by Bill Lapham
Virgil found the island two years ago experimenting with Google Earth on his laptop, and chose it for its remote location, crater-like harbor and short circumference. It's located in the Pacific some 800 miles from the nearest city, if you can call it that, over water as clear as a new window. If they could see him now, his friends would be alarmed at Virgil's appearance: snarled white hair and beard, sun-splotched and weather-beaten skin, bent and withered frame; he looks ill. He shelters himself from a tyrannical midday sun and the occasional rain squall by an elaborate system of palm fronds, tree trunks, native lashings, and a few pieces of plastic that wash ashore from time to time. There is plenty of lobster and fish in the harbor and choosing one or the other for his daily meal is the toughest decision he ever has to make. The island is one of those tropical paradises you read about in New York Times sometimes, and it would have been an ideal spot for Virgil to pursue his dream of monastic seclusion, except that it was used by the Navy for atomic weapons testing in the early 50's and a Geiger-counter could still register activity in certain spots, like his garden, if he had ever bothered to check.
Bill Lapham is a student veteran.