This Year I Rewrite My Novel–Part VIII, Marcel in St. Martin Says, “Hi.”

Kobe Bryant,

Marcel in St. Martin is your biggest fan. Statistics about you, your team rattle outta his mouth–balls dribbling low on the court.

Except this is the longest dribble in human history.

Marcel, the cabdriver who took me to the airport on the Dutch side, is seventy-five-years old but he looks fifty. He has faded photographs of his wife and his two daughters and son and his grandchildren taped to the dash of his Toyota minivan.

A wooden cross on a string of purple beads hangs from the rearview mirror. On the console, between the driver and passenger seats, sits a large reference book, The Baseball Chronicles.

Marcel is your biggest fan but he is also the world’s best mopper. He claims that if you believe that you are a better mopper than Marcel, you should go to St. Martin and have a mop-off with him.

He will win.

He also says he has been with his wife for forty-five years. The secret to their marriage is that they laugh and that they know what to share. He doesn’t believe that a man or woman has a certain place but that God put us on this Earth together, and thank God for everyday that he is alive.

“Life is short,” he says.

I take pictures of the cashew trees. He says that each fruit on the tree bears just one nut and he points out one of them, a red bulb that hangs from the branches. He hands me a cashew nut that sits in his cupholder. I take it into my fingers.

Two days earlier, I snorkeled off Pinel Island, a short ferry ride from the French side, a small boat driven by a retired physician in a cowboy hat. In the water, a marine biologist joined me and dived deep to show me an orange-brown shell with white spots, a cowry–smooth and slippery, a tiny tongue–that used to be currency in the Caribbean.

“This was their money,” he said. He dropped the shell back into the water.

Kobe Bryant, imagine being able to dive deep in the water to find money.

Imagine that the money, like the cashew nut, looks dead but might actually be alive.

“Life is short,” he says.

“This was their money.”