“Ned, she’s beautiful,” Trevor said, in quiet awe. Trevor took a few more steps into the salon, his eyes sweeping around, remembering with painful clarity the wreck Atlantis had been when he’d arrived in Carnarvon. Now, she shone bright with new, lightweight flooring and all manner of new fittings. However, it was the woodwork that made Trevor blink. The main dining table was a work of art; modern and low, its dark luster of mahogany covered by many layers of hand applied and rubbed varnish. Nearby was the built-in wet bar, the bar top itself was another masterpiece; an arc of walnut, which Ned had crafted to look as though it was cut from a single impossibly-large piece. Even the bar’s small refrigerator was faced in rubbed walnut.
Ned had followed Trevor’s guidelines, though he’d embellished in places. He’d built the bookcases from cherry and rosewood, and had taken care to match and contrast the woodworks throughout the yacht. He smiled with justified pride; a master craftsman presenting his handiwork. He pointed at the ceiling panels. “I added a thin sheet of Mylar honeycomb thermal insulation in the voids; that should keep the temperature down a bit on hot days. All the lighting, inside and out, including the running and nav lights, are LED; you’ll have a far lower power base load.”
Fowler grinned. “Ned’s as proud as a peacock, though I can see why. She’s spectacular.”
Trevor swallowed once, remembering, and then gave Ned a smile. “When I got here, I wanted to put her back just the way she was before. I’m glad you talked me out of that. She looks like a million bucks.”
“That sounds more like what Ned’s bill will be,” Fowler quipped.
Trevor spun around and bounded to the galley stairs, taking them in a single leap to the bottom. The galley wasn’t quite finished, but Trevor could see the design taking shape. “I’m glad we went with the low-profile cabinets and counters; it’ll be roomier than before. I love the look; modern and open.”
Ned smiled. “Okay, you’re going to need to plow through some more catalogs so we can order the utensils, flatware, glassware, and other gear for the galley.”
As happy as he was, Trevor remembered Ned’s recent slights of Shane, and flicked a thumb in Shane’s direction. “The galley is Shane’s domain, so please work with him on that.”
Ned, scowling, glanced around the galley, and then glared at Shane. “A bloody addled-minded baboon would know better,” Ned snarled.
Trevor’s faced colored as he glared at Ned, but before Trevor could erupt, Fowler jumped in to say, “Shane’s an ace in the galley; he’ll know what’s needed. Now let’s have a look at the heads and cabins.” Fowler spun away to hide a grin. It was all he could do not to laugh aloud at Ned’s evident fury.
Trevor walked into the aft starboard cabin, which was still, like the other cabins, largely incomplete. He glanced around before making his way into the head, grinning as he beheld the modern modular bathroom he and Shane had picked out, complete with a shower large enough to hold two people. “This looks really great,” he said, turning to give Ned a nod of approval.
“I just got ‘em done, including the crew cabin’s head. I left the cabins themselves for last so I could deal with refitting the heads without worrying about cabin damage. I need to finish the galley and cabins, then install the navigation suite, the autopilot and servos, and the communications gear and radar.”
Fowler gave Ned an innocent smile. “How many radars, Ned?” he asked.
The corner of Ned’s mouth twitched; which was the only outward sign that he suspected Fowler’s angle. “Two. The primary radar is mast-mounted, and the secondary is the pole-mounted one aft, which you used.”
Fowler nodded, and turned away to hide a smile before asking in an offhand tone, “Both new, top-of-the-line gear, right?”
“The mast-mounted set is completely new, and one of the best sets on the market. It’s got far better range and resolution than what he had, and better filtering. The pole mounted set is good gear, and doubles as weather radar as well. The integrated control unit is new, as is all the rest.”
“So the pole mounted radar is new, and not something you just had lying around?” Fowler asked, arching an eyebrow in Ned’s direction.
Ned’s face began to flush. “Greg, as you bloody well know, I used the one I had. It’s sound, had very little use, and it’s a secondary radar – most boats have only one.”
Fowler gave Ned an innocent smile. “So you’ll be charging Trevor’s insurance for one new and one used radar?”
“Greg,” Ned hissed, giving Trevor a worried look, and then telling him, “I guarantee you that the pole-mounted radar will work as well as a new one. It’s only two years old, hardly ever used.”
