When they were done with customs and checking in, Joel pointed inland at the busy city of Paphos. “They’ll have a grocery store close by, and you need to restock after that charter.”
Trevor shrugged. “I want to get the food here and not Egypt, but I can get to it after you go. Besides, I’ve still got all that canned stuff.”
“Canned hot dogs and generic pork chili,” Joel said, wrinkling his nose. “Trev, I’m taking you grocery shopping. I want to be sure you’ll eat okay; it’s not like you’ll have someone who knows how to cook aboard.”
“Implying that I can’t?” Trevor asked, chuckling.
Joel shook his head. “Just stating the unarguable fact. I want to see what we can get you that doesn’t require any skill, due to you not having any in the galley. I also want to make you lasagna or something to freeze. I want to go to a big supermarket so there’s a lot to choose from, and get you stocked. We’ll need to make sure we can get a taxi back, too.”
The two guys headed for their cabins to change. Trevor chose cargo shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt, and returned to the salon.
Joel joined him a few moments later, wearing the red running shorts he’d purchased in Italy.
They pulled on their shoes and grabbed their skateboards, and then dashed ashore. At the yacht club, they booked a taxi for Joel’s flight, and then asked for one to take them to a large supermarket.
When they arrived, they asked the taxi driver to return in an hour and a half, and then they each took a cart and began loading up; canned soups, a collection of microwavable frozen dinners, two cases of cup-a-noodles, oranges, cereal, dried milk, coffee, and everything else that either of them could think of for Trevor’s long voyage.
They wheeled the two full shopping carts to the register, where Joel demanded his wallet from Trevor and insisted on paying. The taxi was waiting, and by sunset, they were back at the dock.
They hauled the groceries into the salon, and after peeling off their shirts in the sweltering afternoon heat, began sorting and stowing.
The starboard forward cabin again found use as a pantry, and by the time they were done, Trevor said, “I might buy some fresh fruit in the Seychelles or Rodrigues, but this should get me to Australia with no problems with a large safety margin. I wonder what the food is like in Australia?”
Joel fished some beers out of the refrigerator and handed one to Trevor before replying, “I have no idea. I know they have something called Vegemite, which looks disgusting, but they make it from brewer’s yeast, so I want to try it. There’s a restaurant chain back home that claims to serve Australian food, but my dad says it’s not Australian at all.”
“So your dad has been to Australia?” Trevor asked, heading for the salon.
Joel nodded. “Yeah, on a business trip, before I was born. He hasn’t said much about it, but he’s never liked traveling all that much, probably because he has to go on so many business trips. His idea of a vacation is setting up a lounger by the pool in the back yard and relaxing.”
“I wonder if they eat kangaroo?” Trevor asked, as he turned on a fan and sat down.
Joel shrugged and sat down next to Trevor. “Maybe, but probably not often, more like a specialty food, sort of like rattlesnake is in Arizona. I doubt they raise kangaroos for meat. As far as I know, they only use ‘em for delivering the mail.”
Trevor laughed, hard. “Those pouches have their uses, huh? Hey,” Trevor said, flicking his thumb in the direction of the cockpit, where his boards were locked in their rack underneath the cockpit’s hard awning, “guess what else Australia has? Waves! We haven’t had the right conditions for surfing since we’ve been in the Med, but we’ll be able to put my boards to use in Australia.”
“That sounds great,” Joel said, and then he gave Trevor a wicked grin. “I just thought of something... you’re half Australian. You better keep that to yourself while you’re there, or the Aussies will shove you back into the ocean to keep you from giving them all a bad name.”
“You asshole,” Trevor replied with a laugh, elbowing Joel, and then taking another drink of cold beer. “I’m going to open up some vents and the salon door to try to cool it off in here; I’m roasting, it’s over ninety. We’re not on dock power, but I could run the generator so we could have some air conditioning; your choice.”
Joel stood up to help with the vents. “I’m fine; these running shorts are a lot cooler than boardies. I’ve got two pairs, so I’ll leave these for you. It’ll be a furnace in the Suez and the Red Sea, so you’ll need ‘em. I’ll leave you the tank top I wore today too; that way there’s no need to do any laundry before I go.”
