When I woke up an estimated 2 days later the sun was shining on me and I heard the gentle lapping waves against the boat. I had no clue where I was but everything was so peaceful it didn't seem to matter, that is until I sat up and remembered I had a head. I fought the pain long enough to stand up and lean against the side of the boat. I had washed ashore on what looked like paradise. The only thing that didn't exactly fit was the bedraggled man sitting by the tree line watching me. I chose that point in time to let the pain and unconsciousness win.
An unspecified amount of time later I tried this process again...and again...and again. Wake up blissfully, reactivate my pain sensors while lurching toward the side of the boat, and find a strange man staring at me. The only difference the forth time was that I realized I was approaching ridiculous and I managed to get myself to the beach before collapsing. The trees fuzzed in and out several times but never went completely black and after I puked up something like seawater I crawled up the beach to the man (who was still sitting in the same spot watching me) for lack of any better ideas.
His clothing was fairly shredded but you could make out the remains of a tie around his neck and he was sitting cross-legged on the remains of a sport coat. He was very dirty, very tanned, or both. He was surrounded by something that looked like watermelon rinds though they lacked the characteristic smell and he was staring trance-like at the ocean. There was a considerable period of awkward silence until I managed to cough up any seawater left in my system. He started speaking without turning to look at me.
"You look like you are dead. I am still not entirely comfortable with the fact that you are alive and by your performance earlier I don't know if you are either. However if you feel that you are and you find yourself hungry or thirsty please have some of my melon. I am willing to share exactly half of what I have left."
With that he procured a wooden machete from behind himself and sliced the remainder of the melon in half with a loud 'thwack' and handed it to me all without taking his eyes from the sea. I didn't bother to think about or taste the strange fruit; I just began consuming it in all of its juiciness. While I ate the strange man started talking again.
"When I have finished here, I will take you back to the village and someone will find you a place to stay. You are perhaps the youngest reporter to ever wash up on these shores and I am surprised that you managed to break in to the field so early. But I won't bother to ask you how because it doesn't matter any more."
"If you manage to get words out between bites I know you will ask how I knew you were a reporter so I will save you the time. This island entirely populated with people like yourself who arrived in the same manner. Either by some horrible accident or a cruel joke they were set a drift to end up here, the Island of Washed-Up News Persons. Your attire and the slicker give away your particular specialty. You are far too professionally dressed to be a mere wire-coiler. No, you must spend time in front of a camera, and the rain gear indicates that you were covering something outside, presumably the hurricane that recently passed through. An anchor man like myself would not be caught out in the rain on purpose."
"Whether you care to know or not I will tell you how I came to this island. I was lost in a tragic accident at a station Christmas party on the station owner's yacht. Two fellows began yelling to me that the engines were on fire and I must head immediately for the lifeboats. They cast me off before any of the others could make it to the boats. I fear that they all perished. It must have been very unfortunate for the station to have lose their best man but such is life."
As he was speaking my attention started drifting. I could vaguely remember hearing about a news anchor getting drunk and leaving a party by life boat. He had never been found and the nicest thing they could say on the news was at least it saved him from being fired as he was a good deal past his prime. I mentally shrugged and tried to listen again.
"You will like this island when you get over the fact that it is not actually paradise, you did not choose to come here, and you cannot leave."
With those last words his speech was over. Apparently his cue-cards in the clouds vanish and the trance was broken. He donned his sport coat, gathered the rest of his melon and the machete, and started walking. After about 5 steps he hurled the melon into the ocean without missing a step. I sighed the heaviest sigh I could manage and followed him down the beach.
Several years later one of the members of my former crew came ashore on the west side of the island. He had been covering a riot on a cruise ship and someone threw him off of the boat. He managed to find a life jacket floating amid the other junk floating around the wrecked ship but before he could make it back on the boat a deck chair caught him in the head. He was kind enough to apologize and offered to tell me about my fabled disappearance as the rest of the world knew it. I declined. I figure if I get bored someday while gathering coconuts I might bother to ask him but stuff like that just doesn’t really matter on the Island of Washed-Up News Persons.