Monday, February 2, 2015

Chapter Six Port of Call Bonaire

UPDATE: 
Poll closes Saturday, Feb 7, 11:59 PM Eastern

A new week, a new port! The Love Boat Bachelor arrives in Bonaire today. Enjoy!

In case you missed them:

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five



Chapter Six
Port of Call: Bonaire

Brent offered polite good nights to his new acquaintances and left the frenzied theater. A full day of rough seas had made him queasy, and he wasn’t going to admit it to anyone else, but he needed some fresh air. Just when he thought his body had adjusted to life in motion, sudden onset nausea reminded him otherwise. He looked forward to the next morning’s port of call.
He climbed the stairs to the Promenade Deck. Pushing open the door, Brent heard a couple arguing and cringed at the thought of counseling them. Not good timing. Brent turned in the opposite direction to escape, hands in pockets, eyes focused on the planks that would lead him to safe refuge. A few strides later, he felt a tinge of guilt. And a game of mental ping pong proceeded. What are you here for anyway? But I feel sick. What good could I do? But maybe something you say could help.
Brent pivoted on his heels and headed for the lion’s den. If past experience refereeing onboard misunderstandings was his barometer, this next incident could go either way—he’d be absorbing the impact of the man’s pat on the back for the rest of the cruise or dodging the couple’s glares.
With a quick whisper of a prayer, Brent summoned a newfound confidence. Game on!
He approached the escalating tirade with a wide smile intended to diffuse the tension. “Excuse me. I’m Brent, the cruise chaplain. Can I be of assistance here?”
“Well, if you could help my husband that really would be a miracle!” The woman spouted. “If he cared enough about me, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess. We came on this cruise for our anniversary, but now I can’t even remember why I married him in the first place and—”
“Okay.” Brent touched her arm and nodded to make it certain he’d heard her loud and clear. He wanted to calm her but also cause a pause in her rant. “Can you back up for me and tell me what you two are arguing about? But first, tell me your name.”
“My name?” The woman scrunched her eyebrows and her nostrils flared with her annoyed exhale as her eyes looked up to meet Brent’s. “My name is Gloria. And Gerome has a gambling problem. He’s put us in bankruptcy. I’ve warned him to steer clear of the casinos, and now he’s done gone and lost all our vacation money.”
Passersby glanced their way.
Brent guided the couple a few footsteps away to a more private seating area. “You know what, Gloria? That is a tough situation. And you’ve got every right to be mad.” He turned his attention to Gerome. “Gerome, what do you have to say about this?”
“Poker’s my escape. The woman drives me to it. Her mouth is always goin’. I get no respect. You know what I’m sayin’? A man just wants a little respect from his woman.” Gerome grimaced.
“Well, this situation didn’t grow overnight, and it’s not going to be fixed overnight. I’m a man of faith. What about you two?”
They both nodded. “Uh-huh, yes sir, we go to church.”
“Then you know God has a good plan for your marriage. And it’s not gonna help to blame each other. At the same time, bad stuff happens that we don’t expect, and we just have to maneuver it as best we can and try to trust God that he’s going to help us work it out and maybe use it for good someday. So, it’s late. How ’bout you two try to table this? No more arguments. Enjoy your Bonaire stop tomorrow. Then we’ll talk again when we’re back on ship.” Brent stood to signal an end to the conversation, shook hands with the somewhat dazed couple, and sent them off, satisfied that in the least, he diverted an ugly argument, and at most, he gave them some food for thought.
His hands gripped the cool railing. Ah, that helped. The breeze of eighteen knots against the skin soothed him, and ironically, watching the boat’s wake calmed his belly. He sighed. Then he sensed someone watching him. He glanced behind.
The moonlight sparkled against a sequin dress. A woman sat in a chair under the shadow of the deck’s overhang. Shadows hid her face, but her silver heels gave her away. She uncrossed her legs and stood to take a few steps to stand beside him at the railing.
Brent looked down at her.
“Bless your heart,” she said, looking out onto the ocean.
“Pardon me?”
“Well, I couldn’t help overhearing. I wasn’t eavesdropping. I promise. I came off the dance floor to get some air. Anyway, I was already sitting here and overheard your conversation with that couple.” She looked up at Brent with big, round, beautiful blue eyes. She placed her hand over her chest and batted her eyelashes in Southern Belle charm. “I hope you’ll forgive me for watching and listening.”
Brent shook his head. “No, it’s okay. But, why bless my heart?”
“Well, since you asked. I don’t know … I just—How long have you been a chaplain?”
“I’m a pastor, actually, but I’m doing my buddy a favor and filling in for this cruise.”
“Oh …”
“Why do you ask?” Brent’s curiosity piqued. He turned to face her.
“Did you believe what you were telling them? I mean—bad stuff happens. Try to trust God. Maybe he’ll work it out for good someday?” She shrugged. “I don’t know; it almost sounded like you didn’t believe it. Like you knew what you were supposed to say, but you didn’t have conviction saying it.”
