He was an old man who fished alone far out at sea and he had gone eight-four days now without taking a fish. Clive was his name, yet despite the absence of fish he always bounded back to shore with vitality and joy.
Just like any other day, Clive hit the autopilot and tinkered with his nets, dam they were in a tattered state! He went down to the cabin where he dialed up his satellite phone, connected it to his laptop and called into the zoom meeting. In a high pitched New York accent, Roger the Secretary opened, ‘Welcome to the Friday noon Sex Anonymous International Meeting, I’m Roger and I’m a sex addict’.
‘Hello Roger’ came the reply from the 10 dozen faces on the webinar.
‘Brittany’s come to share today her experience, strength and hope’. A thirty something woman who looked like a librarian appeared on the screen and told her story. Clive half listened whilst he practiced his knots on a piece of rope tied to a shut cabin door.
‘And I’ve now been sober for 10 years and 61 days thanks to Sex Anonymous’ concluded Brittany. Tears streamed down Roger’s face, he removed his spectacles and blew his pointy nose, blabbering ‘That was absolutely sensational Brittany, now it's time to hear from you, who wants to share back with Brittany?’ A dozen little blue hands shot up. Clive clicked on his blue hand, he wanted to share with Brittany. Shamus a serial rapist, Penelope a porn compulsive and Deirdre a sex anorexic all shared with the group.
‘Now let's hear from Clive’ said Roger.
‘Hi I’m Clive and I’m a sex addict, sober now 15 years, doesn’t even cross my mind to get up to the shameful antics I once obsessed about. No, clean honest living that's my mantra, it's just me, my boat and Poseidon up there…’
At the mention of the God of sea Clive started to twitch, twitching turned to jerking until a spasms so strong shot through him that it knocked him to the floor. There he lay convulsing and twisting, his eyes rolled back inside his skull. He looked like an old mop with every bit of life being wrung out.
The video participants watched in disbelief until eventually the spasms ceased, his body parts stopped flailing and all was still, only the sea could be heard.
‘Oh my God, is he dead?’ cried Roger
‘No his eyes are moving’ ’ sobbed Brittany
‘Clive can you hear us, can you move anything? Can you speak?’ Nothing moved.
‘Tony sex addict, does anyone know his real name or where the hell he is? Looks like he's on a boat, we need to get him help…’
Dozens of voices blurted out of the screen at once.
‘Cynthia sex addict, we don’t even know what continent he’s on’
‘Archibald sex addict, he’s not on a continent you stupid trollop he's at sea'
‘Miriam sex addict and necrophilia, I'm being triggered, I have to leave’. One face dropped off the call.
‘Roger sex addict and Secretary, I propose we hold a group conscious, all those in favour of helping Clive raise your hands’. Little blue hands popped up. ‘Motion passed we’re going to help him, now how do we do that exactly?’
‘Hang on a moment mate, Barry sex addict, I’ve come for a meeting, I need my medicine, I’ve not dialed in for a seminar in first aid’.
‘Sonia sex addict,’ opened up her Big Book and read, ’Tradition 12: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation ...'
Throughout this discussion Clive lay motionless on the floor of his boat, blinking.
‘Dear members, love and tolerance is our code. This is an exceptional situation which I don’t think the founding fathers of SA could have foreseen. Now lets all pray for guidance.' The webcast bowed their heads. A booming arabic voice disturbed the peace.
‘The bllinking! Karim sex addict - he trying to tell us something, does anyone know Morse code?’ Silence, just the sound of the waves.
‘Alfredo sex addict, I know a Marine, we could invite him to join the meeting.'
And at that pandemonium broke out on the screen, voices shouted over voices, virtual punches were directed across countries.
‘Order’, shouted Roger ‘who is in favour of allowing a Marine to help this man, this will mean breaking tradition 12 in exchange for possibly saving a life’. The faces weighed up the choice, a few blue hands crept up. ‘45 for, 39 against, right get that Marine on the line Alfredo’. Another dozen participants left the meeting.
A fresh faced Marine with a US flag behind him appeared on the screen, ‘How can I help?’
‘This man has had a stroke we think, and is trying to tell us something, maybe about his coordinates at sea, we think his blinking is code’ instructed Roger.
‘Yes it does look like Morse, G..X...Y he is in the Pacific!’
