This is a story that I worked on with my favorite student this summer. She’s 13. You know who you are, student and friend of mine! I hope you have a great school year filled with everything you want and more! Love, Liz
“Gerald, we have to leave this town,” said his wife Alana.
“Nah. The strike will be over in a few days,” said Gerald. He was busy scrubbing the counter, which he had already scrubbed earlier that day.
“I don’t think so. Didn’t you hear that Whitman has disappeared also?”
Gerald stopped scrubbing for a moment and blinked at Alana. “So now the governor of New Jersey is gone?”
“Yup. First the mayor of our town. Then the count lawmakers. Now the governor.” Alana sat down heavily on one of the blond wood kitchen chairs and brushed some short strands of dark hair off her forehead. She stared at the table. “Who’s next - the president?”
Gerald laughed. “Maybe.” He resumed scrubbing. “That would be good. Then maybe we can get somebody better in there, and fix this country -”
“Gerald! it’s not funny!” Alana looked up from the table and twisted halfway around to stare at her husband. “Do you know what’s going on over there in the city? You’re doing your computer programming in the suburbs all day, and then you come back here and watch basketball and clean the hourse.”
“So?” Gerald laughed again. “And by the way, Alana, when are we having dinner?”
“I can’t believe you are acting like nothing is happening. People in the city are running out of their offices because no one is paying them. They’ve started robbing the stores. The trains have stopped running. I don’t know who is going to disappear next. I’m scard, Gerald. We have to leave while we still can. I’m going to get some of my things.”
“You aren’t going to make me dinner?”
Alana jumped up from their table, lunged past the broad counter and over to the stainless steel refrigerator. She and Gerald had finally been able to buy this big house, after twenty years of saving money. She understood that Gerald was laughing because he was scared, too. he didn’t want to leave what they had worked so hard to get.
“Here.” Alana opened the refrigerator, pulled out a package of hot dogs and tossed them on the counter. “Put them in the microwave for two minutes. there’s bread in the breadbox and ketchup in the cabinet over the stove. I’m getting my suitcase.”
“Alana -” Gerald froze, staring at his wife as she hurried out of the kitchen, through their grand marble-floored foyer and up the long, open flight of stairs to their bedroom.
Ms. Flowers, a gentle and smart woman, called her best friend, Mme Carna, to meet for lunch. While she was waiting for Mme Carna to answer the phone she found on the internet a big problem that was happening on an island called Didgeridoo. When she finished reading the article, her best friend answered.
“Hi, Ms. Flowers!”
Ms. Flowers smiled, she was happy to hear her best friend, Mme Carna, and she said, “I have news to tell you. Do you want to have lunch with me at 3:00 at my house?”
Mme Carna thought a moment and she answered, “Let’s say at 2:30. Is it ok?”
Mme Carna chose her most beautiful dress while Ms. Flowers chose a pink T-shirt and white trousers. At 2:30 they were talking about the terrible news Ms. Flowers had heard about.
“In Didgeridoo there is a terrible problem. The people who live there don’t have houses, they don’t have food, beds, money… And most of the children are sick. We must go there and help them.”
Mme Carna was sad and she answered, “You are right! But doesn’t the government give them beds, houses….”
Ms. Flowers was surprised by this answer. “You haven’t heard about the disappearance of all the members of the government?”
“What…?” Mme Carna shouted. “We must go to Didgeridoo right away. I am going to pack my suitcase and I’m going to buy my plane ticket. Do you want one?”
The two friends started packing their suitcases. The plane would leave at 9:00 that night.
Mr. Donatello, a funny, kind man, was with his best friend Mr. Ernesto, who was also Ms. Flowers’s brother, when Ms. Flowers called Ernesto.
“Yes,” Mr. Ernesto answered.
Ms. Flowers started explaining to her brother what she and Mme Carna were going to do.
She heard Mr. Ernesto shout, “Are you crazy?”
Ms. Flowers answered, “Please, I have to go.”
Mr. Ernesto answered, “I will go with you. Please buy me a ticket.” He hung up the phone and explained all the events to Mr. Donatello.
Mr. Donatello was surprised, but finally he screamed, “Do you think that you are going to leave me here alone? I will go with you.”
Mr. Ernesto thought that it was a great idea so he called his sister, Ms. Flowers.
“Ms. Flowers, can you buy a plane ticket for Mr. Donatello?”
