Story:Unspooled/Outlines/I

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  • Opener: January 2009: A group of 29 Roseau ex-vagrants—among them Maurice, a Hispaniolan solenodon in his late sixties—must fend for themselves all over again when their Grotto Home for the Homeless branch gets gutted en route to a spacious four-storey renovation. A week after the eviction, Maurice is caught on video camera by Alfred, a male 11-year-old Guadeloupe raccoon cub with a knack for documentary shooting. Alfred has never seen a solenodon in person before, and initially shoos him away as a natural threat. After Maurice convinces him otherwise, the two form a bond that gives way to a slew of interviews—and increasing doubts and worry from his parents Victor and Louise.
  • Inciting Incident: The vagrants are invited back on May 30—only to find their Grotto residence in ruins after an accidental crane collapse ran everything askew the previous night, setting back completion by half a year. Their saving grace is Alfred's share of the record lottery winnings from his Toronto uncle, Matthew. Using those earnings, Maurice finally sets his years-long plan in motion: Head back to Carriacou in the Grenadines by private boat and reunite with his former mentor (and Alfred's distant grandrelative), a film star/socialite named Agatha...who is turning 110 on August 29.
  • Crises: Barely hours after arrival in Carriacou, Agatha's estate (the group's lodging) is mysteriously torched down, and the Dominican visitors must settle for the smaller residence of the Fortaleza ferrets (where Alfred meets his first love, Galina). Several days of investigation lead them all the way to two spiteful quolls, whom Maurice had a spat of misgivings with during the late 1970s. (One was elected as the Mayor of Hillsborough in 2002.)
When Alfred learns the quolls are competing in this year's local regatta, he and Maurice sign up ad hoc to beat them. But their victory comes at a cost: The quolls have associates holding Agatha's granddaughter's family hostage in mainland Grenada, and insist on paying an EC$45 million ransom to set her free—more than Matthew's remaining prize money after taxes. Either that—or giving up Maurice's copious unpublished diaries, which stayed back in Dominica for a reason: No backups or photocopies exist...as far as anyone knows.
Under pressure from a three-day deadline, Alfred and Maurice sail back to Roseau and call on Carrie Ann the fox, whose daughter is the diaries' custodian. Only one problem: Maurice wrote a hundred bundles' worth over three decades, all of which would sink their boat (Å I Ø, Danish for "Island in a Stream") before they could even pass Scotts Head. After minutes of haggling, the foxes give in to their outlandish demands—but it'll take an armada of canoes, cargo boats, and police cruisers to deliver them all the way to the Spice Island.
  • Climax: Upon their evening return, Alfred and Maurice stuff up the quolls' staging ground with their alternative ransom, and the granddaughter goes free. Yet the group are saddened to see the quolls hold a bonfire over everything he'd ever documented, as they slowly sail back north.
As it turns out, the quolls fell for the "oldest trick in the book": Carrie Ann provided them with ages-old facsimiles of Maurice's work. By August 26, they get arrested, and the Mayor is forced to resign amid public pressure.
  • End: Alfred, Maurice, the vagrants, and the Fortalezas—along with the granddaughter—celebrate Agatha's "eleventieth" birthday on the 29th. A week later, Agatha's estate is rebuilt; Maurice becomes the new Mayor of Hillsborough; and Alfred, his friend, sails back to Dominica in time for a new school year.