My mom phoned before I could get to the beach. She asked how I was but before I could tell her anything interesting she asked whether I’d been behaving myself in London. She didn’t wait for me to answer that either; she told me Chris had phoned to tell her I was still in Mauritius with Guido and he was back in London and he’d sounded really upset about something but he wouldn’t tell her what it was exactly; he’d just said things had gone badly wrong with the Ganymede shoot and he wished he’d never got me involved with them.
She asked me whether I knew what he meant by that. I told her I didn’t know, I thought everything was fine, but I started shitting myself because I knew it had something to do with Pierre and Anton and maybe the cops. It was like the sun had suddenly gone behind a cloud of black sticky treacle. I’d been as happy as a lark and I was suddenly depressed as shit but I was also pissed off with my mom for blaming me and I asked why she automatically thought I’d done something wrong, why she always had to think that. She didn’t answer straightaway and when she did she said she didn’t think I was to blame for anything, she was just trying to understand what had happened with Ganymede to make Chris so upset.
I said I didn’t know what had happened; Chris had only said he had a business problem and he had to go back to London and I went straight on and asked her how come she never told me anything about my dad. I said Guido had told me he was a photographer like Chris; he’d told me lots of stuff about him. There was a long silence on the phone and I said hello a couple of times before she answered again. She said she didn’t want to talk about my dad on the phone; we could talk about him when she saw me again. I said when was that ever going to be because there always seemed to be a reason that she couldn’t see me. All she ever did was send postcards and phone and ask whether I was being a nuisance or a screw up.
She told me I was being unfair and she said a lot of stuff about George and circumstances; she went on and on about it and I didn’t want to listen. I said I was meeting a friend on the beach and I had to go because I was late. I sort of enjoyed saying that because it was revenge for how she usually got me off the phone. She asked if Guido was there and I said he wasn’t, he was busy in his studio doing a nude statue of me. I thought I’d gone too far saying that without explaining everything, and I was maybe being unfair to Guido, dragging him in like he was a dirty old geezer, but my mom just ignored it. She said she’d phone later and maybe I’d be in a better mood and she put the phone down.
I was angry for a quite a while afterwards and when you’re angry you don’t worry, you just kick stuff and you want to shout at people. I was still like that when I got to the dingy but by the time I’d pushed it into the water and tugged the starter rope on the motor a few times the anger had mostly gone. I chugged along the shore towards the hotel and I suppose I was looking out for Pete but I wasn’t consciously thinking about him; I was worrying big time about what was happening in England and whether I’d got Chris into serious trouble. It all seemed a complicated shitty mess with perv Pierre and asshole Anton in the middle like two black crabs. I hated them more than I hated anything else in the world.
There was no sign of Pete. I went right up to the hotel jetty and then back and forth a few times looking for him on the beach before heading out towards the reef. I decided he must have gone on the trip with his parents and I’d never see him again and that just added to how totally crap I was feeling. I didn’t fancy going all the way out to the reef by myself either, it was too creepy, and I turned round when I was about half way there and pointed the boat back to Guido’s place. The motor cut out just after I’d done that; one minute it was humming away happily and the next it was stuffed. I tugged the rope a zillion times and fiddled with the petrol tap but nothing worked. There were no paddles in the dingy because I’d forgotten them on the beach so all I could do was just sit there and stew.
I wasn’t worried because it didn’t seem to be such a big deal at first. I knew the tide was coming in and I figured it would push me back to the shore anyway, close enough to be able to swim or wade at least. I thought about trying to swim from where I was but it seemed very far and I felt guilty about leaving Guido’s boat to maybe float away and get lost.
