Motherfuckin' Boonies and Interior Decorating
The people of Sentinel Mountain had been friends and neighbors for several years, some for many years, and life on the Mountain moved in accustomed cycles among them. Usually when the cycle was broken or disrupted, they quickly adapted to it and moved on. Such was the case when Josh became owner. Of course, there were still reservations since he had only been in and out. It was not the case when Susan, Mrs. Mason and the boys arrived. There was an instant love affair between the Mountain folks and the boys, and since Susan was their mama and Mrs. Mason was their grandmama, they had extra points and quickly became a part of the family. Mrs. Mason knew they had made the grade when she became Alma instead of Mrs. Mason. Susan, however, was worried about Winston. When she spoke to Rob about it, he simply replied, “Talk to Janie.” She knew acceptance was not automatic, but everyone knew the situation before the day was over.
Walt was accepted almost at once; Cam was not. Cam was a street kid, a city kid. Now he was in the boonies, the motherfuckin’ boonies. Before, he came and went as he pleased and he seldom pleased to be in school. He had buddies, cigarettes, alcohol and pot -- well, when he had money. Now he had none of that and found out he would be in school or else. Walt was an old bastard, but he quickly found out an old bastard who keeps in shape can whip the ass of a sixteen year old who has indulged himself for over a year.
While he was in California, he still had weeks before he had to start school. When he got to the North Carolina boonies, he found he had already missed the first week because the schools had to build in snow days he was told. What the fuck were snow days? Nobody told him, they just registered him and told him where to catch the bus. He thought he'd find ‘his kind of people’ and get in with them. He put on his ‘tough city street kid macho' act and swaggered over to a group of the boonies version of street dudes. As he approached, they turned their backs to him. “Hey, assholes, what you do you mean turning your back on me? Want your ass kicked?” An ass was kicked, but it wasn’t theirs.
Walt said nothing about the black eye and the bruises Cam brought home from the second day at school. When Walt reminded him he had chores to do, he had complained and said he didn’t have chores until he was forced to come to the boonies. “You didn’t have a roof over your head or regular meals either.” Cam would have died before he admitted it to anyone, but Walt had a point there. “Shane is at the barn and will show you what to do.”
When he got to the barn, Shane was waiting for him. “See you tried your ‘macho tough-ass city street dude' shit at school and got your ass kicked. I’ll let you in on a secret. I saw you swaggering up the road to the school bus ....”
“Do you know it's a motherfucking mile to the bus.”
“Well, I didn’t. I knew it was a mile, but I didn’t know they use a different measure in California, but doesn’t matter, seems a motherfuckin' mile and a regular mile are about the same. Anyway, I saw you swaggering up the road and told Walt to be prepared when you came home because you’d get your ass kicked.
“Now, you would have been sent home for, oh, probably ten days, with Walt and Janie tag teaming you. You would get up just like you were going to school, eat breakfast, get dressed and report to that alcove in the kitchen where you’d sit your butt down at the table and get to work on your assignments. You’d get a fifteen-minute break mid-morning. You’d have a leisurely hour for lunch, then back to the books. Break in mid-afternoon, and back to the books until the time the bus would drop you off here. There’d be an hour break, you’d do your chores, supper and two hours at the table doing homework. Time to piss, get ready for bed and bed at nine. You’d do Saturday as well. That’s what would have happened, but you are among the lucky few who call Sentinel Mountain home and the school administration trusts us to take care of our own problems. Do you understand?” Cam made no response.
“Cam, that requires a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No,’ however, since it seems I have been given the task of whipping your ass into shape, until you are no longer under discipline, you will respond with 'Shane, Sir, yes Sir' or the appropriate name when addressing others here on the Mountain. Do you understand?”
Cam made no response.
“Cam, you either get with the program or life is going to be pretty hard until you do. Do you understand?”
Cam gave him a look that could kill and said, “Fuck you.”
“You’ll not have the pleasure. Drop and give me ten.”
“What the fuck do you mean?”
“I mean this.” Shane dropped to the ground and started doing push-ups. He continued with one arm as he half turned and said, “Like that, eleven, twelve thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, now drop and give me ten.”
