Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
July Ė December 1989
Over the rest of the summer, and over the next several years, in fact, Dayna and Sandy became very familiar with Mackinaw City. In a sense, it was a touchstone, it was home. As soon as the renfaire closed up Sunday night, they started on the 350-mile drive to Mackinaw City, where they set up again in the dark in the spot south of town that Cheryl told them about, so they could make the Monday morning ferry crowds. Most weeks, they worked the ferry crowds five days, but occasionally they skipped Friday so they could drive back to Bradford to have more leisurely showers, do laundry, read their mail, and load up for Kalamazoo and the renfaire, and the following week back in Mackinaw City.
While they were having fun, they put in long days Ė sixteen hours, if they played the Keyhole, which they often did, especially if the weather had been lousy during the day. They soon learned that the money was best on the nice days, so for the sake of taking a break, on nasty days theyíd just take the day off rather than fight the weather. After working so many hours, they deserved it.
For the sake of variety, they hunted around and found a few other pitches in town, none as good as the ones they had. Occasionally, they went over to the island for a day, but most of the time they stayed on the mainland. Bill Shepler apparently had had a word with the cop, because when they saw him again, he had a wave and a grin.
And, for the sake of variety, they didnít always wear the renfaire outfits. The belly-dancer costumes always drew a crowd; sometimes they decided to dress up, and wore skirts and tank tops; a few really hot days came along, and they decided to wear their string bikinis, which, a little to their surprise, seemed to drag the hats down. They wondered about that, since the bikinis had done really well for them at Daytona Beach on spring break. One afternoon it hit them: this wasnít Daytona Beach on spring break, this was pretty much a family crowd, and there were a lot of wives who didnít want their husbands staring at all that skin for more than a few seconds. Except for swims in the big lake or the little lake back in the woods where they camped, the bikinis stayed packed up after that.
And, the hats continued excellent, even better when Maple Leaf was over with and there was a break before Flint opened up Ė Mackinaw City was hot on weekdays, but it was even better on weekends.
Perhaps the biggest downside to Mackinaw City was the fact that the fastest way to get there from Bradford took them right past Mount Pleasant and the CMU campus, and each trip they made past the place dragged them closer to the evil day when theyíd have to return. One day, Sandy was driving the Chevette when they went by the place, which gave them the usual memory of distaste. "You know, damn it," Dayna said. "The money is fucking awesome, but weíre missing the point."
"I thought the point was to have fun and make money," Sandy protested. "Weíre doing that. We are way the hell ahead of any place we ever dreamed weíd be back in the spring."
"There was one other point," Dayna said. "And that was to see some new country. The only thing weíve seen in weeks is I-67, or US-131 when we want to see something different. Shit, think of Tim, out there exploring the east coast."
"Yeah, youíre right." Sandy conceded. "Itís hard as hell to turn our backs on the kind of money weíre making there, though. Weíve even got a lot of money over and above what we need for college, like in the motor-home fund."
"Weíve got money enough stuck back that we donít have to keep doing twelve-hour days in Mackinaw," Dayna snorted. "Itís only a month before we go back to school. We need to be fair with Bill, but letís run it by him and see if heíd mind if we took off and went somewhere else for a change of scenery for a while."
"Works for me, when you put it that way," Sandy agreed. "Any idea of where to go?"
"How about some of the Lake Michigan beaches?" Dayna asked. "This is the best time of the year to go there since the water is the warmest. We could do some bikini busking again."
"We could check out Put-In-Bay, too," Sandy said. "What do you say we do a week in Mackinaw City, then a week somewhere else, for the rest of the summer? Thatíd balance off making money and seeing some different places a little."
"Yeah, I suppose," Dayna said. "Damn, itís hard to turn our backs on a gold mine like weíve got up there. Shit, we could make a living if we only played there in the summer and took the rest of the year off. And that would really miss the point."
"Not much we can do about it now," Sandy said. "But I thought the Maple Leaf was more fun overall than what I remember Flint being last year. But hell, as long as weíre going to Central, thereís no point in blowing off Flint. Itís so close, we can work it on weekends from school."
"I donít want to give up Maple Leaf, at least not soon," Dayna said. "Itís too close to Bradford, and besides, now weíve got Mom and Dad addicted, at least to there, which absolutely blows my mind every time I stop and think about it. I never thought that would happen."
