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The Rex Barton Story Chapter 22

The Rex Barton Story Chapter 22

The Rex Barton Story Chapter 22 

Roatan

 

Technically speaking all treasure found there must stay there. My thinking was if after more than 300 years nobody bothered to pick the treasure up, especially the Honduran government and I was willing to pay whatever tariff they wanted then it was mine to keep. Finders keepers!

The real treasure was not in our many findings which we left with Roy and his family. I could not carry it all off of the island. But we promised to return. Our home on the island was a beautiful little, one bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom unit that was not more than a year old. Roy and his son and girlfriend did a fantastic job building and decorating the entire resort. Our single suite unit faced out toward Roy's boat which was tethered to the pier. 

About 150 yards further out in the bay by itself was a private airplane and airstrip on a little island. You could almost swim to it and defiantly sail to the islet. Anyway, our unit came furnished, including its very own house slave, a cute little (albino lizard) which Annie was not too keen about, was picture perfect. I was sold on the whole island concept of living. After all the problems with Capt. Numb-nuts, I was ready for a change.

Annie was not sure, if this might not be to, big of a difference, and much too far of a stretch for the family. I was willing to go along to get along for the moment. She knew I needed something like this to go forward in life hopefully. I was still depressed, and physically; some unknown factor was working against me. We would discover what that might be years later. Stay with me.

Wilkie was a native-born Carib fellow whom Roy hired to be his man Friday. Wilkie was great. A self-taught mechanic and general all-around fix-it man. You needed something done; he could in all probability getter done. When the engine on a boat quits running, or the air conditioner stops or even the washing machine you called Wilkie.

Roy's thirty-foot boat 'The Fringe Benefit' was moored out front of the main house ready to go which we used every day. Exploring the island was an enjoyable experience that changed my mind about a lot of things, one of which was how to convince my family that we belonged here. I loved the story of Robin and Caruso, and that was not my idea, but it sure made sense to live down here where drugs and crime were practically non-existent.

Life was much more manageable. Fresh seafood caught every day, fruit grew on trees year-round, and the people, will they were just outright loving. Everyone enjoyed an open- door concept style of living. That, by the way, worked both ways. What they had they would share wand what we had we were expected to share.

The islanders that were employed to work for you met that you, as the employer, was responsible for the entire household. Not a bad arrangement and the labor costs were usually sharing a meal, or providing transportation in an emergency, or even being the judge and settle arguments. We were esteemed higher; I think because we had money, property, and prestige.

The big joke was on Sunday afternoons after church, we would go and visit some of the old-time folks, and they would grin at us. That suspicious grin Roy told me was one of knowledge and wisdom. They knew how to make us feel welcome, yet their understanding came at a cost like many developing countries. Through the century's survival was not a gift but earned. Sometimes lives were lost. No one took anything for granted. That's pretty much what we acted like — blowing in and in a hurry to blow out again.

It was always a look back in time on Sunday's. You would see a neighborhood of dingies (large canoes) with little motors. The head of the family was always responsible for driving the dingies. Just like our men driving there Cadillacs and Lincoln cars to church. The women dressed in their best Sunday dress with bonnets and carrying a parasol. Mid 1700's I would guess. We were in a time warp. You could not help but slow down and enjoy the precession of and visiting with the elders.

Roy was very popular and a wealthy eastern newspaper mogul who brought spoils to the natives. Each family that had been employed by him or the elders of younger employed family members always received a donation of $100 to $300 dollars of goodwill. Yes, Roy was famous amongst the Caribs, but he fits the bill and paid their medical bills too.

Eric had several little sailboats called sunfishes which I got sheer joy out of running around the bay chasing cat's paws. Cats Paws are small wind-driven ripples in otherwise calm Caribbean water in the bay behind the airstrip. The water temperature was close to 78 degrees, and the air temperature was 80 to 85 degrees. Even though a storm was building out on the horizon, I didn't care.

I was in my element. Everyone would be sitting on the porch watching this insane man chasing the wind in a small sailboat and on occasion be blown over from behind. So, I got wet. Big deal, go ahead and laugh at me. It just inspired me to turn the boat back over by stepping on the keel and running after the wind again. They were drinking beers and laughing, and I was working at my play.

I was in love with this island life. Annie got a little worried because she knew I would sail right past exhaustion to critical mass if I were not careful. A short time later, I heard the dinner bell, so I headed back into the doc. To have experienced the wind, water, and sail in such a beautiful bay where you could drop a dime in twenty feet of the emerald green water and call heads or tails was nothing short of amazing. Thank, you God.

My head went into high gear, and I started allowing myself to think with free thoughts. I opened a nice cold bottle of Coke from the refrigerator, picked up a bag of potato chips, and sat down on the veranda in an oversize hammock to ponder a plan. It must have been about eleven o'clock. Taking a moment to talk with God, and see what he thought was a good start of my hatching idea.

