02-05 the Weekend Party
The Chektar family farm is about eighty kilometres from View Port, and near the base of the Amir Mountain Range in a wide set of folds that go deep into the range at its widest point. The range almost seems to makes a ninety degree turn at that point. The main part of the farm extends into this fold, and it runs into the foothills which make up three sides of the farm boundaries. The mountain jungle transitions into thick mountain forests for the last few kilometres before the open plains. The main house and farm buildings are ten kilometres from the edge of the mountain forest. Most of the foothills are narrow ridges of jungle or forest separating the grassy meadows where cattle, sheep, and horses graze. Much of the area in the fold is plains that have been turned into open pastures. These mountains are the home and range of many animals, mostly monkeys, birds, rodents, and mountain lions (a local variant of the leopard which is a bit bigger than a cougar). The monkeys and big cats usually stay in the higher, denser, and rougher parts of the mountain jungles; about thirty kilometres away from the farms and at a much higher elevation. No big cats have ever been seen in the farm area or this far down the mountains. The Amiri tribe have been living on this land for nearly two thousand years, and many generations of the Chektar family has lived in this area working the land most of the time.
The farm grows grain crops, cattle, and sheep as its main income, but it is known for the breeding and training of high quality riding and work horses. The current farm has been owned and worked by this branch of the Chektar family for over six hundred years. The Chektar are a very large clan of the Amiri tribe, and they run many farms in the area, with this as the largest and best known farm the clan has.
The youngest girl in this specific Chektar family, Deanna, is turning fourteen on the weekend. Her parents have agreed to let her have her closest school friends visit for a weekend-long sleepover. It’s a holiday weekend with no school from noon Thursday until 9:00 a.m. Tuesday. They’ll spend the whole weekend on the farm, because it’s a long drive into View Port. The girls will have a number of fun activities at the farm. The family is borrowing a four wheel drive mini-bus to transport all of the girls to the farm. At 1:00 p.m. on the Thursday they’ll leave View Port as one group, and return at 6:00 p.m. on Monday evening. They’ll have all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for fun activities and good times.
Deanna has invited all her close friends, including her best friend - Isobelle Amir. But Deanna isn’t sure if Isobelle will be there. Mrs Chektar has given approval for Isobelle to bring her young brother, Gordie, but five other guests said they won’t come if there’s a young ‘brat’ coming along. They claim he’ll spoil things. Deanna, Isobelle, and Mrs Chektar don’t think Gordie will spoil the party. They think he’ll add to the fun, because he has a very different way of looking at things, and a way of thinking of fun things to do. However, Isobelle is thinking of not going, since she’s worried about trouble with the other girls because of her taking Gordie will spoil the weekend for her very good friend.
Isobelle is a very responsible fourteen year girl, and often has to care for her younger brother who’s an eight year old genius. His supervision is shared by all the adults and older children. However, the roster has Isobelle down to supervise his care Saturday morning and Monday afternoon, and she can’t organise for someone else to take over for her. Arrangements have been made to adjust the roster for Isobelle to share Gordie’s care with Mrs Chektar for the whole weekend, and she’ll have other chores reduced for this extra time supervising her young brother. However, that’s now in doubt, because of her decision to not go and possibly ruin her friend’s weekend.
Gordie is a high genius who’s been studying martial arts for years. He’s now eight years old, and he’s well advanced in the training. For security reasons all of the clan children are taught the use of various weapons at a young age, and Gordie is already an expert marksman with a light rifle, pistol, bow, and extremely good with a knife. He’s not your average eight year old boy.
Gordie’s and Isobelle’s security teams are planning to go camping on the edge of the Chektar Farm. They’ll be handy to intercept any trouble makers heading toward the farm, due to the limited access way, but out of the way of the farm staff and the party group. Nor will they be readily associated with the farm or the party group there. However, this will also put them about thirty minutes away from the farm, if they’re needed for trouble on the farm itself. Due to what they know about the farm, the residents, and workers this isn’t expected to be an issue for them.
Thursday morning Gordie arranges for his mother to send a note to school to allow him to have the whole day off. This isn’t a problem, because his main reason for school is social interaction with his peers. Gordie does most of his real studying at home, due to being well in advance of the regular school work for his age. Carrying a shoulder bag of clothes Gordie walks from his clan home to the View Port shopping centre; it’s about a thirty minute walk for him. Arriving at ‘The Salon of Outrageously Lovely Hair’ at 9:30 a.m. he’s shown into a back room by his sister, Francine, and the salon owner. They both study him well, and then shake their heads no. He frowns for a moment.
Smiling at them he says, “Just a moment.” He strips to his shirt and shorts before putting on a borrowed floral dress. He says, “Now you can get a better idea. I was thinking a change of hair colour, bring it forward over the ears, and shorten it. I should pass for a nine or ten year old girl.” Both women have pensive expressions.