Fowler chuckled. “As you can see from his yard, Ned’s a packrat. I’m glad he had that radar though, and it works very well. My only qualm is he’s intending to charge the insurance as if it was new.”
Ned held up his hand. “I was going to tell Trevor about the radar: he’s my customer. The insurance company isn’t.”
Shane couldn’t resist chiming in to say, “Ned’s got a reputation for foisting old stuff on customers. One of the first times him and me got into it was when I found oil filter housings on Kookaburra that were older than she is.”
“You bloody malicious meddling bastard,” Ned snarled, rounding on Shane. “You know damn well now that those filter housings were the originals, because Kookaburra is older than a 57 would be. I didn’t put ‘em there, and you raising the issue threatened to hurt the Blakes.”
“Shane had no way to know that,” Trevor said, and then he angled his head, struck by a sudden thought. “From the sound of it, you two first started fighting when Shane started questioning stuff about Kookaburra’s refit. The thing is, you were both trying to protect Martin and my mom. Am I right?”
Ned and Shane shared an acrimonious glare, and then both reluctantly nodded. Ned sighed, gave Shane an awkward look, and then said, “I suppose, though I’ve distrusted him since he first showed up. However, that in no way clears the air. I still hate him and think he’s a no-good obnoxious lout.”
Shane shrugged. “Hating each other is the one thing me and Ned agree on.”
Fowler gave Trevor a sad look, followed by a roll of his eyes. “Trev, there’s nothing more futile than trying to talk sense to the senseless.”
By mutual unspoken consent, a chagrined Ned and Shane began ignoring one another again.
For the next two hours, Trevor explored Atlantis, very pleased with what he was seeing, while craving the day when he could again take her out to sea.
Trevor and Shane returned to the Blake farm, where they spent the next two weeks helping, though the time also allowed Trevor to become better acquainted with his mother and stepfather.
Martin and Rachel drove Trevor and Shane to Fleet Base West, and then spent a day with them, showing them some of the sights of Perth. Trevor especially enjoyed strolling through Kings Park, which overlooked the Swan River. Rachel and Martin also helped Trevor and Shane shop for a new laptop computer. On the way back to the boat, Trevor was treated to a stop at the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle.
The next day, Trevor and Shane woke early and, over their morning coffee in the galley, Trevor consulted a calendar. “It’s February 20th.”
“And it will probably stay that way all day,” Shane replied.
Trevor chuckled. “Yeah, I figured that much out on my own. What I mean is we’ve got just over three weeks until we get Atlantis back. I want to spend the final week in Carnarvon to make sure the fitting out goes okay and handle any last-minute issues, plus we’ll have sea trials – basically a shakedown, to make sure everything works. So, we’ve got about two weeks free, and it’s sounding like we’re pretty safe. Feel like putting to sea? Pick a destination.”
Trevor raised his middle finger in salute. “I meant somewhere we can go in Kookaburra.”
Shane laughed, shaking his head. “How about north of Carnarvon: Coral Bay and Ningaloo Reef? We can stop in Geraldton so you can pick up your board, and there are some awesome breaks on that coast.” One of Trevor’s Christmas presents had been a gift certificate for a custom surfboard from a local shaper, and he’d ordered it during a trip into Geraldton while on the farm.
Trevor grinned. “It’s been way too long since I’ve been surfing, so that sounds perfect!”
“I’ve been thinking about the press; Kookaburra will be spotted in Geraldton, sure as hell. So, I came up with a plan; we call the shaper and see if he’ll deliver it. There’s a beach break at Cape Burney, and I’ll bet that if we offer him some cash, he’d bring it down and paddle it out for us. That way we can keep Kookaburra out of Geraldton.”
Trevor arched an eyebrow. “Great idea – but how much?” He knew that Cape Burney was five miles south of Geraldton.
“Cheap bloody bastard!” Shane exclaimed, breaking into a laugh and then adding, “As a guess, I’d say twenty if the surf is good and he can count on catching some waves, otherwise forty.”
“Okay,” Trevor replied, judging it worthwhile to avoid hassles with the press, and correctly assuming that Fowler would insist. “We’d better do some grocery shopping before we leave.”
