Trevor and Joel walked across the gleaming white beach, towards the azure waters. Stepping quickly across the hot sand and pebbles, looking out at his beloved Atlantis, Trevor said, “I hereby volunteer you to get the Zodiac.”
“Why me?” Joel asked.
“You’ve got the salon door key, and you said you wanted a workout, so here’s a chance for another swim,” Trevor replied, while sitting down on the beach to wait.
“Tyrannical slave driver,” Joel grumbled, putting his bags down beside Trevor’s.
“You have the key, and you’d make me go if you’d thought of it first,” Trevor pointed out, stretching back to lay out on the beach, snickering.
“True... but arguing with you is more fun. See you in a few,” Joel said, turning and jogging into the water, and then diving in.
Trevor watched Joel climb aboard Atlantis, and then blinked in surprise as Joel threw two of Trevor’s surfboards over the side, and then dived in after them.
Joel awkwardly herded both boards to the beach, and when he reached waist-deep water, stood up and carried one under each arm. Trevor gathered up the bags and met Joel at the waterline. “You found a way to make me swim,” Trevor said, chuckling.
Placing the bags on the boards, the two friends swam them out through the calm waters to Atlantis. After putting the groceries away, they rinsed off at the deck shower, and then, waiting to drip dry, Trevor punched up the navigational display. After studying it for a few seconds, he said, “This isn’t good.”
Joel came over to look, and Trevor asked, “Tell me what you see,” trying to give Joel some real-world training with the weather and route planning software.
“The forecast isn’t the same as the last time we looked,” Joel said, with a touch of surprise in his voice.
“Yeah, they can change, and sometimes, like this, it’s sudden. The easterly wind is dying out and shifting around. By tomorrow, it’ll be from the north, but just a light breeze, a few knots.”
Joel studied the display, running the forecast forward through time as Trevor had. “Okay, to me, it looks like we’ve got about eighteen hours of good wind remaining, and then this high-pressure area to the east will move in, and for a few days the winds will drop to very light and variable; lousy sailing weather. It’s about a hundred and seventy miles, so if we leave now, we should be off the north entrance to the Strait of Messina late tomorrow afternoon, unless the wind dies faster than expected. Otherwise, we’re looking at either using the engines or hanging around for a few days.”
“So?” Trevor asked, crossing his arms and smiling.
“Okay teacher, I say we leave now. We’ll probably get to the straits too late for a daylight transit tomorrow, but we can stop in one of the nearby towns and go through the next morning...” Joel paused while he changed the display to a tide table, “If we do that, the tidal current in the strait will be running south at about four knots. How’d I do?” Joel asked.
“Great, except for one thing,” Trevor replied, and then waited a moment before adding with a grin, “We’re not moving yet.”
Trevor helped haul up the anchors, but let Joel handle getting underway, including unfurling and trimming the sails.
As they headed out to sea from their anchorage on the north side of Capri, Joel said, “The channel between here and the mainland is the shortest route, but that’d put us in the wind shadow of Capri, so I’ll take us around the west cape.”
“You’re learning,” Trevor said from his beanbag, watching Joel at the helm.
“Could you get the phone? We’ve got to call Lisa, and cell phones have a range of only a few miles,” Joel said.
Trevor pointed at the towering cliffs. “No problem this time. There are cell towers up there, and cells work fine line-of-sight, way past the normal few miles. With the towers up that high, we should be okay for twenty miles or more. That’s why they say if you’re in a remote area and need to get a cell signal, climb a mountain,” Trevor said, as he walked inside to get the phone.
Lisa parked in Bridget’s driveway and walked up to the massive portico, where she rang the bell. She’d tried earlier, only to find no answer from the doorbell or Bridget’s cell. Lisa waited for thirty seconds, and then pushed the button again, hearing the melodic chimes inside.
After a third try, Lisa was turning to leave, when she heard the door open.
“Hello Lisa, this is a surprise. How was the interview?” Bridget asked, smiling as she stood aside to let Lisa in.
