Schweppes Indian Tonic Water Contains Quinine

Back in Savusavu. Aussies or Kiwis peer with flashlights through slits of the dock behind their boat. Aussies or Kiwis with torches, I mean. An engine belt of some kind screams from under the hood of a taxi in the street. A live band plays across the street in a restaurant/bar named Dinner's Paradise, which is grand re-opening, and is having an $8 FJD buffet. So like $4 something US. Here among the pic-a-nic tables an Aussie or Kiwi child runs around and blows a party horn three times over say five minutes; considerable restraint for a boy of maybe eight, I find. He is unattended and has license to blow the party horn all he wants. The Kiwi or Aussies horribly mispronounce their words loudly in what are known as Kiwi or Aussie accents. Native English speakers are very conservative with vowel sounds in the Southern Hemisphere. They only use three, and those three they try to pronounce the same way, often combining them. The engine belt still screams. I sit at a pic-a-nic table that's been painted white, and am drinking a Schweppes Indian Tonic Water. It's seven pm but the sun sets here at five-thirty or so, and it's night by 6. I kayaked here from the boat. Moonless, just now. Ten minutes maybe. To get the laundry. It won't be ready till Monday morning, I'm now told. It's saturday here now. I said that will be fine. That I will be here Monday morning. “Here” is a yacht club called Copra Shed Marina. A Kiwi or Aussie boy wearing an LED headlight throws bread from the dock behind his parents' boat, and the boats of others. Another Kiwi or Aussie girl does the same thing. They all could be Kiwis or Aussies. I cant discern. The boy lays on his stomach, head over the dock, peering into the water, where he has thrown soft bread. He looks for fish. A bearded man carries a dozen eggs by me to the other side of a building. There is nothing on the other side, I have been there. When I say nothing I mean a plastic chair, and old outboard motors, and little else. The engine belt screams. A table of young adults talk and laugh at another pic-a-nic table. At least one of the group is Fijian, and is teaching the young white people Fijian words. The Aussies or Kiwis now know how to say vagina in Fijian, perhaps, but I definitely now know vagina in Aussie (or Kiwi) ends with an R. Aussie and Kiwis really do say G'day, mate. The boy on the dock looks at his hand that he dipped in the water, illuminated by his LED headlight. The band at Dinners Paradise has stopped playing their instruments. An Aussie or Kiwi girl excitedly tells the boy that she sees the big fish. While paddling the kayak over here from the boat I saw a meteor and audibly said “oh my god, wow,” to myself. It was like a roman candle. From down here. The Eagles' Hotel California plays on the Dinners Paradise house speakers. The children have called for and brought their mother from their boat to see the big fish, all with headlights. They point and whisper. At Dinners Paradise the band begins playing again. Rubbery covers of I don't know what songs, like a weirdly familiar person whose bones have turned to suet, skin to unscented wax. The Dinners Paradise clientele cry “yeahhhh!” and clap along with the beat. There is not enough light pollution to obscure a view of the Milky Way. The band at Dinners Paradise are playing a blues song now, harmonica and all. The harmonica sounds like a dizzy harmonica. Heard and understood lyrics: “come back baby,” “_____ git you girl,” etc. The keyboardist plays a solo mainly in the upper register banging a few of the same keys over and over, like in blues songs. This excites the crowd. Someone whistles loudly. Earlier today while dropping off the boat's laundry a Fijian-Indian man told me about a club, and offered to take me there and buy me a drink, maybe lunch. No no no, thank you. But it is a very nice club. No, thank you. Etc. The band at Dinners Paradise plays a reggae song now. Now another blues song. “Baby” is a prominent word, and the singer doesn't want to make Baby lonely, like in blues songs. The singer has Baby's number. Baby has the singer's number too. Baby keep callin on him with that number. The children still look for fish, and have run out of soft bread to offer. Now happy birthday is being played for the benefit of a Brian. The band, perhaps Fijians in general, say “have a long life to you,” as well as “happy birthday to you.” I haven't heard the taxi with the screaming fan belt in some time. Earlier today a shirtless American named Bill told me he was going to take a shower, and where prostitutes could be found. A mermaid with large naked breasts was tattooed on his left bicep. He said he used to have a very nice house somewhere on the east coast of the USA, but now his ex wife has a very nice house somewhere on the east coast of the USA. This was not the first time he said that, I felt. He knew where the house is, but I've forgotten. I said I heard that yeah there are a lot of Chinese prostitutes here. He said yeah whatever you want you can get, that rates vary according to quality if ha ha ha I know what he means. I smiled and nodded. Now the children have a white bucket. Maybe they are trying to hand-fish. A dinghy was spotted drifting far from any boats, earlier today, by a Fijian man named Steve. I kayaked to it, hoping not to find a corpse in it. Hotel California is playing on the house speakers over at Dinners Paradise again. The dinghy was caught in some reef, luckily, and I tied its bow line to the kayak and paddled back. An American wearing a shirt named Bill, not the same Bill who knows about prostitutes, said wooooo Scott! as I returned, dinghy in tow. He would have to buy me a coke, next time, he said. I said yeah okay, and that I was glad there wasn't a corpse in his dinghy. Clark told him I don't drink, he said, and repeated his offer to buy me a coke. I said yeah, okay, cool, etc. He pressed the issue and asked if I did AA, I said no, and asked if he did, he said no, but his wife was into it, and that he goes sometimes, and I said yeah whatever works, but not for me. I truly never know what the date is, or the day of the week, now. A rugby game is on TV in the bar behind me. The Aussies and Kiwis are viscerally affected by the rugby game, wincing and saying oooo, like all are gut punched at once. White men visiting Fiji really do wear floral print shirts. I just realized that there is a mast cabled to the ground, right next to my table here in the courtyard. It's huge of course, very tall. The children have finished looking for fish in the water. I imagine they are in their boat. The band at Dinners Paradise have begun La Bamba. It is the most recognizable song of the evening so far, and the crowd is going wild. The voice of A Kiwi or Aussie sportscaster grinds out of the TV in the bar. The lights in the courtyard here have been turned off.


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