Shane nodded. “Yeah, we should, that’s one of the things we’ve got to catch up on,” he said, getting up and walking around the table to stand behind Trevor’s chair. He gently encircled Trevor’s torso with his arms, reveling in the feel of warm skin – they were both still in boxers. He caressed Trevor’s chest, and then traced his nipple with his thumb, causing Trevor to inhale sharply.
“I think I know what else you want to catch up on,” Trevor whispered, leaning his head back into Shane’s chest.
Shane gave Trevor’s earlobe a gentle lick, and then whispered, “Yeah, it’s been a long time since this morning – nearly an hour.” They’d been given a room in the main house at the farm, and the close proximity of the Blakes had caused them to feel somewhat inhibited.
Trevor stood up, already reaching for Shane’s boxers.
“Hey, that’s sexual harassment,” Shane said, chuckling as they stumbled down the galley stairs.
In the Bahamas, Bridget was very pleased; she already had Sanchez’s operation running smoothly – better than he’d ever managed. She’d encountered a few minor obstacles in the form of an occasional underling who, due to their underlying machismo culture, did not like working for a woman. That resistance had ended quickly via dealing harshly with the first such recalcitrant man – his death at Bridget’s hands serving as a reminder that, while often generous and dignified, she would brook no opposition.
Bridget also found herself enjoying her new position even more than she’d anticipated. In a rare moment of candor, she remarked to her chief of security, “Xavier, I feel wonderful – as if I were twenty years younger.”
Xavier was used to being ignored by Sanchez, so Bridget’s penchant for speaking with him offhand was one he found both refreshing and disquieting. He gave her an awkward smile. “Sanchez’s final mission seems to have gone well, though we have no way of finding out if it succeeded.”
Bridget turned, giving Xavier a broad, proud smile. “Just leave that to me. We’ll know soon enough,” she said, underlining the implication with an uncharacteristic wink.
Once out of bed, Trevor and Shane called the board shaper to make the arrangements – to Trevor’s delight, he was willing to do it for twenty dollars – and then spent the rest of the day stocking and preparing Kookaburra for the voyage. With that complete, they made the rounds, saying their thank-yous and goodbyes to the navy and customs personnel that had been such a help during their stay. Finally, at one in the morning, running blacked out, Kookaburra slipped her moorings, standing out to sea with the lights of Fremantle off her starboard beam.
The next day was a sea day; they would arrive off Cape Burney the following morning. Trevor, at the helm, checked their course and the radar plot. It was a spectacular day, and he was enjoying being at sea again. A fleeting, nagging thought reentered his mind, and he said, “Shane, I’m running low on cash in my wallet. We’d better dig out that rag can you made.” Trevor clicked on the autopilot, and made his way inside to the bilge access hatch with Shane following close behind.
The can, in which Shane had created a false bottom to make a hiding place, had been stuffed with rags to appear to be a rag holder. Rags in a ship’s bilge were commonplace, so it was a good way of disguising their hiding place for cash.
Trevor squeezed into the bilge, reaching for the can. After struggling with it for a few moments, he said, “It’s wedged on top of a water tank, partially blocked by a beam in the overhead. I’ve forgotten how we got it in here.”
“Let me give it a burl; I got it in there,” Shane said, dropping in beside Trevor.
Trevor watched as Shane maneuvered the former coffee can, and managed to pull it free. As Shane turned with a proud grin, he noticed that Trevor was staring past him with a blank look on his face. “What?” Shane asked, turning to follow Trevor’s gaze.
“That beam. I noticed it when we put the can in here back in Kalbarri. There isn’t one like it on Atlantis. I chalked it up to a minor structural difference between the Lagoon 55 and 57. But… now we know that Kookaburra isn’t a 57, she’s Ares, a 55. The hull structures should be identical.”
Shane blinked as he understood the implications. “So that beam shouldn’t be here, but there it is. Could it have been added during the refit?”
Trevor shook his head. “I don’t think so; why do it? This isn’t at a major stress point. It also kinda reminds me of the hiding place I made on Atlantis. That’s under the crew cabin bathroom floor, but it protrudes into the bilge. I glassed it in with fiberglass and made it look like part of the hull structure from the bilge.”
“So this’d make a fine hiding place. We’re under the galley, so maybe there’s a way in up there?”
“Let’s find out,” Trevor said, already heaving himself up through the hatch.
