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...::: 5 :::...

Ron awoke that morning the same way he did most mornings on Isla de Willy; to the sound of something annoying him.

That morning it was the sound of Willy just being Willy.

“Willy’s journal, day fifty two. Things have taken a turn for the worst. I fear Ron may have come down with the fever as well. He has begun to speak nonsense and sometimes goes pantless for hours on end. He sometimes dangles his privates in the ocean. When I ask him what he is doing he will only respond he’s ‘fishing, god-dammit.’ He is quite rude about the whole thing.”

Ron blinked in the sunlight until his eyes worked up the courage to stay open. He rolled over and spotted this mornings source of annoyance. Willy was sitting in the sand not far away, scribbling in a tiny, wire bound notepad he had taken to calling his journal.

As far as Ron could tell, this was Willy’s version of an alarm clock.

“I do worry for Ron. Also the late captain’s wife is becoming a problem. That voluptuous Swede, Isabella has grown more bold in her advances towards me. I am a man of virtuous nature but I don’t know how much longer I can hold out. She taunts me daily with the most flagrant of flirtations. Always near me, whispering in my ear, finding excuses to touch me and tempt me with her luscious, taught, perfect, ample-”

“Shut up,” Ron groaned and sat up, “do you ever shut up?”

“Oh, good morning Ron,” Willy said brightly. He closed his book and practically bounced to his feet.

Ron pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “You’re not actually writing that shit in there are you?”

“Of course I am.”

“Good God Willy. What if we die here and that’s all anybody ever finds of us? None of that crap is true.”

“Well I can’t write the truth Ron, it’s boring.”

And without further explanation Willy stuffed the notebook and pencil back into the pack and trotted off towards the treeline. Ron could only hope he was off to find breakfast.

The problem, in Ron’s estimation was that Willy was a morning person. The other problem, in Ron’s estimation was that Willy was a night person. These were two problems he used to be able to solve with the simple application of a door and a lock.

He missed that door sometimes. He missed that lock. Fucking hell he did.

...::: 6 :::...

After breakfast they both spent a number of unpleasant minutes squatting privately in the trees, evacuating their bowels with upsetting urgency.

    After that they agreed never again to eat the berries they had just eaten.

    After that they argued about whether to build a new raft or to keep exploring the island.

    After Ron won the argument, they set about building a new raft.

    The first order of business was to make a new ax. The old ax was long gone and it’s all Willy’s fault so don’t even ask about it, ok? Willy had already found a suitable rock to use as the ax-head, so Ron found a good, sturdy piece of bamboo to serve as a handle. He used his pocket knife to split the end so they could wedge the rock into the fork. Willy held the whole thing together while Ron tried to tie it all up nice and tight.

    After a few failed attempts they finally managed to tie the rock to Willy’s hand. He proclaimed himself “Edward Hatchet-Hands” and chopped the bejeezus out of a nearby palm tree.

    About ten minutes after that they managed to get Willy’s arm into a sling. And finally, some fifteen minutes later they produce a usable ax.

    Ron decided to start cutting down some more trees to replace ones that had been lost. He sent Willy off to forage for food, or water, or whatever the hell he wanted just so long as Ron didn’t have to hear him complain about his stupid arm hurting.

    As Willy disappeared into the jungle, Ron went to work on his first tree. He started out slowly and worked himself into a steady rhythm. Not too slow, but not so fast he would over heat. Backswing, pause, swing and the ax thunked into the trunk of his first palm tree. Backswing, pause, swing, thunk. Backswing, pause, swing, thunk.

    While he would never, in eight billion years actually let someone hear him do it, Ron was a very good singer. And an avid Michael Jackson fan. Bringing those two facts together and combining them with his chopping he was able to work out a rhythm that suited him.

    “I’m gonna make a change...”


    “For once in my life...”


    “It’s gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference...”


    “Gonna make it right!”


    “Hey! Would you knock it off?”

    Ron froze in mid-backswing. Those were not the words to the song. Besides that, he had not sung those words. He found this very confusing. He just stood very still for a moment, unsure of what was happening. He looked left. He looked right. He looked behind him.

    He saw nothing in any direction. The only thing even close to him was the single tree he had been chopping. He lowered the ax and wondered if his mind was playing tricks on him.

    For lack of a better idea he looked up into the tree. He saw nothing. There was definitely, absolutely no one around.

    “Um... is anybody there?” he asked.

    “Well of course there’s somebody here you twit,” the voice snapped.

    Ron leapt back and raised the ax again to a strike-ready position.

    “Good lord man, don’t start swinging that thing again,” the voice cried.

    “Whaaa?” was all Ron could manage.

    “What’s that?” the voice cut him off. “Speak up ninny. Couldn’t shut you up when you were hacking away down there. Now you’ve got nothing to say for yourself? That it?”

    It would be fair to say that Ron was dumbstruck. While his mind was racing for something more constructive to do, his body did little more than convert oxygen to carbon dioxide and initiate cold sweat procedures.

    After a few moments of silence a tiny coconut detached from its limb, plummeted ten feet and cracked Ron directly on top of the head. He didn’t react for a full second, then burst out with an emphatic, “Ouch!” He dropped the ax and began rubbing his head fiercely while dancing around in place.

    “What the hell?” he shouted. “What the hell is happening? Who did that? Who is talking?”

    “I’m talking and I’m right here in front of you so show a little respect,” the voice replied testily.

