Castaways - Tally Marks
Thanks to Mitzi and Beth for editing.
No 6 in the Series and follows Castaways - Adrift
Buck Wilmington climbed over the sprawling mangrove trunk and sat down alongside JD Dunne. “Hey…You left camp early this morning.” Buck had spent most of the time since he’d awakened looking for the younger man. Since Chris had fallen into the quicksand and Ezra’s tumble over the waterfall - they’d all agreed to travel in pairs. The only places deemed safe - and not needing an escort - were the paths directly to the watering hole and the beach and along the shore. So unless JD disregarded the rule, there had been only a number of places Buck needed to check.
“Oh… hey, Buck. Had some things on my mind.”
Buck thought as much - JD had been quiet over the past few days and his dour expression and slumped posture only emphasized it. “Anything you want to talk about?” Since being shipwrecked, Buck had taken the teenager under his wing…it was like having a little brother, something he’d always wanted. It had been lonely growing up as an only child…he figured Dunne had felt the same way, especially as they’d both been raised by a sole parent. They’d both lost their mothers at a vulnerable age. They hadn’t spoken much about his mother, but he knew the kid, at times, would pull out her photo and spend hours staring at it. It worried him that JD seemed to bottle it all up. Buck surmised that JD was still grieving his mother…she’d died fairly recently, whereas Buck’s mother had passed on years ago and he only held fond memories of her now.
Dunne smiled weakly. “You’ll think it’s stupid—”
“Word of honor…If it’s important to you…I promise not to laugh,” he coaxed.
JD looked up from under the brim of his baseball cap and caught the teasing glint in Wilmington’s eyes. He shrugged, but mumbled; “It’s dumb…don’t worry about it, Buck.”
He slapped Dunne on the back of the head, sending his cap flying to the sand. “Spit it out, kid.”
“Today…makes a hundred days.” Seeing the confusion in Buck’s eyes he picked up his hat and stood up. “See, I said it was nothing,” he admitted dimly.
“Wait…” The processes were a little slow, but he finally understood. They weren’t taking about JD’s mother, but how long they’d been on the island. “We’ve been stranded here for a hundred days…Didn’t realize you’d been counting.” Of course they’d marked off each day, scratching a tally mark in the cave wall, but he’d paid it no mind. It was Josiah who’d started, and persisted with the ritual. They’d be rescued…until then, each day here was an adventure.
“Yeah…I guess. I was just feeling a bit down.” JD moved around Buck and straddled the mangrove trunk. “You think we’ll ever be rescued?”
“Yep…surely do. Chris’ raft is almost finished. We’ll find a way home. Some way or another.”
Dunne shrugged…he didn’t have a home to go to…he’d been a stowaway on the yacht and no one would even know he was missing – certainly, there’d be no one looking for him. He had no job and no family waiting for him. What would he do when they returned? What did he have to go back to? “I don’t mind it so much here…” If it wasn’t for being shipwrecked he’d never have met these six very unique men who were becoming a family to him. He’d lose that if they were to return.
Buck snorted. Who was the kid trying to fool? “I can tell…But we do the best we can to survive…the others’ll tell you the same.”
JD arched his brows and frowned skeptically.
“You don’t believe me? Come on…let’s ask them.”
“Buck what are you doing?”
“Here…” Wilmington had wound a sock around the end of a stick which he handed to JD. Seeing Dunne’s look of confusion he groaned. “It’s a microphone…use your imagination.”
“Aw, JD…It’s a bit of fun. You’re the reporter…I’m your trusty camera man,” he picked up a piece of driftwood and hoisted it on his shoulder, awkwardly positioning it and aiming it at the teen, “and down there,” he waved at Nathan and Josiah fishing off the rocks, “are your first candidates. Roll ‘em.”
JD looked down at the ‘microphone’ and snickered. “They aren’t gonna want to do this.” Not for me.
“Wait and see…you want to have a practice run first…work out some questions?”
JD shrugged. “I s’pose… So what do I ask?”
