Tulip & Hamlin : Chapter 3
As my eyes slowly blink open, I am met with Stupendous’ curious face hovering above, followed by a quick shutter of their camera and a smile. Normally, I would be startled, but the abundance of tropical sour ale has left me in a peaceful trance. Stupendous comments it is time to leave and head for the shores. They offer me a cup, this time of Dayglow coffee, which is said to be the island’s house java. After a few sips of utter bliss, I’m up for a morning stretch, wash my face in the pond, and gather my things to embark on our trek.
Stupendous invites me to lead the way, presumably to continue taking pictures of me, an unsightly being in these lands. As we stumble down muddy terrain and cross a creek, I am immediately struck by the sight of what seems to be an abandoned sykkel (velocipede, as the English call it) helplessly dangling over the edge of a fallen tree. “Look!” I exclaim to Stupendous, who’s camera drops to reveal their face in utter shock. We rush over, careful not to slip on the mud.
There it is, the most beautiful, vibrant, and well made sykkel I’d ever seen, even with it’s bent wheels out of true. “Something is not right,” says Stupendous looking around aimlessly. I ask Stupendous to whom the bike belongs to and why they have abandoned them. Not a moment passes by, and Stupendous is hopping around nearby looking for clues. I notice the lettering on the frame covered in mud and loose branches, and wipe it off to reveal the name “Tulip”. Tulip, I wonder…could there be another human on this island? Perhaps another lost explorer looking for answers?
“Come look! Here…,” proclaims Stupendous, as I rush over to where he is crouched. I gasp at the sheer sight of blood on the tracks of muddy paws leading further ahead. “It’s still fresh, they must be close” admits Stupendous, taking quick snapshots of the evidence before us. I ask Stupendous if it could be a far away traveler. “That it is. Let’s see where these tracks lead,” says Stupendous, determined for answers. Stupendous helps me pull the sykkel from under the tree and we begin our search.
As we creep through the forest, tracing the fresh paw footprints, the sounds of birds flying overhead envelop us, growing louder and louder, until we notice a flock swarming ahead, at the woodland edge. “Are we headed for the shores?” I ask. Stupendous looks back with a grin. Upon reaching the edge, I almost faint at the sight of the crashing clear blue waves before us, smashing against the protruding rocks alongside the beach filled with the purest sands I have ever seen. “Look…there!” Stupendous points to a bobbling white haired head sticking out from the surface of the water. We dash towards the shores, and just as we’re about to dive in, Bowski Hamlin turns around in a flash, stopping us dead in our tracks. “Hei Venner!” they exclaim, the sunlight radiating in their face as they make their way towards us, stepping out of the water in a spell, wearing a dazzling golden jacket drooped around them.
“Your leg, what happened?” Stupendous asks. Bowski puts their hands on Stupendous’ shoulders and smiles. “Good to see you old friend. I see you’ve found my Tulip.” I stand in awe, an outsider listening in, clenching the sykkel’s frame, as Bowski’s glance draws towards me, with every hair standing on my body. “I see we have a visitor. Welcome to Humble Park.” Stupendous is on their knees examining Bowski’s wounded leg. "It’s alright Gustav, no need to worry. Just a tussle, that’s all,” says Hamlin.
“I’m just a visitor, I mean no harm,” I stutter. Bowski approaches me and admits , “what is there to fear, dear friend, you have brought Tulip back to me, and for that, I am forever grateful. However, I must be on my way. I have a long journey ahead to reach the springs.”
“Crystal!” Stupendous exclaims in excitement, as Crystal Apache approaches us from the shores, the most beautiful goldfish I have ever seen, their gills emitting a mosaic of fascinating colors reflecting from the water. “Great to see your face and not your camera for once Gustav,” Crystal laughs. “You must all be hungry and thirsty. Come along, I will prepared a meal for you.” Their words take weight from our feet, as we follow in anticipation.
Crystal’s palace on the shores is part underwater, and the coral reef along it’s surface is a marvelous sight to witness. Soon after, we are all gorging on delicious crawfish boil, and drinking the lightest and most refreshing pints of black currant leaf lager. “Does this visitor have a name?” Crystal asks, doodling on their notepad. I blush in embarrassment. “I…my name is…” I start to speak.
“Ø….their name is Ø,” Bowski proclaims. “Ø is here to tell the story of our desert island.”
“Well it’s great to meet your acquaintance Ø,” Crystal nods. “Let us toast to your good fortune and the voyage ahead.”
Tears of joy rush out of my eye sockets, as I thank everyone for their company and generosity. Never, have I truly felt a part of something in my past life. I’m beginning to think I may never see my ancestral home again.