Beyond Beyond; Episode 98
The next morning Rich located the harbormaster’s headquarters. It perched on stilts about eight feet off the ground. Inside, a counter stretched across lobby. Three desks lined the wall to the right. One occupied by a slight fair complected man. The rest were empty although from the array of papers on them it looked as if the workstation of other officers.
The officer looked up from a ledger. “What is it?” he said mechanically.
“May I see the harbormaster?” Rich said.
The man leaned and looked into the office where a uniformed man sat at a desk looking out a window at the bay.
“Mr. Martinez, someone to see you,” the man said. “Go on into his office.”
Mr. Martinez remained sitting. He wore a thick black curly beard with strands of gray and hair to match.
“Good day, sir,” Rich said. “I plan to sail through the Strait to the Pacific very soon, is it advisable?”
“The Strait is never advisable,” Mr. Martinez said with a slow blink. “What kind of boat?”
“38 foot sailboat,” Rich said.
“It is very dangerous,” Mr. Martinez said. “You are young. I don’t think you have the experience.”
“I’ve sailed all the way from the North Atlantic,” Rich said.
“There is nothing else like the Strait,” Mr. Martinez said.
“I have a motor,” Rich said.
“That is a little different,” Mr. Martinez said, “It is still dangerous. Do you have someone with you?”
“Me and a dog,” Rich said.
“Do you have charts,” Mr Martinez said. “Without charts one should not go.”
“I was hoping you might tell me where they could be purchased,” Rich said.
“It is best to buy them from us,” Mr. Martinez said. “They are up to date.”
“Will you accept American?” Rich said.
“Sure,” Mr. Martinez said, “$50.”
“That seems like a lot,” Rich said.
“What is your life worth?” Mr. Martinez said.
“I see,” Rich said, “now that you put it that way.”
“If you pay American there is a 20 percent exchange fee,” Mr. Martinez said.
“Which I will gladly pay,” Rich said. “And will you accept a personal gift of gratitude from me for your advice and concern.”
“We cannot accept such things,” Mr. Martinez said.
Rich counted $60 dollars and handed it to Mr. Martinez.
“Thank you, sir,” Mr. Martinez said.
Mr. Martinez opened a file cabinet and retrieved a binder. “Your charts.”
“Thank you, Mr Martinez. “Rich said. “On my way here this morning $40, American, was on the ground.” Rich handed a four $10 bills to Mr. Martinez. “If someone should ask for it.”
“You are an honest man,” Mr. Martinez said. “In Punta Arenas honest men are valued.”
“Good day, sir,” Rich said.
“If you should need anything,” Mr. Martinez said.
“I understand,” Rich said and exited the headquarters.
Rich walked back toward the Beyond. “I go to the highest bidder,” he murmured.