“Wow.” Brent took a step back. Who was this woman, and where did she get the nerve? He shook off his offense momentarily to respond appropriately. He summoned a polite smile. “What is your name, Miss?”
“Sadie.” She offered a handshake.
Brent returned the gesture. “I’m Brent.”
“I meant no offense. I was just curious about your response. I’m sorry. It was none of my business. I’m sure you’re experienced in counseling couples, and there’s a method you follow.”
She was backpedaling. Doing damage control. She must have realized how rude and presumptuous her comments were. To think he was almost fooled by those innocent-looking eyes.
“No worries, Sadie. No harm done. I’m going to call it a night. It was … nice to meet you.” With a subtle bend at the waist, Brent offered a how-do-you-do, and walked away, content to leave Sadie with her mouth open in mid-speech. He didn’t give her a chance to say another word.
She called out to him from the distance, “Au revoir.”
A French good-bye with a Southern accent? Brent shook his head and snickered. Cute and comical at the same time; it took the edge off his annoyed mood.
****
Brent lay awake staring at the ceiling, one hand propped under his head. He couldn’t get Sadie’s comments out of his thoughts. “It almost sounded like you didn’t believe it” replayed in his mind. He just wanted to minister to the couple and exit the conversation as quickly as possible. He hadn’t felt good. Sadie didn’t know that. Brent sympathized with her other—must be better—half. He probably had his hands full. “I’ll be ministering to them tomorrow.” Brent chuckled and drifted to sleep.
****
Brent awoke abruptly with a scripture in his head—James 1:19. He groped around the bedside table for his iPhone. The screen lit up the small cabin. He waited for his eyes to adjust to the light and focus. The Bible app read, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
He remembered his interaction with Sadie, and with instant conviction, he knew what God was revealing to him. Sadie was right. God had done so much for Brent already on this cruise. Each day was a new revelation of God’s goodness. Then, tonight, he’d allowed his illness to hurry him through a very important moment in the lives of a hurting couple.
Sadie had spoken the truth in love, and he had gotten immediately defensive and prideful. He wasn’t quick to listen or slow to become angry. In graciousness and humility, not backpedaling, she’d given him the benefit of the doubt that maybe he’d had some method.
Brent asked God for forgiveness for not trusting Him and for ministering to the couple a double-minded, watered-down faith. He asked God to renew his faith again and grant in him a fresh zeal. Did Sadie know the impact of her words when she spoke them? Brent was caught off-guard when she introduced herself with “bless your heart,” but that’s exactly what she had done—She’d blessed his heart.
****
Bonaire. Feet on land. Brent tightened his shoelaces under the warming glow of the mid-morning sun. He felt lighter. His burden and heaviness gone. His spirit was renewed, and he had a fresh outlook on life and God. With each stride, Brent’s running shoes squished the water out from under the sand like squeezing a damp sponge. It might not be dry, but at least it was land. He glanced behind him to see a trail of sole prints marking his path like a road map. How appropriate that life had a way of leaving its print upon our souls not as easily seen as his jogging footprints.
With the pale pink hue of the salt flats of Bonaire to his left and the gentle, low tide of the Caribbean ocean to his right, Brent loved being sandwiched between these two most beautiful sights. Never had he jogged in such serene surroundings. He could get used to the cruising life with such a glorious stream of ports to enjoy, even if they were brief stops.
Another runner jogged toward him. In the air, an apparent out-of-control kite-boarding surfer caught his attention. Brent kept his pace while shifting his focus between the approaching jogger and the kite surfer who struggled to level his rainbow-colored, winged craft.
Brent was about to cross paths with the other runner when the soaring man careened toward them. “Whoa!” Brent dodged the flailing legs of the surfer only to plow right into the jogger.
“Ack!” The jogger’s backside hit the low tide.
“Ah!” The kite surfer landed in the shallows. His board dredged in the soft sand. The poor guy held up his hands. “Sorry. Sorry. I’m okay.”
Brent rubbed his sore shoulder. As he extended his hand to offer help, the other runner’s ball cap fell off, revealing a curly headed brunette. Brent did a double-take. “Sadie?”
Sadie brushed the sand off and picked up her cap. “Yes, I’m fine. I was hoping I could run right by you, and you wouldn’t notice me. Last time we talked, you were madder than a wet hen. Now I’m the one who’s wet!”
“I sure didn’t recognize you in sneakers instead of heels.”
Sadie replaced her soggy cap, and it dripped down her face.
“Actually, I’m glad I ran into you.”
“I bet you are.” Sadie stood with her hands clasping her slender waist.
Brent thought she had enough spunk that she might retaliate, as if she were the bull and he the red cape.
“No, the pun was not intended.”
Brent laughed.
Sadie echoed the sentiment over this unusual meeting with a giggle.
Brent caught his breath. “I wasn’t sure I’d ever see you again, and I wanted to apologize.”
“You wanted to apologize to me?”
