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Plague Romance Highlights Blacktip Island’s Summer Theater Season


Gage Hoase takes center stage Thursday during rehearsals of the Blacktip Island Community Players’ production of The Horseman on the Roof. (photo courtesy of Craig Sunter)

The Blacktip Island Community Players will stage an English-language version the plague-themed French classic The Horseman on the Roof Saturday and Sunday to mark the start of its summer theater season, BICP members said.

“We needed something topical, with everyone so focused on this virus outbreak,” BICP director Doris Blenny said. “A play about cholera is just the thing to boost peoples’ spirits and get their minds off their problems.

“We decided on doing the play in English, too, since no one had time to learn French. And no one would understand it anyway,” Blenny said. “Plus, no one knows what a ‘hussard’ is. And ‘sur le toit’ sounds quite dodgy in English.”

BICP members said the play will also help residents socially distance.

“We’re staging the play literally on the roof of the Heritage House,” cast member Jessie Catahoula said. “The audience’ll sit outside, with chairs spaced out all around so people can see the play from every angle.

“There’s a few little platforms installed for important scenes and staging, but most of the action’ll be smack on the tin sheeting,” Catahoula said. “It adds an element of danger to the performance we think the audience will love.”

The cast includes:

Marina DeLow as Pauline

Gage Hoase as Angelo

Elena Havens as Monsieur Peyrolle

Alison Diesel as The Doctor

Lee Helm as Maggionari

Jessie Catahoula as Giuseppe

Jerrod Ephesians as The French Army

Payne Hanover as Various Angry Mobs

Cast members struggled to perform on the tilted surface.

“We surrounded the house with mattresses during rehearsals, so many people were falling off,” Alison Diesel said. “Most got the hang of it, but we’re leaving the mattresses deployed for the show, just in case. If it rains, that metal gets slick as snot.

“At one point, Lee Helm slipped was hanging on by just his fingers in the rain gutter,” Diesel said. “There was some debate about whether we should save him or just let him fall. We ended up having Dermott add an extra mattress and letting gravity take its course.”

Some in the community questioned the choice of subject matter.

“Doris and them are making light of a serious public health situation,” Frank Maples said. “This isn’t what we need right now. Some light opera would’ve been nice to take our minds off this constant pandemic nonsense. The island needs diversion, not depression.”

Others embraced the play.

“We just love watching them rehearse every evening,” Chrissy Grasby said. “They wanted to practice in private, but it’s on the roof, so they couldn’t really stop us from gawking. It gives the little ones something to do outside, and they just love when actors fall.”

Blenny has high hopes for opening night.

“It won’t be much of a surprise, with everyone having seen rehearsals, but the show will still go on,” she said. “We just hope folks’ll all come back and see the show sober. But what are the odds? Of the sober part.”

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Blacktip Island Church Reopens For Silent Services


The Blacktip Island interdenominational church will open its doors Sunday to worshipers for the first time since the small Caribbean island was placed under COVID quarantine in March. (Photo courtesy of Pierre Grunt)

Blacktip Island’s non-denominational church Thursday announced it will reopen and conduct silent services starting Sunday, in keeping with the Tiperon Islands’ COVID-19 prevention guidelines, church leaders said.

“The worry is any kind of vocal activity can aerosolize the virus, even if you’re wearing a mask,” the Rev. Pierre Grunt said. “Now that we’re allowed to hold in-person services, we have a duty to make them as safe as possible. That means no one’ll be allowed to talk. Even me.

“We did a trial run where I did a Power Point sermon, but that put people right to sleep,” Grunt said. “I settled on acting out my sermon. Folks are already used to silent prayers, and the congregation’ll hum the hymns. With any luck, the loudest noise during the service’ll be cash hitting the offering plate.”

Churchgoers praised the idea.

“It’s been ages since we’ve been to church, what with the lockdown and everything,” Sally Port said. “Reverend Grunt’s divinely inspired to come up with this solution. Everyone on island’s tested negative, but you can’t be too safe. There’s so many stories of false negatives.

“Some people suggested using American Sign Language, but turns out no one knows ASL,” Port said. “Reverend Grunt’s pretty good at getting his point across with gestures and glares, even before this. And it’s not like his sermons vary too much anyhow.”

Church officials stressed other safety precautions in place to encourage attendance.

