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Mrs. M soaped her flesh, tilted her head back and let water run from her forehead through her hair, chasing the Glenfiddich from her brain. She stepped out of the shower, stood on a grubby bath mat and looked around. There was a heap of her dresses on the floor, carelessly thrown there by the girls. Wandering to the pile, drying herself as she walked, she poked at the clothes with her foot, flicking them each away from the mound until she found the one she was after. With a great effort she leant on the chair nearby and strained forward to pick it up.

‘Ooff,’ she said.

She shook the dress out. It was a vast floral concoction better suited to an English summer than the height of the tropics, but she felt good tonight. She would wear it for fun. Panties, panties, where are the panties? None to be found.

In the mirror her face looked fresher than it had in years. Amazingly, despite the guria and the Glenfiddich she was rested, alert – some weight seemed to have been sloughed from her shoulders. Her hips felt looser, a certain swagger in evidence as she sashayed there in the bathroom, drying the folds of flesh. She had no panties and her hair was a fright so she jammed the hat over it and squeezed into the dress. She could hear the voices up on the lawn, suddenly didn’t want to miss an instant.

Padding out on to the sun-deck in her bare feet Mrs. Michael seemed almost childlike. A certain flirtatious grandeur accompanied the grim reality of the apparition, a strangely sexy quality that sat at odds with what appeared on the lawn moments later.


All heads turned to the top of the path.

‘Dahlings, how are you? What are you doing here?’ She was advancing through the mud as she spoke. ‘I thought you’d all left us.’

‘Plane didn’t turn up. Nobody knows what happened. Phone’s out,’ her husband shouted, pushed his way out of the crowd and walked towards her, ‘I don’t know what the fuck to do,’ he hissed once he was out of tourist earshot, ‘there’s no clean sheets and most of the foods gone off. Daniel’s gone to get them.’

On cue the headlights rolled into the resort. The artificial light seemed strange amidst the gentle warmth of the lanterns dotted around.

‘Thank Christ for that,’ muttered Michael and spun on his heel, heading for the car, ‘get ‘em drunk,’ he said over his shoulder, ‘Get ‘em as pissed as you can.’

Mrs. Michael was back on stage – the diva arrived to save the day. It was a grand entrance up the stairs, a regal arrival as those tubby arms were thrust out to shake the outstretched hands of first Shirley, then Stuart, Irma was next, her scowl diminished by the sheer weight of the bonhomie bearing down on her.

‘Ir-r-r-rma-a-a,’ the fat lady purred, ‘feeling better, darling?’

‘Yes,’ she exclaimed, startled by the warmth of her enquiry, ‘much better, thanks.’

‘We didn’t really get a chance to know each other last night. We shall become sisters.’

Irma blinked and looked at Ralph, standing beside her.

‘This is my husband…’ She got no further.

‘Ralphiee,’ Mrs. Michael interrupted, ‘Oh, Ralphie and I are old friends.’

Irma’s brow furrowed.

‘Ralph was the bartender last night, weren’t you darling?’

Ralph was starting to sweat.

‘Oh, really Ralphie?’ hissed his wife, laying heavy emphasis on the extension of his name.

‘Lost his pants!’ the hostess shrieked and Stuart laughed.

‘I don’t remember that,’ said Shirley.

‘Yes,’ Irma said with heavy irony, ‘he’s the life of the party,’ and stared at the unfortunate man. Ralph went pale. Stop now, her husband was thinking, for God’s sake stop now. He knew the signals.


‘What!’ was all they heard from the driveway, ‘jee-e-ezes Christ. Fuck!’

The boss stomped away and headed for the group lounging around the restaurant. He went straight up his wife and stood behind her, leant down slightly so he could whisper in her ear.

‘The girls are not coming. Daniel’s gone off in a huff. We’ll have to improvise. Get the Glenfiddich.’

‘What was all that about, Ralph?’ whispered Irma but his muttered reply was lost. Michael started to address the group.

‘OK, here’s where we’re at. I can’t pretend we are in any way able to look after you properly tonight but, here we are,’ he spread his big hands out in a gesture of helplessness, ‘we may as well make the best of it.’

The others nodded with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

‘Now, here are the problems. First – no power, so all the fresh food’s gone off. Second, no staff to cook whatever canned stuff we have. They’ve all gone walkabout, I dunno, anyway, it’s do-it-yerself night. There’s Glenfiddich,’ he gulped, the thought of sacrificing his good whisky almost bringing tears to his eyes, ‘over there in the cupboard. Oh, and there’s no clean sheets. We’ll have to try and redistribute your sheets from last night if we can work out whose is whose.’

Shirley blushed.

‘I think we’ll know which ones are ours, lover,’ whispered Stuart.

‘I know it’s a mess, but this is the Pacific, things happen. I suggest we all try and enjoy ourselves as best we can and last it out. There’s no phone so I can’t make calls or do anything to help you. It’ll all have to wait, so relax, enjoy your stay as castaways.’

‘Do we have to pay for this?’

Irma, of course.

‘Darling, don’t worry your pretty head about a thing. In the morning, darling, in the morning.’

Mrs. Michael abruptly switched her focus to Ralph, unashamedly flirting with him in front of his amazed wife.

‘Ralphe-e-ee?’ and she curled one finger in the palm of his hand, ‘Ralphie, can you get us some plonk? It’s in that cupboard by the wall. See? That’s the one. Be a darling…’

Irma watched amazed as her husband did the fat lady’s bidding. Two gimlet eyes swiveled to follow his progress behind the bar, then swung back to rest on the floral nightmare that was the manager’s wife.

‘Just what else did my husband get up to last night?’ Irma asked blithely.

‘Ooh, darling, I couldn’t possibly tell you that.’

With a lurid wink and a clumsy pirouette Mrs. M exited the conversation. Maximum damage inflicted, she thought.


Daniel stormed into his hut and rummaged in the corner. He found what he wanted, unscrewed the top and gulped back enough liquor to kill a horse.


Michael was rummaging in the kitchen, trying to make sense of the disorder, desperate for tins of food.

‘Fuck, fuck, fuck,’ muttered the boss as he dived in on the chaos, ‘fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!’

Mrs. M scuttled over to her husband in the kitchen, planted a big sloppy kiss on his mouth and hugged him.

‘You are so practical, darling, incredible,’ and kissed him again. She used the tongue. Michael knew what meant. He backed away.

‘Gotta get dinner on, lover. You go and divert them while we find out what there is to eat.’

The Glenfiddich lowed and the spirits of the group lifted glass by glass. Michael attempted miracles by moonlight as the grand diva of Tanna Beach did her thing, beguiling, amusing, her trills of false laughter ringing out through the night, a blur of floral chiffon floating about the resort, cajoling, seducing, prodding her unwilling guests into life.


Zachariah listened to the sounds on the wind and cleared his throat noisily. He tilted his head and rolled it round in his throat as he breathed in the sea air, finally flinging the gob of spit high in the air towards the plump queen.

Somewhere in the distance he heard a squeal and a crash.



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