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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Barbie & Ken and Ted’s Great Adventure

Charles Bins
It’s Barbie and Ken!

Ted, a bear of a man, twists one end of a long strand of fibers that stretch behind him; the other end is tied to the crux of a sapling. The strands must be bundled and tied together, and he needs enough if he’s ever to survive and someday escape the island. This is his unrelenting thought after his first encounter with them.

He shipwrecked three weeks ago, just 10 days into his voyage from Hawaii to Australia, hoping to set a world record. Driven by an angry gale, a rogue wave engulfed his boat. He rode the seas for hours clinging to a floorboard, a tin of wooden matches around his neck. On the second day, he battled sharks with a machete before washing ashore. The small island wasn’t on any of his charts. After surviving on orange berries for three days, he explored cliffs on the far side of the island and discovered he was not alone.

At the mouth of a cave near a waterfall, he meets a man and woman, looking like life-size inflatable Barbie & Ken dolls. The dusty-haired man is stirring a pot, dressed in loin-skins and moccasins. The woman is showing off a floral bathing suit and white moccasins. A prodigious flower sprouts from her sun-did-it blonde hair.

“My name’s Ted, and I sure am hungry. What’s cooking?”

“C’mon in,” she says, sizing him up over her sunglasses. “I’m Barbie, he’s Ken.”

“We don’t normally share here,” says Ken. “At the moment, I’m boiling water.”

“Well, what do you eat — fish, small animals, maybe? That’s some nice hide wrapped around you.”

“Oh, this,” says, Ken. “It was the only thing in my suitcase when we got here. The rest was filled with Barbie’s clothes and stuff.”

Barbie waves her hands and wiggles the hula. “Like my swimsuit, Ted?”

“Nice,” he says.  Maybe we can go for a swim together sometime.”

Barbie pulls down her shades and winks. “Sure.”

Ken pulls the wooden spoon with an evenly tanned arm. “As I said, we don’t normally share around here, Ted.”

“I meant the three of us, Ken.”

A short time later, Ted leaves them stirring the pot before things get contentious. As he says goodbye and steps away, it bothers him that they didn’t ask questions or offer any food. He hangs back and hides behind a rock. They are funny and warm to each other, and the water does boil, but as far as he can see, they never put anything in the pot–not a chipmunk, a minnow or even a slug. There are no dirty dishes either. When darkness falls, they sleep soundly save for a feint hissing sound.

Ted wonders how the pair could survive. A few days later he invites them for dinner after catching a snapper using grasshoppers as bait, carefully tied with his island twine. Both Barbie and Ken ask politely for only a small portion. They rub the fish between their fingers and push it to their mouths. But are they only pretending to eat? They make a show of licking their lips and say how good the fish is but kindly refuse seconds.

After dinner, Ted invites them to sit around a campfire that he starts with one of his wooden matches. They start talking when the flames catch hold. He works the jute into twine again as he listens.

The lovebirds say they left after Valentine’s Day on an unchartered island known to them only as Barbie Island. They were sailing happily along on Barbie’s cruiser for several days with an endless supply of fuel.

“I’m a model and Ken’s a sailor,” she reports. “One day, he’s standing at the wheel in his handsome sailor outfit. But you know,” she whispers, “Ken’s navigation skills aren’t all that. So when we got lost, neither of us knew a thing about the sextant, except that it’s made of plastic.”

Feeling pricked, Ken picks up the story on a new tack. “Being lost isn’t the end of the world. Fortunately, Barbie pulled a complete tea set from her suitcase, so, of course, I boiled water.

“We were relaxing on our deck chairs sipping Earl Grey tea when we started thinking about whether we should contemplate our predicament. We both said ‘Nah’ at the same time, and we couldn’t stop laughing. Barbie can really guffaw when she gets going.” As if on cue, Barbie tosses her head and laughs at the sky. Then Ken adds the punchline: “That’s when our engines gave out.”

They’re both laughing maniacally now like kids seeing circus clowns suddenly shoot them the moon. Barbie’s laugh has now added a snort. Ken recovers first. “Barbie was so upset about the engine but didn’t want to wallow in it. She just went below, changed into her purple bikini and dived in for a swim.”

When the waves started climbing, the boat rocked every which way until Ken rescued her with the lifesaver. “He really didn’t want to get his uniform wet,” Barbie volunteers.

“After she clambers up the ladder, the sky darkens—Like that.” Ken snaps his fingers for effect. “The sea roiled navy-blue, and the waves tossed us to and fro.”

Barbie chippers in. “We flew overboard, and Ken ended up getting his uniform wet anyway. — “But at least he grabbed my suitcase. It’s airtight and made a great flotation device.”

“Actually, we both are good floaters, but I didn’t want to lose that suitcase.” Ken scratches his clean-shaven chin as if pondering the wrath of Barbie. “We floated for I don’t know how long before we washed up here.”

“How many days ago?” Ted wants to know.

