of Trouble in Paradise
think I've got a touch of island fever,
There was a low murmur among the Legionnaires assembled in the Common Room.
"A concert?" Several voices, reflecting a mixture of doubt and interest, echoed GreenWoman's announcement back at her.
Desdemona's voice, of course, was up two octaves in pure excitement.
"Well, a concert and a party! A thank you, for all the local firefighters who went north to fight the fires, and their families. We'll have a big picnic beforehand."
"The firemen attend for free, and their families and friends make a donation to the Red Cross fire fund," added GreenWoman. "I've made some calls, and got some local businesses to make donations too, as well as picking up the party tab in return for good will and advertising."
"And Jimmy is going to play?" questioned Whino.
"Not only is Jimmy coming, but all the Coral Reefers, too." Desdemona winked at Whino. "Even Tina." Whino decided immediately that he was all for this plan.
"It's a great idea, but will Buffett do it?" mused Gardner.
"Of course he'll do it," affirmed GreenWoman.
"How can you be sure?" asked Stephanie.
"He said he'd do it," GreenWoman stated.
"How'd you get him to agree?" scoffed O.C.
"He wants to do it," Green said confidently.
"GREEN...." growled Hoffert.
"It was easy," GreenWoman finally said, smiling. "I just had Des ask him."
For a week, the Piratte Parrott Boathouse, Beach and Bar was swarming with more activity than the little island had seen since the KWFL had first moved in. Multi-colored KWFL ballcaps were a blur all over the property as Legionnaires worked to get the Boathouse and the grounds looking their best. After all, we had company coming. Lots of company.
Desdemona took charge of the Boathouse itself. She and Raven spent one entire day scrubbing Jimmy's Buffet until it sparkled for Gator Dave's mom and grandmother, who had volunteered to come down and do the cooking. Tropitude, Limelover and others did the mundane chores like sweeping and dusting, then rewarded themselves by decorating the Common Room with flowers from the garden. It was decided that the upper deck would be a perfect stage; FBama and Trevor swabbed the planking with Murphy's Oil Soap, GreenWoman pruned and deadheaded the container plants, and Juls wiped down the tables and chairs and placed fresh citronella candles all around. Skip Wiley painstakingly checked the bulbs in the party lights twined round the deck railing, edging perilously along while Bob watched from the lagoon below, waiting patiently for her friend to make his inevitable misstep and tumble into the cool water to "dance" with her. Blackbeard took the Conch Queen out of the boathouse and tied her to the dock; he enlisted Salome, Calaloo and Kim to shine her fittings and cover her rigging in twinkle lights.
Preparations were also underway on the huge greensward of lawn that lay between the Boathouse on the west, the bungalows on the east, the Garcionniere on the south and Gator's Bathhouse on the north. Two pickup trucks cruised slowly back and forth as Legionnaires pushed hay bales out of their tailgates, where they were tugged into neat rows facing the Boathouse itself. Paper lanterns were hung from the trees, and flambeaux were stuck into the ground. Long boards with checkered tablecloths were set up in a row and laden with baskets of paper plates, plastic knives and forks, and napkins which an enterprising Mayday had imprinted with the legend, "Buy a book...save a manatee! Visit the Cruising Library at www.floatplan.com." Sumo Ken and Bucky, in charge of non-live music, hung speakers and ran wires to a console set up on a table under a shady tree on the lawn, while BobRob, who was in charge of live non-Buffett music, set up a mike, a folding chair and a guitar stand next to the impromptu KWFL Radio studio.
In front of Gator's BathHouse and Massage Emporium, VP Parti Patti had her army of newbies hard at work readying the facility. Beneath a huge banner that invited guests to "Swim wit da Gator!" at least a dozen of Gator Dave's Wading Pools (tm) were being inflated, filled with water, and populated with little rubber ducky floating drink holders. Gator Dave himself, just back from Europe, was overseeing the festooning of the Bathhouse eaves with piñatas in the shapes of alligators, parrots and manatees, and reviewing with approval the new Cabana Girl outfits of grass skirts and aloha shirts that HRD manager t.a. had designed especially for the concert.
Then there was the bar tent. Our first problem had been that we didn't have a tent, until Dawn the Beach Bitch talked one of her Renaissance Faire friends into loaning one to the cause. It was an amazing sight, pitched on the emerald-green lawn: a brilliant red canvas pavilion with scalloped eaves edged in gold trim and an embroidered Tudor rose on the front, set off by bright blue pennants fluttering from every pole. Inside, a stack of decidedly anachronistic coolers of many types held ice, and three blenders stood like soldiers on a long piece of cypress planking that would serve as the bar. The blenders and other electronic gadgetry were plugged into a portable generator that hid behind a large piece of posterboard displaying a picture of a car battery rendered in Magic Marker.
