Officer Gonzalez leaned back in his worn desk chair, staring out a window that had not been cleaned in over twenty years. The recent developments in the Carlson case weighed heavily on his mind. He glanced down at the documents in his hand: the sales contract and title transfer for the Ares, which Bridget Bellevue had given him. He knew he needed some advice.
Exiting his cubicle, he walked down the crowded hall, barely aware of the noise; the constant murmur of voices, of phones ringing, of doors being opened and closed.
Reaching a small office – a real one, unlike his own – he tapped twice on the door and walked in.
“Hi Mike,” Senior Detective George Alfred said, waving Officer Gonzalez to a seat. “What can I do for you?”
Taking a seat, Officer Gonzalez took a deep breath and got to the point. “It’s about what we discussed the other day; now the county recorder’s office has confirmed those sales papers I told you about. They’re real, and that puts a whole new spin on things because it’s a direct connection between the cases.”
“I can see how it would,” Detective Alfred replied, arching an eyebrow. “What’s your next move?”
Officer Gonzales stared out the window – a window both larger and cleaner than his own – for a few moments. “I’m not sure, that’s why I’m here. All this seems awfully neat. The next two items on my to-do list are to interview the Whitaker girl, and then the Carlson kid, Trevor, assuming he’s actually alive and I can contact him.”
“If he’s alive, under the circumstances you described, that would seem to lend credence to the theory that Dirk Carlson is guilty of the murders,” Detective Alfred replied carefully, and then added with a shrug, “I can’t count how many times a favored theory of mine has gone down in flames. That’s why I always say, ‘Let the evidence dictate the theory’. It sounds like an easy rule to follow, but it’s not; I’ve caught myself breaking it a ton of times, letting my opinions get in the way, only to find out I’d been barking up the wrong tree. I think all cops do that, to a degree, but it’s not good police work.”
Officer Gonzales looked at the older man across the desk for a few long seconds before replying to the gentle reproach. “I know, I keep reminding myself of that, but it’s just... call it a gut read. Everything is being put in front of me, all the pieces, all lined up in a row; motive, opportunity, evidence, and now eyewitnesses. All of them point in one direction.”
Detective Alfred nodded somberly and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he scratched his chin. “I see your point. That’d make me a bit wary too. Just keep your mind open, and look for red flags, like stories matching up just a bit too well.” Changing tack slightly, he asked, “What have you decided to do about Dirk Carlson? You’ve got enough to pick him up, but not enough to go to a grand jury with.”
Officer Gonzales drummed his fingers on the desk, thinking. “I know he’s lawyered up; a law firm up in Cocoa has been making inquiries, checking for a warrant, and the switchboard cleverly put them through to me, which I wasn’t real happy about. Anyhow, we’re tracking Carlson; he’s up in Cocoa Beach, like he is just about every week, but he seems to be staying put this time. I don’t think he’s any danger to the witnesses; there are too many, and that drive-by he did was explained to me, by a legal secretary at that law firm, as him checking an address-for-service for a lawsuit they’d filed. I confirmed that a suit was filed and served at the Whitaker address, but it still struck me as too goddamned neat; them volunteering that info, just as if it was a casual disclosure, coupled with the fact their tort claim makes no goddamned sense at all. Carlson also stopped by Joel Stiles’ house, though that wasn’t mentioned. My feel at the moment is that we’ve let Carlson see us, and now we sit back, give the guy enough rope, and let him make a better case for us while we see what else we can dig up. I’m already working with the prosecutor’s office, and that was their advice... The only catch is they think I should haul him in unless I can verify that the son is still alive.”
“If it was my case, I’d make the arrest and grill him during a seventy-two hour hold, but he’s already lawyered up so you might not get a lot... His lawyer would tell him to keep his mouth shut, sure as hell. They have to know we don’t have forensic evidence yet. Yeah, maybe ease off on the obvious pressure, let him get comfortable and start making mistakes. Can’t hurt. However, unless you can verify that the son is still alive, I’d suggest bringing Carlson in, because at the moment you don’t know that you’re not looking at three murders and a serial killer,” Detective Alfred said, and then after a thoughtful pause, asked offhandedly, “What about the threat to the Whitaker girl? You need to cover yourself and the department there.”
