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    AC Benus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Campfires and Starlight - a novella - 2. Chapter 2

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Campfires and Starlight

Chapter 2

 

To Lee’s eyes, the guardhouse resembles a photobooth with a green pyramid stuck on top. It’s sandwiched between two lanes of exit, but only one of entrance.

Chuck takes out his billfold as they roll to a stop. “Afternoon,” says the uniformed, beret-wearing security officer. He walks up to Chuck’s door.

“Afternoon.” Chuck gives him a card resembling a driver’s license. The guard holds it with his left hand. He then points a scanner at it Lee thinks is a dead ringer for a Star Trek prop. The gun reads Chuck’s barcode and beeps happily.

“And you, sir?” The officer says to Lee, holding Chuck’s card for the driver to take.

“He’s a civilian, and my guest.”

“Photo identification, please.”

“Yeah, Lee, he needs your driver’s license.”

Lee fishes it out and passes it along. The guard studiously compares the photo to Chuck’s passenger and nods.

“Have a nice day.”

All is well, and the military policeman returns Lee’s ID before waving them on. A striped pole-gate raises itself several yards ahead, and they drive onto the base.

“That was pretty easy,’ Lee says, putting his driver’s license away.

“Well, yeah. What did you expect? This is the new Army; it’s woke to things like politeness and being the professional face of America here and abroad.”

“Yeah, it’s lit. Where are we, by the way?”

Chuck lets out a loud laugh. “We’re home! At least my home away from home.”

“Savage,” Lee mumbles as his eyes drift out the car windows and up the heights of the carefully spaced trees. They resemble towering cypress, but are not; they look like exotic pine trees. Local species, he assumes.

He smiles at his friend. Chuck’s military airs are gone, as he’d changed into loose jeans and a muscleman tank top back at the motel. They’d checked in, had a bite to eat, and showered before loading a sloshing cooler full of beer and wine coolers into the trunk and heading out. They still had several hours of daylight.

The drive from there had been reflective: beautiful scenery rolling past their car windows in the summer’s day late-afternoon, which was only now pondering a time to start heading towards the sea of twilight. While his pal drove, Lee perceived the moist air was ‘scented,’ as some mawkish poets might describe it. Once they cleared the semi-urban areas, several shades of emerald vied for the mainlander’s attention. Shrubs close to the road had an insistent, dark green to soak up as much sunlight as possible. In the distance, tall trees gathered like hedgerows to divide cultivated patches. They bore a lighter green up to shady heights. The fields ranged from regular squares to lazy, meandering tetris pieces, but the quilt they laid upon the land was a living sheet animated by tropical breezes and rolling clouds above.

Chuck catches his inspection and appears to feel as activated by the sights as Lee does.

Now past the guardhouse and on the base, his best friend keeps traveling onto progressively narrower roads, away from people and buildings, in fact, woods spring up on Chuck’s side of the car.

“Where are you taking me?” Lee reads a street sign: Airdrome Road.

Chuck turns onto it. “Remember watching those war movies about Pearl Harbor, and how the first place they hit was air defense so their planes could make it to the naval base?”

“Yeah.”

His buddy gestures out Lee’s window. “Well, here it is. Wheeler Army Airfield.”

The force of the wind lessens on Lee’s cheek the car slows, and taking a final bend in the road, the vista opens up on acres of concrete. The base is exactly as portrayed in film. Almost a dozen white airplane hangars, each bigger than an apartment building, face a mile of tarmac. A few modern helicopters are parked at the nearest end to them, but they’re easy enough to blot out as Lee’s mind overlays the actual black and white footage of shattered, burning planes all along the length of the field, producing blacking columns into the air.

“Lot of men died here, Lee, mown down scrambling to their aircraft to try and defend their homeland from attack.”

“Feels like holy ground,” Lee murmurs, not able to pull his attention away.

“I knew you’d get it, so I made sure you saw it. Most people can’t, because it’s still a military installation.”

“Thanks, buddy.”

