Hugo stopped welding and flipped his mask up. “Back so soon?”
“Couple of guys tried to rob me today up in the mountains west of here,” Rich said.
“I should have told you not to go west,” Hugo said.
“I got to see some beautiful scenery,” Rich said. “How has Zeke been?”
“I think he misses you,” Hugo said more interested in hearing about the robbery.
“Where is he?” Rich said.
“He’s up at the house,” Hugo said.
“I’ll take him off your hands,” Rich said. “I think I might sail out of here in the morning.”
“Where to next?” Hugo said.
“Montevideo, Buenos Aires, I don’t know,” Rich said. “Maybe some place nobody knows about.”
“You can never loose yourself,” Hugo said.
“Everybody in this place seems to be a philosopher,” Rich said.
“What?” Hugo said. “What is that?”
“A wise man,” Rich said.
“It takes a wise man to know a wise man,” Hugo said. “To a stupid man everyone is stupid except him.” Hugo laughed. “I had to say that.”
“I’m young,” Rich said. “I’ve learned a lot in a short period of time.”
“You should stick around,” Hugo said. “I will teach you how to weld. You should have a trade besides sailing.”
“Sure,” Rich said, “I can stay for a while. I have no time schedule and I’d like to learn how to weld. It may come in handy some day.”
Hugo walked over to a small refrigerator in the corner of the shop. He grabbed two bottles of beer and opened them. He handed one to Rich. “Let’s sit down and tell me about your day. I want to hear about the robbers. How did you get away from them. I bet they could not outrun my motorbike.”
Hugo brushed off a work bench. They sat on it with their backs against the wall.
Rich pulled the pistol from his jacket. “It was the bullets they worried about outrunning, not the motorbike.”
“Did you shoot them?” Hugo exclaimed and leaned away.
“No,” Rich said. “I’m not a violent man, but they had a machete. They threatened me with it. I know men who wouldn’t have hesitated to shoot them.”
“Me too,” Hugo said.
“I don’t ever want to harm anyone,” Rich said. “I want to go through my life without being responsible for anyone’s death.”
Hugo guzzled about a fourth of the bottle and sat in on a work bench. He suddenly appeared morose; as if something was said that should not have been.
“You have killed someone, haven’t you?” Rich said.
Hugo nodded almost imperceptibly. “That is why I am here. I can never go back.”
“Are you wanted by the law?” Rich said.
“No,” Hugo said. “I break a man’s neck and throw him off a cliff. But his friends and family if they find me… They don’t know where I am. They think I go to Sao Palo. If they come here, they may not even recognize me, I hope. Twenty years, a little weight and a beard. Nobody know me.”
“What happened?” Rich said.
“We just didn’t like each other,” Hugo said. “Finally one day we both had enough. Neither one was going to stop until the other was dead. That is pretty bad. We hitting and kicking. I shove him. He fall down. I grab him around the head and try to swing him around. Crack! And it was quiet. All I could hear is me breath hard like a dog. His name Pablo. Nothing. He was always angry and now he peaceful. I don’t know what to do. I drag him to edge of cliff and shove him over. I swear to god that day, never angry again. I’m glad you did not shoot those men. That was the best thing you not do.”
“Most lessons you learn are too private to share,” Rich said.
“Look who has become a wise man?” Hugo said. “What is you story?”
“I can’t tell you,” Rich said. “It is nothing I’m ashamed of, but if you knew, you may have to lie about me someday. I’d just prefer you know nothing. However, you know we are both men running from something.”
“I know it right away,” Hugo said.
“And you trusted me?” Rich said.
“I see the look in you face, I only see in the mirror,” Hugo said. “It’s like looking at a brother; same eyes, different, nose, same mouth, different ears.”
Rich stayed four more days. Hugo taught him to weld.
Rich did not inform Hugo of his leaving. As the sun tipped above the eastern horizon Rich released his lines and started the engine. He slowly moved away from the dock.
After a hundred yards he hoisted the sails. He looked back toward the dock. Hugo stood on the dock. He smiled and waved with the money in his hand. “Your money.”
Rich waved and smiled. “It is yours. Buy three motor bikes.”
As soon as rich cleared the mouth of the river the engine was cut and he steered the Beyond southeast. He sat in the bench with his legs off the deck. Zeke struggled to climb up on the bench with him. Rich reached down and hoisted Zeke onto his lap.
“Hugo has a secret,” Rich said, “but it is no secret he is a decent man.”