Trevor awoke to the sound of his alarm and smiled, looking forward to the day in spite of his fears. ‘I’m seventeen, one year to go,’ he thought, feeling more than a little daunted by the prospect of a year on the run. He soon cast the thought aside, not wanting to let anything get him down.
Trevor pulled on a clean pair of boardies and bounded onto the deck, looking towards the empty beach, seeing no sign of anyone, not even a fisherman, or any cars in the parking lot. He checked his watch, seeing that it was just after seven, and sat down in his beanbag to wait.
From where Trevor sat, he could hear the traffic on A1A, and every time he heard an engine, he looked in that direction then scanned back to the parking lot. Over the next ten minutes, several cars pulled in, but none of them was Joel’s black Camaro or Lisa’s pickup truck.
At twenty past seven, Trevor stepped into the salon to grab the cell phone, but before he could open it, he heard another car and looked, breaking into a huge grin as Joel’s Camaro wheeled into the parking lot, and he could see Joel and Lisa within.
Trevor rushed to the wire safety rail and waved, and as Lisa got out of the car, she waved back before taking off her T-shirt and shorts, revealing a bikini beneath.
Trevor watched as Joel got out, pulled a Styrofoam ice chest from his trunk, and then tugged off his shirt, throwing it in the car, followed by his shorts.
Joel and Lisa walked down across the beach, which by now was host to several fishermen and a few families. They entered the water, holding the ice chest between them, and began swimming it out across the calm waters to Atlantis.
Trevor scrambled down the aft port stairs, and as Joel and Lisa came within a few feet, he said, “Happy birthday, Lisa.”
Trevor stopped to pull the ice chest out of the water as Lisa replied, “Happy birthday, Trev. Don’t look in the ice chest yet.”
“Happy birthday, man,” Joel said, while treading water a few feet astern.
As Trevor carried the ice chest into the salon, Joel and Lisa climbed up the steps and followed him. When they reached the salon, Trevor set the chest down and turned to look at Joel. “I very much approve of you in red speedos,” he said in a patently fake solemn tone, repeating his joke from what seemed like long ago.
Joel rolled his eyes and chuckled as Lisa replied to Trevor with a grin, “My idea. It’s my birthday after all, and he looks hot in ‘em. As for you, turn around while we get breakfast out.”
“Presents!” Trevor said as he spun around.
“Food first, and you better still have some coffee on this tub; mornings and I don’t get along,” Lisa replied.
Joel dug out three sacks of still-warm fast food breakfasts, setting them on the deck before closing the ice chest. “Okay, done.”
Trevor turned around and walked into the cockpit, where he fired up the engines. “There’s coffee in the galley. I want to get underway; this place is a bit too public for me to hang around in. I’m scared I might get seen.”
“I’ll get the anchors,” Joel replied, running forward to haul them up as Trevor slacked them off.
When Joel returned to the cockpit, Trevor motioned for him to take the wheel and said, “Take her out through the pass. I’ll handle the sails once we’re clear.”
“Where are we heading?” Joel asked, smiling as he spun the wheel hard over and advanced the throttles.
Trevor shrugged as Lisa joined them, coffee in one hand, and the three breakfast bags in the other. “No idea. I just don’t want to be in this close,” Trevor said, as they rounded the point and entered the pass. Trevor looked out ahead at the seaward beaches and added, “I was thinking of heading down to the nuke plant for some surfing, but it looks pretty flat. How about heading out to sea and then down the coast? Maybe the surf will pick up later.”
“Cool!” Lisa exclaimed, as Joel grinned and nodded.
The three friends ate breakfast as Atlantis headed out into the Atlantic. When they were done, Trevor said, “I’m so glad to see you guys. I wish we were going on a birthday trip for a week or two, but it’ll be a great day anyway.”
That was not the issue foremost on Lisa’s mind, but she decided to get it out of the way. “I’m not supposed to be here,” Lisa said, with a sad shake of her head. “That’s why we were late. When Joel came to pick me up, Dad got grouchy and asked where we were going. We didn’t want to mention you so Joel said we were going shopping in Orlando. Dad looked at Joel, real suspicious-like, and then told me he didn’t trust the two of us being alone together all day, but then he said we could go anyway as long as we were out in public. I’ll be okay if I get home before sundown, I think.”