“Anything you like, but you’ve gotta introduce yerself first…tell the audience where you’re reporting from and mention who you’re interviewing. Here…like this—” Buck dropped his chunk of driftwood to the sand and made a snatch for the ‘microphone’, but Dunne quickly pulled it out of his reach.
“Hey! I get the idea…and you’re just the camera man…you’re supposed to stay on the other side of the camera…no one’s going to want to listen to you,” he goaded.
Buck grinned, picked up his ‘camera’ and followed the intrepid reporter down the beach. JD was already getting into the role.
Before they reached the rocks where Nathan and Josiah were fishing, they ran into Chris coming down the path from their camp. “Boys.”
“Hey, Chris!” Buck swung the ‘camera’ around and focused on Larabee. “Here’s your chance, kid,” he whispered out the side of his mouth.
JD stared dumbly at Buck and flicked his gaze over to Chris and back to Wilmington. He couldn’t do this to Chris…Larabee would think he’d lost it. He turned his back on the captain and hissed; “With Chris? Are you mad?” He couldn’t do this.
Buck grinned over JD’s shoulder, winking at a very confused Chris. “Give us a minute here, stud,” he addressed the older man before drawing Dunne off to the side. “It’ll be fine…Pretend he’s left his fly opened or something. He’s only human…ain’t gonna bite your head off.”
JD chuckled at the mental image. “Maybe you could have a quick word with him first?”
“Sure thing,” Buck agreed, readjusting the driftwood and taking Larabee into his confidence. “Chris…you just gotta do this little thing for JD…He’s real nervous…but you’d help us out if you could play along? Thanks, pard.” He patted Larabee on the chest and swung his camera into position. “We’re set to go here, JD.”
JD held the ‘microphone’ to his mouth and walked the short distance over to Chris. Thank God Buck had convinced Chris. “Um…Hello, this is JD Dunne here talking with Chris Larabee, captain of the ill-fated yacht.” He stepped back uncertainly as the smile fell from Larabee’s face. He gulped…maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. “Ummm…Chris…Can you confirm that the construction of the raft is on schedule?” He held out the mic, his hand shook while he waited for Chris to decide if he’d play along. JD’s eyes darted nervously to Wilmington, who smiled and offered a ‘thumbs up’ signal.
Larabee glanced at Buck and rolled his eyes. Chris should have expected this coming from Buck. Everyone knew JD had left camp early. They’d all suspected the teen had something troubling him. So it was agreed Buck would seek out the youngster. Obviously Buck had found JD and come up with this scheme. Damn, Larabee hated role playing and Buck knew that too. He was a dead man. Chris leaned toward the mic and jerked back quickly…damn that was ripe! Is that a sock? He glanced at Buck’s bare foot stuffed into his boot and grimaced. Hell! Stiffly he bent forward, holding his breath while he spoke clearly into the ‘microphone’. “The raft is coming along smoothly and we should be ready for launch in the next few weeks, depending on the weather and when the winds change direction.”
“That’s great!” Dunne enthused, forgetting momentarily his role as a reporter. “Oh…sorry…As leader, how do you perceive your role on the island?”
Chris groaned and glowered at the cameraman. He was going to enjoy killing Buck. “I take my responsibilities very seriously and have tried to keep everyone safe. I’d like to think that if there were any major problems that we could find a way to solve them. A good community involves the cooperation and willingness of all parties…we’ve had a few teething problems, but seem to be on track now.” Was that enough? Or did JD want more?
“If you’d found me before we set sail what would you have done?”
“Tossed you overboard,” he grinned, watching both JD and Buck for a reaction.
“No he wouldn’t have,” Wilmington countered.
Chris shrugged. “I honestly don’t know what I would have done, JD.” Was it really that important? Their lives had changed so much since then.
“Would you have called the cops?” Dunne asked.
“I may have threatened to, but no…I wouldn’t have involved the cops.”
JD seemed to sag with relief and it took him a few moments to collect his thoughts before continuing the interview. “How do you respond to the rumor that you and Ezra bungee jumped off the waterfall?”
“It’s just a rumor. As we all know…you’d be stupid to jump off a cliff only depending on an elastic band to save you.” He grinned.
