The shock of his sudden and unexpected transformation into a donkey overwhelmed Lampwick and sent him into a panic. How was this possible? Why did they do this? Was there a way out? Lampwick didnt care where the other boys had gone, he just wanted to reverse this and get out of there. He ran out of the pool hall with no destination. At that moment, the panic was all he knew.
Fatigue soon stopped Lampwick. His mind cleared. He noticed his surroundings.
Much of the park was in ruins. Hed normally laugh about the wild party that happened there. There was no longer anything to laugh about.
Lampwick walked by a puddle. It reflected a donkey him. He wanted to cry.
He decided to find the man that brought him here. In Lampwicks mind, no one would change a boy into a donkey and keep them that way. This was a mistake; it had to be.
Lampwick felt a slight breeze as he walked. The air across his body reminded him of his nudity. It was more then the lack of clothing that bothered him. Lampwick realized that the island had shed the human form his soul wore for a more fitting form. Being a donkey exposed not just his actions and foolishness but his true nature. He tried to reassure himself that he looked so different that no one would recognize him. Lampwick on the other hand would know.
The advice of Jiminy and Lampwicks mother came back to Lampwick. The gist was that if we only care about pleasure with no desire to do anything constructive with our lives that we become donkeys. Lampwicks thoughts and feelings had been the epitome of that way of thinking for as long as he could remember. A human acting as a jackass was one thing, becoming a donkey for real was difficult to comprehend.
Lampwick hung his head. Hed had plenty of time to be a boy. There always seemed to be time. That he might face a day where it was too late never occurred to him.
Hed thought he was tough and knew how the world worked. His asinine behavior had started out as an act. In time, the act had become an increasing part of Lampwicks identity. By the time hed reached the island, being a good kid was nothing more then an act he put on for his mother, perhaps the one person in the entire world whose opinion mattered to Lampwick.
Going home as a donkey meant his mother would know the truth.
His thoughts distracted him so much that he ran into what he could only describe as a monster. It had the shape of a man and towered over Lampwick. It didnt say anything before it grabbed Lampwick around the torso. Lampwick tried to escape but the creatures grip was tight.
Lampwick brayed and bucked in an attempt to escape. The response was frighteningly automatic.
The creature silently carried Lampwick through the park until Lampwick heard braying. The brays grew louder until Lampwick found himself at a line of donkeys going down a stairwell leading to the docks. Everyone had changed. The island was a trap.
Most of the donkeys still wore their clothes. Some seemed to have torn some of their clothes off in a panic.
As the line progressed, Lampwick saw a sea of crates each with two donkeys in them. Lampwick strained to watch and hear more of the shadow men systematically throw donkeys in front of the Coachman. The Coachman would ask them their names. If they brayed, the Coachman would strip them and throw them into a crate.
A donkey wearing a black sweater and baseball cap pleaded for help when it was his turn. He said his name was Stevie and that hed learned his lesson and would be a good boy if they changed him back.
The Coachman told Stevie it was too late; hed had his fun and it was time to pay. Stevie cried before he ran. One of the men caught up to Stevie before he got far.
The Coachman walked up to Steve, grabbed him, ripped off his sweater and tossed his cap side.
Donkeys dont wear clothes, the Coachman said. And donkeys dont speak.
Please, Stevie cried. Let me be a boy again. Let me to go home to my mother. I dont want to be a donkey!
The Coachman picked Stevie up and threw him into a pen where other donkeys still wearing clothes stood.
You should have listened to your mother while you were still a boy and had the chance.
Stevie stood up and hung his ears.
But I just wanted to have fun, Stevie cried. I dont want to be a
Several brays left Stevies mouth. The Coachman laughed a quiet but sinister laugh.
Wont be long now, The Coachman said.
Stevie continued to beg even as the Coachman examined several more donkeys and took pride in their lack of ability to speak. More brays invaded Stevies speech until they were the only sound Stevie made. He hung his ears in shame and seemed to resign himself to his fate before one of the men loaded Stevie into a crate.
When it was Lampwicks turn in front of the Coachman, he asked Lampwick his name. The bray that left Lampwicks mouth sealed his fate and had him crying for mercy.
Let me go home! I dont want to be a donkey. Ill change, I promise Ill change, Lampwick brayed.
Dont feel bad. Youll help earn us a nice profit, the Coachman said.
Lampwick soon found himself in a crate with Stevie and loaded into a hold in a boat.
He stood in a sad resignation as tears fell not just for him but also for all of the boys damned to this fate. As he listened to Stevies sad brays, Lampwick couldnt help but wonder for how many of the boys, their first mistake would be the mistake.
Lampwick looked at Stevie. There had to be a way out. It couldnt end like this.
* * *
The boat was soon loaded with all of the donkeys and was on its way.
Lampwick hoped that someone on the mainland would help. Sadness gripped Lampwick when he realized that if escaping this fate were possible, some kid somewhere would have done it by now.
Stevie and other donkeys Lampwick could see looked sad, frightened and defeated. Stevie brayed as tears flowed from his eyes. Lampwick wanted to tell Stevie it was going to be all right; they were going to escape and find a cure.
Whats going to happen to us? Stevie asked.
I understood you. How come I couldnt before? Lampwick asked.
I was just braying before; I couldnt control it, Stevie said.
I know the feeling, Lampwick said. I guess we just need to focus or something.
Why did we turn into donkeys? How do we change back?
They tricked us, Lampwick said. I dont know if we can change back.
But I dont wana be a donkey, Stevie said.
Unless we can find you help, we gotta accept that were donkeys even if you dont wana be.
But what about you, Stevie asked.
Its too late for me.
