Shipwrecked with a shy call girl, he was a man who believed
in life, liberty and the happiness of pursuit.
"Passion In Paradise"
by Ross Olney
Vol. VIII No. 15-99 September 1959
THE SUN was blazing.
I knew that without opening my eyes, but I couldn't remember at first where
I was. The raft was bumping steadily against something, but I huddled on
the bottom too tired to move.
The first thing I remembered was leaving Frisco
by steamer for a fling in Japan. Yeah, yeah, five years' savings and I
was going to shoot it in four weeks visiting places I'd been during the
war. I was in bed on the fifth night and...yes, the ship sinking...the
raft...and she came up beautiful in the glow of fire from the ship and
I pulled her in. Then the explosion.
"Hello." The voice was soft and smooth. Now I had
to open my eyes. I knew it would hurt so the pain stabbing through my head
didn't surprise me.
She slowly swam into focus. Beautiful. Long blonde
hair tumbling wildly down of smooth tapered shoulders and on to...That's
all I could see. She was in the water outside the raft and over her lovely
shoulder I could see the long, white stretch of beach we were bumping against.
I started to rise.
"Sit still," she said, her voice suddenly edged
I narrowed my eyes and glanced stealthily up the
beach to the edge of the jungle. Natives, I guessed. Maybe head hunters
from the sound of her voice. I couldn't see them but I knew they must be
"What is it?" I hissed, readying myself for the
last game fight.
"I...I... ," she started, pink creeping into her
enchanting face, "...you've got to give me your shorts."
My shorts! I glanced down. My shorts,
if I remembered correctly, were my only sleeping garment and the ship had
started to go down while I was in bed.
I had remembered correctly.
"Oh, I couldn't do that." My fear of natives faded
into embarrassment over what she was asking. "Really, no, I couldn't."
"But you must," she pleaded.
"What do you want with my shorts?" I've never been
one to beat around the bush.
"Well, I--I just need them." She seemed frightened
Natives be damned! It dawned on me why she was kneeling
in the water. "You mean you--you--," I could hardly bring myself to say
"Well, I can't predict what I'll be doing when a
ship decides to sink," she blazed. "I was taking a shower."
"I'm sorry," I said, "but I couldn't possibly."
After all, I didn't know her from Adam and she wanted to wear my own personal
"But we're on a deserted island. Nobody will see
you," she pleaded.
"Nobody will see you either."
"Now listen lady, I--"
"Eve is the name."
I had an idea the name, if she would only stand
up, would fit her perfectly.
"Well, Eve, under no circumstances will I give you
my shorts. Now let's forget it and concentrate on finding out where we
"All right," she raged, "but don't forget I could
have taken them last night when you were out.
"Why didn't you?"
"I...I was afraid you'd try to...to take them back
this morning when you woke up."
"You're right," I agreed, "I would have."
I guess she could tell from the look on my face
that I was not going to give up my last bit of modesty. She stared defiantly
at me, steeling herself, and rose quickly, the water foaming around her
pretty knees. Above that, she showed a lovely need for a T-shirt as well
as shorts, but no fabled mermaid could have been more beautiful. With a
cry, she splashed indignantly.
Out of the water and stalked up the beach toward
the jungle looking exactly like an advertisement that would read, "I Dreamed
I Was Marooned in My Maidenform Bra."
By the time I collected myself and hurried after
her, she had disappeared into the trees.
My exploration of the island revealed little except
that it was small, completely deserted and laden with fruit and nuts, so
there was no danger of starving to death. I found a small, dry cave some
distance up the beach and decided to make that general headquarters. The
cave opened on a large, flat rock, which was ideal for a signal fire and
a good look-out for passing ships.
With a new respect for boy scouts and their endless
perseverance, I finally started a fire at the cave mouth and leaned hack
to enjoy it. A gentle breeze was blowing warm and sweet, and I had a nice,
dry place to sleep with the sound of the rolling surf to lull me. Then
remembering Eve I decided that things could be much worse.
Late that night a snapping twig jerked me out of
"Who's there?" I called.