Cam decided there’d be other days and he dropped to the ground and got on hands and toes, his butt sticking up in the air and started moving his hips up and down. “Push-ups, Cam. You’re not fucking.” Cam actually blushed, straightened his body and managed three push-ups before he collapsed on the ground. Shane said nothing.
When Cam was standing again, Shane said, “Follow me.” They went into a small, neat office near the entrance to the barn. Posted near the door to the office was a clipboard. “At this point, you are assigned to me, the barn and Boys’ Camp. During the school week, I’ll assign you to the barn since it is a reasonable walk from the house.”
“It’s another fucking mile,” Cam said.
“I thought I heard someone speaking. Was that you, Cam?”
Cam muttered “Shane, Sir, no Sir.”
“I keep hearing voices,” Shane said. “Course if it was you, you’d be at attention and respond in a loud, clear voice, wouldn’t you, Cam.”
Even tough street kids know when they have reached their limits and Cam knew he had reached his. “Shane, Sir, yes, Sir,” he said in a loud, clear voice, standing at attention.
“Beautiful, Cam, beautiful. As I said, the barn’s within reasonable walking distance, less than half a mile, and the fresh air and exercise will feel good after being in a school desk all day. I’ll list what you are to do on the sheet and when you finish the job, initial here to indicate you have done it. Since you are a city boy, most of what we do around here will be new to you, so I’ll be here to show you.
“If you look at the sheet now, you’ll see ‘stack special hay.’ Most of the hay we use is cut from the meadow and rolled into huge rolls which weigh between seven hundred and nine hundred pounds. It has to be moved using a fork on the front of a tractor. We have a couple of fields which we tend as a crop and cut and bale for animals who need high-quality hay for one reason or another. With the addition of horses, we’ll likely increase the production of such hay. Cattle have four chambers in their stomach. When they eat grass and hay, it starts digestion in the first chamber and then is regurgitated and re-chewed. When you see cattle lying down and chewing, that’s what they are doing. They are chewing their cud or the semi-digested food from the first stomach. Horses only have one stomach and often need better quality hay than cattle, although as you learn about the cattle station, you’ll find all our hay is pretty fine. More than you wanted to know, I’m sure. Anyway, the special hay is in square bales that one man can handle. It is stored in the hayloft of this and another barn. When it’s brought in, a conveyor lifts it to the loft and dumps it. It has to be stacked to make room for more. So up the ladder.”
One man could handle a bale, Shane said, and Shane was definitely a man as he used hooks to lift the bales and stack them as if they weighed nothing. When Cam started struggling with the hay hooks, he found the bales were not like feather pillows. He could barely manage one and certainly couldn’t lift it onto the stacks after they were three bales high.
They worked for half an hour and Shane said, “That’s it for the day. Cam, I’d say you need to hit the gym if you were in the city, but I think we’ll put some hard muscle on that frame of yours just working here. I’ll keep an eye on you and if you’re over- or under-developing a muscle group, we'll change jobs or you can use the gym at Boys’ Camp. Would you like that?”
“Ye... Shane, Sir, yes Sir,” Cam replied standing at attention.
“Very good. Well, I’ve got a date tonight, so I’m off to shower and shave.”
“Gettin’ any?” Shane made no response. “Shane, Sir, are you gettin’ any, Sir.”
“Cam, a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell, but you can always ask my date. She’s standing right behind you. Louise, Cam has a question for you.”
“What's the question, Cam?”
“Uh, I mean, uh, Louise, Sir, how are you, Sir?”
“Uh, Cam, I guess at sixteen most boys spend a lot of time looking at girls -- or boys...”
“Louise, Sir, girls, Sir.”
“Well, I guess you are just not very observant. I am not a Sir.”
“Damn, well, yes, I can see you're not a Sir, Sir.”
Both Louise and Shane cracked up. “You can just call me Louise as you have been, but I don't think, 'How are you?' was the question.”
“Just bullshit male talk, Louise.”
“You're right, and not the kind of talk that gets you anywhere with women or respectable men.”
“Louise, Ma'am, yes, Ma’am.”
“That's better, but I'm not old enough to be a ma'am either, just Louise.”
“Then you and Shane are, like, dating?”
