As I entered the bar, I noticed Admiral sitting at one of the side tables by himself. He was sipping a red merlot and reading a book. I wondered to myself how he could always look so calm and relaxed given the current state of our shared industry, charter fishing.
I mean fuel prices are through the roof. The tourists have all but stopped coming now that hurricane season is upon us. The fishing has been very poor. The loans have dried up and investors are scrambling to pull their money off the hedge fund and mortgage-backed security table. He amazes me.
I had just finished another completely defeating day of hurried exasperation. Two of my employees decided this was the perfect time to quit. My bait supplier delivered the wrong bait. How he got my order mixed up I will never know since I rarely request a change. The boat engine malfunctioned from start to finish. And to top it all off, my passengers were not only novices, I’m pretty sure that they had never fished before. I have had about enough of chasing my tail every day and feeling further behind each evening.
As I looked for a stool in the corner, wishing to hide from anyone who might recognize me and interrupt my self-pity party, Admiral looked up and waved me over. Great, now I get to hear how the greatest fisherman in our little village is mopping up the floor and how his boss’s business is booming. Oh well, maybe he will have some advice or perhaps he will offer to buy my last boat and I can go back to the States and get a job at the unemployment office. Perhaps, the bankruptcy attorney needs someone to carry filings over to the courthouse. Guess I should at least be courteous and sit with him for a minute.
“How are you, Joe,” asked Admiral?
“Well where do I start,” I replied. “My business is in the restructuring phase that we discussed the last time that I saw you. I have downsized a little bit…”
Admiral interrupted me, “Why is it that every time we talk, we talk business. Tell me about your family. Tell me about your friends. Tell me about the vacation that you would like to take.”
Just like Admiral to change the subject. He had been doing that since the first day I met him twenty-years ago. My friend, Patrick, had invited me to go over to Admiral’s house for a party that he was hosting for the village. My family had just moved to the island due to my dad’s job transfer. My dad was a boat mechanic and he had received the perfect job in the perfect place, at least that’s the way it was explained to me. I had met Patrick during my first week of school and he had befriended me. I asked my parents if I could go and they said it was okay as long as I behaved myself.
So off Patrick and I went, leaving our compact neighborhood, to climb up the hilly street that led to Admiral’s house. Admiral’s house was modest, yet phenomenal. He had the best looking manicured yard that I had seen since our arrival. This would be a great place for neighborhood football games, I remember thinking.
Then Patrick disrupted my daydreaming and pointed out “The Admiral”.
I asked Patrick, “Why do you call him “The Admiral”?
Patrick said, “I’m not sure, but that is what everyone calls him.”
I decided from that day on, that I would just call him “Admiral”, which he would later tell me was okay with him. Anyway, the party was just getting started and it was the best spread that I had ever seen. Granted, my limited party going at the age of ten probably wasn’t indicative of the other partygoers’ impressions, but most said that it was quite the party.
I began to inquire as to the reason for the party. Was it someone’s birthday? I was pretty certain that it wasn’t a holiday. At least, I was certain it was not a holiday where presents or baskets or candy were to be handed out, because I was pretty informed on those dates. I was told that the party was just a normal weekly event at Admiral’s house. The explanation was that he enjoyed having the village over to his house and sharing his good fortune and this was just the way it was. That didn’t make any sense to me, but I was not going to rock the boat on this point because the food was great and the music was cool and the beach and yard at his house made for outstanding playgrounds. It was quite the day.
That is until I came face to face with Admiral. I remember that I had gone back to the dessert table for about the third time. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but I wore Sears Husky pants back then so this was not out of the ordinary for me. Anyway, as I turned around, I heard a deep voice say, “I don’t believe that we have been introduced.”
I choked down the half a cupcake in my mouth, because I wasn’t supposed to talk with my mouth full. Then I answered rather timidly, “My name is Joseph”.
He responded rather oddly now that I think about it, “I know who you are, but I do not believe that we have been introduced. Thank you for attending my party and please come again.” Then he turned and walked over to another person nearby and struck up a conversation.