Island, p.20
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       Island, p.20
 

           Richard Laymon

  ‘That’s a laugh. I’m sure Wesley’s gonna kill us all and then let Rupert’s little diary incriminate him. Are you kidding me? He’ll burn it.’

  ‘Thanks, Connie,’ I said.

  ‘Oh, get real.’

  ‘Anyway, I’m not planning to get killed. I’m gonna make it out of here - I hope we all do. And then I’ll find a publisher. We’ll be famous. I’ll make a ton of money. And everybody who reads my true-life adventure book will see just what a bitch you are.’

  ‘Maybe I’ll burn it myself.’

  ‘Just try, and see what ...’

  ‘Knock it off,’ Kimberly said. ‘Both of you.’

  ‘And you leave Rupert’s diary alone,’ Billie told her daughter.

  Her daughter said, ‘Yeah, right, take his side, why don’t you?’

  That was pretty much the end of the conference. It hadn’t turned out so badly, after all.

  Being the intended target of Thelma’s hit, I came out of things looking a lot better than expected. I was now the survivor of an assassination attempt, not the dork who’d let Thelma escape.

  I couldn’t help feeling a little scared, though.

  It’s one thing to have somebody pull a razor on you because she’s your prisoner bent on making a getaway. It’s a whole different ballgame if she dropped in on us with a battered body and a load of lies just so she could get close to me, late at night, and rip me open.

  I’m damn lucky to be alive.

  Day ? Anybody’s Guess

  Musings On My Return To The Journal

  It’s where I left it. So I’ve opened it. So now I’m writing again.

  I don’t know why I’m bothering.

  Except, like Kimberly said, we’ve got to have a record of what’s been happening here.

  Maybe the cops’ll get their hands on it, someday. Yeah, right.

  Do they have cops in this goddamn armpit of the universe? Do they have anyone?

  I know one thing: I don’t ever want to see this thing get published. Not anymore. Not after what happened.

  ‘After what happened?’ you ask.

  I don’t know what happened.

  It has been a few days since my last entry in the journal. I think. I’m not sure how long it’s been.

  I just now turned back a couple of pages to read what’s there and refresh my memory. It’s almost like somebody else wrote them. Wrote them a long time ago. Years ago. So much has changed.

  I’m embarrassed to see what I wrote.

  Example: I expect he’ll try to kill me again. The placement of again makes it sound like I’ve already been killed once. But that isn’t the real problem. (One can’t be held accountable for the grammar of dialogue, right? And who gives a rat’s ass, anyway?) The real problem is my cavalier, jaunty fucking attitude. Ah, yes, my good Wesley? He’ll likely make another try for me. Tut, tut. Have to be on my guard, won’t P Have to remember to duck.

  Well, here’s news.

  It wasn’t me he got.

  It was them.

  Kimberly, Billie and Connie.

  They’re gone with the fucking wind, and I’m not. I’m here, back at the beach, writing in my journal, alive and well and alone.

  I’m not planning to get killed.

  Another gem from my previous entry.

  Talk about arrogance.

  Talk about being the prime asshole of the world. Talk about prophetic.

  Of course, I don’t actually know if the women have been killed. I think it’s likely, but I’m not sure. I know some of what happened, but not everything. They were still alive when I went down, but what happened to them afterwards?

  I don’t know.

  I know they’re gone, though.

  I can’t handle this. I’m going for a swim. Maybe I’ll be lucky and a shark’ll eat me for dinner.

  War Party

  This is the next day.

  I was too messed up to do any more writing yesterday. I went for a swim, like I said. The sharks didn’t get me, though. I didn’t see hide nor hair of any sharks.

  I did consider suicide, though.

  One of those really cool, melodramatic suicides like you’ve seen in a billion crappy movies - where some idiot goes swimming off into the sunset. The deal is, I guess, you keep swimming away from shore until you get too pooped to make it back. So even if you eventually change your mind, you’re history.

