Trevor crouched low in the passenger seat of Ned’s car. He tried to relax, but he still felt hunted. When they arrived at the boatyard after a run through town – a precaution, in case they were being watched – Ned pulled his car around back, behind his office. Trevor got out, glancing around, feeling ill at ease. After Ned closed the yard’s gate, they walked past the boat ramp and then on past a row of covered boats, tarped and resting on blocks.
Ned, grinning with pride, led Trevor to a loosely hung ring of tenting at the back corner of the yard. It was sixty feet in diameter, with a short, unfamiliar raked-back metal mast protruding from the middle. To one side, the weathered prow of a monohull yacht, sitting in a wheeled cradle, protruded. “I stuck that old prow and mast between her sterns, to make it look like she’s a big monohull powerboat,” Ned said, lifting up the tenting and ushering Trevor through.
When they were inside, Ned said, “I need to do a full survey, and then write up an itemized report for your insurance. Then I can start on her hulls, but that’ll be a few days.”
Trevor reached out, touching Atlantis’s hull, and then glanced down at her mast, which lay by her side. “I know you’ll take good care of her... I’ll be in touch soon. Officer Fowler said I can raise the customs shack, or their boat, via single-sideband radio from Kookaburra. There’s also a satellite phone aboard Kookaburra if you need me; I’ll get you the number.”
“I already have it,” Ned replied, smiling, and then he added, “That phone is for charter customers – and that’s what you are – so use it if you want to call me. Oh, and by the way, I made a quick call to your insurance last night and confirmed that there won’t be any issues on the rental-replacement charter of Kookaburra, and then whatever you want during the remainder of Atlantis’s repairs.”
Trevor smiled and nodded. “I should be back in a few days, after the heat’s off,” he said, scrambling aboard Atlantis for a look around. “I need to remember to ask Joel to send you the keys for the salon door,” he said, looking forlornly into the devastated salon, a sight that made his heart ache.
Ned waited until Trevor climbed down, and then replied, “Don’t worry about that. The door needs replacing anyway, so you’ll have a new lock. My yard is safe, never had any trouble, and let’s face it, burglars would not be a problem; there’s nothing much aboard to steal at the moment.” Ned paused, and then added in a quiet, serious tone, “Trevor, you’ve had a real rough go of it, and you seem to be coping well, but you’ve only been ashore for a few days. The best thing you can do, in my opinion, is put all this aside for a while, and have some time for yourself. Try to relax and unwind.”
Trevor smiled and nodded. “I’ll do that, thanks, and thanks for everything. I’ll be in touch soon. I should have a cell phone arriving at the yacht club in a couple of days,” Trevor said, suddenly remembering. “I need to call home, so I’ll probably come back for it.”
Ned rolled his eyes. “Use the sat phone... Just keep it brief and no one will mind.” When Trevor climbed back down, Ned led him back outside and down towards the dock. “Have fun out there and relax. The hard part is over now. I just wish you didn’t have to go with Shane. I don’t trust him; he could rob you blind.”
Trevor forced himself to smile. “What’s he going to do, steal my skateboard? I don’t exactly have a lot of stuff left. I gotta ask: why do you hate him so much?” Trevor asked, curious, but also reluctant to bring the conversation to an end and leave Atlantis behind.
Ned turned away for a moment, and then shrugged. “For starters, he’s a damn thief, but you know that part already. He’s also an insolent, lying, obnoxious, arrogant, worthless bastard. Another part of it is, the Blakes and I go back a long ways and they’ve ignored me when I’ve advised them to be rid of Shane. I think he’s manipulating them, and they’ll end up sorely regretting their generosity. There’s many a local lad they could have hired, but they ended up with him,” Ned said, with a look of disgust.
Ned wasn’t done. After a moment’s break, he carried on in an ever more agitated tone, “That’s another thing about Shane... he doesn’t hesitate to turn on the charm to get what he wants. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the bogan bastard wear a shirt!” Ned’s eyes flicked down at Trevor’s bare chest for a moment, and as Ned realized he’d just planted his foot squarely in his mouth by way of inadvertently insulting his customer, he added in a hurried, awkward tone, “Ah, what I mean is, he uses his looks. I’ve heard that when the charter customers are female, he wears as little as he can get away with – and even flirts, and maybe more – to get himself a fat tip! That’s no way to behave on a posh charter yacht!”