“Of course,” she answered. “We will meet at the airport at 8:00. Bye!”
Mr. Ernesto, Mr. Donatello, Ms. Flowers and mme Carna met at the airport at 8:00. They checked their suitcases into the baggage compartment and they went inside the plane.
After a long trip, they arrived in a small airport. They got their suitcases back and they went outside the airport.
They were east, so they decided to ask someone where they were, and where they could sleep. The first person they saw was a college girl named Zippy.
Quickly Ms. Flowers asked, “Excuse me, can you help us?”
Zippy answered, “Yes!”
Mme Carna asked her, “Where are we?”
Zippy laughed, “You are in Didgeridoo.”
Mme Carna shouted, “We know that, but we want to know in what part.”
“You are in the north of the island.”
“Do you know a place where we can sleep?” asked Ms. Flowers.
“I don’t know if you realized that you are in a poor island, so there are no hotels.
Mme Carna shouted, “What are you talking about?”
Mr. Ernesto asked Zippy, “And where do you sleep?”
Zippy explained to him, “I live with some poor children that don’t have houses because of the disappearance of the government. We live in tents, near the sea. The only thing I can do to help you is to give you two tents and some food.”
Ms. Flowers interrupted Zippy, “We came here to help some poor children. I have read that they have a lot of infections so we are going to build a hospital.”
Zippy looked at them seriously. “I think you are a little bit confused. You will need a lot of money. Well, come with me. I will give you your tents.”
Alana and Gerald sat silently in the taxi all the way to the airport. This was not a good situation. Even when things were not going their way, Gerald had a tendency to joke or to find some little thing to argue about. When he was silent, Alana realized, it made the atmosphere grim indeed.
They arrived at John F. Kennedy International. Each had one purple-and-beige striped suitcase, which they wheeled through the automatic glass doors. alana also carried a large black handbag.
Gerald installed Alana on a bench near the United Airlines ticket counter, to wait with their baggage while he paid for their flights. “Don’t move,” Gerald told Alana sternly.
“Where would I go?” said Alana.
“To the moon?” suggested Gerald.
“Yeah. I’m gonna fly to the moon,” Alana said sarcastically.
She waited nervously for her husband, reverting to a childhood habit of biting her nails.
Only fifteen minutes later he came back. “We’re stuck here, Alana. Ha ha. Let’s go back home.”
Alana stood up. “We can’t go back home. i don’t believe you. There has to be someplace for us to go.”
“We can’t get a ticket anywhere. All the planes are full,” explained Gerald.
“All right. I’m going to go ask. You stay here with the bags.” Alana began to storm off.
“Alana, wait. There is one place we can go.”
She stopped and turned around. “What’s that?”
Gerald looked at her, defeated. Everything was lost. The house, the life they had worked so hard to build. “The island of Didgeridoo,” he said.
Gerald and Alana descended from the plane via a flight of metal stairs. Local workers were unloading the passengers’ bags onto the tarmac. Fortunately the couples’ luggage was easy to spot and they quickly claimed it.
“It’s so hot,” Alana complained, watching the steam rise up from the hot black tar, making the wings of nearby airplanes shimmer in the air.
“Ma’am, would you like to buy a straw hat?” An old man with a white beard and brown skin approached.
“Yes, please. How much?”
“Five American dollars.”
Alana rummaged in her black bag for a moment and pulled forth a five-dollar bill.
Gerald said, “You have to stop spending money like that or we are going to end up in the poorhouse.”
Alana replied, “In this heat I am not going to make it to any house at all unless I have some relief from the sun. Now I need a bottle of water.”
“Oh God,” sighed Gerald strenuously.
“Hey, why do the people here speak English? And why do they take American money?”
“Don’t you know this is United States Territory?” Gerald laughed at his wife.
“No, I didn’t know,” she said pensively.
“You didn’t know! This whole island is run by the US government,” cried Gerald.
“What US government?” Alana said fearfully.
“Huh,” Gerald said, acknowledging her point.
“Listen, Gerald. One of the attendants on the plane told me about a place we can stay. There is one private hotel left on the island. Of course it is full, but next to it there is a little campground. They have some trailers there, and nice tents.
By now they had reached an area in front of the airport, where they waited in line for a taxi. Every few minutes, Gerald repeated the phrase “nice tents. How can you have nice tents? Ha ha. Nice tents,” he said again.
