Melodic Winchester chimes sounded as Jim’s doorbell rang again, and Dirk opened the door, blinking against the glaring sun.
“One large pepperoni,” the delivery boy said, holding the box in one hand and reaching out with the other. “That’ll be seventeen twenty-three, please.”
“Hang on a second, I need to get my wallet,” Dirk replied, and then shut the door. He stepped back and began counting to fifty, following Jim’s instructions.
When he reopened the door, Dirk handed his credit card to the delivery boy and said, “Here, sorry for the delay. Make it forty bucks, okay?”
“Yes sir!” the delivery boy said, grinning as he rang up his largest tip of the week.
“Are there any car repair places nearby? My car won’t start,” Dirk asked.
After handing Dirk the charge slip to sign, the pizza guy replied, “Yeah, five blocks south of here, it’s called Cocoa Beach Auto Repair, and they’re in the book.”
“Thanks,” Dirk said, handing the signed charge slip back and taking the pizza.
As soon as Dirk had closed the door, Jim peeked out from the kitchen and nodded at the packed bags. “Bring the pizza; we’ll take my work car.”
Once they were on their way, Dirk looked at the pizza, and then at Jim. “Okay, I did it just like you said, so mind telling me why?”
Jim smiled. “A few reasons. One is to get you an alibi; I don’t want to make it look like you’re running. The heavy tip means the pizza guy will remember you and also what you asked him. Using your charge card will lead the cops to him if they come looking for you and can’t find you, because that’ll be the last charge they’ll see on that card. The third reason is I’m hungry and I like pizza,” Jim said, opening the box and taking a slice. “We’ve got a long drive ahead of us.”
“Where are we going, and how do you know that your car isn’t being tracked?” Dirk asked.
Jim shrugged. “Frankly, I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s unlikely. First off, they usually think twice before putting a tracking device on an attorney’s car, and this one is owned by the law firm I work for. However, the bigger reason is that you’re being investigated by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department, and my house is in Brevard County. When I drive down to see you, I use my personal car. So, to get this one, they’d have to screw around with the jurisdictional and legal issues, and cops avoid those when they can. I did look, just in case, but I didn’t see anything. Okay now, as for where we’re going; I’m taking you to my sister’s condo in Tampa. It’s a vacation place and she’s not using it. You’ll be staying there until we’ve got this issue under control.”
Dirk shook his head. “I’ve got a business to run and a son to find, I can’t go running off–”
“You can, because the alternative is likely you landing in jail until we sort this mess of yours out. I’ll take care of your business for a few days, and as your lawyer, I’m not obligated to tell the police where you are. Your cell phone is still at my place and mine is off, so I think we’re safe from tracking. That should buy us a few days. Now, first things first; we’ll eat that pizza, and while we do, you’ve got some talking to do, okay?” Jim said.
Dirk nodded. “It’s kind of complicated...” he said, and then took a deep breath before beginning....
“Beer time!” Joel called, bounding into the salon after his shower.
Trevor, sitting at his navigation desk, looked up at Joel and raised an eyebrow.
Following Trevor’s gaze, Joel looked down at his square cut swimsuit and said, “What? I want to wash all my clothes, and these are Lycra so I’ll hand wash them like I’ve been doing. Besides, they’re comfortable; you should get a pair.”
“Not that; I’m looking at that bulge in your side pocket, you clothes-obsessed shopaholic,” Trevor said, snickering. “And before you scream ‘sexual harassment’ about me looking at your bulge, I know that’s the phone.”
“That’s still sexual harassment because for all I know, you’ve got a thing for phones and probably have a very different definition of ‘phone sex’ than I do,” Joel said, and then looked at the lowering sun. “I just wanted to have it here so we don’t forget. We’re supposed to call Lisa at six tonight, her time, and we’ll be drunk by then,” Joel said, and headed for the refrigerator.
“Joel,” Trevor called after him, “before I have any beer, I wanted to talk to you about Capri. We were going to sail in the morning, but...” Trevor said, his voice trailing off.
Joel returned to the salon with a beer in each hand. “I think we should sail either now, or later,” Joel declared.