“Oh…okay…Could you please tell our viewers the first thing you will be doing when you return?”
“That’s easy…I’m going to go for a ride.” He glanced up at Buck’s snort and amended, by saying, “Not the same sort of ride Bucklin’s going to be taking.”
JD coughed in embarrassment. “Thanks for your time, Mr. Larabee.” Dunne sliced his hand across in front of his throat. “That’s a take,” he informed Buck.
“Great! Lead on, McDuff.”
JD dropped the microphone to his side. Buck wanted him to continue? They were really going to keep doing this? His mouth widened and he looked even younger than his eighteen years. “Cool!” He raced down to the rocks ahead of Buck and Chris.
“You coming too?”
Chris grunted and shook his head. “Someone has to keep all those electrical cords under control…can’t have you tripping over them…you might drop that camera and break it…then how would you explain that to JD?”
“You’re weird! You know that?”
“And what you’re doing isn’t?” Chris asked, pointing at the chunk of driftwood on his shoulder.
Both men looked up at once. Their curiosity grew when Dunne ignored them and turned around to face Buck who, for some reason, was carrying a piece of driftwood.
“Good morning and welcome to Friday. This is JD Dunne reporting for CNN on the beach of ‘Dunne Island’,” he spoke into the mic. “With me today are castaways, Josiah Sanchez and Nathan Jackson, both temporary residents of 'Dunne Isle'. Thanks for your time, today.” He turned his back on Buck and faced his friends. He swallowed back the rising fear of embarrassment, but pressed on. “Would both of you be willing to talk freely about your time here as castaways?”
Josiah cleared his throat, looked past JD to Buck and Chris who were both encouraging them to play along. “Certainly, I am.”
Nathan sat the fishing pole against the rock and agreed too. “Umm…Sure.”
“Thanks. Josiah…as an accredited gourmet chef, how do you find having to resort to cooking with such meager supplies and such basic food stuffs? Has the flair gone out of your kitchen?”
Josiah leaned into the fishing pole and grinned. “It’s true that the variety is less than what I was used to, but I find it refreshing being able to go back to the basics. It was no secret that I had been planning on giving up the hectic pace of the restaurant and this has only whet my appetite, pardon the pun, for something different. You know I’ve planted my own vegetable garden and I’m hoping for a prosperous crop.”
“So does that mean you’d rather stay here, than be rescued?”
“Did I say that? Heavens no! But I figure there’s no harm in preparing…and if we’re rescued in the meantime, then the crop can return to nature.”
“Do you think that all this healthy eating is improving our health?”
“Of course…Just look around…we’re all fine specimens of fitness.”
Nathan snorted. “Except we’ve all lost weight, especially you, Josiah… you even suffered a heart attack,” he snickered, referring to Josiah’s case of indigestion…but it wasn’t even that…just a hoax to get them all to function together…and it had worked to some extent.
“You examined me from head to toe, Nathan…there wasn’t a thing wrong with me.”
“Yeah…it was all in your head,” he returned, “or should I say, stomach?”
Dunne had been alternating the microphone from Nathan to Josiah as they bantered back and forth, but now he wanted to regain the control over the interview. “How does being stranded on a deserted island affect your work as a doctor?” he asked Nathan.
Jackson regarded JD before he answered, “There’s nothing, or no one, I can fall back on,” he replied truthfully. It was his greatest fear…not being able to help one of his friends. “I have to rely solely on two text books and my own judgment. And the First Aid kits have next to nothing in them. It’s like everything I’ve learned needs to be thrown out the window.” How did the pioneers cope without the modern conveniences? How did he do it now, when he’d learnt to rely so heavily on them?
“That’s not true, brother,” Sanchez interrupted. “We depend on you and respect your counsel. You’re a good doctor.”
“Yep…like he says,” agreed Dunne. “Nathan, if you could have anyone you liked, who would you choose to be here with us?”
Jackson smiled. “Raine…she’s my girlfriend,” he added for JD’s benefit, “And a physio.”
“That’d be pretty tough on her…being the only female.”
