After the meal Rich and Miguel cleaned up.
As they did the dishes in the galley Rich asked, “Does your uncle have children?”
“Four,” Miguel said.
“How does he treat them?” Rich said.
“He yells at them,” Miguel said. “but he beats me.”
“Did your father and uncle get along?” Rich said.
“My father would not tolerate my uncle,” Miguel said. “My father, older. He owned the fishing boat they worked on. Many times my father kicked him off the boat. Always took him back, because of his family. I will tell you something that I tell no one. My father drowned at sea. I heard my uncle privately say to his wife he could have saved my father. Someday, I will drown my uncle; I swear.”
“Will that bring your father back?” Rich said.
“Nothing will bring my father back,” Miguel said. “But when I see him in heaven, he will thank me.”
“Do you think a man who gave his brother many chances would thank you?” Rich said. “Your father sounds like a good and honorable man, what do you think a good and honorable man might do, and just as important what do you think your uncle would do?”
They continued the clean up in silence.
They climbed up the companionway and sat in the cockpit after the cleanup. Rich listened as Miguel told him about his father.
After he had told him many things about his father, Miguel said, “You don’t know my father, but you tried to tell me something about him.”
“I see you, I see your father,” Rich said. “You come to help a stranger. You make me feel welcomed in a foreign place. You help me carry my provisions. And you refuse pay. You smile, though facing adversity. I know your father, better than you think.”
“You tried to tell me I could treat my uncle the way he treats others or by like my father, right?” Miguel said.
“That’s the way I see it,” Rich said. “Do you know what a legacy is?”
“Yes,” Miguel said.
“It is up to you,” Rich said. “Your uncle’s or your father’s legacy.”
“I will never forget your words,” Miguel said.
Miguel quickly looked up at the mid-afternoon sun. He stood. “I must go now.”
“I have a question for you, Miguel,” Rich said.
“I will try my best to answer,” Miguel said.
“Why do you stay with your uncle?” Rich said.
“When I am an adult the fishing boat becomes mine,” Miguel said. “That is my father’s boat. It is his gift to me and I can’t refuse my father’s gift. He worked hard for that boat. That too is his legacy.”
“I say this not to frighten you, Miguel,” Rich said. “I say it because of my concern; what if you should die before the boat becomes yours?”
Miguel paused and nodded slowly. “I see, it becomes my uncle’s.”
“Do you have any relatives on the mainland?” Rich said.
“No,” Miguel said. “It was just my father and my uncle.”
“Don’t you have grandparents?” Rich said.
“My mother and father were orphans,” Miguel said. “They met in the orphanage.”
“Is there anyone on the island who will take you in?” Rich said.
“No,” Miguel said. “my uncle will not allow anyone and they are all afraid of him.”
“Except for me,” Rich said.
“And you should be,” Miguel said. “I must leave now.”
Rich sat motionless with an avalanche of ideas in his head.
“Sure, Miguel,” Rich said. “but if your uncle does anything to you, come to my boat.”
“You will be gone tomorrow. Have a safe journey, my friend,” Miguel said. “Do not worry about Miguel.”
“Thank you, my young friend,” Rich said. “Always remember your father and how he might do things; that’s his only legacy. Boats rot and sink. Legacies outlive boats.”
Miguel smiled and stepped from The Odyssey.
Rich watched him walk to the end of the dock and onto the dirt street. “He will not live to be an adult.”