Rich’s first night in Pago Pago he visited the bar where Ham bounced.
The place was called The Tiki Bar. It had a Polynesian motif with palms and bamboo decorations. Local young ladies waited tables. A four-piece band featuring a Hawaiian steel guitar played in the corner.
Rich nodded at Ham, who stood just inside the entrance.
Rich walked to the only open stool at the bar.
The bartender said, “I’ll be right with you.”
Rich glanced at the man sitting next to him. “Major Oaks,” Rich said. “How are you tonight?”
“Fine,” Oaks said, “until now.”
“Sorry to hear that,” Rich said.
The bartender approached, “What will it be, friend?”
“I’ll have whatever you have on tap,” Rich said, “and get this gentleman whatever he’s drinking.”
“No thanks,” Oaks said to the bartender. He grabbed his drink and found a table to sit alone.
The bartender brought the beer. Rich took a large gulp and went to the table Oaks sat. Rich sat down across from him.
“You’ll have to leave,” Oaks said. “I’m waiting for friends.”
“You ain’t got no friends,” Rich said.
“And you can’t take a hint,” Oaks said. “I don’t like you and don’t want to drink with you.”
“Did you contact Caracas?” Rich said.
“I did,” Oaks said. “Now scram.”
“So you haven’t heard anything?” Rich said.
“No,” Oaks said, “and I won’t.”
“Look,” Rich said with a crooked smile, “I cleaned up a bit just for you.”
“Let’s get something straight,” Oaks said. “From the minute I saw you I figured you for a pathetic draft dodging fagot. You neither have the guts nor personal integrity to stand for anything but yourself. You tossed the word honor at me today as if it meant something to you. I’ve seen your type. I know your type. You’re all sissified, sniveling, spineless, sacks of crap. You’ll go home and daddy will make a campaign contribution to some slick politician and have you diagnosed by some quack psychiatrist from daddy’s country club, then you can go back to working on your degree in prehistorical scatology, because, as it is you don’t know crap to begin with. And by the way, I’m proud to protect and serve every festering, unappreciative, cell in your body.”
Rich stood and took a large gulp from his beer. “Have a good evening, Major Oaks.”
“It’s getting better,” Oaks said.
Rich walked back to the bar and sat his glass down. He tossed a couple dollars on the bar. “For Mr. happy times at the table.”
At the door, Rich said goodnight to Ham.
“Oaks, give you trouble?” Ham said.
“No,” Rich said, “he has a lot bottled up inside him and I helped him through some rough seas.”