I realized the music was coming from our Intrepid, Russ’ choice I concluded. Fileted Tuna spread across a wooden picnic table with soy sauce and wasabi. The smell of burgers soured the salubrious air. I munched wasabi drenched Tuna, numbing my senses with an intense burn. Inhaling the brief pain, I turned towards Russ arranging hamburgers on the public grill, “So do you always fish and boat in cowboy boots?”
“No Ma’am,” his grinned widened. “Just for my flight here. I brought shorts and flip-flops for the rest of the trip, but I’m always prepared for a rodeo.”
“We definitely have some sort of goat rodeo going on. Maybe a little different from what you’re used to.”
He snickered and shook the ice against his otherwise empty glass. “It’s all good. Hell, we’re in Paradise.” Handing me his glass, “Would you mind getting me a rum and coke, some buns…and all the burger fixings?”
“Sure.” I walked off, past the cloud of smoke encircling the Hillbilly Express, returning with a few drinks, a soy burger wrapped in foil, and all the accoutrements. I threw my foiled veggie burger on the crowded grill. Yoda was patiently sitting next to Russ, her nose wiggling at the meaty environment.
“What’s that?” Russ asked.
“A soy burger,” I nonchalantly answered. “I’m a pescatarian. I don’t eat any meat except fish.”
He shook his head, “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
“Well now you have,” I smiled widely.
It was happy-hour on the dock with newfound friends meandering by, swooping up sushi and burgers, like the pelicans I’d watched earlier. Yoda ate every scrap hitting the ground, spotting an airborne crumb as if a missile-launch, occasionally snapping at a fly. Small talk buzzed around the now tropical storm brewing in the Caribbean and the deadly oil spill. Apparently, this storm at the end of May was one of the earliest ones on record. I kept my mouth zipped about our friends oil spill involvement, most fishermen were very environmentally conscious and although the Kramers had nothing to do with the tragedy, just being associated with such a disaster was a conviction. The oil was already harming fish and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, not to mention the long-term effect on the ecosystem. The Kramers just provided the insurance, they weren’t responsible for the explosion or its aftermath. But I’d learned the hard way as a junior archaeologist that most people can’t detach or comprehend associations when dealing with environmental issues. I was hired to help excavate one of the last remaining wetlands in Los Angeles County. Protesters would show up every day and spit at me as I entered the site. I wasn’t developing the area, but I was sure as hell going to save and preserve any artifacts discovered. Sometimes you just can’t fight ignorance, development and strong, yet faulty beliefs. To top it off, I rollerbladed to work the wetlands while the protesters parked their SUV’s on the grass lot.
Glancing at Russ and Luke chatting with the Davy Jones family, I grinned knowing I didn’t have to watch the news while in the Bahamas. After all we didn’t have electricity for the rest of our trip except when docked at night, and then we were too busy drinking.
Russ winked at me. “So pescatarian, do you play the hook game or pool?”
I tilted my head realizing I had a winker, and a bit thrown off by a hook game. “I play pool and I’ve heard of Captain Hook, any relation?”
He cracked a smile, “Let’s go play in the yacht club.”
Russ took the lead as a gaggle followed, including Yoda and a stray yellow lab. Luke and his buddies lingered at the bar, passing the two of us cocktails: rum with coke and a white wine spritzer. Cowboy held a silver circle in his hand attached to plastic fishing line. The object of the game was to throw the circle onto the hook attached to the wall. He tossed the swinging line ten times, hooking two of them in the process and then handed me the dangling circle the size of my wrist. I flung it too aggressively and it bounced off the wall three times.
“Easy,” he said. “Like your hitching a tame horse, not a mustang.”
Okay, not sure what that means, but I threw a mellower version, only bouncing the hook off the wall once. It still swung wildly and I was nowhere close to hitting the target. I played with my footing and focused on the task at hand, finally getting the circle to catch within ten throws. I threw my hands in the air and jumped up and down. “Yeah.”
“That’s better,” he gloated as a successful teacher. “A rematch?”
“Hell yeah. I got this.”
He rolled his eyes and started the challenge. He championed three hooks within ten shots, grinning with a knowing win, and then handed me the ring, “You’re turn.”
I studied the angles and found my sweet spot. Concentrating on the target, I hit the hook on my first throw, and then the third. Four and five was a miss but then I mastered six, seven and nine. I felt like Duane Wade on his best night. I waved my hands in the air and turned towards Russ. “I got this,” I rejoiced and added, “Do you want a rematch or a pool tournament?”
“I think you may be a pool shark, but let’s give it a go,” he said wryly.
Luke and Jeff stepped up to the hook game and Russ barely beat me at two games of pool. I somehow accidently pocketed the eight ball by not paying attention to the task, forfeiting one of the games. I was more into the Bahamian music leading my feet and mind to sway with the beat. Jenny joined us, and hit a few of my striped balls. We danced around the billiard table like courting Blue-footed Boobies.