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Monday, October 20, 2008

The Day We Met - Part IV

The Day We Met - Part I
The Day We Met - Part II
The Day We Met - Part III

In case you haven't caught on yet, October is Love Story Month. Mary at Owlhaven hath put forth a challenge to write and share our love stories. I highly recommend participating. Quite fun to stroll down memory lane. I'm writing about the day that Dave and I met, from my perspective. Do start from the beginning. Links available above (in red).

Part IV

...deciding that I had had enough of my drunken compadre, I picked up my glass and headed for the table of the shoeless American.

“Mind if I share your table?” I asked as I approached the unoccupied end of his rather long table. He looked up from his book and motioned to a chair. We sat in relative darkness and silence for a few moments before he said, “So you’re trying to get to Casa Guatemala.” It was really a statement more than a question, and it struck me as an odd thing to say. Had it not been painfully obvious that I was trying to get to Casa Guatemala? Had he missed all the action during the last 20 minutes? In this tiny restaurant everyone had bore witness to my plight and subsequent failure to get a ride down the river. There was no way he could have missed it.

Yes, I explained, and I was having very little luck, although we both knew that he already knew that. But luckily, I told him, Holly had been kind enough to offer that I stay with her for the night. He nodded his approval.

Another moment of silence.

I asked where he was from.

Southern California. Newport Beach, he clarified.

“I’m from the central coast!” I reported, warming up to this fellow Californian. I had to find out more about him.

“Have you been in Guatemala long?” He told me he had been on a sailboat for the previous eight months and pointed into the darkness beyond the restaurant.

“That explains the no shoes,” I stated triumphantly.

“Not much use for shoes on a sailboat,” he retorted. He was growing on me.

Just then, Holly came over, “Oh good. You met Dave,” she said to me. He and I exchanged a little look. Dave, I thought. I love that name. I reached my hand across the table, “I’m Heather.” I sat back and listened to Dave and Holly having a conversation about a couple they both knew, each of whom owned their own sailboat. Eventually, this couple got married, and the time came for them to move onto one or the other of their boats. In the end they decided that since she was the more qualified sailor they would move onto her boat, and she would be the captain. Dave heartily supported this arrangement and mentioned that he thought more women should captain their own boats. Now he was really growing on me. The bell on the screen door jingled as a couple walked into the restaurant, and Holly excused herself to greet them.

Dave and I glanced at each other, and, suddenly, the distance between us seemed excessive. I scooted down a couple of seats towards him. He smiled, seeming to appreciate the gesture. After another moment of silence he asked out of nowhere,

“Do you cut hair?”

For a second, I considered lying and saying that I did. I recognized the crossroads we were standing at. Either, I cut hair and a door would open leading to some future encounter with this handsome, Southern California sailor, or I didn’t cut hair and that door would slam shut. Sadly, I’m a terribly liar, and I’m not much better with hair.

“I don’t,” I said. “I wish I did.”

I could almost hear the hinges creaking as the door started to shut.

But then he said, “That's OK. If you’ll cut my hair you can stay on my boat tonight, and I’ll take you to the orphanage in the morning.”

(Insert sound of door banging on the wall as it swings wide open.)

He explained to me that it really wasn’t safe to travel the river at night and that the Casa Guatemala was quite a ways down river. I studied his face for any signs of funny business. I saw nothing but sincerity, and I couldn’t help but trust him completely. He must have sensed my hesitation and said, “There’s an extra cabin on the boat. We just have to move some rigging out of it, and you can sleep there.” Now this was sounding fun. My own cabin? On a sailboat? With rigging? And a cute-as-can-be fellow American? I wondered if Holly would mind if I chose curtain number two.

I was considering my options when I noticed two figures moving in my direction. As my eyes focused in the darkness I recognized them to be the couple from Washington whom I had sat with on the bus ride from Morales. By heart sank just a little as I remembered my promise to share in the expense of a ride down river should they secure one.

“Hey! Thought that was you. We got a ride! And split three ways it’ll only be 30Q each.” They looked at me expectantly. Remember my offer to share in this expense was a solid, binding contract.

“Oh,” I tried to hide my disappointment. “Great.” I glanced at Dave who had leaned back in his chair and was pretending not to listen. He took a sip from his bottle.

