The Heart Of The Matter – Part 7

“Maria…yes; that would wonderful, thank you.”

He stood up and went to the window and stared at the downpour. Another flash of lightening was followed almost immediately by another rumble of fierce thunder. He thought about the dream he had been having. He was about to do something with the knife, but what?

Maria returned with tea and some small delicate sweets. She put the tray on the table next to his chair.

“Such a dreary day. I hope it will pass soon. It is unusual for this time of year.”

“Yes, it’s quite something. Thank you, Maria, this looks wonderful.”

He considered returning to the books he had been reading then felt the urge to return to the bookcases. He ran his hand over the spines of the books on the middle shelf until his hand stopped of it’s own accord. He pulled out the volume and looked at the title: A History Of Dominica.

Returning to his seat he sipped his tea and then opened the book at random and began reading. Before long he came to a passage discussing the Caribs and the Arawaks, another of the indigenous tribes of the West Indies. Ten pages on he came to the realization of why Alfred had said the Carib were not cannibals per se.

He put the book aside and tried to recall what else had been said in that discussion. He decided there had been good reason for his trepidation about the dinner they were to attend that evening. He wished that Alfred were around so that he could talk to him further.

Noting that the rain had begun to taper off he decided he would take advantage of Alfred’s offer of the use of a car and go into town. He went to the garage and found two cars. He chose the Aston Martin and it purred like a cat when he turned the key so he pulled out into the driveway and headed down the hill.

Arriving in the village he drove around the streets to see if anything interested him. There didn’t seem to be much happening so after a while he decided to go check on his ketch. He pulled up to the pier and got out and checked the moorings. Everything was in order and as he returned to the car he could see some men sitting outside the bar watching him.

As they looked one of them said something and the others broke out in raucous laughter. He decided a beer might be in order. As he approached they began an animated discussion. He walked up to them and bid them good day.

“Hello mister. That’s Alfred’s car. Are you staying with him?”

“Yes I am. Were you gentleman at the bar last night?”

As one they averted their eyes and seemed embarrassed to be there. At last one of them spoke.

“Yeah, we were all here.”

“Well look, I’m aware that some of the things I said may have caused – “

“Hey, mister, you don’t have to say anything. What’s done is done. It will all be set right soon enough.”

“What does that mean?”

The spokesman shrugged. “It’s okay.”

“I don’t understand, what’s okay? I’m sorry that man was killed, I – “

“Why don’t you just go have a beer or something, okay?”

They all stood up and began walking away. James stood there perplexed and stared after them. Why didn’t they want to talk about what had happened? He went in the bar and sat down to order. The bartender was the same one that had been there the night before. He turned and when he saw James he stopped moving for a moment then regained his composure.

“What can I do for you sir?”

“A beer please.”

He poured one and put it down. James thought about trying to talk to him about the night before but the look on the man’s face told him it wouldn’t be a good idea.

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