Chapter 1 – The New Kid
I had been sitting on the dirty yellow school bus for five hours. Five miserable, smelly, dusty, hours. If the windows weren't sealed shut, and my hands in handcuffs, I would have thrown myself out the window a long time ago. There was a guard on the bus who kept staring at me, rifle in hand. God forbid I attack him or something. I was a tiny 5'4 girl, one hundred pounds. Did he really think that I was going to do something crazy? Actually, I probably would...
"Hey!" I called to the guard. He didn't say anything, just kept staring. I sighed, he was really being difficult. I decided to try again.
"Hey! Do you know when we're going to get there? And where is the lake? Its just desert."
Again, the guard was silent. I had been looking out the window the whole time, wondering when I was going to see trees, and a lake. I was being sent to Camp Green Lake after all. There had to be a lake. I sighed and closed my eyes. Thoughts of what had happened the past two weeks ran through my mind involuntarily. I shook my head to try to get rid of them, but they lingered.
I walked lazily over to Brad's Harley motorcycle. He was busy shining it, as always. I ran my fingers along the seat with a smirk on my face.
"Hey babe, what's up?" he said, looking up at me.
After my breakdown, I felt extremely calm. I didn't have any tears left. I almost felt sorry for Brad.
"Wellll... you know... just hanging out at home. I was pretty bored last night, since you cancelled and all."
Brad stiffened, and began to pick at the rag he was holding nervously. "Sorry about that..."
"Shhh..." I put my finger to his lips, "Its quite alright. I don't mind that you're seeing her. I'm sure it was just a mistake."
His eyes went wide. "What are you talking about?"
"You know what I'm talking about. I saw you and Mia making out last night at the drive in. That was supposed to be our date. But, no biggie."
Brad squinted at me. "You're not mad?"
I shook my head. "Of course not! It was a mistake."
He smiled, "I knew you wouldn't mind. It won't happen again."
I smiled at him and walked down the street. When I was sure he wasn't looking, I hid behind a bush. Pulling out my uncle's Glock, I aimed it at the motorcycle's gas tank.
"Of course I forgive you, Brad..." I mumbled and shot a single shot.
The motorcycle exploded, pieces of it littering the driveway. Brad was lying on his back, a good distance away from the wreckage, his face and arms slightly burned. I wondered why he wasn't hurt much, but then I realized that I had shot the motorcycle when he had moved away from it. Damn.
I stood in the courtroom facing the judge. I could feel all eyes on me, but I tried to ignore it.
The judge spoke, glaring at me, gravel in hand. "Jenny Wolf, you are being charged with attempted murder. Since Mr. Johnson suffered only minor injuries, you are going to be given a choice. Jail or Camp Green Lake?"
Camp? Were they giving me a break?
"I've never been to camp before..." I said.
The judge slammed the gravel down. "Eighteen months, Camp Green Lake."
"We're here!" A deep voice bellowed, and I opened my eyes, not realizing that I had fallen asleep. I looked up, and there was the guard, towering over me.
"Jesus, man, you don't have to yell," I mumbled, as he unlocked the handcuffs. Grabbing my bag, I walked down the bus aisle and stepped outside. The heat hit my face suddenly, and I felt lightheaded. It was so hot. I don't think I had ever been so hot in my life. Squinting, I surveyed my surroundings. Holes. Holes everywhere. And no lake. Just endless desert. I could see a few tents and some rundown buildings. There was a nice cabin farther away, with a few trees surrounding it. Those were the only trees that I could see.
I didn't want to be here. I wanted to go home! But, where was home? My home didn't exist anymore. I had lived with my aunt and uncle since my mom walked out. I didn't even know who my father was. After the incident, my aunt and uncle didn't want to have anything to do with me.
I saw a figure walking towards me, distracting me from my thoughts. Lifting my hand over my eyes, I struggled to see from the blinding sun. A short, thin man came into view, clipboard in hand. He had a wide hat on, and sunscreen on his nose. He wore shorts, with socks pulled up. What a nerd. Smiling brightly, he shook my hand.
"You must be Jenny! Nice to meet you, I'm Mr. Pendanski, your counsellor," he said. I wondered how he could be in such a good mood in a place like this.
"Nice to meet you."
Mr. Pendanski put his arm on my shoulder. "I respect you, Jenny. Just because you've done some bad things, does not make you a bad person."
"Thanks?" I said uncertainly.
"You are the first girl here at Camp Green Lake," he said, and I stood there in shock.
"What? I didn't know this was a boys's camp!" I cried. What kind of a place was this?
"Don't worry, you'll fit in soon enough,"
Mr. Pendanski led me to a small building. Inside, a man wearing a cowboy hat sat at a desk, his feet propped up. He was chewing sunflower seeds, and spitting into a mug.
"Mr. Sir, Jenny has arrived!" Mr. Pendanski said.
Mr. Sir looked at me and spit again into the mug. Mr. Pendanski handed him some papers and he signed them. Mr. Sir looked through the papers, and then at me.
"Jenny Wolf, first thing you gotta remember about this place. This ain't a Girl Scout camp. No one is going to babysit you."
Mr. Sir got up and led me out of the office.
"There are no guard towers here," he continued, "No fence, no nothing. You want to run away, go ahead. I'm not going to stop you. We're the only water source around for a hundred miles. Our own little oasis. You run away, them buzzards will pick you clean by the end of the third day." He chuckled, and spit on the dry ground. I shuddered.