“Wait a minute.” Holly walked up behind them, wiping her hands on a towel. In her restaurant everything was her business. “You guys are going to Mario’s. She’s going to the Casa Guatemala. Casa Guatemala’s clear across the river and down quite a ways. It’s way too far.”

“It’s not that far!” The drunken expatriate chimed in from his perch at the bar. Apparently, it was his business, too. “I been to the Casa Guatemala, and it’s just cross the river from Mario’s!”

“It’s not just across the river, Jerry!” Holly insisted, “It’s at least a 20 minute dinghy ride down river.”

“Nonsense!” He was starting to get a little steamed. “You could throw a rock to that orphanage from Mario’s!”

"We heard it wasn't that far. We thought the driver could drop us at Mario's and then take her to the orphanage." The couple from Washington had their sights on my 30Q, and they weren't going to let me off the hook that easily.

As the conversation continued, I became more and more embarrassed that such a hearty debate had ensued on my behalf. I could feel my cheeks turning a deep shade of crimson. Mercifully, with only candles lighting the little restaurant, I don't think anyone noticed. I was dumbfounded that these people, virtual strangers to me, all seemed to have such a vested interest in determining the outcome of my evening.

And I was panicked.

It seemed to be out of my control at this point, but I no longer wanted to get to the orphanage. I wanted to stay with Dave and spend the night amongst his rigging. The orphanage could wait until the morning. But after the desperation I had displayed in needing a ride down river and the promise I had made to the Washington couple, how could I renege? Imagine me saying, “Silly me. Did I say I needed to get to the orphanage? No, no. Never mind. You guys go ahead. I got a better offer.” Couldn't happen. Not without serious loss of face. I was in a bind. And it seemed that my fate was in the hands of either Jerry or Holly.

If it was determined that Jerry was right, and the orphanage was indeed close to Mario’s, I would be obligated to share a ride with the couple from Washington. If the consensus was that Holly was right, and the orphanage was too far from Mario’s, then I could, in good conscience, stay with Dave. I sat in agony as the debate continued on for another five minutes, until finally Holly said, “Let’s ask Dave. He’s sailed this river a dozen times. He knows.”

All eyes turned to him, including mine.

Until then, Dave had been perfectly quiet, sitting back in his chair, occasionally sipping his beer and waiting patiently as my fate was haphazardly passed around that restaurant like a bottle of Captain Morgan's. Yo Ho!

He leaned forward in his chair and placed his empty bottle on the table. He turned and looked at me. Our eyes met. I knew, in that moment, that he held the fate of my life in his hands. I got the sense that he knew it, too. And after what seemed like an eternity, he finally turned to Holly and said the sweetest words I have ever heard,

“It’s really…really far.”

And just like that my fate was sealed. Our fate was sealed.

The couple from Washington went on to Mario’s without me. And shortly thereafter, Dave loaded my pack into his dinghy (the other one at the dock had been his), and we went back to the sailboat called Morgenstern.

To Be Continued...


Angie said...

Such suspense! I need to know the end already! Your kiling me. ;-)

Owlhaven said...

Oh, I lovelovelove this bit of the story. I love a take-charge guy too, esp when he is holding off the rest of the world and taking me where I want to go! lol

More, more!


TRS said...

Love it!

Good heavens... how did you know for sure he was a solid guy?

I love "It's really really far." I imagine the two of you use it as a euphamism these days! Cute!

dave.heather said...

I didn't know he was a solid guy...But, I trusted my instincts that told me he was. that point in my life, I was invincible.


dave.heather said...
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nicaudfamily said...

I had my coffee with me again and I am loving it! What will I read while sipping my coffee,when the story is over???

Jenni said...

Love it! I remember back when I was invincible too. Those were the days! ;o)

TRS said...

Ah... invincibility - that strange force that wound me up in guys' dorm rooms late at night - wondering why on earth they would possibly think I was ready to offer them my virginity. !?!?!??!

Yes, I remember youthful invincibility.
Somehow God's mighty hand got me out of those situations- albeit less than gracefully.

Jennifer said...

I have the biggest smile! This is soooo much fun! I would be so right there with you, trusting him and seeing what might happen! Yea for you!!

The Booth's said...

I knew it! I knew it! I can't wait for the next part! ;)

Wildwood Mama said...

I love the part where he looks at you and says that it's "really, really far". Great!

Suzywoozy said...
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