External Photo Clues:
Eddy Aaron is a name that I had somehow forgotten until receiving the news of his untimely demise. Feeling nostalgic, I decided to dig through an old box of relics. When I came across this photograph a memory came flooding back; the kind of memory that leaves you wondering how you ever forgot it in the first place.
I knew Eddy from St. Peter’s, a private school for boys in Clinton, MI. We were introduced behind the maintenance shed where some of the students would hang out and share cigarettes, adult magazines, alcohol, and whatever else they had managed to smuggle back from their weekend trips home.
Eddy was a regular at the spot but he wasn’t around at first because he had been on a home suspension for pissing on Coach Davis from the roof of the school. He claimed that he was trying to put out the coach’s cigarette as an act of encouragement. Smoking did not fit into the healthy lifestyle that the coach preached so sternly. By the time Eddy came back to school I had already become somewhat popular thanks to my stories of St. Mary’s.
St. Mary’s was a co-ed school that I had attended before transferring to St. Peter’s. The transfer had simply been an attempt to relieve some of the financial burden created after my dad was laid off and forced to choose a more humble career path. But that’s not the reason I gave my new friends.
It was clear that stories about girls were the quickest way to earn the respect and admiration of my fellow classmates. I started by telling them about how we would frequently hide in the girls’ locker room and watch them shower after gym class. Truthfully, I’m not even certain there was a gym.
When they pressed me for more details I told them about the time I was caught by Veronica, one of the most physically detailed fabrications I ever created. I was the only guy in the locker room that day. After the other girls left she stayed behind and said, teasingly, in my direction, “Ready to come out?” Of course I had expected her to scream or attack me but instead she smiled and then we engaged in an intense make out session, which would have led to going all the way if we hadn’t been caught by an instructor.
They didn’t question my story because they wanted it to be true; so it came to be that the reason for my transfer had been expulsion for engaging in lewd acts with a female student, followed by my father, a powerful political figure, enrolling me in an all boys school to prevent any further embarrassment.
Eddy stood out from the rest of the guys. They were just kids but he was a romantic. While the other guys would wrestle and talk disrespectfully to the girls in their magazines, Eddy would sit quietly under a willow tree, writing poetry and drawing girls in his journal. He longed for the company of someone who shared his sophisticated appreciation for the female form. When he heard about my fictitious past, he chose me to fill that role.
Soon we were best friends. While we still partook in the dull atmosphere of the old hangout spot, we now derived our social fulfillment from our exclusive meetings on the roof after curfew. The rebellious act of sneaking out only added to the excitement of these secret meetings where we would discuss the finer things in life: whiskey, music, and women. It was during one of these meetings that Eddy revealed WAM.
W.A.M., or the Wiccan American Meet, was a group of women that fancied themselves witches. They had an annual meeting at the Lake Fanny Hooe resort up in Copper Harbor. Eddy had never been to one of these meets. He had only heard about them from his cousin in Mandan.
Allegedly, the women would take a boat over to a secluded spot in Fort Wilkins State Park, where they would engage in nude rituals. The meet was coming up and Eddy wanted to get a group of guys together to check it out. It was a good bonding opportunity and of course a chance to see some naked boobies.
Most of the guys didn’t want to make the commute because it would mean spending about thirty hours on a bus, which they concluded would waste half of their weekend. What they failed to realize was that it was not a waste, so much as it was a justifiable sacrifice, as it was one of those rare situations in which the end actually did justify the means. Still, it came down to just four of us: Sam Deakin, Roy Garret, Eddy, and myself.
We told the headmaster we were going home for the weekend and were given permission to leave that Friday after classes, which meant we could take the late bus and arrive at the resort Saturday morning. We would have a full day to check things out before the main event began. The bus ride itself was rather unremarkable as we just slept most of the time. At one of the stops, we convinced another passenger to buy us cigars and cognac. We were still wearing our school uniforms and we were feeling rather swanky.
Eddy had been smart enough to book a room at the resort in advance. He put it under Sam’s name because Sam had facial hair and looked the oldest. He got the key from the front desk without any complications and soon the four of us were piled on a king sized bed, making a toast to the magical evening that awaited us.
After a while Sam and Roy went down to the lake to swim. Eddy and I were more interested in exploring the resort grounds in hopes of spotting some WAM girls. We wanted a sneak peak at what was in store for us. That’s when I took this picture. If Eddy looks a little unenthusiastic it’s because we couldn’t find any girls and were starting to wonder if his cousin had gotten the date wrong. Eventually, we gave up and went to find the other guys.
We found them by the shore and were relieved when they told us that a dozen girls had just left in a boat. They had watched long enough to see their destination. We decided to wait until evening, take a canoe a little ways down the shore, and sneak up on them through the woods; that way we could hide and watch them from the trees. It took a while to get there by canoe. Eddy nominated Sam and Roy to row since they knew the way. We opted to smoke a cigar and bark motivating words that we had learned from Coach Davis.