“The pews are cordoned off in six-foot gaps with blue painter’s tape,” church deacon Goldie Gobie said. “And masks, of whatever nature, will be required. We’ve also instituted a do-it-yourself Communion where congregants bring their own bread and wine and administer it to themselves. We’re calling it a ‘BYO Eucharist.’

“With the distancing, though, anybody needing baptizing’s out of luck,” Goby said. “The Our Lady of Blacktip Catholic church’s doing drive-through blessings with Holy Water spray bottles, So that may be an option, undignified as it is.”

Some residents said they would not attend, despite the precautions.

“To me, it’s probably best to avoid church altogether,” Reg Gurnard said. “I’ve been doing that for years and I’ve been damned healthy. If it ain’t broke, I’m not about to fix it.”

Others are opting for alternative worship services.

“I’m having an all-inclusive, ecumenical service Saturday, underwater on Jawfish Reef,” the former Rev. Jerrod Ephesians said. “Anyone of any faith, or lack thereof, can come sit in the sand with me and get in tune with the universe. And I set up a GoFundMe page for offerings.”

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Road Rage Spikes After Blacktip Island Confinement Lifted

road rage

Gage Hoase’s car rests in a ditch beside Blacktip Island’s booby pond following the second road rage incident Wednesday, the small Caribbean island’s first day of deconfinement. (staff photo by Wendy Beaufort)

The end of Blacktip Island residents’ COVID-19-related stay-at-home order Wednesday was marked by a steep uptick in road rage incidents, community leaders said.

“Everyone’s on edge, being cooped up for so long,” said Kay Valve, Sandy Bottoms’ Beach Resort general manager. “It was the first chance people had to get out and drive around, and, well, some of them got a little over enthusiatic. If confinement brought out the best in people, deconfinement brought out the worst in some.

“It started with B.C. Flote and Doc Plank yelling at each other after they nearly crashed vehicles in the car park,” Valve said. “Then B.C. started waving a machete and things turned ugly. Nothing would’ve come of it, but it happened right outside the lobby, where God-and-everyone could see it.”

Authorities were quick to de-escalate the situation.

“I took away B.C.’s machete, then made them drive off—slowly—in opposite directions,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Gave them both official citations, too, so they’ll have to explain themselves in court. Everyone needs to know we won’t stand for this kind of hooliganism. I’m clamping down, hard, before it gets out of control.

“I was still cautioning them when word came about ‘Tonio Fletcher and Gage Hoase going at it at the east coast intersection,” Marquette said. “Two roads on the island, and only a handful of cars out, and those two knuckleheads managed to have a wreck and a fistfight. They’ll be going to court, too. They’re lucky they’re not in the jail.”

Witnesses say the second incident also resulted from a traffic gaffe.

“Gage rolled the stop sign and cut ‘Tonio off,” Jessie Catahoula said. “‘Tonio chased him down and ran him into the booby pond. It was actually pretty funny to watch, especially them going at it hammer and tongs in the bushes after. Rafe didn’t think so, though.

“I guess for two months people haven’t really had access to cars, so their skills slipped,” Catahoula said. “Or they couldn’t wait to make up for lost time. We’re all happy to be able to drive again. Hell, everyone’s speeding and joy riding.”

Many residents questioned the constable’s get-tough response.

“I get why Rafe wants to stop this stuff before it gets out of hand, but this’s Blacktip. Things work themselves out,” Lucille Ray said. “Once people blow off some steam, things’ll go back to normal. Or as normal as it gets on this island.

“Rafe citing people left and right’ll just make things worse,” Ray said. “Thing is, with a citation issued, they have to go to court over on Tiperon, but we’re still not allowed to leave the island. Gut feeling is Rafe’ll drop charges when travel opens back up. He’s just blowing of some post-confinement steam, too.”

Marquette would neither confirm nor deny Ray’s theory, though he did issue citations to the Blacktip Times reporter and photographer covering this story.

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Anti-Police Violence Protest Erupts on Blacktip Island

anti-police protest

Blacktip Island’s police office and jail has been the scene of three days of anti-police violence protests by several island residents. (photo courtesy of 3wisemen)

A crowd of several Blacktip Island residents protested police violence outside the small Caribbean island’s police office and jail for the third day Thursday, authorities said.

