Thursday, October 25, 2018

Cletus and Zeke in Ludington, Michigan

Cletus and Zeke were in Ludington, Michigan winterizing cabins.

They were camping at Buttersville County Park south of Pere Marquette Lake to save money. The park was officially closed down for the season but they left one entrance open and one water spigot running for the steelhead fishermen and for folks like Cletus and Zeke.

It was a grand time to be camping. The leaves had fallen off the Red Oaks, the nights were chilly and the mosquitoes were non-existent.

As you may have deduced, Cletus and Zeke were distant relations and Cletus was by far the more mature of the two even though Cletus was just a few years older.

But tonight Cletus was the one who was getting shit-faced as he manfully whittled away at the transmission they had picked up at the Walmart in Traverse City. The camp rules prohibited the possession of alcoholic  beverages, but in the absence of any staff the rule was not enforced.

"What's the occasion?" Zeke asked as Cletus gave the campfire his best death-stare.

"Its Charlene and Trent's anniversary." Cletus said. Charlene was Cletus's older sister.

"How long's it been?" Zeke asked. He was not referring the wedding date.

"Eleven years." Cletus said. "It has been eleven years since Trent ate his gun."

"I never understood that." Zeke said. "Trent seemed to have everything. I never understood why he ended it all."

Zeke was referring to the two kids, the 2200 square-foot house and the $120K a year salary that Trent had been paying himself. Trent had been the rock-star of their small high school. To every younger kid Trent was the next Bill Gates.

Trent was in IT and had a growing business and many energetic, younger employees.

Cletus took a long pull at his whiskey and water.  " 'Cause the jig was up." Cletus said.

"What are you talkin' about." Zeke asked.

"You know that serial rapist that was going around campus around that time?" Cletus asked.

Zeke knew what he was talking about. The rapes had made national news because the rapist beat his victims to a pulp. "Yeah. So?" Zeke said.

"It was him." Cletus said.

"What?" Zeke exclaimed.

"The attacks stopped after he died." Cletus said. "The cops were closing in. He had been called down to the station and interviewed. Then he dropped the hammer later that afternoon."

"Shit!" Zeke said.

"I probably should have been more of a father-figure for Charlene's kids, what with Trent gone. But I just couldn't make it happen." Cletus said. Cletus's sense of guilt was amplified by the fact that he was in the same state and had not bothered to tell Charlene.

Zeke poured himself a tall one from the 1.5 liter bottle of whiskey.

"Why would a guy who had EVERYTHING do that? Beautiful wife. Nice kids. Great business? Everybody in town looked up to him?" Zeke asked.

"I dunno." Cletus said. "Maybe it was the devil. Maybe he was sick in the head. Maybe it is the same thing."

Both men called in sick the next day. It was not a big deal. They had three weeks to winterize the cabins on the list.


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