“I’ve put in a request for two uniforms in a cruiser to take station across the street, visible as hell, and they’ll still be on call. That way we’ll have an obvious presence for most of each shift, and that’ll make the witness happy,” Officer Gonzales said.
“That should do it. So, what’s your interview angle going to be?”
Officer Gonzales thought it over for a few moments, and then went with his gut. “I still think that this whole thing is just a little too convenient, so for the Whitaker girl, and for the son as well if I can, I’ll just find out what they know, and keep an eye out for signs of coaching. I shot a few questions at one of the beat cops who’s a boater; he pointed out that the engine sabotage on that yacht makes no sense as a murder attempt, and gave me a few reasons why not. However, Dirk Carlson has certainly demonstrated that he is both willing and able to sabotage a yacht of that type, which does reinforce my belief that he killed his wife, especially when the other factors are taken into account. I think the key here is the ability and willingness he’s demonstrated, not that he tried to kill his kid, because it doesn’t look like that was his intent, this time. However, this certainly plays to opportunity regarding his wife’s murder, and the divorce papers provide motive. We need every shred of evidence, because it’s damn hard to get a conviction without a body, especially with a case that’s largely circumstantial. The prosecutor has already told me that we need a lot more than we’ve got if we’re going to have any hope of making a murder rap stick.”
“I think you’re playing it right,” Detective Alfred said, giving Officer Gonzales a nod and a smile. The younger officers in the department often came to him for advice, which Detective Alfred was always happy to give.
“Thanks, I’ll keep you posted,” Officer Gonzalez said, on his way out the door.
The feel of a hand gently shaking his shoulder intruded on his dreams, and Trevor cracked open an eye, his head still fogged, and saw Joel, laying on the bed beside him, wearing just a pair of boxers, and lit by early morning sun streaming in through a porthole. “I’m awake,” Trevor mumbled, as he began to fuzzily wonder why Joel was there.
Joel gave Trevor a sad, hurt look, and said, “Why... why did you do it? I trusted you.”
Trying to clear the fog from his mind, still half asleep, Trevor sat up and eased back against his headboard, his sheet covering him from the waist down. “Okay, let me wake up for a minute... Uh, you’re in my bed, and I’m naked,” Trevor said, and then added, slurring slightly, “What exactly did I do?”
Joel scowled, laying back, face up, staring at the ceiling. “You waited until I was almost passed out, lured me in here, and did stuff to me... Gay stuff.”
Finally understanding, Trevor rolled onto his side, laying his arm across Joel’s bare chest and pulling him closer. “Then we might as well do stuff again this morning, right?”
Joel laughed and looked at Trevor. “Okay, so I guess you don’t have any memory gaps? Damn, I was kind of hoping that you did.”
Trevor gave Joel a sleepy chuckle. “I wasn’t that drunk, man. I remember saying goodnight and coming in here, alone, to crash. So why exactly are you in bed with me, anyway?” Trevor asked, sitting back up.
Joel nodded somberly. “Yep, definitely sexual harassment on your part.”
“I’d love to hear your reasoning on that, but after coffee... I hope you did something useful for once and made some?”
Joel nodded. “Yeah, it’s ready when you get there, and I do have a reason besides tormenting you for waking you up, but I’ll tell you after you’ve had some caffeine and are almost human.”
Trevor glanced around the room, seeing his boxers and boardies lying on the floor on the far side of the cabin – which wasn’t where he dimly recalled dropping them – and nothing else within easy reach. Prompted by the pressure from his bladder, Trevor glanced at the cabin door. “You could go and get me a mug?” Trevor asked hopefully, mainly to get Joel out of the room.
Joel shook his head and stretched, still on his back, and replied, “Nah, I’m too comfortable here.”
“I’d kinda like to take a leak,” Trevor grumbled.
Joel nodded in an understanding way. “Yeah, beer’s like that; you don’t buy it, you rent it.”
