Authors: Robert Klane
"What a fucking nerve," Uncle Bernie said very quietly to himself. The event proved shattering to Uncle Bernie, and he refused to ride on subways any more. His parents couldn't afford a cab ride every day, so they sent Uncle Bernie to a psychiatrist. Uncle Bernie didn't want to go, but when his mother assured him that the psychiatrist only handled frightened subway riders, Uncle Bernie relented. In between cab rides, Uncle Bernie spent many hours with his doctor. He told him of his fear of death, and of his dream of getting off at Bliss Street. The doctor realized that here was the key to Uncle Bernie's problem, and that if he could only ride once on the local train and get off at Bliss Street, his fears of death and the subways would be over. After several weeks of convincing, Uncle Bernie's mother, father and doctor all went down to the subway station with him to see him off on the local train. It was a momentous occasion. Uncle Bernie felt at peace with himself as the train pulled out of the station. He waved goodbye to everyone and sat down and stared out of the window. Soon he was eagerly awaiting Bliss Street and the wondrous joys that would be waiting for him there. Bliss Street. The name played music in his ears. Twenty-five seconds after Uncle Bernie got off the subway at Bliss Street he was attacked by a gang of muggers who beat him within an inch of his life. His mother and father came to visit him at the hospital without his psychiatrist. It was after Uncle Bernie got out of the hospital that he decided that he could never live in the city. He had to go somewhere where there were no subways. So as soon as he was old enough, he left the city. A few years later he got the idea to open a day camp, and for two hundred and fifty dollars he put down the first payment on Camp Winituck.
That first year Uncle Bernie had trouble getting anyone to send their kids to Camp Winituck. A few parents had been interested, but when they drove down to see what the place looked like, everyone chickened out. Uncle Bernie was desperate. He took a movie camera to some other camps and started photographing them. Then he spliced together the best parts of each camp. The next time some parents wanted to come down and look over Camp Winituck, Uncle Bernie told them not to bother. He would save them the trouble of driving down by bringing some movies he had thrown together of the camp's facilities to their house. No parents would fail to be impressed by the film Uncle Bernie had put together, and by the time they found out the pictures were of some other camps, Uncle Bernie had carefully deposited their checks in a local bank.
Uncle Bernie was still showing the same film to all prospective new campers. The old ones presented a little different problem. They had already spent a summer at Camp Winituck, and getting them back was a different story.
A few months before camp was going to start again, Uncle Bernie would drive up unannounced to the home of one of his old campers. He found it was best to take them by surprise. He rang the doorbell. "Hello, Tommy," he sang, "it's good to see you." The door slammed in his face.
"Help, save me." Tommy was running wildly through the house, looking for some place to hide. "It's him, it's the silver whistle."
Uncle Bernie casually rang the doorbell again. This time Tommy's mother answered the door. As she opened it Uncle Bernie could hear the kid screaming in the background. "Don't let him in, Mom," he yelled. "Don't let him take me away." Tommy's mother apologized and invited Uncle Bernie in. He fancied himself quite a charmer with the ladies, and Uncle Bernie found he had more success recruiting campers when the husbands were out.
"How are you, Mrs. Schwartz?" he inquired.
"Fine, thank you." She motioned with her hand. "Please sit down."
Uncle Bernie made himself comfortable on the couch and flashed a smile at Mrs. Schwartz. "I hope you're planning on sending Tommy back to Camp Winituck this summer," the smile said.
"Well, frankly, Tommy had said something about not wanting to go back." Mrs. Schwartz was trying to be polite. "But you can talk to him if you like."
She called to her son, and when he refused to come she went out and dragged him back in. Tommy was kicking and screaming.
"Come on, there's nothing to be afraid of," his mother reassured him.
"That's what you think." He eyed Uncle Bernie.
"Listen, Tommy," Uncle Bernie offered, "this year we're going to have lots of new things."
"Bullshit. That's what you said last year."
"That was something that couldn't be helped," Uncle Bernie went on.
"But this year there'll really be some new things."
"Like what?" Tommy asked.
"Toilets." Uncle Bernie smiled.
"No kidding?" He hesitated for a moment "I don't believe you."
Uncle Bernie smiled over at Mrs. Schwartz. "Mrs. Schwartz, do you mind if I talk to Tommy alone for a minute?"
"No, I'll just go make some coffee." She walked out of the room.