“She’d be fine…and you said I could choose anyone… and it’s never going to happen so there’s no point arguing. She’s easier on the eye than you lot, too.”
“I’ll say,” Sanchez agreed. “I wouldn’t oppose Nathan’s choice.”
“Me neither,” Buck drooled. “Nice hands, too.”
“Buck get your mind on something other than my girl.”
“Guess there’s always Tula,” Buck taunted.
“Her either,” Jackson growled. Tula was Jackson’s younger sister – she’d actually condescended to go out on a number of dates with Buck a few years back, but she had married since and Nathan didn’t like anyone thinking about her like that.
“Just yanking your chain, Nate,” Buck replied.
“I’d rather ya didn’t talk about her like that.”
“I hear you.” Tula was a gorgeous girl with a bubbly personality. Buck knew she was married, but that didn’t stop them from being friends.
“Can we continue?”
“Sure, JD. You got something else you want to ask?”
“Yeah…It must be rather frustrating juggling your share of chores, looking after everyone’s health and learning to swim? How do you do it?”
“How…how did you?...” Jackson glanced at accusingly at Sanchez. “Did you tell him?”
“I haven’t mentioned it,” Josiah answered, holding up both hands in surrender. He wouldn’t break the trust that had been indebted to him.
“You can’t swim?” Buck parroted. “In all the time I’ve known you, Nate…how is it I didn’t know that about you?” They’d been in the Navy together…and he couldn’t swim?
“I saw you at the watering hole…I didn’t know it was a secret,” Dunne professed. He didn’t want to cause friction between Josiah and Nathan when they were only now reaffirming their friendship.
Nathan flushed. “No harm done, JD. Guess it had to come out sooner or later.”
Larabee squinted against the glare, appraising Nathan. That little piece of information needed to be shared. “How’s he doing with the lessons, Josiah?”
“He’s a bit awkward in the water, but we’re making progress.”
“Good to hear.” Chris decided that he would be present at Nathan’s next lesson to ascertain for himself the strength of Nathan’s swimming ability.
“One last question… What is the first thing you want to do when we get back?”
Josiah answered first. “I’m going to indulge in the biggest, juiciest, fattest piece of prime steak, and chew each bite a dozen times before swallowing it.” His mouth salivated and his eyes closed, imagining the scene. Damn…shouldn’t indulge in such fantasies.
“That’s it?” JD confirmed.
“That and taking a crap in a latrine I don’t have to dig.”
“Gee, thanks for that indepth image, Josiah. Nathan?”
“I’m hoping Raine’s going to be there waiting at the harbor for me…I can’t wait to see her…I miss her so much. Second to that, I’d really like to clean my teeth.” He ran his tongue over his teeth and grimaced. Some toothpaste and floss would be very welcome.
“For Raine’s sake I hope you do that before you kiss her…she may keel over from the shock of your breath,” Buck teased.
“Shut up, Buck!” both Nathan and JD spoke at once.
“There they are.” Larabee pointed through the jungle of trees. He had continued to tag along behind, under the pretence of being the cable guy, but in reality he’d found the disclosures enlightening. He was interested in hearing Vin and Ezra’s answers too.
Since Dunne had interviewed Chris, Josiah and Nathan he’d been looking forward to talking with Vin and Ezra. He’d felt a bit self conscious acting out the part of a reporter and using a dirty sock wrapped around a stick as a microphone, but he was having so much fun. It sure beat the hell out of doing the laundry or fetching water. He couldn’t believe the others were going along with it. He’d felt terribly nervous about interviewing Larabee first, but found it reassuring that the captain was still with them. He couldn’t have minded too much.
JD felt bad about not wanting Jackson and Sanchez along too, but he would have had everyone traipsing around after him…and that would have been ridiculous. As it turned out, Nathan had just reeled in a huge snapper at the end of the interview. They’d already caught a few before JD had shown up and the extra one was all they’d been waiting for. Josiah and Nathan had offered to take their morning’s catch and the snapper back to camp and prepare lunch.
“Wait.” Buck knelt in the sand and pointed the driftwood up into the trees.
“What the hell are you doing?” Chris asked.
