Gilligan’s Island It Ain’t by HeadBoy ([email protected])
The waves rocked, hard. Harder than ever before. Patti was tossed from one side of the ship to the other. She had never seen a storm like this. She had never seen a storm at all. It was supposed to be a relaxing day out in the bay, simple, easy fun with her boyfriend, Paul. A rare day sailing and getting some sun. A day of preparation that would lead to a trip up the California coast. A two-week trip that would be a needed break in the heavy workload Patti had been bogged down with.
A wave crashed on deck and carried Paul overboard, flooded the aft compartment and sent Patti careening down the ladder. Her head glanced off the table below deck, knocking her unconscious. Unconscious in a ship gathering water and listing hard to one side. Patti would not last long in the open sea, she was a decent swimmer, but not a great one. She smoked, so her stamina was less than stellar. She never really exercised with any dedication, opting to leave the blessings of genetics give her a pleasant, slightly pudgy, but not unattractive, figure.
Water rose, boards began creaking and bowing from the pressure of maelstrom outside. The tiny boat was not holding up to the pressure, not at all. Face down in the rising tide, Patti gasped back awake – spitting the salty, foul-tasting water out of her mouth, shaking sense back into her head. The hull of the boat began to crack open, water was gushing in now, there was little time to do anything but pray for mercy.
The will to survive coursed through her body, she grabbed a lifejacket, pulled it over her swimsuit that she now wished weren’t so skimpy. If she made it to land, she’d be near naked, which is fine for eliminating tan lines, but lousy for protection against the elements. She grabbed a bag to float on, hoping it had supplies she could use. She ran her arm through the strap, pulling it up to her armpit, figuring the extra flotation would only help. She grabbed another, not knowing if it was Paul’s or hers, or the first aid bag. It didn’t matter, the boat split in two, throwing Patti into the hands of Neptune’s mercy.
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Her heart pounded with determination as she swam, not knowing where she was heading, just away from the sinking wreckage. She swam for what seemed like an hour, but was only five or six minutes until she came across a floating piece of debris. She pulled herself on, with little strength left, and no energy to continue. The water rose and fell, tossing Patti about like a rag doll. Try as she might, she could not stay awake. She wrapped her hand in a piece of cord that was wrapped around the broken hunk of wood that was once her boyfriend’s boat. The waves crashed over her again and again, unrelentingly pounding her body into a bruised, beaten mass. As she passed out, her last thoughts were of Paul, and how much she would miss him. “This is it…” was the last thought on her mind.
Patti woke to the taste of seaweed in her mouth and sand on her face. She was on a reef of some sort, stuck and no longer in danger. Just alone. Alone and on a reef, about a mile from a small island. She could see it up ahead. By blind luck, or the hand of god, she ran aground on the reef while she was unconscious. If she hadn’t, the odds of her running into another land mass were slim to none. Patti was lucky. Alone, but lucky.
She pulled herself off the reef and swam toward the island. Her arms felt like they’d fall off, Patti had never worked them so hard in her life, but she would not stop. Her lungs ached as she swam with her strength and gritty determination getting her to the shore. The waves, which last night were her enemy, pushed her closer to the strip of dirt in the middle of the ocean. Finally, after much effort, she could stand and walk ashore, her legs gave out twenty feet onto dry land, the wooden shard that she clung to still attached to her hand.
She laughed a little, then cried. “I’m alive?” she said, more a question than a statement. “I’m alive,” again. This time with her trademark honey-laced voice in full bloom. She smiled, and it hurt. The salt water had chapped her lips horribly over the past twenty hours at sea.
She mustered all of her strength, dampened her emotions for a while, and threw off the bags she’d grabbed as the boat lost its battle with the Pacific. She took inventory: A first aid kit, a bottle of Vodka, a box of 500 waterproof matches, a waterproof am/fm radio, water purifying tablets, about a week’s supply of dehydrated fruits and beef jerky, instant coffee, Paul’s shaving kit and deck shoes, a pair of Levi’s and a flannel shirt, a sleeping bag, three flares, a shovel/pick-axe, a tin cup and plate, a kettle and a journal. She had, again, been lucky.
At least she could cover up against the cold nights until rescue came. She piled everything by a nearby tree and set out to look around. She collected some rocks and larger sticks to spell out “S.O.S.” near the shore so a passing ship or plane might see it and come to her aid. The sun was overhead, she figured a search party would be coming sometime during the day.
