Jacob Lawrence, "The Migration of the Negro No. 42" (1941)
Jacob Lawrence, The Migration of the Negro No. 42. They also made it very difficult for migrants leaving the South. They often went to railroad stations and arrested the Negroes wholesale, which in turn made them miss their train. (1941)
Can a Game Be Literature?

Mark's Pages

January 5, 2003:

No-one had ever been arrested before, on the island, so naturally there was no jail. Gilligan's first assignment as prisoner was to build one.

"Sorry, on strike," he refused, which created a crisis. It wasn't at all clear who among the others might be competent for such a task.

"What about the natives?," inquired the President, referring to the castaways. "That bunch had huts before we got here. Who built 'em?" Gilligan had, as it turned out.

"We have the best scientific minds in the world with us," snapped the President. In fact, they had the only scientific minds in the world with them. But, same difference. "Have 'em bring me a plan." Here the President demonstrated the best-refined of his much-flaunted business skills: delegation.

The science group labored under pressure-cooker conditions, producing a proposal in just five or six weeks to which they all contributed their unique individual talents. Their hut design was nuclear-powered, satellite-guided, all-weather, capable of air sea or land deployment, and would fit in the hold of a C-5 cargo plane. It commanded a complete array of bio-sensors, electromagnetic-spectrum sensors, and sophisticated ASIC-based digital analyzers which could acquire, track, and neutralize a threat 24/7 anywhere on, above, or below the island. It exploded on contact, with enough force to decapitate a T-72; and when it did, it burned at thirty thousand degrees centigrade. It would take fifteen years to build, and cost sixty zillion dollars. They dubbed it "Project Heckfire." Unfortunately its construction required a carpenter, and Gilligan was on strike.

"What about the military?," demanded the President. Rummy cut to the chase. "All chiefs, no injuns, Mr. President."

Reluctantly, the War Cabinet agreed to a temporary expedient. A Secret Service agent was assigned to draw two 8-foot by 8-foot squares on the ground, with his foot. The prisoners were instructed to imagine that those squares were actually strong steel cages, like the ones which safely imprisoned earlier terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The compound was dubbed "New Camp X-Ray," and the prisoners were not to step outside these lines.

"Who'll bring us food?," demanded Mary Ann, foot tapping angrily on the ground.

The rules were amended to allow the prisoners to gather their own food from the jungle.

"Who's gonna guard us?," asked Gilligan.

This question posed another quandary. Certainly no-one from the Generals' group, or the scientists, or the President's entourage, or the First Class Cabin, or the Reverends' group, or the State of Hollywood were fit guards for dangerous terrorists. The Skipper was one possibility; the Secret Service another. Still, seasoned heads among the Cabinet objected. These were low-level types; essentially, despite their specializations, they were employees. What if the strike spread, disease-like, infecting them? "We'd be up the Hershey canal without a cotton swab," summarized Potty Mouth, in his colorful way. It was decided that the prisoners would guard themselves, taking turns. "Sorry, on strike," said Mary Ann, arms crossed.

Yet the terrorists were happy to remain inside their tiny cells. From their point of view it was as if the government had used force of arms to ensure that their strike remained 100% effective. "Sorry, under arrest," they answered all requests. And so their walk-out was completely successful.

The tops of tall palms swayed against a blood-red moon. Mary Ann and Gilligan were dressed in the orange glow-in-the-dark prison jumpsuits which marked them as dangerous characters. For the first time since losing their huts they were warm at night, sleeping beneath military-issue blankets.

As she drifted into drowsiness Mary Ann chuckled to herself. Gilligan was playing marbles inside his 8-by-8 cell. As he bent down to shoot, he looked just the way she imagined a captured Taliban would, in his orange prison uniform and turban of thick bandages, kneeling to pray.

They slept longer and more restfully than they had in weeks.