FOX news blared on the TV.
“That’s how you handle those people,” said Max. “Crack their skulls! They oughta send in the military to beat the fuck out of those ANTIFA bastards. Just shoot’em.”
“That’s a little extreme Max. I agree the looting and destruction of property is over the line, but we can’t just blow them away. That ain’t right either.” Harold rearranged himself on the leather recliner.
“Well, shoot them in the leg then—or maybe the foot,” said Max. “But you gotta be hard! We can’t allow an insurrection for fuck sake.”
“It’s not an insurrection,” said Harold, “It’s a protest.”
“What’s the difference?” asked Max.
“Well, a protest is a demonstration by folks that are pissed off. An insurrection is an attempt to overthrow the government by violent means,” said Harold.
“Well, I’m pissed off about a lot of things but you don’t see me breaking windows do you? You don’t call that violent means?” asked Max when one of the protestors threw a firebomb into the police station.
“Yea, it’s violent alright,” said Harold. “Turn it off. I’m tired of watching these assholes beat each other up.”
Harold Parker had other things on his mind. He wanted to see the world outside his little hamlet but there was never time. He’d worked at a sawmill in northern CA for forty years. But now, an opportunity smacked him in the face. On his sixtieth birthday he won a trip for two to Jamaica with a raffle ticket he’d bought on a whim. He had the brochure in front of him.
“Christ Harold, you’re not going to go on that trip are you?” Max Spiel, a lifelong bachelor, was Harold’s best friend. He and Harold hung out almost every day after Harold’s wife died.
“I don’t know. I’m considering it,” said Harold.
“Jesus, Jamaica’s full of darkies and drugs and guns,” said Max. “I wouldn’t go down there for a million bucks.”
“Come on Max, don’t be such a stick in the mud. It’s not all like that,” said Harold.
“They kill people with machetes down there,” said Max. “Chop’em up and feed’em to the sharks. It’s worse than goddam L.A. or Chicago. Don’t be a damned fool. Besides, who gives a shit about some island in the middle of nowhere. I’d rather go fishing right here at home where things are safe and predictable.”
Harold thumbed through the brochure as he sipped his beer.
“Don’t look half bad to me,” said Harold. “Take a look. This deal’s all-inclusive, the flight, room, food, booze … everything. The place is fenced in to keep the riffraff out.” Harold tossed the brochure over to Max.
Max glanced at the glossy colored photographs of white sand beaches, crystal blue water and sexy girls in bikinis.
“Well, maybe it ain’t so bad but I still think you’d be crazy …”
“Hey, here’s an idea. Why don’t you come with me Max? There’s safety in numbers, that’s what they say, right? I have two tickets.”
Max spit out a gob of tobacco juice into a bucket under the table.
“Shit no! Are you kidding? No way I’m …”
“Aw, come on. Lighten up, Max. We deserve a bit of fun. Whaddya say? Let’s get out of Dodge and live a little before we die.”
“I don’t wanna die any time soon, especially in some faraway part of the world with strange food and strange people all-inclusive or not,” said Max. “We’ve seen enough of the world. We were in the navy together, remember?”
“You always talk about that like it was Around The World In 80 Days. Shit, all we did was play poker at the naval station in Alameda. We didn’t even ship out, remember? Hell, the only trip was driving through the city when you got lost on that one-way street and you had to talk your way out of a traffic ticket by claiming to be the country bumpkin you are,” laughed Harold. “Come on, Max. You can’t let me down. You can’t let yourself down either. We might not get another chance.”
“I ain’t gonna fly down to some goddam ghetto where a bunch of dreadlocked stoners are gonna chase me around like those idiots in that insurrection on TV. No way.”
“It’s a protest Max. God dammit. And, you can’t paint a whole country with that broad brush of yours. There’s a lot to see in Jamaica. I’ve been reading up on it,” said Harold.
