Last week I laid out on the beach at Surfer's Paradise with a few friends and a book. There is a hole in the ozone above Australia. I should have worn sunscreen.
The next week, my entire body was peeling. I was shedding skin like a snake. My skin got so burnt that it split and an open gash formed on my leg. My bottom lip produced growths that comprised of multiple sun blisters layered over each other. I clearly contracted a serious case of herpes from the sun.
I was going home for Christmas and my first flight, from Cairns to Brisbane, was at 6am. While I was in the tourist office arranging transportation, some guy glanced at me and then screamed that I looked like a gremlin. I don't know what a gremlin looks like, but people stared at my cracking and blistering skin. My lips were the size of a ball sack.
The kind souls in that tourist office booked me a shuttle for four in the morning. At three, I hadn't gone to sleep yet. I had thought it more important to pack and then watch while Manchester made friends with a vagabond on the street.
Manchester and I had been walking back from the corner store when we were approached by a homeless man. He didn't speak, but he motioned for food. I was intoxicated and more engrossed with pounding back water like a crazy camel lady than paying attention to the exchange. I was trying to sober up for my flight and water tasted fantastic. The liquid was crisp and cold. I was happier than if I had smoked pot. It was so good, I swear I could have been drinking God's saliva.
I took four sips and then Manchester castrated the water bottle from my hands and offered it to the derelict.
"What? Why?" I asked Manchester.
"Shaka Shaka Shaka," replied the hobo. And then he chugged the rest of the water bottle. I watched him gulp it down his trachea.
"The man's just thirsty and hungry," said Manchester. "He needs food."
"Shaka Shaka Shaka," said the transient.
We were on the street outside of Gilligan's Island, our badass backpackers accommodation. I looked at Manchester, at the hobo, and at the door.
"What's your name, man?" asked Manchester.
"Shaka Shaka Shaka."
"Your name's Shaka?"
"Shaka Shaka Shaka."
Some Aussies entering into Gilligan's screamed at us to leave him and come inside.
"It's okay, we're just talking to the man," yelled Manchester. "He's just hungry."
"Leave him, he's an Abo," they replied.
"He's a man," Manchester hollered, "and the reason he is this way is because of the British."
I stared at the man's eyes. They were bloodshot with yellow. I didn't know how that was possible, and I was just impressed.
Exhaustion was beginning to affect my brain functions, but we walked back to the corner store to buy Shaka some food. Manchester told him he could choose five dollars worth of food. Shaka threw an armload on the counter, and then went to the aisles for more. It amounted to thirty-two dollars.
A half hour later, I psuedo-sleepwalked down Gilligan's stairs with my bags. I returned the room key and put the ten dollar key deposit in my wallet. I then went outside and sat on the curb waiting for my shuttle. I sat half-comatose for an hour.
My senior year in high school, I received the most honorable of awards: Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Class. The next year, my brother got the award. We have skills. Sleeping skills. The shuttle that was supposed to come at four in the morning didn't come until five. When I stood up my right ass cheek stuck to the concrete. I'd been sitting in gum for an hour. It wasn't until the shuttle pulled away from the backpackers at 5:20am that I realized I had left my cell phone on the counter when I checked out.