"Is that you, Eve?"
Shyly she came into the light of the fire. She had
fabricated a skirt from long, heavy strands of grass. It seemed to put
her in a better humor, and since it was pretty revealing, it put me in
better humor too.
"Hello," she said quietly.
I studied her grass-weaving handiwork. When she
walked a certain way, I noticed that it, well, it seemed to fall . . .
I snapped my mind back to our immediate problem.
"I found us a place to live," I said, trying to
de-emphasize the "us."
"So I see." She seemed to be taking a very reserved
attitude under the circumstances.
"And we don't have to worry about food. Plenty on
"Yes, I know."
She was lovely in the flickering light of the fire.
Her lace bra blended perfectly with the gently waving grass skirt. Her
blonde hair, magically silver at night, caught the soft glow from the fire
and made me breathe more deeply. I began to think that fate was handing
me a perfect vacation.
"When will they find us?" she asked.
Her words reminded me that no matter how much fun
I had, three weeks was my limit or I'd lose my job. But surely they'd find
us in three weeks.
"Surely they'll find us in three weeks," I repeated
"Three weeks? Why three weeks?" She didn't seem
afraid of the prospect, thank goodness. Just concerned.
"Well, I..." Yes, why three weeks? Maybe three months
or three years. Or maybe never. I tried to convince myself by convincing
her. "We only drifted one night, right?"
"And our ship was on a regular shipping lane. So
it stands to reason that, even if they didn't get out a message, which
they no doubt did, ships will be passing near here pretty often."
My words made us both feel better.
"Now all we have to do is...er...make arrangements
for while we're here." I hinted rather than coming directly to the point.
"Arrangements?" she asked with perfect innocence.
"Well, yes...I...I feel that that...," I stumbled
Then she seemed to catch the point be cause there
was ice in her voice. "You're married, no doubt." She made it sound like
"And how do you make a living?"
"I drive a hack in Philly, why?"
"How often do you give free rides?"
"Damn seldom," I said, suddenly irritated.
What kind of a fool question was that? Hack driving
is my living. If I gave free runs, I'd damn soon starve. And why was she
looking at me...like...that...
"Do you mean you...you're a...," I started.
"No," she said quickly. Then after a pause, "Yes...I
"Oh, but surely under these circumstances, you wouldn't..."
She looked up coldly. I got the impression she would.
This was ridiculous. No, it was awful. And besides,
my wallet had gone down with my pants. I began to wonder if things could
he any worse.
"Good night," she said, apparently uninterested
in my soaring thoughts. She swished gently into the cave leaving behind
a lonely silence.
By the next morning I had made several resolutions.
I spent an uncomfortable night tending the fire and catching snatches of
sleep at the door to her cave. The first thing our little kingdom needed
was some sort of monetary system. We could be here forever!
With breakfast fruit over I approached the problem
with my usual coolness. "How about I.O.U.'s?" I asked.
"But Pete, what do we need I.O.U.'s for?"
She was going to be difficult.
"Of course, normally," I began, "when a man and
a woman are on a desert island, money is no problem, but in view of your--your
business, I thought..."
"I...I understand," she said, acting as though she
was embarrassed to talk about it. But I wasn't going to let her false modesty
"That's why I suggest I.O.U.'s. I'll make them good
when we're picked up."
For a moment she looked far out to sea, as if expecting
to see our rescue ship steaming in. Then I saw real shame in her face.
"It's all right," she said finally. "Whatever you
say is all right."
Now we were getting somewhere. I finally decided
that, with no paper on the island, palm fronds would have to serve as the
currency of the realm. In deciding on fronds I took into consideration
the thousands that were already on the island, and the thousands more that
were growing every day. Never can tell when a person might need extra money,
I thought. Besides, we might never get picked up, in which case I had become
a multi-millionaire overnight.
Eve sat quietly during these important decisions.
She was obviously no business woman. In fact, I began to wonder how she
ever managed to get along in her chosen profession with such a "don't give
a hoot" attitude. She sighed, then attempted to shake her blues. "And what
am I going to tell the rescue party when I carry a bushelfull of palm fronds
on the boat?" she asked.
