Jemma Watts and Caroline McClean pulled into their campsite, overjoyed to have arrived. It was later than they'd expected so they hurriedly busied themselves setting up their tent and adding a tarp to cover the picnic table. As soon as they were finished, they lit a campfire to heat up some chilli and make coffee. A beautiful sunset glowed through the trees, an enchanting beginning to their long-awaited camping trip.
The new day dawned bright and clear and after a quick breakfast, they swiftly packed trail mix and water canteens and headed out on one of several day trips they'd previously planned. The trek would take them two and a half miles into the bush but opened onto an exquisite beach resembling a lost lagoon, its waters crystal blue waters and soft white sandy beach breathtaking. Surprisingly, they had the entire place to themselves and they tanned most of the day. Even as they returned to their campsite, they never met a soul.
It was on their fourth bucolic day, after after arriving back at their site from another longer trek that the woman approached. "You've been enjoying the trails, have you?"
Jemma replied animatedly, "Why yes, we have. There are so many to choose from and each has offered another beach we've enjoyed and more beautiful than the last. It's incredible."
"I've wandered down a few, but the body can't seem to keep up with the spirit these days, mores the pity."
"We were just making a cup of coffee if you care to join us," Caroline invited.
The woman closed her camper door bringing her little Airedale with her. Settling into a camp chair, she gratefully accepted the coffee with a smile.
"Have you been here long?"
About a month and a half or so. I was out in the boonies but I recently decided to give society another try." She smirked as she said it.
Unsure whether to laugh in or let the statement pass, neither woman responded and in fact, weren't required to as she began regaling them with stories about previous campers after remarking, "Glad you don't have a dog."
"Why's that?" Caroline asked.
"The last people staying in your site had two massive dogs, and they let them poop wherever they wanted, totally unsupervised and they didn't clean up after them. They kept coming to my site and I got tired of it. I had to keep picking it up because I didn't want to step in it, nor did I want it getting all over my dog or cat. I warned them. I did. When they didn't listen, I picked it up and threw it at their camper, covered the side of it I did. Didn't take them long to get the message and leave."
Neither Jenna nor Caroline could hold back their laughter. Yep, bad-ass. "I'm sure they'll think twice the next time." Caroline finally said through tears of laughter.
It was obvious that Darla Cameron (she'd introduced herself after their delightful laughter finished) was not only a hoot but a force of nature. She'd laughed right along with them as she recalled the event and smirkingly said, "I just knew you were my kind of people!" whereupon she immediately related several amusing stories that kept them laughing for over an hour.
Her next story was the most amusing of all-encompassing bad-ass and compassion at the same time. "Several years ago now, I was on a pier, watching a group of men fishing. This big ape of a fella walked on by with a crab trap and a kitten with a deformed tail under his arm. I knew he was going to sacrifice the cat to entice the crab and I hustled after him, offering to take and hold the cat while he got ready. He didn't speak much English, or at least not well. As he busied himself, I had a compulsion I couldn't resist." She paused for maximum effect. "The second his back was turned, I lifted my foot, kicked him in the ass shoved him off the pier, and took off with the cat in my arms. All I could hear was a round of applause and laughter as I high-tailed it out of there."
'When their laughter finally died down she asked, "You want to meet Short-Stuff?"
"Sure," they agreed unanimously.
She hopped up, hurried to her camper and brought a Bobtail Cat for the introduction. "Her breed is American Bobtail, believe it or not, so I call her Short Stuff."
They again sat and took turns holding the cat, listening to several stories from Darla's younger days and they had to admit, their lives were tame by comparison. She'd lived a full and by all accounts, fun and adventurous life.
They met for coffee every night until the two younger women were due to leave. She wasn't an early riser, so they presented her with a present they hoped she'd enjoy, leaving it beside her camper door on a makeshift step.
Little did they know, that after opening their gift, a beautifully handcrafted cat with an incredible likeness to Short-Stuff, that she shed many joyful tears. She didn't make friends easily or well, but she liked to think they were friends for life.
As she straightened out the paper, she noticed a card underneath. Opening it, she read, "You're a treasure. Please, when and if you wish to, keep in touch. This is our address and phone number should you decide to visit or call. You made our vacation, thank you very much. Good health to you, Short-Stuff and Rags. They would remember her with joy always and the tale about the inconsiderate campers who may just have learned to improve their people skills.