There are two kinds of people who fear memories.

What happens in church-stays in you.

Kyle was thirteen when he was sent to church camp. A place where children enact their freedom to rebel. Forcing councilors to rearrange the activity log on the first day. They were supposed to partake in introductory activities. But, boos, and tantrums with threats of “I’m gonna call my parents to come back and take me home.” And “then you’ll be fired.” “Yeah.” “And evicted.” “And homeless”, showed the anger, ignorance, and power of youth.

Kyle was taught “first impressions are lies of armor”, but that day, he learned-when the heat of emotion rises, everyone ain’t blessed with equal malleability. He gravitated towards a female councilor-Tess, and male counterpart-Taylor. Easing the awkwardness from forced bible talk, into normal adolescent banter after parents dispersed.

“Where are you from?” “favorite Sports team, oh, you like this player? I like that one?” “How old are you?” were warm-ups, before the conversations became spicy. Adults would be shocked how fast their innocent, perfect children form friendships, become couples, or enemies.

Every camper was given a bible. Although, they were required to bring their own, packing enough snacks, extra underwear (in case of the occasional skid mark), and lucky condoms to last three weeks seemed more important. The first rule to avoid getting caught committing sin; thou must pay attention to elders who make their own rules when alone or away from their children. That is why kids get sent to camp.

The campers were given a set of spiritual goals to hit, Kyle’s top priority was Tess. He didn’t know he had a thing for red heads or freckles. The fiery hair and glistening embers on her face, made him sweat just standing next to her.

Church and Sex, mankind’s greatest creation-screw without guilt, through a savior’s will. The world explains the ways of sin, and costly wage, but any kid, itching for their first piece of action, -dying cool is always, always, worth the price. Kyle- mind hardened, knew better. Sin made people feel good, and alive.

War is waged when we are bored with peace. Sex is the natural release.

One night, during a gathering (where councilors encouraged competitive lying-with a promise of reward)- for the campers who read revelations the most. Raised hands, preceded shouts; “ELEVEN.” “THIRTEEN.” “TWENTYONE!” They were all going straight to hell. Everyone knew it, still Kyle refused to be outdone. He already made peace with his devil. Besides, if all the white kids could lie, without question or reprimand, why couldn’t he. As one of the only black kids, he took his chances at standing out over being shamed.

Kyle did not consider himself a good reader, at-least in the pointless sense of words per minute. Skimming, analyzing, deep thinking, remembering some of the good parts, and all the bad, was his liberating skill. So, he blurted “FIFTY-THREE”, with confidence

Taylor, Tess, a few older councilors-Ryan, Lauren, and the man who ran the camp Loren, summoned him from the bleachers. They effortlessly fumbled through congratulatory handshakes, back rubs, shoulder caresses-mostly from the male councilors. He smiled, while gazing at Tess, fantasizing, of the pin-up girls hanging on his wall and hidden under his bed. Except this one wouldn’t rip from being touched with sweaty, clammy hands.

“Do you have some favorite verses?” They asked gently.

“Yup!” He centered himself like a performer. “I am the alpha and omega; I am the almighty.” He knew memorizing and reciting verbatim, would take too much time, and make him look suspicious. “And-umm-the war breaking out in heaven and Michael defeating the dragon, which was satan the serpent and sent him to earth, along with his angels.”

Kyle smiled and asked, “you want me to keep going? “No’s” from the councilors were drowned by a stadium chant of “KEEP GOING!” From the campers. Kyle rattled off a gumbo of approximately 60 verses.

Noticing Tess smiling and clapping, and in eagerness of accepting his prize, Kyle rose to the occasion and when he jumped to reach Tess’s high five, he poked her thigh with something stiff and sharp. They both jumped back. Eyes burning a hole in the floor, Kyle covered his thoughts with his bible and ran to his cabin. The crunch of leaves coded a message, only someone familiar and searching would find.

Kyle walked into his cabin, Tess startled him, as she entered seconds after. “We’ll talk after we finish our nightly check.”, she said, with a sweet firmness that made Kyle nervous, then she exited. Minutes later he heard the storm of gossiping adolescents.

Taylor, Tess, Ryan, and Lauren conducted their routine, nightly head counts-guaranteeing employment for another day. When they entered Kyle’s cabin. He stayed under his covers, laying on his stomach, staring at them-mostly her. Excitement floated around the cabin, from the councilor’s mixture of shampoo and soap.

Hormones create lust’s scent at any age. Babies on nipples, adolescents realizing physical changes. Brain and reproductive organs pulsating.

“Prizes will be given tomorrow, before the canoe rides.” Ryan said.

“Aww.” The campers groaned. Kyle placed his face in his pillow, hiding annoyance. It’s amazing the speed one matures when desiring a different outcome than their environment.

Tess touched Kyle’s bed and said “c’mon, let’s talk.” He jumped out of bed, landed with his hands covering his zipper, in case he became aroused obeying her orders. He slid on his sneakers and followed the councilors out.

Rebellious chants of “What?” “That’s not fair!” came from inside the cabin. Tess went back in. “Does anyone else want a warning, or did you forget the rules like he did?” She nodded towards Kyle. The campers hushed to a silence.

The male councilors walked ahead. Tess grabbed Kyle’s hand, slowing their pace. Kyle looked at her-scared, filled with obedience. “Follow me.” She led him to the basement of a church being renovated to improve the worth of the camp’s owners.

She guided his hand to unzip and pull down her shorts, using her free hand to work on his. They hand and fingerbanged, like virgins waiting for each-other to take the next step, while trying to remember and enjoy the moments ecstasy.

Kyle’s stomach turned, He felt like he was being punched-ready to blow something chunky but stiffened and held it when he felt Tess clench. Someone grabbed his arms, then he felt arms slide in front and back of his neck and squeeze.

His heart began pounding and he woke up to Taylor trying to swallow his wet dream.

Preparing for sex and the kill, provides the same rush. An unbending hardness, no matter how soft the touch. Erect, cocked, aimed to fill a target. Can’t bust too early or late, or the prey will get away.

Do you know what Kyle thought when he saw his first dead body? He wondered if anybody would miss him if he died young.

As he stood over her naked body, his emotions dripped down, and he imagined his tears healing her back to life. He knew dead people were loved more than when they were alive. He grew up around relationships whose life support were children. He envied the power it took to bring upon death. Beginning was always easy. Plant the seed, flowers to weeds, rumors turned true, friends turn enemies. A loved one’s kiss becomes disciplinary slap, deserving or not, people are never the same after that. Endings are where reputations are made.

He looked for something to cover the girl and her male counterpart, a few feet away. God’damn, love. Makes people chase. Why can’t everyone get away? He thought about his mother. Also, about his crush, but more about her friend. He was stronger than both, but instantly became weak. Unable to even look them in the eye, but revenge came easy, plentiful, in his dreams.

He kicked both dead bodies.

Introductions, before someone is ready, no matter how polite- is against their will. This is a simple rule. Understand.

-AM

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