“Thanks man,” Trevor replied, opening the salon door, and then freezing, staring blankly at nothing for a moment. “Wait... You just said I’m half Australian, because my mom was from there... that got me thinking... I can’t get emancipated in Florida without Dad’s okay – not unless he’s charged with a felony – but what about Australia? I wonder if I have any right of residency or anything, because of my mom? Dad promised he’d emancipate me, but if he won’t, and starts causing trouble again, maybe I’ve got a way out.”
Trevor booted one of his laptops and signed into the yacht club’s pay WiFi system, and then began searching for information. He found it on the fourth page he checked. “Looks like I can do this if I have to; all it requires for me to claim Australian citizenship is for one of my parents to be an Australian citizen when I was born, and Mom was.”
After searching some more, Trevor frowned. “Now the bad news... I can’t find anything that says they have emancipated minors in Australia. But, I do have relatives there, and Dad is a suspect in Mom’s murder, so maybe, if I have to, I can get a lawyer and see if I can get temporary asylum for a few months, until I’m eighteen, if Dad goes after Atlantis again.”
Joel thought about that for a few moments. “Maybe, but if you do that, you kind of open yourself up to losing Atlantis if a judge rules against you. Unless your dad can find you, he can’t do anything, but if you file a case, that could change. If I were you, I wouldn’t do anything without talking to a lawyer first, and maybe not even then if it’s safer to just keep your location a secret from him until your birthday.”
“I guess... Damn, this is confusing. Maybe Dad will keep his promise and emancipate me once I cross the halfway point, and my first landfall after that will be Australia.”
“I hope he does... but you can’t trust him. Hey, I know... Lisa is in tight with Bridget, and she wants to help you, so maybe she’ll have some ideas? How about I talk to her when I get back?” Joel asked.
Trevor hesitated for a moment and then shrugged. “Yeah, can’t hurt. She sounds pretty knowledgeable,” Trevor replied, smiling. “Hey, about Christmas... Where would you be flying into? Perth, right? That’s only a few miles from Fremantle, where I’m heading. Figure out where you want to go while you’re there and I’ll set it up – and no, we can’t go in Atlantis if it’s inland!”
Joel shrugged, and gave Trevor a patently fake innocent smile. “Perth is the biggest city in Western Australia, so that’s where the shops will be, right?”
Trevor rolled his eyes. “You and shopping... but okay, anything you want.”
Joel laughed. “Just a few shopping trips, not the whole three weeks. Even I’m not that bad.”
“Three weeks?” Trevor asked, his eyes opening wide in surprise. “Christmas break is only two weeks.”
Joel grinned. “Yeah, I know, and the semester ends at the start of break, so I’ll need to stay until the last day for finals, but if I miss the first week of a new semester, no big deal. I’ve already cleared that with my parents. They had a few reservations, but I pointed out that I’d learn a hell of a lot more from a week in Australia than I would in the first week of a new semester.”
Trevor narrowed his eyes. “Yeah, except you’d have been there two weeks already anyway. Are you sure my name didn’t come up?”
“Well, yeah, it did... and that was probably why they agreed. They know what you’re going through, and they know you’ll be all alone there. So, long story short, Dad says he has flight reservations for me, leaving from Orlando. The last day of school is Thursday the 21st and it’s a half day, so Lisa will take me right from school to Orlando for the 4:50 flight. I change planes in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Sydney, and get into Perth at two in the afternoon on Saturday.”
“You leave on a Thursday and arrive on a Saturday? Dude, that sounds like the flight from hell... oh wait, the dateline, and they are twelve hours ahead, too... That dateline stuff makes it confusing.”
Joel chuckled. “Yeah, it works the other way coming back.”
Trevor’s smile faded. “Christmas and New Years...are you sure Lisa will be okay with this?”
Joel rolled his eyes and then punched Trevor in the arm. “Don’t be stupid. Yeah, she’s totally fine with this; I already told her. Besides, what she doesn’t know is I got my dad to make reservations for her as well, even though he won’t let her use them without her father’s okay. I’m hoping her father will ease up after we’re engaged and let her go with me.”
“That would be awesome,” Trevor replied, eager to see Lisa again, even though, at a deeper level he would not admit even to himself, he hoped he’d still get some one-on-one time with Joel. “Don’t forget that you’ll need a visa. You can get them online up to a year in advance; they’re called ETAs, electronic visas. That’s what I’ll be doing... and I should probably do it now, in case internet access is hard to get on the rest of my stops.”
