- Vol. 02
- Chapter 11
Image by Vestry House Museum
The Gentleman CastawayBriefcase and tie. Hardly the outfit for a castaway. And yet, after all these years he was still dressed immaculately.
His hair slicked back with sea water, a shard of coral was his comb. The jacket of his suit was died black with the ink of octopuses he’d caught, bare handed, off the island coast. His leather shoes were polished, his tie was sharp, weaved together with bamboo leaves. There was still something dazzling about his smile. It was bleached white. He said how he’d used the alkaline poison of puffer fish to turn his mouldy, castaway’s teeth the colour of the clouds. Even his breath was fresh.
The gentleman castaway did not sweat, neither did he panic. He was perfectly hygienic, with all the sponge in the world just waiting for him on the sea bed. He would bathe in baths of rock pools, careful to remove any crabs before he slipped in, and the only towel he needed was a big banana leaf.
Food was easy. For he could spear a deer from half a mile off. He was intensely patient; he always won the waiting game when holding a fishing rod and of course, he had plenty of firewood, which he carried about in his briefcase like a salesman and his goods.
He had created the perfect civilised society on what was otherwise a barbaric jungle wasteland.
But now the rescue boats had come ploughing up the shore. Men who had been searching for years piled him onto the dock he’d constructed and were ready to take him away. They were ready to take him back to the real world, to the real civilised society. The gentleman clutched his briefcase full of firewood to his chest and straightened his tie. He slicked down his hair with the coral comb and he checked the black polish on his shoes. This was what he had always wanted, to be shipped back to the civilisation where he belonged. But just before he stepped down onto the wooden deck with one polished shoe, the gentleman turned away.