Taking the Tour
“This isn’t a tour, it’s torture!” screamed the doe-eyed blonde girl as a potato flew past her head.
“It’s not torture if they’re baked potatoes!” Captain Tullis shouted back from across the field.
“You’re crazy!” Shouted one of the boys, but there was really no telling them apart, as they looked pretty much alike to the Captain, whose philosophy of life was that if you’ve seen one dude naked, you’ve seen them all. Not that these dudes were naked or anything.
“It’s not like they’re frozen potatoes!” Captain Tullis retorted, shaking his head. Kids these days were such whiners.
They would have been frozen potatoes if there had been room in the freezer for them, but there was no space between the unmarked jars of the Captain’s own special specimen. There were some potatoes under the sink, but they were all mushy and essentially maggot soup. The only alternative was to go after the twenty baked potatoes in the fridge.
There was a really good reason that Captain Tullis had baked twenty potatoes, he was sure of it. The only problem was, he didn’t remember, and Hopewell was still so pissed at him for the previous night’s vomit-capades that he wasn’t talking.
Maybe he was planning on making mashed potatoes, he guessed, as he stuffed the foil-wrapped ammunition into his potato sack. He grabbed the potato launcher from its perch above the mantel in the dining room, and raced as fast as his legs could carry him back to the welcome center.
He burst into the main doors of the welcome center, coughing and wheezing from his run. He sounded like he’d just been running for his life, he was so out of breath, but the Captain didn’t believe in such trivialities as increasing one’s speed to avoid death.
“Who are you?” the redheaded girl asked from her seat on the fluffy pink waiting room couch.
The Captain held up an index finger, to signify that if they waited for him to catch his breath, he’d be able to explain that to them. If he had been able to speak, first, he would have told the redhead to get off the couch, as her hair clashed with it and ruined the ambiance of the room.
As they listened to him wheeze and carry on, the kids began to get a little nervous, wondering if this gray-bearded crazy man was their tour guide. They nearly collectively hoped not. After all, he was wearing a button down polo shirt that had little pictures of bait and tackle on it and pearl earrings. Plus, there was a stuffed monkey sitting on his shoulder. It was like something an old man would wear once dementia set in and he forgot what words meant.
“Oh, I forgot,” the Captain said, breathily, his manly bosoms heaving with each intake of oxygen.
“Forgot what?” The redhead asked, standing up and putting her hands on her hips like she was ready to lead a cheer.
The Captain was suddenly reminded of a porno he once saw, and just as suddenly wished he hadn’t thought of it. He pushed the thought to the back of his mind for later, and answered her question.
He raised the loaded potato gun at her and replied, “I was gonna make you wait, then when you all got fed up, I was gonna shoot at you. Less fun this way.”
He shrugged sympathetically, he wasn’t a monster, after all. In the next second, he unloaded the spud gun into the wall behind her, and bits of potato shrapnel sprayed half the room.
It was a warning shot, and man oh man was Janet ever going to be pissed off in the morning when she saw the mess, but that wasn’t really his problem.
The Captain’s main problem was that it was a pain in the ass to re-load the potato gun. By the time he had it locked and loaded, so to speak, the twenty-somethings had a pretty decent head start on him.
Luckily, the Captain was in fairly good shape, despite his wheezing problem which was more about seasonal allergies than it was being unfit. His fitness was due to his tendency to walk off his drinking benders with his faithful sidekick, Hopewell, in tow. At the moment, Hopewell was kicking him in the ear as he plodded after the scrambling tourists.
It didn’t used to be like this. Back in the day, tourists were plentiful, and with a fully staffed welcome center, they confucted, or rather, conducted proper tours, with like, brochures, and walking guides, and brightly colored bicycle cabs and everything. There was even a complimentary breakfast. All that went away a couple of years ago when all the problems started on the mainland. Suddenly it wasn’t safe to vacation anymore, but worse than that, people didn’t have the means to afford a luxurious holiday.
So it was mostly the scant misguided youth here and there, thinking this wonderful little island getaway would be a perfect place to enjoy spring break or a long weekend. The more scantily clad and misguided, the better, and the advertisements that the Captain paid for in the papers for hundreds of university towns certainly did pay off in the end.