Trevor opened the page he’d bookmarked in Gibraltar, and found that all he needed was his passport information and his debit card. The form did not ask for an arrival and departure date. When Trevor was done, Joel filled in one for himself. “I don’t have Lisa’s passport info so I can’t do hers, but I’ll know in plenty of time,” Joel said, as he emailed himself the URL of the page.
When they were both done, they clicked on the “check status” button, and found that the visas were already approved. “We’re going to Australia!” Joel declared, with a big grin.
“And I’ll be there first,” Trevor said, elbowing Joel.
Joel plonked down on the sofa and took another drink of beer. He didn’t show it, but he was worried about Trevor’s long voyage. However, he knew there was nothing constructive that he could say, so he changed the subject. “As long as you pick me up in Atlantis from the airport, I’ll be happy.”
Trevor sat down beside Joel, laughing, “I’ll be there, but as I’m sure you know, it’s inland, and Atlantis doesn’t do well on land.”
“Only due to a glaring deficiency on the part of her captain,” Joel quipped.
Trevor shook his head. “You’re impossible... so, what do you want to do tomorrow? Something that doesn’t include taking Atlantis overland, please.”
Joel smiled, and then shrugged. “Hang around with you on Atlantis, of course. I need to pack but that’ll only take a few minutes. The flight is at a screwy hour; three in the morning, so that means getting to the airport around midnight. No point in trying to sleep tomorrow night, not until I’m on the plane. I want to make a big lasagna tomorrow afternoon and freeze a bunch for you; it’s probably the only decent cooking you’ll get until I get to Australia.”
“Hey, I’m not that bad in the galley,” Trevor replied, and then added, softly, “But thanks, your lasagna is awesome.”
With the sun down, the temperature cooled a little, so Trevor and Joel, by then on their fifth beers, launched into a round of video games.
By midnight, a few more beers later, they were buzzed and tired. Joel glanced at his beer and remarked in a sad tone, “There’s about two cases left, and neither of us will be old enough to buy in Australia, damn it, so it’s a good thing your bar is stocked. I’ll move the beer to the bilge tomorrow; it’s the coolest unrefrigerated place aboard, so I hope it’ll keep okay.”
“What if I drink all the alcohol before you get to Australia?” Trevor asked, with an evil smile.
Joel feigned a look of horror. “Then I’ll have no choice but to mutiny, due to the inhuman conditions aboard,” Joel declared.
Trevor laughed. “I’ll be finding my relatives when I get there; maybe I can talk one of them into scoring us some Australian beer.”
Joel nodded eagerly. “Yeah, that would be great. I’d hate to miss out on trying that while I’m there.”
The conversation rolled on, neither of them wanting it to end, but it had been a long day and the beer was making them even drowsier. Trevor yawned, stretching and standing up. “It’s nearly one, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I’ve gotta crash.”
Joel drained the last of his beer, and stood up. “Yeah, me too,” he said, and then added in an offhand way, “Follow me.”
Joel padded into his cabin, and Trevor, puzzled, followed. When Trevor entered the cabin, he found Joel lying on the double bed, fingers laced behind his neck, grinning.
Suspecting a prank, Trevor asked, “Why did you get me in here?”
“We can both sleep in here,” Joel replied.
“Who gets the floor?” Trevor asked, wondering what Joel was getting at.
“Nobody. Trev, you once told me you always wanted to sleep – just sleep – with a guy, but never have. Pete never stayed overnight, and you and Thorsten stayed up all night having sex. So, now seemed like a good time, because this is something I don’t mind doing with you. This isn’t anything to do with sex, so our shorts stay on, it’s just sleep,” Joel said softly.
Trevor blinked in surprise, and then asked, “Are you sure you’re not just buzzed?”
Joel laughed. “I’m not that buzzed, and I thought of this when I was sober. Turn the light off and get in.”
Trevor gave Joel a smile, clicked off the light, and climbed in beside him.
Joel pulled Trevor into a gentle, easy embrace, and as they lay facing each other, Joel whispered, “You do know I’m going to scream ‘sexual harassment’ about this, right?”
Trevor chuckled. “This was your idea, remember?”
Joel shrugged, and patted Trevor’s bare back. “Since when has that ever stopped me?” Joel fell silent, listening to Trevor’s breathing, and feeling how still he was. “You’re stressing, I know you are. I’ve shared beds with my other brothers before, on trips and stuff, so this isn’t a big deal. It’s just sleep, Trev.”