    From a cognitive standpoint, Ron was finding the entire situation completely untenable.

    The voice did not wait for a response. “If you don’t mind, let’s just cut the crap and get down to brass tacks. First, would you mind knocking it off with the chopping and whatnot?”

    The white-hot pain from the coconut to the noggin receded enough for Ron to wonder if he was losing his mind. If he was honest with himself, he had kind of been waiting for one of them to lose their mind. He just assumed it would be Willy. He opened his mouth to reply then closed it and wondered if he should reply. Could he fight off insanity if he refused to engage with it?

    “Hello?” the voice sounded really annoyed now. “Are you picking up what I’m putting down here chief? Any of this getting through? I would like you to stop the chopping.”

    Ron opened his mouth again, closed it again. Opened it, started to close it, then figured the hell with it. “I’m sorry, I’m just a bit confused. Who is talking?”

    “Are you an idiot?”

    “Are you?” Ron stopped. He really didn’t want to say what he was about to say. He was terrified of the answer. “Are you the tree?”

    “My name is Jessup you mouth-breathing, turd-burglaring, ninny-hammer.”

    While Ron was still thoroughly confused, he was not the kind of man who needed to understand something to get mad as hell at it. In fact, Ron had a pretty short fuse and this voice had just put a match to it. “Hey!” Ron yelled back. “No need for name calling. Just where do you get off?”

    “Where do I get off? Where do you get off? That trunk down there is pretty damn important to me and you just waltzed up out of nowhere and started whacking it with a pointy rock. What would you say if I grabbed a pointy rock, tied it to a stick and started whacking things that were important to you?”

    “I’d say bugger off!”

    “Then what, exactly, did you expect me to say?”

    “I didn’t expect you to say anything because I didn’t know you could talk!”

    Jessup huffed audibly at this. “Oh sure, never bothered to check though did you? Nope. Just grab a rock, tie it to a stick and off you go to raise thirty-two flavors of hell up and down the beach.”

    Ron stammered some nonsense but had no idea what to say.

    “You’re a dick man,” Jessup concluded.

    That pretty much tore it. The fuse had burned down ladies and gentlemen. Houston, we have lift off.

    “How about if I just come over there and cut you down, smartass? What would you do then?” Ron shouted grabbing the ax out of the sand.

    “I’d come down there,” Jessup warned.

    “Oh yeah?”

    “You bet I will.”

    Ron was beyond being intimidated by mere words. He raised the ax and darted towards the trunk. A fast-moving coconut smashed him dead in the face. He didn’t fall but dropped the ax immediately and slapped his hands over his nose. He staggered backwards a few steps. His eyes filled with water and his mind went blank with pain.

    “I’m warning you little man. You stay away from me or you’ll get worse. That was a small coconut from a low branch.”

    For a moment Ron was too stunned to remember how pissed he was. “Jesus... I’m just trying to build a raft man. I gotta have wood for my raft.”

    “Fine. Have wood. Have all the wood you want, just not this wood.”

    Ron wasn’t quite sure how to take that. Did that mean he was welcome to cut down any other tree? Seemed that way. But it also seemed to him like a tree, any tree, would have at least a slight moral aversion to seeing his compatriots cut down and fashioned into a seagoing contraption.

    “What do you mean?” Ron asked. It came out funny as he was still pinching his nose. “You mean I can build my raft out of these other trees?”

    “Build it out of fish eggs for all I care, jerk.”

    It all seemed suspect to Ron. He looked up the beach, spotted the next closest tree and pointed to it. “What about that tree? Can I cut it down?”

    “Fine by me.”

    “And what about those over there?” he pointed further up the beach.

    “Go for it, hero.”

    “Any other tree is fine?”

    “Would you please leave now?”

    Ron considered the tree quietly for a few more moments. He really wanted to take the trees advice and just get the hell away from it, but he definitely didn’t want to look like a wuss.

    His uncle Hoot used to tell him the only way to deal with crazy people was to ignore them. Uncle Hoot’s wife Vivian was, in medical terminology, bat-shit insane and Hoot successfully ignored that fact for twenty two years. It worked fine until the afternoon she jammed a pair of pruning shears in his left butt cheek claiming he was the ghost of Gene Roddenberry.

    Anyway, ignoring crazy people was some advice that Ron took to heart. It was how he dealt with Willy most of the time. So he decided it was probably best to just move on and put the whole psychotic episode behind him.

    He picked up the ax again and started up the beach towards the little group of trees previously indicated. When he reached them, he approached with caution and eyed them warily. “So these are fine?” he called back towards Jessup.

    “Leave me alone.”

    Ron shrugged, turned, raised the ax and swung it into the closest trunk. It produced nothing more than a satisfying thunk and an even more satisfying lack of coconuts hitting him in the face. Over the next half hour he replayed the incident with Jessup repeatedly in his head and decided that, yes, he was going completely insane. After an hour he had pretty much convinced himself that it had never happened.

    He was just starting to feel better about the fact that he obviously imagined the whole thing when Jessup shouted: “Hey, could you keep it down over there, jerk? I’m trying to catch a nap here.”

    “I can’t hear you because you’re not real,” Ron called back.

    “Whatever, just shut up,” Jessup answered.

    “You shut up,” Ron went back to chopping. What was it going to do anyway, he thought. It was just a damn tree. It’s not like it was going to come after him.

Next Chapter: PART 3