They drive around the entire airfield, eventually coming back into built-up areas.

“Well, that was Wheeler. Now I’ll show you where I live and work.”

Back among the meticulously arranged formal rows of trees, Lee notices the abundance of lawns and regimental flowerbeds here and there.

The street transitions into a wide boulevard with curbed, grassy parkways separating the lanes. The air becomes just as sweet as before, perhaps more so to Lee.

Chuck points out the passenger window. “This is called General Loop, and it’s where all the highest-ranking officers live.”

Stately homes surround an immense knoll, which is rounded in the back and anchored by three massive houses. Now palm trees compete with the conical evergreens for Lee’s attention. “This place is pretty country club, if ya feel me.”

“Maybe for the brass, yeah,” Chuck says, slowing and glancing out his window. “But coming up is the place I live.”

Lee crouches a bit and finds what his best friend is pointing to. It’s a beige three-story structure the visitor thinks resembles a cross between a motel and tenement block. Two more like it form the inhospitable walls of a concrete court. “What is it?”

“This is Schofield Barracks, son—them be the barracks!”

“Oh.” Lee chuckles. “From country club to the hood, huh?”

“It’s OK. I got no complaints.”

The drive through the rest of the base reveals it resembles any town in America. Lee notes a shopping center with a big-box type commissary, or PX as it’s known, a burger chain, and even a Starbucks. After that, rolling streets crop up. They’re shade-covered, and populated with small apartment buildings, townhomes and single-family residences.

Exiting one of the base’s gates, the boys soon find themselves on a two-lane highway heading away from signs of people. Breathtakingly wooded hills now rise on the left as they go deeper.

“Over there”—Chuck motions past Lee’s chest—“is the North Shore. Lots of hippies and surfers, and it’s pretty laidback. There’s a good ice cream place over there I’ll take you to tomorrow.”

“Not today, huh?” Lee crouches to watch the untouched rolling hills outside his buddy’s window.

“Nope. I’ve got another ‘eyes only’ place to take you.”

“Another military base?”

“Well, it’s called a reserve, but yes. The Pentagon keeps it off limits so they can schedule military exercises and such. It’s basically like a national park, but outsiders can’t visit it.”

“Cool. But I get why the Hawaiians are pissed off.”

“Yeah.”

In a few minutes, the road curves away to the left and Lee can suddenly glimpse the ocean. Blue skies frame whitecaps and wispy clouds rolling into shore.

Eventually the blacktop narrows and brings them right to the beach. After a while, Lee becomes aware that no cars are coming at them from the opposite direction, and the ribbons of sandy beach get replaced by breakers hitting rocks jutting straight into the Pacific.

They begin to climb in elevation a bit, heading inland, where all traces of human activity disappear. Judging by the slowly shifting sun’s location out the windshield, Lee can tell they’ve stopped traveling north, and now begin sliding west, down the farthest tip of Oahu. As they do, even greener mountains rise to their left. Tall fences peek through the greenery on both sides of the car when Chuck ventures onto a narrower byway into the forest.

Serious military signs crop up, saying turn around; wrong way; authorized personnel only; trespassers will be prosecuted.

Up ahead, another gatehouse appears, only to Lee’s eyes this one does not seem so friendly. As Chuck slows and pulls up to it, the civilian retrieves his picture ID.

The guard, this time holding a weapon across his chest by both hands, has no greeting for the teen boys.

Chuck hands over his military service card, and the sunglass-wearing MP examines it carefully.

He hands it back to Chuck, moving his bug-eyed glare onto Lee like what he’s seeing doesn’t belong here.

“He’s a civilian, and my guest,” Chuck says, passing his buddy’s driver’s license to the guard.

The man raises his specs and closely compares the photo to the passenger in the car. He asks Chuck coldly, “Intent?”

“I’m gonna show my friend around a bit, and then we’ll set up and camp the night on the beach.”

The answer’s straight forward enough, but still the guard pauses, staring at Lee and making him squirm.

