Then he met the architect. At first the architect looked like Andy Warhol to the young man but it faded over the days. He immediately liked the architect. Over the course of the next two days the architect showed him around, and told him many stories. Some of the stories were outrageous, some sad and some funny. But all of them stemmed from experiences that make a man wise. So the young man appreciated them. And he learned that the architect was a wise man, having experienced so many stories.
Every night the young man would eat fried chicken and pre-cut watermelon and cold beer. He would sit on the patio in a comfortable chair and eat the chicken straight out of the paper bag. When he glanced up, there between some branches and many leaves, perfectly framed, was yet another island. A small one. But it had a little shack with a bar and chairs on it for people to picnic at and a small but perfect little beach of white, clay-like Caribbean sand mixed with tiny little pieces of broken down shells. The young man paused upon this view every time and the world around him would disappear for a moment. He then would take a sip of his beer from the can and continue with the chicken.
For the first two nights he slept on the couch in the living room. He could not sleep though. All the windows were open and a strong breeze cooled him but it was still too hot to be under the sheets. And without the sheets the young man was getting attacked by what seemed like an army of mosquitoes. The young man hated mosquitoes. It was because they loved him. They loved him like anything hungry loves a meal, but more. He was a tasty meal. He fought. He cursed. Half awake, half asleep. He covered himself with the sheets completely, over the head. It was too hot and he had to face the bloodsucking creatures again.
The area he stayed at made him dependent on transportation. He had to accept the fact that he was not mobile. For two days he mentally prepared for the day on the island. He spent much time looking at the sea. He watched the rain and took walks along the coastline.
The young man was a photographer and normally he would have taken many photographs and made a big effort to move around and capture scenes, people’s faces. But he was too consumed with the island and so he just observed and prepared, taking a few photographs here and there just to keep the muscle memory sharp but nothing that took away from his mental focus. He had traveled many miles and invested a lot of energy for this and he wanted to be sharp in his head and strong with his body when it came time to go to the island and photograph it.
The night before he was going to the island he slept in a proper room. On a proper bed. There were less mosquitoes and he slept good. He woke at first light and lay in bed for a few minutes collecting his thoughts. He was excited. He was nervous. He also felt like something was a little off. He knew the feeling of excitement and nervousness. It always happened before an important project was about to start. But the other feeling concerned him.
It was raining hard outside. A storm system was moving across the islands but he was prepared for that. It didn’t bother him. It wasn’t ideal but he could deal with it. He got up. His pack was assembled and ready but he was concerned with its weight and once he added his drinking water to it he realized it was too heavy. In a quick decision he shed a lot of weight by taking out his back-up camera. The one that was in a watertight bag for the case that it was raining too hard to use his main camera. This was better and he was still confident in being able to do what he came for.
At seven o’clock he was waiting outside for the taxi he had scheduled. At 7:10 he got nervous. The boat he had secured a ride out to the island on was to leave no later than 7:45. The wife of the governor of The Island had personally initiated the aid he had received which had made his trip possible. The boat captain had agreed to take him under these conditions. The car ride to the boat would take about 20 to 30 minutes and the young man had given himself almost double this time. He hated to be late. He was never late. He was known to always be early or right on time.
He reached out to the cabdriver. After a few painful minutes the cabdriver apologized and insured him that he was on his way. The bad feeling the young man had felt earlier came back. Or maybe it had been lingering. He could not miss this boat. No way. It would be disaster. He felt it. The fight. It had intensified. He was aware of the need of it. He had been seeking it out. This whole undergoing was intended to challenge him. No challenge, no real success. He wanted this fight. And it had just intensified.
The driver pulled up at 7:25, barely enough time to make the boat. A young guy. Apologetic but immature and not a man. He had no fuel in his car and had to stop to fill his tank. The clouds were dark and evil looking. The young man was getting very nervous and communicated to the kid that there was no time to waste. The kid then started driving like a madman. Passing rows of cars stuck in traffic and speeding along the narrow, pothole-lined streets like a mad kid. Rain pouring out of the dark sky.
At 7:52 they were coming down from the mountains and towards a bay and a harbor. But it was the wrong one. The kid in his immaturity had not listened to the instructions and gone to the wrong harbor. The young man was feeling afraid. This fight had picked up intensity yet again and was overwhelming him. The kid was driving even more mad now and the world was falling apart. Fear crept into the young man’s mind. Fear of losing this fight.
At 8:06 the greenery outside the window was a blur. The raindrops hit the windshield and were rapidly pushed across it by the air rushing at the flying car. The young man was holding on and the boat had left.
He had been writing text messages with the captain and had just received the final message. The message that meant that he had lost the fight. The message that rendered all his efforts useless. His body went from tense to slack.
At first he didn’t believe it. It couldn’t be. All this and a dumb kid taxi driver destroys it? That wasn’t even a fight! That was getting shot in the back! He told the kid. He looked out the window, out at the sea. It sank in very slowly. He could not believe it. It just could not be! The kid got on his phone while still driving frantically. The young man didn’t care. He couldn’t look at him. He looked out the window. He thought about what this meant. What he would do now. What would he say to the many people that had been involved in making this happen? He was not sad. He was not angry. He was numb.
After about five minutes of mental break-down he switched back into fighting mode. This was not happening!
He got back in touch with the captain. And after some back-and-forth he miraculously found another boat that would take him. They raced to yet another harbor.
The events had taken a lot of energy out of the young man. He was tired and felt weak but he knew what he had to do.
The new boat was supposed to leave at ten. He got to the dock just after nine. The boat got to the dock at 10:36. The young man feared of losing valuable time on The Island but this crew did not care about him or his needs. The girl at the dock who signed everybody in walked so slowly it looked like she did it intentionally to piss someone off. And once everyone who had come in on the boat had left it, the boat left as well. To get fuel.
When the young man finally boarded the vessel he had waited for three hours. He was really worried about how much time he would have on The Island.
There had been a few very nice islanders waiting with him who told him stories about the big storm and how they had survived. Running for shelter during the eye of the storm since the roof had blown off their house. One of them was sitting near him on the boat and she told him that her nieces two-year-old son had died when the ocean came into their house, swept him away. So much about a fight he thought to himself.
The noise on the boat was deafening. The young man was mentally exhausted. The engine was emitting a constant high-pitched, whining sound on top of its deep rumble. Outside waves were getting hit by rain and the boat was climbing the waves and then sinking into the valleys. Loud island music was blaring out of metallic sounding speakers. The whole thing was an insult to the senses. The whole boat vibrating from the impact of a large wave, the music, the events of the recent past. The young man was tired.
But then during the heaviest of downpours of rain the wind died down and the waves calmed and he looked at the sea and it looked so peaceful, so inviting. Large raindrops hitting the glassy surface in the fog. It reminded him of a time when he was surfing in these same conditions back home, with a close friend. A fantastic memory. They still spoke fondly of that time whenever it came up. Sitting in the sea with water below and above and in the middle. The glassy surface broken by large drops of rain, in the fog. Magic. It revived him. It got him excited! He was on his way. It was happening. The fight wasn’t lost!
And then the fog lifted. And he saw The Island for the first time and it was hit by the rays of the sun. And the dark clouds parted and were behind The Island and it looked incredible. Emotions overcame him and he cried a little. And out of the metallic loudspeakers came:
“I can see clearly now, the rain has gone, I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day...”