The mulatto took me across town to a waterfront restaurant and bar that didn’t look cheap. The sign above the big doors read The Wallace. In the big dining hall that was flooded with bright light, amid the sound of soft the surf on the beach not far away, there were only about a total of twelve people seated at the table but the hunter was unmistakable. I hadn’t seen him before but I knew it was him even before he got to his feet and came towards me.
Ramirez held out his hand as he came up and I took it.
“I would have met you if I could but we had to get the boat fixed,” he said with a friendly smile. “You understand. It was important.”
“So, I gathered,” I replied flatly. I didn’t even try to return the smile and he made another gesture, dropping the smile.
“It’s just one of those things. It took longer than I thought. I only got through this afternoon,” he said with an apologetic look.
“Okay,” I said. “Just so long as we take off tomorrow.”
The hunter’s face brightened. “Sure thing. We are all ready now, we’ll be off first thing tomorrow morning,” he nodded. “You impatient to get at the cats then?”
“Not specifically the cats,” I replied. “I just hate hanging around on these sorts of trips. Moreover, I’ve seen the market and the two-legged cats, there’s nothing else, is there?”
Ramirez grinned. “I meant the four-legged cats.”
“I know you did,” I answered. “But just so you know that I got no objection to some of the other stuff but only after business.”
Ramirez grinned, looking relieved.
“I’ll bear that in mind,” he said and gestured at the table he had been sitting at. There were two lovely women sitting there. “I guess there’s something else I have to apologize for. I always buy dinner for the family, the wife, and my daughter before I leave town for a while. Kind of a habit and I wasn’t there yesterday to do it.”
I suddenly felt angry. “Listen Cazador. I’m the client here, remember? You didn’t show up at the airport and now you want to run off again….”
“No, no, it’s just that I’ve got them with me now but they will leave right after we’ve eaten,” said Ramirez quickly.
I sighed and then nodded. “Alright.”
We crossed the room to the table where the women were and Ramirez made the introductions. The two women were quite beautiful and richly dressed too; the older woman in a stylish black gown and the younger one in a nice white dress. They were of pure Latin extraction like the hunter himself and clearly mother and daughter.
“You are already a hunter like Jean … in Africa …I believe, Mr. Alan?” the older woman said even before I sat down.
She was plumply attractive, probably a lot of fun in her element but right now, she gave the impression she was on her best behavior, kind of naïve and self-conscious.
“Well, yes. You might say I was once in the business for a time,” I nodded.
“But more importantly, a writer,” said the younger woman with interest. Her voice was more attractive than that of her mother’s, her English was perfect and it had more of an American accent to it than the local Creole.
“You’ll get a bunch of adventures alright,” said Ramirez.
“You like fishing too?” asked the girl.
“Sure, I nodded and turned to Ramirez. “This boat of yours, how big is it?”
“Pretty big,” said the hunter. “A hundred and fifty horsepower. We’ll go fishing when done with hunting if you wish. Consuela loves the fishing.”
“Hope she’ll come too when we go?” I asked.
Ramirez stared at me a moment then glanced over at his daughter. She was watching me with clear interest. He looked back at me.
“Divorced,” I said and turned my attention to the menu. It was laboriously written but like with the one at the Palace Hotel, once you could figure out the terrible Spanish, the array of food and fruits on offer was astounding.