“I need to scan this for the log. Is that all right?”

Lee nods.

The man moves a few feet away, retreating into the check station structure.

Chuck gives Lee a silent grin of reassurance.

The MP comes back, returns the ID, and the metal gates in front of the car roll back. Again, he has no words for the boys.

After driving well clear of the sentry and closing barricades, Chuck glances in the rearview mirror. “Self-important prick.”

“Look, I don’t wanna get you in any sort of trouble.”

“You won’t! Believe me, guys camp out here all the time. That cop was just strutting his studly self-appointed power, that’s all. My dad would have some choice words for him.”

The car starts bounding over ruts and mudholes as the pavement comes to an end. The bouncing hardly makes Lee feel relieved. And Chuck must notice because he continues with an explanation. “They’re strict around here because ownership of this area is sensitive. The government could make a killing piecing it out to developers for resorts and sea-view condos, but the native Hawaiians want it back intact.”

“How come?”

“It’s sacred.”

“Really?”

“Yep. In fact, I’m taking you to one of their holiest sites. You’re lucky too; not many can say they’ve been here.”

The car drives through a deep hole. Lee braces himself with a hand on the dashboard. “What’s it called?”

Chuck flashes his buddy a cryptic smile. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

The foliage has come right up to the road’s edges and more shadows cover the moving car. Soon, a wide place appears and Chuck pulls over. “We’ll have to hike it from here.”

Feeling great to get out and stretch the legs, Lee lets Chuck lead the way, and soon the best friends are climbing up a narrow trail. The crushed rock under their sneakers and flip flops is as red as bricks, and gives way a bit with each step.

After ten minutes or so slowly twisting up and deeper into a primeval, tropical woodland, Lee begins to realize how the sun plays in the ever-moving canopy of leaves. It’s almost surreally beautiful, and calm too, for he can’t hear any birdsong or insects’ chirping.

Eventually, Chuck up ahead of him veers onto an even less-frequented trail, and after a while, both come into an open space. Slanting light from the west finds its way in through crevasses of branches overhead to illuminate a lava-rock outcropping in the center of the clearing. All is eerily silent.

The two go up to it, and Lee reaches out a hand. About three feet high, and the same color as the rusty-ochre ground, its organic shape substantiates it was not carved, but has always stood apart from the surrounding landscape. The surface is rough to the touch, riddled with the porous, popped bubbles of gas caught within the stone as it cooled countless centuries ago. At one end of the slab, Lee’s surprised to find three small plates of offerings, all of different ages, the flowers of one are still fresh as a daisy.

“OK,” Lee says to his grinning buddy, “now tell me where I’m at.”

“This is Aikane Rock, a shamanistic area which pilgrims came to tap into the higher powers within the self and the cosmos.”

Lee’s fingers continue to stroke the rough surface.

Chuck tells him, “Further up the main trail is a place that’s more famous. A similar outcropping, but I prefer to come here, you know, to think sometimes. That other one, Blood Rock, is supposed to be where they’d make sacrifices. Unlike this one, where young warriors came to pledge loyalty.”

“To their tribes?”

“No. To each other as partners, in a kind of wedding ceremony. That’s why it’s also called the Altar Stone.”

The sea breeze picks up, creaking branches overhead. The leaves begin to rustle.

“Ah. OK.”

Lee’s tepid response causes Chuck to laugh once, like his friend had just missed the important part. But in Lee’s head, he believes he understands, yet feels instantly unsure about trusting his instincts; it has been wrong before. The consequence of which is now Lee becomes a bit uneasy, being here with his buddy like this.

Maybe Chuck senses the awkwardness too. For before he knows it, his buddy whips around the stone, smacks Lee on the chest, and starts running. He shouts back, “Race you to the car, college brat!”

More wind rises, and by the time Lee collects his wits and runs out of the clearing, he just catches sight of Chuck’s leg turning the corner of the trail up ahead.

Jogging along after him, ducking beneath low-hanging branches, and veering this way and that to avoid loose rocks on the path, Chuck’s laughing taunts from downslope gradually get replaced by another sound.

