Ellie McPierson was thirty four when her last relationship ended. She was devastated.
Not another one
She wasn’t particularly bothered about the boyfriend; after all she’d only known him three weeks. It was the way it happened, and what the ‘bastard ‘had told the papers.
Why do they do it?
His name was Terry. They had met at an awards ceremony where he was the squeeze of a perma-tanned orange soap star and lingerie model called Sophie.
Ellie was presenting an award to the best newcomer in a soap. She had worn her best dress, well to be truthful it wasn’t actually hers, it belonged to the nice people at Christian Dior. They always lent her a frock or two for special nights. It was a strapless number in pale blue, nicely split to the waist to show her thirty nine inch legs. Her five inch Louis Luberton heels made her feel head and shoulders above the other woman…literally.
She saw him staring, open mouthed. She smiled when his girlfriend thumped him. She almost heard his mouth snap shut.
Men are so predictable
Having presented the prize to a little fat Greek girl with the beginnings of a moustache, she was ushered into the green room for pictures and a glass or two of bubbly. It was there he made his move.
‘I thought you were great’
‘I only said, and the winner is’
‘But it was the way you said it’
She smiled. She liked him. He had a cheeky smile, one that women couldn’t resist.
The way he dumped the orange one was magnificent. A call from a trusted mate to tango’s cell phone.
I can’t find Terry anywhere, can you get him to call me. It’s his mum, she’s collapsed. Tango panicked and wished him good luck as he ran out promising to keep her in the loop.
Ellie met him at the hotel.
Breakfast was rushed, as the desire for a replay outweighed the salmon and scrambled eggs.
There was something about this guy. He wasn’t intimidated being with one of the world’s greatest supermodels. The Figure.
She kissed him goodbye and returned to bed. With the smell of him still on the sheets, she closed her eyes and waited for the familiar waves of guilt to come flooding in. They never came. She giggled to herself and pulled the duvet over her head and slept the sleep of a contented child.
The following weeks were a blur. Terry was a dream, and had a great personality as well as a body to die for. He wasn’t in show business which was a change. All her previous men had been, with the exception of the odd footballer or two. She had to laugh when he told her he was a painter.
’Landscape or portraits?’ she asked
‘Houses’ he said, ‘I’m a builder!’
Within a week the tabloids had reported they were an item. Within two weeks they were pestered and photographed regularly.
The headlines were predictable.
Ellie’s gonna builder a relationship
Or the master of the silly headline, The Sun.
‘Ellie’s gone all emulsional’
The News of the World had run a story. The orange girlfriend was broken hearted that Ellie had stolen her man. Terry was portrayed as a celeb seeker. The story listed details of his love-making prowess… or lack of it.
They weren’t bothered.
It’s her loss.
Who reads it anyway?
Ellie was happy for the first time in months. Her ex, a footballer who played for Charlton Athletic was also happy. For Ellie’s new relationship had pushed the cost of his story up by ten grand.
Ellie and Terry sat in the restaurant of the Lanesbourgh Hotel having breakfast when her mobile rang. It was her press agent Pat Riversmith. Suddenly the sausages weren’t as good as they were ten minutes ago.
Errol Forester had really given it both barrels.
The drugs, the sex, the bondage, the threesomes, the lot. There was even a picture of Ellie lying on his bed in a Charlton away shirt.
Ellie was devastated, and angry. It was an awful colour.
Why do men do it?
Terry was wonderful about it, but she could see in his eyes he was upset. He said nothing but she could sense coldness.
They kept a low profile for a while and then one night, while Ellie was sitting in Annabel’s with a friend her mobile buzzed. A text. Thinking it was Terry, she fished the phone out of her bag.
Please call soonest; Pat.
What could her press agent want at two thirty in the morning on a Sunday?
Terry had sold his story to The Star on Sunday…
Why do they do it?
Sunday morning was normally a time for lazing about and reading the papers. Not this Sunday. Not these papers. It was time to pack and run away.
The taxi dropped her off at terminal five. A nice 747 dropped her off in Sydney nineteen hours later.
She slept most of the flight.
Most people have a place they run to in time of trouble. Ellie’s place was home. Australia. She would be safe there.
The TV cameras at the airport told another story. The scandal had hit the Aussie tabloids big time. She smiled, said ‘no comment’ for as long as she could. She tried her best. Sky news was the final straw. She hated Sky bloody news.
‘If you must know, there is no truth in this man’s…no, boy’s accusations. They’re all the same they just have to boast. Well I hope his childish claims are taken with a pinch of salt. Rather like your news bulletins’
‘Are you planning to stay in Australia?’
