Beyond Beyond; Episode 72
After two days of mixed seas and weather, the Beyond entered Golfo Nuevo. West from the gulf’s entrance to Puerto Madryn spans only 40 miles of beautiful blue calm waters.
The gulf shimmed a blue quiet, bound by flat desolate land above gray and white cliffs. Desolation lay beyond the cliffs as if a land smitten by a deadly plague. The only life seemed to be the gulf itself. Orca whales and dolphins populated Golfo Nuevo. The whales stayed a distance and displayed their ability to lunge from the depths and smack the water violently. Dolphins played, sprung, and swam alongside. The shores doted with seals deemed to welcome the Beyond. Yet as they entered the water for a close up they were met by hungry whales who made short meals of them.
Rich stood at the helm and Zeke watched the brutality of feeding on the shore. “You see, Zeke, stay away from the water. You are about the size of some of those seal pups and those whales do not have discriminating tastes. You know how you eat one of those little sausages; to the whale you are the sausage. That’s meant to scare you.”
Zeke let loose with a small whimper.
Nature in all it’s serenity played itself out with the violence of survival. The last cry from a helpless seal echoed in Rich’s ears. He steered away from the shore to escape the savagery and haunting barks.
“There, Zeke, that is better.”
The air hung pleasant, as pleasant as any air could be. Except for the ravages of nature this was as peaceful a setting as he had ever seen.
“If I should choose to live alone, this would be the place. Of course you would be with me, Zeke. We could do this together. Yes, Dennis could visit and I have other friends. No, Sam White and Dave Smithson are not friends. I don’t know how you would ever draw that conclusion. Oh, I see, you were joking. I get it now.”
The sun towered right overhead when Rich first caught site of Puerto Madryn. From a distance it looked quiet, as if the same imagined plague that ravaged the rest of the shore had likewise visited the city. As the Beyond slithered closer the signs of life became clear. Rich steered along the shoreline searching for a marina or at least a friendly mooring. Cool temperatures kept the beach life scant, but the city streets near the water seemed vibrant and purposive with pedestrians.
As cumbersome as it seemed, Rich anchored and splashed the dinghy in the water and rowed to the beach. He and Zeke walked a short distance along the street running along the shoreline. This was not the teeming populace of Rio, Buenos, or Montevideo and for that Rich was thankful.
They walked a few block and returned. Directly in front of where the Beyond lay anchored among a throng of shops, wedged a restaurant, Tommaso’s Pizza
“Zeke, do you know how long it has been since I had pizza? It’s like dough with sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and whole lot of other stuff. No, no dog food, unless it’s ordered that way.”
Rich grabbed Zeke in his arms, looked for traffic, and trotted across the street.
Tommaso’s Pizza flashed a bright yellow exterior and a green canvas awning with white stripes. Under the awning on both sides of the entrance five stools sat in front of the windows used as a counter area. A couple of tables with chairs sat under the awnings. Inside were six tables with chairs and another bar.
The place was empty. The lunch crowd likely long left.
Rich sat on one of the stools at the window counter under the awning.
“Habla usted Inglés?” Rich said.
“You gotta me kindin’ me, cuz,” the man said with a Brooklyn accent. “I’m Tommaso Vermicelli. Tommy’s fine. What’s your name, kid.”
“Richard Larsen and if you call me that I’ll think I’m in trouble, so it’s Rich.”
“Glad to meet you, Rich,” Tommy said. “So you came all the way from Pickleseed, Indiana to try my pizza.”
Tommy shook his hand and gripped his shoulder.
“Is that the Brooklyn way of saying, where the heck ya from and what are you doing here?” Rich said.
“You’ve been around,” Tommy said.
“I don’t think near as much as you,” Rich said.
“You better believe, Rich,” Tommy said.
“I’m from Ohio,” Rich said, “but I lived two years in Maine before sailing this way.”
“Rich, I hate to tell ya this,” Tommy said, “but ya sure know how to pick ‘em; Ohio and then Maine! Aah, I’m messin’ with ya.”
“I’ll take a slice with pepperoni,” Rich said, “and could you give me a dozen slices of pepperoni on the side for Zeke, my dog.”
“Sure,” Tommy said. “We’ll fix ya right up. Whaddaya wanna drink with that?”
“You got a Moxie?” Rich said.
“Moxie!” Tommy said, “I ain’t heard of that in long time. I’d slap the Pope for a Moxie.”
“I got some on my boat,” Rich said. “I’ll bring you a six pack. I’ll just take a Coke.”
“Sure thing,” Tommy said.
Rich and Tommy talked for two hours. Rich related some of the adventure experienced on his trip, leaving out the details regarding the CIA.
A few customers drifted in and soon it turned busy. Tommy tried to run the place by himself. He looked at Rich. “The Carmelo girls, where are they! Good kids, usually reliable. An old man named Zappo comes in here and does dishes for me, there’s no way he can help me with customers.”
“Tommy,” Rich said, “Let me wait on customers and you fix the pizzas.”
“Remember, genius,” Tommy said, “You don’t speak Spanish. I’ll show you how to make one pizza. That’s it, if ya don’t get it you’re fired. Put it in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Ya check the bottom. If it’s brown, it’s done. Now, say that. Never mind you’ll get it wrong.”
“I can see why the Carmelo girls didn’t show up,” Rich said and headed for the kitchen. He placed Zeke in a small storage room and told him to stay.
After two hours the dinner crowd thinned and soon the place was empty.
“Come on out of the kitchen,” Tommy motioned with his arm. He gestured to a table. “Sit down. Let me get you a beer.”
Tommy grabbed two beers from behind the bar, sat them on the table, and sat across from Rich.
“We’ll pick up a few stragglers the rest of the night,” Tommy said. “So I can handle it from here, You did good. You’re all right in my book.”
“Don’t mention it,” Rich said. “It was fun. It’s something I can add to my resume, pizza chef.”
“Oh,” Tommy said and jumped from his chair. He quickly walked behind the bar. He opened the cash register and counted out some money. He returned to the table and handed Rich a few paper bills. “Makes no difference whether ya can count it or not, I cheated ya. Hey, I’m Italian. There’s what I pay and what I tell the government I pay.”
“Keep it,” Rich laughed. “Friends help friends.”
“I really didn’t cheat ya,” Tommy said. “I’m a softy. I paid you more than you’re worth.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Rich said. “And we’ll have another slice and a Moxie together.”