As Lisa and Joel left for their Thanksgiving dinner, Bridget strode purposefully into her parlor, taking a seat beside George at her ornate desk. With a nod at the car title that Bridget held daintily, George handed her a clear plastic bag. Bridget carefully slid the title into the bag, and then leaned back in her chair. “I think that went well, considering that I am somewhat unawares regarding why I did it,” she said, giving George an inquiring glance.
“You were too far from the guesthouse door for me to hear all of it, but I take it my idea worked okay?” George asked, putting down the headphones and checking to make sure the recorder was still running. The digital recorder was voice-activated, and so only recorded when voices could be heard from the microphones in the guesthouse. It had a storage capacity of many hours, which spared Bridget and George from the necessity of real-time listening, though they often did so anyway.
Bridget nodded, reaching for a brandy decanter and glasses. “Indeed, they were quite delighted at the amount. We have the car, or what passes for one. I’m afraid I shall have to ask you to push while I steer, in order to get it into my garage. I cannot drive a manual transmission, assuming that contraption will even start. Remind me to put something on the floor to catch the oil, for I have no doubt that vile machine leaks like a sieve.”
George chuckled. “I could drive it in; I’m pretty good with cars – even stick shifts.” George paused for a moment, and then added, “But yeah, better if we don’t go in it; the less disturbed the DNA and fingerprints are, the better. I’ll wear gloves and lower the window, then shove the steering wheel from the outside while I push.”
Bridget took a sip of brandy and angled her head, gazing at George. “Now, I think I’ve been in suspense long enough; what exactly is this clever plan you have come up with so suddenly, which has placed me in proud ownership of that horrendous excuse for a car?” Bridget asked, with a thin smile and an arched eyebrow.
There hadn’t been time to explain beforehand, just enough, barely, to suggest to Bridget the what – though not the why – of what needed to be done. George gave Bridget a proud grin. “I only thought of it when Joel arrived and mentioned selling the thing, and then he and Lisa gave us Trevor’s location. Now we know where Trevor is, we don’t need to worry about putting a tracker in Lisa and Joel’s luggage. We can just go ahead and use the cocaine to put Lisa and Joel in prison. The car gives us the means to help the Aussies make an airtight case, and the drug taskforce I’m on will sure as hell be involved when they call to see what we know. You said a while back that Trevor has had that vehicle since he turned sixteen, so I’ll add a few traces of cocaine to it, mainly in the cargo area, as an indication of long-term use in trafficking. You’ve got associations with various charities so your purchase of it fits with what you told ‘em. This way, we strengthen the frame-up plan, especially if we need to roll Trevor into it. It gives us a lot of options.”
Bridget took another sip of brandy, savoring it as she mulled the concept. “That could help. The most recent news from Sanchez is that he could only arrange a hit in some of Australia’s prisons, though not all, or even most. That complicates things somewhat, and he still prefers killing Trevor outright – in order to erase the stain of his prior failures in that regard. I have no objections to him doing so, though hedging one’s bets is always advisable. As things stood, everything hinged on finding out where Trevor is prior to Lisa and Joel’s departure – or at least, if he would be meeting them at the airport. Sanchez has his contacts in Australia ready, but they perforce could not act without a location. That obstacle might be resolved, thanks to Lisa’s mention of Tasmania,” Bridget said, nodding towards the headphones.
George nodded, beginning to smile. “The drug angle plays right into all this. They get arrested when they hit customs and either sent to prison for a few decades, or released. If the latter, Sanchez’s people will know exactly where to find them. If the blame for any deaths falls on Jim and Dirk – which I think likely – scrap the car. If the department starts fishing around for some other cause, the car can turn up. Either way, case closed, and it gives us added flexibility.”
“Why did you rub cocaine on the cash?” Bridget asked, nodding at the still-open half kilo on the desk.
