Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
May – June 1990
Ever since back in January when they’d gotten serious about buying the RV, they’d thrown around the idea of naming it, but nothing stuck until that first month they spent at the renfaire in Virginia: Home.
Home is where the heart is, of course. Sandy was far from having any heart in Warren, and while Dayna still had her parents in Bradford, she was sensitive to her friend and lover’s feelings, so she picked up on it too, without discussion. All the comforts of Home. Home after a hard day’s work. They took their Home with them.
That first month really was the shakedown cruise they’d talked about for spring break, but they’d taken the Chevette to Florida, instead. Even with several weekends of camping in a campground near Central, at the time they’d not yet quite figured out how to load out. It was taking a while for things to find their right places and for the girls to remember to put them there so they’d stay in place when on the road, and be there the next time they needed them. But now the Chevette was gone, and what had taken them hours to set up that first weekend was cut drastically: mere minutes if they were going to be parked overnight and just sleeping, especially if the spot where they parked was reasonably level – but only about fifteen minutes for the whole nine yards, if they were going to be parked in a spot where there were hookups, where they wanted to put the awning out and sit under it, sometimes for practice, sometimes to play.
While they could set up without hookups and often did, being able to plug into regular power and run a hose to the water tank made life more civilized; without them, they had to run the engine or generator nearly every day to keep Home’s batteries charged, and the water tank would get low after two or three days unless they were real careful. The waste holding tank could also go several days without being dumped, a stinky job that neither particularly liked but had to be done, so they learned to do what they could to fill it as slowly as possible.
Home’s facilities for taking a bath were minimal. It was theoretically possible to take a very unsatisfying shower in the bathroom, but it made an absolute mess of everything else and meant that little else could be kept there, so after one attempt they abandoned taking showers in Home. Sponge baths were a less satisfying alternative; they could get by on them, but tried not to. They managed pretty well. Many commercial RV campgrounds actually had bathroom and shower facilities, and sometimes they stopped in places where they could take a quick swim, even while on the move during the day. Occasionally they might find a mom-and-pop motel and rent a room during the day for an hour, just to use the shower. Often, if they were at a place that had hookups and no shower, they just hosed themselves off in the cold tap water and called it good enough. Early on, someone showed them a little gadget with a black plastic bag to fill with water; leaving it out in the sun for a few hours heated a couple gallons of water suitably, then hanging it high and careful use of the warm water gave a satisfying shower indeed.
Plenty of other little problems like that were solved or became controllable over the first month. Home was a lot bigger vehicle than either of them had driven before, and it seemed especially large after the little Chevette, which had been sold to a fellow student in the last days of school. Dayna was a little less shy about driving Home than Sandy, but Sandy figured she’d better get used to it, so drove it more than Dayna the first month or so, and soon it was natural to both of them.
The renfaire in Virginia was a good one, a big one, and in some respects the best they’d ever been to. There were a dozen "stages" and over twenty different acts. They saw all of the musical ones at one time or other and thought their own program pretty good in comparison, although some of the acts using traditional instruments were awesome, too. Like most renfaires, it was a weekend-only thing, running over four weekends, so during the week they used the renfaire site as a base camp and roamed about looking for pitches. It was the spring following the first Gulf war, and patriotic feeling was at a high pitch. They found that some soulful renderings of patriotic songs like America and This Land Is Your Land brought good hats, especially when they busked Washington DC one week. A memory to be treasured was one song, America the Beautiful, sung on the Capitol steps one morning. They didn’t even ask for a hat, but the applause from the gallery and thanks from several congressmen and senators was more than adequate.
During this period and for some time afterward, the Berkshire house on Lincoln Street in Bradford became their base camp. Their mail came there, and once in a while Angie would throw out the junk mail, put the balance in an envelope and send it on to wherever the girls said they would be able to pick it up in a few days. They had a few bills, and credit cards to be serviced, so earlier in the spring, they’d established three accounts in Bradford State Savings Bank – a personal savings account for each, and a single checking account with both their names on it. Every so often, they’d send home a cashier’s check or postal money order, and Angie would deposit it in the accounts as requested, then pay any outstanding bills out of the checking account. The Berkshire house also became the place where their excess stuff was stored, for that was something else they’d learned – too much gear in what really was a very tiny space in Home would soon drive them right out the door. If they had something too good and useful to throw out, but not worth taking up the space, it was put aside to be left behind at their next visit to Bradford.
