Up Popped The Devil
And Up Popped The Devil
Tatoo was puffing hard as he climbed the last flight of steps to the turret of the Main House. "Why ..." He muttered to no one. " ... Doesn't the Boss automate the bell instead of having me sound it manually? It's tough on a little person like me to have to climb three flights of stairs ... Just to ring the bell two or three times ... And then have to climb all the way down again. If it were electric, then all I'd have to do is push a button or flip a switch from the ground floor and it would ring itself." As he reached the top, he wiped his brow. "Either I'm getting older, or those stairs are getting longer." He paused a moment. "That's it." He concluded. "The stairs are definitely getting longer."
From the turret of the Main House, Tatoo could see the entire Island. Fantasy Island was indeed something to behold. It was a microcosmic world unto itself, with terrain and climate to match almost any part of the earth. Barren desert faded into lush green jungles. Mountain peaks covered with eternal snow rose beside tropical beaches. Between these extremes were scattered villages and towns along with small metropolitan areas to match nearly any site or set of circumstances. Because of its great diversity, Fantasy Island was ideally suited to its purpose.
In the distance, Tatoo could hear the drone of engines. He watched as a tiny speck on the horizon grew larger and gradually took on the shape of one of the Fantasy Island Airways seaplanes coming from the mainland. It gracefully began to circle the Island on its approach to the harbor and the seaplane dock. As he had done so many times before, Tatoo unhooked the clapper on the bell and gave several mighty tugs. "The Plane! The Plane!" He called as the bell sounded across the Island.
By the time Tatoo reached the ground, Roarke was already in the open car. He did not greet Tatoo, and there was none of the usual lighthearted banter between the Proprietor of the Island and his diminutive assistant. Instead, as soon as the little man had seated himself, Roarke motioned for the driver to start. The trip to the harbor was made in silence. Roarke seemed to be worried and very nervous about something. Tatoo decided it was the better part of valor not to intrude on his employer's dark mood.
At the dock however, there was organized confusion as everyone hurried to attend to the hundreds of last minute details before the plane arrived. At last, all was ready and Roarke and Tatoo took their places on the dock. A small combo struck up a gently stirring Polynesian melody as the plane taxied to its mooring.
"Smiles. Everyone. Smiles." Roarke intoned. For some reason, Tatoo suspected that his boss's heart wasn't in it.
The first person to disembark was a man. His appearance, from his impeccably tailored suit to his handmade Italian leather shoes, indicated that he had denied himself nothing. His immaculately groomed hair was jet black with just a touch of gray at the edges of the temples. His face was slightly olive toned and this, combined with a perfectly trimmed goatee gave the appearance that he was of Middle Eastern origin. The caste of his eyes however seemed to suggest an Oriental influence. Tatoo tried to estimate his age, but he could not. He seemed to be the same age as Roarke. But then, Tatoo was not exactly sure just how old Roarke was either.
Out of the corner of his eye, Tatoo saw Roarke stiffen and scowl ever so slightly.
"Who is that, Boss?" Tatoo asked.
"That ..." Roarke said in clipped tones. " ... Is Nicholas Beale."
"He looks like he is very rich. Like he could have anything he wants. What is his fantasy?"
"You are correct, Tatoo. Nicholas Beale is indeed extremely wealthy. He is a billionaire numerous times over. And yes, he can have anything he wants. In fact, that is his fantasy. Mr. Beale wants to be master of all he surveys."
Beale nodded curtly to Roarke, and took a beverage from the tray being passed around by one of the hostesses.
The next person off the plane was a woman. She was about 5 foot 7, with shoulder length wavy golden brown hair and sparkling blue eyes. Her complexion was the color of honey. She was dressed casually, and like the previous passenger, it was evident that her clothes did not come from the dollar stores. She had on a tan knit blouse and matching knit sweater jacket, and dark brown slacks. She was slim and attractive, and in marked contrast to Nicholas Beale, she seemed very warm and friendly to everyone.
"I recognize her." Tatoo piped up. "Her name is Ann Scott. There was an article about her in Time Magazine recently. They even had her picture on the cover. She's a brilliant surgeon, and she's been doing research on heart problems for the past few years. She has just made a major breakthrough in the non surgical treatment of coronary blockages. There's even a rumor that she could be considered for a nomination for the Nobel Prize in Medicine. What could her fantasy be?"
"Actually Tatoo, Dr. Scott has no fantasy. As you know, Dr. Tomasao will be retiring in a few weeks as the head of Fantasy Island Hospital, and Dr. Scott has agreed to become the new Chief Administrator."
"I'm not trying to put down the work that's done at the hospital or anything, but why would she give up her important research work to come here to Fantasy Island? Let's be realistic. It's a good hospital as far as that goes, but Johns Hopkins or the Mayo Clinic, it's not."
"Doctor Scott feels that her present work involves too much theory, and that it has taken her away from what she perceives as a doctor's primary function. That is, the treatment of the sick and injured."
As the hostess came up, Roarke and Tatoo each selected a drink.
Roarke raised his glass to the people gathered before him. "My dear guests. I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island. "
Beale raised his glass to Roarke and smiled menacingly. His black eyes twinkled ominously.
Roarke escorted Nicholas Beale onto his office. "I understand your fantasy is to be the master of all you survey." He offered Beale a seat, but Beale remained standing. "I think you will be pleased with the fantasy I have selected for you. I have arranged for you to be sent to ancient Egypt as the Pharaoh Amenhotep IV. The Pharaohs had absolute power over their subjects. Their every whim was law, and they were treated with the obedience and reverence that equaled that of a deity. You will indeed be master of all you survey."
"No, Roarke. That does not please me." Beal reached into the inner pocket of his suit and took out a brushed gold cigarette case. From it he extracted an expensive Turkish cigarette. Without asking, he lit it with a matching gold lighter and took a long puff. Finally, he continued. "My wish is to be master of all I survey. And what I survey is Fantasy Island."
Roarke stared at Beale, a puzzled expression on his face. "There must be some misunderstanding. I cannot possibly grant such a fantasy. There can be only one Master of Fantasy Island, and I am that person. You may accept the fantasy I have chosen, or you may select any other fantasy and I shall gladly grant it. If you cannot find anything that suits you, then I will have no alternative but to refund your money."
"It is you who does not understand, Roarke." Beale said coldly. "I want Fantasy Island. Nothing less could possibly satisfy me."
"Then I am afraid we cannot do business at this time. I will see to it that your money is refunded. Until then, you are free to enjoy the facilities of the Island as long as you wish as my guest. When you are ready to leave, I will arrange passage for you back to the mainland."
Beale paused at the door. His eyes were narrow and cynical. "I want Fantasy Island." He took another puff of his cigarette and blew the smoke directly at Roarke. "And what I want ... I get."
Beale almost knocked Tatoo over as he left the office. He made no apologies for the incident and, from his scowling expression, it was almost as if he expected Tatoo to apologize for being in the hall in the first place.
"What's with him, Boss?" Tatoo asked as Beale stormed out the front door.
"I am afraid that Mr. Beale is one of our dissatisfied customers. I want you to arrange for the return of the price of his fantasy. Also make reservations for him to the mainland when he is ready to leave."
"Sure thing, Boss. In a way, I'm glad he'll be leaving soon. He gives me the creeps." To emphasize his statement, Tatoo folded his arms across his chest and shivered slightly. "Oh, by the way. Dr. Scott is waiting in the outer office."
Roarke grinned broadly. "Ah, yes. Doctor Scott. I promised to show her the hospital and then take her on a brief tour of the Island." He started out the door and then returned to his desk. "I am expecting a very important call from the bankers concerning a rather large loan for the Island. If it comes through while I am gone, forward it to my cell phone."
"A loan? What do we need with a loan, Boss? Fantasy Island Enterprises is doing very well and if the current projections hold up, we should end up with a very handsome profit by the end of the year."
"I know that, Tatoo. But some of the facilities and equipment are getting rather old and are in need of repair or replacement. Also, there are several improvements I would like to undertake that will make Fantasy Island even better. It would take more money than we have readily available at this time. Fantasy Island Enterprises is an excellent investment, and the bankers know that they will get their money back in a very short time."
Roarke and Ann Scott left Dr. Tomasao's office.
"Well, Dr. Scott, what is your impression of Fantasy Island Hospital?" He asked as he helped her into the car.
"First of all, my friends all call me Ann. I would like to think of you as one of my friends. After all, from what Dr. Tomasao tells me, we will be working rather closely together ... I mean as the Hospital Administrator and the Proprietor of the Island, of course."
"Of course. Yes. We will." Roarke smiled. Did she just blush? He shook it off. I must have imagined it. "Very well ... Ann it shall be. Now then, Ann, what do you think of our hospital?"
"That's much better. There are several things that really impressed me. I was surprised and very pleased with the setup. For a small hospital, it is very well equipped. Also from what Dr. Tomasao says, all medical care is provided free. You pick up the tab for everything."
"Yes. That is correct. Since the people here are vital to the Island and the operation of the resort complex as well, and as the Proprietor, I am the de facto ruler of the Island, I feel that it is my responsibility to provide them with the best possible care available.
A large percentage of the profits from Fantasy Island Enterprises go to the Fantasy Island Foundation. This provides complete cradle to grave medical and dental care for everyone. There are also funds available for the education of the children of the Island, whether their parents are employees at the resort complex or not. If they wish to continue their education after graduation, there are numerous scholarships and grants for them to use. For those who do not wish to go on to college, the Foundation provides job training and placement here on the Island, and elsewhere as well.
There are excellent retirement facilities available too, and there is a very generous pension plan to provide for the people when they reach their senior years. Again, it is for everyone, not just resort employees.
In addition, there are a host of other services, such as low rate loans and mortgages, and cooperative buying programs that are available at little or no cost to the Island's residents."
"That's really impressive, Mr. Roarke. I can see that you really do care about the Island and its people."
It was Roarke's turn to be slightly embarrassed. "Yes, I do care. And incidentally, my friends simply call me Roarke. Except for Tatoo. He calls me 'Boss'."
"Then I shall call you Roarke as well."
"Excellent, Doctor Sc ... ah ... Ann." He smiled "Now shall we begin our tour of Fantasy Island?"
Did he just loose his cool? Nah. Someone like Mr. Roarke doesn't lose it that easily.
As they drove, Ann became convinced that Fantasy Island was truly an enchanted place. It was evident that some of the things they had seen, such as the songs and pageants, and the numerous presentations of flowers and other gifts, were staged and rehearsed for her arrival. Other things were spontaneous. At several of the stops, groups of small children ran up to Roarke and hugged and kissed him repeatedly. Instead of admonishing them, Roarke only returned their show of affection with his own. Several of them even hugged and kissed her. She happily returned the displays.
Roarke had stopped the car many times to point out an interesting scene or to explain a bit of local history to her. She could see that he knew and loved the Island intimately.
They stopped by a triple waterfall that cascaded down a high cliff into a large but shallow pond, probably not more than five feet at the rim to ten feet deep in the middle. The falls and the pool were at the end of a fairly large park, and several people had set up picnics in and around the shelter area. From the pool, the water emptied into a stream that meandered through a wide fertile canyon teeming with birds, plants and animals of many kinds, until it eventually reached the ocean. Several brown skinned children and adults, and several lighter complexioned ones as well, were happily wading and swimming, their shouts and laughter echoing through the small valley.
"I'll say it again, Roarke. Everything on Fantasy Island is absolutely perfect. I am certain that after I have had a chance to explore the Island more fully, I'll be as taken with it as everyone else is." Ann noted.
"In that case, would you care to explore the restaurant at the hotel with me tonight? The cuisine is superb. Much of the food is grown or raised here on the Island, or on nearby islands, and it is prepared by master chefs. Shall we say about seven o'clock?"
As he turned to her, Ann was aware that he was holding her hand. That he had been holding her hand since they arrived at the pool. "Seven ... ah ... yes ... seven o'clock is fine." She stammered.
That was definitely a blush.
The waiter cleared away the dishes and Roarke poured a glass of wine for himself and for Ann.
"As usual Roarke, you are absolutely right. That was the finest meal I have ever eaten." She took a sip of the wine. "And this wine is excellent as well." She checked the label ... Fantasy Island Private Vintage. "Don't tell me you grow your own grapes and produce your own wine, too."
"No. That is one of the few things we do not do here. Unfortunately, the soil here is not the best for wine grapes. However, this wine is produced at one of the finest vineyards in France exclusively for Fantasy Island wine cellars."
Just then, Nicholas Beale came over to Roarke's table. To Roarke, it looked like he was almost strutting.
"Mr. Beale." Roarke said, rising and indicating an empty chair. "Won't you join us? I hope you are enjoying your stay here on Fantasy Island, even though I could not fulfill your fantasy."
Beale made no effort to sit or even acknowledge Roarke's greeting. "I take it you have not reconsidered. I will repeat what I said in your office. I want Fantasy Island. I will have Fantasy Island. One way or another. I ... Will ... Have ...It." With that, Beale turned and left the restaurant.
"That's the same man who was on the plane with me when I came to the Island. He's a very strange person. There's something almost malevolent about him." She shuddered and ran her hands over her forearms. "He practically makes my skin crawl."
"Strange. Tatoo had nearly the same reaction to him. Mr. Beale is a most ... unusual client. I'm afraid I made a grievous error in permitting him to come to Fantasy Island." He was silent for a moment. And I fear that it will get worse before it gets better. Then he looked at her and smiled. "This is a special night. Let's have no more talk of Nicholas Beale or any other unpleasant things."
In the lounge, the band was playing after dinner music. Roarke and Ann went to the door. The members of the combo looked very familiar to Ann. "Are they who I think they are?" She asked, pointing to the stage. "I saw them in Los Angeles last year. I have a number of their albums. They're fabulous."
"They come here several times a year to rehearse and perfect their act. As an added bonus, they agree to provide the entertainment at the hotel while they're here." He took her hand. "Would you care to dance?" He held her close. She closed her eyes and she seemed to be floating.
" ... And you're positive? ... I see ... Well thank you anyway." Roarke replaced the telephone and lowered his head into his hands. His face was a picture of utter disappointment.
"Bad news?" Tatoo asked.
"I'm afraid so. That was the bank. The reason it took several days longer than expected getting back to me was because they had to scrutinize the paperwork I sent them several times. It seems that there was a serious error in the projected income statements. According to their estimates, instead of a healthy profit, Fantasy Island Enterprises will be extremely lucky just to break even. Based on that, the bank does not feel that they would be justified in lending us the money that I requested. As a result, they have denied the application.
Also, if they are correct, it means that the Fantasy Island Foundation could get little or no money for the next year. If that happens, they will be forced to cut back or cancel many of their services. That could cause serious problems for many of the Islanders who depend on that money or those services."
"That's impossible, Boss. There were no mistakes in those statements. They were as accurate as they could possibly be. I double checked them myself."
"Are you having a problem, Mr. Roarke?" It was Nicholas Beale. Neither of them had heard him enter. "From what I gather, that was your banker calling to tell you that they have denied you a much needed loan."
Roarke glared at him angrily. "How did you know that?" He demanded.
"I, too have many sources." There was a sinister gleam in his dark eyes. "But perhaps all is not as bad as it seems on the surface. As you no doubt know, I have more money than I could possibly spend in ten lifetimes. And I will be receiving at least that much more in the near future. I could easily advance you the money you need and never even miss it. Even though you denied me my fantasy, I would be glad to help you out of this bind you seem to be in."
"And your terms ... ?"
"I believe you are aware of them."
"I find your conditions totally unacceptable. Furthermore, from your demeanor since you came to Fantasy Island, I strongly suspect that you were responsible in large part for our loan being denied." Roarke's anger was tightly controlled. "I must insist that you leave the Island immediately. Tatoo. Call the airstrip and have my helicopter readied to take Mr. Beale to the nearest commercial airport. Make arrangements for him to be on the next available plane from there to the mainland. Then have a car sent around for him."
A few minutes later, a horn sounded and Roarke escorted Beale to the waiting automobile.
Tatoo heaved a sigh of relief as the car drove away. "I'm glad he won't be on Fantasy Island any more. He's one guest we can do without."
"Do not be too sure of that, my friend." Roarke said solemnly. "I have an uneasy feeling that we have not seen the last of Mister Nicholas Beale."
A car drove up and Ann Scott got out.
"Dr. Scott ... Ann ... What a pleasant surprise." Roarke's face changed immediately from somber to smiling broadly. "And right about now I can use all the pleasantries I can get. Things have not been going very well lately. It seems that for the past few days, there has been one problem after another. But we shall not talk about that now. What brings you to the Main House?"
"The hospital wasn't busy, and I was hoping you could join me for lunch. I know I haven't been at my job very long, but here are several changes that I am hoping to make at the hospital, and I would like to discuss them with you. Nothing earthshaking, mind you. Mostly procedural."
"I have an even better idea. Why don't I call the hotel and have them prepare a basket? The three of us could then have a picnic in the park by that waterfall we saw the other day."
"Count me out, Boss." Tatoo said. "I have a lot of work to do. I'm in the middle of going over those figures on the projection statements with our accounting staff. I know they didn't make any mistakes. Maybe it was a typographical error or maybe there was a decimal point in the wrong place or something like that." He looked at the two of them, who were looking at each other. "You go ahead and enjoy yourselves. Don't worry. Everything is going to be all right. You'll see." He sounded more like he was trying to convince himself rather than them.
Roarke stopped the car beside the pond. This time, it was deserted. "I think this would be an excellent place for a picnic. And perhaps a short swim before we eat."
"I'd love that, but I didn't bring a suit."
"I didn't think you had." He reached into the back seat and handed her a box. Inside was a bathing suit. One piece. Cut brief, but not too revealing. Medium blue. She looked at the tag. It was her size.
"Do you always think of everything?"
"I try." He pointed to the cliff. "There's a cave behind the waterfall on the left. It's large enough that you can change in there. The path around the pond will take you there without any danger of getting wet."
"And what about you?"
He was already stripping off his shirt. "I changed at the house while we were waiting for the basket to be delivered."
"Rat Fink." She mock slapped him on his bare chest.
She lay on her stomach on the blanket that Roarke had spread on the ground and munched on a chicken thigh. Suddenly, she felt water dripping on her back. She rolled over and saw Roarke, sopping wet, standing over her, shaking his head.
"Stop that!" She yelled in mock anger. "You're getting water all over my chicken, and if there's one thing I absolutely hate, it's soggy thighs."
He sat beside her and she knelt behind him. He was lean and tanned and the dark blue brief swim trunks he wore only accentuated his athletic body. She took one of the towels and began to dry his hair. She felt very comfortable around Roarke. More comfortable than she had felt with any other man since Dan ... But that was part of the past. It was over when he died.
She moved to a position facing him and began to dry his chest. The fine sprinkling of hair had only a smattering of gray mixed in with the black. Their faces were only inches apart and she had the overwhelming feeling he was about to kiss her. Instead, he reached into the basket and took out a drumstick. As he was about to take a bite out of it, a familiar melody sounded.
Roarke stared at the leg. "A singing chicken?"
Ann reached into her purse and took out her cell phone. She checked the number on the caller ID. "It's the hospital. I told them to call me if there was an emergency. You don't mind, do you?"
Roarke shook his head no.
"This is Nurse Sanchez, Dr. Scott." A woman's voice said. "I know you said you were taking the rest of the day off, and I hate to bother you, but is Mr. Roarke with you? I tried the Main House, but his housekeeper said that he wasn't there. She said that the two of you were going on a picnic."
"He's right here. What's the problem?"
