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Iguana Pox Has Blacktip Islanders Hoarding Beer, Chips

iguana virus panic

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.”

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Beer Tap Repairman Earns Blacktip’s Order of the Iguana

beer tap hero

The beer taps at Blacktip Island’s Last Ballyhoo bar, and all other island taps, are fully operational thank to the quick actions of a visiting scuba diving guest. Buddy Swill was awarded the Island’s Order of the Iguana, the highest citation available to a non-citizen. (Photo courtesy of abruellmann)

A Blacktip Island tourist was named a Tiperon Islands national hero Wednesday after he voluntarily repaired numerous broken beer taps at the small Caribbean island’s four bars.

“The salt air’s horrible on anything metal here,” said Sand Spit bartender Cori Anders. “Every beer tap but one on the island had corroded shut or gummed up. The Tale Spinner was the only place you could get draft beer, and that was some manky wheatgrass-and-lime lager crap.

“We’d order parts, but they’d get waylaid on Tiperon,” Anders said. “And the repair people said it wasn’t worth their time to come over from the big island. We were on our own.”

Community leaders had declared an island-wide emergency.

“Folks were getting desperate,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “They were drinking bottled beer. Canned beer. N.A. beer. Anything they could get.

“Beer-related scuffles were breaking out all over creation,” Cobia said. “And what with the big spring haiku tournament coming up, we’d reached crisis point. Things were about to get really ugly.”

Help came from an unlikely source.

“One of the guests up at Blacktip Haven owned a brew pub in the U.S.,” Last Ballyhoo bar owner Ferris Skerritt said. “He happened to have a tap in his bag. And a faucet wrench to swap it out.

“Then, on his own dime, he overnighted a bunch of taps down as ‘plumbing supplies,’ and everybody was back in business,” Skerritt said. “As far as I’m concerned, he can drink free for life at the Ballyhoo. With a reasonable daily limit, of course.”

The guest denied he was a hero.

“I just did what any beer lover would do,” Buddy Swill said. “Thankfully, I always travel with a spare tap and wrench. It’s bailed me out a bunch of times in the past.

“As for swapping out all the taps on the island, well, it was just the right thing to do,” Swill said. “I mean, if I hadn’t stepped in, how would I have been able to sleep at night?”

After a unanimous vote, officials scrambled to find a physical Order of the Iguana medal-and-ribbon for Swill.

“We don’t give out many of those things,” Cobia said. “Last time was the septic tank debacle back in ’03. I managed to find a dusty medal in the archives and we gave that to Buddy.

“The commendation reads: ‘His timely intervention averted widespread riots and preserved public peace,’” Cobia said. “Whether he likes it or not, Buddy’s a member of the realm now, with all the rights, honors and whatsits that go with it.”

To celebrate the award, and the return of draft beer, the island council is sponsoring a Drain the Keg island-wide festival for Friday night. All work is cancelled on Saturday.

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