kETCHUP you USELESS FUCKDUCK!!!
YOU’VE BEEN HERE THIS ENTIRE TIME WHY ARE YOU THE ONE PERSON WHO DIDN’T ATTEND THE UNVEILING? HOW DID YOU SLEEP THROUGH MY 48 HOUR WAIT OF EFFORT TO PLEASE YOU. YOU’RE THE ONLY CUTE THEMED VILLAGER IN THIS CAMP
Third installment and sequel to Car Rides and Hoodies as well as At Summer’s End. Everybody buckled in? Great! Here we go!
David and Gwen’s last names are the intellectual property of @forestwater87, check their stuff out. Now on with the show!
There are times in life when you can’t plan for anything. There are times when control is nothing but an illusion to be cruelly shattered. Human beings are never masters of their fate, and fate likes to remind us of that fact all too often. It wasn’t their fault Max’s parents had ended up in such a way. About a week before camp was supposed to end, there had been a bazaar in Max’s town. Traders of all walks of life had put it together to bring a little of their culture to the rest of the world. Something peaceful, yet capitalistic; the model of the American way.
But of course, something called a bazaar would attract nothing but curious whites and more culturally involved people of color. No one had known there would be an attack. But leave it to good old fashioned american ignorance and stereotyping to ruin everything. The thing which a frightening number of Americans didn’t seem to understand was that the minority was not the majority. And yet, there was always that saying that a few rotten apples spoil the whole bushel. What crime had Max’s parents been guilty of? They hadn’t been white, they spoke accented English, and to one bigoted extremist, they had been nothing more than filthy Muslim terrorists that needed to be taken care of. Max’s parents were Indian, and religiously were -if pressed to answer- Hinduists, but they looked too much like any other Middle-Easterner to be easily distinguished as such.
Homemade explosives had been set up throughout the event, set to go off at a certain time. The ringleader had had cronies wait by the gates, calling to the white folks and surreptitiously telling them not to go in, why? There would soon be fireworks and it would be more fun to watch from a distance. All others, indians, people of Middle-Eastern denomination, Asians, Blacks, they hadn’t been so lucky as to get a warning. The only thankful thing was that someone had had the brains to realize something was up with the whole fireworks excuse. The police had been called, too late however. They were still enroute when the explosives were detonated. The casualties were immense for a town that size. And in addition to the sheer number of victims, sorting out those who were deceased and those who still might need medical attention, some damage was so extensive that it rendered people unrecognizable. Max’s parents had been too close to the blast zone to be saved, and too damaged to be immediately recognized. Mr. and Mrs. Doe, as they had been dubbed, had taken so long just to be identified. And there was the matter of getting ahold of any living relatives.
Which had been just Max, as it turned out. No living parents, siblings, not even a distant cousin. Just Max, and yet, from the boy’s account they didn’t even care about that. David and Gwen were left heartbroken, to say nothing of the crushing sorrow that built in their breasts as they had to relay this information to their abandoned, now orphaned, camper. In typical Max fashion, he attempted bravado, closing his tired eyes and giving a world-weary smile. Some half-hearted one-liner spewed forth. But they saw the death-grip he had on Mr. Honeynuts, and he was exposed.
They had excused themselves a moment, staying right outside the tent where they had brought Max to talk. And just as they had suspected, Max waited until he was alone to start crying. It bothered them that he still couldn’t open up to them, but then they had only known each other a single summer- as compared to the many years Max had spent with his neglectful parents. David wanted to immediately go in and offer his support, but Gwen had stopped him.
“Don’t,” she said quietly, “He’s not going to fall apart in your arms, let himself be vulnerable with you right now. He didn’t even do that during Parent’s Day. He just, give him a bit of time. We did just drop a bomb on him after all.”
“And now what do we do?” David asked as they walked another short distance away, “I don’t, when I said we should take him to Canada I meant as like a vacation, a way to keep an eye on him until his parents got back to us. It wasn’t supposed to be long-term!”
“I know,” Gwen read into the words, the whole taking Max with them was supposed to be a way to get Max’s parents to get in touch with them, take their little hellspawn back. They weren’t supposed to be dead, but then outside of the underbelly of the world, was anyone really supposed to be dead?
“I suppose,” she continued, “We have to wait for the CPS to come and take him.”
“And do what with him?” David whisper-yelled, “Put him in some home? I can’t let that happen.”
“David,” Gwen cajoled, “You might be a dual citizen but your primary place of residence is in Canada. I doubt the system would let us take him out of the country unless we officially adopted him, and even then, how can we share custody of a kid like that? We’re not married, we’re not even together!”
“We did it once,” David reminded her.