"You both had better get to the hospital right away. It's Mr. Tatoo. There's been an accident."
Ann relayed the message to Roarke.
He pulled his trousers over his wet swimsuit and threw his other clothes into the back seat. "I'll finish dressing later."
Ann pulled her slacks over her suit and tossed the rest of her clothes with Roarke's. Then she climbed in too. Roarke turned the car around facing the road. Almost before she had strapped on her seat belt, he took off in a literal cloud of dust.
"Where is Mr. Tatoo?" Roarke demanded as they entered the Emergency Room.
Dr. Charles Goode, the Resident in charge of the Emergency Room, pointed to one of the examining cubicles. Ann hurried inside. Roarke started to follow her but she motioned for him to wait outside. As he took a seat in the waiting area, one of the men who was also sitting there came over to him.
"My name is Ernie Kolomo, Mr. Roarke. I was driving the truck that hit him. Mr. Tatoo was just walking down the middle of the road. It was almost as if he was in some kind of a daze or something. I honked my horn at him, but he didn't seem to see or hear me. Then he walked directly into the path of my truck. I hit the brakes, but it was as if the truck had a mind of its own. You've got to believe me, Mr. Roarke. I didn't want to hit him. He's always been good to me. I love the little guy like he was family. If he's hurt real bad or if he ... " He swallowed loudly. "I'll never forgive myself."
"I believe you, Mr. Kolomo. I know how you feel about Tatoo. Most of the Islanders care the same way about him. I know too, that you are an extremely good and careful driver. Trust me. From what you just told me, there was nothing you could have done." He motioned for Kolomo to sit beside him and the two of them waited anxiously for word about their mutual friend.
It was nearly an eternity ... in truth only about fifteen minutes ... before Ann came out of the cubicle. Roarke and Kolomo were at her side immediately.
"He was very, very lucky. It seems he was only knocked down by the bumper and he slid underneath. In a way, it's a good thing it was a truck. The undercarriage was high enough and he's so small, the damage was minimal. If he had been any taller, he could have been seriously hurt. As it is, he has a cracked rib from the impact, and several rather nasty cuts. Two of them are going to take stitches to close. He will probably have quite a few good sized bruises, and he may also have a very mild concussion.
He says he doesn't remember the accident or any of the events leading up to it. The last thing he remembers clearly was working on the account books in the study of the Main House.
I don't think he's injured seriously enough to be hospitalized, so I am releasing him as soon as Dr. Goode is finished with him. He is to spend the next four days in bed. The only time he is allowed to get up is to go to the bathroom. Doctor's orders. I'll stop by the house as soon as I can to check on him."
Roarke and Tatoo had just entered the Main House when the telephone rang. Roarke answered it.
"Roarke." The voice belonged to Nicholas Beale. "I understand that one of your ... associates had a slight accident earlier today. I hope he was not too seriously injured. You have to be very careful nowadays. Accidents will happen you know, and the next one could be much worse."
"Beale!" Roarke spat angrily. "We both know that this was no accident. I know who you really are and I know why you want Fantasy Island. I can guarantee you that you will not have it. You should have known you cannot trick me into giving it to you, and you cannot threaten me either. As long as I am alive. As long as there is a Roarke. Fantasy Island will never be yours."
"We shall see about that, Roarke. We shall see."
Roarke slammed the receiver down and mumbled something under his breath in a language that Tatoo did not recognize.
"Boss. Why do you let Beale go on like this? You have denied him his fantasy. You have even banished him from the Island. Yet he continues to harass us. Why don't you just put a stop to him?"
"Because this is no fantasy, Tatoo. This is real. Very real. There are forces at work here that I have no control over. I agree with you, Beale must be stopped, and I hope that I can stop him before this goes much farther. This is a long standing dispute between Beale and myself. My only regret is that you had to be caught up in this." He placed his hand on Tatoo's shoulder and smiled slightly. "Right now though, I think you had better go upstairs and rest or we shall both be in deep trouble with Dr. Scott. I gave her my word you would go to bed as soon as we got home."
"But Boss ... "
Roarke paced nervously across the floor of his office. It was almost eight o'clock, and Ann had not shown up. Maybe there was an emergency and she has not been able to get away or call. He picked up the phone and dialed the hospital.
"Mr. Roarke, This is Nurse Sanchez. Are you feeling any better?"
"I am feeling fine, Miss Sanchez. What makes you think that I am ill? May I speak with Doctor Scott?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Roarke, the Doctor isn't here. In fact, that's the reason I thought you were sick. About an hour ago, a driver came to the hospital. He said that you weren't feeling well and that he had been sent to bring her to you."
"Which driver? And where is Doctor Scott now?"
"I never saw the man before. Tall man with black hair and a goatee. I figured he must be a new one. And I was under the impression that Doctor Scott was with you."
"See if you can find her. Try her cell phone. Use the GPS. Use signal flags. Mount a search party if you must. Try anything, but find her. It's extremely important that she be found. And quickly. Call me as soon as you know anything of her whereabouts. Immediately! You understand!"
Roarke hung up the phone and as soon as he did, it rang.
"Ann ... " He said, expecting the doctor to be on the other end. It was not Ann. He listened in silence. When he hung up, his face was devoid of all color. He grasped the edge of the desk so hard his knuckles were white.
"Boss. What is wrong? You look terrible."
"Tatoo. What are you doing out of bed?" Roarke asked numbly.
"I couldn't rest. I have this dreadful feeling something terrible is going to happen. And it is going to happen very soon. I'm right. Aren't I?"
"Yes, Tatoo. You are correct. Something terrible is going to happen soon. In fact, it has already started. That was Beale. He has Ann ... Doctor Scott ... in a cabin on the other side of the Island. He says if I do not bring him the ownership papers for Fantasy Island, he will kill her. Then, he will systematically kill everyone on the Island until I do as he demands." He went to the wall safe and took out a large thick manila envelope.
"You are not going to just give him Fantasy Island, are you?"
"Believe me, Tatoo. Nicholas Beale is quite capable of doing precisely as he says he will do. He will kill Ann and then, one by one, he will kill everyone else until he gets what he wants. I cannot risk the lives of everyone here. Starting with Ann's life." He went to the desk and took a small silver revolver out of the drawer. He checked it and put it in the top of his belt. "Once Ann is safe, I will deal with Nicholas Beale. Any way I have to." Tatoo had never seen Roarke look or sound so cold in his life.
Roarke started for the door. Tatoo followed.
"No, Tatoo. This is my fight. It is far too dangerous. I do not want you involved."
"You're wrong, Boss. You say you do not want me involved." He touched a large adhesive bandage partially covering an even larger bluish purple mark on his forehead. "But I am already involved. If you don't let me accompany you, I will only follow you. Either way, I am going to be there." His face was just as determined as Roarke's was.
"Very well then. But you must do exactly what I say. When I say it. And no questions or arguments. Do you understand?"
"Yes, Boss." Tatoo was very glad that Roarke did not have x-ray vision. Otherwise he would have seen the crossed fingers behind the little man's back.
Roarke stopped the car in front of a crude cabin. Beale could not have picked a better place. It was in a large wooded area and the nearest dwelling was at least a mile away. In addition, it was a good hundred yards from the road. If a person did not know exactly where it was, it would never be found.
About fifty feet from the cabin, Roarke motioned Tatoo to stop. "You will stay here. Do not go any closer. No matter what happens, you are not to leave this spot. Remember what I said. No questions. No arguments."
Tatoo nodded, his crossed fingers were once more behind his back.
Roarke hesitated a moment and then drew a deep breath. He walked to the door of the cabin and tried it. It was not locked. He took another deep breath and stepped inside.
Ann was sitting in a chair in the middle of the room, bound and gagged. She did not seem to be injured, but there was a look of stark terror on her face.
"Let her go, Beale." He said to an apparently empty room. "She is not part of this. This is strictly between you and me."
"But she is a part of this, Roarke. And so is everyone else on Fantasy Island. Unless you give me what I want. You do have the papers, don't you?" Beale seemed to materialize out of the shadows.
Roarke patted his coat pocket. "Let her go."
Beale held out his hand. "Not until I have what I came for."
"You will get them. But not until I am certain that she is safe."
"Very well. If you insist." Beal went to her and kissed her lustfully on the cheek. Even through the gag, the loathing was evident on Ann's face. Ann tried to turn away, but Beale held her face tightly. He kissed her once more. Roarke dug his fingernails into the palms of his hands and fought the urge to strangle Beale where he stood.
"But she has been such a very ... interesting companion." Grudgingly he untied her.
Immediately, she ran to Roarke and held him tightly. He gently stroked her back. He could feel her shaking. "Are you all right? He didn't ... "
"No. He didn't hurt me ... physically at least. But the things he did ... and said ... terrified me beyond all comprehension. I'm scared out of my wits, but other than that, I'm okay."
"Tatoo is waiting about fifty feet from the cabin. Go to him. Then I want the two of you to drive away from here as fast as you can. Do not. I repeat. Do not under any circumstances come back here." He pushed her toward the door. It opened on its own. "Go! Now!"
Ann ran out of the door and it swung shut after her, even though there was no one close enough to shut it. She stood on the steps for a few moments to get her bearings.
"Dr. Scott ... Ann ... Over here." Tatoo called.
She hurried toward the sound of his voice. "Roarke said we are to leave this place immediately and not come back."
Tatoo dug into his pocket and handed her the keys to the car. "The car's parked on the road. I know I told the Boss I'd do just as he said, but I'm not leaving. Not without him. You can go if you want to. I'm staying right here."
Ann handed the keys back to him. "Not by yourself you're not. If you stay, I'm staying with you."
Beale faced Roarke squarely. "You know who I am." It was not a question.
"Good. Then you will not mind if I give this place a little touch of home." He pointed at the fireplace and the logs there burst into flame. He turned to Roarke. "Now! The papers to Fantasy Island!" He demanded.
Roarke took the envelope out of his pocket and put it on the table. On top of it, he placed a large gold crucifix. "If you want them, all you have to do is come and get them."
Beale growled what sounded like an expletive, then stared at the fire and then at Roarke. His eyes glowed with an unearthly intensity. The fire quickly became a roaring inferno that engulfed the room. Suddenly Roarke doubled over in excruciating pain. It did not seem to be localized, but was through his entire body. Slowly, fighting the agony, he straightened up. As he did, the flames receded back into the fireplace and the pain stopped.
"Theatrics, Beale? I expected more from you." He smiled slightly and clasped his hands together. He pointed his joined index fingers at Beale and he went flying backward into the fireplace, scattering the logs. "You should feel right at home in there."
Beale got up, brushed himself off and started toward Roarke. "Now who's using theatrics?" He stopped short as he saw that Roarke was pointing a gun directly at him. "Oh, come now. You know that guns are useless against me."
"Ah, but this is no ordinary gun. It, and the bullets in it, are made of solid silver. In addition, on my way here, I stopped at the church. When I explained to the priest what I intended to do, he blessed the bullets, the gun, and me."
"In that case, there is a slight chance that it could do some real harm." Beale slowly began walking toward Roarke again. "However, there is one very large flaw in your strategy. You are one of the so called good guys. You are not the type of person who would kill an unarmed man in cold blood. Even someone like me." He stopped about a foot in front of Roarke. With almost lightning speed, he reached out and grabbed Roarke's hand and pushed it outward, away from him. At the same time, his other fist slammed into Roarke's stomach. Roarke doubled over and the gun went skittering across the floor.
Roarke took two steps backward and then interlocked his fingers and brought them full force at Beale's chin. It was Beale's turn to reel. For what seemed like an interminable time, the two fought savagely, neither one gaining the upper hand. Suddenly Beale came at Roarke with a fireplace poker. Roarke blocked it, but not before it had opened a deep gash across his face and knocked him to the floor. Roarke was on his feet in a second. He wiped the blood from his cheek.
"Well, Beale, I believe this skirmish has gone on long enough." He said, breathing heavily. "We have fought each other to another draw. What do you say we leave this to be concluded at another time?" Both men were bleeding from numerous cuts, and both were badly bruised as well. Their clothes were almost in shreds.
"Oh, but it isn't over, Roarke. Not yet." Beale raised his hand. He had retrieved the gun and was pointing it at Roarke. There was an animalistic look of lust in his eyes. Roarke took a step toward him. Grinning sadistically, he motioned for Roarke to come closer. "That's right, Roarke. Keep on coming. You don't know how long I have waited for this moment. The moment when I will finally defeat you. I've thought about it. I've dreamed about it. And if you'll pardon the pun, I've even fantasized about it. You see, Roarke. There's one great difference between you and I." He squeezed the trigger. "I will use the gun."
A force like a cement block hit Roarke in the chest. He staggered and slowly sank to his knees. Then he toppled to the floor. He lay there, gasping for breath. Even the effort to breathe was unbelievably painful.
Beale let out an unearthly laugh. "I see I did not kill you with the first bullet." He cackled. "This is even better than I expected. I'm going to enjoy watching you die ... slowly and painfully. Maybe you'll even beg me to kill you. Go ahead Roarke! Beg me! Plead with me to put the next bullet into your brain!"
He laughed again and slid his foot under Roarke's shoulder to roll him over. As he did, Roarke somehow managed to grab Beale's foot and twist it as hard as he could. Caught off balance, Beale tumbled backward into the table, knocking it over and scattering the contents. There was a blood curdling scream. And then silence.
Just that simple act of grasping Beale's foot was almost more than Roarke could manage. It felt as though his entire body was being torn apart. In what seemed to him to be a slow motion sequence, Roarke somehow managed to struggle to his knees and slowly, agonizingly crawl the few feet to where Beale was propped against the overturned table. He was not moving. His empty eyes stared unseeing, and a look of shock and terror was etched in his face. Roarke reached out and grasped his arm. Nicholas Beale slid to the floor and fell forward. Embedded in his back was the gold crucifix that Roarke had placed on the table.
Several of the logs that had been knocked out of the fireplace earlier had landed on the carpet. The room was beginning to fill with acrid smoke from the burning rug. With a nearly supreme effort, Roarke struggled to his feet and staggered to the door. He forced himself to remain conscious as he fumbled with the knob. At last the door opened and with that, the last bit of strength drained from him. His knees buckled and he pitched down the two steps and onto the path.
Tatoo and Ann stared in disbelief as Roarke came out of the cabin. They ran frantically to him and reached him almost before he hit the ground. Tatoo knelt beside him and gently placed his hand over Roarke's nose and mouth. There was nothing. In the flames, he could see the blood soaked shirt. "He's been shot." He half cried. "He's dead."
Ann was feeling frantically for a pulse. Nothing in his wrists. Nothing in the carotid. Nothing. In desperation, she put her head to his bloody chest. "No, Tatoo. He's not dead. There's a heartbeat. It's very faint, but it's there." She began mouth to mouth resuscitation.
Tatoo was frantically searching for his cell phone. "I'll call for an ambulance."
"No time for that. By the time they get here, it may be too late. Besides, we've got to get him to the hospital before the storm hits." Ann said between breaths.
The wind, which had begun only a few minutes before, was already approaching gale strength. It fanned the flames that engulfed the cabin. Tatoo brought the car as close to the cabin as he dared, and by the time they had carried Roarke to the car, there was little left of the structure but a few charred posts and smoldering ashes.
By the time they got to the hospital, the rain was coming in nearly horizontal sheets. They had phoned ahead, and Nurse Sanchez and the Dr. Goode were waiting with a gurney as they pulled up.
"Tatoo." Ann called as they wheeled Roarke into one of the examining cubicles. "Go to my office and call the Coast Guard station. Have them send a rescue helicopter here as soon as possible. Impress on them that it's extremely urgent!"
Tatoo hung up the phone and left Dr. Scott's office. As he entered the Emergency Room, Ann was just leaving Roarke's cubicle. There was no doubt that she was very worried.
"It's not good." She told Tatoo. "At that range, he should have been killed instantly, but this slowed the bullet." She held up a golden medallion that Roarke had been wearing. On one side was engraved a cross. On the other, a Star of David. Through the center there was a jagged hole. "Even so, the bullet did manage to penetrate his heart. It did not go into the heart itself, but it's lodged in the muscle of the left ventricle. It's acting as sort of a plug, preventing massive bleeding. With each heartbeat though, it moves ever so slightly. When it does finally become dislodged, he will be dead in a matter of seconds." She laughed softly and shook her head slowly. "It's ironic. The bullet that is killing him is also keeping him alive. How long before the Coast Guard gets here? For his sake, it better be soon."
"They're not coming. This storm is the leading edge of a massive typhoon that was supposed to go harmlessly out to sea. At the last minute though, it changed direction and it's now heading directly for Fantasy Island. They expect landfall within the hour. All ships and planes have been grounded until the storm passes."
"NOT COMING?" The worry turned to panic. "They've got to come! If that bullet isn't removed in the next few hours, he'll die! Call them back! I'll talk to them this time. They've got to understand just how critical the situation is."
"It's no use. That was the chief of the Island telephone crew on the phone. All communications with the outside world are down, and he doesn't know how long he can keep the lines here on the Island open. You'll have to perform the operation here."
"Here? No ... No way ... We can't do it here!" The panic became terror. "We don't have the proper equipment. And even if we did, there's no one here who has the necessary skills and experience to do the operation."
"But there is someone here who can do the operation. You can do it. You have the skill. And the experience. The news magazine said you were a brilliant surgeon and your specialty was heart surgery. You've got to do it."
"I am well aware of what the article said. I also know what it did not say. It did not say that the last person I operated on ... died on the operating table. His name was Dan Jordan and I loved him very much. We were engaged to be married. I really didn't want to do the operation. Doctors aren't supposed to treat relatives or family. But as you said, I was the only one qualified to do the job. The surgery was far more complicated than anyone expected. I did all I knew how to do, but he died anyway.
That's why I went into research. At least there, if I made a mistake, no one died from it. Except maybe a lab rat or a guinea pig. And it's also one of the reasons I came to Fantasy Island. Here I could practice medicine without having that life or death responsibility. I didn't think I'd be handling anything more serious than an occasional outbreak of the flu or a case of poison ivy.
Tatoo. I care for Roarke. I care too much to take the risk that I would not be able to save him. Just like I couldn't save Dan. I can't let that happen again. Not to Roarke. You've got to understand. I care for him too much to kill him, too."
"I understand only one thing. I love that man in there more than anything else in this world. He has been so much more than just my employer. He has been a friend, a father, a brother to me. He's one of the few people who treats me as an equal, not like I'm some kind of pathetic little clown, or a freak. If you operate, he has at least an even chance of pulling through. If you do not operate, he will most certainly die."
Nurse Sanchez came into the waiting area at this point. "Dr. Scott. It's Mr. Roarke. He's regaining consciousness,"
Roarke lay motionless on the bed. Although his eyes were open, his lids were heavy and his eyes were dull from the drugs that had been given to him. Numerous monitors clicked, hummed, and whistled as they kept track of his vital functions. A respirator made an eerie hiss as it forced oxygen into the breathing mask. Nurse Sanchez placed a chair beside the gurney and Tatoo climbed onto it. Ann stood on the other side of the bed.
"Boss ... " It was all Tatoo could do not to cry.
"Tatoo, my friend." Roarke's voice was barely above a whisper and sounded hollow through the mask. It was all the diminutive man could do to hear him at all. Roarke placed his hand limply on Tatoo's and the two of them looked at each other. Ann could see the love passing between them.
He shifted his gaze to Ann. "It's bad, isn't it." It wasn't a question.