"It's none of their business," I said.
Threatening clouds had been building up during this
time, so I hurried to complete arrangements before the storm. Thinking
of first things first, I rushed into the jungle to grab an armful of money,
brought it back to the cave, then went back for the second most important
thing, food. Finally, I took a burning stick from our fire and started
another fire inside the cave. Watching the glow of the fire flickering
off the walls, I tried to remember when I'd been in a cozier place.
Then the storm smashed down on the is land.
For three days it howled and lashed and tried to
beat its way into our snug retreat, but we were warm and dry. Eve was wonderful.
She was sweet, friendly and attentive.
When the storm blew itself out on the fourth day,
I stepped outside and looked at the dripping, gleaming jungle. Then I went
out to search for firewood, and replenish my supply of money.
After several hours, I returned with a drooping
load of fronds in one arm and a soggy load of green wood in the other.
Eve seemed more modest than before our encampment. After seeing the fronds,
she hardly looked at me, and she'd discarded her grass skirt for a thicker,
more substantial one fashioned from the now valuable palm fronds.
"Pete, I--" Then I noticed. "Eve baby, you're crying."
"Pete, I'm sorry things worked out this way.
Sorry for what?"
"I...I don't know. Maybe if all this had happened
some other time...some other way. It's funny but in a way I knew what she
was trying to say. Eve was different. I guess if it hadn't been for her
occupation I would have said what I was thinking, but I didn't say anything.
In the next three weeks, Eve's pile of palm fronds
grew steadily, but there was something wrong between us. The leaf money
became a kind of formality, but she always accepted them in silence and
put them in the back of the cave.
One morning, several weeks later, I stepped out
of the cave and checked the results of another heavy storm. Then from force
of habit I looked out to sea.
A ship was on the horizon! "Eve! Come here quick."
She rushed out and we stood looking across the water
at the distant speck that spelled civilization.
"We've got to signal them!" she cried. Quickly I dashed back into the
cave to grab a burning brand from our dying fire. Nothing but hot coals.
I rushed back out and looked around frantically at the soaked island. The
storm had water-logged every thing and I cursed myself for not being prepared.
There was nothing to burn--no way to signal the ship. I looked at Eve and
knew that she understood.
Since our relationship had been strained by some
unseen thing, Eve completely surprised me by what she did next. With a
shy smile, she unfastened her protective skirt of palm fronds and offered
it to me.
"But Eve, this is your...you can't do this."
"There's more in the cave," she said, standing unashamed
before me. "Maybe you can start a fire with my skirt."
"But what about you?" I asked meaning more than
my words could carry.
"I'll make a skirt out of wet grass before they
get here," she answered.
That wasn't what I meant, although secretly I was
worried about Eve going down to the rescue party as she'd come to me. Worried
I lit the skirt, added the fronds from the cave
until there was a roaring fire, then dumped wet wood in the flames and
watched the black smoke roll skyward. Soon we could see that the ship was
slowly growing larger. Eve sat near the mouth of the cave busily fashioning
a new skirt. I watched her and knew that soon now we would separate.
"Eve," I started, "I remember just about how many
"Forget it," she said, quietly.
"But that's like giving my hack away."
Eve sighed. "Someday, Pete, someone will come along
whom you'll gladly give your cab to."
I knew what she meant. I kneeled down and put my
arm around her. "Someone like you," I whispered.
"No, Pete, I'm a...I've been..."
I didn't want to know because it made no difference.
I stopped her protest with a kiss.
Then she whispered, "I'm sorry your vacation was
"My vacation is just starting. But I need you, Eve.
You get free cab rides in Philly for the rest of your life if you give
the right answer to one question."
"Oh, Pete!" she cried. "The answer is yes, Pete,
Several minutes later, I got up, stretched happily
and saw the ship was much closer.
"Now hurry, darling, and finish that skirt. don't
want a bunch of sailors gawking at you any more than necessary."