Yes, I can proudly say that I have battled a rogue chicken, an intrusive amoeba, and a hideous specter of evil, all in one day, all while attempting to write.
Today’s story comes from a trip I took to the Philippines back in the summer of 2008, when I was living in Korea. Duringthe latter half of my lovely week in one of the most beautiful and friendly places on earth, I went to the island of Boracay. Boracay, a tiny paradise reachable only by terrifyingly rickety boats (the crossing was quite the adventure), seemed like the perfect place to relax on the beach and do research for a story I was planning to write. But, you know what they say about the best laid plans . . .
On a gorgeous Thursday morning, with no ominous clouds or anything in nature to warn of ill occurrences ahead, I pulled on my bathing suit and went to the beach to read. I was planning a story on nurses in WWII, so I had with me a marvelous book written by some of the nurses who were captured by the Japanese when they were serving in the Philippines. I had felt quite ill the previous day, so I was a bit weak and sleepy. Although my book was fascinating, the gentle sound of the waves was too good of a lullaby and I wound up having a very pleasant nap.
At least, it was pleasant until something tickled my nose and I woke up eyeball-to-eyeball with a very impertinant chicken (rooster, actually)! It’s too bad I didn’t vacation in Beijing (where that year’s Olympics were held); my jump might have set a new world record for distance.
The rooster wasn’t at all startled by my abrupt awakening; on the contrary, he seemed rather bored with me and decided to examine my beach bag. I grabbed my thick book and shooed him away, but it was clear that he was not at all intimidated. As soon as I sat down he was back over, stretching his neck as if to get a better look at me (although at least this time he was about two feet away, as opposed to about an inch away like he was when I woke up). He seemed fascinated by me and kept trying to get closer to me. I kept pretending to swat at him with the book. The rooster was apparently a fan of non-fiction, for he kept on coming back, undeterred. At one point, he actually tried to grab the book. Rather than teach the creature about the heroic efforts of American nurses in the Second World War, I decided to declare him “King of the Beach.” He preened proudly as I dejectedly gathered my belongings and headed for the pool area of the hotel I was staying at.
Well, the troubles did not end there. Just as I opened my notebook and prepared to start making an outline for my story-in-progress, illness struck. As I learned later (after I got back to Korea), I was a victim of amoebic dysentery. In short, an overly friendly and eager amoeba had happily built himself a snug little pagoda in my colon. I’ll spare the intimate details of the illness, but lets just say that I got some great personal experience with something I had planned to include in my story, but was far too miserable to be able to write about it.
That Thursday really had it in for me, because getting sick was not the final event of the day. After a wretched few hours spend huddled on the floor of my room, I figured that a cool shower might make me feel better. That’s when evil incarnate struck: as I was getting out of the shower, I grabbed a towel. A HUGE Filipino spider LEAPED out of the towel, just as I was preparing to use it and aimed himself at my face, missing by less than an inch. I think Fay Wray showed less distress than me when King Kong scooped her up!
As my friends at Lantern Hollow Press know, I am utterly terrified of spiders. Not knowing whether or not the hideous beast was poisonous, I declared him “King of the Bathroom”, dressed as rapidly as I could, and, with speed that might have rivaled that of David Rushida, ran to the front desk and begged for someone from housekeeping to come liberate my room from the foul clutches of evil. I think they probably had a good laugh about me after I left, but to the credit of all concerned, the hotel staff were prompt spider-slayers.
I never did write that story . . .