§ § § -- May 6, 1979
The talent show ended at nine that evening, and Roarke, Tattoo and Leslie congratulated Jerry Burton and Danny Baker on the successful debut of their new comedy team. "I think you're gonna be a smash," Tattoo predicted.
"All we have to do is make a couple announcements, and we oughta be in business," Baker said, clapping Burton on the shoulder. The younger man was still on a huge high; his face looked like a new star. "Looks like Jerry here's still rarin' to go!"
"I need time to wind down," Burton admitted, sliding an arm around Mary Margaret.
"Then perhaps you'd be interested in attending Leslie's birthday party," Roarke offered. "We are about to go to the venue ourselves."
"Oh, happy birthday!" chorused the three guests, and Leslie turned scarlet and grinned foolishly, hanging her head.
"Mr. Roarke," she mumbled in protest, and they all laughed. Roarke gave the guests the name and location of the banquet where Leslie's party was also being held, and they agreed to meet them there.
On their way out the door they were intercepted by Linda Larson, whose expression was a little anxious. "I promised Sandi I'd stay out late," she said helplessly. "I mean…I can't imagine why she wanted that, or why she wouldn't come to the talent show. She said she was waiting for someone."
"Oh?" Roarke inquired.
"If she thinks Mike Banning's going to show up now…" Linda scowled. "Sandi told me at dinner how he came to the pool and told her why he tried to run away from her. She said she not only showed him she can swim—because of his letters, mind you—but she apparently even got out of her wheelchair and managed a few steps. I wish I had seen that—that's the inspiration that man gave her, Mr. Roarke. But then he walked out on her again. He can't seem to make up his mind. He keeps putting Sandi through this ridiculous emotional roller coaster, and I don't think she can take much more. He'd better either fish or cut bait, and if his behavior this weekend has been any example, I think he'll be heading for Leavenworth tomorrow."
"Perhaps your sister knows him better than you think, Ms. Larson," Roarke said gently. "In any case, if you are looking for a distraction, why don't you attend Leslie's birthday party?"
"Mr. Roarke!" Leslie burst out again, astonished. "Are you gonna invite the whole island?"
Again this got laughter. "Would you prefer that no one attend?" Roarke teased her, and she made a face. "Of course, Ms. Larson, it's your decision…"
"Oh, I think it sounds like fun. Happy birthday, Leslie. Where's the party?"
So, fifteen minutes later, Leslie found herself the center of attention in a small functions room at the hotel, adjacent to the one where the banquet was being held; all her school friends were there, as well as Roarke and Tattoo, their fantasizing guests, and even Mana'olana with a big birthday cake. Not only were Linda Larson, Mary Margaret Doyle, Jerry Burton and Danny Baker there, so were Ruth Ewell, former orphanage matron, and her soon-to-be-adopted children, Mark and Rebecca. The guests all enjoyed a dinner—served by none other than Cornelius Kelly and his friend Alphonse, who since they were also working the banquet looked as if they could stand a couple of days' sleep. Leslie almost felt sorry enough for them to save them some cake, until Alphonse confronted Tattoo with a muttered insult and Tattoo suggested curtly that he get back to work before he got docked whatever pay Roarke saw fit to give him. That changed her mind about the cake, and she ignored both him and Cornelius after that.
It was almost ten when Roarke suggested she start opening presents. She had one gift each from Myeko, Michiko, Lauren and Camille, who gave her record albums and books to add to her still-tiny collection. Roarke presented her with a set of picture frames, then collared Cornelius and murmured instructions to him. Cornelius disappeared into the bathroom and shortly came back out lugging a beautiful cherrywood rocking chair with thick cushions in blue, green and yellow plaid.
"Oh, that's beautiful!" Leslie gasped as the party attendees admired the chair. "Wow, Mr. Roarke, is that really for me?"
"I thought you'd enjoy having a place in your room to sit and read a book, perhaps," Roarke said, smiling.
"I love it," Leslie exclaimed. "I used to have a little rocking chair in my room, till it…till the fire." She swallowed and suddenly hugged him. "This one's so much prettier. Thank you, Mr. Roarke, thank you."
"I wish I had room for something like that," Camille commented enviously. She shared a room with her older sister Andrea. "Maybe when Andrea leaves for college…"
Tattoo gave her a handsomely framed corkboard to hang on her wall, along with a small leather-bound book containing blank pages and covered in marbled hunter green. "It's an autograph book," he said when she thumbed through it. "Thought you might like that."
"It's really pretty," she said. "Thank you, Tattoo—the corkboard'll be a terrific bulletin board too."
"That's a lovely book," Ruth Ewell remarked. "I had one when I was your age. I think it's still around somewhere."
"Say, kiddo, want us to christen it?" offered Danny Baker all of a sudden.
