By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 12: This Season, Brown Is Trending
They let me loose and I fell back, panting. Automatically, my hands went up to my neck. But it wasn’t my neck anymore; it was a thing wearing a collar. “Yeh mon,” Malcolm said, “you a slappie now.” I twisted, holding my stomach, trying to get my breath. My eyes were level with their waists, and I saw that their shorts were tented.
“OK slappie, straighten up,” Jojo said, kicking a chair in my direction. “Sit on it,” Malcolm said. My balls slumped down on the wooden seat. “Keep still,” Jojo said. “This doan take long.” He plugged a shaver into the wall, and in two minutes he had shaved me bald.
“Get up,” Malcolm ordered. “See that wall? Stan’ there. This is a camera, slap boy. Hol’ still, gonna take you picture. I said hol’ still. An look pretty—this is you audition, dude. I mean it—how you think I get this great job? You keep lookin unhappy, dude, this gonna last all night. OK, that’s better. Now turn left. Turn right. Lemme see you butt.” So now my white naked body and my white bald head were fully recorded. “Through that door,” he told me, pointing.
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 12
By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 11: Gettin Fixed
I did what I guess everybody does, the first time he’s put in a cage. I stood at the bars and wondered how to get out.
I needed help! But who could help me? My brother? Not interested—except, undoubtedly, to cash in on my property. Major Timmons? I’d seen how that turned out. Roger? I didn’t even know his full name. And there was no way to reach him, even if I did. And when you thought about it . . . . To hear him talk, he had contacts everywhere. He knew all about St. Bevons. He knew Major Timmons. He had a reason—not a good reason, but a reason–to get back at me: I’d stiffed him on his plan to take this wonderful vacation together. Fuck! Did he have some connection with all of this? Was it possible? But if he had . . . If he had, what could I do about it?
“Nice shirt!” somebody said. It was a young white slappie. He was sweeping the walk, and he’d got as far as my cage. Next to him was a young black slappie, doing the same. They stopped and leaned on their brooms. “Nice shoes too,” the black guy said. “Pret’ soon, though,” said the white guy, “he look like us.” The black guy gave me a thoughtful glance. “You fucked, dude,” he said. They started sweeping again, laughing. After a while, they got to a corner and turned and were out of sight.
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 11
By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 10: Another Tour Has Been Arranged for You
I hadn’t been given anything to eat or drink, unless you think St. Bevons Mineral Water is a drink. I guess the idea was to make me easier to break down under questioning—though pretty soon I realized that the “questions” were just accusations that I would not be permitted to deny. It all showed that I was getting off pretty easy with a nolo contendere.
So that was over, and things were looking up, because just when I realized that I was famished, a man in a white uniform unlocked the door of the room where they were keeping me and handed me some food. It was a ham sandwich and a glass of mixed juice. I wondered if these were products of Dominion Fields.
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 10
By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 9: A Slight Change of Plans
While I was at breakfast—very early, very light–the hotel slaps came to my room and picked up my bags. I didn’t need to do anything to get them from there to the back of the limo. The only things I had to carry were the real estate leaflets I’d picked up from the concierge. There were lots of glossy pictures of “elegant Wellingtons” and “baroque Bee hives,” each with “intimate facilities for family, grand space for entertainment, and bountiful St. Bevons gardens. Barracks for 5-10 staff.” The prices were not unreasonable, especially considering the current exchange rate.
When the airport slap opened the door of the limo, I had nothing to do except walk through security; the slappies would see that my bags got through. It all happened so smoothly, I didn’t think about the backpack until I got to the boarding area. I guess that’s where you usually remember stuff you forgot. It would be ridiculous to go back to the hotel to turn the thing in—and who cared about it anyway? Besides, I didn’t really know where it was. Probably the hotel slappies had found it in the room and shipped it to the airport along with the other bags. It was silly, but I had that uneasy feeling I got whenever I thought I’d lost something. The item might not be important, but loss of control was always disturbing. It was a tendency I’d been trying to conquer. The only thing to do was just ignore the “problem.” I sat near my gate, reading about St, Bevons properties and ignoring the stupid backpack.
