Alice and Bernie: By Death Bemused
A Brief Conversational Narrative by David L. Haase
Episode 2: In which Bernie learns the dangers of Camp Youth in Asia.
Bernie shuddered at the mention of murder. Ever since she had learned that her father insisted on naming her after a dancer he had seen in Paris during World War I (Beranice du Quoit), Bernie had always thought of herself on the murdering side of the equation, not on the buried side.
Bernie fairly screamed and gazed about in panic. Alice was often wrong in her notions, but she was right just often enough to make a person worry.
“Not so loud. You want someone to hear you?”
“Alice, you said there was no one around. How do you know they want to kill us? That’s an awful thing to say. I think we should call the boys. Bobby or Camden can come and get us. I’ll get my cell phone out and you can dial it.”
“They won’t be any help. They sent us here.”
“Well, yes, but they didn’t know the people here were going to kill us. How do you know they’re going to kill us? Who told you?”
“No one told me. I figured it out myself.”
“Oh, Alice, this is one of your wild notions. You’re going to get us in trouble. I just know it.”
“There won’t be any trouble, because we’ll be dead and nobody will care.”
“Dead? How can you say such a horrible thing?”
“Figure it out, you blind old bat. Figure it out. What do they call this place?”
“Well, it’s a Motel 6.”
“No, not the building. The program. This weekend that Bobby and Camden signed us up for.”
“Alice, you are forgetting things. It’s CampYouth in Asia-America.”
“That’s right. Youth in Asia.”
“Yes. That’s what I said. CampYouth in Asia-America. It’s where older people like us come together with young immigrants from Korea. Those Koreans are very organized. Don’t you remember Father Bill telling us that? They help each other out and start businesses. That’s why all the gas stations and dry cleaners are owned by Koreans. Do you remember any of this, Alice?”
“You old bat. You don’t get it. Say it fast.”
“Say what fast?”
“Say Camp Youth in Asia fast.”
“CampYouthinAsia. I don’t see what you’re getting at, Alice.”
“Youth in Asia. Youth in Asia. Euthanasia. You know, kill all the old people. They want to get rid of us.”
“Oh. Ooh. Wait now, Alice. Is that all? You think the camp name sounds like euthanasia?”
“No, that’s not all. Did you see the menu for the next three days?”
“Of course not, Alice. You know I can’t see to read.”
“Well, I can read, and the menu is exactly the same every day. For instance, meat loaf for dinner every day.”
“Oh, I do like a good meat loaf. I wonder if they make it with catsup or gravy. I prefer gravy, but I’ll eat catsup, too.”
“You wingding. It doesn’t matter. They’re going to euthanize us.”
“With the meat loaf?”
“No, you empty-headed bleached blonde. Not with the meatloaf. That’s the tip-off. Nobody feeds old people like us the same thing day after day. That means they don’t expect us to be here for dinner tomorrow night. It happens tomorrow.”
“What happens tomorrow?”
“Alice, not so loud. They’ll hear you inside the motel.”
“That’s another clue, Bernie.”
“What? What’s another clue?”
“The hotel. There’s no kids there.”
“Well, no, Alice. The kids are at the camp. We’re staying at the motel because it’s more comfortable for us than camping out. Weren’t you listening at the orientation?”
“I was too busy looking for a way out of this place. They’ve got those counselors everywhere. You should have seen them rush us when we got off the bus.”
“I think they were just trying to help us off the bus. I know I was glad to have someone give me a hand. They make those buses too high for older people like us.”
Alice ignored Bernie, as she often did.
“There were two of them for every one of us. I tell you, they don’t want any escapes.”
“Alice, I think …”
“Bernie, don’t think. I’ll do the thinking for the both of us. I’ve got the eyes and the brains for it.”
She leaned into her friend.
“I’ve got a plan.”
“Oh, dear,” Bernie said. “Not a plan.”
Up Next: Episode 3 – In which Alice hatches a plan.