Suddenly the owner smiles, and says, “Darker hair, say honey blond, and tight curls may work. I’d have to look at the finished product. The curling should shorten the hair enough to fool most people.” She leaves, and shuts the door behind her. With a soft giggle Francine sits Gordie in a chair, and washes his hair. Dying the hair from its natural very fair (almost white) colour to a honey blond colour she adds a chemical to help it keep the curled shape when dry, and uses a thin curling wand. About an hour later Gordie no longer looks like a thin faced, over tall, eight year old boy with long snowy white hair; he looks like a square faced ten year old girl with short curly, honey blond hair.
Walking back into the room the owner gives Gordie a long look, and gives a slow nod yes, “This may work, let’s see how you walk.” Putting on a different set of shoes Gordie walks around the room. While smiling the owner asks, “How did you learn to walk like a girl?”
Geordie replies, “Simple, I watched my sisters and female cousins. Especially those near my own age. Then practised for a few hours each night for two weeks, but only in my room with the door locked.”
The grinning owner says, “Right, Francine, take your friend out, and help buy her some clothes. It is your day off.” A smiling Francine and Gordie leave the beauty salon after they both get a manicure.
An hour later Gordie has a suitcase full of new clothes for the weekend, they just bought them. With Francine’s advice the clothes are selected for style and colour to suit the new female Gordie. The reasons for each choice are explained when they’re selected. Thus Gordie knows the best way to mix and match them for different looks, if he has to. Francine pays for everything, clothes and hair salon, from the wallet of money Gordie handed her at the parlour.
At 12:15 p.m. Gordie and Francine are sitting in an inexpensive eatery waiting to have lunch when Isobelle joins them. Entering the place Isobelle sees Francine sitting with a young girl. She walks up, and sits down while saying to Francine, “I’m surprised you’re buying me lunch, because you’re such a tight-wad. So, what’s up?”
Smiling, Francine waves at Gordie, saying, “I believe you know my young friend here.”
Isobelle glances at the young girl, and says, “She looks familiar, but I can’t place her.”
A giggling Francine says, “I think this will actually work. You’re sure you don’t know this person?”
Isobelle looks harder before saying, “She looks a lot like Gordie. Is she a cousin I haven’t seen for some time?”
Gordie stands, and goes to the counter. He orders and pays for five meals, luncheon specials. Returning, he sits down while saying, “For this weekend call me Grace, Issy.”
Isobelle turns quickly from Francine to stare hard at him, and says, “Smeg, is that you in there, Gordie?” He’s the only member of the clan that calls her Issy, because the rest call her Isobelle or Belle for short.
He smiling, and says, “Think we can fool those silly twits?”
While laughing hard Isobelle says, “Yes, we can! But Deanna and Missus Chektar have to be told the truth. Oh damn, I didn’t pack for the weekend.”
Francine says, “Don’t worry, mother is taking care of that. Clothes, etcetera will be delivered to the meeting spot with the bus.”
Soon afterwards Mrs Chektar and Deanna enter the eatery, and look around. Seeing Isobelle they walk over, and Mrs Chektar says, “I got a message to join Gordie here for lunch and a chat. Have you seen him?”
A smiling Gordie says, “Yes, here. Sit down, please.” Stunned, they stare at him while they sit down. Shifting his voice to a higher register, to sound more girlish, he says, “Issy and I are going to your party. In this disguise I doubt we’ll have complaints from the five dumbos, since they won’t recognise me. I even fooled Issy when she arrived.”
While laughing hard Mrs Chektar says, “One condition, no one else is to know, not even my family. I want to surprise them, later.” Deanna looks at her mother in shock, then starts to laugh while she pictures the reactions of her brothers to the truth, when told - afterwards. A few minutes later their meals arrive. They’ve a good lunch with lots of laughter while they talk about the up-coming weekend, and the fun they’ll have.
After eating they walk down to the meeting point. The mini-bus loaned by the Amir Clan is already there. Gordie puts his case of new clothes in the attached trailer. It already has a number of things Gordie is taking, along with the clothes for Vicky, Isobelle, and his cousin Phyllis. The rest of the girls soon arrive, and their luggage is placed in the trailer, along with numerous boxes of groceries bought for the weekend. The driver ensures the load is well secured and covered.
Once all are on hand - Deanna, her eleven closest friends (three with nine or ten year old sisters they’ve to watch), and ‘Grace,’ Mrs Chektar introduces ‘Grace’ to them. Phyllis is surprised when she says Grace is a relative of Isobelle, thus related to her as well. She shrugs, because she doesn’t know all of her relatives. Vicky, Isobelle’s closest friend (more like an alter ego) who lives with the clan gives Grace a very close look, smiles, and winks at her. Mrs Chektar takes a photo of the group after organising them into three rows beside the bus.
They board the bus. Vicky and Isobelle make sure to sit beside Grace. The driver, a security guard on loan with the bus, checks they’re all seated with safety belts done up. After turning on some music he starts the bus, and heads to the farm. It’s a two hour drive away on a rough road. During the drive they all chat and sing songs. Each takes a turn to sing a solo verse or two of a favourite song, and even Grace does a few solos; singing as well as the rest sing their solos.