Leslie blinked at him in amazement. "Would you really? That'd be great." Then she noticed Jerry Burton and added, "You too, Mr. Burton. I mean, since you're a team now and all that…"
"My first professional autograph," cracked Jerry Burton and everyone laughed as he and Baker signed the first page in Leslie's new book. She studied the signatures within and smiled to herself, wondering how long it would take her to fill it. It was pretty thick. Maybe she'd count the pages tonight. She looked up at her guardian, marveling that she hadn't been here even three months yet and he was being so generous nonetheless. It was the first birthday she had celebrated without her mother, but she was surrounded by friends and people who loved her. What more could she ask for?
§ § § -- May 7, 1979
The prison-transport plane had been repaired, and a rover waited outside for the trip to the airport. In front of Roarke's desk stood Mike Banning, holding hands with Sandi Larson in her wheelchair; Linda had brought her sister in and was now waiting alongside them, her face bright with gratitude. Banning smiled at Roarke. "Well, I want to thank you, Mr. Roarke. Three years should go by pretty fast, as long as she's waiting for me."
Roarke said, "Oh, you may not have to wait three years. Information has come to light that the guard was responsible for the incident that prevented your parole, and they've sent another marshal from Japan to take you back for a new parole hearing."
Banning and Sandi looked at each other in wonder, and Linda's mouth dropped open; Leslie beamed as Banning and Sandi chorused, "No more mailman!" They kissed, while Linda shook her head and smiled broadly at Leslie.
"What about Grennan?" Banning asked when he straightened up.
"He's been flown on to Kansas in the plane on which you originally arrived here," Roarke explained. "Questions have been raised in regard to his conduct towards prisoners, and you might say he is facing a little music of his own. If you wish, you may remain in the Larson ladies' bungalow until we come to pick you up for your flight back to Japan."
"Sounds great. Well, Sandi…" Banning turned to her and ran a hand down her hair. "I'll be seeing you, I promise. I'll write you and let you know all the details."
"We'll both be waiting," Linda said and smiled. "Mr. Roarke, thank you. You really delivered on your promise. I'm so grateful. And I'm glad you distracted me with that talent show and your ward's birthday party. I think I really needed it…Sandi seemed right on the edge last evening when she insisted I go."
"It was your birthday?" Sandi asked Leslie.
"Yeah," Leslie admitted with a shrug. "Mr. Roarke and Tattoo combined it with a banquet that was already scheduled for yesterday anyway. I wasn't expecting a party…well, at least, not one with so many people." They all laughed.
"How old are you?" Banning asked.
"Fourteen," she responded shyly.
Banning looked rueful. "I hope it's a better year for you than it was for me."
"With Mr. Roarke as her guardian, she can't lose," Linda Larson said and reached across her sister's shoulder to shake hands with Roarke. "Thank you again, so much."
Roarke, Tattoo and Leslie met Danny Baker, Jerry Burton and Mary Margaret Doyle at the plane dock. Mary Margaret was beaming; the two men were in high spirits and seemed like the best of friends. "Well, I learned a great lesson, Mr. Roarke," Baker remarked, eyeing Tattoo. "Never let Tattoo set up your boat trips—you might not make it back to shore." Everyone chuckled, and Baker went on, "But I'm really glad it happened, though. It made me realize that Jerry here was more than just a kid, and if I'd let him go when his contract ran out, I'd be losing the best part of my act." He chortled, shook hands with Roarke and Leslie, and headed off for the plane.
Burton stepped forward then. "Goodbye, Mr. Roarke, thanks from me too." They shook hands and Burton followed Baker; Mary Margaret shook hands as well and started off, then paused and ran back to Roarke.
"And thanks for making my fantasy come true too," she said, clasping Roarke's hands and favoring him with her high-wattage grin. "I guess I've been in love with Jerry since high school." She popped a kiss onto his cheek and bounded away to rejoin Burton. Leslie blinked, then giggled, and joined Roarke in waving after the couple.
Just as the plane-dock band wound down their farewell tune, a low, soft voice emanated from somewhere nearby, and they looked at each other and then around them, only then realizing that Tattoo wasn't with them. About to wonder aloud what had happened to him, they were both silenced when Tattoo emerged from behind a bush, dressed in casual clothing and with a cloth hat on his head, a pipe in one hand and a microphone in the other. The voice coming out of his mouth was that of the late Bing Crosby, crooning away in his trademark manner.
When Tattoo had finished, he smirked up at them. "Hey guys, how'd you like it?"
Roarke looked stunned. "Amazing! Tattoo, I take it back—that is the best Bing Crosby impersonation I have ever heard! Please sing some more, please, please…"
"Yeah, come on, let's hear some more," Leslie agreed, enormously impressed.
Cheerfully Tattoo obliged: "Over in Killarney, many years ago…my mother sang a song to me, in tones so soft and low…and low…and low…" The last two words repeated endlessly, accompanied by a telltale pop that made Roarke's and Leslie's smiles slowly fade. They looked at each other, then at Tattoo, whose abashed expression gave him away.