Trevor smiled, and reached down to pull the sheet up over them both. He then returned his arm to its place around Joel. Settling his head on the pillow, inches from Joel’s, Trevor said, “Okay, and thanks.”
“G’night, Trev,” Joel said, in a sleepy voice.
There was something that they both knew, but that neither of them would mention; Joel had decided to do this, in part, because of a nagging fear that if things went badly on the voyage, Trevor might never get another chance.
Trevor lay in the dark, listening as Joel’s breathing became slow and steady.
Eventually, Trevor drifted off to sleep, only to wake up the first few times Joel moved. Finally, Trevor grew accustomed to Joel’s occasional movement, and slept soundly.
In the outskirts of Cairo, what appeared to be a small, nondescript electronics store, with an apartment over the top, sat on a dusty, sun-baked side street. The store was merely a cover. The main business was shipping; it was one of the cartel’s hubs for heroin and hashish. However, its operators did not limit themselves to the drug trade; they would do most anything, for the right price. Their dealings had, from time to time, included weapons and explosives for several terrorist organizations.
They had been notified by Sanchez to expect the delivery of the bomb components via express delivery, and the parcel arrived, together with many legitimate ones. The bomb components, labeled merely ‘electronics’, had attracted no interest from customs. Even if they had, there was nothing within – with the exception of the slightly incongruous empty propane tank – to arouse suspicion.
Bes – an Egyptian name, meaning ‘bringer of joy’ – was a small, graying, bespectacled man, as outwardly innocuous in appearance as the store he pretended to own. He was the shop’s ostensible proprietor and the actual head of the illicit operation. He read Sanchez’s instructions carefully; the offer was a generous one, and Bes decided to handle the assignment personally.
One complicating factor was the explosives. The instruction to use one available in Italy was an unusual specification, and Sanchez had not given his reasons. For Bes, this presented a problem; he had limited access to explosives. Acquiring certain types, such as Semtex, was easy, though time consuming and expensive. He had grave doubts regarding Semtex’s availability on the Italian black market, so he decided that an old cache of mining dynamite he had on hand would suffice. Dynamite, he knew, was in widespread use worldwide, and so would surely be available in Italy. The large capacity of the propane tank would easily accommodate all eight sticks with room to spare.
The dynamite had been stolen years before, and Bes had not found a buyer for it; his occasional customers for explosives preferred the more compact and powerful military-grade high explosives. Bes had buried the sticks of dynamite under his shed, and there they had lain for over a decade. Bes smiled to himself, happy that he would be so well paid for an item he had doubted he could ever sell.
He knew he had ample time, but he was not an expert in bomb making, so he preferred to begin right away. His first task was to ensure that the propane tank was empty, and then flush it out with compressed air. Then, he steamed off the label and carefully cut the tank in two with a fine-bladed metal saw... it was the first step in a process that would take him over three hours.
When he was done, Bes smiled with pride at what he had created. The bomb’s design was simple; the dynamite, with detonator caps installed, rested in the bottom half of the tank. The stolen satellite phone was nestled in the other end, housed in a small box of thick steel plate. The plating was there for one reason; to protect the phone’s traceable components from the bomb blast.
The satellite phone was the trigger, wired to two detonators on the bundle of eight sticks of dynamite. The phone was powered by two large laptop computer batteries, wired in parallel, their voltage and amperage stepped down to suit the phone’s needs. They would provide more than ample operational time.
The only complicated issue was the phone’s antenna: the metal of the propane tank would block the signal.
Bes knew how to solve that dilemma; with an external antenna. He made use of the store’s stock of electronic components and accessories, selecting an external magnetic mount antenna, designed to be attached to the top of a car’s roof. It was tiny, just a square with rounded-off corners, barely two and a half inches on a side, and half an inch thick. Bes removed the magnet and measured the device directly against his collection of hole saws. Choosing one that was just a fraction of an inch larger, he chose his location: the top of the tank, near the guard around the valve. He cut the hole carefully, and then used a file to trim the burrs.
Bes mounted the antenna flush with the inner edges of the hole, and then applied epoxy over it. Epoxy, unlike metal, is transparent to radio waves.
Bes waited until the epoxy had set, and then sanded it down so that it was flush with the outer surface of the tank. He took great care to maintain the tank’s curvature, and when he was done, the antenna was covered only by a thin layer of epoxy.
