The day started with Greg standing at the head of the room, holding up an alarm clock ringing far too loudly to be real.
"Up and at 'em, campers! Day one is here and you all have a busy day ahead! Let's get rolling!"
I groaned, and I heard what sounded like everyone else groaning at the same time. Several guys had sharp comments to make about what Greg could do with his alarm clock. Greg ignored the comments and told us how important it was to have some exercise and a good breakfast, to start the day right.
More comments were thrown at him, but several guys were moving and looked to be ready to get started. Some even seemed enthusiastic and energized. That made me sick. I was in no way surprised that James was one of them.
"Come on! Big day!" he said all jovial and smiling.
He threw his legs over the edge of the bed and stood up. I looked away, but still saw him in his white briefs, his legs swinging out of his bed. He grabbed his jeans and was ready to go before my morning wood had deflated in the worry of it being noticed, even though I still wore my jeans. Robert pulled his blankets further over his head and sighed loudly enough that I clearly heard it.
Greg continued telling us all about our choices and such as he walked down the aisle. When he passed Robert's bed, he slapped his foot like he had everyone else still under their blankets. Robert sighed disgustedly and sat up, threw back his blanket, and stood up. My breath almost caught. I tried not to notice, but it was almost impossible not to. I wondered if anyone else noticed, and trying to casually look around, I didn't see anyone else even looking our direction. I took another quick glance, and there was no mistaking that Robert was nearly hard.
It wasn't pushing his boxers out in front of him, but it was hanging down along one side, and it was anything but soft. I was sure it had to be six inches long, if not longer. And it wasn't skinny, either. I wondered how it could be so pointed, though; it looked as if it came to a sharp point at the end. I wondered if I would get to see it in the shower. I worried that I would harden up in the showers if I did, or if I saw anyone naked in the showers.
I had learned to think about other things while taking a shower in school, so that I didn't notice or think about the boys in the showers with me. I wondered if I could continue to use that trick, or if I was becoming a little too interested in the other boys for it to work anymore. I was soon to find out.
Greg turned at the end of the beds and walked back to the front of the cabin, still telling us about all the classes and activities we could choose from, and how wonderful the next weeks were going to be. James was standing almost at attention at the foot of his bunk, shirtless in jeans. I was stretching my shirt out over my arms and above my head, and Robert was just pulling his jeans up. And what was filling out the front of his boxers was bunched and protruding in the 'v' of the jeans fly as he pulled them up. It wasn't as hard or as large as just moments ago, but it was still very noticeable, and very intriguing. I hoped no one noticed me noticing that, and finished pulling my shirt on over my head. Robert finished fastening his jeans and then sat down silently. He didn't seem the type to talk much at all. He sat on his bed and didn't seem to care what was going on around him.
After a few minutes, we were all at the ends of our beds, doing orchestrated calisthenics. Nothing too much, mostly stretching exercises and light warm-up stuff. I didn't have a big problem with doing exercises right out of bed, well, I didn't want to, of course, but no big problem with it. The big problem was across the aisle from me, doing the same calisthenics, and wearing only baggy, checkered boxers. Well, that alone wasn't the biggest problem - the biggest problem was that he bounced and jiggled in those boxers as we exercised, and the fly wasn't particularly good at staying closed when he moved around. I saw for sure that he was a real red-head, and not because of the faint red hair under his arms. And I saw that his parts were very pink, just like his nipples, and those glimpses caused me a lot of discomfort in some of the calisthenics.
I rolled my eyes disgustedly and studiously studied the window on the far wall in the corner, mostly.
Greg told us to take clean clothes to the showers and return to the cabin, and then follow him onto the bus for the main building. There we would have breakfast, then start registering for the classes we wanted to take for the next two weeks. Those of us who were there for only two weeks did not have to shower naked, but could wear our swimming trunks.
He told us all about how we were going to make choices today that would affect the rest of our stay, and how we should consider that when we make those kinds of class choices at our high schools. Only then, those choices would follow us for the next four years, then on to university, and even the rest of our lives.
He was a teacher in a different setting. Most of the guys seemed to ignore him and talk and joke, morning things settling down and other topics being raised now. The entire cabin was marched to the showers as a group by Kurt, and we took our turns inside. I studiously ignored everyone around me, including James, who seemed to have latched onto me for some reason. Robert was behind us, so it could be said that the three of us started hanging out together.
I didn't look around, stripped, showered, dried off, dressed, and then went back to the cabin, all without a glance at anyone else, no erection, and I didn't think those wrong thoughts. I kept thinking of what classes I wanted to learn how to take at high school, or other things about the camp, but never where I was or what or who was around me. I was proud of myself as I walked back to our cabin with Robert and James. I had certainly wanted to look, but managed not to. I did notice that several kids wore their swimming trunks in the shower, and the same kids walked back to the cabin in their wet trunks and then changed alone in the bathroom with the door closed. I felt a bit superior, for the first time since I had skipped fifth grade and gone on to be the youngest in my sixth grade.
