Canto Twenty-One – The Deserted Beach
I was all alone on the island for all I knew, so I immediately got busy on my best Robinson Crusoe plan. And then my headache made me rethink that, and I went back to sleep for another two hours. I think it was two hours, estimating by the sun, but I don’t really know how to estimate time by the sun, and as I decided the first order of business had to be to locate any useful wreckage from the ship that had washed up on the shore, my head started hurting again, so I slept again. Now, I know from re-reading this paragraph that I was probably sleeping way too much… and I didn’t know for sure that Chinooki wouldn’t come up on the sand to eat me, but, well… having this kind of horror-story adventure in the South Seas was really tiring.
When I did finally search the beach, I found almost nothing at all to help me. I needed a knife, or a hammer, or a gun, or a shovel… but all I found was this log book and a wooden crate full of Pink Fizz Cherry Soda Pop. Luckily, I also discovered I still had a pencil in my jeans pocket, otherwise I might’ve forgotten everything that happened before I could write it all down. I know my thinking was a little fuzzy at the time… or possibly Pink Fizzy… but I wrote down everything as truthfully as I possibly could so that whoever found the book would know what happened to the Reefer Mary Celeste and her crew.
Inland on the island was jungle… a rather thick jungle. But I desperately needed food and fresh water. And if I tried walking the beach until I either found civilization or discovered I was on a deserted island; I might die of dehydration and thirst before I discovered I was all alone for certain. So, I made a brief foray into the island. If I met headhunters or an evil killer gorilla, I couldn’t do any more about it than writing a scathing commentary on why they shouldn’t be eating me raw in this log book. I could write that I hoped to give them a fatal case of indigestion as long as they ate my writing hand last.
The jungle was very hot and humid, but I found a rainwater pool a short way into the jungle and was able to slake my thirst. Coconuts and bananas were growing in abundance near the pool. I also ate. And it was then that I saw her for the first time. She was a young girl. I admit, at the time, I didn’t really know how young. But she was lovely. She was Asian-looking with slanted eyes and caramel-brown skin. She had black hair and dark brown eyes that twinkled at me as she smiled. And she was standing on the edge of the pool completely nude. The only thing she wore was an adolescent red panda sitting on her shoulder and grimacing at me with a raccoon-like smile.
“Parlez vous Francais?” she said. “Tagalog? Maybe English?”
“I understand English,” I confessed.
“Ah, so good. I am liking practicing my English. We don’t be speaking it on this island. Maligayang pagdating sa masasamang isla. That means be welcome to Evil Island.”
I didn’t know whether to be frightened or worried about the name of the place, or be incredibly embarrassed that I was talking to a completely naked girl. “I… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to spy on you while you were bathing. I will give you some privacy…”
“Huwag pumunta! I mean… don’t be going away! I be liking you. I don’t be wearing clothings on this island, but I am having a kimono back at my bahay… my house. I can be putting it on if hubad is wrongness for you.”
“Um, well, I…” I didn’t know what to say. I was seven kinds of flustered and at least three kinds of embarrassed.
“Please. Gwapong Lalaki and I are wanting to be talking to you. It is lonely on the island, waiting for sa galit na bulkan… for the volcano.”
“You… you are waiting for the volcano?” I looked up at the high mountain peak about a mile inland. Black smoke curled nastily out of the top of it.
“Yes. I am being the virgin bride. I am waiting for my husband to be.”
This of course sounded like some of the worst rumors I had ever heard about South Seas islanders. It seemed they intended to throw this beautiful, naked young girl into the volcano to appease an angry god or some such nonsense.
“We have to get you out of here,” I said as bravely as I could manage.
“Yes, yes, that is what I am waiting for.”
“Um, you are?”
“Oh, yes, my husband is to be coming and taking me away from here forever.”
I was determined to rescue the poor girl.
“What is your name, sweetie?”
“I am Malutu… the Red Flower of Matuling Lupa.”
“I don’t have a way off the island at the moment, but I can build us a boat or something…”
“First you are coming to the house of Malutu and Gwapong Lalaki. Follow us.”
She padded out of the clearing on bare feet and back towards the beach. She apparently had a house to live in while she waited for her evil people to throw her into the volcano. I followed her, not knowing what else to do.
“Um, Malutu? You haven’t seen any mermaids on the beach have you?”
“Mermaids? You are meaning sirena Chinooki?”
“You actually know about her?”
“Of course, silly man… She is being the one who brought you to me.”