Max gave Harold a stern look. Then he laughed. “Oh, I get it, it’s a joke, right? You’re pulling my chain. Ha ha. I’m not falling for it. And, I’m not going.”
Harold didn’t laugh.
Uh oh, thought Max. “You can’t be serious, Harold, can you?”
Harold slammed his empty beer bottle down on the coffee table.
“You bet your ass I’m serious! I’m not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth. I’m not gonna lose the only opportunity I may get to drag my ass out of this goddam sawmill. My ticket won. That’s as good a sign and as good a chance as I will ever get. And, as my best friend you gotta go with me. Buy a swimming suit, Max. Buy some sandals. The trips on me.”
Max saw Harold was happy as a clam. Max had a queasy sensation inside his stomach. He was convinced this was a mistake but those young girls and boys in their skimpy suits on the beach, he wondered if there were really scenes like that down there and what else there might be.
One month later they were on their way. They booked a flight from SFO to Kingston with a short layover in Miami. At the airport in San Francisco, Harold purchased a fifth of Peppermint Schnapps. They had a couple of hours before the plane left at midnight. Harold figured if he got Max schnockered, Max wouldn’t back out at the last minute.
As their departure drew near, the waiting area began to fill. Old people, young people, hip, straight. Two young boys in Bob Marley t-shirts ran around like wild Indians and almost knocked over the bottle of Schnapps.
“Sorry,” said their father with a smile. “If they work off their energy waiting here they’ll be quiet on the plane.”
“Ya‘ear that ‘arold. Them boys’ll be q-quiet on the plane he sez.” Max giggled
“Shhh,” said Harold who tried to keep a straight face.
Two Jamaican girls sat next to Max and Harold. Max looked at Harold and winked.
“You bwoys off to Jamaica?” said one of the girls who wore her black hair in twists and curls.
“S-sure are,” said Max.
“We too,” said the girl. “We fly fi visit me family.”
“You girls wanna drink?” Max stumbled toward them with the bottle of Schnapps.
“What yuh think, Jennie?”
“I tink it calm the nerves. I hate fi to fly.”
“Okay,” said Lisa. “We take a drink.”
Max handed over the bottle. “So, what’s your name honey?”
“I’m not honey, mister, but that okay. I’m Lisa and she’s Jennie.”
“Sorry,” said Max. “I wasn’t tryin’ to be fresh. I’m Max and he’s ‘arold.”
The girls each took a big swig then handed the bottle back.
“Fus time to Jamaica?” asked Lisa.
“Yep, f-first time,” said Max.
“We haven’t really traveled much,” said Harold. “I won this trip at a company raffle. What’s it like anyway, Jamaica? Looks like a paradise in the brochure.”
The girls looked at each other and laughed.
“Jamaica can be paradise when it want like those times when you standing on a white beach looking at di blue ocean,” said Lisa. “Depend on which side of paradise you from.”
“Which side do y-you come from?” asked Max.
“Me? I born uptown Kingston,” said Lisa “but now I live in San Francisco.”
“We land in Kingston, right?” said Harold. Max had closed his eyes and slumped in his chair.
“Kingston yeah,” said Jennie. “Don’t go downtown. People very grudgeful there. You have to know what you’re doing.”
“What do you mean grudgeful?” asked Harold.
“Gangs. Just like in American cities there be places you don’t go.”
“Well, we won’t go there. We’re on a tour. We take a bus from the airport right to the resort.” said Harold.
Jennie and Lisa looked dubiously at each other.
“That no way to see Jamaica, man. Maybe we meet you at your resort and take you for a real tour,” said Lisa.
Max woke up blurry-eyed. “Huh? Realtor? We’re just visiting, girls. We don’t want to buy property there.”
“That’s not what she said, Max. She’s offered to take us to see some places outside the resort,” said Harold.
“Isn’t that dangerous?” asked Max.
“We be safe,” said Lisa. “No bad man gonna lay hand ‘pon you. My brother Ruel will drive. He has a car. He big strong bwoy. Nobody cross’im.”
