Foundation Work, Episode 16, Odysseys in Paradise

After breakfast Rich walked back to the store. He brought along a backpack and filled it with more food supplies.

The woman at the counter stuffed the items in the backpack as she tallied them on a mechanical cash register.

“Do you know the boy who was with me yesterday?” Rich asked.

“Yes, Miguel,” she said. “terrible story; both mother and father dead.”

“Who looks after him?” Rich asked.

“Ramos, his uncle,” she said.

“Is Ramos good to Miguel or bad,” Rich said. “If he is bad, tell me he is good. That way you will never have to lie.”

“You already know about Ramos?” She said.

“Some,” Rich said.

“He is very good to Miguel,” she said.

“You are a good woman,” Rich said.

“If I were good, there would be more that I would do,” she said.

“You have done more than you will ever know,” Rich said. He paid her and slung the backpack over his shoulders. “Will you do me a favor, please?”

“I will try,” she said.

“Set aside some boy’s clothing,” Rich said. “Make sure you have a good seaman’s jacket, shoes, two sets of cloths, and some underwear. I think you know about what size. I will be back later to pay for them.”

“You are going to do a good thing,” the woman said.

Rich took the supplies back to The Odyssey and returned to the store. The clothing items were ready. Rich paid the woman double the price and returned to the boat.

Rich returned to the village with two beers to where he saw a man working on the foundation of a house.

“Is this your house,” Rich said.

“It belongs to my mother,” the man said.

“It is a good thing you do for her,” Rich said. “Your mother has a good son.”

“He is a son who knows what to talk about and what not to talk about,” the man said.

“You have talked to the woman at the store,” Rich said.

“She is my cousin,” the man said.

Rich laughed. “In this town, probably everybody is your cousin.”

The man smiled. “Are you going to drink those beers yourself or share with me?”

“You looked to me like a man who could use some refreshment,” Rich said. “It is hard work.”

“If you want a man to talk, beer is a start,” the man smiled wryly. “My cousin said you are a good man who will be discrete.”

Rich pulled a knife from his pocket and used the opener to open the beers. He handed the foaming bottle of beer to the man.

“Does Ramos hurt the boy?” Rich said.

The man took a swig from the foaming bottle. “This is maybe the best beer I had – today.”

Rich took a swig also. “That is good beer. Have you ever had a bad beer. It is just that some are better than others.”

A smile of pleasure disappeared into a serious frown. “Yes, he hurts the boy. I suppose you think we are cowards, but we have reported it to the authorities and they do nothing. The Navy comes once, sometimes twice a month, but they say it is a civilian matter. You see, Ramos is not alone, he has two or three friends.”

“Miguel tells me the boat is his when he becomes an adult,” Rich said.

“Holy Mary!” the man said and hoisted another swig. “I did not know that. The boy will not live that long; Ramos will see to that.”

“A man, a good man, named Eduardo, said he would raise the boy,” the man said. “Ramos said it would bring dishonor on him and would kill to preserve his honor. The truth is, Ramos has no honor.”

Rich helped the man finish placing rocks under the house to repair the foundation.

They finished the beers while speaking about good foundations.

“Thank you for the help and beer, my friend,” the man said.

“Thank you for the good talk and allowing me to work alongside you,” Rich said. “You work next to a good man and it can’t help but make you a better man.”

“You are gracious with you words,” the man said.

“Can you point to the house of Ramos,” Rich said.

“The second road up the hill and to the left,” the man said. “His house is green. The small room on the side used to have goats in it. That is where Miguel sleeps.”

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