Trevor sat up a bit more, as the pressure from his bladder became ever more urgent. “Dude, either get out, get your ass off my sheet so I can use it, or you’re going to get an eyeful.”
“I’ve seen you naked in the locker room a ton of times,” Joel said casually, and then the corners of his mouth began to twitch.
‘He knows, the ass,’Trevor thought, glaring at Joel. “Yeah, but I’m not hard in the locker room.”
Joel gave Trevor a horrified look. “Morning wood? Dude, that’s gross!”
“Shut up, you jerk,” Trevor said, beginning to laugh. “Are you going to move, or not?”
“I’m happy here,” Joel replied, plumping up Trevor’s pillow.
“Dead, is what you’re gonna be,” Trevor threatened, and then, prodded by his bladder, he said, “Whether you move or not, I’m going in ten seconds.”
“I told you I’d have something to claim sexual harassment about, and you flashing your wood at me sure qualifies,” Joel said, showing no interest in moving.
“I’ll get you for this somehow,” Trevor said, throwing his legs over the side of the bed. Keeping his back to Joel, he sidestepped into the head and closed the door.
“You didn’t need to worry, I don’t have a magnifying glass,” Joel shouted, as Trevor took a leak.
“Dead!” Trevor repeated, and then, after washing his hands and, with his problem deflated, he walked out and pulled on his boxers and boardies.
“Exhibitionist,” Joel said, in an accusing tone.
“Waking up to your harassment is great fun with a mild hangover,” Trevor complained. “So, what was the other reason?”
“I’ll get you some coffee and then tell you, but I think it’s good news,” Joel replied, as he stood up.
“Now he moves, damn it,” Trevor grumbled, following Joel to the galley.
Joel fixed Trevor a mug of coffee, and then waited until he’d finished half of it. Trevor arched an eyebrow. “So what’s up?” he asked.
Passing on the obvious joke, Joel turned serious. “Long story short, we forgot to call Lisa last night, and I remembered just as I was falling asleep. I checked and you were zonked out already, so I went ahead and called. We have a few problems, maybe...The first problem is that Lisa wanted to know if we got her text message. Turns out, she sent it to your old phone, so that means your father could get it. Okay, drink more coffee while I talk, this gets strange...” Joel kept going, telling Trevor about the contents of the text message, and the gist of what Bridget had suggested to Lisa.
Trevor’s eyes grew wider and wider as Joel talked, and he was on his second mug of coffee by the time Joel finished and poured himself a refill. “Holy fuck! Lisa thinks my dad could try to kill her, and she’s thinking of getting him sent to jail for trying to kill me? Joel, my dad and I both know boats. He’d know, sure as hell, that I couldn’t get out of the fucking harbor without noticing that kind of sabotage! He’d also know that I could have sailed to an easy anchorage in the Bahamas. It’d be like somebody stealing the engine out of your car and then being accused of trying to kill you by making it unsafe at high speed. My dad was trying to keep me in port for whatever reason, but that was no murder attempt. It couldn’t be; it’s just not possible.”
Joel nodded. “That makes sense, but Lisa thinks it would be a good idea to get your dad arrested. That way he can’t bug you, or her. You could come home, Trev, and be emancipated.”
Trevor’s head spun, and torn by conflicting emotions, he said softly, “Florida is six hours behind us. It’s almost nine here, which means it’s close to three A.M. there. When are we supposed to call Lisa back?”
“Three this afternoon, our time,” Joel replied, looking at Trevor expectantly, stunned that he wasn’t leaping at the chance.
“We can call from ashore,” Trevor said, dodging Joel’s unspoken question.
A silence descended. Trevor tried to think of something to say, anything that wouldn’t involve the one subject he wanted to avoid: his father.
Joel, aware of the sudden tension from Trevor, glanced out the window, and, deciding that his friend needed some space to think, said, “Let’s go see some of Capri.”
After breakfast, they deployed the Zodiac and motored to the public dock, where they secured the Zodiac with a bike chain and the outboard’s ignition lock. After making their way to the funicular station, they rode up to the town of Capri, looking at the sights from the inclined cable railway, talking about everything but the one thing that was eating at both of them.
