He looked up at the sky as the waves licked onto his bare feet. A few small puffs of clouds lay out on the horizon, hinting at some weather coming in. But right above him, an endless sky. As Terrance Mann once said, a sky so blue it hurt to look at it.
He squinted in the bright Caribbean morning sunshine. It was already starting to get hot. Most northerners like him weren’t used to this kind of weather, but he had been on the island for about six months, and his skin had taken on the dark hue of a native.
A beat up, salt encrusted Detroit Tigers hat rested on his almost bald head, and his white beard fell off his chin onto his chest. Put a red stocking cap on him, and he would look like some sort of lost Caribbean Santa.
He wasn’t a fisherman, but a cane pole was next to a beat up beach chair, driven into the sand on the off chance that he would actually catch something. He had no idea what he would do if the line started heading out to sea, but that moment had never come. He liked having the pole next to him as he snapped open an ice cold Red Stripe, cuz it made it feel like he was actually doing something.
He was doing something. He was dying.
The cancer that started eating the healthy cells in his body had rounded third and was heading for home. The meds quit working a few months ago, and there was nothing to do at this point except to die. He had prostate cancer, so it was slow growing, but it wasn’t fucking around anymore.
The Hawaiian shirt he was wearing was dirty and open, so his belly was exposed hanging over an ugly faded pair of board shorts. His belly protruded not because he was fat, his long legs betrayed the fact that he was naturally thin, but told the tale that the tumor behind his liver was getting larger.
In his cancer days, he named the tumor Ricardo, and many CT scans later told his docs it was getting bigger and there was nothing they could do for him.
So, the fight being slowly lost, he took the money out of his 401k, sold the house in Toledo and moved to a little island off the coast of Cuba.
Fuck the ex-wife, fuck the ex-kids. They weren’t going to fight over his money, cuz there wasn’t gonna be any left. He spent it on a little ocean lot, put up a shanty, and called it home. A little boat was pulled up on the sand next to him, and he would take it out later just to change the scenery of his drinking.
It was July in the Caribbean, and even though the sun had started its journey back to the equator from the Tropic of Cancer, the sand was scorching. He knew to keep his toes in the water.
He paused the drinking long enough to light a big spliff, the kind Bob Marley used to sing about. The pain came in hard lately, rolling over him like an incoming tide, and the weed helped.
His docs said he wasn’t supposed to smoke weed, it wasn’t tested on the trial drugs he was supposed to be taking. Well, he thought, don’t have to worry about that anymore as he took a big drag of the ganja.
Fuck the CAT scans, fuck the hospital, fuck the drugs and the docs and the puking. Hello, salt, sand and surf. Fresh mahi, amazing grouper sandwiches. All the tequila he could drink. If you’re going to die, there were worst places to do it.
He stood up and stretched, feeling the buzz of the weed, which made him thirsty. He drained his last beer. Time to take the boat to town, collect his mail and get more beer.
He started the motor, grabbed the till and headed out. A dolphin played in the wake as he headed south for more beer and maybe some cracked crab. That sounded like a good lunch.
Thanks for reading.