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A twenty-five year old Toyota posing as a taxi tears down a lonely dirt road with little regard for safety or passenger comfort or the locals riding their bicycles. The driver tries in vane to flick the last piece of ash off a dead cigarette out of the window, but instead, the cigarette butt flies back into his left driving eye. That’s when the taxi driver begins to clearly convey his feelings to his passenger in the back seat by saying, “We were supposed to be going to Ladyville, Mister, and now we’re in Ladyville, but we aren’t where we should be, Mister. So where the f%$k do you want to go in Ladyville, Mister??”

The passenger “Mister”, flying between the two back doors of the old Corolla as the car suddenly comes to a complete stop only meters away from a raging river, finally gets a chance to argue his way out of the old Toyota. Before he can climb to his safety, the taxi driver makes it obvious that he is not amused with the passenger who wants to only pay the previously agreed upon transit fare. And so demandingly the taxi driver shouts, “I want more f%$king money, Mister, or I will call the f%$king law!!”

It’s starting to get dark as Charley Wolf exits the taxi at the river’s edge realizing just how strange a stranger can find himself in the now, stranger land. Charley understands the situation and that his options are very limited. Faced with the dilemma of paying the higher than agreed upon price for the ride or a night in jail or something much worse, Charley found himself again learning the difficult task of living the gringo life in a place called Belize. Luckily this night for Charley the family were safe back down south entertaining his mother-in-law that was visiting at that time from the old country.

Dumbfounded by the angry cabbie that only moments before came across as such a congenial and aging old man, Charley, looking for a way out, realized that he and the driver were not alone. For in an instant as the taxi driver’s rants became rather deafening, a tall black man stepped out from the shadows of the situation and pointed to a button on the large tree to their right in a way that suggested that it might just be the way out of the problem at hand.

The taxi driver immediately went silent. Both Charley and the driver fixated on the glaring and piercing eyes of the man who was now pointing to what they were unaware of, that being the lumbering limb of ‘mother nature’ with a buzzer attached. The taxi driver, seemingly a deer caught in headlights, changed his tune abruptly. For he could not take his glare away from the black man as he sat there in the seat of the Toyota, eyes glued to the black man as time seemed to stand perfectly still.

The taxi driver, not really taken to reflection though his down time so often affords him enough free time to be a true philosopher, took one look at the black man and then changed the agreed unconditionally to accept the original amount for the fare as Charley counted it out. He then announced rather bluntly, "get your bags out of the trunk and get the f%$k out of this car, please." The less than visionary taxi man soon after shook his head and the last time Charley saw him well he had turned his direction back down the trail from where this tale came from, obviously deciding that it was clearly time for him to go back to roam the streets of Belize City. Far from satisfied with his share of the deal, the taxi driver departed the scene all the same.

As the taxi man’s taillights were fading into the early evening, Charley was now standing next to a river in the middle of the Belizean nowhere as the sun set, with a towering black man that had yet to speak a single word. So Charley, never being the shy one stepped forward to extend his hand to the man and said, "Grüss Gott, my name is Charley Wolf, I'm looking for a fishing lodge that is reportedly nearby." The man met Charley’s extended hand with a hardy and firm handshake and said, "Hello neighbour, my name is Moses Jacobs, about that driver, he has a real bad f&%king attitude, forget about him, he’ll get his in time”.

Somewhat taken back by what it took to get to where Charley had arrived to, the black man might have smiled but Charley could not be all that sure. The black man then went on to explain himself further, “All that matters now is if you have a reservation. If so, all you got to do man is push the f&%king buzzer on that tree. But let me tell you man, if you’ve not called ahead, motherf&%ker, you best run your a$s down that road after those taillights and flag down that pissed off taxi driver to get your white a$s back to Belize City or the airport or wherever you came here from…Hablas Japanese mi amigo??”

Charley was now somewhat puzzled and miffed for sure since his English was not quite up to Belizean dialect since he and the Wolf family had only been in-country a year or so, plus, he doesn't speak a single word of Japanese. Therefore, Charley placed his bags and the required gear he was travelling with on his solo vacation from Ms. Wolf’s loving but demanding mother, on the ground. He did this to free his hands in order to ring the buzzer on the tree in hope that he would soon be collected from the riverside by the boat service on the answering end of the electronically enhanced buzz.

And so that’s exactly what Charley Wolf did, he rang that buzzer on that tree. Frankly, Charley pushed the buzzer button as hard as he possibly could. As the river rushed east by him and the tree towards the Caribbean Sea, the fading light played tricks upon his eyes. There tucked between the trees and the water’s edge, casual conversation between the black man and Charley Wolf was lost. Though Charley made several attempts to strike up a word or two like most folks do when they find themselves in an elevator staring blankly at the floor indicators rolling by with a re-tuned Bon Jovi song playing softly in the backdrop, he was only greeted by more silence and distant stares from the black man.

Then out of the darkness of the river a light finally appeared and grew, accompanied by the constant whine of an outboard motor. The buzzer had surly been answered and in time a boat with a captain arrived. Literally minutes after the ringing of the buzzer on the tree, Charley turned away from the approaching skiff to look back to thank the black man but it was too late. For the man had once again disappeared into the shadows from whence he had come in the first place.

When the boat arrived, Charley asked the Captain, “Sir, do you happen to know a really tall black man named Moses Jacobs??”

With a look of complete and absolute shock, the captain asked, “Why you asking me about Moses??” That’s when Charley explained in no uncertain terms what had just transpired.

The Captain deliberated to gather his thoughts, then pushed back his tattered New York Yankees baseball cap to scratch his forehead before replying, “What are you smoking, Moses Jacobs came close to beating a taxi driver to death in Belize City in a dispute over the agreed upon cab fare over ten years ago. Most people say that after he escaped from Hattieville Prison back in ‘94 just down the road from here, that Moses got eaten by a pack of Morelet crocodiles as he tried to swim to the other side of the river with chains on his legs. Man, Moses Jacobs has never been seen nor heard from since.”

After a moment of bewildering quietness there at the makeshift landing along the banks of this particular river in Belize, the boatman, as he idled his skiff offshore, then asked Charley directly, “Excuse me sir, but do you have a reservation??” As Charley Wolf stood there along the shoreline watching the light of another day escape in the land that he and his dear family have adapted to against all odds, occasionally glancing back towards the shadows, the patriarch of the Wolfs looked over to the skiff captain and simply replied, “Mister, tell me, why in the world would I be standing here in the middle of Belize ringing a buzzer affixed to a tree if I had not made a reservation?”


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