What do you mean? Stevie asked, his voice breaking as though he was going to cry.
Why did you come to the island? Lampwick asked.
I just wanted to eat ice-cream and candy and play games. They said it was free and no one would tell us what to do, Steve said. I only drank that beer because some older kids told me to.
Lampwick hung his head. That beer had turned Stevie into a donkey. The same Beer Lampwick tried to get Pinocchio to drink.
I wanted to drink the beer, smoke and fight, Lampwick said.
He explained how he didnt want to get an education or listen to his mother and how what people considered donkey behavior was normal for him.
I guess I had to become a donkey for real to see what its what I was on the inside, Lampwick said.
Lampwick wondered if even hed given up on himself.
Stevie sniffled and hung his head. Why did those boys tell me to do those things? I just wanted them to like me. I thought if I acted like them and did the stuff they said to do that Id be smart like them.
Lampwick hung his head.
They didnt mean the things they said; they were just trying to be funny, Lampwick said.
But why would they tell me to do something if they didnt mean it? Stevie asked.
Lampwick had found it funny when hed encouraged other boys to do bad things and the boys complied. Hed also said those things because he felt almost obligated. Perhaps, Lampwick realized, it was all for some form of acceptance without thought of potential consequences. He was in the end, just following the herd, even if it was all in his head. He didnt know the things he or the others did would turn them into donkeys. However, Lampwick knew that didnt make it right.
Lampwick told Stevie of Lampwicks thoughts.
I still did those dumb things. I could have said no and ran off, Stevie said. Tears began to flow from Stevies eyes. Its too late for us isnt it? Were gonna be donkeys forever. Were never gonna see our families again.
Lampwick looked into Stevies eyes. He knew that Stevie would almost rather die then live this life. Lampwick felt that Stevie deserved more then a donkeys form and life. A look at the other donkeys Lampwick could see convinced him that many of them deserved more. Unfortunately, donkey instinct was powerful, a much stronger influence then anything Lampwick had been to other boys. Even if those donkeys still thought like boys, instinct could ensure they wouldnt for long. Lampwick hated the idea of that happening to Stevie.
I dont know how were gonna get out of this. Youll see your momma again, even if you gotta see her as a donkey.
But what about you, I know you said youre a bad kid but maybe you can change, Stevie said. My aunt always said that its never too late.
Lampwick sighed. Theres no point in me being a better person if Im stuck as a donkey. Besides, what if that one boy is a donkey now because of me? Lampwick asked. Its not right if I change back but he doesnt. I hope he managed to get away.
Stevie hung his ears and head. Then theres no point in us escaping.
Lampwick looked at Stevie. He knew that he couldnt give up if it meant Stevie would.
All right kid, Ill try to find a way to want to be a good kid, Lampwick said. Stevie, being a donkey might make you want to do bad things. You need to try and be as good as you can, even if you dont know why.
Even if only for Stevies sake, Lampwick realized that he needed to be a role model. If he could maintain some level of humanity despite the odds, then he knew Stevie could.
Stevie perked up. Okay but I still want to be good. So how do we escape?
Well have to come up with a plan.
Lampwick knew that things were bleak. It would easy to give in and be a donkey. Lampwick realized that perhaps, this was the point. Being a donkey was easy; being human required a lot of work and dedication.
You didnt tell me your name, Stevie said.
My names Lampwick. Well, thats my nickname. My real name is Leonardo. Thats what my Momma called me. But, you can still call me Lampwick.
My names Stevie.
Lampwick had learned to be a donkey as a human and now faced the ironic and indeed far more difficult position of having to learn to be human as a donkey. Lampwick could only hope that it was worth it.
* * *
The rest of the trip in the ferry was long, hot and boring.
Stevie was quiet for the most part.
Most of the other donkeys talked amongst themselves. Some expressed regret for their actions, others pleaded for help. Some seemed to be giving into their instincts and speaking of things they wanted to do that Lampwick knew were things only a donkey would wish to do.
Lampwick wanted to be outside under the warm sun in a field with he could have grass, hay and clean water.
He tried to focus on what the human part of him felt. Given the exposure of being a donkey, Lampwick found the idea of walking onto the mainland as a donkey terrifying.
Stevie looked terrified when the ferry came to a stop and its operators opened the hold to remove the donkeys.
Lampwick stayed close to Stevie. The light that streamed in allowed Lampwick to see that he was larger then Stevie. Stevie looked sad, small and helpless.
One by one, their captors hauled the crates out of the ferry.
Eventually, Lampwick and Stevie were outside in an area with many humans. For salvation to be so close yet unachievable was torture.
Whats happening now? What are they doing to us? Stevie asked.
Lampwick looked back and forth for an answer. What he saw saddened and frightened him. People were buying the donkeys. Lampwick, Stevie and all of the others were soon to become property.
Theyre selling us, this is a market, Lampwick said.
We gotta do something, Stevie said. Please, Lampwick do something!
What can I do kid? Its not like we can tell them who we are, Lampwick said.
What do you mean? Stevie asked.
Listen to us kid, were braying, not speaking. They wont recognize us. I doubt they even know its possible to turn a boy into a donkey.
Tears streamed down Stevies face. But you said youd figure out a plan.
A part of Lampwick had been hoping that someone would rescue them or figure out that all of these donkeys were or at least used to be boys. Lampwick realized that he had to accept that no one was going to rescue them or figure out the truth in time to help him or Stevie.
I will Stevie, I will. But right now, we gotta lay low and figure out what to do. What good is escaping if were stuck as donkeys?
I guess but how do we get help? Stevie asked.
Well figure something out, Lampwick said.
For now, all they could only hope and pray that whoever bought them would treat them in a civilized manor.