Rich prepared a meal of canned corned beef hash, eggs, and buttered bread. They dined in the cabin as The Odyssey held a steady course on her own.
“That was a fine meal,” Salty said. “Maybe one of the best meals I’ve ever had.”
“In other words you want me to do the cooking from here on out,” Rich said.
“Well – well that too,” Salty said. “You see – I burn a lot of stuff.”
“I don’t mind,” Rich said. “If I was alone I’d have to cook for myself, it’s nothing to make a little more.”
“I stowed some extra grub in my gear,” Salty said.
“I got plenty,” Rich said, “but if there’s something you want from your supply just let me know.”
“I’m kiddin’ about the cookin’,” Salty said, “I’ll pull my weight.”
“There’s something more I should tell you about me,” Rich said. “It has nothing to do with the situation back in Rockland. Once you hear it you may want to think again about swimming back the Monhegan.”
“Over the years I’ve worked with thieves, rapists, lazies, and every other despicable vermin you can think of.” Salty paused and thought. “You ain’t a serial killer are you?”
“No,” Rich said, “but I should tell you everything.”
“You don’t have to,” Salty said. “All I know of you is good and that’s enough.”
“I should tell you,” Rich said and went on to tell of his roots from northwest Ohio and how he came to Rockland.
“My goodness, mate,” Salty said. “You’ve crammed a couple of lifetimes into your young life and you got a lot left. You got to settle someplace.”
“That looks impossible for a while,” Rich said. “Sam and Smithson, and Stafford know everything about me. I trusted them just as I have trusted you.”
“You got to read people better,” Salty said.
“Yeah,” Rich said, “It seems like every step of the way I’ve trusted people.”
“Nothing wrong with trustin’,” Salty said. “The problem is not trustin’ yourself. When doubt comes from within you’re too eager to look elsewhere for trust. Sometimes you trust the closest thing to you when you need only to look at yourself or further away. Sometimes people get close to you for no other reason than to use you.”
It was silent. Rich washed the dishes and cleaned up the galley.
He sat across the table from Salty. “I got a deck of cards,” Rich said. “You ever play hearts?”
“Sure,” Salty said.
They played hearts until well past dark. Eventually Salty’s eyes batted slowly and he declared himself ready for bed.
“The Odyssey is yours for the night,” Salty said.
Rich sailed through the night. He felt safe. He thought about the dramatic episodes in his life and concluded trust was the basis for success or failure. “Trust is everything. The word comes from true. Salty said my work was true. I told him my story was true. If one part of this ship is not true we could sink. Truth has to be the greatest of virtues.”