“This place is not so bad. Look at the beach. It’s beautiful,” said Alana, as she and Gerald rode in the back of the Didgeridoo taxi.
Suddenly the cab stopped.
“Oh, is this the place?” cried Alana. “I’ve always wanted to stay on the beach! Gerald, this will be like the honeymoon we never had!”
“I don’t see any trailers or tents,” Gerald said. “No nice tents.”
They looked out the window on Alana’s side of the cab, and saw their cab driver talking to a girl with long blond dreadlocks and wearing a colorful dress that was blowing in the sea breeze. Near her were two men and two women, who looked as though they had also just come from the airport.
“Alana, let’s get out and see what’s going on,” said Gerald.
Alana opened the door and the couple go tout. “Hey, keep an eye on the trunk,” Gerald said. I don’t want these people to steal our luggage!”
Gerald and Alana approached the group standing near the beach on the side of the road.
The girl with the dreadlocks was talking to the cab driver. “Steve,” she said, “I flagged you down because I thought you could help me and my friends find a place to stay for the night.”
Gerald and Alana were listening and Alana added, “We are going to a place where there are tents.”
“Yeah,” Gerald said. “Nice tents.”
The hippie girl said, “Can we come with you?”
Alana said, “Sure, but there is no room in the cab for all of you.”
Just then, Steve pulled out his cell phone. “Jack!” he yelled into it, over the noise of the traffic and the ocean. “Yeah, I’m on the highway, near the airport, on my way to Pleasant Gables. Got some people here for you to pick up!”
Zippy said, “Well, I will walk. I’ll see you at the tents!”
Mme Carna said, “Would you like me to go with you?”
Zippy laughed. “I will be OK!”
When the second taxicab arrived it was clear that it was too small for the rest of the hippie girl’s group and their luggage.
“I will go in your taxi with you,” Mrs. Flowers said, smiling at Alana.
“OK!” said Alana brightly.
“I’m Mrs. Flowers.”
“Alana. And this is my husband Gerald.”
“Nice to meet you, Mrs. Flowers,” said Gerald. “OK, Steve, you ready?”
“Wait a moment, please,” said Mrs. Flowers. “I want to say goodbye to my friends, Madame Carna, and Mr. Donatello, and my brother Ernesto.”
“It’s so nice to meet you all,” said Alana, going over to them and shaking hands. “Where are you from?”
“Spain,” said Mr. Donatello.
“Do you think you will ever go back there?” Alana said, with a troubled expression on her face.
“Alana! Let’s go!” Gerald hollered, walking back toward Steve’s cab. “You can talk later!”
Mrs. Flowers and Alana followed Gerald while Madame Carna, Ernesto and Mr. Donatello got in Jack’s taxi, and they all drove to Pleasant Gables.
In the morning in the west of the island there was a man who lives in a big house who woke up and screamed:
Immediately a young girl, the maid, have him his breakfast. When he finished he went to his balcony and screamed:
Immediately another maid appeared and she gave him the newspaper.
He started reading and he stopped on an article that was called “The Disappearance of All the Members of the Government.” When he finished reading the article he screamed:
“What? This must be a joke! Give me a phone! I should call the government!”
A maid gave him the phone and she told him, “If you phone them there won’t be any answer.”
The man, who was named Chuck, took the phone and he started dialing the phone number, but there was no answer, only the voice of a machine:
“Sorry. We have disappeared.”
Chuck became angry so he went to his bedroom and stayed there all day. At night he went for a walk. He was angry so he was thinking while he was walking.
Zippy was walking when she saw in the distance a man. She was surprised to see someone at that time, but since she didn’t know who the man was she called, “Hello! It’s a beautiful night.
Chuck stopped and said, “I don’t really think so. It is a horrible day.”
“Why?” Zippy asked.
“Because the government has disappeared,” answered Chuck.
“Yesh, it is terrible news,” said Zippy. “I am Zippy. And you?”
“I am Chuck,” said Chuck. “You should have heard about me.”
Zippy said, “OK! Goodbye!” She continued walking until she got into the tents. In that moment she saw six people laughing and talking. She knew they were the people from the airport.
When she saw Zippy, Mrs. Flowers cried, “Zippy! Come join us for dinner! There is a stand over here that sells mangoes and rice and beans.”
“OK! Thanks! and who are these lovely people?” Zippy asked, walking over to Gerald and Alana.