George began resealing the package of cocaine. “A lot of cash in circulation has trace amounts of coke on it. A user rolls up a bill to snort a line, then over time it gets mixed in with other banknotes, contaminating every bill it comes in contact with to varying degrees. Dealers, on the other hand, often have cash contaminated with their product, and that’s not quite the same result. One thing we test coke for is chemical composition; those c-notes will be a match for the coke they’ll be carrying, but notes from general circulation would have – if any at all – varying amounts and from different batches. Even if you do disclose buying the car from them, you can call any claim that you paid six thousand for it preposterous, and that’d stick because it’s absurd to imagine you would. It’s basically very cheap insurance, and a tool we can use if need be. They’ll keep it as cash, sure as hell, and that’s a large sum for teens to be carrying – an added incriminating factor, especially when they won’t be able to come up with a viable explanation for having it,” George said, with a proud smile.
“I dislike the thought of involving either of us with a narcotics investigation to such a degree, though I see little choice, and I appreciate that this would only be done in case of need. I suppose some involvement became a foregone conclusion when I allowed those two the use of the guesthouse, though the information we have thus acquired has been quite useful. I shall indeed be relieved when this awful mess is behind us,” Bridget said, taking another sip of brandy. “However, we seem to be overlooking a pertinent issue; we previously inferred that Trevor was somewhere north of Perth in Western Australia, which is a long way indeed from Tasmania. We also heard mention of Perth airport in no uncertain terms.”
George gave Bridget an embarrassed smile. “Yeah, I thought of that as soon as you were on your way, but maybe their plans changed, or Trevor moved the boat.”
“Perhaps; Atlantis might still have engines. The pirates may have merely taken her fuel, as engines are time-consuming to extract. Trevor might have had her repaired enough to make the transit under power, or perhaps he had her towed... or perhaps not; we both heard Lisa say Tasmania, though that was in reference to what they plan to tell the private investigator. I would much prefer some confirmation. An added complication is that we have no idea why they are meeting with Dirk’s private investigator. I find the fact that they neglected to discuss that with me most troubling. Nonetheless, acquiring the car cannot hurt and may well help,” Bridget said, staring at the brandy mellowing in her glass.
“Worse comes to worst, you’ve got a unique car to drive around in,” George quipped.
“You are an evil, evil man,” Bridget replied, chuckling softly.
George laughed as he stood up and sniffed in the general direction of the kitchen. “That turkey smells perfect,” he said, licking his lips.
Bridget stood up and smiled. “I am being a touch adventurous this year; a marinade concocted with whiskey, liquid smoke, and butter and then injected into the bird.”
“That sounds delicious! Happy Thanksgiving, Bridget,” George said, before giving her a tender but passionate kiss.
On Friday morning, Trevor and Shane raised anchor and set out for Denham, on engines at first, then under sail as the sea breeze sprang up. They spent the morning watching the coastline pass by to port, with Shane playing tour guide and giving a running narrative. Thanks to the stiff afternoon sea breeze, Trevor soon had Kookaburra racing through the sun-dazzled waters at sixteen knots as they rounded the tip of the Peron Peninsula, which put them off Denham by early afternoon.
Trevor carefully negotiated the long, straight channel cut through the reef, and they tied up to a mooring buoy near the town’s small pier.
As they made ready to go ashore, Shane said, “The main attraction in Denham is the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Center. It’s got exhibits about the history and wildlife. I’ve been once, it’s pretty good, but if you’d like to see it, we need to know before we head ashore.”
Trevor nodded. “Sounds good, but why do we need to know now?”
“I think they require shirts inside. That means I’ll need to borrow that one of yours again,” Shane replied.
“Freeloader!” Trevor declared, heading for his cabin. “They’re still in the laundry hamper from when we met Mr. Blake, so they’re kinda wrinkled.”
“Slob!” Shane declared, as Trevor tossed him a T-shirt.
“Hey, we need to do laundry anyway, and that’s your job,” Trevor shot back, pulling on the T-shirt he’d worn to meet Martin Blake.
