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Chapter Nine - The Relay

Boys on one side of the sidelines and girls on the other cheered for their respective gender. With cotton balls dangling from the tips of their noses, the racers made their way to the end then ran back down the lane to do it over again. This was a fight for supremacy, and when the children finally broke loose toward the obstacle course in the trees everyone took a breather waiting for them to emerge toward the finish line. 

 

Each counselor had been assured that Billy and Anne were strategically positioned in the woods to guide the kids, watch for safety issues, and keep them on the path—away from cheating.

 

But half way through the course, everything and everyone stopped.

 

The awaiting children and counselors looked at the stop watch as time passed, not a movement was heard from within the trees, and no one emerged. Fearing that someone was hurt Charlotte, Darcy, and Cat ran into the woods to see what was going on.

 

Frantically, they ran along the course’s path until they saw it up ahead. Clothing hung from tree limbs and twelve children surrounded something.

 

Darcy approached, fearing the worst when he hear the giggles.

 

“Step aside, kids,” Charlotte said, parting the crowd for the adults. She stopped. Shell-shocked at the sight before her, unable to move, not even grab the clothing from the branches and toss them on Baby Jane and her brother.

 

Entwined in the dirt and leaves, the sleeping naked bodies of the two were on display in all their glory—or not so glory. He with his now teeny tiny penis and she with her well-defined, Manic Panic Electric Tiger Lilly orange-dyed landing strip displayed for all to see.

 

“Nothing to see here. Get a move on.” Cat commanded to the kids, waving her arms to further separate the the crowd of curious, awestruck, maybe even permanently scarred children as she neared the crowd. “Sweet Sassafras! Where’s his peter?!” she exclaimed.

 

“Darcy, where’s Anne? Where’s Bill?! Why didn’t they see this?” Charlotte asked, stupefied.

 

“Um … Ah ... Um …” Was all he could bring himself to say until he heard above in the trees, “Go big daddy! Go big daddy!”

 

All heads snapped upward to the hanging rock of Mount Oakham.

 

“Gimme that light sabre. Faster!” 

 

It was like the call of the wild when Billy groaned, shouted, and grunted, loosing his virginity to the mustached, half hobbit, half dwarf. At his climax he shouted like Tarzan, “Ahhh … Ahhh ... Ahhh!” 

 

The birds suddenly left the trees, instinct warning them that something horrible was happening.

 

Charlotte, already completely traumatized by the sight of her naked brother, and a dumbfounded Darcy, embarrassed by his own irresponsible actions the night before, gathered the kids. “Run along, finish the race,” they instructed as Cat stormed down the hill mumbling words that only Darcy could hear. “Looks like an orange millipede  ... crazy floozy ... size of an acorn.”

 

Standing in the now silent woods, peering over the naked bodies of John and Caroline, Darcy observed, “Looks like the color of Aunt Cat’s Converse Keds sneakers.” 

 

A quick tug to the branches dropped the clothing and Charlotte placed her brother’s jeans over his small matter.

 

“No, those sneakers were more day-glo. Her pubes look like a long strip of orange peel. Ya know … like when you remove it from the fruit in one long strand,” she answered turning her head this way and that, thinking she’d rather go Brazilian than do what Caroline did. “What was John thinking?”

 

“Guess he wanted to partake in Ronald McDonald’s Happy Meal following that Jose Cuervo. I gotta tell ya’ that tequila can really take away a person’s inhibitions.”

 

With a knowing smile, she glanced up at him. “Oh?”

 

“No comment.”

 

“Yeah. Well, he’s going to regret it when he wakes.” She tossed Caroline’s shirt over the woman’s privates.

 

The rustle of trees alerted them that Cat had arrived back on the scene. She held a bucket of lake water and promptly doused the sleeping exhibitionists. “You’re disqualified!” she yelled to their startled, wet forms. “And so are they!” she declared, pointing to the hanging rock above after noticing the puffs of cigarette smoke rising in the air.
           