Once the renfaire was over with, they’d planned to take a swing up the Jersey shore, maybe as far as New York, like Tim and Charlene had done the year before, but that wasn’t imperative. A letter that came to them in Virginia pointed them in the direction of Bradford after the last show was finished up. There was no hurry; they had five days to do 700 miles, and they took four of them, sliding into Bradford late one afternoon to run the Berkshire water heater just about dry, and spend some time sharing stories. It had been a good shakedown cruise, any way they looked at it.
* * *
What brought them back was a plea from Tim to play one very special date that he’d been approached to find someone for; he and Charlene had come home for it as well. Late that afternoon, they drove Home to Grand Rapids, changed into their old harem-girl outfits, grabbed their guitars, and walked in on the party without prior warning. They got up on the small stage in the end of the room at the relatively small gathering, sounded some opening notes, and went into their routine.
"She’s Jeanie," Sandy laughed.
"She’s Jennie," Dayna smiled.
"We’re genies!" they said in unison, as two men’s jaws dropped to somewhere near the floor, while the girl who had been Mrs. Jerry Willoughby for about a half hour wondered what was going on.
"Somebody here rubbed a magic lamp."
"So here we are to sing you a genie song."
"And we’re going to dedicate it to the bride and groom."
They swung into Genie in a Bottle, which included the steamy, breathy refrain:
"If you want me next to you, rub me right and you will see
Like a released genie, I will make your dreams reality."
They played a long set of mostly romantic music, if not very hot with the exception of Genie in a Bottle and Cold Cold Heart. After that, they took a long break, had a bite of wedding cake and a glass of punch, and got a chance to talk with the bride and groom for a minute. The new Kate Willoughby wasn’t a pretty girl by any stretch of the imagination, but she had a nice smile and a pleasant personality, and in only a few words they figured out that she was a pretty sharp cookie. "We just want to thank the both of you," she smiled to them. "For everything."
"I told her what you two did for Jim and me," Jerry explained. "Kate and I wouldn’t have gotten together if you hadn’t set me to thinking. You were right, and thanks again."
"We told you that we’re genies, and that our service is our pleasure," Jeanie smiled. "And we are very pleased that things worked out for you. The best of luck to the both of you."
"Jim’s around here somewhere with his girlfriend," Jerry added. "Be sure to say hi to them, but I’m not sure if she knows."
"We’ll be cool," Jennie smiled.
"You are two of the coolest ladies on the face of the planet, and good luck to you."
* * *
Grand Rapids was almost halfway to Mackinaw City, but there were still some things that needed to be done around Bradford. The weather reports called for several days of bad weather, so they’d already made the decision to head back there and hole up for a few days once the reception was over. For some reason that seemed good at the time, they left the harem-girl outfits on as they drove south.
They’d been warned and had subsequently learned that one of the downsides with Home was that it wasn’t real easy on gas. It could have been a lot worse, they knew, but it burned more than twice the gas per mile of the Chevette, and it took a little realignment in their thinking. It had a pretty large gas tank, but it was still disconcerting to pull up to a gas pump with a half tank on the gauge and pump forty bucks worth of gas on board, so they soon learned to look for the cheapest gas they could find.
The gas gauge was well below half when they pulled into Bradford. Without a thought that they were still wearing the harem-girl costumes crossing her mind, Sandy pulled into the Spee-D-Mart, which usually had the lowest gas prices in town. She hopped out and started filling the tank, while Dayna checked the oil and did the windshield. Satisfied, and looking for a bottle of pop or something, they headed on into the station, to be met by a loud gasp from the pregnant woman behind the counter. "Dayna?" her classmate Emily wondered, eyes wide.
The response was automatic: "Dayna? Who’s that?"
"She’s Jeanie," Sandy laughed.
"She’s Jennie," Dayna smiled.
"We’re genies!" they said in unison.
"Vicky said you’re crazy, both of you," Emily laughed. "You’ve got to be Sandy, right?"
"Most of the time, but I’m Jennie with this outfit on," Sandy laughed.
"Those are pretty cool outfits," Emily shook her head. "Why are you wearing them?"
"Oh, we just came from a wedding reception gig," Dayna explained. "We often do our act in costume; we got in the habit of doing it playing renaissance faires. Sandy, this is Emily Holst, used to be Jones; she was our class president. So how are things going, Emily?"
