“Enough is enough!” shouted the superhero in the cape.
“Alright, alright!” retorted the superhero in the motorcycle helmet.
“I am going on vacation, even if it kills me!” the first hero emphasized.
“Nobody’s stopping you!” returned the man in the black helmet.
“We have literally fought Sasquatch, Satan’s minions — twice, and Brad Marchand from the NHL, without a break! It’s either Miller time or Tee Bone Man goes crazy time.” said the first hero, as he removed the mask from his face.
“How about Tee Bone Man chills for a minute time!” shouted his partner Superdekes, as his helmet dropped to the dirt. “You are the one who insists on helping every single Australian, American or southern Ontario stoner we run across!” Changing his tone of voice, Deke said calmingly, “There are other superheroes. The weight of the world doesn’t have to be on your shoulders. Maybe it’s just time for some Tee Bone time?”
A slight pause, and then Tee Bone removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes right where the headache was setting in. He sighed. “You’re right.” Then he added, “This one time, you’re right. I’m going to Camp for a week. I won’t even fly there. I’ll drive. No superpowers for a whole week.”
“Atta boy!” said Deke as he patted Tee Bone Man on the back. “I’ll take care of everything. I have a ton of new gadgets and upgrades I’m working on up at Deke’s Palace. I’ll mind the fort.”
“Thanks pal,” said Tee Bone to his best friend. “See you in one week.”
“Seven days,” Deke responded as they fist bumped.
“Don’t let being right for once go to your head,” smartassed Tee Bone with a wink.
“We’re running around, like we’re in a rat race! Monkey bars, swingin’ stars! Countin’ the cars, by the monkey bars!” Tee Bone was singing his lungs out on the highway to Camp. Windows down, stereo on 11, sunglasses on his face, Tee Bone hadn’t felt so good in months. The drive was relaxing to him and a short two hours later he had arrived. “Devil’s Deck”, the actual name of Camp Tee Bone, was given due to its luxurious and expansive decks. Littered with chairs and umbrellas, the party deck alone could comfortably seat 20. In fact, the name “Devil’s Deck” was coined by the Devil himself, at an after-party there when Tee Bone and Deke faced off with him over a Gene Simmons box set.
Tee Bone got out of the car with his hockey bag and gazed reminiscing at the big deck.
“That was one wild party,” said Tee Bone shaking his head. “Turns out Satan can’t hold his liquor.”
The big man stepped up and unlocked the main door. The smell of wood hit him as he entered. Always so pungent yet sweet, the smell of wood at Camp. But something was off. He wrinkled his nose. He sniffed the air.
“Squirrel poo. That God damn squirrel has been in here. I thought I sealed off all the holes. Must have missed one last season.”
He put his bag down, flipped on the power, unpacked some liquor and put it in the fridge. He looked around just to absorb that feeling again, the feeling of being free in your own Camp, with only forest and lake in your line of sight, in every direction. He went outside to gather wood.
“Squee! Squee! Squee!” An abrasive sound from the trees. High above him, the branches moved as something jumped from vantage point to vantage point.
“God damn squirrel,” complained Tee Bone as he grabbed six logs from the wood pile.
“Nice and dry,” said Tee Bone approvingly as he examined the lumber.
“Squee!” came the sound from the trees! “Aaaackackack!”
This must have been squirrel talk for “Bombs away!” because the very next second, Tee Bone was wiping squirrel shit from his glasses.
“What the…?” He looked up in fury! “You little bastard!”
“Squee squee squee ack ack!” responded the squirrel, easily dodging the piece of lumber thrown at him. In seconds, he had leapt so far away that Tee Bone could no longer see him in the trees.
Inhaling deeply, Tee Bone dropped the wood and closed his eyes. He inhaled again, smelling the pollen and pine. “I am not letting that squirrel ruin my week at Camp. Absolutely no way. Not happening.” He then raised his voice and shouted into the forest, “NOT HAPPENING!”
“Not happening…happening…happening…happening…” the forest echoed back as if in mockery.
Tee Bone sat by the campfire in complete relaxation. Such utter peace. He took a deep breath, held it a moment, and let it go. The fire crackled before him, alive and sparking with the sound of dry wood and combustion. He watched the flames dance before him, forming red, orange and yellow shapes just as quickly as they disappeared. The sound of the popping wood was like music to his weary soul.
From his stereo nearby came another sound: that of rock and roll!
“Like a one-eyed jack, stick a knife in your back,” sang Carl Dixon on Coney Hatch’s debut album. “There’s a devil in her deck!”
Tee Bone swigged his beer and nodded his head to the song. He sang along.