“Thought I’d get a little footage of the boys working…you know, to go along with the story,” Wilmington chuckled.
Larabee shared a look of disbelief with Dunne and walked off. “Better watch him, JD…he’s had way too much sun.”
JD stood watching the gregarious man pretending to film. He turned and watched Vin shimmy up the tall palm and toss the ripe coconuts down to Ezra who stood below. When he looked back, Buck was still ‘filming’. “You alright?”
“Yep…I’ve probably got enough…let’s go. Don’t want the batteries to die.”
They reached the base of the palm tree just as Ezra was placing several coconuts into a knapsack. Vin was still high up the palm…his knees spread outward and bare feet gripping onto the trunk.
“Gentlemen…” Ezra greeted, but kept a vigilant eye on Vin should he fall. “To what do we owe this visit?” He directed the question at Chris, but the captain stood there smirking...like he knew what was to come, but wouldn't divulge the information. He shifted his focus to Buck, where he received no quarter before he looked hopefully at JD. What was going on?
“Oh…we’re um…you know….kinda…Thought you might…well maybe—”
Ezra glanced helplessly at Buck. Since when did JD stutter?
“Kid here wants ta interview you.”
“You and Vin.” Buck looked up the long trunk, as Vin carefully shimmied down.
Ezra looked suspiciously at Larabee. What were they really after? “Why?”
Tanner made the last few feet and jumped to the ground. “What’s going on?”
“Hey, Vin. I know you guys are going to think this is crazy, but I’d like to interview you both. We’ve been here for a hundred days and well, I sort of thought…Buck suggested it actually, we could do this. Ummm,” he lowered his chin and muttered, “Buck’s the camera man.”
Standish raised his brows in amusement. “You want to interview us…about what?”
“Well…being on the island…and stuff.”
“I don’t mind,” Tanner agreed, dropping his arm over Ezra’s shoulder. “You don’t mind…do you Ez?”
He shrugged and pushed Vin off him. “By all means.”
Dunne lifted the ‘microphone’ and turned to face the ‘camera’. “On the 24th of February this year Hurricane Ivan sweep over the eastern sea board. Caught up in an epic battle for survival was the tiny yacht, the Sarah, owned and captained by Chris Larabee and Buck Wilmington. The search continues, to this day, for the six passengers. I’m JD Dunne, CNN Correspondent, reporting from the un-chartered tropical island, ‘Dunne Isle’ where I’ve caught up with two of the survivors from the shipwreck. With me this morning are Ezra Standish, our resident gambler, and Vin Tanner, our reconnaissance man.” JD swung back and faced the pair. “Ezra do you regret acting as a representative for your ma? If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be stuck out here with us now.”
Ezra shrugged his shoulders philosophically. “I was given the impression that had no one arrived, either my mother or myself, that Mr. Larabee would have taken the yacht out that day regardless. I may not have been with you, but the yacht would still have wrecked on this island and you would have had to survive the day to day grunge without my charming personality and witty charisma.”
Vin backhanded the Southerner across the head. “Give us a break.”
“Are you suggesting you wouldn’t have sorely missed my presence?” he asked cheekily as he rubbed his head.
“There would’ve been something missing,” Chris added sarcastically, attempting to keep the mood light, “we wouldn’t have had to listen to you parrot on all day long.”
Standish opened his mouth to respond, but Vin cut him off.
“What’s to miss? We wouldn’t have known ya…so we couldn’t have missed ya.”
True. Vin was right, Chris agreed, but how would Ezra’s absence have changed their circumstances? Larabee glanced specifically at JD, knowing the Southerner had risked life and limb during the storm to save Dunne, who’d stowed away in the lifeboat. None of the others had known the teenager had been hiding in the lifeboat. He’d have died if he’d stayed there. Standish had also helped Tanner a few days later during the first storm they’d weathered on the island and only a week ago Ezra had pulled Chris out of a bog of quicksand. So his presence had a wide reaching scope.
