It was another slow day in Costa May/Mahahual. No cruise ships in town and just a smattering of tourist up and down the malecon. Waiters were snoring from hammocks on the empty beach or playing dominoes at tables close enough, that should a tourist walk by, they could run out and offer to squeeze them into a table somehow. Today, with the sun high in the cloudless blue sky, the water calm and clear, and the breezes blowing gently in from the Caribbean Sea, Mahahual was surly the most beautiful place, most have never seen!
The living and dying in ¾ time boys were checking out Ernie’s prize from his spear fishing trip that day, a 20 pound grouper, and trying to convince Buster to have Chef Pedro cook it up for the boys.
“Wait a second,” argued Buster. “First, why do I always have to prepare the fish, add the side dishes and usually throw in the beer on top of that. You get to do the fun part, which is go out and shoot the fish. Big deal. I do everything else. How about you stay here, shop for the groceries, keep my knuckleheaded crew in line and I’ll go play Sea Hunt.”
“Okay,” laughed Ernie. “I’ll let you throw in the tequila too, but that is my final offer.”
“Jeeez,” laughed Buster. “It is a good thing I like the beer and tequila part, otherwise I’d be really getting screwed on this deal because I hate fish. Have Pedro cook that thing up and you guys enjoy. Tell him to make be a burger too.”
About that time, Ronny wheels in on his bicycle, flops down like he owns the place and tells the waiter, Flaco Juan, to “add a cold Montejo to that order.”
“As usual Ronny, your timing is perfect,” said Buster, seeing this meal was about to cost him even more now that the human beer and tequila sponge had arrived. Ronny could soak up more free booze than a case of Bounty paper towels!
“Guys, I got a plan,” announced Ronny with his usual sense of confidence.
“Here we go,” laughed Giles. “Forest Gump has a plan … again. What is it this time and if includes my money, leave me out of it.”
“Hey, even Forest Gump had a shrimp boat there Tinkerbell, which is more than I can say for your penny-less ass. You might want to shut up and listen for once in your life little fella, cause my idea is gonna bring in more ships with fat ladies than you and that little boy toy of yours can ever make enough dresses for.”
“So what can a guy who sells tours and hustles real estate actually do to bring more ships into Mahahual,” asked an amused but also curious Buster.
“Okay, here is the plan. We’re gonna start a revolution in Belize, shake up the place a little for the media and scare the cruise ships into pulling out of there and moving their ships here. Now I know what your thinkin. Your thinkin, ‘how can a simple old boy from South Carolina start a revolution in a place like Belize.’
He looked at the group and all just stared and looked back, waiting for the usual punch line that Ronny could deliver.
“Simple boys. We don’t. We just make people think there is a revolution. Trust me, I know Belizeans. I lived with them for years. They are so lazy and slow to do anything, it would be months before they figured out it is all BS, and by then, the ships will have already moved.”
“And just how do you plan on faking a revolution,” asked Buster, roaring with laughter.
“Like I said, I got a plan. I got some buddies back home that won third prize in bass tournament, which was an all expenses paid cruise and, you guessed it, one of the stops is in Belize. Now John David said no way, his old lady would toss his skinny ass right out of the trailer if he had anything ever to do with me again after that episode with the strippers and those hookers dressed up like nurses. Oh man, you guys should have been there for that one. Another story for another time. Anyway, Booger and Snake said they are in, so here is the plan. When they arrive in Belize, they’re gonna get kidnapped by the Free Belize or Die Liberation Army. I’m workin on the manifesto to send to the media but it is the usual stuff. You know, the old “white man needs to go and stop takin’ all our stuff and destroying our precious environment” motif. What we’ll really do though is have Straight Hair Tom, he is the old dude that drives the boat over from Corozol to Chetumal on the sly a couple times a week, pick them up and sneak them into Mexico. They won’t go back to the ship and we’ll send notes to CNN and Fox News saying they have been kidnapped and would be killed if all cruise ships did not pull out of Belize. The US media will have a field day. You know, if it bleeds, it leads in the US media and this is pretty good blood. Then we throw in the part about how we will keep kidnapping tourist until the ships agree to leave. Snake and Booger said they wouldn’t mind hanging out here for a few weeks, drinking some beers and chillin, while we send new notes each day. We do this right, it could be huge for the fat lady dress business here in Mahahual.”
“Yea, it’ll probably do very good for the rednecks married to the Belizean guy with the most cigarettes in the prison business too. And you’ll be their first bitch too Ronny if you try something like that,” warned Ernie, the retired cop, now turned new age spiritualist, exotic herb gardener and local pot head.
“Ronny, even for you, that is really stupid,” agreed Buster. “Your sooner or later going to have to “release” the prisoners and the authorities are going to question them. Do you trust this Booger and Snake not to screw this up somehow and get you in trouble too?”
“Oh, I see where you’re going with this. Just because these two guys are from the south and have names that some might call a little country, you think they are a couple dumb ass hayseeds and can’t follow a simple plan,” asked Ronny. “Is that what you big city boys think.”
“That ain’t no shit”
“Exactamente,” were the laughs that all came at once from the group.
With that, Juan Flaco returned with a large platter of grilled grouper, covered with sliced lime and garlic and trimmed with rice, beans, tortillas and several bowls of salsa and fresh pico de gallo. He served the group with a smile, enjoying the ambiance of his favorite dish. His expression changed to one of distaste as he slid the plate of hamburger and fries to his boss. “Some gringos will never learn,” he thought to himself.
