Last Mango In Paradise! Chapter 2.
The boys clambered up the rocky steps leading to the their last resort – the only resort which would accept credit cards -hopefully. They were both well aware if this were not the case they would be sleeping on the beach and fishing for tuna. Either that, or slaughtering one of the cows which were tethered on ‘Diva Street’, risking the wrath of the locals. Neither of them had the skills or the bent for butchering a bull, so they just prayed the place would accept visa!
They just about made the climb. Paul’s leg was oozing yellow stuff and Andrew’s lungs were doing something similar, which meant they needed several stops on route. It felt akin to climbing’Everest’ except base camp was even more base and camper than usual! They paused and took five for a fag and a row.
The rucksacks were taking their toll – and it was a hideous time of day. Paul was never usually awake at such an ungodly hour – not unless he was still up!
‘Don’t cough you fucker’, Paul screamed at his partner, who was gasping for breath after fifty steps. He was carrying at least twenty-five kilos, and the climb was steep. But Paul knew the Marlboro man was not helping either!
‘They won’t let us in if you’re hacking up like that. They’ll think you’ve got it!’
‘Piss…’ Cough, cough, cough, ‘off!’ Wheezed Andrew. ‘I’ll stay somewhere else. Without you!’
Paul wondered where his partner had in mind, seeing as this was the only inn available. Paul just hoped they had a room, or Jesus Christ, they’d be looking for a stable. And he doubted if either of them could manage a manger!
When he got to the reception, after climbing a gate and ignoring several signs warning of ‘Covid 19’ restrictions, urging them to stay away, he was greeted by the most amiable of workers. He later learnt that the chirpy girl was called Marjorie. She was the manager of the resort. By the time Andrew had puffed his way up to the summit, Paul and Marjorie had sealed the deal. The place did accept cards – and homos – Paul and Andrew could a last catch their breath. It was quite a relief.
‘Beer then?’ Andrew suggested.
‘Rude not to’, said Paul. Who was secretly considering a large gin, but knew that wasn’t sensible. Especially so early on in the day – still it was cocktail hour somewhere. And they were living through extraordinary times.
Didn’t alcohol kill that damned virus?
He plumped for a pilsner instead. He knew he had family and friends who would not approve of a dawn Daquiri. Not to mention that very special friend who did so much for him – his liver!
They sprawled, along with all the possessions they had with them, in the restaurant area of the hotel. They seemed to be the only patrons. It was eerily quiet. Dead, was how Paul would usually have described the atmosphere, though that word seemed inappropriate at present. Seeing as there were fewer people present by the day.
What was happening?
The entire planet seemed to be living hrough an episode of ‘Dr Who’! He only wished he and Andrew could find a Tardis and go back a couple of months, but even he, being the fantasist he was, knew that silly hope to be most capricious. They had to deal with reality as it smacked them in the face like a Tyson Fury right hook. They may have been furious but there was nothing they could do. True, the boys were in paradise – yet it was still a prison. Their rights had been removed, their control snatched away. Incarceration took many forms, he and Andrew’s just happened to be paradisiacal, but it didn’t seem that way when there was no means of escape. Paul couldn’t help but see the irony, under different circumstances he would have wanted a life time sentence in such beautiful surroundings. Now he was hankering for an early release.
Instead of a room, as the hotel had only five other guests, Paul and Andrew were offered a bungalow. When they reached it they were highly amused to discover it was shocking pink. There were others vacant and painted different shades but for some reason the staff had felt the fushcia toned residence to be most suited to them. They’d been correct – the house was right up their street.
The boys loved it and prepared to hunker down and see out the pesky Corona virus.
They spent their days heading to and from the small restaurant. There was not much else to do except eat and drink. Neither could go into the sea as the wounds from their bike crash were still healing. And the hunger games played by the dogs made it a little too much of an adventure. There was nowhere to visit as most places had been shut down, and there were only so many trips one could make to the market to haggle over a tin of spam.
There was a little Corona cookery Paul could get on with, but, as of yet he had no fuel to do so – so he was hardly cooking with gas.
Professionally, however, the boys slipped into a different gear. Almost accidentally. All of their foreseeable gigs had been cancelled, ironic, as they had spent the greater part of their trip planning new material for their show. They had found a way to go live on the Internet, via 3G and a smartphone, and had begun doing shows over the internet. No sound equipment, no costumes and no music made it a challenge but it had so far proved rather effective. It had lifted their spirits immensely to see the comments coming back at them. Many viewers thanking them for lightening their lockdowns.
