The Camp Seminole Wiener Wall

“Stop tugging your dick and get the fuck up!” the shape behind the flashlight said. It ripped the sheets off Pete’s bunk.

Pete stood, then stumbled. The shape, one of the seventeen-year-old counselors-in-training, shoved Pete into his bunkmate Alex’s back.

Alex didn’t turn around. He just waited for the other big, robed counselor to tell him to walk out the door.

“The fuck you waiting for? Go!” the first counselor said. Alex strolled and Pete walked at Alex’s heels, out of their cabin.

They pulled stunts like this at Camp Seminole sometimes. Pete begged his dad to just let him stay home or get a job because of bullshit like this, the games the training counselors played. Three a.m. water balloons, the surprise midnight wedgie contest, and How far can you toss a younger camper, in his underwear, into Tomahawk Lake?

Always the training counselors, the seventeen-year-olds, and always against the fifteen- or sixteen-year-olds. Always cruel, always male-on-male, always somewhere between vaguely and overtly gay.

Pete kept on Alex’s heels and they converged into the other campers and the other robed guys herding them. Guys like Jordan Smith, mid-level popularity guys, they fist-bumped Alex, then they waved at Pete, maybe nodded. Guys like Paul Lizzi, sports guys or guys who’d gotten laid or blown, they did the same for Alex, then they frowned or pretended there was just a Pete-shaped nothing trailing behind him.

But they weren’t mean to Pete. Alex never let that happen. His indisputable cool was a shield he shared.

Pete shivered and shuffled. The night wasn’t that cold but he felt exposed. The line of boys were in socks and flip-flops, boxers and tighty-whitey briefs, cotton Ts and tank tops. Alex told Pete last summer, only bring boxers to camp.

Pete was wearing the white briefs his mother had packed. Alex was wearing cozy-looking plaid boxers.

As Pete walked, he realized they were being herded toward the logs.

“The logs” was the name for the flat soil plateau up Tomahawk trail. At the top, there were always the remnants of some bonfire. Around that, a square of four pine trunks.

Pete thought the geography of that spot must have lent itself to ritual. Over fifty people could sit or stand comfortably, even when a primal bonfire roared. It was up a winding trail and isolated from the camp’s administrative cabins—just enough for the real counselors to credibly be able to say they didn’t know what went on there.

Scrawny Donny, their other bunkmate, weaved between the other campers and desperately flanked Alex. Though a year older than Alex and Pete, he preferred to hang out with younger campers. His physique featured all the gawky lank of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Tonight, Donny reeked of a malty staleness.

“What happened to you?” Pete asked him.

“Something called a gay loser beer bath,” Donny said.

At the top of the plateau, with the bonfire behind them lending warmth and mystique, the three highest-ranking older teen counselors stood like oaks. They each wore hooded black robes, a white tomahawk emblem stitched roughly near the heart.

Pete was terrified of making eye contact. He followed Alex as closely as he could. Like all the others, they were ushered around the square of logs until the first of them came all the way back around.

They sat.

Donny was a shaking sponge of wet yeast.

Alex held a perfect expression of cool blond placid, like he ought to be in black and white with a cigarette dangling off his lip and a starved model dangling off each arm.

Pete worried about dirt stains on his white briefs being mistaken for shit. Whenever he saw Alex, he pictured himself, some reflexive contrast. His hair was a brown mushroom top; he had slits for eyes and a nugget nose. He knew he looked like the yearbook photo for asynchronous puberty. Even in fantasy, Pete had to imagine getting rich before he could imagine getting laid.

“Did you do it?” Pete asked in a whisper, rubbing his bare knees in the unseasonably cool night. Alex shrugged, as if producing sound waves might disturb his general air of awesomeness. “Is that a yes or no?”

“Just wait,” Alex said. Pete went into one of his quiet furies. He imagined Alex inhaling, smoking behind their cabin like he always did, enjoying the toxin as only the cool can, firing two inverse plumes from his nostrils. Staring across any room, at any woman, he could fuck her, as long as she viewed him through that veil of dissipating poison.

Sometimes, Pete would allow the unfairness, the frustration of having a friend like Alex, drown all other thought. Then he felt guilty for feeling that way. It was worse these past few days.

The week prior, he stole from Alex. He justified it as some cosmic righting of the scales.

Still, it felt iffy at best.

Pete wondered if the Tomahawks ever had horseshit friend drama. When he looked at them, they were robed tanks with five o’clock shadows. They only seemed human at all when they shouted.

The tallest of the three by the fire raised one arm, and the forest was liberated from boy noise, leaving only the fire’s paper crinkle and the insect symphony. The leader walked toward the far corner of Pete and Alex’s log, trailed by the other two, one of whom was carrying a plain brown cardboard box.