‘Are you breaking off your relationship with him?’
‘Are you mental?’
‘What’s your plans now Ellie?’
‘I’m going to become a nun’
‘Has this put you off future relationships?’
‘You bet your arse…all men are bastards!’
Her mum was sympathetic.
‘I don’t blame you for being upset dear, but you must remember that all men are still little boys. They have to show off. It’s worse when they go out with you, they all want to be seen with you, you can’t blame them. What’s the point of sleeping with the most beautiful girl in the world if you can’t tell your mates, they all do…perhaps you would be better off being a nun’
Ellie’s version of becoming a nun did, in fact contain some form of solitude. A super yacht called Mistique.
Chartering super yachts does not come cheap. Mistique was no exception. One hundred and seventy five feet of luxury with a crew of twelve. Normally a week on Mystique would set you back one hundred thousand dollars…plus fuel! However, when the owner calls you and says if you want to escape for a few days it becomes a lot cheaper.
Ellie and Stevie Lamont had been friends for years. She once dated his son Timmy. The relationship was very public and intense, and she thought he was the one, but it ended when the newspapers caught him with a Russian tennis player cavorting on the very boat she was escaping on. Still, Stevie was sweet and the boat was to die for. She was bound for Fiji. The weather was wonderful and the sea calm. What else could a grieving supermodel wish for?
Mystique had a crew of twelve including a chef that Stevie called the best in the world. Ellie was sure she’d put on twelve pounds in the first three days. Stevie was a stickler for routines and insisted on three meals a day. Ellie ate properly for the first time in ages. Errol the Charlton Player used to call her The slug; because she was always on lettuce.
Dinner would be served at eight o clock sharp and after a brandy or two with Stevie she’d tuck herself up in her bed with a cup of hot chocolate and her book.
By week two Ellie was the most relaxed she’d ever been and the thoughts of bastard boyfriend had been well and truly banished. Stevie’s wife had joined them and had invited some friends. The boat was in party mood.
Ellie was the belle of the ball. Stevie’s friends loved her, and for once she was treated as a person not as a trophy.
The boat was nearing Fiji as the weather took a turn for the worse. Mystique pitched and lurched as the wind rose and the Pacific became angry. Ellie took to her bed. It was the safest place to be, and when the ship rolled she would hide under the blankets and wish it would all stop.
It might have been a container that had been washed off a ship; it might have been an uncharted rock. Whatever it was, it caused an almighty bang. Ellie heard the shouts and screaming as the boat rolled over at a seemingly impossible angle. She grabbed her jeans and a top off the cabin floor and made her way to the companionway. A crew member rushed up to her with a life jacket.
He ignored her and brushed past toward the other cabins. She put the life jacket over her head and tied the cord around her waist with a double bow. She’d been on enough aeroplanes to know the drill.
As she reached the upper deck the lights went out. She was alone.
Where is every one?
She shook her head and asked herself if this was a dream.
This cannot be happening…not to me.
The ship lurched as it climbed a mighty wave and then turned over. Ellie screamed as she hit the water. It was the last thing she remembered.
It’s hard to believe in this day and age that there are still uncharted, undiscovered dessert islands. There are, amazingly, hundreds of them. Not all of them resemble the program Lost. Some are tiny and have room for one palm tree and a conch shell. The one Ellie was washed up on was in between the two.
She opened her eyes. She was no longer in the water. There was a strange sound as if someone was drumming. She held her breath to hear better. It was her teeth chattering. She was freezing. She tried to get up but had no energy. How long had she been lying there? The questions came thick and fast. There were no answers. She tried again and was rewarded by throwing up. The taste of sea water made her feel worse and caused the entire contents of her body to join the first heave on the sand. Her head was pounding and she was as thirsty as she’d ever been. She started to cry and eventually fell into a deep shivering sleep.
The sun woke her with a start. Her eyes opened suddenly. The light made her squint. Her tongue was stuck to her mouth, she could not swallow. Her lips were chapped and dry. Her head pounded and she vomited again. This time there was no sea water, there was no anything. It was just a vomit, an empty one.
Fear can do many things; the empty vomit being one of them. It can play terrible tricks; thankfully it can also trigger a burst of adrenalin that will literally save your life.
Something told Ellie she must get off the beach and into the shade. She sat up, ignored her spinning head and checked herself for damage. She was ok. After a few attempts she made it to her feet. Her nightdress was soaked and covered in sand. The life jacket, now of no use was thrown to the floor as she staggered her way to the tree line. She told herself that she would keep going until she found a road or a house.
