The Latrine

All wet and no place to go

Everyone in the Scouts called it a latrine, a WWII military term.

Outhouse, john, bathroom, porta-potty. Same names except there was nothing portable about this latrine. There was no plumbing inside the double-seater, just running water outside to wash up afterwards. The sink was long enough so eight people could wash their hands, and do an entire camp’s dishes at the same time. Everybody used the latrine but nobody liked it, nobody, that is, except for Cain.

Cain seemed to spend hours in that place. No one knew why but he just liked it. They knew that when Cain was going to the latrine with a roll in his hand, the other Scouts wouldn’t see him for a while.

As the Scouts sat around the nightly campfire at the week long Summer camp, they exchanged stories, roasted marshmallows, and just poked at the fire, telling jokes and laughing. Nighttime in the Summer in the Allegheny Mountains was chilly, so a nightly campfire was welcome.

As regular as a clock, Cain excused himself and headed to the latrine about an hour before bedtime. After he left, the conversation involved a bunch of jokes about Cain going on his nightly pilgrimage back to the edge of the campsite where the latrine was located.

Jayson continued placing five-inch logs on the blaze, just because he liked playing with the fire.

“I think that’s enough, Jayson,” said Scoutmaster Tyler. “That’s the last log for tonight before we head to bed for the night.”

“All right,” said Jayson. “But, hey, where’s Cain? He’s been gone for an hour.”

Jamison, the oldest of the Scouts at camp this week, said, “Oh, knowing him, he probably fell in.”

Everyone chuckled at the remark since it seemed to fit Cain.

“Naa,” Jayson said. “We would’ve heard the splash.”

Another joke at Cain’s expense, this time, more realistic because Cain was easily 70 pounds overweight, and definitely would’ve heard a splash.

Within seconds after Jayson spoke, Jamison saw a flashlight in the distance, swaying up the pathway from the latrine, almost as if the boy holding it had heard the conversation.

Cain approached and both arms were dripping wet.

Nobody said a word as Cain got closer to the fire. It didn’t matter what came out of Cain’s mouth next because no one would hear it over the laughter.

Still, Cain asked, “Say, anyone know where the towels went? You guys hide them on purpose? Is that what you’re laughing about?”



  1. Well, this one brought back memories of summer camp when I was an overweight girl. So, although I didn’t retreat to the latrine then, I’m commiserating with Cain about the laughs directed at him on his return to the campfire.

  2. We still have latrines in some places in Jamaica, in poor neighbourhoods and especially poor rural neighbourhoods. Even in schools until quite recently!

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