“It started with Harry Pickett and Angela Fisher shouting and such outside the jail,” Customs officer Noddy Bolin said. “Next thing, two more folks joined in. Near as we can tell they’re protesting violence in general. I don’t think there’s ever been a case of police violence on Blacktip.

“The jail’s pretty out of the way, so I don’t think anyone has any problem with it. Or notices,” Bolin said. “The signs are funny, though. One says something about ‘stoop violence.’ And Harry’s been waving one that says ‘know peas’ or some such nonsense.”

Police officials say there are no plans to disrupt the protest.

“I’m not at the office much, so they don’t really interfere with me doing my job,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “I was kinda surprised to see them there again this morning. There was talk of a curfew, but that seems like a lot of trouble if they’re not tearing anything up. Folks want to let off steam, that’s their right.”

“It doesn’t seem to be about me anyway, they just want to be part of what’s happening elsewhere,” Marquette said. “I’m the lightning rod, I guess. Worst incident I’ve been mixed up in was when I used a wheelbarrow to get Dermott out of the Sand Spit after he broke in, drank all their rum and passed out. I scraped his knuckles pretty good, but there was no other way to move that much bulk.”

Protestors agreed their anger was not aimed at Marquette.

“It’s nothing personal toward Rafe,” Fisher said. “There’s just so much police violence in the world, we felt like we had to do something. And since we can’t leave the island, well, the jail seemed like the best place to protest.

“Honestly, we were hoping for a bigger turnout,” Fisher said. “There’s still time for a few more people to join in — we’re here for as long as it takes to, well, do whatever.”

Long-time residents dismissed the protest.

“Closest we ever had to a riot was when the barge couldn’t dock for a month and all the bars ran out of hootch,” Elena Havens said. “That wasn’t pretty, but Rafe de-escalated it right quick. Threatened to call James Conlee’s mom, and that was the end of it.

“Rafe did get semi-physical when Jerrod busted into the Ballyhoo with a cast-iron frying pan, yelling about smiting sinners or some such,” Havens added. “But all Rafe did was block Jerrod’s path and tell him God wanted him to put down the pan.”

The island’s store owner, however, is taking matters more seriously.

“This island’s going crazy, and I’m more than prepared for any looting,” store owner Peachy Bottoms said. “I’m standing guard outside the door with my broom, and I won’t hesitate to whack anybody who looks like they might act up.

“Locked up all the spray paint and matches, too,” Bottoms said. “Eggs are being doled out two at a time. And if things get out of hand, I may not have pepper spray, but I do have a bunch of jalapeno juice.”

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Blacktip Island Bans Visitors To Enforce Social Distancing


Blacktip Island authorities took steps this week to ensure the small Caribbean island’s beaches remain empty by banning residents and visitors alike from landing on the island. (Blacktip Times staff photo by Wendy Beaufort)

Blacktip Island authorities Thursday announced a ban on all visitors to the small Caribbean island to ensure compliance with current social distancing guidelines.

“The island was getting too crowded,” de facto mayor Jack Cobia said. “Folks have to stay 10 feet apart, and for the most part they are, but if we get too many more bodies on this little rock, people’re gonna have to start standing in the sea. With the current rate of arrivals, that’s just a day or two away.

“We’re nipping this in the bud,” Cobia said. “Some folks are upset, but that’s beside the point. This’s a public health issue. We’re not about to have a situation where folks are hanging out offshore in skiffs or on pool floaties. That’s not dignified. Or healthy.”

Residents say the influx is due to the Tiperon Island government allowing access to the island after several months of quarantine.

“When quarantine lifted, a lot of year-round residents who got stuck off island came flooding back,” Rosie Bottoms said. “Wasn’t a big deal at first, but the folks kept coming. Staying 10 feet apart’s tough enough with just a few people around.

“Then all the second-home owners started coming back, too,” Bottoms said. “That’s when we realized it was a no-win situation. We’re already seeing lots of folks with wet feet from walking in the surf to keep their distance.”

Authorities said the ban will be strictly enforced.

“I greet every inbound flight to make sure nobody gets off,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “We got limited real estate on Blacktip. The only way somebody can deplane is if somebody else boards and they swap places.

