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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hope, and the Dispersal Thereof

I once found myself in the Caribbean with my brother.

I believe it was St. Lucia.

Have you ever hung out with Kevin? You should. He’s one of the more sincere BS artists you’ll ever meet. Kevin is the devil’s advocate, the turd in the punchbowl, the handsome man you suspect may be pulling your leg.

He is. Pulling your leg, that is.

Except when he isn’t.

Both Kevin and I tend to attract lonely people, and we did on this vacation. Perhaps it was because we were having fun, perhaps because we looked like people that would listen, perhaps because we looked like people who were drunk.

It’s not important. What was important was the moment Kevin asked Jean-Claude to sat down.

Jean-Claude was a very black man with very white teeth, a man whose face spoke of sadness. He tried to sell us a variety of cheaply made trinkets in a rush of words, more than three-quarters of which whistled into one ear, around my brain, and back out my other ear without my understanding them.

Kevin threw himself into the moment.

“What am I gonna do with this stuff?” Kevin asked. “Seriously. Jean-Claude, aren’t you tired, brother? Let’s relax. You want a beer? Here, you run and buy Pearl and I here a beer, and buy yourself one, too. You wanna?” Kevin handed him a twenty.

Jean-Claude’s sad eyes took in the money, looked at Kevin and I, and left.

I took a long pull off one of the beers we already had in front of us. “Think he’ll come back?” I asked.

“Of course he will,” Kevin said, lifting his arm to display a dozen necklaces. “I’ve lifted half his inventory.”

Sure enough, Jean-Claude returned.

And stayed.

We had three beers apiece with Jean-Claude, or “Jay-Say” as he insisted we call him, on Kevin’s dime; and while his island patois was not easy on these Minnesotan ears, his story came out as the hour grew later and the steel drums played. His mother had just died. He had three younger sisters still in school. He worked during the day, sold trinkets at night.

He looked up. What did we think? He got by, but it wasn’t enough. Should he go back to school?

Kevin put a hand on J-C’s arm. “Brother, you need to go to school. Make yourself the go-to guy here. Work on your English, give ‘em that big smile of yours, and use that brain. It’s all going to be okay. I know it. Say it with me: it’s going to be okay.”

J-C smiled. “It’s all going to be okay.”

“That’s right,” Kevin said. We raised our last beers, clinked.

We left about an hour after that. With handshakes and hugs, J-C went his way and we went ours.

We walked away from the outdoor bar. “That was real nice,” I said, “all those things you said to J-C.”

“Wasn’t nice,” he hiccupped. “Was true. It’s all true, and I hope he believes it like I do.”

We stopped walking and stood for a moment, a streetlight overhead, the ocean in front of us. Strange Caribbean stars blinked overhead.

Kevin, a full foot taller than me, smiled down.

“It doesn’t cost anything to give people hope, you know.”


Shelly said...

“It doesn’t cost anything to give people hope, you know.” Golden truth. Your brother Kevin is like you- one of the good 'uns.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Well seen your bro and you are cut from the same cloth...

I loved St Lucia. You sparked memories... YAM xx

Buttons Thoughts said...

Oh I love your brother Kevin, I have a brother like that. I love your family Pearl. Hug B

Unknown said...

Love Kevin's attitude! What a great guy.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful tag line.

jenny_o said...

Wouldn't it be incredible to know how J-C is doing now?

Pearl said...

Yeah, that Kevin. He's all right. :-)

And yes. I do wonder where J-C is now...

Geo. said...

Beautiful post, Pearl. “It’s all going to be okay.” I'll remember that and try to say it to myself oftener.

Hilary said...

Awww.. he's a good man, your bro. I don't doubt he makes a difference wherever he goes.

Notes From ABroad said...

I will trade you Kevins.
My brother Kevin would be not so fun in the Bahamas . First of all, he would make me go in the water.
Then he would laugh at me.
He is my baby brother but he is still annoying. Even if he is a man now.
I have to call him, now that you mention brothers.
He seems to have forgotten me, I have to remind him ..

Elephant's Child said...

You and your fambly are good people. Very good people.

vanilla said...

Not to extinguish any twinkling stars, but: --------------------------

(I'm sorry. I wrote a biting and sarcastic thing, and that is not me.)

Blessings to Kevin as he spreads hope across his domain. Seriously.

Merlesworld said...

How true hope can always help.

Launna said...

I couldn't agree more... we should always give hope whenever possible...

Gigi said...

Sounds like you weren't the only one of the bunch who learned a thing or two from your dad.

And J-C? I've a feeling that he's doing okay.

Connie said...

I think Kevin has a good heart--just like his sister.

Lin said...

Sometimes I want people to tell me it is going to be okay and sometimes I want them to be honest with me.

I hope JC did turn out to be okay.

Chicken said...

Ok, that's it. I love you. And your brother.

River said...

You know how people say love makes the world go round? I'd say there's a fair amount of hope involved too.
Kevin did good.

Linda O'Connell said...

You two are gems. Not many people would part with their twenty or dispense with such uplifting advice. The world needs more Pearls and Kevins.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

Yep. Definitely liking Kevin . . .

Unknown said...

Pearl, I can't get enough of your work. That, in itself, is no B.S.
I almost fell out of my chair when Kevin lifted half the necklaces.
You have an excellent balance of humor and sincerity that keeps me,-and I'm sure many others, coming back.

Thank You

Watson said...

I Love Kevin!

Joanna Jenkins said...

I think a vacation with you an Kevin is in order! He's a good guy and you're a great story teller.
Congrats on your POTW from Hilary-- Well deserved.
xo jj

Suldog said...

Kevin is the best kind of BS artist, one who builds dreams. Nice tale, and congrats on the POTW.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

“It doesn’t cost anything to give people hope, you know.”

I don't know if you meant that to be a sermon, but you just gave a good one!

Congratulations on a well-deserved POTW.