The leader spoke.

“I want you little faggots to think about something,” he said. Each camper assumed he was the little faggot in question. Pete noticed many of the boys striking thinker poses on their log spots. “I want you to think about what I asked you to do.”

One week prior, in the same exact place and at presumably the same time of night, the White Tomahawks had made a request. Here’s some old cameras, one for each cabin, they’d said. Take photos of your dicks and give them to us.


Trust is a requirement for White Tomahawk members, they’d said. Do it, or you’ll never be a counselor.

It was pretty forward.

It unleashed chaos at camp. The adult counselors couldn’t understand what all the boys were violently whispering about between every activity. Or what was in the brown cardboard box in the mess hall, labeled “TOP SECRET.” And why some campers were dropping outdated analog photos in the slit in the top.

Meanwhile, the under-seventeens debated whether being eligible for White Tomahawk, the unofficial gateway group for future counselors, was worth it or not.

Scrawny Donny summed up why he was willing, why White Tomahawk was worth it.

“I hear they have the orgies!” Donny said. “They can see my dick now and I’ll get to use it later!”

Pete didn’t know if Donny was right or not. No one did. Probably, for the Tomahawks, it was just another sexually cruel camp activity. Still, everyone knew that summer as a Tomahawk was a nonstop party. It was a summer of drunk fucking. Who didn’t want that?

So Pete had already done it. Pete dropped a Polaroid in the box. There was no going back. But Alex kept dodging the question when Pete asked if Alex had done it. He kept being Mr. Cool. He kept being the motherfucking Marlboro Boy.

Pete elbowed Alex in the ribs.

“What the fuck?” Alex whispered.

“Did you do it? I need to know. Yes or no?” Pete spoke in the loudest possible whisper. The Tomahawks had yet to notice them.

“No, now shut up,” Alex said. Pete was relieved. The boys who dropped Polaroids or weirdly square envelopes, they must’ve thought, like Donny had, that this was a situation where conformity would be rewarded.

Apparently, Alex hadn’t agreed. Pete was glad.

“The first principle of the White Tomahawk society is to respect yourself,” the head Tomahawk continued. “What kind of a man can claim to respect himself if he’s willing to take a photo of his cock, write his name on the back, and put it in a box for another man? What kind of a faggot-ass tool would you have to be?”

Pete realized it was going to be one of those do-something-gay-or-we’ll-call-you-gay, you-did-it, ha-ha-what-a-fag rituals.

“But you asked us!” one kid in the crowd blubbered.

“But moo masked muss!” the big gorilla mimicked in a high tone. The kids who hadn’t put pictures in cracked up—all except Alex. That was Pete’s favorite thing about his best camp friend—he was so damned cool he didn’t need to shit on anybody.

The leader continued.

“You were being tested. Remember that individual strength is the key virtue of White Tomahawk. Part of that is the individual strength to exercise your own judgment and not just blindly follow orders. In that spirit, those of you who did not submit pictures, you will be considered for the next ritual. Remember that only White Tomahawk members are considered for counselor training positions when they turn seventeen!”

The sound was a mixture of deep relieved sighs and horrified groans, but Pete and Alex were silent.

Then the leader said, “The rest of you are going to be part of a different contest.” He nodded toward the gorilla, who opened the box.

It was empty.

There was a great, high howl in the woods. Unmistakably female.

Girls flooded the plateau from every side. They weren’t even girls, Pete realized; these were women, seventeen-year-olds, the lady Tomahawks.

Pete wasn’t the only one startled. All the boys, even Alex, wore frozen deer expressions that only evaporated when the girls didn’t dismember them.

“Welcome to the Camp Seminole hall of shame, gentlemen,” the leader said.

“You boys are up on the wall!” Her voice was squirrel but her strut back toward the path was slow thighs, pure alpha wolf.

Pete had heard stories of the Camp Seminole Wiener Wall. He had always filed cliff notes of them in between the one about the hot young lesbian camp on the other side of Stone Mountain and the all-Catholic girls’ camp two lakes over, where vagina is only for their wedding night, but oral and anal are all you can eat.

Two tall and terribly beautiful girls carried it up the path, to the middle of the clearing.

Camp Lesbos and Camp Virgin-by-Technicality were bullshit. But this was true. They really made a corkboard full of cock photos every year and kept it in the girl counselors’ cabin. Pete was old enough to know the monster gator of Tomahawk Lake was a fraud, but now he knew the Wiener Wall was real as a hurricane, and twice as devastating.

