“Welcome to the complex. My name in Cyndi and I am in charge of the store.” Cyndi pointed to a building with the sign Country Store emblazoned on it in bold red lettering.
Karla shifted her duffle from one hand to the other.
“The complex?” she said. “I thought this was Pollialis Campground?”
“Oh that’s just our little nick name for this place. Those of us who have been here for forever. It was actually Manuela over there who gave it the name.”
Cyndi pointed at the palest white woman Karla had ever seen.
“Yeah, she’s been here since she was a little girl. I think she was actually conceived at the campground. Her daddy was the head ranger here for well on thirty years. Her mama used to bake the bread and cakes and pies in the diner over yonder. My auntie moved my brother and I up here when we were just kids and we’ve been here ever since.”
“Ever since. All three of you.”
“Well, Christopher went to school for conservation and forestry for a spell and I took classes at the community college in town and got my business degree. Manuela, she went off and read books and traveled a bit, longer than Christopher and I were away, but she’s been back for a few years now. Her sister is Fredericka, she’s in charge of this place when Phil’s away and gave her a job, any job, just to keep some money in Manuela’s pocket.”
Karla nodded not too sure what she was getting herself into by taking this job. She liked that she wasn’t going to have to pay room and board, she liked that she was going to be able to be outside as much as she wanted. She even didn’t mind the idea of taking visitor kids on hikes. But the gossip was a little strange. She’d worked some jobs that came with drama built in, but she got to go home at the end of her shift and get away from it all. By living at the campground she worried she was getting in over her head.
“Looks like Freddie has you staying in the Blue Cabin. That’s a nice one. It’s right next to Tommy and Bert’s, they’re in the Gold Cabin. They’re good guys, shouldn’t bother you. Right now, you’ve got the place to yourself, but it is set up for two so you might get a roommate later in the summer.”
Cyndi made like she was meaning to say more, but the women were interrupted by a shout from over by the Country Store.
“You’re a fuckin’ toad, Christopher Montgomery!” Manuela was screaming at a tall, good looking blonde man that vaguely resembled Cyndi, who let out a deep sigh.
“That your brother?” asked Karla trying not to smirk.
“Yes.” Cyndi sighed again.
“Just give her a few pointers! Please!” Christopher was saying as Karla and Cyndi approached.
“It’s not my job to babysit your bimbos, Christopher!”
“It’s not babysitting! She wants to learn!”
“She wants to learn so you’ll keep buying her things. If she really wanted to learn because she actually fucking wants to learn she’d buy a book or watch more games.”
“No, no, that’s not it at all. Why do you always think they’re so shallow?”
“Because they are. You’re just too wrapped up in their looks to care about their lack of substance.”
“Your kidding me,” Christopher mumbled.
“Look, it’s not my fault your girlfriend doesn’t know who Carl Yastrzemski is. And it’s not my fucking job to educate her! You want a girl who is into baseball, find a fucking girl who is into baseball!”
“They used to date,” said Cyndi to Karla. “If you hadn’t picked up on that.”
Christopher muttered a final comment to Manuela and stormed off.
“Yah, same to you, wanker!” she screamed after him.
“Manuela,” said Cyndi cautiously, “This is Karla. She’s taking Terence’s position this summer.”
“Oh, hi! I’m so glad you’re here. Freddie has been talking you up ever since you first interviewed.”
“Thanks,” said Karla warily trying and failing not to look in Christopher’s direction.
“Sorry about that. We’re unfortunately like that all the time. I’m actually really nice. I’m only mean to him.”
“You talking about me?” Christopher called over to them.
“You wish!” Manuela snapped back. “Where are you living. She doesn’t have Terence’s old place does she?”
“No,” answered Cyndi. “Karla is in the Blue Cabin.”
“Well, come on, let’s get you moved in. Let me carry something for you.”
Manuela took Karla’s duffle from her and started up toward the staff cabins. Manuela was very friendly as she pointed out all of the other buildings and pathways and told Karla where they led.
“This is Rainbow Hill. That’s you down at the end there. Tommy and Bert are next door in Gold. Then there’s Cyndi and Martha in Green. Christopher and Ricky are in Purple. Lily and Jane are next to them in Orange. I’m at the end in Red. Or Casa de Crimson, as I like to call it.”
The women let Karla check out her new home. There was a nice solid looking porch in front of each of the Rainbow Cabins. The door led down a center hallway with a bedroom on either side and a bathroom at the end. There was a back door out the bathroom. It was clean and tidy for being in the woods and having not been lived in for quite some time.
Since she had the place to herself she had her pick of bedrooms.
“If you like morning sun I’d take this one. If you want sun in the afternoon, I’d go across the hall,” said Manuela. Karla settled into the western facing room. It had a bed, a bureau, a chair, a nightstand and a closet. It was snug like a dorm room, but somehow more open. She liked it, she decided. It was exactly what she needed. And she had it all to herself. No more sharing a room, no more dividing a closet. This was going to be a good summer.