“These are our new friends from the US,” said Mrs. Flowers, and introduced them to each other.
They all sat on the ground. during the meal, they exchanged stories about their homes and their lives. Alana said, “Once I was crossing the street in Manhattan and right next to me was Michael Jackson!”
Zippy said, “Ah! I have something to tell you. “Tonight I met the famous Chuck Johnson.”
All of the others cried, “Who?”
“Chuck Johnson. I just met him tonight, but everyone on the island always talks about him. he’s a rich man who started Sterling Enterprises in the US.”
“Oh, Sterling Enterprises,” said Gerald. “Their stock has been going up a lot.”
“Mrs. Flowers said, “Did you say that he is rich?”
“Yes,” said Zippy.
Mrs. Flowers and Madame Carna smiled. They were thinking the same thing. “We can ask him to give us money to build the hospital,” said Madame Carna.
“What hospital?” said Alana.
Mr. Ernesto explained. “We want to build a hospital for the poor people on Didgeridoo. Do you want to help?”
“Of course!” said Alana. She looked at Gerald.
“Why should Chuck Johnson, the owner of Sterling enterprises, give you people any money?” asked Gerald.
“He will be famous for giving us the money to build the first hospital in Didgeridoo!” said Zippy.
“I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Madame Carna. “But all of us have had a very long day. Let’s find our tents, go to sleep, and proceed with our plan in the morning.”
“Time to wake up! Rise and shine!”
“What time is it?” Alana muttered sleepily to her husband.
“It’s six o’clock already!” sang Gerald. “We have to go talk to the famous Chuck Johnson!”
After Alana and Gerald had breakfast with Mrs. Flowers, Mme. Carna, Mr. Donatello and Mr. Ernesto, and of course Zippy, all seven of them walked to Chuck Johnson’s house.
“Door!” Chuck screamed when the doorbell rang. He didn’t look up from his newspaper.
After a few moments one of the maids went to Chuck and said, “There are some people here to see you.”
Chuck almost told the maid to make the people go away, but he was curious so he went to the door to see them.
“What do you want?” he said crossly at the group of seven at his door.
“We want to give you a great opportunity to help us build a hospital,” Zippy spoke up.
“Wait, who are you?” asked Chuck, recognizing her.
“I’m Zippy. We met last night on the beach. May we come in?”
“All of you?” said Chuck.
“Yes, of course,” piped up Alana. “We are all working together.”
“All right,” grumbled Chuck. He led them into his house. It looked like a palace with chandeliers and huge rooms with no one in them. His office had a dark leather floor and green leather chairs. He sat in his desk chair while the rest stood.
“There are poor sick children on Didgeridoo and they need a hospital,” said Zippy. “If you give us the money to build it we will call it the Chuck Johnson Hospital and you will be even more famous than you are now.”
“I need some time to think about this,” said Chuck. “Come back tomorrow.”
After the Spanish and Americans left Chuck called, “Maid!”
One of the maids immediately came to his office.
“I have a problem that is very strange,” Chuck said. “Ever since I met that girl Zippy last night I have not been able to stop thinking about her. It is very inconvenient. I need you to help me solve this problem.”
“Well, it means you are in love with her,” explained the maid. “The only thing you can do is to go tell her. I will get you some flowers to bring her.”
It took most of the day for the maid to go out and find the flowers. Didgeridoo is not a rich island and it took time for her to find a place to buy them.
Zippy and her friends were having dinner on the ground when Chuck found them at the tents. They were all very surprised to see them. “I am here to give you my decision on the hospital,” Chuck explained. “I am going to help you.”
Madame Carna and Mrs. Flowers stood up and began to jump up and down with happiness. Alana clapped her hands. Gerald shook his head but couldn’t stop smiling.
“Gerald,” said Alana, “I have a good feeling about this. If we do good things, everything will return to normal and we will be able to go back to our home.”
“I hope so,” said Gerald, with a faraway look in his eyes.
Now Chuck looked at Zippy. “May I see you alone for a moment?”
Zippy stood up and the two of them walked toward the beach, where he presented her with a dozen roses. “I have decided to help you with this project because you are an amazing woman and I think I am in love with you.”
“That’s strange,” Zippy said, “because the first time I saw you that night, I thought I fell in love with you too.”
“Let’s spend a lot of time together, building this hospital,” said chuck.
Zippy smiled. “I’m ready!” she cried.