God's reply didn't come as fast as my directing did. A moment stretched into two; then three hours before I could think of a penny for my thoughts. All of a sudden, I was dead out. The hours of sailing in the beautiful bright blue bay wore me out. Not sure how many hours blew by on the edge of clouds but when I awoke I had my answer.

My question to God was, how can we sustain our lives here on this island and make enough money to stay in touch with our family in California, have the necessary things to leave the island like boats and planes if needed? Roy and his son Eric who used to work for Cessna could buy planes cheap enough, and I knew I had enough connections to buy the right boat.

The only remaining question was that of money. To obtain a home, boat, plane, and move down here would be very expensive. I probably stared at that Coke bottle in front of me for more than an hour pondering it all when it came to me.

Number one, I didn't like Cokes that much and wanted to know where the nearest 7-up bottling plant was. That was my favorite soft drink. Second, I wanted to build a resort and open up the island for more tourists. Not too big of an idea, I thought. I was sure once I had all the facts, convincing Anne would not be that hard. Wow, I was stoked and dripping wet from the humidity with excitement.

I asked Eric if he knew of any property available, on the island away from his venture? He said yes. The first such property was an old sea captain's house out on a very windy point a couple of miles north of Roy's resort. The former captain was a friend of my family.

He has a wise old Turkey that had been pardoned now for many years in a row for Thanksgiving. Yes, he was very intimidated by our presence and made sure we all got a good nip on the leg for interrupting his mid-day snooze. The house was a real English Tutor, two-story home. The windy point and of course, the turkey made Annie's "No" very clear indeed. So, we passed on it.

Next, we took the boat to another location called 'Half-Moon Bay.' Yes, that would be fine I thought and very excitedly told Annie that this was the spot. Our Shangri-La. We anchored the boat and dove into the most beautiful water ever. Again, clear, warm, emerald green water with angelfish and parrotfish everywhere. Off in the shadows, we could see barracuda, but they were not interested in us probably because they were not sure what spices of fish we were. They only knew we were much more substantial.

The property was called Half Moon Bay because that was the exact shape of the bay. Very large and the deepest harbor on the entire island. The perfect place for a port. Even a cruise line now and then could anchor off. Thoughts of money, property, and prestige were rolling around in my brain. More and more ideas kept me thinking, planning and wondering how to put it all together while snorkeling toward the white sandy beach.

The property was 360 acres. It began at the bay and stretched over the hills to the leeward side of the island. On our adventure of underwater diving, we spotted a massive mound of popular mollusk seashells used for neckless and bracelets on the bottom of the bay and stretched to a large pile on the beach itself. Of course, my head was doing numbers. The pucca shell industry was taking off, and I saw money, not shells. Annie and I removed our fins, masks, and snorkels and began walking up the beach to where an old stone house had once been. The walkway from the beach to the dilapidated old house was all made from a dark green slate. An old fireplace, made from the same material was all that was remaining. Later we were told that the slate was mined right there on the property.

It wasn't long before we found out that a family-owned property lived in Laguna Beach, California and the son holding the title was up in our neighborhood of Paso Robles. The price for the property was within our budget if we had had one. When we returned to the mainland, we would look into all that. Money wasn't going to hinder my spirit of adventure. It was merely a small obstacle to have to hurdle, but then I was the fastest high hurdler in school.

The next idea I had was drinking at me all afternoon. That bottle of Coke needed to be a bottle of 7-up. I told Annie that I was going to find out where the 7-up corporation was and give them a call. After several calls and being forwarded to another corporate building, I ended up in Washington, DC.

My bravado got me through to the right person, and we talked for a good twenty minutes on how to get started. I related to the exec my dilemma of not being able to drink my favorite drink to which he was surprised and delighted that someone had an interest and saw my money-making, venture as more sales. The suit told me that Coke had a bottling plant in San Pedro Sulu on the mainland of Honduras and that they were only using half of their facility and would gladly work a deal with me to bottle 7-up in their remaining half. Problem solved.

Further, the suit told me I could have the entire country of Honduras, the islands to Belize and back around. A Hugh area that would require additional large freighter type vessels. Wow, I just stepped into a multi-million-dollar business with only a penny to my name. Not an unusual predicament for me to be in. Remember I knew how to high hurdle.

The next question was one that needed attention before any offers, and I knew I must come to terms with it first. Where would all the money come from I asked myself? A limited partnership, of course! Had I ever done this before? No, but that wasn't going to stop me. I am an expert in (OJT) learning while on the job training.

Annie, new the sun must have been too much for me and that she would have to be the one to put her foot down and crush my dreams. Somehow though she held her tongue and just looked at me forebodingly and with love. I was smiling at the big lug in the orange bathing suit which would have had a tattoo of a Sheriff's Deputy Star on his chest, not more than a week earlier.

Now he was a prominent tycoon, ready to swim the family into the enormous debt ever. Rex, how in the world did you think of all this in less than an hour? Were you not sound to sleep in the hammock? Something is wrong with your head. This, is not like you, Hawk. Is it? Don't worry honey. If it is not meant to be, then I can let it go. I think. Maybe! Don't ask.