"Oh, pretty good," she shrugged, then brightened a little. "Vicky said you two were doing some pretty off-the-wall stuff up there at Central, and you’d had some wild parties."
"We had a couple, mostly we worked our buns off. We tend to work hard a lot and play hard a little when we can."
"I guess," Emily shook her head. "Sandy, is what Vicky said about your twenty-first birthday party true? That you spent the whole evening locked up in that wooden thing?"
"And getting drunk as a skunk," Sandy laughed. "That was just sort of the latest episode of an ongoing practical joke."
"It was pretty cool," Dayna grinned at the memory. "Vicky spent the whole evening with her jaw hanging open over the fact that either of us would pull a stunt like that, and she’d been around us enough to know we would. That wasn’t even the wildest thing we did that she was involved in."
"I would like to have seen that," Emily laughed. "She said something about you guys being wrapped up in duct tape."
"Both of us, at different times, and she helped with the wrapping both times," Sandy grinned.
"She sure got a charge out of it, too." Dayna added.
"She said she was glad that the two of you weren’t going to be around for her twenty-first birthday," Emily said, as her jaw dropped and her eyes grew wide. "That’s Tuesday . . . " She looked up to see Dayna get a big grin on her face. "Same idea, right?" she laughed.
"It would be fun to see some of the old gang again," Dayna beamed. "I didn’t see much of anyone last summer and won’t be around much this coming summer."
"I could bring Kevin, so Sandy wouldn’t be the only outsider," Emily said thoughtfully. "Everyone else I could ask is still single."
"I’ve got an idea that would put just a little bit different twist on it and really surprise her."
"How about Hank’s Bar, Tuesday night?" Emily grinned. "I wouldn’t be able to drink, ’cause I’m not twenty-one yet. Bring your guitars; she said the two of you play the hell out of those things."
"Emily, most of the time neither of us go to the bathroom without our guitars," Dayna laughed. "You’re going to have to set this up and not even mention our names, or she’ll smell a mouse for sure."
"You bet," Emily laughed. "She’s been so thrilled to make me jealous by telling me about all the good times she’s had, it’ll be worth it."
* * *
There are only a handful of bars in Bradford, and on weekday evenings they can be pretty quiet. Hank’s wasn’t the nicest place in town, nor the worst. It was in an older downtown building, but pretty much a "nothing special" bar. On this Tuesday, there had been a few people in during supper hour, but it had died out to a couple of guys sitting on bar stools, preferring to stare into their beer rather than go home to their wives, and a pair of couples close to the unplugged jukebox, playing Spitzer and having a few to kill the evening. RuthAnn, the bartender who doubled as the waitress this evening, figured it would be pretty quiet.
Just before eight, a young couple came in. She knew Kevin and Emily Holst; they came in once in a while. "We’re going to have a group here in a little bit," Kevin told her as he set a long, paper-wrapped package down. "Is it all right if we shove some tables together?"
"Great," Kevin nodded. "We’ve got a couple people coming in with their guitars, nothing loud; they don’t use amps. Is that going to bother anyone?"
"Hardly anyone here to bother," RuthAnn shrugged.
"Good deal. RuthAnn, just so you know, there’s going to be some weird stuff going on, but it’s a practical joke in good clean fun for a twenty-first birthday party."
"No problem, but I want to close before midnight, it’s a weekday."
"No problem with any of us; most of us have to go to work in the morning anyway. Let’s have a pitcher, just to get things going," Kevin told her.
In the next few minutes, several younger people arrived; RuthAnn asked them for IDs – except for the Emily all were twenty-one, one girl just today. That made enough people to make it worth another pitcher. "Emily, Kevin, everybody, it’s sure nice of you to throw a little birthday party for me," Vicky said.
"Oh, we figured you’d like a surprise," Emily said smugly.
"It’s a nice surprise," Vicky grinned. "It’s a little different than the last birthday party I went to. That was up at Central."
"The word got around you went to a few good ones up there," one of the guys, Scott Tyler, said.
"Just a few," Vicky shook her head. "Dayna Berkshire and her roomie Sandy Beach threw some of the wildest parties I could ever dream of. They play rough, too. Sandy turned twenty-one last spring, and a bunch of us went to a party for her. Dayna locked Sandy’s hands and feet in this wooden thing and poured tequila down her all evening. God, it was a drunk out that night! I was the designated driver, so I was the only sober one there, and I still got a contact high."
