“Help! Please help! Someone help me! Please!”
The heavily-accented staccato cry came from a paunchy islander staggering under the weight of a slim adolescent boy. He collapsed in the sand just outside the open-air bar, setting the limp body down as gently as he could manage. The boy began to vomit. Erek ran to them to see what had happened, to see what he could do.
“My son, he very sick.” They turned him on his side as his shoulders were wracked by another round of vomiting.
“Do you know what made him sick? Did he eat something bad? How long has he been this way?” Erek realized his rapid-fire questioning was probably too much for a non-native speaker and changed tactics. “How can I help?” The man asked them to call the local herbalist woman who was the closest thing the island had to a doctor. Erek turned to look at Jean, behind the bar, and saw that he was already dialing.
“He say he feel sick. He say he take some drug. He never take drug before. He good. He very good boy.” The man’s panic was now wavering between anger and desperation.
This was the most recent of several cases of sudden severe illness. The kid showed all the same symptoms. The others had been tourists who had taken some bunk molly. This was the first time it had happened to someone so young.
Kneeling helplessly in the sand, Erek held the kid’s shoulder steady as the indentations around his knees soaked up the thick bile and sputum, and waited for the herbalist to come.