Trevor and Joel explored Capri on foot and on skateboard, finding it a good deal nicer than the areas they’d seen near Pompeii. Capri town had more of an antique air; classic buildings kept in good condition, more akin to the well-preserved Italian hill towns than the modern, urban areas they’d seen.
In spite of the fascinating surroundings, Joel couldn’t get his mind off the fact that Trevor wasn’t seizing what Joel saw as a golden opportunity. During lunch at a sidewalk cafe, over a meal of lasagna, Joel decided to broach the unspoken topic. “Trev, you’re screwing yourself if you don’t do this. You said yourself that your father could have Atlantis’s ownership transferred to him, and then you might never be able to get her back, not even after you turn eighteen. Then there are all the other reasons–”
“I know, but I don’t think I can, Joel. I’d have to lie to send my own father to jail... I see your point, I really do, but... I don’t want to do this. If he actually does anything, like bothers Lisa in any way, or tries to take title to Atlantis, I’ll do it, but... I just can’t right now, not like this,” Trevor said, suddenly losing interest in his food.
Joel shook his head slowly. “I think you’re wrong, man. There’s those divorce papers he won’t explain, and he did try to take Atlantis from you once already. He’s also driven by Lisa’s house, which has me worried as hell. Do this and you could come home, Trev. We’re supposed to start our senior year in a few weeks. Instead, you’ll be alone and you might lose everything.”
At a very deep level, Trevor wanted to end the conversation, in part because he was unsure himself. More sharply than he’d intended, he said, “He’s my father, so it’s my decision.”
Joel’s eyes narrowed. “Yeah, you’ve got a right to be fucking stupid, I guess, even if it means putting both you and Lisa at risk.”
Trevor glared to Joel, their eyes meeting, the anger in Trevor’s plain to see.
Before Trevor could reply, Joel said in a quiet tone, “Okay, it’s your decision, but can’t you see where I’m coming from? You’re putting both yourself and Lisa in danger, for no good reason.”
After several seconds, Trevor replied, “If I thought there was any danger to Lisa, I’d do it, but I don’t. The reasoning for Dad wanting to kill Lisa because she saw you swim out to Atlantis with parts is bullshit; it would still leave both you and me as witnesses. No matter what else my father may be, he’s not stupid.”
Joel nodded. “Okay, I was out of line with that bit about Lisa, but I love her and I’m worried about her. That still leaves you. You’re on the run and you might lose Atlantis, but yeah, that’s your call, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to tell you what I think.”
Trevor looked up, searching Joel’s face for a moment. “I don’t like talking about it because I don’t know what the fuck to do and it’s eating at me. What would you do if you were me?”
“I’d have your dad put in jail,” Joel replied without hesitation.
“Not my dad, yours. What if it was your father, and your mom had died like mine, and knowing only what I do right now... Wouldn’t you have some doubts about what you’d do? I think you’d be as torn up as I am.”
Joel’s mouth opened, and then closed, his mind awhirl, as he stared at Trevor. The waiter came to clear the table, and after that interruption, Joel said, very quietly, “I... I don’t think I could do it, not to my dad... without knowing for sure, but I don’t think I could not do it, either, not with what’s going on.”
Trevor gave Joel a faint, sad smile. “Yeah, that about sums it up.”
“And you’ve got to make up your mind before we call Lisa,” Joel said, finally understanding what Trevor was facing. “Oh man... That’s enough to give anyone a major migraine. Any way I can help?”
“I don’t know what I want to do. If I was on Atlantis I’d just stew, at least around here, it’s easier to keep distracted,” Trevor said.
“We could call Lisa early,” Joel suggested.
Trevor shook his head. “I don’t know what I’d say yet, I wish I did, but I don’t.”
“We’ve got about an hour before we need to call. Think you’ll know what you want to do by then?” Joel asked.
Trevor shook his head sadly. “That’s something else I don’t know.”
