Island Paradise – Part 2: Chapter 09

By Joshua Ryan

Chapter 9: Someone Up There Likes Me

The answer was obvious: I’d keep up with my classes and try my best to keep up with my fantasies– same as always, because I was never gonna wind up on St. Bevons as a slappie anyhow.  If I got rejected, big fuckin deal.  But of course that’s not the way I felt.  I wanted them to accept me!  Cmon, after all those Steps, isn’t that what you’d want?

So the next few days were pretty miserable and anxious.  Finally I had to make a rule that I’d check my mail only twice a day, instead of jumping into my phone every minute.  That’s why it took me about eight hours to find the new message from SLPOUTREACH: “Joel Barlow:  We are pleased to inform you that on review of your Application, Documents, and Interview, you have been accepted for admission to the State Labour Program.  You are now permitted to proceed to Step 4.  THIS STEP MUST BE COMPLETED WITHIN 30 DAYS OF THE DATE OF THIS MESSAGE, OR YOUR ACCEPTANCE WILL BE CANCELED.  Use the following password.”

FUCK!  I was so excited!  I wanted to celebrate, but I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with.  I’d made a few friends during college, but not the kind to share something like that with.  To put it mildly!  When I got the message I was waiting in line at Warbucks, but I dropped everything, rushed back to the dorm, and made a huge fuckin joint.  First time I ever went after something on my own, and look what happened!  They wanted me!  I kept reading the message over and over: “You have been accepted”!

Of course, I was trying not to think about the big question, the huge enormous massive humungous question, which was whether I’d actually DO anything about it.  The answer was No, but thinking about that would just spoil the experience.  And if I went to Step 4, just to see what they wanted me to do, maybe I’d find something that would bring me down, like some kind of catch, some more hoops I had to jump through to prove I was good enough to put on the brown.  But finally, OK, I was really, really stoked, so I went to the site and I pressed the button for Step 4, SIGN, and I plunked in the password–and there it was, a big fuckin document called the Commitment Declaration, and it had my name all over it.

“I, Joel Barlow, currently resident at 1328 Apple Way . . . hereby commit myself to the State Labour Program, Dominion of St. Bevons, for a term of service to be administered by the said State Labour Program, the said term of service to commence at 12 noon, local time, on the 17th day of June, instant, and to continue for the remainder of my natural life, this commitment and service to be governed by the laws of the Dominion of St. Bevons, to the exclusion of any laws, statutes, or other enactments of any dominion, realm, or nation whatsoever, the commitment being contingent upon an undertaking of the said State Labour Program to accept custody of myself, the aforesaid Joel Barlow, and maintain me, through its agents and lessees, as a servant in the Dominion of St. Bevons for the remainder of my natural life; and pursuant to this commitment I hereby surrender all rights and privileges pertaining to myself, the aforesaid Joel Barlow, that may exist in any dominion, realm, or nation whatsoever, together with all property, real or personal, pertaining to me within the jurisdiction of the Dominion of St. Bevons, committing said property in perpetuity to the said State Labour Program.”

Then there was a place for me to sign.

So that was a lot to figure out!  And I was way too stoned to do it then.  But there was another document after that.

“On behalf of itself and its agents, the State Labour Program, Dominion of St. Bevons, hereby undertakes, under the laws of the Dominion of St. Bevons, to accept custody of Joel Barlow, applicant for service in the aforesaid Program, the said custody to commence at 12 noon, local time, on the 17th day of June, instant, and to continue for the remainder of his natural life, and to maintain, through its agents and lessees, the said Joel Barlow as a servant in the Dominion of St. Bevons for the remainder of his natural life, contingent upon an absolute commitment of self and property by the said Joel Barlow, in the form specified by the State Labour Program, Dominion of St. Bevons, and signed by him within 30 days of the present date.”

This one was already signed!  Somebody named “Alexander H. Timmons, Major, State Labour Program, Dominion of St. Bevons” had already put his name on it.