The human body is a remarkable thing: it can stand great heat and extreme cold. It can do without food for weeks. It cannot however, do without water. Without water it goes into melt down and strange things start to happen. Firstly it makes you nauseous and you vomit what little liquid you have left. Then the muscles start to cramp up, preventing you from going to look for any. The delirium comes next, and then death…nice!
Ellie staggered onwards. The sand was soft and drained what little strength she had with every step. She started to hyper ventilate, her hands were starting to cramp. Her eyesight became blurred. Was that someone in the trees? She collapsed…into the arms of a stranger. The last thing she saw before she passed out was a row of dodgy teeth. They were smiling
When she woke it was dark. Her mind raced. The crash, the water, the sun. It all came to her in a series of snapshots.
Where am I?
She tried to calm herself and take stock of the situation.
How did I get in this blanket? And why am I naked?
She sat up and looked around. She was under a cover of some sorts a makeshift roof of what looked like tree branches and leaves. It was raining. She immediately crawled out into the rain clutching the blanket closely to her. There were small puddles in up turned leaves. She drank like an animal, face straight into the water and gulped. The rain felt good and the blanket was discarded as she rinsed her sandy body in the cool sweet water. She held up a palm leaf and let the water run into her mouth.
‘Not too much now’
She dropped the leaf and grabbed the blanket.
‘Take it easy or you’ll be ill again’
The voice came from the shadows. It was an Australian. This could be good or very bad!
‘Who are you?’
‘I’m the bloke that probably saved your life, Miss McPierson’
Shit, he knows who I am.
She pulled the blanket closer to her as the voice in the dark came toward her. What she saw horrified her. He was six feet plus and two hundred pounds at least. His great belly protruded from a string vest that was two sizes too small. He carried a small flaming torch. As he got up close she could smell him. She gagged and forced herself to look into the face of this monster from “the hills have eyes.” What she saw sent a shiver down her back. His huge unshaven face was divided down the middle by a nose that resembled The Mull of Kintyre. His mouth dribbled saliva onto his cleft chin. His good eye was red and watery .The other one seemed to be worked by remote from some unknown controller somewhere in the trees. His teeth resembled a row of condemned houses. He spoke…
‘Hello Miss Ellie, don’t be frightened .My name’s Bill. I am the Chef on Mystique.…well I was!’
Ellie was relieved. She was still frightened because Chef or no chef, he was still a man.
She stared at him and pictured what depraved activities he had in mind.
His first activity was to make a fire.
As he hung her jeans and underwear on sticks he explained what happened.
The boat had struck something in the water. He had been thrown overboard. He had been on the island for a day.
‘I did a quick recce of the place and managed, thank God, to find a steam. Without it we would be in the shit…sorry miss, we’d be in trouble. The island’s about two miles from one end to the other. There’s plenty of tucker and as I said we’ve got water. It’s just a matter of waiting to be rescued.’
Ellie asked if there was anybody else.
‘No’ he said, ‘it’s just us’.
Ellie warmed herself by the fire as Bill went off into the trees.
This can’t be happening
He returned a little time latter with a armful of palm leaves. He dumped them by the fire and went back to the tress. When he returned he had some vines and coconuts. ‘You can drink the coconut milk if you like but it taste like shi…it’s not very nice…’
He handed her a coconut. ‘…So I’ve filled these with water, don’t drink too quickly.’
He suddenly pulled a great lizard from under his shirt.
‘What is that?’
‘Dinner’ he said with a grin.
Within ten minutes the poor lizard was now hanging on the stick where her knickers used to be. She watched it cooking as she got into her dry clothes.
‘We aren’t eating that?’
Bill was beavering away at the leaves. He weaved them together with the vines. He was an expert and within minutes he had erected a shelter.
‘Here you go Miss Ellie, this’ll keep the rain off. How’s the dinner doing?’
By the time Bill had prepared some wild herbs and plants Ellie was starving. She watched him cut the herbs and plants with a small pen knife.
‘Be prepared’ he said with a smile, holding up the Swiss army knife
The lizard tasted like chicken
‘Everybody says that’ said Bill. ‘All strange things are compared to chicken’
‘Don’t eat too much. you gotta get your tummy to shrink. That way you won’t need much food to fill it up.’
Ellie ate very little, something she had been used to all her life.
Later, as curled up under her shelter, the rains came.
Where is he?
She closed her eyes and tried to sleep. Bill was no-were to be seen.
I hope he doesn’t try to come in here
Two hours later the pain came. A terrible cramp in her stomach.
