The Boundary: Sunday Steaks

Posted 11/17/2009 by Editor in Labels: , , , , ,

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On a little island in the Caribbean, a young couple goes to sleep tonight with a precious two year old and a story of a broken heart. This is their story and how a young intern was wrapped into the plot.

After a few weeks of my internship and a few Friday night drink-ups at the shop, one of the guys said we should head out to one of the ex-pat bars over on the south side to investigate the nightlife and force me out of my apartment to meet some ladies so I could "get lucky." I appreciated his efforts and joined him that night.

After an hour of struggling to call a taxi to pick me up and a $20 cab ride for 2 miles (still bitter 4 years later), I arrived at Aqua a bit too early. An MMA fight was on the bar TV and roided out guys were screaming at the screens with the passion of Rocky. I ordered my Carib and waited for my buddy. Two Caribs and a rum and coke later, my coworker arrived drink in hand and smile on his face.

He buys me another rum and coke and we find a place on the wood paneled bar to watch the MMA fight for a second time. Shop-talk follows, with discussion of the GPS work we've done and diving on the island. Nothing social lubrication would facilitate. After finishing another round, we head to the tiki patio outside and he notices a lady in his periphery. He looks at me and said, "I'll be right back." He slid his hands into his khaki pockets and moseyed over to the women.

After striking up a conversation and getting her number he came back. Hands now out of his pockets he looked at me and said, "Sometimes I like to push the limits." I stared at him blankly and waited for a follow up. I could tell there had been an internal dialogue raging in his head and I was catching the tail end. "Would you think less of me if I took off my ring?"

All I could think about was his wife who had just fixed the perfect gnocchi two nights before, how she had just decided to take a ladies trip over to Cuba, and how she seemed like the most loving person I had ever met. To my dismay I found myself shrugging my shoulders and showing no disapproval. He wrestled and twisted the ring off and slipped it into his cargo pant pocket. He led the charge to the next bar.

We arrived at Boca de something, a more urban dance club that further illuminated his subtle Hawaiian shirt. He handed me two more beers and agreed we would head out in an hour. I danced; lazily. We met some people from an accounting firm and I struck up a conversation about the world cup and became engrossed in the island's obsession with its mother, Britain. After 30 minutes of intense dialogue, I see my friend on the couch talking with this same jet black haired lady from Aqua. It appears harmless and its not my responsibility to babysit this 30 year old man. Right? I reenter the conversation with my disappointment in the fall of Real Madrid despite a Yankee scale payroll.

The hour or so flies bye and closing time nears. I take a lap around the bar looking for my ringless friend and decide to take one last pass at the bathroom. After relieving my self, I found my accountant acquaintances. I tell them that my ride is nowhere to be found and I think he may have slipped out with his lady friend. They offer me a ride back to their place for an after party. Not seeing a better alternative, I agreed and hopped in the back seat. Inevitably, my friend was the topic of discussion but their disappointment was not in how he may have left with someone else but how I got shafted with finding a way home. Everyone has a beer or two more and then someone says their heading by my place and would drop me off on their way.

I wake up the next morning and put many of the pieces together from the previous night while watching the morning matches of the World Cup and look forward to the US actually making a decent showing later in the afternoon. Around noon I get a call from my M.I.A friend and he wants me to come over to watch the game and have some steaks. After 3 weeks of living off of hot dogs and ham sandwiches, I jumped at the opportunity. I hopped on my bike and rode the 5 miles to the other side of the island just in time for kickoff. Potatoes, steak and even a salad were waiting for me on the coffee table with Landon and crew on the TV.

We chat about the US's chances. I didn't bring up the night before and it didn't come up during the match. Both of us devoured the steak and set back in the glory of gluttony. We moved to the back porch; he handed me a Miller Lite. The back patio looked onto the waterway and we just sat for a few minutes. Amidst the silence, my mind was replaying the two sitting there on the couch and how they were lost in the blur of the night.

"Crazy night," he sputtered. I nodded. While still seated, he began shuffling his feet on the concrete, like a self conscious child in the spot light. He hinted that he wanted to tell me something. "I haven't even told my brother this." I knew it was coming. Transitioned mumbling followed until, "I cheated on [my wife] for the first time last night."

I continued my steady, rhythmic nodding and silence. He pulled out his pack of cigarettes; the ones that he had sad were his last for the past 2 days. He lit and took a long draw, leaning back in his chair and looking over the waterway. He didn't look stressed. But for that matter, I'd never seen him stressed even when we were in a tropical storm aboard a tiny john boat, he was perfectly in control. Silence fell and he asked me what he should do. At the time, only 19, was perplexed at what insight I could offer. More silence. He vowed to give up alcohol, and the remainder 2 months on the island, he did not drink. All I could get out was jumbled advice about honesty, love, forgiveness; all things I think I had learned from wasted days watching Lifetime.

We shook hands, he thanked me for listening and I departed.

It was the slowest bike ride of my life. Reflecting, taking in the fact that only my buddy, the jet black haired girl, and I knew that he violated what I felt was the most sacred vow was tearing me up. That son of a bitch. He could not blame this on alcohol. He took his ring off after 1 beer. He followed the girl to the club. He had one intention. With the sea on my right, the disappointment in humanity fell over me. I had utmost faith in good men. Maybe he was hoping that I had stepped in the previous night. Gave him a nudge from the angel on the left shoulder or not stared blankly at him when he took the ring off.

After making the journey home, I finished a bottle of Appleton’s and passed out to replays of the US losing. I had high hopes.

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