Rich neared a dwelling where a bare chest man sat in the doorway.
“Good day, sir,” Rich said.
“Good day, to you,” the man said.
“Is there a store on the island where some food can be purchased?” Rich said.
“No,” the man said, “no store.”
“I’m glad you told me, that’s helpful,” Rich said. “I was going to walk around until I found a store.”
The man smiled. “Sit and talk. You have a strange sense of humor.”
“I’ve been told that before,” Rich said.
They talked the rest of the morning and Rich ate a meal with the man’s family. He helped catch and clean fish for the evening meal. That night he slept in a hammock. It rained lightly, however beneath the palms, it was as dry as the man’s home.
The man’s wife, a portly woman, awoke before the others. Rich watched her start a small fire and mix some sort of dough. She walked to a well and pumped a bucket of water. From that, she filled a kettle, tossed in some leaves, and sat it close to the flame. She formed the dough into small loaves and roasted them on the fire.
The man came outside the home and sat with his back against the dwelling. She brought a cup of liquid from the kettle to the man and a loaf of the roasted bread.
The man looked at Rich who was just removing himself from the hammock. He waved for him to come. “Tea and roti.”
Rich joined him and they talked for awhile.
“Today I plan to walk around the island,” Rich said.
“Do not get lost,” the man said.
“How can I get lost, you walk to the shore and turn left—or right,” Rich said as if the man were patronizing him.
“It is a joke,” the man said.
Rich smiled. “Good joke.”
“Our island is beautiful. Allow my son to be your guide.”
“No,” Rich said, “I’d much prefer to be alone.”
“I must insist,” the man said. “No man must come to this island and be harmed. If something should happen, my son can go for help.”
Rich reasoned there should always be suspicion when one insists on something, especially when it comes to indistinct and discretionary things like honor and reputation. Indeed, they are virtues, but virtues held by few. Rich reasoned he had run into many men, of late, with virtue; and it’s high time this might be one without.
“If I may be so blunt,” Rich said, “it seems to me as if it is a matter of trust. If there is someplace you don’t want me to go, tell me and I won’t go.”
“Go,” the man said. “Go freely.”
Rich stood the man handed him another roti. “If you get hungry.”
Rich thanked him and walked into the interior of the island. He knew a nerve had been struck with the man—trust.
The man’s son, a boy in his early teens followed, but hidden in the distant foliage. Rich found a couple trails and stayed on them. He walked up a slope and onto a flat. He heard a primitive horn blow. He looked around and saw no one. He took it as a signal. Soon he stood at the edge of a bluff overlooking the ocean to the north. He sat on a rock and ate the roti careful not to give the slightest indication of being watched. He slid down the bluff and walked along the shore knowing all along the boy watched every move.
Rich climbed up a small crevice in the bluff; one certain to be hidden from the boy. He reached the summit of a ridge overlooking the village he came from and the small inlet where The Odyssey anchored.
Two men dressed in dark clothing climbed from The Odyssey and trotted off into the palms.
“The Soviets,” Rich murmured.
He climbed back down the crevice and onto the beach in full view of the boy.