“Slave-driving bastard!” Shane replied, pulling on the T. “It’s gruel for you, count on it!”
In shorts, T’s, and shoes, they roared off in the Zodiac, tying up at the pier. As they walked along it towards shore, Shane said, “The road along the beach is Knight Terrace, Denham’s main street. Pretty much everything there is to see is along here. It’s often windy here, though today seems calm enough.”
Trevor looked around as they approached the shore end of the pier. “It’s small, even smaller than Carnarvon.”
“I’ve been here before, a bunch of times – it’s one of our regular stops on charters. There’s not much here; it has a population of about six hundred and has a few motels and the like. Denham gets its water from desalination, and it’s the westernmost town in Australia,” Shane replied, casually angling their path to the right as they reached the end of the pier, angling towards a strip of grass that was between the beach and the road. Shane tapped Trevor on the shoulder and then pointed a few feet ahead, at a palm tree, one of several growing in the grassy beachside strip. “Watch out Trev: that’s a tree, and you seem to walk into ‘em.”
Trevor cringed at the memory of his arboreal collision in Carnarvon, and laughed uneasily. “Yeah, but only once.”
“Just the once? Nah, I think you’re an ongoing menace to our vegetation – not to mention trying to eat our beaches. I’ll try to steer you clear of trees, just in case, so you don’t damage too many with that hard head of yours,” Shane quipped, giving Trevor a playful punch in the arm and then racing on ahead at a run.
Trevor took off in pursuit, laughing in the sun, running along the beach side of the road. After a dozen yards, Shane came to a stop. “We’re here,” Shane said, pointing across the street at the large modern glass and masonry building, set back from the road, with a line of flags flying in the breeze.
Emblazoned on a parapet in large stainless steel letters were the words, ‘Shark Bay Discovery Centre’ and under it, in smaller letters, ‘World Heritage’, which prompted Trevor to ask, “What’s all the ‘World Heritage’ stuff? I’ve heard that term a few times since I’ve been here, but what’s it mean?”
“World heritage parks or sites are a United Nations thing; one of their alphabet soup agencies designates them. They’re worldwide, and I know there are some in the U.S., though I don’t know what. Basically, I think it just means a really spectacular or important place, and the local tourist industries play up the title. Shark Bay is one, and the Great Barrier Reef back in Queensland is another, as is the Daintree Rain Forest. There are more than that in Australia. There’s a big info panel in a wall inside that tells about it in detail, and lists other World Heritage Sites as well,” Shane replied, heading inside.
For the next two hours, they made their way slowly through the Shark Bay Discovery Center, looking at exhibits and displays, including a timeline of the area since its discovery in 1616 by Dutch captain Dirk Hartog. The largest of Shark Bay’s barrier islands, Dirk Hartog Island, bears his name, and at its northern point is Cape Inscription, which Trevor had been aiming for during his final day at sea. The cape is so named because Hartog left an engraved pewter plate there, which was rediscovered nearly a century later and sent to Holland, where it remains.
Seeing the name ‘Dirk’ made Trevor feel conflicted; he missed his father, though his deep suspicions remained. ‘I’m no closer to finding out if he killed Mom,’ Trevor thought, wondering what his father was doing, and where he was.
Trevor’s melancholy mood lasted just a few moments; his mind was becoming adept at closing off issues he wished to avoid.
Next, they came to a display of old silver coins, with a plaque reading ‘Zuytdorp shipwreck 1712’. Trevor nodded at the plaque, and asked, “There was a shipwreck here way back then? How’d they get out?”
Shane angled his head towards an exhibit on the far side of the room. “That’ll tell the tale better than I can, but the long and short of it is – they didn’t. The Zuytdorp was a Dutch East India ship, working the spice trade. She left Holland, stopped in Cape Town, then probably rode the Roaring Forties east. They used to do that and then sail north off our coast, like you did, heading for the Dutch colony in Indonesia to get spices.”