The island was less than two miles all the around, and not quite 1 1/2 mile across. The vegetation was plentiful, but not overly thick. Patti thought to herself how badly she wanted a cigarette, but she had none. “I’ve been meaning to quit,” she said to nobody but herself. “I guess I just did.” She ran her fingers through the tangled mess that was her hair, it was knotted and frazzled. She longed for some real coffee, some make-up to cover the freckles on her nose and cheeks that she hated so much. She longed for a hot bath, Paul’s arms around her, singing Tom Petty songs into her ear as she fell asleep, like he had so many times before. She longed for a hamburger and fries, and a huge Coke to wash it down. She loved junk food, with a passion, and missed it badly.
She collected some wood for a fire, not knowing how cold it would get at night, and she threw some wet palm fronds on the fire to make smoke, hoping it would attract a passing anybody.
Patti looked the shaving kit, praying for some soap to wash up with, instead she found a mirror… And she wept at what she saw. Her nose looked pointy without her make up, and her hair was as disheveled as a mop in full tangle. She loved her hair – her flaxen locks were soft, full and lovely to touch. Well, they were before the storm had thrown her, tossed her, and ripped out fist-sized clumps.
The night was warm. Patti slept under the stars, a fire burned next to her, she’d rubbed lotion on her body as the sun set to take away the salty, grungy feeling that made her uncomfortable. When she woke up the next morning, the sun was already high above, she’d been so exhausted she slept through sunrise.
She munched on some of the dehydrated fruit, and drank some of the instant coffee. She looked in the mirror, her usually white skin had darkened to an even olive tone. She liked the way her freckles had almost totally disappeared. The urge for a cigarette was raging and coursing through her, which made her angry at herself. Her hair was an even worse mess than the night before, more tangled from a lack of combing, or conditioner. Patti sobbed, she dug through the first aid kit and pulled out the bandage scissors. “I’ll even this out so I don’t look like jungle woman,” she said to herself.
A small mirror, shaking hands, and a pair of semi-sharp bandage scissors are no way to try to even out a tangled, tousled mass of hair. Patti found this out the hard way.
“Shit,” she said, the left side cut, slightly below the shoulder and the right longer. Three tentative snips to the right side did not even it out, this time the right side was shorter than the left. It was looking worse than before.
“Oh hell.” Her voice trembled, she cut the left side to the collar of Paul’s flannel shirt, reaching around behind her head, snipping away the soft curls, and harsh tangles. On the right, it was again shorter than the left side.
“Shit!” she said again, furious with herself. She grabbed and cut, grabbed and cut. Bunches of her hair fell to her feet as she chopped in anger and uncontrolled action.
The scissors made a grinding sound as they bit into what was her crowning glory. Patti groaned for mercy from herself as she pulled, hard, on her hair. She rested the scissors at the top of her left ear and cut directly over the top. Snip, grab, snip, grab, snip, grab. She didn’t stop there; pawing, feverishly, at her bangs, she took fistful after fistful in her fingers that once were manicured and pristine. The scissors weren’t sharp, but they made short work of Patti’s luxuriant mane. A head of hair she had spent ten years growing. Ten years since she was the last of her friends to jump on the chin-length bob train that they’d all worn as college freshmen.
Ten years since a pair of scissors had done more than touch up the split ends. Ten years of vain, self-imposed labor over curls and waves of cascading beauty that she was slicing away with mythic fury. Maybe it was all the violence she’d been subjected to over the past few days, maybe it was the nicotine leaving her body, maybe it was a nervous breakdown…
For whatever reason, Patti had reduced most of her head to a patchwork of stubbled, bald patches, an odd strands of still long hair that she’d missed. After she’d finished, she saw her reflection in the mirror again. She was stunned!
The shape of her head was flawless. It was a shock, to be sure, but she thought it looked good. It needed cleaning up, but it was an improvement over the mass of twigs and sand lying on her head, festering away, driving her, slowly, insane. The mirror was her only friend at the moment. “Do I look good?” she wondered. There was no one there to answer except her, she cackled, just a little unhinged. “I look wonder-fucking-ful.” If she hated it, she knew she didn’t have to look in the mirror, and when she was rescued, she could go to a stylist and have it fixed.