It was fuckin amazing!  Everything had been done.  All I needed to do was sign, and I’d be set for the rest of my life–I’d be a servant on St. Bevons Island!

I looked around my room.  Books, notebooks, random plant that I’d bought and managed to kill, laundry basket, favorite pair of jeans I’d shucked onto the bed, closet door that wouldn’t quite close . . . . Next stop, Slappieville!  Big improvement!  All I had to do was sign that Declaration.  And it was a good thing you could do it online—made things a lot easier.  One and done—your browns are waiting, Mr. Barlow!

If you were gonna do it, of course.  Too bad I wasn’t.

I scrolled back up.  Did they want one of those “signatures” where you type your name in?  I hoped not.  Those things look so cheap.  I played with the cursor . . . .  Hey!  They want you to DRAW your name.  That’s a lot classier.  I doodled the big double loop of the J, then the little round o, the little squiggly e . . . .  I was drawing the l when I realized what I was doing–I was signing myself in as a slappie!

Fair warning—I should look at this shit when I wasn’t so high.  Right then, I had other business to do.  “Maintain me as a servant . . . remainder of my natural life . . . . ”  This was gonna be a great fuckin jerk!  Which it was.

Next day, when I was halfway unstoned, I read over it all, to make sure I’d understood it right.  And I had.  No catches, no hoops—also no exceptions or reservations.  You signed, and they made you a servant, and you stayed that way.  So I knew what I wasn’t signing, what I had 30, no, 29, days not to sign.  But I could keep thinking about it!  The end of winter quarter was coming on, but the fantasy was SO amazing—it got me through my final exams.  They went really well.

Then there was spring break, and it was inevitable that I would spend it at my parents’ house, as opposed, for instance, to spending it at the Explorers Bay Resort.  The day before I left, this dude I was really into told me, “Hey Joel, I’m stayin around for break—get together Saturday night?”  And I had to fuckin tell him that I wouldn’t be around!  “OK, dude, later”—so much for me.

Then when I got home, the first thing my parents wanted to know was how well I’d done on my finals.  I should have told them I flunked, but I gave them the truth and they were happy, in fact ecstatic.  It seemed that Dr. Lowery, their friend, had a friend at the university, and that guy, Dr. Lomax, had a big research grant, and he was looking for a student to work for him, and Phil, meaning Dr. Lowery, had told him about me, and he’d said that he’d be happy to have me work for him if my grades kept up, and they did, so now I had the job!

“What will I be doing?” I asked.

“He said something about preparing the samples,” my dad said.

“Samples of what?”

“Something about livers.  Dog livers, I believe.”

“Monkey livers,” my mom said.

“No, I believe it was dog.”

“He said it was monkey.  This Dr. Lomax is a very big man, Joel.”

“When would I start?”

“That’s the good thing,” my dad said.  “Right after spring quarter.  Right after your final exams for the year.”

“And if you work out,” my mom said, “it’s good for more than one year.”

“And maybe you’ll be one of the authors,” my dad said.

“On his paper,” my mom said.  “They list all the people that were involved.”

“I know,” I said.

“So tonight,” my dad said, “we’re gonna celebrate.  Of course, you’re not legal yet . . . .  But I think we can take the liberty.  We’ve got a nice bottle of champagne for you.  We’ll toast you at dinner.”

“But don’t forget,” my mom said.  “You need to call Dr. Lomax.  And you’ll want to call Phil Lowery and thank him.”

“Best to do it this afternoon,” my dad said.

So I called Dr. Lowery, and he told me what a great guy my dad was, and I called Dr. Lomax, and he was wondering who I was, but I told him and he said that his staff would be in touch with me, and my brother and his girlfriend came over and he said some snarky things, and we had dinner and drank champagne—“Here’s to your great future, son!”– and I got a lot of it and I was high and then I went to my room and went online and signed the Commitment Declaration (Step 4) and became a slappie, waiting for my order to report for service.

To be continued …

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