The Legend of Ron Añejo
Ron Añejo loves his carefree lifestyle in the Caribbean, cruising from one dodgy job to the next in his barely-seaworthy boat. It takes chutzpah and more than a little optimism — when your strongest skill is managing to get by, legal work can be hard to come by, even if you actually had a work permit. And who can bother? More
Ron Añejo loves his carefree lifestyle in the Caribbean, cruising from one dodgy job to the next in his barely-seaworthy boat. It takes chutzpah and more than a little optimism — when your strongest skill is managing to get by, legal work can be hard to come by, even if you actually had a work permit. And who can bother?
~~~~~ Excerpt ~~~~~
The day Ron Añejo bought his boat, the day he took possession of it, actually, got hot early. He'd lived in the West Indies a long time, so he was used to the tropical sun; his skin was leathery from it. Most days near the equator were hot and so he no longer paid much attention to hot days. You couldn't. But on that day, the air sat still over the small island of Kayakoo, the trade winds left it alone for a time. As soon as the sun came up, it started making an invisible and stiflingly hot blanket that lay across both the island and the boats that lay at anchor in Toenail Bay.
Although we didn't know it yet, as it burned down through the clear morning sky, the sun had begun to heat the decks of Ron's boat, raising the temperature of the air inside until the garbage that was piled up in the engine room started to cook.
"There's no rush," Ron told me the day before. He was talking about going to check out the boat, you see. I had promised to help take a look-see, as Ron doesn't know much about mechanics and electrical things. He does know hulls, though. "Come by when you get up and Doris will fix us a good breakfast. We'll need it, because we have a full day of work ahead of us." The idea of a free breakfast that I didn't even have to cook sounded great to me, and Doris is a good cook, so it was sometime around eight when I made my way to Ron's for a leisurely breakfast. "We need to go see Gritty," he told me over a second cup of coffee.
This was bad news. I had been enjoying the job Ron had gotten me with the boatyard. It amazed me that I'd been working there for nearly a year now. Even so, Gritty still intimidated me. I liked her well enough, but she was a tough boss — you have to be to make any kind of business work in the islands, I suppose — and I didn't like the idea of springing this kind of thing on her. "I thought you said you'd arranged things with her."
"Not yet. As slow as things are, it shouldn't be any problem, though. We can run over there now." Normally we would've been at the boatyard by seven-thirty, so I felt a bit like a school kid who had overslept when we walked along the rocky beach around the bay to the small boatyard that sat on the south side of Toenail Bay, about a quarter of a mile from Ron's place.
Ron's plan, if you could call it that, was to ask for a couple of days off for both of us. "I want to check out my new boat," he told the yard manager when we caught up with her down by the water's edge. Gritty is a tall woman, real thin, and Swedish. In short, she isn't your normal island boatyard person. She stood looking at the railway instead of at Ron (I considered this a bad omen), chain-smoking her cigarettes. The railway is just a short bit of track that leads from the boatyard into the water. A cradle runs on it, driven by a cable. When it is working, they use it to haul out the fishing boats, big charter boats from St. Voracious, and a few yachts brave enough to haul out here for island-quality work.
At the moment the railway was, as they say on the island, "bust!" The cable had broken and been mended far too many times and Gritty was impatiently waiting for a brand new, second-hand cable to arrive from Trinidad, or some such place.
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