"We need to get some more beer."
"More beer. We need more beer."
"Right. I'm on it."
Joji sprang to his feet and resumed walking as if he'd been standing all along. The rest of us remained seated, cross-legged on the ground, in what was supposed to be a circle, but by now resembled something more like an amoeba.
I was tired from the long afternoon. And more than a little drunk. But it was the kind of 'satisfied' tired that one only gets from an afternoon so inherently enjoyable that you can sink into yourself in the evening and simply relish the feeling of being tired, when the world is right with itself and nothing matters except the dirt upon which you sit and the people with whom you converse.
Joji soon returned, though 'soon' is a relative word. For all I know it could have been 3 minutes or 3 days; in fact, it didn't matter. Time didn't matter to the rest of them either. 'Now' was all that existed, all that was ever to exist in my current state of mind, as well as in theirs.
"Down the hatch!"
I gulp a glass of beer, which is small for a glass but rather large for a gulp. The men to my left and to my right are nameless, but they are cheerful, and so my soul is at ease. I pass the glass to the man on my right, who sits cross-legged, though comfortably, in the grass beneath a coconut tree. I am also sitting cross-legged, though rather uncomfortably. This fact is apparent to my companions, and they laugh as I awkwardly contort myself so as to keep the blood flowing to my feet. The gulping continues.
The glass has nearly circumnavigated the circle, and now resides in the sinewy hand of my leftern neighbor. He tells me his name is Joji, and initially I think he says "George." I even record this in my journal. One of his companions, whom I later learn is his cousin, dutifully pops open the aluminum cap of another Fiji Bitter, and the revelry can resume.
Three hours pass in the waking world; we change locations. The scene is similar now, simultaneously more civilized and more barbaric. We sit, for real this time, on stools surrounding a round wooden table. The bartender dutifully uncaps another round of Fiji Bitter, and the revelry can resume.
There is no gulping this time, and I take advantage. My friends have done this before; I'm merely a novice. I cannot keep up. The room is a foggy memory, yet I experience it in the present. Somehow I find the safety of a comfortable bed.
The roosters are at it again. It's pitch dark outside, but for some reason they feel the need to discuss the matter of morning, and rather raucously. Lying in my bed, the ceiling looks like it belongs in a Swiss ski chalet, not a hostel in the South Pacific. I continue to have similar thoughts as I wait for the sun to break the horizon.
It's only 6 o'clock, and there is not much to do at that hour. Though my room could cater for 4-5 people, I remain alone. In the silence of dawn, my thoughts are friendly and deafening.
It's chilly but clammy at that hour of the morning, and the sky is a hundred different shades of grey, but it's not raining. The atmosphere is playing tricks on me…I feel cool enough to wear my jacket, yet immediately after I begin walking, I'm drenched with sweat and the humidity is stifling. I think about taking my jacket back to the room, and then I keep walking.
The atmosphere is close, it's damp. I know my destination, and I don't know what waits for me. I nearly turn around, anxious with thoughts of what lies ahead, afraid to face the young girl whom I'd met the day before, before I transcended with my friends and Fiji Bitter. She was extraordinarily friendly, and her name was Teresa. I remember this fact immediately, and do not have to consult my journal. I stumbled upon her and her friends one day prior while ambling up the beach that overlooks Beqa Lagoon. Beqa Island sits on the horizon.I shouldn't be afraid. She welcomed me as a friend. We played volleyball and watched kids doing front flips into the ocean.