Just what I needed, a real rest, no bothers, no phone, no TV, almost no one on this island. The hotel is empty, I meet no one, I don't know what day it is. My room is perfectly furnished with almost nothing. There is no desk, no headed notepaper, I don't know the name of the hotel.
Drinks and meals arrive in the sun lounge when I want them; I look over the bay with the palm trees and the rocks. I drink my sundowner and watch the sun disappear into the sea.
“I knew that you would come one day.” She sat on my lap.
A waiter brought dinner for two, braised fish and lightly stewed fruit.
“What am I drinking, Brenda, some sort of long drink with coconut milk?”
“Oh, it has no name. The chef watched all your videos and mixed a drink especially for you. I'm drinking freshly pressed pineapple and orange and white port.”
We talked about the past for hours.
I woke just before dawn, Brenda was tied on me with soft white rope, a minder came and untied her. I carried her to the bed and she took from me what she wanted, a minder came and tied her on me.
“We are going for a ride.” She drove the golf cart for about ten minutes to another part of the island. “I have to do this. I will hold you tight. I'm sorry.”
We entered what looked like another hotel. Brenda held me tight and opened a window. I could see a man wrapped into a ball. “It's Richard, he's been like that ever since his sister died two years ago, he doesn't say a word, perhaps you can speak to him later.” She closed the window. I couldn't say anything.
Brenda opened another window. Doreen was carefully painting a long vertical stripe on the wall. There hundreds of stripes, all different colours. “Yes, it's Doreen, one of the richest persons on the planet painting her breakfast onto the wall. What can I say?” I couldn't say anything.
The queen was counting money. “Yes, Chardonnay is wearing a real gold crown. After she has counted all the gold coins she will go to the parlour and eat bread and honey. She has it all planned. Later you will take the part of the knave and steal her tarts.”
“Hey, wait a moment, those are two different rhymes, Sing a Song of Sixpence and The Queen of Hearts.”
“Chardonnay knows that you are here. Nobody told her. You have to do what she says. She is quite mad, but no madder than the last time you saw her.”
Brenda took me to the studio. It was full of young people in the middle of recording a scene for The Little Adults. They recognised me and crowded round me.
“Hello Schokky, my name is Nanoosh, I'm looking forward to working with you.”
“Er, what are we working on?” I asked, I did not understand.
“Oh, we don't know yet.”
That evening while Brenda was sitting on my lap I felt a sudden urge. I stuck my hand up Brenda's skirt, up the back of her blouse and grabbed her bra strap. Brenda reached forward and grabbed a piccolo flute that was lying on the table.
She raised it to her lips and played Summertime.
“Why did I do that?” “I don't know, why did you do that?”
“I haven't played anything in years, not since I taught the children to play. And why did I pick a flute?”
She picked up a piccolo clarinet and played again. I still had my hand in her clothes, it felt like the right thing to do.
I tried to talk to him, but nothing. Brenda and I pushed Richard in his wheel chair along the path just above the shoreline. We sat on a bench. Richard was laughing.
“What are you laughing about, Richard?”
“Oh, just thinking.” This was wonderful, Richard was speaking. “You know, I used to watch you two, you were happy, I was happy.” He stared at us. What did he expect?
I felt a sudden urge. I stuck my hand up Brenda's skirt, up the back of her blouse and grabbed her bra strap. Brenda pulled out a penny whistle from her pocket. She raised it to her lips and played Michelle ma bell.
“What are you laughing about, Richard?”
“Oh, did you know I got married?”
Brenda explained that Richard had married Doreen, Chardonnay, his sister and herself. “All four of us, it was great, that's where all The Little Adults come from.”
I dressed as the Knave of Hearts and went to the room with the big C on it. Chardonnay was expecting me. In the morning we did Sing a Song of Sixpence and later The Queen of Hearts. The tarts were quite nice.
Chardonnay took hold of me, she was so gentle with me. The ideas began to fly round the room, slowly at first, but then heavy.
A ten-metre Atlantic Ocean, cold, wet wave of ideas hit me from one side, a cold Mount Everest blast of ideas from the other, and hot, acrid whoosh of ideas from a blast furnace to my face. I was carried away. I was lost.
Nanoosh came running in. “We've got it. I've phoned your Puppet Master, Schokky. She will be here tomorrow. You two have gotta practise like mad, we start in a week's time.” She ran out again.
“Several puppeteers have helped me over the years, but the Puppet Master is the best. She will help us. You know what we have to do, Brenda?”
“Stop, stop, stop! You are not trying hard enough, Schokky. Think about it like this. You are a string puppet. OK, you know how to do that. You have your right arm stuck in Brenda's guts and your hand round Brenda's heart. When you squeeze this her mouth opens, when you release her mouth closes, when you squeeze that her eyes blink. Got it?”
“Brenda's almost got it. She plays the ventriloquist's dummy playing a banjo real good, just a little bit more lack of coordination.”
It was hard work.
Nanoosh and friends recorded my next show, first a pilot program and then a series, all for TV. My show, Schokky Marionetta, had always been a success. But a string puppet with a ventriloquist's dummy on his lap who played the mandolin was something special. Not that Brenda ever spoke.
The best scene, or at least my favourite, is when Brenda's head falls off. She keeps playing and I keep operating her, although her head is on the floor.