“Is everyone alright?” I panted when the car screeched to a halt.
“Yeah,” Sasha groaned. He’d been asleep and hit his head on my seat when I slammed on the brakes but he looked none the worse for wear.
“What happened?” Alec yawned. He’d been asleep too.
I ignored Alec for a moment. He was talking so he was obviously okay. I looked over at Chase.
“I’m fine. How’s your…” Chase patted his chest.
“I’m okay,” I assured him.
“What happened?” Alec repeated himself.
“I-I hit something.”
“Oh my God,” said Sasha. “What was it?”
“I’m not sure. It happened so fast. We were coming around a curve, it’s raining and then it was just there in the road,” I spluttered.
“It was a dog or something,” said Chase.
“Out here?” asked Sasha.
“I don’t know, we better check it out,” I stated.
We climbed out of the car on wobbly legs. Our bodies were flooded with adrenaline when I hit whatever it was, now it was wearing off and our limbs felt like rubber. We slowly made our way around the front of the Beemer and there it was in the road, a beautiful little deer.
“Awww, it’s just a baby,” Sasha sniffled.
“Poor little fella,” Chase dabbed at his eyes.
Alec didn’t say anything which was something of a first but he was sniffling too.
“I didn’t mean to. I didn’t see it,” I wiped the tears from my own eyes with the back of my hand.
“It wasn’t your fault,” Chase patted me on the back.
“Well, it may not have been your fault but the little guy sure took his revenge on your car,” said Alec.
I shot him a dirty look then surveyed the damage myself.
“Son of a bitch,” I swore as I took in the smashed grill and dented bumper.
Even though I was pissed about my car it wasn’t the deer’s fault. My friends and I turned our attention back to the poor little animal and as we stood there sniffling I couldn’t help but wonder how it had all gone so terribly wrong.
It all started two weeks earlier. Spring break was fast approaching and my friends wanted to make the most of it as Alec and Sasha would be graduating in a few months. Our first thought was to hit Florida for a little surf and sun but our parents quickly shot that idea down. All four sets of parents seemed to believe we had no business making a trip like that at our age.
We pouted for a few days but eventually Sasha suggested camping and the others quickly agreed. I was the lone holdout. To my way of thinking roughing it meant staying at a three star hotel but my friends were talking about sleeping in a tent! I wasn’t remotely excited about the trip but the guys were and I really didn’t want to disappoint them, especially Chase.
To be honest I was surprised when Sasha suggested camping. He and I have a lot in common and I never would have figured him for an outdoorsman. Three days before the trip Alec was taking his little brother, Lucien, to a dentist appointment in Binghamton, Chase had a paper to finish before we could leave and Sasha and I found ourselves at the sporting goods store stocking up on supplies.
“Can I ask you something?” I said as we checked out sleeping bags.
“I think you know by now you can ask me anything,” Sasha smiled.
“Ok, well, why are we going on this trip?”
“I don’t think I understand,” said Sasha.
“What I mean is you don’t seem like the camping type.”
“I didn’t use to be,” said Sasha. “When we were little Bobby used to beg our dads to take us camping. I thought it was a terrible idea at first, I mean who wants to sleep in the dirt and crap in a trench?”
“We’re going to crap in a trench?” my eyes bugged out.
“No,” Sasha giggled. “But I was eight at the time and I thought that’s what you did on a camping trip.”
“So what happened?”
“It turned out to be a lot of fun. Our dads showed me and Bobby how to pitch the tent, gather firewood, and cook over an open flame. I love being out in the woods. You’d be amazed how many stars you don’t see because of the light pollution even in a little town like ours,” Sasha explained. “Are you having second thoughts about going?”
“No, Chase would be really disappointed and I just couldn’t do that to him.”
“That’s good. Besides the fact he adores you and would do anything to make you happy, he’s got that innocent face. I bet he makes the best-or worst-puppy dog eyes depending on your perspective,” Sasha giggled.
“He is kind of cute huh?” I grinned.
Sasha gave me a playful shove. We giggled and continued our shopping.
A few days later our supplies were tied down to the roof rack of my car and we hit the road at the crack of dawn.
“I’m just as excited about the trip as you guys but why did we have to leave so early?” Chase yawned.