“It’s an unfortunate necessity,” Marquette said. “Tried spray painting big circles on the ground, but everyone ignored them. I got a list of everyone on-island right now. You’re on the island and not on the list, you get cited. Two offenses, you get to socially distance in the jail cell.”

Some on the island complained the new rule is unfairly restrictive.

“Rafe and Jack, they got no right to say who comes and goes. They’re taking away our freedoms,” Harry Blenny said. “Ain’t seen Christa Goby for months, since she’s stuck over on Tiperon. And end of the day, I just want to go outside, have a beer and holler at my neighbors. Now I can’t.

“All Rafe’s talk on enforcing, I think he’s just bored,” Blenny said. “Or putting on a show for the bosses. He always did like paperwork. Only person happy about this’s ol’ Doc Tang, and that’s just because his wife’s stuck on Tiperon and he ain’t seen her since March.”

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Blacktip Island Stages Socially-Distanced Literary Festival

BI lit fest

A ban on public gatherings on Blacktip Island prompted the Caribbean island’s literary festival organizers to broadcast this year’s readings island-wide over hastily-erected loud speakers. (photo courtesy of Doris Blenny)

Blacktip Island Friends of the Library this week are making their annual literary festival an island-wide event via loudspeakers after social-distancing rules made it impossible to have the event at the Caribbean island’s Heritage House.

“We can’t have gatherings of more than 10 people, so that put the kibosh on any public readings,” BIFL president Doris Blenny said. “We tried having presenters just yell really loud, but that just caused more problems. Lee Helm couldn’t get through his limericks without his voice giving out.

“We were set to cancel the event altogether, then Rocky Shore came up with the idea of putting up loudspeakers so everyone on the island could hear,” Blenny said. “We’ve had amplified readings every night this week, and it’s worked out quite well.”

BIFL members say the readings strike a balance between art and public engagement.

“We thought about streaming it online, but no one wants to watch someone just standing there reading something,” Shore said. “The speakers we set up have most of the island covered so everyone can hear while they do other things.

“In a way, this is better than the traditional lit fest,” he said. “You don’t get the social aspect of it, but more people get to hear the readings. Once we come out of lockdown, I think we’ll find it brought the island closer.”

Some residents agreed.

“I never realized what kind of talent we had on the island,” Wendy Beaufort said. “I’ve heard everything from poetry to short stories to essays to one-act plays the past few evenings.

“Wednesday’s poetry slam was especially good,” Beaufort said. “And last night Antonio Fletcher played all four parts in his play, talking in completely different voices for each character. He does that most nights at the bar, though, too, so it’s not as big of a deal as it seems.”

Others were not happy with the festival’s new format.

“Don’t want to hear all that crap blaring out at me every night,” James Conlee said. “I want to hear ‘Tonio babbling on, I’ll go to the Ballyhoo. Before, it was easy enough to avoid this nonsense by just staying away from the Heritage House. Now, they’re forcing it on us whether we want it or not. Doris and them need to give it a rest.

“Literature’s fine, but it’s something you should do in the privacy of your own home,” Conlee said. “And wash your hands afterward. This goes on another night, I’ve got a pair of wire cutters I’m gonna put to good use on them speaker wires. I know my rights.”

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Lionfish-Culling Robots Run Wild On Blacktip Island Reefs


Underwater drones used to rid Blacktip Island reefs of invasive lionfish have begun operating independently of their controllers, marine park officials said. (photo courtesy of Afnecors)

Several remote-controlled lionfish-culling drones, deployed earlier this year to aid in removing the invasive species from Blacktip Island reefs, this week began operating independent of their controllers, marine parks officials said.

“We use underwater drones to increase our culling capacity and to kill the lionfish down deep where scuba divers can’t go,” marine parks spokesperson Val Schrader said. “You could sit at the computer and direct them in real time down to 400 feet. They’ve been a real game changer in lionfish eradication.

“A few days ago we noticed one of them was operating independent of any of us topside,” Schrader said. “At first we thought someone had hacked them, but the more we watched, we realized the drone was operating on its own without anyone’s direction. Then we noticed a couple more doing the same thing. They seem to be learning and adapting. That really got our attention.”

Some familiar with the drones say their behavior has changed as well.

“These things are hunting way more aggressively than we ever run them,” drone operator Rusty Goby said. “They’re tearing around the reef, smashing into coral and tearing up the reef structure. They’re killing a ton more lionfish, but at a cost.

