Blacktip Island’s Sand Spit bar is locking its small supply of beer in secure coolers during the island’s pox-induced beer shortage. (photo courtesy of Cori Anders)
Panic during an island-wide outbreak of Blacktip Iguana Pox has caused residents to buy all the beer and chips on the small Caribbean island, creating severe shortages at the island’s store and bars.
“The outbreak started when Dermott Bottoms and James Connolly, drunk as coots, got scratched up real bad wrestling an iguana one night,” island nurse Marissa Graysby said. “They didn’t treat the lacerations, got infected and the next thing you know we’ve got a major pox event. We get individual-level cases all the time, but never this bad and with so many people.
“The clinic’s out of anti-pox, and there’s a shortage on Tiperon, so we’re under island-wide quarantine for the duration,” Graysby said. “People panicked and decided to stock up on beer and snacks, of all things. It doesn’t make sense, but these things rarely do.”
Island residents say the hoarding is justified.
“Hell with toilet paper. I can use any old thing for that. And do,” long-time local Harry Wrasse said. “But there’s no substitute for beer. Or Cheetos. Jack Cobia told me to drink water instead, but that stuff’ll kill you. Same goes for white rum.
“Do I got beer stashed away? You bet I do. Can’t tell me not to buy beer,” Wrasse said. “No law against buying extra. No telling how long this quarantine’ll last. Anybody tries to take my beer, they’re gonna get hurt.”
The island suppliers are working nonstop to restock.
“Our beer and snack shelves are bare,” store owner Peachy Bottoms said. “That never happens, even in winter when rough seas keep the supply barge from landing. We’re asking folks to buy just what they need, but no one’s complying. They’re scared. You can see it in their eyes.
“We set up an air bridge to fly more beer and potato crisps in as fast as we could, but yahoos keep rushing the planes, walloping the flight crew and snatching stuff from the cargo bays before we can get it to the store,” Bottoms said. “We’ve plenty of other supplies. There’s piles of bog roll, and no one’s touching the gluten-free bread or veggie burgers.”
Island leaders urged calm.
“We’re not asking people not to buy beer. We’re asking them to be reasonable,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “It’s Blacktip, though, so ‘reasonable’ may be a bridge too far. There’s been talk of declaring a state of emergency, but it’s hard to call lack of beer an emergency, even on Blacktip. If the violence gets out of hand, though, we may have to.”
Authorities have been nearly overwhelmed maintaining order.
“With beer in short supply, prices are skyrocketing,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Single beers are going for $20, $25. Warm. There’s a raging black market, but I can’t arrest anyone without evidence, and the buyers aren’t about to turn in their suppliers.
“The bigger issue is public safety. I’m the only constable and I’m spread thin,” Marquette said. “I broke up three brawls just this morning, and we’re only on Day Two of the quarantine. I deputized two Special Constables, but they’re off trying to buy beer. If the pilots and baggage handlers throw in the towel, we’re looking at total anarchy.”