Trevor had to hide a smile as he remembered doing the same thing himself – including wearing speedos – to get a bigger tip on a charter in the Bahamas. Trevor had also caught Ned’s gaffe, and it was only the intensity of Ned’s apparent fury towards Shane, along with the coming parting with Atlantis, that enabled Trevor to avoid laughing.
Ned scowled and continued, “Shane has a roving eye for the ladies and he doesn’t care what messes he makes. He’s a perpetual flirt, anywhere, anytime. I hated allowing him on my property last night; I’d told him a while back that if he ever set foot on it again, I’d have him jailed for trespassing. I told him that right after he breezed into my front office – my office! – in just a pair of denim shorts, while I was working with a customer. The bastard went up to my wife – who’s old enough to be his mother – and started trying to chat her up, flirting with her! Every so often, he’d shoot me a smirk... and then when the customer left and I demanded to know what Shane wanted, he told us he’d just stopped by to be friendly, and gave my wife a rude wink! He’s a vagrant liar, and shameless, is what he is... Just take anything he says with a truckload of salt and you’ll probably be okay – if he doesn’t drive you crazy. I’d be in the loony bin in an afternoon if I had to put up with him!”
“I’m already crazy, so I’ll be fine,” Trevor quipped, trying to find a way out of the conversation he’d started, but the joke fell flat. The unwelcome additional confirmation that Shane was attracted to women did nothing to help Trevor’s mood, but he’d already forced himself to accept that fact, on their day out in Carnarvon.
“Were I you, I’d tell Martin Blake that you’d be happy to rent Kookaburra for the entire time until Atlantis is ready, but only if he’ll boot Shane off.” Ned calmed down and patted Atlantis’s hull. “Don’t worry about your boat; she’s in good hands. I’ll be catching up on my sleep today, but I’ll begin in the morning on the full survey, so work should be underway well before the weekend. When you get back, it’ll be time for you to start picking themes, styles, and specs. When she’s done, she’ll be far better than she ever was, you’ve my word on it.”
Trevor nodded, tracing his fingers on Atlantis’s hull, unwilling to step away. ‘I wish I could stay, but it’s only for a few days,’ he thought, trying to come to terms with leaving his beloved boat. He pulled his hand away, and then hesitated, reaching out to touch her again. “Thanks, Ned... for everything,” Trevor said, reluctantly turning away from Atlantis and following Ned to the boatyard’s dock, where Kookaburra’s Zodiac waited.
Bridget tapped two aspirins into her hand, and with a stoic look on her face, washed them down with a few sips of imported water. She glanced at George, who was sitting by her side in her parlor loveseat. “I am rarely troubled by headaches, though I have been beset by more than my share as of late. This constant stress is wearing me down, and I have no doubt that you’ve been suffering from it as well. I shall be so glad when this is over.”
George tenderly patted his lover’s hand, surprised by the rare display of vulnerability. “I’m sure it’ll be over soon. We’ve had some setbacks, sure, but in all, we’re coming out on top. The prosecution of Dirk Carlson has closed the door to any chance you’ll be charged for Arnold’s murder, and Trevor’s maniacal obsession with finding Ares is on hold due to him being on the opposite side of the world. As long as he dies before getting back here, and we can stop anyone else from looking for that damn wreck, we’ll be done with this, forever. And hey, I saw the look in Sanchez’s eyes; he’s one determined guy now, and this has become a matter of honor for him. I’ll bet anything he’ll handle things well, and before we know it, we’ll be off to the Bahamas to see what he has for us.”
“Trevor’s head, on the literal platter,” Bridget said, with a faint, disgusted scowl, as she pictured that sight in her mind’s eye. “Sanchez has a flair for the macabre when he feels that circumstances demand; very uncouth, by my way of thinking. I would gladly settle for seeing Trevor imprisoned for a few decades, as we plan for Lisa and Joel. That would serve our ends equally well, so perhaps sending the cocaine with Lisa and Joel will suffice. Sanchez, though, is so determined to erase the stain on his reputation wrought by the failed attempts to fulfill my contract, so I am not inclined to suggest other options at this juncture, even though they might be easier to attain.”
