Keith Miller tells a gripping personal story about betraying some one in his book, Habitations of Dragons. He writes, ‘It was still very dark, but I was awake having been disturbed by a bad dream. I was weeping because the dream had recalled an experience in my adolescence which was so painful that I thought I would never be free from its haunting presence.’
Miller goes on to say that, the experience and the pain that accompanied it had ‘changed my whole life’ and how he viewed relationships and the issues of love, intergrity, and honesty in them.
Miller was a camp counselor one summer at boys’ summer came and met a camper named Mortey who became one of his favorite campers. Mortey, writes Miller, ‘was a cagey little performer’ who stole the show in the comedy that Miller had written for the camp program. He also noted that ‘he was outgoing and had lots of old-fashion guts and intelligence.’ Mortey was also a boy without a dad and would ‘reach up and take my hand when we were walking alone, as if I were his dad.’
Well the day came when the vote for junior honor camper had to be cast. It was a tie and Miller had to cast the deciding vote.
It was a very difficult decision and came down to Mortey and Bobby, another camper. ‘As I looked at these two boys and their camp records, I tried to be objective. Bobby was a much better athlete and had broken some records, but Mortey definitely had the edge in the human understanding department. They had both helped their tribes by winning contests and being friendly. It was easy to see why the vote had been tied.’
Miller continues, ‘I was miserable. Little Mortey had done a great job… but he was a little cockey, and he did have a few faults I knew about. This definitely gave Bobby a slight edge.’ Miller then acknowledged that everyone knew that he and Mortey had been close and ‘I was afraid that if I voted from Mortey the other counselors would think I was voting for him because of our friendship.’ Miller then decides, under the pressure of the situation to vote for Bobby.
But the decision left him with mixed feelings. ‘I knew that although I had been honest, I had somehow been wrong.’ Well the story does not end there.
Miller goes on to say that on the last day of camp, as the boys were all getting on the bus, Mortey came to Miller with tears in his eyes and face. Miller told the boy how much the friendship had meant to him. Then he went on to tell him the whole story about the vote and that he had voted for Bobby.
Miller said, ‘As I tried to explain why I had done it, the look on his face caught me off guard. I will never forget it. It haunts me still, because I saw the look of a soul betrayed by his dearest friend.’
‘I tried to grab him, to explain my feelings, but he broke loose, and wriggling between the last few campers, disappeared onto the bus.’ He goes on to say that, he tried to see Mortey’s face in the bus windows but could not and he ‘rode out of my life in a cloud of dust.’