As if coming from the heart of the sun lowering in the west, the ocean gale makes Lee lessen his pace to look up. The foliage towering above him moves capriciously one way before being jerked in a new direction. The noise it generates is almost a howling; it’s certainly voice-like.

Slowing down to a stop, goose bumps rise on Lee’s arms as he attempts to figure out the alien ‘language’ and its message.

All at once, Chuck is walking back up the trail to him. As softly as if in church, his Army buddy asks, “You hear it too?”

Lee nods.

“Reminds me of something.”

“What?” Lee stops glancing up and holds his best friend’s gaze.

“The stars, while camping at Jefferson Lake.”

Lee knows exactly what he means. “Yeah.”

· ~-~ · ~-~ · ~-~ · ~-~ ·· ~-~ · ~-~ · ~-~ · ~-~ ·

 

Chuck snapped the plastic pole needed for the tent’s rain bonnet in place. One end he wagged at Lee, who began slipping the nylon fabric over it.

“Jefferson Lake is so much nicer than setting up behind my back yard last summer.”

“Yeah, you mean dodging freight trains. I agree.”

“Shut up.” Chuck knew his buddy was trying to be ‘cute,’ and only play-pretended to be annoyed.

“Besides,” Lee said, “get the name right. Jefferson County Fish and Recreation Lake.”

“I stand corrected, dick wad.”

“What was that last part?”

Chuck laughed. “I said, you’re right—dick wad.”

“Oh, good. So happy I checked.”

The hood to keep moisture off the roof of the tent was fully assembled, and the boys worked together to snap it into place.

Lee said, “I’m glad you found this place. I’ve liked the few times we’ve been out here. How’d you learn about it again?”

“I asked my brother, and he said to check out this park.” It was a location not too far from his best friend’s home, and Chuck liked it because it was miles and miles removed from the closet town.

Their task complete, and the sun about twenty minutes from going down, Lee came around to Chuck’s side of the structure beaming. “Yeah, you did good, buddy, to find us this place. And it’s not as lame as your back yard.”

“Lame?!”

“Yep. Just like you.”

Chuck snorted in a chuckle, cocked his shoulder impishly and landed a punch to Lee’s arm.

They laughed and wrestled standing up for just a second.

“OK,” Chuck admitted, “it was pretty lame-ass.”

“Never mind. This place is much nicer.”

“True that.”

As Lee unzipped the flap to lay out the bedding he was about to get from his mom’s car, Chuck considered how his best friend had matured over the last twelve months. He was more confident, and more comfortable in his own skin. Also grown an inch or two, he began to fill out in his chest and legs.

Chuck attended to the firepit. He’d collected logs and kindling from the nearby stand of trees earlier, when the light was brighter, and now balled up some newspaper to get the blaze going.

He glanced up, seeing Lee trudge sleeping bags and pillows towards the tent. “Hey! You left the cooler locked in the car, right?”

Lee stopped in his tracks, bundling the bedding closer to his body. He said scowling, “Yeah, duh. Like always.”

“Can’t be too careful.” Chuck could hear nervousness in his own voice.

Lee chuckled. “You’re always afraid—”

“Campers are not allowed to have liquor.”

“We’ve only got beer and stuff.”

“But still, we are sixteen.”

“But still, chill.” Lee grinned encouragingly at Chuck before going and making their bed.

Chuck added progressively larger sticks to the nascent glow, and thereby built it up. After a few minutes, Lee came over and squatted down to join his best buddy.

To Chuck’s view, his friend’s brown eyes glinted extra mysterious in the flames of twilight. He offered him soothing tones.

“Chuck, we shouldn’t worry about that park ranger guy. He can’t be more than eighteen or nineteen. That’s only two or three years older than me and you. And besides, he’s always acted the cool dude when we’re out here like this, on a weekday night.”

Hearing gravel get pinched under tires behind them, Chuck peered over his shoulder. “Speak of the devil.”

