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PRODIGAL TOURISTS

‘What?’ Michael exclaimed in horror as Daniel walked down the path, ‘what?’

Daniel’s face said it all. He gestured hopelessly and looked forlornly up the hill. There, looming large, was Irma and her unfortunate husband Ralph, looking down at him with a gaze of purest malice.

‘Say it isn’t so, Daniel, please God.’

‘What could I do, boss? The plane didn’t arrive.’ The self-satisfied whine in Daniel’s voice didn’t help. ‘I couldn’t just leave them there.’

‘Yes, Daniel, you did right, I suppose.’ Michael sighed. Evil little shit. ‘God only knows what we’re going to do with them. No clean sheets, Christ, Daniel, I didn’t think there were gonna be guests here tonight. They’ll want food, Christ!’

Daniel clucked in sympathy but secretly he was pleased, enjoying the spectacle of his boss in a pickle.

‘Where is Mary?’

‘Gone home, boss.’

‘Eunice has gone too, I suppose. Bugger!’

Daniel stood there, a twinkle in his eye. He was enjoying this. The gathering crowd of stranded tourists at the top of the path distracted Michael. He looked away from his hateful employee and waved gaily.

‘Just a minute! Won’t be a tick!’

‘What’s he saying?’ said Irma and turned to the others, ‘what a prick.’

‘Daniel, go and get them, tell them there’s a emergency and only they can save the day. Some bullshit like that. Whatever, Daniel. OK? Go! Go! Hurry!’

Michael turned to face the fray.

*

Behind him, in the bungalow, his wife had woken up, surfaced from that long sleep with a snort, her dry mouth caked and stagnant, orange hair plastered across her face. She needed to piss but her head had to stop spinning first. She lay there, floating on the remnants of the whisky in her bloodstream, until the urge to urinate became too much, then pushed herself over onto her side, angled her legs out into space and rolled into a sitting position. She could hear the voices up on the lawn, heard Irma and Ralph arguing, the voice of her husband, Daniel’s whine. She didn’t know who else was there and she didn’t, at that moment, care.

Sitting there naked, arms hanging limply between her legs, breathing deeply with the effort of it all, Mrs. Michael looked like a great pre-Columbian fertility symbol. With the waves crashing outside the bungalow and the sweet tang of night in the air she was, for an instant, all woman kind.

Then she farted, a polite, remarkably lady-like fart, swore softly and pushed herself up off the bed. Her bladder was bursting and she sighed as she sat heavily on the toilet and let go. The sound of rushing water rang clear across the bay.

*

Daniel strode past the tourists with a snarl and headed for the truck. He wasn’t going to walk to Bethel. He was much too important for that. Daniel would arrive with headlights on and horn blaring, wake up the town, blame it all on the boss. Just one more little wound in Daniel’s death of a thousand cuts. He had long ago realized that there was little he could do to rid himself of this boss until his time was up, so had embarked on a decade-long campaign of terror against Mr. Michael and his evil wife. Daniel had seen four owners come and go – he knew he just had to wait this one out. He slammed the door and reached for the keys.

*

‘Welcome, welcome back to Paradise!’ Michael had decided that bonhomie was what was required. What he wanted to say was ‘Fuck off, you ugly, ignorant bastards. I thought I’d got rid of you this morning. Fuck off out of my life.’ but he bared those stained yellow teeth in a smile and advanced on Irma, arm outstretched.

‘Irma, isn’t it? And this is your husband, Ralph, yes, I remember him, and Shirley and Stuart, yes,’ He was shaking hands and smarming his way out of a jam.

‘What an adventure, eh? Trapped on the islands, very Robinson Crusoe, eh?’

They didn’t seem to be sharing his enthusiasm.

‘I’m hungry.’ said Stuart.

‘Me too,’ said his wife.

‘Is there anything to drink?’ asked Ralph, innocently.

‘Ralph, if you get drunk again, I’ll leave you here, so help me God, I’ll fly out of here on my own and never come back.’ It seemed like an attractive option to Ralph, but he wisely kept his own council.

‘Oooh, another night in our little beach bungalow, sweet pea,’ whispered Shirley to Stuart, nuzzling up into his neck. Out of sight of the others she ran one hand down the small of his back and slipped it under the elastic waistband of his shorts, pushing it down into the crack of his behind, searching for that cherry with a single outstretched finger. When she found his ass she hesitated in her special way, then slowly pushed her forefinger in to her husband’s anus. She knew he liked that.

‘Dinner will be a little delayed tonight,’ announced Michael, ‘we’re getting the staff right now so I want you to just relax and everything will work out fine.’

He was lying. They all knew that but were too tired to care. Daniel’s dreadful day-tour, hours of bouncing around in the back of the truck, Mary’s awful sandwiches and an indifferent range of local sights had depressed them; the long wait at the airport for a plane that never came; the sinking realization that they were here for the duration had all conspired to make them much quieter than usual. Thank Christ for that, thought Michael as he ushered them over the lawn.

Ralph looked around. Nothing seemed to have moved since last night.

‘Fixed it up a bit, I see…?’

‘Shuddup, Ralph.’ said Irma.

*

REVOLUTION

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