~~oo~~


The moment of truth had come: the counselor relay, and Lizzy was leaving nothing to chance. She and the girls’ were prepared to get down and dirty—and cheat. She subtly walked by the men’s bowls of Vaseline, inconspicuously dropping into the goo a healthy dose of itching powder. She didn’t care about winning the Grand Slam against Darcy anymore. Further, she knew she would be parting ways with Jose soon. So the wager between her and Darcy was inconsequential. All she cared about was making him eat her dust, and delighted in the fact that Janie finally felt the same way about Charlie. That was evident when her sister stripped him of the moniker “boo.” 

 

“Is it done?” Jane asked behind the palm of her hand.

 

“Yeah, are your girls ready in the woods?”

 

“Oh Lizzy, I don’t feel completely right about this. I’ve never cheated at anything in my life. This is not how we go about showing that we’re the better sex. Isn’t that what you always say?”

 

Placing her hands on her sister’s biceps, Lizzy’s voice lowered in steely determination. “Look at me, Jane.”

 

Jane’s eyes me hers, locking in understanding.

 

“Toughen up. Get a grip on yourself. This is war; anything goes. We’ve moved way beyond the niceties of sportsmanship now. Think Rambo. Channel your Rambo instinct. Think payback for that Achilles of yours.”

 

“But … this is about you and Darcy—well and Charlie, too—but, I mean, can’t you bury the hatchet?”

 

“No,  Jane. The only place I want to bury the hatchet is in his skull. Stop being a sap. There are no saps in war, and this is war.” Lizzy paused, then shook her head. “Argh! He makes me so mad! I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and tell the world what a jerk he is!”

 

“But he’s not.”

 

“Yes he is!”

 

Cat blew the whistle and five men and three women took their places beside the Vaseline bowls. The children sat at the sidelines to cheer their counselors on.

 

“Four counselors have been disqualified for inappropriate copulation in the woods!” Cat announced.

 

Charlie looked pleadingly at Jane, offering her a slight smile of repentance, his eyes begging for forgiveness but her response was to stick out her tongue at him. Yeah that was real Rambo-ish. 

 

Lizzy, too, stuck out her tongue and flashed Darcy the British bird (for the children’s sake.) Of course, she couldn’t help noticing how absolutely adorable he looked with his hair all tousled and how his arrogant Penn State blue and white T-shirt clung to his hard pecs. She was just able to make out taut nipples below, sending a warm flush over her. Not now Lizzy!

 

Darcy blew Lizzy a patronizing kiss in the air, but enjoyed the sight of that tongue exiting her mouth, recalling what she could do with it.

 

The whistle blew and seconds later everyone dipped the tips of their noses in Vaseline, adhered a cotton ball then ran down the lane with Wickham in the lead. Jane was hot on his heels, fire tearing from below the rubber soles of her running shoes. There was no way the cotton balls were coming off the girls’ noses since they had placed a thin layer of rubber cement atop their Vaseline.

 

The children hooted and roared at how silly their counselors looked, especially Rick with his big, bulky body ambling with the small cotton ball at the end of his nose. Everyone looked like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer running down the lane. 

 

Jane finished her five balls, and broke free toward the obstacle course, heading for the woods. She jumped like a gazelle over the first downed obstacle log.  She winked to her Cheapside girls sitting beside the log, one on each side. Wickham, too, jumped over the log. Rick jumped over the log, and Lizzy jumped over the log. When Charlie and Darcy simultaneously got to the log, the girls raised a hidden rope up above it, both went down on their asses, a tangle of limbs on top of each other.

Right behind them, Charlotte laughed and ran around the log and the dirty, fallen men fiercely scratching their noses.

Concocted by Georgiana and the Longbourn girls, the deep mud pit in the middle of the pathway was nicely camouflaged by leaves and twigs, but Jane knew it was there when she arrived, jumping with spread legs as though a ballerina. Right behind her, Wickham knew foul play when he saw it and ran around the pit. Lizzy hopped and Rick jumped following everyone’s lead, as did Charlotte.  Poor Darcy and Charlie, so far behind and distracted by intense itching to their faces fell for the oldest trick in the obstacle book. They fell right into 36 inches of tar-pit like dinosaur mud mixed with gooey molasses. 