Sitting on her back porch, Lisa looked out at the palm trees and hibiscus bushes, lit by the early morning sun, and then glanced at her watch, hoping that Trevor and Joel would call soon.
Her father, Robert, stepped out onto the porch, looking pensive. “That was one hell of a shock, Pumpkin. I know you don’t think he’d do it, but just the idea that Dirk might be a killer and after you... Maybe we should call the police right now, and move up that appointment with the detective?”
Lisa shook her head. “I’m also supposed to go see Bridget this morning; she called last night and said she has some ideas for me about the interview this afternoon. I need to talk to Trevor and Joel too; this is about Trevor’s father, so I want to make sure he’s okay with whatever I decide to do.”
“And it’s your life we’re talking about here, and there’s the little fact that the bastard is suing me. Do you have any idea how much lawyers cost? I don’t want to have to hire one, and putting Dirk in jail for murder seems like a good way to avoid having to do that, and keep you safe at the same time,” Robert replied crossly. “I want you to do what it takes, short of lying to the police and causing us even more trouble.”
“Dad, when I told her about it, Bridget said that the lawsuit is crap, it won’t go anywhere, and she said she’d help if needed,” Lisa replied, wishing that she already had Trevor’s approval, and unaware that Bridget had already given the police even more than Lisa could have.
“And what does she think you ought to do, about the police?” Robert asked, already suspecting the answer.
“The same as you do, whatever it takes to get him arrested,” Lisa replied quietly.
Robert sat down on a chair and sighed. “Then take her advice, or mine... and would you mind explaining to me why Trevor and Joel are opposed to this?”
Lisa shook her head. “I never said they were. I only spoke to Joel, and I’ll have you know he’s on your side. I don’t know what Trevor thinks, because he was out,” Lisa replied, carefully avoiding any mention that the reason she hadn’t been able to talk to Trevor was he’s been drunk and asleep. “I just think I need to talk to Trevor first, and I can’t do anything until the interview anyway, so why shouldn’t I?”
Robert arched an eyebrow. “Joel thinks you should try for the arrest too?”
Lisa, sensing the chance to make a point in Joel’s favor, nodded. “He does. He’s worried about the danger to me, plus he’d love to see Trevor’s dad arrested so Trevor can come home. The only problem is that Bridget isn’t sure the arrest will happen, no matter what I say. She said it’s marginal at the moment.”
Robert sighed, letting his head fall to his hands. He was silent for a while, and then said, thinking aloud, “If he remains free, I don’t think it’s safe for you to be here.”
Seeing a golden opening, Lisa suggested, in a deliberately offhand tone, “I know somewhere I could be that would be safe from him: on Atlantis, with Trevor and Joel.”
Robert cringed, and turned his head to look at Lisa. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind. I was thinking of sending you to stay with your grandmother in New Jersey.”
Lisa shook her head. “How hard would she be to find? She’s in the phone book under Whitaker, and I know I once mentioned to Trevor’s dad that my grandmother lives in Trenton. In your opinion, where would I be the safest; there, where I can be found, or on Atlantis?”
“Dirk is looking for Trevor and Atlantis, and this would put you right in the middle if he finds them,” Robert said, and then seeing Lisa’s frown, he added, “I don’t want anything to happen to Trevor, but you’re my first concern. Lisa, you have to do your part too, at the interview. At least tell the police what you know.”
“That much you can count on,” Lisa replied.
“When are you going to see Bridget?” Richard asked.
Lisa checked her watch. “I’m supposed to meet her for coffee near the marina in fifteen minutes.”
Robert nodded. “Very well, see what she says, and please make sure to bring up the lawsuit.”
Lisa never made it inside the coffee shop; Bridget was waiting outside, and after a cheerful greeting, said, “Please walk with me.”
Once they’d walked for a few yards, Bridget said quietly, “I’ve spoken to Officer Gonzales. My advice to you at this point is to simply tell what you know. They do need to speak with Trevor, primarily to verify that he is still alive. You should also be under police protection of some sort; make certain to ask about that. If you do not receive it, call me. If you feel unsafe at your home, you can always stay with me.”
