Promptly at 2:00 PM Gary walked into Walton’s. Beez was already sitting at the counter.
“Right on time,” Beez said looking at his watch. A chocolate Coke sat next to him. “Have a seat. I just ordered your drink.”
“You got here early,” Gary said sliding onto his seat.
“Always be a little early,” Beez said. “If just a moment too late that’s a moment that can’t be recovered. Keep that in mind.”
Beez pulled a couple of snapshots from his jacket pocket and slid them in front of Gary. “Well that’s me on a ship and that’s Antarctica in the background.”
Gary looked with wonderment. “For real?”
“Yep,” Beez said. “That’s Antarctica.” He pulled another photo out and handed it to Gary. “That’s me, of course, but do you know what mountain that is behind me?”
“No,” Gary said.
“It’s in Africa,” Beez said. “It’s Kilimanjaro. Have you ever heard of it?”
“I think so,” Gary said.
“Well here’s something else for you,” Beez said reaching into the side pocket of his jacket. “It’s a book my Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”
“Thanks,” Gary said. “I’ll read it right away. And you’ve been there?”
Beez smiled kindly. “Yes, I’ve been there.”
“Is that why you went there because you read the book?” Gary said.
“Precisely,” Beez said. “When you are curious about something, you try it; decide later whether it’s for you or not. I can tell you like to try new things. You have adventure in your eyes.”
“How can you know?” Gary said.
“I’ve been coming in here for a long time and never seen you here before,” Beez said. “Either you are new in town, which I doubt, or you decided to try this place out.”
“Well kinda,” Gary said.
“Than what brings you kinda here?” Beez said.
Gary moved closer to Beez. “Don’t make fun of me, promise.”
“Never,” Beez said. “I feel we’re already friends, friends don’t do such things. Friends share things without fear of reprisal or being made fun of.”
In nearly a whisper Gary said, “Old Black Maggie.”
“Old Black Maggie,” Beez said seriously.
“I think she’s following me,” Gary said.
“What makes you think that?” Beez said.
“I followed her home one day,” Gary said. “I thought she didn’t know she was being followed, but people say she has a sixth sense about things like that. She’s evil.”
“Evil, she is,” Beez said. “Never cross her path. Avoid her at all cost.”
“She came into Russell’s Market one day and I she was short of money for cat food and I paid the rest,” Gary said. “I think she knew where I lived and knew I’d be in the store at that time. I think she wanted to see me close up. Sometimes I feel she’s looking at me and she’s nowhere to be seen.”
“I have had dealings with her over the years,” Beez said. “She’s evil and stay far from her.”
“You don’t have to worry about that,” Gary said.
“I was right about you all along,” Beez said.
“How’s that?” Gary said.
“You like adventure,” Beez said. “Why else would you follow Old Black Maggie to her place. You’re not afraid to try anything.”
They talked a little longer. Beez left in his Austin-Healy.
Gary took The Snows of Kilimanjaro home and read it in three days.