“Looks a lot like dating to me. So I guess you are under discipline. How long?”
“I don't know.”
“Indeterminate sentences are not acceptable, Shane. Best I recall, that's your rule.”
“It is and Cam's sentence is not indeterminate. I just haven't given him the word. Sorry about that Cam. I should have told you first thing. Thirty days with time off for good behavior."
“Thirty days! Fuck!”
“Give me five, Cam.”
Cam came to attention, shouted, “Shane, Sir, yes, Sir!” He fell to the ground and managed three poor push-ups and collapsed. He lay there a while and started to get up.
“You owe me two more.”
Cam managed two more and Shane said, “Enough for today.”
As Cam walked back to the house, he said to himself, “I will show that asshole.” And he did. By the time Josh and Alex arrived, he was Shane's shadow when he was not at school. He had earned four good behavior days and could manage six push-ups with good form. Now each time he had to do push-ups, Shane gave him eight. Cam was determined to be able to do ten with both right and left arms. Walt had asked for a report from his teachers and was told he was working hard and other than the expected sixteen-year-old mischief, was well behaved. “He is, however, very far behind where he should be. He seems to have a natural aptitude for math and science so, with tutoring, he should catch up. English and social studies are giving him a hard time. It may be that his reading is the problem there. You might consider finding a reading teacher for him.”
Tutoring in math and science Walt could handle. Reading, English and social studies were something else altogether. The next time there was a general gathering at the House, Walt had mentioned the report and made sure Cam heard him brag a bit about what his teachers had said about his behavior. “Sounds like that's worth a couple days off a sentence,” Shane said, which pleased Cam no end. “If you like, Cam, we can work on your reading. I've done course work in catching folks up who are behind in their reading.”
“Shane, Sir, Yes, Sir.”
The twins quickly decided Cam was a big brother and start addressing Shane, in their little boys' voice with a hint of a lisp, as 'Shane, Sir' and telling them otherwise accomplished nothing. Even though Cam had time left on his sentence, Shane decided dropping the address was a good idea, but it was some time before the twins dropped it.
Walt and Cam had spent some time looking over the available housing and when they had discussed their options, Cam was much in favor of taking a cottage which was available as part of Boys' Camp. It was a quarter mile from the main campus up the mountain. It had a broad porch across the front and a small deck at ground level in the back large enough for a grill and a small table and a couple of chairs. It only had four rooms, but they were large. The bedrooms were especially large for the era in which it was built, at least double what you expect. Walt liked the house as well and when Cam asked about furnishing and colors and all, Walt told him, “Whatever you like, Cam.”
Rob took them to a large building with no windows and they saw large metal boxes at the back as they approached. “Those large boxes are the air conditioning units,” Rob said. “The building is climate -- temperature and humidity -- controlled. Those are geothermal units. We switched to geothermal heating and cooling in all the places it is used on the mountain over the last three years.”
They drove around to the front and Rob opened the door, which Walt noticed, had a rubber seal around it. Inside the temperature was very comfortable. “As you can see, the building is completely sealed and all the air entering is highly filtered to protect the furniture. Very little furniture in the House has been changed except for reupholstering, but in the other houses, people leave occasionally, want or need a new piece of furniture or don't like what's in a house. On one hand, the stuff is made to be used and on the other, some of it is priceless and all is valuable, so when something is not being used, it's stored here. Feel free to pick out furniture and if there's something you want that is not here, I'll see about having it built.” As soon as he had finished his chores the next few days, Cam headed for the storage building.
Saturday the week before Josh was scheduled to arrive had been designated 'Get the House Ready Day.' Cam and Walt had picked paint colors, well, actually Cam had, and all the tools and materials were ready. The outside of the house, of course, was kept up. The house was in a wooded area, but had a front yard. Trees had been cut when the cottage was built to allow an unobstructed view of the upper valley from the front porch. The grass in the unoccupied cottages was kept in check by mowers on a tractor, but that meant they looked more like a hay field than a lawn. That would have to be cleaned up. Everyone was set, then Josh had to come a week early.
At breakfast, Cam said, “Walt, I guess I have a day off since we're not going to be getting our cottage ready....”
