2009. Caribbean Sea.
It was one of those days when you can be absolutely certain that nothing will happen. You may expect or hope for something, but still it’s pretty clear to you that nothing new or special will occur. At least, that’s how the day began.
Sam Walters glanced at the cover of the new book once again. It was pissing him off. Except for having half of the original plot changed, now he was staring at something that hadn’t reflected the half of the idea. And the guy next to Samuel’s ex, James Stonebrook, was definitely having fun with that girl he was hugging in the picture. Sam didn’t have a chance to see when everything slept away straight from his hands. He used to have a well-paid job he loved, a beautiful girlfriend to share his love and a gorgeous apartment in New York. Then his new novel didn’t turn out to be as great as he expected, Rachel chose a good-looking model-dude, who was cunningly smiling at him from the cover, over Sam and he simply ran out of any possible way of surviving in a Big Apple. So now he had to go back to his parent’s house in Florida, find a lousy job at the carwash and give up on writing. He risked it all and he lost it all. Simple as that. At least, that was an original plan, but Walters didn’t find any courage of leaving his hobby he thought was his fate. So he carried on printing short stories for some local magazines hoping that one day he’ll finally meet The Adventure. He hoped that one day his life will finally give him another chance.
It took him two years to recover from the break-up and to find his new self as a Southern man; and it took him another three days to go back to his pre-ego of adventure-seeker.
As the day went on, he kept sitting at the bar on a cruise-ship deck watching children playing with the clubs, Chinese tourists heading off to the shore and other old drinking man sitting next to him. He was in his early thirties, unshaved for weeks and wearing the same old shirt for as long. What possible interest could he have on a cruise stops? He went here to celebrate Christmas, to get rid of his annoyingly dogged father and to please Henry, his only left pal. After spending four days on the same deck with that guy Sam was seriously re-considering their friendship.
-So you are going to spend here all day, ha? – Henry appeared out of nowhere looking ready-to-go any second.
-And let me guess, bud, ya plannin’ of not lettin’ me to, - after abandoning his New-Yorker’s life Sam stopped giving any damn about his Southern redneck accent.
-Yup, - Henry gave him an affirmative nod, - but not exactly. You are coming with me now, we take one of those off-shore tours they offer, and you stop drinking like a horse!
-When didja turned to my mummy, man? – Sam wondered, starting to get really spunky. – I ain’t gonna move any damned where from my sit in here as long as I’ve got cold cocktails in here and those hot chicks in there… - he pointed at the group of five young sportish girls next to the pool.
-And that fabulous book with that prick at the cover, - Henry finished the sentence for a friend and patted his shoulder, - it’s been two years, dude. She ain’t coming back, Sammy.
-Two years, ha? And for two years she’s been with that “I’ve got golden panties but no balls inside” mister? He’s so gay…
-Okay, he’s gay and you stink. It’s time to let it go.
-In a sec, just let me know how a short walk through the jungle can help me out here exactly?
-You’ll see. Now get up, let’s go, the truck won’t wait there forever!
-Oh, we have a truck… - Sam expressed false excitement and gestured for another drink.
-Okay, that’s it, man! – Henry harshly pulled his friend of the chair and headed to the elevators, carrying him like a punished child. – I’m so fed up with your depression! You know what? You get up, put a smile on your drunk face and go to the damned truck. You take a tour and enjoy an every single second of it, than we come back and you may be back to your drinking business unless this little excursion brings you back to life.
-Dude, it’s people, they’re staring… - Sam gave up all of his attempts to get free and now was simple following his arm, that was all in Henry’s will now.
-Sweet, maybe that will make you act like a grown up at last and face your life! It sucks. I know that, but you have to carry on, bro! That’s what people do – we try, we screw everything around us up and we go to fix it all in time! That’s your time now. And this tour is a big friendly push up I give you.
-Shan’t we, then? – Samuel still sounded a lot less than confident but now it was clear to him at last, that his buddy is not going to leave him alone and it was a lot easier to follow his command. He got on his feet and marched towards the door out to the street, making sure the book from the counter was safely put into his backpack, that Henry smartly carried with him all the way around.
Liver stopped in a very beautiful place. Cozumel, the Western part of Mexico bordering on the Caribbean sea. The beaches were covered with white sand, the waves were high, the water was warm and the people were hospitable. On the very edge of the beach, that reached deep to the country, for about twenty feet, the jungle immediately started with the road crossing it all. Several vans full of tourists were waiting for some more to come. The natives, dressed like guides and doing their best to make their Spanish more or less English-ish, were putting all their efforts into attracting more visitors for their excursions. And there was a bright red truck with four people staying next to it. Henry stopped his searching look on that one, a happy smile appeared on his face, he found a look of the only Mexican guy next to the truck and waved him with hello. The guide, who seems to be occupied with something very serious, turned contained and quite careless as soon as he saw other Americans approaching his car.
-Hola! Hola amigos! – he hugged Henry and shook Sam’s hand with passion, - think you don’t come but hey! Here you are! - his accent was strong and it was seriously pissing Walters off, but he remembered his friend’s promise of leaving him all alone after the trip, so he simply smiled and glanced at their tour-mates.