It would be a simple but effective bomb, and Bes was quite pleased with it.
The only remaining tasks needed to ready the bomb were to connect the power wire, assemble the two halves of the tank with epoxy, repaint it with metal-free paint, and re-apply the label. Bes knew that the battery’s life was finite, and he had not been informed of the timeframes involved, so he decided to delay the final assembly until he received his delivery instructions from Sanchez.
The satellite phone had not been activated with the satellite company, but Bes knew that was not an issue; the Iridium phone was dual mode; cellular and satellite, and Bes knew that most of the Suez Canal had excellent cellular reception. Activating an account so that it could receive cellular calls was no problem at all for a store that sold cell phones.
Bes was an expert in electronics, so he was confident that his detonator would work as planned. However, he was not an expert in explosives, or he would have known not to use old dynamite, due to its tendency to become unstable with age. The dynamite had, in its cool hiding place, decomposed slightly. It had not yet begun to sweat nitroglycerin in visible amounts, but exposure to the desert heat made it only a matter of time before it did. Once that occurred, any rough handling of the bomb would set it off instantly, because nitroglycerin in liquid form was one of the most unstable explosives known to man.
The next morning, with the sun well up, Trevor awoke to find himself still on his side, facing Joel, who lay sprawled on his back, with Trevor’s arm draped across his bare chest. Unwilling to move, Trevor lay still, hearing and feeling Joel’s rhythmic breathing.
Eventually, Trevor noticed a change in Joel’s breathing, and watched as Joel’s eyes eased open. Joel rolled his head to look at Trevor, and then mumbled sleepily, “Definitely sexual harassment. What are you doing in here?”
Trevor chuckled, shaking his head. “I know you remember; you weren’t wasted, and this was your idea.”
“Yup, sexual harassment. Just wait until I tell Lisa that I woke up and found you in my bed.”
“You do realize that if she finds out about this, she’ll tease both of us forever, right?” Trevor asked, rolling away from Joel to lie face up, staring at the ceiling.
“Count on it,” Joel replied, chuckling.
“Thanks for this, that was really cool,” Trevor said, in a serious tone.
For the next hour, the two friends lay, side by side, talking about home, their trip, and plans for Australia. Finally, unable to bear the pressure on his bladder any longer, Trevor got up, heading for his cabin bathroom.
When he returned, he found Joel in the galley, with the coffee maker burbling, and Joel digging out the ingredients for lasagna.
For the next few hours, they worked and laughed, enjoying each other’s company while they could.
Once the lasagna was in the oven, Joel said, with a touch of regret, “I guess we better start packing.”
In Joel’s cabin, they laid Joel’s small suitcase out on the bed, and Joel began looking in drawers. “I want to leave my skateboard and some clothes aboard. I’ve got another board at home, and the more I leave here, the more room I’ll have to bring you tortilla chips and whatever else you need. I’ll take the new clothes I’ve bought to show Lisa, but most of what I came with can stay here... except for my swimsuits; I’ll need those for swim season.” Joel grabbed the few small stacks of clothes and laid them in the suitcase, followed by a few souvenirs he’d bought for Lisa and his parents.
“Let me get my stuff for Lisa,” Trevor said, heading off for his cabin and coming back with the wall ornaments he’d bought for her. He gave them to Joel, who arranged the gifts in the case, protecting them with clothes.
“Too bad I can’t take food back. There was some great stuff over here,” Joel said.
“What about sandwiches for the plane?” Trevor asked.
“I’ve got granola bars in my flight bag, and they have fast food in the airports, so I’ll be okay with that and airline food,” Joel replied.
“Where do you want to carry the paperwork, the cash, and the ring?” Trevor asked.
“The cash is less than the ten-thousand limit, so I don’t need to declare or hide it. I’ll pin it in the bottom of a deep pocket in the cargo shorts I’ll be traveling in. It should be safe enough, but I still think I should leave it with you.”
Trevor shook his head. “Thanks but no; I’ve got plenty of cash, and this way you’ll have some in case I get robbed or something.”
The other subject was the ring, so Joel asked, “What’s the deal with jewelry? Can I declare it at customs, or is that a bad idea?”