When they reached the kitchen, Lisa sat down and told Bridget about the interview in detail. When Lisa was done, she sighed, and then added, “I don’t have a good feeling about this. Officer Gonzalez was friendly enough at first, but then he really started pushing. He kind of dodged my questions about making it safe for Trevor to come home, and then he wanted Trevor’s location so he could send the Italian coast guard after him!”
Bridget nodded. “The police can be like that; focusing on their case, to the exclusion of all else. The main thing is that they are after the killer, and I do believe that’s exactly what he is,” Bridget said, certain in her belief that Dirk had killed Rachel Carlson.
“What do I tell Trevor? Should I have him call, or not?” Lisa asked.
“My suggestion would be to have him wait a day or so, to see what happens. Any idea when he’ll call you?”
“He should be calling in an hour or two. I guess I’ll tell him to wait on the phone call to the police.”
Bridget got up to serve some coffee, and as she poured, she said, “Make certain that Trevor stays in frequent contact with you. The next few days could be critical. Did the police see to your protection?”
Lisa nodded. “They did. There was a police cruiser parked across from my house when I went to the interview.”
“It was high time that they saw to that. At least their presence should put your mind, and your father’s, at ease,” Bridget said, as she placed a coffee cup in front of Lisa, and then sat down with her own.
Lisa saw something moving outside, and looked out the window, seeing a large powerboat pulling away from Bridget’s dock. “Is someone taking your boat?” Lisa asked.
Bridget smiled and shook her head. “That’s not mine. I have little use for the dock, so I let friends use it sometimes. It’s a convenient place to tie up, right off the Intercoastal Waterway. Trevor tied up there overnight before he left, and hopefully, he can soon do so again.”
Relaxing a little, Lisa broached the subject of tennis, an interest she shared with Bridget. They chatted about the game for the next twenty minutes, until Lisa’s phone rang.
“You’re early, and I love you,” she said, guessing that it was Joel based on the ‘no caller ID’ display.
“I love you too. We just sailed, and I’m at the helm,” Joel replied, as he motioned for Trevor to share the phone.
“Don’t run into anything,” Lisa said, her mood lightening. “It’s so good to hear your voice. I miss you.”
“I miss you too. Are you doing okay?” Joel asked.
Lisa confirmed that Trevor could hear, and gave them a recount of her interview. When she was done, she added, “I didn’t like how it went, and I sure didn’t like the idea of sending the Italian Coast Guard after you.”
“I’m a minor and a runaway, so I wonder what their procedure is in a case like this? Drag me home and damn the consequences? That might be the easiest thing for their case, but I could still lose Atlantis. Unless I can be certain that Atlantis and I will be safe, I’m not coming home, no matter what that cop tells me to do.”
“Can you stay in daily contact with me for a few days? Bridget thinks something might develop quickly,” Lisa asked.
Trevor shared a glance with Joel, who shrugged. “I think so. We just left port. I think we’ll be able to call you late tomorrow afternoon, our time,” Trevor replied, and then after a moment’s thought, added, “I’ll make sure we’re able to call by seven tomorrow night at the latest, even if we have to use engines.”
Lisa glanced at Bridget, and asked her, “Is there anything you want to tell them?”
“I’d like to say hello,” Bridget replied, with a smile. Lisa handed her the phone, and Bridget said, “Hello, Trevor and Joel. I hope you are enjoying Italy and not letting these legal wranglings get you down?”
“We’re having a great time, and we bought some of the cheese you recommended, from a little supermarket. We tried that dessert, too... I can’t remember the name–”
Joel grinned. “Tiramisu. We had it in a little restaurant, right on the beach, next to a funicular station. Every time the train went past, the table vibrated, but the food was fantastic!” Joel said.
Bridget smiled, and after a few seconds, she said, “You’ll be within cell phone range tomorrow, and for the next couple of days, correct?”
Trevor, in spite of being on the phone, nodded as he checked the navigational display of their proposed course. “Yeah, we’ll be close to shore for about two days after tomorrow afternoon, but then we’ll be out of contact for a couple of days before we get to Greece. Sorry, I’d rather not say exactly where we’ll be, just in case.”