They both stood up and watched the ranger’s green-paneled pickup pull off the main road.

The county park consisted of a few hundred acres of undeveloped oak-hickory forest. At its heart was a natural lake, fed on one side by a stream ending in the rocky steps of a waterfall.

The serpentine ribbon of blacktop meandering through the nature reserve connected a few well-secluded campgrounds with boat access to the lake. Each camping area was shaded and contained a mere three or four spots to claim for tents or campers. Today, the park had been like a ghost town when Chuck and Lee arrived around 7pm.

The ranger—the same young man the boys saw each time—got out of his truck, reaching back in a second to retrieve his hat. He grinned slightly as he walked to them, and Chuck knew the drill, pulling out his wallet.

“Evening, gents.”

“Evening, sir,” Chuck said heavy-handed.

Lee followed it up with, “Nice night, huh?”

“Yes, it is.” The uniformed young man took Chuck’s driver’s license and $10 bill. He supported both on his clipboard as he wrote down Chuck’s pertinents. “Warm weather, but clear.”

“That’s good,” Chuck said.

The officer had Chuck sign, then glanced at Lee with a half-nod. “Another quiet night—you might have the place to yourself again.”

This statement caused Chuck to feel a bit of heat rise. He tried to shake off his blush before the ranger turned away from Lee’s smile.

“Could be,” Chuck heard his buddy say, sounding natural.

The park ranger touched the front brim of his hat, saying “Have a good one, sirs” before going to his truck and pulling away.

By the time Chuck came around, he noticed the fire needed stoking, and his best friend was standing across from him, staring. Chuck asked, “Do you think he knows?”

“Nah. How could he? He stops patrolling at 9, and then disappears into his ranch-style house till 10 am.”

“Ya think?”

“Yeah—Chuck, don’t worry. Even if he knows, we’re not doing anything wrong.”

Chuck sputtered, “That’s open to debate.”

“You know I’m right.” His buddy grinned ear to ear. “Now, build up those coals so we can eat!”

It was nearly dark, and now that the ranger had checked them in, Chuck’s tummy rumbled with hunger. He carefully arranged more wood, and looked up to see Lee carry the cooler over, freed at last from its bondage in the car trunk.

Lee readied the food, and Chuck set the gridiron in place on the hearth stones. He took the stick his friend offered him, stuck it with a marinated hotdog, and held it over the flames. Now Chuck could cook and relax.

“You do them in your signature smoky teriyaki mix?”

Chuck bobbed his chin, proud of his gastronomical triumph. “Yeet!”

“Good job.”

The skins started to blacken, so the boys rotated their wieners. Then Lee dug through the ice noisily, pulling out a pair of Asahi beer cans. One came his way, and a tab click later, Chuck said, “Here to killin’ time till we can take our midnight stroll.”

“Yea!”

They drank, Chuck appreciating the pleasant sting this beer had in his throat as it went down.

Lee scrambled, snatching both hotdog sticks from the fireside. They had caught alight and he blew on them, already laughing. He handed Chuck’s over to him.

They cheered dogs, touching them across the flames as they stood up. “Better burned anyway.”

“Yeah.” Lee nodded. “I’ve heard that someplace before.”

The boys took their first bite.

A few minutes later, Chuck scanned the trees. Evening had settled over Jefferson County, and night had arrived officially.

“I brought the Monty Python ‘stuff’ on my phone. It’s all set up in a playlist and we won’t have to search for the vids anymore.”

Chuck drained his first beer. “Good work, bud.”

“Speaking of bud, you sure you don’t want to partake in a little weed?”

Chuck choked for a second. “You didn’t bring any—”

“No. I wouldn’t do it unless you said to.”

“Good. That’s the last thing I need Ranger Randy to find on us.”

“I heard his name is Bill.”

“Very funny.”

“Don’t worry, Chuck! I know your dad’s a hardass about it, but I just thought I’d ask again.”

“My dad won’t stand for it. He’s old in that way.”

