Fabian was woken up by the daylight that fell through the small window beside
the door and by some motion in the bunkbeds. Patrick was awake, too, and
seemed to get up though everything around was still quiet. From Dan's bed
came the sound of deep regular breathing that was almost close to snoring.
Julio and Mike sounded still asleep too.
Patrick's head came up at the edge of Fabian's bed and somehow instinctively
Fabian closed his eyes and pretended to sleep.
Patrick watched this for quite a while, maybe because he had noticed a slight
movement just before and didn't really believe that Fabian was still sleeping.
But then he seemed to be convinced and he snuck to the chair where he had
hung up his clothes and where his backpack lay on the floor. There he hesitated
and looked once more at Fabian, who kept his eyes narrowed to two tiny slits
and imitated the typical slow breathing of sleep.
Then Patrick took off his undershirt and underpants and his socks and stuffed
the worn clothes into his backpack. And this way Fabian could see him for
a few fleeting moments in his whole bright pink paleness, from head to toe.
Patrick took fresh underwear and socks from his backpack and pattered on
bare feet back to his bed. Fabian had to close his eyes for this moment,
otherwise his deception would be busted, so he couldn't see Patrick's whole
beauty from the front.
Pity, thought Fabian and kept playing the sleeper.
Patrick put on the underwear and the socks and lay down in his bed again.
Fabian suddenly realized; his sandy-haired, freckled neighbor had been told
by his mother to change his underwear every day, but he was ashamed to do
this when the others could see him.
There was absolutely no reason for him to be ashamed, thought Fabian.
Later on - but still way too early - Brian burst in and called: "Good
morning! It's a fine, bright day - time to get up! Remember, you're beavers,
not groundhogs!" He stayed at the door and waited to see if there
was any movement in the beds. Then he clapped his hands to help the whole
thing along a little. "Get up you lazy bunch! Get to the wash room
and get yourselves clean, then we'll see you for breakfast!" Only
when the first boys sat up grumbling in their beds, was Brian satisfied
and moved on to the next cabin.
Promptly, the boys let themselves fall back onto their pillows to doze
a little more.
After a while chubby, girlish Julio was the first to leap up from his
bed, put on shorts and shoes, and go outside to the wash room with a towel
and a piece of soap. He was followed by Mike, who didn't seem to want
to go alone.
Finally the two "big ones", Dan and Fabian, started to move.
With the comment: "Man, I gotta pee!" Dan shuffled towards the
Fabian looked down into Patrick's bed. "Mornin' Paddy!" he said
Patrick stayed lying there, blinking a little and murmured: "Mornin'!"
Fabian knelt down to his backpack that lay on the floor at the head end
of the bed. He opened its zipper and said: "Oh my! Just look, my
mom packed up eight pairs of boxers for me! One for each day, and even
one too many. Would you think, she'll notice if I don't use them?"
Patrick lifted his head and looked apparently uninterested at the pile
of boxers. Then he said: "I'd say, she'll notice. Probably."
"But if I crumple them up, somehow..."
"Nope, she'll notice."
Fabian looked as if he was ashamed. "Ugh, I guess I have to, hmm?"
Patrick shrugged his shoulders as if he didn't care.
Fabian took off his undies and put on fresh ones quite close to Patrick's
face. Then he pulled a pair of denim shorts over them and took his sneakers.
"Wanna come with me to the washing room?"
Patrick looked like he was trapped. For a while he seemed not willing
to reply anything or even to move out of his bed. Did he even want to
get through the whole week unwashed? That little scaredy cat! For the
sake of his mom he changed his underwear, but he didn't dare to go to
the washing room.
"Okay, forget it", said Fabian, shaking his head, and put his
towel around his neck.
Neither the washing room nor the toilets were pleasant places. Both were
filled up with noisy commotion. In the washing room you got sprayed with
water even before you could find an unoccupied faucet. Fabian finally
found some spare room next to Ryan, the blond guy with braces. "Hi!"
they welcomed each other.
"It was great fun, last night, wasn't it?" shouted Ryan to be
understandable over the noise.
"Really? What happened?" asked Fabian.
"Ah, we tried to throw water balloons into the girls beds."
Ryan grinned and lathered his arms.
"And? Did it work?" Fabian remembered the noise at night.
"Sure! At least two hit the bulls-eye, I tell you!" Ryan rinsed
his bare torso with cold water, spraying around a little ruthlessly. "But
then Hank came and even that director-dude and made loads of trouble."
On his way back to the cabin Fabian saw somebody sweeping the dusty yard
at the front of the center building with a broom. And unless he was completely
mistaken, it was Angelo.
After breakfast Brian explained to his beavers that they were going to
cross the lake in two big canoes today. For their safety they'd all get
tucked into life jackets, even the boys who think they're good swimmers.
"But don't be afraid, nobody has ever gone overboard, here."
Fabian noticed a slight expression of horror in Patrick's face.
Brian continued: "Now please get changed: Swimming trunks and T-shirt,
nothing more. No shoes, we paddle bare foot." Brian smiled weakly.
"And if you got a watch, leave it here, itll only get wet and
The beaver-boys set off for their cabins. Just Patrick stayed there as
though glued to the spot.
"So, what's up with you?" asked Brian.
"I... I can't...", stuttered Patrick.
"You can't what?"
"I can't row." Hardly noticeable Patrick was trembling.
"We paddle, not row. Canoes got to be paddled. Besides, you can learn
that today. It's really no trouble."
Patrick shook his head a bit tensed up. "N... no!"
"You see", said Brian, thinking Patrick meant it was no trouble
to learn it.
Brian was just about to turn away but now he bent down to Patrick, a little
wearily. "What's your problem?"
"I can't go canoeing."
"But why, for heaven's sake? You'll get a life jacket, so nothing
can ever happen to you!"
"My... my skin. The sun is so hot. I always get a sun burn. And fever."
Patrick's turquoise eyes showed real fear.
Brian sighed. "My goodness, what do we do with you, now?" He
chewed his lower lip. "I guess you gotta stay here, in the shadow."