It only took a few minutes, but they found no sign of a way in. “We’d need to rip the floor up plus take out the cabinets,” Trevor observed, with a shake of his head. “Okay, let’s forget that idea, grab a drill, check the horizon, and head for the bilge.”
Back in the bilge, Trevor put the cordless drill down, and then tapped at the incongruous beam while pressing his ear to it. “It sounds solid, which it should be if it’s a real beam. But my hiding place sounds solid too, because it’s made from steel inside. If this is a real beam, it’ll be fiberglass and Kevlar all through, or maybe some wood.”
Trevor selected the smallest drill bit, and began drilling in the center of the beam. The whirling bit easily cut through the fiberglass, but hit something hard half an inch in. Trevor withdrew the bit, and scratched his head. “Whatever it hit is damn hard. Let’s try the ends.”
Trevor tried again, as close as he could to the bulkhead, finding that the drill lanced through into empty space. “Okay, this is definitely something weird. It’s hollow at this end so it’s not a structural beam. Maybe it’s some kind of wiring run, but that makes no sense; why encase just some of the wiring?”
“There’s a tank cutter in the toolkit. Let’s drill a hole in the hollow spot that’s big enough to look inside,” Shane suggested.
“Good idea!” Trevor said, and dashed up to the cockpit to scan the horizons and check the radar while Shane rounded up the tank cutter – a circular hole cutter two inches in diameter that fit in the drill.
Shane called out that he was ready, and Trevor shouted back. “Go ahead and do it. We’ve got a freighter southbound; it should miss us by a couple of miles, but I don’t like being away from the helm when there’s traffic around.”
Trevor listened to the sound of drilling, heard it stop, and then start again. A minute later, Shane bounded into the cockpit, flashlight in hand. “It’s not wiring or plumbing. It’s just empty near the bulkhead, but there’s a steel box in the center part. Maybe it’s for wiring or plumbing that goes up to the galley, but I had a look and can’t see anything that’d use it that doesn’t have its wiring or plumbing elsewhere already.”
Trevor’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t use steel on a high performance boat where you don’t have to; it’s too heavy, and disguising it as a structural beam makes no fucking sense. We’ve got to get that thing out of there and see what it is.”
“Any idea how? We don’t have a cutting wheel for the drill.”
Trevor watched as the freighter passed two miles off their port beam. “I know we’ve got a heavy chisel, but we’d only be able to get to the front of the beam. Whatever we do, we’re going to make one hell of a mess.”
Shane saw the evident tension in the muscles of Trevor’s back, and waited until he’d turned around to say, deadpan, “Sorry Trev, but it’s my job to protect Kookaburra, so we can’t go doing damage without the owner’s permission.”
Trevor, rattled slightly by the odd change of subject, blinked. “But Mom gave Kookaburra–”
Shane, with a very serious expression on his face, interrupted to say, “Yeah, I know, she belongs to Ocean Star Charters, which makes you her owner, but I’ve no way of knowing whether or not you have your permission to do this.”
Trevor blinked again, and then laughed. “Okay wiseass, you’re forgetting; she’s ours, not just mine. So do you have your permission?”
Shane could tell that Trevor had relaxed, and grinned. “How the bloody hell should I know what I think?”
“Why am I not surprised?” Trevor asked, chuckling as he took another glance at the horizons and radar. Seeing nothing other than the freighter heading in the opposite direction, he set the radar alarm, and said, “Don’t let me forget to take a look around at least every ten minutes. Come on; let’s go see what’s in our mystery box.”
They were both wearing just boardshorts and were well aware that fiberglass fibers can work their way into skin. They stopped in their cabin to tug on jeans and shirts. They also procured some safety glasses and paper dust masks. After another look around, they descended to the bilge, and took turns chiseling at the beam where it joined the overhead, working their way along the box. Trevor somehow managed to remember to check the horizons roughly on schedule. He was merely practicing good seamanship; when sailing solo, he’d often relied on just the radar alarm for even longer periods.
It took nearly an hour of hot awkward work, along with a little help from a pry bar, but at the end of it, accompanied by a cracking noise, they tore the box free. Trevor glanced up into the hole where it had been, seeing nothing but fiberglass. “There wasn’t a way in from above, it was totally sealed in,” he said, handing the box to Shane and climbing out of the bilge.
