Our fort is an ancient resort; the oldest hotel on Ibiza transported to much colder climates. This military installation is the last bastion of the Soviets — our slow take-over of Never Never Land having evolved into some tacit but successful bid for power over the island. From over the moon, Captain Hook sent Petrov Pan (his Venom to his Spider-Man) to ally his pirate crew with Nikita Kruschev. And while the first round of troops were eager to help purge those Lost Boy Contras, it wasn’t long before that red-coated Hook was displaced and we had set up.
But that was so long ago.
The Wall may have fallen but news travels slowly to Never Never Land and our fort still stands as a testament to Soviet might. This is not to say that we do not know about the Mother Land’s crumble into some feeble capitalism; oh no, something is undoubtedly amiss. New orders have not come from the High Command for many years now. That said, our Colonel is wise and reminds us that no new orders mean only that the original orders still stand.
So we continue with our chores, our full dress parades, our missile drills… We keep watch on the skies and interrogate the Lost Boy Contras still left alive in our holding cells. We train the pirates’ descendents the Cyrillic alphabet and walk them through the training exercises that will help them keep the island free when the Politburo declares the island safe and our presence no longer necessary.
But it’s mostly an act to the junior crew.
On this day, I am on trash chores while a parade assembly (in combat dress) moves up and down the concrete landing strip. The senior officers are assembled and for a while (as I peel potatoes and chop leeks) I watch the Captains nudge each other in the ribs under the gray sky. I cannot tell if they are joking with each other or trying to stay awake. The enlisted men and junior officers can barely keep their goose steps together and many times they break up all together, playing games of pitch-and-toss or tag.
With a can full of potato peelings and leek greens, I go downstairs to skirt the edge of the parade grounds and heap these into the compost bin. Someone picks my pocket on the way down and though I call out, I cannot see who did it. There is no use in trying to chase him anyway; my hands are full with this garbage. Once I have dumped it out however, it becomes obvious which two Ivans have picked my pocket.
They’ve fleeced me of my sidearm and toss it between them, miming fired bullets and struck limbs with each successful pass. I open my mouth to call out but these two infantrymen are jerks. I cannot stand them. My jaw goes slack and though my hand is out-stretched, no words come out.
One of them actually manages to hit the safety through his miming and the gun goes off, hitting his fellow in the face.
Everyone converges on the scene but he’s already dead.
The Colonel, having witnessed it all, descends on me. Is this your pistol? How did they get it? Why didn’t you say something and try and get it back? My answers are honest but weakly spoken and I can only stiffen and thrust my chin toward the overcast sky and stick to my story.