Almost every SAM on the place, and a lot of the SAWs, volunteered to work the bar tent. It was finally decided to put the more moderate souls among the crewe in charge of bartending, and then put Jollymon and the other non-drinking Legionnaires in charge of them. GreenWoman mediated arguments over what kind of beer and rum and tequila to stock, and pointed out to the southerners that we would need more soft drinks than just Mountain Dew. Right next door, a smaller pavilion in green and gold sported a banner with bright lettering proclaiming it to be the Ganja Tea and Sympathy Café. Oceannie could be seen in its shady interior, busily mixing the mysterious and arcane herbs that made her soothing teas in huge jars of water and setting them out in the sun to steep.
The 'Keet Coop had been set up with posterboard and paints, lawn sprinklers and wading pools, and other 'keet-type diversions. Behind the beer tent, our Parrothead Nurse Janet readied her first aid station with ice packs, bug bite remedies, Band-Aids and sunblock. The Boathouse parking area had been extended onto an empty section of the lawn marked with orange cones and white chalk lines. To one side was our information booth, a small table under a beach umbrella with a sign that said, "We kin tell y'all where to go!" Barrels for trash ringed the concert seating area and the picnic tables nearby.
Everything and everyone seemed to be ready.
"Never let it be said that the SAWs and SAMs of the Key West Foreign Legion don't put their all into a party," Desdemona said proudly, surveying the grounds from the upper deck the night before the big event. "Look at how everyone is working together, Green! I told you this would bring back the old KWFL spirit!"
"Des, you sound like a pep rally cheerleader," Green said wearily. "Murphy's Law and Chaos Theory are powerful things; there's still plenty that can go wrong." Des' smile faded, and Green kicked herself for deflating her friend's euphoria. "But you're right," she continued, trying to force some optimistic energy into her tone, "the mood around here is sure lighter than it's been for a while."
"Tomorrow will be even better," said Des firmly. "You'll see."
"We'll see," agreed Green, wanting to believe. She sipped her margarita and sang softly to herself, so Desdemona couldn't hear the wistful words,
"Where's the party? Where's the party? Everybody I know says they expect me to go to the party...."
Not even the weather dared disappoint Desdemona. The next morning mounted a brilliant sun over sponge-painted white clouds. A cool breeze ruffled the palm fronds until they glittered like cellophane in the sparkling light. The air was heavy with the scent of plumeria and gardenias, balanced by the sweet musty fragrance of the baled hay. Just another perfect day in Paradise.
Jimmy Buffett, the Coral Reefers, and their entourage arrived by boat around noon, slipping quietly up the channel into Key Lime Key's lagoon on a small charter vessel that smelled of fish stories. Jimmy stepped onto the pier, stretched his arms out and breathed deeply, allowing his trade-marked shit-eating grin to spread slowly and thoroughly across his face.
"Thanks so much for coming," said Desdemona, welcoming him with her own shining smile.
Buffett laughed and reached out, gathering Des up in a bear hug. "Lady, you don't know how glad I was to get your invitation," he said warmly. "It's been too long since I visited you folks. And this is a good cause; how could I say no? Besides, when Tina found out that Whino was gonna be her personal slave for the day, I knew she'd hound me until I agreed."
GreenWoman tried not to giggle as she crooked her finger at Whino, lurking with uncharacteristic bashfulness at the end of the pier. "Front!" Whino squared his shoulders and approached the goddess, offering his arm. She accepted it graciously, and Whino, euphoric, helped the lovely singer up the stairs. Buffett, Green and Des dissolved into laughter.
"Sorry we can't offer you the same kind of treatment," Des grinned at Jimmy. "But come on in -- we've made over the Common Room into a Green Room for y'all."
Band members, back-up singers, camp followers and 'keets were ushered up the deck stairs and into the Boathouse, while the roadies continued on to the upper deck to help get the stage in order. GreenWoman left everyone in Des' and Emilie's capable hands and headed out to the lawn, where the first guests were already gathering. She strolled across the grass toward the beer tent; Dawn the Beach Bitch saw her coming, and handed her a glass full of ice, with the corners filled up with chablis. GreenWoman accepted it gratefully, took a sip, and moved aside to make room for the person behind her to step up to the bar.
Then, she froze.
"You!" she breathed, stunned.
"You!" he said, derisively.
The blond stranger standing there was the jet ski barbarian -- the scourge of Gilligan's Lagoon.