Friday, September 01, 2006

The Morning After My Last Day On Earth

Posted by PicasaA wonderful gentleman and a scholar who goes by the tactile nom de plume "Dogbait" from Australia has kindly fixed my sidebar problem and is over-riding my lack of computer savvy and installing a proper link section and a "best of" section (if there is such a thing--if you have a favorite post of mine, please share it with me and I'll stick it in there.)

Anyway, thanks be to dogbait, who is to be linked on the sidebar as "The meatareda" and ya'll should give him a shout, say hello, and check out his escapades trying to read the meters of Southern Australians. He's got the picture thingy dialed down as well.

In honor of his service, I offer this tale of great import and significance that took place in his fine and hallowed country. For it was the day before the morning of this picture, in complete and total bliss, that I had decided quite earnestly and rationally, that it was OK with me if I happened to suddenly and quite permanently kick the bucket...

This story has a long start. It goes back to a woman in Sydney named Donna who has three nipples. Seriously. I saw them and there are three. Two normal ones (nice, normal ones) and a small one tucked almost into the fold of her left breast, mostly beneath, and visible if she grabbed her breast and lifted slightly, letting you in on her secret.

Now before your minds all get led astray, let me tell you that she had a boyfriend, and he wasn't me. Let me also tell you that many beaches in Australia are indeed topless (except for the one we were on which was ironically a Christian Community beach of some sort complete with a guy in sunglasses walking happily along and telling girls to cover up and be a bit more modest, thank you very much. I know that because I told him he had a pretty cool job, just after I had learned of the third nipple, and just before all three of the lovely ladies were once again masked and modest beneath a black and gold striped bikini top.

See, now here is where I get revealing with personal secrets. I tell you things I have no business sharing. I divulge some titillating fact that keeps you coming back to check in on me...

Not many people know this about me. It is something I rarely talk about or think about. There is no shame involved, although a bit of chicken pox goes with the story...

I ALSO HAVE THREE NIPPLES.

Cool, huh? Bet you would have never guessed.

For the longest time, I thought it was a chicken pox scar. Then as I grew chest hair, it grew nipple hair and voila! A miniature and perfect and obvious fascimile of a giant hairy sweat gland. Neat, huh?

Well Donna thought it was some kind of cosmic connection and I took on a whole new import and meaning for her. In the morning, I was just a guy who was a friend of her boyfiend's friend. A guy being passed along because he was in Sydney from America and Australians are hospitable people and Donna was just a girl doing her hospitable Australian duty to make her hospitable Australian boyfriend happy by taking the young Yank to the beach and showing him her nipples.
Then when we numerically matched like we did... one...two...three! there had to be something more. I mean, suddenly, Donna wanted something more. Much more. Donna wanted to coach me. She wanted me to be an enormously successful traveler. She wanted me to know about the islands up in Queensland, where she had spent a year, and she wanted me to start planning how I was going to get there, and she talked poetically about the sugar cane fields and how when they burned at night, looking west from an island, it looked like the continent was on fire...

Donna planted a seed in my brain that would sit there for three months while I was back in New Zealand saving up visa coupons and getting in trouble with the ladies, and the seed grew into a notion and the notion spread into an idea that covered everything like a tropical vine and I was entangled up to my third nipple in it...

When they kicked me out of New Zealand for being there too long (three months on a tourist visa, back then) I would go tropo.

That's all there was to it. It was the island life for me...

One problem had arisen. I had had entirely way too much fun in New Zealand for those three months and had a hundred bucks US to show for it. I worked a bit here and there, but I spent it on beer and hang-gliding lessons and summer skiing on grass and beer and food and beer and women who drank beer and...

I was on an extended holiday, you see. Aren't you supposed to have fun on a vacation?

I landed in Sydney with maybe eighty bucks. I took a bus out to where my nipple-sister lived with her boyfriend. Donna answered the door and was happy to see me, but seemed upset. After awhile, she told me that she and her boyfriend had been fighting. Somehow, my name was in the middle of the fight. Somehow, I had been used as a weapon by a woman trying to straighten her lackadaisical boyfriend right up. Somehow, and this affected me immediately, I was no longer in hospitable territory and I had better get going because Donna wanted to scare her boyfriend, not lose him.

I skedaddled.

I had eighty bucks and no place to stay the night. It was late. I went to the bus station and caught a nighter out of Sydney and headed north. I didn't know how far north I'd get. It was late and Newcastle sounded a long way off... I could sleep on the bus. Tomorrow was another day. Tomorrow I'd hitch-hike and then things would fall into place.

After all, I had my father's PDL...

I was unceremoniously dumped out into a Newcastle but depot, with the sun nowhere near rising, and I curled up on plastic benches designed to keep people from sleeping on them and went promptly to sleep.