“Whoa,” Josh said, “back up. What cottage, what's not happening that was going to happen and why?”
Cam looked chagrined and said, “Nothing.” Everyone around the table except the twins and Alex was looking at their plate.
“Look, Cam, I may look dumb, but I'm pretty smart and I can look around and see something's going on or, from what you said, not going on. Do I have to take you to the dungeon or are you going to talk?”
Cam looked at Walt, who didn't look at Cam, and said, “Well, this was to be 'Get the House Ready Day' to get Walt's and my cottage ready for us, but that was before you had to change plans.”
“Susan, Alma, you know anything about food for this event?”
“OK, Josh,” Alma said, “everything is ready, including food and it can be....”
“Just when was this event scheduled to start?”
“It is now quarter after eight. Are you ready to go, Cam?”
“Then let everybody know nothing is canceled. The rest of you get ready and let this be a lesson. Until we are living here and can be in on the planning, you make plans, I do not change them except for good and sufficient reason. Now let's get ready.”
It seemed a pity to work in good clothes, but that's all either Josh or Alex had. Josh called Rob to see if there was something available and he said they kept coveralls for really messy jobs. “They're tough non-woven stuff and you can toss them when you finish.” He said he'd bring them when he brought Sally who was helping with the food.
When Josh told Alex that, he said, “Boy, what's going to happen around here when women's liberation hits?”
Josh laughed and said, “I don't know except I'll not be available!”
At nine, the males all headed to the cottage. When they got there, Shane and Louise, the lone woman until Jan arrived with Rob, had already covered the floors with drop cloths and started painting Cam's bedroom. When Cam walked in, Louise said, “Good taste, Cam. I love the color.” Cam had chosen a darker paint since his room had french doors opening on the back deck and huge windows on the side. It was called light terra cotta and he had picked a darker version of the same color for the trim. “What's your draperies and bed covering like?”
“I opened piles of chests and cabinets in the warehouse after I discovered they had all sorts of treasures in them. I guess someone did some real planning because draperies come in one of two sizes and curtains in two as well. I found heavy unbleached linen draperies and a bed spread of the same material. They will balance out the dark wall color. I selected oak furnishing in Craftsman style, I suspect actually designed by a student of Stickley. I was amazed to find an L-shaped desk. I had never seen even a picture of one in that style, but this room is large enough for it. It will be a wonderful place to study and a computer can go on the L.
“So how do you know so much about furniture and decorating?”
“Mom worked for a decorator and I started going with her when I was about eight. You pick up things and I liked it. Last couple years before Mom died, the decorator let me do some decorating plans and a couple he used.”
“Great! Think you might find some work here on the Mountain with folks moving around.”
Cam had plenty of room for a double bed, a small love seat, a comfortable chair and the L-shaped desk and chair the room was so huge. He had decided on the wall color after he had found the chair and love seat with cushions covered with a rough weave fabric a color just lighter than the wall color and random threads of the dark color of the trim. A rug of unbleached material with the same random color gave it a finishing touch. The room had a substantial feel to it, something that had been missing from his life.
Cam had done an equally good job in the rest of the house from a warm pale, pale yellow in the kitchen to the light rose beige in the living room. Walt's bedroom was done in a rich green with lighter green draperies and light furniture as it was not as bright as Cam's.
When lunch came, Susan, Alma and Sally arrived with Janie and the boys in tow. Janie got things organized for the next day at her church and couldn't stay away. They set up two long folding tables on the porch and set out food. Everyone grabbed disposable plates and cups. Flatware was real since no-one should be expected to eat with plastic. When Josh and Alex arrived, everyone was already busy, so he didn't introduce Alex. Now that all had food and found a place to sit, he announced, “All of you have certainly heard about Alex, well, here he is in the flesh. It was pretty much our secret, but he had some anxiety about living here in what I understand Cam calls the MF boonies...."
“Not any more,” Cam shouted and they all laughed.
Louise said, “Amazing what a thirty-day sentence can accomplish!”
Alex thought, “Yeah, Josh was right, this is an extended family.”
