of the words "first hangover", with incredible insight. Breakfast was a Snickers bar which after downing I made very serious plans to sleep a few more hours when suddenly, Rick came back into the tent. Jumping upon his bunk and he loudly proclaimed, "The time is nigh, there is diabolical adventure awaiting us, my young charge!"
I simply groaned in protest, hoping he would simply shut up. His flair for the dramatic was wearing thin.
"You will arise from the ashes of experience like the Phoenix. There are mysteries to share and secrets to create. I am going to show you something today very few lads of your few years have witnessed," he continued.
Again, I said nothing, certain that he had finished the rest of the demon Budweiser and hoped he would re-create right before my aching eyes Ray Milland's performance in "The Lost Weekend."
The passing out cold part.
"I will give you one hour to bathe your putrid smelling flesh and get dressed in anything except a Boy Scout uniform, and to meet me at the rifle range. And oh yes, bring your hiking boots. You are about to follow the yellow brick road to Oz. We are crossing over to the promised land. I am going to reveal to you the secret trail to Camp Buckthorn!" The last few words were spoken inches from my face in a tone of hushed reverence. Knowing the full impact this would have on me, he leaped up and flung open our tent flaps, laughing wildly as he headed for the shower room.
I rose from my bunk on one elbow and grinned as if I been handed the keys to a brand new 1969 Mustang Convertible. Camp Buckthorn. The magic in that name echoed in my surprisingly clearing head. Camp Buckthorn. Twenty-six miles away if you traveled the winding mountain roads which lead to its closely guarded gates. Camp Buckthorn. The existence of a secret trail to its outlying environs had been speculated on for many years, which would reduce the traveling distance to only two miles. Camp Buckthorn. The closest camp in the area where it was well renown to inhabit that creature which held much interest, yet a great deal of mystery to me; girls.
As I made my way to the showers, I resolved to speak frankly with my parents next weekend and confess my old transgressions. I further resolved to create new ones just two miles away.
The trail, as revealed to me by Rick, was located near our camp lake and beyond the rifle range by several hundred yards. If one were not actually looking closely, it would be very easy to miss. The entire hike lasted only about forty-fivw minutes, but as we rounded the last switchback and our eyes rested on the roof tops of the Buckthorn cabins, I knew I was a world away from where our journey had begun.
I could hear voices and laughter wafting through the trees, many of which were immediately identifiable as belonging to females. My heart was pounding in my throat as Rick and I sauntered closer. I attempted to appear as if I had been a longtime Buckthorn resident, but as we encountered the first group of girls, it was quite obvious that we were outsiders. Maybe it our hiking boots or dashing good looks. Maybe it was because we did not appear to belong at a church camp.
A friendly, yet cautious woman who may have been twenty years old, came up to Rick and asked, "May I help you, gentlemen?"
"Oh God," I thought, "we were no more than ten steps into this foreign land and we have been identified as enemy agents!"
My worldly friend, however, in his usual confident tone, simply smiled and answered, "Why yes, we're looking for Vickie Rogers. Could you tell her that Rick is here and if she has a moment, we would like to talk to her."
"Sure, just wait here."
As the young woman left us standing near the group of young girls with whom she had previously been speaking and laughing, I turned to him and asked, "Vickie, who in the hell is Vickie?"
"Shut up, Terry. She's a girl I go to school with and I knew she was going to be here today. And if you are lucky, her cousin is here to meet you too."
Little did I know that Rick had planned this rendezvous for several weeks, and that part of the plan included me meeting Vickie's younger cousin.
Several minutes later an attractive blonde seventeen year old girl, accompanied by a shorter brunette walked towards us.
"Rick, you made it!" she called out.
For the next half hour Rick and Vickie talked between themselves, exchanging stories of the still early summer and the previous school year. I smiled at her cousin, and even may have said hello, I'm not sure, but I couldn't keep my eyes off of her.
Finally, I officially broke our silence, "My. Name. Is. Terry," I stuttered, as I extended my hand.
She returned the handshake and said, "Hi, my name is Donna."
Donna. This incredibly striking beauty had a name. Donna. She stood as high as my chin and had straight dark brown hair that reached her tiny waist. Her large brown eyes shimmered in the pine filtered sunlight and her hand was as soft as velvet. Donna. Her smile was not forced, nor nervous, but was proffered for me without hesitation.
Miss January immediately vanished from my mind forever.