Over the next two years, I put all most every waking minute into the project. I made a big clay model of the property and its potential. I wrote up a very elaborate Partnership Agreement and took out ads in the Los Angeles Times. Surprisingly, I received some callbacks form companies interested in my resort idea and the 7-up money-making plan. The only hitch, which at the time, I did not believe it to be that big of a deal, was the entire LLC Partnership depending on insurance.

For weeks, I called every insurance company in the yellow pages and waited for there callbacks. The answer was always the same. Sorry, we cannot insure properties in foreign countries. Finally, I got hold of the Lloyds of London Insurance Company. They said yes, they could protect my prospectus and consequent holdings for War, Expropriation, and Currency Devaluation.

"Great, when and how much would the policy be"? Then the bomb exploded.

"You said Honduras,"?

"Yes, Honduras and the Bay Islands, specifically the island of Roatan."

"Oh…Aaa, we can't ensure that area at this time".

"Why I asked with a puzzled voice tilting on anger"?

"Because the President of Honduras is going to war with his cousin in Guatemala over another banana deal."

"What the hell are you talking about"?

"Yes, just this morning it hit the wires. Sorry, it is unfortunate, but that is the way it is in most of those third world countries. You, can always try back in a year"?

"I don't have another year. My purchase agreement won't stretch that far. Isn't there anything you can do to help"? All the wind was quickly going out of my sails.

"Sorry, sir, you can try back in a year."

That was it — my entire two years of work a bust. Annie was relieved but did not let on. She never wanted to home school the kids down there and felt the island was just too primitive. She was probably right. I just ran over the last high hurdle and fell on my ass. I finally understood God's answer. That would be a no.

My tycoon, 7-up bottling plant and resort ideas now retired and my law career and ops career ended, I needed something to take its place. Why not something easy, like being a top finance manager at a very busy auto dealer. I had never done that before either but remember I am a fast on the job learner. The great pretender, until I learned it. Or, that of being a top-end mortgage broker and realtor? I loved being in my own business, but then the health issues kept plaguing me.

I was exhausted beyond my limitations. Migraine headaches started to invade and blossom in my head. Was this something left over from the chemical mace accident, or handling dead bodies in Berlin? Or to much salt water up the nose while diving in Roatan?

I noticed that I had limited breath and again, unable to finish simple tasks. But I pushed on as best I could because I enjoyed what I was doing.

Then one day in 2013, Annie and I heard a hard knock on our front door. A couple was standing there announcing to me on a Sunday morning, that they wanted to buy our home.

"You do realize that we don't have a for sale sign up anywhere, don't you"?

"Yes, but we want to buy your home. Plus, you can stay in it free for three months, because we don't want you stressed over anything. Take everything you want because we will be building on and doing a complete remodel".

"Well, Thank You, but we are not for sale".

The gentlemen then pulled from his pocket a check for an amount close to what we would be asking if our home was for sale. Being the proper real estate agent that I am, I said sorry you are not even close. Well, Don said, think it over for a couple of weeks and let us know.

Our family home of nearly thirty years went into escrow at a mutually agreed amount of money to close. Our only regret was we should have asked for six-months free rent to move all that we had accumulated over the last 30 years. It felt more rushed to move, and that was weighing heavy on us. Too heavy. My health was waning.

We had been looking at an area in the Pacific Northwest. We even found a home we liked and made an offer. Our offer was accepted, and we closed within thirty days.

 

The Doctor's News

After moving, my health finally gave out extraordinarily. The headaches were more frequent, and then one evening, I got up from the sofa to get some ice cream for Annie, and my nose started bleeding. It wouldn't stop bleeding. That evening I told Annie to call 911, I had lost a quart of blood.

The EMT's arrived in minutes and stuck balloons into my nose to stop the blood flow. It worked but said they wanted me to go to the hospital anyway to get a checkout. The bleeding happened four times before my doctor sent me to x-ray for a cat scan. With-in ten minutes Annie and I got the news.

"Hawk, I am sorry, but you have a huge brain tumor."

My legs could no longer hold me up. I was hoping that I just needed a blood transfusion.

Long story short my neurosurgeon, told us that tumor had probably been there for forty years or more. What caused the tumor could have come from handling so many dead bodies in Wannsee Lake. It explained a lot of what I felt, how I felt — the feeling of exhaustion, unable to cope with things like I used to. I was quick to anger now and always stopped short of finishing projects or business. It explained it but was not a good consolation prize.

In all the years and doctors, one little lab test would have discovered the culprit and things might have been much different. I wanted to be more like my old self.  Easy does it, plenty of patients to go around and nothing to fear.  Death met nothing to me. I have faced it too many times in my life. It was just an inconvenience to eternity with God. Like I said before, this wasn’t the end.  Not yet. Just another question: What If? 

 

THE END

 

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