The Castaway

The Castaway




Let’s start out by saying the Gerald was not a very smart man!


Gerald and his wife had just married and were enjoying part of their honeymoon on the boat of a friend.  They had ventured scores of miles into the ocean.  The ocean was quiet and Gerald partook in some scotch which made him somewhat sleepy.  He lied down on the deck of the boat and quickly fell asleep.


He was abruptly awakened by the cold ocean water.  When he was finally oriented with his head above the water, the boat was well in the distance.  He yelled out, but the boat continued without him until it disappeared over the horizon.  All he could do was tread water until he was either rescued or drowned.


Just as he was about to give up hope, a large wooden box rose to the surface.  It was about seven feet long and three feet wide.  He climbed upon the box and held on for dear life.  The box had fancy artwork carved into the wooden faces.  He noticed an inscription carved into the box.  It said “The Pequod.”


Gerald floated on the box for the rest of the day and all of the following night.  On the morning of the next day, he could see land in the distance.  Fortunately, he was floating toward that land.  By midday, he was close enough to swim to shore. 


The land, which he presumed was an island, had a sandy beach and beyond the beach was a rock cliff that was virtually impossible to climb, at least for Gerald.  He was very thirsty and hungry, so finding food and especially water was essential for his survival.  He walked along the beach in desperation, hoping that he would find food, water, or humanity.


Finally, after walking for hours, he came upon a small brook that ran from the ledge to the ocean.  He drank from the brook the fresh, clean water.  Then, he notice fruit trees with coconuts right beside the brook.  He had found an oasis.  The coconuts literally fell from the trees and he had a good meal.


Gerald loved old television.  He had seen every episode of “Gilligan’s Island,” as well as many other popular programs of that genre.  He remembered how The Professor had solved all of their problems, and he was sure that he could do the same.  So he had no doubt that he could survive until he was rescued.  He was sure that his wife and friend would send out a search party just as soon as they noticed that he was missing.


Gerald searched for some vines to make a hammock so that he would not have to sleep on the sand.  As he gathered the vines, the theme from “Gilligan’s Island” reverberated through his mind with slightly altered lyrics.


Now this is the tale of a castaway, 
I’m here for a long long time.
I'll have to make the best of things, 
It's an uphill climb.

I’m first mate and I’m Skipper, too.
I’ll do my very best, 
To make myself comf'terble
In this tropic island nest.

No phone, no lights, no motor car, 
Not a single luxury!
Like Robinson Crusoe
I’m primitive as can be.

Like Robinson Crusoe
I’m primitive as can be.


Gerald thought that making a hammock would be easy, after all everybody on “Gilligan’s Island” had a hammock.  So, he gathered vines and stretched them between two trees.  He interwove other vines to keep the vines from separating.  He reinforced it with small sticks.  After spending nearly the entire afternoon making the hammock, it was finally time to test it.  He lifted himself the three feet onto the hammock and stretched out.  After a few seconds, one of the vines snapped, and then another, and another, and another, until every single vine broke leaving him on the sand.


Gerald was slightly angry.  “How did The Professor do it?  Maybe he had a better writer!”


So the first night, Gerald slept on the sand.  For many nights, he slept on the sand, occasionally getting bitten by creatures with which he shared his sandy bed.


Days passed.  Gerald never thought of keeping a calendar, so he had no idea how many days had passed since he became stranded on this land.


Occasionally, he took long walks up and down the beach.  The length of his trips was limited by the number of coconuts that he could carry.  He never came upon another brook into the ocean and he could not chance walking beyond the distance that his water could last him.


One day, Gerald decided to make a chair.  They had chairs on “Gilligan’s Island” and if The Professor could do it, so could he!  So he gathered pieces of bamboo and vines.  He lashed them together and finally after two days of work, he had a chair.  It was somewhat crooked and uneven, but it was a chair.  Finally, he sat on the chair and it collapsed under him.  He found himself sitting on the ground with bamboo all around him.


Gerald decided just to sit on a rock and watch the ocean until he was rescued.


Weeks passed!  (He couldn’t stop them!)


One day, he heard an airplane.  He went out on the beach and there was a low-flying plane with pontoons.  It was a sea plane.  He waved at it with all of his energy.  The pilot wagged in response.  He had been seen and Gerald knew that rescue was only hours or maybe days away.


He went out on the beach and waited.  And he waited.  And he waited.  Days passed and then weeks passed and nobody came.


Then, a month or so later, the plane came over again.  Again Gerald waved at the plane and the plane wagged in response, but there was no rescue.  Gerald could not understand why nobody came to rescue him.


It had been months since Gerald became stranded on the island and since he had not kept a calendar, he had no way of knowing just how many months.  He had not shaved and his clothes were tattered.


