by Robert Frenz
The goonas reminded me of ostrich eggs which were growing on short trees. The casing was impervious to the elements and once broken, revealed an excellent, and tasty, source of nutrition.
My first experience with a goona followed within a few hours after the boat capsized. Those who were not sucked into the vortex, caused by our sinking ship, managed to swim towards a just visible small island. Not all were good swimmers, however, and so it came to be that only I and Mike – called "the moocher" due to his aggressive desire to share in things which were not his – arrived alive to the shore. Although quite exhausted, we nonetheless managed to allow our hunger to dictate that we should search for food. We spotted those odd "eggs" hanging from rather stout branches and Mike gave them the name "goona" due to some strange association with the gooney bird – a black-footed albatross which was plentiful in the skies the day before. During WW II, some of the native chatter, on a few South Pacific islands, used "goona-goona" to describe copulation between those putrid-smelling, and ugly, humanoid inhabitants whose teeth were indelibly stained from incessant betelnut chewing. That was the impetus for my smile when I first heard Mike say "goona."
After an easy gather, we cracked open a goona and cautiously tasted the nutmeat inside. It had an odd, but pleasant, taste and just enough firmness and consistency to keep one's teeth and gums in good order. We ate slightly and then relaxed for a nap within the confines of an inviting and plentiful shade.
Upon awakening, we decided to explore our new home. Other than a few small harmless critters, and a variety of flora, the island appeared to be something out of a Dorothy Lamour movie. We both felt no discomfort from the small portion of goona which we consumed. That resulted in another, but substantially larger, meal of this strange fruit/nut.
After the usual Swiss Family Robinson shindig, which lasted about two weeks, we were settled in and time which was not used for horizon scanning and goona eating, was spent in a frivolous, exploring fashion.
I noticed that the goona tree appeared to be a very slow grower and that the trade winds often caused many of them to be cast upon the surf and thus lost to our food supply. Since we had to travel further and further from our "Hilton," I suggested that we gather up extra goonas, store them near the hut and attempt to plant a few for the future. Besides, there seemed to be some small insect that also had a taste for goona-nut and frequently we found goonas which were nearly hollow.
Mike would have no part of my suggestion. "The walk was good exercise," he usually remarked. He supplied a dozen or so other rationalizations which revealed a communist-style "share the wealth" attitude and no hint of how this wealth came into existence in the first place. The weeks added and I gathered goonas; planted goonas; and stock-piled goonas. It was a version of The Three Little Pigs where I was the brick-layer.
One day, an unexpected and powerful series of short gales managed to strip the island of most of the goona nuts. Peering from a newly opened hole in one of our abode's walls, I could see goonas tossed hither and yon upon the frantic waves. Except for my stash, our food supply disappeared with that passing hour.
Before the ship had its hull slashed open, we knew that a detailed distress signal had left the radio room. All felt assured that help would arrive in a matter of time. That time stretched into nearly five weeks, relative to the sojourn upon those island sands. Often, we wondered about what came to be a rather extraordinary delay in the anticipated rescue operation.
Mike's hunger grew and his demands increased. With his escalating aggressiveness, I knew that I might have to defend myself and my food supply – the store of goonas.
At first, I hesitatingly tossed a goona Mike's way but disturbing glimpses of the future haunted me. The goonas were finite in number. The man-days which they would support was also finite. The goonas could support one man twice as long as they could support two men. I estimated that the supply would last about three weeks for two men, or six weeks for one man. When, if ever, the rescue ship would arrive was open to speculation. If it arrived within three weeks, then no problem would result if the goonas were shared. Longer than that, we would both be dead of starvation. If the rescue was to be in six weeks, then one man could remain alive. If it never came, then nothing else would matter. Now, the dilemma presented itself: Would it be better to insure the higher probability of one man surviving or the lower probability of two men surviving? Other thoughts entered my consciousness. I had learned from my father that all rational decisions must necessarily flow from the region of highest probability for success. He was not given to wishful-thinking.
It was my sweat and toil which brought into existence that store of goonas. Mike contributed his welfare-nothing. Wasn't this "bread" mine because I earned it? Was it not his because he did not earn it? Was I to teach him my way so that "the truth would set him free?" Should I pray for him?
