Cabin Number 13 – Chapter 23 – The Girl Next Door

There we were at the entrance to the lake and cabin area, when my father started to look at the map in order to find our cabin in the myriad of trees.

“Let’s see. Cabin number…..There! There is cabin number 13. At that moment a roll of thunder was heard in the background, then an owl hooted,”Hoo, hoo”. Wow, we’d better get a move on, before that storm catches up to us. My friend looked as if she were lost in thought. She asked my father, “The man at the reception desk. Did he have a pencil-thin mustache? And black greasy hair? My father just looked surprised at her questions. “Yes, yes he did. Have you been here before? Did you see him?”

“No. No I haven’t” my friend replied with a strange look on her face. “It was just a lucky guess, that’s all.”

My father beamed at us. “Yes. We are both lucky today. You with your guess, and me finding us a cabin to, now get ready for this, a cabin at half price! Think of it! Cabin number 13 is our lucky number for this trip!” A sound of thunder echoed at the very moment that my father said “13”. I looked at my friend, but she avoided my glance, and just kicked at the sand on the ground. “Well, let’s drive up and unpack”. My father was unaware of anything wrong, so I decided to go with the flow, until things proved otherwise.

Cabin number 13 was actually a nice-looking cabin, almost new, if you had asked me. We started to unload the car, and as I reached for the doorknob a flash of lightning lit up the front door, making the knob resemble a skull! “Did you see, that….” It was gone again. The others just looked at me, and I said, “It was nothing at all. Just a trick of the light.”

We moved our things into our 3 rooms and suddenly realized how hungry we were. Dad pulled out 3 juicy-looking steaks and began to light the gas grill. “It won’t be long now”, he said as we chopped the vegetables and buttered some bread. When dinner was finished, we all began to eat, as if there were no tomorrow…Now why did I say that? I had a funny feeling about our lodgings, but it might just have been due to my imagination?

When we were finished and started to wash the dishes, my father made a discovery of sorts, “I thought, I had turned off the gas, but listen, It seems like there is some sort of gas leak – sssss. “We’d better shut off the main tank before think about turning in. Just think, we might all died of gas asphyxiation, or worse yet, have been blown to kingdom come!”

How did they die, those poor souls? Some say it was the biggest gas explosion of the last 20 years. You’d think that someone would have made the necessary safety checks and all. Where were the yearly stamps, and certifications? You know, it wasn’t the first time someone had died unexpectedly in that cabin. The other time was not due to an explosion, but that didn’t make it any less suspicious. It was back in the early 60’s when….

The thunder rolled ominously in the background, even more so after my father’s dreary talk about explosions and all. The lightning began to flash as well, with us trying to see how many chimpanzees, or Mississippis there were in between flashes? “One Mississippi, Two Mississippi…Boom! The thunder shook the cabin, drowning out the hooting of the owl in the distance, “Hoo-Hoo-Ho…..”

“It’s a funny thing”, my father started to say. “The man at the Reception Counter hinted about a story that was connected to this cabin, but he said that we should come by some sunny day and hear about it.” “Boom” “Crash”  went the thunder, as if to drown out what my father was talking about. “He just kept saying, Remember, come by in the sunshine. Not at night! What a funny duck, he was!”

I looked over at my friend, but she was concentrating on the lightning show outside of the window. “It’s just like that time in Botswana, when we went over the border to Zimbabwe..” She didn’t seem like she was talking to us, but more like she was in a trance of sorts. “It was a long drive and I kept saying how it would be nice to buy an ice cream, or a jug of cold water, but my father just said, “Those things might as well grow on trees….in your dreams. And laughed at the thought of ice cream trees in the middle of Botswana. I longed to see my mother again, but feared the worse, having to visit her in the hospital in Bulawayo. “Remember, my father kept saying. It’s just a touch of Malaria, nothing to get upset about. I tried to reassure myself that Malaria was a better thing than being bitten by Tsetse flies, but the choices seemed to be between bad or worse.”

I just looked at her, as if she were someone else. I wondered why she never told me these things before, when we were in the comfort of our suburban neighborhood where the most dangerous thing was getting yelled at, for not removing the crabgrass, before company came over for coffee. “Honestly” said my mother, who was quick to tell me, what I had done wrong. “Here we are, just minutes before your Uncle Danny and Aunt Catherine came for their yearly visit, when the yard looks like some sort of Canadian weed flu hit the area. Is it so much to ask of you? Weeding the yard for your mother? I wonder sometimes if you knew the pain and heartache that I’ve suffered at the hands of Crabgrass?!”

I really should have consoled her, but felt that the few times that I’ve tried to get close to her, my intentions have backfired in the most horrible ways. I chose instead to nod in the right places, and tried to understand the pain that she was feeling.

My father had dosed off after telling us about the Reception Clerk, so he didn’t hear any of what my friend had talked about. It was almost as if, she were speaking directly to me, but not to me. The storm seemed to have passed by us, with the thunder sounding farther and farther away. We made small talk about this and that, and decided to hit the sack, being very tired after the day’s events. I woke my father and pointed him in the direction of his room and after hearing a muffled, “Goodnight, Sweet Dreams” I could almost hear him start snoring before his head hit the pillow.

My friend and I checked the gas tank, just to be sure and started to move towards our rooms. “Listen here, Ninny and listen good”. I knew it. It sounded too good to be true. Now I was in for it!

“When I lean up against the wall in my room, it’ll be like lying next to you. All you need to do is to do the same in your room. Then no matter what happens, we’ll be together in spirit, with just one wall between us.”

It was almost like the time, when she told me about her circus dog. It was such a beautiful thing to say, that I couldn’t say anything in return. I just smiled and told her goodnight. She smiled back at me and blew me a kiss before closing and locking her door. I wasn’t certain what to do now? I guess, I should move my bed up to our common wall, and dream sweet dreams about friends, and the like. And their former life in Botswana…

My father was already in the kitchen, frying eggs and bacon, whistling some tune from when he had been younger, his face lighting up when I finally woke up, and dragged myself into the kitchen. “Well, how’d you sleep? I slept like a log. Yes, I did. Just like a log.”

I looked out of the window and noticed how close we were to the lake. “About an hour ago, just when the sun had come up over the horizon, I saw some fishermen out in their boats on that very lake.” I could feel the fishing vibrations shake the house, whenever my father started to get the idea that we were some sort of weathered fishermen, who had not only caught Moby Dick, but had eaten the most of it in one sitting. I wanted to remind him of the fiasco,  the first/last time we went fishing, but I didn’t have the heart to do so. I started to think about my friend instead and wondered when she would be getting up and joining us.

Just then the door opened and in walked my friend, carrying a whole bunch of fish in her hands. “Look here. Dinner for the 3 of us. Freshly caught!”

My father and I just looked at her, as if she had been fishing on the moon or something, but it really didn’t matter how she did that, because the surprise effect was a once in a lifetime moment between us. She laid the fish on the counter and showed us how they were cleaned and ready to fry, as if they had been bought at the local grocery store.

My father just looked at her with great admiration, and said that when we were going to try  our luck at fishing on the lake, we had to have her with us in the boat!

The cabin in the sunlight looked completely different, than when we had arrived the day before. I couldn’t wait to start off our day together, but thought about leaving my bed against the same wall, during the rest of the trip.

You never know what might happen, being all close to someone like that……