The corner takes his body. We go to her room to shower. On the bed is a note. He blames her for everything, his cheating, his drinking, his anger and his suicide.
She clings to me.
She asks me to hold her.
She begs me to not leave, ever.
Not to leave? I don’t know her. I have a career in Miami. How could I stay here?
I hold her close.
Her body trembles against mine.
She continues to plead with me to stay, to not leave her alone. She kisses my lips. Into my ear she whispers a pronouncement.
I stroke her head and in return proclaim my love, “I will stay, you won’t ever be alone.”
We make love.
I wake and find myself alone. I shower and dress. I have to call the U and give my notice. I walk out to the lobby, grab some Cuban bread, cheese and coffee and take a seat in the courtyard. I never thought myself as a caretaker of a bed and breakfast.
The cool morning breeze hints at humidity. The sun warms my face. The horror of before is gone. I guess I could get used to this.
A door on the second floor opens. I hear laughter. Judi is in the embrace of another guest. Transfixed, I watch. She lowers herself and although obstructed, the motion of her head leaves no doubt as to what she is doing. When she is finished, she gets to her feet and looks my way.
She sees me, quickly turns and rushes down the stairs and across the courtyard. Never once, does she make eye contact.
I smile and morbidly think to myself, “Looks like I dodged a second bullet.”
I guess I will be remaining an oceanographer at The U. My smile is soon a laugh. I cross the street over to the beach club and see what kind of early morning drink ideas Bob may have.
As he tends to others, I stare out over the clean sand and calm ocean water. A couple is holding hands, wading into the water. Their movement leaves a mild ripple behind them. They stop a few yards from shore. He holds her close, holding her as I held Judi.
I can only imagine what is going through her mind. Maybe, like me, she is a bit damaged. I am sure that if what had occurred did not, we would have simply been momentary distractions to one another. I am sure she would have never asked me to stay, and I am positive I would have never proclaimed a love that I don’t feel.
Who knows what she has experienced. What past tragedy may have befallen her. What personal calamity may have shaped the woman she is today.
What hurt she carries.
What pain persists.
I certainly don’t. I know nothing about her. I don’t know her life. Hell, I don’t know her last name. She is someone who came to me in the night. She heard a damaged soul scream out. She recognized another who is damaged. In this world, there are more of us who are damaged than those who are not. And now, after being blamed for her estranged husband’s suicide, she might be downright broken.
Who’s to say I’m not.
The server slides a plate of coconut flapjacks in front of me. I pour a dark amber, viscous syrup over a small portion. The deep maple flavor compliments the fresh coconut brimming through the breakfast cake. A sip of coffee, spiked with anisette, completes…..