By now the bodies have started to ooze, creating a pool of bile, urine, and shit on the Cinderella ballroom floor. Rigor mortis has set in making the makeshift nautical mass grave impossible to parse through. The hermetic seal nature of most cruise ships makes the full dissipation of the odor impossible. The only saving grace were the vents through which the stench travel out into the ocean air. God help us on the days where the wind is still.
Three weeks ago we set sail for Jamaica from Miami on a two-week Disney luxury cruise. It is the sort of simulacra scenario of my nightmares, but your perspective shifts when you have kids. They eat this shit up. Regardless of how you feel about Walt Disney’s history of anti-semitism or his work’s reinforcement of gender stereotypes, imprinting them on the minds of children for centuries to come, you can’t shake the feeling you get when you see your daughter’s eyes light up when she sees the characters from her movies and coloring books and bed sheets and lunch boxes and band aids and socks come to life. So you go.
In the days before ships were made of steel and still had sails, the worst disaster that could befall a vessel was a fire. It would spread in a matter of minutes with the wood feeding it like Popeye’s spinach. The boat’s movement would only fan the flames as they soon engulfed the sails leaving crew members to decide whether to jump and drown in the brisk waters, cling the a piece of driftwood and be baked to dried leather by the sun, or to burn. More often than not that decision was made for them.
On a Disney luxury cruise liner, the worst disaster is illness. Someone had boarded the ship without a clean bill of health. Nurses on the ship called it the worst strain of the stomach flu they had ever seen. Ask me how I know this. The flu was fatal not necessarily from the virus itself, but with every passenger shitting and vomiting his or her guts out, the plumbing in the entire ship stalled. Individuals resorted to relieving their bowels in trashc ans, potted plants, even inside the heads of our beloved Goofy and Pluto. All of this because they were too embarrassed to admit they clogged their toilet. From this practice the entire ship became exposed to an unspeakable array of bacterium. We may as well have been eating raw chicken.
After most of the passengers contracted salmonella, they experienced similar yet more extreme symptoms of the flu. Passengers shat and vomited themselves to bone. More often than not the dehydration killed them. Everyone was horrified to eat the food on the ship due to its near certain exposure to fecal matter. This fear was justified considering that exact exposure killed most of the cooks themselves. People had decisions to make; drown, bake or burn, dehydration, starve, or suicide. Most people went with the latter two. There appeared to be more dignity in those options, though not always. Snow White jumped screaming off the top deck, not jumping far enough to reach the water as she is now currently occupying two of the ship’s decks. Grumpy Dwarf hanged himself, though evidence suggests it may have been auto-erotic asphyxiation.
So here I am, stacking bodies. Rather I’m rolling the bodies down the steps where Cinderella loses her glass slipper. I’m almost by myself now, as most of the ship’s crew left on lifeboats because they deemed the possibility of being found out in the ocean a stronger prospect for survival than remaining on the ship. They knew what was coming. They chose bake. I stayed with my daughter. I haven’t let out of her room. I told her she was grounded. I don’t want to ruin her vacation so every so often I’ll don a Donald Duck costume (really any costume not filled with vomit and excrement) and come by the room to cheer her up.