By noon, I was chatting in the backseat of a car and heading north, toward my goal-- an island-- and I still had forty bucks on me. So far so good.

Twenty years of passing days makes the memories a foggy battle of truth and fantasy. I can't recall just how I got to Mackay, a small and almost insignificant town that services Sugar Cane farmers mostly, but I did, and I was dropped off at the campground there and wished the best. I had 37 dollars. They wanted five, I think, for me to pitch a tent and use their showers in the morning.

Such a deal.

That five bucks led to the most blissful moment in my young life. That five bucks set up a small and not very noteworthy chance encounter with a cook, which led to a game of late night chess over a fire-lit night, and led to an instance on my very own boat where I had nipples poking me every which way I turned...

I could have died.

A tall and very lanky bloke who I'll call Peter whupped up on me in a game of chess. He spanked me in his knowledge of anything to do with Queensland, and he bragged about his newly aquired position as a cook on an island called Brampton. In the morning , he was going to take a30 dollar ferry ride out to Brampton Island, be met by a silly little train that tranported passengers from the deep water jetty to the resort, and be handed the keys to a small cinder block room where he would have a bed, be handed his work schedule, and told where the bar was. That was all gonna happen in the morning.

Good night, Yank. Nice game...

It got me to thinking.

I had thirty two bucks. I could buy a ferry ticket, get there, and ask for a job. If they said no, I'd ask if I could work a few days to get the ferry money back to the mainland. Once they saw me work, how could they refuse me a job?

All this in a small tent on a dark night while sleeping on the ground for five bucks and a shower in the morning.

I had a plan! In the morning, Peter had called a cab, and I asked if I could join him to the ferry. He looked pleased and surprised. I think Peter liked having a game chess partner and student of Queensland for a companion. In the taxi, I told him of my plan.

He was all for it.

"I'll put in a good word for ya. Sure, it'll work! What are they gonna do, toss you off the bloody island?"

My point exactly.

The ride out to Brampton was quite pleasant. The ocean. The breeze. The interesting faces worth supposing on board. (Supposing was a game I played while traveling alone. I would look at someone, and think to myself, "supposing I was HIM" or, "supposing I was with HER", or, "supposing I looked like THAT?" Very entertaining stuff, if you are alone in a foreign place and people watching...

Peter had begun a chat me up with a girl I supposed liked the attention. She was a homely tourist with a week's booking, and Peter was starting his thing early. Peter loved the resorts because they brought him lonely women. I would almost never see Peter on this island unless we were both working, because in his off time Peter was in the bar with his head buried in a bookish girl with his glasses held down low on his nose like a cool Santa Claus.

"Ho ho ho, look what I got!" I supposed Peter thought.

Brampton was indeed an island. From a distance, it even looked like one. Up close, it looked like one. It's beach ran in a circle. You could walk one way all day and end up in the same spot later. THAT, people, is an island.

A funky old train picked usup from the jetty. We were met by a prett blonde meeter whose name turned out to be Jenny. Jenny with only two nipples.

Peter took me by the shirt (Bye Jenny!) and into the kitchen through its stinky backdoor. This was the tropics and food stank after a short time in a garbage can. Yes. It stank. Very much. Like rotten food in the tropics. Phew! Icky! Horrible! Rotten!

My first job was to take the stinky gabage cans to the landfill and then bring them back and clean them.

I got work! Supposedly, only a few days worth.

"Just enough to get you on your way..."

In a kitchen. Cleaning and scrubbing everything as if the health inspectors were on their way.

But I knew I could make it permanent...


I got my first paycheck after seven days of being on that island. In that time, I had scrubbed the kitchen so clean it looked new. I had been moved up to pot washer, and I sang my happy singing songs and told jokes and scrubbed pots and turned the back of the kitchen into my personal entertainment center. I was happy. I was on an island. I had a job. I just bought half a share in a boat and was cruising it around the island on my off time, which was sometimes mornings, sometimes late afternoons and nights.

I was learning about the big tides Brampton had. You had to anchor your boat with lots of rope. The difference between the highest tide and the lowest was almost twenty five feet. Too short a rope and your anchor pulled up or your boat pulled down. I learned that the clan of cute girls who were working on the island had taken up a pool, betting on who the new meat would hook up with, the new meat being, in this case, me. I learned there was a bonus if you were the girl I hooked up with. All this came as a pleasant and perplexing shock to me. I had never encountered such a pool. I needed time to think this through. I needed a plan.