“For Parents Day I know,” Gwen rolled her eyes, “But there’s a big difference between acting like a nuclear family and actually being one. David look, I know you dated Bonquisha, I kn,ow you have some romantic experience, but do you have any idea of the work it takes to keep a long-term relationship of any kind together? And to add an adolescent kid into the mix?”
“David,” Gwen hushed him, “Can you honestly say you’ll be able to take care of him? How many jobs do you usually work in the off season?”
“Two or three, depending on what I can get.”
“Are they full-time or part-time?”
“David,” Gwen shook her head, “You need a full-time income to raise a kid. They eat, they need clothes, supplies, toys, nowadays tech. How are you going to pay for all that?”
“I’ll find something,” David promised, “But I want your help. I want what’s best for Max, but I don’t think I’m enough. He needs someone who can relate to him more. He needs a strong female figure in his life, someone who cares about him even when she’s mad. I know you care about him, can you honestly say you want to see him go into the American Foster System?”
Gwen pinched the space between her brows, “I know you want what you think is best for him David. I get that, really I do. But it’s one thing to go on a quick vacation, you’re asking me, and him to pack up our whole lives and go someplace where we’ll be completely isolated from comfort. Kids like Max, when big changes happen they tend to withdraw into themselves. You already saw how he didn’t want cry in front of us. What would happen if you took him to Canada? Where he has to start a new school, make new friends, isn’t french a required language to learn? How far behind would he be?” her breathing started to speed up, “Oh God here comes the anxiety,” her eye twitched and David could see some of her visual signs that she was having a panic attack.
“Gwen,” he took her by the shoulders, “Calm down, it’s gonna be okay. Just breathe with me, one,” inhale, “Two,” exhale. They repeated this for a while until she had sufficiently calmed down.
“I think,” David said, “I think in trying to think of Max, we haven’t been thinking about him at all.”
“I mean…” David trailed off, trying to figure out how to phrase what he wanted to say, “I want Max to have a choice in where he goes and what he does. I’ll go back and talk to him, give him the option to stay with me. If he doesn’t want to, well then he doesn’t want to. But at least he’ll have made the decision, however small.”
“No,” Gwen said after a beat of silence.
“You won’t go and talk to him about this,” she clarified.
David was shocked into momentary incoherence, “But Gwen, I thought-”
She held up a hand and stopped him, “You won’t be talking to him, we both will.”
David’s eyes lit up, “You really mean it?” he asked with his trademark grin on his face, “You’re willing to do this with me?”
“I’m at the very least willing to talk it over with Max, see what he wants to do,” Gwen replied, “C’mon, I think he’s had enough time alone for today.”
“And that’s the plan, assuming you want to go along with it,” David finished.
Max blinked at him in an almost disbelieving manner, “So wait,” he said, “Let me get this straight. You want me to choose between the fucked up foster care system, and spending the next eight years, year-round I might add, with the two of you, in Canada?”
“Well,” Gwen said, “David’s the one with his own house.” David had managed to takeover an old family vacation home and turn it into his primary residence.
“Yeah, but… fucking Canada?” Max sputtered, “How stereotypical can you be?”
“Look Max,” David said, making sure he sat at eye level with Max, “No one’s forcing you to go, just like no one’s forcing you to be happy. I want you to choose your own fate. If you want to stay here in the states and go through foster care, then that’s your choice. But if you want to stay with me and Gwen, we’ll do everything we can to keep you safe.”
“For fuck’s sake,” Max sniffed, “How is it you’ve known me only one summer and you care more about me than-” he cut himself off and the counselors knew what he’d been about to say.
“Max,” Gwen sighed, “You don’t have to decide right this minute, but agents will be coming to take you by sunset. Take some time and really think about what you want to do with your life. It’s only eight years, seven if you want to declare yourself independent. And it’s not like we’d try to replace your parents, no legal adoption stuff out of the blue. Every decision we’d make would have your input- for the most part.”
“For the most part?” Max raised a brow at them.
“Well, typical household rules aside,” David chimed in, “It’s hard getting this sort of news, and then trying to make a decision all in one day. But if we were to do this we’d want it to feel that it was as much your decision as it was either of ours.”
“And besides,” Gwen added, “I seriously doubt they’d let us just take off today, moving-wise. There’s all sorts of paperwork to get through before we’d be cleared for any sort of travel. You have time.”
“Not enough time,” Max muttered.
“It never seems like enough time,” David put a hand on Max’s shoulder, “And I know we’re asking a lot of you, but we didn’t think it would be right to just decide your life on our own. It affects you the most, and Gwen and I just want you to be happy, wherever you decide to go. Tell you what, why don’t you go on a walk with Quartermaster. He’s always good at keeping to himself, you can think it over and tell us how you’re feeling when you get back, okay?”
“And you can bring Mr. Honeynuts,” Gwen finished, “Just try not to lose him.”