Trevor rolled his eyes. “Short of making Atlantis a permanent fixture here, that about covers it. I admit it, I’m stressing a bit. I think we’re safe here but that deal with the harbormaster just keeps bugging me... what if the marina put Atlantis in some kind of database? I know they did in Naples, I saw ‘em.”
Joel nodded in understanding. “We were gonna sail in the morning anyway, so let’s head out now.”
Trevor motioned with his head towards the galley. “We can let the washer-dryer run, because we’ll be making the passage on engines so no electrical shortage, and if there was, we’ve got a generator.”
“Screw the clothes. Keeping the beer cold is the important thing!” Joel proclaimed, holding the two beers high.
Trevor laughed and then looked at the sun. “The marina office should still be open. I’ll go get the electrical deposit back.”
Joel held up a hand. “I need to hit an ATM anyway, and I saw one, right across the street from the office. If you’ll take care of that for me, I’ll get Atlantis ready to cast off. The sooner we get to Capri, the better, because then we can drink.”
“You can drink now; it’s just me that has to stay sober at sea,” Trevor said, as he snatched up his wallet.
Joel shook his head, gently returning the beers to the refrigerator. “I like company when I drink, and if I’m drinking, you won’t let me con Atlantis. We’ll be there in less than two hours anyway; there’s plenty of time.” Joel pulled his wallet off the counter, and handed Trevor the ATM card. “Get as much as you can; whatever the machine’s maximum is; that’ll be about three hundred Euros, I think.”
Trevor accepted the card, and while pulling on his flip-flops, said, “I’ll need the code.”
“One, two, three, four,” Joel replied.
“You’re not exactly imaginative, are you?” Trevor said, chuckling.
“I’m imaginative in plenty of ways, just not with codes,” Joel shot back. “Now get going, you’re keeping me from my beer, you bastard!”
Trevor laughed, and as he walked out into the cockpit, said, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
After disconnecting Atlantis from shore power, Trevor walked down the pier, feeling the warm, heavy, windless summer air on his bare skin, and glanced to his left, at Vesuvius. ‘In spite of why I’m here, I’m having the time of my life, but that’s because Joel’s with me. When he goes home, it’s going to hurt,’ Trevor thought.
In the marina's newly-built office, Trevor walked up to the single desk and handed over the deposit slip. The office clerk didn’t speak much English, but Trevor’s request was easy enough to understand. She smiled, and returned his deposit – minus the actual power usage charges.
Finding Trevor, shirtless and handsome, to be interesting, she pointed out the window, at Atlantis, and asked, “Where go?”
Trevor’s eyes opened slightly wider at the unexpected question. Knowing that he couldn’t mention Capri or any actual planned ports, he just pointed at a globe on a desk and made a circling motion with his finger, and then he pointed at Italy before tracing his finger to Florida.
“Go all way around world?” the clerk asked in surprise.
Trevor nodded and smiled proudly, pleased that he’d been able to dodge the question so smoothly by giving the impression that he was heading west, not east, on his circumnavigation.
With a friendly wave, Trevor left the office and walked to the ATM, where he got cash for Joel. Then, he tried his own ATM card, only to find that it still indicated insufficient funds. With a frown, Trevor walked back to the Atlantis. As he neared, he heard the rumble of the idling main engines, and climbed aboard.
Trevor was almost to the galley to check it when the washer-dryer beeped. “The clothes are done, let’s get the next load in before we cast off,” he said, pulling the clean, dry clothes out and piling them up on the counter before shoving the next load in and starting the cycle. “Okay, lowly crew, time to cast off!”
Joel scrambled forward and began casting off, while Trevor used the engines to hold Atlantis against the fenders and dock. As soon as Joel finished releasing the mooring lines, Trevor reversed the starboard engine and then advanced the port throttle and Atlantis slowly swung her bow to starboard, away from the dock. As soon as the bow was clear, Joel collected the fenders and Trevor gave both engines some forward throttle, and they pulled away from the dock, heading for the channel.
Seeing Joel at the starboard helm, Trevor smiled and said, “You’ve got the con. The course to Capri is laid in and it’s short. It’s calm, so engines all the way, ten knots once we’re clear of the channel.”