I tried the motor every now and again but after about twenty minutes I could see I wasn’t any closer to the beach, I seemed closer to the reef and I’d drifted past the hotel too, even further from Guido’s. I wasn’t feeling so cool about it anymore and I began waving my arms and yelling and I hoped someone would see me and realize I wasn’t just a dork in a boat swatting flies. I waved and shouted for ages but I gave up on that too and I felt really scared. The reef was close and I could imagine the dingy hitting the jagged coral and breaking in half and I would be in the water with the tide coming in and the big ocean waves just waiting to break over the coral and pound the crap out of me until I was dead. It seemed so unfair to be dying but I couldn’t get angry about it because that wouldn’t help and so I sat in the boat shitting myself and I started crying a bit too. I don’t have to tell you that; I could pretend I was a big hero about it, all cool and collected, no problem, but I’m telling the truth.
Someone did see me though, a middle aged paunchy bloke in a kayak. I didn’t even know he was coming until he was beside me because he came from the reef. He asked if I had a problem and I told him the motor wouldn’t start. I kind of blubbered it out and he said not to worry. He asked if there was any rope in the dingy and when I said no he told me he’d maneuver round and I must grab hold of the back of his kayak and he’d pull me. And that’s how I got back to the beach. It took a long time because I kept loosing my grip but Dave was very patient about it. That was his name and that’s all I know about him, that he was a patient paunchy bloke called Dave. It’s weird how there are people like that sometimes who are only in your life for a short time, maybe save your life or something, and then you never see them again. It’s like they only exist for those few minutes that they’re making a difference. Dave didn’t hang around when he’d got me into the shallows by the beach. He said no problem when I thanked him and paddled away.
I was far from Guido’s, about a mile on the other side of the hotel, and I figured I’d walk back and ask him what to do about the dingy. It was almost twelve and I’d been in the boat for nearly two hours and I was as thirsty as hell and I could feel the sunburn on my shoulders and back. I didn’t have a towel or a shirt or anything, not even the lifejacket because I’d left that on the beach by Guido’s too, I was that pissed off at the time.
I’d only gone a short distance when a rubber duck came zooming along and ran right up on the sand just in front of me. Guido was in it and another bloke was driving. Guido said he’d started to get worried and he’d borrowed the boat from Patricia to come search for me. I was happy to see him because it would save me a long walk in the hot sun but I also felt like a dork for not having been able to sort myself out.
Guido looked dead serious and at first I thought he was angry with me for having got into trouble and needing to be rescued but it was nothing to do with that. He told me that my mom wanted me to fly back to London and so he’d changed my flight and I would be leaving early the next morning instead of on Monday. I thought she was just being a bitch because we’d argued on the phone and I said as much and Guido ticked me off, saying I must never use that word about my mother. He said it wasn’t like that at all anyway; my mom was flying to London too because there was a serious problem with Chris; the police were involved and it had something to do with people from Ganymede and photos of me on the Internet.
That shut me up. I said nothing the whole way back. I can’t say I was surprised because I’d been sort of expecting something but I was still scared and I was pissed off that nothing could ever be normal, that I couldn’t even have a holiday in Mauritius without all the Ganymede crap following me around. I didn’t want to go back to the flat in London and the picture of me on the wall and all the weirdness, the whispered crap about Ganymede. I should have been worried for Chris but I wasn’t right then either because I thought it was his fault anyway. He’d got me into modeling kinky underpants and he should have known about people like Pierre and Anton; that’s what John Simmons had said, Chris of all people, and I thought he was right.
Guido didn’t say anything much on the trip back either. I don’t think he wanted to ask me questions in front of the bloke driving the boat. We got back to his place in no time, even towing the dingy. I ran straight to the kitchen to get a drink and then to my room to shower and change. After the shower I started packing things into my backpack. I mean it wasn’t a big job because I didn’t have much stuff anyway, but when you know crap is about to happen it’s best to get prepared and get into it and not wait for it to arrive. I’m not one of those people who can say: oh, you mean the crap is only happening tomorrow? Let’s forget about it and have fun. I can’t have fun in those circumstances because I can’t think of anything else except the crap. I just want to get it over with. If it’d been up to me I’d have gone right then, at that moment and waited at the airport.