“I get it. Sorry to make you sweat just now. It’s no big deal. We got our beer.”

Silence followed for a while.

Chuck attempted to ask casually, “So you’ve tried it?”

“Yeah. Once or twice.”

“You like it?”

Lee shrugged, and Chuck instantly got the gesture was to assure him that he was not missing out on anything. “It’s OK. Beer has more effect on me.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. The few times I smoked with other guys, it just kinda made me drowsy.”

Chuck laughed. “Other guys! Oh, damn, you cheatin’ on me already?!”

Counter to expectations, Lee did not laugh at the lame joke. Instead, Chuck wasn’t sure how to interpret the complex reaction he read by firelight; the face which his buddy quickly hid behind a long drink of Super Dry.

Then Lee stood and beckoned his buddy to do the same. “Solemnly, we offer this sacrifice to the Gods of Good Weather. Thank you once more.”

In unison, the boys poured a bit of their precious beer over the sputtering flames.

Three hours later, a silent midnight found Chuck walking on the park’s outer road. Not a single street lamp lighted the path for Lee and him, so the straight black line of pavement appeared like a river, the trees thick on either shore, and only a preview of the heavenly splendor yet to come overstretched the road far above their heads.

They had already walked a mile from their campground, and now hooked a left onto the spur leading to the boat launch.

In another ten minutes, the foliage stepped away, revealing the lake’s surface to be a perfectly calm mirror. Bullfrogs and crickets marked its perimeter with song.

Moving past it, they continued on to the open space of the parking lot. It was their destination, and the boys walked to the center with churchlike reverence.

They set their beer down, and then got down to lie on their backs.

Chuck inhaled as if seeing an old friend, for in the spacious opening this car park carved from the surrounding forest, all the stars of creation seemed to be on display.

“Look, Lee. The Milky Way is rising.”

“So it is.”

A great armillary band, like a tide of celestial dust, was creeping over the top horizon of the trees. Its movement slow and majestic, they’d watch it for hours tonight; witness it eventually course nearly overhead and slowly retreat again.

The pavement under their bodies still radiated daytime heat, but the coolness in their eyes propounded balance.

“Like I told ya. No ranger. He never comes out here this time of night.”

“I guess you’re right, Lee.”

“Even if he did, we’re only stargazing. Hardly against park rules.”

“How’d you get so smart.”

There was a delay in Lee’s answer. “How’d I get so lucky, that’s the question.” Lee pulled out his phone. “Get ready.”

“OK, hit it.”

His best friend’s phone screen came to life. In a tap or two, music started to stream. It was a combination of songs Chuck liked mixed among others chosen by Lee. But first, the perfectly matched, string-heavy opening of Moody Blues’ album Days of Future Passed made perfect star watching music.

Chuck relaxed, letting his sight drift between Orion’s belt and Cygnus’ spread wings. There were so many dewpoints of stars, so many wisps of cosmic gas, Chuck’s mind boggled.

Lee continued more softly. “I know you plan it so we’re out here on moonless nights, like now, but remember? The first time we stayed, there was a quarter moon just setting.”

“How can you recall that level of detail? I guess it means you weren’t drunk enough.”

Lee managed a laugh, but then said seriously, “I remember it because we took the footpath, using flashlights to go through the woods, and then all at once, we broke free to a stretch of grass and reedy margin by the lake. Seeing that shimmering water spot-lit by the moon, silhouetted against the pussy willows, did something to me.”

“Oh yeah, what?” Chuck rotated his head.

“I felt like an explorer breaking new ground. Like we were the first to ever find this place, magical as it is.” Lee noticed he was being watched and got uncomfortable. “I know. You think I’m weird. Either that, or just plain nuts.”

“No, not at all.” In his head, Chuck wondered how exactly Lee did make him react at moments like these, when his best friend said stuff nobody else would. Not weird so much as special—

“What?” Lee asked, snapping Chuck out of it.