“When you go on a road trip you’ve gotta head out early. We ride with the sunrise,” said Alec cheerfully.
“Plus you have the added adventure of riding with a driver who might fall asleep at any moment leading to our violent death in a flaming ball of molten steel,” I yawned.
“That’s why we took your car, Leafy,” Alec grinned.
“I thought it was because your car has the tensile strength of Kleenex?” I grinned.
“Hey, my car might be a piece of shit but it takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’,” Alec retorted.
“It’s gotta be a tough little car to hold up under the weight of all that rust and bird shit,” Chase quipped.
We bantered back and forth like that for the next two hours as we meandered down the highway. There is so much more to New York State then New York City. It’s a beautiful place and as we took in the pastoral countryside I started to get into the spirit of the trip. That is until we encountered our first disaster.
Sasha was the only one of us who had ever been camping before but somehow we’d left it to Alec to make our reservations at the campground. At first sight he’d done a great job. Black Bear Campground was a beautiful place on a lake. We checked in at the camp office and got directions to our campsite. We followed the dirt road along the lake shore then turned inland. We continued to drive until we found our site which turned out to be right next to the bathroom and communal showers.
The lot was bare save for a few tufts of grass. A well-worn footpath denoted the eastern boarder of the site where other campers walked through to get to the bathroom. Of all the campsites in the campground we had the worst.
“Um Alec, when I suggested you get something on the water I meant the lake, not toilet adjacent,” I complained.
“It’s all they had available and besides, being next to the bathroom will come in handy if Chase cooks again,” Alec teased.
“Hey,” Chase whined. A couple of months earlier Chase’s parents were out for the night and he had us all over for dinner. He made a big pot of spaghetti which turned out to be really good. The only problem was when we went shopping he accidently grabbed the high fiber noodles. The REALLY high fiber noodles. I hate to be crude but I don’t think any of us shit right for a week!
“It’s not so bad,” said Sasha. “We’re going to be at the lake most of the time anyway. Let’s get camp set up.”
We agreed Sasha was right and quickly got to work. We unloaded the car and then Alec and Chase set about collecting firewood while Sasha and I set up the tent. We’d borrowed the tent from Sasha’s parents and I started reading the directions. If I was as smart as I like to think I am I’d have let Sasha put up the tent. He’d grown up using the damn thing and all I did with the directions was complicate the situation until I was tangled up in the rigging. Sasha’s a good natured sort and he didn’t give me too much grief when he came to my rescue.
As he tried to untangle me I heard laughter and a more subdued snickering. Glancing about I saw Alec, not collecting firewood like he was supposed to be but pointing his phone towards me instead.
“Hey! What are you...you better not be recording this!”
“Are you kidding? This is going on You Tube!” Alec roared. I distinctly heard someone else desperate to hold their laughter in.
“Chase?” I snarled. I saw movement next to Alec, behind a tree. Chase tried to hide but Alec grabbed him by the arm and dragged him onto view. His face was red from trying to hold his laughter in. I looked at Sasha, exasperated, and he was covering his mouth.
“Is it that bad?” I asked him.
“It'll make a great memory,” Sasha said with a giggle.
I rolled my eyes and eventually Sasha got me loose. We got the tent sorted out and the guys collected the firewood they’d originally set out to gather. Sasha directed us as we set up the rest of the camp and before long the place started to feel like home. With the camp in order we set out on a hike and had a great time until disaster number two struck.
We returned to our campsite as the sun was setting with ravenous appetites. Sasha dug out the portable Coleman stove and I started making hamburger patties.
“Hey has anyone seen the propane tank?” said Sasha.
Alec and I both said no and when Chase didn’t say anything I looked over at him. He had a baleful look on his cute little face.
“I uh, may have seen it,” said Chase.
“Great,” said Sasha. “Where is it?”
“It’s um, in Kale’s driveway,” Chase blushed.
“What?” the rest of us exclaimed.
“Well,” said Chase, flustered, “we were packing up our gear and I picked it up and put it aside to put the tent on the roof rack and well, I forgot it.”
“Way to go dingus,” Alec laughed.
“Hey this is as much your fault as mine,” Chase retorted.
“What?” Alec exclaimed.
“You’re the one that had to leave at the ass crack of dawn. If I hadn’t been so tired I might not have forgotten,” Chase argued.