“They’re also pushing their 420-foot depth limit, but not passing it,” Goby said. “That shows they know their limitations. That’s a frightening level of self-awareness. From what we can tell, they’re thinking for themselves.”

Researchers say the idea of self-directed machines is not as far-fetched as it sounds.

“This is the age of artificial intelligence. We should have anticipated this,” said Ernesto Mojarra, marine biology professor at Tiperon University-Blacktip. “The question is how many of these drones will go independent? And what happens when they kill all the lionfish?

“They’re learning from each other. If one starts hunting other kinds of fish, they could potentially wipe out the reefs,” Mojarra said. “And once all the fish are gone, what do they do next? Killing is their raison d’être. I doubt they’ll just shut themselves off.”

Island dive operators also expressed a growing concern about the drones.

“No way we can put divers in the water with these gizmos in kill mode,” Club Scuba Doo dive manager Finn Kiick said. “They’ll go after divers. Especially the younger, smaller ones. ‘They’ll come after all of us.

“What if this is some robo-Freudian thing where they want to kill their creators?” Kiick said. There may be no diving here until their batteries wear out. And no living on Blacktip if they can adapt themselves to land.”


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Quarantined Blacktip Island Restaurant Launches Rooftop Delivery

rooftop meal delivery

Diners ordering curbside take-out food at the Last Ballyhoo will now have their food and drink orders dropped into their arms from the restaurant’s roof. (photo courtesy of ZCaingkwaimliens)

A Blacktip Island restaurant, closed for dine-in service during the Caribbean island’s virus-prompted lockdown, has taken curbside delivery to new heights by dropping take-away food to waiting diners from the restaurant’s roof.

“Our goal is enhanced public safety,” Last Ballyhoo owner Peachy Bottoms said. “With standard curbside pickup, our workers have to get close enough to hand the food to customers. That’s close enough to pass the virus. We tried using a literal 10-foot pole, but it took too many people to handle it, especially for bigger orders.

“The system we worked out is customers park in designated delivery spaces beside the building, honk their horn, then Chrissy climbs up on the roof and chucks their food down at them,” Bottoms said. “It’s like cargo planes dropping supplies to soldiers, just on a smaller scale. And without the plane.”

Restaurant employees say the new service required them to learn new job skills on the fly.

“Me and Joey Pompano are the only ones with aim good enough to make the deliveries properly,” Chrissy Graysby said. “We had some pretty hacked-off diners at first, but we figured out how to wrap the food so there’s minimal disruption on impact. Soup was a major challenge, but we’re using scuba dry boxes and duct tape now.”

Customers praised the service.

“We appreciate the Ballyhoo’s emphasis on public health,” Christina Mojarra said. “We make a family outing of it. The kiddos just love catching the bags. Frankly, it’s about the only exercise they get these days. Plus, it’s nice not to have to cook and support a local business.”

Others said catching the meals can be a challenge.

“Some people stretch a beach towel between them to catch their food in, like old-school firemen,” Edwin Chub said. “‘Tonio Fletcher, he uses a landing net from his boat. Me, I put the kids’ mini-trampoline in the bed of my truck to soften the impact. Chrissy’s pretty good at hitting it dead center, and I can usually grab it on the first bounce.”

Local authorities have temporarily relaxed alcohol sales rules for the rooftop deliveries.

“The law says no alcohol can pass through a restaurant’s doors, but it says nothing about it being thrown from the rooftop,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “So long as the booze is sealed and in its original container, I’m letting it pass. These are trying enough times without an islandful of angry drinkers hounding me.”

Bottoms said the alcohol drops have been a surprise success.

“We’re happy to sell folks beer and wine, but with a caution,” she said. “We wrap the bottles in bubble wrap, but there’s no way we can guarantee they won’t get broken. The buyer assumes all risk.

“Funny thing is, we’re selling more booze now than we ever did,” Bottoms said. “When this quarantine business is over, we may keep doing rooftop deliveries. Except on Friday and Saturday nights. That’s when people down below take falling bottles the wrong way and start flinging empties back up. We had an ugly incident last week.”