Fabian had changed. Like all others he wore the green beaver-shirt and
his swim trunks. But where was Patrick? He hadn't come with the others
to the cabin and even after changing he didn't turn up. Fabian went to
the center building and peered into the dining hall. But nobody was there.
In the corridor he met Brian, who had his bedroom in the center building
like each of the group leaders. He had put on giant black swimming trunks
and he allowed his feet the comfort of slippers.
"I can't find Patrick Finn", said Fabian, "he belongs in
our cabin and..."
"That little red-headed kid?" replied Brian. "That's okay.
He'll stay here, hes got a sun allergy or something... I gave him
a couple of books."
"Oh", was all Fabian could say, and remained standing in the
corridor, looking dejected.
"You could help me by getting the life jackets out of the boathouse",
said Brian and dragged Fabian along with one of his chubby hands.
The canoe trip was great, the sun was burning hot but on the surface
of the lake the air remained rather cool. They stopped for a break on
a small island close to the other shore, and Brian could show the boys
some real beaver lodges. On their way back they paddled pretty close along
a low rock face, where a thin waterfall came tumbling down, wetting them
But most of the time Fabian seemed to be miles away, because he thought
of Patrick and that he was missing all this. On one occasion he asked
Brian about the remaining program for the beavers and whether there would
be more activities that might exclude Patrick.
"Oh", said Brian calmly, "we have the nocturnal ramble,
the lantern party and the game park, and maybe we'll make a paper chase
in the woods and stuff like that. There's still plenty of opportunity
for your little friend to join in."
Fabian sighed. This didn't sound too bad, and he was relieved that Brian
had obviously thought about the same problem too. Besides, he started
to like the chubby beaver-chief more and more. Brian was simply okay.
Almost automatically Fabian laid his hand on that chubby shoulder. He
was just about to draw it back and mumble an excuse, when Brian patted
on Fabian's much skinnier shoulder and nodded encouraging.
Back at camp, Fabian hurried to look for Patrick. He was quite easy to
find, sat in their cabin at the small table. A couple of large illustrated
books about animals lay in front of him, but it didn't look too much like
he had actually read them.
Fabian wanted to say something, that he was sorry about Patrick and stuff
like that. But at the same moment Dan came tramping into the cabin and
called: "Wooaah there, you really missed something, Pat! It was great!"
And he let himself fall down on his bed so that it creaked.
Patrick lowered his eyes and looked at the book in his hands. "Rodents
In The Woods". Julio and Mike came pattering into the cabin too,
and Julio asked casually: "Why did you stay here, Pat?"
Fabian was still standing there and couldn't say anything.
Patrick's face screwed up. He bowed his head. And Fabian felt pretty much
the same, like he could cry. A pitiful weak squeaking came from Patrick
and then tears rolled over his freckles.
Fabian sat down on another chair and said carefully: "We'll do a
nocturnal ramble and a paper chase in the woods and we'll go to a game
park and feed the animals there, and you'll be with us again. From now
on, I'll only do things that you can do, too!"
Hardly noticeable Patrick shook his head and then he squeezed a few quiet
words through his tears: "I wanna go home!"
Julio came standing behind Fabian and looked at crying Patrick. "What's
up with you, Pat?"
Fabian said: "Okay, all right, the camp started off pretty bad, somehow.
The food is shitty, the beds are shitty, and some of the dudes here in
the camp are... are real dorks." He didn't want to say that Angelo
and his pals were shitty, too, they were actually just stupid and inconsiderate.
"I wanna go home!", wept Patrick and let his tears flow.
Fabian didnt know what else to say. Since the journey had started
there had been hardly any moment when Patrick felt good. The way he had
been sitting on the bus clinging to a handle and staring through the window,
he apparently felt awful right from the beginning. And all the small things
that had happened ever since had been more or less to Patrick's disadvantage.
However, Fabian really thought it wasn't the best idea to ask Brian to
call Patrick's parents.
"I'm sorry", whispered Fabian.
"I want... my mom... and my dad", sobbed Patrick.
"We couldn't practise swimming then", said Fabian. "I was
really looking forward to that!"
"I...", Patrick got some kind of hiccups from weeping, "I
can't swim. I don't wanna swim. And I can't... any dirty jokes!"
Julio lowered his eyes, embarrassed. He probably had never thought that
saying dirty words could intimidate a sensitive boy like Patrick. "But
I only said that single joke."
you...", Patrick gave Fabian a tear stained look, "you go swimming...
with that dork... anyways! You just don't wanna... practise anything with
"But... nooo!" said Fabian. "I really want it! I promised
you Id practise swimming with you and I meant it."
Patrick sniffed heavily
he could hardly breathe between words.
"We'll tell no dirty things anymore, okay?" said Julio.
Outside the other kids passed the cabin heading for lunch. A breath of
wind wafted across the smell of something fried, like ham and onions.
Dan put on his shoes. "Looks like we'll have something real substantial
Julio looked undecided if he should go for lunch right now, while Patrick
sat here in floods of tears. Finally he said: "You don't have to
be sad, Pat. We're still here for you."
One after another the other boys left Fabian and Patrick alone in the
cabin and went for lunch.
asked: "Should we really ask Brian to call your parents?"
Patrick was still sobbing but at least his tears had stopped running.
He said nothing.
"Think about it, the camp will be over for you and you'll really
miss everything. Even that ramble at night and when we feed the deer."
Patrick sniffed and considered.
Then Fabian remembered something. He went to his backpack and pulled something
out. It was the small stuffed penguin that Jeremy gave him once. "This
is Jarvis, the butler. He's my lucky charm." He put the penguin on
the table between the spread out books. "I got him from my little
brother. Since our parents live apart from each other now, my brother
is no longer with me and my mother. He's about your age." He pushed
the figure a little closer to Patrick. "I'll lend you Jarvis, if
you like him. He'll take care of you."
Patrick looked at Jarvis, the butler. Then he asked in thin voice: "You
have stuffed animals?"
"I got lots of stuffed animals. But this one is special, it's my
lucky charm, cause my little brother gave it to me."
Suddenly Patrick came into motion. He took his own backpack and sat down
with it on his bed. And then he pulled out of the depths of his backpack
a stuffed animal, too. It was bigger than Jarvis, the butler, and made
of white plush with brown flecks and looked like a pig. "I got one
Fabian sat down next to him on the bed.
