- It’s the middle of the night.
- There’s been a heatwave for days.
- You’re on a desert island.
- There’s a lonely feel to the place.
I can sense that I’m not well. I feel alright, physically, but I can’t escape the constant roar of the surf; the sound fills my head like a cotton riot. I swivel around seeking some direction that might dim the assault on my ears. But, as one direction lulls me into believing that, ah, there, silence — crash! Waves beat even more savagely on the reef and the beach. I’m sure this sickness I’m feeling is caused by this war on my hearing.
Then there are the footprints. I’m certain I’m not alone. I’ve walked the entire length of this beach, run to the opposite side of this oblong island and walked the other side. I’ve never seen him, or her. Wouldn’t that be a gift. A woman under this relentless sun, a high sweet voice to sing to me above this insidious rumble. I’m sure she would think me unwell. She’d squint her eyes at me and shake her head. “I believe your mind is slipping,” she’d say. And I’d know she was right. But she’d smile and tell me of her time in London or her schooling in Paris.
But I never see her. Or him. The footprints look like a man’s, the way they’re spaced, in a strut or pompous stroll, his pipe in his fist, the smoke from the glowing tobacco swirling away like threads attempting to lift his hand.
When I find him I’ll smack that pipe from his hand. I might even backhand that smirk from his face. Whose mind is slipping now, I’ll demand.
Not even the stars are out tonight. One evening, I counted nearly five thousand, partitioning off the sky and remaining in the imaginary lines I’d drawn. I’m sure I was well back then. This overcast weather… some storm must be coming. I could use the freshwater. But more than anything, the cooling winds, I can’t stand this heat.
Don’t the tropical islands always have a breeze blowing? I’ve landed on a dud, I’m sure of it. The worst, noisiest, loneliest, noisiest — ah, I think I’ve said that already. Does madness begin with the awareness of madness? She might know. She’s ever so smart. All that schooling.
But I’m not sure where she’s gone off to. Her footprints vanished from last I saw them. No, those were his prints. The smoker. That’s what I smell, a cherry flavored pipe tobacco. Normally, I’d encourage its use and invite the fragrance in. But there’s no breeze. And it’s pitch black tonight. And that cloying scent sticks to me, mixes with my sweat. I lick my hand, I taste like smoked meat.
I’ll set a trap. Yes, I’ll dig a hole, many holes, and bury sharp stakes in the bottom. Cover them with palm fronds. He’ll never suspect. I’ll catch that bastard, he’ll plunge down and be skewered. Tomorrow, first thing.
God, but I wish the noise would stop for just an hour. The pounding and crashing, I don’t think my hearing will ever recover. I’m sure it’s adding to my ailment. If only there was someone to help me dig. I’ll need at least ten holes. He’ll never suspect. Did I say that already? Wait a minute, he may already suspect. He must watch me from the scant trees. I must be quick, then.
But for now, I’ll just rest, rest in this vicious heat and smoke and noise. Yes, a rest will help. I’ll get better with her assistance. She’s fixed me up before. Maybe I’ll see her tomorrow. I hope she doesn’t fall into a hole.