Sandy shook her head. "Trying it out is one thing, but getting addicted to it, well, thatís something else."
"The next damn thing you know theyíll both quit General and take that act on the road," Dayna snorted. "And youíre the one to blame."
"Me?" Sandy grinned. "Youíre the one who padlocked me in the stocks and went off and left me. But letís not argue that all over again. Hereís an idea. The Indianapolis Renfaire was all right, but only all right, and we only caught a few nice days and only one warm weekend. How about we blow that off next year, find something farther south, and just spend the whole tour down there? I mean, not try to come back to Bradford at all."
"Has potential, no doubt about that," Dayna agreed. "Damn, itíd be nice to have a motor home for that, though. And, damn it, we spend enough time in Mackinaw City, itís hard to live in a tent. The Val-Ru is all right, but it adds up to money after a while. We could park the motor home up there all summer and commute to Maple Leaf and Flint till school opens."
"That still leaves the question of leaving it parked eight months a year," Sandy said. "OK, hereís an idea. I wouldnít know where to look in Warren, but maybe thereís someone around Bradford your mom and dad could approach to let us lease a motor home for a month. Thatíd give us a place to stay down south, and would give us an idea how well itís going to work to busk out of it."
"Itís possible," Dayna conceded. "One thing we ought to do is take off some weekend after we get done with Flint, run down to Hawthorne and have a talk with Tim about how well having a motor home worked for him."
"Sounds good," Sandy grinned. "And I really want to find out how much Jerry and Jim told them about Jeanie and Jennie."
"Iíll bet good money that itís next to damn nothing," Dayna snorted. "But if they said anything at all, Tim and Charlene are going to want to weasel the whole story out of us. Theyíd die laughing, but if it got back to Jerry and Jim theyíd die of embarrassment. And, thereís another damn thing. With the folks around Maple Leaf and staying at home, we werenít all that able to let it hang out, and thereís no damn time in Mackinaw City. Do you realize we havenít been laid since those two? Not even by each other?"
"Point conceded, but maybe weíll be able to do better at Flint," Sandy nodded. "I hope the thousand-dollar-trick stories are gone at Central by now; thatís why we watched our step around school."
"Yeah, and that pisses me off a little, too. I wouldnít mind being known as being a little easy up there, I like fucking as well as you do. But the combination of hooking, the administration, and us is one that could cause problems."
"So far, so good," Sandy said. "But that puts us in an awkward position. And if we start giving it away, itís going to get those frat guys who paid pissed off with us."
"Iíll tell you what," Dayna said. "Iím not all that goddamn sure how bad I want to go back to Central another year. I mean, I donít really want to go this fall, but weíre pretty much committed. But I am goddamn tired of sitting in classrooms."
"Me, too. I can think of other things to do."
"Up to this point we havenít studied anything thatís going to do us much good, and I donít see much more in the future," Dayna snorted. "The reason I took up business ad in the first place was that Iíd have something nice and general worked out that could be applied to a lot of things when I figure out what I want to do. I know what I want to do, and business ad doesnít have much to do with it. Look, we donít have to decide now, and weíd be fools to do it this quick, but over the next few months, letís give some serious consideration to just fucking taking a year off. Maybe more. And maybe not go back to Central if we go back at all."
"Sounds very appealing," Sandy said. "I donít want to say yes, and I donít want to say no. But to just throw out an alternative, what do you say we find some nice state college way the hell down south somewhere, and only go there during the winter term? Thatíd give us eight months on the road instead of four, and hell, maybe we could live out of a motor home more cheaply than we could live in a dorm room."
"Wouldnít surprise me in the slightest, and thatíd mean weíd be away from all those assholes always running around dorms," Dayna snorted again.
"Yeah, and hereís another angle. Weíve got eight months to work with. We spend three in Mackinaw City piling up good bucks, and then just bum around renfaires or looking for the odd local festival or like that for five months. Crap, we could go anywhere in the fall."
"Sounds good," Dayna conceded. "In fact, sounds damn good. All right, letís give some consideration to this idea, and not do the week on, week off like we talked about a few minutes ago, but just stay in Mackinaw City until we have to drive to Central. Well, weíd have to take a day off to go get our stuff in Bradford and haul it back to Central, and weíd still have to hit Flint a couple weekends. Then, we take the extra money and just toss it in the motor-home fund? That way, if this winter or next spring we decide to say Ďfuck it,í weíre in an even better position to jump."