"This is Snoozie", said Patrick introducing his stuffed pig.
"Why do you hide Snoozie in your backpack? His place is in your bed."
Patrick blushed a little and chewed his lower lip. "I thought nobody
here got a stuffed animal."
"So, it's you and me now whove got one", said Fabian.
"Okay", said Patrick and held his stuffed pig in his arms. He
was leaning quite close to Fabian's side, and Fabian felt that Patrick
was seeking his company. He didn't spend any more time thinking about
it but wrapped his arms around Patrick's tummy and squeezed him a little.
Patrick breathed out once in relief and leaned back until his head touched
They remained like this for quite a while, sitting on the bed in silence.
And then even a little longer.
"You don't have to practise swimming with me if you don't want it",
said Fabian quietly, "but I'd like to, anyway. Angelo, Ryan and the
other guys can get lost."
Patrick said nothing, he just embraced his stuffed pig.
Fabian said: "From all the guys here in the camp I like you best.
And I'd be sad if you go home right away." He tightened his embrace
around Patrick's tummy a little, while Patrick began to stroke his cuddly
toy. "Could you consider it one more time? Until tomorrow? You stay
with us until tomorrow after breakfast and then you can decide if we call
your parents, okay?"
Patrick stroked his stuffed pig a little longer, then he said: "Okay."
"Shall we go to lunch, now?" asked Fabian carefully.
Patrick sighed. "Okay."
After lunch the beavers had to be "chivalrous", as Brian liked
to call it. Because the racoon-girls were rehearsing a dance - something
like a polka with ring-a-ring-o'-roses - they urgently needed some boys
who had to line the route and form archways with their arms. "You
don't have to dance at all", said Brian trying to calm down his beavers.
The girls used the lawn where they had the barbecue party to practise
on, and since this was in the shadow of the surrounding trees Patrick
couldn't talk his way out of it. Some of the girls had put flowers in
their hair to look like "real" polka dancers.
Christine, the curly-haired group leader, played on an accordion and gave
instructions: "Now, everybody in a circle, put your hands on your
hips --- and turn around-and-round!"
First, the beavers just had to stand in the middle of the circle and watch
the dance. Then they had to take one another by the hands in pairs and
hold them up, so that they formed a line of archways. Of course, Fabian
and Patrick were such an archway couple. When the girls came along dancing
they had to "catch" them and to release again, everything matching
to the rhythm of the music. Patrick played his part unexpectedly eager.
The captured girls first looked just surprised, then distraught and finally
they even moaned that it hurt.
Patrick just giggled and tightened his grip on Fabian's hands as if he
could slip away.
Patrick looked so occupied by the polka that Fabian was surprised. He
had been afraid that it could darken Patrick's mood again to be assigned
for such girl stuff. But he seemed to like the dance with the girls.
Again and again the racoon-girls whispered and looked across at Fabian
and Patrick. Were they annoyed by those two oafs?
The eagles would have their nocturnal ramble after dusk and so the black
shirted group got the afternoon off. You could see Angelo and his gang
in swimming trunks running down to the beach, yelling.
Perfect, thought Fabian, the beach would be free later in the evening.
After supper, while the eagles gathered loudly around Hank, Brian just
said that the beavers deserved to have a lazy evening after being busy
the whole day. Everybody who was interested would have the chance to watch
the basketball play-offs on TV in the dining hall, and promptly Dan the
walrus put his hand up to "enrol" himself. Besides, there were
board games and cards, too, and Brian announced hed open the kiosk
and sell drinks, candy and postcards.
Fabian didn't want to push Patrick, so he simply pretended to go swimming.
"Wanna come with me? I mean, the beach is free, the sun isn't burning
any more - just the best conditions." He already had his swimming
trunks on and put his hands on his skinny hips.
Patrick hesitated a little. But when even Julio and Mike went over to
the camp center and he was alone with Fabian in the cabin, he agreed.
"But you have to wait outside when I'm changing!"
Fabian grinned. "Okay." He went out of the cabin and took a
deep breath of the summery evening air. It was still really warm and calm.
The sun stood low and yellow in the sky. Fabian sat down on the wooden
steps in front of the cabin and poked with his bare toes in the sand.
He felt some kind of nervous anticipation.
When Patrick finally came out he wore tight-fitting blue speedos and a
white T-shirt and his sneakers. "Ready", he said.
"Will you take all that stuff into the water?" asked Fabian.
"Nooope, just for the walk."
"Alright, let's go!" And they ran across the barbecue lawn and
down a beaten path to the beach. The "coast" was completely
deserted, they had the landing stage and the small beach just for their
own. Fabian didn't wait but immediately took a run-up across the landing
stage and made a long jump into the water. The first contact with the
water and the sudden chill was almost a little shocking, but it soon let
up because the water wasn't actually that cold. Close to the surface it
was even fairly warm. Fabian remembered Patrick, made a few swimming strokes
towards the beach and then entered the shallower water.
In the meantime Patrick had stripped to his blue speedos and stood with
just his feet in the water. He acted as if he found the water rather cold.
"You have to come deeper in, at least then we can try a few swimming
strokes, so maybe till its up to your belly button", said Fabian,
"Okay, okay", said Patrick and went step by step, shivering
a little exaggerated, deeper into the water. In the warm light of the
sinking sun he even didn't look pale anymore. Just a few freckles and
two small russet nipples stood out against his bright skin.
"The water feels cold only as long as you don't move", said
Fabian and was tempted to spray Patrick wet, but he knew too well how
he hated that himself.
Patrick was now to the point where just his legs got wet and his butt
was almost touching the water surface. To get past this point was really
hard because from there on the very delicate parts got wet. Arms wrapped
around himself as if he was almost freezing, Patrick slightly crouched
down a few times so that the blue speedos on his butt just touched the
Fabian stood beside him and waited patiently until Patrick got used to
the temperature. But finally he said: "If you don't really dip in
at least once you'll never get used to it!"
"I know", said Patrick shivering and just dipped his bum once
again, then held it facing into the evening sun.
