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Then I saw two figures clinging together near the reef. I recognized Yeamon
and the girl who had come down with me on the plane. They were naked, standing in
waist-deep water, with her legs locked around his hips and her arms around his neck.
Her head was thrown back and her hair trailed out behind her, floating on the water
like a blonde mane.
At first I thought I was having a vision. The scene was so idyllic that my mind
refused to accept it. I just stood there and watched. He was holding her by the waist,
swinging her around in slow circles. Then I heard a sound, a soft happy cry as she
stretched out her arms like wings.
I left then, and drove back to Jesus Lopo's place. I bought a small bottle of
beer for fifteen cents and sat on a bench in the clearing, feeling like an old man. The
scene I had just witnessed brought back a lot of memories — not of things I had done
but of things I failed to do, wasted hours and frustrated moments and opportunities
forever lost because time had eaten so much of my life and I would never get it back.
I envied Yeamon and felt sorry for myself at the same time, because I had seen him in
a moment that made all my happiness seem dull.
It was lonely, sitting there on that bench with Senor Lopo staring out at me
like a black wizard from behind his counter in a country where a white man in a cord
coat had no business or even an excuse to hang around. I sat there for twenty minutes
or so, enduring his stare, then I drove back out to Yeamon's, hoping they would be
I approached the house cautiously, but Yeamon was yelling at me before I
turned off the road. "Go back," he shouted. "Don't bring your working-class problems
I smiled sheepishly and pulled up beside the patio. "Only trouble could bring
you out so early, Kemp," he said with a grin. "What happened — did the paper fold?"
I shook my head and got out. "I had an early assignment."
"Good," he said. "You're just in time for breakfast." He nodded toward the hut.
"Chenault's whipping it up — we just finished our morning swim."
I walked out to the edge of the beach and looked around. Suddenly I felt an
urge to get naked and run into the water. The sun was hot and I glanced enviously at
Yeamon, wearing nothing but a pair of black trunks. I felt like a bill collector,
standing there in a coat and tie, with my face dripping sweat and a damp shirt plas-
tered to my back.
Then Chenault came out of the house. I could tell by her smile that she
recognized me as the man who had run amok on the plane. I smiled nervously and
"I remember you," she said, and Yeamon laughed as I fumbled for something
She was wearing a white bikini and her hair fell down to her waist. There was
nothing of the secretary about her now; she looked like a wild and sensual child who
had never worn anything but two strips of white cloth and a warm smile. She was
tiny, but the shape of her body made her seem larger; not the thin, undeveloped build
of most tiny girls, but a fleshy roundness that looked to be all hips and thighs and
nipples and long-haired warmth.
"Goddamnit, I'm hungry," said Yeamon. "What about breakfast?"
"Almost ready," she said. "Do you want a grapefruit?"
"Damn right," he replied. "Sit down, Kemp. Stop looking so sick. You want a
I shook my head.