“Now what are we supposed to do?” I groaned. I was starving!
“I know! We’ll eat Leafy!” said Alec as he took my arm and nipped at it. “Nom, nom, nom, nom.”
“Dork,” I laughed and pulled my arm away.
“It’ll be fine,” said Sasha. “I’ll get the fire started and we’ll cook our dinner the old fashioned way.”
Once again Sasha came to the rescue. He quickly got the fire going and before we knew it we were roasting hotdogs on sticks. The burgers were a loss; you can’t really put a burger on a stick. The hotdogs were great and when we were finished Chase snuggled close. He put his arms around my waist and rested his chin on my shoulder. I leaned close to him so we were cheek to cheek. Alec sat between Sasha’s legs and Sasha pulled him back so Alec’s head was leaning against his chest. He ran his nimble fingers through Alec’s hair and we sat quietly in our loving embraces listening to the crackle of the fire.
It was all quite romantic until a fellow camper reminded us of our proximity to the bathroom. I haven’t heard a bowel movement that powerful since spaghetti night! With the moment ruined we opted to get some sleep and start fresh the next morning.
The tent was big enough to sleep four but accommodating four teenage boys while changing was another story. As we stripped off our clothes we were a tangle of arms and legs occasionally taking a slap to the face or an elbow to the ribs. None of us bothered with pajamas, getting down to our underwear had been dangerous enough.
“I see London, I see France, I see Chase and Leafy’s underpants…” said Alec in a sing-song voice.
I rolled my eyes but before I could reply Sasha pressed his lips to Alec’s and shut him up with a kiss. It sounded nice to me so I turned out the lantern and planted a kiss of my own on Chase. It was kind of kinky but erotic, listening to Alec and Sasha make out, it sort of encouraged Chase and I to out-do them. We were enjoying our lip-lock when something sharp poked me.
“Ah, something’s poking me in the ass,” I exclaimed.
“If you don’t know what it is Chase has been doing it wrong,” Alec giggled.
“Shut up!” Chase and I responded together. Alec and Sasha roared with laughter.
It turns out my sleeping bag was right on top of a rock and the rock was under the tent. There was no way to get it out and nowhere for me to move my sleeping bag. The only solution was to snuggle closer to Chase and that wasn’t exactly a bad thing.
The next morning I felt surprisingly well rested and content. I felt Chase’s arms wrapped around me and a familiar pressure against my bottom. I was surprised I could feel his morning erection through the sleeping bag but it was a welcome discovery. I yawned, stretched and opened my eyes to find Chase’s angelic face across from me. That wasn’t right, the orientation was wrong. If I was staring at him then who was…
“AHHHHHHHHHHH!” I screamed and scrambled to my feet.
The guys shot up in their sleeping bags as I learned it was Alec I’d been snuggling with.
“Jesus, what the hell?” Chase exclaimed.
“Sorry, I woke up thinking I was cuddling with you, Chase, but it was him,” I pointed at Alec.
“So? Do I stink or something?” Alec theatrically sniffed his pits.
“No, it wasn’t that.”
“So what’s the big deal?” asked Sasha.
“It touched me!” I blushed.
“It? What it?” said Alec.
I couldn’t help it; my eyes were drawn to his crotch. Alec followed my gaze then looked up with a big shit eating grin plastered across his face.
“Relax Leafy, I was only tip deep,” said Alec.
“Ugh, you pig!” I groaned to the raucous laughter of my friends.
After the guys stopped laughing things calmed down. None of us was going to get anymore sleep so we got dressed to face the day. We enjoyed a nutritious breakfast of cold Pop Tarts then set out on another hike.
Sasha and I are both shutterbugs but while he shoots all the events at school I like shooting landscapes. I can’t draw, can’t paint and if you ever heard me sing you’d beg me to stop. My only creative outlet is the camera my parents got me for my last birthday and I put it to good use that morning as I snapped pictures of the beautiful countryside and my buddies. I even got a shot of Alec and Sasha as we watched a waterfall. They were huddled close with their heads together and arms around each other, it was kind of sweet.