She closed her eyes and nodded. "Very bad. We have a call in to the Coast Guard rescue team, but they won't be able to get here until the storm passes. Nobody seems to know when that will be. In the meantime, we are doing everything possible. You must not talk any more. You must conserve your strength."
Roarke shook his head slightly. "There is no meantime is there? I am dying."
"NO! Boss! Don't say that!" Tatoo shouted. "Don't say that!"
Roarke gently squeezed Tatoo's hand. "It's all right, my friend. I heard enough of the conversation between you and Dr. Scott to know that it is very probable that I will not survive until morning." Suddenly, his eyes grew wide. He stared directly at Ann. There was a glow in them that Tatoo had never seen before. Ann stood transfixed.
"Ann." He said. His voice was still weak, but there was a definite ring of authority in it. "Dr. Scott. You have to do what is necessary. You can do it. You have it within you. I believe in you. You have to believe in yourself. You must do what must be done. You must ... do ... " He clenched his teeth and his face contorted in pain. "You must ... " He made a sound that was halfway between a groan and a sigh and closed his eyes. His body went limp.
Tatoo looked at Ann, who was checking the monitors. "He's much weaker. There's not much time left. You're right, Tatoo. So is he. I can't just stand here and do nothing." She went to the door. "RAMONA!" She called. Ramona Sanchez came running to the door. "How much type A positive blood do we have on hand?"
"Six units. That doesn't count the two we've already given Mr. Roarke. Don't you remember? We lent the hospital on the Big Island all the reserves we had when that oil storage tank exploded last week. They're supposed to replace our stocks first thing tomorrow."
"That won't be soon enough to help Roarke. How about O negative?"
"Four units. And we have three units of plasma if we need them, and two of packed cells."
"Still not enough."
Tatoo had his coat off and was rolling up his sleeve. "My blood is A positive."
Ann shook her head. "I can't ask you to do that. You're still recovering from your own injuries."
Tatoo thrust his arm in front of her. The look on his face was one of grim determination. "I do not care. If it will save the Boss's life, take it all. Take every single drop."
Ann sighed. There was no arguing with him. "Ramona. Type and crossmatch Mr. Tatoo to donate a unit of blood."
Ann sighed again. "No, Tatoo. Only one unit. I insist."
"Very well. Only one. But if you need more ... "
"I'm also A Positive." Ramona Sanchez said.
Ann nodded. "Ok. You can give a unit, too. After you finish, contact every available hospital staff you can find. Use the phone. Use cell phones. Send up smoke signals if you have to. I want them here ASAP. I'll be in the operating room checking to see what we have on hand and what I can possibly jury rig for open heart surgery."
"What can I do?" Tatoo asked.
"Everything. Start by helping Nurse Sanchez. Then, do whatever needs to be done."
Tatoo sat on the bench in the waiting room and stared out the window. Outside, the storm was venting its full fury on the Island. Huge trees were bent almost double and many had been uprooted. The top had been ripped off Roarke's auto and the car had been overturned and rolled over several times, and had landed almost a half mile from where it had been parked. A bolt of lightning struck a tree in the distance. It burst into flames and was almost immediately extinguished by the heavy rain. A clap of thunder shook the building and rattled the windows. Tatoo was glad that the hospital was built of concrete and steel.
He looked at his watch and then at the door to the operating room. It had been well over seven hours since the operation began. Almost nine since Roarke had been wounded. At first, there had been much to do, checking equipment and assisting the nurses and technicians. Everyone who was capable wanted to donate blood, and Tatoo was kept busy filling out seemingly endless forms.
Once the operation had actually gotten under way, there was very little to do. Except wait. And wait. And wait some more. He laid his head on the arm of the bench and closed his eyes. Between the worry over the operation, and the storm, not to mention the pain from his injuries, sleep eluded him. He felt a hand on his shoulder and he sat up with a jolt. It was Ann.
"The operation is over." She said as she sat down beside him. "He's alive, but that is all. Most of the equipment and much of the procedure I used was improvised. Some of it I made up as I went along. There's no telling whether he'll live or die. I did the best I could, but I don't know if it was enough." The anguish showed through the exhaustion on her face. "I'm sorry. I just don't know."
Tatoo took her hand between his hands. "The decision as to whether he lives or dies is not ours to make. You have done all you could do. Regardless of the outcome. Regardless if he lives or dies. You did your very best. No one can ask for more than that. What you did was enough."
"Thank you, Tatoo. Coming from you, that helps a lot. In the back of my mind, I know what you say is true, but I had to hear someone else say it too. I also realize something else. Dan Jordon died not because I failed him, but because the knowledge and technology needed to save him was not yet available. Tatoo, we have ... Tatoo? ... "
Tatoo's head was resting against Ann's arm and he was snoring softly. She kissed him gently on the forehead. "Sleep well my friend. You've earned it."
Tatoo slowly opened his eyes. He was lying on the couch in Dr. Scott's office, a blanket tucked around him and a pillow beneath his head. Sunlight was streaming through the window and it hurt his eyes. From the angle of the rays, he figured it must be late afternoon or early evening. He checked the clock on Ann's desk. 7 PM. He had slept nearly all day. He got up, folded the blanket and laid it on top of the pillow. Then he went to the window and lowered the shade.
The storm had passed, but not before it had wrecked havoc on the entire Island. Wreckage and litter was strewn everywhere, and from what Tatoo could see, there was not a structure on the Island that had not suffered some sort of damage. Many buildings had been totally destroyed. Even the Main House had not escaped. Half the roof had been blown away, and the bell turret been ripped off and was lying on its side in the middle of the road. Most of the wide porch was in pieces and at least a block away. It was going to take a long time to clean up after this disaster.
He went into the hallway. It was crowded with survivors. The majority of them looked like they had not fared much better than Island did. Cuts, bruises, and broken limbs abounded. Ann Scott was going among them doing what she could. She looked as though she had not had any sleep at all.
She came over to Tatoo. There was a man in a navy uniform beside her. "This is Lieutenant Commander Jackson from the Coast Guard station. He's the doctor in charge over there. They were finally able to bring in a crew about three hours ago. They've been helping us to treat the injured."
"Have they evacuated the Boss yet?"
"No, they haven't. By the time the rescue team arrived, there was nothing they could do."
"What do you mean nothing they could do? He isn't ... He didn't ... " Tatoo stammered, tears welling in his eyes. "Why didn't you wake me?"
"Come with me." Ann took Tatoo's arm and escorted him to Roarke's room.
Roarke was awake. It was plain that he had been through an ordeal, but he was alert and there was a small bit of color in his face. He smiled when he saw Tatoo.
"BOSS!" Tatoo called as he ran across the room. The nurse put a chair next to the bed and Tatoo climbed on it. He threw his arms around Roarke and hugged him tightly.
"Gently, my friend. Gently." Roarke's voice was still weak, but it was vibrant nonetheless. He held Tatoo for a few seconds and then tenderly pushed him away.
"We didn't evacuate him because there was no need to." Ann explained. "He passed the crisis point around 3 PM and he regained consciousness a few minutes ago. He's still nowhere close to being out of danger, and he will be a long time recovering, but he is going to live."
"It's a miracle, Boss. A true miracle. Last night you were dying, and now look at you!"
"Yes, Tatoo. You could call this a miracle. But the true miracle lies in the faith and love of my friends who did so much to bring it about. When one has friends such as you ... " He held Tatoo's hand tightly. " ... and you ... " He took Ann's hand and brought it gently to his lips. " ... Miracles can, indeed occur."
"One thing still puzzles me, Boss. Exactly who was Nicholas Beale, and why did he want Fantasy Island so bad that he was willing to kill you for it?"
"Beale is only one of the names he is known by. He has been called Mephistopheles, Diablo, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub ... of which I suspect Beale is a shortened form ... and many, many others. I have faced him before, and I will probably meet him again."
"You fought the Devil last night? And you have fought him before this? Where? When? How many times? What happened?"
"So many questions, my friend. It is a very long story. When I am stronger, I will tell you all about it and answer as many questions as I am able. Right now though, I am very tired and I would like to rest." He closed his eyes and turned his head to one side. "Thank you, my friend." He whispered.
"For being Tatoo."
Tatoo stood alone on the dock as the seaplane taxied up. There were no guests on this flight, only workmen and supplies. Progress on rebuilding the Island was going well in the months since the typhoon struck, and it would not be too much longer until guests would be arriving once more. Possibly only a few more months.
At Tatoo's insistence, the bank re-examined the income projection statements. There was indeed a large discrepancy between the ones they had received, and the ones that Roarke had sent. Somewhere along the line, their statements showed that an expense of 1,000 had become 1,000,000, and an asset originally listed at 500,000 was now 25,000. There were several more inconsistencies, but none so glaring as those. Based on the revised figures, the loan was quickly approved. In addition, Fantasy Island itself was eligible for disaster relief funds from the World Bank. This meant there would be more than enough money to rebuild. Even with Roarke's improvements.
It seemed strange to be standing here without Roarke at his side, but Dr. Scott assured him that Roarke was recovering rapidly and that he would be able to start resuming his normal duties very soon. Tatoo strongly suspected her daily visits to the hastily patched Main House since he left the hospital had a lot to do with his rapid improvement. Almost a quarter of the house had been boarded up awaiting reconstruction, but it was still structurally sound, and it was habitable.
Now that she was leaving the Island, Ann would be sorely missed. Tatoo openly admitted that he had grown very fond of the Doctor, as had nearly all of the Islanders. Already, small groups were gathering at the edge of the dock to see her off.
A car pulled up and Ernie Kolomo, the driver, helped Roarke out. Leaning heavily on Ernie's arm, Roarke slowly walked to his usual spot on the dock beside Tatoo.
"What are you doing here, Boss? You're supposed to be in bed. You know Dr. Scott ... Ann ... said that you weren't well enough to be up and around yet."
"I am well aware of what Ann said, Tatoo. But I wanted to say goodbye to her one last time."
"Nobody wants her to go. Does she have to leave? Can't you make her stay?"
Roarke paused a moment. "Yes, I could force her to stay. And believe me, my friend, the thought has crossed my mind several times. That would not be fair. Not to us, and certainly not to her. The decision to stay or go must be hers, and hers alone."
A cheer went up from the assembled throng as the car bearing Dr. Scott pulled up to the dock and Ann got out. She did not seem too surprised to see Roarke standing there. She took his outstretched hands in hers.
"I don't want to leave." She said softly.
"I wish I could, but I must go back. This is something I have to do. We've done a lot of research in the treatment and management of heart problems, but there is still so much more work that needs to be done. I realize now that I was using Fantasy Island as an escape. A place to evade my work, and the responsibilities that go with it. I left a project half finished when I came here. I was burned out. I just walked out the door of the Institute and never went back. Now it's time for me to return. I've got to see it through. When it's finished, I can come back to Fantasy Island again. Only then, I will be coming to ... not running from."
"I can arrange to set up any sort of a laboratory you could want right here on the Island. I can even bring all of your associates here if you desire."
"As tempting as that sounds ... " She shook her head sadly. "I have to say no. I have to do this my way."
She bent down beside Tatoo and hugged him tightly. "I'll miss you terribly, Tatoo. Take good care of everything for me. Especially Roarke. See to it that he doesn't do too much too soon ... And that he eats all his vegetables ... and ... " She wiped a tear from her eyes. " ... And take care of yourself, too." She kissed him gently on the cheek and hugged him again.
She went to Roarke and kissed him tenderly. " Goodbye, Roarke. I will return." She kissed him again. "I promise."
Ann turned and walked quickly to the plane. She was glad no one could see the tears streaming down her face. She did not look back. She knew if she did, she would never leave.
As the plane taxied from the dock, Roarke and Tatoo walked to the edge and watched until it became a tiny speck on the horizon and then disappeared over the curvature of the earth.
Roarke put his hand on Tatoo's shoulder. "When she operated on my heart, she mended it. But now that she is leaving, it is broken again, and she is taking a large part of it with her." He wiped a tear from his cheek. "A very large part of it, my friend."
Tatoo waited until the small lift stopped and then exited. This was only one of the improvements Roarke had made after a typhoon had nearly destroyed the Island over a year ago. Now instead of climbing three flights of stairs to ring the bell, Tatoo could board the lift on any floor and exit in the attic. From there, it was only a short walk to the turret.
In addition to the elevator, there was now a complex intercom and monitoring system installed that would allow the resort staff to keep tabs on all parts of the Island and to spot potential trouble spots.
The entire Island had been rebuilt and refurbished, and to the untutored eye, it was nearly impossible to tell that there had ever been the level of destruction that the storm had caused.
As Tatoo exited to the porch, Roarke was pacing excitedly. "Come on, Tatoo." He called almost before Tatoo was out the door. "We don't want to be late."
"Late? The plane hasn't even come around to the harbor yet. It's still on the other side of the Island. We've easily got a half hour before it lands. It only takes ten minutes from here to the dock."
"Still, I want to be there in plenty of time."
"Plenty of time for what, Boss? Is there something special happening today?"
Roarke only smiled broadly. "We shall see." He said as he got into the car.
During the ride to the dock, Tatoo tried vainly to pump his employer for more information. Roarke's only answer was 'We shall see.' Then he would nod his head and smile.
The plane taxied up and the passengers began to disembark. There was only one guest on the plane. Willie Barker, a shoe clerk from Boone, West Virginia whose fantasy was to go on a safari and explore the wilds of Africa.
"Boss, how come there's only one fantasy this weekend? Usually there's two or sometimes three."
"I know. I planned it that way. I want to spend as much time as possible with the next passenger."
Tatoo's eyes nearly popped as the next person exited the plane. Suddenly he ran to the plane. "ANN!" He shouted. "IT'S ANN! She's came back! Dr. Scott has returned to Fantasy Island!" He threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly. Then, realizing what he had done, he released her. Hanging his head, he sheepishly returned to Roarke's side.
Roarke was grinning broadly. "Do not be embarrassed, Tatoo. I would have done the same thing, but you beat me to it."
Tatoo looked at him and smiled.
"Yes, Doctor Scott has indeed returned to Fantasy Island. She notified me last week that she was returning. She also asked me to keep it a secret. She did not want any ... unnecessary fuss or spectacle ... as she called it."
"Is she going to stay this time, Boss?"
Roarke's face became solemn for a moment. "I hope so." He said softly. "I certainly hope so." He took a glass from the tray that the hostess was passing around and held it high. "My guests." He looked directly at Ann. "My very special guest. I am Mr. Roarke. Your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island."
Willie Barker, the shoe clerk / explorer, sat in Roarke's office. He fidgeted nervously with the hem of his safari jacket. " ... So, you see, Mr. Roarke, I ain't never been nowhere outside of West-by-God-Virginia in my entire life. I done a lot of huntin' back in the hollers, but I ain't never bagged me anythin' bigger than a deer.
I always dreamed of goin' after some of them big time game. You know, like elephants and lions. Ever since I watched them National Geographic specials on the TV set. I know it ain't right to shoot them creatures with a gun, since they's nearly extinct like, so I figured I'd shoot 'em with a camera instead." He took a huge 35mm camera from a tote bag and held it proudly. "I even took a course in photography from the 'Y' just to get ready. I figured I could hang the pictures on my wall just as easy as I could the animal's heads. When do we start?"
"We start as soon as we reach the edge of the jungle." Roarke said as he motioned Willie to follow him to the waiting car.
Willie was dispatched on his fantasy with all the proper ceremonies and rituals, and Roarke returned to the Main House. Ann was waiting in his office. He took her hands in his. "Welcome back to Fantasy Island, Dr. Scott ... Ann. You have been greatly missed."
She slipped her arms around his waist, and he followed suit. "And I have missed you ... And the Island too. I have thought of little else this past year. As soon as the last specimen was tested and catalogued. As soon as the last test tube was washed and put away. As soon as the last report was finished and filed, I had a ticket on the next plane to Fantasy Island.
I stopped by the hospital on my way over here. I know there is no chance of getting my old job back, but that isn't important. I'll even haul bedpans if I have to. As long as I can stay on the Island, I'll be happy."
"Do not be too sure. Things may not be as bad as you imagine. While Doctor Jackson has been doing an excellent job as Hospital Administrator since he retired from the Coast Guard, I doubt if you will have to be hauling bedpans. You see, he has been offered the post of Assistant Chief of Medicine at the VA hospital in Topeka Kansas. Since that is where he was born and raised, he has decided to accept it. So, your old job is open. It is yours if you want it."
"Want it! Are you joking! When do I start!"
"It will take about a week or two for Doctor Jackson to finish up here and make arrangements for the move to Kansas. You can start then. In the meantime, why don't you just rest and relax and take the time to reacquaint yourself with the Island? You could start by joining me for dinner at the hotel tonight. If you would not mind waiting a few minutes ... I have a few details to attend to ... I would like very much to escort you around the Island once more."
"That is by far the best offer I've had all day ... other than the job, of course. While you do whatever it is you have to do, I'm going to go to my bungalow and unpack. You can pick me up there when you're done."
As Roarke drove around the Island, Ann fell in love with it all over again. She was even more convinced that the land was truly enchanted. Roarke stopped the car by the triple waterfall.
"I had a feeling you'd bring me here." She said as he helped her out. "Of all the places on Fantasy Island, I think this is my favorite one. This time, I came prepared. She reached into a small cloth bag and took out a medium blue bathing suit. "Let me see, the cave is that way."
"Correct. However, I have also had a bathhouse erected as part of the improvements I made after the typhoon. You can use that if you'd like." He pointed to a small structure near the shelter house.
Ann smiled. "I think I'd rather use the cave. It seems more ... I don't know ... special that way.
Roarke lay on the blanket, his eyes half closed. Ann knelt beside him, her fingers slowly tracing the outline of a scar on his chest.
"You saved my life. It is yours to do with as you want." He took her fingers and brought them to his lips.
She looked at him for a few moments. What I want to do is spend the rest of my life here with you. She stared out over the pond. "I used to dream about you and the Island while I was gone, and then I would wonder if everything really was as beautiful as what I dreamed it was. It is every bit as beautiful. And more." Especially you.
Roarke sat up and faced her. "I, too had dreams while you were gone. And in my dreams you were here with me. Now that you really are here, you are even more beautiful than I dreamed you were. I have missed you so much. When you left the Island, something died. Now that you are back, the Island is alive again. Regardless of the season, it is springtime as far as I am concerned. It will always be spring as long as you are here."
His eyes had an intense look that Ann had never seen before. Slowly, he placed his hand on her cheek and drew her face to his. His kiss was sweet and tender. Gradually, it became more passionate, more ardent. Softly, he lowered her to the blanket beside him. His lips slid across her cheek to the nape of her neck. He began trailing butterfly kisses down her shoulder to her breast. His hands seductively traced the curve of her hips.
Suddenly, he broke off and rolled away. "Ann ... I ... We ... " His voice was husky with emotion and he was breathing heavily. He stood up and turned his back to her. It was obvious he was affected by what had taken place. "I think we had better go now. Before ... " He started toward the bathhouse.
The trip back was made in silence. He parked the car in front of Ann's bungalow and walked her to the door. He took her in his arms. His eyes had the same look as they had at the pool. He held her for a few seconds and then took a step back. "You will not forget our dinner tonight." It was not what he wanted to say.
"I won't forget. I'll be waiting." It was not what she wanted to say.
Roarke waited in the car for several minutes after Ann went in, just staring at the closed door. Then he started it and drove away.
Tatoo was waiting as Roarke pulled up to the Main house. "Boss, there is a Doctor Leonard James waiting in your office. He says he is a colleague of Doctor Scott."
"Yes, Tatoo. I know. I've been expecting him."