“Sounds peachy,” said Max sarcastically.
“Lighten up, Max. It would be fun to see some of the local sights. Hey, it’s time to board the plane,” said Harold.
When they landed Harold gave Lisa the information on the resort. They didn’t set a time but agreed to meet. Harold and Max boarded the bus with several other people. The guide told them it was about a four-hour drive to the resort. He passed out Red Stripe beer and said the driver would stop at a halfway point where they could use the bathroom and get another drink. The guide went off to wait for some other arrivals.
“These Red Stripes would hit the spot if they were cold,” said Max.
“Well, at least we have something to sip on,” said Harold. They relaxed in their seats and took in the sights as the bus drove through Kingston. On a hill in the distance there were concrete houses surrounded by manicured gardens with colorful flowers and hedges.
“Those metal grilles on the doors and windows say it all,” said Max.
“Lighten up Max. People back home do the same thing in certain areas.”
They passed a square where people were lined up with containers to fill with water from a public spigot. Further along Harold saw painted shacks thrown together with corrugated tin and scrap wood, the paint peeling off in patches. Lost children stared out from the dark spaces behind open windows and doors. He heard chickens crow in back of the houses. Skinny dogs wandered through the unpaved streets. Periodically a church or school appeared and inserted order amidst the bewildering disorder. People milled around like ants, all black. It smelled like smoke.
Women in colorful dresses queued by the roadside presumably waiting for buses to take them to work while men idled in groups over dominoes. As they moved onto the main road, trucks, motorbikes and animal-drawn vehicles moved at an agonizing pace.
“Looks like it’s gonna be a slow ride,” said Max.
“Sit back and enjoy the sights,” said Harold.
“What sights,” asked Max who had come down from his Peppermint Schnapps high.
They passed two leafy mango trees. One had old rubber tires suspended on ropes from its branches with a group of small children vying for the swing. One moment the bus was inside a swarm of yellow butterflies and the next moment they were gone. There were lush green patches alongside godforsaken barren stretches of highway where women in rough shacks sold what seemed like the same assortment of fruits, vegetables and juices.
After two hours the driver turned the bus onto a dirt road and drove up a hill where the ocean became visible. They stopped outside a small shack that overlooked a beautiful bay down below the cliff. A few tables were set up outside.
The passengers unloaded. People used the bathroom. A few bought drinks. The rest walked around in a daze after an uncomfortably short night’s sleep. Suddenly two young masked Jamaican boys appeared out of the bush. They had guns.
“Money, bling bling! Put everything HERE!” One of the boys held a sack open and pointed. “Money. Now!” He fired a shot into the air then walked around with the sack. A woman screamed. A few people, hands shaking, pulled out wallets and dropped them into the bag.
Harold whispered to Max. “Those two kids are scared shitless. They’re not gonna shoot. Let’s take’em them.”
“Shut up! No talk.” The boy with the bag threatened Harold with the gun.
Harold jumped the boy and knocked the gun out of his hand. Max charged the other one who turned to run away. Harold smacked the first kid who fell on the ground. He was out cold. Max hogtied the other kid before he could run away. He whacked him good on the head. Both boys are on the ground, stunned, out of commission. Harold grabbed both guns and threw them over the side of the cliff. It happened so fast that everyone was still in shock when Max and Harold told them to reboard the bus.
“Come on,” said Harold to the driver. “Let’s get the hell out of here. If we wait around for the police, we’ll be here all day. It’s over. Those kids will fade back into the bush and disappear. Don’t bother with’em.”
The driver jumped into the driver’s seat. His white teeth shined out from his smooth dark face. His eyes were wild. All the passengers loaded up and the group was back on their way.
“Whew! That was the most excitement I’ve had since we had that fight in the bowling alley last year,” said Max.
“Yea,” said Harold. “I wonder if the damn driver was in on this?”
“Well, he’s not now,” said Max. The driver’s head was down. He motored along diligently like a man on a mission.