It was horrendous to behold. All Pete could think about was how his elementary science teacher used to tell him every snowflake was a little different. There were pubic bushes and fields, innie and outie belly buttons, there was baby fat and granite abs. Under that, they were soft and hard, growers and showers, spaghetti strands and squat stumps.

It was awful and strangely hypnotic, like an engine fire on a highway median.

“Isn’t this illegal? Like, kiddie porn or something?” Pete finally said.

“I guess it’s okay if it’s only for other kids,” Alex said.

The leader put his arm up and it was quiet. He looked over at the alpha she-wolf, smiled and nodded. That was the first time Pete saw two people casually interact and he could tell, just from that, they were fucking.

“Okay boys,” she said, “this year’s winner of the floss boy award is…Paul Lizzi!” She took his photo off the wall. One of the beta she-wolves kissed Paul on the cheek and the other one dumped a basket of little dental floss packets over his head. He turned eggplant.

“No wonder he’s such an asshole,” Pete said.

“This is cold,” Alex said.

It continued that way. There was the “egg in a robin’s nest” award, the “apple on a short stick” award, “the best backup singers, worst lead” award.

And then, the two beta wolves blew on plastic kazoos.

“Hear ye! Hear ye!” the alpha said. “It is time to announce the cock of the year!”

No, Pete thought.

“Now, what you’ve all been waiting for, the best dick ever to swing through the gates of Camp Seminole belongs to…Pete Thompson!”

Oh God no, Pete thought. But he smiled out of sheer terror. Alex and Donny cracked up and patted his back. The girls spotted him. They were strutting his way.

There was the clacking of fake nails, all this perfumed hair, a landslide of warm tits. The alpha stroked Pete’s brown mushroom hair and said, “Guess the attic doesn’t match the basement.” The beta girls laughed. Pete’s face froze in the terror grin. He saw Alex, smiling and clapping. Alex had backed off. He was letting Pete have his moment.

Pete realized again what a good friend Alex was.

He felt terrible.

The walk back to the cabins was an odd mix of the Bataan Death March and a Mardi Gras parade. The enlightened non-photographers drank in the misery of the uninformed remainder. Pete heard certain phrases repeated:

“…not my fault.”

“…brother told me.”

“…swore me to secrecy.”

Again, he couldn’t help but think what a good friend Alex was. Now they were walking side by side with Donny behind them, looking like he didn’t know whose ass to crawl into.

“No offense, but I never would’ve guessed you were packing heat,” Alex said.

“Thanks, dickhead,” Pete replied.

“They were all over you!” Donny said over Pete’s shoulder. “Which one you gonna fuck?”

“I don’t think it works that way,” Pete said.

“It works exactly that way,” Alex said. “You just act like it’s supposed to happen and it happens.”

“Easy for you to say,” Pete said. They all knew Alex was the only non-virgin in their cabin. Last summer, he’d enjoyed a six-minute tryst with Dana “Double-Ds” Douglass behind the pool showers, while Pete feigned drowning to divert the adult counselors’ attention.

Thinking of that made Pete feel better. Maybe, despite what he’d stolen from Alex, he was a good friend, too.

Back at the cabin, Pete insisted he just wanted to go to sleep. But Alex was determined: Tonight was the night to raid the girls’ side of camp.

“Apparently you’ve got the balls,” Alex said. “Why not act like it?” Pete just lay on the bottom bunk.

“I would love to not talk about my junk anymore,” Pete said.

“Why do you wear your bathing suit in the showers?” Donny asked. “If I had a Howitzer in my trousers I’d open up a museum for tourists to see it.”

“No more cock talk,” Pete said, rolling to face the wall.

“You better get used to it,” Alex said. “The girls flash that thing every chance they get. Every bonfire. Every single unofficial camp event the Tomahawks run your Cyclops is going to be staring us in the face.”

That was a problem.

Pete rolled back over. “For real?” he asked.

“My brother said they put glitter on it, like it’s some elementary school trifold, so yeah, fucknuts, you better get used to the attention. You’re the Miss America of cock for the rest of the summer.”

“That isn’t right,” Pete said. His mind raced. “The whole thing isn’t right. Look how upset Paul was. And Jordan’s never mean to anyone, and those girls called him linguini dick. It isn’t right!”

“Yeah, well, what can you do?” Donny asked.

Pete knew what he had to do.

“Go get it, the wall. Trash it,” Pete said.

“Girl raid,” Alex said. “Fuckin’ A.”

Two hours later, the camp was quiet. There was a hint of light, a grey-blue taste of day. Alex’s deep nasal snore mixed with Donny’s wispy respiration. They had all tried to stay awake, to wait for that time before sunrise when the counselors, trainees, and Tomahawks all slept. Pete was the only one who stayed awake.