Shit he’s poisoned me.
Daylight brought no relief from the pain. It did however bring Bill.
‘Here y’are love, I’ve brought you some breakfast’
He had prepared a huge platter of fruit served on a palm leaf. Ellie sat up. He looked worse in the daylight!
Two mouthfuls of fruit intensified the pain
Bill noticed her discomfort
‘You could say that, yes’
‘Right, no worries. Hang about’
He ran off into the tress and returned a little later with a coconut. After making a hole in it with his pen knife he grabbed a handful of ashes from the fire. Ellie watched with interest as he ground down the charcoal with two stones. From out of his pocket he pulled some leaves
‘Mint’ he said. ‘These are loads of it by the stream; this’ll sort you. He chopped the mint and mixed the coconut milk with the charcoal and the mint in another coconut shell.
‘Here yar love, get this down your neck’
Ellie drank the surprisingly pleasant tasting liquid
Twenty minutes later the pain in her stomach had completely gone.
Who is this guy?..Rambo?
The days passed quickly. Bill was indeed a Rambo. Within a week he had built Ellie a tasty little shelter. Even a bed with a mattress stuffed with soft bracken. He cooked, he cleaned, but best of all he talked. Bill had a story about everything. Night times around the fire were the best times. He would have her spellbound with his tales. He certainly wasn’t the most handsome man in the world but he was certainly the best story teller. Ellie thought he was the greatest. Not just for his company but for the way he respected her. She felt safe and somewhat guilty of her first impression of her man Friday.
Two weeks had passed before Bill had finished Ellie’s house and it was only then that he started on his own shelter. Ellie helped him. She enjoyed being with someone who had no stars in his eyes. Bill was great Bill was a real man.
The weeks passed and life became routine for Ellie. Up at first light and swim in the lagoon. By the time she returned to the camp Bill had prepared breakfast. Fresh fruit and some days a fish with vegetables he had rummaged from the forest. They would then clean the camp and go for a walk along the beach and other times deep into the woods. Bill knew the names of all the tress and most of the animals; he knew how to cook most of them as well.
Afternoons were spent looking for wreckage that might have washed ashore. Bill would fish and Ellie would gather some fruit.
They had built a fire ready to be lit if they saw a passing ship. Bill had spelt the letters S.O.S in large stones on the beach, but the chances of an aircraft seeing that from thirty eight thousand feet was pretty negligible. Still, it gave them hope.
Evenings were spent preparing and then eating the main meal. Bill would use everything. Bones, skin the lot; nothing was wasted. She was eating better food here than she was in New York.
It started to get dark in the late afternoons. This was her favourite time. Sitting around the camp fire, under the stars talking to Bill, with the sound of the surf in the background
After a while her hair stopped being greasy, surprising as she had had no shampoo. Nature had a wonderful way of taking care. Bill had found some bedding from the ship and had made some clothes. They had found lots of things that floated ashore, and one day found the captain. They buried him by the side of the forest. It made Ellie realise that this was not a paradise after all.
Shit! We really are stuck here
The months passed with still no sign of rescue. Bill had grown a beard and was now not quite so ugly. Ellie adored him. Something however was niggling her.
Why hasn’t he made a pass at me?
‘Why don’t you come up to the lagoon Bill and have a swim with me.’
‘Oh that wouldn’t be proper’
‘Come on, what have you got to hide?’
Bill blushed. When they arrived at the lagoon, Ellie slid her clothing to the floor and stepped out of them. Bill turned his head away.
‘Come on Bill, Don’t be shy.’
She walked toward him and started to remove his clothes. For once he was silent. As she pulled his slacks off, he laughed.
‘It’s been awhile since someone did this.’
Ellie stood back to look at her handy work. Bill was naked and grinning wildly.
‘Me mum only had one arm, and had to lift me out the bath somehow’
‘Wow! Coming for a swim big boy?’
The swim lasted five minutes .The love making lasted all day!
The months dragged on and the two lovers were like rabbits.
One night whilst sitting in Bills hut. Ellie asked him a question about something that had had been nagging her.
‘Bill,’You do love me don’t you?’
‘Ah ‘struth Ellie. I love you with all my heart. Who‘d have thought that an ugly old bastard like me could end up with the most beautiful woman in the world?’
‘Don’t you put yourself down Bill. You’re ten times the man of those little mamby pamby poofters on the cat walk. A real man, and I love you’
‘And I love you Ellie’
‘You wouldn’t keep any secrets from me would you Bill?’