Joel nodded, and then added, “He told me the other day that he wants to meet my parents. I’m hoping that, if he does, he’ll stop stressing about me so much.”
The bigger issue – Trevor’s problems – hung heavy over them, but Lisa decided to defer the matter to let Trevor unwind a bit. With Atlantis heading south, five miles offshore, Lisa declared, “Time for presents!”
Trevor went to his cabin and retrieved a wrapped box from his closet, where it had been sitting for two months.
Joel, who hadn’t let Lisa see in the ice chest, waited until Trevor returned before opening it and pulling out two gift-wrapped boxes, both fairly large. He handed one each to Lisa and Trevor, and then told Trevor, “I wanted to have that outboard part for you today but I had to order it. It hasn’t come yet so I’ll give it to you the next time I see you. The other present that isn’t here is I’m going to take care of your phone problem; I’ve added an international plan to my account and they said the phone should work overseas but it might take a week or so. Happy Birthday, Trev.”
Lisa reached into the ice chest and pulled out a small wrapped box, handing it to Trevor as she said, “Happy birthday, Trev.”
Trevor grinned and tore into Joel’s gift first. Under the wrapping paper he found a brown cardboard box and flipped it open, grinning as he held up one of the four large bags inside. “Tortilla chips! Thanks man, I was out.”
Joel smiled and said, “I know you love ‘em. Look in the bottom of the box.”
Trevor did, finding an unmarked white envelope. He opened it, and upon seeing five hundred-dollar bills, started shaking his head.
Joel held up his hand, “No arguing; Lisa and I discussed this. You don’t know what you’re facing yet and you might need it. Call it a loan if you want and repay me if it turns out you can come home, but I wanted you to have that. I’ve got money saved up from my last job so I’m fine to do this, and I figured money could be more use to you than any present I could think of.”
Trevor looked up, staring at Joel and Lisa for a few moments in silence before saying, “I... Wow, thanks, man. I’m calling this a loan, but you might have to wait until I turn eighteen and can start running charters again before I can pay you back.”
Joel shrugged. “Whatever floats your boat, pun intended.”
Trevor began opening Lisa’s gift, and she said, “Unlike Joel I haven’t had a job so I just got you something I thought you could use. It’s not the first thing that came to mind, because as you can tell, the box is way too small for a guy to be inside, but...”
Trevor looked up for a moment, and then grinned and finished opening the gift. “An iPod and a waterproof case, great! I can listen to tunes on the beach or out on deck, Thanks!”
Lisa grinned. “I loaded it too, and so did Joel. It’s got over ten thousand songs now, thanks to Joel showing me how to use file-share software.”
Trevor paged through the list of songs, grinning. “Awesome! Thanks, this will be so great!”
“My turn!” Lisa declared, and ripped open the box from Joel. She opened it, and, with confusion on her face, lifted out a bubble-wrapped rock. “Honey, you shouldn’t have,” Lisa said, turning over the rough hunk of limestone in her hands.
Joel laughed, hard. “That’s not your real gift. It’s back in the car; I didn’t want to risk getting it wet. It’ll be a surprise.” Joel stood up, padded over to Trevor, and put his hand on Trevor’s bare shoulder as he bent down and whispered in Trevor’s ear, “I got her a new stereo system for her truck.”
As Joel walked away, Trevor asked in a normal tone, “I don’t get it, why would you be worried about getting a rubber duck wet?”
Lisa turned to Trevor and asked in a sweet voice, “Trev, you better tell me what I’m getting for real or I’ll toss you overboard.”
“A rubber ducky,” Trevor replied with an innocent smile.
Joel put on a mock pout. “I feel so left out. No presents for me.”
“It’s not your birthday, you goofball. You’ll just have to wait for spring,” Lisa said with a laugh, referring to Joel’s eighteenth birthday.
Lisa tore into Trevor’s present, slowing down halfway through opening it. “Oh Trev... it’s gorgeous...” she said, carefully unwrapping the bronze torsion-pendulum nautical clock and its glass dome.
“I got it from a catalog at the chandlery,” Trevor replied, his face falling as that thought caused his troubles to return to mind.