Roarke entered the office. Leonard James rose and shook Roarke's extended hand.
"Dr. James. I am Mr. Roarke. Dr. Scott has spoken very highly of you on quite a few occasions. What brings you to Fantasy Island?"
"Several things, Mr. Roarke. All Ann would talk about was this Island of yours, and how magnificent it was. Since I have some time to spare before I begin my next project, I thought I'd come here and check it out for myself. Unfortunately, I couldn't book a seat on the same flight she came on, so I had to take a later flight.
Also, this came for her right after she left." He took a large envelope out of his briefcase. "While it's not exactly a Nobel Prize nomination, it is a great honor. She's been accepted as a member of the Governing Board of the Association of Heart Surgeons. I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and deliver it to her in person. Then maybe I can spend some time on this tropical paradise of yours. That is, if it's all right with you."
"Of course it is all right with me. You do not need my permission to visit here. Spend as much time as you want. The Island is at your disposal."
Leonard James knocked on Ann's door.
"Lenny! What on earth are you doing here?"
"I am the bearer of magnificent tidings of great joy." He handed her the envelope. "It's a great honor, you know. To be recognized by your fellow surgeons this way. With this in your resume, you can write your own ticket to any hospital anywhere in the world." He put his arms around her shoulders. "Ann, come with me to Houston. I'm starting a project there next month, and I definitely could use you by my side. I read your report on the operation you performed on Mr. Roarke. The idea of using a respirator as a makeshift heart pump was absolutely inspired! That alone could put open heart surgery in the reach of even the smallest hospitals. I know you have many more ideas like that. That's why I want you in Houston with me. At least there, you'll be properly acknowledged for your contributions.
You're wasting your time and talents here. I mean, how much glory can you hope to get from treating runny noses and broken arms and legs. You belong to the world Ann, not stuck on some two bit rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I don't care how beautiful it is."
"If you are talking about my going into partnership with you, Lenny, the answer is still no. I don't want glory. And I'm right where I want to be. Right here on this so called ... two bit rock. Where you see runny noses and broken bones, I see people who love me and need me."
"What about me, Ann? Where do I fit in your rose colored world? I love you. I need you. I'm not just talking about a professional partnership. I'm asking you to marry me. I'm asking you to come with me to Houston as my wife."
Ann shook her head softly. "Lenny, I'm very fond of you. I care a great deal about you. And I do love you, Lenny. As a friend ... As if you were a brother. But I'm not ... in love with you. I can't marry you. It wouldn't be fair, either to you or to me."
"Ann. Won't you at least give me a fighting chance? Have dinner with me tonight. Let me present my case in the proper setting. With candlelight and soft music and everything that goes with it. Please. Say you'll grant me that much."
"I'm sorry, Lenny. I already have a date for tonight."
Lenny's face fell. "What about tomorrow, then? We could have a picnic. You could show me some of this Island you're so hung up on. Maybe you can make me understand why you're so determined to waste your life here."
"I can't. Roarke and I are going horseback riding."
"The next day?"
"There's a festival in the village. It's in my honor."
"When can I see you? Or maybe I should make an appointment with that midget in the Main House. I know he's Roarke's flunky. Is he yours as well?"
"LEONARD JAMES! Don't you DARE talk about Tatoo like that! He's nobody's flunky. He's one of the most wonderful and caring men I know."
"I'm sorry, Ann. You're right. I did go off half cocked. I shouldn't have said things like that. It's just that I've come halfway around the world to be with you and you don't even have the time to see me."
"I didn't know you were coming. If I had, I might have been able to make plans for us to do some things together."
"Why don't I give you a call later? Maybe we can get together for a cup of coffee or something before I have to leave." The sarcasm and hurt were evident.
Roarke stood in front of the mirror and adjusted his tie. Unsatisfied with the results, he undid it and retied it.
Tatoo let out a low wolf whistle. "Gee, boss. You look spiffy."
"Yeah. You know. Sharp. Super. Cool. You're going to knock her socks off."
"Knock her socks off? What are you talking about?"
"Oh Boss. Don't be such a square. What I mean is, you're really going to impress her."
"Tatoo. I am not the ... square ... you think I am. I know what you're trying to say, but I am only going to have a simple dinner with Dr. Scott."
"I know that, Boss. But who knows what might happen after that. I mean, you care for her. She cares for you. That could lead to ... You know what I mean."
"Tatoo! You are an incurable romantic."
Tatoo had a satisfied smile on his face. "Yeah. I guess I am."
The phone rang and Roarke picked it up. When he hung up, he looked very disappointed.
"It very well could be trouble. It seems that in spite of our elaborate monitoring system, our intrepid shoe clerk has managed to get himself thoroughly lost. They are putting together a search party to try and find him. This means I shall have to cancel my dinner date with Ann." He was already dialing her number.
" ... And so I am afraid I shall have to cancel our dinner. I cannot let Mr. Barker wander around in the jungle like that. There's no telling what might happen ... You do understand? ... You're one in a million, Ann. Not many women would ... Perhaps Dr. James could take you to dinner ... If there is time, I could join you later ... Very well, then ... Until later." He waited until Ann had hung up and Tatoo was nowhere in sight. Then he softly blew a kiss into the receiver.
Ann toyed with her dessert. Leonard poured himself another glass of wine and refreshed her nearly full glass. " ... And then I went up to the pathology lab and poured a whole flask of hydrochloric acid down the back of Dr. Feldman's pants. You should have seen him jump."
"I thought that would get your attention. You haven't heard a word I've been saying."
"Yes I have. It's just that I've got other things on my mind."
"After I left your bungalow, I took a drive around the Island. I can understand why you like it so much. I promise we'll come back here as often as we can. I'll even buy a cottage here. We can use it as a summer retreat."
"Lenny. It's tempting, but I'm afraid the answer is still no. Both to the partnership ... and to the marriage."
"You keep saying no, but you're wavering. I'm giving you official notice, Ann Scott. I'm not going to give up until you change your mind and say yes."
Ann looked up and her face lit. Roarke was walking across the dining room directly for the table.
"I'm very sorry for the abrupt change of plans." Roarke said. "The fantasies of my guests must take first priority. We finally found our misplaced explorer playing tag with a troupe of monkeys. He was having such a good time, he lost track of the time and where he was. Did you enjoy your dinner?"
"Yes we did." Leonard said. "Ann tells me that all of the food is grown and prepared on the Island. My compliments to your staff." He indicated an empty chair. "Won't you join us? I need your help. I want you to talk to this delightful creature here and convince her to come to Houston with me as my wife."
Roarke shook his head. "I cannot do that. The decision to stay or leave ... as well as the decision to marry you or not, is Ann's to make ... and Ann's alone." His heart suddenly felt like a ton of lead. "I cannot influence her one way or the other. Besides, I have already offered her her old position as Chief Administrator of Fantasy Island Hospital and she has indicated that she will accept. Again, the decision is strictly up to her."
"Ann! You didn't tell me you got your old job back!"
"I didn't see any reason to. My mind was made up long before you came here. That's why I left as soon as my project was finished. I'm staying here. I have told you that more than enough times."
Form the lounge came the sound of dance music. Ann looked at Roarke in surprise. "Roarke. Tell me I'm dreaming. They can't be who I think they are. Can they?"
"But they are. When I heard you were returning. I remembered how much you enjoyed their music the last time you were here. So I invited them to come back and play especially for you."
"And that's my favorite song. Roarke. You must dance it with me."
Roarke took her hand. "Of course I will. That is, if it is all right with Doctor James."
"Sure. Go ahead." Leonard said flatly. He watched as Roarke led Ann onto the dance floor and tenderly folded her into his arms.
The dance was over and Roarke escorted Ann back to the table. Leonard James was gone.
They reined the horses to a stop atop a small ridge and dismounted. Roarke took her hand and they walked a few yards.
"Ann. About yesterday at the pond ... " Roarke said hesitantly.
"You don't have to explain anything."
"Yes I do. I wanted you, Ann. I wanted you so badly I could taste it. If I had been anyone else but who I am, you would have been mine. But I am not anyone else, and you are forbidden to me. At least in that way. And at this time. There are many things that other men are free to pursue, but because of who I am ... and what I am ... these pleasures are denied me."
"Just who are you, Roarke? What are you? I know you're different from other men, but just how different are you? Are you an angel? Are you some kind of a god? Tell me. Make me understand."
He shook his head and smiled softly. "Believe me Ann, I am not a god. And I certainly am no angel. Not in any sense of the word. I am a man. I am every inch a man. As human as the next. With all of the human strengths and weaknesses. You are right, though. I am different. The awesome powers I control and the responsibilities that go with them make me distinct from other men. I am not above them. I am not beneath them. I am simply apart from them. I am Roarke. I know of no other way to explain it. Perhaps there is no other way to describe it. Perhaps some day you will understand." There was a very distant look in his eyes, as though he was not really there. "Someday." He said softly. "Perhaps."
Roarke laid his riding crop on the hall table and went into his office. Leonard James was waiting for him. A very furious Leonard James.
"Is there something wrong, Doctor James?" Roarke asked.
"There certainly is. I want you to end it. Right now." Leonard said angrily.
"End what? I have no idea what you are talking about."
"You know damn well what I'm talking about. You've put Ann under some sort of a spell. She thinks she's in love with you."
Roarke looked at him for a few seconds. "I can assure you. Ann ... Doctor Scott ... is under no spell. Is it so difficult for you to accept that what she feels for me could be genuine love? Or that I may return her feelings for me?"
"Yes. It's very hard for me to accept that. In case you've forgotten, when I found out that Ann was coming to Fantasy Island the first time, I wrote to you and requested a fantasy for her. I told you about Dan Jordan, and how he died. After that, Ann lost all confidence in herself, both as a doctor, and as a woman. She symbolically barricaded herself in her lab and retreated from reality. I told you that I loved her and that it was tearing me apart to see her like that. I asked you to give her back her confidence. I asked you to make her love me the same way that I love her."
Roarke went to the filing cabinet and after a short search, took out a thick folder. "I have not forgotten." He handed one of the papers in the folder to Dr. James. "This is the letter you wrote to me. You seem to have forgotten something, though." He took out a second sheet. "This is the reply that I sent back to you. It states that I could not grant your request. That I do not grant fantasies requested by a third party. Only those from the guests themselves can be considered.
I also told you that what you were asking me to do was very dangerous, both mentally and psychologically. In addition, it is against Fantasy Island policy to influence a person's emotions the way you wanted me to do."
Leonard threw the papers on the desk. "It's not important what you said. Everything I asked for did happen. When Ann returned to the Institute, she was a dedicated doctor again. And she was even more of a woman than she had ever been. You filled my fantasy in that respect. But you twisted it to suit your own purposes. Instead of falling in love with me, you made her fall in love with you. I don't know what your reasons were, and I don't care. I want the fantasy stopped. And I want it stopped NOW!"
"To spite what you think Doctor, I cannot end the fantasy. There is no fantasy to end Everything that has happened is real."
"You know what I think, Mr. Roarke? I think you've been on this Island too long. I think you've lost track of that is reality and what is fantasy. That's what I think." As he left, Dr. James slammed the door hard enough to rattle the hinges.
A few seconds later, Tatoo came into the office. "What was that all about? I could hear the Doctor yelling clear out on the porch."
"Doctor James and I had a rather heated difference of opinion concerning a fantasy. Do not worry yourself about it. What will be, will be."
As Tatoo was puzzling over his employer's last statement, the phone rang.
Roarke answered it. " ... Yes. I can understand why they're angry ... " He said after listening for a few moments. " ... I agree ...They have every right to be upset ... Stall them as long as you can ... I'll be right there."
Roarke hung up and shook his head. "It looks like our enterprising Jungle Willie has gotten himself into another dilemma. It seems he violated one of the local sacred taboos, and the natives are preparing to offer him to their gods as a human sacrifice. How one person can get into so much trouble in such a short time always amazes me. I suppose I shall have to go and rescue him ... again. I don't know how long I'll be gone this time. Keep an eye on the office for me."
Lenny pounded frantically on Ann's door. Even before she had fully opened it, he grabbed her arm and dragged her toward the bedroom. "Pack your things." He shouted at her. "We're leaving this Island right now."
"LENNY!" She pulled free. "What's wrong with you? Have you lost your mind? What do you think you're doing?"
"No, I haven't lost my mind, and I'm getting you out of here before you lose yours."
"What in the world are you talking about?"
"Roarke. That's what. There is something about him that struck me as odd right from the start. So I've been following you. I saw what happened at the waterfall the other day. I also noticed the way he looked at you in the restaurant. Then I watched the two of you on the ridge earlier today. And I don't like what I saw at all."
"Following us? You mean spying on us, don't you? Why?"
"Let's not quibble over semantics. He's got you under some kind of a spell. He put it on you the first time you came to the Island, and it's only gotten worse now that you've come back. I'm not going to stand by and let him destroy you."
"I don't believe you. I'm not under any kind of a spell. You don't know what you're talking about."
Lenny grabbed her tightly. "Oh, don't I? Did he tell you that everything that has happened to you since you set foot on this Island over a year ago has been nothing but a fantasy? Everything was staged for your benefit. The fight with Beale. The heart wound. Everything. It was my fantasy to help you get your confidence back. Only he has perverted it for his own use. Don't you think it was just a little bit too coincidental that the other doctor quit just as you were coming back here?"
"You're crazy, Lenny. Let me go. You're hurting me."
He released her. "If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe him. He has my letter asking him for a fantasy. Only it was supposed to be me that you fell in love with, not him. In fact, he has a whole dossier on you. Ask him! Make him show it to you! Maybe then you'll believe me."
"I have every intention of doing just that." Ann called as she headed for the door.
"I have two tickets on the evening plane for the mainland. It leaves at eight o'clock. I'll be waiting at the dock."
Tatoo was working on the monthly reports when Ann came storming into the office. "Where is Roarke!" She demanded. "I have to talk with him. Now!"
"He's not here." Tatoo answered. "There was some trouble with one of the fantasies and he went to straighten it out. I don't know when he'll be back."
"I'll wait." She sat stiffly in one of the chairs and folded her arms across her chest.
"I have to go to the study for a few moments. There are some papers there that I'm going to need to finish this report. While I'm gone, is there something I can get for you? A drink, perhaps? Something to eat?"
Roarke's car braked to a stop and he was out of it almost before the motor quit. He hurried up the walk. Tatoo was waiting on the porch.
"I would have been here sooner, but I had a difficult time convincing the chief that Mr. Barker did not intentionally disturb their sacred grounds. Or that he would have angered their gods by photographing everything in sight. Finally, the chief did release him after Mr. Barker relinquished his camera to him. Of course, it was with the proviso that he never return. Your message said it was urgent. What is so important that you had to contact me in the middle of a fantasy?"
"It's Ann. She's leaving the Island for good. She came to the office shortly after you left. She was very upset about something. I had to leave the office for a few minutes, and when I returned, she was gone. She left this on your desk." He handed Roarke an envelope. "Her file was on the desk, too. I meant to put it away, but I didn't have the chance. I'm sorry, Boss."
"That's all right, Tatoo. You didn't do anything wrong." He opened the envelope and took out the paper inside.
I did not believe Lenny when he said that this whole thing was only a fantasy. I came to your office to give you the chance to deny it. Then I saw his letter and your file on me. The one where you've recorded everything about me. Like I was some kind of a specimen under a microscope. I know that he was right. It may have been nothing more than just another fantasy to you - give the poor lonely doctor back her confidence and make her feel good about herself - but for me, it was very real.
It was also very convenient that the Chief Administrator's position came available just when I decided to return.
I have decided to accept Lenny's proposal. Both for a professional partnership, and to be his wife. I wish you luck in finding a Chief Administrator for the hospital, since I am declining the post.
We will be leaving on the evening plane.
Tatoo started down the steps. "If we hurry, we can be at the dock before the plane leaves. There is still time to stop her."
Roarke gently restrained him. "No, Tatoo. I have said all along that the decision to stay or leave must be Ann's. She has made her decision. I have to respect that. Besides, do you think she will believe anything I have to say? Especially after this?" He put the letter in his pocket and started down the walk.
"Where are you going, Boss?"
"I need some time to think. I have many questions that need answers. I'm going for a drive. I need to be alone with my thoughts."
"Wait a minute, boss! You can't just ... " It was too late. Roarke had already pulled away.
Ann took Lenny's arm in hers and they started to the dock. The plane was tied up to the moorings and was discharging its load of people and supplies. In a short time, it would begin boarding the passengers for the return trip to the mainland.
"ANN! ANN!" Tatoo called frantically as he ran to them as fast as his short legs would permit. "You can't leave. You can't. We have to talk. You have to listen."
"It's not going to do any good, Tatoo." Ann replied. "I've made up my mind. There's nothing to talk about. I said all I have to say in my letter."
"There is a lot that I have to say. And you are going to listen. In my country, love is not just something that merely happens between a man and a woman. It is an art. A science, with definite form and appearance. You're a scientist. You should know that.
I have seen how Roarke acted this past year when he thought no one was looking. He'd take out the picture of the two of you that was taken at that festival just after you arrived last year. Then he'd take that shell you found when the two of you went swimming in the ocean that one weekend. He'd hold them both to his heart as though he were holding you instead. Take it from me. I am a Frenchman. All Frenchmen are experts on the subject of l'amour. If ever there was a man in love, it is Roarke. And he is in love with you. I have also seen the way you look at him. You cannot deny it. It is written all over your face. You love him as much as he loves you."
Ann looked at him and slowly shook her head. "If you would have told me this yesterday, or even this morning, I would have believed you. But not now. I saw the letter that Lenny wrote. I saw the file he has been keeping on me. I'm sorry, Tatoo. I cannot believe anything he ... or you ... have to say."
"Yes, Roarke has a file on you. He has a file on everyone on the Island. Including me. He is the Proprietor of Fantasy Island, after all. The ruler if you will. He needs it for official purposes. Think of it as vital statistics. A census.
As far as Doctor Jackson's leaving the hospital is concerned, it was really just a coincidence. He turned in his resignation weeks before we even knew you were coming back.
I know you saw the letter Dr. James wrote to Roarke. But did you he tell you about the letter Roarke wrote back to him?" He handed her the reply.
She read it and handed it to Lenny. "Is this true?"
"It doesn't make any difference whether it's true or not. It's not important. What is important is that this is not where you belong. You belong with me. We are going to Houston and we're going to be married."
"It is very important. To me, at least. And it makes all the difference in the world. You lied to me, Lenny. You made me believe that Roarke was capable of doing things that the Roarke I know could never do."
He took her in his arms. "Don't you see, I had to. Otherwise you would have been completely taken in by him. I couldn't let that happen. Come on, Ann. The plane leaves in a few minutes. We can talk about this on the way to the mainland."
"No we can't. Because I'm not going with you. I'm staying here"
"What about our future? What about Houston?"
"Your future is in Houston. My future is here on Fantasy Island." She took the engagement ring off her finger and placed it in Lenny's hand. She gently kissed him on the cheek. "Have a good trip Lenny."
She watched him board the plane and then turned to Tatoo. "Take me to Roarke. I've got to talk to him. I've got to explain before it's too late."
Roarke closed the gate and slowly walked through the rows of tombstones. This was a very old and a very private part of the Fantasy Island cemetery. His parents were buried here. As were their parents. And their parents before them down through the generations. The dates on the markers went back farther in time than most people would care to remember. At last, he found the grave that he was looking for. He knelt and gently fingered the inscription. 'HELENA MARSH ROARKE'.
He cupped his face in his hands. "I miss you so, my darling." He whispered. "I love you so."
