Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 14

By Joshua Ryan

Chapter 14: Your Every Moment Will Be Filled with Meaning

When you’re a freshman slappie you wake up at dawn, and if you’re a new and potentially uncontrolled slappie, you lie in your rack until the boss comes by to unlock your shackle.  Then you herd into the latrine to do your business.  The smell of piss and shit from 100 slappies—that wasn’t one of the attractions of the King George Hotel.  The hotel had slappies, but they did it someplace else.  Mornings are chilly on St. Bevons, and the steam goes up from the shit holes.  You march to the chow hall in your big boots and your little slappie suit, and you feel like the cold breeze is drowning you.  Chow is something like oatmeal and something like coffee.  No croissants.  No marmalade.  No fresh fruits offered for your selection.  No one to suggest that the gentleman might wish to try the special breakfast of the day.  Then you’re marched out on the slab for exercise.  You strip down to your y-fronts, and you’re ready for your session of mens nulla in corpore sano.

So I’d arrived back at the spot where I first saw slappies in training.  Now, as the Major had promised, I was seeing a bit more of the inside.  As soon as I found a place in formation, the guy on my left glared at me and said, “Welcome to your new life.  Shithead.”  It was the kid from Kalamazoo.  I guess he hadn’t placed me before, but now that I’d returned to the scene of the crime he remembered who I was.  By the time we’d finished the crunches and the jumping jacks and the pushups and the running in place, he and everyone else was enjoying the sight of my feeble gyrations.  Everyone except the one other sucker that wasn’t a 20-something, or an 18-something.  I thought I’d kept myself in fairly good shape, but brandy and crème brûlée had other ideas.  My gut was obvious, especially when it hit the slab on the eighteenth pushup and didn’t come up again.  Even when the lead slap kicked it with his boot.  There was also a problem about my arms.  During jumping jacks, they waved around like the limbs of a real jumping jack, totally without coordination.  Sweat ran out of my pits like oil out of a damaged car.

“Nice tummy you got there dude!”

“It almos’ big ‘nuff mon!”

“Big tummy, li’l dick!”

“Ol’ dude got rhythm—noooooh!”

“Ol’ dude not gonna MAKE it mon!”

I’d heard about a hundred of those catcalls before I heard “Gear up!”  I struggled into my browns and boots, tied up the laces with my sweaty hands, and marched to the truck that would take me to the labor site.  This time I wasn’t riding in a limo.  I was riding in a cattle pen on the back of a long-bed truck, packed in with 19 other animals.  A big slappie locked the gate at the rear and climbed into the driver’s seat.  We were off.

During the drive I got a lot of attention from the other slappies.

“How you get here dude?  Too many drinks on thee cruise ship?”

“Ooooh , doan get too CLOSE to thee See Eee Oh mon.  This dude goan fire you ass!”

All I could do was stand with my chest on another slappie’s back, and another slappie’s dick pushing into my shorts, and listen to the jokes about me.  The close encounters in the truck were not provocative.  My dick was dead.  My brain was dying too.

That was a good thing, because, as I soon realized, I was making my gala public debut in the role of slappie.  The road to wherever we were going led through a busy suburb.  Kids were walking to school.  Shopkeepers were arranging their signs.  Guys on bikes were peddling along in the next lane.  Everybody looked at us, and everybody laughed.  Almost everybody–the slappies that were moving boxes out of delivery vans and sweeping the sidewalks in front of stores glanced at us without expression.  I’d never understood the hideous nature of a slappie suit until I realized that when they looked at me, they were seeing themselves, selves that even to them were ugly, blank, robotic, brown like mud.

The truck kept rolling, past the last house, the last tree, into the long, flat fields, and parked at the end of a dirt road.  Other slappie carriers had already arrived.  We climbed out and knelt by the side of the truck while Boss Bull “chained us in.”  Boss Bull was like Boss Churchill–large, black, and island—and he was there to give us orders in the field.  Boss Bull and his assistant slappie had ten long chains, each of them had ten shackles attached to it, and each of the shackles was locked onto a slappie’s leg.  When the ten slappies stood on their feet, they were “chained in,” “on the chain,” “all ganged up mon.”  Then each of them grabbed a hoe from the back of a truck and went off to “hoe the rows mon.”

The “rows” were lines of peas to which I was now required to devote my full attention, the same as any other slappie on the chain.  The peas must be hoed and weeded, and I was the tool that Boss Bull used to do it.  I wasn’t a very good tool.  I shuffled and stumbled along the rows.  I scattered dirt on the other slappies’ boots.  When the gang was stopped for a piss break (“face that las’ row–pull it out now–make you watuh now”), I was shy and made my water last.  When the chain squatted for chow I gagged on the coffee grounds in the tin cup that was passed from slappie to slappie, and I almost puked on the brown, cold, beany mass of crap that was ladled into the tin plate I shared with the slappie on my left.  Then back to work–a long white piece of meat, bulging in the wrong places, greasy with sweat as it stretched and pulled, stretched and pulled, slower and slower, until the boss’s boot landed on its rump and speeded it up again.   Sometime in the afternoon the meat lost all consciousness of the voices mocking it.  Later in the afternoon it lost all consciousness of anything except its muscles cramping and its fat brown butt getting another boot.  The meat was surprised when it found itself locked back onto the truck, and the steel gates of the Chicken Coop opening in front of it—surprised that it was still live meat.

After you come off the truck, you run to a place on the slab where you get washed.  It’s just a piece of the concrete with some steel poles sticking up and bending at the top, and water coming out of them.  The slappies pull off their boots and strip out of their browns and clump together under the heads, and somebody throws little cubes of soap at them.  They laugh and shove each other, and some of them are hard.  It’s the high point of their day.