George didn’t share Bridget’s qualms. “Sanchez’s head-on-the-platter plan makes sense, if you think about it. His failures are an embarrassment to him because they reflect on his competency, and in his line of work, that can cost him his life. He needs a bit of a display, not just to us but also to his own people; something people will whisper about: that he’s not somebody to mess with, ever. Showing us Trevor’s head serves those ends neatly, and it’s also sure proof that he’s really dead.”
Bridget sighed, and then, with a resigned tone, replied, “I suppose you’re right, it just comes across as crass to me. However, one mustn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, as they say. At this juncture, I’d truly welcome most any resolution to this debacle. Since hearing that he’s alive, I sometimes despair that we’ll ever succeed.”
George smiled, smirking a little in pride. “I’ve been thinking on our options. Our main goal is to take Lisa, Joel, and Trevor out of circulation permanently, or at least for a few decades, to keep them from finding Ares. If Sanchez ever learns of what we think is on that wreck, it’ll be our heads on the platter. So... Sanchez hasn’t been able to find Trevor yet, and we’ve been thinking of sending a tracking device with Lisa and Joel, and swapping it for the coke if Sanchez or us locate Trevor first. The thing is, we know where Trevor will eventually be: the Panama Canal. It’s right in the cartel’s backyard. Trevor will have to book transit passage, and that info is child’s play for the cartel to get, so that’s an ironclad safety net for us. It’d be better if Sanchez comes through in Australia so we can get this mess behind us, but there’s not a chance in hell of Trevor getting past Panama. In other words, things will go our way; it’s just a matter of when. Now, that brings us back to Sanchez being able to locate Trevor in Australia. We’re looking at the problem the wrong way, I think.”
Bridget arched an eyebrow, took a relaxed sip of water, and said, “I can tell by the look on your face; you have a plan.”
George nodded, a proud, self-satisfied look on his face. “I sure as hell do. A good one that’ll make everybody happy. We send Lisa and Joel with the coke, and arrange a tip while they are en route, one that implicates Trevor as well. His old clunker is still at Joel’s house, so I can plant some traces to back up the tip. The Aussies arrest all three – assuming Trevor meets them at the airport, or we can find out where he is – and throw them in jail pending trial. Once they’re in jail, we’ll know exactly where they are. Sanchez will sure as hell have the contacts to arrange a hit through the jail and prison gangs. So, Trevor ends up dead, maybe Joel and Lisa too – or they get lucky and sent to an Aussie prison for twenty years, same difference to us. Sanchez is happy, we’re happy, and the threat is over.”
“Elegant yet simple, I like it,” Bridget said, with a note of restrained approval in her voice. “We still need to locate Trevor, or get confirmation that he shall be meeting Joel and Lisa at the airport, but I am confident we will; Joel and Lisa are quite talkative in the guesthouse. And, should that not come to pass, we can still go with the Panama Canal option for Trevor if nothing else works, as Lisa and Joel will be safely out of the picture. Brilliant, my dear.”
“Thanks,” George replied, thoroughly pleased with himself.
Shane, standing at Kookaburra’s aft rail, spotted the Zodiac coming around the point. He glanced down at the dock, at Officer Fowler. “Here he comes... I guess we’ll be seeing you in a few days.”
“Have fun out there... and good job with the press, Shane. As far as I’m concerned, you’re starting with a clean slate,” Officer Fowler replied, smiling, though there was a look of warning in his eyes.
Shane got the message, ‘Don’t screw up.’ “Thanks. We’ll keep the single sideband on, as well as the VHF – channel sixteen, and the sat phone.”
“What’s your plan?” Fowler asked.
Shane shrugged. “Shark Bay. We’ll be pulling into Hamelin Pool first. Mr. Blake will be meeting us there in the morning; he wants to see Trev and take care of the money for provisioning – Kookaburra’s not stocked for a charter. We’ll need to head for Denham to provision. After that... I’m thinking maybe southwest to Boat Haven Loop.”
“Sounds good to me,” Fowler replied.
Officer Craig Grundig approached at a fast walk, holding a flat white box covered by an empty manila folder, both of which he handed to Fowler. “Your wife just dropped this off. She was in a hurry, but she made me promise to make sure you didn’t forget, again,” Grundig said quietly, with a sly grin. He glanced back at the customs shack and added, “There’s a couple of slices more in the office – and I’m hungry.”
