Beyond Beyond; Episode 53
Of Dogs and Men
He walked out to the busy street in front of the embassy. A cab stopped abruptly.
Rich leaned down and looked through the cab’s open window at a middle age man with black wavy hair.
“Where would you like to go?” the driver said with an accent.
Rich opened the door and climbed in the back seat.
“Where is there to go?” Rich said as the cab pulled into traffic.
“All sorts of places,” the driver said. “You want piety or pleasure?”
“Provisions,” Rich said. “Take me to the marina near Flamingo Park, but on the way find a grocery.”
“Sure I can do that,” the driver said. “Will you want me to wait for you at the store?”
“Yeah,” Rich said.
“It will cost to wait,” the driver said.
“No problem,” Rich said. “And I’ll toss in few beers for you.”
“Than I better pick a place that has good beer,” the driver smiled.
Rich looked out the rear window. Not far behind a man on a motorcycle weaved through traffic to stay close. He followed the cab into the grocery parking lot and when Rich got out of the cab the motorcyclist placed a dark blue Panama hat with a white band on his head. The man followed Rich into the store.
Rich bought a cart full of food. He had no idea where he would sail next. He didn’t know if it was his choice, the choice of Lewchanin, or the choice of circumstances.
The driver returned Rich to the Marina and he stowed the food away. He filled his fresh water tanks and the two extra cans. He did likewise with the gas. He was ready.
It was late in the day. Rich stirred restless. The radio played Latin music in the background and Rich tried to read his restlessness away.
Rich secured The Odyssey and walked away from the marina. In the park across the street from the marina his guard sat on a park bench. Near the bench the motorcycle leaned against a tree. Rich walked up to the bench and sat next to the man.
The man appeared to be in his late twenties, closely cut hair, and cleanly shaved. He wore bluejeans and gray pull over shirt. The hat rested beside him on the bench.
“Looks like you might have been a linebacker,” Rich said.
“USC, class of ‘58,” the man said.
“What do you have in mind?” Rich said.
“I’m supposed to follow you at a comfortable distance,” the man said.
“Where would you like to spend a comfortable distance?” Rich said.
“I’d advise someplace quiet,” the man said, “but this is Rio. Everything is noisy.”
“I’m not the noisy type,” Rich said.
“There is Christ the Redeemer,” the man said tossing his head in the direction of the iconic statue.
“It’s creepy,” Rich said.
“I’ve been there a couple times,” the man said. “It attracts the curious, devout, and lunatics. It would be a shame to say you’ve been to Rio and not say you’ve seen Christ the Redeemer.”
“I suppose you know my name,” Rich said.
“Yeah, Rich Larsen,” the man said.
“And you can’t give me yours, right?” Rich said.
“Something like that,” the man said.
“Do you mind if I call you Zeke,” Rich said. “I like that name and I never met anybody with that name and I never will, except for now.”
The man smiled. “When I was a kid I had a dog named Zeke.”
“Damn good dog, I bet,” Rich said.
“Yeah,” Zeke said, “the best. You got a dog?”
“I had a dog,” Rich said. “Boston Terrier, a real killer; rats, squirrels, birds. He didn’t like anything around the house he wasn’t familiar with. Good dog, I miss him.”
“What was his name?” Zeke said.
“Can’t tell ya.” Rich smiled.
“Duke,” Rich said.
“That’s a good name for a dog,” Zeke said.
“I have a theory,” Rich said, “I think good dogs make good men. Nearly every good man I know had a good dog.”
“I think you’re right,” Zeke said.
“I should get a dog,” Rich said. “Do you have a dog?”
“Yeah,” Zeke said, “back at my apartment.”
“What’s his name?” Rich said.
“He’s a Bulldog, named Buster,” Zeke said.
“Now that’s a great name for a Bulldog,” Rich said, “Somebody watching him?”
“Yeah,” Zeke said, “one of the agents I work with.”
“We have a need to take care of those who take care of us,” Rich said.
“It’s kind of strange,” Zeke said. “I’m watching you and worried about Buster.”
“Why do you do it?” Rich said.
“When I was in forth grade I bought a gift for my teacher,” Zeke said. “I put it on her desk when no one was around. She could never figure out who did it, but it made her tear up. There is satisfaction in doing good in secret. This is a way I could do that. I’m satisfied.”
“That’s interesting,” Rich said.
“On graduation day from high school that forth grade teacher was there. She gave me a gift; a necklace with a small dove with an olive branch in its mouth. She said, ‘go in peace.’ I wear it every day.”
A breeze blew through the trees. A very strong sudden breeze.
“You should go now,” Zeke said.
“Yeah,” Rich said. “And if I don’t get a chance, thanks and buy a bone for Buster.” Rick slipped a dollar into Zeke’s hand.”
Rich stood and walked slowly away and through the park.
As Rich walked toward a district of bright lights and loud music he recalled what he heard an uncle say. “Everything that’s done after dark should be done at home.”
He turned around and walked to The Odyssey.