Jacob Lawrence, "Untitled [Worker With Tools]" (1997)
Jacob Lawrence, Untitled [Worker With Tools] (1997)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages


Gilligan's first priority was expansion of the cave shelter. Ready for seven, it would require many days' work to prepare for the President's large group. Sleeping spaces, lighting, storage all had to be planned and apportioned.

Accustomed to working with little supervision, he was surprised to find himself overruled. Turd Blossom set him to work building a series of new huts, arranged in a pattern around the one he formerly shared with the Skipper, where the Old Ex-President and his Wife now lived. With a three-fingered Boy Scout salute he snapped to it.

Mary Ann found herself cleaning and cooking. No-one explicitly assigned her these duties. It was rather that, if she stopped, things got dirty, and people became hungry, and complaints flew from all sides. It was as if the new arrivals assumed the island came with meal service, and maid service, and laundry service. Which had probably been true of every other island they'd ever seen.

Gilligan was gathering pandanus leaves for the new huts when members of the First Class Cabin, led by Mr. Howell, assigned him another priority: expansion of the golf course from six holes to eighteen. Keeping the jungle away from the existing six was already a burden, but Mr. Howell made it clear that the very standards of civilization were at stake. Gilligan understood the importance, and with his little bamboo wheelbarrow began clearing the underbrush.

Mary Ann was folding bedsheets when The Old Ex-President's Wife approached her with a different assignment. The Political Wives' Club were hosting a social gathering in the clearing. Would she mind serving hors d'oeuvres? She spent the afternoon dispensing fruit canapés, which she made herself.

Accompanied by an impressive group of Generals and Admirals, Rummy, the Secretary of Defense, personally sought Gilligan with an urgent assignment. The island was unprepared to repel invaders. Defensive bunkers, watchtowers, and a signaling system would have to be built encompassing all the strategic places. "Defense is priority one, son," barked the no-nonsense Secretary. Gilligan dropped the golf course and began digging trench lines around the lagoon.

One of the actresses had a splinter. Would Mary Ann remove it for her?

Permanent huts were necessary for all the arrivals. The Reverends and their athletes required a gymnasium and a steam room. The Cabinet needed an indoor meeting space, with sandwiches. The scientists clamored for a centrifuge. The State of Hollywood wanted a swimming pool. The yellow, orange and red bananas were boring; weren't there any lavender ones? The Governor of Florida complained that there wasn't a dry cleaners. Roads were required. Clothes needed mending. Chuck insisted on a skeet shooting range. The President wanted the latrines replaced by proper indoor plumbing. Late at night they worked on the cave shelter, when no-one was awake to stop them.

Ominous black clouds flew across the face of the moon. Mary Ann and Gilligan shivered in their hammocks, slung near the clearing. It was the middle of the night before they got to bed, and they were up before daylight readying breakfast. They were too tired to talk. As they slept, wind tossed the tops of tall palms, swaying angrily against the stars.