"Sounds like you have a little fun up there," Shelly Waltz said. "There are some parties at State, but I try to stay away from the druggier ones."
"Oh, the parties Dayna and Sandy threw weren’t druggy, just wild and pretty drunk," Vicky sighed. "They do some neat music, but I guess I’m just as glad they’re not here. There’s no telling what would happen. I mean, you never know with those two." Even though it was purely accidental, the timing could not have been more perfect – just then, the front door opened, and Dayna and Sandy walked in, dressed casually and carrying their guitars. "Oh my God!" Vicky exclaimed, eyes wide. "You two! I didn’t even know you were in town!"
"Surprise," they said in unison, walking over to each side of her and raising their guitars to sing Happy Birthday; Kevin and Emily walked over behind her to join them.
"Thanks," Vicky smiled as the singers finished and set their guitars down on nearby tables. "It’s good to see you two! I didn’t expect you here!" She got a worried look on her face. "You didn’t bring that wooden thing with you, did you?"
"Oh, no," Dayna smiled. Dayna took her by one hand. "Vicky, would we do something like that to you?" she said.
"I don’t trust either of you as far as I could throw a fit."
"Vicky, we didn’t bring that wooden thing," Sandy smiled, taking her by the other hand.
"Good," Vicky said.
"Kevin brought a different wooden thing," Dayna grinned evilly. "Now you can either fight us or not but either way you end up wearing it."
"Oh, God, no!" she protested as she felt something being pressed against the back of her neck, and the two girls hold her arms up against it. In an instant, it was closed around her neck and wrists, and she could hear a padlock snap shut. It took her an instant to realize that her neck and wrists were fastened in lightly padded holes between two boards, her hands about a foot and a half out from her head. "But . . . you guys . . . " she protested again.
"Come on, Vicky," Sandy grinned. "I watched you up at Sluggy’s that night. You were just aching to try it out, weren’t you?"
"But . . . but . . . "
"Same deal as up there," Dayna said. "All you have to do is ask and we’ll get you something to drink. But, if you go too long without asking for something, the foot stocks are out in the RV, and we know how much you like having your feet tickled, don’t we?"
"Oh, God," she blushed at the memory of that evening. "You’re really going to do it, aren’t you?"
"Yep, we really are going to do it," Dayna grinned and looked at RuthAnn, who had been watching the scene from a few tables away, shaking her head. "And just to start things off, ma’am, if you could bring us a double tequila . . . "
"Sure thing," RuthAnn laughed. This was going to be a story . . .
"But! Dayna! Tequila?"
"Vicky, I know you think Sandy and I are crazy," Dayna laughed. "You want crazy, you have to think about the first guy to squeeze the juice out of a cactus, ferment it, distill it, and drink it."
"Hey, you two, look, fun’s fun, but this thing isn’t real comfortable, you know."
"We know," Dayna grinned. "I threw it together Sunday, and both Sandy and I wore it for a while to make sure it wouldn’t be too far out. Even Emily tried it too. Besides, pretty soon you’ll be so drunk you won’t care." She sighed for a second, and went on, "On the other hand, we could have brought duct tape."
"You would have, too, wouldn’t you?" she shook her head as RuthAnn brought the tequila. "I guess I don’t get a whole lot of choice. Can I at least have a chaser?"
"Sure," Sandy said, pouring some beer into a clean glass. "You get to drink as much as you want to. After all, you’re the guest of honor."
"You want to sip it, or you want it quick?" Dayna asked, taking the tequila glass in hand.
"Quick. Please. That shit tastes terrible."
"OK, here goes," Dayna smiled, holding the glass up to Vicky’s lips, then tossing the contents down her throat.
"Chaser. Please!" Vicky gasped.
"Sure," Sandy said, reaching up with the beer glass. Vicky wasn’t a whole lot less quick in drinking that.
"OK, everybody," Dayna said to the table. "The way Vicky and I did it with Sandy, everyone got to buy a drink and serve it to her. What drink is your choice, but variety is the spice of life, you know. Now Sandy and I will play some music a little later, but for right now, I want to sit here, have a couple beers and catch up with what’s happened."
"Are you going to play some of those songs you played up there?" Vicky shook her head, recovering a little. "God, some of those were dirty!"
"Oh, we’ll do some of the rougher stuff," Dayna laughed. "But I don’t think anyone can get me drunk enough to do Lucille Bogan stuff in Bradford. Well, you could get me drunk enough but I’d be well past singing when I got there."