“Anyway, there was no doubt in my mind that if Alex didn't want to live here, I'd give it up. I had been without him for seven years while he lived in hell. When we landed last night, Rob said, 'Alex good to have you home,' and Alex said, 'It's good to be home.' This morning he told me he meant it. We'll be going back to Boulder in a week, well, I guess a week from Monday or Tuesday. After Alex sees his doctors, we'll make plans. If he is in Boulder for an extended time, I'll be back and forth. If he'll be released, soon, I'll stay and we'll both come.
“Meanwhile, there's a couple things I need to tell you while we are together. First, Walt and I need co-pilots. Legally we can fly one of the planes alone, but there are times when that's dangerous. It's always something both of us dislike doing and my insurance dislikes it even more. There is no insurance when the turbo is flown without one. I just bought the company plane from Blankenship at a bargain since it is no longer used and has depreciated, on the books at least, a bunch. Walt already had it fitted so he could use it for instruction. With the exception of Alexander and Joshua any and all of you that are interested can take lessons."
Cam said, “Walt says I can get a pilot's license? Can I?"
“But I don't even have a driver's license.”
“Doesn't matter and why don't you have a driver's license? You're sixteen, right?”
“Yes, Sir, but I haven't had anyone to teach me.”
“Rob, how do we get the kid signed up for driver's ed?”
“You don't. It involves a great deal of picking up after school.”
“Hank and I handled it for Rob's kids,” Phillip said. We'll see that he has a driver's manual so he can take the test for his permit. He can get practice here. Now that we have the runway, it will be a good place to learn to shift and all. Everybody here can drive a stick since some of the vehicles we have and need aren't automatic. We'll take care of Cam's driver's ed.”
“Great,” Josh said, “Thanks."
“Thanks, Sirs,” Cam said.
Nelson had been talking to Jan who came with the food and suddenly came back to this world and asked, “Josh, since I don't know how long I will be here, should I take pilot's lessons?”
“Sure, why not? Shane, is there a classroom at Boys' Camp in good shape for Walt to use for the book instruction?”
“They all are or can be in half an hour or hour.”
“Fine. Second item, name of Boys' Camp. Several people have asked me if Boys' Camp will still be called Boys' Camp. Frankly, I never thought about that. I was told it was Boys' Camp when I first got here and changing the name never occurred to me. All who have asked about it thought it should be renamed to honor Elijah. That sounds good to me, but the final decision is up to all of you. So far I have heard Elijah's Camp, House of Elijah, Elijah's House suggested. Keep those in mind and any others that occur to you. Talk yourselves and see if you can come to a decision. If the name is to be changed, we need to decide before we send the proposal to the state.”
“Keep that in mind, folks, Now it's time to get back to work,” Rob announced. Alma and Janie packed stuff to go back to the house and rounded up the boys. Susan and Sally stayed and pitched in to get the cottage's dishes done, washed and put away, cabinets cleaned and the kitchen in order.
Rob, Walt, Cam and Josh went to the warehouse in a large truck and a pick-up to get the furnishing Cam and Walt had selected. After the heavy stuff was loaded, they started on bedcovers, draperies, and curtains. Rob called from upstairs, “How many computers?” The Blankenship crew under Mr. Sun had ordered a number of computers which were stored until people decided they needed one. Computers for Boys' Camp would be ordered when they were needed. They had also ordered printers and other peripherals.
“Two,” Josh yelled back, “and a wireless printer.”
Walt said, “There's no reason for two. We can put it in the living room and both use it.” Josh saw Cam's face fall.
“Given the amount of school work that uses or would benefit from a computer, Cam will be using one a lot. If you're thinking about porn,” Josh looked at Cam and raised an eyebrow, “Cam will be eighteen before he will have full access. He'll have access to information about sex since he needs to know all he can about that. That includes sites about gays, Cam, if you have questions about yourself and as importantly, you are now living in a community with two gay couples and next week you'll meet two lesbians. You need to know and understand that aside from who we love and how we express it, we are just regular people.”
“Then two it is,” Rob called down.
“And you can have the printer in your room,” Cam said to Walt.
Josh thought that was kinda strange and when they went upstairs to get the equipment, he said so.
“I can always go to his room to pick up copies and a computer and monitor are enough disturbing my room decor,” he laughed.
Jesse and Scott
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