 

The two were completely covered, struggling to extricate themselves, leaves and twigs sticking to them with each movement made.

 

Georgiana howled with laugher as Darcy swore aloud.

 

“She’s dead, Bingley. It’s Titan against Titan now!”

 

“How can something so evil be put into motion by my sweet Janie? All I said was that girls are inferior runners?”

 

Darcy groaned. “How? I’ll tell you how! Like her sister, she a maneater. They wrote that song about the Bennet sisters. Think before you speak, man!”

 

Finally climing out, they continued running through the trees, dreaming of payback of the worst kind.

 

Lizzy and Jane waited patiently at the end of the trail for them, tapping their fingers on their chins until the boys came into sight. They wanted them to witness their utter defeat – and of course, to see just how muddy they were from their little molasses pit.

 

“Look, there they are!” Bingley cried out. “We’re going to kill you both!”

 

Out of breath and covered in dark brown sludge, they met up with their two hysterically laughing nemises.

 

Darcy was livid, but somewhere deep down, he thought, She’s fantastic!

 

Lizzy and Jane high-fived then looked over their shoulders at the sprint for the finish line behind them.

 

“Oh Charlie,” Jane said in that ditzy voice. “Let’s see if women really are slower than men.”

 

“Um … Darcy, you … um … have a tear in your shorts ...” Lizzy said sweetly.

 

He glanced down at the huge rip running across the front of his Hilfiger athletic shorts exposing his dirty underwear covering Big D. “You’re dead, Lizzy!”

 

She mocked him, laughing, “I’ve heard that before. You’ll never catch us,” she said when she and Jane bolted from forest edge for the 400 yard dash across the field toward the finish line.

 

They ran balls-to-the-wall with the men chasing after them. Long legs sprinted, feet digging into the ground with ferocity, Nikes burned rubber like messengers of Olympus.

 

Darcy was right behind Lizzy, and she could hear his exherted breath so close to her as he powered her down. She laughed into the wind, her ponytail flying behind her, hoping it was slapping him in the face. “Admit it Mr. Sexist, …[pant] woman are equally athletic than men!”

 

He panted out in reply, “The only thing I’ll admit to is that you have a nice ass from my position … Bennet!”

 

“Look all you want … ’cause ... that’s all you’ll ... ever be able to do!” 

 

“I want to … spank it, not caress it.”

 

She put her engine in fifth gear and left Darcy to eat her dust.

 

The obstacle course race winner had long been decided by the time Jane crossed the finish line, followed by Lizzy, then Charlie and finally Darcy. Wickham again took the grand prize, having once again been fuelled by the cocaine coursing through his body.

 

For the second time that day, ringside commentary commenced, “Maddy would you look at those mud covered fools! Why do they keep scratching their noses?”

 

“It seems that the girls had a few tricks up their sleeves. That’s my Lizzy. Poor, Will.”

 

“Poor Will, my ass. That boy’s been draggin’ his feet. Even Collins had the sense to finally get laid!”

 

“You may be right, Cat. You may be right.”
 

Caroline ran up to Darcy, throwing her arms around his neck in congratulations. He shuddered from the horrific memory of her orange landing strip, but couldn’t really find fault with her activities the night before. He himself had sought the same kind of, how did Cat put it, inappropriate copulation activity. “Caroline, I came in last place,” he said morosely.

 

“But you’re first in my heart, Willy dahling.”

 

Before a wise-crack left his mouth, he spotted John staring him down, and promptly removed Caroline’s arms. He scratched his nose. “I think you’re making John jealous, Caroline.”

 

She giggled in that crazy hyena way he hated so much. “Little Johnny? That was just a momentary distraction. I thought of you the whole time, dahling.”

 

Shouts grew behind him, penetrating through to his misery. What now? Could this day get any worse, he thought, taking mental note of each disaster that had occurred one after the other since he awoke. And now, the cream on the cake was the band of six, eight year-old boys who decided—based on the examples of the two nudie counselors—that they would join the rank of exhibitionists by streaking full tilt. Waving their arms, they ran through the grassy field, screaming, “We’re Naaakeeeed!”