As Atlantis cruised southwards, the three friends lay out on deck, talking about anything and everything, with one exception. By mutual unspoken consent, Trevor’s problems were not mentioned.
By lunchtime, Atlantis was off Palm Beach, Florida and Trevor was looking at the shore through his binoculars. He saw over two dozen yachts, in all shapes and sizes, anchored all along the long beach, a few hundred yards out from the string of high-rise hotels and resorts. Seeing that many boats, he was confident enough that Atlantis wouldn’t be paid much notice, and felt safe in putting into words what he’d been thinking. “I want to take you guys out to lunch. I’ve been here before, on charters, and there are some great little places, right on the beach. It’s really calm today; I can anchor a few hundred yards offshore, no problem.”
Lisa looked to shorewards and then shook her head. “Sorry. I can swim, but not like you and Joel. I think I could make it in okay, but not back out through the surf. There isn’t much, but a few hundred yards is a long way for me.”
“I only need to anchor that far out, Lisa. I can get a lot closer to the beach first, drop you guys off, then anchor and swim in. When it’s time to come back, I’ll swim out, get Atlantis, and come in close. Heck, Joel can come with me and take one of my surfboards back to you; all you’d have to do is paddle out, with him to help.”
Lisa grinned. “Sounds perfect. Palm Beach it is.”
Joel, who was at the helm, turned shorewards as Trevor pointed to the area he had in mind. Then Joel glanced down at his tight red swimsuit and asked, “Trev, can I borrow those red shorts again?”
Lisa stood up and put her arm around Joel. “We’re talking beachfront restaurants, Joel. I’m sure people eat on the patios in swimsuits all the time. Besides, it’s my birthday, so no, Trevor cannot lend you any shorts,” Lisa said, in a sweet tone while wearing a mischievous grin.
Joel chuckled and rolled his eyes, as Atlantis surged towards the shore.
Trevor looked at Joel for a few moments, taking in his windblown blond hair, dark golden tan, and honed swimmer’s physique. “What’s wrong, Joel?” Trevor asked with a wicked grin. “Afraid people will think you’re gay? I could hold your hand when we get to the beach if that’ll help.”
Joel shook his head, painting a frightened expression on his face, his eyes darting about as he lowered his voice to little more than a whisper to say, “No, I’m scared they’ll think I’m Canadian.”
Trevor and Lisa doubled over laughing hard, and Joel grinned before joining in.
As Atlantis neared the beach, Trevor took over and engaged the engines. “I’ll motor in close and turn parallel to the beach. I’ll get as close as I can and let you know when to jump. Lisa, I’m going in until I’m at four feet under the hulls on the depth gauge, which makes it less than eight feet deep, so you should be able to stand on the bottom within about a hundred feet.”
Joel and Lisa walked down the starboard stern stairs, and Joel said, “It’s easy and I’ll be with you.”
Lisa smiled and hugged Joel “I’ll be fine but you being with me makes it even better.”
Trevor kept a nervous eye on his depth gauge as he came in as close as he dared, closing on the beach at a shallow angle at two knots, and in just six feet of water he hollered, “Jump!”
As soon as he saw Joel and Lisa in the water, Trevor turned hard to port and added a little throttle, heading for deeper water.
Lisa smiled at Joel as he surfaced beside her, the sun glinting off his wet skin, and then she launched into a freestyle crawl towards the shore. The surf was barely running two feet on that calm day, and when she reached waist-deep water, with Joel easily keeping pace by her side, Lisa stood up and waded the rest of the way to shore.
Trevor anchored Atlantis a quarter of a mile from shore, in fifty feet of water over a rocky bottom. He knew he was being overly cautious on such a calm day, but he knew he’d feel better with Atlantis in a firm safe place instead of anchoring on the inshore sand. He’d seen many boats drag anchors, even in calm conditions.
As soon as he had the anchors set, he raced for his cabin to get some cash, and was about to return to the deck when he hesitated. ‘Joel might feel a little uncomfortable dressed like that in a restaurant if he’s the only one,’ he thought.
Trevor stripped off his shorts and pulled on his light blue speedos, and then tucked a few banknotes into it at his hip before tying the drawstring.
