BY TOM MINDER
Copyright is held by the author.
I WAKE when the foamy, cold water splashes across my feet. Morning high tide. I brush the sand and seaweed from my torn Hawaiian shirt. I’m somewhere in the south Pacific, the Leer jet plunging in the storm. Nothing left now, though wreckage floats ashore once in a while.
A rustling in the bushes, a hundred yards away. Is it something I can eat? Will it eat me? I dig a hole and perform my morning constitutional. I clean myself with a palm leaf, further aggravating my rash.
A leather bag lays on the beach, pushed ashore by the relentless current. I open it. Nothing of use. No food, water, or pornography. Just leaflets from the Latter Day Saints, promising salvation. I’d rather have something I can use now.
I find a piece of driftwood and wedge a few of the booklets into the split end. I find an unused palm leaf and rub it against the brochures, the sticky juice smearing the smiling faces of young missionaries. I wade into the ocean, lay the plank on the water, and wait for breakfast. It’s gonna be hot today and I’m already feeling the sun’s intensity on my blistering skin.
A fish swims by and circles the wood. I lower it into the water so my visitor can swim aboard. It tastes the palm smear, then settles in to make a meal of it. I cup my hand around its head and guide my new acquaintance onto the beach.
I admire this creature of the sea, a product of millennia of evolution. I smash its skull with a coconut. A lifeless eye stares back, surprised by this betrayal. I stir the embers from last night’s fire and cook my new friend after removing the guts. These will come in handy at lunchtime.
Not a bad breakfast. A little on the small side, but you take your chances with the catch of the day. I find a small prayer on the leaflet used to trap my prey. It only seems fair that I recite it before beginning. Now, I’m ready. I pull off as piece of flesh, chew, and almost vomit it out. Almost. Bon appetit, landlubber.