As a small boy, Dave was fascinated by tales of intrepid explorers. He dreamed of a life filled with adventure on the high seas, or surviving in the wild tundra of the North. He’d even settle for fending off lions in the deepest, darkest parts of Africa. He wanted it all.
Years of backyard tenting, living off his mother’s horrible cooking, watching hundreds of nature videos, and tolerating hours of sitting in a classroom soaking in geography, spelling, and arithmetic had prepared him for the greatest adventure of his life.
The day he turned eighteen, he slung his backpack over his shoulder and waved goodbye to his mother. He had become the intrepid explorer he always dreamed of. First stop was the campground just outside of town.
His feet ached from walking and his back screamed in revolt after carrying the pack two hours. The tent didn’t come with instructions and was so different than the pup tent his mother set up for him. It was late afternoon before he figured it out. There’s bound to be some snags, he told himself.
The matches didn’t burn long enough to light the log in the campfire and his hands were dirty from constantly fiddling with the ash from the previous users. He looked at the campground map and headed for the communal latrine to wash his hands. Mosquitoes swarmed him as he followed the creek. No amount of swatting would drive them away. He smelled the latrine long before he found it and as soon as the old wooden shack covered in spider webs came into sight, he turned around and started to head back.
Having ash on his hands bothered him more and more as he followed the creek back to his tent, so he decided to use the creek. Water is water, right? The mosquitoes were thick and covered him as he squatted by the bank. As soon as his hands entered the water frogs leaped out of the creek. Dave screamed, spun around and promptly fell into the creek.
His splashing and screaming brought the campground manager running. She stood by the creek bank and chuckled. “It’s shallow enough to stand up.” She swatted the mosquitoes and sprayed bug spray on her arms. “I wouldn’t stay too long in there if I were you.”
“Why?” Dave was cold, frustrated, wet, and embarrassed.
“Filled with leeches. Didn’t you read the info sheet I gave ya when you checked in?”
Leeches? Did she say leeches? Dave screamed again and ran out the campground, out to the main road, and the four miles back to his house. His mother was sitting on the couch watching television when he burst through the door, ran upstairs, and immediately got into the shower.
Sally laughed silently, closed the front door, and picked up the phone. “Hi Betty, it’s Sally.” She laughed. “Yeah, he made it home. He’s upstairs taking a shower.” She chuckled again. “I’ll be by later today to get his things. Thanks for helping me out.”