A/N: On April 23, Hervé Villechaize would have been 67 years old. Though he died at only 50, he left more of a legacy than he probably ever suspected, through the character of Tattoo, far and away the best-known of all the roles he portrayed. This story gathers together a number of "Fantasy Island" episodes, some of which feature Tattoo prominently. Happy birthday, M. Villechaize, wherever you may be…
§ § § -- July 4, 2006
"You promised, Uncle Roarke," the boy pleaded, standing on his toes, his fingers curling around the edge of Roarke's desk. "Remember last time you and Miss Leslie told stories about when she was a kid here? You promised we'd get to hear more."
"Rory Callaghan," scolded Julie, glaring at him. "That's not the way you ask, and you know it. How many times do we have to tell you?"
Roarke regarded Rory with the barest indulgence, well aware of Rogan and Julie's ongoing struggle to civilize their magically gifted son. "Perhaps," he said at some length, "if you learn to behave yourself properly and do as your parents tell you to—without using your magical powers to get your way every time something happens that you don't like—then we can discuss having another story time."
Rory actually turned red, clearly caught out by what seemed like Roarke's complete knowledge of everything. "My dad said he told you what I did in school."
"Indeed he did, and I find it difficult to award privileges to a child who takes advantage of other children by utilizing abilities they don't have. You may not have known this, but I have ways of neutralizing your powers so that you can't access them until you're older and have learned to comport yourself in a more civilized manner."
Rory gasped. "You do?" He turned to stare at Julie over his shoulder. "Does he, Mom?"
"He sure does," Julie said, folding her arms over her chest. "He did it to Aunt Delphine once when she was teasing me too much. I was your age and I remember it very well." She looked at Roarke. "I always meant to thank you for that and I kept forgetting."
Roarke laughed. "That's quite all right, Julie."
"So that, young man," Julie concluded with a stern glare at her son, "means you'd better start shaping up and doing as you're told, and quit using your powers to get your way all the time. The next time you do that, I'm bringing you over here and uncle will make sure your powers are locked away till you can be good. That isn't a threat, it's a promise, so you better remember it."
"I will, Mom," Rory mumbled, looking abashed. "I will, Uncle Roarke." He settled back on his feet, released the desktop, and peered contritely at Roarke from under a mop of light-brown waves. "Please, Uncle Roarke, may I come over to hear stories from you and Miss Leslie? Today?"
Roarke chuckled. "Nicely done, Rory. Very well, we'll arrange something for this evening, after we've eaten. I'll have Christian and Leslie stay here with the triplets, and you and your parents may come over at about seven this evening, if that's all right with you, Julie."
"That works fine," Julie agreed and grinned. "To tell the truth, I'm looking forward to it myself. Okay, come on, Rory, we've got to get back so we can drag Dad out of that darned greenhouse again." Roarke laughed as Julie took her son's hand and they departed.
So it happened that shortly after seven o'clock, with some of Roarke's employees preparing a fireworks show for the few Americans currently on the island and everything else quiet and slowly settling down for the night, nine people gathered in the study of the main house. Roarke sat as usual behind his desk; Rogan and Julie occupied the leather chairs in front of it, with Rory standing between them; Christian and Leslie sat on the loveseat; and Susanna, Karina and Tobias, all wearing footed pajamas, perched on the matching settee. "Sto-wy, Ampa," Susanna urged, making Roarke laugh and meet Leslie's gaze.
"I seem to recall that Rory was curious about some of Tattoo's assorted escapades in the past," he remarked. "Do you recall any specific ones you'd like to talk about?"
"There's a whole raft of memories associated with that," Leslie remarked with a laugh. "I know we go back to my ninth-grade year an awful lot, but that year we had so many cool and fascinating fantasies, it's hard to keep from plundering my memories from back then. How about when Tattoo decided he wanted to be a love god and attract all sorts of beautiful women? We didn't actually see most of that, except for our two little spy missions."
Roarke shook his head, chuckling. "I'm afraid it was a rather wild weekend for poor Tattoo. But why don't we begin at the beginning."
§ § § -- September 22, 1979
They could hear the drone of the charter plane circling overhead, preparatory to landing, and as he did every Saturday before leaving the house, Roarke pulled open the shutters of the little-used front room where he stored various accoutrements of the many fantasies he had granted over the years. Leslie paused beside him, watching him for a moment as he scanned the sky in search of the plane; then she grinned as they heard the bell ringing in the tower and the faint sound of Tattoo's voice shouting, "The plane! The plane!" Roarke nodded with satisfaction and gestured to his ward; together they left the room, moved through the outer foyer and onto the porch, and waited for Tattoo to catch up after his descent from the bell tower.
After a moment he appeared, striding briskly toward them; Leslie smiled, and Roarke offered, "Well, good morning, Tattoo! It certainly is a love…ly…day…" His voice trailed off as Tattoo strode right past them and climbed into the front seat of his little car, parked nearby beside a sign that warned, Parking for Tattoo Only.
