The next day a Chilean Navy frigate tied-up on the other side of the dock from The Odyssey.
Many of the sailors headed to a nearby soccer field and played some of the locals. Others hiked up the steep slopes or meandered around the village, eventually finding their way to one of the only two bars.
Rich talked with a few of the enlisted sailors. They were interested in hearing about the United States. The ship was only in port long enough to let the sailors relax. They seldom stayed more than 48 hours.
It looked as if Rich might be needing another pair of deck shoes. As he walked along the road leading to the store he noticed the village men stream toward the road Ramos lived on.
Rich walked in the store and picked out a pair of canvas deck shoes and brought them to the register.
“Where are the men going?” Rich asked the woman at the register.
“It is our business,” the woman said. “but they are going to reason with Ramos.”
Rich reached in his pocket for the money.
“The shoes are free, my friend,” she said.
Rich smiled and tucked the shoes under his arm. “Much thanks, my good woman.”
“May God be with you,” she said.
“And you and your people,” Rich said.
“It will be safe for Miguel to stay,” she said.
“That is good,” Rich said. “Danger follows me. We me he might be at risk.”
Rich walked to Ramos’ house.
Nearly fifty men stood in the street outside Ramos’ house.
Ramos, his wife, and four children filed from the house with only what they could carry. They walked to the frigate at the dock followed by the village men. Rich followed the crowd. Ramos and his family marched up the gangplank without a word.
Rich walked toward The Odyssey. The man who Rich shared the beer with a couple days earlier caught up with Rich and said, “The boy can stay with my mother. He will have his own room—in the house. She will treat him as her own. But that is up to the Miguel.”
Miguel stood among the men.
“Miguel,” Rich called out.
Miguel left the crowd of men and stood in front of Rich.
These are your friends and your people,” Rich said. “If you wish to go with me, that is fine, if you wish to stay, that is fine.”
“If I stay will I have regrets?” Rich said.
Rich smiled. “You will have no regrets.”
The crew of the Chilean Navy frigate hoisted the gangplank. The frigate’s horn blasted and it slowly separated from the dock. The crowd of men silently turned away and walked back toward the village. As many passed by, Rich and Miguel expressed their thanks.
Rich and Miguel remained on the dock and watched the frigate increase speed and head to the open sea. They watched it round the huge peak on the east side of the inlet. And it was gone.
Rich placed his hand on Miguel’s shoulder. “It is time for me to go.”
“Will you ever return?” Miguel said.
“Probably not, Miguel,” Rich said, “but I will never forget you.”
“And I will never forget you,” Miguel said.
“I will tell you something, I never want you to forget,” Rich said. “You told me many things about your father and when I faced Ramos, it was your father who gave me the courage. All I could think about was what would Miguel’s father do.”
“That is strange,” Miguel said. “When I was walking to your boat, all I could think about was that’s what my father would do.”
Miguel bent down and hugged Zeke. “You are a good dog.” He stood. He hugged Rich and sobbed.
Rich wiped tears from his cheeks. “May God be with you, my friend.”
“And you,” Miguel said.
Rich stepped on The Odyssey. He smiled. “Zeke stay!”
“Zeke is your dog,” Miguel said.
“Every boy should have a dog,” Rich said. “Toss the lines before I change my mind.”
“Love Miguel as you loved me,” Rich said to Zeke.
Miguel tossed the lines and Rich started the engine. The Odyssey putted away. A half mile from shore a breeze came down from the slopes. Rich hoisted the sails and they snapped full. He looked back and waved. Miguel waved and soon he and Zeke blurred from Rich’s view.