"On the surface, it works for me," Sandy agreed. "Weíve got a few days to think about that one, and it doesnít burn our ass either way we go, anyway. But I do think we need to stay in school, and that most likely means Central, up through next spring. After that, weíre both twenty-one, and it may not make a big difference with your family but it damn well does with mine."
"They really donít want you going to school at all, do they?" Dayna frowned.
"No, not really," Sandy sighed. "It was a good excuse to get out of the house. I wish I could be friendlier with them, but as long as they want to run my life, itís just going to be a pain in the ass. This time last year, my thought about going to college at CMU was that at least it wasnít in Warren where my mother was trying to cram Robbie Buehler down my throat."
"You didnít tell them that, did you?"
"Oh, fuck no, of course not. They think I want to be a music teacher, and thatís about all I ever thought about. Shit, Iíd have never thought about the stuff weíve done in the last year." She let out a long sigh. "Dayna, Iím sorry Iíve been ranting, but the best thing that ever happened to me is when we got assigned to the same room. Youíve given me a new life thatís so much better in so many ways it isnít funny. But I still need to cast off the shreds of my old life."
"Rant away, you need the release."
"Thanks, Dayna," she smiled. "You know, what really pisses me off is that Iím not even getting anything from them to help me through college, and my mother fucking thinks she can run my life. Crap, Iím like you, Iím mostly paying for college with grants, scholarships, and student loans, and the only thing Iím getting from them is their fucking signatures on the fucking loan forms. At least youíre getting some help from your folks. Iím getting jack shit, and hell, a big chunk of what I made this summer is going to have to go to CMU. And for what? A few lousy credits on a transcript! I didnít learn much useful last year and I donít expect to this year."
"We had a bunch of crap courses that we had to take last year," Dayna nodded, and though she was being supportive, it was a rant sheíd heard before, and she wouldnít mind changing the subject, so she gave it a try. "I know pretty much what weíre both scheduled for, but Iím thinking that maybe we ought to sit down and go over the schedule again. If weíre going to dump college next spring, maybe thereís something useful we can learn in the interim."
"Oh, hell, I donít know, we need to go over the book. Belly dancing comes to mind. Weíve had a lot of fun with the harem-girl outfits, but the show we do doesnít apply to them much. Or, some other dancing that we can work into the show. Maybe karate, or something. I really did get some good out of the marketing class I took last year, and I think thereís some good promotional things we could learn in some other classes. There might be some music class we could take. Like I say, we need to go through the book."
"Design our own major," Sandy giggled, constructive thoughts starting to overcome the negativism sheíd displayed a few minutes before. "Freelance busking."
"Actually," Dayna snickered, "I think it could be done, but I think itíd have to be called something more formal."
"I know a class we ought to take," Sandy laughed. "I happened to catch it when I was leafing through the catalogue one day last spring. Itís a 300-level class, but I wouldnít be surprised if we could get a waiver. Oh, that would be a scream."
"This has got to be a good one," Dayna smiled. "What is it?"
"A seminar on prostitution," Sandy grinned. "If we took it, Iíll bet that weíd be the only ones whoíve turned a trick, although really we havenít done very many, those frat boys last fall and a few times in Florida."
"Yeah, but itís probably going to be about how horrible and degrading it is," Dayna said, a little less thrilled than her friend.
"It might not be," Sandy laughed. "Itís a womenís-issues thing, so it might be at least some about how itís liberating women by allowing them to take control of their own bodies."
"Fat chance," Dayna snorted.
"Maybe not," Sandy said. "The next line on the page is for a seminar next spring on lesbian issues, taught by the same professor, and I doubt like hell that a lesbian-issues course in a womenís-issues program is going to be real negative."
"Well, maybe not," Dayna shrugged. "Maybe it might not be the dumbest idea, even if it is negative. It might teach us something about what to look out for. Letís look into it. And letís paw through the catalogue and see what else we can find."
"Thereís one in the back somewhere, but weíd have to stop to dig it out."