Eventually we followed Greg and Kurt onto a bus with other leaders and their groups, and they pep-talked us the whole mile, and into the main building, and to our designated tables, and continued right through breakfast. It was agonizing. And between, in what silence Greg and the other leaders allowed, James filled in admirably. It was excruciating.
Seating at each table was identical to our bunk arrangement in the cabins, so Robert was on the end, then me, then James. That put the very interesting, red-headed boy directly across from me again. I heard the boy next to him, with whom he seemed very friendly, call him Holt. Something about Holt made me feel very funny, almost like I had felt when what hadn't happened had happened. His red hair and blue eyes were alluring. But as he didn't seem interested in talking to me, I didn't talk to him, and I kept my eyes on my breakfast. He seemed nice as he talked with the boy next to him, but he ignored Robert, James, and me across from him. I kept trying not to care, or pay any attention, but it was almost as if he drew my mind to his presence. The one time Robert and I met eyes, James was blabbing about the school, as usual. Our eyes rolled simultaneously as we ate our pancakes.
So far nobody had bothered me. Us. I took quick glances around at the guys sitting nearest us, and around us, and it was tantalizing. I felt things stirring inside, emotions and thoughts that were wrong. I made myself think about home. I could see my new room in my mind, and I moved around inside it, sitting on my bed, at my desk, watching television from the bed, listening to the stereo, playing the synthesizer. It was cool and comfortable.
And I would never have to leave it. Except for meals. And school. Ugh. High School.
But I'm here to get a step ahead on it, so I guess I should find out who's going to be going to my school, I thought. I wonder how to find that out. I guess I just start asking. Not that I really wanna know. I know where James is going to go, hearing more about the place right now, so start with Robert.
When James took a breath and a bite of his breakfast, I asked Robert, "So, what school you going to?"
Not mine. I knew where Hinsdale was, not too far away, but nothing about the high school. I didn't now why he had pronounced it so weirdly. Hinsdale was spoken during the news sometimes, and in commercials for businesses there, and adults used the name a lot, so I knew how it was pronounced. And that it had a huge, busy mall and a huge affluent residential area, like the suburb where I now lived.
"You go to Heensdale too?" he asked.
"Where are you from? Germany?"
I could tell he was waiting for something, for me to say something.
"Cool. How long you been here?"
He still seemed to be waiting for something in particular.
"Neat. So, you staying? Moved here for good?"
"Cool. I just moved, too. Going to a different high school than where I lived before."
"Near Joliet. Not far from here."
"Ah. Not zo far."
I laughed. He did too. His English wasn't bad, what words he seemed to know, and his accent reminded me a lot of the old black and white World War Two movies that I used to watch with my Gramps. He seemed nice, not like the rich jerks that dominated the place. And he had nice features, and voice.
"Glad to move away? Or, rather stayed? I was fucking glad to move!"
I hadn't meant to say that much, but I already had. And very emphatically, too. I pulled my reaction back and tried to recover.
"Happy to move? I... no, not happy."
"America, though. Whole new country."
"Jeah. But not total different. Same some."
I didn't know what else to talk about, and he didn't seem to either. With shrugs, we let James take over again and went back to breakfast.
The breakfast was as good as at some restaurants, and better than most. After that, it was off to the other large room in the building filled with endless rows of tables. Each touted a class and topic. Behind the table with a large sign that read, "MATHS," Algebra was a separate class from Geometry, which were separate from Trigonometry, and onward. The same treatment was given to Language Studies, Social Studies, Medical Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Religious Studies. Then the sports, like boxing and wrestling, baseball, football, hockey, swimming, gymnastics, track and running, soccer, volleyball, softball, the signs were endless. Cricket had a sign. Cricket. So did Croquet. And then there were two last rows of tables for yet more and sundry classes. JROTC, Judo, Karate, and other martial arts and self defense. Outdoor Survival, First Aid/First Responder, Basic CPR/Resuscitation, even a class called Knitting and Yarn-Work between Cooking and Pottery.
Greg handed us a large form with a calendar on a clipboard. We all got our own and were told to write in classes, and cross out the times and dates of them on the calendar as we picked them, so that we wouldn't end up with two classes at the same times on the same days. We were also to write our names on the class roster at the sign for the class, or we wouldn't be assigned the class at all.
We wandered for hours. I got sick of it. Robert was still along, but James had gotten mislaid. Neither of us seemed too worried about finding him.