“No need, Trevor, and I fully understand. Now, one other thing; make certain to try the gelato, which is a type of ice cream. It is superb, most especially the rum-raisin, which is Malaga in Italian.”
After wishing Trevor and Joel well, Bridget handed the phone back to Lisa, and then said with a wink, “I’ll be in the living room, so you can talk in private.”
Trevor talked to Lisa for a few moments, and then Joel jumped in to say, “Lisa, remember what you said when we were in the shopping mall? I thought you were kidding, but he’s really doing it!”
Trevor gave Joel a puzzled look, knowing that it was a setup of some sort, but not what.
“What’s Trev done now?” Lisa asked, chuckling.
“He’s making me wear the red speedos, just like you said,” Joel replied, with a mock pout.
Trevor snatched the phone away and dashed a few feet from Joel before replying, “He’s lying, as usual,” Trevor said, laughing as he looked at Joel’s raised middle finger. “He just flipped me off, too.”
“Is he really wearing them?” Lisa asked.
“Yeah, but it was his idea, not mine.”
Joel couldn’t leave the helm, so he yelled, “It’s sexual harassment!”
“That’s his favorite phrase,” Trevor said, deadpan.
Lisa laughed, imagining the antics. “Play nice, you two,” she said, and then lowered her voice. “I’ll bet he looks awesome, I wish I could see. That’s a hint by the way, Trev.”
“Gotcha. He’s not exactly shy, so this should be easy, hold on,” Trevor replied, and then aimed the phone’s camera at Joel.
Joel held up his hand, “Wait a second,” he said, brushing his windblown hair out of his face. “Okay.”
Joel stood proudly at the port helm, his chest puffed out, grinning at the camera, with the western cliffs of Capri in the background. Trevor took the shot. “Okay, Lisa, I’m sending it now,” Trevor said, after returning the phone to his ear.
Lisa looked at the photo as it appeared on the phone’s tiny screen. “Thanks, Trev.”
Trevor handed the phone to Joel, who said to Lisa, “See? More sexual harassment. I put on speedos and he’s taking pictures of me.”
“It was my idea, and if you want some real sexual harassment, just wait until you get back,” Lisa said, chuckling.
“I can’t wait,” Joel said, as Trevor headed forward to check the foresail, though his real reason was to give Joel and Lisa a bit of privacy.
As soon as Trevor was out of earshot, Joel put the privacy to good use. “Trev just went forward. I tried to hook him up with a waiter we met where we had dinner last night, but the waiter wasn’t there, damn it. I’ll try again somewhere else. Anyhow, I’ve got an idea for somewhere a few stops ahead, unless we can head for home soon. I sure hope we can. But no matter what, I’ll see you in a few weeks. I love you so much it hurts, and I miss you,” Joel said.
“I love you too, and I miss you every minute. You just have fun, okay? I’m slowly working on my dad. I think he’s starting to come around about you. The good news is his vacation will be over by the time you get back, but I hope he will see us as something permanent by then.”
“Me too,” Joel replied, nodding and smiling to himself.
Officer Gonzales slammed the phone down and stared out of his window for a few seconds. He put the fax from the British Customs Service, which showed, as he’d expected, Trevor’s entry into Gibraltar, in his briefcase. With a sigh, he stalked down the hallway to Detective Alfred’s office.
“You look steamed,” Detective Alfred observed.
“That ain’t the half of it. I’ve been in the phone to the Cocoa Beach guys for the past twenty minutes. They went to make the arrest at the lawyer’s house, and they found the car in the garage but that’s it. I did a little checking... the lawyer’s office says he’s away but won’t say where. When pressed, they say they don’t know. So, we’ve got a vanished lawyer and client, but that tracking device indicates our suspect spends a hell of a lot of time at that house. My guess is, when we find one, we’ll find the other. I’ve asked for the credit and phone records to be run, so we’ll see what happens. I checked for a passport, and Carlson doesn’t have one, but he can still cross into Canada or Mexico easy enough, or the Bahamas or damn near anywhere else if he’s got access to a boat,” Officer Gonzalez said, leaning back to stare at the ceiling.
