Military Holidays

Chapter 6. The party

Soon we heard sounds of music and left the room.

The night was quite warm, so the party was on that huge ground behind the canteen. On our way there, Richelle had said that she heard that Jigger, a very popular DJ from the city, had been invited to this party today.

‘Oh, wow,’ I cheered up. ‘The party is going to be hot!’

‘Yeah, Jigger is cool,’ Liz nodded.

‘Who is this Jigger?’ Elmo asked.

‘I can’t believe that you don’t know! Elmo, on which planet do you live?’ Richelle exclaimed. ‘Jigger is one of the most famous DJs in the city!’

‘I know nothing of him,’ Elmo shrugged indifferently.

By the time we reached the ground behind the canteen, where a lot of kids and counselors had already gathered, the music had faded. A middle-aged woman in a floral dress came onto a small stage. She took a microphone and shrieked into it, ‘good evening, dear friends! I’m glad to greet you!’

‘Is it your Jigger?’ Elmo’s jaw dropped in sincere astonishment. ‘But why is he wearing a female dress?’

‘No, you dope, it’s not Jigger,’ Liz laughed. ‘It’s a woman.’

‘Unfortunately your beloved Jigger wasn’t able to come,’ the woman announced joyfully. ‘But it doesn’t matter, anyway! We’ll have a good time even without him! Right?’

The crowd disappointedly murmured something in reply. People here obviously had another opinion about it.

Mr Wang, the director of the camp, came onto the stage. This time he also had changed the Mountain Knight costume on blue jeans and dark grey shirt. He held a guitar in his hands.

He took the microphone from the woman’s hands and solemnly declared the party open.

Then he fixed the microphone on the stand, took his guitar and started singing a song about a brave and proud knight, who always was ready to struggle for kindness and fairness.

‘Is it the anthem of this camp?’ I snorted.

‘Okay, he sings quite well,’ Tom wrinkled his nose. ‘But when will the real party start?

‘Hang on,’ Elmo lifted his hand. ‘First of all we should check Wilson’s state. And if he’s okay, we should discuss what we’re going to do.’

‘What for?’ I shrugged. ‘I personally don’t care what he is going to do’

‘Don’t you?’ Elmo looked at me steadily. ‘Don’t you understand that Christina is sick? She won’t come. So there’s nothing what can stop Victor from hitting on Richelle.’

I stared at him. He was completely right. I hadn’t thought about this case scenario before.

Mr Wang finished singing his song. The woman in the flowered dress took the microphone again.

‘Now, waltz!’ she announced solemnly.

‘Waltz?’ I repeated with a wistful sigh. ‘But…’ I broke off, because my words were muffled by loud music.

The woman grabbed Mr Wang’s hand and dragged him to the dance floor. They started to swirl around the dance floor, dancing waltz. No one else joined them.

‘Stone Age,’ I muttered disdainfully.

‘Stone Age, or not, but our good mates are coming,’ Tom sighed.

He was right. Wilson was coming towards us.

‘May I ask you to dance with me, miss,’ he came up to Richelle.

I was shocked. That was too much for me. But before I could say something to him, Richelle smiled sweetly and saying, “sure”, gave her hand to him.

My jaw dropped. I just stood there, looking at them. I didn’t expect such a betrayal at all.

‘Oops,’ Tom raised his eyebrows, looking sideways at me. ‘What an unexpected turn of events.’

Richelle and Victor, meanwhile, were swirling around the floor in waltz, attracting everyone’s attention. Everyone was staring at them. And I couldn’t blame them. No matter how much it hurt me, I couldn’t help admitting that their dance was really fascinating. For the first time in my life I regretted that I’d never learnt classical dances.

‘How beautiful,’ Liz sighed. I glared at her. ‘I don’t understand why she agreed to dance with him,’ she mumbled, avoiding looking at me.

‘Nick, there’s no need to be jealous,’ Sunny put her hand on my arm. ‘I’m sure that she just wants to find out if Victor feels stomachache.’

It was torture for me to watch them. I felt like a complete idiot and loser. I wonder if that was because Richelle was dancing with another boy or because she was dancing with Victor Wilson.

Finally the music ceased. Richelle and Victor stopped at the centre of the dance floor while people around were applauding. Wilson led Richelle to us and immediately went away, without even glancing at me.