  There are several reasons why I didn’t do it.

  a. Drowning sucks.

  b. Being dead sucks.

  c. Being the lone survivor is not a fate worse than death.

  d. I’m not one hundred per cent sure that all the gals are dead.

  e. If I kill myself, I won’t be able to do any of the things that I want very badly to do to Wesley and Thelma.

  f. Like it or not, I do feel a certain obligation to play Ishmael and tell thee, to be the Horatio of our noble, lost band and report our cause aright to the unsatisfied.

  Other than not kill myself, what I did yesterday is of little consequence. I swam, I ate, I wept, I slept.

  Today, I’ll tell what happened to us on day eight.

  As much as I know, anyway.

  Day six was when Thelma returned, battered and claiming that she’d killed Wesley. That night, she went at me with her razor. Then she escaped by swimming away.

  Day seven, we did a lot of talking about what had happened on night six. And I did a lot of writing about it. Other than that, nothing of consequence happened. Connie’s injuries were the main reason why we didn’t take any action. She seemed to be getting better, though.

  Nothing happened that night.

  Day eight, Connie was still sore but she was ready for action. We all were. We knew it was time to go after Wesley and Thelma.

  We hoped that Wesley was already dead.

  We were fairly sure that Thelma had lied about killing him, just as she’d lied about nearly everything else. We thought there was a good chance, however, that Wesley had died from the wounds he got on the night of our ambush. Kimberly had put her spear through his left tit, and she’d rammed a hole into his ass. As a result of those wounds, he could’ve died from blood loss or from infection.

  If he wasn’t dead, we figured he might at least be incapacitated.

  On the other hand, maybe he’d recovered enough to be a real threat to us.

  We’d discussed every possibility that we could think of.

  We’d concluded that anything was possible, but that we were more likely to have trouble from Thelma than Wesley.

  We set out at mid-morning.

  Kimberly wore Keith’s Hawaiian shirt over her white bikini. She carried her tomahawk on its rope sling. The Swiss Army knife puckered out the front of her pants. The spear was in her left hand.

  Billie wore her same black bikini and no shirt, of course. Her chest was crossed by ropes. The single line of the tomahawk sling swept down from her shoulder to her right hip. The remains of the hanging rope (which we’d used for tying Thelma’s hands) crossed her from the other shoulder. It was long enough to make three loops. We’d decided to bring it along in case we took a captive.

  Though Kimberly was the one with Indian blood in her veins, Connie looked more the part. Because of her headband. She wore it to hold the bandage in place against her wound. The bandage was a pad of cloth made from her old T-shirt. The T-shirt had been ruined, anyway, so Billie had washed it in the stream and cut it up.

  Connie also wore a vest. She’d made it herself, using my razor on day seven to cut it out of a beach towel. It had yellow and white horizontal stripes. Even though it didn’t weigh much, it helped to hold a bandage down against her left shoulder. It also protected her shoulders and upper back from the sun, though it had no sleeves and was so short that it left her arms and lower back exposed. Not to mention her rump, which was as good as naked in that thong.

  Before we set out, I offered to spread some of Billie’s sunblock on her butt. She told me to fuck off. (Like I said, she was feeli
ng better.)

  The vest couldr.’t be shut in front, but the towel panels covered her breasts - her real reason for making and wearing the thing, more than likely. To keep them out of my sight. To taunt me and punish me.

  Logically, she should’ve made herself a skirt, too. But she didn’t. Did she think I had no interest in her lower regions? It didn’t make any sense, really. But then, you could go crazy trying to make sense out of Connie.

  She was sure good to look at, though. They all were.

  To think that I might never see any of them again ... It isn’t fair. I know this is a terrible thing to write, but I feel cheated.

  They’re dead, and I feel cheated.

  Sooner or later, maybe one of them would’ve ... either fallen for me or gotten so desperate ...

  Maybe not. We’ll never know.

  What is for sure, though, is that they aren’t here to look at, to daydream about, to talk with, to sometimes hold.

  Which makes me realize that I’ve had hugs from all three of them, at one time or another.

  I’ve seen Billie’s breasts and Connie‘s, but never Kimberly’s. Now, I never will see hers. Along with all the other things I’ll never ...