"Why are you in such turmoil, my love?"
He looked up. There was no one there. There was only the voice in his head. Helena's voice.
"You are upset because you have fallen in love with Ann Scott, aren't you? You think that by loving her, you are somehow betraying the love you have for me. You've let that other man ... Lenny, was that his name ... confuse you and fill you with doubts. You're ready to let her go, aren't you?
Don't you realize, my darling, that what we had was something very special? It can never die. And you, of all people should know that the human heart is capable of loving many, many times over.
I am dead, my dearest. That is something that cannot be changed. When I died, I did not want, nor did I expect you to die with me. You are alive, my sweetheart. And you owe your very life to Ann. Go to her, Roarke. Take her in your arms. Make her yours as you did me, and never let her go. Love her with as much passion as you loved me.
I wish I could have known her. I wish I could have told her what a rare and beautiful thing it is to have your love. Go quickly, my darling. Go to her before it is too late ... too late ... too late ... " The last words slowly faded from his mind.
He heard a footstep behind him and turned to see Ann approaching. He stood up and embraced her tightly. "You didn't leave."
"Tatoo stopped me. He made me see what I was about to throw away. When Lenny told me about his letter, I didn't want to believe him. Then I saw the letter and the file on your desk. In my mind, it was proof in black and white that he was right. I was hurt and confused. I felt betrayed. I wanted to run, and Lenny just happened to be there. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?"
"Only if you can find it in your heart to forgive me for doubting my feelings for you." Roarke turned to Helena's grave marker. "She was my wife. We were together only a short time, but it was more than enough. After she died, I was incredibly lost and lonely. I swore that I would never put myself in that situation again. Then you came to Fantasy Island. You filled the emptiness within me. To spite my efforts to deny it, I found myself falling in love with you.
Dr, James's visit to my office this afternoon raised some serious doubts in my mind. Doubts as to whether I was using a fantasy ... my fantasy ... or even his fantasy as he claimed ... to make you fall in love with me. To fill that void that Helena's death had left in me. That is why I did not try to stop you from leaving. I had to resolve those doubts. I had to decide whether this was real or a fantasy."
"And have you reached a decision?"
He took her hands in his and nodded. "I loved my wife as much as any man could love a woman. I love you with that same intensity. In fact, if it is possible, I love you even more." He held her tightly, as though he were trying to draw her within him. "I do love you, Ann. It is no fantasy. It is real." His mouth hungrily covered hers.
"I wish I could have known her." Ann whispered breathlessly as they parted. "I wish I could tell her how lucky she was ... how lucky I am ... to love and to be loved by you."
They slowly walked to the gate. The interplay of the setting sun and the clouds created interesting patterns on the gravestones. On Helena's stone, a woman's face seemed to take shape. Helena's face. She smiled and nodded. Slowly, as the shadows deepened, she faded back into the darkness.
Silhouetted by the sunset, Ann and Roarke walked arm in arm toward the car.
I Thee Wed
Tatoo sounded the bell with extra gusto. "The Plane! The Plane!" He shouted at the top of his lungs. Not only was the seaplane circling Fantasy Island, but in the distance, another smaller speck could be seen heading for the Island as well. By the time he reached the porch, Roarke was already in the car. Although he said nothing, Tatoo could sense the excitement that was building inside his employer.
The ceremonies at the seaplane dock were courteous and proper. Tatoo could see that Roarke was anxious and impatient to get on with them. At last, the last passenger had left the area, and Roarke and Tatoo got back in the car.
They did not go back to the Main House. Instead, they drove to a small airstrip a short distance from the village. Ann was waiting for them as they pulled up. No sooner did they take their places on the tarmac than a small jet landed and taxied up to them. When the engines had shut down, the door opened and the lone passenger got out.
A hostess gave him a beverage, and Roarke thrust his glass boldly in front of him. "My son. Welcome back to Fantasy Island."
Jamie Marsh took a glass from the hostess and held it in front of him. "My father. It is good to be back." He eagerly embraced Roarke and Tatoo.
Roarke stood back a pace and studied the grown man before him. "It's hard to believe that you are the same little boy I welcomed to the Island for the first time all those years ago. Now it's even harder to believe you will be starting college next year."
"It doesn't seem that long ago to me either. In a sense, now that I've graduated, I don't want to ever leave the Island again, but Ohio State has one of the best medical schools in the country. So if I want to be a doctor, I have to go there." Jamie clasped Ann's hands. "You don't have to tell me. This has to be Ann." He studied her for a few minutes. "You have made an excellent choice, Father."
The rest of the day was filled with parties and celebrations, as it was every summer when Jamie Marsh returned to the Island from school.
Tatoo sat in the bleachers and watched the game in progress on the tennis court. It was the last set of the game and Roarke and Jamie were tied. They were evenly matched, and each countered the other's shots with almost equal skill. He looked up and saw Ann standing behind him.
"He's like a kid again." She said as she took a seat next to him.
"It's like this every time Jamie comes home to Fantasy Island. Roarke formally adopted him after Helena died. Even though Jamie is not his biological son, Roarke loves him as though he were. And Jamie loves Roarke just as much. They can't spend enough time together."
Just then, Roarke hit a smashing volley that barely sailed over the tip of Jamie's outstretched racquet. The game was over.
"You've improved quite a bit over the past year." Roarke said as the two came to the sideline. "If you keep that up, I may even let you win sometime."
"Let me win!" Jamie exclaimed. "You haven't ... quote ... let me win since I was ten years old and you handed me my first racquet. I've had to fight hard for every game I've won from you. No, if I beat you again ... better make that when I beat you again ... it will be fair and square. Just like it always has been." He packed his things in his tote bag. "I'd better be going. I know you two have a million things to discuss about the coming wedding. Ready, Tatoo?"
"Wait a minute, Jamie." Ann said. "Don't leave just yet. I actually came to see you. I'm in sort of a bind, and I think you can help me out. You see, one of my nursing assistants quit this morning. His grandmother lives on a nearby Island and she is elderly and in very frail health. His family is moving there to take care of her. So, I need another assistant. If you want it, the job is yours."
Jamie looked at Roarke, who nodded.
"You can start first thing Monday if you like." Ann added.
"ALL RIGHT!" Jamie picked up his bag and started toward the main house. "Now I really have to be going. If I'm going to become a member of the working class, there's a zillion things I've got to do. Starting with cleaning my room."
"That was so kind of you." Roarke said as Jamie walked away.
"Kind. Schmind. I really do need an assistant. And I figured this would give Jamie some practical medical experience before he starts college in the fall."
For the next several weeks, Jamie's main topic at the dinner table at the Main House was little else but the hospital, his job, and of course ... Ann.
Roarke tugged at the cabinet door. It refused to open. He pounded it with his fist and tugged again, but the door stubbornly remained closed. Finally, he went to his desk and took out a letter opener. He slid it into the space between the doors and pushed against the obstinate latch with all his might.
"Boss!" Tatoo called as he entered the office. "What are you trying to do?"
Startled, Roarke turned his attention to Tatoo. At that same instant, the letter opener slipped and the point of it plunged into the palm of his hand. He gritted his teeth in pain and grasped his hand.
You all right, Boss?"
"NO!" Roarke half growled. "I am not all right. I have just stabbed myself with a knife. I thought I told you to have someone fix that cabinet."
"I did, Boss. But the workmen are all busy with the final preparations for the wedding. They said they would get around to it as soon as there was time." He took out a handkerchief and wrapped it tightly around Roarke's hand. "You had better go to the hospital and have someone take a look at that. It will also give you a chance to see Ann."
"Tatoo! Do you think I have to injure myself just to have the opportunity to see my fiancee?"
"No." An impish grin crossed his face. "But you must admit. It is a good excuse."
Ann finished cleaning Roarke's hand and took a large adhesive bandage from the cabinet and placed it over the cut.
Roarke stared at the hand. "A Bandaid! I am mortally wounded and she puts a Bandaid on it! Oh, the irony!." He put his other hand to his forehead and mock swooned.
"Will you quit grousing? It's only a small cut. Barely broke the skin. It didn't even need stitches. It looked much worse than it was. Now roll up your sleeve."
"For a tetanus shot. According to your records, you haven't had one for quite a while."
"A tetanus shot?"
"Do I hear an echo in here?" She said as she took a syringe from the cabinet and plunged the needle into the bottle of serum.
"I do not need a tetanus shot. You, yourself said it was nothing more than a small cut."
"A few minutes ago, you were dying from that same small cut." She filled the syringe and held it in front of him. "I'll give you a choice. You can either roll up your sleeve, or you can drop your pants. It makes no difference to me." She waved the hypodermic menacingly.
"I'm rolling!" He said as he unbuttoned his cuff. "I'm rolling."
She injected the serum into his arm. "There. That wasn't so bad, was it? Because you were such a good little boy and didn't even cry, I'll give you a lollipop. What flavor would you like?"
He took her into his arms. "How about a kiss instead? Ann flavored."
Their embrace was interrupted by the sound of metal crashing to the floor. They turned and saw Jamie standing in the doorway, a tray of instruments scattered at his feet. "I'm sorry ... " He mumbled as he bent down to pick them up. He hastily deposited them on the counter behind the examining table and practically took off in a dead run.
"Jamie! Wait!" Ann called out after him.
"Let him be, Ann. He has a lot of things going on inside of him right now. For one thing, he's very anxious about the wedding. You might say he has a case of pre wedding jitters, and I suspect it's just as bad as either of us have."
Ann looked at him, puzzled.
"You must understand. He's an only child. His parents are both dead. I am as close to family as he's got. He's worried that after we are married, I will not love him as much as I have in the past. He's afraid that I will not have any more time for him. And then there are all those horror stories about wicked stepmothers."
"Jamie knows better than that. But I can see where he's coming from, as they say." She tapped her finger on her forehead. "Up here he knows everything will work out all right." She pointed to the back of her head. "But back here, there's that little voice of doubt that keeps saying 'But what if it's true ... '
That's one of the reasons I wanted Jamie to work at the hospital this summer. I felt that if we could get to know each other as friends first, it would be a lot easier for him to accept me as his stepmother."
Roarke pulled her to him. "And that, my darling is why I love you so very much."
As Roarke left the hospital, he passed a man in a Naval Officer's uniform. On his epaulets, he wore the three wide stripes of a Commander.
The Commander went to the reception desk. "Doctor Ann Scott's office, please?"
Ramona Sanchez pointed to the hall. "She's in Examining Room 6 right now. Last door on the left." She picked up the phone. "Who shall I say is coming?"
He put his hand on hers and lowered the phone to its holder. "Don't tell her anything. I want it to be a surprise."
Ann finished the notes on Roarke's chart and put it back in the holder. There was a knock at the door. "Come in." She called without looking up. He went to her and put his arms around her waist. She turned toward him with a look of complete surprise on her face.
"DAVID!" She cried, returning his embrace. "I don't believe this! What on earth are you doing here?"
"I came all this way just to see you. How long has it been now? Three years? That's way too long for us to be apart."
"I know. I've missed you terribly. You know how much I love you, and you know how much it hurts when you're away like this. I realize though, that your first love is the sea, so I guess I'll just have to live with the heartache."
He reached into his pocket and took out a small box and handed it to her. "I've brought something for you." Inside was a ring with six small diamonds circling a larger stone and set in a delicate filigree band.
"I can't possibly take this." She said, pushing his hand away.
"I want you to have it. It's yours. It always has been yours." He slipped the ring on her finger and kissed her tenderly. "I always knew I'd walk you down the aisle one day, and now I'm going to get that chance."
Jamie Marsh turned away from the door to the examining room. He left his cart at the doorway, and without looking right or left, he walked down the hall and out through the entrance.
Jamie went straight to his room and locked the door behind him. He sprawled across his bed and hid his face in his pillow.
A few minutes later, Roarke knocked at the door. "Is anything wrong? You came home early from work." He called through the closed door.
"No. Nothing's wrong." Jamie replied, trying to keep his voice steady despite the tears that were threatening. "I just didn't feel well, that's all."
Roarke started to question him further, but remembering the remarks about 'wedding jitters', merely walked away.
Jamie sat at the window. From his room on the second floor, he could see the front of Ann's bungalow, a block away. He watched as Ann returned home from the hospital after her day was over. The Commander was with her. In fact, he had his arm around her waist, and she had her head against his shoulder. He could not hear anything from this distance, but it was obvious that they were laughing about something.
Tatoo called him for dinner. He did not go. He used the same excuse that he had given Roarke. He wasn't feeling good. That was not exactly a lie. Seeing the way Roarke's soon-to-be-bride was acting with another man was making him sick. He remained at the window far into the night. It was well after midnight before he could even think about sleeping, and the Commander was still there.
The sun was up when he awoke. He went to the window in time to see Ann leave for the hospital. The Commander stood in the doorway dressed only in pajamas and a robe. He kissed her goodbye.
"Jamie." Roarke called. "You had better hurry or you'll be late for work."
"I'm not going to work." He called sullenly.
"Are you sure you're all right? Maybe I had better have Ann stop by and take a look at you on her lunch break."
"No!" Jamie said sharply. "I mean, I'll be all right in a little while. It's probably just a touch of the 24 hour flu or something. I'll be okay. I just don't feel like I can go to work today, that's all."
"If you're sure you'll be all right, I won't call Ann. Do you think you'll be better by tonight? I wouldn't want you to miss the luau in honor of Ann and I."
Jamie did not answer. The luau was the last place he planned on going. Especially since it would be to celebrate a wedding that Jamie knew was a sham. At least on Ann's part.
"Jamie!" Roarke called from the bottom of the stairs. "You had better hurry. Tatoo has already gone to get Ann. The luau starts in about an hour."
Jamie came down the stairs dressed in a pair of old torn jeans and an even older sweatshirt.
"You are not going to the luau dressed like that, are you?"
"I'm not going to the luau ... period."
"Jamie. This is very important to me. It is the final celebration before our wedding. I want you to be there."
Jamie turned angrily to Roarke. "How can you even think of marrying her? She's a tramp! She doesn't love you. After you left the hospital yesterday, I went back to the exam room to replace the tray I dropped earlier. I didn't mean to eavesdrop or anything like that, but I saw her in there with another man. She was hugging and kissing this ... this sailor. She even told him that she loved him. He told her that he had waited three years to marry her and he even gave her a ring to prove it."
"Jamie. I know all about the sailor."
"You know? And you're still going to marry her! How can you possibly do that? She's nothing but a two timing slut. And you're no better." He started back up the stairs.
Roarke grabbed his arm tightly and pulled him back to the bottom. "Jamie! That is no way to talk about the woman who is going to be your new mother."
"She'll NEVER be my mother! She isn't even fit to wipe my mother's ass." He doubled his fist and swung it at Roarke. The blow caught Roarke on the jaw. "And you're NOT my father!" He ran down the hall to the kitchen.
Just then, the front door opened and Tatoo, Ann, and the Commander came in.
"Jamie and I were just having a little discussion." Roarke said as he pressed a handkerchief to the corner of his lip. "I'll go and talk to him."
"I know." Ann said. "We could hear the two of you ... discussing things ... even from the porch." She gave Roarke's mouth a cursory examination. "To spite this, his quarrel is with me, not you. I'll be the one to talk to him. If I'm ever to be his mother, I might as well start now. In the meantime, you had better put some ice on that. I don't want my bridegroom with a fat lip."
Jamie stood on the back porch and stared into the darkness. He turned when he heard the door open. Ann was standing in the doorway.
"GET OUT!" He shouted, turning his back to her. "You have no right to be here. Leave the Island tonight. And don't EVER come back."
"I can't do that, Jamie. Tomorrow, I'm going to marry the man I love."
"LOVE! You don't even know the meaning of the word! Roarke loved my mother with all that he had, and when she died, it tore him apart. It took him a long time to heal. He loves you the same way. I'm not going to stand by and see him hurt that way ever again. Especially not by someone like you."
"Jamie. I love him with everything I have, too. I wouldn't hurt him for anything in this world."
"OH! Then how do you explain the way you were carrying on with that ... sailor at the hospital yesterday? You were kissing and hugging. You both said you loved each other and that you were going to get married. He even spent the night in your bungalow. Don't try to deny it. I saw it all."
"Jamie. There's someone I want you to meet." She motioned to the door and the Commander came out. "Jamie Marsh, I want you to meet Commander David Scott of the United States Navy. He's my brother."
"Your ... Brother?"
"Yes, Jamie." David said. "Her brother. I've been stationed aboard a submarine patrolling the Bering Sea for the past six months. Roarke knew how much Ann wanted me here for the wedding. Don't ask me how he managed to pull it off, though. It seems that he has this friend ... Who knows this Senator ... Who has a reciprocal back scratching agreement with some high Muckity Muck in the Defense Department ... Who's a drinking buddy with a certain Admiral ... Who owes him a favor. Anyway, the next thing I know, I'm on my way to Fantasy Island.
As for the ring, it was our mother's wedding ring, and now it will be Ann's. Oh, and Jamie, I didn't say I wanted to marry Ann. What I said was, I wanted to walk her down the aisle. And I will do just that tomorrow. Our parents are dead, so I will be the one who will be giving her away. And I had to stay at Ann's place last night. Every possible room on the Island is booked solid with wedding guests. You can't even rent a dollhouse. For the record, I slept on the couch."
Jamie threw his arms around Ann. "Oh, Ann. I've been such a jerk. A numbskulled, half cocked, wet behind the ears, pea brained dope. Without the good sense the gods gave to a goose. I nearly ruined everything. Can you ever forgive me?"
"Of course I can forgive you, Jamie. You did what you did because you love Roarke, and you didn't want to see him hurt. Only you did hurt him. Very badly. And I don't mean the punch in the mouth either. I think he's the one you should be apologizing to, not me."
"There is no need to apologize." Roarke said as he came out. "Seeing the two of you like this is all the apology I will ever need." He put his arms around the two of them and they embraced for a few minutes. "Jamie." Roarke finally said. "I think you had better go and change. We have a luau to attend."
The luau was a smashing success. There was a veritable feast to be eaten, and the guests managed to eat nearly everything that was there.
After the meal, Roarke and Ann were treated to numerous presentations and toasts, followed by much singing, dancing and pageantry by the islanders. At one point, several women came to Ann and placed a woven grass skirt around her waist and several leis around her neck.
"This is the Bride's dance." Roarke explained to David. "In ancient times, the eligible women of the tribe would dance for me, and I would choose one of them to be my wife. Then I would offer her family ... in this case, you ... six bushels of grain and a sheaf of tobacco, and if she were high born, a pair of yearling goats and a canoe. If you accepted, she would be mine."
"Somehow I don't think all of that is going to fit into my locker aboard the sub. Do you think we could settle for a couple of bottles of scotch?"
"Better yet, how about a case?"
"I accept. She's yours."
"A case of scotch! Is that all I'm worth to you?" Ann said in mock indignation, playfully slapping Roarke on the arm. "A few measly bottles of booze?"
"Ah ... " Roarke said with a twinkle in his eyes. " ... But it is the finest scotch available."
He watched as Ann performed the intricate rituals of the Bride's Dance. It was obvious she had been practicing, and he was proud of her. The dance ended and Roarke went to her. He most definitely approved! "This is the one I choose." He announced as he took her hands and led her back to their places at the luau table.
Their path was blocked by several men wielding swords.
"Now that I have made my choice ... " Roarke continued to explain. " ... her relatives ... in this instance the dancers ... will remind me rather forcefully of my duties as her husband, and what the consequences will be if I do not perform them faithfully."
