Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to buy a pontoon boat, and float it into the Atlantic, tossing my phone, my license, and my Social Security card into the ocean as the shoreline recedes in the distance. This will begin a long and transformative journey. Days will pass, then weeks. I will run through my provisions. My beard will grow long. In desperation I will attempt to catch fish in my teeth. The sun will crack my skin and warp my mind. I will forget my old life.
I will float about under the open sky, carried by the whims of the current, carrion birds circling my small craft until one morning it abruptly comes ashore an island not listed on any map. Starving and broken, I will claw my way up the beach towards a village of islanders who have never come into contact with a man such as me before. Upon reaching them I will collapse face-first in the sand. They will nurse me back to health with strange fruits and coconut milk. As I grow stronger they will gather around my straw mat, enamored and terrified with my tales of the civilized world.
When I am strong enough I will waste no time in challenging the chief in hand-to-hand combat for control of the island. He will accept, though because I am as ambitious as I am craven, I will sneak into his hut late at night and conk him on the head with a rock instead. Then I’ll drag his body to the pontoon boat and set him out to sea. In the morning I will explain that I saw him cravenly escaping in the dead of night, and because these are an isolated people unfamiliar with trickery or schemes, they will take me at my word, which is really too bad for them, because those are two things I am just brimming with.
As their new leader, I will command that we move from this old system of “peaceful fishing society” to a more piracy-based system. I will advise my followers to simply regard cargo ships full of electronic goods, ivory or high-value hostages the same way they would regard a big haul of tilapia — insofar as they should deliver them to my feet or face horrible and disproportionate consequences.
With the riches stolen from Caribbean cargo ships I will quickly build up my forces from a ragged crew of bandits to a uniformed militia of armed-to-the-teeth minions. I will burn down the hut and build a mansion. I will dynamite the holy caves and a build secret weapons lab. I will dig up sacred burial sites and construct missile silos. I will come to rule over my island peasant subjects with the gusto of a calculating warlord, and far from the view of Western eyes I will fashion a society that, while crude, is reflective of my every whim. The history of my ascent to power will be speckled with bloody coups, subterfuge, femmes fatales, missing journalists. Exotic jungle cats will be involved.
I will call my kingdom Isle Paradiso, for reasons that have mainly to do with years of poorly remembered high school Spanish. On Paradiso I will rule over a cult of personality. I will be highly decorated in medals I myself commissioned, honoring great feats of valor which are as courageous as they are unverifiable. I will parade through sparsely paved streets wearing tiger striped fatigues, as will my all-female cadre of highly trained bodyguards/assassins. They will call me “El Tigre Pequeno” and my every utterance will spark both fear and admiration in the hearts of the island’s commoners. Mostly fear though.
Executions will be carried out atop the volcano jutting up from the thick jungle growth that otherwise covers the island. At the crack of dawn, a conch horn will sound and the announcement will be made through a series of speakers strung up throughout the villages. State media will be gathered and the accused brought, hands bound, to the rim of the volcano, where my jackboot thugs will have installed some sort of ramshackle diving board. Meanwhile, I’ll preside over the assembly in a tiger-striped judge’s robe and an askew powdered wig. Also a crown for good measure. As the hot lava bubbles and spits from within the volcano’s mouth, I will be fanned with the plumage of the island’s most beautiful birds.
“CITIZEN OF PARADISO,” I’ll announce into a big stupid megaphone, “YOU STAND HERE TODAY ACCUSED OF DISSENT, DISRUPTION, DELINQUENCY, DESTRUCTION, GENERAL DEPLORABILITY, AND A LITANY OF OTHER CHARGES RIDICULOUS AND FARCICAL. HOW DO YOU PLEAD???” (It doesn’t really matter how they plead.) Under my rule punishment will come swiftly and often, frequently in the form of a volcano high-dive, but other times by laser beam, sometimes shark tank, and sometimes dissidents will be tied to one of the many Soviet-era missiles in our highly illegal weapons program and just fired off into the ocean.
But it won’t be enough.
What no one on the island seems to understand is the sheer immensity of my vision. Peasants will be peasants, but I am a man born of greatness! Do they think I am writing all these self-serving polemics because it is fun for me? Do they think my captive scientist have been developing a giant death-ray in the secret lab for my own benefit? Do they suppose I am staging countless military exercises for any purpose other than the exaltation of our glorious Motherland? Of course I am! And who’s to say I shouldn’t enjoy a little light revenge on civilization? Certainly no one who has not yet been thrown into the volcano! Also I am completely drunk on power at this point.
So as any terrifying despot would, I’ll mobilize the fleet, launch the stolen missiles into orbit, start shooting the giant laser beam at random, just go absolutely bananas. And when I tune into the Western media, I’ll see maps, graphs, charts of missile trajectories. CNN will be super upset. And it’s funny because they will have all sorts of “experts” come in and say that this is all because of “increased tensions with so-and-so” or “destabilization of the whatever-region,” but not one of those idiots will be able to guess that all of this is because of a terrible, unshakable feeling of smallness.
And yes, my reign will come to a messy end. And no, I don’t think that that comes as a surprise to anyone, least of all the deep-cover CIA operative embedded in muggy jungle hideouts. It’s amazing what a couple hundred disgruntled peasants and a few Spec Ops teams can accomplish when they put their wits and also assault rifles together. The capital will be stormed, the mansion looted, my tiger-skin rug all scuffed up by covert hit squads, and I — unceremoniously shot in the face or something. That’s fine. Everyone’s free and there’s no danger now so, you know…yippee.
But as decades pass, and the sovereign nation transforms from a kingdom of brutal civil conflict to yet another tropical façade for cruise ships to float past, will history remember it for its diverse foliage? Its tropical birds? Its beaches lined with expensive cafés serving bland approximations of the feasts that once adorned the tables of my dining halls? No. Not a chance. I will have left an indelible scar upon history’s face, and when the island’s name is spoken my name will never be more than a whispered breath away, my legacy secured as the Tiger King of the Island! Scourge of humanity! The Tyrant Lord who brought Western civilization to its knees in the blink of an eye!
Anyway, that is my plan. I mean that or grad school.