- Son of Kong, How Do You Do?
It’s a 45 minute boat ride from the outer isle airstrip across the straits. The ferry’s railing cuts into my solar plexus, but I lean forward until my ribs ache. The pain and my excitement keep me breathless. Though I can’t see it through the cottony dawn fog, I can feel my island directly ahead: Tallulo Lillo, largest of the South Pacific’s Halloween Islands. Word of mouth, colorful travel brochures, and intuition have convinced me that this tropical paradise will be the perfect site for my next picture— the major studio, megabuck blockbuster that will free me from bondage to the backlot slasher films on which I’ve cut my directorial teeth. My reputation for turning low budget carnage into cash has earned me this opportunity, and I won’t waste it. I’ve come to this island to film the movie of my dreams. When the fog lifts, Talullo Lillo, as viewed through my professional eye, will no longer be Talullo Lillo. It will be Kong’s Island.
I’m here to remake The Son of Kong!
Whispers distract me, though I know I’m alone on the slick deck. In my other movies, the first of the Slitter series, for example, hushed voices sifting through the fog would be a bad sign. The character who hears them is done for. The neck hairs of an audience familiar with my work would tickle to attention. But my fans would be disappointed now, because I know these voices.
I pretend at first that they belong to my young son and his nanny who nap with our baggage in the ferry’s cabin, but I’m kidding myself. Though I strain to keep my focus forward, I can’t block out my childhood voice, nor the laugh of my youthful mother. Now I see us, sneaking up from behind as suddenly as a tractor trailer in a rearview mirror.
“We lost your daddy in the war,” Mom says. “When I was pregnant with you.” Then she laughs, tosses the waves of blond hair the men in her life would die for, and funnels cigarette smoke as acrid as Godzilla’s breath through her nostrils. He died in the South Pacific, she says. “He was a hero,” she says, though I never saw a medal. Men passed through our house like ghosts, the same man with different faces, none of them heroic, none of them my father. They all loved my mother’s golden hair.
I’ve invented a father for my dreams. As if they were old movies, I watch the flashbacks he never lived to dread. I see gray newsreel figures formed from ashes and fog, their color wept away by time. Some soldiers lose their last meals over the sides of the landing craft before crouching into rows, using their rifles as staffs. My father last vomited back on the transport, one quick wretch over the railing. It spread like a parachute, shrinking toward the dark sea, reminding him of training films of paratroopers blown from their planes like dandelion seeds. But that’s in Europe. Here they say Zeros love to pick you off while you float through the clouds. The enemy waits in the island jungle. My father’s death would be their glory. Dad’s crammed in too low to see the horizon, which would be invisible anyway, because the fog pours over him, as white as milk. Sea swells smack the hull with a hollow syncopation. The newsreel ends, and the spinning film flaps on the projector, over and over.
The drums on shore pound like the vein in my temple, but slightly off, like a tune on the car radio a milli-beat off from the windshield wipers. BA-GA-BOOM, BA-GA-BOOM, BA-GA-BOOM, over and over, happy drums, and why not? What a boon to the island economy! A Hollywood movie on location for over six months. Allison and her crew have been here for a week already, chatting up the locals, handing out everything from Baby Kong pens to free passes to watch filming (which...