Racing up onto deck, Trevor jumped over the wire, hands first into the warm waters, and pulled hard for shore.
Joel and Lisa were waiting at the surf line as Trevor swam through the surf and then stood up upon reaching knee-deep water. Lisa laughed and waited until Trevor reached them to say, “Looking good, Trev. Now you can keep Joel company.”
Trevor shrugged as he drew even with his friends. “It was a long swim in and it’ll be a long swim back out.”
“That would have been an easy swim in shorts; the sea is calm, not like when I swam the wires out to Atlantis,” Joel said, smiling at Trevor. “You changed so I wouldn’t feel out of place, right?”
Trevor shrugged again. “Yeah, I thought you might feel a little weird if you’re the only guy in speedos in the restaurant. There are a lot of European tourists in this area so I’ve seen lots of guy here wearing ‘em, but just in case, I thought I’d suffer along with you,” Trevor said, and then gave Lisa an accusing look, which he held for a few seconds before beginning to laugh.
“Oh shut up, you wimps,” Lisa said, laughing and shaking her head. “We’re walking along a beach and I’m wearing a bikini, but that’s considered normal. You two guys swim at swim meets in front of hundreds of people, yet for a walk on the beach it’s embarrassing to wear your swimsuits? I guess this proves it; men are just weird.”
“Joel is just worried I’ll make him look gay again,” Trevor said, laughing as he gave Joel a light punch in the arm.
Joel’s smile changed into a wicked grin as he took off at a sprint, chasing a laughing Trevor across the hot sands.
After walking half a mile down the beach, they reached the restaurant Trevor remembered, and angled inland across the sands towards it, taking seats on the sunny patio just a few feet from the sand, with Joel and Trevor taking seats on either side of Lisa.
A fast look at the menu resulted in the three friends sharing a giant-sized order of nachos, with Trevor correctly suspecting that Joel and Lisa didn’t want Trevor to have to spend much money. His suspicions were confirmed when they ordered water to drink, something he’d never known either one of them to do in a restaurant.
“Thanks guys,” Trevor said softly.
While they waited for the food, Lisa broached the subject they’d been avoiding. “What are you going to do, Trevor? Your father has phoned my house a couple of times already, trying to find you. I spoke to him and told him I didn’t know where you were. He didn’t sound too angry but other than that, I couldn’t tell much. I asked him what was going on and he wouldn’t answer me. He just asked me to call him if I found out where you are.”
Trevor sighed. “I don’t know. The thing that keeps sticking in my head is the preliminary divorce papers from a few weeks before Mom died. He got super defensive and didn’t even try to explain, and then when he found out I was where Mom died, he tried to take Atlantis off me. If it weren’t for the divorce papers, I’d call again and see if he was calming down yet, but I... I can’t, not without knowing what really happened. The more I think about it, the more stuff just doesn’t add up. He goes to trade shows almost every week, the days the chandlery is closed, but that’s mid-week, and trade shows are almost always on weekends. I’ve never seen him take anything other than an overnight bag with him, and he doesn’t bring stuff back, not that I’ve seen anyway. I never really thought about it until this divorce stuff, but those trips just don’t make sense.” Trevor paused for a few moments, gathering his thoughts. “Trying to take Atlantis off me because of where I was can only mean there’s something there that he doesn’t want found.”
Lisa stared at the ocean for a while before saying, “Trev, for as long as I’ve known your dad, I’ve always thought he was a good guy, but when I saw those divorce papers it made my blood run cold. Is there anything else strange that you can think of? Oh, he asked why we broke up, too.”
Trevor replied, mainly for Joel’s benefit, “Yeah, he used to think we were dating, a lot of people did.” Joel nodded; he’d thought that himself, until the day Trevor had set him up with Lisa.
