Rich walked back to The Odyssey. He climbed below. He reached deep into the counter below the galley sink and grabbed hold of the pistol. He made sure it was loaded and ready for use.
“If I must have a gun to prove I’m not afraid of Ramos,” Rich thought, “than I really am afraid of him. What would Miguel’s father do? Teach him to stand.”
Rich placed the pistol back under the sink and headed toward Ramos’ house.
Rich thought about the time he cowered from Red Basinger three years earlier while Red slapped his son. “I was afraid of him, but now I am more mature. I will stare Ramos in the eyes and not flinch. My dad told me a headbutt to the nose will stop any man. It will break his nose and leave him vulnerable to a kick in the groin and hit him in the throat. Some fights are to prove manhood others are to save your life. I know what this fight will be.”
“Dear God, just give me courage and let Ramos know I will not back away. Let him know I am not afraid and please let me show no signs of fear.”
Twilight cast its shadow over the village and a dim glow of light came from a widow of Ramos’ house.
Rich stood in the middle of the street. “Miguel, Miguel, come on out, it is Rich.”
The door to the small room attached to Ramos’ house slowly opened and Miguel took two steps forward.
The door of the house swung open. A man with a bare barrel chest appeared at the door. He had a heavy week-long beard and unruly black hair. “Who are you?” He said contemptibly.
Rich walked from the middle of the street to about ten feet from Ramos. “My name is Rich Larsen. I come to take Miguel.”
“Miguel is my nephew,” Ramos said. “He is mine.”
“He lives in a goat shed like an animal and pigs eat better,” Rich said.
“You have come against the wrong man, you spineless jellyfish,” Ramos said.
Ramos approached within an arm’s reach of Rich. Rich smelled fish on his breath.
“The boy is going fishing with me tomorrow,” Ramos said.
“Miguel is leaving with me tonight,” Rich said.
“Are you the man from the sailboat?” Ramos said.
Rich said nothing.
“You will crawl back to your boat when I’m done with you,” Ramos said and moved closer.
Rich gauged and aimed his forehead straight into Ramos nose. He thought, “A short jerk is all it will take. He has no time to react.”
Rich felt the energy gather for the headbutt.
Ramos took a step back.
“Come on, Miguel,” Rich said, “let’s go to my boat.”
Miguel slowly walked toward the road leading to The Odyssey.
Rich stood and stared at Ramos.
“Take him,” Ramos said. “He is worth nothing to me.”
Rich remained standing there until Ramos disappeared behind the door of his house.
Rich’s walk back to The Odyssey was as calm a walk as he ever experienced.
Miguel sat against the piling of the dock and Zeke laid at his side. Zeke sprung to his feet and ran to Rich before he set foot on the dock.
Miguel waited for Rich. He looked at him curiously. “Did he hurt you?”
“He walked back into the house,” Rich said.
Miguel smiled. “He is afraid of you.”
“What Ramos was afraid of was what he did not know,” Rich said. “He was not afraid of me. He was afraid of what he did not know about me. A man like Ramos could not risk being beat by a skinny kid.”
“Now, I have no place to go,” Miguel said.
“Speaking of the unknown,” Rich said, “if you wish to go with me, you can go with me as long as you wish.”
“I can’t stay here,” Miguel said.
“Go aboard,” Rich said. “Stay with me. I’ll stay here a couple more days. Think about what you want to do, but I want you to come with me. I don’t want to leave you here.”
They climbed onto The Odyssey and went below. Rich showed Miguel the clothes. He refused to wear them until he showered.
They fit a little large and Rich told him he would grow into them. However, they were not as large as his previous clothes.
“That is a seaman’s jacket,” Miguel said. “Is that for me also?”
“If you go with me, the nights can be cold,” Rich said. “I will soon be in warm waters, but my course may change and I want you prepared.”
“You really want me to come,” Miguel said.
“Not so long ago, I was faced with such a decision,” Rich said.
“What did you decide?” Miguel said.
“I decided to leave,” Rich said.
“Do you regret it?” Miguel said.
“The last few months I began having some regrets,” Rich said, “but if I would not have left, I would not be here now. I have no regrets.”