Instantly Max was back into that too-cool-for-everything persona, “I don’t need to bring him, just, put him back in my bag okay?”
He handed Gwen the beloved stuffed animal and David led him out to QM. Gwen tucked the bear back in the bag, careful not to snag or squish it.
“So, you’re saying you want to take custody of this child?” the agent that had been sent to the camp asked them with a raised brow.
“Technically speaking,” David said with a tighter smile than normal, “Max’s parents have already given us custody of him. Before,” he cleared his throat, “before the incident. And the Camp Campbell contract they signed with their registration paperwork says that Max is our responsibility until such time as a parent or authorized guardian comes to pick him up.”
“And under your contract someone from the CPS doesn’t qualify as an authorized guardian?”
“I mean in no way to undermine your authority,” David was quick to assure them, “However, Max has just learned about this all in one day. We think familiarity and stability are the best things for him right now. He knows us and is comfortable with us, and we think it might help transitionally if he had someone like us, in lieu of living relatives.”
“I see,” the agent responded monotonously, scribbling something down in their files. David hadn’t been this nervous since trying to win the counselor of the year award, “And your relationship with Miss Santos is… what exactly?”
“We’re co-counselors here at Camp Campbell,” David responded automatically.
But Gwen saw that it wasn’t going to be enough, “And we’re engaged,” she added quickly. She saw both David and the agent turn their heads to her in surprise, “I’m sorry Davey,” she used the nickname for him to make their relationship seem more intimate than it was, “I know you wanted to keep it quiet, but this is for Max, and the agency has every right to know if we plan on taking care of him.”
“You claim you’re engaged,” the agent said, “But I don’t see a ring on either of you.”
“It was a spontaneous proposal,” Gwen replied, like a suave spy in a trashy romance novel, “David and I have known each other for years, working here at Camp Campbell. And we grew closer and closer until we started a relationship, however we didn’t want the kids -being at that age you know- teasing us about it so we didn’t say anything. Besides the proposal being spontaneous David wanted my input on the rings, and aside from the ridiculous price of rings these days, I haven’t yet found one that fit my tastes and was suited to working outdoors. But with Camp Campbell closing down…” she trailed off.
“Reasonable enough,” the agent concurred, “And do you have any plans for a wedding date? A honeymoon?”
“If you’re asking whether or not we plan on leaving the country,” David jumped in, “While my primary place of residence is in Canada and Gwen was planning to move in later this year, I can assure you that everything will wait until such a time as we’ve been authorized. And as for the wedding, that will be put on hold until this situation is dealt with. We already talked it over with Max, and he wants to say with us.”
“Is that so?” the agent knelt down and stared hard at Max, “Is what they have said true?”
“Aside from the whole engagement thing, yeah.” Max replied.
“So they’re not engaged?”
“I never said that,” Max evaded, “You heard them, they said they didn’t want to be given shit for it so they kept it quiet. Can’t say I blame them, before all this happened I know I would have given them shit for it.”
“And did you pick up this sort of language from the counselors?”
“No, every kid my age talks like this now, every curse I’ve learned I learned from school. If you ask me, you should be directing your time there.”
“Well,” the agent said standing back up, “Everything seems to be in order, for now. I’ll need to come back with some paperwork and then you’ll be assigned a caseworker and we’ll see how things pan out. But for right now,” they shrugged, “Mr. Greenewood, Miss Santos. Good luck.”
Max had been put to bed in David’s room in the counselor’s cabin, being the only fully standing structure suitable for spending the night. Gwen and David were sharing a room, but it was worth it for the moment.
“Gwen,” David said as they both lie away despite saying goodnight some time earlier, “I just wanted to say, thank you.”
“For what?” Gwen asked, “I had already told you i would do this with you.”
“I meant, for your quick thinking earlier, with the agent.”
“I mean, I didn’t consider they wouldn’t want two people who weren’t even in a relationship to share custody of a child. Divorced parents go through it all the time, but I was so concerned with Max I just-”
“Well, you can make it up to me later,”
“By buying me a nice ring.”
“You really want to get married?” David seemed somewhat choked by her blase attitude about it.
“Why not?” Gwen shrugged, “We’re not getting any younger, you have a place which I can live in -which keeps me from moving back with my parents, and we already get along pretty well. People have gotten married for less, and worse, reasons.”
“But what about your dreams?”
“It was always in my dreams to settle down and raise a kid or two. Eventually, maybe. But hey; now I get both without the awkwardness of building up a relationship and the pain of pushing a screaming baby out of me. And if raising Max for the next few years turns shitty I can decide not to have another. And if we find we’re better off separate then we separate. It’s just a few years of my life, the best ones are already over anyways, so what the hell, y’know?”