Two weeks into being a pot-scrubbing island worker with half a share in a boat, I made my first gaffe. I was down at our boat (my partner had the other pot-scrubbing shift, which was perfect because we never worked the same hours or got the same hours off) changing out the spark plugs. I pulled the boat up to the shore, pulled the bung out the back (a plug to drain water OUT of your boat) and then pulled out all three plugs of a Volvo Penta motor. Upon inspection, I noticed that the threads were a little iffy on one of the ports. I knew by now that one of the guys had a small mechanic's shop, and I went looking for a tap. Then I passed a guy I teased because of the way he pronounced his name. Maaaahtin told me lunch was up and I headed for the kitchen where all the workers not actually working were fed. I started to eat and yak and tease Maaaaaahtin about his name. There is an "R" in Martin, Maaaaahtin. I continued to eat and yak and carry on until someone I recognized as a gardener came in and said "Hey Yank! Your boat is under water!"

Not good.

I had left the bung in my pocket. I was trying to drain the boat, but I filled it instead. The tide had come up four feet since I left the boat with its plug out and its engine holes empty of spark plugs. The water was inches from pouring into the vacant spark plug holes and getting into places where salt water has no business...

Five or six guys had waded in and helped me lift and drag that boat back to the safety of sand.

Crap.

I now had a weak place to be poked at with a ribbing...

I now had something to stick up for. And there was that pool out there, swimming around and around my head like a hungry shark...

Brampton, like most tourist destinations, had a fishing boat. Tourist would charter the big boat and go out and catch fish and get sick and all of that. Then they would come back in. The charter boat was always moored about half a mile offshore. The tides were so dramatic, that it would stop floating on particularly low tides if it were any closer, which was not good because it was a deep V hull. A deep V hull falls over if you get my meaning, when it runs out of water.

My boat was a tri-hull. It could sit on the sand all day without toppling. See the distinction? One point. Fall over. Three points. A tripod. Can't get much plainer than that and if you are still unclear, go look at some pictures...

Well, what I wanted to tell you really starts about here. This is the moment I decided it was OK if I died at any time. This was the significant pinnacle of my life. This was the whole bag of marbles in a kangaroo nutsack.

This was IT.

Forty minutes before this moment, I was approached by Jenny with the two nipples, and she asked me if I wanted to go out to the charter boat with her and attend a rather sedate and somber party. I said yes. She asked if I could take us in my boat. I said "sure". A few minutes later, another girl approached with the same proposition. And another. And then another. I kept saying yes.

Whatever plan I had went out the window. I was on a tropical island full of young and healthy girls who wanted ME to take them to a party. "Meet me at my boat" I just kept telling them.

NINE girls and me. In a boat that handles six, at best, comfortably. All sorting out the seating arrangements and all in a competitive frenzy. I don't know how long this worker-party had been planned by the charter boat guy. He had obviously had a plan of his own. But I didn't mind. I liked his plan. I was ready to go with the flow and see what happened. I was ready to get poked by nipples over every other inch of my body. And then some.

My poor little boat was slung low in the water. I had to drive VERY SLOW. This was going to take a long while. Be patient, girls. We were trying to get out to the charter boat, a half mile out, and the poking I was getting by nine girls all without modesty or bikini tops was causing me to steer off course. My face got red and this spurred on more poking and teasing.

"Lord help me. If I die tomorrow, thank ye for today."

I thought that. I swear to God, I did.

I had arrived to that point in life that could accurately be described as a "pinnacle". I had pinnacles all around me. I could see nothing but woman-flesh, but I didn't mind. I was driving the boat around in circles.

I got to that charter boat after awhile. We had a party that night that went fourteen girls and three guys into Sunday. Nothing really happened that wouldn't garner an "R" rating in case you've extrapolated, as the boat was too small and the competition too fierce. In the morning, we all awoke with hang-overs and a need to get to work. This particulatr morning, we were faced with a king low tide.

If you look at the picture I posted, you'll see that we are walking in the ocean, heading to shore. Only, there is no water. It went out. It pulled back. It withdrew.

We were left with one alternative. Walk a half a mile with hang-overs so we could all shower and get to work.

This is what we did. Someone took this picture and I got a copy.

She was the winner of the pool...


ADDENDUM-- Brampton island was completely remodeled the year after I stopped working there. I came back through Mackay over a year later on my bicycle, and took the boat out to Brampton for a day trip and to see if anybody I knew still worked there. Yes. There were many.

"Hey Yank" I was greeted with as if I had been gone a week. I had been in Tokyo and down in S.E. Asia, and even home during this time.Time does indeed stand still on islands.

The old Brampton was funky and cool. The new Brampton was trendy and hip and sharp and horrible. It lacked the character and comfort of the old funky resort. And seeing it replaced by concrete structures was a disheartening reminder of what some people regard as "progress".

1 comment:

Dogbait said...

Great story, Yank! Glad to help with the "thingys". Leave the money on the fridge!