‘Richelle, how could you?’ Liz hissed, flicking her eyes at me.

I ostentatiously turned my back on them.

‘Hey,’ Richelle took my hand, ‘do you know another way to find out his state?’

I didn’t even glance at her. Just shrugged my shoulders in reply and didn’t say anything.

‘So, I think that it’s starting,’ Richelle said to the others. ‘At first he danced quite well. And endlessly chattered something in my ear. But then he stopped talking, his face became pale. He even trod on my foot two or three times.’

‘His face was almost green when he led you back here,’ Sunny added.

‘If his face became green, it means that it’s starting,’ Tom said cheerfully. ‘You’ll see, he’ll leave the party soon.’

He was right in it. Soon we noticed that Wilson disappeared. His retinue weren’t anywhere in sight either.

‘I’m telling you, it has started,’ Tom repeated for the hundredth time.

The party, meanwhile, continued. After waltz they started to play normal modern music. Boys and girls were dancing everywhere.

Then the woman in the floral dress shouted into the microphone, “Ladies’ choice dance!” A pretty girl came up to me, and smiling sweetly, asked if I wanted to dance with her. I agreed. But immediately I felt a sharp twinge of conscience. I didn’t want to hurt Richelle. Deep inside I realised that she didn’t mean to offend me. She just wanted to find out Wilson’s state, but all the same, jealousy and offence were burning me, I couldn’t resist it. That was why I put my arms on the girl’s waist and pulled her closer to me. She didn’t resist. Quite the opposite, she was smiling playfully, chattering something.

I secretly glanced at Richelle. She was standing with the others, looking at us. There was a mixture of offence and incomprehension in her eyes. I felt twinges of conscience again. Oh, it’s so silly to quarrel with Richelle because of Wilson. But at the same time I couldn’t forget her dance with him. The girl was chattering something in my ear, her arms around my neck. I half listened to her, using every opportunity to glance at Richelle. For a few seconds I lost sight of her, but soon I found her. She was dancing with a guy, who tried to put his hands on her ass all the time. My heart filled with offence and jealousy again. I hugged tighter the girl’s waist.

I noticed that Tom was dancing with Sunny. He wasn’t a good dancer. He trod on her feet all the time and looked around over her head. I couldn’t help smiling, looking at them. They looked quite amusing. Very tall Tom and very short Sunny.

Liz was dancing with Gregory. To my astonishment Liz danced quite well. I’d say she danced almost as good as Richelle did.

Elmo didn’t dance. He was standing aside, looking uncomfortable.

Finally the song finished. I led the girl back to her company and smiled at her, trying to ignore her friends, who were giggling meaningfully. She kissed me on the cheek. I smiled again and before she could think of something what I didn’t want her to think, I went towards the others and came up to them right at the moment when the guy kissed Richelle on the cheek and offered to dance a next slow dance. I felt a new surge of jealousy rising in my chest, but I tried my best to hid my state and be as cool as a fish. At least outside.

By ten o’clock the party was in full swing, but neither Wilson nor his mates turned up.

‘Okay, I can imagine why Victor is missing,’ Liz said anxiously. ‘But where are his friends?’

‘Maybe it’s a real epidemic here?’ Richelle looked at us with serious alarm in her eyes.

‘Don’t worry,’ Sunny sighed. ‘I’m sure that there’s no any epidemic. But I don’t like that all of them are missing. It’s weird. And suspicious.’

A guy who had danced with Richelle came up to us. ‘Rich, what about one more dance?’ he suggested.

‘Um…no,’ she said, looking sideways at me. ‘Not now. I’d like to take a walk with my friends.’

‘Oh, okay,’ the guy drawled disappointedly. ‘See you tomorrow then.’ He sighed and walked away. I looked gloomily after him.

‘Let’s try to find them,’ Elmo suggested.

We decided to split up. I know it was dangerous in this situation, but it was the only way to examine the huge territory of the camp. So Tom and Sunny went off to examine the place near the gym; Liz and Elmo went towards the football field; and Richelle and I sauntered up the path past the canteen.

We both walked in silence. Finally we went over to our building. All windows there were dark.

‘They’re not here,’ Richelle said.

We walked further. In the girls’ building the lights were on in some windows.

‘I wonder if Christina is really sick,’ Richelle shook her head in bewilderment. ‘But how did Tom manage to infect her?’

