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.
Chapter 3: I was faced with a conundrum: To rebuild or to go elsewhere and start all over again. Life without Raoul did not seem worthwhile and, you see, at this point my resume only reflected the experience of exotic dancing at Charlie's Turf Club. I was not sure of how to include the joint management of Hanna Mae's (which had the largest Tanqueray volume discount of anywhere in the Lesser Antilles). In a moment of weakness I decided to move to southern California. The decision made sense to me. So I sold Hanna Mae's for a good profit, packed my bags and caught the first fishing boat leaving Pointe-A-Prince.
Southern California was my chance to start over! Here, I thought, I would stay...not realizing the future had other plans for me. As is so often with life, we make plans and then life happens. So was the case here with fate decreeing a future different than my mere plans. Unaware of what was going to happen, I bought a two bedroom condo on Laurel Avenue and it was one mere block from Santa Monica Boulevard which was the thriving heart of West Hollywood (aka Boys-town). The condo was lovely with large rooms, a good kitchen, views that nestled into the palm trees where squirrels and birds played. The condo complex also included a good sized swimming pool that was perfect for lazy morning sipping coffee (gin?) and tanning. One might say that I had gone into an early retirement.
Those days were a simple but wonderful existence. The days began with leisurely breakfast on the patio, eventual retirement to the pool area to lounge in the sun with a plastic cocktail glass filled with a generous dollop of Tanqueray gin and two cube of ice (yes, plastic because the crystal old fashion glasses were not allowed by the pool).
Mid-afternoon would be nap time, early evening would be dinner time, and then I would go to a small quiet club on Santa Monica Blvd. called Rafters and have "one" or more. The handsome bartenders soon grew to know me so the dollops of Tanqueray gin into my cocktail were very generous dollops. I tipped well.
Some evenings I would go walking in a small park that was nearby...and it was here that I first became acquainted with the California ground squirrel...its Latin derivative being "Groundus Squirrelis Californius." i became friends with one that I eventually named "Whiskers." But more about that later.
One evening as I was sitting on my bar stool at Rafters I happened to overhear a conversation between two men that were standing a short distance from me. Apparently they had just returned from an extended trip to Mexico. As I listened to the conversation, I learned that they had visited a number of areas off of the "beaten track" in order to get an understanding of the "real Mexico." They had been in a number of remote villages along the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. My interest in their conversation was immediately heightened when I heard one of them say to the other "Do you remember the man named "Juan" that had been washed ashore along with his boat right after Hurricane Aye Yai Yai it's Conchita!?
Rest assured that got my attention and I began to listen more closely to their conversation. The story they were discussing was about how a man had survived the hurricane and had landed ashore along with his wrecked fishing boat. He had almost drowned but had recovered except that he suffered terrible amnesia and could remember little from his past. There were only a few things that he remembered and could recall...one was the name "Hanna Mae." The guys discussing this were wondering if "Hanna Mae" were an ex-lover. My heart quickened. They went on to surmise if "Hanna Mae" might be his mother? Sister? Friend? It was all a mystery.
Apparently this man thought that his name was Juan!!! After he recovered his health, he had opened a small inn right on the coast just outside of Campeche. He called his inn "The Morocco" because for some reason it had a special feeling for him.
In addition, the bar at the Inn specialized in drinks made with Tanqueray gin!
My thoughts/imagination were on overload upon hearing this and I thought to myself "Can this be the same Raoul that I knew and lost in Pointe-A-Pierre?" I decided then and there that there was only one thing that I could do. I had to go to Campeche, Mexico! For the first time in months, that night, as I staggered up Laurel Avenue, I knew I had found a purpose for my life...to find Raoul!
...to be continued