“Aye aye, Captain Bligh,” Joel replied, steering down the channel. Once clear of the breakwater, he advanced the throttles.
The journey to Capri was a short one, sixteen miles. In half an hour, they could see it clearly, its precipitous cliffs rising from the sea. “Wow, that’s mountainous... so, where are we going there?” Joel asked.
Trevor used the navigation screen to zoom in on the Isle of Capri, and shrugged. “I’m not sure. The last port made me kind of nervous, so I was planning on just anchoring inshore and using the Zodiac.”
“Uh, okay, but where? What part of the island?” Joel asked.
Trevor looked at Joel and grinned. “I didn’t know much of anything about Capri, so, you’re the tour guide, and you need to learn how to run Atlantis, so I’m just going to kick back and let you decide. Just remember to use the navigational display so you don’t run into any rocks, reefs, cliffs, islands, tankers, jet planes–”
“Okay, I get the idea,” Joel said, chuckling. He studied the electronic map for a few moments, and then pointed. “The main town, Capri, is kind of in the center of the island, up high. On this side, there’s the Marina Grande area, and there’s a funicular up to Capri. So... We’ll anchor off the beach, just west of the marina, so we’ll have a good place to take the Zodiac to.”
Trevor nodded. “Sorta... The chart says it’s okay to anchor there, but we can’t leave the Zodiac on a busy public beach. What we can do is tie it up – I use a steel cable and a locking bike chain – for a few hours at the public dock in the marina. So, if we anchor where you said, we can still do that, plus we can swim to the beach if that’s where we’re going.”
When they arrived amongst the other boats anchored offshore, it was twilight, and Trevor talked Joel through dropping and setting the anchors, and then checked the galley. Returning to the cockpit, Trevor said, “The laundry is done, so you can shut off the engines, and no need to fire up the generator.”
Joel clicked off the engines, and then asked, “What about the refrigerators, for the beer?”
Trevor laughed. “They’re okay on battery for tonight, but after that we need to shut down one of ‘em. Okay, want to go ashore now, or in the morning?”
Joel looked at the lights of Capri, clinging to the steep slopes. “We’ll be here for a couple of days, right? Might as well go ashore tomorrow, when it’s light. So, beer time!”
“Beer time,” Trevor agreed, as he followed Joel into the salon.
Joel pulled two beers out of the galley refrigerator, and after a stop at the salon’s bar to use the built-in bottle opener, he handed one to Trevor, and then took a drink. “Damn, that’s good stuff.” Joel took another drink, and then another.
Trevor took a drink of the German beer and nodded eagerly. “Yeah, this is good, a lot better than even the import stuff back home,” Trevor said, and then took another pull before clicking on the stereo. As the music came on, he said, “Might as well get the laundry out of the way,” as he walked to the galley. Trevor pulled the second load of clothes out, dumping them on the counter atop the prior load, and without looking up asked Joel, “Anything in here you feel compelled to iron?”
Joel arched an eyebrow, and as he stooped down to begin separating his clothes from Trevor’s, said, “You have an iron? I’m surprised you even know what one is, let alone have one.”
Trevor snorted. “I run a charter, remember? I sometimes iron the shorts and polo shirts I wear when the guests come aboard. So, do you need the iron or not?”
Joel shrugged. “Nah, I’ll slum it and look like you, just so you won’t look so bad by comparison,” Joel said, as he added the green muscle shirt that Trevor had loaned him to his own pile.
Trevor arched an eyebrow. “Borrowing that again?” he asked.
“Why would I borrow my own shirt? You gave it to me,” Joel asked, in an innocent tone.
“I gave it to you...” Trevor replied, letting his voice trail off, with a skeptical look on his face.
“Yeah, and you just said so, right now, so it’s mine. It looks good since I cut the sleeves off. Look at it this way; by giving it to me, you’ve avoided having to lend it to me again,” Joel replied, with an angelic smile.
Trevor rolled his eyes. “You’re impossible. First, you insult my stuff, and then you steal it. But, I guess this means there’s less need for you to go shopping now, right?”
“You’re underhanded and cruel. I’ll make a deal with you; let me have a look at the rest of your shirts, and I’ll make you a couple like this one,” Joel offered.