He led me to another building, and inside was a boy with slicked back brown hair, folding orange jumpsuits. Mr. Sir tossed me two jumpsuits and a pair of boots.
"You will have two sets of clothes. One for work, and one for relaxation. After three days your work clothes will be washed, and your relaxation clothes will become your work clothes." He grabbed my bag out of my hands and tossed it to the boy. The boy began looking through it.
"Hey!" I said irritably, "You can't look through my bag! I've got personal stuff in there!" My bag was full of girl products, a pack of cards, a book, bras and underwear. I didn't want anyone seeing my things! Especially since I was the only girl here!
The boy stopped looking and tossed my bag back to me.
"You are to dig one hole each day. Five feet deep, five feet in diameter. Your shovel will be your measuring stick. When you are done with your hole, you get the rest of the day off. Breakfast is served at 4:30."
4:30? Was he crazy?
"Change your clothes," Mr. Sir said, and turned around. The boy turned around as well.
I tried to change as quickly as possible, and when I was finished, I coughed to let them know. Mr. Sir led me out of the building. We walked with Mr. Pendanski to a tent marked with the letter D.
When we reached the tent, I noticed he had a gun on his belt.
"Don't worry about that," Mr. Sir said, patting the gun, "This here is for yellow spotted lizards. I wouldn't waste a bullet on you. You get bit by one of those, you will die a painful death. Always."
"Now, Mr. Sir, let's not scare Jenny!" Mr. Pendanski said.
Instead of answering, Mr. Sir barked, "This ain't a Girl Scout camp," and walked away.
Mr. Pendanski patted me on the shoulder. "Don't worry about Mr. Sir, he's just been in a bad mood since he quit smoking."
"I'm warnin' you!" I could hear Mr. Sir screaming behind me.
Three boys walked up to us, covered in dust, and carrying shovels. One had a bandanna wrapped around his head with a baseball hat and a toothpick in his mouth, the other had thick black glasses, and the last one had brown curly hair.
"Boys, come meet your new teammate! This is Jenny! Be nice!" Mr. Pendanski said.
"Mom, what the hell is a girl doing here?" The one with the glasses asked, shocked.
"Rex, watch your language!" Mr. Pendanski scolded.
"Man, its not Rex! Its X-Ray!" The boy said, frustrated.
The one with the toothpick came up to me and shook my hand, "Nice to meet you girly, I'm Squid." I shook his hand uncertainly.
"His name is Alan," Mr. Pendanski laughed, "They all have their little nicknames, but I prefer to use the names their parents gave them. The ones society will recognize them by."
The boy with the curly hair shyly shook my hand. "My name is Stanley, but you can call me Caveman. If you need any help, just let me know."
"Thanks, I will," I said gratefully.
We walked into the tent, I hoped it was cooler in there then outside, but there wasn't much difference. Rusty cots were lined up in two rows inside the tent. There were more boys in here as well. I hoped they were nice.
Mr. Pendanski waved at the boys. "Boys, here is your new roommate! This is Jenny, come and say hello!"
The boys' jaws dropped when they saw me, and I instantly felt uncomfortable with all the attention.
"Hey," I said quietly.
Mr. Pendanski pointed at each of them. "This is Theodore," he said gesturing to an overweight boy who was sprawled out on one of the cots, "Jose," a Latino boy with a shaved head waved at me, "Ricky," a very tall boy with dirty blonde hair that stuck up in all directions, "and Zero," he pointed to a boy with an afro lying down on one of the cots. I didn't ask him why he called him Zero, he called all the other boys by their real names.
"Now boys, make sure Jenny feels welcome. I'm counting on you!" Mr. Pendanski walked out of the tent, leaving me alone with the boys.
The overweight kid got up and walked over to me. "My name ain't Theodore. Its Armpit. And that's Magnet," he pointed to the Latino boy, "and Zigzag." The tall blonde eyed me suspiciously.
"Mr. Pendanski is Mom," Magnet said.
"What are you in here for?" Armpit asked.
I clutched my bag nervously. I had never received this much attention from boys in my life. I just wished they would stop staring. Some of them had probably never seen girls in months.
"I'd rather not talk about it," I finally answered.
"Come on, niña, you can tell us," Magnet said.
Boy, this would come as a shock.
The tent was so silent I could hear a pin drop. Squid began to back away slowly.
"What did you do?" X-Ray asked.
"My ex-boyfriend cheated on me. While he was cleaning his motorcycle, I shot the gas tank. It exploded, but at the moment I shot it, my boyfriend walked away. He wasn't hurt badly."
Zigzag's eyes moved a mile a minute, looking me over. A smirk formed on his face. "I bet you wish you could've got him good."
I looked at him, shocked that he found it amusing. For dramatic effect I said, "Damn straight."
"Jesus, girly! I wouldn't want to be your boyfriend!" Squid said.
Stanley tried to lighten up the situation. "Come on, guys, we've got to get to dinner."
The other boys mumbled in agreement, and I followed them out of the tent.
So far they had been nice to me, which I was grateful for. Zigzag is pretty cute too. I tried to push that crazy thought out of my mind. This was not the place for romance. I just wanted to do my time and get out. We'll see about that. The unwanted thought floated through my mind. We'll see.