THE ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, PART I
Well, here it is ten minutes ’til noon and she’s still among the missing. Didn’t even bother to cook me up some brunch before traipsing off on one of her infamous island jaunts. Damned if I’ll ever comprehend that woman’s mindset. It’s like she’s always late for an appointment she never had. You’d think three blessed months on this island would’ve altered such behavior. No matter ... I’ll do enough relaxing for the both of us. First off I’ll heat up some of those frozen waffles and wash ’em down with a pot of the stoutest Joe I can take. Second, I’ll toss on a pair of swim trunks and kick back by the pool with an icy beverage and the last of Pop’s many bestsellers. Funny, in a tragic sorta way, that it took a global catastrophe for me to get rightly acquainted with the crazy bastard’s life’s work. Whatever, I’m sure Pop is peering straight up from the fiery pits of hell with an expression of fatherly pride at the mere concept. Sadistic jackass ... long may you simmer in Satan’s crockpot.
I was thinking of giving the Internet another shot, but why waste precious time and effort on such a hopelessly lost cause? No way it’s been miraculously revived overnight ... same with the satellite TV and radio transmitter. Frozen solid as my waffles, no doubt-dead as the swollen ranks of wandering corpses that make up the world population these days. Ah, no big deal anyhow. I never cared much for the Web except for the occasional porn surf. TV sucked sewer fluid and the radio was a wasteland of crappy music and still crappier political babblings.
The fact is, I ain’t at all ashamed to confess to feeling damn relieved at the whole turn of events. I’d been spouting off for years about making a permanent move to Pop’s little island getaway and living the rest of my life on cold beer and processed foods. Other people’s opinions be damned-what exactly is so wrong about living one’s life in peaceful solitude? I could care less about said opinions-everyone possesses an asshole as well-but why shouldn’t I, as an only child, enjoy the fruits of my father’s labor? The only thing that kept me from making tracks years ago was Jenny and her passion for high-society living. She always felt the need to wear that mask of wealth ... to show off whatever new bauble or toy came into her greedy possession. Me, I never gave a rat’s hairy hind leg about putting on airs. Never was my style to flaunt. Don’t get me wrong ... I loved the unlimited supply of cash and all the artificial happiness it brought me ... but the status thing never meant squat. Besides, one who spends a large majority of his youth doing time in assorted rehabs finds it a bit difficult to feign a high level of class.
Jenny was always the actress while I played the part of bumbling stage hand. No doubt her friends always pondered, and more likely asked her outright, why she stayed with such a societal misfit as yours truly. To that I respond with two simple but extremely forceful words ... prenuptial agreement. Though admittedly I have to say there is a bond there, however threadbare. Twelve and a half years is a chunk of time, after all, especially amongst the blue-blood crowd. As far as Jen and me, there is a massive gray area between hate and love, mostly consisting of a thick, crusty layer of reluctant tolerance. The socialite and the boozy, drug-addled recluse-Howard freakin’ Hughes and Madonna ... together forever. Who would have ever thunk it? Well, off to nuke some waffles, then to peruse the old man’s vast library of meaningless but obviously lucrative words.
Thirty-eight minutes later:
Ah, another sun-drenched, carefree day on Slacker Island. What else could a guy ask for? Lounging poolside with a frosty cold beverage and a good book? Guess I should withhold judgment on the "good" part for a later date. Dad’s works were never that well received by critics, but that sure didn’t sway the buying public a single iota. I lost count years ago how many movies were adapted from ’em. Dozens, I’d say, though I never personally watched more than four or five. Never went in for guts ’n’ gore, end-of-the-world scenarios, or futuristic soap operas, so that pretty well eliminated anything made from one of the old man’s writings. Snooty critics aside, I remember reading in his obit where he’d sold something like one hundred and sixty million copies of his books worldwide-enough to afford houses on every freakin’ coast and this modest little sixteen-room abode here, parked smack-dab in the center of the Pacific with no sister island in sight.
Damn, isn’t life ironic, though? Pop would be having a knee-slapping field day with the world’s present-day fix, though he never was big on zombie-plague tales, if I recall. Called ’em all redundant and lifeless, that last part said while flashing a sour smirk he often flashed in lieu of a genuine smile. What a cheery, fun-filled dude my old man was. Money and riches never made ’im happy. Booze only added to the misery. Five or six ex-wives didn’t exactly add joy to the mix. Still, I think if he could picture the weird, wild happenings going on about now, even his ultra-cynical butt might be capable of cracking a grin.
Let’s see now ... twelve-forty-four and still no Jenny. Probably packed a freakin’ lunch ... anything to put additional time and space between us. Not exactly sure what I did to irk her off this time. Rarely am. Sometimes my very existence seems to be enough. Probably something to do with falling off the wagon for the umpteenth time, though I’d have to lay some of that particular blame on the old man. For one thing, I definitely inherited my love for the hard stuff from his boozy old soul. For another, it ain’t my fault he left behind enough gin, vodka, and tonic on Slacker Isle to inebriate half the free world, or at least those still remaining upright with a working pulse.
Ah, well, they say time heals all wounds, and damned if time isn’t the one commodity least likely to expire in these more-than-trying times.
On to the reading before all the melted ice transforms my gin and tonic into a slushy.
Chapter one, then, of Raymond J. Striker’s best-selling collection titled LONERS ... wow ... now isn’t that conveniently fitting?