"Aw, letís wait till we get to a rest stop. But yeah, if weíre going to be stuck in Mount Pleasant all winter, letís change our majors to busking and our minors to prostitution."
Sandy smiled. "Works for me," she giggled. "Maybe we better not let the college know though."
"Or our parents, either," Dayna laughed. "My folks might be able to hack the major, but I doubt theyíd be real thrilled with the minor."
"Might not be all bad," Sandy laughed. "ĎHey, Mom! Iíve decided to become a hooker. If Robbie Buehler wants to fuck me so bad, he can damn well pay for it! Tell him Iíll be down on Cass tonight, standing under a street light, wearing a micro skirt and fishnet stockings.í"
Dayna shook her head. "That would probably end your mother problems once and for all."
"Yeah, either sheíd be dead or I would," Sandy laughed. "But youíre right, maybe Iíd better not go quite that far."
"Well, we could wear fishnet stockings and micro skirts to the prostitution seminar," Dayna laughed.
"Maybe we better not," Sandy shook her head and grinned. "Those dyke feminazis in the womenís issues department donít have much of a sense of humor."
"Oh, we could get away with it, considering our reputations around campus for being a little off the wall," Dayna laughed. "Especially if we added to it some. Iíll tell you what, Sandy; if weíre going to be stuck there until next May, thereís no reason we shouldnít be a little outrageous and have a little fun. I donít think we want to run the risk of getting kicked out, but that doesnít mean we canít spend our last year there playing our own private jokes on the world."
"Works for me," Sandy grinned, then let out a sigh. "Dayna, weíve made up our minds, havenít we?"
"About this being our last year at Central."
"I guess maybe we have," she replied soberly. "I donít want to rule out going back at some time in the future, or going someplace else, at least in the winter like you mentioned. But I swear to Christ, I canít look ahead to three more years around that place. A year, if weíre learning useful stuff and making preparations, fine. In fact, I can think of a number of things Iíd like to work on over the winter to get us ready for the road that donít involve classes much. Or might involve classes if we can figure out how."
"New material," Dayna shrugged. "In fact, thatís the weakest point weíve got right now. All our stuff outside renfaires is four or five covers to one original. We need to reduce that ratio a lot, so weíre doing mostly our own material."
"Or at least material that people arenít familiar with," Sandy nodded. "And we need to spiff up the renfaire acts some, too, just for the sake of fresh material."
"Yeah, weíve done some of that stuff too much as it is. Iím not going to rule out a major remake of existing music. Cold Cold Heart was actually Hank Williams country-western from way back sometime. Thereís nothing country-western left about it now, and itís probably my favorite song I do. But when we do California Dreaminí, people always compare me to Mama Cass. Iíll never be Cass Elliot, so Iíd like to phase it out and only do it by request, as much as I like it."
"I think youíre right. Weíve matured enough as performers; we donít need to be copying everyone else. Thatís fine when youíre learning, but weíve moved beyond that. Iíll tell you something Iíd like to do, and thatís develop a single set, jokes and all, that we could do for young kids. Elementary school age, so nothing even slightly risqué or steamy. Weíve gotten caught flatfooted by crowds of kids a couple times, and I keep thinking thereís school dates we could play when we canít get anything else. We do it right and it could be done as a renfaire kidsí show, too."
"Good idea," Dayna laughed. "Kids like costumes; itís part of being a kid. We could even do it as genies."
Sandy shook her head. "There you go, getting steamy right off."
"Just because weíve got bare waists doesnít mean we have to be steamy," Dayna protested. "Hell, we could even wear body stockings for something like that. Dressing up like that for kids means that weíre putting on a show, a fantasy just for them. We come up with some stories for you to tell, maybe some Aladdin stuff, then set them to music."
"Youíre better at coaxing a crowd, spinning yarns. Iím just better at bullshitting people. Thereís a difference."
"You know," Sandy replied thoughtfully. "I seem to remember something about a class in performing for children. Itís an education class, not music. That might be a good one to look up."
"Something else to look up," Dayna agreed. "Sandy, Iíll tell you this much. Whether we stay at Central this year or not, we need to change our majors to something in Performing Arts."
"They donít offer that."
"So we do an independent study. Or next year transfer somewhere else where it is offered. Just for backup, maybe we ought to spend some time researching where that somewhere else is."