Then it dawned on her, she couldn’t have them fix this. She’d cut her hair down to nubs and bristles. She calmed down over the course of the day. It must’ve been about three or four in the afternoon when she had finally settled down enough to be rational.
Again, she looked in the mirror… she sighed in resignation. “Might as well finish the job,” she said, not happy about it, not as in love with the idea as she was earlier, when she was in mid-anxiety attack.
Her spirit was at an all-time low, she removed what was her most identifiable feature. The thing that made people think, “She’s got gorgeous hair, for a pudgy girl.” They never noticed that Patti was a wonderful person, but that couldn’t bother her now. She used the shaving cream in Paul’s kit and rubbed it on her skull, dreading the moment that was about to come. Resigned to the moment. Succumbing to the moment. THE MOMENT
As Patti pulled the razor across her head, pulling back from her hairline to the top of her skull, something happened. She was calm now, and watching herself, carefully. The new smoothness pleased her. And with each passing scrape of her scalp, she smiled bigger and broader. She soon found herself craving the feeling of the razor pulling over her scalp over the craving for a cigarette. She felt the stubble give way to a clean, smooth surface that she’d only felt on her legs before. And Patti loved how smooth her legs felt after shaving. Now, she had that feeling on her head too.
She rubbed the naked patches, knowing that she’d found a new addiction. The sensation beat the feel of lungs filling with the calm, cool taste of tobacco… and this one was far healthier. Patti pulled the blade over the temples and back across the crown, leaving a glistening white path that clashed with her now tan face. She shaved up her neck, and down from the top. Shaved around the ear, rubbed it, and then on to the other ear. She loved the smoothness, the newness, the budding addiction in her new found solitude.
She finished off the denuding with a wide grin, wider than she’d ever smiled before. She couldn’t stop looking at herself in the mirror. She did, in fact, have a wonderfully shaped round head. She rubbed it, getting an unwholesome pleasure that filled her whole body. Patti grabbed the lotion, massaged it into her scalp, rejoicing in the high sheen it brought to her freshly bald skull. It caught the sunlight and glistened majestically. She was hooked. Anybody who could see her would be. Her face had just enough roundness to pull off a lack of hair.
Two months had passed, Patti’s stomach had become flat from her daily crisscrossing of the island, collecting wood and searching for food. Her legs had become toned, muscular even from her daily runs along the water that she had taken up to pass the time.
As part of her daily rituals, she’d write her thoughts in the journal, shave her head and eat breakfast. She’d then go to the shore, wash out her clothes and hang them to dry. She’d light a fire, still harboring hope of rescue and go jogging along the water line. Sometimes, she’d run naked, sometimes she would not. The two months she’d spent alone had effectively killed any of her inhibitions. The time alone had given Patti a jolt, she hadn’t been living, just killing time from one cigarette to the next cheeseburger.
She was blessed by being shipwrecked; sure she was lonely, but she always hated the amount of make-up she wore, now she had none to wear. She liked her hair, but she loved being bald more so. She had never worked out a day in her life, now she was an aerobic machine. Her pleasant, round face was still pleasing, but more striking now: more tan, wide eyes now visible, pretty, angular cheek bones, and not a tan line, anywhere in sight.
She was running one morning, and spotted a U.S. Coast Guard cutter speeding her way. She jumped up and down, waving madly at the ship. They fired a flare into the sky, and a voice boomed from the fast-approaching ship… “This is the United States Coast Guard, if you are in need of assistance, please signal us now if you can.”
Patti wondered what exactly they thought a naked, screaming, leaping woman was if not a signal for help? It didn’t matter, she was saved. She sprinted up the shore to her things, pulling the fraying shirt over her nude body, pulling up Paul’s Levi’s as she ran out to meet them. A tall, steel-eyed officer came ashore to help her get her things. She hugged him so hard that he lost his breath.
“Sorry, oh god I’m sorry, I’m just so happy to see you,” she said, so fast it sounded like one long word.
“What’s your name, ma’am?” he asked in a polite voice, offering her a blanket for warmth.
“Patti,” she said, not used to hearing her own voice anymore.
“Well, Patti,” he said, helping her onto the boat that would take her to the ship and finally back into the arms of her Paul. “I’m sure there are many people waiting to welcome you home with open arms.”
“Just one,” she said, rubbing her clean slate of a head, wondering if Paul would still love the new Patti. “But that’s enough,” she smiled, knowing that he would.
And he did.