Canto Twenty-Two – A Beach-Front Home
I followed the naked girl and her pet red panda about a mile along the beach. She skipped and sang songs in a language I didn’t recognize, but sounded a lot like the Filipino language. The panda sported about like a playful puppy, following her devotedly. I didn’t think you found red pandas on small Pacific islands like the one we were on, but it didn’t matter what I thought. I was no scientist or naturalist, so I didn’t really know. I kept looking worriedly out to sea. I mean, I did know for a fact that Chinooki the mermaid could eat people.
“We have been coming to this house, my tahanan,” she said proudly, showing me a beached submarine from World War Two. It had a large rising sun flag from the Empire of Japan painted on the conning tower.
“You live in a submarine?”
“It is where Mangkukulan wants me to stay while we wait for the volcano.”
“Oh. It’s like that, is it? Well, show me. Do you have any guns aboard? Or swords? Something to protect us from Chinooki?”
“Oh, silly captain man, Chinooki serves Mangkukulan. She will not be harming me. And she is ordered not to be hurting you also.”
I was a little worried about the actual intentions of this coo-coo man. I didn’t think he really had Malutu’s best interests at heart. Not if he meant to toss her naked into an erupting volcano. I followed her warily up the side of the submarine and down into a hatch near the nose.
“My goodness, this is certainly rusty and rather dreary,” I said as I surveyed the narrow candle-lit corridor in the center of the submarine. I followed her into the forward section where I really expected to see a forward torpedo room. I found, however, that it had been hollowed out, lined with bamboo, and turned into a cozy and rather decent living space. It had a bed in the center of the not over-large room. There was a potbellied stove that had obviously been put there for cooking. The room was also decorated with carved wooden idols. They were the kind of Tiki idols that you could buy in Honolulu if you were a tourist who liked kitschy stuff to decorate your porch back in Iowa with. Especially one large ugly idol with a man-like body and wearing a frightful carved mask.
“You have a nice home here. Didn’t you say something about clothes you could put on?”
“Oh, yes. Or… you could be getting naked too, Captain.”
“No, no. Put on a dress please. You need to be decent around me.”
She pulled out a rather nice red cloth dress with a white flower pattern on it. It was a Hawaiian sort of wrap-around affair.
“This okay? Or are you wanting the kimono?”
“That one is fine. You are very beautiful like that.”
“Yes, I am being beautiful for you. It is being important that I get you to like me very, very much.”
“I am liking you. But I must be telling Mangkukulan that you are here now. Chinooki has done well.”
“Um, maybe we can hold off a bit on telling the coo-coo man.”
“Why? I am supposed to be telling him immediately… faster if it is being possible.”
“Are you sure that coo-coo man has our best interests at heart? I mean, it seems to me like he might be trying to hurt us in some way.” I was imagining being tossed into the volcano along with the girl.
“Oh, no. This he will not be doing. I will be sending the juju to tell him you are here.”
She went over to the biggest, ugliest Tiki idol and tapped his tattoos, once each until she had tapped them all. And she sang;
“Juju do dah goodah… oojie-magoober!” Purple smoke poured out of the top of the Tiki’s head and filled the room with a smell like burnt sugar.
“Is that a magic spell or something?”
“Yes, it is being something. We are wanting you to be very comfortable here, Captain mans. Will you not be taking off your clothes?”
“I most certainly will not.”
“Okay. We will be doing the talking about it. You will see.”
To my utter shock and horror, the Tiki man began to glow with an unearthly greenish-blue light. He moved as if he were alive and trying to shake himself awake.
“Don’t be being silly. It is made of wood. But, Oojie-magoober, please be telling Mangkukulan that the Captain is here.”
“Juju doo dah! Yaya!” said the wooden creature. Then it scampered out of the room and out of the submarine.
“You are liking Malutu, yes?” she asked me.
“Yes. You are very beautiful.”
“Good-good! Now you will be taking off your clothes, Captain.” And just like that she had me naked. I was as much under her spell as the wooden Tiki man.