‘Maybe he has a bacteriological weapon in that vial, instead of a purgative,’ I muttered grimly.

We walked around the camp for a while, but didn’t meet Victor or his friends. While going past the football field we met Liz and Elmo. They asked if we had found out something. We replied that we didn’t hear or see anything. They said that they had the same result. We went towards the gym to find Tom and Sunny, but they weren’t anywhere in sight. We walked around the gym two times, examined basketball and volleyball courts, but didn’t find them. Richelle suggested returning to the party, because Tom and Sunny could have gone there, but they weren’t there either.

Liz seriously started to worry. She repeated over and over again that Wilson and his mates could meet Tom and Sunny, and do something to them to warn the rest of us. Knowing about Tom’s habit to put his foot into his mouth and ask for troubles it was a quite possible suggestion, but I didn’t believe that even all Wilson’s mates could get the upper hand over Sunny. She could defend herself and Tom. So there must be another explanation.

Elmo agreed with me. Richelle suggested that Tom and Sunny just had decided to have a little walk. Then she added that she wasn’t going to wander around the camp at night, looking for them, and that it was time to go to sleep. But Liz didn’t want to hear us. She was almost in panic, saying again and again that something terrible must have happened to them. To calm her down we decided to walk around the camp one more time.

Going past the gazebo, we heard a muffled giggle. We turned off the path and as noiselessly as we could, we crept up to the gazebo. What we saw there made my jaw drop. Liz, Elmo and Richelle looked the same.

Tom and Sunny were there. Tom was sitting on the bench, Sunny was on Tom’s lap. They were kissing so passionately that didn’t notice anything around. Sunny’s cardigan was lying on the bench; Tom’s hands were on her ass.

For a while we were speechless, just stood there staring at them with our jaws dropped. Then Liz gave a muffled exclamation “Sunny!”

Sunny squealed and jumped from Tom. She grabbed her cardigan and started pulling it on. Tom tried to smooth his tangled hair. They both looked incredibly embarrassed and apologetic.

‘We were…’ Tom began, but broke off.

‘I told you that there was something between them!’ Richelle smugly whispered to me at the same time. Liz blushed and looked away.

‘Liz, I can explain,’ Sunny exclaimed. But Liz abruptly turned round and ran away. Sunny dashed after her. ‘Liz, wait,’ she shouted.

Richelle rolled her eyes. ‘What for all these secrets?’ she asked Tom. He mumbled something in reply. Even in the darkness I could see that he was bright red. Tom and Sunny. I couldn’t believe this. Why the hell didn’t they tell us? Conspirators!

In full silence we went back. The party had already finished by this time. Groups of kids were going here and there to their sleeping buildings. Liz and Sunny weren’t anywhere. Tom and Elmo looked quite worried. They talked to each other in low voices. I was silent. I had too many personal problems with Richelle to think about Liz and Sunny. After all if Sunny and Tom didn’t want to tell us about their love affair, they probably had reasons for that, and I couldn’t understand why Liz took it so seriously. At last we reached the girls’ building and stopped.

‘See you tomorrow,’ Richelle said to us without looking at me.

I coldly said goodbye and went up the path towards the next building. Tom and Elmo soon caught up with me.

I walked in silence, thinking. Everything had become too difficult. We all quarreled right at the time when we should keep together. Now it will be more difficult for us to fight with Wilson and his friends. He’s likely to notice that we’re not so strong as we were several hours ago. But I just couldn’t let Wilson get the upper hand over me.

But what if I won’t win this game? A sudden thought crossed my mind. Why do I think that I’m better than Wilson or anyone else? I know, I’ve always had a big ego and I’ve always thought too much of myself. But what if I am wrong? What if I’m not so cool and smart as I want to think?

I shook my head. No, I shouldn’t think like that. I shouldn’t give up.

Tom and Elmo didn’t say anything to me as we walked. Finally we came into our room and closed the door. Tom turned on the light. Still thinking, I started to pull the quilt off my bed. What I saw there made me scream and jump back.

‘What’s up?’ Tom and Elmo stared at me.

‘See for yourselves,’ I faltered, backing away until I pressed my back against the wall.

A disgusting, stinky, rotten piece of snag was lying on the bed sheet. Fat worms and grubs wriggled and crawled on the snag. Some of them had already spread all over the bed.

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