When we reached the shore, we hid the canoe and started hiking. It was dark by that time. Not much moonlight made it through the trees so we mostly just stumbled around blindly. Our clothes were torn and our exposed skin cut and bruised as we tripped over rocks and inadvertently smacked each other with the recoil of branches that we pushed out of our way. We were getting tired and delirious, wondering why we had packed cigars instead of snacks. We hadn’t eaten since the last stop before we arrived. Roy had just suggested turning around when we saw the light of a bonfire.
We got as close as we could get without leaving the shadows. The women were there, sitting around the fire smoking, drinking, and laughing. This seemed to go on forever. Sam, Roy, and I had grown bored and were laying on our backs whispering mouth watering descriptions of our favorite foods until Eddy interrupted us with an unconvincing owl call. He was sitting above us on a tree branch, pointing toward the fire. A couple of the girls had taken off their clothes. We couldn’t really see much as they were merely silhouettes against the fire and had their backs to us. But then the others joined in.
The truth is, that while there may have been a couple of decent looking ones, most of the women were larger and older than a seasoned voyeur would hope for but we were desperate, inexperienced and had yet to develop such standards. We were just happy to see forbidden flesh jiggling in the firelight. I climbed up in the tree with Eddy and we drank the cognac.
Things were starting to elevate. A couple of women were tapping on small drums, one was twirling a burning stick and the rest were dancing in a circle around the fire. They were chanting or maybe just making noises. It was hard to tell. The alcohol was kicking in and I was mesmerized by their naked bodies dancing so free, or maybe just enchanted by their spell.
I remember Eddy looking over at me with a big smile on his face; a smile that said our hard work and patience had finally paid off. Then that smile turned into a look of fear as he let out a yelp and fell from the tree. You see good brandy, especially when combined with an empty stomach, has the interesting side affect of interfering with one’s sense of balance. Eddy had lost his completely.
The women heard the noise and immediately fell silent. They were standing completely still with their breasts exposed and their heads cocked towards the trees. I remember thinking they looked like frightened animals. We stayed perfectly quiet. Eventually, they relaxed and went back to dancing. I dropped down from my branch as softly as I could. Eddy was holding his head in pain while trying to muffle a laugh.
We decided that the smoke from the fire was so thick, that we could safely enjoy our cigars without worrying about the stench. That’s what really set things off. I don’t know about the other guys but I became uncomfortably light headed. I remember holding on to the grass as if the world was spinning faster in an attempt to fling me off into space. At some point I passed out.
I had a vivid dream that night. In the dream I was on my back, laying on a branch. The branch was small and I had my arms and legs sprawled out as I tried to balance myself. I wondered how far I was from the ground and suddenly I was looking down at myself. The branch was not attached to a tree but flying freely through the air. Down below I could see fields, trees, and ponds passing under me. I saw the fear in my face and that fear got the best of me. As I struggled harder to keep my balance I was suddenly me again, looking up at the stars.
Then the turbulence became too great and I lost balance, or maybe I just gave up. Either way I fell from the branch. I waited to plunge to my death but I never did. I looked down to see that I was now orbiting Earth.
At first I was scared but then awe struck me. I looked upon the world and I imagined all of those tiny people down there stuck in their routines. Then, I thought about them building structures, painting pictures, trying so hard to make something beautiful while completely oblivious to the fact that they are all part of something more glorious than they could ever hope to create.
I willed myself to turn towards the moon. I thought about how I would like to live there. I could observe the progression of mankind when I wanted and then escape it again, simply by turning away.
I tried to will myself there but Earth’s gravity was too powerful. It was pulling me back down. I imagined myself burning in the atmosphere. I could almost feel my skin getting warmer. Then, I woke up.
It was morning. Sam and Roy were still asleep. Eddy was sitting back up on his branch with a mischievous grin. The girls had left. We were alone. I asked him what had happened and he simply said, “Wonderful things. Strange and wonderful things.”
After that we decided to head back. We couldn’t find the canoe so we ended up walking back along the shore. By the time we got to the resort the WAM girls had already left. We went to the gas station where the bus stop was and made a breakfast of beef jerky and chocolate milk. No one spoke of the events we had witnessed. We merely nodded knowingly and sat in silence.
Soon after that, Eddy was expelled from St. Peter’s. They had found booze and pornographic drawings in his room. We inevitably drifted apart.
His obituary makes his life sound mundane.
I wonder what I’m doing with mine.
About The Author:
Josh Elam took his physical form in 1980 and has been trying to remember why ever since. Being unimpressed with his current reality leaves him spending a lot of time fantasizing which drives his passion for writing stories. Unfortunately these stories only exist in his head, but he has made it his goal to transform them into written words that can be shared. Expect to see more.
About The Imaginary Family Project:
The 2011 Imaginary Family Project is a year-long collective art endeavor coordinated by occasional amateur artist Quentin Bomgardner and co-sponsored by The Red Dirt Chronicles. This project is based around “lost” vintage photographs, which have been acquired at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, and eBay – heirloom collections, with no heir. Every week a different author will “find” one photograph by creating an imagined history around one of its subjects. At the end of the year, the collection will be compiled and presented as a group.