One morning, when Gerald went to the shore, he saw footprints along the beach.  If I’m like Robinson Crusoe, then this must be Friday.  He examined a footprint and determined that because it was smaller than his, Friday must be a young woman.  It did not occur that Friday might be a boy.  In his mind, he pictured this young woman as Mary Ann or maybe it was Ginger!  It fit all the “Gilligan’s Island” fantasy.


Without taking the time to get a few coconuts for food and water, Gerald started to follow the footprints in the hope of catching up to Friday.  Since it was still early morning, Friday could not be too far ahead, maybe a mile or two.  He tried not to walk too fast for fear of becoming tired, but he still tried to keep a brisk pace.


As he walked, he tried to imagine what Friday looked like.  She had long pants that went down to her ankles, and a baggy shirt.  He knew that he would fall in love with her just as soon as he caught up with her.  So he kept on following the footprints.  He wondered if she had a cabin.  Or maybe a boat!  She definitely had food!


The hours passed and Gerald had travelled for miles and miles along the barren beach.  He realized that he should have brought a few coconuts, but it was too late.  If he went back, he would never catch up with Friday.  All he could do was to continue.  He was getting thirsty and hungry.


As he tried to image Friday, her pants got shorter and tighter, as did her shirt, revealing a very attractive figure.  Gerald knew that he had to keep following her.  He knew that Friday had to have water and food.  She was also his only hope of being rescued.


Soon, it was getting dark and Gerald realized that he could not continue.  He decided not to travel any further until sunrise.  It got dark very quickly.  He looked down the beach and miles away, he could see a fire on the beach.


“Friday has fire!  Friday has fire!  And she’s not that far away!”


The next morning, Gerald continued to follow the footprints.  He imagined Friday having shorts and a tank top.  She was very sexy!  Gerald knew that he would fall in love with Friday when he finally caught up with her.


It had been twenty-four hours since he left his place on the beach.  It had been twenty-four hours since he had had food or water.  He was very tired.  It was mid morning when he reached the campfire that had long since burned out.


Gerald was walking very slowly, but still he continued to follow the footprints.  As he pictured Friday, she was wearing a skimpy bikini.  He knew that she was the love of his life!  He had to catch up with her!


Soon Gerald was completely worn out.  He was falling down, crawling, and then getting up again only to walk a few hundred feet before falling down again.  He had gone as far as he could and he had not caught up with Friday.  He hoped that just beyond those rocks that jutted out, he would catch up with Friday, but his hope was diminishing with every step.


With all of his strength, he climbed over the barrier of rocks.  To his surprise and delight, there was an oasis on the other side of the rocks, like where he had been living for so many months.  His hope had been restored and so was his strength.  This is probably where Friday lived and she would provide food and water for him.  He could no longer find her footprints, but he just kept going in the same direction.


After a few hundred feet, he could hear the screams of women, but they were playful and happy.  Soon, he emerged onto a sandy beach full of bikini clad young women and healthy young men.  In the middle of the beach was a small building.  As he approached the building, he determined that it was a refreshment stand.  He staggered toward the stand.


Behind the bar was a young man with a name tag that said, “Isaac.”  Gerald walked up to the bar, and all that he could say was, “Water!  Water!”


The young man looked at Gerald, with his long beard and ragged clothes, and said, “Are you a guest here?”


Gerald was barely able to speak.  “I’m from the other side of the island.”


The bartender handed Gerald a bottle of water and said, “Are you the hermit that lives on the other side of the island?”


Gerald put the water down and using both hands, he pointed at himself.  “That’s me!  That’s me!”


The young man gave Gerald a sandwich.  While Gerald ate, the young man picked up the telephone and made a call.  As Gerald ate the sandwich, he noticed that at the end of the beach was a large old-style single story building made of wood and painted white.  He assumed that it was a hotel.  As Gerald continued to eat, he saw a man leave the building and approach the refreshment stand.  The man was dressed in a business suit that was entirely white except for a black tie.  He had a distinguished appearance that seemed out-of-place on this hedonistic beach where virtually everybody was wearing a skimpy swim suit.


The man approached Gerald and with a slight Mexican accent introduced himself.  “I am your host, Mr. Doark.  Welcome to Dream Island!”


Gerald was rather stunned and totally wordless.


“Isaac advises me that you are our resident hermit.”


Gerald, having finished the sandwich and water finally was able to speak.


“I fell off of a boat and drifted for days on an old crate until I landed on the island.  I’ve been trying to survive, waiting to be rescued.”


Mr. Doark showed some embarrassment in his response.  “We thought that you were a hermit and decided to leave you alone.  The pilot reported you and we assumed that you waved at him just to be friendly.  I really must apologize.”