“What about the lawyer? Have you checked his records yet?”
Officer Gonzalez shook his head. “Nope, he’s not the suspect and I’d have to go through the F.B.I. for some of this. They can be kind of particular when it comes to investigating the suspect’s lawyer.”
Detective Alfred nodded, and pushed a pad and paper across the desk. “Give me the lawyer’s name and address. I can call in a few favors, and maybe have someone take an unofficial look at the records. No promises, and it might take a day or two, but I’ll see what I can do.”
“Thanks,” Officer Gonzalez said, as he wrote down Jim’s name and address.
When Lisa returned home, she found her father waiting. “Hi Pumpkin. How did it go?” he asked.
Lisa sat down, and told her father everything that had happened, including how she felt about the interview.
Taking a deep breath, Robert prepared himself for an argument. “You should have told him where Trevor and Joel are.”
Lisa bristled. “No, I shouldn’t, and I won’t. Trevor is a runaway; they could put him in some kind of custody. Until we know it’s safe, no way. Anyhow, they’re having a great time. I would be too, if I was there,” she said pointedly. Then she added, “They’ll be in Greece soon. You know I’ve always wanted to see the Greek Islands. Can I go, just for a little while, please? It won’t cost you anything.”
“Except my sanity,” Robert replied. Then, in a quieter tone, he explained, “Pumpkin, it’s not safe, not with Dirk Carlson trying to find Trevor. For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t let you go even if Joel wasn’t there. Not under these conditions.”
Lisa looked sadly at her cell phone. “I miss Joel, and Trevor too. Look at the fun they’re having,” Lisa said, and then showed her father the two pictures of Trevor with the monkey on his back. Her mood lightening, and hoping to somehow persuade her father to let her go, Lisa showed her father the photo of Joel at the helm. “When you were my age, how would you feel if you knew you could be there too, seeing the Mediterranean from a yacht?”
Robert laughed, he couldn’t help it. “Those two are hilarious. That’s Gibraltar, isn’t it?”
Lisa nodded. “Yeah, how did you know that?”
Robert smiled sadly. “I’ve always dreamed of traveling. So did your mother, when we were first married. We used to look at travel films a lot. I guess I should have never got her that one on France.”
“There is no Hell, there is only France,” Lisa said, repeating one of her favorite quotes.
Robert chuckled. “I’ll have to write that down. I love it.” He glanced at Joel’s photo again, spotting something that Lisa hadn’t. “And that’s Capri. That headland’s profile is almost as famous as Gibraltar’s. The Villa Jovi is on top of it.”
Lisa wasn’t happy that her father knew where the photo had been taken, and decided to try dissembling a little. With a shrug, she said, “I knew they were in the Naples area, but that was a couple of days ago. I’m not sure when that was taken. I’d have loved to have seen Capri.”
Robert was growing irked by the continual prods, and replied, “Lisa, ease off on that. You aren’t going. I’m sorry, but that’s the way it is.”
Lisa scowled, her temper simmering. “Actually, I’m going anyway. Trevor said we could go anywhere I want for my next birthday, and I’m picking the Mediterranean. The issue with his father will be over by then, so there won’t be any danger. We’ll have all summer, just Trevor, me, Joel, and hopefully Trev will have a boyfriend by then. If not, just the three of us.”
“Absolutely not,” Robert replied.
Lisa glared at her father, furious because, as she saw it, his adamant response proved that his objections had nothing to do with her safety. “I’ll be eighteen and you can’t stop me. I’m going.” As soon as she’d said it, she realized that what she was doing wouldn’t help her father accept Joel, but she was running on anger.
“Not while you’re living under my roof,” Robert shot back.
“Fine,” Lisa replied. “Joel and I are going to college together anyway, so I’ll just move out on my birthday.”
Growing angry, Robert yelled, “You’re forgetting who controls your college trust fund.”
Lisa shrugged and headed for her room, saying over her shoulder, “All that would mean is I don’t get to attend college, but I’ll still be getting a place with Joel.”
Robert heard Lisa door slam, hard enough to rattle the crockery in the kitchen, which did nothing to improve his mood.