“How’d she wreck?” Trevor asked.
“No one knows. She was lost to history for centuries after she left Cape Town. Her wreck was identified in the 1950’s at the foot of cliffs just down the coast from here. Some artifacts were found on the cliff top, so some of them made it off alive, but that’s the last anyone knows of them. They named the cliffs the Zuytdorp Cliffs, and they run from Point Inscription for hundreds of kilometers, all the way down to Kalbarri, near Geraldton. This coast is famous for wrecks. There were a couple more Dutch ships wrecked on the Houtman Abrolhos islands, off what’s now Geraldton, but there were survivors from those. There’s been plenty more through the years on this coast; about fourteen hundred in total for Western Australia.”
“I was damn near one of ‘em,” Trevor said, wincing at the memory of his guesswork approach and perilous run through the channel between Bernier and Dorre islands. He still felt some stress when he remembered those final days at sea, but not overly so. It wasn’t like his encounter with the pirates – which his mind tried in vain to block, and he relived almost every night.
Shane led Trevor to another display, this one about shipwrecks. “It’s a very rugged coast for the most part, and the wind is often onshore. Before seagoing timepieces were invented in the seventeenth century, longitude was a matter of guesswork. Even after that, mistakes happened, and ships on the spice run would come too close to the coast. This explains one issue they had to account for, but it’s too complicated for me,” Shane said, nodding towards a small poster about the Equation of Time, which described how the change in apparent solar noon through the year could result in longitude errors.
Trevor read it, casually at first, and then more intently as he began to realize what it had meant to him. “Holy fuck... That’s why! That’s why I kept calculating my position as inland when I was off your coast and damn near missed Australia; its west deviation is strongest in November,” Trevor exclaimed, his profanity garnering him a few disapproving glances from other visitors in the quiet exhibit hall.
Shane gave Trevor a sympathetic smile. “But you made it. Most ships that get into trouble off our coast don’t. Trev... You made it, you’re safe now, and I’m glad you ended up in Carnarvon,” Shane said quietly.
Trevor glanced at Shane and gave him a faint, lopsided smile. “Thanks. I’m glad I did, too.”
“You should have a look at the Zuytdorp Cliffs; they’ve only about eight kilometers overland from the bottom end of Boat Haven Loop. We can do a cross-country run most of the way. I’ve done it a couple of times, it’s one hell of a view,” Shane suggested.
“A run would do us good, and that sounds like fun,” Trevor replied.
They moved on through the displays and collections with Shane occasionally playing tour guide and subjects he knew, and then moving on to the nature exhibits.
By the time they were done, it was nearly three in the afternoon. They emerged from the building, blinking in the glaring sunlight, and walked towards the street. Just before they reached the sidewalk, Shane stopped. “Stand still for a sec,” he said, turning to grin at Trevor.
Trevor stopped, glanced around, and then gave Shane a puzzled look. “Why did we stop?” he asked.
Shane pointed across the street. “See the palm trees? I didn’t want you to walk into ‘em.”
Trevor laughed, shaking his head. “They’re on the far side of the street, why would I–” Trevor stopped talking for a moment when he saw Shane tugging off his shirt. Trevor had grown accustomed to seeing Shane shirtless, but the sight of Shane’s rippling muscles as his abs, then his chest, was exposed, drew Trevor’s attention and made his pulse quicken. As soon as Shane’s head was clear, Trevor shook off his distraction and managed to continue, “Why would I walk into a tree that’s across the street?”
Shane tucked the shirt into his back pocket. “You’re the expert on walking into trees, so you tell me,” Shane said, giving Trevor an open-armed shrug. “I remember what happened in Carnarvon so I just thought it best to make an effort to protect the local vegetation from your hard head,” Shane said, before turning and walking away, snickering.