Ezra caught the haunted look that crossed Larabee’s face and wondered what had brought it on. He used his eyes and a tilt of the head…that was all it took for Chris to understand the unspoken question. Larabee shook his head and mouthed the word – Later. Ezra nodded and returned his attention to JD, who’d clearly missed the byplay.
“Do you think that the workload is shared out evenly?”
Ezra groaned. He ignored Vin’s snigger and Buck’s outburst of laughter. “The chores are more bearable when we rotate through them and the roster system was a good idea. Although, some of us are better suited to particular tasks,” he answered glibly, directing this portion to Chris. They always seemed to be hungry when Ezra was assigned fishing duties. So… he couldn’t catch fish.
“Does it bother you having more clothes than the rest of us?”
Ezra laughed easily. He’d been between jobs when the yacht had set sail and was also moving house. He’d turned up at the launch with his travel bag. “Designer suits are hardly practical wear on an island, JD. I thought you had all your worldly goods in your knapsack…you’re better outfitted for this life than I am.”
“Except I had to lend some to Vin.”
“I’ll give ‘em back, if you want.”
“Nah…Thanks anyhow. Then you’d have nothing save your old jeans.”
“It’s cool. I’m wondering, Ezra, if you have a stash of cigarettes? Would that be your luxury item?”
“Ah…that would have to – No to both.”
Larabee lurched forward off the palm. “You saw Standish with a smoke?” JD nodded and the captain turned a feral grin on the Southerner. Chris may have given them up, by going cold Turkey, but he’d kill for a fag. He hadn’t even known Ezra smoked. “You got any more?”
Ezra scratched his neck and sighed. “They aren’t mine—”
“Buck?” Chris questioned, but was disappointed with the negative response. He didn’t think Wilmington had any left.
“Chris you gave ‘em up—”
Larabee ignored Buck and demanded of Ezra. “Who?”
Chris snorted… “That ol’ dog.”
“Man…I didn’t know you all lit up,” Dunne said.
Tanner laughed. “This one does…like a chimney.” The comment earned him a humorless scowl from Larabee.
“Ha ha. Sorry, JD,” Chris apologized for interrupting. He would talk with Josiah soon.
“What do you miss the most?”
Ezra sighed. Certainly not Maude’s interference in his life, or the dead end jobs he’d been shackled with over the past eighteen months. There wasn’t a love interest in his life at present…Li had dumped after the he’d been sacked from his teaching position. He certainly didn’t miss the contempt or the suspicious glances or always struggling to keep up the pretence that none of this bothered him.
Buck watched the display of emotions that clouded the Southerner’s face. It was unlike him to be flustered. “JD…ya asked the others - What they’d do first when they got home.”
Ezra flicked a tight smile at Buck. Thanks. He needed that moment to regain his control. “Let’s see…A Starbuck’s Latte and a spa sound equally inviting. As does a comfortable bed, a rye whiskey, electricity, air-conditioning—”
“He only asked you for one, pard,” Wilmington interrupted.
“Why should I limit myself to only one?” he countered.
“Cuz JD asked ya for only one.”
Standish folded his arms and rolled his eyes. “Has this interview concluded?”
“Yeah…Thanks,” Dunne answered.
“Vin…thanks for waiting so patiently.”
He rolled his shoulders. “That’s alright.”
“You’ve been busy since our arrival...have you finished mapping the island.”
“Nah…I’ve probably done a quarter…maybe more, but less than half.”
“Is this something you enjoy?”
“Yeah…it’s been better since I’ve got company going with me.”
“So do you see a change in jobs for yourself when we return?”
Vin had been working as a security guard for Larabee’s lawyer, Orrin Travis, in a five story building. He’d been a bouncer in a night club before that, which is where he’d met Chris. They’d clicked from the start, and when Vin lost his job as a bouncer, Chris had set up an interview with Travis. It wasn’t the type of job he was thrilled with, but it brought in some money and it tied him over. “Yeah…I’m thinking on something outdoors…maybe a park ranger.”
“Or a deck hand?” Larabee offered. He still had plans to get another boat…his dreams were still alive. And he’d like his friends to be part of that.
“Sure…I could do that.”