Everyone on the bus clapped.
“You guys were terrific.”
“How did you know they wouldn’t shoot?”
“How can we ever repay you?”
“Look,” said Harold. “They were just a couple of desperate kids. That’s it. No more. It could happen anywhere. When we get to the resort you can buy us a drink.”
“But, it’s all inclusive,” said the father of the two boys.
“Yea, I know,” laughed Max “All inclusive alright.”
Two hours later the bus drove through the large white gates that led into Bosco Beach Resort. It was a different world inside. Beautiful white buildings with blue roofs surrounded by perfectly manicured gardens cascaded down to the beach. Black attendants in their crisp white uniforms stood ready to serve. After checking in, Harold and Max unpacked into two separate rooms. They returned to the front desk and walked through to the main dining room and bar. It was packed with guests many of whom had just arrived.
“Let’s get out of here and find a quiet place, said Harold. “I think I saw a small bar next to that pool by our rooms.”
Harold and Max found a small bar surrounded by a dozen chairs next to a semi-private pool. This became their home away from home. The bartender was a handsome young man named Mickey–fit, tall and friendly. Harold and Max knew if they cultivated him, they would have a good time ahead. So, they left big tips even though a sign above the bar read PLEASE DO NOT TIP, IT IS OUR PLEASURE TO SERVE YOU.
“Most people are assholes at these all-inclusive spots,” said Harold. “They take, take, take and never give back. They’re completely oblivious to the help.”
The next morning Harold and Max discussed the plan for the day.
“You know what I’ve always wanted to do?” said Harold.
“Screw that girl in the bikini over there by the pool?” Max offered.
“Nope. Snorkel. I’ve always wanted to snorkel in a coral reef. That’s what we should do today, Max. Whaddya think?”
“You’re braver than I am Harold. There’s sharks out there. Besides, I’m not much of a swimmer.” Max downed the last sip of his coffee.
“Yuh like more coffee Sah?” asked an impeccably dressed waiter as he ran to the table.
“No thanks, we’re done,” said Max. “Go ahead Harold, I wouldn’t know where to begin. I’ll meet you at the bar this afternoon after they sew up all your shark bites.”
“You’ll be sorry, Max, but okay. Go chat it up with Mickey. You seem to like him a lot. I’m sure he’ll keep you entertained with his broad array of rainbow drinks. But don’t get too shitty. I want to party tonight.”
Mickey was waiting for Max at the bar.
“How yuh sleep Sah?”
“Pretty well I guess, for a lonely old man,” said Max.
“Yuh na that ole Sah. Yuh sure to meet some pretty gyal while yuh here.”
Mickey’s eyes shined in a way that confused Max. He had an anxious moment while he decided whether to stay or walk away. He stayed.
“How about one of those rainbow drinks you made for us last night please. I really liked them.”
Max watched while Mickey expertly layered the ingredients. There were little swirls where the layers met but the ingredients stayed separated until Max took a sip then everything started to blend together.
“We didn’t mention it yesterday, Mickey, but we had some excitement on our way here. It happened at the halfway point where we stopped for a drink. Two boys with guns tried to rob us. Harold and I scared them off. I guess that sort a thing happens round here, huh? How do a couple of young kids get guns anyway?”
“Dem yout bwoys, deh have no work but dey have gun,” said Mickey. “Dem kids, they tek crazy to a whole oda level. The guns, I hear dey come fi CIA.”
“The CIA? How is that possible?”
“Drugs,” said Mickey. Drugs gwope America fi de cartel. CIA use sum da money fi buy guns fi send here, bribe da bosses in Kingston to keep the commies out.”
Max was flabbergasted. “That’s one helluva story, Mickey. You shittin’ me?”
“Is tru mon. Everyone know it.”
Max just shook his head. This sounded like the Contra affair he’d read about in the newspaper. Drugs, guns. You couldn’t trust these damn politicians. They say one thing and do another. He’d finished his drink.