Trevor shrugged and continued, “I just let him think that for awhile, it seemed like the easiest thing at the time. Then you two started going out, and you both know him, so I told Dad that Lisa and I weren’t dating anymore but were still good friends. That reminds me, Dad has been pretty distant lately but the other day, before all this stuff blew up, he told me, right out of the blue, that he wanted to send me to Western Australia for Christmas, with a girlfriend, to meet some of Mom’s relatives! That’s the first time he’s ever mentioned them to me. At first, I thought he was just pushing on the girlfriend issue again but then he said I could go alone if I wanted–”
The conversation was interrupted by the arrival of the food, delivered by a very friendly young waiter, who Trevor noticed seemed very attentive to Joel and himself. As the three friends began to eat, Trevor casually glanced in the waiter’s direction, seeing that although he was at another table talking to the guests, his eyes had been on Trevor and Joel. Trevor smiled with wicked delight as he whispered across Lisa to Joel. “You’ve got an admirer. The waiter was checking you out.”
Joel laughed softly and shrugged. “Cool. Doesn’t bother me any.”
“Damn,” Trevor said, sitting back in his chair.
Lisa smiled sweetly and told Trevor quietly, in a gently condescending tone, “Trev, that waiter is cute and he’s been checking both of you guys out since we got here. So what is your very first reaction to a cute guy looking your way? You try to make Joel squirm. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that’s a worthy goal, but if it took you until now to notice the waiter looking and this is your reaction, I’m beginning to think somebody must have neutered you.”
Trevor began blushing, and Joel piled on to say, “That would sure explain a lot.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll shut up,” Trevor replied, still blushing.
“What you should do is flirt with him. You sure as hell could use the practice,” Lisa said, with a wicked grin.
Sitting up and puffing out his chest, Trevor smiled at the distant waiter. “Fine, I will,” Trevor replied, wondering if he meant it.
Lisa blinked in surprise and then smiled. “Good. Now, back to your bigger problem. What are you going to do?”
Trevor took another bite of nachos before replying. “I don’t know. After what happened with Dad, I want to go searching off Bimini and see what I can find, but a friend of Julie’s warned me that I can’t stay in the Bahamas long because they work closely with U.S. authorities and would send me back. So, the best thing I can think of is to head southeast past the Bahamas to the Turks and Caicos Islands. I think I could pick up a few informal charters at the resorts there and just hope I don’t get busted. Maybe I can find a way to dig for info on Dad and those divorce papers and find out what’s really going on. I’ll try calling him in a couple of weeks, too. I miss Dad, a lot, and if he’s willing to talk to me about whatever happened, at least enough to convince me that he had nothing to do with Mom’s death, and he’ll let me keep Atlantis, I’ll come home.”
Lisa nodded. “Good. Make sure you try, Trev. Oh, and one other thing... For a trip to Australia, I’d pretend to be your girlfriend again, anytime,” Lisa said, along with an exaggerated bat of her eyes.
“Hey, what about me?” Joel asked, chuckling.
Lisa shook her head. “Sorry Joel, but Trev’s dad doesn’t want him dating guys and you’d have trouble passing for a girl, so that rules you out.”
“I meant,” Joel replied, laughing around a mouthful of nachos, “Would you really take off for Australia and leave me here, all by my lonesome?” Joel tried to look downcast and forlorn, but couldn’t pull it off and laughed again.
Lisa took Joel’s hand, and replied seriously, “I wouldn’t go if it would upset you.”
Joel met Lisa’s eyes and smiled. “If you got a chance like that, of course I’d want you to go. How could I ask you to pass up going? I’d miss you and I’d be counting the days until you got back, but yeah, if it could happen, do it.”
Lisa answered by leaning in and giving Joel a quick kiss. “I love you,” she said, after the kiss.
Trevor smiled, happy for them both. Lowering his voice a little, he said, “Lisa, it couldn’t work. Your dad thinks I’m straight so he wouldn’t let you take a trip with me.”
Lisa smiled and shook her head. “Damn. He’d never believe it if I outed you to him now; he’d think I was just saying that so I could go.”
Trevor shrugged. “Even if I do patch things up, I’m pretty sure there’s no way in hell Dad would send me to Australia now.”
“I hope you can find out what’s going on and come back home, Trev,” Joel said.
The bill arrived, carried by the smiling waiter, and Trevor felt Lisa’s firm kick under the table. Taking a deep breath, Trevor smiled back at the waiter and stood up. Then, he reached under the hip of his speedos for his money, handing the waiter a twenty. “Keep the change. Sorry it’s damp; we swam in from a boat,” Trevor said, puffing out his chest a little.
