A Camp Story – by Jesse Harris

 

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by Jesse Harris

Originally from New York City, Jesse Harris is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer of artists from all over the world. He has been making records since the mid-90s when he started the group Once Blue (EMI Records). As a solo artist, Jesse has released 13 albums including many with his former backing band The Ferdinandos and one all-instrumental recording (Cosmo). His latest album is “No Wrong No Right” (Dangerbird Records).

In 2003 he received the Grammy Award for Song Of The Year for Norah Jones’ breakout hit “Don’t Know Why,” from her debut album, Come Away With Me, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Since then Jones and Harris have collaborated many times. Other artists who have covered his material include Smokey Robinson, Sasha Dobson (whose album Modern Romance he co-produced with Richard Julian), George Benson, Pat Metheny, and Solomon Burke. Songwriting collaborations have included Madeleine Peyroux, Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot, Maria Gadu, and Vinicius Cantuaria.

Recently Jesse joined John Zorn’s The Song Project, along with Mike Patton and Sofia Rei, writing lyrics for various Zorn compositions and singing them at festivals worldwide with an all-star band that featured Marc Ribot and John Medeski. A live album, Live at Le Poisson Rouge, was released by Tzadik Records in 2015.

As a producer, Harris has worked on over a dozen albums, by artists including Julian Lage (whose forthcoming “Arclight” will be released in 2016 on Mack Avenue Records), Forro in the Dark, Amanda Brecker, and Petra Haden, whose upcoming release is titled “Seemed Like a Good Idea – Petra Haden Sings Jesse Harris.” (Sunnyside) 

“A Camp Story” is Jesse’s first publication as a fiction writer though he’s written stories since childhood. At the age of 17, music took over and he was more attracted to the short – and social – form of songs, but he has continued to write stories, essays, and even plays and screenplays ever since.

***

“Hey Russ, tell us a story!”

Standing on the grass down in front of the bunk, the camper hurled a stone at the lake. It arced over the basketball court where two kids played one-on-one and landed with a plunk in the water.

“Jared, no throwing stones, bud.”

From rural Pennsylvania, Jared was the best athlete of the group, a light-brown haired kid with striking blue eyes. “Alright.”

The August sun descended over the opposite hills and a light breeze rippled across the water. Rainbow’s album “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll,” playing by cassette on the communal boom box, blasted while the campers hung around the bunk. They had all just returned from dinner at the mess hall and were relaxing during a recess before the evening’s activity, a square dance with the sister camp across the lake.

“Turn that crap off and I’ll tell you a story.”

“That’s not crap, that’s Rainbow!” said Adam, a slightly pudgy metal head from Long Island whose only accoutrement at that point was a studded black leather wristband. He squared off in front of the towering Russ. “Richie Blackmore is one of the three best guitarists in the world! He listens to Bach when he’s not playing his own music.”

“I don’t care what he listens to, metal boy. Jimi Hendrix, now that’s a guitarist. That’s what I grew up with.” Russ, counselor in charge of the bunk, was a tall 25-year-old from Pittsburgh with black hair and acne scars on his cheeks that gave his face a sort of rugged warmth.

“C’mon Russ!” Jared interrupted, “Tell us a story before this stupid square dance.”

“Ok, where’s Twigs?”

“On his bunk reading.”

“Somebody grab him.”

“Twigs, wanna hear a story?” Adam yelled.

Twigs, whose appellation derived from his skinny frame, lay on his bed reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, his summer reading assignment for the approaching 8th grade.

“Sure.”

“Twigs, buddy, turn off that music.”

“OK.”

The loud rock ceased with the click of a button and a quiet stillness filled the porch.

Jared came up the steps. “Tell us a sex story, Russ.”

“Yeah, Russ,” Adam said, “have you ever had sex with a girl?”

He laughed. “You guys wanna hear a sex story?”

“Yeah!” said the seven campers at once. They crowded around him, taking places on the porch – some cross legged on the floor, others sitting on the railing or on the steps. Twigs leaned against the door frame.

“This was a few years ago – ’76, I think, around the Bicentennial, back in my hippy days when I had hair down to my ass. My buddy and I were partying out on the Cape, in Provincetown. We used to go up there and sleep on the beach, spend a couple weeks drinking tequila. One night we went to this bar and met these two girls – one really foxy and the other just alright. We all had some drinks, played some pool and then basically we propositioned them.”

“What did you say?” Jared asked.

“We said we were sleeping on the beach and asked them if they wanted to come with us.”

“That’s it?” Adam said.

“That’s it.”

Russ continued, “We went back to our beach spot, which was a little ways off the beaten path, and lit a fire. My buddy and I had a short conference and he agreed to let me take the foxy one. She was a red-head with big tits.”

“What was her name?” Adam asked.

“Man…I think it was Diana.”

“What did you do?”

“We fucked for hours.”

“Wow.” Adam shook his head in disbelief.

Jared said, “What’s your favorite position?”

“I like it from behind cause you can get really deep.”

“She let you do that?” Adam asked, hanging on Russ’ every word.

“Yeah, she went crazy. Red-heads go crazy for some reason.”

“What about your friend? Did he mind fucking the ugly one?”

“Aw she wasn’t ugly. She just wasn’t like Diana. But you know, sometimes the hottest fuck can be with the ugly ones. It’s hard to tell. The really gorgeous ones can be a real bore in bed.” Everyone pondered this in silence.

Loud amplified music began to play with a far off echo. Russ snapped a glance over his shoulder towards the sound. “Hey, someone check the time! I gotta get you guys up to this square dance or Milt’s gonna break my balls!” This remark made all the campers burst into laughter.

Twigs arched his wrist and looked down: “It’s 7:45.”

“Shit! Time to go! You boys ready?”

“I have to pee,” Twigs pleaded.

“Alright, everyone else let’s go! Twigs, meet us there and make it quick. Move out campers!”

They bounded down the steps and marched away from the lake toward the tennis courts, cleared of nets and posts for the occasion.

Alone now, Twigs went to the bathroom, wet and combed his hair and changed to a collared shirt. He decided to take the short cut through the woods behind the bunks. The sun had set and a rosy twilight colored the sky. Amid the thick trees it was nearly dark, but in the distance the flood lights from the courts spilled into the obscurity. He walked along, suddenly afraid of the darkness, imagining he saw movement – ghosts perhaps.

To continue reading, follow link to Amazon: A Camp Story

Categories: First Issue

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