“Anedda drink mon?” asked Mickey.
“Why not,” said Max. “Wow, that’s a lot for me to take in. Do you have any music here.”
“No Sah, sorry Sah.”
“Just call me Max. You don’t even have a transistor radio?”
“No Max,” said Mickey. “Me couldn’t afford such thing.”
“For goodness sake. I’ll be right back.” Max went to the room for his radio and took it to the bar. When he turned it on and tuned in a local station, Mickey’s expression was one of pure bliss.”
“Mr. Bossman by Wayne Smith. That good dance music,” said Mickey who started moving to the beat.
“Keep the radio, Mickey. It’s yours. Could I have another drink please.”
By the time Harold showed up Max was totally shitfaced.
“No s-stiches I s-see,” laughed Max who was red as a beet from being in the sun all afternoon.
“I came close enough to needing some. Turns out a couple of locals were spear fishing in the reef where they took me to snorkel. The spear fishermen pissed off a school of barracudas that started to chase us. Those fuckers have razor sharp teeth. I barely made it into the boat in time to save my ass. The poor guy driving the boat was freaked out. So were the fishermen.”
“Lucky ‘arold. Wish I’d a been there to see it,” said Max.
Hi Mickey, how ’bout a beer please,” said Harold.
“Coming right up,” said Mickey.
“E makes zeese ‘licious rainbow thingys. You oughta h-have one,” said Max.
“Your drunk as a skunk. It’s past time for you to have a nap.” Harold winked at Mickey whose wide smile exposed the perfect white teeth that seemed to be par for the course around the resort.
“Ya know,” slurred Max as he stumbled toward his room. “These p-poor guys don’t have anything down here. I gave my transistor r-radio to Mickey.”
“Good for you, Max. Get some sleep. I’ll see you later after you’ve sobered up.”
For a few days Harold and Max hung around the resort and enjoyed the sun and fun. Harold noticed that Max spent a lot of time with Mickey. Back home Max had cultivated a bigoted tough guy persona. In Jamaica that facade fell away like an old snake’s skin. It’s hard to maintain prejudice when you’re the one who’s different, you’re living with people you thought you didn’t like only to find out they are more like you than you imagined.
Harold hadn’t heard a word from Lisa and Jennie. It was almost time to leave when he got a note from Lisa. She said she and Jennie and her brother Ruel would meet them at the entrance to the property at ten the next morning. It was Harold’s last day. He looked forward to a change. He’d become bored with the artificial scene at Bosco Beach.
The next morning Lisa introduced Harold and Max to her brother Ruel. They arrived with Jennie in a white-toped red Impala. Ruel was tall, dark, toned and sturdy. He had a no nonsense demeanor but he looked friendly when he smiled. He wore tan pants and a short-sleeve collared pink shirt. A mandala hung from his neck on a gold chain. A fancy watch was on his wrist. The girls wore brightly colored strap beach dresses, bracelets, sandals and dark glasses. It was clear to Harold that this was an upper class family, a step above the Jamaicans who worked at the resort. From what he’d seen, Jamaica consisted of enclaves of immense wealth amid utter desolation. He was anxious to see where Ruel would take them.
“After we left you girls we had an interesting ride to the resort,” said Harold.
“Oh yah,” said Lisa. “Something wrong wid di ride?”
“Couple a kids surprised us at the halfway stop,” said Max. “They tried to rob us. They had guns.”
“Jessum peace!” exclaimed Jennie.
“Misery cause people to act desperate and kill,” said Ruel. “Wah happened?”
“We knocked’em out cold, threw the guns away,” said Harold. “They were just kids. I didn’t want to get them in trouble with the law and I didn’t want to take the time to wait.”
“Um. I tink they not done wid you,” said Ruel. “I ask around. Could be trouble. I know deese bwoys. Deh got their pride to protect.”