"If you say so, boss," Tattoo responded without looking back.
"Tattoo!" Roarke said in bewilderment, staring at him, absently replacing his gold pocket watch as he spoke.
"Come on, boss, let's go meet our guests," Tattoo urged, reaching for the ignition.
Roarke and Leslie glanced at each other; then Roarke started forward. "Tattoo…wait, what is happening?"
"Boss, we're late—let's go," Tattoo insisted, revving up the engine, and without waiting for a response, he pulled away in his usual breakneck fashion. Leslie came up beside her guardian to stare after the retreating car in disbelief; then she turned to Roarke to ask a question, only to see a knowing grin spread over his face and his dark eyes light with amusement. She leaned over to get a better look at him, just to see if that was really the expression she saw on his face.
"Mr. Roarke, you know what he's in such a hurry about, don't you?" she asked.
Roarke cast a glance at her, then chuckled softly and slipped an arm around her shoulders for a moment. "Something tells me we're in for an unusual weekend," he observed as the rover drew to a halt in front of the sidewalk. "Come along."
Tattoo wasn't far ahead of them; in fact, the rover arrived just behind him at the plane dock in time for them to see him jump out of his car and shout, "Smiles, smiles, everyone!" Roarke and Leslie were still getting out of the car when they saw him motion the band into action; and Roarke seemed slightly annoyed by his presumptuousness.
"Tattoo," he demanded as he and Leslie finally caught up with him, "will you tell us what's happening?"
"Oh, nothing much, boss," Tattoo said. "We have a very special guest coming today."
Roarke stared at him. "A very special guest? Who?"
About to add her two cents, Leslie was rudely cut off by Tattoo's sudden turn and gesture toward the dock where two young women were approaching, one blonde, one brunette; each carried what appeared to be a large poster. "Oh, here are some of the guests coming," he prompted. "Hmm…they are beautiful ladies. Who are they, boss?"
"Miss Myra Kolinsky and Miss Gladys Boyling, all the way from Terre Haute, Indiana, where they are nurses in the county hospital." As the two women stepped onto the ground from the dock, accepting drinks, their posters rotated so that Leslie could now see that they were enormous black-and-white photos of two actors.
"What's that stuff they're carrying?" Tattoo asked, squinting at the posters.
"Oh…they are posters of their favorite movie stars."
"Oh." Tattoo brightened. "That's Clark Gable and Leslie Howard, from Gone With the Wind." He glanced at Leslie and grinned. "No relation to you, of course." Leslie just rolled her eyes at him, and he chuckled.
Roarke grinned too. "Indeed it is, my friend. Miss Kolinsky and Miss Boyling are the world's greatest fans of that film; both have seen it a hundred and thirty-five times." At this Tattoo and Leslie both gawked at him, mouths dropping wide open with identically shocked looks. He nodded. "And it is their joint fantasy to be a woman like Scarlett O'Hara and fall in love with someone like Rhett Butler or Ashley Wilkes."
"They both want to be like Scarlett O'Hara?" Tattoo asked doubtfully.
"Yes," Roarke said. "Or someone very like her."
"But boss…how can we bring them back to the Civil War?"
"You ought to know by now it's simple for him, silly," Leslie scoffed good-naturedly. "I mean, geez, I've been here only six months, and even I know that."
Roarke chuckled cheerfully, then turned his attention to the plane dock—only to see the attendant there close the hatch on the charter. "What?" Leslie blurted. "Only one fantasy this weekend? How come?"
"That is strange," Roarke agreed, frowning.
"What's that, boss?" Tattoo asked, all innocence.
"Our next guest, a Mr. Oottat, is supposed to be on the plane, but I don't see him."
"Maybe Mr. Oottat is already here," Tattoo suggested, with a look that suddenly told Leslie he had to be behind the apparently missing guest.
Roarke shot him a skeptical look. "Already here? How could that be possible?"
"Because Mr. Oottat is me," the Frenchman announced.
Roarke and Leslie looked at each other, both slightly perplexed; then Roarke leaned over a little to give him a penetrating look that demanded an answer. Obligingly Tattoo prompted, "How do you spell Oottat backwards?"
"Oottat…Tattoo…oh, it's you!" Leslie groaned, disgusted with herself that she hadn't figured it out already. "That's really corny!"
"I think that's very inventive, my friend," Roarke remarked, as if trying to smooth things over in the wake of her annoyed disgust. Tattoo beamed. "So I take it you want to live out a fantasy?"
"Sure, you already made all the preparations for it, when you got the letter."