  I had to stop writing for a while.

  It depressed me too much - to put it mildly. I miss them so much. I can’t stand the thought that they are dead.

  I don’t know for sure that they are dead.

  A big mistake, around here, to assume that anyone is dead.

  What I need to do is find them. I need to know whether they are dead or alive. If they’re alive, they are almost certainly being held captive. Maybe I’ll be able to rescue them. If they’re dead, I’ll ... I don’t know what. In either case, though, I have to kill Wesley and Thelma.

  I should be out searching for them right now, not sitting here on the beach.

  But I want to bring the journal up to date first. That way, in case I don’t come back, there will be a record.

  Back to the story.

  I’d been telling about Connie’s towel-vest. Because of the injury to her left shoulder, she wore the rope of her tomahawk sling on her right shoulder. The rope crossed her chest, and the tomahawk hung by her left hip. In her left hand, she carried her spear - the special, wicked one she’d made for fishing.

  As for me, the day seemed too hot for Billie’s pink blouse, so I went without it. I wore Andrew’s khaki shorts. I haven’t worn my swimming trunks since the day I started wearing Andrew’s shorts. I like having the pockets, and the shorts are so big and roomy that they give me plenty of freedom. I wore shoes and socks, too, by the way.

  I haven’t written much about footwear. That’s because it doesn’t interest me much, and so far it hasn’t been of any great importance. We all had shoes to wear. Sometimes we wore them; sometimes we went barefoot. Not much else to say on the subject.

  For weapons, I had the ax in both hands, a tomahawk at my hip (stuck under my belt, which I’d gotten back after the loan to Connie), and Thelma’s straight razor. Kimberly thought I should get to keep the razor. For one thing, it was the weapon I’d almost gotten murdered with. For another, even though Kimberly had actually found the razor where it had fallen in the sand, she pointed out that I’m the one who’d knocked it out of Thelma’s hand.

  Besides, Kimberly had her Swiss Army knife, Connie didn’t even want to touch the razor, and Billie thought I should keep it because I was obviously the one in the most danger.

  Wrong.

  We were so damn wrong about that.

  Anyway, I had the razor safely folded inside the right front pocket of my shorts, along with Andrew’s lighter and Billie’s plastic bottle of sunblock. (My other front pocket bulged with chucks of fish that we’d smoked overnight and wrapped in some leftover cellophane.)

  So that’s pretty much the way we were - how we were dressed and armed and so on - when we set out on the morning of day eight to hunt for Wesley and Thelma.

  We’d agreed to try our luck at the lagoon. It seemed the most likely place to find them.

  But Kimberly said, ‘This way,’ and started walking toward the inlet.

  We went after her.

  ‘Where are we going?’ I asked.

  ‘We shouldn’t look like we’re on our way to the lagoon,’ she said.

  ‘Are you kidding?’ Connie asked. ‘Who do you think is watching?’

  ‘Probably no one. But maybe Wesley or Thelma.’

  ‘Give me a break.’

  ‘We’ll just go up the shore for a while, make them think we’re off to explore the island.’

  ‘Then what?’ Connie asked. ‘Sneak around behind the lagoon?’

  ‘Yep,’ Kimberly said.

  ‘Fabulous.’

  ‘I think it’s a good idea,’ I said.

  Connie gave me a sneer. ‘You would.’

  ‘Look what happened last time,’ Billie told her. ‘We don’t want to repeat the same mistake. If we come in from the back, maybe we’ll take them by surprise.’

  ‘I think it’s stupid,’ Connie said. ‘We’ll probably get lost.’

  She was outnumbered.

  With Kimberly in the lead, we climbed the ridge of rocks just to the north of our beach, made our way down to the other side, and hiked along the shoreline.

  Connie glanced back, now and then. ‘How far are we gonna go?’ she asked.

  ‘Let’s make it around that point,’ Kimberly said.

  It was pretty far off.

  Connie wrinkled her nose.

  ‘If anyone’s watching,’ Kimberly explained, ‘they’ll think we’re trying to circle the island.’

  ‘Maybe we should circle the island,’ I said.