Fabian couldnt wait and simply took the next chance to push the
smaller boy into the water. Patrick kicked and wiggled and then came back
to the surface, snorting from water. "I'm so sorry", said Fabian,
"but I couldn't watch that any longer."
Patrick didn't complain, he just wiped the water from his freckled face.
"What's best to start with? Can you float on your back?" asked
Fabian and went a few steps into deeper water until it reached to his
tummy. Then he let himself sink back, dipped his back in the water and
finally lifted his feet until he floated stretched out on the surface.
"Yeah, I think I can do that", said Patrick and tried to copy
it. But he held his breath and somehow his head dipped and he began to
splash about until he got on his feet again.
"Don't move when you try to float."
"I know", said Patrick and tried it once more, but again he
sank down and struggled back to the open.
"You don't trust the fact that the air in your lungs will keep you
up", stated Fabian. "Maybe it works better when I hold you."
He made some moves to get on his feet again and stood behind Patrick's
back. "Now look, I'll hold your head so that you can't sink and nothing
can happen. Try it again, just lean back and relax."
Patrick crouched down until the water reached his neck. Carefully, Fabian
put his hands on the bright pink shoulders and bowed down a little. Reluctantly,
Patrick leaned back until the rest of his body got a lift in the water.
At last, he lay with spread out arms flat in the water and looked up,
into Fabian's face. His sandy-colored shock of hair was floating on the
surface and his head bumped slightly to Fabian's tummy. His red lips smiled.
"All right, you see that it works?" said Fabian. "You feel
that the water is carrying you?"
Patrick nodded carefully.
"I'm gonna release you now, okay?" Slowly, Fabian withdrew his
hands. "You simply have to keep still. The water can't harm you now,
youre already wet all over."
For a while Patrick was floating on the quiet water, just watching the
"When somebody can't swim he usually believes that he'll sink in
the water, immediately. But that's not true. Actually, very few things
need to be done to keep yourself up. And when you start learning to swim,
you'll surely believe that you'll swallow water when you try to breathe
and you'll probably hold your breath. But that's also wrong."
"Okay, but how do I do it right then?" asked Patrick and he
promptly lost his balance and had to kick and wave again until he got
on his feet, snorting.
"Well, it's pretty simple when you do the crawl, because more or
less you swim lying on your side and you turn your head to one side when
you breathe in", explained Fabian. "Wait, I'll show you!"
He made a few strokes of crawl, almost in slow motion. "Look here!
I'm just sliding quietly over the water and I can breathe to the side
at each stroke."
"Okay", said Patrick. But he seemed to be rather unbelieving.
"Wanna try this? I can hold you up if you like", suggested Fabian.
Patrick couldn't quite imagine this.
"Float on your back once more, and I'll hold you again and you'll
see", said Fabian. And one more time Patrick leaned back into the
water until he looked up along Fabian's slender tummy. But this time Fabian
dragged the floating body a little further where the water was deeper,
so that he could easily hold him in his arms like he was swaying a baby.
"All right, now turn on your side! Don't panic, I'll hold you up."
Patrick looked confused around him for a way to manage this. But when
he realized that Fabian was actually holding him up, he turned around
carefully until he lay on his side in Fabian's arms.
Then Fabian changed his grip so that he embraced Patrick above his tummy.
"Keep your head like that, so that it stays up!" Slowly, he
turned the boy's body in his arms a little further until Patrick was almost
floating on his tummy. "Now, try a stroke with that arm that's completely
Patrick made a frail stroke.
"Almost like rowing a boat", explained Fabian, "you just
have to dip your arm deeper in. And for the stroke with the other arm
you have to turn on the other side, and you can breathe to that side,
They practised these moves while Fabian held little Patrick on top of
the water. Then Patrick tried some swimming strokes on his own but he
held his breath and went rather tense and inevitably he sank down. His
next attempts didn't go any better, he always disappeared under water
after three or four strokes.
"Damn!" swore Patrick and wiped the water off his face.
"Hey, it's not too bad for a start. You're kicking your feet too
much. You should rather stretch out on the water and trust in the fact
that it will carry you, like it does when you're floating on your back.
And then you should move your arms."
Patrick tried it a few times
with more patience and even though he sank down again so that he had to
come up snorting and coughing, some of his attempts looked almost like
Then for a change the two boys spent some time jumping wildly from the
landing stage, fooling around and making faces, and they laughed a lot.
Finally, Patrick seemed to have lost his timidity regarding swimming.
As time went by, the sun went behind the treetops and slowly the sky turned
"I guess it's time for us to go soon", noticed Fabian.
They could hear some well known, excited boy voices in the camp, and there
were the beams of flashlights shining around. It was the eagles, who were
going on their nocturnal ramble.
Patrick and Fabian stood quiet and motionless in the water as if they
were afraid the eagles could discover them. Only when that chain of lights
had disappeared in the woods, they moved again.
Fabian asked: "Wanna give it one last try? I can take you on my back
while I'm swimming, like a dolphin does. You just hold on to my shoulders."
Patrick looked amazed at his bigger friend.
And Fabian added: "That's how my... dad did, when he showed me how
to swim." And again he meant Walter, who once taught him swimming.
Fabian made some steps into deeper water and bowed down until only his
head and shoulders looked out.
Patrick giggled and clinged with both hands to Fabian.
The bigger boy made some careful strokes, always trying not to collide
with Patrick's dangling legs in the water behind him. A few times the
weight of the boy on his shoulders dragged him slightly under water, but
he could handle this by doing the breaststroke. But suddenly he stopped,
waving his arms under water.
He panted. "It's really deep here, I can't stand on my feet."
Patrick sounded anxious: "Please, Fabian, let's go back!"
Fabian spit. "You have to swim on your own, I can't make it with
your weight on my back!" For a moment he went down to the tip of
"Eeek, I can't do that!"
"You must! Quick! I can't make it any longer!" Fabian went half
down. Finally the dragging fingers released his shoulders.
Patrick kicked and waved for his life so that water splashed all around
"Quiet!" called Fabian who could hold his head up again. "Make
Patrick spit water and turned his head in panic, but soon he calmed down
and really swam a little.