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 09
By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 8: Nothing Is Perfect
At the hotel, a nice lunch in the King George Grill, a long nap, another good meal in the Oak Room, and many occasions to consider, while sloshing the liquids in my glass, what it might be like to live here. And there were a couple of entertaining events.
Cedric, my busboy at dinner, was a slappie I didn’t remember seeing before. His distinctive attire told me why. Instead of the standard brown slappie cap, he wore a white, fez-like piece of headgear imprinted with SERVANT IN TRAINING in large black letters. It was like one of those dunce caps you see in cartoons. Which was appropriate. The guy fumbled and bumbled and finally, rushing to clear my table for the dessert course, fell over his boots in a crash of plates and glasses. Everyone looked up, shocked at the breach of discipline. A waiter strode out of the kitchen, followed by two large slappies. The slappies picked up the dishes; the waiter grabbed Servant in Training by the ear and pulled him out of the room. The guests smiled appreciatively: the King George knew how to handle these things. The slappie would get the lesson it needed. After all, it was 40 years old! Obviously, old enough to know better.
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 08
By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 7: Investing Is Easier Than You Think
The tea and scones were served on a table in the Major’s office, by a young white slappie who did his work deftly and silently. I always hate it when waiters insist on talking with you. Once they know what you want, they should bring it and go away. But this slappie had been well trained.
The Major took some time to discuss the possibility of what he called “a business connection”—the investment idea again—and presented me with a colorful brochure entitled “The Profits of Penology.” I complimented its appearance and said that I would welcome the opportunity to obtain more information. He complemented my discernment and we exchanged cards.
That part was a bore, but on the whole it was a pleasant conversation. The curtains were drawn back, revealing the pretty vines, hung with blossoms, that trailed around the bars outside the window. Rays of sunlight warmed the room, awakening the incandescent blue of the Major’s uniform, turning the slappie’s necklace into a flash of silver and his short blond hair into a cap of gold. It was good to see slappies in short sleeves again. This one had the slightest, most delicate covering of hair on his arms . . . . If this was life on St. Bevons, maybe it was worth an investment.
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 07
By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 6: An Environment Planned for Your Security
We walked back along the slab, and he pointed to something I hadn’t noticed on my quick walk to the loading area.
“Here,” he said, turning toward a strip of shade cast by one of the buildings, “is the pillory.”
That’s what it was, all right—a pillory, looking just like they do in pictures: a wooden upright and a wooden crosspiece, fitted with three round holes, one for your head and two for your hands. You put them in, the top of the crosspiece is lowered onto them, and now you’re locked in the holes. You have to stand there, maybe forever.
“Amazing!” I said. “And after the first one, two more!”
“Yes, we have three pillories. In the beginning, slappies have a great need for punishment. And any serious problem usually arises out of a combination among them. One of them gets an idea; then the others get it. So before any trouble starts, we punish the troublemakers.”
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 06
By Joshua Ryan
Chapter 5: You Must Take the Tour
A taxi took me to the headquarters of the State Labour Program. It was a couple of miles from the hotel, and on St. Bevons, a couple of miles makes a lot of difference. The street was wide but almost deserted. A few old frame houses straggled along, but most of the frontage was warehouses or wholesale places—Stor-It-Here, Pure Products, Empress of India Auto Parts . . . . Because it was St. Bevons, everything was wreathed with tropical foliage, even the razor wire fences around the parking lots. But you could see why this part of town wasn’t on the tourist itinerary.
The cheerfulest place was actually the SLP building. Nothing to brag about, but they did make an effort to fix it up in a “colonial” style, and the foliage facing the street was well maintained. Even the little strip of grass in front looked like it was trimmed by hand, every day. As soon as my shadow approached the glass doors, a slappie jumped out and held one wide for me, bowing. A man at a desk—a real man, not a slappie—stood to welcome me, asked if I were Mr. Lansing, and said that Major Timmons was awaiting me. Within a minute I was comfortably seated at a table in the Major’s spacious office, watching the morning light play across his ebony features.
Continue reading Island Paradise – Part 1: Chapter 05