The Groom's Dance proceeded with an ease and skill that came from years of practice by the dancers. Roarke acquitted himself admirably, to spite the fact that the performers frequently brandished swords and flaming clubs within inches of his body. He and Ann returned to their seats amid thunderous applause from the rest of the guests.
"It is now official. According to ancient tradition, she is mine, and no one can ever separate us."
Jamie, Roarke and Tatoo stood in the shelter in the park at the triple waterfall. It had been converted into a breathtaking chapel for the occasion. Dozens and dozens of flowers of every description, both native and imported, covered almost every surface. Nearly every inch of the park had been landscaped and manicured to perfection. Early on, it became apparent that the Fantasy Island Church would be woefully inadequate to handle the number of guests that would be attending. Roarke and Ann both agreed that this would be the perfect place. It was large enough to hold everyone, and it had great sentimental value as well.
Tatoo fidgeted with a button on his shirt that refused to stay buttoned. Roarke stooped and fixed it. "I am the one who is about to be married." Roarke said as he straightened up. "I am the one who is supposed to be nervous."
"And you're not nervous?" Tatoo asked as he redid the stubborn button once more.
"Of course not."
Jamie lifted the cuffs of Roarke's trousers. "Then how come you have two different socks on?"
Roarke looked down. Although the socks were the same color, one was cotton and the other was a rayon blend. He reached over and touched Jamie's pocket. "For the same reason that you have your handkerchief upside down."
Jamie adjusted his handkerchief. "I guess we are all a little bit nervous."
The orchestra finished the pre wedding recital. All eyes turned to the rear of the seating area. There, a pavilion had been erected to house the bride and her party until the actual ceremony. Roarke, Tatoo and Jamie watched as several of the native children scattered flower petals on the white runner that led from the pavilion to the shelter. Next came a girl of no more than four or five, ringing a tiny crystal bell and shouting "The bride is coming! The bride is coming!" Ramona Sanchez, the maid of honor, slowly made her way to the shelter. The orchestra began the wedding march. Ann started down the aisle on David's arm. She was unimaginably beautiful in a long, barely cream colored silk gown, cut in a modified native style. Instead of a veil, dozens of tiny native flowers had been painstakingly braided into her hair.
"I give her to you." David said softly as he placed her hand into Roarke's. For Roarke, everyone else seemed to disappear.
The ceremony was eloquent in its simplicity. They had even written their own vows.
Roarke was first. "Ann. For too many years until you came to Fantasy Island, I was alive, but I was not living. Then you came to me. You healed my heart in more ways than one. It is yours. And with it, I give you the rest of me. I love you. I will always love you. Nothing or no one can ever change that."
Then it was Ann's turn. "Roarke. I came to Fantasy Island to lose myself. Instead I found you. I did lose something here though. I lost my heart to you. You say I healed your heart, but you healed mine as well. From this day on, our hearts will be as one. I love you. I always will love you. For as long as I live. And even beyond."
At last, the celebrant placed the bride and groom's hands together. "Ladies and Gentlemen." He intoned. "I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Roarke." Then in a lower tone. "You may now kiss the bride."
"My wife." Roarke whispered as they started toward the waiting flower bedecked carriage, pulled by a team of perfectly matched Belgians, to take them to the reception. "This is Fantasy Island. This is our home. Welcome."
The Devil's Due
The sound of the bell faded, and Tatoo went down to the porch. Roarke was late arriving, and when he did show up, he had a very worried look.
"Is Ann still sick?" Tatoo asked as they got into the car. "I noticed she wasn't at breakfast this morning."
"Yes, Tatoo. She still does not feel very well, and I am very worried. For the past week, she has tired very easily, and she has not been able to keep much of anything on her stomach. Yesterday, she came home from the hospital at noon and went straight to bed. I had her make an appointment with Dr. Goode for a checkup, and he sent her to a specialist on the Big Island. I'll feel a lot better when she returns." Charles Goode had completed his residency and was now on the hospital staff.
"Maybe she just has the flu or a cold."
"Perhaps, but why would Dr. Goode send her to a specialist if that were the case. No. I'm afraid for her. For us. I lost Helena shortly after we were married, and I could not handle it if I were to lose Ann as well."
Roarke paced the living room. He checked the grandfather clock in the corner. It was exactly three minutes and thirty three seconds later than the last time he checked it. The door opened and Ann came in, her arms loaded with packages.
"Where have you been!" Roarke embraced her tightly. "I have been frantic. The plane arrived over two and a half hours ago, and you were not on it. No one seemed to have any idea where you could be. I have been imagining all sorts of horrors."
"Oh, my darling." Ann put her packages down and returned his embrace. "I'm so sorry. I decided to do some shopping after I saw the doctor, and I'm afraid I lost track of the time. When I realized how late it was and that I had missed the shuttle plane, I called the airstrip and had them send your helicopter to pick me up. It never occurred to me that you'd be this worried. I'm so sorry."
"Do not be afraid, my love. Everything will be all right now. Whatever it is. Whatever is wrong, we will see it through together. I will see to it that you have the best medical care available. I will get the finest specialists in the world. Whatever is wrong, we'll beat it. Together. You'll see."
"Didn't Dr. Goode tell you?"
"All he said was that he was sending you to a specialist on the Big Island."
"Then you don't know." She took his hands. "Kiss me."
Roarke kissed her gently on the cheek.
"No. KISS me!"
His mouth covered hers. The kiss was tender and passionate. "Now. What is the matter, my love? Remember, you are not alone in this."
"Oh, I am definitely not alone in this. In more ways than you think. Actually, the specialist was more of a precaution than anything. I am a bit past the optimum age for a first pregnancy and Dr. Goode just wanted to be sure that everything was going to be all right."
"Preg ... Preg ... Pregnancy? ... You're pregnant?"
"Eleven weeks. Congratulations, my darling. You are about to become a father."
Roarke grabbed her in a bear hug and twirled her around. Suddenly, he picked her up and carried her to the lounge chair. Gently, he sat her in it. "Shouldn't you be lying down? Are you sure you didn't tire yourself out? Can I get you a robe?"
"Will you please relax. The obstetrician, Dr. Goode, and I all agree. I am in excellent health and there should be no problems. The obstetrician said I could be as active as I wanted to be."
"A baby! You are going to have a baby! Our baby! TATOO! TATOO!"
Tatoo came running into the room. " What's wrong Boss? Is Ann okay?"
"Yes, Tatoo. She is fine! She is better than fine! How would you like to be the godfather? Ann is going to have a baby!"
"A BABY!" Tatoo dragged a stool over and propped Ann's feet on it. "A baby! You are going to have a baby. Are you warm enough? I'll get you a blanket." He started for the door and turned back. "How about something to eat? Some pickles and ice cream?" This time he started for the kitchen. "A baby!"
"Are your feet swollen? I heard that happens to expectant mothers sometime." Roarke took off her shoes and started massaging her feet.
Ann took his hand. "You know, if you two are going to pamper me like this, I just might have to get pregnant more often.
Roarke was like a child with a new toy. They had turned one of the upstairs rooms into a nursery, and he personally supervised every phase of the conversion, from the wallpaper to the selection of crib sheets.
The sonogram showed that it was a boy, so the room was overcrowded with footballs, GI Joes, bicycles, wagons, building blocks, and just about every other imaginable boy's toy on the market. What Roarke didn't buy, Tatoo did.
Ann intercepted them as they came into the nursery, their arms loaded with bags and boxes. "I don't know what I'm going to do with the two of you." She scolded. "You're both impossible. If you put any more things in here, I'm not going to be able to find the baby."
Roarke led her to the window. From here, they could see most of Fantasy Island. He put his hand on her rounded abdomen. "This child is a very special child. Not just because he is our firstborn, but because of what he will become. Someday, all of this will be his. And not just the Island, but the powers and responsibilities that go with it. The burden will be great. I know because it is the burden that I bear. And when I die ... " He closed his eyes and sighed heavily. "Let me spoil him while I have the opportunity."
She put her head on his chest, and an icicle of fear surrounded her heart.
As the months progressed, Roarke's demeanor began to change. At the end of her sixth month, he insisted that the take a leave of absence from the hospital. He became increasingly protective of Ann, to the point that she was not permitted to leave the house without an escort. The few times that she did, his anger was curt and harsh. Eventually, even in the house, the housekeeper shadowed her like a bird dog. About the only place she was alone was the bathroom, and even then, someone was nearby. Roarke gave no reason for this, only that it was 'a necessary precaution'.
When Ann went to the hospital for her final checkup, as usual, Tatoo and Ernie Kolomo accompanied her. They even waited outside the room while Dr. Good examined her. When she returned to the Main House, Roarke was waiting at the door. Beside him were several suitcases.
"Where are we going?" Ann asked.
"WE are not going anywhere. YOU are. I have contacted your brother and arranged for him to take an unspecified amount of leave. He will be waiting for you when you reach the mainland. My helicopter will take you to the airport on the Big Island. From there, you are booked on a commercial flight. Tatoo will accompany you."
"Roarke! What has gotten into you? For the past month, you have been acting strangely and you've kept me almost a virtual prisoner in the Main House. And without even a decent explanation. Now, you want me to leave here and go to the mainland. I don't understand. And don't give me that ... necessary precaution bull flop. Precaution, my left hind cheek.
The most important event in our lives is only a few weeks, maybe even only a day or two away, and you want me to leave? Not only is that stupid, it's also dangerous for a woman to travel extensively in her ninth month. This is my child. This is our child. I want him to be born on Fantasy Island with you by my side, not thousands of miles away from here."
Roarke took her in his arms and held her tight. She could feel him trembling. "I want that more than anything, but it must be this way. If you love me. If you love our child, you will do as I say."
"That's not fair, Boss." Tatoo interrupted. "You can't just send her away without any reason. You owe her that much. You have no right to do that. I will not let you do this to her. We aren't going anywhere until you give her the explanation she deserves."
"You forget, Tatoo. I am Master of Fantasy Island. I have every right. I can do whatever I please. And I don't have to justify myself to anyone. You WILL accompany Ann to the mainland. I have given you an order. If you do not obey it without question, you can pack your things and leave Fantasy Island. Never to return."
Tatoo hung his head. "Yes, Boss."
"And what about me?" Ann asked. "If I don't do as you say, will you exile me, too?"
Roarke did not answer. He merely handed them the suitcases and escorted them to the waiting auto.
He watched as the car pulled away and then turned to the wall and cried soundlessly. He went upstairs and when he came down, he was dressed only in a shirt and slacks. As he started out the door, Ernie Kolomo pulled up and Tatoo got out of the car.
"Tatoo! What are you doing here? I told you to leave. And where is Ann?"
"She's on her way to the Big Island. I waited until the helicopter took off and then I came back. Something is very wrong for you to be acting like this, and whatever it is, I have a feeling you can use all the help you can get to deal with it. You can banish me from the Island if you want to, but I am going to stay with you."
"You are right. Something is very wrong, and everyone here is in great danger. I did not want Ann to know anything about it because I did not want to worry her in her condition. If I had told her, she would not have left. And I cannot put her and the baby at risk unnecessarily. Do you remember Nicholas Beale?"
"Nicholas Beale? The Devil? Don't tell me he's come back to Fantasy Island?"
"No, Tatoo, he is not here ... yet. But he will be here soon. Fantasy Island is the antithesis of everything he stands for. As long as a place like this exists, he cannot hope to conquer mankind's spirit. Or its soul. Since I am the living symbol of Fantasy Island, he must destroy me to get the Island.
The child that Ann is carrying will inherit the Island upon my death. He will become Roarke. Therefore, Beale must defeat me before the baby is born."
"The last time you two met, he almost did kill you."
"I realize that. The last time, it was on his terms. This time we will meet at a time and place of my choosing. This might give me the advantage that I need to end this once and for all."
Roarke eased the airboat into the shoreline of a small island in the swamp and tied it to a tree. He and Tatoo got out. They walked inland to a fairly good sized clearing. Here, Roarke signaled Tatoo to stop while he went a few feet farther. He picked up a stick and drew a circle about twenty feet in diameter into the dirt. He walked the perimeter, chanting something in a dialect that sounded as though it might have preceded any known language.
"I have created an inter-dimensional barrier." Roarke explained. "In essence, whatever is inside that circle no longer exists, at least not in the way we think of existence. It is in there that I intend to confront Beale, or Beelzebub, or whatever name he decides to use this time. If I am successful, he will never be a threat again." He held Tatoo's arms so tightly that they hurt. "Tatoo! I want you to make me a promise. If I fail ... if anything happens to me, you will leave Fantasy Island immediately. You will go to Ann and you will stay with her and care for her and the child. You must never return to Fantasy Island, and you must never allow Ann or the child to return." His grip tightened even more. "Promise me, Tatoo! Promise me by all that you hold holy!"
Tatoo raised his right hand as far as he could, considering Roarke's grip. "I promise, Boss. I promise by all that I hold sacred."
Roarke stared at the circle. "Another thing. No matter what happens, you must not even attempt to enter the circle. If the barrier is disturbed in any way, it could be the end of everything. And I DO mean everything."
He took a deep breath and stepped across the line. The area inside the circle shimmered as he entered, and Tatoo was aware that someone else was inside the ring. It was Satan in the form of Nicholas Beale.
The two men stared at each other for a few seconds and then began circling, each one sizing up the other. Suddenly, Beale lunged at Roarke. Roarke sidestepped slightly and grabbed Beale's arm. He fell backward, and Beal went over his opponent's body and landed on the ground with a dull thud. They both were on their feet at the same time. This time, Roarke attacked, but Beale parried it easily. Beale picked up a large stick and swung it at Roarke. He missed. Before Beale could regain his balance, Roarke rammed him in the stomach and pushed him into a tree.
The battle seemed to go on indefinitely. This was a fight to the finish, with no quarter given or asked. There could be no draw. No mercy. Only one of them would leave the circle. They both knew it. The ground literally shook on many occasions, and the circle shimmered a few times, as one or the other gained a temporary advantage, but it usually was short lived. They were evenly matched, and neither could deliver the decisive blow. The sun had set, and darkness had settled on the swamp. Inside the circle however, it was still bright daylight. The shadows it cast on the surrounding area were eerie and foreboding.
Tatoo realized that there was someone behind him. He turned and saw Ann standing just inside the dim light cast by the circle. "How long have you been there?"
They held each other's hands as they watched the bloody spectacle being played out before them.
Roarke and Beale had been fighting fiercely for over four hours, and it had taken its toll on both of them. Roarke was limping noticeably, and blood was running down his leg from a deep, ugly gash in his right thigh. His left cheek was bloodied and purple and his eye was swollen shut. His shirt had been torn off, and the upper part of his body was covered with cuts and welts from his being repeatedly thrown into the bushes and rocks.
Beale was faring no better. His body also sported masses of cuts and bruises. From the way he held his mouth, Tatoo guessed that his jaw was broken, His nose was unrecognizable as such, and the hair in the right side of his head was matted with blood. He could barely make a fist with his left hand, and he went to great lengths to protect his left side after Roarke had connected a smashing blow to it with a section of log.
It was a free for all, with no rules and no holds barred. The combatants used everything available as a weapon. Rocks. Sticks. Branches. Dirt. Feet. Fists. Even teeth. They had both been brutally punished, and they both were well past exhaustion. There was no thought of surrender. In this fight there could be no surrender.
Beale had what looked like an eight inch sliver of wood in his right hand. He clumsily lunged at Roarke. Roarke sidestepped and ducked, but not quickly enough. The makeshift stake tore into the bicep of his left arm. He grasped the protruding end, and with a silent scream of agony, pulled it out. Holding it as a knife, he stalked Beale. Suddenly, his legs became rubbery and buckled. He crumbled to the ground.
A grotesque grin spread across the functioning portion of Beale's face as he realized his advantage. With considerable effort, he picked up a large rock and positioned it above Roarke's head. He brought it down in a direct line with his skull. With amazing speed, considering his condition, Roarke rolled away, just as the rock struck the ground only inches from his right ear. Beale, caught off balance, lurched awkwardly forward in an attempt to keep from falling. At that same instant, Roarke sat up and thrust his arm upward, the bloody sliver of wood still in his hand The improvised knife plunged deep into Beale's chest. Beale shuddered violently and sank to the ground. Slowly, Roarke got to his feet and stood above him, waiting for Beale's next move. Beale did not move.
Outside, Tatoo and Ann watched in horror as the circle began to contract. The barrier was shrinking. Inside the barrier, Roarke saw the same thing. Slowly, haltingly, he struggled toward the edge, but his legs would not hold, and after only a few steps he sank to the ground once more. He tried a second time, with the same results. The circle was decreasing rapidly now. The third time he tried to get up he was successful, and with a mighty effort, he threw himself against the edge of the swiftly approaching wall between the dimensions. A split second later, there was nothing but a brilliant beam of light where the center of the circle had been. Then, in a blinding flash, that too was gone.
Tatoo shielded his eyes against the flash. When he opened them, he could not see anything. As his eyes became adjusted to the darkness, he could make out a lone figure sprawled on the ground. Roarke.
Ann ran to him with Tatoo right behind. She cradled his battered and bloody head in her arms. His eyes were closed and he was not moving.
"Tatoo." She half yelled, half cried. "My boat is right behind yours. Get one of my suitcases and bring it here."
She opened the case and took out a knit shirt and began ripping it into strips to bandage some of his worst wounds. Slowly, he opened his one good eye. Against her advice, he painfully struggled to his feet. Between him and Tatoo, they helped Ann to her feet as well. He held her in his arms and kissed her repeatedly. "It's over." He kept saying between kisses. "Thank God. It's over."
"What will happen now, Boss?" Tatoo asked.
"Nothing. Beale was trapped inside the barrier when it disappeared. As long as he remains in there, he cannot return to this plane of existence. That means he can never directly harm me, or Ann, or our children, or our children's children."
"Does that mean there will be no evil in the world?"
"There will always be evil in the world. Just because Beale is vanquished does not mean that evil will no longer exist. His legions of followers are still with us and they will do their very best to carry on their master's work. However, they are not nearly as strong as Satan himself, and although it will not be easy, they can be defeated."
He turned to Ann. "How did you get here? Tatoo told me that he saw you get on the helicopter and he watched it take off and head for the Big Island."
"And he did. I finally figured out that the reason that you wanted me off the Island was because of some great danger. I had an overwhelming suspicion that it somehow involved Nicholas Beale. I forced the pilot to turn back. I told him I was going into labor. It took a few bribes and several threats, but I made the owner of the boat shop rent me a boat as well. I knew where to find you. The beam cast by the barrier was as bright as a searchlight.
Roarke. I am as much a part of Fantasy Island as you are. So is this baby. Whatever happens here affects all of us, no matter where we are. If he had defeated you, he would have come after us. Here, or two thousand miles away, it wouldn't have mattered. There would have been no place to hide. No safe place. I had to stay."
She stiffened and a look of intense pain crossed her face. She took several loud deep breaths and gradually relaxed. "I don't think I actually lied to the pilot. I think I really am in labor. The pains began shortly after I arrived here, and it's been getting shorter and shorter between contractions, and each one is stronger than the one before it. Right now, they're about ten minutes apart. If I remember from my Ob-Gyn rotation as an intern, my water should be breaking any minute now." Just as she said that, there was a gush of water down her legs. "I think we both had better get to the hospital very quickly."
Roarke paced the waiting room nervously. Each step caused him intense pain and he kept adjusting the sling on his left arm, trying to find a position that was bearable. His injuries had been treated, and Dr. Lyons, the new resident in the Emergency Room, wanted to admit him, but he argued vehemently against it.