Fabian giggled. "Ah, I knew you could do it!" And he stood on
the ground on tiptoe.
Patrick only stopped when his hands touched the sandy ground of the lake.
He was way closer to the shore than he thought. And when he heard Fabian
laughing he finally understood. Patrick stood up and swore. "You
really scared me!"
"So did my dad, but it's the best way to learn it real quick."
"But that's a shit way!" shouted Patrick angrily and set on
Fabian. He grabbed the wrists of the bigger, skinny boy and tried to shove
him into the water.
Fabian still had to laugh, partly about his trick, and partly about little
Patrick's busy efforts to push him down. He joined in the game, but directed
this kind of wrestling into the shallow water close to the beach. Patrick
changed his tactics now and tried to get Fabian by his neck and trip him.
Fabian on his part held the freckled boy around the chest and waited,
what else he'd try to do. Finally, he decided to lose his balance and
splash down into the water stretched out together with Patrick.
There they kept lying for a while in what looked like a wrestling hold.
It was nearly dark and they could hardly recognize the expression of each
other's face. Wet and loud they panted, out of breath, across the water
surface. Fabian didn't really hold Patrick's shoulder anymore, rather
he stroked that wet cool skin. And Patrick didn't move, he swallowed and
panted in the gloomy semi-darkness. Their chests slightly touched and
the water between them made a funny sound. Fabian wished that this beautiful
moment could last a little longer but then he thought that he might scare
Patrick somehow. The sandy-haired boy didn't move and didn't say anything.
At last Fabian felt that they'd better get up and leave the water before
it got too cold. Uncertain, he waded to the shore and looked back at Patrick.
Patrick just said: "Wow, it's really dark!" But the last gleam
of fading daylight was still enough to find his shoes and his shirt on
the beach. Then the two dripping wet boys ran back to their cabin.
"But this time I'll not waiting until you get changed", said
Fabian and shivered a little. "We can leave the light out, instead."
"Okay", said Patrick who was also shivering a little and entered
the dark cabin.
The other occupants were still in the camp center, the cabin stood still
and empty. There was only a glimpse of light falling through the window
beside the door. Everything else was dark. Fabian and Patrick could hear
each other but couldnt see anything. Patrick remained motionless
and listened, you could just hear his breathing. Then he giggled because
of the funny situation. "I can't see anything", he said.
"Me neither, but I think that's exactly what you want." Fabian
groped in the darkness. Of course, he "accidently" felt a wet,
cool boy shoulder at first. "There's you."
Patrick slightly jerked but kept standing there and laughed quietly.
Then Fabian groped to his side and after one or two steps he hit the bunkbeds
that belonged to him and Patrick. "Here are our beds." He slapped
them slightly with his hand so that Patrick could detect them in the darkness.
Fabian felt his way to the head end of his bed where he had hung up his
towel to dry. Relieved about finding the towel he began to dry himself.
Meanwhile, Patrick had found his backpack and there was the sound of fumbling
with nylon straps and the sound of a zipper. After he rummaged around
a little he dragged something out and rubbed himself down with it.
Fabian stripped his wet, cold swim trunks and left them lying on the floor.
Then he wrapped the towel around his hips and picked up the swim trunks.
With them crumpled and dripping in his hand he pattered to the door. "Hey!",
he quickly warned and opened it. A faint breeze of cool night air came
in and a beam of pale moonlight fell through the door, flitting across
Patrick who was just pulling down his wet speedos. "I need to wring
these out", said Fabian and stepped outside on to the wooden steps
in front of the cabin. There he squeezed the cold water out of the swimming
trunks, sprinkling the sandy ground.
He heard a few tapping steps of naked feet, and then Patrick came standing
beside him. He wore a pink towel around his hips and held a dark wet lump
in his hand. "Me too", he just said and wrung out his trunks.
As he did so, he slightly bumped against Fabian's side several times,
and the feeling of those gentle touches of soft cool skin each time let
a slight shiver run through Fabian's body.
Suddenly the pink towel around Patrick's hips loosened and slipped down.
"Oops", said Patrick and bent down quickly for the towel and
wrapped it around his waist. The towel wasn't too big and it hardly fitted.
Fabian bit back any comment and went back inside.
Patrick followed him and closed the door behind them. Then they stood
once again in the pitch-dark cabin.
"I can hang up my swimming trunks to dry over the bedpost",
said Fabian and felt carefully for the end of the bed and finally pulled
the damp, cold trunks in his hands over it.
"Good idea", agreed Patrick and felt his way along the bed,
too, but collided with Fabian before he reached the bedpost.
"Already occupied here", murmured Fabian and giggled.
"Oops!" said Patrick and then once again: "Oops! I lost
Fabian felt the damp towel lying on his feet and for a moment he considered
if he should really bend down to pick it up. Because he had an idea that
Patrick had lost it deliberately. He wanted to stand stark naked in the
dark by "accident", just half a step away from Fabian. But almost
automatically he bent down for the towel and promptly banged his forehead
with a damp boy head.
"Ouch!" said both boys at the same time and lost their balance
a little. Without really wanting it, Fabian suddenly held Patrick's shoulders
in his hands, probably to keep a little distance between them. And Patrick
hesitated, he didn't move. You couldn't even hear him breathing.
Instead Fabian's heart beat with a heavy pulse. This situation was so
exciting and so confusing that he didn't even know what he was doing.
Almost like being under remote control his hands slid down Patrick's upper
arms and then slowly upwards again. And since Patrick still didn't move
at all, he let his hands slip even a little bit lower until he clasped
the narrow waist in his hands. There he remained and gasped for air. The
blood was pumping so heavily through his veins that his fingertips pulsed.
The boys were so close that he could smell Patrick's wet hair.
With a deep gasp Fabian drove the stale air out of his lungs and then
breathed shallow and irregularly. What if somebody came in now, switched
on the light and saw the two like that, flashed through his mind. What
if Patrick didn't want the stuff that Fabian was doing?
Suddenly, Patrick had to giggle. "What are you doing there?"
he asked but didn't move as though he wanted to get rid of Fabian's hands.