They passed roadside shacks where women cooked over fires in open pits. The men roasted meat, corn and yams. Laundry dried on wires hung between coconut trees. Goats, chickens, pigs and dogs that weren’t corralled wandered freely. The road was lined with marauding advertisements for rum and coffee tastings and all variety of services. Market vendors sold guavas, mangos, bananas, carrots, giant plums and more. They were protected from the sun by shaky gazebos. This was not the Jamaica of the postcards and resort gift shops.
“First we gonna go Green Grotto Caves. Yuh like it there, very interesting place. Everyone hide there–Indian, Spanish, runway slave, all kind tief an criminal. Is dark and li’l spooky but fun. Then we go quiet beach for drinks. Very different from Bosco. Then Fern Gully road to see old bauxite works, then to fancy Jamaican great house fi see plantation life. We end at Murphy’s ‘ill way up high with view and cool air. Okay?” Ruel laid out the plan methodically. He obviously knew the area and Harold and Max were happy to go along.
“That sounds great,” said Harold. “Thanks.”
By the time they got to the beach everyone was ready for a break and a drink. The heat was blistering and it was humid. Unlike Bosco resort, Treasure Beach was a series of sparsely populated little beaches and coves. Ruel took them to a quiet unpretentious bar, little more than a shack with a slab for a bar and a spectacular view.
“Boy, this is my kind of place,” said Max.
“Me too,” said Harold.
“Reminds me of that movie Cocktail that just came out,” said Max. “We saw it. Remember the one where Tom Cruise screws the girl under the water fall.”
“Watch your language, Max. We’re with these young kids.”
The girls laughed. They left to walk along the beach while Harold, Max and Ruel sipped their beers.
“This is what bar is all about,” said Ruel. “A man come a the bar and get himself relax. If the bar have some entertainment, them enjoy it. The bar is good for stressful people who come along. You have all type a people come to the bar and have a drink, it all boil down to how deh run di bar, an here deh run it good.”
“These Red Stripes are ice cold. They sure beat the ones we got on the bus,” said Max.
“You want something fi eat?” asked Ruel. “They make great ackee and salt fish here, also chicken foot soup, jerk chicken, spicy crab and bammy.”
“No, let’s just finish our beers and go see some more sights,” said Harold. “I’d be happy to stay here all day but I only have this day left. I want to see as much as I can. Okay with you Max?”
“Fine with me,” said Max.
Ruel went to use a phone in the office. When he returned they finished up and continued on the day’s plan.
“Everything okay, Ruel?” asked Harold.
“Good yea. Jus want fi check on dat business wid those two kids you talk ’bout. Mek sure no problem coming.”
“That was a week ago,” said Max. “I’m sure they’ve forgotten about it by now.”
The last stop for the day was atop Murphy’s Hill.
“My God! I see why you brought us here,” said Harold. “Look at that view. It’s so quiet. Where is everyone?”
“Was busy but business slow now,” said Ruel. “After di bauxite business close, everyone gone. Tourists stay behind di gates in di artificial paradise.”
“What do you think of the real Jamaica?” said Lisa. “There’s a lot more for next time.”
“Bosco Beach will never be the same after this,” said Harold.
“Maybe not,” said Max, “but I look forward to seeing Mickey. I could use one of his rainbow drinks about now.”
“You sure spend a lot of time with him,” said Harold. “What’s up with that?”
Max smiled devilishly in a way Harold had never seen before. Then Max looked off to the beach below.
“Is that Cuba in the ocean way over there,” pointed Max.
“Yea,” said Ruel. “And that is the Blue Mountain, biggest mountain in whole Caribbean, where di best coffee come from,” said Ruel pointing in the opposite direction. “Down to di left of Bosco Resort is Cardiff Hall, another Jamaican Great House from di sugar days. Joni Mitchell stay there one time and paint a mural on di wall. Off di other direction is Oracabessa where dat writer guy write dose Jimmy Bond book.”
An hour later Max and Harold walked along Bosco Beach while Ruel and the girls hung out with Mickey at the bar. Harold bought them passes so they could enjoy the club for a few hours.