‘Then what’s that case you keep under the bed Bill? You never talk about it and you never show it to me, but sometimes I see you creep off and open it. What’s in it Bill that’s so secret you won’t let me see it?’
Bills face turned pale
‘Oh , I was hoping you wouldn’t notice that’
Bill started to fidget and look uncomfortable
Ellie moved closer two him and put her arm around him.
‘You can tell me Bill; it’s ok’
‘Ok Ellie I’ll tell you.’
Ellie listened in fascination as he told his story, and at the end of it she was more in love than she’d ever been.
Bill had taken the case from under the bed and laid it between the two of them
‘This case Ellie contains the knick knacks and belongings of my mate George’
‘Who’s George Bill?’
‘I’m coming to that Ellie. George was the number two chef on the ship. We were best mates ever since we were kids. We went to school together we did everything together. George was the best friend I ever had. He saved me life once.’
‘How did he do that Bill?’
‘Well Ellie I never talk about it but after we left school we joined the army. We were only kids. We thought it would be a bit of a laugh you know a bit of adventure. Well, it certainly was .After ten weeks training we were sent to Vietnam. Most people think it was only the yanks in Vietnam but there’re wrong; we was there .It was bloody awful. Still we got on with it. One night we were on guard in a place called Pnom Din when all hell broke loose. It was the Vietnamese celebration called Tet, a sort of New Years Eve, fireworks and all that. Well the little bastards chose that day to attack our camps. Even the workers in the camps you know, the cleaners cooks and all that, they turned on us. There was slopes all over the place. Anyway, I was wounded in the shoulder, see that.’
He pulled his vet over to see a scar.
‘Bloody AK 47 round straight through. Broke me bloody collar bone on the way out, bastard thing. Anyway I’m lying in agony when this bloody gook leaps on me with a bloody great machete. Christ I thought this is me lot. Next thing his head exploded .George had shot the little bastard. After that we decide that we’d find a way of leaving the army. George came up with a mental idea. We applied to join the SAS. Australia’s special forces.’
‘Isn’t that more dangerous?’
‘Well yes it is but by applying to do selection we were whisked back to Perth to do the test.’
Ellie looked on in fascination as the story unfurled.
‘Six months we trained. The first two weeks were a blur I’ve never been so knackered in me life. Anyway I won’t bore you, but we did jungle training, dessert training under bloody water, out of aeroplanes at twenty thousand feet, anyway, we failed and were about to be sent back to Nam when we bought ourselves out.’
‘We kicked around for a bit when George suggested we go to catering school. So off we went and became cooks.’
‘We were quite a team. We joined the merchant navy and sailed the world. We even served on the Q E 2 for a while and then we applied for the job on the Mystique. Two years we were on her when she hit that bloody reef. I remember the ship going over, I fell into the water. Christ it was rough I knew George wasn’t a great swimmer so I looked about for him. Suddenly I see him struggling. He’d cut his head and was covered in blood. Grab me hand mate, I shouted, grab me hand, But….he’d been greasing up a flan dish and he slipped through me fingers. George! I shouted. It was then I saw the shark. It bit George clean in half. Me mate was dead there was bits of him all over me .Suddenly I felt a nudge in the back and I turned expecting to see a great white about to attack when I saw this suit case. George’s suit case .It was floating. Well, I climbed aboard the case so the great white couldn’t get me. It was terrifying Ellie .Any way I see this island in the distance so I paddled to the shore using one of George’s legs. You see, even in death, George had saved me. First, the case, and then the leg.’
‘You know sometimes a man can get lonely Ellie .Even though I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, a man needs a man’s company. I don’t know why, but sometimes when I’m a bit low or depressed and god knows I’ve no reason to be, I open George’s case and look at his stuff. His suit, his pipe, bits and pieces you know, anyway I just don’t feel so lonely. I am the luckiest man in the world and I love you with all my heart but sometime a man needs male company and George’s stuff is the nearest thing I can get. You don’t think bad of me do you Ellie?’
She wiped away a tear, ‘No Bill I love you even more’
‘You wouldn’t do me a favour would you Ellie?’
‘Sure Bill what is it?’
‘If I go and hide behind that rock would you put on George’s suit and let me see ne old mate just one more time?’
‘Course I will Bill I love you’
Bill went behind the rock as Ellie stripped off and put George’s suit on .She even put his pipe in her mouth for good effect
In her deepest Aussie voice she cried out
‘Over here Bill, it’s your old mate George’
Bill came from behind the tree, his face lit up
‘Hello George mate. Guess who I’m shagging’
…….They all do!