“Thank you,” Lisa replied, grateful for the offer. “What do I tell Trevor? He and Joel are supposed to be calling me any time now. I want this to work so Trevor can come home and be emancipated.”
Bridget hesitated for a moment, and then with a faint tight smile, replied, “It would be best if you did not attempt to tell him what to say, as that could hinder the investigation into his mother’s murder; the police view identical stories rather suspiciously. All he needs to do is say what he knows. ‘Just the facts,’ as my late husband was so fond of saying.” Bridget paused for a moment, looking further ahead down the seafront walk before adding, “Actually, if he calls soon, I’d like to speak with him. In the meantime, there are some delightful stores just ahead, and I’d like to take you shopping.”
Lisa hadn’t been shopping since Joel had left, and grinned. “I’d like that, thanks. I also need to ask you about that lawsuit–”
“Piffle,” Bridget said, with a smile and a dismissive wave of her hand. “That suit is of little risk. Your father is being sued because you know something and won’t disclose it to a third party. There is no legal obligation on your part, or your father’s, to give out such information to anyone other than the police or a court official. I’ll be highly surprised if that case is not dismissed with prejudice upon its preliminary hearing. That’s months from now, and by then, with any luck, Dirk Carlson will be under indictment for murder, thus solving all our problems. Where is Trevor, if I may ask?”
Lisa smiled and shrugged. “We’re being careful about what we say over the phone, so I don’t know exactly, just somewhere in Italy. Joel is with him for a few weeks, then after Joel comes home, Trevor plans to keep going; he’s doing a circumnavigation. That’s part of why I want so badly for this to work: so Trevor can come home. Otherwise, he’s going to be sailing alone for most of a year, until he’s eighteen, and I’m worried about him.”
Bridget nodded thoughtfully, giving Lisa an understanding smile. “I would be too. Rather daring of him, to sail around the world, though I suppose it’s one way of keeping out of his father’s way for a year. Don’t worry; hopefully he can come home instead. Anyway, look what we have here, some of the new clothing styles. I’m far too old for such things, but you’re not. Come on, my treat.”
After skating through the streets of Capri, Trevor and Joel entered a small piazza, trying their best to ignore the cloud that hung over them both. They stopped to rest, in the shade of an old church wall, and Trevor glanced sadly at Joel. “You might be better off on your own; I know I’m not much fun to be with right now.”
Joel stood up, and shrugged. “I’d rather hang with you, and I won’t mention your dad again – okay?”
Trevor stood up, and gave Joel a faint smile, “Thanks man, I’d like the company, and it’s okay to talk. I just still don’t know what the hell to do.” Trevor pointed to some stores and offered, “While I’m feeling lousy anyway, we might as well shop; can’t make it any worse.”
Joel chuckled. “That’s a sure sign you’re miserable. Nah, it’s okay, I don’t much feel like it either.”
They stood quietly for a couple of minutes, looking at the old church, and then Joel angled his head, giving Trevor a thoughtful look. “What if I call Lisa, just me? I could find out if anything’s changed, and that way you wouldn’t have to give her a decision right now.”
Trevor shook his head. “She’ll ask where I am. That’ll mean either you tell her I’m here, or lie to her.”
“Not if you’re really not here. Start walking,” Joel pointed north, roughly in the direction of the route back to Atlantis, “And I’ll catch up. Wait for me at the funicular station if I haven’t found you by the time you get there. Look, I think you should just level with her, but I’ll do this for you,” Joel said, leaning on a low wall as he added, “I don’t think you’ll be any closer to making up your mind if we just wait.”
Trevor nodded. “Just tell her what’s going on, and why I... Why I can’t make up my mind right now. Thanks Joel.”
“Get going,” Joel said, pulling out his phone.
Joel waited until Trevor was a dozen yards away, and then dialed.
Feeling downcast, still no closer to an answer, Trevor walked slowly, looking absently at the cobbled street and the old buildings, listening to the distant, raucous sound of children playing, and the muted voices of passers-by. It was so tempting; a couple of phone calls, and he could go home. No more running, no more fears. Trevor thought about that, and then imagined what it would be like to see his house, or the chandlery, knowing what he’d done, and in that moment, he knew; he couldn’t do it, not yet, and not this way.