Trevor tensed for a moment, and as he tried to decide how to reply, he stalled for time by tugging off his own shirt and then fumbling as he tucked it in his back pocket. He glanced up to see that Shane had stopped and turned around, and was grinning at him. Trevor shrugged, and walked to join Shane. “I better stick close, so you don’t get lost,” Trevor said, which was the best barb he could think of at the time.
Shane laughed, glancing around the quiet street. “Hard to get lost in Denham, and I’ve been here plenty of times.” Shane led the way north along Knight Terrace, to the tiny sports shop. When they entered, Trevor’s first impression was that it was mainly focused on snorkeling and fishing, but Shane headed for the back of the store, where they found a single rack of shorts and swimsuits. “I thought I saw some here,” Shane said, reaching around and grabbing a pair of blue running shorts, which were clipped to a hanger. He held them up, and then nodded approvingly at his own choice. “Bright blue goes great with blond hair and a tan, I think,” he said, while looking at the tag to make sure they were his size. “You should get a pair if you want to do some running,” Shane added, before turning his head to stare pointedly at Trevor’s hair. “Black would go well with the brown hair you’ve got now, but we’ll be fixing that soon so get something to match... maybe plaid, in case I dye your hair several different colors at once.”
Trevor laughed, lifting a pair of blue running shorts identical to Shane’s off the rack. “The ones I had back home were blue, and I want to go back to being blond eventually, so I’ll get these.”
“I can dye your hair the same shade of blue, so you’ll really match,” Shane said, chuckling as he headed for the register.
Trevor followed, his mind’s eye picturing Shane in just the blue running shorts, an image which distracted Trevor enough that he came within an inch of knocking over a facemask display, though he never even noticed.
Purchases bagged and in hand, they reversed course and headed south for a block, to a long narrow building with a slightly faded ‘Bakery’ sign on the street end, facing the beach.
“This is the closest Denham gets to a supermarket,” Shane said, leading Trevor to the door. “There’s another one, but it’s even smaller.”
“I’ll bet they don’t have much,” Trevor replied, referring to the market’s small size.
Shane shrugged. “Not too bad, and it’s bigger than it looks. It’s really tight to move around in though; carts can’t pass in the aisles.”
They walked into the small supermarket, which had only one other customer in it. Grabbing a cart, they started at the meat counter and then hit the frozen food aisle and then on to canned goods, with Shane doing most of the choosing, occasionally consulting a list he’d made. They ended up in the produce section, where Trevor picked out some fruit.
Shane gathered up a few green vegetables, and then bagged a big bundle of carrots.
“Uh, that’s a lot of carrots, and I don’t much like them... I’ll eat a few, but you’re mainly on your own there,” Trevor said, while grabbing a few onions.
“No problem, more for me,” Shane said, while putting a second bundle of carrots – a vegetable he loathed – in the cart. “Snack foods, soft drinks, grab what you like, enough for a week.”
“Pick stuff you like, too. I don’t know most of the brands here, so just get whatever, I’ll be fine–” Trevor’s eye fell on a familiar bag. “Doritos, gotta have those!” he declared, snatching up half a dozen bags.
Shane grabbed a couple of nearby bags, holding the burnt-orange bags up for Trevor to see. “Another Australian classic: burger rings! Crunchy rings that taste like burgers.”
Trevor grinned. “Sounds good, as long as you really mean burgers and not burglars... with your weird accent it’s hard to tell, and I don’t want to know what burglars taste like.”
“I don’t have an accent, you do,” Shane shot back, chuckling and tossing the burger rings into the cart.
“Don’t forget the stuff for the pavlova,” Trevor said.
“That’s next,” Shane confirmed, as the shopping continued.
It took half an hour, but they ended up with a full cart, and after a stop at the bakery counter for some fresh bread, they were done. At the register, Shane used the card he’d been given by Martin Blake, which took care of the bill.
Laden with their many bags, they walked out of the store, heading towards the pier when Shane stopped suddenly, nodding ahead. “Ever seen emus, Trev?”
