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Thursday, October 7, 2004    |    Fiction

Closing Statements from the Castaways’ Presidential Debate

by Josh Abraham
The Skipper

My fellow castaways. I ask you to remember that day, so long ago, when five passengers set sail from a tropic port, aboard this tiny ship, for a three-hour tour. The weather got rough, our tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage of this fearless crew, the Minnow would’ve been lost. The Minnow would’ve been lost. The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle, with no phone, no lights, no motorcars, not a single luxury. My fellow castaways, we are here for a long, long time. We’ll have to make the best of things. It’s an uphill climb. But my first mate and I will do our very best to make others comfortable in this tropic island nest.

I have a plan to succeed and to win. That’s my plan. It’s a hard job, being leader of an island full of castaways. It’s hard work. I know how to lead an island full of castaways. I know how to lead—I’m a skipper! That’s what skippers do: they lead. And I will lead this island to victory. I will lead us to the state of being rescued. But to do that, we’ve got to send a message, to our rescuers. My opponent says that we set sea aboard the wrong boat, at the wrong time, in the wrong direction. At this tenuous moment, how can we afford to send mixed messages to the world?

Just last week, the Professor said he supported my plan to assemble coconuts to spell “Help” along the shoreline so that planes flying overhead might see it. Then he was against it. He supported my decision to grant a coconut-tax cut for the millionaire and his wife, then he was against it.

I’ve worked closely with Gilligan as my first mate. He is a mighty sailing man, and I am brave and sure. Our alliance is strong. And I’m optimistic. See, I think you can be realistic and optimistic at the same time. I’m optimistic we’ll achieve our objective—I know we won’t achieve if we send mixed signals.

By being steadfast and resolute and strong, by keeping our word, we can achieve rescue. I have faith in God, and faith in you, the people of this great island. I appreciate your listening tonight, and I ask for your vote. And may God continue to bless our great isle.


The Professor

Ladies and gentlemen. My fellow castaways. I’ve said from the beginning that both the Skipper and I love this isle very much, but we have a different set of convictions. He continually accuses me of being a “flip-flopper,” of sending mixed messages—well, yes. I’ve changed my opinion on certain subjects in light of new evidence. That’s the scientific method. A lifetime of professorship has taught me to examine the facts, and determine an opinion based upon said facts. It’s of no use to be determined in your convictions if your convictions are wrong.

My opponent’s administration is skilled at spinning that fateful trip into a triumph for their party. But who is it that has failed you? The weather reports remained unread in the Skipper’s cabin, and we paid dearly for his miscalculations. The Minnow was lost. We’ve been on this island for far too long. Our Skipper got us into this mess, and he has been thus far unable to get us off. The Skipper has effectively alienated us from the world. We are lost at sea, and we must rely on any nation’s Coast Guard for help. Time and again, we’ve been visited by downed Air Force pilots, by Larry Storch and Hans “Wrongway” Conried, even by the Harlem Globetrotters. And our Skipper has let them all leave, further isolating us from our would-be rescuers.

Until we get through this, we must keep this island safe. Over 95 percent of the driftwood that washes ashore remains uninspected. Our coastlines are unsecure from the native cannibals and witch doctors from neighboring isles in this archipelago. In all this time, we still have yet to explore the other half of our own island.

I have a plan for rescue. I believe we must reach out and accept offers from any nation that will help us. I believe we can construct a raft from palm-tree trunks and twine and sail toward freedom. Also, I believe we can lessen our dependence on Saudi oil. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a message to you: Help is on the way.

Thank you, and for God’s sake, please stop letting this goofy idiot make decisions for you.

Josh Abraham was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent his early years in North Africa, working various jobs—in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company—to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. As a young journalist, his report on the unhappy state of Muslims in the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Théâtre de l'Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, and Dostoevski. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat, then an important underground newspaper. Abraham's fiction, his philosophical essays, and his plays have assured his preëminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Abraham was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers. No, wait. That was Albert Camus.

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