I don't own House or Andy DuFresne, or Red, and this fiction is not intended to violate the owners' copyrights.


A House By the Sea

There were three bars in the village, two very seedy, one a little less so. Two of the bars had pianos. They would have been nicer if someone tuned them.

The tall, grizzled American played the piano in each bar for drinks and tips. At El Diamonte Pacifico, the one he thought of as mid-level seedy, he also tended bar when the regular bartender took a break. His bad leg wouldn't let him stand behind the bar for long stretches. At least he was fluent in Spanish. Bartending and tips were enough to pay for the room out back. After just missing being stung by a scorpion the first morning he stayed there, he always shook out his blankets before going to sleep and his sneakers before putting them on.

There was an elderly African-American ex-pat named Red who worked for a motel-keeper and charter-boat owner named Peter Stevens. Stevens' place was down by the beach. Red played a decent game of chess. Once or twice a month Red and the tall American sat on the porch in the morning before it got too hot, playing, talking about the tourists or the heat. Neither ever talked about anything to do with the States. Stevens, when he came to the village, often pulled up a chair and watched the game. The tall man noticed an echo of New England in their speech.

Sometimes the tall man helped to patch up people who had an injury or minor illness. If asked, he said he'd had some training, but never said what kind. He refused payment for helping. He recommended that someone should go into Zihuatanejo to a clinic if they needed antibiotics or more than the rough first aid he could provide. Nonetheless, people started calling him Doc. He answered to it, and didn't offer any name of his own.

Zihuatanejo was fifteen kilometers up the bay. It was a small, rather touristy city. He took a bus there to pick up money when he needed it, from one of the six banks where he had deposits under different names. Sometimes Doc would score some pain pills, but had to do it without drawing the attention of the drug cartels. The anonymity of the city should have felt safer, but he was more comfortable out in the village in the bar with the noisy air-conditioner, Mexican soap operas on the TV during the day, soccer at night, and the jangly and cheerful Mexican music.

Stevens asked him if he would like any extra work. He didn't want anyone to realize that a well-off Gringo lived in their midst and he trusted the two older men, so he said, "Sure," and hitched a ride with a tourist in a dented, cheap rented car out to the shore-front motel. Red was working on a boat beached in a trailer above the high tide line. Stevens came out to the motel porch, hand shading his eyes, at the sound of the car.

The motel was named Casa Olvido. The boat was named Lethe.

Doc climbed out of the car, took a moment to steady his aching leg, and walked down the beach. He was wearing battered blue jeans, sneakers, and an AC-DC t-shirt, with his jacket slung over his shoulder. He leaned heavily on his cane on the uneven footing of the beach sand. The Pacific lived up to its name, with gentle waves rolling in from blue water that sparkled in the morning sunshine. The peace of the place swept over him.

Red climbed down from the side of the boat to greet him. "Have you had coffee yet?"

"No. Wanted to get out here before siesta time."

"Well, come on in. We've got a pot ready."

It had been years since Wilson's death, lonely years. He felt something in his heart relax a little. Maybe this wasn't a place to rest, but at least, maybe, it was a place to pause. "Coffee sounds good," he said in his deep voice, and followed Red into the motel office.