From a hilltop balcony, near the mainland town of Scilla, Jim looked down on the sparkling waters of the Strait of Messina: the busy strait, just two miles wide, that separates the Italian mainland from the island of Sicily. The marine radio in Jim’s hand crackled constantly, giving him an ear into the constant chatter on VHF 16. One of Jim’s hopes was that Trevor would use ‘Atlantis’ as his call sign, as required by marine procedures. Jim knew that, almost certainly, Trevor would be transiting the strait. The eastbound circumnavigation was what made Jim so sure; from the Naples area, the only other route would be around the western tip of Sicily, and then back again to near the southern mouth of the Strait of Messina, a detour of many hundreds of miles.
The radio was just one part of Jim’s plan. The other was the pair of binoculars in his hand. From his vantage point, he could look north, past the northern mouth of the strait, into the Tyrrhenian Sea. That was the direction Atlantis would be coming from, and Jim was relatively confident that he could spot the big cruising catamaran well before it reached the strait.
Jim’s two worries were that the clear weather would end, or that Trevor would attempt a night passage. He tried to shove those thoughts aside, reasoning that there was nothing he could do about it.
As the morning passed, Jim scanned the sea, seeing dozens of ships of all shapes and sizes, but not one that was a close match for the twin-hulled, sloped-windowed Atlantis.
He was uneasy, in the extreme. He glanced at the laptop on the table, remembering the words of an e-mail he now knew by heart. It had arrived, less than a day before, forwarded by his office from an anonymous sender. It was as brief as it was suspicious;
To whom it may concern,
Trevor Carlson and Atlantis sailed from Capri three hours ago, bound for the Strait of Messina, for an anticipated transit in the late afternoon, local time, Tuesday. He is attempting an eastbound circumnavigation of the world, prior to returning to home waters and recommencing his search for the wreck of the Ares.
The mysterious e-mail had badly rattled Jim. He had told no one of his trip to Italy or his plan to find Trevor. He himself hadn’t known that the Strait of Messina would be the best place to try until he’d paid a visit to the Marina di Stabia.
“Does someone know I’m here, and if so, how?” Jim muttered, staring at his laptop. ‘And more to the point, why did they send me that?’
Several conflicting theories played through Jim’s mind, as they had, almost non-stop, since he’d received the disquieting e-mail. One possibility was that it was a diversion; Trevor, or someone on his side, wanted to deflect Jim from Trevor’s real course.
The other possibility was that Robert Whitaker had sent the information – it was precisely what the lawsuit was demanding – but that made little sense; why would he do so anonymously, instead of doing it openly and ridding himself of the lawsuit?
The latter theory was the one Jim favored; it did not require the sender to have knowledge of Jim’s plans or whereabouts. ‘Occam’s Razor: the simplest explanation is the most likely one,’ he thought, trying to make sense of it.
With no way to determine the message’s provenance or veracity, Jim did the only thing he could, and continued his afternoon vigil.
“Remember, stay on the wet stuff, the water, not the tall rocky stuff, which is land,” Trevor said, tapping at the portside helm navigational display.
“I think I know that much; I didn’t hit the island of Stromboli, did I?” Joel said, chuckling and flipping Trevor off. “Besides, you’ll be back before we make port, right?”
“I’d better be, or you’ll wreck us for sure,” Trevor shot back. They both knew they were a couple of hours from making port.
“Go take your goddamn shower, you stink,” Joel said, holding his nose.
“Have fun, and remember, stay on the wet stuff,” Trevor replied, turning and heading into the salon.
Joel watched Trevor go, smiling. The winds had begun to die, as the forecast had warned. Atlantis was making only four knots, but Joel loved being at the helm, feeling the boat respond to his commands as he guided her across the sea.
Jim, focusing on one of the distant dots near the horizon, one of several that were clearly heading in the direction of the north end of the strait. It was just one of several, but he could tell that it was wider. He stood up, and moved to the railing, placing the binoculars on a folded towel atop the railing, to steady them. He moved the focus wheel with his thumb, trying to bring the distant dot, over twelve miles away, into sharper focus. It was the fifth likely candidate he’d seen that day.