Fowler shook his head and chuckled. “You’re subtle as a heart attack, Craig, but you’d best leave me one if you know what’s good for you.” Fowler walked to Kookaburra’s rail and handed the box, with the folder on top, up to a puzzled Shane. Fowler smiled, and said quietly, “The folder is to make it look like paperwork to anyone watching, so don’t open the box until you’re out of sight. It’s my wife’s specialty, key lime pie, so count yourselves truly blessed. I was supposed to bring it when I stopped by my house this morning, but with all that went on, I clean forgot.” Fowler had made a fast run to his house to get a clean uniform for his encounter with the press. He’d been in a hurry, and overtired due to being up all night, and had managed to walk right by the pie and his wife’s note.
“Thanks,” Shane said quietly, before ducking inside to put the pie in the galley refrigerator.
Trevor raced for Kookaburra’s stern, pulling in under the davits. He scrambled aboard and, while Shane raised and secured the Zodiac, Trevor walked to the rail to talk to Fowler. “Thanks for everything,” Trevor said, smiling.
“This has been a crazy one,” Fowler replied, chucking, “Craig and I got clearance for the overtime, so we’ll be getting some very welcome extra pay. My wife already has plans for spending that, and she’s sent you two a homemade pie – and she makes the best – by way of a thank you,” Fowler said, and then, in a quiet, serious tone, he added, “I’ve received word that the TV reporters and their crews checked out of the motel. I think we’ve foxed ‘em, and they think the story they heard about pirates and your voyage here was just part of a scam run by you two. However, there’s still the chance some of them might still be in the area, so I’ll make it look good when you sail, just in case.”
Trevor nodded. “Thanks... I’ll call soon. I need to come back in a few days anyway, for Atlantis, and to pick up a phone that’s on its way to the yacht club.”
“Be careful about that. They know who you are at the yacht club, and if they get a look at your new hair color, who knows who else might find out. I’ll pick up the phone for you. I might even be seeing you soon; Craig and I will be doing a patrol down to South Pass and Steep Point, plus a stop to do some permit checks in Denham, so we might be able to deliver your phone, if you’re nearby,” Fowler said.
“That’d be great.”
“Okay, I’ll call on the sat phone or radio you to set up a meeting, see you soon, ” Fowler said, and then backed up a few paces, and for the benefit of anyone who might be watching, he pointed at Kookaburra and then gestured out to sea, yelling, “Get that thing off my dock!” He turned on his heel and stalked angrily back to the customs shack.
In Kookaburra’s cockpit, Trevor looked at Shane and grinned. “Okay, ready to get underway?”
Shane glanced at Kookaburra’s port helm. “Yeah, just tell me what to do.”
Trevor chuckled. “Cast off and stand at the port helm. When the wheel turns, act like you’re turning it. I’ll stay in the salon, out of sight.”
While Shane cast off, Trevor made his way to the salon’s navigation desk. Like most of the big Lagoon catamarans, Kookaburra could be helmed from there, using the autopilot’s servos to control the rudders and engines.
The wind was off the dock, so Kookaburra began drifting seaward. As soon as Shane had returned to the cockpit and taken his place at the port helm, Trevor fired up the engines and began maneuvering Kookaburra into the channel and out to sea at three knots, looking out the forward windows and following the channel buoys. Shane played his role at the helm, pretending to turn the wheel when it moved.
Officer Fowler watched from the customs shack window, a mug of coffee in hand, as Kookaburra glided down the channel towards open water. “I hope this worked... I think it did, but we won’t know for sure for a while,” he said.
Officer Grundig glanced at a white box on his desk. “I think it worked, but we’d probably be more able to consider the issue on a full stomach,” he said, licking his lips.
Fowler glanced at the box and chuckled. “I’ll take that as a subtle hint. Open it up, we deserve a treat, then it’s time to head home. I don’t know about you, but I need to catch up on some sleep.”
“Me as well,” Grundig replied, leaning forward, opening the box and grabbing a slice of pie, which was already on a small foam plate, with a plastic fork by its side. He took a bite, savoring it before adding, “Your missus makes the best pies I’ve ever had, I’ve always loved ‘em. She even had some good news; she’s teaching my Melanie to make them.”