“I hope that the next years can be some of the best ones too,” David said quietly.
“I know one thing for sure,” Gwen said as she drifted off, “With you and Max around, they certainly won’t be boring.”
They had gotten through customs and security with surprisingly little trouble beyond that of the perfunctory checks required of their jobs. An odd, if not fortunate turn of events, considering the decided non-whiteness of two-thirds of their party. It had been about a month, and as David needed to secure employment and the lease on Gwen’s apartment would soon be up they had gotten the paperwork put together as fast as government agencies worked.
In practically no time at all they had been cleared for moving to Canada. Everything that was extraneous -furniture, books, and the like- had been boxed and shipped ahead of time. David had sent his mother to sign for the deliveries at his house so they could be brought inside. The journey itself was relatively harmless, the car ride over to their new place of residence also as fine as it could be. And then they pulled into the driveway.
“You’ve gotta be shitting me,” Max said as he got out of the car, “You live in a fucking log cabin!”
“Well,” David defended himself, “I did say it used to be a family vacation home. It was already paid off by the time I was ready to move out and mother didn’t use it as much. So I figured why not. And besides Max, it might look like nothing but a log cabin on the outside, but it’s just as homey as it can be on the inside!”
“That’ll bode well,” Max muttered as he reached for his luggage.
“So Gwen,” David turned to his friend-cum-fiancee, “What do you think?”
“The place?” Gwen replied, “Looks like it’ll keep the elements at bay. But I really think it’s time to gross out our new little shit.”
“Gross out?” David blinked, “How-”
But he didn’t get a chance to finish his question as Gwen pulled his face to hers and suddenly she was kissing him. It was chast enough, at least he thought, but then he felt a pressure at his teeth. Was that her tongue? For some reason, David opened his mouth further and then he got his confirmation. Yep, that was definitely Gwen’s tongue.
Max let out a loud noise of disgust, “Guys!” in that teenage “i’m both affronted, embarrassed, and disgusted” tone, “Fucking gross!”
Gwen drew back, not far enough to be out of his arms, which at some point had curled around her, to smirk at Max and say, “Payback for being a little shit all summer,” she teased.
“If you guys are gonna be fucking all the time then I’m leaving,” Max declared.
“Oh relax,” Gwen shrugged it off, “We’re gonna be like that, not all the time anyways.”
Did she? Was she insinuating that? David was so confused at the moment.
“Fucking disgusting,” Max spat, “David! Get your head outta the fucking gutter and let us in the house already!”
“Oh, right!” David fumbled about in his pockets for his keys. When he managed to secure them in his shaking hands he unlocked the door and stepped to the side so Max could get his stuff in. Gwen hung back at the doorway with him. The interior had been done by his mother and was tasteful, yet cozy. The inside lacked the logs that made up the exterior, instead smooth as any suburban house, in soft, welcoming colors with pictures and knick knacks scattered throughout the room, mingling with the cozy furniture and offset by the fieldstone fireplace.
“Um, Gwen?” David asked as she looked around his living room, “What was all that about? And what did you mean by all the time?”
With a sultry smile and a saunter that she had to have learned from one of those telenovelas she liked so much Gwen drew closer and said, “Hey, I’m spending the next seven years of my life with you. Might as well have some fun if we’re gonna be legal and everything.”
She lightly tapped his nose and sauntered away to explore the rest of the house. David just stood there shellshocked a moment. And then his footsteps echoed throughout the house, followed by his call of, “Gwen wait up!”
Yeah, this was a lovingly dysfunctional start to a lovingly dysfunctional family.
When I was young I saw this trailer on the drive to my grandmas. It had a warning (no trespassing) sign on it, though my childhood mind m thought it said “warning explosives” which made my mind race. I told my parents about this “creepy trailer” and tried to show them where it was but It kept “disappearing”. I have had nightmares about this trailer for years. I was really happy to spot it again.
Waking early meant only one thing for meelu before his twin can stop him from eating every leaf possible as they took his art bag with him in case he saw something pretty. They wished it was spring already and the bees would be active and buzzing around plus he can get a lot of honey too but for now store bought will have to do, now what will the woods show him today? a dead bug? some birds? or maybe a new friend? he wasn’t sure and it made him excited!!
“ah….ahhh!!!” he softly spoke up at the sight of what looked like an abandoned camper so what does he do? he dumped his art supplies out and found his charcoal where he began to draw on the van quietly on a blank area. He didn’t know if it belonged to anyone or if anyone actually lived in it as he kept going while making popping noises with his mouth.
They ended up drawing a nice meadow since he couldn’t stop thinking about spring and summer so warm thoughts brought warmth! oh bees!! he should draw bees! they dropped their now tiny charcoal bit and tried to find it amongst the ground, where did it go? did it fall underneath?