Because of his injuries, Dr. Goode suggested that in his condition, he would be much more comfortable in the waiting area than in the delivery room. Ramona Sanchez had already volunteered to be Ann's coach. Of course, Roarke strongly disputed that and went in anyway. After a few minutes, his ... condition ... convinced him that Charles Goode had been right, and he reluctantly surrendered his position holding Ann's head to Sanchez.
"Boss. Boss. Please. Sit down." Tatoo pointed to one of the couches that were against the wall. "You are making me nervous. You shouldn't even be standing, let alone walking around like that. Dr. Lyons said that if your leg started bleeding again, you could be in real trouble."
"I know, Tatoo. But I am worried about Ann. She has been in there a very long time." He stared at the door to the birthing suites. "How long does it take to have a baby anyway?"
"I'll make you a deal. You sit down and worry. I'll pace the floor."
Each minute seemed like an eternity. Night became day, and there was still no word. Every so often, Ramona Sanchez would poke her head out of the door and say that things were going 'as well as could be expected.' Finally, as night was beginning to take hold once more, Dr. Goode came out of the delivery room. Roarke and Tatoo were at his side even before the door closed.
"It's all over, and Ann is doing great. Congratulations, Roarke. Your son is here."
"My son! He is really and truly here!"
"I wasn't finished. Roarke. You have a son. And a daughter. I don't know why they both didn't show up in the sonogram, or maybe they did and I thought the girl was an echo shadow of the boy. That happens every so often. It doesn't matter now. They're both here. And they are both very healthy."
Roarke held up two fingers. "TWO BABIES? TWINS? Tatoo! Did you hear that! I am the father of twins!"
Tatoo could not hear anything. He was lying on the floor. He had fainted.
Roarke looked at Ann lying in the bed. To spite what she had been through in the past twenty two hours, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, and he had never loved her more than he did at this moment.
She reached up and gently touched one of the bruises on his face. "How are you holding up?" She asked.
Roarke winced. Even that slight pressure was painful. "I am in pain, and I will probably be in a great deal more pain by tomorrow. But that is not important. I am not the one who has just given birth. How are you feeling?"
"Actually, now that it is over, I feel great. Have you seen them? I saw them as they were being born. I was disappointed that you weren't there to witness that, but I am just grateful that after what you went through in the swamp, you are here at all.
He's a very handsome boy, you know. He looks just like his father. She looks a great deal like me when I was a baby. I know we picked out boy names, but that was before there were two of them. What do you think about Adam and Eve?"
Roarke thought for a moment. "Adam and Eve. Yes. It is appropriate. They are, after all, a new generation. Perhaps they will be a better generation for Fantasy Island. So it shall be. They shall be called Adam and Eve."
Ramona Sanchez wheeled two bassinettes into the room and Roarke gazed at the two tiny beings in them. They were the most beautiful things he had ever seen. And they were his. He touched his fingers to his lips and then placed them on each of the baby's foreheads. "My children. I am Roarke, your father. This is Fantasy Island. This is your home. Welcome."
We Three Kings
Roarke sat in the living room of the Main House. It had been three weeks since the twins were born, and on Sunday, they had been baptized with all the pageantry and pomp that was befitting the heirs to Fantasy Island. In addition to the Christening party at the Main House, there had been numerous parties and festivals given by the Islanders, and Roarke at least, was expected to attend all of them. He still was in a fair amount of pain from his encounter with Beale, and after three days of nonstop partying, he was worn out. All Roarke wanted to do at this time was to put his feet up and rest.
Tatoo came into the room. "Boss." He said hesitantly. "There are several ... people waiting to see you."
Behind Tatoo was a giant of a black man dressed in a flowing white caftan. He had to be at least seven and a half feet tall and weigh in the neighborhood of five hundred muscular pounds. On his head he wore a purple fez with a long golden tassel, and a large round gold earring pierced his left ear. Next to him was a normal sized oriental gentleman. His head was shaved, and he was wearing the rust and saffron robes of a Buddhist priest. There was another man with them who was no taller than Tatoo. He was dressed in a green suit, and a bright green derby was perched at a cocky angle on his head. He had flaming red hair and his ears appeared to come to a point. Roarke greeted them heartily, amid much back slapping and hugging.
"Tatoo. I want you to meet three of my dearest friends." He pointed to the giant. "This is Lothar."
The giant lifted Tatoo over his head. "It's nice to meet you." He said as he deposited Tatoo on the top of the mantle. Tatoo sat there, afraid to move. He stared at the huge man. From up here, they were eye to eye. "I always thought the Incredible Hulk was green." Tatoo gasped.
"Lothar!" The oriental scolded. "Take him down from there. Immediately!"
Lothar gently placed Tatoo back on the floor. "Roarke. What could he possibly have done that was so horrible that you shrank him down to this size?"
"I have NOT been shrunk!" Tatoo protested. "I have always been this size!"
"To spite his gruff outer shell." Roarke explained. "Lothar is generally harmless. He is the Haji, the ruler of the genies."
"Genies?" Tatoo asked. "You mean with flying carpets and magic lamps?"
"Naturally!" Lothar pressed his hands together and when he separated them, there was a six foot square maroon rug with gold fringe suspended in mid air.
"Lothar! Quit being such a show off!" This time, it was the small man reproaching him.
"Oh, very well." Lothar said dejectedly. He clapped his hands and the rug disappeared.
"And this is Ti Chen." Roarke introduced the Buddhist priest. "You no doubt have heard of Shangri La? He is the High Lama."
"Of course I've heard of it. Everyone knows about Shangri La. It is a mythical kingdom in the Himalayan Mountains. Supposedly it is a land of eternal peace and happiness. But then again, it is only a legend."
Ti Chen put his hands together and bowed. "Are you quite sure of that, my little friend? After all, Fantasy Island is ... only a legend as well."
The small man stood even with Tatoo.
"That is Padraic McFeeney. He is King of the Leprechauns."
"PADRIAC SEAMUS BRIAN McFEENEY, if ya dinna mind." McFeeney corrected. "They say an Irishman's name should be as big as he is, but in me case, bein' the Leprechaun King and all that, it has ta be even a wee bit bigger."
"Boss. I've never seen a leprechaun before, and I'm not sure I believe in them."
Padraic McFeeney crossed his arms in front of his chest and glared at Tatoo. "That makes us even, me bucko. I've seen a few trolls in me time, but I've ne'er seen a real midget before, and I'm not too sure I believe in ye, either."
"Gentlemen. Gentlemen." Ti Chen said, stepping between Padraic and Tatoo. "We came here to celebrate the birth of Roarke's children. Not to start trouble."
"Ti Chen." McFeeney said. "Did anyone ever tell ye that ye're a first class party pooper?"
"Not in the last two hundred and fifty years."
Ann had just put the twins to sleep after their feeding when they came in. There were rounds of hushed o-o-o-h's and a-a-a-h's and congratulations to both Roarke and Ann.
"Roarke, me friend." McFeeney said. "I got to hand it to ya. When ya do it, ya do it up right. Ya went an' got yerself two for the price of one."
"What he means to say is that your infants are precious and that he hopes that they will be the first of many fine sons and daughters." Ti Chen interrupted.
"I know what I mean to say, ya over the hill Hari Krishna. I'm not daft. An' I dinna' need ye putting words in me mouth for me."
"Hush, you two." Lothar boomed. "You'll wake the babies."
With that, a stereophonic cry went up.
"See what I mean." Lothar bent over the crib. "Sh-h-h. Sh-h-h. Everything is all right." He whispered in a soft voice that belied his size. "There is nothing to be afraid of. Go back to sleep, my little prince and princess. Dream happy dreams."
Slowly, the crying stopped. Adam stared wide eyed at the gentle giant peering at him, while Eve curled her hand around his index finger and tried to pull it to her mouth. After a short while, two sets of eyes closed, and the twins returned to their slumber.
"Well, gentlemen!" Lothar said as they returned to the living room. "We came here to celebrate." He reached into the copious folds of his caftan and triumphantly produced a magnum of champagne. "If that is the case, what do you say we get down to some serious industrial strength imbibing?"
"Allow me to do the honors." McFeeney said. He clapped his hands twice and held them in front of him, palms up. A tray materialized on them with five crystal glasses on it.
Roarke made a great production of removing the cage on the magnum and popping the cork. With a grandiose display, he filled the glasses. He took several theatrical bows, to the hearty applause of the rest of the group.
Ti Chen held his glass high. "To Adam and Eve. May they be the first of a long line of Roarkes."
"To Adam and Eve!" They emptied their glasses, which Roarke quickly refilled.
"To Roarke and Ann. May they live to see their great grandchildren's great grandchildren." Lothar proclaimed.
"To Roarke and Ann!" Once more the glasses were empty. Once more they were filled.
"To all of us who fill a special place in the scheme of things." Padraic McFeeney intoned.
They toasted each other by name, as well as everyone they knew, and quite a few people that they had only heard about. Such as the President. The Queen. The rulers of more than a few European, African, and Asian nations. The Pope. And the current Miss Universe ... They toasted her several times. By the time they had finished their toasts, there was very little left in the champagne bottle, and none of them were too steady on their feet. Roarke was probably the soberest of the group. At least Tatoo thought he was sober. He was positive at least one of the Roarkes he saw was reasonably sober.
Lothar poured the last of the bottle into his glass. "Oh no!" He whined. "The bottle is empty. That means we will have to stop drinking. And it isn't even tomorrow yet."
"Yah dinna' know wha' yer blabberin' about." McFeeney slurred, concentrating on focusing on one of the watches that was on one of his wrists. Which one, he wasn't certain. "Accordin' to me timepiece here, it's after midnight. That means it already is tomorrah."
"That shows how much you know." Lothar countered. "Somewhere in the world it's still yesterday. And that doesn't change the fact that we're out of booze."
"Not necessarily." Ti Chen said. "Rumor is that Fantasy Island has the finest stocked wine cellars in the world. And if I remember from my last visit, there's one right in the building of this basement. I mean in the house of this cellar. I mean ... Oh, who cares where it is!" He pointed to the floor. "It's down there."
"Then wha' are we standin' here fer?" McFeeney asked.
"Who's standing?" Tatoo retorted.
"I'll go and get us another bottle." Roarke stood up, wavering.
"You are intoxica ... inebrea ... You're drunk. I'll go with you. You will need my help." Lothar folded a huge arm around Roarke's shoulder and the two of them traced a wobbly path to the basement door.
"Really, Roarke." He said as they staggered across the kitchen. "I could never see how you western men could be satisfied with only one wife. Take it from me, my friend. With my four ... or is it five wives ... no, I think I had six at the last count ... and that doesn't include my concubines. It really doesn't matter. The point is I have a great variety of women to choose from. And variety, as they say, is the spice of life. And I think I'm pretty spiced right about now."
Ann came into the living room carrying a tray with a pitcher filled with a clear green liquid and five glasses. Lying about on chairs and the sofa were five bodies in various stages of sobriety, or more precisely, lack thereof. The floor was littered with empty wine and whiskey bottles, as well as the remnants of a 24 case of beer.
"Sh-h-h-h!" Padraic McFeeney hissed. After several tries, he managed to put his index finger to his lips. "Dinna' be breathin' so loud, Lass. Yer makin' me eyebrows hurt."
Roarke held his head, which felt about the size of a bowling ball. And weighed about the same. If he removed his hands, he was certain it would fall off his shoulders and roll across the floor. "We didn't have that much to drink that I should feel this bad."
"Oh no?" Ann replied. "It seems to me that when I got up to give the twins their two o'clock feeding, I happened to look out the window. You and Ti Chen were attempting to roll up the sidewalk. And you nearly succeeded. Lothar was doing one armed pushups, with Tatoo and Padraic straddling his back and yelling 'Giddyap cowboy.' "
"No wonder my back hurts." Lothar said, rubbing his lower back. "And here I thought I was getting old. I'm in the prime of my life, you know. I'm only seven hundred and thirty five on my next birthday."
Ann poured a glass from the pitcher for each of them. "Here. Drink this. It will make you feel better."
"What is that?" Ti Chen asked.
"It's an old hangover recipe."
"Then take it back, Lass. Me hangover is brand new." McFeeney groused.
"It's been handed down in my family for generations. It works. Now. Bottoms up, everyone."
With numerous posturing, face making, and groans, they emptied their glasses. Tatoo just stared at his glass.
"Tatoo. The rest of us drank ours. It's your turn. Drink up." Roarke chided.
"I will, Boss. As soon as I find my lips."
After several cold showers apiece and numerous glasses of Grandmother Scott's hangover cure and cups of black coffee, the group assembled once more in the living room. Ann was with them, sitting on the couch. She had Eve and Adam cradled in her arms.
Lothar stepped forward. "We have brought presents for your children. While some of the containers have considerable monetary value in themselves, the gifts inside are more precious than anything they will ever receive." He placed a small highly polished wooden box on the coffee table. It was inlaid with gold and precious gems. "My present is imagination. With it, they can go beyond the confines of time and space. They can seek the answers to questions that have no answers. And they can find them."
McFeeney placed a large, exquisitely tooled leather pouch on the table. "I give them the gift of laughter. With that, no pleasure is out of reach, and no burden is too difficult to bear. With laughter, there will be many bright days for them, and the darkest days will be that much brighter as well."
Ti Chen placed a covered porcelain bowl with intricately hand painted designs on it beside the other gifts. "My gift is wisdom. They will need it to appreciate the intricacies of the universe around them. With it, they can decipher the mysteries of the ages. And they will need it to judiciously preside over Fantasy Island."
Ann tugged at Roarke's sleeve and pointed to the doorway. A tall strawberry blonde haired young woman dressed in a pale pink satin gown and cape was standing there. She was elegantly beautiful by any definition of the word. She had not been there a few seconds earlier.
"Greetings Roarke." She said, bowing slightly. Her voice had a strange musical quality to it. Almost like bells. "I am Rose, Emissary of Queen Allegra. She sends her apologies that she could not attend, and hopes that you will forgive her."
"Told ya the old bat wouldn't show." McFeeney stage whispered to Lothar.
"Be quiet, little man. Or Allegra may decide to have you glazed, and use you for a paperweight."
Rose either did not hear the exchange or chose to ignore it. She handed Roarke a gold chest with delicate filigree scrollwork on it. "It is her gift to your children. It is love. As long as they have that, they will have everything they could ever want or desire. Hers is the most enduring of gifts. Once created, it cannot be destroyed."
"Inform your Queen that we thank her for her gift." Roarke took the chest and placed it with the other gifts. "Tell her that we understand why she could not attend, and that we send her our love and best wishes."
Rose made a sweeping bow and raised her hands above her head. She crossed them and brought them down forcefully. A billowing cloud of multicolored smoke enveloped her, and when it cleared, Rose was gone.
"Who is Queen Allegra?" Ann asked.
"She is the Queen of the witches and wizards. Do not worry, though. She's a very good witch. She is very old, well over a thousand years. Nowadays, she rarely leaves her coven on Witch Mountain. We must make plans to visit her soon. It's been many years since I had the pleasure of her company. I want Adam and Eve to meet her while there is still time."
Tatoo cleared his throat. "I have a present as well. You made me their godfather. I promise to do all that I can to safeguard them and to help them to grow into the kind of a man and a woman that will make you proud. I do not have a box for my present. It comes in another kind of container. My gift is myself."
"Thank you, Tatoo." Roarke said with a lump in his throat. "I am certain that your gift will be the one they will use most often."
Roarke lay on the bed beside Ann, his arms loosely holding her. The guests had finally departed and the twins had been put to bed for the night.
"Roarke. How old are you?" She asked.
"Why do you ask?"
"At times you seem to be as old and as wise as time itself. Other times, you are as young and innocent as Adam and Eve. Are you immortal?"
"Would it matter if I were?"
She did not answer.
"I am as young as I need to be, and as old as I have to be. I once told you that I am a man. I am every inch a man. I am as human as anyone else with all the strengths and weaknesses of everyone else. I was born. I live. And I will die. In a real sense though, I am immortal. This physical body will die, as every human being dies, but I shall live on. I am my father, and his fathers before him. I am Adam, and his sons, and the sons of his sons. I am Roarke. As I have always been. As I always will be. It is difficult to explain and even more difficult to understand. All that you have to be concerned with is that I am here now. I am your husband, and I love you very much. And I shall love you through all of eternity."
She shifted slightly in his arms. He had answered her question, but like so many of his answers, he had raised more questions than he had answered.
I Am Roarke.
The years passed much too quickly. Roarke's love for Ann grew with geometric proportions with each passing year, and her love for him grew in the same way. He was a loving husband and a devoted father. He adored Eve and could deny her little. Adam, though was his favorite. They were both excellent scholars, and Roarke and Ann saw to it that Adam and Eve had the best education available. Not only formal schooling, but Roarke's private tutoring as well.
Tatoo took his duties as their godfather seriously, and spoiled Eve and Adam on every occasion. Of course they were spoiled with love ...and disciplined with love as well when they needed it. Being typical children and teenagers, the twins were disciplined quite often when they were growing up.
Jamie had graduated from Medical School and returned to Fantasy Island to assist Ann at the hospital. When she retired, he succeeded her as Hospital Administrator. He had married, and had three children, which Roarke, Ann, and Tatoo took turns spoiling.
Over the years, Roarke had let Adam take over many of the more routine responsibilities of running the Island, preparing him for the day when it would eventually be his. Tatoo was semi retired, and Eve had assumed most of his duties as Assistant. Tatoo still supervised the activities of the Islanders in response to the bell calling them to the seaplane dock. That was his undisputed territory. Only now, in deference to his age, the bell was triggered by a switch mounted inside the front door.
In their bedroom, Ann had finished dressing when Roarke came up behind her. Lovingly, he put his hands around her shoulders and as he withdrew them, he slipped an exquisite silver and diamond necklace around her neck. "Happy Anniversary, my darling." He said.
"Of course I remembered. How could I possibly forget being married for twenty five years to the most beautiful, most wonderful woman in the universe?" He kissed her gently behind the ear.
"Roarke. When was the last time you had your eyes checked. How can you say I'm beautiful when I've got gray hair and wrinkles?"
"The same way you see me as that handsome man who met you at the seaplane dock. You don't see the thinning hairline and the extra pounds, why should I see gray hair and wrinkles?" There was a twinkle in his eyes. "I have an idea. Let's play hooky. We can take a drive and maybe spend some time at the waterfalls. I know it's your favorite place. Adam can take care of the Island, and it will give him the opportunity to put the finishing touches on the party he's giving for us tonight."
"Party? You know about that? It's supposed to be a surprise."
"My darling, you should know by now that one cannot make plans for a celebration on the scale that Adam is planning and hope to keep it a secret. He is not nearly that accomplished ... yet. How did you find out about it?"
"Tatoo is a blabbermouth."
"Remind me to have him flogged." He said with a wide grin. "Well, what do you say? Shall we go off for a few hours by ourselves?"
"I say ... Why not?"
"Good! While you get things ready, I'll inform Adam."
As they drove around the Island, Ann fell in love with it all over again, as she had done on so many other occasions. She loved the Island as intimately as Roarke, but she no longer thought it was enchanted. She KNEW it was!
They stopped for lunch at a small restaurant in the village, and then continued to the pond with the triple waterfall. Years earlier, Roarke had built a small cottage on several acres near the edge of the park and it was their private retreat. They could come here and be alone with their thoughts ... or with each other.
Roarke was waiting for her as she came out of the house. She ran ahead of him to the pool. "Come on, slowpoke." She called as she waded into the pool. "Last one to the waterfall is a rotten egg."
