As I write this, I realize I made an error in the story. I thought it was the Friday night that Craig lost his car keys, but it was actually the Saturday night. With that being noted, let us move on.
I made my way back to our cottages and it was still quite early in the morning. Although the music was bumping and the fire was still dancing, majority of my friends were asleep. There was a small group of guys sitting around drinking, so naturally I joined them. It was a fairly chill morning in more ways than one, we were taking it easy, but it was also overcast and windy. It had been beautiful all weekend but it looked like our luck had run out, as I could tell it was definitely going to rain.
Our troop slowly started coming back from the dead, and by noon everything was back in full swing. My suspicions were correct, as it had started raining, but it wasn't coming down too badly. It was however a grey day and nowhere nearly as warm as the rest of the weekend had been. I was officially out of 151 rum now, so I was using the old barter system once again, trading meats for alcohol. I was definitely drinking a bit moderately though as I hadn't slept the previous night. Everyone assumed I had had sex with Leah, and I didn't deny nor confirm their assumptions from what I recall. I hadn't been sober or logical enough to stop and remember that a few of Michael Campbell's friends who were with us were also friends of my new love interest Tara. I figured there'd be drama to follow.
Shortly after lunchtime I saw what I thought was a mirage, as I was still hallucinating slightly, but this manifestation was real. It was Craig walking down the beach back towards our area. He had been gone for over 14 hours or so by now. I walked down the beach to meet him and see what was up. He had gone looking for his keys the night before and he remembered walking down the beach looking for them. From there all he remembered was two police officers waking him up and he was standing on the beach. Somehow he had passed out standing up, or perhaps they stood him up while he was still asleep. Craig explained his situation and they thankfully had sent him on his way. Before he left he had asked the officers if they knew where Whites Bungalows were. They had pointed him in the proper direction and he'd been walking for close to three hours before he arrived. Absolute madness I proclaimed. I was just relieved my pal was back and in one piece.
As the afternoon rolled on things started to get a bit grim. We were running low on alcohol, we were running out of things to keep the fire going, and the weather was putting a whole damper on the situation as well. One of Michael's friends found a 24 of beer in one of the cottages, and as he excitedly ran out to tell us all, the bottom of the damp box gave out. The ground was all sand except for a stone doorstep into the cottage, and by some freak act of nature that's exactly where all the beers fell. I think maybe 8 survived the incident. Oh the horror.
I wasn't in much of a drinking mood to be honest, so I really didn't care, but for the guys on a bender it was a grim situation. Jay Dove had made a funnel out of a pink flamingo he'd stolen from someone's property, and he'd ran out of things to fill it with. Jay had an uncanny of slamming back large amounts of beer or booze in the blink of an eye, it was quite remarkable. Only he wasn't ready to stop now, so a few of us got in cahoots and devised a master plan.
We headed to the villa of high schoolers behind us and began going cottage to cottage. Jay would belligerently knock on the door, and when answered he'd stick the flamingo funnel in their faces and demand "FILL BLUBBER DUCKY!!!" Everyone seemed to be amazed by this, so they'd willingly grab whatever alcohol was within arms reach and fill the funnel. Sometimes as much as 3-4 beers were going in at once, multiple brands of beers and various mixed drinks, even liquor straight out the bottle. Jay would slam it back in a heartbeat and leave them all in awe, and as his one man show kept them amused, me and a few other guys would go into the bedrooms and take the plywood out from between the mattresses of the beds.
We ran this racket on everyone and anyone who'd answer the door, the whole time we'd have troops running the wood back to our site, and needless to say Jay wasn't going to need many more drinks. The wood we were taking was about an inch thick and was literally the size of a mattress. We constructed a giant teepee like structure with them, and before you knew it the flames were close to 20 feet in the air. I'd never seen a fire so immense, and we'd had some pretty huge fires that weekend, but this beast was so enormous that it kept you warm and it seemed to cancel out the rain. The tunes were cranking and everyone was back in their happy place, but not for long.
A group of Police officers showed up, the music dropped to a very quiet level, and the cops declared it was illegal to have a fire in the rain. We were all dumbfounded as none of us had ever heard of such a law, and it really didn't seem to make sense considering water puts fires out. We eventually started pulling our teepee apart until it was a shadow of what it once was. Then an amazing revelation was discovered. Someone actually took a moment to read the officers jackets and realized the back of the coats said "LAW ENFORCEMENT STUDENT" These weren't real cops, they were kids in training. Everyone started spreading word of their true rankings, and within seconds the music was back up to full volume and the fire teepee was being reconstructed. The law students stood around awkwardly for a few minutes, then turned tail and walked away in defeat.
Unfortunately during all of the madness, the only person with hash left had ditched it in the sand when the "cops" showed up. Jay ripped a screen window out of the closest cottage and commenced sifting through the sand with it like an old miner panning for gold. I can't remember if they found it or not, but in the process Craig's keys were discovered....literally a couple of feet from the fire! I couldn't believed he'd walked for endless hours looking for them and they were here the entire time. This was really great though as he could now get himself and his car back home, although as Craig's ongoing affair with lady-luck would have it, he actually lost his wallet the previous night looking for his keys. Remarkably, some random stranger found it weeks later and mailed it back to him.
It had been an amazing weekend all in all, and a great first May 24 experience. I was feeling fine, I was happy as hell, and me and all of my friends were having a great time together. The night was starting to grow late, and random folks were starting to make their way back to party with us "crazy people" We were once again back in full swing bender mode. I was starting to burnout running on no sleep, and I knew I'd be calling it early on my final night here. No sooner than I was having these thoughts, I noticed something, or someone. It was Leah and her group of friends, and they were all giving me nasty cut eye, clearly pissed off that I'd destroyed their bathroom and their belongings. I cracked a smile at her and got no reciprocation, only a scowl. My thoughts of retiring early seemed to come at the right moment, as I figured if I didn't disappear soon some form of altercation was going to occur.
I headed into the cottage but low and behold I found dropped bodies everywhere. There was absolutely nowhere left to sleep. I went to find my buddy Shane aka Foxy Bano, who I'd come up with, and asked him if I could crash in his car. Bano let me in, and I flopped out on the backseat and drifted into slumber. Shane eventually came and slept in the front seat of the car shortly after I'd passed out.
We both ended up waking at about 7am on the Monday morning. Not a soul was in sight, and you could hear a pin drop in the sand. We decided to make our exit stealthily and beat the traffic, so we hit the road in a flash without even attempting to say our goodbyes, we just wanted our own beds by his point. Shane pulled a cassette tape out of his pocket and popped it in the car stereo... It was Jay's reggae mix I'd been tripping on all weekend. Somehow Bano had convinced Jay to lend him the tape so he could dub it, and you damn well know I had to get a dub of that shit! We listened to that tape over and over for the entire drive home and Foxy even had some secret stash he'd been saving, which made the ride back even much more sweeter. Without a doubt, the myths, stories, and legends I had heard about May 24 had lived up to their full potential and then some. I was already anxiously awaiting the next one...