Ted and Teresa were supposed to go home two days ago. To our delight (wince), they’re still here.
Ted only got out of hospital yesterday. Meanwhile Teresa successfully claimed on their insurance to extend their holiday. We have the pleasure (wince again) of their company for another week. Longer still if Ted pulls any more stunts. For a man with no swimming shorts and an almighty white bandage around his torso, he continues to behave like a Magimix hand-blender stuck on maximum speed.
“What’s that white building over there?” He points through the car window at something on his right.
“It’s a church, you dork.” Teresa sits next to him in the back. “Thought you broke your ribs, not your head?”
“They won’t have a snack bar in there, will they? Only I’m feeling a bit peckish.”
“I can pull over if you like.” Kate gently slows the car. Any excuse to get out and stretch our legs. In the opposite direction to whatever way Ted and Teresa take.
“Can we get you anything?” Ted waddles towards the church, his wallet already out of his pocket in anticipation of a cafe, possibly a new branch of Gordon Ramsay’s Petrus inside.
I don’t say anything, but he’s going to be disappointed. Unless the priest is in the throes of excavating an umu, or the ladies of the congregation are baking banana cake, there will not be food available. Only one church on the island boasts a cafe. And that’s the showpiece Immaculate Conception Cathedral on the waterfront in Apia. This church here in dead-and-alive Muiatele is hardly a comparison.
“I quite fancy a hot-dog.” Teresa skips alongside Ted, her long blonde hair flowing down over the back of her short halter top.
“You know this isn’t the Warehouse, don’t you?” shouts Kate after them. “There won’t be a sausage sizzle.”
They’re too far away to hear. Or else they can smell something enticing inside the church. Ted disappears through the open front door. Then Teresa.
“I’ve brought some apples and muesli bars.” Kate retrieves a plastic bag from the car. “We might as well eat something before they come out.”
We stand on the other side of the car from the church, gazing out at the blue sea. Waves lap gently at our feet, and somewhere a cockerel crows, even though it’s eleven o’clock. Otherwise it’s peaceful, no sound of passing traffic, no commentary from Teresa or snoring from Ted.
“I could get used to this.” Kate crunches into her apple.
“Me too.” I watch a small boat out on the water. Then a cotton-white cloud drifting in the sky. Even the insects – the flies and mosquitoes – momentarily have gone.
Then a dull sound behind me. A grating. Rising into a clang that shatters the air.
We whip our heads around. Stare at the car, afraid it’s the alarm.
Another clang smashes down on us. Then another and another, blasting into our ears, reverberating inside our heads. It’s not the car. It’s the church.
The bells are ringing.
Then they stop. The silence is louder.
“Isn’t that Ted?” Kate shouts. She points at a lifeboat of a figure surging through the church door. In his wake, Teresa strides like the Colossus of Rhodes.
“They’re in a hurry.” We walk over to intercept them.
“For God’s sake, start the bloody engine!” Teresa reaches us, her face red.
“What’s happened?” I stare at her, then at Ted as he wallows up.
“Just get us out of here!” Teresa heaves Ted into the backseat, then slams in after him.
Over by the church, people in lavalavas stream from the door. And more from behind us on the road. Suddenly we’re in an episode of The Living Dead.
“What’s going out?” Kate stands as moonstruck as me. “Who are all these people?”
“Ted’s gone and done something stupid.” Spittle flies from Teresa’s lips.
“Is that why -.”
“Yes! Just drive!”
Kate and I jump in the car. Start the engine, and drive away moments before the villagers reach us. They make no effort to chase us. Just stare after us with blank faces, mesmerised.
“What the hell did you think you were doing?” Teresa digs her elbow into Ted’s bandage.
“It was only a little joke.” His words come between gasps. “I wanted something to eat and I saw -.”
“What? Kentucky Fried Chicken specials? Morons from NaeNae welcome?”
“No.” He shook his head. “Ring for attention.”