“I just want to go home!”


“I understand.  By the way, what’s your name?”


“I’m Gerald.”


“Very well, Gerald.  I will ask the concierge, Gopher, to get you a room and some clean clothes.  I hope that you will join me for dinner after you change and clean-up.”


“Thank you, Mr. Doark.  I really appreciate it.”


“There will be a plane leaving the island first thing tomorrow.  I will arrange for a seat for you.”


Just then, a large bell started to ring.  Gerald could see a bell-tower near the center of the building.


Mr. Doark said, “Please excuse me.  I have other guests to attend to.”


Mr. Doark started to walk toward the hotel when a very short man, dressed like Mr. Doark entirely in white except for a black tie, ran out of the bell-tower and yelled, “De Plane!  De Plane!”


The plane, which was the plane that Gerald had seen before, passed over the island and landed just offshore.


Gerald looked at the bartender.  Despite the growth of hair on Gerald’s face, the bartender could see the look of puzzlement and amazement on his face.


“Mr. Doark’s real name is Harry Schwartz.  He won this huge lottery and decided to fulfill a fantasy to be a TV character.  His favorite television program was “Fantasy Island.”  So, he bought this island and had the hotel erected.  He created this whole resort so that he could pretend that it was Fantasy Island.  He tried to change his name to Mr. Roark, and change this island to Fantasy Island, but there were copyright problems, so he did the next best thing.”


Gerald could not find words to express his utter astonishment, so the bartender continued.  “My real name is John, but the bartender on “Love Boat” was named Isaac, so that’s what they call me.”


Gerald was even more bewildered by the turn of events.  All he could say was, “Yah, okay!  Okay!”


After having another sandwich and bottle of water, Gerald went to the hotel and was shown to his room.  That evening after cleaning up, Gerald had supper with Mr. Doark and shared his adventure living on the other side of the island.  He never asked about the identity of Friday because it really did not matter anymore.  Soon, he would be going home to his loving bride.


The next morning, as he was about to get onto the plane, Mr. Doark generously gave Gerald enough money to get all the way home and then bid him farewell.  As Gerald got onto the plane, he took one last look at the island.  The pilot made a slight change of course so that the plane would fly over Gerald’s former home.


The rest of the trip was uneventful.  When he got to the airport in the city where he had lived, he hired a taxi to take him home.  Finally, he was on the street where he had lived before his adventure as a castaway.  When he was in front of his home, he paid the cabby and walked to the front door of his house.  He reached into the hiding place for the key, but it was missing.  He knocked on the door and waited for his loving wife.


Instead of being greeted by his wife, the door was answered by the friend from whose boat he fell into the ocean.  There was a look of utter surprise on the faces of both men.  Finally, the friend said, “Come in!  Come in quickly so that nobody will see you!”


Just then, his wife walked in and screamed.  Once she had recovered from the shock, she said, “What are you doing here?  You’re supposed to be dead!”


Gerald learned that they had, in fact, tried to kill him so that they could collect life insurance.  The friend turned out to be a lawyer, who had the Court declare Gerald dead.  They planned to get married and live happily for the rest of their lives with the ill-gotten money.  Gerald was understandably upset.


“I’m going to the police.  You will be charged with attempted murder and insurance fraud.  You won’t get away with this!  You won’t get away!”


Gerald got up and started for the door.  The friend and Gerald’s wife stopped him.  “We’ll give you half, if you just disappear and let us be.”


Gerald stopped and thought for a moment.


A few weeks later, Gerald was on a small airplane.


“This is your pilot.  We are approaching Dream Island.  Please fasten your seatbelts for the final descent.”


Minutes later, Gerald departed from the airplane and was given a glass of Champaign.  Then he heard a familiar voice.


“I am your host, Mr. Doark.  Welcome to Dream Island”


As Mr. Doark, talked to each guest, he finally got to Gerald.


“Gerald, I have fulfilled your request.  I have had a small cabin built where you lived.  It is just like the cabin where Gilligan and the Skipper lived.  It is supplied with plenty of food and you will have a motorboat so that you can visit the hotel whenever you choose.  And I have provided a solar-powered DVD player with a complete collection of “Gilligan’s Island.”


“Mr. Doark, that’s wonderful!”


“Gerald, as per our agreement, occasionally guests will visit who have a dream of being a character from “Gilligan’s Island.”  Of course, you will always be The Skipper!”


“I can’t wait until you send me a Mary Ann.”


Mr. Doark stood back so that everybody could see him.  He held up his glass of Champaign and said in a loud voice, “Welcome to Dream Island.”




© 2014 Frank Karkota


The Ballad of Gilligan's Island by George Wyle and Sherwood Schwartz