Fowler sat down to join him, and took a bite before replying, “Melanie makes the best barbecued ribs I’ve ever had, so hopefully they’ll trade recipes.” Fowler took another bite, and raised his coffee cup in solemn salute. “To your Melanie and my Shelly, the two best cooks in Carnarvon.”
Grundig raised his own mug. “I’ll drink to that, any day.” He took a few more bites of pie, and then added in a serious tone, “Even if we fooled the press, there are still a lot of issues to deal with, regarding Trevor.”
Fowler frowned, glancing out the window. “Don’t I know it. Headquarters is trying to make up their minds as to what to do. They’re discussing making contact with the Florida authorities, but they’re trying to decide which ones, and what they’d do with Trevor if the Americans request he be sent home to testify.”
“I have every faith that headquarters will ponder the issues individually and in the whole, take time to mull them over, consider them judiciously from all angles, carefully weigh the facts, and analyze all the possible permutations. Then, in due time, after endless meetings and memorandums, they will finally be ready, and will proceed decisively – with forthright determination – to procrastinate with vigor and confidence,” Grundig said, rolling his eyes.
Fowler laughed, shaking his head. “Your faith in our bureaucratic overlords leaves me slightly – very slightly – underwhelmed,” he said, before glancing out the window and adding quietly, “but in this case, I think that’d be an ideal outcome.”
A sultry breeze, barely enough to form cat’s-paws on the water, offered the only relief from the hot morning sun as Kookaburra passed the channel’s outer buoys. Trevor stood up, stretched, and stepped over the Kookaburra’s boom as he crossed the salon and joined Shane in the cockpit. “You’ve got her now. I don’t know where we’re going.”
Shane grabbed hold of the wheel for real. “Uh, we need to head for Hamelin Pool, at the south end of the eastern arm of Shark Bay. The nav system contains all kinds of charts, but I don’t know how to set up a complex course for the autopilot. There are a lot of sandbars and shoals along the way.”
Trevor watched Shane at the wheel for a moment, and grinned. “It’s better to helm her manually in confined waters, but we do need those charts. Show me where Hamlin Pool is,” Trevor said, joining Shane at the helm.
Shane zoomed the nav screen out to show all of Shark Bay, zoomed back in on the eastern arm, and tapped at the south end of it. “There.”
Trevor studied the chart, and zoomed out until Carnarvon appeared at the top of the screen. “Okay, that’s – ugh, this is set to Metric – close to two hundred kilometers, so... around one hundred and twenty miles. If we cruise at ten knots, that’s about eleven hours. From the look of it, there are some complicated channels through the shoals south of Faure Island. The charts say the shoals have navigable channels, but I’d really prefer to do those in daylight.”
Shane nodded. “Yeah, that’s the Faure Sill; we’ve been through those shoals plenty of times. It’s okay as long as you stick to the channels and it’s not low tide. Hamelin Pool is a usual stop for us, to show the tourists the stromatolites – lumps of bacteria that make rocks.”
Trevor arched an eyebrow. “You’re taking me over a hundred miles to see bacteria?”
Shane laughed and shook his head. “Not exactly, though the tourists seem to love ‘em. We’re heading there because of the road. Mr. Blake is driving up to see you in the morning, and Hamelin Pool is just off the main Shark Bay road, and only thirty kilometers from the Overlander Roadhouse on Route One, which is the main coastal highway. We’re supposed to be there at eleven – he’s got about a two-hundred kilometer drive.”
Trevor shot Shane a puzzled look. “Why is your boss driving all that way to meet me?”
Shane shrugged. “I turned on the satellite phone, and he called while you were at Ned’s. Mr. Blake just said he wanted to meet you, and get us squared away on the charter provisions – he’ll be giving me some cash for that, I think. He didn’t say, but I’m betting he also wants to see how long you’re hiring Kookaburra for. Better yet, I’m hoping he’ll be bringing Kookaburra’s bar stock: the Blakes took that with them when the season ended. They said they didn’t want to tempt me... and, better still, he said he’d be bringing me my weekly pay packet; it’s normally just deposited to my bank account at the end of each week, so I can get it from an ATM. Anyway, that means I won’t be skint anymore, for a few days anyway.”
Trevor laughed and shook his head. “You aren’t now... you’ve got the cash from the press. That’s yours.”