For a few seconds Fabian felt unable to do anything. Then he had to giggle,
too. "I don't know", he whispered.
And still Patrick stood there in the darkness without moving and let Fabian's
hands lying on his hips. Then Fabian felt some fingertips slowly moving
up his left arm, and then even more fingertips on the other arm. Eventually,
Patrick's warm hands remained on his shoulders - they might have looked
as if they were going to dance in the dark cabin.
"I can feel where you are", said Patrick and remained in that
Inevitably, Fabian's hands began to move around in circles on the skin
of Patrick's hips. And this way he'd have touched probably even other
body parts, if the boys didn't hear something, suddenly.
Outside at the camp center a door slammed, and steps came up the sandy
At the moment the boys were unable to move.
Then Fabian said: "Hurry, get your undies!" And the two shapes
in the darkness set in motion. Rather accurately, Fabian managed to grab
his backpack that lay on the floor at the head end of their bunkbeds.
But Patrick pattered around totally disoriented, bumped against a chair
and swore quietly.
The steps came closer to their cabin, thumped quickly up the stairs, and
then suddenly the door flung open and the light went on.
The sudden brightness hurt Fabian's eyes. Blinded by the light, he blinked
and tried to recognize who was standing there in the door.
It was Julio, the little dark-haired podgy one. He briefly flinched as
he saw that there was somebody in the cabin. "Huh, what are you doing
Fabian had managed to pull on his denim shorts in the darkness, which
pinched his privates a little without his undies. He was holding two damp
towels in his hands - his own and Patrick's pink one.
Patrick himself stood stark naked behind the table and the chairs and
bashfully covered his crotch with his hands.
"We're changing", said Fabian and blinked. "We've been
swimming until it got too dark outside." He hung up the towels to
dry over the headboard of the bunkbeds. "And for changing we just
left the light out."
Julio's face brightened. "Oh, I see!" Straight out he looked
at the bashfully naked Patrick and giggled. "I'm sorry! Just wait,
Ill put it out again!" His hand darted to the light switch,
and the cabin fell dark again. You could just see Julio's head as a dark
shape in front of the window. He still had to giggle.
The other two waited a while to see if Julio would take off again. But
none of the three boys made a move.
Then Julio said: "Um, I just thought, you were probably... doing..."
He chuckled in the darkness.
"Doing... what?" asked Fabian.
Julio giggled. "Ehehehe, nope, I won't say that!"
Fabian sighed. "Oh, Julio, those dirty jokes really went to your
Later on, when even Patrick had found his clothes and got dressed again,
the boys played cards together. Dan and Mike came clumping into the cabin.
"Hey guys, wanna know the hottest news?" heavy Dan called out.
"Some of the eagles got lost on their nocturnal ramble!" He
held the door open as if to run outside again right away. "Hank freaked
out completely, you should have seen that! Now the group leaders set off
to search for those dudes. Oh man, if they don't find them, they have
to call the police for tracker dogs and helicopters and stuff." He
leant out of the open door and looked at what was going on outside.
There were agitated voices sounding through the camp, especially the loud,
booming voice of William, the director.
Dan ran outside again not wanting to miss anything.
The other boys just sighed and drank another lemonade from Brian's kiosk.
"Always those eagles!" said Julio rather superciliously and
shook his head.
Later they lay in bed and talked a little to each other - this time without
any dirty jokes. When the noise out in the camp slowly let up, Dan came
"Hank and that swan-woman found them, and those runaways said they
were just kidding", reported Dan and took off his shoes. A cheese-like
aroma spread over the cabin. Dan sighed relieved.
"My goodness, Dan!" squeaked Julio and held his nose.
"Did you change your socks already this year?" asked Fabian.
Dan leaned back. "I have no idea what you mean
.this is just
It took some time until Fabian could sleep that night, though he had
got somewhat used to the lousy bed with its tiny pillow. Of course he
was still busy thinking about that moment, when he was alone in the dark
with Patrick. Would he ever get such an opportunity once again? Or would
it have ended in a disaster had he continued to fondle Patrick? The longer
this moment was past, the less he was sure that Patrick enjoyed it. In
the middle of the night he woke up. All that fizzy stuff he had drunk
while playing cards had made him desperate. As quiet as he could, he got
up and pulled on his shoes and a shirt, then snuck out to the toilets.
The lights were on in the boys' toilets. Fabian was not alone here, though
he couldn't see anybody at first. Then he heard some quiet sobbing resounding
off the bare walls.
The door to most the toilet stalls stood open, just one door was nearly
closed. Carefully, Fabian peered through the crack.
There was somebody sitting on a closed toilet seat, his head bowed and
weeping. Somebody with dark, slightly curly hair and a black T-shirt.
And when that somebody looked up because he had noticed Fabian, it proved
to be Angelo, his cheeks wet with tears.
"Get lost, leave me alone!" wailed Angelo.
Fabian could imagine that Angelo was among those jokers who vanished during
their nocturnal ramble, and probably had got into a lot of trouble once
"But I gotta pee", said Fabian.
"Pee somewhere else!" called Angelo and held the door closed.
A little undecided Fabian went into the next cubicle and stood in front
of the bowl. But as long as Angelo was sobbing next door, Fabian just
"Don't hang about there, stupid!" moaned Angelo. "Just
piss and fuck off to your faggot-friends!"
Fabian started with surprise. Did anybody notice something? Did anybody
see how much he liked Patrick? Did Julio say something? But he had been
all night with the others playing cards!
"This is a real faggot-camp, I tell you!" swore Angelo in tears.
"Just stupid bitches and old faggots all around. And such a mean
ass-hole like Hank!" He wailed louder and sobbed.
Fabian just stood there and couldn't pee though he was desperate, and
he didn't know what to say.
"Hank is a real mean ass-hole!" said Angelo again and burst
into tears, even more than before.
Fabian put his head around the corner and pushed the neighboring door
carefully open. Angelo's face looked at him, twisted with pain and soaked
"This is my vacation!" howled Angelo. "This is my damned
vacation! And this ass-hole lets me clean up and put away the trash all
the time! All the time!!! Do you call that vacation? And last night the
others did me in, after we had to clean up the barbecue. They threw a
water balloon into my bed. And another one in my face. And Hank knew it!