When we were all clean we picked up our boots and browns and ran to the laundry building.  Naked—no towels required.  The sun was getting low, the air was cold on my skin, but at least I was clean.  At the door we threw our stinking suits into a dirty-laundry bin and grabbed replacements from the other bins: shirts, shorts, sox, somebody else’s used underpants.  There was plenty of choice: either small or large.  Then we suited up and ran back to the barracks.  So when we marched to the chow hall again we were 100 spanking clean slappies in 100 spanking clean suits.

On my stool in the chow hall I ate my stale bread, burned beans, and fatty pork.  I needed food; I practically swallowed it whole.  The slappies around me chatted to each other, making jokes I couldn’t understand.  From time to time one of them nudged another one and pointed at me.  Then laughed.  I sat on the stool and wished I was one of them.  They had never been on the top.  I had, and now I was on the bottom.  Under the bottom.  It came into my head what Roger had said to me—something about BDSM.  “BDSM is always about hierarchy.  Very simple.  It is always about who is on top of whom.”  Of course he would say “whom” instead of “who”—after all, he was on top, and everything had to show it.  But that was nonsense.  For me to be thinking at all was nonsense.  What did those BDSM sites always say?  “No Escape”!  That was on every one of them.  Now I knew what it meant.

Something was happening inside my chest.  Then it was happening on the table in front of me.  It was vomit.  I was puking my chow.  The other slappies jumped away from me.  A slappie from the kitchen came with a pail and rags.  He wiped the table; then he gave me a rag and I wiped myself.  “Awright,” Boss Churchill yelled in a bored voice, like a slappie puking his guts out was part of a normal meal.  “Back to the barracks.”

We marched back.  When we got there, Boss Churchill rummaged in his closet and found me a clean shirt and shorts.  But as I was starting my humiliating transition from naked to suited up again, something else happened.  The other slappies closed in on me.  I held up my arms in front of my face—if they were gonna beat me, maybe I could fend off some of the blows to my head.  That was natural—as natural as their desire to beat me.  Why shouldn’t they do that?  They were young, fit, and clean; I was old, weak, and dirty.

But what I heard was “Whoa mon! You fine-ally done it!”  “Major puke, dude!  Almos’ as good as I done!”  “Yeah white boy!  Now you KNOW you here!”  “Use to be a freeman; now you jus a puke!”  “A puke like us dude!”  “Yeah, you DEFnitly a slappie now!”  They all had to say something, and it was all the same.  I’d been different; now I wasn’t.  I was the same as they were.  “Happens evry time!”

So that was it.  It happened every time.  It wasn’t enough to sleep on a plank and be chained by the leg and sweat your balls off out in the fields.  It wasn’t enough to wear a collar on your neck so you could be tracked like an animal.  It wasn’t enough to eat food you wouldn’t serve to a dog, or piss in the open and shit in a hole.  You still had to admit you weren’t any better than anybody else.  You had to admit that you’d lost all control of your life, by puking your guts out in a crowded room.  But that’s what always happened.  And once it happened, you were forgiven for whatever you had been before.  You were forgiven for having ever been free.  You were even forgiven for starting to bore the other slaps with laughing at you. “The problem with sadism,” Roger had said, “is that it is so easy to become bored.”

I put my clean browns on.  Then I sat on the floor and watched the rest of them chatting and gambling with the primitive stuff they had—bits of paper for cards, sticks and stones for chips.  I had nothing to say, and nobody cared if I had anything to say.  What would I say that was any different from the rest of them?  Because I was exactly like all the rest of them.  These slappies started off in a lot of varieties—college kids with blond stubble on their skulls, coal-black former residents of some island that had, apparently, never housed a white man overnight, slim-limbed Indians with London accents lurking under the St. Bevons syllables—but now they were all slappies, and they were all the same.  If one of them said A, another would say B, and another would come back to A, then B again.  Even some of the youngest ones were acting—“goan to actin,” in the islan’ talk that oozed like sweat out of everybody—like hardened slappies.  They’d begun as all kinds of clay, but they’d been baked into one kind of brick.  When the boss yelled “Hit the rack, assholes” they levered their bodies off the floor and climbed into their bunks like so many identical monkeys.  I did too, and the barn boss locked me down.

In a few days, he saw that the precaution was no longer necessary.  He took the night shackle off my leg.  I was free to visit the latrine by myself in the half-light creeping through the bars.  I’d found out that the latrine was where you went if you wanted sex.  There was usually at least one slappie hanging out in there to see what was going on.  The rule was, whatever happens, happens, so long as you don’t wake Boss Churchill up.  Or anybody else, for that matter.  After a hard day in thee field, some a thee slap boys gotta have they sweet stuff, know it mon?  But mosta them, they jus want they rack.

I didn’t go to “the sweet spot” too often, because there weren’t very many slaps that wanted to suck an old dude like me, and I wasn’t gonna get down on the floor and pleasure someone else.  I got tired of pretending I’d just come to piss, while the other dudes leaned against the wash trough, rubbing their cocks.  But one night I found an American slap named Kenny hanging out in there.  He was thin and hesitant.  I’m sure he was just there to piss.  But before it was through I’d pounded his ass so hard I forgot for at least a minute that I was serving a life sentence as a slappie.  Afterwards, he wanted to be hugged, but I pulled my shorts back up and headed for the rack.  Fuck all slappies, mon.

To be continued …

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