Without exactly being invited, we sauntered over to Charlie’s table and introduced ourselves.
He motioned for us to join him. “What’s your story?” he asked, though it was pretty obvious from his tone he was just going through the motions.
“Nothing special,” Michael said. “Like everybody else, we fell in love with the island. After a couple of visits we bought a place.”
“You came, you saw, you bought.” He almost rolled his eyes as he spoke.
I piped in, hoping to liven up the conversation. “Not sure. We’re in Los Chivos, near the top of the hill.”
“I live on the opposite side of the crest.”
“So we are neighbors,” I said, still trying to inject a little warmth into the proceedings.
“Distant,” he replied.
You could say that again. A short silence followed. I glanced at Michael, who was fidgeting in his chair. Time to go.
“So who takes care of your house when you’re not around?” Charlie asked, out of his haze of indifference.
He took a sip of beer. “Never heard of her. Any good?”
“She’s great,” I said, looking at Michael, who was fidgeting again. I picked up my coffee, ready to make our goodbyes.
Then suddenly it occurred to me how to get this guy’s attention.
“Particularly compared to who we started with.”
Charlie sat up in his seat. “And who was that?”
He almost spewed beer through his nose. “Oh my god, that freak!”
We appeared to have his full attention now.
“Our furniture wasn’t quite up to his usual standards,” Michael offered.
“Pretentious creep. You should see his house. It’s Pottery Barn on steroids.”
“You’ve been there?”
“Oh sure, he had a party when he and Rod first ‘arrived’ on the island. It was hilarious—more Fire Island than Vieques. Shirtless bartender, the whole hot mess.”
“So you guys had a falling out?”
Michael and I looked at each other. We were fully aware that this was a small island and that we were engaging in conversation with someone who was approximately as discreet as Julian Assange.
But it was way too tempting to pass up.
“He fired us,” Michael said.
“Oh my god,” Charlie gasped. “What the hell did you do to him?”
“Nothing. He painted our house the wrong color, and when we told him he had a meltdown.”
“He denied it?”
We sat and brooded over our respective beverages. In fact, conversation pretty much ground to a halt after that.
Apparently Charlie had satisfied whatever curiosity he may have had about us.
“Good to meet you guys,” he said, turning back to his laptop.
Now it was definitely time to go.