He knew it all before, the mean ass-hole!"
Fabian stood there and looked embarrassed. He thought that Angelo was
the most popular boy of the camp. And that a little punishment couldn't
hurt him at all. He always appeared as the handsome guy with the fantastic
sun tan and the sporty long-legged physique. But here, on a shabby toilet
seat, sat just a tanned weeping child.
Fabian said quietly: "I thought they were your friends."
Angelo wiped his cheeks with the back of his hand. "But one thing
is sure: I'll pay him back for it all, this ass-hole! He'll get to know
my dad, I tell you! And he'll be in for a shock."
Fabian hesitated a little but then he lay his hand on Angelo's shoulder
to comfort him. He was afraid that the beautiful dark-haired boy could
take this wrong, but Angelo just looked up at Fabian and in spite of all
his tears a slight, painful smile flitted across his face. And Fabian
gave the shoulder dressed in the black fabric of the eagle-shirt a comforting
Angelo nodded and swallowed a few tears. "He won't know what's hit
Next morning after breakfast Angelo was taken away by his mother. Some
of the children stood at the entrance of the camp center and watched this.
His mother had come in a fancy sports car that stood now in front of the
big archway with the wooden stakes. Angelo stood, his backpack casually
on his shoulder, as if it was a saddle and he were John Wayne, and he
strolled to the sports car. Among the spectators some youngsters roared
and whistled after him, and Fabian didn't have to look behind him to know
that this was Ryan with the braces and the other pals.
Angelo showed his middle finger and called: "Fucking faggot-camp!"
Suddenly his mother appeared and slapped him in his face so hard that
his backpack slipped out of his hand.
"Get into the car! And don't say another word!" she yelled at
Even the children at the camp center fell silent.
And so, without a word, Angelo got into the car. And the car drove away.
Fabian remembered that Patrick had to decide this morning after breakfast
if he'd stay or go home. But after Angelo's painful departure Fabian was
fairly depressed, and so he rather put it off a little. And since Patrick
was so busy and happy during the paper chase that the beavers did this
day, Fabian simply forgot it at last.
The days at the summer camp were great and somehow they passed by faster
and faster. During the beaver's nocturnal ramble Fabian and Patrick always
kept in touch so that they couldn't get lost in the dark. And occasionally
Julio joined those two and only stopped pestering them after Fabian lay
his arm around his shoulders for a while.
For the feeding at the game park the game warden gave the beaver-boys
buckets and boxes full of salad and vegetables and told them to distribute
it to the animals.
Patrick was totally into a wild boar that he immediately named "Snoozie".
He fed it with potatoes and stroked its dirty nose. "Snoozie"
thanked him by sniffing at Patrick's pink calves and knees, and finally
even pushing him down so he landed in the mud. Patrick laughed, and could
hardly stop laughing even though he had to spend the rest of the day plastered
There was no chance for the two to go swimming undisturbed. Even after
supper the small beach and the landing stage were occupied either by the
ex-pals of Angelo or a couple of girls, and in both cases Patrick didn't
like to swim.
And then, it was suddenly Saturday evening - the last evening at the
camp and time for the lantern party. The swan-girls had made colorful
lanterns and had decorated the barbecue area with them. The racoon-girls
showed their polka dance with the help of the beavers, and finally it
became a "disco" party. Marion and Hank had set up a small stereo
that filled the night with some what overstrained chart music from the
past years. At first, there were just a few girls who started to dance
to the music.
Brian took care of the campfire and later made baked potatoes and spare
ribs. This time the eagles served the drinks, which meant that the beavers
had to clean up when the party was over.
One by one the girls managed to get the boys to dance, particularly the
older ones. Even Fabian joined in for a few songs after two girls asked
him at the same time and he didn't want to disappoint them. But he found
the music awful. Anyway, tonight Fabian noticed for the first time that
a few couples had got together during the summer camp - mostly among the
swans and the eagles, and that he had missed this, completely.
He sat down on one of the tree trunks that lay on the lawn and served
as seats, and watched the couples for a while hanging around the "disco".
Didnt he stand a chance with the girls, too? Hadnt the girls
all given him those yearning looks time after time and then giggled? But
he had kept around his beavers all the time, around the small, the chubby
and the shy, and this way he had hardly ever talked to any girl the whole
seven days. And now he had the weird feeling that he had missed something.
Patrick and Julio came and sat down beside him. "Hi!" they said,
both holding a baked potato wrapped in a paper napkin and hollowing them
out with a plastic fork.
Fabian looked at his acquaintances. Julio had put ketchup on his baked
potato, and some of this ketchup now stuck to his upper lip like some
kind of red puberty down. Patrick had chosen tsatsiki for his potato and
had stained his green beaver-shirt with it. Just because of these little
losers Fabian had ignored the girls for a whole week! He sighed.
"Are you sad?" asked Julio promptly.
Fabian shrugged his shoulders. "Oh, it's nothing."
"And what about you?" asked Julio looking at Patrick. "Are
you happy that you gonna go home tomorrow?"
Patrick looked quickly from one to the other, the fork between his lips,
and then he shrugged too. "Not really."
"Just a few days ago I had a totally different impression of you",
Julio pertly remarked.
Patrick shrugged his shoulders once again. "Just been in a bad mood."
"Ha ha, 'bad mood'?! You been howling and crying for your mom and
"So what?" replied Patrick. "Do you never get homesick?"
"No problem, it's all right", said Julio and grinned with his
red moustache. He squashed up the remains of his baked potato. "Phew,
I need a drink now. Come with me?"
"No", said Patrick curtly. "I'll stay here with Fabian."
"All right", said Julio and stood up. "I'll be right back,
"Oh-kay", said Patrick. But as soon as Julio had disappeared
behind a couple of girls, Patrick leaped up and said: "Come on, let's
get lost!" And he dragged Fabian to the edge of the barbecue area,
and since they could still be seen in the light of the lanterns there,
they ran a little further towards the beach. They stopped behind the corner
of a cabin, looked back and saw how Julio came back with a paper cup in
his hand and looked around astonished. Finally, he turned away, disappointed.
