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You’ve Fully Recovered.  Have Your Clothes?

by the Casual Swiss

After the sinking of The Haughty Wench it took Sunset Serenata Inc. eighteen
months to find me.  Two of their Juniors cornered me in the pinball room at
“The Beehive”.  They told me that although my body was never found I hadn’t
been litigious enough for them to consider me still alive.  That is, until I
applied for an ATM card and gave Sunset as a reference.

So, to avoid a future lawsuit over my life being put into risk as a kitchen
worker for their sunken ship, a system was worked out in which I was to be
paid an amount derived from my projected earnings over a life time as a
writer.  The quality of my writing in relation to its earning potential came
into question and the judge asked for a sample.  I hadn’t brought any with

We would reconvene in two days during which I would write something.  My
lawyer put me in a hotel room in Media, removed the TV, the phone, and took
my shoes.  I hand wrote on a legal pad and began a story about two Vietnam
draft dodgers who hung around Eerie.  They were waiting for Lake Eerie to
freeze and then walk across it to Canada.  During which they would talk and
soul search and one would fall through the ice.

But I didn’t have the resources with me to find cultural references from the
period (what was on television on Sundays, price of gas, etc.).  So, I
trashed it and wrote about my own experiences around the wreck of The
Haughty Wench.  I wrote about twenty-five pages.

On Friday afternoon, my lawyer sent a temp to my room.  She typed out what I
had written while I got a shower.  Later, I woke up with her head on my
chest and Steve  (my lawyer) yelling at me.  What I had written had
implicated me not only in the sinking of the Sunset’s flag ship but with a
swath of destruction that followed.  He said only the last three pages could
be entered even though he objected to my use of the word “tits”.

The temp was sound asleep so we hand wrote a title across the top of the
third to last page and went out to his car.

It was examined by a judge approved TA from Swarthmore College English Lit.
Dept.  Sunset Serenata Inc. agreed to his conclusion and cut me a check for
eleven thousand dollars.  My lawyer took eight and I got on a bus to spend
Easter in Pittsburgh.

The following is my narrative as it was submitted to His Honor:

    My very next thought occurred on the foot path out of Lapida.  It was my
first question.  “What did you do with Schwartzman’s body?”  Louis didn’t
answer.  I noticed that my jaw was Terrible Sore and that bandages were on
my face.  I knew that Louis must have carried me as far as we were.  We were
in a bean field and we weren’t alone.  The entire youth-based early-July
Norte Americano Lapida tourist community was populating the field.
    Many, still hung over from the night before were pulled from their beds
when their maids’ boyfriends used her pass key to get in.  Entire hotels
were emptied from the roof access down to the lobby in less than an hour.
Young men (some as young as twelve) were getting Americans out of the pools,
away from the beach and locked out of the bars.  In the street, the
unwelcome guests were being corralled to the north as event caliber
fireworks were set off at ground level.
    In the field, some had suitcases and others carried their armful of
clothes.  A few were wrapped in hotel sheets or their Marlboro Miles beach
towel.  Most had stopped running at the bean field, many had even sat down.  
Knots of people, twenty and under, were moving about, trying to find someone

    Louis and I had reached the middle.  He set me down and I opened my eyelids
to a young lady wearing a pillowcase.  “What happened to you?” I asked.
    “I was doing the topless bungee jump when everyone started running.  I hung
upside down for ten minutes.”
    “Have the news vans arrived?”
    “Hope not, all the blood rushed to my tits.”  Another distant explosion
went off, she covered her ears.  “My head’s full of snot, don’t see how I
can student teach in September.”  I tried to stand up.  No good.  “I’ll make
someone a beautiful wife someday.  I’ll have summers off, join a different
gym, and we’ll send both his kids to Clemson.”
    “Hey, my cousin goes to Clemson,” called over a girl pressing comic book
pages against her bleeding neck,  “Do you know Angela Rubin?”
    “Shut THE FUCK up!!” Pillowcase shrieked.