In spite of the one-dollar-and-change tip he’d just received, the waiter took the money with a smile, keeping his eyes on Trevor’s, and asked, “So, are you here for a vacation? Will you be in the area long?”
Smiling back and angling his head slightly, Trevor maintained eye contact and replied with a slow, apologetic shrug, “I wish I was, but I’ve got to leave in a few hours.”
“Too bad,” the waiter answered, with a shrug and a wink. “Stop by next time you’re in the area.”
Trevor winked back, and as the waiter walked away, Trevor sat down with a proud smile on his face. “See? I do know how to flirt.”
Lisa snorted. “What you did was give him an eyeful and then let him flirt with you before shooting him down, but I guess in your case that’s one hell of an improvement. Keep practicing.”
Joel gave Trevor a judicious nod of approval. “Not bad. I probably couldn’t have done that too much better... if I was flirting with a guy, which I don’t exactly have a lot of practice in.”
“Oh shut up,” Trevor grumbled, and then laughed, getting up from the table.
The three friends walked slowly north along the busy beach, until Atlantis was directly offshore. “I’ll wait here,” Lisa said.
“Ready?” Trevor asked Joel.
“Race ya,” Joel replied, breaking into a run for the surf with Trevor just a pace behind.
The two friends charged into the surf, splashing out and diving forward, pulling hard towards Atlantis, a quarter of a mile away.
Joel maintained his lead, though never by more than ten feet. In the final hundred yards, Trevor kicked into his sprint, feeling the burn, closing the gap with Joel.
Giving it everything he had, Trevor pulled ahead, an inch at a time, reaching out to slap the hull of Atlantis half a second before Joel.
“I win,” Trevor gasped, as he heaved himself up and onto the deck.
Joel climbed aboard a few seconds later. “Damn, and I started with a lead. I usually beat you in the pool, but not by much. You’re better at ocean swimming than I am.”
“I do a lot more of it than you do and I surf,” Trevor replied with a grin, pulling a key off his drawstring and using it to fire up Atlantis’s engines.
“I demand a rematch,” Joel said with a laugh, and then asked, “Which board do you want me to take?”
“Top left, it’s the longest. It’s not waxed but you won’t need wax to paddle. I’ll take us in and hold station while you go in for Lisa,” Trevor said, as Joel ran forward and hauled up the bow anchors.
Joel returned to the cockpit, unracked the surfboard, and asked quietly, “Is it still okay to use a cabin later?”
Trevor nodded and grinned. “You don’t need to ask, man. Unless it would interfere with a charter, you guys can just use it, anytime you’re onboard. Same one as before.”
“Thanks Trev,” Joel said, looking back and smiling as he stood by the rail with the surfboard under his arm.
While Trevor held station four hundred feet off the beach, Joel paddled in and then helped tow Lisa though the gentle breakers. Once Lisa was in calmer water, she paddled steadfastly out to Atlantis, Joel keeping pace by her side. Ten minutes later, Atlantis was under sail again, heading north.
Joel laid his head on Lisa’s shoulder, giving her a playful nudge, and soon, they headed for the cabin, leaving Trevor at the helm.
He watched them go, smiling, happy for them and what they had found in each other.
Alone at the wheel, Trevor watched the sea and listened to the wind whispering through the rigging.
By the time Lisa and Joel returned to the cockpit, all smiles, Trevor had just finished dropping anchor off the beach where he’d picked them up.
“Have fun?” Trevor asked, smirking and chuckling.
“Always,” Lisa replied. “That’s the best way to celebrate a birthday.”
Trevor glanced at Joel as an idea took form, and fighting not to laugh, Trevor crossed his arms, striking a thoughtful pose. He lowered his eyes to stare pointedly at the front of Joel’s red swimsuit and nodded slowly as he said, “You’ve got a point, Lisa, and it’s my birthday too, so how about lending me Joel for an hour?” Maintaining his gaze, Trevor lowered his hand and gave the front of his own speedos a single casual rub.
Joel sputtered, and Lisa began to choke, gasping, and then doubled over laughing so hard that she collapsed onto a seat.
Trevor felt his sides begin to heave and lost the battle to hold it in, doubling over as he was overcome by laughter.