Dunne coughed nervously. Vin may kill for asking, but he figured the Texan could only do it once. “I guess this is kinda private, but would you like to take the opportunity to explain how you got that lower body rash?” Both Buck and JD suspected Vin had been skinny dipping and been sunburned, however, Vin had claimed it was from an irritant his underwear was washed in that had caused the inflammation. And Nathan, under threats from Tanner no doubt, had refused to divulge any information…claiming patient confidentiality.
Vin flushed. “Nope.” He’d said all he was going to on this matter. They’d given him enough ridicule to last him a lifetime.
“Aw…come on Vin…speak up,” Wilmington heckled.
“He doesn’t have to answer, Buck. He’s already had to put up with the itch, discomfort and embarrassment…he don’t need you to keep rubbing it in.” JD groaned. He’d inadvertently caused further embarrassment and Chris, Ezra and Buck burst into laughter.
“Thanks, kid,” Vin choked. “Can we get on with this?”
“What is the first thing you’ll be doing when we return?”
“Stuff his face with burgers and fries,” Ezra quipped. It hadn’t taken the Southerner long to discover that Vin was a food junkie.
“Something wrong with that?”
“Good heavens…who am I to say what you can and can’t eat?”
“You got that right,” Tanner grinned…satisfied with his answers.
“Okay…hand that contraption over, Buck,” Chris ordered, reaching for the lump of driftwood that masqueraded as a video camera.
Buck stepped backward. “I’m fine, buddy. JD and I already had our talk.”
Chris’ grin only grew, and he still snatched the ‘camera’ from Wilmington. “Well, I missed it. And you don’t get out of it that easy. I want to see a replay.”
“Tell him, JD. We’ve already done this,” he pleaded.
“No we didn’t, Buck,” JD refuted.
Chris snorted. “Yer the only bastard that hasn’t had to talk into that moldy sock. Ready JD?”
“Hey…Everyone else got introduced…what gives?”
Dunne pointed at the driftwood. “The battery light is flashing and there’s not much tape left. We’ve got to skip a few things.”
“What goals have you set yourself during our time on Dunne Isle?”
“Shit…JD! I don’t know.”
“The man has no ambition,” Standish drawled.
Buck harrumphed…he had plenty of ideas…he just hadn’t looked at them as being goals. “I reckon we could try and improve our shelter…build a cabin or something.”
“Like the table?”
“Well, yeah…that’s a fine piece of work.”
“I’ll take that compliment, thanks Buck,” Chris growled, still peeved that building the table had been left for him. He imagined that building a cabin would be his next task. Great, he groaned unenthusiastically.
“We helped,” Buck protested.
“Yep…you left everything I needed in a neat pile.”
“Least it was something,” he answered Chris smugly.
“Where did you hide that magazine you were looking at the other day?” Buck had been taunting JD with the Playboy magazine since they’d arrived. It was Wilmington’s only reading material – if you could consider it reading.
“What? That isn’t a proper question…I don’t have to answer that.” He sounded indignant and looked to Chris for support then to Ezra and Vin. “Aw, come on guys. It’s mine.”
Standish elbowed Vin in the ribs and whispered, loudly enough for everyone to hear, “There’s probably drool on all the pages—”
“Or something worse,” Tanner hinted, laughing at Buck’s expense.
“JD I suggest you don’t contemplate chasing down its whereabouts…Just the thought of turning the pages churns my stomach,” Ezra drawled.
“Ezra!” Wilmington growled.
“JD, ask him where he hid my harmonica,” Vin suggested.
“Son…do not,” Ezra interrupted. “Mr. Wilmington did us all a huge favor by ridding us of that ear-splitting atrocity.”
Vin shoved the Southerner roughly and pouted. “There ain’t nothing wrong with my harmonica.”
“Vin’s right,” Chris agreed.
Larabee’s eyes lit with unrestrained humor. “I hadn’t finished. There is nothing wrong with the harmonica; it’s the person playing the damn thing.” He had to duck as a coconut sailed close to his head, but it was wonderful to see his friends so animated and enjoying themselves.
