Tales from a past life: volume 1
I was ready to go on the annual family camping trip. I liked to get an early start because who wouldn't want to start vacation early? He (let's call him Justin) was a procrastinator and every year it was the same, I'd be antsy to leave, get frustrated that he had left a litany of things to the last minute and he'd get pissed that I was rushing him. We finally got going around maybe 3:30pm. I'd hoped to leave by 11. We'd fight in the car.
As we were leaving my dad called. He was already there, and I figured it was the expected message from my family of why aren't you here yet. Cue "we're running behind" speech. Pretty sure everyone knew it wasn't me. But it wasn't that. Dad was hoping we hadn't left yet so we could pick up a bottle of tequila for him. Justin was happy to make the stop and got a bottle of Johnny Walker for himself, too.
Tents were set up, dinner was eaten, the campfire was lit. Stars started to come out and the bottle of tequila was cracked open. It was only Thursday so the real party hadn't started yet, that's usually Friday and Saturday nights. The bottle was passed around, usually staying in my dad's hands for a few swigs each round. I passed it and stuck to my own cocktail. My dad waxed about how proud of me he was.. and called me a quarter horse. If you didn't catch that, my dad compared me to a show animal. I raised my eyebrows in what I wish I could say was surprise and said "Just call me Seabiscuit." Other topics of conversation included the two small handguns my dad had tucked into he sweatshirt pockets, because, you know, you never know what could happen.
Finally, the only people left around the fire were my dad, myself, Justin and my dad's not-to-be-trusted cousin... we'll call her Tiffany. The rest had gone to bed and with only the thin nylon between them and the loud and boisterous conversation, I suggested we move to one of the other campsites that out family had reserved so they could sleep. Everyone says sure, and we decided to light a new fire in the other campsite. Tiffany's honest to god sincere plan was to light a large branch on fire as a torch and carry it through the forest to the other camp site. 23 year old me had to explain to 40something year old Tiffany that it was not a good idea, and actually I took the torch from her and placed it back in the fire pit. Let's not burn down the campground, thanks.
The new fire was lit in a relatively sane manner. More loud conversation continued, until our people in this site were almost certainly annoyed. Not keen on getting the side-eye over morning coffee for keeping people awake, I audible announced that I'd be heading to bed, goodnight everyone. Justin elected to stay up. He and my dad had a good drunk going. In an effort to not be disruptive, they went down to the lake to finish the bottle of Johnny Walker and watch for UFOs. Dad has seen one before, he'll tell you all about it.
I awoke in darkness to a loud thud, which was my dad tripping on a stump in the dark and falling down. "Fuck." Crunch crunch, snap, crack; they traipsed through the rough area of the campsite, of course without a flashlight. Who needs those, or paths. I listened... do I need to get up or can I avoid the level 12 out of 10 drunk that Justin and my dad are both known to achieve? It became clear from their conversation that one of the small handguns that lived in my dad's pocket was missing. In a campground full of children. Wonderful. Well shit. I guess I have to get up.
Confusion and minor alarm... Tiffany was insisting that it was in his car, Dad was insisting that it wasn't possible and was muttering that she'd probably taken it. Meanwhile, Justin crawled halfway into our tent and passed out, sticking out of the tent from his knees down and his shoes still on. Doing my best to keep everyone calm I suggested we just take a look and see if it was in the car. What could it hurt? Sure enough, there it was. Tossed hapzardly on the floorboard. My personal belief is that it fell out of the sweatshirt, Tiffany found it and put it in the car. Whatever. It was found.
Standing by the car, my dad began to cry and apologize. I patted him on the shoulder and told him it was okay, that we found the gun and lets just all go to bed. He tearfully looked down at his sandal clad feet, covered in dirt and blood from the scrapes he'd acquired tromping through the forest without a light, and asked if I could help him clean up his feet. I walked him to my tent and wiped him off with babywipes. Like a child. I did the same for Justin, who then found has way entirely into the tent.
I crawled back into my sleeping bag.. still half drunk and groggy, my ears ringing. I wasn't sure what time it was but my guess was 3ish. How is this real life, I wondered.