Part 3 of “Painting Dream,” Chapter Nine of Green Music
The table was made of red tin. Wicker chairs painted many different colours, all peeling, dug their way into a dune that encroached from across the path, trying to take over the patio. Or sand box, more like.
In the shade of an ancient mango spreading its shadowy limbs and hearing rusty hinges again, Susan looked up, saw a hand-carved turtle sign swinging there, almost hidden by dark leaves. Like the chairs, it needed sandpaper and fresh paint.
“What do people do here?”
“We fish; we build boats. We farm too, of course, and there’s workshops where we make things people need. Clothes, shoes, dishes, cooking pots, eyeglasses.”
“If you have iron you must have mining.”
“They’re that way past the dunes,” he said, pointing. “I don’t know much about that though; I work on boats. In between working on other people’s I’ve been building my own. Want to come see her? She’s beautiful.”
“I’d love to,” Susan said. Didn’t ask, how can we have such a long conversation in a dream? She shivered with the strangeness of it.
Stiv too seemed hesitant, shy, still seemed to find something about her odd, a little unseemly but was careful with it, as if, like she herself he didn’t want to break the spell. Maybe he wasn’t from here either. Maybe he was from Montreal.
“Best beer I’ve ever tasted,” she repeated, not wanting to inadvertently say anything jarring, like food preservatives, or computer, or open-heart surgery. Keep it simple.
“My Uncle Martin makes it, bottles it himself. He owns the hotel and the brewery.”
The beer bottles made beautiful green lights on the red tin table, marked by rings from many bottles. Susan wanted to stay, have another. It was very hot, even in the shade of the mango tree, and the beer was cold as ice. “How d’you keep the beer so cold?”
“It’s kept in a well,” Stiv explained, “cooled by an underground spring, come down from the mountains.”
“You mean when people order beer,” Susan asked, “the bartender doesn’t get it from the fridge under the counter, he winches a box up through a hole in the floor, full of beer”
“You got it exactly right the wood is oiled to prevent the box from rotting.”/p>
They left their empty bottles on the table, and this time he didn’t pull her chair out for her: too hard to drag it through a soon-to-be new dune, she thought.
“The shipyard isn’t far. You’ll like it; there’s roses.”
“Okay,” and she got up too.