“Take all you got! Hell’s so hot!” boomed Tee Bone, with his beer in the air. He would know, having defeated the minions of Satan at the gates of hell with Superdekes not that long ago. “Yeah man!” Tee Bone shouted in celebration. He deserved a little celebration! He did save the world, after all. He stood, and mimed a little bit of air guitar to the classic Steve Shelski solo. “Oooh there’s a devil in her deck!”
At the conclusion of the track, Tee Bone put down his beer, stretched and smiled at the sweetness of camp life.
“Better go get some more wood,” he said to himself. “And some hot dogs and marshmallows to go with it!”
Tee Bone turned around, took a step, and tripped. He fell to the ground with a heavy thud. As he did, he heard a victorious “squeeee!” from the trees. Getting up and brushing the leaves and grass from his shirt, he saw what caused his fall. A small pile of twigs and branches that he certainly did not leave there. Which means….
“Squeee! Ackackack,” came the sound from the trees again, just before another squirrel poop was dropped on Tee Bone’s head.
“That God damned squirrel…” mumbled a fuming Tee Bone to himself as he wiped the crap from his hair. Anger smouldered inside him, much hotter than the campfire. The squirrel hurriedly left the scene of the crime with a jump and a leap. “That little bastard. He’s targeting me!” shouted Tee Bone at the trees.
The forest turned silent in answer.
The moon was full that night, and Tee Bone slept like he had not been able to sleep back in the city. The satisfied sleep of the just. The kind of calm re-energizing that comes only with…
Tee Bone was startled awake. It took a minute to remember where he was. Then, he rubbed that spot in the corner of his eyes where the headache liked to go.
“That God damn squirrel!”
He removed his covers and got out of bed with a start. He ran down from his bedroom to the first floor of the Camp, and flipped the lights. Outdoors, night became as day! The light flooded the property. He stormed out onto the deck, yelling as a man possessed!
“You! You little bastard! You will not ruin my vacation! You will not!” He violently shook his finger at the nearest tree. “I’ve just about had it with you!”
The night was silent, but for the cool wind that rustled the leaves on the Devil’s Deck.
Tee Bone lingered a moment and then, satisfied that he had scared the little rodent off, stepped back inside.
“Squee!” the squirrel teased from a distance.
“Little bastard,” mumbled Tee Bone under his breath as he closed the door. “I’m gonna lose it I swear.” The forest whispered quietly behind him.
Morning came. “Bacon and eggs over an open fire? Don’t mind if I do!” mumbled Tee Bone as he yawned himself awake.
The big man sat up and removed his nightcap. Outside the bedroom window: a symphony of birds, a delight that he let enter his body through all his senses. He closed his eyes and simply absorbed the music of the outdoors. He was hungry but food could wait just a few more minutes. Then he opened his eyes. The lake was deep blue. He strode over to the window. Looked like it was going to be a clear day. Good day for…
“SQUEE!” The squirrel suddenly appeared, jumping right at a startled Tee Bone, and landing on the flowerbed beneath the window!
“AHHH!” screamed Tee Bone in shock. His heart raced 100 beats a minute as he staggered backwards onto the hardwood floor. “OW!” he yelped at his bruised tailbone.
Satisfied, the squirrel jumped away back into the trees.
Tee Bone felt the rage rise once again in his blood. He stood with a groan, threw open the windows, and yelled.
“Today, squirrel! It’s going down today! You are dead meat, rodent! Dead meat!”
Closing the windows, Tee Bone ran to his dresser and took out his best camouflaged clothes.
“Told you I’d need these one day,” he whispered to Mrs. Tee Bone as if she was actually in the room with him. “Today I’m gonna catch a squirrel.” Then a pause. “Because I promised Deke I wouldn’t use my powers!” answered Tee Bone impatiently to nobody. He was losing his grip.
Mentally on the brink, he frantically searched for items around the house. It was psychological warfare now and Tee Bone was on the losing end. The squirrel was winning and worse than that, Tee Bone knew it. He was looking for a specific bag with an item inside that he would require today. He also needed a hat. “No, not the Montreal Canadiens hat!” he shouted to no-one. Instead he selected a plain white baseball hat. In the downstairs closet, he spotted the bag he sought, with the big “Deke’s Palace” logo on the side.
“I’ve got him this time,” said the rapidly deteriorating Tee Bone, getting more manic as he changed into his camo outfit. “Shut up! Shut up!! No more narration!”
I watch from my hiding spot, crouching uncomfortably in the thorns. My face is covered in black facepaint, leftovers from last summer’s Kiss costume party. Remember? I was Ace, and Deke drew the short straw and had to be Vinnie Vincent. Note to self: no more black leather in summer. But now the party is over and I’m here in the bushes to catch a little bastard rodent. Next to me, I have a special bag from Deke’s Palace. One of gadgets that he left here after the party. A toy, actually, for the kids, but it’ll work for these purposes. I’ve already programmed the course. I just need that little prick to take the bait.