As the son of a diplomatic cop, he could smile, telling his buddy the truth. “Don’t matter what people think, Lee. Let ‘em think what they want, cuz the reality is, you process things differently, and that’s cool. Downright savage.”

Lee chuckled, and then the song changed. It was a section from a Monty Python sketch and featured lyrics about the galaxy.

As they folded hands on chests and gazed upwards, the musical statistics about the Milky Way seeped into Chuck’s brain, about it containing a hundred billion stars, and being a hundred thousand light-years from one end to the other. It made him feel mystic, or put more simply, both a part of something incredibly grand, and isolated from it at the same time.

He felt his friend’s inspection.

With affected drunkenness, Lee told him, “I won’t forget these times. Not with you, I won’t.”

Chuck felt the sincerity of his best friend’s words, and his own voice cracking with emotion as he replied, “Me neither. Not with you, buddy.”

 

_

Copyright © 2018 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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The connection between the two friends has been forged from a multitude of special memories and moments where they shared their thoughts and feelings without too much worry about acceptance. Lee may have been unable to share his deepest secret, but he trusted Chuck in all other ways.'

I can understand the resentment of having large areas of the island unavailable to the inhabitants. But on the other hand, the military prevents the nature from being overrun by tourists or sold for development. What if the whole area around the Kilauea volcano had stayed a national park or become a military zone instead of being converted into housing plots? Then the eruption and lava flow would have been a minor inconvenience rather than a major disaster. In Denmark, where most of the land is heavily influenced by humans, military areas are often some of the best nature reserves, in spite of the occasional army exercise with tanks etc.

Edited by Timothy M.
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22 hours ago, Mikiesboy said:

This is a wonderful story of real friendship. You write it beautifully taking us back and forth to memory and present day. I've never known such a thing myself, i wonder what that kind of friend would be like. 

 

Lovely AC.

Thanks for your comments, Tim, and hugs for having been deprived of much of your HS experience. Thank you for reading and commenting on my novella. I appreciate it. 

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On 6/12/2018 at 8:31 AM, Puppilull said:

I think regardless of the outcome of this camping trip, they will both feel strengthened by this reaffirmation of their friendship. Something is brewing. Or are we seeing things, through the hopeful eyes of an unrequited love? 

Thanks for your comments, Puppilull. I think like with any true friendship, Lee and Chuck have a past to reply on. Perhaps each is feeling uneasy about where they are headed in life. To me that seems like a natural anxiety young people have to go through, say from ages 17 to 21 or so. It all depends on circumstances, so it's comforting to most to know they have old friendships to fall back on. 

Thanks again for reading and commenting. I appreciate it :)

 

Edited by AC Benus
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6 minutes ago, AC Benus said:

Thanks for your comments, Tim, and hugs for having been deprived of much of your HS experience. Thank you for reading and commenting on my novella. I appreciate it. 

it's wonderful AC .. your writing makes me emotional, or happy, or sad... you are so very good at it.

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6 minutes ago, Mikiesboy said:

it's wonderful AC .. your writing makes me emotional, or happy, or sad... you are so very good at it.

Muah!

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There seems an underpinning of something, for sure. I wonder what went wrong before, that Lee hesitates now. Obviously it didn’t affect the friendship. And I love this friendship. No matter what, that foundation is strong. 

I am excited to see where you take us next on their journey.  

 

 

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On 6/14/2018 at 4:23 AM, Defiance19 said:

There seems an underpinning of something, for sure. I wonder what went wrong before, that Lee hesitates now. Obviously it didn’t affect the friendship. And I love this friendship. No matter what, that foundation is strong. 

I am excited to see where you take us next on their journey.  

 

 

Thank you, Def. I think your instincts are serving you well. We'll have to see what could have complicated their friendship. Thanks again for reading and supporting my work. Your thoughts are always welcome. muah 

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1 hour ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Thanks for the vocabulary lesson. Had to look up armillary :)

 

Thanks for reading, Carlos :yes: 

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You create such tactile worlds with your writing, AC, I can feel the emotion between these two friends.  A wonderful story! 

