The Safest Summer Camp in the World 5


*Part 5 of The Safest Summer Camp in the World. If you haven’t caught up, click HERE.

It’s been half a week now. We went to the Zoo in Helsinki yesterday, so no one died. After dinner every night, the kids all gather while K tallies the number of deaths each person has and gives out rewards for creativity. It seems everyone is at four deaths except two. Ivan, a boy who was in the bathroom while everyone was poisoned on the first night, and Dasha who, after seeing me get electrocuted by the fence, ran into it herself, making her the first to five deaths. K gives her a sticker.

K and I sit by the river while the kids get ready for the next event; a disco.

“Why don’t you just shoot them all five times on the first day?” I ask.

He looks out over the lake, scratching his neck. “We tried that, but kids didn’t want to come back. It’s no fun just to die. So, we started making games and events and, well–as you can see, the kids love it.”

I light a cigarette, not able to have many throughout the day.

“Tomorrow, you can decide how to kill them, American style!”

I laugh. “You’ve already shot them enough.”

He chuckles, “You’re a funny g–” he looks past me. I turn. There is something between the trees. K stands and starts walking, I follow. He gets to the edge of the woods and frowns.

I stand next to him. After a few seconds he smiles. “Just Russian superstition.”

“Uh, okay,” I say.

He waits for me to finish my cigarette and we walk up to the disco.

The disco hall is up the road a bit. The windows are dark. There are strobe lights inside, a few kids outside. It is small, cottage-like. K stops at the door, looking around.

“If you could describe this building in one word, what would it be?” he asks me.

I look up at it. The building is small, more of a cottage.

“Cottage?” I ask.

He looks at it too.

“You’re sure?”

I take a second look. “Sure,” I decide.

“Hm, it is new,” he says, and walks in,

C is outside, talking with some kids.

“How’s the disco,” I ask.

She shrugs, “We have to be inside in ten for when K blows it up.

One of the kids groans, whining about something in Russian.

C tells him to get inside.

“What was that about?” I ask.

She rolls her eyes. “He says he died in the fire the other day so he doesn’t want to get blown up.”

I nod, it seems fair to me, but I leave it at a nod.

K comes out and calls us all in. The bomb is in the middle of the dance floor. S is the DJ. He is playing English songs from my school days;

To the window! To the wall! Till sweat drips…

I can’t help laughing. The kids are dancing like wildfire. I join in.

The countdown starts at ten minutes. Everyone dances, then, the whole place blows to bits.

Being blown up is quite different from dying in a fire, as it turns out.


The Walk: The Biker with Her Mouth Full


I woke this morning with a headache that had already grown up and learned how to say “coffee.”

The camp I’ve been counseling at, being mostly filled with children, understandably, had none.┬áSo, I’ve been walking for thirty minutes now. The sun is still out. It would be a record if I were back in St. Petersburg.

After stopping at a shop that turned out to not be the shop I’ve been looking for, I press on. There is a garage to my left. A man sits outside on a bucket. He looks like any man, sitting on any bucket, outside of any garage, anywhere in the world. He waves.

I wave, like a pro.

I walk further. A lawn is being mowed. It smells like it. Then, finally, I see an intersection. I vaguely recollect–from a lifetime ago–when I was told of this store that “it’s somewhere, kinda near an intersection.”

I look to my left.

“Boo-yah!” I say, skipping toward it. Then, I see the door. It is a fat white door. There is a fat white sign with fat blue letters.

ME-LR 9:00-17:00

LA 9:00-13:00

Is what it says. I realize it is Saturday, late afternoon. But, Finnish, being what it is, does not translate well into comprehensible abbreviations.

I cross the empty parking lot, toward the light-less building with a hung-man’s hope.

I pull on the door. I sigh. I turn in shame. I trudge back across the wasteland of a parking-lot. I spot some bikers across the way. I wave to them, they wave back.

“English?” I ask. The man jerks his thumb towards who I imagine to be his wife.

“Hi, uh–do you know where the next closest shop is?” I ask.

She nods. “Twelve kilometers that way,” she says, with a mouthful of accent.

I don’t bother to ask which way and she doesn’t bother to point.

“Well, shit.” I sigh.

“Yes.” She gives me a sympathetic smile. They bike on. I turn, thirsty, hungry, tired. I start to walk back.

I quickly pass the house of one-thousand post cards; eyes at war and black teeth wave to me as I go. I am starting to sweat. A fly, or maybe a bee, flies in front of my face. It lands on my cheek.

Instinctively, I reach up and smack myself across the mouth, knocking my headphones off. I pick them up, the sun beats down on my neck.

Whitney Houston has lost half her volume. I place the headphones around my neck instead. A car peels around the corner. I don’t have time to wave.

The sun starts to burn when I realize I have to go to the bathroom, bad.

“Oh yeah, that’s why I left the country-side,” I tell the horse across the pond, starting to run.