“God showed me that you had it right. I should have offered that couple more than a few condescending words. I’m sorry I was rude to you because I was offended by your comments. In reality, it was wisdom and truth, and you weren’t afraid to say it. So, can we start over? When I say it was nice to meet you, I mean it this time.”
“Likewise. It’s a pleasure.” Sadie flashed a smile and gave the batting eyelashes the allure of her Southern charm. She was a two-sided coin—sweet and spunky. Roselle would like her. Brent snapped himself out of it. She was on the Love Boat. So, where was her other half?
“So, Sadie, where is your husband, boyfriend …?”
She appeared confused by the sudden change of subject. “What?”
“Well, this is the Love Boat, but I’ve haven’t seen you with anyone yet.”
Sadie waved him off. “Oh, gosh, no, I’m here alone.”
Brent was relieved. And hopeful? No. He dismissed the thought.
“Say, since we are friends now, would you like to sightsee together?” she asked. “That is, if you don’t have any plans already.”
“No.” He paused. “I mean, no I hadn’t made plans.” Brent rubbed his palm across his forehead. Something about this girl made him lose all his smooth moves. “Sounds great. Did you have something in mind?”
“Well, yes I do. I’d like to see the Indian cave paintings and the village of Rincon. But since we’re so close, do you mind if we check out the slave huts first?”
“Um, sure.” He’d pegged her for the spontaneous type, but she’d come prepared.
They rented scooters for the day and stopped first at the slave quarters, which were rows of tiny huts made out of sand materials. A full-grown man couldn’t stand inside the shelter. Slaves had used the huts for sleeping and storage while they worked to harvest salt. Brent followed Sadie from hut to identical hut, somewhat amused that she was so enthralled with the structures.
“I read the slaves would walk seven hours from their homes in Rincon to come here and work all week, then return to their family for a couple days before coming back again,” she shared.
Brent stood in awe at the multiple mountains of glistening white salt. Could a grain of salt collected by a slave still be in those mounds somewhere?
“I have deep Southern roots on my grandfather’s side,” Sadie said. “But my ancestors weren’t rich plantation owners who owned slaves. Though, Great-Granddaddy Graham, I’m told, had a black companion and confidant that was a life-long family friend and like an uncle to my granddaddy.”
“I don’t know anything about my family tree. You’re a history buff I take it?”
“Gosh, yes. I could eat it up. You ready to go? How ’bout we head for Rincon?”
From the slave huts, they headed north. Brent was content to follow Sadie’s lead. He got a kick out of seeing her face light up and watching her animated expressions with their self-guided tours.
After the sightseeing, they stopped at a small outdoor cafĂ© for a bite to eat, enjoying the rest and each other’s company.
“The Graham family—that’s my last name—we have a rich history. I guess that’s why I’m such a student. Bonaire has a rich heritage, and it holds special meaning for me.” Sadie readjusted her ball cap, tucking in her stray hairs. “My great-granddaddy served in WWII, and the military had an Air Force base on Bonaire. In fact, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the troops here.” With elbows on the table, Sadie pressed her palms together as if in prayer and quite proud of the trivia she was sharing.
“Granddaddy and Mamie—that’s French for Grandmother—spent a lot of time here with my sister and me.”
The au revoir she’d called out to him made more sense now. “I have a sister, Roselle. You two would get along great.” Brent looked to his watch. “But right now, we need to head back to the ship.”
Brent and Sadie returned their scooters and walked back to the ship together. On board, they lingered on the gangway. “Miss Sadie Graham, it has been an extreme pleasure getting to know you and spending today together.”
Au revoir, Brent.” She shook his hand, pulling away slowly.
Au revoir.” Brent turned and headed toward his cabin with a smile on his face. Just like the Lord to turn his bad behavior into a blessing. And meeting Sadie had been a very nice blessing.


Come back tomorrow for Chapter Seven! 

Shore Excursions:

Monday: 

Write Integrity:

Marji Laine’s blog:
            E-mail to Roselle: From Bonaire

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:

Saturday:



Friday:

Write Integrity: Chapter Five
            Chapter Five Port of Call: Aruba

Marji Laine’s blog:

Joan Deneve:
            Interview on Quid Pro Quills

Julie Arduini:
            Least Likely Cruise Heroine Part 2

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:


Thursday:

Write Integrity: Chapter Four

Marji Laine’s blog:

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:

Wednesday:

Write Integrity: Chapter Three

Marji Laine’s blog:

Julie Arduini:
            Least Likely Cruise Heroine Part 1

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:


Tuesday: 

Write Integrity:
            Chapter Two Port of Call: Cozumel

Betty Thomason Owens:  

Marji Laine’s blog:

Elizabeth Noyes:

Fay Lamb’s On the Ledge:
            Port of Call: Cozumel with Nora Laing          


Monday:

Write Integrity:
            The Love Boat Bachelor Chapter One

Marji Laine blog:

Fay Lamb:

Marji Laine:

Marji Laine:
Interview on Carole Towriss blog: 8 Reasons Romance is a Joke

Julie Arduini:
            Cruising Experiences

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