The Heart Of The Matter – Part 3

The bartender was screaming at the one still standing and raised his club to strike him. The man scowled at him in defiance. The colourful old man who had been studying James stepped forward and spoke Carib in a calm voice. Both the bartender and the combatant bowed their heads and stepped back.

The old man crouched down and put two fingers on the bleeding man’s neck. He looked at Alfred and shook his head. James watched all this in shock. He was more curious than ever about the relationship between Alfred and this old man who must be some sort of tribal elder.

Alfred took a couple of the patrons aside and seemed to be giving them instructions. They both nodded and then picked up the body and removed it through the back door. The band struck up a tune and everyone returned to his seat as though nothing had occurred. Alfred noted James’ look of confusion and returned to the bar. He spoke to the bartender who drew two beers and put them down in front of Alfred and James.

“Exciting night, eh?”

James was still in shock and was slow to respond. In fact, he wasn’t sure what to say.

“I suppose. Does this sort of thing happen often?”

“No, my good man. First time such a thing has occurred in this establishment. Then again, it’s already been a night for firsts.”

James’ eyebrows went up and he gave Alfred an inquisitive look.

“Yes, James. We don’t often get strangers in here. Especially not ones that look like you and I.”

The old man, who had followed the two carrying the body returned. He called to Alfred in Carib. Alfred replied and then turned back to James.

“Excuse me for a moment. I’ll be right back.”

James drank his beer and watched the two men engage with each other. The old man seemed adamant about something and Alfred seemed to be trying to placate him. When they were done speaking the old man looked at James and smiled. Alfred returned to the bar.

“Well then, James. I should probably let you know that the storm is due to last a couple of more days. You won’t be able to make your way to Martinique before then. I’d like to offer you a room in my house for the duration of your forced stay here.”

“That’s very generous of you Alfred, but I wouldn’t want to impose. I’ll be fine on my yacht.”

“Nonsense, dear boy. The wind can be fierce here; you wouldn’t get a wink of sleep. I must insist. Besides, we need to talk somewhere private.”

“Well that’s very generous of you Alfred. I suppose I could do with a soft bed for the night at that.”

They finished their beers and James refrained from asking what they needed to talk about. Alfred wouldn’t come clean, that much was clear. The tribal elder continued to watch them unabashed but James refused to let it get to him.

At last Alfred stood up and indicated that they should leave. He turned to the old man and addressed him as something that sounded like pie-gee and spoke a few words of Carib. Turning to James he waved him on and grabbed two umbrellas in a stand by the front door.

“We’re going to need these, I’m afraid. We can bring them back tomorrow.”

Alfred opened the door and they ran through the howling wind and rain to his car and away into the night.

Part 4 Tomorrow


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