Trevor was about to turn and walk back to Joel, when he heard the crunch of skateboard wheels behind him. Turning, he saw Joel, phone to his ear, approaching fast.
“Trev, it’s okay,” Joel shouted, closing the gap as fast as he could.
As Joel pulled to a stop at his side, Trevor shook his head. “I’m sorry, I can’t–“
“Doesn’t matter, you don’t have to,” Joel said, grinning with relief as he pulled Trevor close to share the phone. “I’ve got him, he can hear now,” Joel said.
“Hi Trev,” Lisa said, and then quickly added, “Joel told me, so I’ll get to the point; I was going to ask for your okay to tell the police about your engine problems, but Bridget already has. She’s here with me. Look, I know this has got to be bugging the hell out of you, so all I’m going to tell the police is what I actually saw happen. The cop, Officer Gonzales, is going to want to talk to you, probably just to verify you’re still breathing, and that’s it. Anyway, here’s Bridget.”
“Hello Trevor,” Bridget said, after being handed the phone. “I hope all is well with you, or as well as it can be, under the circumstances. I really must apologize; when we met, I had no idea that you were fleeing such a dire situation. I hear that you are in Italy, and wisely refraining from being specific over the phone. Are you enjoying it? I love Italy, though I haven’t been in several years.”
Trevor gave Joel a pat on the back and said into the shared phone, “Thanks, and I’m doing great. Joel is here with me, and we’re seeing a lot. It’s fantastic, kind of helps me forget what’s... going on at home.”
“Do make sure to try the tiramisu; it is excellent. Also, they do a smoked cheese there, I forget the name, but looks like a large round and a small one, joined together. It is superb, as is another cheese called caprino. In any case, I believe that the police will wish to speak with you. Just be honest with them, and focus on what you actually know. I mustn’t give you specific suggestions, but if you stick to the facts alone, all will be well,” Bridget said.
Trevor felt a flood of relief. “That I can do. I just hope they can get to the bottom of what happened to my mom, no matter what.”
“We all hope for that,” Bridget replied.
After a brief chat, Trevor handed the phone back to Joel so he could talk to Lisa, and walked a few paces away, smiling.
When the call was over, Joel jogged up to Trevor. “See? You were stressed out for nothing, and best of all, it sounds like you’ll be able to come home.”
“Yeah, and if I get the all-clear before transiting Suez, I will. After that, I might as well keep going,” Trevor said, as they resumed walking.
“Why don’t you just stay put in the Mediterranean and see?” Joel asked.
“I have to make a weather window in the Indian Ocean, a few weeks after you leave,” Trevor replied.
Joel gave Trevor a worried look. “Even if you find out soon that you can come home, how can you? You’d have to cross the Atlantic, it’s already August, and September is the height of hurricane season.”
Trevor smiled and shrugged. “Hurricanes are pretty easy. They’re big and their movement is pretty well forecast, and Atlantis is fast enough to get out of the way. I’d be okay. At worst, I’d head for the Canary Islands and hang out there for a couple of weeks, wait for a break in the storms, then head across. I’d have to take that route anyway, to catch the westbound winds.”
“If we find out soon, I can go with you and still make it home in time for school, or close enough,” Joel replied, feeling confident that it would happen.
It had been a long, grueling flight, and the frantic dash as he’d changed planes hadn’t helped. He’d managed to get some fitful sleep on the transatlantic flight, but Jim was already feeling weary, and he knew he still had a long day ahead of him. Carrying his single small bag to one of the car rental desks in Naples International Airport, he hoped that driving in Italy wasn’t as difficult as he’d heard. With that in mind, he was glad that the airport wasn’t actually in Naples, but a few miles to the east, outside of the city. Jim glanced at the notes in his hand, which held the address of a nearby regional police station. “I’d like an economy car, automatic transmission, with GPS and air conditioning, please,” Jim said, as he reached the rental desk.