The boys felt that, at least, they were doing some good. Performing a small miracle here and there – it felt satisfying. And it relieved the boredom in paradise.
Paul was in possession of the sole quarantine pass. He was allowed to go out for essential supplies, emergency medical help and to ‘put out the garbage.’ He had to wear a mask which looked like it was made out of a second hand pair of pensioner’s knickers.
It was hot, sweaty and aromatic.
He hated wearing the face thong, as he walked gingerly along the deserted streets, he slipped it beneath his chin, only putting it back in place when he encountered a lone motorcyclist or reached the convenience store. The latter was proving less convenient by the day. At the best of times the stock normally consisted of three tins of corned beef, a handful of pot noodles and few eggs. Now it was even sparser! But hey, the lovely lady had water.
So things weren’t that desperate.
Andrew was not allowed to leave the confines of the resort. He was Joan Crawford to Paul’s Bette Davis in ‘Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?’
‘Would you be so kind as to get me some Marlboro Lights when you are out?’ He asked Paul on one occasion. Affecting the voice of Blanche Hudson in the aforementioned film classic.
‘Might. Might not!, Paul retorted, giving his best Bette Davis.
‘You wouldn’t talk to me like this if I had the pass?’ Bemoaned Blanche.
‘But ya don’t! You don’t have the pass do ya? Things are gonna change around here from now on. Now there are just empty chairs at empty tables – nobody hwants to hear you you to sing it anymore. I’m the star on this island. I’m going for a light supper of spam and beans with the mayor. Eat ya din dins!’
The boys went in like this for days. It amused them and their was, thankfully, no-one to witness their theatrics.
One day rolled into another. The odd blackout puncturing the banality with a touch of drama.
They still had their little pink house, a gas ring and a bundle of resilience so Paul and Andrew knew they would be fine. Plus they’d had some cash sent over to them by some wonderful friends so they were sure they could pay their way out of trouble if need be.
The British Consulate had been more than useless so far, and Paul and Andrew were beginning to think paying a pirate to get them home would prove more realistic. And so much more fun!
But as it was they were shipwrecked. Stranded on the island which was both their paradise and penitentiary.
There was nothing to do but live.
Or rather – go live.
Which The Lola Boys were planning to do again over the weekend, via the’Rock The Lockdown’ site on Facebook. A worldwide phenomenon which had developed during the virus crisis. Paul and Andrews last show had practically gone viral.
They knew that whilst marooned on the Camotes, deep in the western Pacific, they weren’t just able to down spirits they could also lift some.
And it made all the difference.
Certainly to them.
The weekend came. The power did not. The Lola Boys had to cancel their show for the ‘Lock The Rockdown’ – it was most frustrating. Even more frustrating was the actions of the consulate.
Paul knew they were probably rather busy, but they seemed to be sitting on their hands. And, at a time when the political situation in the Philippines was beginning to liven up. Rumours were going viral, rumours Paul did not want to repeat. He had already been warned off by a Filipino friend for making a comment on his Facebook page. He had managed to delete it rapidly. Fortunately before it had had a chance to get onto the World Wide Web. After all, the last thing he wanted was to be shot for dissemination! He had a plane to catch.
Or so he and Andrew had been promised.
They had been forced to cough up for a rescue flight laid on by the British government. A sweeper flight was to take them from Cebu to the epicentre of Manila. They were then to transfer onto an airbus and be shipped, or rather, flown out to Heathrow. From there Paul and Andrew had no idea whey they would head. They would have to be in isolation for a fortnight before they could get to his mother’s. But Paul knew all of this to be academic. They had to get to the airport first. Which was still positioned stubbornly three hours away by ferry.
They were still lock down in The Camotes. Under curfew. With major punishments being touted should they attempt to break it.
As they sat at daybreak neath the rising sun, all they could hear was the crowing of cocks, the birds singing and their own breathing as they both typed manically on various devices, attempting to get a message to the embassy.
It was now almost six in the morning. They were due to see the mayor at eight. Without a letter from the ambassador proving they were on the flight there was little chance of them being allowed free.
Paul decided not to panic.
They had food. Alcohol, oh, and water, which was lucky. Not everyone on their island did. When Paul had last gone shopping the market was beginning to get low on stock.
He had, it seemed, purchased the last mango in paradise.
It looked likely that he and Andrew could easily turn out to be the last men to go in paradise too.
They were well and truly marooned.