After a few seconds, the image popped into sharp detail, and he could make out the twin hulls. ‘A catamaran, a big one, but I’ve seen a few of those already,’ he thought, and then glanced at the picture of Atlantis, which showed her under sail. He returned to studying the distant catamaran, with Atlantis’s picture in mind, trying to match the bits of detail he could see. ‘Ah, a big cat, with a mainsail and smaller foresail...’ Jim fiddled with the focus wheel again, and for a moment, he thought he could see the sloped forward wall of the salon as one of its windows glinted in the sun. ‘They’d need to be sloped back for me to catch a sun glint at this angle’, he thought, his pulse beginning to quicken.
Jim checked the photo again, and then watched for a couple of minutes, trying to be sure. “Gotcha,” he said aloud, with more conviction than he felt.
Jim studied Atlantis through the binoculars for a few moments more, and then reached for the handheld marine radio. From sea level, it wouldn’t have enough range, but from his position, several hundred feet above sea level, he knew that wasn’t an issue. Aware that he was about to commit a crime, Jim paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and then pressed the transmit key. “Atlantis, Atlantis, Atlantis, this is Trieste calling sailing catamaran Atlantis, we are astern of you and request radio check, Atlantis, Atlantis, Atlantis, this is Trieste requesting radio check, over,”
Joel, at the helm, stared at the radio, hesitating for a moment, glancing at the several yachts roughly astern at various distances, before keying the microphone. “Trieste, Atlantis copies, over.”
“Atlantis, thank you for the radio check. Over and out.” Jim snatched up the marine radio, and with the binoculars still in hand, raced out of the hotel room to his car.
It was only a five-minute drive to the little marina, but to Jim, it felt like forever. Tearing through the cramped, winding streets of Scilla, he relied on his GPS to lead him back to the dock. When he arrived, he raced for the twenty-foot powerboat he’d rented the day before.
Leaping aboard, he cast off, and as he fired up the engines and turned for the channel, he looked out to sea, seeing no sign of Atlantis. “Shit, I can’t see as far from down here,” he swore under his breath, kicking himself for overlooking that obvious flaw in his plan.
As he raced past the breakwater and accelerated to twenty knots, Jim began to calm down. ‘I know where he’s probably going, so all I have to do is wait,’ he thought.
As he neared the entrance to the strait, Jim spotted the oncoming catamaran, still hull-down on the horizon, but heading for him. After waiting just long enough to be sure that it was his target, Jim turned out to sea, heading north, on a course that would take him two miles off Atlantis’s port beam.
Jim slowed as he came abeam, and from two miles away, satisfied himself that he was indeed looking at the Atlantis. He advanced his throttles, continuing to three miles astern of Atlantis, and then circling back, trailing her, as he throttled back to close the gap at a leisurely pace.
Half a mile astern of Atlantis, Jim throttled back some more, pacing her, and he was able to see, through his binoculars, Atlantis’s name on the aft edge of her wing, in big blue letters. For the first time in days, Jim grinned.
Jim studied Atlantis through the binoculars, seeing the blowing blond hair and tan back of the person at the helm. Assuming that it was Trevor, Jim reached for the handheld marine radio, making certain that is was still monitoring channel sixteen. His plan was to trail Atlantis through the strait, and follow her into port if she stopped. If she didn’t stop, he intended to intercept her at sea.
Joel glanced around, wondering which of the ships in sight was Trieste, and was about to reach for the binoculars when he was startled by a heavy splash against his bare back. Shuddering as he felt the sudden icy knives of cold, Joel spun sideways, flailing and swatting at the icy water. Stumbling on the ice cubes that now littered the cockpit deck, Joel spotted the source of his torment, Trevor, standing in the salon door, with the now-empty bar ice bucket in his hands. “You bastard, that was fucking cold! I’ll get you for that!” Joel yelled, shivering and picking up an ice cube to hurl it at Trevor.
“Ice water usually is,’ Trevor replied, laughing and ducking.
“I’m gonna drown you,” Joel roared, giving chase for a few steps, and then returning to his post at the helm.
