I see the man everyday. He’s sitting at one of the blue tables in the hotel bar hunched over an iPad. I’ve been here over a week. So has he — an old English gent dressed smartly in brown slacks, a sweater vest, and polished shoes.
He doesn’t make a sound and rarely acknowledges my presence. He’s there and alone and fixated on the screen. I thought he was a friend of the front desk lady, maybe her husband. Only he’s not.
Viv tells me he’s been disowned by his family, and can’t go home. She tells me this while we share Chicken Korma and Chips on the hotel bar. “He’s found himself a Chinese bride,” she says. “He’s staying here until he flies off to collect her.”
Viv says Old English is about 67, and his bride to be is 23. She says the girl is a model. Or, as she points out, the girl claims to be a model. We talk about that. We talk about the age difference, the family, and Old English. The more I think about it the more sad it makes me. She wants to say more. She wants to talk more about the age difference, but gives it a light touch. She’s more concerned with the fact that they would have nothing in common.
So am I. But how much time does he have left on this island? How much time do any of us? How much in common do they really need to not feel lonely… for maybe a little bit longer. Old English is on a quest. He’s forsaken everything he’s known to accomplish it. For just a little bit longer. To feel a man again. To feel alive and in love.