Recognition filled Roarke's face. "Oh yes, yes, yes, the letter, which you now say came from you." He glanced at Leslie, who couldn't recall any such letter, and proceeded to elaborate. "Let's see if I remember. Uh…'Dear Mr. Roarke, I am a very highly-thought-of executive, in a very responsible job which requires me to handle a variety of people and accommodate their needs.' " Tattoo evinced modesty throughout, though Leslie was disinclined to buy his little act; still, she listened, too curious to resist, and was rewarded by Roarke's commented aside: "By the way, you misspelled their."
"Well, nobody's perfect," Tattoo said with a faint shrug. "Continue." He ignored Leslie's burst of laughter.
Grinning, Roarke went on: " 'I want my own needs fulfilled for once. Therefore, it is my fantasy to be admired, adored and loved by many beautiful women, and to be the master of all I survey. Yours truly, Mister H. L. Oottat.' " The grin faded and he peered at his assistant curiously. "H. L.?"
"Hot Lips," Tattoo said brightly. Leslie groaned aloud and started to laugh in spite of herself; Roarke apparently decided he was better off not commenting. Tattoo was still beaming. "Boss, you're gonna give me my fantasy—please?" Without waiting for a reply, he headed off to get himself a drink and await Roarke's weekly introduction.
"Hot Lips Oottat," Leslie blurted, still laughing. "The master of all he surveys. I don't believe this. It's insane. Are you really gonna do it, Mr. Roarke?"
Roarke's mild annoyance was slowly supplanted by amusement, and maybe a touch of resignation. "Well, he did pay for the privilege," he observed. "I suppose it's only fair. And perhaps he'll learn a little something this weekend." He turned to the native girl who held his glass of champagne and lifted the glass from her tray, raising it as always. "My dear guests—and Mr. Oottat—I am Mr. Roarke, your host. Welcome to Fantasy Island!"
Leslie shook her head, her long hair swaying back and forth, and watched Roarke watching Tattoo; Roarke seemed almost anticipatory now, and Tattoo clearly couldn't wait to get started. Leslie found herself feeling the same way, even if only to see Tattoo rethink some of his fondest daydreams.
‡ ‡ ‡
They finally caught up with Tattoo at a lagoon where a small reception was being held for some visiting models and photographers for a department-store catalog, after trekking a fair distance around the resort end of the island. "Tattoo!" Roarke called, finally spotting his assistant in the near distance. Tattoo had found the time to change into a jacket patterned in black and blue plaid, a casual white shirt and a blue neckerchief knotted around his throat. "We've been looking all over for you."
"I've been looking for you too, and I'm really steamed," Tattoo informed him, his round face petulant.
"What seems to be the difficulty?" Roarke asked blankly.
"My fantasy! Women were supposed to go bananas over me!" At Roarke's prompt, Tattoo complained, "I've struck out ten times, and one lady hit me with her purse!" He gave Leslie a black glare when she started to laugh.
Roarke squeezed her shoulder in mild reprimand and eyed his assistant in admonishment. "Tattoo, you of all people should know that a fantasy is not an automatic occurrence! Certain adjustments must be made; the proper time must arrive. Be patient a little longer." He cast a glance at the table set up not far away. "Uh…why don't you have a coconut boom-boom while you wait?"
Tattoo, disgruntlement partially appeased, forgot his complaint entirely when he spied a pretty dark-haired girl bearing a tray, crossing the clearing. "Ooh-la-la! Boss…she's a dynamite chick. How come I never saw her around here?"
"Luana just started today. She lives on one of the outermost islands, so she has quite a bit to learn." Tattoo lit up at that, and Roarke smiled in that odd, knowing way of his. "Well, enjoy your drink," he said and paused just long enough to watch the Frenchman making a veritable beeline for the new girl before chuckling once or twice. "Come along, Leslie, we have another fantasy to launch."
She had taken no more than five or six steps when she heard Tattoo's voice behind her requesting, "Can I have a coconut boom-boom, please?" Wondering what such a drink looked like, Leslie turned around to see, just in time to witness Luana gape at Tattoo, gasp and cry out, "Nui Oh'wi!" before dropping her tray and fleeing. Tattoo stared after her in pure confusion, and Leslie blinked a couple of times in the strong tropical sun, watching Luana tear off across the grass.
"Now I cannot even get a girl to serve me a drink," Tattoo grumbled disgustedly. "Some fantasy!"
"Leslie, what are you doing? We don't want to be late," Roarke chided.
She turned back to him. "Mr. Roarke, did you see that? What happened to Luana?"
"Hm?" Roarke seemed completely unaware that anything had happened. Before she could explain, they both heard chants of "Nui Oh'wi" under the beat of a drum, and Leslie saw it register in her guardian's expression.
"Come on, Mr. Roarke, something's happening. What is it?" she persisted.
"Why, Tattoo is about to become the master of all he surveys," Roarke told her whimsically, and smiled broadly at her when she stared at him. "Now let's try to get back before Miss Boyling and Miss Kolinsky find reason to complain as well."