“If ever our paths should cross again, I promise you this…”
By Margie Keane
“If ever our paths should cross again, I promise you this…” “That’s what he said, and there he is!” Whispered Marcia.
Even after 25 years she recognized his “jock walk,” hands in pockets, kind of ambling along, almost a strut. Streaks of gray were prominent in his once crow black hair. He was dressed as he was the last time she saw him—khaki shorts, navy polo shirt and boat shoes.
Marcia walked over to the pier railing where he was standing, gazing out over the ocean and said, “hello good lookin’.”
Paul wheeled around, his eyes wide as he looked at the lovely red head, “Marcia!” He grabbed her shoulders and said “My god! It’s really you!”
They hugged then stood back surveying each other.
“My golly Marcia you still have the greatest smile I’ve ever seen.” He looked around. “Are you alone?”
“Yes, I’m here to cover the sail races. They don’t start for two days but I love New Port so I came early. I like going through the mansions and eating in the fabulous restaurants here. What about you?”
“Here for the races too, my son works at the Naval welfare center here, and I too, came early so he and I could spend some time together. How about having a drink with me, catch up on the past years.”
They walked over to the Black Pearl restaurant and found a table on the deck. As they sipped their drinks Paul asked, “What happened to your friend, what was her name, the one you were staying with here in Newport?”
“Janie. What a great three weeks that was. Her parents had that rambling cottage on the beach, remember? She’s happily married, living in Providence and now owns the cottage.
“Yeah, I remember that cottage. Do you remember Truman?”
“Who could forget anyone with a name like that?
“Right, well, if he hadn’t invited me to Newport to go sailing with him, you and I would never have met, and that summer night might not have been so memorable.
Paul looked at Marcia, a smile playing around his mouth. “So you’re here to cover the races. That’s funny, I don’t remember you as much of a sailor.”
Marcia laughed and said, “You must be thinking of the time I tipped over the canoe trying to get a picture of that beautiful heron.”
“No, I was remembering a time a bunch of us were sailing and the boom came around and knocked you into the water.”
“Now that wasn’t funny. I had sore ribs for a long time. Would you believe that I now work for a boating company?
Paul threw back his head and laughed and laughed. “How did you get a job there?”
Marcia shrugged, “I was ready for a job change, saw an ad in the paper for an assistant editor. I had no idea it was for a boating magazine until I went for an interview. When I was in their office, sitting there, looking out over the Connecticut River, I knew I had to have the job, and I got it. I read nothing but sailing magazines for weeks. I also took the Coast Guard boating course, learned how to tie a bunch of fancy knots and got my boating license. And you? What are you doing?
“You remember the last time you saw me I was leaving on a tramp steamer?
“Yes I do remember that. How did it go?”
It was an experience. We went to a couple of different ports and then to Germany where I left and bummed around Europe for a while then signed on with a Japanese ship bound for Portland Maine. That was not so much fun! I worked in the galley and saw more fish heads and rice than anyone should have to look at. Ugh!”
Gazing at Marcia, Paul reached over and took her hand. “I’m sorry we lost track of each other. I was never good at writing letters. If only I had taken my computer along.”
Marcia smiled and took his hand. “I’m sorry too, I have missed your quirky sense of humor. Did you marry?”
“Yeah, but turned out that in spite of her telling me how she loved sailing, she really didn’t like boats and I definitely didn’t like big city living so we parted ways, and you?”
“Yes, but mine didn’t work out either and we grew apart. He wanted to live the life of a frat boy forever and I wanted to grow up. Are you still sailing around the world?”
“No, I started my own boat building business, specializing in small sailboats, then started on bigger things. It got to be too much work so I sold the business for a good amount of money and started another business. Now I’m restoring old boats and loving it. People with old boats still want mahogany and teak and brass, none of the synthetics, so it’s a perfect fit for me.
That’s why I love the old mansions; the craftsmanship put into those places is almost non-existent today. The Vanderbilt’s brought over Italian craftsmen from the Vatican to design a mosaic tile scene on the outside wall of one of their verandas. The workers cut and arranged the small pieces of tile into a fifty foot long ocean scene that is absolutely stunning.”
Paul sat back in his chair and gazed at Marcia then he sat forward and asked, “What is the name of this boating magazine you work for?”
“Soundings” Marcia responded, “its right next to…”
“Essex Boat Works. That’s my old company. I now work in Essex.”
“Are you kidding?” Exclaimed Marcia.
“Totally serious, I’ve lived in Essex for fifteen years.”
“I’ve only worked at Soundings for four months, but still, you would think we might have run into each other, I mean it’s not like there are hundreds of people there. I go down to the dock all the time just to feed the ducks and also to watch this big black lab who thinks he’s a duck dive into the water searching for bread scraps.”
They looked at each other for a moment, shaking their heads then break into peals of laughter before Paul asks “are you going out on a boat to cover the races?”
“Yeah I am, I’ve gotten better over the years, I haven’t fallen overboard once.”
“Why don’t you come with me? You can meet my son, and I will be there to catch you should you try to slide away.”
I don’t think I’ll need to be saved but I would like to meet your son. I’ll go to that phone box over there and let the office know of my change in plans, then can we go see your boat?
As they walked across the dock Paul took Marcia’s hand. “The last time I saw you, we were on this same dock watching the Kennedy’s yacht come in, remember?”
“Yes I do said Marcia, we saw a bit of history.”
“I told you that one day I was going to have a boat like that and you said ‘In your dreams!’”
Paul stopped and pointed at the beautiful yacht.
Marcia clapped her hands “You remembered! The moment I saw you that phrase popped into my mind.”
Paul kissed the top of her head and murmured, “Sunset is in two hours and I always keep a promise.
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