“You ass...” Joel muttered, and then, with a laugh and a roar, he charged, lowering his shoulder and catching Trevor at hip level. Using his momentum, Joel swung Trevor up onto his shoulder and heaved him over the rail. Trevor landed with a splash and Joel dove in over the rail in riotous pursuit. Trevor surfaced, still laughing, only to be caught full in the face by a furious water barrage from Joel.
Watching the furious water fight from the deck, Lisa laughed, the rapidly approaching parting temporarily forgotten.
Still laughing as the water fight ended, Joel and Trevor climbed back aboard Atlantis. Lisa smiled sadly and said, “Sorry, but I’ve got to be getting home or I’ll catch hell.”
Trevor’s smile faded away, and he helped Joel and Lisa swim the Styrofoam cooler back to the beach. The three friends sat down on the sand, an awkward silence between them.
Checking her watch, knowing that it was almost time to say goodbye, Lisa stood up and asked quietly, “When will we see you again, Trev?”
Trevor sighed, looking at Atlantis as she rode at anchor. He stood up, absently brushing the sand off his speedos, a sad look on his face, as he said softly, “I don’t know. I’ll probably kick around the Bahamas for a few days and see what I can figure out, then push off for the Turks and Caicos. They’re six hundred miles from here so I can’t get back as often as I can from the Bahamas. I’ll be in touch soon though, I promise, and I’m sure I can come back at least once this summer, no matter what. I hope I can find out what’s going on with my dad and come home, but if not... I’ll come back from time to time to see you guys, count on it.”
“If you need anything, call anytime,” Joel said.
“Same goes for me, and I’ll see if I can dig up anything here,” Lisa added.
Joel sighed, clasping Trevor’s forearm to his own. “Take care of yourself man, and call soon,” Joel said in a quiet tone.
The three friends shared a hug, and then Trevor reluctantly turned away and waded out into the calm waters. After a fast swim, he hauled himself aboard the Atlantis.
Joel and Lisa, still watching from the beach, turned away, heading for Joel’s car. “He’ll be okay, I think. His dad has to calm down eventually. We’ll talk to Trev soon and maybe things will be better by then.”
Lisa glanced back towards the Atlantis as they reached the car. “Then why did that feel like goodbye?” she asked, as the tears began to flow.
Joel hugged Lisa tight, holding her, not knowing what to say, because he feared that she might be right.
As the sun set, Trevor was twenty miles from Fort Pierce Inlet, heading for Freeport, which placed him in the Florida Straits, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Trevor remained at the helm of Atlantis, constantly scanning the entire horizon, on the lookout for anything on a collision course. The few ships he sighted proved no threat, but served to keep Trevor aware of the danger and on constant lookout. ‘I can’t search for Mom and Ares, not right now. That would be the first place Dad would send someone out looking for me.’
With the last glimmers of sunset glowing on the western horizon, Trevor began another visual sweep around, and a motion in the corner of his eye caused him to look astern. There, he saw a brilliant speck of light, climbing on a column of fire, rising and bending eastward. ‘Shuttle launch...’ Trevor remembered. ‘That’s the shuttle Atlantis and God, it’s moving fast. It’s over two hundred miles away and it’s changing its bearing to me quick...’
Trevor watched, seeing the fiery trail end, soon to be replaced by an opaque white rapidly expanding cloud. ‘SRB separation,’ he remembered, trying in vain to spot the glow of the shuttle’s main engines. ‘They’ll be in orbit in six more minutes. Zero to seventeen thousand miles an hour in eight minutes flat, and then they circle the Earth every ninety minutes... My Atlantis would take a hell of a lot longer than that,’ Trevor thought, absently patting the wheel housing.
And then he froze, just for a moment, staring at the fading shuttle plume but no longer seeing it.
‘I need somewhere to be for a year... Why not?’
As simply as that, he knew. ‘Maybe... Maybe I can. I can always change my mind.’
Trevor spun the wheel hard over, coming about and spreading out his boom and then hoisting the gennaker. He set a course of due north, intending to follow the Gulf Stream up the Atlantic coast. ‘This is nuts, I’m not equipped for it,’ he thought a few minutes later, but he didn’t alter course.