 

What a scene—Both Rick, looking like the Incredible Hulk, and Aunt Cat ran after the naked boys. Thankfully, she wore her 1970s dark blue suede Puma sneakers. She was fast for a 70 year old, catching a few.

 

No, the pain and humiliation of today wasn’t over based on the fact that that John was headed in his direction. He moaned, wanting to bolt and scratched his nose voraciously.

 

“We need to talk,” John said.

 

“John, my lips are sealed. Who knew you had that freaky birthmark on your johnson.”

 

“That is not what I want to talk about! Walk with me.”

 

“Ok ... What’s up?”

 

“You’re having sex with Lizzy.”

 

“I assure you. I am not having sex with Lizzy, I swear.” Darcy shook his head vehemently, after all this wasn’t a lie unto itself, and he still had the condoms to prove it.

 

“What happened last night? I heard you two by the lake when I left with Caroline.” John ran his hand through his hair, then glanced over his shoulder to see Lizzy watching them from afar.
 

“I know those sounds you make. You forget I was in the bathroom when you had sex with Shannon and that I was in bed when you screwed Nina on the desk and then there was that time when you were under the bleachers with Michelle. Unfortunately, I know those sounds, Darcy.”

 

“You were drunk last night; you didn’t hear anything. You obviously weren’t thinking clearly” He was getting annoyed now. He didn’t appreciate John making a dirty laundry list of his sexual exploits and, most of all, he didn’t appreciate John putting Lizzy down as a conquest on it. Lizzy was not dirty laundry and never would be. Those girls in college were just girls in college, easy lays and notches on his bedpost who were looking for a good time, and that was because of the nickname. They had pursued him and that was years ago! Lizzy was different. Sure he wanted her, but there was something else present between them, and he felt something for her, something he never felt before. Fight as they did, he was highly aroused by her wit, intelligence, strong opinions, confidence, and feminine wiles. He secretly, absolutely loved their banter and bickering, even if it did push him every which way but Sunday resulting in an inflamed red cheek as a result of her powerful slap.

 

“And I don’t appreciate your putting Lizzy on the same list as Shannon, who was like the village bicycle, for God’s sake. I thought you said you loved her, and now you’re comparing her to someone that everyone had had a ride on. What’s up with that? Don’t you think she deserves a little more respect from you after cheating on her?”

 

“You’re right, I didn’t mean it that way. Just tell me the truth Darcy, don’t take me for an idiot. I’ve know you too long, and you’re too good a friend to bullshit me.”

 

“You won’t like what I have to say.” 

 

John waved him on seemingly steadying himself and Darcy continued, “I … I … think I’m falling for her.”

 

“Tell me something I don’t already know. It’s been written all over your face since day one.”

 

“I’m sorry, John, truly sorry. I didn’t plan on this, and I know I gave you my word, but she does and says things that infuriate me and, at the same time, I absolutely love! Excluding, of course, her slapping me, the pie, the mud, and the itching powder.” He ran his hand through his hair. “God! I mean if she were a ballerina, she’d take the Nutcracker to a whole new level! She drives me crazy… and it is crazy … because I love it!”

 

John’s head snapped up. “You love her?”

 

“I didn’t say that,” he looked incredulous.

 

“You sure as hell did, without actually saying it! You want my advice, Darcy? Catch her, keep her, and don’t cheat on her. Don’t make the same mistake I made. Lizzy is one of a kind.”

 

“My love ’em and leave ’em days ended a long time ago, John. Thanks, buddy.” 

 

They shook hands and he stored in the back of his mind the one word he knew utterly nothing about … love. Glancing over his shoulder, his eyes met Lizzy’s fierce scowl. She narrowed her eyes, boring them into his, but he responded with a thoughtful smile, turned, then walked in the opposite direction.

 

She wondered why he didn’t flip her the bird or stick out his tongue.

~~oo~~

The Bennet Sisters - Maneaters

Did someone say the L word?