A funny thing happened on the way


Owing to my late night flight out of Tahiti, I wandered away from Faa’a irport (so named because it brings and takes you faaa, faaa away) and settled onto a patch of grass within sight of the airport, but faa’a enough away to not be able to hear the regular public address announcements. It was the same patch of turf I’d settled upon when I’d arrived, and suited my purpose well.

Intermittently reading my copy of the latest edition of New Yorker magazine, I had drifted into a light slumber when my senses were jolted by a warm embrace. I was suddenly beset by an evening encounter with someone, I knew not immediately whom, but who must have recognised me during their own travels. The firmness of the greeting collided with my rapid thoughts of which of my acquaintances might be traveling through Tahiti, and be so familiar with this dozing author as to make such a bold connection. The adrenalin and excitement of identifying my company took upwards of a second to translate into the terrific realisation that I was being assaulted. Amazing things happen.

The transference of emotion from shocked surprise to fear was sufficient to allow my new company – one allocated to the assault, the other to pilfering my backpack – to make haste into the darkness of the Tahitian night. My aroused cognisance of the circumstance registered in hopeful cries of “Passport!” swiftly followed by “Je suis Australien”. Deviating from main streets, we raced across a disused petrol station, sped left down a laneway, then right right through a narrow back alley, then, then, I cannot remember which way. If they veered left or steered right, then without originality I followed.

Ignoring my pleas of “j’ai besoin de mon passport”, “por l’aeroport s’il vous plait”, and “je suis Australien”, two thieves hurried deeper into the night belly of Pape’ete. Across the petrol station my foot was sliced open on broken glass, a wound that for the present adrenalin was eager and capable of addressing. After a 5 minute chase, absorbed by the fear of losing valuable belongings, fear of being unable to board my flight, and fear of catching my two assailants, I turned right into what appeared a new alley, but closer inspection revealed as a desolate back yard. Dead end.

I was unsure how to proceed. Perhaps back out into the alley and continue the search. Or find my way back to the airport and report the crime. I was barefoot, still in the boardshorts I’d worn to the beach, I had no passport for a flight departing in about 3 hours, and my foot was bleeding. Turning, distraught, I tuned into the sounds of heavy breathing, in sympatico with my own. Shining in the the moonlight, crouched behind a lone tree in the corner of the yard, hovered a pair of eyes. A step to my left revealed a second pair, waiting, belonging to his brother in arms. Hello boys. And holy shit.

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