Shane followed Trevor to the cockpit, where they studied the box in the sunlight. Trevor recognized it at once. “It’s a safe deposit box, like from a bank vault,” he said, giving it a shake, “and it’s got something in it.”
Shane spotted the latch and released it, but after a few futile tugs, said, “The resin probably glued it shut. I’ll get the hammer and chisel.”
It took just a few blows, and then Shane pulled the lid open, holding the box at an angle so Trevor could see in as well.
“Wow,” Trevor muttered, reaching in and pulling out a thick roll of papers, wrapped in several layers of plastic. He tore it open and scanned the first page. “It’s about Bridget; it’s got her name on it, and lists businesses and values.”
Shane reached into the box, and in the back found a small leather bag. He tugged open the draw cord and poured the contents into his hand: keys, each with a numbered tag.
Trevor knew at once what they were. “Safe deposit box keys,” he said, and then he reached into the box and pulled out a single sheet of plastic-wrapped paper. He held it so that Shane could see as well, and they both began reading it through the plastic;
To whom it may concern;
I will soon be filing for divorce from my wife, Bridget Bellevue. If you are reading this, I am likely dead or in prison. If dead, my wife is the likely killer. She has killed before, and if she finds out what I have planned, would probably do it again.
The roll of papers contains an asset list for the divorce filing, detailing my own holdings as well as hers; she has many business interests via blind partnerships and fictitious identities. The final page is a list of banks and their associated safe deposit box numbers. The keys are copies I had made. She has the originals.
There will be an accompanying deposition, detailing the crimes of my wife and those who are involved with her. I will be making it within days, and will store with it several items of interest and worth. We can only look forward to the effect it will have.
Sincerely, Arnold J. Bellevue, Attorney at Law.
Shane reached out to touch the plastic. “Wow, we found it! I’ll bet Bridget was after the keys and the asset list.”
With a sad shake of his head, Trevor replied, “Maybe, but this says she has the original keys, so why would she need these? As for the asset list, it looks pretty damning, but it’s a decade old.”
Shane began reading the asset list. “Holy bloody fuck, they were loaded!”
Trevor nodded. “You should have seen her house; it was like a palace. I only met her that one time, right before I started the circumnavigation, but I’ll never forget it – or her. What I want to know is what’s the other stuff he mentioned? Items of interest and worth… that sounds like it could be very valuable. Maybe that’s what she’s after.”
Trevor reached into the back of the box, retrieving the last obvious item. It was a small paper bag, containing button latches and small hinges. After examining them, he said, “These were new when put in here. What the hell are they for?”
Shane studied the final paragraph of Arnold’s letter. “The rest is pretty direct, but this part is vague. Why? And where is the other stuff? There’s got to be something else.”
Trevor reached into the box, fingers questing, and felt a slip of paper. He pulled it out, and held the small, handwritten note so that Shane could read it as well.
·1 sheep's lung
·1 sheep's stomach
·1 sheep’s heart
·1 sheep’s liver
·1/2 lb fresh suet
·3/4 cup ground oatmeal
·3 chopped onions
·1/4 pound farfalle
·1 teaspoon sea salt
·1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
·1/2 teaspoon cayenne
·1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
·3/4 cup stock
Wash lungs and stomach well, rub with salt and rinse. Remove membranes and excess fat. Soak in cold salted water for several hours. Turn stomach inside out for stuffing.
Cover heart and liver with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Chop heart and coarsely grate liver. Toast oatmeal in a skillet, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Combine all ingredients except the stomach and mix well. Loosely pack mixture into stomach. Oatmeal expands when cooked, so only stuff the stomach about 2/3 full to allow for the expansion.
Press any air out of stomach and truss securely, then submerge in boiling water. Simmer for 3 hours, uncovered, adding more water as needed to maintain water level. Prick stomach several times with a sharp needle when it begins to swell; this keeps the stomach from bursting.
Trevor winced. “This sounds absolutely disgusting, but what the hell is it doing in here?”
Shane stared at the recipe, mumbling, “Give me a minute, I think this is important.” Finally, with a lopsided smile, he said, “I think I know. See the name, haggis, has the first three letters capitalized? So, roast hag.”