“Well Max, what do you think? Was it worth it?” asked Harold.
“Whaddya mean?” asked Max.
“Well, you didn’t want to come down here. Too risky you said. Was it worth the risk?”
“Hell yes it was worth it,” said Max. “Changed my life.”
“How do you mean?” asked Harold.
Before he could answer Max stopped cold in his tracks.
“Shit! Look at that.”
Harold looked up. The two boys who had tried to rob them were on the beach heading in their direction. They had some friends with them. They were too close for Harold and Max to make an escape.
“We might take the two of them but we couldn’t take the rest,:” said Max. “I don’t see any guns but they look like they mean business.”
Max and Harold waited. They prepared for a fight but the boys suddenly turned and ran in the opposite direction.
“I guess we look like a couple of fierce sons a bitches,” said Max. “Can you believe that?”
“Not exactly,” laughed Harold. “Look behind us.”
Ruel, Mickey and a couple of the resort guards were running toward them. The guards kept on running but Ruel and Mickey held up. Four other guards were on the far side of the boys charging them from the other direction.
“Are we just lucky or what?” Harold asked Ruel.
“I know dem bwoys soon as you told me your story. Deh been makin’ trouble round here but dis time deh gonna have di own trouble.”
They walked back up to the bar. Mickey’s shift was over so he had a drink with them.
Harold invited Lisa, Jennie and Ruel to stay for dinner but they declined. They had a long drive home. They agreed to meet up again when Ruel came to visit Lisa in California.
“We will give you a tour of our little piece of paradise,” said Harold.
It wasn’t quite dark. Harold and Max had to leave the next day. Harold wanted to walk along the beach one last time.
“Beaches are over rated,” said Max. “You go ahead. I’ll stay here and talk with Mickey. See you in the morning.”
When Harold walked along the beach alone he thought about his wife. He missed her. They’d had some great years but they’d never traveled as far from home as he had now. For all she’d done for him, he regretted he’d not done more for her. God knows she deserved it. He was surprised that he even missed the sawmill, a place where he spent more of his time than anywhere else, more than with his family or with his friends or even with his hobbies. What hobbies, he had none. And what good had it done him, working himself to death? It doesn’t matter how you go, when you’re dead, you’re dead. What matters is how you live and he was afraid that he’d not chosen wisely. He couldn’t change the past but he wasn’t dead yet and he could change the future. And that he vowed to do. He’d learned something on this trip. He could have learned it long ago if he’d just put his mind to it. People are the same everywhere, the same sorrows, the same joys. The rich, the poor, they all have their worries, their pain, their needs. Harold thought Ruel put it as clearly as it could be put. “This is what bar is all about. A man come a the bar and get himself relax. If the bar have some entertainment, them enjoy it. The bar is good for stressful people who come along. You have all type a people come to the bar and have a drink, it all boil down to how deh run di bar, an here deh run it good.” That’s it. It all comes down to how you run the bar, how you live your life.
When Harold walked back to the room to go to bed he heard what he thought was a man’s voice coming from Max’s room. Poor Max, he must be talking to himself, thought Harold. He’s probably drunk again, poor guy. Oh well, I’ll leave him alone and he’ll be good in the morning.
The next morning when Harold took his suitcase out to the bus Max wasn’t there. He wasn’t in his room either. He finally found Max at the front desk.
“Hey, what’s up Max? The bus is about to leave.”
“Morning Harold. There’s something I’ve got to tell you. “I’m staying for another week,” said Max.
“What?” said Harold.
“Mickey and I have a few things to work out,” said Max with a peculiar look on his face, a look of confusion, embarrassment, surprise. “Don’t tell any of the guys back home about this. You promise? I’ll work it out and you’ll hear from me soon. Maybe.”
“Maybe?” said Harold who was shocked at the news.
“This one’s an insurrection, Harold. Not a protest,” said Max and he walked away without looking back.