“I think the same thing, every time you have the con,” Trevor replied, still laughing.
“You wasted all our ice,” Joel said, pointing at the melting cubes.
“I didn’t use much, just enough to chill down a bucket of water,” Trevor replied, grinning like a manic.
Joel shook his head and shuddered, feeling the ice water that now drenched the back of his shorts. “I guess I’m lucky you didn’t sneak into my cabin in the middle of the night and dump it in bed with me... let me guess, you thought of that, but didn’t want to damage the mattress?”
Trevor nodded. “Bingo.”
“I hope you realize that this is sexual harassment?” Joel said, in an accusing tone.
“This, I’ve got to hear,” Trevor replied.
Joel pointed at his shorts. “It caused big time shrinkage, and that makes it sexual. It’s sure as hell harassment, so that makes it sexual harassment.”
Trevor shook his head “That’s weak, even for you, and I got you in the back, not the front, which raises interesting questions about your obviously bizarre anatomy.”
“I’ll get you for this later, count on it, monkey boy,” Joel replied, flipping Trevor off and laughing. “Okay, we’re five miles off Scilla. Are you going to trust me to take Atlantis in after what you just did to me?”
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, because I know you love her, and you wouldn’t hurt her.”
“Yeah, she doesn’t abuse me, unlike her cruel and tyrannical captain,” Joel said with a pout.
“You’d have done it to me, if you’d thought of it first,” Trevor replied, with a knowing smirk.
Joel considered that for a moment. “No point in denying the obvious, I guess.”
Half an hour later, Atlantis was still southbound, heading towards the mouth of the strait, just four miles ahead. Jim scanned with the binoculars, watching in surprise as Atlantis changed bearing, turning to port, cutting across the sea-lanes toward the Italian mainland. Jim looked carefully at Atlantis’s bearing, and that gave him the answer ‘Looks like he’s heading for Scilla. I didn’t need to rent this damn boat after all; I could have watched him all the way in and driven there.’
Trevor and Joel’s happy, relaxed banter continued until they reached Scilla’s harbor, where Trevor proudly watched Joel handle berthing Atlantis at the public dock, without any need for advice.
Jim loitered offshore in the small powerboat, watching Atlantis through his binoculars until she was moored. Then, he eased the throttles forward, heading into Scilla’s small port.
Motoring up to the public dock, ninety feet shoreward of Atlantis, Jim came in, just a bit too fast, scraping the bow of his nameless powerboat against the dock. “Damn, I’m more out of practice than I thought,” he muttered, and then struggled a little to tie up.
Aboard Atlantis, Joel headed for his cabin to wash up and change. He was looking forward to seeing the town of Scilla, which hugged the steep hillsides, looking very much like something out of a picture postcard – which indeed it was. When he came back out, shorts on and shirt in hand, he was toweling his hair. He stopped to look over Trevor’s shoulder at the navigation desk, and asked, “How do things look for tomorrow?”
Trevor glanced again at the forecast. “Not good for winds. We’ll transit the strait on engines, and if we go at nine in the morning, we’ll be riding a southbound current of about four knots, then pull into port or anchor overnight on the Sicilian coast. After that, we can motor across to the mainland side and round the toe, see another town, then by Friday, we’ll have strong winds out of the west, all the way to Greece.”
“Cool, sounds awesome,” Joel said, as he strolled out into the cockpit, still toweling his hair, his mind on the town they were about to see. It took him a second to realize that he wasn’t alone. He snapped his head up, looking at the rugged, handsome, unfamiliar face just a few feet away.
“Hello, Trevor,” Jim said. It was an understandable mistake; he’d never met either Trevor or Joel, and all Jim had to go on was the photos of Trevor he’d seen. Joel, with his face half-covered by his hair, was a close enough match to Trevor for the error to be a natural one. “You’re not an easy guy to find,” Jim said, reaching into the pocket of the jacket he’d worn on that hot and sultry day.
“Now you’ve found me, who are you and what do you want?” Joel asked, standing his ground and letting the mistaken identity stand, trying to protect Trevor.