Chapter 2: In spite of dire hurricane warnings that Hurricane Aye Yai Yai it's Conchita! was heading for Pointe-A-Pierre on Guadalupe Island in the Lesser Antilles, Raoul went fishing one afternoon so that we could replenish our fresh fish supply for the "catch of the day" on the restaurant's (Hanna Mae's) menu for the evening dinner crowd. While Raoul was out fishing, I went to the small garden behind the restaurant to gather vegetables for the salads that would accompany all the entrees as well as the "catch-of-the-day". In the distance, from where I stood, I could see Raoul's boat getting smaller and smaller on the horizon until it finally disappeared from sight. While in the midst of plucking radishes from the soil, snipping lettuce leaves, and plucking tomatoes I was completely unaware the weather was starting to change.
Suddenly I realized the sun had disappeared and the sky was getting dark and glanced up and saw ominous clouds rushing in from the south east. The wind which had been gently rustling the palms and the oleander leaves suddenly turned harsh and began to howl...the palms nearly bent double, the oleanders shuddered, and the other flora looked as if it wanted to take flight.
I thought to myself "Oh my God it's Hurricane Aye Yai Yai it's Conchita!" and then desperately realized that Raoul was far out to sea by himself. My immediate thought was that if I could signal him of the changing weather, it still might be possible for him to return to shore.
So as the hurricane force winds of Hurricane Aye Yai Yai it's Conchita! began to bear down upon Pointe-A-Pierre and Guadalupe Island, I scanned the area for something high enough from which I could hopefully signal Raoul. The tallest thing I could find was the large coconut palm that was next to the veranda of Hanna Mae's. I quickly clambered up its slippery sides and made it to the top with a fuchsia tablecloth in hand. It was my hope that I could flap it around and Raoul would see it and know to come to shore. In desperation I thought I glimpsed Raoul and his boat. Alas! Just as I got to the fronds at the top of the tree, the first rain squall blew in and I lost sight of Raoul. As the power of the wind increased, my position at the top of the coconut palm grew more perilous. In fact I was hanging on for dear life wondering how I would ever get to the ground because by then my body was outstretched from the coconut palm like a Moroccan Dervish flag flying wildly in the wind. The situation grew more critical as I began to lose my grip in the wild winds and my body dervished in the wind and I was barely hanging by one hand onto one of the palm fronds at the top of the tree.
My body continued to be whipped around in the wind as if were nothing more than that damn Morracan Dervish flag. My grip finally began to weaken and loosen and I knew that my life was gravely imperiled. With a banshee-like wail I finally released my hold from the palm frond and flew threw the air as if I were dervishing except that was not on a stage but wind-driven free form! I longed to be wearing my red leotards and black, gray and green sequined cape in my macabre airborne dance! It seemed as if I flew through the air forever only to fall face first into the neighbor's oleander bushes. The bushes and shrubs broke my fall and as I staggered out of the bushes spitting bits of leaves and bits of flowers there was nothing else to do but head for the safety of Hanna Mae's.
By the time I was able to close and bolt the door behind me as well as secure the window shutters, the winds and rain of Hurricane Aye Yai Yai it's Conchita had completely obliterated the view, the building was shuddering, the roof was creaking and I was in complete despair over Raoul's safety. In my wet and wind shredded clothes I stumbled to the bar, got out my favorite crystal old fashion glass and poured myself a generous dollop of Tanqueray gin, added two iced cubes, and sat down to review the criticalness of the situation. In spite of several dollops of Tanqueray gin, I grew more depressed with the realization that I would not see my precious Raoul...my gilded cage rescuer...ever again.
In my sadness I lingered upon the memories of his big brown eyes, his thick and long eyelashes, his wicked smile that danced around the corners of his mouth...and also thought about his very cute (well that part is a whole 'nother story).
Hurricane Aye Yai Yai it's Conchita! lasted for another two days destroying much and what was left was severely damaged in the Lesser Antilles, Guadalupe island, and Pointe-A-Pierre in particular. When I finally emerged from the safety of the bar at Hanna Mae's, reeking of several dollops and three days of Tanqueray gin, it was to find that the coconut palm from which I flew so bravely was gone. The little vegetable garden was also destroyed...the radishes were ravaged, the tomatoes were splats on the side of the outside wall of the garden, and the lettuce leaves were indeed leaves...fallen fall leaves. The veranda of Hanna Mae's had flown away to the quay by the ocean and was eventually to be used as a seating area for arriving passengers from cruise ships.
However, the with deep sadness over Raoul being missing and life being forever changed from blissful afternoons sipping generous dollops of Tanqueray gin...knowing that the life we had built was all gone...I had no choice but to either sit there and grieve or move. There was no sign of Raoul or his boat anywhere.
And we lost our Tanqueray distributorship.
...to be continued.