Benton, the butler, entered carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses on a tray. He poured wine into one and ginger ale into the other.
“Benton, I’d like wine also.” I ordered, speaking smoothly and refined.
“Sir, you are too young for wine,” he curtly replied. I felt defensive, no mere butler should chastize me! I was about to berate him, but was interrupted.
“Oh don’t be sad!” Vanessa cooed in my ear. My anger faded. It didn’t matter how old I was to Vanessa! I settled back into my chair.
“You give a wonderful massage.” I crooned suavely.
“I studied in India!” she bragged. “I learned a few other things in India, too,” she softly teased.
“Oh, really?” I smoothly replied, locking my eyes on hers as she got down on her knees before me and reached for my foot. Kinky. Then she started licking it.
“Vanessa!” I chided, trying to keep my cool. “What are you doing?!” She licked again and I tried to pull my foot away, but she held it fast. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t escape. I began to panic. Vanessa’s smile turned evil. She frightened me, her eyes turned red, and her tongue began to wrap around my foot. I tried to kick harder. I jerked myself to consciousness.
Bright light invaded the edges of my eyelids as I rolled over. I squeezed them tight and rubbed the sleep from them, then blinked awake. Vanessa had disappeared but the licking had resumed. I sat up. A medium sized, muddy, mangy mutt was thoroughly enjoying the taste of my bare feet.
“Ugh!” I yelled and kicked at it. I pulled my feet towards me and it ran off. My brain began to awaken. The first thing I wondered was why I was not wearing shoes, or socks? I looked at my feet. They were relatively clean and well manicured. I had gotten a pedicure this month. But I usually wore socks to bed. I looked at the bed I was on. It wasn’t my bed. It wasn’t even A bed, it was a pallet. I was sleeping on the dirt floor! There was some kind of woolly, hairy lump on the floor beside me. It must have once been my covering, but it looked more like a hide than a blanket.
This wasn’t my room! I looked at the thatched walls and ceiling. It reminded me of a tiki hut at an overdone tiki party I had attended last month in honor of a friend’s birthday. Was I passed out in that hut? What did I do last night?
I remember being at a party, of sorts. It was just a family friend get-together. But it was at my house. We had served roasted pork. Maybe this all was just a roasted pork dream. I pinched myself. It hurt. I was not dreaming. So how did I get here?
I remember going with my cousins and friends down to the pool house. We swam and then called some girls over to relax in the hot tub once the adults had drank enough to settle in the family room and not worry about us. We found beers and wine in the basement bar, unattended. We all had a little to drink, I suppose. But something prevented us from partying as late as we wanted. What was it?
Dad! Dad found us, and the girls, all drinking, and he was very mad. He yelled, but I laughed in his face. I don’t remember what he said to me, but I will never forget his face. It was red, frowning, shouting, and the vein in his forehead was throbbing over his left eye. Somehow, then, it seemed funny, since I didn’t feel anything but serene and bubbly. But laughing at him when he is angry is never a good idea. I don’t remember what happened next.
Where am I?
I stood up. My head swam. I sat back down. I suddenly felt like retching. I moved the fur hide out of the way and leaned over as my stomach rolled and pained. I’ve never felt this bad upon waking. Maybe I had been drugged. The dirt floor didn’t seem like such a bad place to be sick. Not that I cared where I did it, I never had to clean it up. I hurled up pure liquid bile. Even after my stomach was empty, I heaved and heaved for what seemed like a half hour until my ribs hurt with each effort.
When the dry heaving finally abated and my head’s throbbing began to subside as well, I stood. I decided to find out whose summer party hut I was visiting. I stepped into the blinding sunlight and squinted into a dense tropical rainforest. This was some secluded summer home locale! I rubbed my eyes again, trying to figure out where exactly I was, maybe spot a skyscraper over the trees, or hear a car zoom past. A very colorful bird flew right in front of me from a tree and screeched. Startled, I caught only a glimpse of bright yellow and green feathers, as the screech echoed in my skull, making me close my eyes, the shrillness shooting streaks of painful white lightening across my eyelids. It was that obnoxious bird that made me realize I was definitely not in any place I had been before. In fact, I was probably not even on the North American continent!
The shock of this realization hit me full force as I looked back at the hut and then again at the forest. I turned to see more huts which, including mine, formed a ring around a central fire pit, sending a thin stream of smoke upward.
Like a camera panning back, I began focusing on the bigger picture. Beyond the hut ring was a sparkling blue sea. One long, skinny, crooked pier stretched out from a tiny beach. It was in disrepair; planks were missing in several spots. I had the distinct feeling the pier was flipping me off, “Ha ha! You are stranded here!”
My thoughts now turned to home. I reached for my cell phone in my pocket. It was the latest model and could reach a satellite even from this remote place. It wasn’t in my right pocket, so I checked my left. I checked my back pockets. It wasn’t there. I searched the ground, thinking it must have fallen out. I trudged back toward the hut, still searching.
If I hadn’t remembered which hut I had come out from, I would have found it simply by the smell. It had only been a few minutes, but the temperature was rising fast and as the heat came in, the bile turned more sour and permeated deeply. How do they clean this stuff up here? They must be smart enough to puke in the forest.
I searched my pallet, and the fur hide, holding my nose with one hand, fighting off the urge for a repeat performance. No cell. The hut was bare, the floor packed down, even a small cell phone would have been easily spotted lying on the dirt. Nothing. I went back outside and checked all around the hut. I must have been carried in, but from where? Possibly from the pier. I began searching the most direct path between the hut and the pier.
When I had reached the middle of the small ring, people began emerging from their huts. Or maybe they were there the whole time, I hadn’t paid any attention to the slight, dark bodies before. They had the tan colored skin girls spend hours in the sun or tanning beds to achieve back home. They had dark hair too. Some kind of islander, I guessed. I decided to try talking to them before they got too close. Who knows what they thought of me!
“Hey! You,” I pointed, “find a cell phone?” I made a phone gesture with my finger and thumb to my ear and mouth. They just stared at me. They probably didn’t know about phones. How did I get myself lost on a primitive island?
They turned away from me, as if speaking were a disgrace or a social faux pas. One man bravely spoke nonsense and pointed with his whole arm towards the rain forest. Maybe I had come from the forest and he was kindly asking me to return. I stared at him. He repeated the gibberish, then walked toward the forest himself. He beckoned for me to follow him. That gesture must be universal. I followed him, maybe he had something important to show me. He stopped and pointed to a path barely visible between the trees and undergrowth. He held his arm up an awkwardly long time and stared at me. I guess it was time for me to go.
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