Roarke picked up the cord of Tattoo's microphone and followed it behind a couple of bushes, only to come upon Chester the Chimp perched on the ground next to a record player that was still emitting the words from the skipping LP rotating on the turntable. Leslie peered over his shoulder and groaned; Roarke slowly turned back to Tattoo with a stern glare. Tattoo shrugged sheepishly, and all of a sudden Roarke's shoulders shook a little. Leslie turned to stare at him just in time to see him begin to roar with laughter, and stood at his side giggling in spite of herself and shaking her head. Tattoo grinned back, still sheepish, but obviously relieved there were no hard feelings over his little deception!
§ § § -- April 6, 2006
"That Tattoo," Rogan said, shaking his head. "What a prankster, eh, uncle?"
"Uncle Roarke," Rory broke in then, "tell us more about Tattoo, please? He musta been a really funny guy if he did all that crazy silly stuff."
"I suspect a large amount of it was due to the influence of his cousin Hugo," Roarke said, "but he did provide quite a bit of comic relief—much of it probably unintentional. However, I'm afraid that will have to wait for another day." He cast a glance at the grandfather clock. "The afternoon is aging, and I'm afraid we all have a good deal to do in order to prepare for this weekend's fantasies."
"Aw," Rory mumbled.
Roarke saw the boy's disappointment and smiled. "I promise, I won't forget," he said. "For that matter, I'm certain you won't be the only one who will enjoy hearing stories about Tattoo, and I suspect Leslie has plenty of her own to contribute." He grinned when Leslie nodded emphatically. "Julie, is there anything else you need?"
"Guess I'm all done here," Julie said, rising and handing over the room list she had been clutching all this time. "This was fun, uncle. We really should do it again sometime—and soon, too. We don't spend enough time together just visiting."
Roarke regarded her contemplatively and smiled. "I think you're right, Julie. Then we'll try to make it a regular thing. For now…thank you."
"Thank you, uncle," Julie said, grinning. "It's been the best afternoon I've had in a very long time. Okay, Rory, we've gotta get going. Ready, Rogan?"
"Comin' right along, lassie," Rogan replied and arose. "Soon as I get down to the kitchen and check with Mariki as to her spice supply."
Christian sighed. "I suppose I'd better get back to work on that website design. Perhaps now I can think better, having had a break. I'll be here with the children, Mr. Roarke, if you'd like me to take any telephone calls that may come in."
"Yes, I'd appreciate that, as long as it doesn't interfere with your work," said Roarke. "And Leslie, if you would, please go to the ferry dock on the other end of the island and pick up a few boxes. Some of the cheese that is to be entered in this month's competition is to be stored away to age properly until the date of the contest."
"Will do, Father," Leslie agreed.
"Cheesemaking contest, huh?" Julie mused. "I'll definitely be in on this one, uncle, no matter what. You can count on that."
"I'm sure you will," Roarke said indulgently. "And quite likely in on any drama that may accompany it, too…"
A story in the tradition of the cooking and winery competitions mentioned herein will be the next tale up. Meantime, I'm giving credit where credit is due. I transcribed material from the following episodes:
"Cornelius and Alphonse/The Choice", May 6, 1979 – starring Red Buttons and Billy Barty
The tale of Tattoo and the invisibility potion was taken from "Nona/One Million B.C.", March 1, 1980; I expanded on the original scene and turned it into a full-blown story.
The scene of Tattoo's attempt at ventriloquism was taken from "Eagleman/Children of Mentu", May 17, 1980
"The Devil and Mandy Breem/Instant Millionaire", October 25, 1980 – starring Carol Lynley, Adam West, Arte Johnson, Arlene Golonka and Roddy McDowall
"High Off the Hog/Reprisal", January 10, 1981 – starring Maureen McCormick, Janis Paige, Holly Gagnier, Stephen Shortridge and Shecky Greene
"The Artist and the Lady/Elizabeth's Baby", January 17, 1981 – starring Eve Plumb, Alison Arngrim and Donny Most
"Flying Aces/The Mermaid Returns", November 1, 1980 – starring Michelle Phillips
"The Mermaid and the Matchmaker/The Obsolete Man", March 24, 1984 – starring Michelle Phillips and Dennis Cole
"Goose for the Gander/Stuntman", September 14, 1979 – starring Abe Vigoda, Doris Roberts, Hans Conried and Vito Scotti
"Lookalikes/The Winemaker", December 22, 1979 – starring Celeste Holm and Nita Talbot
"The Comic/The Golden Hour", May 5, 1979 – starring Fred Grandy, Jack Carter, Patricia Klous, Toni Tennille, Michael Parks, Morgan Woodward and Freddy Weller. Some additional lines were taken from the second-draft script dated February 17, 1979. (P.S. Freddy's song "Fantasy Island" is available in its full version on his 1978 album Love Got in the Way.)