“And if anyone is a hag, it’s Bridget,” Trevor said.
Shane arched an eyebrow, a thoughtful look spreading across his handsome face. “I’m betting Bridget was as clueless in the galley as you are. This, I think, is a clue to where the rest is, but only a cook would see it.”
Trevor angled his head. “Please tell me we don’t have to make this concoction?”
Shane chuckled. “Nah, we just need to find another recipe for haggis. Or, maybe we don’t... Haggis is a Scottish dish, kind of ancient. So, what the fuck is farfalle doing in it? I think farfalle is pasta, which is Italian. Also, the recipe says roast haggis, but this is boiled.”
“So the whatever-it-is we’re looking for is in Italy?” Trevor asked, scratching his head.
Shane shrugged. “Maybe, and maybe not. Let’s get some lunch, and let me bounce this around in my head for a bit. I want to find a few haggis recipes too. We’ve got cookbooks aboard, but I don’t remember seeing anything like this in ‘em.”
“So that means the Internet,” Trevor said, his eyes narrowing. “Okay, guess what? That new laptop we bought in Perth; the salesman said it can connect to a satellite phone to get Internet.”
Shane’s eyes opened wide. “Yeah, I think he did. But he said it was very slow and expensive. Uh, did he say how to do it? He was talking so much I tuned him out.”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, kinda. He said it could connect via USB. Well, the printer we’ve got connects via USB, so maybe if we just used that cable…” Trevor dashed inside for the satellite phone.
Trevor and Shane studied the phone, and then had a look at the printer’s USB cable. “Uh oh, wrong size end,” Shane said, frowning.
“Fuck, shoulda known it wouldn’t be easy,” Trevor grumbled. Then, with a puzzled look, he said, “We should search the boat. Maybe we can find it without figuring this out. Hey, maybe it’s in one of those banks? And maybe the recipe tells us which one?”
Shane glanced towards the bookshelf, and dashed over to grab a cookbook. “Maybe we’re on the wrong track. I just thought of something…” he said, his voice trailing off as he paged through a cookbook. After a couple of minutes, his face brightening, Shane turned to Trevor with a grin. “I was right! That pasta, farfalle, is also called bow pasta. It’s pronounced different but spelled the same as a boat’s bow.”
Trevor broke into a broad grin, turning to look out the salon’s forward windows at Kookaburra’s bows. “Awesome! Then it could be…” Trevor’s voice trailed off, his grin turning to a look of despair. “Oh fuck, those aren’t her original bows.”
Shane scowled. “Yeah, but we know who took ‘em off: Ned, that thieving Pommy bastard!”
Trevor nodded, glaring at the bows, and then sighed. “Maybe. We don’t know for sure, but it looks that way, if you’re right. Let’s make sure it’s not just a coincidence; are you sure haggis doesn’t have pasta in it? And what of the other weird stuff like sheep’s lung? That could mean what… the engine air induction system? Or maybe the guy just liked to cook strange stuff and we’re on a wild goose chase?”
Shane checked the cookbook index, and then did the same in the other two cookbooks. “No haggis – no surprise there. It’s not your standard shipboard fare. Okay, let’s wait until we get Internet. I know the library in Carnarvon has it.”
Trevor nodded towards the cockpit and the box they’d found. “Are we going to tell anyone about this? I don’t think we should yet; Bridget is already on the run for murder and might even be dead, so there’s nothing that could really help the police – but they might seize it – and whatever it leads to. I think we should keep this between us for now.”
“Yeah, those bastards still won’t release the laptop or the spear gun. Let’s see what we find ourselves and then decide.”
Trevor began to look around. “Okay, and in the meantime, let’s see what else we can find,” he said, and then froze for a moment, before dashing for the port bilge access, “Oh fuck, I almost forgot, there’s a matching beam on the other side too!”
Again, they drilled and cut, though this time the beam proved hollow. After a careful look through several of the holes they’d made, Trevor sighed in defeat. “It’s empty. It’s a fake beam; it doesn’t do a damn thing structurally, so why put it here and leave it empty?”
Shane peered in, and then glanced around the bilge, studying the overhead. “Maybe just to make the other one seem like it is supposed to be there? Or as a decoy… if we’d opened this one first, would we have bothered with the other?”