“Letting you take a pair of scissors to my wardrobe is not what I’d consider a worthwhile trade, but... okay,” Trevor said, as he finished separating the clothes.
They deposited their respective loads of clean clothes in their cabins and returned to the more important task of consuming their beer supply.
“So, are we going clothes shopping in Capri?” Joel asked, trying his best to give Trevor a lost-puppy look.
Trevor sat down on the couch, putting his feet up, and shook his head disgustedly. “Damn, you and shopping. You’re worse than a girl!”
“I’ll make sure to tell Lisa that you said that,” Joel said.
Trevor laughed. “You would, you jerk. Okay, you win; we’ll go shopping in Capri. Just don’t buy so much stuff that Atlantis sinks, okay?”
Joel sat down beside Trevor, giving Trevor’s clean but faded boardies a disparaging glance. “I don’t need much, but I can’t keep borrowing your ancient, tacky stuff; I don’t want to look like a bum. Like you said, that green shirt you gave me today is years old, and those shorts look even older.”
Trevor snorted. “I’m just a poor working sailor; I don’t drive around in a sports car and I don’t live for clothes shopping like some spoiled rich brats do,” he said, and then elbowed Joel.
Joel gave Trevor a punch in the arm. “Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that your car was a heap, but if you’re going to bring up my car, I’m going to bring up this floating palace of yours that you own, free and clear. What does a yacht like Atlantis go for anyway? Whatever it is, it’s a fucking hell of a lot more than my car cost, dude,” Joel said, and then, knowing he’d scored, he began to snicker.
“Shut up. And hey, why did you say ‘was’ about my car? Is it still at your house?” Trevor asked.
Joel nodded somberly. “Yeah, I got it over there, barely, and then I sold it, like you said. I got at least twice what it's worth, so you should thank me.” Joel paused, and then added with a shrug. “I can’t pay you now, unless you’ve got change for a dollar. Or, I could buy you half a hamburger somewhere. If I were you, I’d take the food, it’s a better deal.”
Trevor knocked back the remainder of his first beer, and laughed. “Did you really sell it?”
Joel shook his head. “Nah, I can’t. To sell it, I need your signature on the damn title, a little detail you forgot, along with forgetting to give me the title itself.”
“Oops,” Trevor replied, remembering that his title was still in his stash spot. “I’ve got it here, and that reminds me... when we were talking about money earlier, I said I’d show you something. Follow me.” Trevor grabbed his keys and a knife. Without another word, he led a puzzled Joel out though the cockpit and then forward on deck. Reaching the hatch to his crew cabin, he unlocked and opened it, and then climbed down. Once inside, he flicked on the light and waited for Joel.
As soon as Joel climbed down, Trevor shut and locked the hatch, and then made sure the sunshade was tightly shut.
Once they had total privacy, Joel thought about cracking a few jokes, but he could tell that Trevor was serious. “What’s up?” he asked in a quiet tone.
“There’s something I need to show you,” Trevor replied, stepping into his tiny bathroom and flicking on the light, and then motioning for Joel to join him.
Joel squeezed past Trevor and stood over the shower drain, as Trevor closed the bathroom door and said, “Come close and watch.” Joel joined Trevor by the tiny stainless-steel washbasin and counter, and Trevor pulled the steel soap dish off, straining a little to do so. Turning it over, he pointed at its thick round metal base. “That’s a magnet, a strong one. It used to be part of one of my car speakers, but the stereo is dead anyway. I glued the magnet to the dish with epoxy.”
Joel took the soap dish and looked, feeling the weight. “I’m guessing that this does more than keep your soap dish from sliding around in heavy seas,” Joel said, becoming aware that Trevor was about to reveal a deep secret.
Trevor nodded, and then pulled his suction-cup mounted cup holder off the mirror and handing it to Joel. “Let me get this out of the way, then come down and look,” Trevor said, crouching and pulling up a segment of the metal floor grid, exposing the aluminum sheeting underneath.
Joel squatted, soap dish in hand, crowding close to Trevor in the tiny space, their bare shoulders brushing. “That aluminum directs any water to the drain, right?”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, but it’s in squares. Looks like it’s caulked and riveted down, huh?”