Trevor looked ahead and grinned as he saw several of the large, flightless birds – which reminded him of ostriches, only a bit smaller – crossing the road from a vacant lot to the beach, strolling slowly, in stately grandeur, seeming completely unafraid. “Wow! I’ve never seen an emu before, and I sure didn’t expect to see any big wildlife in a town,” He said, as the birds passed between Trevor and Kookaburra, lying at anchor in the azure waters of Denham Sound.
“This whole peninsula is a major wildlife sanctuary, and has some species that are extinct everywhere else on the mainland, killed off by feral cats, foxes, and other non-native species. So even the big stuff – like emus – is protected here, and they lose their fear. I’ve seen emus here a few times, heading from town to the beach or back,” Shane said.
“Cool,” Trevor replied, watching the emus as they reached the beach. “What about kangaroos? Do they come into town too?” he asked.
“Nah, not as often at any rate. Hey, did Mr. Blake tell you what kind of a farm he has?” Shane asked, in an offhand way.
“The Blakes have a kangaroo farm. Roo meat is getting more and more popular, so the Blakes have a big farm to raise ‘em. They’ve got over a thousand roos, I think,” Shane replied casually.
Trevor, his eyes still riveted to the emus, replied in surprise, “A kangaroo farm? Now that’d be awesome to see.”
“They’ve taken me down there a few times. They raise western grey kangaroos – not red kangaroos, which are a lot bigger and very vicious. Mr. Blake took me down to the farm a couple of times when we were between charters. They’ve got a grand spread; a huge farmhouse, barns, outbuildings, all sorts of farm vehicles, and land as far as you can see,” Shane said, smiling as they reached the pier. When they neared it, Shane said, “Let’s keep going, there’s a bottle shop a block down.”
They reached the liquor store, leaving their grocery bags just inside the door. “More beer?” Trevor asked.
“That, and whatever else we’d like. Thanks to the press money you gave me, plus my pay packet, I’m no longer skint. I won’t be putting this on Mr. Blake’s card. I’m thinking another slab of Four ex... and what about a small bottle of rum?”
Trevor nodded. “Sounds good. I’ll go in with you on this,” Trevor said, reaching into his pocket.
“Nope, my turn, and we’ll start with a slab of Four ex,” Shane replied, already pulling a case from the cooler.
When they returned to Kookaburra, Trevor took the helm and got underway for Boat Haven Loop, heading south across Denham Sound, while Shane handled putting their groceries away in the galley.
While Trevor was alone in the cockpit, he had time to think. So much had changed for him in such a short time; it would have been confusing for him even without the lingering effects of his ordeal.
The primary focus of Trevor’s confusion was Shane, who he’d only known for a week. Friendships, Trevor knew, usually took time, but with Shane, Trevor already felt the same easy close camaraderie that he had with Joel. Since meeting, they’d spent almost every waking minute together, a fact Trevor came back to several times. Never before had he fallen into a close friendship so fast.
The more Trevor thought about it, the more he argued with himself. ‘He’s like me; alone and lonely, so he needs a friend as much as I do,’ Trevor thought, and then his mind flipped again, ‘He’s not like me, not in one big way... part of why I like him is he’s so hot,’ Trevor thought, being honest with himself. Then, he flipped again, ‘Would I like him if he wasn’t hot? Yeah... he’s fun to be around and he’s been a great friend to me. But he doesn’t really know me, because he doesn’t know about me.’
“Whatcha thinking?” Shane said quietly, entering the cockpit. “You’re stewing over something; I can see it in your face.” Shane gave Trevor a soft smile and a curious look.
Trevor shrugged, deciding to level with Shane, to a degree. “I’m not stewing... I was thinking about you; how I haven’t known you long, but I feel like we’ve been friends a long time. That surprises me; it usually takes me a long time to get to know someone.”
