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October 29, 2010

The morning following any great storm is often eerily calm. The morning of July 15th 1948 was no different for the typically blusterous western shore of Auckland, New Zealand. It was about 8 o'clock in the morning, and two twelve year old orphans by the names of Candice and Wayland were running up and down a volcanic black sand beach playing a game that they called "toss n' run". It was a simple game for simple kids that required only an object to toss somewhere, accompanied by the physical ability to run after the tossed object. Candice and Wayland kidded themselves by thinking that they played this game all the time because they were filthy poor and couldn't afford to buy toys. The more accurate truth is that they were as an intelligent as the beach rocks and salty driftwood that they tossed and ran after.

Candice was an averaged size buck-toothed twelve year old boy with ear-length brown hair and freckles. Wayland was a bit taller than average for her age, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes, and she was so slim that the only type of clothing that she could wear was overalls, anything else would just fall off with the first move she made.

The two orphans first met at a foster home located a few miles inland. After living there for about a year, they both realized that the foster home was actually an animal shelter and later decided to run away together into the lush rainforest that surrounded the beach they often played on...

They named themselves after their two favorite animals from the shelter. Candice, after a rescued owl with one foot. The owl's other foot had to be cut off due to a growing infection, but the surgery was done poorly at the shelter, and the remaining amputated stub developed an even worse infection than before that the rescued owl would surely die from. The odor of the infection filled the cage-stacked room with a concentrated potent sourness that made the other animals vomit regularly. Candice always said, "you never know when life is going to cut your foot off and make it stink", which never made any productive sense to Wayland, but it meant something to Candice, and that's why he chose that name.

Wayland named herself after a dead dog that had been laying in a neighboring cage for over three weeks prior to their decision to run away together. This was a shabbily ran animal shelter, but the unlocked cages and doors allowed Wayland and Candice to leave at their leisure. A shelter attendee once noticed the dog's lack of movement, but quickly diagnosed it as a nap. Wayland always said, "if you keep your eyes shut long enough, you'll die", which never made any productive sense to Candice, but it meant something to Wayland, and that's why she chose that name.

Standing barefoot on the beach, Candice was holding a foot-long chunk of sun-dried driftwood in one hand, and pointing at a car-sized rock with the other, when he hollered at Wayland, "Hey, fatty, betcha I can toss this over that rock!". Wayland was busy further up the beach making a sand sculpture of a sand dune, and simply responded by flipping him off.

Candice was able to clear the large rock with his toss. After one fist pump above his head in celebration, he ran after it. Once on the other side of the rock, he found the piece of driftwood leaning up against a wooden barrel that had washed up on the beach. Understandably curious, he walked up to the barrel, picked up his chunk of driftwood, and looked inside.

He screamed for Wayland. Moments later, Wayland spun around the side of the rock and stood aside Candice looking down into the wooden barrel. Inside was a naked pot-bellied baby Keith squirming around atop a pile of fish guts. The guts provided a womb-like protective crib and protein-enriched nourishment for baby Keith as his barrel floated safely to shore throughout the night.

The two animal shelter orphans were unsure what they should do with the fish guts orphan. It wasn't long before they dunked him in the ocean to clean him up, and later brought him back to their tree house in the rainforest.

For the next seventeen years, orphan Keith was raised in a New Zealand rainforest tree house by two runaway orphans with the gender-flipped names of infected and dead animals. On the seventeenth anniversary of the day they found him in a barrel squirming around naked in fish guts, his orphan father Candice handed him a leather sack containing seventy three dollars in change that he recently stole from a local Catholic church shortly after making a confession about stealing money from a church one week prior.

Keith's orphan parents were both visibly emotional as Candice wiped a tear from his own cheek with the back of his right hand, then reluctantly extended his left hand from behind his back, revealing a bottle with a barely legible message inside. As Keith hesitantly accepted the bottle, Candice was barely able to stutter out his final words, "Well, fatty, you've got a Plunder to find"...

Until next time: Guts are more than what's inside, if not for guts Keith might have died.