Joel studied the aluminum for a moment. “Looks like it to me.”
Trevor took the cup holder from Joel. “Attach the suction cup right next to the seventh rivet from the door sill; it’s easy to remember; seven is the lucky number.” Trevor attached the suction cup, and then took the soap dish, placing it next to the cup holder. “This has to be exactly placed, within about an inch, one hand-span towards the door from that seventh rivet. There’s a steel pin attached to a weighted rocker arm under the spot, which is under where the door sits when it’s open. The magnet pulls it up and releases the latch.” Once the dish was in place, Trevor motioned for Joel to squeeze in. “Give it a try. If it won’t open right away, rattle the cup holder up and down; the vibration will free the latch.”
Slowly, Joel pulled up on the cup holder, and the aluminum plate lifted. Trevor picked it up and set it gently aside, and Joel looked into the revealed space, seeing the lid of the two shoebox-sized Tupperware containers. “A secret compartment. You built it, didn’t you?”
Trevor nodded. “I needed a safe place. Only my father and Julie know about it. Not even Lisa does. Open it.” Joel pulled off the first lid, and Trevor pointed, “That’s a .357 Magnum revolver, chrome-plated so it won’t corrode as much. My dad wouldn’t let me go out on charters until he’d taught me how to use it and I had a place to keep it, so I built this. I can dash in here, lock the bathroom door, and get to the gun quick, but a passenger couldn’t, not without knowing how. It also keeps me from having to jump through hoops when I go to the Bahamas; you’re supposed to declare guns, but that’s too awkward and dangerous with passengers on board to hear, so it’s safer and easier to just keep it hidden and not hassle with it. Same for here in Italy; I’d have to declare it, let customs keep it, and then come back for it before leaving the country, if they’d even let me have it back at all – I don’t know what the rules are over here for minors with handguns.”
Joel checked out the gun. “Nice. I haven’t fired one of these in awhile. Can we do some shooting?”
Trevor glanced at his four boxes of ammo. “Yeah, when we’re way out at sea. I usually just throw coke cans overboard and then use ‘em for target practice. I probably can’t get more ammo until I get home, but I’ve got plenty. I keep Atlantis’ radio license, title and insurance papers in here, and sometimes my passport, anything really important. Check out the other box.”
Joel popped the second lid off. “Cash,” he observed, lifting a Ziploc bag, one of many.
“Your powers of observation leave me underwhelmed,” Trevor replied, smiling faintly. “Yeah, I couldn’t deposit my tip money because it’s cash and I don’t declare it, so I stash it in here. I had about seven grand, and then when I ran, I pulled nine thousand out of the bank, all they’d let me have,” Trevor said.
“That’s all you’ve got?” Joel asked, arching an eyebrow. “I figured you had more than this when you took off.”
“One of the reasons I showed you this is so you’d know you don’t have to keep paying for stuff,” Trevor replied, perplexed.
“I’ve never seen this much cash before, but I don’t have Atlantis to take care of and I’m not going around the world alone, on the run, with no income. You’ve got to live on this for almost a year. I didn’t know you weren’t able to clean out your bank accounts. Trev, how much of this would you have left if you needed a new set of sails?” Joel asked.
Trevor shrugged. “A full set? I couldn’t buy it for this, but I’m not planning on needing any new sails.”
“You weren’t planning on needing the last one either. I know you won’t take money from me, but give me one good reason why you won’t take a small loan?” Joel asked, and then answered himself, “There isn’t one, and besides, my parents told me to pay for stuff and that was before they knew about the mess you’re in.”
Looking down at the money, Trevor said, a little hesitantly, “What if I don’t make it back, or Atlantis is taken from me?”
“Then I’d have a hell of a lot more to worry about than a few hundred bucks, Trev,” Joel said, giving Trevor a level stare.
Trevor thought it over for a few seconds, remembering being knocked overboard in the middle of the Atlantic, and then he said softly, “I’ll pay you back, but just in case something happens to me, you know where this hiding place is. You’re also taking home a letter from me to my insurance agency, and I’ll be making a phone call to them first. If Atlantis makes it and I don’t, I know you love her and I want you to have her. If not, you’ll get the insurance to repay what you loaned me, and split the rest with Lisa. Don’t argue, or I’ll just pay you back, right now.”