“At least 100. That’s as high as I can count; Barbie can only count to 99.”

He offers them orange berries for dessert, but they decline.

Ted spends his days fishing and building shelter, lashing reeds and covering the rows with fronds for roofing. A few weeks later, the three of them do go swimming, skinny-dipping, in fact, by the waterfall. From a distance, Ted finds Barbie naturally curvaceous, Ken quite toned, and both bobbing nicely. He dips below and swims hard underwater to sneak up. What he sees is a surprise: Neither is anatomically correct. Ted wishes he didn’t know, but then again, swimming was his idea.

Barbie bends at the waist over her suitcase and pulls out three beach towels. The three huddle on shore, like bacon-wrapped Vienna sausages. Barbie & Ken are both chortling and smiling broadly. Ted laughs along but is too stunned to comment. Funny, neither of them said anything about his body either. They just keep smiling.

After 47 days on the island together, Ted now knows the couple’s most important secret. As his oversized embarrassment subsides, he decides to broach the question. “Ever think about getting off this island?”

“Well, duh,” says Ken. “We thought about it the first day. But there’s no way. We’ve got paddles in the suitcase, but we’re up the creek without a cruiser. You gotta admit though, Ted, this is super playtime. And you know our first rule: Always make the best of it. Then it strikes him: “Hey, maybe it is time for a sleep over.”

Ted can’t believe what he’s hearing. He may have to revise everything he knows about Ken. Then Barbie agrees.

“No, no, no,” says Ted. “We’re not going to do any sleepovers. All I want to know is: If I find a way off this island, will you two go?”

Barbie gazes down toward Ted’s feet. “That’s a big if.”

“Yeah, a big if,” Ken agrees.

Ted glances back and forth between the two living bubbles. “I just need you both to say, ‘Yes, yes,’ you want to go on Ted’s Big Adventure. –It’ll be our best playtime yet!

Barbie’s face brightens. “Can we go, Ken? Can we go?” She pounds her feet in a little dance. “Ted’s Big Adventure. That sounds like fun.”

Ken scratches what would be his butt, then his eyes light up: “Fun, we’re all about fun, Barbie. Say ‘yes, YES.’”

Barbie is in ecstasy: “Yes, Yes-s, YES-S!”

“I love it when you say that, Barbie.”

The couple grabs hands and swings into a merry-go-round singing over, “We’re going on Ted’s Big Adventure, Adventure, Adventure!” Ken stops abruptly and stares at Ted: “Wait you didn’t say how.”

“Just give me some time and I’ll explain. Until then, take my machete and bring 99 coconuts to the beach so you can make water jugs. Barbie can help you count. Just don’t drink too much coconut juice, or you’ll regret it.”

It took 37 days for Ted to make enough twine. Guess who boiled the water for the jugs? The day before they were to leave, Ken dragged Barbie’s suitcase to the beach. (Barbie screeched when he took it, startling seventeen flocks of seagulls, but she survived the night without it.)  Ted emptied the contents and grabbed the paddles. He lashed coconuts in front and behind the suitcase and secured reeds over the top.

They would have left an hour earlier, but Barbie couldn’t decide what bathing suit to wear. Then she refused to leave anything behind. The contents were mounded so high on the raft, there was only room for one person. “Where do we sit?” asks Ken.

“Don’t worry, friends. Just grab the sides and push us past those breakers.”

They push, and Ted hops on, but neither Barbie nor Ken can flex their fingers to grab hold. They moan, “Help us, Ted!”

Ted towers over them. “Well, friends, there are only two choices. I can throw all Barbie’s stuff overboard and you can ride on top with me, or…” As Ted suspects, the prospect of losing her stuff causes her to inflate with a little hiss, and her agitation causes Ken to inflate, too.

Barbie whines, “What’s the other choice?”

“Just float on your back and kick.”

They both say okay. With the last of his twine Ted lashes them like pontoons to Barbie’s suitcase. At the slightest complaint or whenever they need ballast, Ted tosses an item overboard — a hairbrush here, a bottle of nail polish there — and in a storm, a sandal or a shoe.

When they finally arrive in Australia, the trio enjoy a ticker-tape parade for winning the Guinness Record for three on a raft. After the big party, they jump in a heart-shaped tub at the Hilton. They toast with champagne and all agree: It’s high time for a “Barbie” sequel.


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About the Contributor
Charles  Bins
Charles Bins, Writer, illustrator
Charles Bins is the author of Quirky Stories & Poems: Backwards, Forward & Upside Down published in the fall of 2023. The book is about many things – real and fictional accounts about growing up, pleasure and pain, good and evil, as well as quirky insights into human nature.  As a marketing PR pro, he wrote hundreds of articles for clients on topics spanning business, technology and consumer products. Early in his career, he was a syndicated entertainment columnist, interviewing celebrities such as Tom Hanks, Kenny Rogers and Patty Duke. He lives with his wife, Mary, two cats and a cockatoo in Leland, N.C. Learn more on his website.


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