Shane blinked in surprise. “But that’s yours–”
Trevor shook his head. “Nope. You got it, so you keep it. I’ve already got what I needed: the reporters gone.”
Shane grinned from ear to ear and whooped for joy. He looked at Trevor, hesitating for a moment, and then grabbing him in a bear hug. “Thanks mate, that’s more than I’ve had in yonks. I get more when doing charters, but during the offseason there aren’t any, so I get to stay on Kookaburra plus fifty a week, which doesn’t leave much after I buy food,” Shane said, giving Trevor’s bare back a couple of hearty pats before letting him go.
Trevor grinned, and then tapped at the chart display. “It looks like clear water until we hit Faure Island, and from there it’s only about three hours to Hamelin Pool. What about anchoring off Faure Island overnight? That way we can do the channels in daylight. It’ll also give us a chance to put the boom back on before we see your boss.”
Shane nodded. “We’ve anchored just east of the island before. As for sailing, there’s usually a good sea breeze in the afternoon.”
Trevor laid out a course for Faure Island in the eastern arm of Shark Bay, keeping well clear of the coast and some offshore shoals.
Shane glanced at the tarps, which were still in place over the bows and transom. “Take over and slow down so I can get those in. If they’re still dry, I’ll stow them in the sail hold.”
Trevor took the wheel. “Sounds good to me.”
When Shane returned to the cockpit after stowing the tarps and Trevor’s netting sail, he glanced at Trevor and said, “We’re ready to go!”
Trevor grinned, advancing the throttles almost to the stops, feeling Kookaburra smoothly accelerate. He grinned as their speed reached ten knots, feeling the wind on his face and chest. “According to the plot, we’re about five hours from Faure Island,” he said, enjoying being at sea again, but wishing that they were on a restored Atlantis instead of Kookaburra.
Shane ducked into the salon, to return a few moments later with two plates, which held large slices of pie and a fork apiece. “Pie!” he declared with an enthusiastic grin.
Shane plopped down into the helm beanbag, next to where Trevor was standing. “You’ll love Shark Bay. It’s awesome,” he mumbled, around a mouthful of pie.
“You’re my tour guide,” Trevor said, glancing at Shane and grinning, and then taking a bite. The pie had a meringue top, and a pale yellow filling. As soon as Trevor tasted it, his eyes opened wide in recognition. “This is just like one of my favorites, key lime pie!”
Shane took another bite. “Fowler called it key lime pie, so that’s what it is, but I’ve never heard of it before, except on American TV shows. I can see why you like it, it’s great!”
Trevor blinked in surprise. “I didn’t think I’d taste it again until I got home, ‛cause it’s a local thing: Key lime pie is from the Florida Keys.” Trevor took another bite. “It sure was nice of Mrs. Fowler to do this. Have you ever met her?” he asked.
Shane shook his head. “Never, as far as I know. Prior to yesterday, Fowler and Grundig couldn’t stand me, and I kept clear of them when I could,” Shane said, turning his head to stare out at the sea.
Trevor felt a pang of empathy for Shane, thinking of how alone he’d been. “I think things are looking a lot better, for both of us,” Trevor said, and then took another bite, savoring the rich taste of tart lime combined with sweet condensed milk. He smiled, thinking of home, and then looked out at the azure waters. “I’m really looking forward to seeing Shark Bay,” he said.
Shane interlaced his fingers behind his neck and stretched. “I’ll show you the best of it, count on it. Shark Bay is where we usually take charters, so I’ve been around it lots. I’ve crewed out on the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland, too, and that’s different in a lot of ways, but in my opinion, Shark Bay can’t be beat,” Shane replied, looking out at the sea.
Trevor allowed himself a brief, admiring glance at Shane’s stretched-out form, and then forced his eyes back to the horizon before asking, “Is Kookaburra a dive charter? Is there gear aboard?”
“Yeah, and no. We do dive charters but we don’t provide the gear; the divers have to bring their own. We have snorkeling gear, pool floats, a beach-volleyball setup, beach cookout equipment, all sorts of stuff.”
Trevor glanced at the tattered shorts – which had once been Joel’s – that Shane was wearing, and snickered. “I think you should wear those shorts when you meet your boss.”
Shane glanced at the shorts and laughed. “Not a chance, mate. I try to avoid indecent exposure around my employers; it’s just a silly rule of mine.”