‘Avi sex addict, oh well that narrows it down, I’m glad I broke my anonymity for that pearl of wisdom, how the hell are we going to find…’
But Avi's never finished his sentence as he was interrupted by the sound of a cuckoo bird, flying out of the clock on the wall of Clive’s cabin at the strike of 1 o’clock. Cuckoo! The chilling sound echoed around the cabin and back through the microphone to the meeting. A cabin door creaked open.
A Ladyboy limped into the salon dressed in a neon pink mankini with matching suspenders. She had a black eye and bruises on her arms and thighs. Seeing Clive she withered and edged around the side of the boat, eyes fixed on the motionless body. Tentatively she approached the heap, still no movement, she prodded with a finger, nothing. She kicked gently, still nothing. Then she understood, she let out a wailing wild cat cry then kicked her stiletto heels into his guts again and again.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw something move, she turned towards the laptop.
84 sets of eyeballs started out of the screen at her. Deadly silence gave way to a sudden frenzy of activity online; flies and dresses were unzipped, 'Ohhs' and 'Ahhs' reverberated across the airwaves. ‘Oh my god, I’m being triggered, I’ve got to leave, how do I disconnect?’ Dave from Cunningham fumbled knocking his webcam off and left the meeting. Half a score followed.
'Sonia sex addict, we need to cut off communications with the boat we are putting our members at risk'
‘Shut up old lady, Lola sex addict, we need to call the police, this man has been keeping a sex slave’
‘Avi sex addict, and which country authorities in the Pacific are we going to report this almost dead man too exactly?’
Roger looked into his webcam at the Ladyboy ‘can you speak English? Do you know where you are?' The Ladyboy stared back with zero comprehension, instead mimicking Roger and looking down the camera lens till all that could be seen was her dilated pupil.
‘Karim sex addict, google translate it’.
Roger punched at the keys causing the Ladyboy to jump as the chat box popped up. Still no reaction.
‘Cynthia sex addict, it looks like she’s illiterate, does anyone on the call speak Thai?’ Silence. Then sheepishly, ‘my masseuse is Thai, I could ask her to join the meeting?’
Another wave of panic hit the meeting, angry faces and raised voices flashed across the airwaves and pixels.
‘Lola sex addict, why don't we just send a typed up memo with all our names to the fricking BBC World Services!'
‘Alfredo sex addict, no matter what crime Clive has committed he is one of us, we all suffer from the same disease, help thy neighbour Tradition 1 - we have to find a translator, we must help him!’
Roger in exhaustion mopped his sweaty brow, ‘Ok all those in favour of calling on the Thai masseuse raise your hands... that's 19 for, 15 against. Cynthia get her on the call’. Another handful left the meeting.
A Thai masseuse in a pale blue meshed robe appeared on the screen, behind her a scantily clad masseuse walked along the spine of a chubby man yelping in agony. Zippers were undone again, another wave of 'Ohhhs' came down the microphones.
'Karim sex addict and sadist, I thought this was a safe place, it’s not! I'm being triggered.' Karim from Marrakesh left the meeting.
‘Khuṇ rū̂ h̄ịm ẁā khuṇ xyū̀ thī̀h̄ịn?’ the Thai masseuse barked into the camera. The Ladyboy made a sign with her hands. The Thai lady called over her shoulder ‘Anyone here know sign language?’ Another Thai lady with a silicon cleavage appeared.
‘Henry sex addict, Oh why don’t we just invite the whole fucking brothel to the party?’
As Henry spoke the Ladyboy was flung across the boat, a storm was brewing somewhere in the Pacific. The silicon cleavage signed to the Ladyboy, but before they could see her response the screen went black. The words 'Signal interrupted' flashed across the screen.
Distant voices echoed across the meeting.
'What the F*? No you're kidding'
'Whos quality controlling this?'
'Thats the problem with these free sites, so dam unreliable!' A few more left the webcast for entirely different reasons.
The small meeting listened to the sound of the thrashing waves, a therapeutic trance came over them, only the sound of muffling or was it sawing broke the spell. Eventually the storm calmed and the visual link was restored with the boat.
And there was Clive, still on the floor with his eyes like gobstoppers blinking away, but now in a pool of blood, his trousers round his ankles. In front of him a jam jar with two testicles and a penis inside.
The Ladyboy looked into the screen where the remaining six SA participants, one US Marine and two Thai masseuses stared back. As she wiped the kitchen knife the corners of her mouth twitched from the thrill, ‘You want make sex with me too?’ she purred.