Trevor began carefully examining the hollow beam. “You know what’d fit in there real easy? A rifle. If we made a way to open it fast, we could pack a rifle in it, then paint the beam again. We’d need to paint it every time we closed it up, but it’d be a great place to hide a long gun.”
Shane tapped at the beam. “Good idea.”
They clambered up out of the bilge and returned to the cockpit. There, they talked for a while as Kookaburra churned north, until Trevor’s face suddenly went blank.
“I know that look. What did you think of?” Shane asked.
“A cable for the satellite phone. There was a black one of some kind in the box, and it’s sure as hell not the charger.”
Trevor soon found the box and the cable. It was as they’d hoped; the micro-USB cable to attach the phone to a computer. They took the computer and phone to the cockpit, and for the rest of the afternoon experimented with it, attempting to make the computer access the internet over the phone connection. They were about to give up when Trevor had an idea. “Hey, maybe the phone company knows how to do it?” he said, and then dug out the customer service number, and made the call.
The tech talked Trevor through the process of getting Windows Vista on their new laptop to recognize the phone as a modem. There were some complications; Windows Vista had been released just a few weeks before, on January 30th, 2007, and the tech Trevor was speaking to with was not familiar with it. However, after some false starts, they managed to get the two devices talking to each other. As soon as the call ended, Trevor had the phone dial the server, and it connected. “We’re online,” he said, grinning as he pulled up a web page.
Shane took over and began searching. It took him a while, but his suspicions were confirmed. “There ain’t no such thing as pasta in haggis. Maybe this is just somebody’s recipe, but it’s weird. Plus, even if you did put pasta in, you wouldn’t use bow pasta, you’d use something like risi, which is rice-shaped.”
“What about the other weird stuff, like lungs?” Trevor asked.
“That’s actually in it. Except for the pasta, the ingredients are okay. The cooking instructions are worded a bit odd, but look okay. The only things I can see that stand out are the pasta and calling it roast when it’s boiled.”
Trevor glanced at the recipe, and shuddered. “Maybe we’re looking at it wrong; this could be some kind of a doomsday device, ‘cause it sure ain’t food. Lungs? Stomachs? It sounds awful.”
Shane chuckled, giving Trevor a grin. “It’s actually offal, which means internal organs and entrails, but awful sums it up.”
Trevor smiled, though only briefly. “It still sounds weird; a recipe as a clue to something else hidden? That only makes sense if he thought a cook would find it.”
“Or a good detective, maybe?” Shane pondered.
“Yeah, it’s something that would take time to figure out, which would stop somebody – like Bridget – just getting it fast. Or maybe it’s just a weird recipe and we’re reading way too much into it. But… we know he was planning on hiding something else, so it would sorta make sense to leave a clue, especially as he seems to have suspected that Bridget might kill him. Hey, I just thought of something: if this had been found while Bridget was just a suspect, it might have made the case against her. The victim naming her as the likely killer would sure as hell be bad for her. So, that’d explain the attacks on me before I got here: either she thought Atlantis was Ares, or she thought I’d eventually find Ares.”
Trevor was getting ever closer to the truth, though he remained blissfully unaware of one critical fact; if he and Shane were ever to attain the secret that they were seeking, that knowledge would mark them for death via the entire cartel. At the moment, Bridget and the cartel sought to destroy the boat, and thus the tape with it. He and Shane were in danger mainly due to their proximity to it. However, if they viewed the tape, they would become the personal targets of one of the world’s largest and most ruthless criminal organizations – one with global reach.
Shane glanced at the navigation console. “Okay, I think we’ve got to do everything we can to find whatever this dead guy wants found. After we pick up your board, let’s make our best speed to Carnarvon. I think Ned knows a lot more than he’s letting on; I don’t buy it that he got rid of the old bows like he said; that packrat keeps bloody everything.”
“Yeah, but how the heck do we get him to talk? He could just deny it.”
Shane paced for a few moments before replying, “Let me think on that. I’ve got part of an idea.” Several minutes later, Shane’s plan had taken form, and he explained it to a skeptical Trevor.
A Discussion thread for this chapter is in my forum, please have a look and join in. direct link here. The forum enables conversations so in many cases it's a far easier to use it than the "leave a comment" section on this page, so I suggest having a look, but use whichever (or both) you are more comfortable with .