After a few vicious tourism scandals, Captain Tullis, dutifully and per court order, told the papers to stop printing the advertisements, but somehow, a few still lingered out there. It reminded Captain Tullis of back when he lived on the mainland, and he tried to get rid of a certain internet service provider. They shut his service off, no problems, but seemed to take their own special undocumented severance out of his checking account each month regardless. Funny how they could stop the service, but not stop the payment. It was the reverse here, he’d stopped the payment, but somehow someone was still printing the ads, because the students still showed up.
As he chased down those meddling kids, Captain Tullis thought about how that internet service provider continued to screw him over, and how he needed to write them another strongly worded letter.
If there was one thing he’d learned from the latest issue of Cosmo to hit the island (before he generously donated it to the welcome center), it was that dudes needed hobbies, too. And while woodworking had sounded like his kind of hobby, he soon discovered that it involved actual lumber carving and not the kind that happened while simply looking at pretty advertisements for makeup and tampons and junk in Cosmo.
Still needing a hobby, the Captain took up letter writing, which was going along pretty well, if he did say so himself. Every time some company skeved him off, they got a letter. Every time a lady came along and then ended up ditching him, he wrote one of those letters that never got sent, because the one time he did send one, there was some kind of restraining order ordeal that he didn’t much like to think about.
Captain Tullis was a pretty slow runner, but he finally caught up with the kids. They seemed to have decided a good place to hide would be in the port-o-johns near the main entrance to the fairgrounds, which was really a rectangle of gravel that was supposed to be used on the roads until everyone was too lazy to spread it out. Luckily, nature took care of that in the form of rain, and then the local chapter of OCD Anonymous did the rest.
All week, the locals had been setting up for the summer festival season, so the port-o-johns were a recent addition to the fairgrounds. First up was the Captain’s favorite, the Moonshine Festival. He quickly positioned his potato gun, lined up a shot, aimed for the first port-o-john on the left, but couldn’t bring himself to shoot. He wasn’t about to earn himself a lifetime banning from the Moonshine festival, not after he had just had his two-year restriction lifted.
“You can come out, now!” He shouted, in the most reassuring voice he could muster.
One of the boys shouted off some obscenities, so they clearly weren’t getting the rules here. Once the tour was declared over, it was over. Sheesh, it was like they hadn’t even read the brochure!
The Captain wrenched open the first stall and found the blonde girl standing there, shivering.
He extended his hand to her, and said, “Really, tour’s over, now we head to the Boneyard.”
The girl turned a sickly pale green in the almost full moonlight, and tried to back up a step, butt bumped into the commode and almost fell backwards.
The Captain grabbed her, and she screamed.
“Oh get over yourself, princess,” he said, shaking his head. “I said the tour is over, you kids were good sports, so now I buy you a few rounds of beer at the pub and you go home and tell your friends never to come here, deal?”
The girl nodded and relaxed. As the Captain released his hold on her, she sprinted off once again.
He shrugged and continued the routine with the two boys, who followed suit, minus the girly screaming, but only in one case.
The final stall had to be the redhead. The Captain opened it, and there she sat, concentrating very hard on something. She looked mortified, her eyes wide and judgmental.
“Can’t a girl do a number two?” She hissed at him, deadening her whisper on the words “number two” like she was committing some kind of inappropriate act for the setting.
“So sorry, miss!” The Captain replied, closing the door and leaving her some privacy, if not much decency.
For as long as he lived, Captain Tullis would never understand redheaded girls. He thought about this for a bit as he walked back to his houseboat, and then his mind shifted and he began to compose a letter in his head to his frickin’ former ISP.
He would compose the letter in the morning. It was late, and he needed to rest up for the big parade that kicked off the Moonshine Festival at dawn, or whenever folks crawled out of bed and meandered down to the fairgrounds.
*About here is where the Captain caught up with the kids and launched a potato at them, resulting in the exchange that occurred in the opening of the episode.
This episode went live on Sunday, May 30, 2010.
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, which begins on day one of the Moonshine Festival.