"This was pretty mean, you know", said Fabian quietly. "Do
you have anything against Julio?"
"No", said Patrick, "not really." He said down in
the grass. "Come, sit down here, too!"
A little curious Fabian sat down beside Patrick. They sat in a real dark
corner of the camp, where neither the light of the lanterns nor the pale
shine of the moon fell on them. But they could clearly see the figures
sitting out there on the beach and on the landing stage. There sat dark
silhouettes, hand in hand, arm in arm.
"It's full of lovers, here", whispered Fabian.
And Patrick giggled quietly.
The sound of the "disco" changed now to a soul-moving love song.
Some of the boys on the lawn quickly ran away, but the others let themselves
get carried away and danced real close to the girls.
"This was once my favorite song", said Patrick and looked at
Fabian; he could only see the gleam of his eyes in the darkness.
"Oh", said Fabian a little surprised, because he found that
it was typically a song for girls. "Cool."
Patrick listened to the melody for a while, then suddenly he said: "Do
you know the names of the stars? The constellations?" And he pointed
up at the night sky, jet black and clear, spangled with countless stars.
"Hmm, just a few", murmured Fabian. "One of my friends
knows a lot about that. I can't remember too many of them."
"Can you show me some?" asked Patrick and looked again uncertainly
in the direction where he thought Fabian's face was.
"Uhh, hum, let's see...", said Fabian and searched the sky for
known stars. "I think I can see Cassiopeia. That thing that looks
more like a 'W', written in the sky. Up there, can you see?" Fabian
pointed up to the sky.
"Huh, where?" asked Patrick and tried to follow his pointing
Fabian leant over until he was practically leaning against Patrick's back
and he held his pointing arm beside Patrick's head. "There're five
bright stars, you see?"
Patrick moved up closer to Fabian, until he sat between his legs, leaning
back against Fabian's chest and tummy. "Yeah, there it is, like a
'W'!" He peered for a while. "Can you see another?"
"Hmm, Orion has to be quite close to Cassiopeia. Looks a bit like
a cotton reel... with three
stars in a row in the middle..."
Both boys looked into the sky. While their heads moved, searching for
Orion, Fabian's nose tip stroked through Patrick's hair - first it happened
accidentally, but after the second touch, Fabian bowed his head a little
so that his nose tip wandered along Patrick's ear down to his neck. Patrick's
head stopped moving. Fabian's arms came around the younger boy's chest
to hold him in a close embrace. His cheek slid across the warm skin of
Patrick's neck, feeling its blonde downy hair. There was always a part
of Patrick's vest sticking out of his oversized green T-shirt, and Fabian's
lips began to kiss the skin between the sandy-colored hair and the vest.
Patrick was breathing deeply and holding tightly on to Fabian's hands.
kissed the bright pink neck, he kissed the sandy-blonde hairline above
the neck, he kissed that part below the ear with the two tiny moles, he
kissed the cheek with the bright freckles. And his hands felt how Patrick's
chest rose and fell in the rhythm of his excited breathing.
Firmly cuddled up they sank down into the grass, stretched out and more
or less lay upon each other. Fabian's lips couldn't stop kissing the warm,
The lovers on the landing stage kissed each other, too, and so nobody
noticed the boys who lay just a little bit away in the grass
The "disco" in the camp now played a terrible old, slushy song,
and Fabian thought: "Now, I'll always think of this stupid song when
I remember this wonderful night!"
It was loud in the bus when it drove down the highway. The boys couldn't
stay on their seats and started wrestling on the central aisle. The girls
chatted all at the same time, somehow trying to drown out each other.
Patrick and Fabian sat silently next to one another and listened to the
music of Fabian's little CD-player, each with one of its earphones. Fabian
played his favorite CD, the one with the battered cover. It was probably
not Patrick's taste of music but bravely he let the powerful E-guitar-rock
wash over him. His view wandered out of the window across the yellow fields
of this late summer.
They had changed their addresses. And when they were sure that no-one
was looking they had even changed their souvenir-shirts, the dark green
beaver-shirts. Patrick had blushed when Fabian asked for the shirt, but
he liked the idea. He just didn't understand why Fabian insisted to get
the one shirt spilled with tsatsiki.
Patrick would hardly write to Fabian's address. And surely he won't call
him on the phone. Just like Jeremy. Fabian had no false hopes about this.
But he was sure that he'd write or call. He just didn't know if Patrick
wouldn't suddenly feel ashamed of what he and Fabian had done.
One of the best songs on Fabian's favorite CD told of forgotten love,
and about the regret that the singer felt when he realized that he had
forgotten the special feeling of this love. Fabian suddenly knew what
the lyrics meant.
Soon the houses and gardens of his small town appeared. And way too soon
the bus stopped on the parking lot in front of the church. Fabian stood
up and looked down once again at the sandy-haired, freckled boy. He almost
lay in his seat, limp and listless. Turquoise green eyes looked up at
Fabian with a sad glance.
"Take care", said Fabian quietly.
Patrick just nodded slowly.
Fabian got out of the bus and fetched his backpack from the luggage compartment.
The other children getting out here were welcomed by their mothers with
hugs and kisses. Just his mother didn't show up.
"Who cares?" thought Fabian. "I'll walk home."
The buss engine started up again, the doors closed, hissing, and
that shining block of tin and glass moved around the church, heading for
the big city.
looked after it until it disappeared in the narrow streets. Then he waved
"Hi, back from the wilderness?" asked a voice behind him.
Fabian turned around.
Niklas was there, leaning on his bike and grinning.
"Oh, Niklas!" said Fabian and all at once the feelings rose
up inside him that he had swallowed during the drive home. He took his
blond friend in his arms and squeezed him and after he made sure by a
quick look around that the other children and parents had entered their
cars and werent paying attention, he kissed Niklas on the cheek.
And a tear drop rolled down Fabian's face.
"Oh, good heavens!" said Niklas, rather taken by surprise. "That
camp must have been HORRIBLE!"
End of this story
© 2003 by Niklas Edlund
Grammar Checked with Love