Joel felt a chill, and shivered in the warm, humid air. “This isn’t right, Trev.”
Trevor stared at the deck, and then looked up at Joel. “You know what’s going on with my dad. Can you think of anyone I’d rather give my stuff to than you and Lisa? I don’t want to argue about this or talk about it anymore, just do it for me, please?”
Joel studied Trevor’s face for a moment, seeing the determination in his eyes. Joel replied with a single solemn nod. “Okay,” Joel said, feeling goosebumps rising on his arms. “But you better come home safe.”
“Now for the really big news; I’m signing my car over to you,” Trevor said, trying to lighten things up, and pulling the old Honda’s title out of a bag. “Here’s the title, and here’s a pen,” he said, pulling a pen out of the bottom of the box, and then used Joel’s bare shoulder as a flat place to sign the title.
“Great, now I can buy that burrito I’ve always wanted,” Joel said, trying to dispel the downer mood.
Trevor jostled Joel’s shoulder. “Shut up. I paid seven hundred for it and I’ve fixed up the engine a little. You should be able to sell it for eight hundred.”
Joel gave Trevor a skeptical look. “You bought it over a year ago and it’s older than we are. It now has even more miles. Amongst its other fine features are no air conditioning, damn near no paint, belches smoke, split seats, a dead radio, and–”
“Seven hundred,” Trevor allowed.
“Only if I can find someone as dumb as you, and that’s a tall order,” Joel replied.
“Shut up,” Trevor said, laughing as he put everything back and closed up the stash spot.
“I’ll give you the title before you go home, don’t let me forget.”
With that, the happy mood was restored and they locked up the crew cabin. Returning to the salon, Joel opened the next set of beers.
Side by side on the couch, the two friends drank and talked, mainly about places to see and things to do for the remainder of Joel’s stay.
Two hours and five beers each later, they both had a good buzz. Joel got up to grab two more beers, and Trevor watched him go, his eyes fixed to the back of Joel’s tight shorts. As soon as Joel was out of sight, Trevor shook his head, as if to clear it. ‘Damn he’s hot, but he’s straight, he’s Lisa’s, and they’re both my best friends.’
Joel returned with two open beers, and handed one to Trevor as he sat down, their shoulders brushing. After taking a drink, Joel said, “Wearing that Stonewall shirt today was kinda strange. It gave me a feel for what it’s like for you to be out: a little spooky. When those German guys came up to us, I was worried for a second, but it turned out to be okay. I don’t know what they said but it didn’t sound bad. I noticed another guy checking me out, and then those two girls came up and talked to us, which was cool. Nothing bad happened, but I think I get why you’re edgy sometimes; you’re wondering what people will think if they know about you. I felt that today when I saw anyone looking at the shirt.”
“Welcome to my world,” Trevor said, looking at Joel with a faint smile. “That’s kind of it, I think. Part of it was worrying that my dad would find out, and that’s not an issue anymore.”
Joel took a drink. “Yeah, I’ve seen a change in you, a good one. There’s something Lisa and I talked about, about you... It was after she ‘fessed up about pushing me away, and told me why; she was scared of being hurt again, sort of the way her mother had hurt her by leaving. By the way, I know I have you to thank for her finally talking to me about that stuff, and I can’t thank you enough, man. Anyway, she said you’re the same; you lost your mother, so part of you doesn’t want to be hurt like that again. I think Lisa’s right.”
Trevor thought for half a minute before replying, “Maybe it’s because I’m drunk, but that makes sense, at least for part of it, but I’ve had boyfriends before.”
Joel gave Trevor a warm smile. “So has Lisa, and they didn’t work out because of the pushing-away thing. I know, because she damn near succeeded in doing that to me. Your ultimatum got though to her, and when I found out you’d done that, I decided that I’d do whatever I could to open your eyes to your own problem, so you could have a chance at what you’ve given me. You once warned Lisa that if she didn’t change, she was facing a lonely and miserable life. You were right, but guess what? That applies to you too, just for slightly different reasons. In your case, it’s the same as Lisa’s loss issue, plus you’re not comfortable with who you are. That’s one of the reasons I yank your chain so much; I’m trying to teach you to loosen up, man! If you can’t be yourself and at ease around me, you won’t ever be, around anybody. If you can get over that hang-up of yours, you’ll find somebody who’s right for you, I know you will.”
