Considering how much action there is in this story, there’s not a lot happening in this chapter. I went back later and wrote a chapter before this one, but I’m pretty sure this is my output from my first day of writing in 2004. The grafted-on opening chapter isn’t terribly actionitious either, but it adds to the suspense at least. So when you read this, just remember that all is not as it appears, and someone’s going to get hurt.
I’m not sure anyone else is finding my November 1st’s interesting, but I’m enjoying the memories. If you don’t want to read a big pile of unedited words, then these episodes probably aren’t for you. That’s OK; I understand. I’m trying to intersperse my normal style of blog episode (whatever that is).
The bar sat at the top of a rickety staircase, the surrounding vegetation giving it the feel of a treehouse. It was quiet, still offseason. The breeze carried with it pungent tropical smells, somehow overcoming the human smells from the town below.
On the patio four tourists were getting drunk, two couples drinking the house rum concoction. They were probably staying at one of the resorts to the south of town and had decided to come into town for a change of pace. This bar certainly qualified as that. They didn’t ask what was in their drinks, and that was fine with Rose.
On the TV at the sheltered end of the bar the Steelers were playing, brought live by satellite from a cold-looking Three rivers Stadium. Rose was idly cleaning things that weren’t dirty as she wacthed her team.
“Oh, Jesus Christ!” she shouted at the TV. The tourists stopped their conversation to see what the commotion was about. “You worthless piece of shit!” she concluded.
“Nice to see you, too, Rose,” the man at the bar said.
Rose wheeled. “Jesus, Jake, I didn’t see you.”
“I am a sneaky bastard.”
“Shit, Jake, It’s great to see you.” Rose came around the bar to give the man a hug. She stepped back from the man and said, “You’re early this year.”
“I thought if I got here before the hurricane season was over I could have you all to myself.”
Rose laughed, reverberating out over the town. There was a saying in Cruz Bay, “When Rose is happy, everyone knows.”
“Saint Pauli Girl?” she asked. That was the onofficial beer of the island, and Jake liked to respect tradition.
But there were other traditions. Jake put on a hurt expression. “Rose, how can you forget?”
“Oh, shit, Jake, I’m sorry. It’s the fuckin’ Steelers. I can’t concentrate.”
“If I’d known it was Sunday, I would have waited until tomorrow to come in.”
“No, you wouldn’t have.”
Rose had poured generous portions of Scotch. She handed one to Jake. They held their glasses up, tapping them gently together, making eye contact. Rose threw her whiskey back, Jake sipped his. “Here’s to ya, Rose,” Jake said belatedly.
One of the girls from the patio cam over for another round. Rose started pouring booze into plastic cups. While she was fishing for the pineapple, she asked, “So how’s Rosie?” She turned to the girl waiting for the drinks. “He named his boat after me,” she said.
“Really?” asked the girl.
“Not exactly,” Jake said. “The real name is Rosinante.”
“What a great name!” the girl exclaimed. “Does that make you don Quixote?”
He chuckled wryly. “Hardly. My nake is Jake.”
“He’s got the most beautiful boat in the bay,” said Rose. “What’re you working on now, Jake?”
“One of the winches is sticking, and I want to do a little woodwork while I’m here.”
“You ever get those electronics figured out?”
“Yeah, there was some weird wiring. I ended up rebuilding the whole harness, pretty much.”
“Damn, that’s a beautiful boat. I love all the wood.” Rose turned back to the girl, who was lingering to listen in on the conversation. “You should see her. She’s fast, too.”
“You don’t know that,” Jake said.
“Oh, come on, you kicked Cap’n Steve’s ass two years ago.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
The girl asked, “Is it the boat or the captain that wins a race?”
Jake hesitated. “Longer boats go faster.”
“How long is Captain Steve’s boat?”
Jake glanced at Rose. “68 feet?” he asked. Rose nodded.
“How long is your boat?”
“52 feet. Longer when she’s heeling. I beat him because I’m rigged to sail shorthanded and his crew wasn’t much.”
Rose butted in. “You kicked that guys ass.” To the girl she said, “Cap’n Steve’s been trying to buy Rosie ever since.”
Jake shook his head. “I think I’m going to sell, Rose.”
“What?” both women asked in unison. “You can’t!” added the tourist.
Jake shrugged. “The tub’s too big for me,” he said. “I don’t need so much boat.”
“Crap, Jake,” said Rose, “You’ve put everything you have into Rosie.”
“She doesn’t need me so much anymore.”
“Jake, you love that boat. You can’t sell it. I won’t let you.”
“Man’s gotta eat, Rose.” It took a moment for Rose to digest that. When she had Jake continued, “There’s not enough for me to fix on her anyway. I need a new challenge.”
“You don’t really think that. You just don’t know what to do when it’s easy is all. Crap, Jake, fight for it.”
“Can I see your boat?” the tourist asked.
Jake finished his scotch. “Not tonight,” he said. “But congratulations.”
“Congratulations on your engagement.”
“You keep fiddling with your ring, so I know it’s new. It takes some getting used to.”
“Oh.” She looked at the impressive rock as if she was surprised to see it there. “Thanks.”
The tourist took her drinks back to her friends. Rose slid Jake a beer and said, “You still have your way with the ladies. She was almost starting to like you there for a moment.”
Jake took a long drink. “Can’t have that,” he finally said. “She’s not happy about her engagement. I don’t want to get in the middle of that.”
“You always find a reason, Jake. Blondie’s pretty cute, and she liked you.”
“Really, I’m just saving ther the trouble of learning later what a messed-up motherfucker I am.”
Rose shook her head. “Jake, any woman would be glad to be with you.” She held out her hand to forestall comment. “Not me, of course, but any other woman.”
“Thanks, Rose. That’s just what I needed to hear from my favorite bartender.”
“Ah, Jake. I know you’ve got a favorite bartender in every port in the world.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Rose. I’ll lie to them, but I’ll never lie to you.”
“You say that to all of them, too.”
“Not quite. I tell them all they’re my second favorite bartender.”