Trevor didn’t know, so they went to his computer for a search, assuming it would be easy information to find. It wasn’t. All they could find out for certain was that Joel was allowed an eight-hundred dollar exemption, and in some cases duty would be applied for values above that limit. After an hour of searching, the best resource they could find was an arcane database called the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States. They found the subsection for jewelry, but try as they might, they could find nothing for diamond rings. The problem was the convoluted classification system used by the government, and finally Trevor, grunting in exasperation, said, “The closest match seems to be here, for gold jewelry, but they list unmounted stones separately, and I can’t see anywhere for diamonds, except industrial stuff. Looks to me like there’s a tax of six percent on whatever they decide the ring is worth, but I can’t be sure.”
Joel groaned. “So if I declare it, they can pretty well charge whatever they want, which could be a lot, and they could base it on a value of a lot more than I paid, too. I don’t like that idea, at all. Okay, they run you through a metal detector and search you as you get on the plane, so I’ll carry the ring in my flight bag until just before landing in Florida, and then put it in my pocket. I’ll leave the ring box here; I want to use one of the little wooden ones I bought anyway.”
Trevor nodded. “My Mom always used to say, ‘What the government doesn’t know can’t hurt you.’”
Joel laughed, and then studied Trevor for a moment. “I can put the title for your car in my wallet. That shouldn’t need declaring; the car is in the U.S.”
“Let’s get the ring, money, and insurance declaration before we forget,” Trevor said, leading the way outside and to his crew cabin.
Once they had descended the ladder, Trevor locked the hatch and then had Joel open the secret compartment under the bathroom floor.
Joel removed the magnet from the sink and placed it on the floor, listening for the click of the latch. Neither of them wanted to discuss the reason: Trevor was making sure that Joel remembered how to open it, in case Trevor wasn’t around anymore.
Trevor pulled out several bags of cash. “Trading in euros when you get home might be a hassle, unless your bank does foreign exchange. Mine does, but only commercial banks do. Maybe you should take it in dollars; I’ve got plenty, and I’ll need to exchange no matter what.”
“No point in paying an exchange fee twice, I guess,” Joel said, and then added, “I have no idea if my bank would do it, or if they report stuff like that.”
Trevor knew the exchange rate; he’d already worked it out. “What you’ve got left comes to eight thousand dollars, almost exactly,” Trevor said, counting it out. Joel opened his mouth to argue, but Trevor cut him off. “That’s today’s exchange rate, check it if you like. You earned this, man. It’s yours.”
“It’s more than I thought,” Joel replied, wondering if Trevor had cooked the numbers and was giving him too much. “Anyway, consider this yours; I’m just holding on to it for you. That charter already got me a kick-ass diamond engagement ring, way better than I could have afforded on my own, so no matter what, I did great.”
“Shut the fuck up and take your damn money,” Trevor said, elbowing Joel and laughing, trying in vain to lighten their somber mood. He pulled out the title to his car and handed it to Joel, and then gave him a signed declaration for the insurance company. “I already notified them by phone, so they’re expecting this,” Trevor said, handing Joel the document which made Joel the secondary beneficiary – after Trevor himself – of Atlantis’s insurance policy, and also the owner of Atlantis in the event of Trevor’s death. “I don’t know if my dad could block this, because I’m a minor, but it’s the best I can do.”
“I don’t like this,” Joel said, holding the document in his hand.
“It’s just in case, but if anything happens to me, I want you to have Atlantis, and you and Lisa share any payouts. Or would you rather my dad got her? I love this boat, Joel. I know you do too. Besides, we’re brothers now, right?” Trevor asked, giving Joel a faint smile.
“Okay,” Joel said, with a deep sense of foreboding. Desperate to change the subject, he turned his attention to the car title. “This is signed over, so I’ll try to sell the car as soon as I get back. My dad says it’s leaking oil all over the driveway, so I don’t think he’ll let me keep it until you get back. Actually, I know he wouldn’t; he likes you so he wouldn’t be that cruel.”
Trevor laughed. “Still making fun of my car, huh? Yeah, selling it is better anyway. Unless you run it regularly, the engine probably won’t start.”
“It has an engine? Not a squirrel on a treadmill?” Joel asked, in mock astonishment.
“Shut up and sell it,” Trevor replied, smiling and shaking his head, his blond hair falling across his eyes.
“Okay, I’ll do my best to find someone dumber than you, but that’s a tall order,” Joel replied.
Trevor laughed, trying not to think how much he’d miss Joel.
Trevor talked Joel through closing up the stash spot, and then they re-locked the crew cabin and returned to Joel’s cabin to finish up the packing.