The boys all enjoyed the fish and thanked Ernie for his generosity and gave Buster a few pointers on how to make his rice more like their moms used to do it back home. His was good but not quite perfect and all knew how to make is so. Buster tuned out his know-it-all buddies and instead, sat back and enjoyed the Kelly McGuire that was coming from the speakers in the restaurant instead.
“On a hill that was bigger than any I knew,
I learned a thrill of the wind as I flew,
On the edge of catastrophe fast as I could,
Adrenaline pumped in my blood, oh adrenaline pumped in my blood.
Then a trip to the library,
Opened the world,
Of whalers and pirates and breakers that curled,
Around beaches on islands, just pages away,
From where I am anchored today, from where I am anchored today … .”
The next day, Ronny stopped in with two sunburned and stumbling Americans who had been kicked off the cruise ship for having drunken sex in the kiddie pool at 4AM the previous morning. Only Ronny could find these sort of people.
“Buster, this is Mitch and Michelle. Pardon them a bit, but they got tossed off the boat this morning and have been celebrating ever since it looks like. They only have a couple hundred bucks and want to know what to do, so I told them to go talk to you.”
“Buster, dude. We’ve heard all about you. You’re like a legend on the internet dude,” said Mitch.
Michelle looked Buster up and down and whispered, “This is the guy you were wanting to meet so bad. Kinda old don’t you think.”
Buster ignored the drunken girl and glared at Ronny and said, “Yea, Ronny thinks Buster’s is like the American consulate and I am the fix it guy all the time. Not sure what I can do to help you guys though.”
“Oh, we don’t need any help. We’re doing just fine. We scored a little smoke from some dude up the street named Juan. Drank about a gallon of something that was supposed to be tequila or diesel fuel over at the Coco Loco, so we’re doing just fine. Ronny told us how to get to the airport from here, so were cool. We just wanted to meet Buster and buy you a beer.”
“Well Mitch, if you’re buyin’, I’m drinking,” laughed Buster at the pathetic couple. Ronny of course added a beer for himself and they all sat around and listened as the stoned couple told the story of drunken sex in the kiddie pool on the ship. As it turned out, Michelle worked in a law office back in Detroit and failed to mention that to the ship’s security personnel and was sure a nice legal settlement would be waiting when she got home.
“But how can you sue the ship when you were the ones drunk and having sex in public. Doesn’t that make it your fault,” asked Ernie.
“Duh, they’re attorneys and it is the United States. Like we say at the office, whose fault it is has nothing to do with who gets paid,” she said with cocky laugh. She then went into a long drunken story about how her firm could sue a skunk for stinking and again Buster began to tune out the absurdity and listened again to Kelly McGuire who was once again soothing the late afternoon crowd at Buster’s.
“Once I took a chance and I gave up my heart,
But before the dance ended, it didn’t quite start.
I played that song over and over again
But I still can’t figure out why. No I still can’t figure out why.
But it’s a circular motion this travel through time,
Your journey is not over and neither is mine.
There’s a new chapter written each day you can read,
Extrapolate all that you need, yea, extrapolate all that you need. …”
“Buster, Did you hear what I said,” asked Ronny? “I said operation Belizean Freedom is underway. Snake and Booger are on the ship and ready to disembark tomorrow in Belize City.”
“Ronny,” said Buster shaking his head. “Never mind. Mitch, Michelle, thanks so much for the beer and I wish you guys the best of luck with the trip home and the lawsuit. I think I need to go help Chef Pedro in the kitchen for a few minutes.” And with that, Buster was off and away from Ronny, his hair brained idea and his two new best friends.
A couple days later, the guys were all sitting around Buster’s, reading a three day old Tampa newspaper left by one of Buster’s guests, when Ronny came wheeling in on his bike.
“Well if it isn’t General Gump of the Free Belize Liberation Army,” laughed Giles. “How is the revolution going down in Belize. I missed seeing anything in the US news today about it.”
“Looks like the operation hit a snag or two along the way. You might have been right about those two dumbass rednecks I was using. Snake sent me an email this morning that said they had to abort the mission at the last minute. Seems Booger passed out in the sun the day before from too many rum punches down in Honduras and was so sunburned and hung over, he couldn’t get out of bed the next day. Then Snake’s old lady was talking to John David’s old lady at the toga party that night and she told her that Snake was going to meet me in Belize and was up to no good, so his wife put the kibosh on his even getting off the ship. She told her the story about us and them prostitutes and that was it. She said no way was she leaving Snake with me and all the cheap women and booze we have around here. Bunch of dumb rednecks is all they are.”
“Oh well,” said Buster. “It looks like we’re just going to have to get those ships to have to come here the old fashion way. We’re just going to have to work hard to be better than Belize. Wow, isn’t that a unique plan.”
“I don’t know Buster. That just sounds kinda slow. I was thinkin’ though. How about we try this … .” And with that, Buster again began to tune out Ronny and again tuned in Kelly McGuire.
“I’m a writer and a sailor and a singer of songs,
And I’ll take you places if you’ll come along,
From a sunset in Key West to a Seattle rain,
I’ll show you the colors of pleasure and pain.
And I’m a desperate survivor of the humanoid race,
Addicted to children smiles on their face,
I’m a troubadour destined to sing what he sees.
That aging explorer is me, oh that aging explorer is me … .”
And so it goes when you are livin’ and dyin’ in ¾ time!
Lyrics from Kelly McGuire
The Great Bicycle Disaster
CD Boat in Belize
2007 Redfish Records
Listen to the song here: