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by Mac1
Rated: E · Novel · Action/Adventure · #2178712
Story of 3 boys escaping a convent during WWII and their adventure.
C H A P T E R 11

I remember clearly navigating the coastal waters of northeastern Brazil, it made an impression on my mind that of entering a world of pre-historic times. The closer we moved towards Rio de Janeiro, the more I felt I was entering another realm. The giant mountains standing by the seashore as if someone or some creature I should say placed them there, firmly in the sand. The mountains gave me an impression that they were living creatures, as if they had something to say. I can only imagine the things they had seen , if they could only tell.

Once we docked the vessel and tied down all the ropes, I was told to bring the ships cargo documents to the terminal office so they can start to prepare the Customs clearance process. In the meantime the crew started to offload the cargo destined for this port. I walked into the office and I asked for the shipowners office, they told me to go upstairs and it was third door on the right. So I proceeded and made my way, it wasn't a very busy place and rather quiet actually. I counted 3 doors and then I said, this must be it. " Hello " I said. A young lady was looking out of the window at the ship and turned around " Bom Dia " she said. " Are you from the ship ?". At first I was a little taken, the woman was not only beautiful , but so feminine, I felt as if time had stopped for a moment and I became dazed. She looked at me with a concerned look " fala portuguese ?". Then I regained my composure " Oh, no, I'm sorry, it has been a long day, yes, I am from the ship ". She smiled " Long day ! , you mean long night... it is morning !". I smiled as well, " well, yes, I suppose you are right ". and then she took the paperwork from me and gave me her hand to shake " my name is Rose Marie ". Her hand was so lovely, it left an imprint in my mind. I had forgotten my duties for the moment and the fact that the ship needed offloading and the crew needed me to supervise as I knew which cargo needed offloading. She took the papers to her desk " and your name ? ". Awkwardly I replied " Oh, I am Marco, we just came from New York ". She said " I know, I have been expecting your arrival". Then she sat down and placed her hands on the desk " Aah, she said, are you the Marco that is going to remain here to oversee the incoming cargo for the next vessel ?". A little nervously I replied " Actually, yes, that is me ". Then she stood up and walked to the window again, " you must be excited , do you have any friends here ?". I thought about it " well, I met a crew mate on the ship,". She interrupted " Don't worry Marco, I will find you some friends. However, for the moment, You better get back to the ship now, I see a bunch of men with their arms crossed and shaking their heads, I think they need help offloading". I looked out of the window " oh, I better hurry ", I ran to the door " she said " nice to meet you Marco " I turned around and with a bashful smile " nice to meet you Rose Marie , I hope to see you soon " she replied " Ah Marco, you will, I will be here waiting for you".

As I made my way back to the ship, I could not get her out of my mind. She was tall with long brown hair and brown eyes, a thin and curvy hourglass figure with delicate features and smile. I had never met a woman with such a sweet feminine loving personality, I think I was in love". As soon as I approached the loading ramp, the guys were calling me " Hey Hawk , which one of these crates are coming off ? , we can't figure it out". I walked over and pointed to the marking " if you look and read, you will find it. What does this say ?" they all looked somewhere else, one guy said " oh, looks like Rio de Janeiro ". I shook my head " that's the one". then I pointed to a whole row of freight " actually, this entire section has to come out, put it out on the dock and I will check the markings". So we proceeded with the offloading, and in the back of my mind, I was thinking of Rose Marie the whole time , what a pretty name I thought.

We worked until the afternoon, around 3 PM we called it a day. We all went back to the ship to wash up and get ready for dinner. Afterwards, I had an urge to spend some time on dry land, so I decided to take a walk. I walked over towards the office, Rose Marie was looking at me from the window and waved smiling at me. So I walked to the office door, and there she was coming down the stairs " Hi Marco, come in". Some of the people in the office were looking at me with a grin on their face, I did not care. I only stared at Rose Marie. She had a letter in her hand " this is for you, it's from your uncle in New York, he has arranged a room for you to stay while you are here in Rio. It is in Santa Teresa , I will bring you there". I took the letter and opened it, it had some receipts and some written instructions". she continued " it is only about 10 minutes from here and if you like I can pick you up in the morning on my way to work ". I looked at her smiling " Oh Rose , you would do that for me ?". She smiled " of course , Cariocas are always good hosts to visitors". I replied " Thank you Rose, how can I repay you, can I buy you dinner tonight". She pouted her lips and raised her eyebrows " Marco, yes I can have dinner with you since you are my new friend and we will be working together". I replied " Good !", she continued, but I need to get home early as my mother will be waiting for me". I replied with a serious face " oh , absolutely. I hope you don't live far away ". she replied " I live in Niteroi , it's not far, just a short ferry ride across Guanabara bay. So I waited for her to finish up her work.

After work, we took the bus to Santa Teresa. The town was built on rolling hills, there were lot's of green trees. It was a short walk from the bus stop to the hostel I was staying at , although it was all up hill. The building had many steps to climb as it was built on a steep road close to the top of the road. We walked into the lobby and I presented my papers to the clerk. He looked at Rose " Ciao Rose' , como vai ?" . She replied " Boa tarde Paulo". She paused looking to me " This is Marco, he will be staying here for a few weeks as he will be working with us at the port". Paulo looked to me " Hello Marco, welcome, it is nice to meet you". I replied " Thank you". I was kind of surprised that Rose knew the clerk , he was a young man, maybe little older than I. He seemed to be smiling a lot at Rose , in my opinion with a kind of a phony attitude. He handed me a paper to sign and the room key " your room is number 931 , it is ready for you now ". I looked at Rose " would you like to come up ?". she replied " oh, no Marco, It is not proper ". Paulo kept smiling that same phony smirk " Señor Marco, Rose has been here to bring guests before, she knows what the rooms look like". She looked at him with a scornful look " Paulo, I have only been upstairs once or twice to assist our guest with their bags when you were not around". Paolo apologetically " desculpame Rose' , mea culpa " then he looked at me " excuse me Sir, I need to attend a call". And he walked off into another room.

Rose and I walked off into the street, I did not have any bags with me so I decided to go back to the ship after dinner , I would come back to the room and settle in tomorrow. It seemed a nice part of the city, on some hill tops I could see the " Corcovado " with the statue of Christ the redeemer with open arms embracing the people of the entire city. I think it gave people a good feeling, a feeling of community. You could also see the Sugarloaf mountain from a distance. Rose started to walk swiftly as a tram started coming up behind us " come on Marco, let's get on the tram". So we hopped on as it was moving slowly for us, it was definitely better than walking up those hills. We arrived to Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno, the name of the street stuck in my head as Charlemagne was the great king that began the restoration of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. We learned that in school when I was a young boy and I found it surprising to be mentioned here in Rio. There was a big church and a bar restaurant close by with open doors. We hopped off the tram and walked in. A gentlemen waved to Rose " Rose' como vai, tudo bom ? ". Rose responded " Tudo bem Anselmo , Meu amigo e eu gostaria de jantar ". The host replied " Certo " and he walked us to a table and handed us menus. I looked at Rose " what a nice place , I take it you come here often ?". She replied " this is my favorite place to have feijoada ". That rang a bell , I replied " Oh, I have heard of that , what is it again ?". I will order it for you, I'm sure you will like it ". Rose continued " I hope you are not thinking anything about what Paulo mentioned earlier , he can be a ..well, I think in english it is male chauvinist". I pressed my lips pouting a bit, " hmm, yes, he did give off that kind of attitude. No, don't worry about me, means nothing to me whatever he said. I just didn't want to be rude and leave you there in the hall". The host came over " well, what may I offer you two , Rose, will you have your usual ?". She looked at Anselmo , " Si, dois Feijoadas por favor". He replied " Certo " and walked away. She continued " well, so you know, Paolo has a girlfriend, but he always tries to get fresh with me, and I don't like it. But the company makes me go there from time to time to bring guests". I replied " oh, I'm sorry Rose , you should have told me, I would have gone in on my own". She waved her hand at me " Oh Marco, don't worry, I can handle him. There is much worst men in Rio". So then I asked, "where you born in Rio ?". She answered " Yes, my mother is Brazilian, my father Portuguese. My parents married very young and I was born soon after. My father was too young to handle a family and he left us. My mother has had to struggle working in a factory sewing in order to support us". I didn't know how to respond, and then I said " I think I understand Rose, I also have had a painful childhood". She interrupted "Painful , no Marco, not Painful. I was too young to remember my father and I have never known him. My mother has been very loving woman. I think it has made me stronger". I replied, Yes, I can see you are a strong woman". The waiter arrived with our dinner, and it looked very interesting.

Feijoada was as good as it was described to me, but a little on the heavy side. Anselmo came over, " How is your feijoada ? , may I get you something else ?" then he looked to Rose " can he have a caipirinha ?". I looked to Rose " I've heard of the Caipirinha" and then to Anselmo, " yes, I think I would like one". They both smiled, and then Rose said " okay, why not, I will have one as well". Anselmo replied, " right away" and took off to the bar man. So Rose asked me " tell me about your childhood Marco ". I sat back in the chair " well, it's not all that complicated , I never knew my parents and I was left in an orphanage ". The bar man arrived with Caipirinhas. Rose said " Obrigada " , he replied " de nada ". She looked at me " an orphanage , oh my, that must have been so lonely for you ". I took a sip of the drink " oh wow, that is good !" She said " don't drink it too fast, it has a strong punch to it afterwards". So I continued " well, yes, I suppose, I made my friends and we survived and made the best of it as most children would do". then I continued " I often think about that part of my life and what it would have been like to actually know my parents". I paused for another sip " But my friends and I were lucky, well, we consider ourselves brothers now, Dario and George, we were kind of adopted" Rose said " Ah, that is nice, you will tell me more about them. So when did your uncle from New York adopt you ?". I responded, " actually , he did not adopt us, we were kind of adopted from a couple in Italy". She looked at me shaking her head " Now Marco I am getting confused, you will tell me more later on. For now, I need to take a walk as this meal and drink is making me sleepy. I think we are done here, let's take a walk". She got up and opened her purse. I quickly interjected " No Rose, dinner is on me, remember ?". She looked at me with a smirk " Thank you Marco, but I will put this on my business expense list ". I was kind of surprised to hear that " Really ? .. well, I'm not really used to being treated to good company and food. Thank you. Next time I hope you will allow me to reciprocate". Rose smiled " let's go Marco ". We waved off to Anselmo quickly and proceeded outside.

We walked about looking around , Rose said " well Marco, I think now we should get back to the port and we will need to take the bus home as it it getting late. Tomorrow we both have work". I replied " Yes, I think you are right, perhaps this weekend we can spend some time together ? Maybe we can visit Sugarloaf ?". She replied, " Yes, I would be happy to go with you ". I smiled " Great ! ". We made our way back to the port bus station , I could see the ship in the distance , Rose needed to wait for her shuttle bus to the ferry to get home. I didn't want to leave her there, so I started to talk " How long does it take you to get home from here Rose ?". She replied "I Take the ferry boat to Niteroi and then it's a short walk , but it goes by quickly , maybe 30 minutes ". Niteroi is a nice quiet community with beautiful beaches, very clean. I live there with my mother since I am a little girl". Her shuttle arrived " I will tell you more tomorrow ". she grabbed my shoulder and reached over and kissed me on the cheek " Boa Noite Marco ". She quickly got on the shuttle and they were off. I stood there watching the shuttle drive off for a minute, then I turned towards the ship and started to walk. I was feeling something , trying to understand , " wow " , I said to myself. I was feeling I wanted to see her again. This was more than a pretty face, I felt I knew her , as if I had known her all my life. It's not logical I thought to myself. I continued to walk and think about her and seeing her again.

C H A P T E R 12

My senses revived to the invigorating scent of freshly ground coffee as the horizon lit the swift moving morning clouds with pink hues. The ship would depart late this afternoon and I would not be sailing out to sea with her. I planned to get my duties accomplished early so I could say goodbye to my crew mates , and hopefully go visit Rose before she left the office. I had my bag packed and ready so I would not have last minute rushing to gather my belongings.

Unloading was accomplished yesterday and I was double checking that everything checked out on the manifest. Today we were expecting a last minute delivery and some supplies for the voyage. The lunch whistle sounded and quickly the loading dock was left lifeless, I decided to bring my bag over to the office and leave it with Rose. I walked into the office and asked the receptionist if I could go up and see Rose. The receptionist pointed her finger up and said " espere un minutino , por favor ". The receptionist went upstairs. So I put my bag down. I thought to myself, I guess Rose is busy this morning. I heard someone coming downstairs, it was Rose. She waved me over " Come up Marco". So I followed. As we walked upstairs she said " We have a visitor this morning". I said " oh, am I interrupting, I can go back, I just wanted. " she interrupted " No Marco, actually it is good that you are here ". I was surprised " Really ?". she replied "Come to my office, we will explain".

We walked in the office and there was a gentlemen standing by her desk. Rose introduced me to the gentlemen " Señor Hoelck, I would like you to meet Marco, the shipmate that first spotted the ". she paused " refugees ". I was taken a minute, refugees ? , what could this be about. Then she turned to me " Marco, this is Mr. Hoelck, he is from the German Consulate here in Rio". We shook hands " nice to meet you Sir " I said. Mr. Hoelck replied " Its nice to meet you as well Marco". He walked over to the door and closed it. Then he pointed to a chair " Sit down Marco, please ". So I complied with his wishes. Rose took my bag over to her closet. Mr Hoelck continued " Marco, the German government is grateful to you and we would like to express our gratitude". I looked at him with a confused look. " Forgive me Sir, gratitude for what ?". He smiled " Marco, the sinking vessel you spotted, and the people aboard. They were not refugees". He paused. I looked at him incredulously " They weren't ?". He shook his head " No Sir ". Pausing " They were thieves ". I was getting more confused by the minute. Then I said, " what were they doing in the middle of the ocean ?". He walked over to Rose's desk and sat down. Rose sat next to me. He replied " It's a little complicated, but that small boat was not the vessel they had sailed out in. That was their life boat". I was listening attentively . He continued " They had left Brazil in a larger vessel with intentions to arrive to Puerto Rico we believe ". I nodded. He continued " their vessel was old and was taking on water very quickly, they had no choice but to get on that life boat". I replied, " well, its a good thing they had a life boat ". He replied " Yes Marco , and it was a good thing you were there that day to see them, as they only had a few hours left before they would go into the sea without a boat". I sat in silence trying to make sense of this meeting. He continued " You see Marco, the men you saved, they were carrying stolen German passports". My mouth dropped open. I do remember one of them lifting a bag on board. I was looking at him not wanting to let go of it as we took him aboard. That must have been the stolen passports. I responded " I had no idea ". He stood up " Oh no, we know you were not aware, actually, we know who the men were and they are now under arrest". He paused " you see Marco, they stole the passports from my office ". Pausing " There are not too many people that know about this, and frankly, I need to keep it that way". I wondered why he was telling me. I replied " Sir, you don't need to worry about me, I won't tell anyone". He replied " Thank you Marco for your confidentiality. But actually, I have confided in you this information because I need your help. I need to get these passports back to Germany and I need someone to carry them there without going through Customs". I started to understand why I was here now. I looked to Rose, she was looking at Mr. Hoelck. He came over and sat next to me, put his hand on my shoulder " would you carry these to Germany for me Marco ? you are the perfect candidate. You will be assigned to a vessel destined for Bremen, you will have high clearance and I will make sure you are not to be subjected to Customs inspection". I was silent. He continued " Marco, as a token of appreciation for this service, the German government will award you for your service a gift of One Thousand Dollars". I almost fell off the chair.

Mr Hoelck walked over to the desk and put his jacket on, picked up his bag and walked back over to me. I stood up and he gave me his hand to shake, and I complied. " Marco, I am leaving now as I have given you all the information you need to know at this stage. I know you are staying in Rio a few weeks and will not be sailing out this evening. I will be in touch with you through Rose in regards to further instructions. If you should think of anuthing else you would like to ask or tell me about your encounter you may contact me. You are a bright young man , I know you will do the right thing". He opened the door and left.

There were many thoughts going through my mind and I was going over the events of the rescue in my mind. Rose was sitting with her hands on her lap " what is wrong " she said to me. With an inquisitive look, I replied " when did you find out about this ?". She paused " well, Mr Hoelck arrived this morning asking me what I knew about the refugees and then he told me what he just told you". Pausing " except of the $1,000 reward ". Smiling. I looked at her nodding me head back and forth " I'm confused ". She got up and walked over to me, placed her hand on my arm "Marco, what is the matter , why do you look worried ?". I got off the desk " I don't know, I guess I need to reflect. Will you come out with me after work, perhaps we can take a walk somewhere ?". With a comforting look " yes, of course I will , I just need to finish up, give me an hour or so". I replied " okay, I will bring my bag to Santa Teresa and check into my room. I will be back soon". she replied " Good idea Marco, you go ahead, I will meet you there later". I waved "bye".

I arrived to the hostel at Santa Teresa, I entered and Paulo was not at the front desk, so I walked on up. I placed my bag down , walked over to the balcony and looked out at the view. It was a pretty view, however, there was something else on my mind. I was trying to go over the passport story, should I get involved ? then I thought of the reward, it was a lot of money. It would take me years to save that kind of money. And then I started thinking about Rose. I had only known her a few days, however it felt as if I had known her since childhood. Soon I would be leaving here, and I think that was troubling me. Then I remembered about the ring the man gave me on the way to the infirmary. I took it out from my bag and looked at it closer. It was an awkward ring with many strange markings and letters, I just could not understand what was written on it , or maybe it was a design of some kind. The phone rang , it was Rose " Marco, I am so sorry, but I won't be able to come and see you this evening. My mother needs me to accompany her to see the doctor". I answered " oh, I'm sorry, I hope she is okay". she replied " yes, she is okay. but she needs me to go as the doctor is a little far away ". I answered " I understand. Is there anything I can do to help ?". she replied " Thank you Marco, you are kind. We will be fine. I will see you at the office in the morning, okay ? , have a nice evening". I replied " you too Rose, have a nice evening". So here I was now, I was hoping to see Rose tonight. I had a lot on my mind so I decided to go for a walk , perhaps I would go over to see the beach.

I took the trolley and then the bus and then another bus. I found myself near the ocean and I went for a walk in the sand. I found a bench and took a load off my feet as I had been walking a lot. Stretched my arms and looked out to sea. Darkness came quickly and many stars appeared in the clear sky that night. I was thinking about Rose and I wish she had come here with me. I decided to walk down to the shoreline, where the sea meets the sand. It was so tranquil, the only sound was that of the gentle waves rolling up on the sand, and then washing away. I walked in the wet sand leaving my foot prints, and the waves would wash them away as if never there. Comparable to a soul inhabiting the flesh briefly and then being washed away by time. This was a place of interaction and transition, or perhaps an illusion.

My evening with the stars passed quickly and I found my way back to the hostel after filling my belly and burning off some excess energy. Paulo was at the front desk " Good evening Mr. Marcos " I replied " Hello ". He replied " is there anything I can assist you with ?". I answered " No, not at the moment, thank you". and I went on up to the room. I sat in silence for a while, then I thought I would try and write something on what was on my mind.

The Sea and Sand

Here by the sea and sand,
is a point where two worlds band.
It's an enchanted place,
as if created by grace.

The sea being smooth and creamy,
and the sand being coarse and stony.
One complements the other,
as if designed by Natures Mother.

It is a place where one feels elated,
and burdens seem abated.
A place where waves of the sea,
gently caress you and me.

And the beauty of this creation,
both elements essential in it's formation.
sea needing sand to hold it's domain,
sand needing sea to smooth it's coarse grain

Like a man needs a woman,
and a woman needs a man.
Only a divine Creator,
can forge such a nature.

And so I added it to my box of poems and went off to bed.

C H A P T E R 13

I received a phone call from Rose early the following morning " Good Morning Marco, did I wake you ?". It was 6 AM and I was not quite awake yet " Rose ? , Good Morning. how are you? , are you downstairs ?". Rose giggled " No Marco , I am not downstairs. Sorry to wake you but I wanted to let you know that you will need to see Mr. Hoelck today". Now I awoke quite quickly " You mean the man from the Consulate ? is he coming to the office again ?". She replied " No Marco, he phoned me and asked that I ask you to meet him at the Consulate this morning". I thought about it a bit and replied " At the Consulate ? where is it ? do you know what he wants ?". She replied " I am not sure Marco. He said to meet him at Rua Presidente Carlos de Campos, number 417 around 9 AM". I replied " let me write that down, will you be there ?". She replied " I'm sorry but I cannot Marco, besides he asked for you to be there. I have to report to work at 8 AM today". I replied " Oh, okay, I thought maybe ". she interrupted " Come to the office afterwards and you can tell me all about it, okay, don't worry, he is a nice man. Remember, Rua Presidente Carlos de Campos, number 417". I replied " okay Rose, so I will see you later". she replied " Ciao, ciao Marco. um abracao".

I made my way to Rio de Janeiro city center wondering what Mr. Hoelck would tell me. He had mentioned he wanted me to go to Germany. I arrived and rang the bell. A man opened the door and guided me to the office of Mr. Hoelck. Mr Hoelck was sitting at his desk as the man announced my arrival. He got up and walked over to me " Good morning Marco, come in. Please sit down here next to my desk". So I obliged. He continued " Are you enjoying your stay in Rio ?". I replied " Yes, the time is moving quickly and I haven't explored much yet, but it does seem a fascinating place ". He smiled " Yes Marco, Rio is one of those special places that one never seems to forget. It does have a magical or perhaps mystical aspect that people find fascinating". He walked over to his safe, it was open and he reached inside "these are the passports that were recovered , thanks to your keen eyesight " he brought a large bag and put it on the desk " I would like you to bring them to Bremen. Let me reiterate and expand on our previous meeting. I will appoint you as a Diplomatic clerk and you will not be subjected to Customs checking. You will meet with my representative in Germany and deliver the bag only to him". He sat down in front of me " I will have the bag placed in your quarters on the vessel. You will be assigned as assistant in the navigation room". I looked to him " how soon would I be leaving ?". He stood up and walked over to his desk " The vessel leaves in 5 days . Marco, I need to ask you , did any of the men give or say anything to you during the rescue ?". I thought about it a little and instinctively decided to keep this to myself " Uhm, No Sir, anything in particular ?". Mr Hoelck replied " No, I only want to make sure there is nothing more that perhaps they tried to hide". He continued " In any case, I will have a check for you in amount of $ 1,000 dollars and your Diplomatic ID with contact information for my rep in Germany included with the bag in your room". I was silent. He looked at me " Are you on board Marco ?". I pouted my lips and nodded " Yes ". Mr Hoelck was happy and shook my hand " you won't regret your decision Marco, this will bring you many opportunities. I wish I had such an opportunity when I was your age. You will go far Marco, you can see the the winner of a horse race at the opening of the gate, you have a lot going for you. Ahh, to be young again, and Rose, now that is an opportunity. Don't loose your opportunities young man, we are only young once in this life". I got up and said " Thank you Sir, I'll wait your further instructions". And we waved goodbye.

Once I arrived back to the office, I found Rose working on the typewriter. I entered " Hi Rose ". She looked at me " Hi Marco, I am working on the warehouse receipt for your uncles shipment, the first lot has arrived this morning". I replied " oh , already ? ". She replied " Yes, actually, this is good so you can start checking the markings ". So she gave me a manifest copy " you will need to check that all the bags have these markings that I have circled here for you. If they are not shown on each bag, then you will need to make the markings". I looked at the document " Okay, I will get to work on this right away". Then she asked " How was the meeting ?". I replied " well, looks like I'm leaving for Germany in 5 days ". She replied " that is very soon , how do you feel about it ?". I responded with a puzzled look " to be honest, this entire trip has been changing almost on a daily basis, I'm kind of overwhelmed ". She smiled " Oh Marco, you will be fine ". I picked up the manifest " anyway, I will get out to the warehouse and check the bag markings ". She replied " good idea, I'll see you at lunch time".

Rose and I decided to go for a walk after work and we made our way to Avenida Atlantica. It had been a hot day and now there was a nice breeze coming in from ocean so we were enjoying the walk by the beach. There were some people selling trinkets and calling us to have a look, so we decided to go closer to shore. The view on this shoreline was magnificent with the giant rocks jetting standing upright on the sea, they were so spectacular that to me it seemed someone placed them there to make a perfect landscape. There were some boys playing soccer, and a young man walked over to us with some coconuts, he asked if we wanted a drink, so we agreed to the offer. He took out a large knife and stared to chop a hole in the coconut, then he placed a straw in it and handed it to us. It was a very delicious and refreshing drink. I said to Rose " This is wonderful ". She smiled " This is one of my favorite places she said, the people here are always friendly and the sound of the ocean waves place my mind into tranquility". I had to agree , this seemed truly a magical place. We walked without saying much words watching the sun setting over the ocean, it was God's way of saying " good night " my children. I was becoming a little tired and I saw a tall chair that looked like a good place to rest for a moment , so I turned to Rose " Would you like to sit a few minutes ?". She agreed and so we walked over and climbed onto the chair. We relaxed our legs and looked out to sea, the sun was making it's final wink of the day and the colors were fading briskly leaving a lighted path for one's eye to follow over the darkening sea. And then I thought, a unique path could be seen from all points on the beach, for anyone to see.

Darkness faded in and it became a little chilly, Rose leaned into me and placed her arm on my belly while resting her head on my shoulder. She said " what are you thinking Marco ". I thought and I replied " It is lovely sharing this sunset with you ". And then she looked at me smiling " and what else ?". And I looked into her eyes trying to read her thoughts , before I could reply, she said " is this what you want ". And she kissed me. And then I could not see anything else but her beautiful face and mesmerizing eyes , and so I kissed her as well. And it was lovely, so we continued kissing and keeping each other warm as the breezy ocean winds attempted to cool the heated sands that the sun left behind. The sense of time became insignificant as we comforted each other into the darkness, and then I noticed a light. It was the moon now appearing over the horizon, and it was a full moon, bringing a path of light over the darkness of the sea. We were both without words, holding each other and staring into the moonlight as it rose over the sea. At first it rose quickly, and then it seemed to pause over the ocean and lit the entire beach with it's reflection of the sun. And then Rose said to me " Marco, I think it's time to go home ". and I agreed.

We climbed off the lifeguard chair onto the sand, grabbed our shoes and walked our way back, hand in hand.I said to Rose " It is getting late, would you like me to accompany you home tonight ?". She looked at me and smiled " oh Marco " and then she pointed to the bus and we ran off to catch it. We were both quiet on the bus ride , holding hands much of the way. The bus stopped at Santa Teresa and we both got off. Rose seemed concerned " oh my, it has gotten late and I think the last bus has already left for my home". We started walking , so I said to her " you are welcome to stay in my room tonight, I can stay in the lobby". She looked at me " oh, my mom will be worried". she thought a moment and continued " I will call her and tell her I am staying with a friend ". So we stopped at a phone booth and she called. I waited nearby and she was speaking Portuguese with her Mom, everything seemed okay and she finished off her conversation with " Um beijo Mama, boa noite". She walked over to me smiling and grabbed my arm , " it's okay , let's go". so we started to walk. She seemed happy, and I was happy to see her happy.

We arrived to the hostel and entered, Paulo was not at this desk, so we went upstairs. Once in the room, I said to Rose, " you take the bed, I will go downstairs". Rose came over to me and put her arms around my shoulders and smiled " Marco, do you really mean that ?". and she kissed me on the cheek. Then she walked over to the window and gazed outside " I would like you to stay here with me Marco, it's your room and I wouldn't feel right if you didn't have a comfortable place to sleep. Besides, it would be very lonely for me to stay alone in here". So she dimmed the lights and got ready for bed , then she climbed in and said " we need to get some sleep, tomorrow is a work day". I didn't know what to do, there was only one bed in the room, it was a big bed, but only one bed. So I sat in the chair by the bed and started to get comfortable. I sat quietly and rested my head back on the chair , and then I realized I was not going to get any sleep unless I got into the bed. Rose was silent and seemed already asleep , so I climbed in next to her. I was not used to sleeping in the same bed with a girl, well, actually, a woman. I noticed the scent of her hair , and then I realized, God created woman so she could tame the beast in men. I felt peaceful next to her and quickly I faded off to sleep.

I awoke as the sunlight peeked through the large windows, I slept solidly and I had forgotten about the previous evening. I rolled myself out of bed rubbing my head. Then I remembered and looked over to the bed, Rose was not there. I walked around and saw she was gone, she must have left early this morning I thought, why ? So I hurriedly got myself ready and made my way downstairs, she was not there, although Paulo was at his desk. "Good morning" we exchanged. There was no mention of Rose and I left as usual and made my way to the bus stop. I arrived to the office and Rose was at her desk. She looked at me " Bom Dia " and I replied " why did you leave early ?". She got up and looked at me " well Marco, I did not want Paulo to see me walking out of your apartment for one thing, he would be talking all over town". I looked at her " Oh.. Sorry, I didn't realize". Then I continued " you could have told me Rose, I was little worried ". "Oh Marco " she replied. Then we went to the lunch room for some coffee.

There was no one there but us and we sat down facing each other . Rose reached for my hands over the table " Marco, you will be going on a long trip in a few days, are you ready ?". I replied " To be honest Rose, part of me doesn't want to go. I think I have more things to do here, and, well". She interrupted " Marco, you need to go, this is an opportunity for you, there is not much more you need to do here for your uncles business". And I replied " I wanted to stay here longer so I could be with you". She let go of my hands and stood up " Marco, you are very sweet, but I am not the girl for you. You must take this trip, those people you saved at sea were placed in your path for a reason, and you should not ignore this chance that is offered to you. I will always be here if you want to see me again someday, but right now we are not ready for each other. Not in that way. We are friends, Marco ". I interrupted " But Rose, I feel , you are so special , from the moment I first saw you". Rose stopped me " Stop Marco, please. It's not you, it's just I don't want a serious relationship. I remember what happened with my Father and my Mother, and I just don't want a serious relationship in my life, I want to be friends". I stood up , she looked into my eyes and I had no words. I walked out the door and quickly out of the building, she did not come after me.

That evening I stayed in my room at the hostel and thought about my upcoming travels. I was trying to understand Rose, but I could not. So I took out my frustration on paper.

With open eyes I see,
a soul full of grace.
Your eyes wide open,
Curious with beneficence.

Our words are spoken,
A part of me does hear.
Yet a stronger articulation,
Is spoken by our hearts.

Our paths newly met,
our hearts feel desire.
I can see it in your eyes,
As you sense by intuition.

Firmly desiring to embrace,
passionately absorbed in a kiss.
My conscience knows to refrain,
As this time is not our own.

And so here I remain,
In this skin I reside.
Knowing you exist,
anticipating we persist.

I named my poem " Through our eyes". I had thought I understood what my heart was feeling, however the perception was only through my eyes. I was not willing to give up on Rose, so I decided I would remain her friend. But I knew I needed to move on.

C H A P T E R 14

I decided not to go to the office the next day, I had already accomplished the necessary work for the upcoming shipment and I actually needed to prepare for my departure. I finished packing my bags and so I decided to go out and get some lunch. Paulo stopped me in the Lobby " Marco, you have a message from Rose to call her ". I looked at him , I was kind of surprised " Oh.., thank you ". and I continued exiting " he picked up the phone off the receiver and raised it " don't you want to call her ?" with an inquisitive look in his eyes. I stopped for a moment " it's okay, I will call her later, thank you Paulo ". He smirked and placed the phone back on the receiver. " Have a good afternoon Marco". I made my way down the front steps, I looked to the left, I looked to the right, I decided to cross the street not knowing where I was heading. Hands in my pockets, it was sunny day and I started off to the right. I walked and I walked in my own thoughts, I started to wonder how George was doing back in New York. I wanted to call him , however, it was kind of expensive to try that from the hostel. I thought to myself that I would try to call him from Europe once I would arrive there, and I would also attempt to contact Dario at the University. I decided to sit down later today and write them both a letter so I could send it out before I departed.

I walked my way around all morning long, finally I made it to the beach. I was tired and took a seat. Looking out to the ocean, I remembered that I had a message from Rose. But I really was not up to calling her today. So I decided to admire the scenery instead, there was some people flying kites, others playing futbol in the sand and other just enjoying the scenery just like I was. I spent a couple hours meditating in my thoughts and finally got the urge to change this scenery. I explored around town and did some shopping, the afternoon was almost gone and I finally made my way back to Santa Teresa, this time I took the bus. I got off at the usual stop and started to walk towards the hostel. Suddenly I heard " Marco ! ". I turned around and it was Rose. Excitedly she exclaimed " Where have you been all day, I've been looking for you ". I responded calmly " oh, nothing much, just meandering. Why ?". She replied " Mr Hoelck came to the office this morning, he wanted to speak with you before you left as he is leaving for Argentina this afternoon". I replied with surprise " Argentina ? , Hmm, why is he going there ?". She responded in annoyed tone " I don't know, it doesn't matter, he is with the consulate, they always are traveling. He gave me this letter for you with instructions and contacts in case you should need assistance". I raised my eyebrows " assistance with what ?". She put her hands on her hips " Marco, you should have been there to see him". I took a deep breath and sighed.

We started making our way towards the hostel, Rose said to me in a softer tone " Marco, I don't understand why you did not come to the office today, I know Paulo gave you my message because I asked him about it". with an annoyed sigh I answered " well Rose, I just was not in the mood to see you this morning, that's why". She looked at me incredulously " Marco, I really do not understand you. I like you , you are a nice person, but you are too serious.". I stopped a minute as she paused and thought about that a minute. She continued " you are young, we are young. Why are you so serious about our friendship?". I looked at her sternly " Because I thought I loved you, that's why ". She looked at me with a blank stare, and then softly " Marco, that is very sweet, but you don't love me". We continued to walk , Rose continued " I think on this upcoming trip you will reflect and realize I am right".

We arrived to the hostel , Rose looked at me " are you okay Marco, what will you do this evening ?". I replied " I am okay, I plan to get ready for my departure". She looked at me with the eyes of a mother speaking to her child " would you like me to help you, would you like some company ?". I looked to the hostel door, and then at Rose " Actually Rose, I need to write some letters to send out before I set sail, so I prefer to be alone". She pouted her lips incredulously " okay, if that is what you prefer, then that is fine". So I said " Goodnight ". She asked " will I see you tomorrow ?". I thought about it a bit " is there anything I need to do at the office ?". She thought about it a bit " well, you never know there at the office, you know how it is. I guess we can speak in the morning if you like". And I replied " Okay, that's fine, have a good night". She said " Goodnight " and walked away. I climbed up the stairs and looked back at her, she had a certain walk about her that captured me since I met her. I felt as if I would not ever see her again.

That night I felt sadness in my heart, did not know what to do with myself. I remembered the letter that Rose handed to me and I decided to open it. Inside I found a list of phone numbers and instructions. Also, there was a note that I was to hand over when I arrived to Germany. I took a look at it and it was a very strange language. At first I thought it was perhaps German, but upon further observation, it appeared not to be German nor anything I had ever seen before. I didn't think of it anymore and I spent the evening writing to George and Dario. I explained to them what had transpired and that I would be sailing for Germany and I would call them once I had the possibility. I wondered what they had been up to and I was looking forward to perhaps seeing them, at least Dario anyway as I had not seen him in a long time. I also wanted to go and see Domenico and Elisetta, I wanted to see how he was doing after the stroke he had suffered. I was tired and laid back on the bed, I started thinking back to the times we spent working in the fields. Caring for the crops and harvesting at the end of the season, we worked hard and had a good time. It was a wonderful experience to make the family bond that we all did. One that I would keep with me forever.

I didn't sleep much that night, there was something bothering me and I wasn't sure. Following morning I found the note that Joe had given me during our voyage that had his contact information and I decided to give him a call. I found a public phone booth and made the call. The phone rang several times with no answer and I was about to hang up, finally someone picked up the phone " Alo " , I replied , "Hello, I would like to speak with Joe". he replied " this is Joe, who is this ?". I replied, "Hi Joe, this is Marco, do you remember me ?". Joe paused a second, " ooh ... Marco Polo, the Hawk". I smiled " Yes, that is me. How are you doing" I said to him. He replied " well, I am okay. I am taking some time off from working at sea. I actually took a job working for a freight company, it's a little boring, but my life is a little better I think". I replied " That sounds nice, hey I'm in town few more days before I set sail again, do you have time to see me ?". He replied , "sure, how about today after work around 6 o'clock". I agreed.

I met Joe at a restaurant that he suggested, it was a churrascaria and they served all kinds of fire braised meats. It was something I had not tried before and really very good. They would cook the meat over the fire pits on skewers, slicing the meat as they walked around onto your plate. So basically one was constantly eating as they continued to fill your plate until you told them to stop. Joe asked me " so Marco, are you enjoying your time in Rio ?". I replied " yes, you were right, Rio is very exciting and I do like it". He smiled as he took another bite of steak. Then I continued " you know, I wanted to ask you something". He said with curiosity " Yes ". I continued " well, apparently they were not refugees". He looked at me incredulously " they weren't ?". I shook my head " nope ". Paused and then continued " they apparently had actually left from Brazil with some stolen passports and their vessel sank. The boat they were on when we took them on board was their life boat". Joe sat back in his chair a moment , took a sip of his caipirinha " and how do you know this ?". I folded my hands and placed them over the table as I leaned closer to him " this is between you and I and you cannot tell anyone ". He nodded " okay , go ahead." I looked around me and then back at him " well, a couple days after we arrived to Rio, I was approached by a gentleman from the German consulate here in Rio. He explained to me what I just told you". Joe thought about it a bit " so they were carrying passports ?". I replied, " yes, actually, German passports". Joe opened his eyes wide and replied " German passports ". Then he continued " now why would they be carrying German passports out of Brazil ?". I looked down at the table a moment, and then back to Joe " That's why I'm here, I need someone to talk to help me understand". Joe replied " understand what Marco, why do you care ?. You were not carrying the stolen passports, just let it be.". He paused " wait, why did the man from the consulate come to see you and tell you this ?". Now I paused and asked myself the same question, why me ? I replied " I'm not sure Joe, however, he has asked me to carry the stolen passports back to Germany". Joe picked up his caipirinha and brought it to his lips " Oh my ".

Joe sat back in his chair and folded his arms , then he blurted out " I have seen some strange happenings with my voyages at sea, this one is not really making much sense". He paused and then continued " are you sure this person who came to you is with the consulate ?". I responded " well, I met him at the Consulate here in downtown Rio". Joe replied " I suppose he found out that you were the crew member that spotted the sinking vessel by reading the ships log which was likely provided to him by the vessel owner. But really, what is the reason that they want you to bring these passports to Germany ?". I thought about it a bit and responded " I don't really know , except he said he needed to keep this as secretive as possible and that being I already knew about it that I would be a good candidate to carry these passports through German Customs". Joe leaned over the table " Marco, something is missing from this story, that's all I can tell you, from what I hear that is. Do you feel comfortable taking the passports to Germany ?". When he mentioned "something missing" and the mystery of why did they pick me to divulge this secret to, the strange ring popped into my head. I responded in a distracted tone " frankly Joe, I realize this as well. I suppose I am a little unsure about it. Joe asked me " how soon are you to be leaving on this journey ?". I sat up and crossed my hands on the table " the day after tomorrow ".

We split the bill and left a nice tip , it was a good meal. We decided to take a walk around town to burn off some of the dinner. It is difficult to pass up the meat that the waiters seem to constantly be bringing over to the table at a Churrasco dinner. Joe seemed relaxed now and he started to talk " I never would have thought those guys were carrying stolen passports. I remember when I first came up to the boat, they were quite scared and seemed to be in shock. Although, there was one guy that seemed more in control". I knew exactly which man he was speaking of and I replied " I agree, when they came on board they were shivering and not able to speak. I do remember a bag coming on board. I wonder if the crew master found the passports ?". Joe replied " more than likely he did not go through their belongings. I'm quite sure they handed everything over to the authorities when we arrived to port". We continued walking and I said " so it's quite possible that at this time you and I are the only people that are aware of these passports". Joe replied " Yes, it is". And then I thought to myself { but I am the only one to know about the ring }. I stopped and looked Joe in the eyes " Joe , I am sorry to bring you into this. I just wanted someone to know before I leave, just in case ". With a concerned look, Joe replied " Just in case... what ?". I replied " I don't know Joe, but like you, I feel there are some missing links to this story". Joe replied " Marco, if you are worried, you are still in time to change your mind and tell them you don't want to participate in this venture". I started walking again " well, Joe. I have thought about it, but something tells me it won't be that easy. Just a hunch". Joe responded " Marco, I feel I am also involved in this and I feel obligated to help you , what do you need me to do ?". I responded, " well, when I get to Germany, I am going to contact you to let you know how things went. When I get the chance that is. If you don't hear from me, then you'll know I'm in trouble. I am leaving you with the contacts for my 2 brothers, Dario and George. I want you to let them know that I am missing and that they should contact The American and Italian Embassy and Consulates to start an investigation". Joe put his hand on my shoulder and said " you can count on me Marco, I won't let you down".

On my way back to the hostel, I kept thinking about that note and the ring, somehow, there was a connection. I arrived at the room and I took out my bag to have a look at the ring and the note together. The note had some strange symbols included in it's writing and I remembered the ring also had some strange symbols. I kept searching for the ring and I could not seem to locate it. I thought I had it in my bag, but it just was not there. Could I have forgotten where I placed it ? I looked in my shoes and my clothes and all my belongings. It just was not there. Who would come in here and take it, only that ring and nothing else. I doubt Paulo would come in here and go searching all my things and take only that ring. I sat down and thought about it , who could have gotten in here without breaking in besides Paulo and gone through my things without being noticed. There was only one person that came into my mind. And it had to be Rose.

Following morning I awoke and glimpsed out the window as I had done on the previous mornings here in Rio de Janeiro. The view was no longer as mesmerizing as I had at first sight envisioned. Now I felt betrayed and I was looking at a world of deceivers. I thought to myself, why would Rose take that ring, It wasn't pretty or valuable. Perhaps Mr. Hoelck would like to have that ring and maybe he was the one to break in and take it, but how.

I decided to go to Rose's office and confront her. I had thoughts of ignoring the ring and perhaps forgetting about it hoping it was a meaningless object , however , my instinct told me otherwise. On my way to the harbor terminal I looked to the scenery that once mesmerized my imagination , now the view was not so scenic to me. I realized first impressions are not always what they seem to be.

I arrived to the office and I noticed there was a new crew. I asked if Rose was in and the attendant looked at me strangely, " Eu não sei, eu não entendo " she said. I proceed and made my way up to the third floor office as she didn't seem to care either way. The door was closed, and unlocked, I opened it and walked in. Mr Hoelck was sitting at the desk " Hello Marco , welcome, I had a feeling I would see you hear today". I replied " Hello Sir, where is Rose ?". As I walked in I heard the door close behind me and there were two men standing by it wearing suits. Mr. Hoelck continued , " Rose is no longer here Marco, she has been reassigned to another position". I was shocked " what ?, why ? ".
Mr. Hoelck stood up and walked infant of the desk towards me " Please have a seat Marco " pointing to the chair " we have a few things left to discuss". And then he reached in his pocket and took the ring out and placed it on the desk. I decided to comply and I sat down looking at the ring. Mr Hoelck asked me looking into my eyes " do you recognize this object " pointing at the ring. I replied " Yes ". He was pleased " Good " he replied. He picked up the ring again and held it between his thump and forefinger, looking at it with curiosity and then he sat on the desk next to me and looked at me in the eyes " who gave it to you Marco ". I answered " it was the man we rescued , he gave it to me ". Hoelck continued " did he tell you anything else, or explain why he was giving you this ring ". I took a deep breath and exhaled " To be honest, I didn't really want it, I was instructed to bring him to the medical office and I wasn't really paying attention to this ring. He tried giving it to me at first as a gift, then I refused and he placed it in my pocket as we had arrived to the medic's office. From there the medic took over and I was relieved of duty and proceeded to my next instruction which was to report to crew masters office". Hoelck asked " so why did you not mention this to me when I first asked you if you had been given anything at our first meeting ". I rolled my eyes down and then up " I had forgotten " I said. Hoelck chuckled " Marco, really, you forgot ! ". We stared at each other without much expression . Mr Hoelck said " Look, Marco. You are already involved now and so I will give you some information so you understand what you are dealing with. Those passports were to be delivered to the German Ministry of Security, or Stasi for short. The note I had included in your documents is a secret message instructing on how to or better yet whom to provide the passports to. The trick is that the note cannot be read without this ring, it is a decoder ring". I was stunned. I started thinking about Rose, how was she involved in this " Where is Rose " I demanded. Hoelck walked back behind the desk and sat down " Marco, Rose is an agent. You will never see her again as she has been reassigned to another duty". I didn't know how to feel, so much was going on here, I was angry, sad heartbroken and excited all at the same time. I got up and walked towards the door , the 2 men stood to attention and I backed off". Hoelck, sitting at his chair " Marco, don't get excited, I realize this is a lot of information to take in at once. Sit down and relax a minute. Look , you like travel and adventure, well, now you are with the agency and that is what we do best, travel & adventure ! Your first assignment will be to carry the passports and the note and this ring to your instructed party". I thought about it a bit and well, I was planning to make this trip, at least now I knew the truth. And then I asked " and what if I decide I want to resign from the agency once I am done ". Hoelck smirked and said " well Marco, let's just say, I don't think you will make that choice. Most people decide to stay along with us, the pay is excellent and the work is not boring to say the least".

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