Pete opened the cabin door. It creaked.


Alex was up. Shit.

“Hold on. I’m coming with.”

Pete tried to think of an excuse. “It’s alright,” he said. “You’ll get in trouble. Besides, one of us is quieter, quicker.”

“I’ve been sneaking over to the girls’ camp at dawn since I was thirteen,” Alex said. “Trust me. I’m ninja about that shit.” Pete knew Alex was coming. He was so used to running their little group. He wouldn’t be dissuaded. There was nothing Pete could say.

“Let me go first,” Pete said. “I’d feel bad if you got in trouble.”

They walked out of the cabin on their toes, Alex allowing Pete to lead. Even the low counselors, the ones who drew universally loathed breakfast duty, even they wouldn’t be anywhere near awake. Still, Pete and Alex crouch-walked like Xbox commandos, quickly and quietly in the predawn haze, past Tomahawk trail and the clearing from the night ritual, down the dirt path to the girls’ camp commons.

“We don’t even know where it is,” Pete whispered.

“Their lodge,” Alex said. “Just like in our commons, the place counselors do whatever they want and their supervisors and the owners pretend they don’t know.”

The mist from the nearby lake slithered offshore and through the woods. The sky was a sickly light blue.

They paused for a moment at the imaginary line by the girls’ commons. They listened.


Pete crossed the line. Alex followed.

They crept up the treacherous, creaky steps of the girls’ lodge and everything remained still. Alex squinted through the dirty glass front window.

“You can’t see for shit,” Pete observed.

“You’re right, I forgot to put my contacts back in. You get up here,” Alex countered.

“I don’t, how am I gonna…”

“It’s a corkboard full of dick pictures!” Alex rasped. “Hopefully they only have one of those!” Exhausted, Pete pressed his face to the dirty glass.

“It’s…I don’t see anything. Whoa! That’s definitely it, but there’s no way you’re getting in!” But Alex was already dragging a large stick up the steps.

“Are you fucking crazy?” Pete asked.

Alex answered by swinging the stick, exploding the window in glass and splinter. He swished out the remaining glass and lifted the window before climbing in. Lights came on in the next cabin. Pete stood frozen—a deer threatened with venison future.

“Pete!” The strangest thing was in front of his eyes. A hand coming out the window Alex had just entered, holding the 25’’ x 30’’ corkboard with more than thirty penises on it.

“Boy raid!” It was the ferrety voice from the night ritual. Pete grabbed the corkboard and they sprinted up the trail and away from the alarmed movement behind them. They took an oblique path from the clearing and, emptied of air and adrenaline, they collapsed on two flat rocks, in a fishing nook a half mile around the lake.

The top of the sun crossed the horizon.

They fought for breath. There it was. The legendary Wiener Wall, sitting up against a tree as the lake splished the base of their resting rocks.

“So,” Alex began, “want to remove your unit?” Pete laughed nervously. They realized, the way you can only realize after the fact, that they had an immortal camp story.

“I don’t know which one’s mine…let’s just trash it,” Pete said.

“How can’t you spot your own dick in a lineup? Haven’t you two been introduced?”

“Dude, there’s not much of a difference up there,” Pete nodded to the sign, nervously. “Cocks, balls, pubes. Not like I’ve got a raccoon tattoo on my inner thigh. Let’s trash it, for real, we’ll toss it in the lake. It’s kinda gay, looking at it like this.”

Alex stared at the wall and squinted. “You’ve got a point,” he concluded. “Wait, there’s writing.” Alex picked it up, squinting again. “Tallies, drawings, a coupon for a free blowjob. These girls are nasty! Don’t you want to know which ones were into you?”

“No, I’d rather…no, let’s just toss it in the lake,” Pete reiterated. He was bound to his rock, slapping an A.D.D. rhythm. Alex leaned into the board, face first.

“Five tallies. ‘I’d ride it!’ one chick wrote. ‘You’re a fugly slut,’ another one underneath it,” Alex pulled the silver tack out of the Polaroid and flipped it over. “Greg Johnson, don’t we eat breakfast with his cabin?” Pete jumped off of his rock and tried to get around Alex, to the board.

“We shouldn’t be, Alex just let me toss it,” Pete moved forward but Alex held him at arm’s length.

“No tallies. ‘Ugliest cock ever’ one girl put. Christ, that’s cold.” He flipped the picture. “Roger Mitchell,” he said. “No wonder he’s on Zoloft.”

“Alex, just let me, we have to see these guys! At breakfast!” Pete lunged again but Alex was too strong.