    Sitting behind me, not long after, a guy with a Taco Bell Bullwinkle
t-shirt finally unclenched his fist.  Inside was his plain donut from a
continental breakfast.  It was all crumbs.
    “What am I supposed to do with this?” he asked, then threw the crushed
donut bits into an arc over our heads.  That’s when the sea gulls came.
    Louis had wandered off for a couple of minutes, but came back when those
gulls started.  He was carrying sun screen now and helped me up.  We
followed a dry irrigation ditch through the field and I told him that, “the
whole scene (reminded) me of that part in Gone With the Wind, where all of
the Confederates are laid out.”
    “Reminds me of this time last year.  Woodstock Two.”
    “You were at Woodstock Two?”
    “So was half the world, not a novelty.  I thought I could find someone
there who would be into it.”
    “Sure,” my concentration faltered when a twin began waving her skirt to
signal an airplane, “…um, sure lots of people were into it.  That’s why they
came a million strong.”
    “No, I was looking for one person in particular.”
    “What happened?”
    “I saw a rainbow in a mist tent.  Watch your step.”  I looked around.  
Outcast from Lapida, these teens from all over the U.S. were turning a bean
field into an elephant grave yard.  Made me believe that an expensive W2
ticket wasn’t just for top shelf entertainment.  It was so you could have
Massive Young America all in a field and not have it turn into this.
    A jock in a Stussy hat screamed for water.
    “What’ll happen to all of them?” I asked.
    “Just roll up your window and do not feed the animals.”
    “What kind of beans are in this field?”  Maybe I didn’t say that, because I
knew we were both talking about Schwartzman.
    “I drug him to the docks like I’m dragging you out of this field before
these unfortunate souls start wondering where they’re going to take their
good morning shit…I took him to where Debbie-Lee had her big cargo box all
set up.
It’s like the box in Lethal Weapon 2.  But, instead of a car and money,
she’s got this little set up for riding across the ocean.”  He swung me
around to body check a guy with glasses into sitting back down.  “It’s not
like she’s in some kind of Von Ryan’s Express sweatbox.  She had a camping
light. A bunch of books, food, her tape player, some other stuff.
    And I guess she had going to the head worked out but she’s also got a sofa
bed in that box.  And, she’s out to sea now all sealed up until she reaches
her art school in Italy.  But once she gets tired and opens up the bed
    “She’ll never stop screaming.”
    “—she’ll see she’ll be spooning with Joe Schwartzman’s corpse all the way
across the Atlantic.”

    At the time I wasn’t much of a traveling companion.  My legs were working
but my brain was on a weak cruise control.  Louis said he’d get me out of
there.  Hell, that since he was heading to Maine he’d get me all the way
home if he could.
    I mumbled, “thanks,” and turned around for the last time.  Behind me were a
few thin lines of smoke as blasts of Seleena echoed off the cliffs and out
to sea where The Haughty Wench theme cruise ship sank a little deeper.

    Everything about Lapida has stayed pretty quiet.  I’ve heard about it a few
times since then.  A girl would say that her friend in Ithaca had an RA who
would buy beer for the freshman on his floor, drink with them, and talk
about how he was an American refugee after a party town kicked everybody
    Once, a librarian told me that his sister had narrowly missed being on the
Olympic Women’s Lacrosse Team.  She was given the option to be Ball Girl and
still travel with the team.  In Denver they found a gun in her purse and for
the second time in two years he had to send her money for a ticket home.  
The first time was after, “Some Mexican hotel workers burned her luggage,”
and she tried to make it up the coast to the next town on a jet ski.

    Crossing into America was nerve racking.  I thought what had happened would
be in every newspaper and special dogs would be brought in to sniff out
horse meat and ether.  Actually expecting to see a chalk portrait of myself
on television screens, I wanted to wait until night.  But Louis got me
through the establishment and I gave an official my name as “Rooster
    My jaw was starting to hurt again and I stood under an air conditioning
vent.  It felt great and I closed my eyes, letting air blow down on me.  
Louis tugged my arm and pulled me out of line, over to the cattle-chute
exit, and into the light of America.

Copyright©2000 The Casual Swiss