Roarke stopped at the water's edge. His breathing appeared to be shallow, and he was holding his chest.
Sensing something was wrong, Ann climbed out and ran to him. "What's wrong?" She asked as she put her arm around him for support.
"Nothing ... Nothing is ... " He swayed slightly and his knees gave way. Ann slowly lowered him to the ground and put her ear to his chest. His heartbeat was definitely not normal.
"Lie still. Try to remain calm. I'm going to the house and call for an ambulance."
"No ... No ambulance ... Just take me ... to the Main House ... Call Jamie ... He'll know ... what to do."
Adam paced the length of the office.
"Have you said anything to him yet?" Eve asked her brother.
"Not yet. Somehow the time is never right. I mean, this is my heritage. It's what I was born to be. It's what I have spent my entire life preparing for. But it's not what I want to do. There's a whole world out there that I haven't even begun to explore. I mean, except for school, I've never even been off the Island for more than two weeks at any given time. How would it sound ... 'Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad. Oh, by the way. I'm leaving Fantasy Island, and I may never return.' "
"Adam. You have a right to a life of your own. You have a right to do all the things that ... you want to do and to see all the things that ... you want to see. Father is a reasonable man. He'll understand. There's always Jamie. If need be, he could take over the Island. Or I could always be the Proprietor."
"Evie. You know as well as I do that the succession passes from father to son. A woman can only inherit if there is no male heir. As much as Dad loves Jamie, he is not his biological son. I am the son. I am the heir." He took her hand in his. "There will be a right time to tell him. Just not today." A worried look came on his face and he held his chest as a wave of pain shot through him.
"Adam. What's wrong?" A cold fear enveloped her.
He took a few deep breaths and the pain left. "I don't know, but whatever it is, it's gone now."
Seconds later Ann pulled the car in front of the Main house.
Eve and Adam ran out to the porch almost before their parents' car had stopped. Gently, they lifted their father from the car and carried him into the house and to his room. Jamie was only steps behind them.
Eve, Adam, Ann and Tatoo paced the hall outside the bedroom as Jamie made his examination. At last he was finished and he came out. His face said it all.
"It's his heart." Ann said. It was not a question.
Jamie nodded solemnly. "It's not the first time he's had these attacks, but this is the worst. He came to me about eight months ago complaining of chest pains. Apparently he's been having minor pains for some time. Possibly as long as two years. The tests showed he has congestive heart failure. I told him then that it was only a matter of time before his heart gave out completely. I wanted to put him in the hospital, but he refused. You know how stubborn he can be. He made me swear not to tell anyone. Especially you. He's been on ever-increasing doses of medication for the last two months. "
"Ironic, isn't it." Ann said. "I'm a heart specialist, and he's dying from heart failure. And you couldn't even tell me."
"That's what he wanted. You know I can't betray a doctor - patient confidence. Not even for my own father. You're aware that he has a living will. He's asked that it be invoked. His heart is stable ... at least for now. I've given him something for the pain and made him as comfortable as possible. The rest is now up to the Most High.
He wants to see all of you, but I told him that it would only be one at a time. Starting with you, Mother."
Roarke was propped in a semi sitting position in the bed. He looked so frail and helpless, and his face was gray and gaunt. It was radically different from the way he had looked only a few hours before. The only concession to his condition was an oxygen tank beside the bed, and a breathing tube attached to his nostrils.
And he probably fought Jamie on that. "Why didn't you say something?" Ann asked, fighting back the tears that were threatening.
He took her hands in his. His hands felt cold to her. Probably from poor circulation.
"What would it have accomplished?" He said. Although soft, his voice was still clear and steady. "It only would have caused you unnecessary heartache and sorrow. I chose to spend my last days as I have spent them. Here. With the people I love. Doing the things I love. I did not want to be in a hospital, dying by inches and tethered to machines and tubes. Besides, I don't think I could have tolerated being fussed over and treated as an invalid.
I love you with my whole being, my darling Ann. We have had many wonderful years filled with incredibly good times. When you think of me, think of them."
They held each other for a long time, saying the things that they did not need words to say.
Eve held her father's hand and cried.
"My precious Eve." He said, bringing her hand to his lips. "Don't be so sad. When a man has a daughter, he has a rare and wonderful thing. For a short period of time, he is permitted to hold a piece of heaven. To touch a piece of the rainbow. To hear the laughter of angels. I have been doubly blessed. Not only do I have a daughter, but that daughter is you.
Sooner or later, I would have had to let you go. Either to the world or to that very special young man, or both.
Take good care of your mother and Adam. Give him all the help and counsel you can. He will need it. Soon, he will be Roarke. But always remember, my sweet. You are Roarke as well."
"Daddy." Eve said through the tears. Suddenly she felt as though she were five years old. "I love you." She put her head on his chest and tried desperately to hold back the tears. It was an exercise in futility.
"And I love you, Evie." He stroked his daughter's hair the same way he had done when she was five years old and would come into their bedroom to escape the monsters that lived under the bed.
Tatoo was next.
Roarke looked at his diminutive assistant and smiled sadly. "My dearest friend. Leaving you will be the hardest. No man could have asked for a better friend. You are more than a friend, though. You are family. We have seen so many things together and have traveled so many paths over the years. I have always been proud and honored to have you by my side. From here on though, I must walk alone. As must you. I shall miss you terribly.
To you I entrust my most precious possessions. Ann. Eve. And most of all, Adam. Take good care of them and protect them. Help Adam as you have helped me. Serve him as you have served me. And be a friend to him as you have been a friend to me."
"You don't have to tell me that, Boss. I would have done it anyway."
"I know. That's why I can ask it of you."
Adam stood before his father.
"My son. The time has come for you to assume your heritage."
Hesitantly, Adam took a few steps forward.
"I know of your plans and desires, my son. I have known about them for some time now. They are not something to be embarrassed or ashamed of. I too had plans that did not include Fantasy Island when I was your age. I was hoping that at least some of your aspirations could have been fulfilled before this day arrived. However, some things are not meant to be.
You will find that being Master of Fantasy Island is a very demanding responsibility. It is also a very satisfying and rewarding responsibility. Fulfilling people's dreams has many advantages. Perhaps someday, you may even find that your own dreams have come true." It was apparent that Roarke was tiring. He patted an empty spot on the bed beside him. "Come, my son. It is time."
Adam sat facing his father, and Roarke placed his hands on his son's head. Adam's mind whirled as images and concepts poured in at a speed he could barely comprehend.
He was there as the Pharaohs built the pyramids. He wandered in the desert with Moses and the Israelites. He discussed philosophy with Aristotle and Socrates. He was with Julius Caesar. No, he WAS Julius Caesar. He walked along the Sea of Galilee with Christ as one of His disciples.
He sat at the feet of Confucius, and Buddha, and Mohammad, and listened to their words. He rode with Richard the Lion Hearted as he attempted to free the Holy Land, and peered with Galileo through his telescope at the planets revolving around the sun. He stood on the deck of the Pinta.
He was a confidant of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Mahatma Gandhi. He was in the audience as Adolf Hitler revealed Mein Kampf, and he crouched, emaciated and gaunt, in a crowded cell in Buchenwald. He huddled in an Underground station as the Blitzkrieg rained on London, and he stood on the dock at Pearl Harbor as the air raid sirens sounded. He was on the deck of the Missouri when Japan surrendered.
He was wore a red cape in the Sistine Chapel as John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, and held a pan of water as Mother Theresa wiped a destitute Hindu's fevered face. He watched from the grassy hillside in Dallas as John Kennedy's car drove by, and stood in Times Square and gazed in horror as the World Trade Towers collapsed.
He had been present at every major event in the history of the earth. From the sinking of Atlantis to yesterday's headlines. He had within him the ideas and concepts of the greatest minds that the world had ever known.
Slowly, his mind stopped spinning. He understood. He knew.
Roarke removed his hands from Adam's head, and Adam took his father's hands in his. Roarke held them tightly. He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "It is done." He whispered. His grip slowly loosened and his hands fell to the bed.
Adam picked up one hand and squeezed as hard as he could. There was no response. He placed his cheek to his father's, but it was still. He stood up and buried his face in his hands as his body shook with grief. Finally, he straightened up and wiped the tears from his eyes. He looked one last time at the figure on the bed and then started for the door.
Adam came out of the room, but it was not the same Adam that had gone in. When he entered, he was dressed in a blue shirt and dark blue slacks. Now, he was all in white. Ann stared at him for a few seconds of eternity and then began to scream. She started for the door, but Adam restrained her. "There is nothing in there but a pile of flesh and bones." He said softly. "I am Roarke. He is within me. And I am him."
Ann buried her face in her son's chest and sobbed uncontrollably. He held her and Eve closely. "Tatoo." He said, his voice breaking. "Sound the bell. Ring it slowly and sadly. I have an announcement to make."
Adam proved a very competent and capable Master. Within a very short time, nearly everyone was addressing him simply as Roarke, even Tatoo and Eve. Increasingly, Tatoo found that he was even calling him 'Boss'. Only Ann persisted in using his given name.
Since her husband's death, Ann had become a virtual recluse. In the year that had passed, she had not left the house unless it was absolutely necessary, and she had very few visitors outside of her children and Tatoo.
She had not been feeling well for the past two weeks, and had not come down to breakfast this morning. Roarke called Jamie to come by and examine her. Roarke and Eve sat in the living room while Jamie was in with their mother.
"It's only a severe garden variety cold. That in itself would be nothing to worry about. I gave her something for it when she first got sick and she should have thrown it off by now. But in Mother's case ... I'm worried that it could become life threatening. Since Father's death, she has lost the will to live. It's almost like she doesn't want to get better. If she doesn't rally soon, I may have to hospitalize her and force her back to health."
Roarke came into the bedroom, and for a second, Ann saw someone else.
"It still hurts, doesn't it?" Roarke said as he sat on the edge of the bed. He took her hand in his, and again, for a split second, it was someone else sitting there.
"Adam. When you have spent nearly half of your life with someone that you love as much as I loved your father, it will always hurt. The pain will never diminish, and it will never go away."
He looked at her for a few minutes, and then held his hand to her. "Come with me."
"Where are we going?"
"I think you know."
They pulled up to the pond and he helped his mother out of the car. He held her tightly as they walked to the edge of the water. Although the day was clear, the triple waterfalls and the pool below them were shrouded in a heavy fog. Roarke raised his hand and the fog dissipated. Standing at the edge of the left waterfall was Roarke. Another Roarke. Ann's Roarke. He looked as he had the first day that she had seen him. He smiled and extended his arms to her.
"Go to him." Roarke said to Ann. "He's waiting for you."
Slowly, hesitantly, she started along the path to the falls. With each step, the years faded from her until by the time she reached him, she looked the same as she did when they had first met. He took her in his arms and kissed her passionately. Then they both looked at their son and smiled happily. Once more, the pond was covered with fog. When it cleared, the area was empty.
Eve came running toward Roarke. Tatoo was behind her.
"Where is Mother?" Eve asked.
"She's gone. She's with Father now." Roarke pointed to the path leading to the waterfalls. Ann's lifeless body lay at the place where she had joined her husband. "She was my mother. This was her fantasy." The tears streamed down his face. "Is there any way that I could be her son, and not grant it?"
Tatoo sat in the study and went over the accounts. "They're going to have to quit using that teeny tiny font on these reports." He mumbled as he adjusted his glasses. He looked up and the picture of Roarke and Ann caught his eye. It was hard to believe that four years had gone by since Ann had died. Five for Roarke. Fantasy Island now belonged to the new Roarke, and their memory was already beginning to fade from the general population.
Eve had married a wonderful man, and had a delightful two year old daughter named Ann, after her grandmother. Annie toddled into the study. "Play wif' me, Uncle Tatoo." She said, looking at him with her grandmother's twinkling blue eyes.
He put down the report he was studying. He knew he couldn't resist her. "What do you want to play today, Annie darling?"
"I'm afraid not, sweetheart." He said, tousling her honey brown curls. "It's been many, many years since your Uncle Tatoo could play horsey."
"Because I am a very old man."
He shook his head and smiled. An innocent babe could ask the most profound questions. "Because that is the way it must be, sweetheart."
"I'm trying to help your Uncle Roarke with his work."
"Can I helps you, Uncle Tatoo?"
"That's a wonderful idea, Annie. Why didn't I think of that." He took a sheet of paper from the back of the tablet and a pencil. "You can sit at the coffee table and help me chart the accounts."
Annie went to the table and started scribbling on the paper.
Eve came in. "Annie. Quit bothering your Uncle Tatoo. Go outside and play." She scolded . "It's too nice a day for you to be inside."
"But I helpsin' Uncle Tatoo." Annie said without looking up.
Annie stood up. Her mouth curled into a pout and she stamped her little foot. "NO!"
Tatoo laughed softly. Eve had done the same thing when she was Annie's age. "Sweetheart. If you go out through the kitchen, you can tell the cook to give you some milk and cookies." He bribed the toddler. Just as he had with her mother. "Tell her I said it was all right."
Annie thought for a moment. "Okay!" She padded out through the door and disappeared in the direction of the kitchen.
Eve came to Tatoo and kissed him tenderly on the cheek. "You know you are spoiling her rotten, don't you."
"Uh huh. The same way I spoiled Roarke and you when you were little."
"Uncle Tatoo, how come you never married?"
"Why should I marry and make only one woman happy, when I can stay single and make every woman happy."
"Uncle Tatoo. You are impossible!"
"I know. And I work at it, too. There was a woman, though. I loved her very much. But she married someone else."
"I don't see how any woman in her right mind, knowing that you were in love with her, could even think about marrying another man."
"She never knew how I felt about her. I never told her. You see, the man she married was my best friend."
"Uncle Tatoo. This woman. Who was she?"
"Her name was Ann Scott. She was your mother."
"All those years, and you never said anything."
"How could I? I knew how much Ann and Roarke loved each other. I never would have said or done anything that would have jeopardized that love. Besides, having you and Roarke around was just like having a family of my own. I couldn't have loved you more if you had been my own." He got up and went to the couch. "If you will excuse me, Eve. I am very tired. I think I'll take a nap before dinner."
Eve put a cover over him and kissed him softly. "Sleep tight, Uncle Tatoo." She whispered.
Several hours later, Roarke came in to wake Tatoo for dinner. He placed his hand on his godfather's cheek. It was cold. Something was very wrong. He put his hand over his nose and mouth. Nothing. He grasped Tatoo's shoulder and shook it. "Tatoo!" He called. "Tatoo!"
The day was heavily overcast and it had been raining off and on all day, as though even the heavens were crying. Roarke tried desperately to maintain a stoic pose as the workers lowered the casket into the ground. He had officiated at his father's funeral and at his mother's. Although they were difficult times for the young Master of Fantasy Island, he managed to get through them. This time, it seemed as though he would completely lose it.
The three of them, his father, his mother, and Tatoo had been the foundation of his existence since he was born. They had guided and enlightened him in every phase of life. Now they were all gone. Now there was no one. Eve was still there to help him, and he was grateful for that. But she was his twin. And she did not have the vast years of experience to draw on that the three people lying side by side in the graves before him had.
Even put her arm around her brother. "I know it will be hard." She said. "It's going to be hard on all of us, but especially you. Dad said it just before he died. They will always live. In here." She put her hand on his heart "All you have to do is call on them, and they will be here." She pointed to his head.
As though to emphasize her remarks, a ray of sunshine broke through the cloud cover. It hit directly on Tatoo's new headstone. Roarke looked skyward. He shook his head to clear it. Either I'm imagining things, or it is a sign. There, in the clouds were three images. Three faces he knew so very well. They were smiling.
Back To The Beginning
"Tatoo! Tatoo!" Roarke shouted, banging loudly on the study door. "What are you doing in there?"
Tatoo went to the door and unlocked it. "Sorry, Boss, I didn't mean to be in here this long. I'm almost finished."
"Finished with what? You had better be working on the income projection statements that I asked for."
"Oh, those. I finished them early this morning. They're on your desk."
"Then what could be so important, or so secret that you have to sequester yourself like this? You've been in the study every spare moment for the past week. And every time you are in there, the door is locked."
"My story." He held up a thick yellow folder. On the front was a sticker with the words 'Fantasy Island' neatly typed on it. "I just finished printing it off. Now all I have to do is proofread and submit it. I think it has a chance."
"Your story? Submit it to where? A chance at what? Perhaps if you could speak in more coherent sentences ..."
"Sorry, boss. You see, there's this fiction writing site on the internet. They're holding a story contest that is open to amateur writers. I'm going to submit this story to them. I think it has a chance of winning. I'm sorry for the locked door, but I wanted to be sure that I wasn't disturbed while I was writing it. The muses, you know. They can be so temperamental."
"And how much is the prize for writing the winning story?"
"There is no money involved. If that were the case, it couldn't be open to amateurs. You do get this neat icon to post on your website, and a certificate, and all kinds of bragging rights, though. Those things carry a lot of weight in the writing community. "
"You have your own website?"
"Of course I do. Everyone has one. I have to have some place to post all my stuff. It's called Maybe you should take a look at it some time. I even did all the graphics on it."
"I am impressed. I will check it out as soon as I have a few moments to spare. By the way, what is this great epic of yours about?"
"The contest guidelines say to write about something you know about. Since what I know best is Fantasy Island and its people, that's what I wrote about." He glanced at his watch. "Oh! Oh! It's almost time for the plane. I tell you what. While I go climb the stairs to the turret and ring the bell, why don't you give my story the once over? You know, check it for accuracy, and punctuation, and things like that." He handed the folder to Roarke. "You can be my beta reader."
Roarke took the folder as Tatoo headed to the stairway to the attic. "Beta reader?" He shrugged and opened the folder.
Roarke was waiting in the car when Tatoo came down from the bell tower. He handed the folder back to Tatoo and motioned the driver to start. "This is very good, Tatoo. I think you are right. I think that it has a very good chance of winning. I did not know you were such a talented writer."
Tatoo blushed. "Don't you remember? I took that correspondence course in creative writing a few years ago? Between what I learned from that, and reading what some of the other writers on this website have done, I've really become pretty good, if I do say so myself. This isn't my first story I've submitted to the website, and several people there have encouraged me to enter the contest, too. You really think it has a chance?"
"Yes, Tatoo. I really think it has a chance."
Just then, the car pulled up to the dock and Roarke and Tatoo went to their places as the seaplane taxied to its moorings.
The combo began playing a Polynesian melody. As they did every time a plane brought guests to the Island.
"Smiles. Everyone. Smiles." Roarke intoned as the members of the welcoming committee took their places to greet the latest visitors.
Tatoo watched open mouthed as the passengers disembarked. "Boss! Boss!" He yelled, pointing to a dark haired man wearing an elegant and expensive suit. "That's him! That's Nicholas Beale. He wants to be master of all he surveys." Beale seemed to be glaring at Roarke.
A woman was next. She had light brown hair and was wearing a tan knit blouse and sweater over dark brown slacks. "And that is Ann Scott!" He shouted. "She's a doctor who is going to work at the hospital."
"That is absolutely correct, Tatoo. But how could you possibly know that?"
"Don't you remember? They're two of the main characters in my story! And they look just like I described them, too. I can't believe it! This is too incredible! Everything is happening exactly the way it happened in my book."
"Indeed! What a coincidence."
"It is just a coincidence. Isn't it, Boss?"
Roarke studied him for a moment. "Is it?"
He took a glass from the hostess and held it in front of him. "My dear guests. I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island."
On Fantasy Island?