[The first part of this story can be viewed here.]
In a globalized world, it was surprisingly easy and affordable to ship a container to this island that didn’t appear on most world maps or globes. Frum had been shocked to find that the infrastructure existed to allow him to reasonably fill and ship his container with funds left over to live out his life on the tiny isle. The biggest challenge was coming up with cargo that would be valuable to the islanders and yet not excessively tax his limited resources.
John Frum steamed into the small harbor port on a ship large enough for his 8X8X40 foot shipping container full of booty with little room to spare. The port was really just a wooden dock that would just barely accommodate a boat of the size Frum had hired. Frum assumed his best god-like pose with his hands on hips, one foot up on the rail, and his chest puffed out. He looked out into the distance with chin up. Because of this he didn’t see that the boat was about to bounce up against the tire bumpers on the side of the dock and cause him to lurch forward. As he caught himself from flipping over the rail, his glasses fell into the drink and slipped down to the sandy bottom disappearing from a vague glint to nothingness before under the clear water.
Children, both boys and girls, rushed to the pier to meet the boat.
Frum spoke, “I am John Frum, and I come bearing cargo. Go bring your Chief.”
The children looked at him with perplexed faces and furrowed brows and backed away as if he had turned into a fire-breathing wildebeest. Once the children were sufficiently far away, they turned sharply and ran quickly inland.
By the time a combination of the ship’s little crane and the sweaty bare-chested crewmen had wrestled Frum’s container off the boat and onto the dock, a couple elders and a retinue of young men were approaching. One of the elders boldly continued while the others hung back.
“Welcome! I am Banu-O, Shaman of the Tanna people, and it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” Said the brown-skinned man, his flaccid dangle hanging disconcertingly out in the open.
“Greetings, Banu-O, I am John Frum.” Frum said in the most authoritative god-like voice he could muster.
“No, you’re not.” The Shaman said matter-of-factly.
“Yes, I am.” Frum countered with more than a little indignation in his voice.
“You think you’re the first white guy to show up here with a load of trinkets saying ‘Oh, I’m John Frum, bow before me?’” Said Banu-O.
“I don’t know what others have done, but I can assure you that I am John Frum, and I can prove it.” Frum said, wincing at his own stunning lack of omnipotence, before handing his passport over with it opened to the identification page.
“Oh, look, god has a passport.” The Shaman said sarcastically. He took the passport and looked at it with a sort of “I’ll-be-damned” expression. He handed it back.
“OK, so you are A John Frum. That doesn’t make you OUR John From. Ours spells his first name without an ‘h’ and his last name with an ‘o’.” Banu-O said.
Frum was unprepared for being challenged. Any people so gullible as to think a Mr. John Frum their god should be an easy sell. Frum was at a loss with respect to what tack to take. His natural proclivity was to be calm and cool because he was concerned about alienating the Tanna people. He asked himself, what would god do? “Smiting” was the first thing that came to mind, but, given his smite-deficiency, he was forced to pursue diplomatic options. Part of Frum was outraged at being challenged, and part was fearful.
Frum screwed up his conviction, “Look I am John Frum, and this is a pretty lousy way of treating your deity.”
Banu-O replied, “Dude, I’ve got a pretty cherry gig here with the spiritual guidance business on top of my medical practice, and I don’t need you screwing it up.” The Shaman said under his breath so that Frum could hear but those who held back could not.
So it was that Frum stumbled onto the heart of the matter. It immediately occurred to him that it would be better to co-opt the shaman than to try to defeat him.
“Look, I’m here. I’ve got all this cargo. I need someone to help me determine how it will be distributed. That individual, I suspect, will be quite popular and powerful. I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. I would like you to be my emissary to the people of Tanna.” Frum said.
The sly look that grew on the Shaman’s face gave his answer. Banu-O took a knee and bowed his head to his new god and benefactor. “Welcome, John Frum, to our humble island.”
The Shaman had a party arranged for the evening. Frum, exhausted from his travels, slept in Banu-O’s hut through most of the day as the tribe made preparations for the celebration.
In the early evening Frum awoke to a boy of about twelve years old tentatively poking him.
“Yes, can I help you?” Frum asked.
“I’ll take you to the roast.” The boy said.
Frum was momentarily startled as he imaged that it would be him roasted, and not in the style of the Friars Club, but, more likely, over an open pit with an apple stuck in his mouth.
“Ahh, the roast. Yes, just let me freshen up a bit.” Frum had been sweating heavily in his sleep. His bags had been brought to the hut. He searched around a clean shirt, some deodorant, and his spare glasses.
The boy didn’t leave him, and, for all he knew, the boy didn’t understand what he had meant.
“Did you bring Wii?” The boy asked.
Hearing this as, “Did you bring we?”, Frum was at a loss as to what the boy was trying to say, and it affirmed an unfortunate snap judgment that the child’s English was rudimentary.
“I’m – afraid – I – don’t – know – what – you – are – trying – to – say?” Frum asked in slow loud manner of speech.
“Did – you – bring – any –of –the –Nintendo-Wii – gaming –systems- with – you?” The boy said in a similar slow, loud, and precisely articulated manner that made Frum feel more than a little idiotic.
“Wii? Now why would you want that? You haven’t got any electricity.”
The boy snapped on a little desk fan that Frum had been completely oblivious to. “USAID put in solar cells a couple years ago. It’s not a lot of energy, but it might run a Wii.” The boy explained.
“How do you even know what a Wii is?” Frum asked still perplexed.
“The USAID workers had one.”
Frum was beginning to fear that he might have brought the wrong goods.