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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 44: Brown 15
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David was every bit the professional lifeguard at this moment. As Derek watched, he pulled Bob's body to the shore, checked the airway, did several other things which looked very medical, and began CPR. The others stood, staring stupidly at him.
While he was doing chest compressions, he started shouting orders.
"Bill, get to the nurse's station, and have her call an ambulance immediately. Mike, find the camp director and let him know what's happened. Ralph, get Pete–he knows CPR, and he could be a big help."
He was back to blowing air into Bob's mouth; Michael left, but the others still stood, as if waiting for some other command, until he again returned to compressing the chest. "Go!", he shouted, and the other two took off at different speeds each of which represented a run.
"What can I do?" Derek asked; he and John were still standing there.
"Just stay here, in case I think of something else," David said the next time he had the chance. He was working frantically. "Come on, breathe!" he demanded of Bob, as if it would make a difference. The world seemed to hold like that as if the sun would never rise and nothing else would ever happen.
Something did happen. Michael arrived with the nurse. She went directly to David, and joined the effort to save Bob. Derek realized that a lot of people would be appearing soon, and slipped through the darkness to the side of the boathouse. From here he could hear most of what was happening, and see as well as could be expected by the moonlight. He noticed that there was a paddle or an oar or something lying on the dock, but gave it no thought.
The bustle continued. More camp staff arrived, and then paramedics or whatever they were, driving the ambulance across the hills to the waterfront. As they arrived, they took over for David and the nurse, producing a portable electric shock thing (Derek didn't know the word "defibrillator") and other bits of equipment even less familiar to him.
In the midst of all this, Ralph came back. Perhaps it was just the moonlight, but to Derek he looked pale and a bit shaken. He surveyed the scene, and went to David, who happened to have walked toward the docks while catching his breath. Derek strained to hear.
"I found Pete," Ralph said.
"Well, where is he?" David demanded.
"I think he's," and Ralph hesitated. "I think he's dead."
"Dead?" David's voice almost rose to a shout. One of the paramedics answered.
"Yes, I'm sorry, but I'd say he's dead. Looks like he hit his head when he fell in."
"No," Ralph said, "I don't mean Bob. I mean Pete–another boy–is dead. He's up the hillside a bit."
The paramedics looked at each other for an instant, then grabbed their gear and stood up. They were already running when one of them said, "Show me." Ralph began his slow unathletic jog. Everyone else followed immediately, and Derek took up the rear.
Pete looked dead, all right. An arrow passed through his throat, and he lay motionless on the ground with his hands by his neck staring at the sky. The paramedics spent little time on him, but brought up a stretcher and carried him to the ambulance, a sheet over his face.
At about that moment, the dinner bell rang. Derek looked at David.
"It's a meeting. The bell is supposed to call us together when there's something to say. They're going to cancel the rest of the treasure hunt, of course." And he started walking toward the mess hall.
The camp director was standing under the flagpole, where there was some light from the spots. He was clearly waiting for everyone to gather, and so they stood. Already there was a loud buzz moving through the crowd, as news of the events of the night got around. Finally the director spoke, loudly.
"Your attention, everyone." The crowd started to quiet. "By now most of you have heard something, and I want to make sure that rumors don't confuse the truth. There have been two terrible accidents here tonight. First, Robert Barnes slipped on the boat dock and drowned in the lake. It was foolish of him to have been down there alone, but I know that he is often there by himself. In a separate incident, someone was rather foolishly shooting arrows in the dark, and Peter Ferguson was hit in what can only be a freak accident."
The background noise level rose as a murmur passed through the crowd.
"Obviously tonight's activities are over. I would like everyone to return to your cabins. The chaplain and I will be coming around to talk to you and answer questions. Thank you. You are dismissed."
They started walking back to their cabin.
"Do you think it was really just an accident?" John asked.
"Of course it was," David said. "What else could it be?"
"I don't know," John said. "It seems strange, both of them dying on the same night, maybe at the same time."
"It's got me spooked," Ralph said.
"Of course we're upset," David said. "Our friends have just died. But it's just a horrible coincidence that they died so soon together."
"You're just rationalizing things," Michael said. "After all, you sent Bob to the waterfront alone, and you sent Pete to find him. If it wasn't for you, they would probably both be alive."
"Oh, that was nice," Ralph objected. "Make him feel worse when he feels bad already."
"I was just saying," Michael began.
"You weren't thinking," Ralph retorted.
"Guys, enough fighting," David interrupted. "Yeah, I know that it's partly my fault. I should have thought to send two people to the waterfront together, and maybe we should all have gone together to find them."
"Hindsight is twenty-twenty, they say," John said. "You couldn't have guessed. Bob goes to the dock by himself all the time. And if Pete was hit by accident, having someone with him wouldn't have made much difference."
"It's funny about the way they died," Derek said.
"The way they died?" It was Ralph who asked.
"Yeah." He collected the fragments of his thought. "Look, I don't know much about any of you. But I know that Bob is always at the lake, and he drowned there; and I know that Pete is really into archery–he even plays the archer in that game you guys play."
"Yeah," David said. "It's a crazy coincidence. But it has to be," and he stopped, short on his sentence and dead in his tracks.
A body lay on the ground in front of them; Michael's flashlight had found it. It's head was battered, almost certainly by the bloody wood axe that lay beside it.
It was Bill.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #89: Novel Confrontations. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: