Just the other day, I was in town to conduct some errands. After many hours of heat, dust and exercises in patience, I stopped into my favorite Port of Call for a cold beer. (I know it may seem repetitive, but life is like that…a series of tasks done over and over, like brushing your teeth or restarting Windows…)
“Same?” asks Helen, the afternoon bartender. “Yes. Please.” say I, “extra cold today.”
One long, slow, cold swallow, eyes closed. Bottle back down on the bar. Eyes open again and looking across into the mirror. There he is… that familiar stranger, still smiling and, despite the many times I have seen that smile, I still haven’t really figured out if the joke is on me.
Two bar stools over, a voice calls out, “Been here long?”
“Just one swig of my first beer,” I answer, “You?”
“Goin’ on 15 years. Seems sometimes like my whole life.” He says.
“Strange we haven’t met then,” my turn to speak, “But, then again, I don’t come into town that often.”
“Nor do I,” he replies, “last time was 4 months ago.”
“I was here only last week. Must be my turn to buy the beer then. Another?”
“Surely.” He answers.
“What are you doing here?” I ask the standard ex-pat question.
“Waiting on the end of the world,” he says, “or the end of my life, whichever comes first.”
‘Uh, oh,’ I think. “Could be a long wait,” I say.
“Hope so.” He says, “Might be hell to pay later on, after it’s all over.”
Now, I am thinking, it might be wise to leave before this goes any further, but I can’t help myself; I order another beer for my thirsty guest. “What else do you do besides wait?”
“Raise Cain,” I hear.
“What about Abel?” I query.
“Dead, along with all his sheep” says he smiling, “Sugar cane, I raise sugar cane. Only two of us on this island, Macoucherie and me.”
“Ah, I see.”
“You?” he asks.
“I write,” I answer.
“Ah, a storyteller then.” He says, “That calls for another beer…my turn to buy. We can tell each other stories while we wait for endings. What do you write?”
I am tempted to bring up beginnings, but I do so want to get home soon.
“Words,” I answer.
“As worthy a task,” he replies, “as raising cane.”
Later, we switch to rum; but that too is another story.