  ‘Some other time. First, we’ve gotta take care of Wesley and Thelma. They’re too big a threat. After we’ve killed them, we’ll be able to explore the island to our heart’s content. What we’ll do, as soon as we get to the other side of the point, is take cover in the jungle and make our way back till we’re sure of our bearings ...’

  ‘Why don’t I just wait for you here?’ Connie offered.

  ‘You’re not helping matters,’ Kimberly said. ‘We know you’re hurt, but ...’

  ‘But you’re gonna make me walk a few extra miles, anyway.’

  ‘What about trying to circle the island?’ Billie asked Kimberly. ‘It might not be a bad idea.’

  ‘It’s a fine idea,’ Kimberly said. ‘For some other day.’

  ‘No, hold on. Except for a couple of short little trips into the jungle, we’ve been cooped up on that beach ever since we got here. We don’t know what we might find.’

  ‘Probably the dinghy,’ I said.

  Connie stopped glowering. ‘Yeah! If we find the dinghy, we can get outa here.’

  ‘This might not even be an island,’ Billie said. ‘How do we know we didn’t land on ... the end of a peninsula, or something?’

  ‘It’s an island,’ Kimberly said. ‘Dad was showing me the charts the night before we got here.’ She nodded. ‘We’re nowhere near any mainland. Nothing for miles around but scads of little islands.’

  ‘Well, that was just ... I know we aren’t on a continent or something. But we don’t know what island this is, or how big it is. It might very well be inhabited. We might even find some sort of town.’

  ‘And police,’ Connie said. She was perking up. In spite of her injuries, she would apparently be delighted to walk for miles in search of the dinghy or a precinct house.

  Billie nodded. ‘It couldn’t hurt to just keep going on the beach and see what...’

  ‘Be my guest,’ Kimberly said. ‘I’m not interested. The rest of you wanta bail out on me, that’s your problem. I don’t care if there’s a metropolis around the comer, I’m going into the jungle after Wesley and I’m not coming out till I’ve got his head.’

  I couldn’t help it. I gave her a buggy-eyed stare and said, ‘His head? You mean, like, figuratively speaking?’

  She just looked at me.

  Whic
h was all the answer I needed.

  I muttered, ‘Jesus.’

  Billie had that look on her face - a mixture of amusement and disbelief. ‘You’re not really planning to cut off Wesley’s head?’

  ‘He killed my husband and my father. You know how we towed Dad’s body out? I’d like to swim out to exactly the same place with Wesley’s head, and let it sink there in the same place so Dad’ll see that I took care of business.’

  I didn’t like the sound of that.

  I wanted Wesley dead, too, but it disturbed me to find out that Kimberly had come up with such a bizarre, grisly plan. She’d obviously given it a lot of thought.

  It seems she had depths of creepiness I had never even guessed at.

  Connie, too, seemed impressed. With a look on her face as if she’d just encountered a little green man, she did a brief rendition of The Twilight Zone’s music—‘Doo-de-do-do, doo-de-do-do.’ I’d heard her do that before, but never an impression of Rod Serling (or anyone else, for that matter). ‘One Kimberly Dickens, cheerleader, prom queen, loving daughter and faithful wife. She came to a tropical island in search of a picnic, and found instead that she had slipped into a netherworld of primitive ...’

  ‘Knock it off,’ Kimberly said.

  ‘Hey, you’re talking about decapitating someone.’

  ‘You have a problem with that?’

  ‘Not with that, with you. I mean, you’re creeping me out. You start talking about taking a guy’s head off - even his - and it starts making me wonder if you’ve lost a few screws.’

  Kimberly frowned at her, then shrugged. ‘You’re probably right, I shouldn’t go around saying stuff like that.’ She glanced at each of us. ‘I guess maybe I got carried away. I’m not missing any screws. A couple of them might be slightly loose, but ... don’t worry, I haven’t gone crazy.’

  ‘I’ve had some pretty horrible thoughts, myself,’ Billie said. ‘Things I’d like to do to Wesley. Some of them are a lot worse than chopping his head off.’

 
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