One morning, we awoke to an unexpected surprise. A fellow named Bill entered our camp. He was also a survivor of that ill-fated ship and his tale of woe was such that I expected him to reveal a tatoo attesting to his mental anguish. Anyway, Bill also had discovered the goona nut and – like Mike – had failed to provide for an uncertain future. Now, my uneasy mind was busily revising the new set of probabilities which this unexpected visitor had brought with him. The probability of one man surviving with the store of goonas remained the same, but that for the survival of all three declined by one-third. I didn't like this one bit. I am all for charity in regard to those upon whom misfortune falls but these two free-loaders were caught up in their own folly and insisted that the "burden" should be shared by all. I knew that shortly I'd be tossing an extra goona to Bill in order to attenuate his threatening ravings. Somehow, they reminded me of the howling mobs of ingrates who demanded cookies from the jar but never were willing to put any back in. The threats were veiled but they were very real even without cities to burn to the ground.
I wasn't surprised when Bill and Mike jointly said "Let's put it to a vote." They wanted to play "democracy." Like the White male during the latter half of the twentieth-century, I could feel my gonads being squeezed by these parasites who, as was true then, were allowed to fatten themselves upon the fruits of the labor of others.
"Morality" had decided that it was better for the three of us to perish rather than let one survive. It was also "christian." It also served the "one-man, one-vote" notion which had destroyed the promising American Republic. It was all so "equal" and "humane." It reminded me of the left-wing college professor who wanted everyone to share in the wealth, regardless of who created it, that is, all wealth except his. These people were all made from the same mold.
I never loved my enemies. I never turned the other cheek. I hated democracy and I loathed people who expected that their welfare was the responsibility of others. Their welfare was my burden. My welfare was all my own. I valued quality over quantity and felt that all of life should be directed towards securing a better garden – nourishing the desirable plants and exterminating the weeds.
We took a vote. I lost. The store of goonas was to be divided according to Marx's "to each according to his need." Bill ate more than either Mike or I, but that didn't seem to bother Mike as long as he could stuff himself at every opportunity. I watched the goonas disappear and the chances for our collective survival diminish.
Bill had brought with him a half-opened goona with a fermenting interior. He said the foaming juice was good for "a buzz." Although unnoticed at first, Bill went to the base of the tree where he had placed the fermenting goona. He retrieved it and we joined in a joyful bout of juice-sipping. I was content to let them consume the last bubbly drops and fill the remainder of their stomachs with more, by now tiring, goona. Night fell and we all dropped into an alcohol assisted deep sleep – all? Not quite.
They were snoring contentedly. I searched for a large, and heavy, rock. As Bill turned to sleep on his left side, I dropped the rock solidly onto his right temple. The muffled crack never alerted Mike and so it was an easy task to also smash in his head. I double-dropped the rock again to insure that they were launched properly into their respective heavens – the heavens that their preachers assured them was superior to life itself, and was the sought-after goal for all the righteous.
The soft, cool sand yielded promptly and the burials were accomplished before the sun rose. I napped for a short while, awoke, and ate modestly while calculating how many days I might still be able to remain free of starvation. I was getting thin but not as thin as those hapless Germans who were deliberately starved under Allied occupation in those dreadful years of 1945-1949.
I had three goonas left when "Moxie" stepped from the life boat. In my eagerness to board, I failed to hear the explanation of why it took so long for this rescue to be accomplished. Later, when I looked at the confusion of faces gawking at me, I perhaps felt that this was just another example of egalitarian "efficiency" brought about by the practitioners of indiscriminate breeding.
The men from the other lifeboat formed upon the deck and all agreed that I was the one and only survivor of the good ship Lollypop. "It was a miracle," said some. "God was with you," cried others. The voice within me said that it was neither, and for a moment I had to agree with the jew Lenin who, after witnessing the unfolding failure of his Marxist utopia, insisted that only those who work should eat.
All were asleep when I climbed atop the fo'c's'le. As I leaned against the foremast, I shouted to the winds, "This bread is mine. No man has a right to that which is mine, save me."
26 December 1997