We had to choose at least two physical activities, and since Outdoor Survival actually counted as two, I took it. He and I had agreed on Astronomy, hoping we might get the class together. I was with him when he signed up for German, and we had a good laugh. I wasn't surprised he chose soccer, but I didn't understand why he wanted swimming.
Greg grabbed us up as we walked back to the front. He checked over our forms, and asked us to go back and cross our names off any course rosters that we had signed up for, but had later changed our minds about. No such thing had occurred, we assured him, so he pointed us toward the cafeteria and told us to have a seat where we sat earlier and then have lunch.
James was waiting. I was sure I heard Robert groan. The lunch was good, but the apple juice wasn't very sweet. We waited around, mostly James talking, until the bus at three, then a short ride back to the cabins and freedom for the afternoon. On the way, Greg told us about the activities we could take part in at the cabins. Open swimming until six, archery, or we could start a game of baseball or football, or another sport. Then there was the library, the television room, the game room, and other things to do.
The three of us got off the bus and walked to our bunks together. Silently, except for James, of course. Robert opened his book, and James wanted to go swimming in the pool, if it wasn't crowded. I managed to convince him that going without me or Robert didn't mean he went alone, and off he went.
"Gut job," Robert barely mumbled so the other three boys still in the cabin couldn't hear.
His eyebrow shot up. I shrugged. Gran and Gramps had taught me some German, but now Robert spoke a long sentence that I caught almost nothing of. I grinned and shrugged.
"That's it. Das ist alle. Sehr gut, ja und nein, nichts, oder, vieder, gut und habe Hunger und Durst."
He laughed and went back to his book.
His laugh was nice. He finally looked happy for a change.
That made me feel happy. And he was cute. I felt funny, again, like what I had felt when what hadn't happened had happened.
I had to stop that.
I knew to bring something to do in my spare time, so I had brought an old favorite to reread. I didn't know the one he was reading, which looked to be in German, anyway.
"Dune! Sehr gutes Buch."
"Die buch?" I asked, wobbling Dune.
"Das," he said, then told me the plural, and how to use it in a sentence both ways.
"I have the book, Dune," I said in German.
"Vir buchen haben," I tried.
He grimaced and grinned at the same time, which was very cute, then said, correcting me, "Vir haben beide Bucher."
I repeated that, then he said, "Gut. Richtig."
He nodded and grinned.
"So, Ich bin richtig."
"No, Ich habe recht."
I repeated it.
He laughed, then said, "Korrekt."
We laughed, turned red, then got quiet. We went back to reading between occasionally swapping new words, and so the afternoon went.
James returned just before dinner. The bastard was talking to me when he dropped his swimming trunks bunk-side and toweled off what his trunks had kept wet. I cringed. He stood there naked, drying himself as if it were completely normal, as if we were brothers and had done so since we were old enough to dress ourselves after bathing together. He sat on his bunk, naked, pulling clothes out of his little dresser. Out of the corner of my eye I could just make out the fact that he wasn't bald around it, but didn't have a lot there, either. And that he had nice, smooth, long legs. When he stood up, his stuff hung and I forced myself to look directly at my book while he dressed.
Dinner was served in the big log cabin's cafeteria, and wasn't bad at all, but not as good as the food in the other building. James went off with three of his friends straight from dinner. Robert and I sighed in relief and walked back to the cabin together.
"Might not be so bad here," I said, picking up my book.
I figured out it was, "maybe" after a few minutes. By then he had picked up two more English words, one of which wasn't used in polite company.
Others straggled in, mostly in small groups, just before eight. Greg appeared with the last two, James included, and then started on another pep talk with Kurt.
I watched and pretended to listen, though I was only partly tuned in. Robert and I swapped some more words, I got another chapter into Dune, and James finally quieted down and read the book he had brought back from the academy.
Soon it was lights-out. I took off my shirt, shoes, and socks, and stretched out on my front. I kept my eyes in my book as they all got ready for bed, changing into swimming trunks, pajamas, jogging shorts, or, the worst, just their underwear. I didn't want to be caught watching, and I really didn't want to even want to look, but I did want to, and badly. I tried some more to convince myself that it was all that infamous phase that I'd heard talked about. In time, maybe by the end of the two weeks at camp, I'd stop being interested in boys and start liking girls. I was normal, just going through that weird phase some kids went through. That's all.
It was too warm to cover up again, so once the lights went out I lay on top of the blanket and thought about the day. I wondered where and when and how I could manage to take care of business. Even wondering about that made it hard. Images of James, Robert, Holt, and many other boys, and thoughts about them, were almost impossible to keep out of my head no matter how hard I tried. Every time I stared to drift off, an image of James naked, wet, toweling off his jiggling junk, or sitting naked on his bunk, or those glimpses through Holt's boxers, or that sight of Robert in his boxers, would seem to materialize out of nothing and torture me.
Eventually I drifted off to sleep.