After a dinner of Joel’s lasagna, they cut up and froze the rest, as the sun set over the Mediterranean.
For Trevor, the time seemed to pass all too fast as he and Joel sat in the salon, talking about anything and everything. All too soon, Joel glanced at his watch. “I better get changed and bring my bags out here,” he said.
In his cabin, Joel put on cargo shorts, shoes and socks, and the green t-shirt he’d cut the sleeves off before liberating it from Trevor.
When Joel returned to the salon, bags in hand, Trevor looked at him and smiled. “You’re really stealing that shirt, huh?”
Joel put the bags down and grinned. “Yeah, of course! But I left you the running shorts, plus the tank top I wore yesterday. I rinsed ‘em out and hung them in my bathroom to dry.” Joel glanced out at the darkness, and in a quieter voice, added, “The cab will be here soon. You don’t have to go to the airport; staying here would save you a cab ride back, and you could get some sleep. You probably can’t get into the boarding area anyway.”
“No, I want to go,” Trevor replied, standing up, trying to delay the parting as long as he could. He turned away, heading for his cabin to get his shirt and shoes.
Fifteen minutes later, just after midnight, they heard a voice from the dock. “Taxi!”
“I guess it’s time,” Joel said, sighing and standing up.
Trevor nodded, not trusting himself to speak, and carried one of Joel’s bags out into the cockpit.
The taxi ride, though it was only four miles through the sleeping city, passed slowly, punctuated by awkward silences.
At the airport, which had only one small terminal and one flight out that morning, Trevor stood in the check-in line with Joel, and then they sat down in the main terminal and talked for a while.
Trevor, as Joel had predicted, would not be allowed past security, so they’d agreed to wait until the first boarding call. When it came, Trevor knew the moment he’d been dreading had come.
They stood up, and Joel glanced towards the security gate, and then turned back to Trevor, pulling him into a firm hug. “Thanks Trev, for everything. I’ll see you soon...”
“Thanks Joel,” Trevor replied, hugging him tight. “See you at Christmas.”
Joel let go, turning partially away, hesitating for a long moment. “Trev, if you need me to stay–”
“Thanks, but you have to go; Lisa needs you, and I won’t screw that up. I’ll be fine, honest, and I’ve got Christmas to look forward to,” Trevor said, fighting to keep his voice from breaking.
“If you need me, anytime, just call,” Joel said, taking a hesitant step towards the security gate, and then spinning around and clenching hands with Trevor. “I’ll miss you, man. Be safe, okay?”
Trevor clenched Joel’s hand, hard. “I’ll miss you too. Have a good trip, and I’ll call as soon as I get to Egypt.”
Joel opened his mouth, and then closed it again, before turning away and jogging to the security checkpoint.
Trevor chewed on his lip, watching Joel go. Trevor stood and waited while Joel cleared security, and then, when Joel took a glance back and waved, Trevor raised his own hand in farewell, forcing himself to smile.
Joel turned, heading down the hallway and out of Trevor’s sight. Trevor turned away, heading for a corner of the terminal building, wiping away the tears that had suddenly filled his eyes, thankful that he’d been able to hold them in until Joel was out of sight.
A few minutes later, waiting in the boarding lounge, Joel had to wipe a tear from his own eye.
Trevor found a seat near a window, where he could see Joel’s British Airways jet. He waited, unwilling to move, for half an hour, until it pulled away from the gate. With a sigh, and feeling almost weak, Trevor stood up and exited the terminal, standing near the taxi rank, where he waited.
Trevor heard the whine of jet engines spooling up, and then the thunder as the jet began its takeoff roll. As he watched, the jet appeared, climbing into the sky. “Bye, Joel,” Trevor whispered, watching the jet fade into the northern sky and then losing it as it began turning northwest, bound for London, where Joel would change planes.
Aboard the airliner, Joel stared out the window and managed to spot the marina, catching a fleeting glimpse of Atlantis. “Bye Trev, have a safe voyage,” he said, to the mild puzzlement of the woman sitting beside him.
Trevor took a taxi back to Atlantis, where he managed some fitful sleep until almost noon. He got up, finding Atlantis eerily silent, and after checking his weather and charts, cast off, standing out to sea, heading south, bound for the Suez Canal. Alone at the helm, his heart aching, Trevor watched the hills of Cyprus fading into the distance astern.