Trevor sighed. “I’ll try, and when I get home, I can date again, which will be cool. I guess it has been awhile.”
Joel shook his head. “If I have to haul your ass to a gay bar, I’ll do it. One way or another, I’m getting you laid before I go home. You’ll go crazy if you try to stay dry for a year... but you’re already crazy so you’d just explode.”
Trevor laughed and took another drink. “Yeah, it’d be good to get some action from somebody other than me,” Trevor said, and then cringed as he realized what he’d just admitted doing.
When Trevor’s words registered, Joel choked and began cracking up, rolling sideways against Trevor. After a few seconds, Joel gasped, “I hope you know I’ll never let you live that down, right?”
Trevor, blushing furiously, nodded. “Yeah, but you do it too, and don’t even try to deny it.”
“I’m just not dumb enough to admit it, oh great jackoff king,” Joel said, still laughing as he levered himself back upright.
“Shut up, I’m drunk,” Trevor replied, grinning and shaking his head. Trevor stood up, staggering a little, and turned to give Joel’s body a slow, appreciative look. “While I’ve got the excuse of being drunk, I’ll tell ya, you look damn good in those shorts, but speedos would be even better. Those black ones you bought, or the red ones. Very hot. Huh, maybe I should drag you into my cabin and do outrageous things to you. There, you’ve been sexually harassed again!”
Joel laughed hard, struggling to get up and nearly falling down again. “I hope I remember that tomorrow, so I can bug the hell out of you for it,” Joel said, and then looked at an empty beer bottle. “If I drink any more, I’m going to get totally plastered and have a hangover, a bad one.”
“Then let me grab you another beer. I’ve got an air horn I can play with tomorrow,” Trevor said with a smirk.
Joel shook his head, cringing at the thought. “You’re evil, you know that, right? Okay, I think I better crash.”
Trevor nodded, and turned to head for his cabin. “Yeah, me too. G’night, Joel.”
“See ya in the morning,” Joel said, heading for his cabin.
Drunk enough to be a little unsteady on his feet, Trevor entered his cabin, closed the door, and shucked off his boardies and boxers by the side of the bed before climbing in. He pulled the sheet up, barely past his waist, and after a couple of minutes, he drifted off to sleep.
Twenty minutes into their drive, Jim stared ahead, numbly. He’d listened to Dirk’s long and detailed confession, only interrupting to ask for a few clarifications. Finally, he managed to say, “I guess I understand why you couldn’t let me in on this before, and why you had to stop Trevor. You were so close to putting it all behind you, too. I’ve never been involved in anything like this before... but you can count on me to help get you out of this. I mean that.”
Four hours later, after getting Dirk set up in the Tampa condo and warning him to only use cash if he needed anything or had to leave, Jim handed Dirk ten thousand dollars, telling him that he’d be at the chandlery or Dirk’s house, but not to try calling, pointing out that the police might trace the incoming call. “The condo’s phone works,” Jim said as he walked out the door. “I’ll call you as soon as I know anything, and I’ll see you in a few days.”
With no time to waste, Jim made the long drive from Tampa to the chandlery in Fort Pierce, where he put a ‘Closed for Inventory’ sign up in the window. His next stop was the back room, where he searched the stock shelves until he found a pair of binoculars and a handheld marine VHF radio. Then he checked his watch, knowing that he had to hurry, and after locking up, he raced to Dirk’s home. It only took him a few seconds to find what he was after: a photo of Trevor. Jim removed the picture from its frame and slipped it into his briefcase, alongside the radio. He then looked for, and found, a photo of Atlantis.
Jim reset the alarm and locked up. It was all he had time to do before heading for Miami. As he drove, he glanced at his briefcase, and thought, ‘Dirk, in light of what you told me, this is imperative. It’s the only way, and you could never do it yourself. That leaves me...’
It was close, but Jim made it to the airport in time to catch his flight to Italy.