Tommy tried to get out with her. "Don't leave me alone with him," he screamed.
"He'll kill me."
"Don't be silly," his mother reassured him.
"Bernie wouldn't hurt you." She glanced over at Uncle Bernie, who just smiled.
When Mrs. Schwartz left the room, Uncle Bernie sprang up and grabbed Tommy by the arm. He started twisting it behind his back. "What'd you tell your mother you don't want to go back to Camp Winituck for?"
"Let go of my arm."
Uncle Bernie twisted harder. "What'd you tell her for?"
"I wouldn't go back to that shithole for a million dollars," Tommy moaned, his arm nearly twisted off.
Uncle Bernie decided to try a different tack. He let go of Tommy's arm. "Listen," he said, "you remember the day I caught you looking into the girls' shower?"
"You son of a bitch," Tommy spat out "That's blackmail."
"I don't care what you call it" Uncle Bernie said. "How would you like your mother to find out?" He made it a point to get something on every camper for just such an emergency. "You were looking in too," Tommy tried. "I'm allowed to look. I own the camp."
"What do you want me to do?" he asked. "Call your mother back in here and tell her you've changed your mind. You want to go back to Camp Winituck after all." And with that another eager camper was returned to the nest be a special demonstration on life-saving techniques." A sharp blast on the silver whistle ended the meeting.
Uncle Bernie blew his whistle and the counselors' meeting came to order. "Just a few things I want to get cleared up," he began. "First of all. Mr. Hartley?"
Mr. Hartley's heart stopped beating for a fraction of a second. "Yes?"
"About your group. Have you found them yet?" Uncle Bernie waited for an answer.
"No, not yet"
Uncle Bernie made a few notes on his clipboard. "Well, keep looking. Some of the parents are beginning to worry," he continued. "I've also noticed that some of you have not been signing up for sailing. How come?"
The boat sank four days ago," somebody said.
"Don't we have another boat?"
"We did," said the same voice, "but I think Mr. Hartley's group used it to make their getaway."
A few more notes were made on the clipboard. "Another thing, as you've probably noticed, one of the horses is dead. Just go on using him until we can find a replacement. He should be good for a few more weeks yet Let the bad riders have him."
Uncle Bernie looked around. "O.K., go get your groups and assemble at the swimming pool.
Today's demonstration was being given by Miss Booe. Nemiroff watched her move about in her tiny bikini bathing suit. Miss Booe was magnificently built. Tall, slender legs, and two of the most wonderful breasts that Nemiroff had ever seen. The bikini didn't do much to hide anything. Nemiroff studied her carefully. The blond hair, the blue eyes, the pouting mouth. Oh, how I'd like to get you, Nemiroff thought. He kept hoping she might pop just one lousy breast out of the top of her suit As Nemiroff sat there watching her, his feet making small circles in the water, he realized that he was in love with her. He had thought he was in love before, but this time it was the real thing. He would marry her and have children with her. She would be nice. She was a gentile.
"Today," Miss Booe began, "we're going to have a demonstration on the new technique of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." Filthy visions ran through Nemiroff's mind. He would throw himself in the pool and swallow gallons of water. She would put those beautiful lips on his and breathe life into him. "This is probably the best means of reviving a drowned swimmer," Miss Booe went on.
Miss Booe wiggled over to an open area of the pool. "I'll need a volunteer."
Nemiroff couldn't believe his ears. Had he heard right? Had she really asked for a volunteer? Somehow Nemiroff found himself by her side.
Miss Booe didn't even look at Nemiroff. She spread a small towel on the cement. "Now if you'll just he down here and make believe you've just drowned."
At the time it didn't seem like an impossible thing for Nemiroff to do. He stretched down on the towel and found himself staring up into Miss Booe's bikinied crotch. He thought he would go out of his mind.
Miss Booe knelt down next to him. "Now the first thing you do," she explained, "is to spread the victim out like so."
She ran her hands down Nemiroff's legs. He began to tremble.
"Then you pull the head back, like this," she said, acting out every move, "so that no water can get back into the victim's lungs." She put her hand on Nemiroff's chest and pulled it back quickly when she felt the wild pounding on her small band.