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The years of friendship flow seamlessly , from present to past and back again . Each memory triggered in the present yet anchored in the past and witnessed by the stars . This creates for me a feeling of gently building/increasing anticipation . 

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On 6/25/2018 at 6:48 PM, MichaelS36 said:

You create such tactile worlds with your writing, AC, I can feel the emotion between these two friends.  A wonderful story! 

Thank you, Mike. I always appreciate hearing how you are liking one of my tales :) Thanks again. 

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On 6/26/2018 at 7:49 AM, deville said:

The years of friendship flow seamlessly , from present to past and back again . Each memory triggered in the present yet anchored in the past and witnessed by the stars . This creates for me a feeling of gently building/increasing anticipation . 

You capture the experience I was hoping readers would experience :yes: For me, I think much of actual life is similar in terms of the role memories play in it, and especially when two old friends get together and start to reminisce. As for the anticipation building, I can only say, yes, we will learn by increments why both boys are a little on edge for their Hawaiian camping trip. 

Thanks again, deville. I really appreciate your feedback. 

 

Edited by AC Benus
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Alright, here comes the troll out from under his bridge..."Where it's at." At is a preposition and, while its use at the end of a sentence is not a sin, it is slightly irregular and totally unnecessary.  To say, "Where it is." makes the sentence complete and is totally correct.

Next point, while 'dick wad' is already a slang term it is usually spelled as one word, 'dickwad' and it means a spot of semen.

The place at which their ID is first checked is probably a 'gatehouse' or 'guard post'. A guard-house is a building like a jail with cells, etc. And the person standing there at the gate may be called a Security Officer, but he is most likely to be a non-commissioned officer like a corporal or a sergeant.

Also, my curiosity got the better of me and I Googled St. Peter to find out the area where the boys were from. Now see, there is a preposition ending a sentence that is just as bad as 'at'. After flip-flopping all over the world from Florida to the Vatican, I came to the guess that it was a small town in Minnesota. A mention of the state would have made the location of the boys' hometown more clear.

Okay, now the troll will dive back under his bridge. The story is very good so far as witness the fact that I am still reading. Keep up the good work.

Will H.

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2 hours ago, Will Hawkins said:

Alright, here comes the troll out from under his bridge..."Where it's at." At is a preposition and, while its use at the end of a sentence is not a sin, it is slightly irregular and totally unnecessary.  To say, "Where it is." makes the sentence complete and is totally correct.

Next point, while 'dick wad' is already a slang term it is usually spelled as one word, 'dickwad' and it means a spot of semen.

The place at which their ID is first checked is probably a 'gatehouse' or 'guard post'. A guard-house is a building like a jail with cells, etc. And the person standing there at the gate may be called a Security Officer, but he is most likely to be a non-commissioned officer like a corporal or a sergeant.

Also, my curiosity got the better of me and I Googled St. Peter to find out the area where the boys were from. Now see, there is a preposition ending a sentence that is just as bad as 'at'. After flip-flopping all over the world from Florida to the Vatican, I came to the guess that it was a small town in Minnesota. A mention of the state would have made the location of the boys' hometown more clear.

Okay, now the troll will dive back under his bridge. The story is very good so far as witness the fact that I am still reading. Keep up the good work.

Will H.

Thanks for reading

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the way you take us from past to present is seamless

it's probably not an easy thing to do,  but like your stories and poems, you do it well

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On 7/29/2018 at 6:18 PM, mollyhousemouse said:

the way you take us from past to present is seamless

it's probably not an easy thing to do,  but like your stories and poems, you do it well

You know, it's not. When I started on the Simon novellas, the switch from past to present was very challenging. We get set in our minds to relay a tale as if it's already happened, but to write it as it unfolds offers tremendous ways to tell it fresh. We think differently past and present, so there is great opportunity to unravel a tale as it happens 'live.' 

Thanks again for reading and commenting, Molly. You're the best! 

Edited by AC Benus
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