Friend & life-muse Tayana Nascimento
Revisiting my literary muse. Taken from [what is for me] the sharpest, darkest and funniest section of the novel*; post shark attack on the three Swedes; the point which perfectly demonstrates to what extent Richard’s (protagonist) precarious grip on reality is slipping away.
* The Beach is the story of a young backpacker travelling through South East Aisa, who after being given a secret map becomes part of a hidden beach community. Think a druggier more paranoid version of Lord of the Flies.
The stunned quiet after Karl said “shark” only lasted a heartbeat. Then we all
started jabbering again as abruptly as we’d all shut up. A circle quickly
formed around Karl and Sten — the same kind of circle you get in a schoolyard
fight, jostling for position whilst keeping a safe distance — and
suggestions started flying thick and fast. It was a crisis after all. Whatever
else a crisis causes, it causes a buzz, so everyone wanted to be in on the act.
Étienne and Keaty, tending to Sten and Karl respectively, were instructed,
“He needs water!” and “Put him in the recovery position!” and “Hold his
“Hold His Nose” was directed at Étienne — said by one of the Yugo girls —
because you have to hold the victim’s nose while giving mouth-to-mouth to
stop the air from escaping. I thought it was a stupid thing to say. You could
see the air bubbling out of the hole in Sten’s side so his lungs were obviously
fucked, and anyway, you couldn’t imagine anyone looking more dead. His
eyes were open but showing the whites, he was as limp as rags, and there
was no blood coming out of his wounds. In fact, just about all the advice was
stupid. Karl could hardly be put in the recovery position while he was
jerking around and screaming, and I didn’t have a clue what use he’d have
for water. Morphine yes, water no. But in emergencies people often seem to
call for water, so I assumed it was said in that spirit. The only person talking
sense was Sal, who was yelling at everyone to get back and shut up. No one
took any notice though. Her role as leader had been temporarily suspended,
so her good suggestions were about as useful as the bad ones.
The whole scene left me feeling flustered. I was telling myself, “Alert but
calm,” and waiting for my head to come up with the kind of suggestion that
was needed. Something that would cut through the chaos, creating a stern
efficiency that was appropriate to the gravity of the situation. Specifically,
something like the way Étienne had acted on the plateau. With that in mind,
I considered pushing my way through to Sten and saying, “Leave him,
Étienne. He’s dead.” But I couldn’t shake the idea that it would sound like a
line from a bad movie, and I wanted a line from a good movie.Instead I
pushed my way backwards through the crowd, which was easy as most
people were trying to get closer.
As soon as I was out of the circle I began thinking a great deal more
objectively. Two realizations hit me at once. Number one was that I now had
a chance to get my cigarettes. Number two was Christo. Nobody had even
mentioned the third Swede, who might have been on the beach, wounded
and waiting for help to arrive. Possibly even dead like Sten.
More Images after the jump….