“Dude, think about it. This is the most we’ll ever know about what girls really think! I had no idea there were so many sluts at camp!” Alex hadn’t felt a joy this pure since his eighth Christmas.

“It’s not right…You shouldn’t know…” Alex shoved Pete back and pulled the next picture off the board.

“Ten tallies, that’s the high score! ‘Delicious, this is what a cock should look like!’ Ew… ‘I’d swallow him for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner.’ Well Pete, this is you. I still can’t believe it. You’re my fucking idol!”

“Can I please? You shouldn’t see!” Pete held out his hand.

“Here you go,” Alex the picture out, face up. Pete reached for it, but Alex pulled it back and squinted.

“Why’s the hair blond?”


“Your hair’s brown. Mine is blond.” Alex pointed to his perfect quaff of blond hair, which, even un-gelled, retained its lady-killer shape.

There was nothing left for Pete to say.

“Dude!” Alex said. Pete slouched and looked at his shoes. Alex pulled the elastic of his shorts and boxers forward and squinted down at himself, then back at the picture. “When? Alex asked. “How?”

Pete sighed.

“Wednesday, after they first asked us, when Donny took those beers from the counselor’s cabin. You were snoring like a bear. You didn’t even move.” It was the most guilty Pete had ever felt.

“Why?” Alex sounded so hurt. Pete realized this was probably the first time anyone had victimized Alex. He wasn’t used to it. He hadn’t built up a tolerance for being shit on the way Donny and Pete had.

Pete’s guilt became rage.

“What? You’re too perfect to steal something?” Pete tried to think of a real zinger, some mortal sin he could accuse Alex of to get the scales of their friendship rebalanced. “You told me you copied all your English papers last year!”

“You stole my DICK!” Alex yelled, violently pointing to the image of his member. “That’s a little bit fucking worse!” Alex kicked the corkboard and it cracked slightly; a cock pic floated like a premature autumn leaf in the lake’s shallows. He put the still-intact corkboard diagonally between a rock and the earth and blasted his foot through it, then kicked through the remnants until the pictures, cork and dirt were all messed together. “I should punch you in the fucking mouth.”

Pete didn’t know how to explain. He stood there, limp, knowing he had to try.

“Just, okay, I don’t know how to…”

“So fucked up…”

“You don’t understand…”

“You’re right! I don’t understand! I don’t understand how my friend could take a picture of my dick when I’m passed out and try to say it’s his! I should kick the fucking shit out of you!”

Pete knew Alex was right, but he also had this picture in his mind. In Heaven, fifteen years ago, if there was a capital G-O-D, omniscient and eternally toiling, moved by a granite sense of righteousness, he would’ve seen Pete and Alex before they were born. He would’ve seen the sharp, handsome Alex that would one day be. He would’ve seen the pubescent ruin of Pete-to-come. He would’ve reached behind him, to all the baby dicks hanging on the clothesline in Heaven, and knowing what they too would become, shapely cucumbers or peculiar, twisted thumbs…

He would’ve stuck the perfect cock on Pete. Alex had everything else. Why couldn’t Pete have one perfect thing?

He couldn’t tell Alex that, but he could show him.

“Fine. You’re right.” Pete pressed his thumbs under the elastic of his shorts and briefs and pushed them into a bunch around his knees, exposing everything underneath.

There was a third person in the glade, and he was no beauty.

It was staring at Alex; he was frozen as if cornered by a rattler. Alex tilted his head to the side and squinted, hard.

“Did you break it?” was all Alex could manage. Pete hiked his shorts up and put his hand out in a physical expression of the indisputable point he’d proven.

The bottom of the sun crossed the horizon.

Pete tried to picture the brilliant Internet breakthrough he would engineer, or a sci-fi pandemic that only affected women’s eyes—anything that might bridge the impossible chasm between the female race and his circus genitals.

Alex collapsed on his rock. Pete sat down on his.

They sat in tired silence as the cicadas began their morning song, each boy deflated on his own rock, silent and sweating, surrounded by shattered corkboard, dirt, and pictures of their bunkmates’ privates. On the lake, a phallic photo floated on the surface.

The wind shifted, and the disembodied penis sailed out toward the center of the water, moving with increasing speed as if charged with some great purpose—a lesser vessel of Columbus, eager for virgin shores.

James Russell

James Russell teaches and writes in New Jersey. He blogs at and tweets @JamesRussell49. “The Camp Seminole Wiener Wall” is from his short story collection, Strange Arrangements. His work has also appeared in Blip Magazine and The Quotable. He is looking for a home for Jesse Rules, his 78,000-word novel about the fall from grace of a homo-repressed, would-be Catholic school class president, set in grungy 1994.

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