“When we return…and money shouldn’t come into it – What will you buy me for my birthday?” JD asked…after all, he was the reporter and the choice of question was his.
“Yer own Playboy magazine,” Buck answered without hesitation. Then he’d have some peace.
“Well, you shouldn’t be asking? Ask me something else.”
“Okay…what do you see as your greatest challenge here on the ‘Dunne Isle’?”
“Waking up and facing you guys every day,” he growled. How come he was getting all the shit questions? This wasn’t fair. Larabee and the other pair were eating it up.
“We already know what you’ll be doing first up when we return… so how about telling us what you’re going to miss the most about ‘Dunne Isle’?”
“Miss? Geez!” He scratched his chin thoughtfully. What would I miss? Any of the food was out of the question…it wasn’t great anyway. The beach, sand and surf he could still get. “Probably being with you guys…you’re my family. I’ll miss not having you around all the time.”
“He’s a sap,” Chris decided, but silently agreed.
“That’s it? Well thanks, Buck.”
Standish reached over and gingerly plucked the ‘microphone’ from JD’s hand. Someone had to interview JD. “I’m Ezra Standish in for JD Dunne. Thank you for joining us. Mr. Dunne, you must be inordinately excited about having an island named after you?”
“Really? You think they’d do that?”
“I believe you’ve already done that, son,” he deadpanned.
“I noticed in your introduction earlier that you only mentioned six passengers, and yet there are seven of us marooned. Being a stowaway has some disadvantages. Does it worry you that the search party won’t actually be looking for you?”
Dunne shuffled his sneakers in the sand. Ezra was right…there was no one combing the waters on his behalf. But he’d known that all along. “Not really…just so long as they haven’t called off the search. We’re all here together…it don’t matter none to me who finds us…just so long as they do.”
“Never fear, Mr. Dunne, my mother is rather tenacious and cannot stand when things do not go as planned. She’ll continue the search and will spare no expense looking. Of course, once we’re found, she’ll want recompense,” he admitted ruefully. “Given the chance, would you have chosen another vessel to board and stowaway on?”
“Nah…this has been good. There are a couple of other things I did that I’d like to undo, but not being part of this adventure.” He looked directly at Buck…he’d understand what JD was referring to, even if the others didn’t.
“Care to elaborate on that?”
Standish rolled his eyes. Perhaps another time. “In that case, would you please inform the viewers, what is the absolute worst thing about sharing a dwelling with six other men?”
“That’s easy. Buck’s snoring…and I sleep the closest to him. It’s like listening to a cross between a road train, a vacuum cleaner, sucking the dregs of a thick shake up through a straw and someone throwing up. I spend half the night trying to wake him up and getting him to roll on his side.”
“An apt description, I can attest to,” Standish agreed.
“Oh it ain’t that bad,” Buck refuted. Why were they picking on him?
“You’re lucky you haven’t had to contend with him after he’s had a few too many to drink…the windows rattle and the house shakes,” Larabee assured the youngster in all honesty.
“Mr. Wilmington, would you kindly refrain from stepping in front of the camera? This is JD’s fifteen minutes of fame.”
“You heard the man, Buck…move it!” Chris ordered.
“And finally…in the tradition of my predecessor - What is the first activity you will partake in when we return to civilization?”
“I want a triple-decker double choc chip ice-cream and a burger.”
“Not together I hope.”
JD grinned wickedly. Let them work it out. “Gee I hope Josiah and Nathan have lunch ready…I’m starved!”
“As do I,” Ezra agreed. “I’m Ezra Standish signing off.” He handed the ‘microphone’ back to JD.
“Thanks, guys. This has been terrific.”
“Glad we could help,” Tanner answered, bending over to pick up the knapsack.
“Ya think I could get my own copy?” Buck asked.
“You can have mine,” Larabee offered. “Let’s head back…lunch should be ready.”
As the others left the area JD turned his back to them. “I’m JD Dunne…thanks for joining us…and back to the studio.” He tossed the ‘microphone’ over his shoulder and ran to catch up to the others.
Please, please let me know if you enjoyed it and should I continue the series?
Castaway Stories Index