We spent the afternoon swimming in the lake. I was a little reluctant to take my shirt off with the giant pink scar running down the center of my chest but I quickly shook it off. Though I’m still a little self-conscious about it I’ve also come to see my scar as a badge of honor. I have to give credit where credit is due; the change in my attitude was in large part thanks to Alec. A few months ago he told me it marked me as a survivor. Without that scar there would be no me and much as I hated to admit it, it made a lot of sense. I think Chase felt the same way because when we were alone together, sometimes he’d trace his finger down my chest, smile and then kiss me.
We swam for hours and only returned to the campsite when we got hungry. Sasha got the fire going again and it was a good thing because the wind really picked up. As we ate another round of hotdogs the wind brought clouds and as we finished dinner the rain began to fall. It was just a sprinkle at first but before we could even grab our jackets the deluge began. With nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, we retired to the safety of the tent.
We sat in a rough circle twiddling our thumbs and struggling to find something to pass the time.
“Hey, I got an idea,” said Alec.
“No, we aren’t having group sex,” said Chase.
“I was going to suggest wife swapping but I guess that’s out too,” Alec pouted.
“I’m your wife now?” said Sasha with a raised eyebrow.
“I hope not, you don’t have the right hookups,” Alec giggled.
“I’d never trade Kale anyway,” Chase grinned and hugged me tight.
“Hey, what’s that,” said Alec.
We followed his eyes and found water dripping from the roof of the tent.
“No don’t touch that!” Sasha exclaimed as Alec reached to pull on a loose thread hanging from the leak.
It was too late. Alec pulled the thread and suddenly our leak wasn’t a few tiny drips but rather a gaping hole a foot long that allowed water to stream in.
“Strike three,” I groaned.
“What?” said the guys collectively.
“Strike one was this stupid campsite which, thanks to its proximity to the bathroom, smells like a cesspool. Strike two was forgetting the propane tank so we’ve had nothing but hotdogs and Pop Tarts for the past two days. Now we have strike three, a massive hole in the tent with a waterfall flowing from it. Three strikes, I’m out, we’re going home,” I deadpanned.
“We could still…” Alec started.
“No,” Sasha sighed. “Kale’s right, let’s go home.”
“So, what do we do now?” said Chase as we stood around the deer.
“We can’t just leave it here,” said Sasha.
“Our stuff’s on the roof-rack. We don’t have room to put our gear in the car, what do you want us to do?” I asked. I didn’t really want to leave the deer either. The poor little thing didn’t deserve to be left on the side of the road.
“I’ve got an idea,” said Alec and then he began to explain.
“I hate this plan,” I muttered while the four of us carried the deer to the back of the car. I opened the hatch and my friends loaded it inside.
“Relax Leafy,” said Alec. “I’m sure I saw a ranger station or something when we drove up here. It can’t be that far and we can leave the deer there.”
“Great, we’ll just roll up with a deer corpse in the back,” I rolled my eyes. “I’m sure this will do wonders for my resale value.”
“It’s not going to do anything worse to the inside then it already did to the outside,” Alec reasoned.
I sighed in frustration and as we started getting back into the car I pulled Sasha aside.
“Hey, would you mind driving for a while?”
“Sure, you okay?” said Sasha.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little shaken up, you know?”
“I understand,” Sasha clapped me on the back. “It would have scared me too.”
“Thanks,” I breathed a sigh of relief.
I climbed in the back, Chase swapped seats with Alec and we were once again underway. We drove a few miles and didn’t come across any ranger station. I figured we’d have to wait until we got to the next town before we came up with a plan for the deer.
It was getting late, it was raining and the movement of the car made me drowsy. I snuggled down in my seat and began to doze off when I felt Chase nibbling on my neck.
“Chase, stop it,” I giggled.
“What?” Chase yawned.
I sat upright and came face to face with the deer.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I screamed.
The next thing I knew we were all screaming and the car skidded to a halt. The doors flew open and we ran for it as the panicked deer kicked and thrashed around in the back of the car. We raced around the car and stood in stunned disbelief as the deer kicked out two windows and shredded my backseats with its hooves before it finally got out of the car and ran for the woods. Me, Sasha and Chase huddled together with our mouths hanging open, bathed in the flashing neon lights of the diner we were stopped in front of. Alec clapped his hands and rubbed them together.
“So, who’s ready for a burger?” said Alec.