They were American, perhaps they were even sharing the same ship, but spending all of his free time at the bar, Sam couldn’t really say. A man at his late forties, dressed like some sort of Indiana Jones was looking around with an excitement of a child. His wife, quite good-looking brunet with a map at her hands was fully captivated with the description of the following tour. And there was a girl. There’s always a girl, you know. She was about twenty years old, her hair gathered in a pony-tail, she was wearing a dark top and jeans shorts with a small camera on the belt. She was looking around as if searching for something, seemed to be a little bit confused and frustrated. But as soon as her look reached Sam, the girls’ face suddenly changed. She smiled with a welcoming nod saying “hello” with her lips only.
-So, - the guide had finished exploring his own van and seemed sort of upset now, - no place for everyone, - he explained, - I take three. Tres, si? Sorry other amigos, but small car I have… So, - a wide smile took its place back on his face, - who’s coming?
-We do! – Henry immediately reacted, sharing a victorious moment over the old man. Sam gasped for an air, murmured a curse, but still friendly patted his shoulder.
-We so do… - he hissed.
-I still think that it’s better to explore everything by yourself, I’m on it. – A man proclaimed and slowly took his way to the port exit.
-I’ll go make sure he’ll be fine, - a woman smiled to her daughter, - you know how he’s getting these times… - the girl supportively nodded, throwing a fast glance to the truck, were Sam and Henry were trying to fit in. The men were fighting for a front seat. – I think you should go on a trip, - the woman finally decided after a short hesitation. – You like that stuff. Just make sure you’ll be on board in time.
-I’m not five years old, mum, - the girl smiled, gave a short kiss to the woman and ran to the truck.
-I know that, honey… - the woman whispered following her with the warm look.
The guide now seemed to be absolutely happy. He shook woman’s hand, gave her his brightest smile and headed to his truck. As soon as he took the driver’s seat the tour became.
-Hola amigos once again, and welcome to Mexico! My name is Antonio and I’m happy to be with you today. We will make our way from over here to over there, - he pointed some spots on a map that was adjusted to the car sealing, - I will tell you all the most interesting facts about our Cozumel. Many people ask me about the name, and I say it’s Antonio, because your name the only thing that matters, you know. The tour will take us dos horas, two hours, or around so, so you will have plenty of time to get back to your ship. A beautiful ship, I must say! “Carnival” – the best cruise of all, if you ask me…Bien, we’re off to see La Casa de Incas, the most ancient place in Cozumel.
Sam put the hood from his coat on his eyes and leaned on the window. He now had “dos horas or around so” of healthy sleep. Henry was too excited with the following trip and his front seat, he officially won from his friend, to care.
-Hey! – Sam woke up because of a dull pain appearing in his right arm, - mister, will you wake up?
The girl was pushing him and seemed to be pretty tired by now. The truck had stopped, the driver and Henry were gone.
-What a hell happened around ‘ere? – Sam asked trying to focus.
The truck was parked next to the broken fence around an abandoned ticket office. There was no sign of anyone around. It was quite, only girl’s breath was interrupting the sound of jungle life around them. Sam could hear some monkeys, birds, and time after time the waves from the sea shore could be heard.
-He dumped us! – The girl explained in anger, - that son of a bitch dumped us in the middle of nowhere with a broken truck! Your friend ran after him and promised to get some help. We were driving for an hour or so… Hey, are you okay? – her face suddenly changed from being frustrated to a slightly worried one. The girl made Walters following her finger with his eyes trying to make sure that everything was alright.
-Yeah… - the man murmured, putting her hand away from his face, - you’re a doctor?
-I simply know what to do, - the girl smiled and left the car. She was staying next to it for a couple of minutes fixing something to her belt and after everything was done she nodded, assuring herself into the affair and headed off to the rainforest.
-Hey! Hey, hey, hey! – Sam jumped of the truck fighting the growing dizziness in his head and ran toward the girl, - watcha think you’re doing, Barbie?
-I paid for the tour through the jungle, I’m getting the tour through the jungle, - she answered not paying any attention to Samuel’s attempts of stopping her, - you wanna come?
-Are you insane?! – The writer couldn’t believe his ears. The idea of wondering around through the unknown territories that were not any good for the tourists seemed to be the craziest thing he ever heard, - what about Henry and that “amigo” guy? They’ll be back soon! You’re just gonna leave like that?
-Look, - she finally stopped and looked Sam straight to the eyes, - whatever I’m gonna do is my business, okay? I was just trying to be polite. Now, here’s the options we have. Antonio won’t be back, okay? Your friend, Charlie, or whatever it is, has to walk at least half an hour to get to the road with normal cars. The ship’s leaving in five hours. You can sit here all the time listening to Mexican radio and waiting to get “rescued”, than get back on board and go back to your stuff. Or you can enjoy the new country you’ll probably never get back again, kill a couple of hours in the shadowy trees and then safely get back with a bunch of stories to tell your kids. It’s all the same to me, the choice is yours. I’m coming.
It took Sam about two minutes to hesitate. There was something in his head that was saying that the only rational way was to let the crazy chick go and that he should’ve stayed and wait for Henry to come. That part of him was something that he turned to after Rachel left him. The better part, the mature one. But when he gave a glance on a girl’s beck disappearing in the jungle, an old Sam was back. This one loved adventures and was seeking it, he was writing good stories and would never waste his time sitting in a bar without a reasonable purpose for that. So he turned on the radio in a maxi volume and ran after the girl.
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