On arriving at the farm at 3:30 p.m. the driver undoes the trailer cover, and each person takes their luggage into the bunkhouse attached to the main house. Normally it’s only used during the spring and summer, when the extra field hands are hired. The bunkhouse is free at present. Selecting beds they put their bags on them, and go back out to help carry the groceries in, followed by afternoon tea. The rest of the day is spent getting the bunkhouse organised.
There are eighteen beds in the bunkhouse, and those nearest the old pot-bellied stove are the prime sites which are grabbed first. Isobelle, Vicky, and Grace are the last to choose beds, ending up with Grace in the corner near the main house, Isobelle beside her, and Vicky opposite Isobelle. The other three corner beds are empty. Deanna walks in with a suitcase and looks at the people sitting on the beds. She winks at Grace, and tosses her case on the bed opposite Grace, because she’s bunking in with her friends for the weekend.
Everyone soon has their clothes put away in the cupboards beside the beds. They decide to start the stove to warm the room, but they have trouble getting it started. Grace says she’s got some scout badges for camp work, and offers to try. She soon has the fire going, and is the hero of the moment.
Deanna takes everyone outside to bring in plenty of wood to keep the fire going all night. Anyone up during the night is to check the fire, and to put more wood on it if needed. Checking out the rest of the building they find a large trough style sink with lots of taps and a long mirror above it. Twelve toilet cubicles opposite the sink area, and four shower cubicles with multiple shower heads at the end. Each shower cubicle has its own little change area, and is big enough for four people.
Deanna says, “We have to keep the bunkhouse clean and tidy. So we need to share out shower and toilet facilities into four groups. Each group will use only its facilities, and will be responsible for keeping their areas clean and supplied. The groups will be by beds from the door. The first two bunks on each side will be a group of four as Group One. The next two bunks on each side will be Group Two, and so on. The showers are numbered one to four, so they correspond to the group numbers. Group One takes the three toilets nearest the showers with the sink area opposite their toilets, and so on down the line. OK. Any problems?” All agree it’s a fair sharing of the work. By pure luck each group has one of the younger girls in it. Each group immediately checks their areas of responsibility are clean with the required soaps, toilet paper, and towels on hand. Everyone gets their toothbrushes to place in their sink areas, and personal bath towels to hang in the shower areas, so all are ready for use when needed.
With the bunkhouse ready for the night they all go to help prepare dinner. All the girls are surprised about how knowledgeable Grace is with preparing dinner. Several times she stops the other younger girls from making mistakes that would’ve ruined part of the meal. She’s also a real big hit when she makes batter to have waffles as a late evening supper snack. Mrs Chektar is surprised at Grace’s level of cooking knowledge for her real age; especially so for her real gender, too. The dinner is greatly enjoyed, and they’re all looking forward to the special supper of freshly cooked waffles with ice-cream and topping a little later.
Since the girls helped prepare dinner the Chektar boys have to clear the table and wash the dishes. Smiling, Mrs Chektar sends the girls off to shower and change into their night clothes before returning to watch movies. Once the bunkhouse door is shut most of the girls start getting undressed. Grace grabs her night clothes, and heads for the showers. Grinning like imps Isobelle, Deanna, and Vicky grab their gear, and follow her.
They reach number one shower unit as a group, and Vicky locks the door behind them while softly saying, “I think we’re all aware of the true situation here, so there’s no need to mess about or worry about washing each other’s back, is there?” Isobelle and Deanna look at her oddly, and she continues, “You two deliberately picked your bunks to help isolate our friend here, so I’m positive you know Grace isn’t the name on the birth certificate, correct.” Staring at her with concerned looks they both nod.
Laughing lightly Grace starts undressing while saying, “Then I gather the secret is safe within this group, and you all want to play a variant of Doctor, huh.” They all turn to him, smile, and start to get undressed. They all take a bit of time noticing the differences between them, and are soon showering as a group.
Once washed they tidy up the shower area, dry off, and dress in night clothes. Leaving their shower unit they find Mrs Chektar standing in the centre of the sink area. Looking at their group she slowly nods while she walks past them to examine the shower area, and say, “OK, it’s clean and tidy, you lot can go watch TV.” Turning to the sound of a door opening she sees Group Three walking out in their night clothes. She stops them to examine their shower area, and sends them back to tidy it up. Winking at Group One she waves them off to the lounge room. They leave, just a little bit worried about how Mrs Chektar feels about their group shower.
At the end of the first movie Mrs Chektar grabs ‘Group One’ to assist with the preparation of waffles for supper, warning Group Two they’re to help with Friday’s supper, and so on for the others. While cooking the waffles she explains she’s not worried about them sharing the showers, because it’s clear they’re all aware of, and happy with, the situation and she trusts them to behave in a sensible manner.
Everyone enjoys the waffles and the second movie. All have a good night’s sleep afterwards.