An Old Friend
George started the truck and steered away from his home. George, Salty, and Rich bounced away on a bumpy gravel lane toward Cordington.
Short tropical shrubs and trees dotted the way with small bands of goats nibbling on them. Hidden deep in taller trees small deer guardedly looked on. A few little donkeys nibbled on the grass near the sides of the road. A boy rode bareback on a horse pulled aside allowing the truck to pass. The boy smiled broadly and heaved a friendly wave.
“This will not be fast,” George said, “but it is better than walking or horseback.”
Rich bounced and jiggled on the bench in the bed of the truck. “I’m not so sure of that.”
Salty and George laughed.
“That’s good for young guys,” Salty said.
“You have come a long way?” George said to Salty.
“We came from Maine in the United States,” Salty said.
“Adventure, vacation…?” George said.
“My young friend and I are sailing around the world,” Salty said. “and my young friend wanted to surprise me with a visit to Barbuda. When younger I tried it alone, but I became very sick and had to leave my boat here and give up my dream.”
George slowed and looked at Salty curiously. “What was the name of your boat?”
“Kind of a funny name,” Salty said. “I named her Lonely Jacktar. I don’t think you’ll find another with that name.”
George stopped. “And Salty, of course, is not your given name?”
“No,” Salty said suspiciously.
“What is it?” George said.
“It is Abernathy Collingsworth,” Salty said.
George accelerated with a jerk. “We must see Patrick right away.”
“Is there some sort of problem?” Salty said.
“No, but we must go right now,” George said.
The speed of the truck quickened and swayed down couple of streets of humble tropical houses before coming to a dusty stop in front of a white one story house.
George quickly exited the truck. “One moment please.” He bounded to the door and pounded with the palm of his hand.
Rich hopped from the back of the truck and stood next to Salty who remained in the truck’s cab. “What is going on?”
“I don’t know,” Salty said.
“It is strange,” Rich said, “I never thought to ever ask your real name; so it’s Abernathy Collingsworth?”
“You can see why I went by Salty,” Salty said.
George continued to pound on the door until a tall slender black man with cotton white hair came to the door.
“What is it, George? You are acting like a mad man. Is everything okay?”
“It is Abernathy Collingsworth,” George said, “and he is in my truck.”
As if in a trance, the man walked past George and toward the truck. Salty slowly climbed from the truck and stepped cautiously toward the man. They stood at arms length on the pathway leading to the house for a moment. They studied each other and embraced.
“Patrick, ole friend,” Salty said, “It is you. It is so good to see you and see you well.”
“I gave up hope that you might return,” Patrick said. “I thought that you may have died.”
“Here I am,” Salty said, “and in good health. I thought I might arrive and find you had died.”
“Is this your son or grandson?” Patrick said.
“He is my very good friend,” Salty said.
Patrick hugged Rich. “It is good you are here.” He threw his arm around Salty’s shoulder and led him to the house. “Mamma, it is Abernathy, he has returned.”
An elderly lady with white hair wearing a pink flowered house dress came to the door. “Abernathy!”
“You are Penelope!” Salty said. And they met and embraced in the doorway.
“We thought you would never return,” Penelope cried, “and now you are here. Patrick get everyone together, we have to celebrate!”
The led Salty and Rich inside. They offered the best chair in the living room to Salty. Penelope pulled another chair close to Salty and insisted Rich sit also.
“George,” Patrick said. “You must take your truck and pick up my family. Bring them here. They must all meet Abernathy. Tell them Abernathy is here.”
Rich leaned close to Salty. “What is this about?”
“I don’t know,” Salty said. “I was only here for a short time and sick most of it. It seemed like most of my time was spent in a cabana just off the beach.”