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Just Another Desert Island MAG
A singlepalm tree graced the center of a 10-foot-wide patch of sand. A man satin its meager shade, staring into a vast expanse of ocean. His raggedclothing perfectly completed the cliche.
Suddenly, thecartoon-like landscape was disturbed by the arrival of an outsider. Thisman, clad in a once-flashy business suit, strikingly contrasted with thesimple picture. He crawled onto the isle.
The strangecircumstances did not prompt the men to alter standard salutations. Theshabby, sunburnt one offered a hand as though he'd spent his entire lifewatching drenched businessmen emerge from a desolateocean.
"I'm Adam Larson," he said with a nod, as thoughgreeting one of many gathered for a Christmasparty.
"Geoffrey Walker," responded thebusinessman.
"You from North Carolina?" inquired thefirst.
Geoffrey smiled. "South, actually. But quite near theborder."
"Ah. I could hear it in your accent."Adam waved a hand at the pitiful bit of sand they stood on. "Won'tyou sit down?"
"Thank you," replied Geoffrey,sitting. "Been here long?"
"Oh, a few years, Ithink. What's happening now in the U.S.?"
"Nothing.Everyone's caught up in where a little Cuban boy should beliving."
Adam smiled and raised an eyebrow. "That's howit always is, isn't it? Oh, well. At least we're not getting in anywars, eh?"
"Sure." Geoffrey blinked at the blazingsun. "So, ah, how's life here? Bearable?"
"Itbetter be, or I'd have drowned myself long ago. I guess it's kind ofpleasant, living in a stereotype."
Something in what he'dsaid made Geoffrey a little wary. "What do youmean?"
"Well, look around you, man," Adamshrugged. "How can you miss it? A small island in the middle ofnowhere, and at dead center sits a tall palm and a guy wearing ashredded brown toga."
"I suppose so," saidGeoffrey.
"Don't tell me you've never read The FarSide."
"Well, yeah ..."
"Come on,we're one of the artist's favorite subjects."
Geoffreyconsidered a moment. "I guess you're right."
"Ofcourse I'm right. The sun here never sets; the tide never comes in. Itnever rains, I never need to eat or drink. I would know." Adamsquinted. "The temperature never varies. Only thing that happensis, once in a blue moon, I see a shark fin."
"I told you, we're living in a stereotype. You'rethe newest tenant."
Geoffrey shook his head. "I willnever get used to this."
Adam wagged a finger athim.
"Sure, you will. There's nothing else todo."
"I wish I'd brought a book," Geoffreybegan.
"Not possible," Adam interrupted. "If you'dhad a book, you wouldn't be here. You can't be a cliche with anythingabnormal in the picture. Whoever heard of a guy on a desert islandreading a novel?"
Geoffrey looked forlornly out to sea."Now I really wish I'd brought a book."
Adam laughed."It isn't that bad, actually. I survived it so far alone, mindyou."
"I'm so impressed," Geoffrey said dryly."I'd be more impressed if you took out an axe and whipped up acanoe out of that palm tree."
Adam opened his mouth, butstopped. "I know, I know," Geoffrey said. "If you had anaxe you wouldn't be here. Wish-ful thinking."
"Youcatch on quick," Adam said and leaned back into thesand.
"I wish there were more to catch on to." Geoffreylooked as though he might burst into tears. Lacking anything to directhis anger at, he glowered at the palm tree and for a moment consideredpunching its lights out. When he turned he found that Adam had fallenasleep, despite the blinding sunlight.
He got up and began topace around the tiny island. Circling kept his mind going. How does oneescape a stereotype? How did one enter a stereotype? However it wasdone, he had done it, and would be careful not to do it again. He turnedhis attention to the first question. "You can't be a cliche withanything abnormal in the picture," he quoted Adam. He continuedtalking to himself. "If only," he mused, "I couldintroduce something strange into this picture, then somehow we wouldn'tbe in it anymore."
He was so excited, he roused Adam."You know what you said about weird things not existing instereotypes?"
Adam nodded and scratched hisknee.
"Well," continued Geoffrey, "if we couldmake something strange happen, maybe we'd get zappedout."
"Yeah? Something strange? Like what?" Adamstood. "I don't have an axe to cut the palm tree, we can't make thetide come in and I can't exactly go buy a newoutfit."
"Maybe," Geoffrey offered timidly,"we could take our shirts off and dance around likehooligans."
The innocence and humor of his suggestion madeAdam smile. "Let's try it."
Giggling like school girls,the two men stripped off their ragged shirts. In a laughing fit,Geoffrey tied his jacket around his head like a turban.
"Let's sing," he suggested. "How about 'BlackSocks'?"
Adam didn't know the song, so Geoffrey taught himline by line. They capered around the tiny island, shirtless, singing aridiculous round at the top of their lungs.
Suddenly the palmtree split down the middle. Scrambling away from the splintering trunk,the two men lost each other, the words to the song and theirplan.
* * *
Geoffreylooked up to see a pretty blond standing in the doorway.
"Are you all right?"
He squinted at her."Yes, I'm fine. Why? I guess I just dozed off."
Shelooked skeptical. "You did a little more than that. Come look inthe mirror."
Geoffrey followed her to the bathroom. Herubbed sleep from his eyes and stared at his reflection. There he was,sun-browned and wearing his jacket around his head like a turban.