"Next," Miss Booe went on, "you open the victim's mouth and make sure the tongue is not obstructing the windpipe." She dutifully demonstrated this part, ignoring Nemiroff, who was licking her hand and trying to bite her fingers. "Then once the head is in the right position, and the tongue is clear of the windpipe, you put your mouth over the victim's mouth and blow in." She paused. "Like this." Nemiroff tried to think of something else. He thought of the time his dog had been run over by a car, the day he got up in front of a class to make a speech and talked for ten minutes before he found out his fly was open. He tried to think of anything except the pink little tongue that was now inside his mouth.
Nemiroff could stand it no longer. His arms went up and grabbed Miss Booe around the neck. He crushed her down on top of him. She struggled
get free, but Nemiroff had a death grip on her. Nothing would ever pry them apart. This was the way he would spend the rest of his life. Just the two of them continually engaged in mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
That tongue Miss Booe had been so careful to see didn't choke Nemiroff was now choking her. He reached behind her to unfasten the tiny piece of cloth that was keeping him from heaven. Nemiroff was oblivious of Miss Booe's scratching and pulling. Nemiroff was oblivious of everything.
At first, Uncle Bernie was stunned. He couldn't believe that the spectacle he was looking at was actually happening. It suddenly dawned on him that Nemiroff would probably rape Miss Booe in front of the whole camp. Uncle Bernie started blowing frantically on his whistle. There was complete silence except for the animal grunts coming from Nemiroff.
Miss Booe's top was now floating in the pool. Nemiroff's hands were searching desperately for the handle to her bottoms. When he had them half off, the campers could control themselves no longer, and they started cheering Nemiroff on. "Go get her!" they yelled. "Atta boy, the bottoms, the bottoms!"
Uncle Bernie had blown himself blue in the face. He ran over to Nemiroff and Miss Booe and tried to pry them apart He couldn't budge them. Not easily panicked, Uncle Bernie ran to the tool shed and grabbed a bucket. He raced over to a faucet and filled the bucket with cold water, then ran back to the pool, trying not to spill any of the water. Uncle Bernie ran over to the outrageous scene, and after taking one long last look at them, heaved the bucket of water on them. Nemiroff came up sputtering. Nemiroff stood up and looked down at Miss Booe, who was trying to fish the top of her bikini out of the pool. He turned to Uncle Bernie. "That," said Nemiroff, "is probably the best damn demonstration this camp has ever seen."
Nemiroff slept well that night. He finished that afternoon's scene at the pool at least six different ways in six different dreams. Maybe Miss Booe would be the one. He wondered if she were the type to sit at home and do what a wife was supposed to do. Fuck. She wouldn't be a pushy Jewish broad and have pushy Jewish kids. Not Miss Booe.
It wasn't until the next morning that Nemiroff realized his parents had run away from home. He hadn't noticed it at dinner because they refused to eat with him anyway, but when he got out of bed there was a note tacked to his forehead.
NEMIROFF, SCHMUCK: YOUR FATHER AND I FOUND OUT WHAT YOU TRIED TO DO TO THAT NICE BOOE GIRL. YOU'RE EVEN STUPIDER THAN WE THOUGHT. O.K., YOU'RE FINALLY GETTING YOUR WISH. WE'RE LEAVING HOME. DONT SELL ANYTHING, WE MAY BE BACK.
MR. AND MRS. NEMIROFF
(oh, the shame)
Nemiroff sat on his bed and reread the note. Could it be true? He went out to the kitchen. There was no one there. Nemiroff made himself a cup of coffee and poured it on his crotch. There were some things he'd have to do for himself now.
"Christ," he said to the empty kitchen, "what am I going to do?" He told himself that now he'd really have to find someone. That was the only answer. He would forget about his own selfish desires. He'd share himself with someone. With Miss Booe.
The morning at camp passed rather slowly for Nemiroff. He thought about trying to speak to Miss Booe, but he knew she wouldn't have anything to do with him. Nemiroff was glad he realized what she was really like before he asked her to marry him. She was a bitch, just like all the others. Not the kind of a girl for Nemiroff. There must be someone else. By lunchtime, Nemiroff had exhausted his list of possibilities. It would have to be someone he hadn't met yet. He thought of Miss Booe, and sighed.
Lunch at Camp Winituck was served in shifts. Uncle Bernie had tried feeding everyone at the same time once, but only once. He had the cook put all the food out on a table and let the kids fend for themselves. It was a terrible mistake. They were like animals, and one little kid who had fallen down near the table almost had his leg chewed off before he could be rescued.