There’s movement in the trees, but I can tell from the colours that it’s just birds. Two blue jays and a cardinal. No squirrels. He’s a smart little shit. He’s been watching me. Clandestine surveillance. He knows I’m up to something. I know he knows. But here’s the thing. He may be smart, but I’m crazy. Crazy like a fox. He made me this way. And now he will find out what happens when you mess with a crazy fox!
Now I hear him. “Squee-ing” in the trees. A battle cry. He knows what’s happening here: winner take all. Either I win and have my vacation, or he wins and they take me to the funny farm. There’s no other outcome.
I’ve waited here motionless for so long I’ve lost track of time. I know the sun has moved. The bait was in the sun when I dropped it. Now it’s in the shade. I just have to hope that that squirrel is a big enough asshole to steal my hat. There it sits, my hat, the bait. I dropped where it lay and made it look like an accident, like I didn’t notice it had fallen from my bag. Wait, I see the branches moving again! It’s not a bird. Heavier than a bird. It must be that God damn squirrel.
There he is; that little rodent just jumped down from the trees! Oh my God he’s moving towards the hat! Come on you little…come on…one more step. That’s right. Touch it. Try to take it. Try!
The cage came down! He’s trapped! Wow he’s really making noise now. He’s pissed off! Hah! How do you like it, you little shit! OK, got my bag here…grabbing the rocket from the bag. Deke’s special rocket. Made it for the kids but far too powerful for regular play. OK. Gotta grab the little bastard now and…OH! OH! You shit! You little shit! Hold still you bastard…HA! Inside you go. Got you! Got you! Closing the hatch now. Enjoy your Rocket Ride! Alright…running to the launch pad now…placing the rocket. And now…3…2…1…launch!
Hah! It launched!! Bye squirrel! Bye! I hope you like Australia!
With that, sanity returned to Tee Bone Man and the narrator returned to his job.
The rest of the week was quiet and completely uneventful. Lots of reading, sleeping, paddling in the lake. Catching a few fish, Tee Bone was well fed and finally relaxed. And sunburned. Falling asleep on the boat one afternoon left him a little red in the face, but it was truly one of the best naps he’d ever had. He felt great!
At the end of his seven day break, Tee Bone packed his car, and prepared for the long drive home. He gazed a moment at the Camp, and smiled looking at Devil’s Deck. Until next time.
On the road home, Tee Bone stopped for a Tim Horton’s coffee and thought it might be nice to talk to Deke. Let him know (for the last time) that he was right all along and a vacation was the cure.
“Hey buddy,” said Tee into his phone when Deke answered. “I’m just calling you from a Tim’s on the highway. Just wanted you to know vacation was great and I’m feeling refreshed.”
“That’s great man. And I won’t hold it over your head that I was right again, as usual.” The two friends laughed. “Did anything interesting happen?”
“Nope,” lied Tee Bone. “Nothing at all. Oh, I got a sunburn.”
“Nothing else got burned?” asked Deke. There was no answer. “A little rocket fuel maybe?”
“Oh! Oh! Right,” fumbled Tee Bone as he raced to come up with a story. “You must have noticed that on your tracker right? Right, so you know I shot your rocket to Australia. Well you remember that Harrison Holden kid right? He asked me to send him something from Canada so I just, you know, BLAM! I just rocketed it to him.”
“You sent him something by rocket? What did you send him?” questioned Superdekes, smelling that the story he was being fed had a fishy scent.
Tee Bone swallowed. The line was silent a moment.
“You sent him a coin by rocket??” asked Deke.
“Yeah, umm, he said he wanted to see a Canadian loonie, so,” answered Tee Bone awkwardly.
“You sent a $1 coin that you could have mailed, to Australia, by rocket, at the cost of $10,000 in fuel plus my rocket that I’m probably not getting back?” The incredulous Deke was like Judge Judy holding court now. It was an interrogation.
Another swallow. “Yes,” answered Tee Bone, now sweating so much that the phone was slipping from his hands. “Oh, shoot Deke it just started raining here, I’d better get going, talk to you soon, I’ll call you tomorrow, see you pal.” Tee Bone hung up as quickly as he could hit the button.
He looked up to the clear blue sky and swore, “I shall never tell anyone what really happened at Camp.”
The ground was streaked where the rocket had come to its soft landing. Though the engine was still smoking, the rocket was motionless. Then, it shuddered. Again. Now, it shook with some force until the top panel burst open.
The squirrel leaped out and gazed around his new surroundings. The sound of Blaze Bayley poured from a distant window, catching his ear. The squirrel headed East.