“Thanks for wearing ‘em; I didn’t think you would – not without underwear or pinning the hole shut again, anyway,” Trevor said, chuckling.
“No reason not to; I’ve never been shy. Besides, you were right; you’ve been seen about in ‘em, and the reporters might have heard.” Shane sobered slightly, and added in a quiet, serious tone. “I just hope we pulled it off and got the bastards off your trail.”
“I think we did,” Trevor replied, with a confident smile.
At the tip of Carnarvon’s one-mile jetty, south of the port, Jason Kline watched through binoculars as Kookaburra disappeared from view, heading south. She’d been too far away for him to make out her name when Shane had removed the tarps, but he correctly guessed that she was a local boat. He jotted a few thoughts down in his notebook and then glanced north, towards Carnarvon. ‘The real boat is probably around here somewhere,’ he thought, turning on his heel and walking back towards his car.
After an hour at the wheel bantering with Shane, Trevor yawned and stretched.
Shane gave Trevor an apprising glance. “Trev, you look dead tired. Why don’t you go get some sleep? I can handle Kookaburra at sea; I’ve done it before.”
Trevor gave Shane a sleepy smile. “Sounds good but you missed a night’s sleep too. I’m used to going on short naps, so just let me crash for an hour and I’ll be fine to take over. Any more and I won’t sleep tonight.”
“Okay, put her on auto for a few minutes and let’s get you squared away,” Shane said, heading inside.
Trevor checked the nav plot, engaged the autopilot, and followed Shane into the salon. “Which cabin do I get?” he asked.
“Cabin? I was thinking I’d set you up in the bilge, but if you’re being difficult and insisting on a cabin, I suppose you can have one,” Shane replied, smirking. Kookaburra’s layout was nearly identical to Atlantis’s, and Shane pointed towards the forward starboard cabin. “I’m in that one, as it’s right off the galley. How about the starboard aft? It’s the twin of the one you were in on Atlantis, and it’s off the galley, too.”
Trevor grinned sleepily. “Right now, I’d settle for the bilge. Starboard aft it is.”
Shane picked up Trevor’s shopping bags and led the way down the galley steps and then aft. Opening the cabin, he put Trevor’s bags down on a counter and said, “The bed’s all set, and I’ll wake you in a bit.”
“Thanks Shane,” Trevor replied to Shane’s retreating back. As soon as Shane shut the door, Trevor climbed onto the bed, his eyes already half-closed. He paused, set the alarm clock on the headboard for an hour, and then lay back on a pillow and closed his eyes.
Trevor, exhausted, lulled by the rumble of the engines, slipped off to sleep, and for a while, slumbered dreamlessly.
Trevor’s peace did not last long, and his sleeping mind returned him to Atlantis, where he again struggled to survive the rogue wave, only this time, the pirates were there as well...
A persistent beeping intruded on Trevor’s nightmare, pulling him away, and his eyes fluttered open. Gasping for breath, covered in a fine sheen of sweat, he bolted to a sitting position, his head spinning. He felt the motion of the boat, and for a moment feared that he was still at sea in Atlantis, lost in the Southern Ocean. Then, he heard and felt the hum of the engines, and glanced around the immaculate cabin. “I’m safe, it’s over,” he mumbled, as he realized where he was.
Trevor took a few slow, deep breaths, as his nerves calmed. Then, he glanced towards the head, and a far more pleasant thought beckoned, ‘The engines are running, so the calorifer is on, and that means hot water!’ Trevor thought, hopping eagerly out of bed.
Five minutes later, wearing a pair of his new boardies and with Shane’s Levis in hand, Trevor strolled through the galley and into the cockpit, where he found Shane at the helm, looking sleepy.
Shane arched an eyebrow at Trevor. “I was going to leave you a while longer. I figured you’d need it.”
Trevor shook his head. “I’m fine now, and I just had my first hot shower in months: it was awesome! Why don’t you go crash out for a while?”
Shane nodded. “I could sure use it. See ya in an hour, Trev.”
As Shane passed him, Trevor handed him the Levis. “Thanks for the loan, man.”
Shane took the Levis and nodded in the direction of the galley. “There’s coffee on... have fun, mate,” Shane said, yawning and heading inside.