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Quarantined Blacktip Island Residents Stream Live HORSE Tournament


An impromptu game of HORSE on socially-distancing Blacktip Island has developed into an island-wide tournament which spectators can watch live online. (photo courtesy of Aathavan Jaffna)

Blacktip Island residents confined under strict stay-at-home orders and missing sports have joined forces to create a social-distanced HORSE basketball-shooting competition and streaming it live online.

“People are starting to go bug-nutty inside so much, and we had to do something,” Alison Diesel said. “We’re allowed out for an hour a day, but still have to social distance. We came up with a hoops competition with just two people who don’t go anywhere near each other.

“Word got around and it really took off,” Diesel said. “Most people on the island wanted in on the action, so we came up with what amounts to conference-call basketball.”

The game’s rules were slightly modified to meet island public health mandates.

“Only two people are allowed on court at one time, and they have to stay at least 10 feet apart to allow for windage and heavy breathing,” B.C. Flote said. “Each player has to wear a facemask, and every time someone misses a shot and the ball changes hands, they have to spray the ball with bleach and leave it on the court for the other person to pick up.

“Also, each player has a ‘home base’ marked off far from the basket where they can take off their mask and have a drink,” Flote said. “Players are encouraged to bring their beverage of choice, alcoholic or otherwise, depending on their personal hydration needs.”

Matches are streamed online, where other competitors and spectators can watch.

“We thought it would be a passing thing for a few people to kill time, but folks got really into it,” Ernestine Bass said. “Half the people on island are playing, and the other half link up online to cheer for their favorite players. It’s really bringing the community together.

“The players are going all out, too, making uniforms and bringing laptops with them so they can play to the online crowd,” Bass said. “With so many people playing, the first round’s a round-robin format for seeding, then it switches to double elimination.”

The game has produced several surprise favorites.

“Who knew Lee Helm could actually shoot hoops?” Diesel said. “And Marina DeLow’s a stone-cold sniper from anywhere on the court. It’s early yet, but they’re hands-down the two to beat so far.

“At the tourney’s end we’ll set the trophies on the court 10 feet apart, spray them with Lysol and let the winners pick their trophies individually.”

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Blacktip Islanders Tout Wasabi As A Virus Cure


Two Blacktip Island sushi enthusiasts claim to have discovered wasabi fumes can cure the common cold and other similar viruses. (photo courtesy of Gage Hoase)

Two Blacktip Island residents this week claimed to have discovered a common Japanese condiment may destroy multiple types of corona viruses.

“We were scarfing sushi at the Tail Spinner when Gage Hoase inhaled at the wrong time and got a big snootful of wasabi,” Payne Hanover said. “He howled bloody murder and turned bright red, but his cold went away and he’s felt fine ever since.

“We figured if wasabi’ll knock out a cold, it’ll probably kick ass on similar viruses,” Hanover said. “Makes sense, when you think about it—those vapors get up in your sinuses and in your lungs, the fumes’ll burn up any microscopic organisms. Viruses can’t live in that kind of toxic environment.”

Some on the island are already trying the treatment.

“My little one had a head cold, so we put wasabi in the bedside humidifier to give her a gentle dose,” Ginger Bass said. “Within a few hours she felt fine. Of course, we’ve had a hankering for sushi ever since, but that’s a small price to pay.”

Others have been experimenting with dosage.

“We’ve seen good results from putting a dollop of paste on your tongue and inhaling as hard as you can,” chamber of commerce president Led Waite said. “Dermott, he snorted a whole line of the stuff, and he’s never looked healthier. We’re thinking the fumes break down the virus’ outer walls on contact. Sure, it hurts like hell, but a lot of people are into that sort of thing, so that can be a bonus.”

Public health professionals were skeptical of the claims.

“There’s no proof Japanese horseradish cures colds, and no medical reason to think it would kill any sort of virus,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “People trying this so-called cure are hurting themselves needlessly. I’ve treated multiple patients for chemical burns after they shoved wasabi paste up their noses. And elsewhere.

“It also gives false hope of being cured, and makes people avoid seeking proper medical treatment,” Graysby said. “Come on, people, use your noggins.”

Hanover remained upbeat about wasabi’s potential.

“We know it works. Now we just have to play with how best to use it,” he said. “We’re also looking into combining it with pickled ginger and soy sauce. The naysayers can slag us all they want, but huffing wasabi’s better than doing nothing. People need to give it a chance. What do they have to lose?”

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