Shane smiled, taking a seat beside Trevor at the helm. “Deep and profound thoughts – which always make my head hurt. I’m the same as you; it usually takes me a long time to get to know someone. One part of it is that when we met, we were both in sore need of a friend. Another key is time, I think... with a new friend, I usually see them... like a few hours a week, tops. You, I’ve had to put up with non-stop for days,” Shane gave Trevor a friendly nudge with his shoulder, “so it’s like knowing someone for months, timewise. It was the same with me and the Blakes; I didn’t know them at all at first, but pretty quick I was living with them on Kookaburra and doing charters, though Mrs. Blake only came along a few times. I got to know them fast that way, due to spending loads of time per day with them. What’s got you thinking such deep thoughts?”
Trevor chuckled and shrugged. “That’s just how I am... sometimes I analyze stuff to death. I usually keep it to myself, except if Joel or Lisa are around – and you too, now.”
Shane gave Trevor a pat on the back. “Thanks for counting me in like that. For what it’s worth, I surprised myself by talking to you about some of the things I have, like when I was worried I was getting sacked and then when we went parasailing and the heights got to me. That’s not normal for me. I think you and I click well, and I know I’m going to hate it when you sail off into the sunset on Atlantis,” Shane said, his tone becoming dejected for the final sentence.
Trevor gave Shane a sad smile. “I want to keep in touch... and maybe come back someday – I do have relatives here.” Trevor knew he’d hate it when the time came to say goodbye to Shane, so by way of avoiding that depressing thought, he smiled weakly and shook his head. “Besides, I sure as hell won’t be sailing off into the sunset; that’d be going the wrong way – west – back across the Indian Ocean!”
“I just figured you for having a rotten sense of direction,” Shane replied, resuming his usual happy banter.
Trevor left Shane at the helm for a moment, heading for his cabin to use the head. On his return, his eye fell on the navigation desk, and an evil grin spread across his face as he made a fast and furtive detour to it, before heading for the cockpit with the air horn hidden in his pocket.
Trevor resumed his place at the helm, picking up the conversation by asking a few questions about what was along their route. Shane needed little encouragement and soon had the navigation display zoomed in, and then pointed out the bluffs a few miles to port. “That’s Eagle Bluff. It’s a popular overlook on the main road to Denham,” Shane said, as he began giving Trevor a running commentary about the coast they were passing.
Trevor checked the radar and scanned the horizon, and then flicked on the autopilot.
After listening for a few moments, Trevor opened his eyes wide, and with a look of panic on his face, he tapped on Shane’s shoulder. When Shane turned to look, Trevor pointed up, towards the top of the mast, saying in a panicky voice, “We’ve got trouble!” while taking a half step back to put himself behind Shane.
As Shane looked up at the mast, Trevor pulled the air horn from his pocket and hit the button, which let out a long, loud, raucous BRRAAAAAPP!
Shane jumped in fright, his feet clearing the deck by several inches. He tried to spin around but stumbled, catching himself with one hand. He blinked a few times, nerves a-jangle, seeing Trevor standing with an air horn in his hand and a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Bastard!” Shane bellowed, charging at Trevor, grabbing him around the torso and wrestling him onto one of the cockpit’s padded bench seats. With Trevor pinned, Shane mused, “Now that I’ve got you, what should I do with you?”With an evil chuckle, Shane’s hands raced for Trevor’s armpits. “Payback time!” Shane cried out, furiously tickling Trevor.
Laughing and writhing, Trevor tried to get away, but Shane had him pinned. “Okay, stop,” Trevor gasped, trying in vain to swat Shane’s hands away.
“I’ll stop, but not for a few hours yet,” Shane shot back, redoubling his efforts and adding, “Now I know your weakness!” Shane kept up the attack for a few seconds and then pulled away, laughing and taking the air horn from Trevor.
“Asshole!” Trevor chuckled, getting back on his feet. “I’ll bet I’m not the only one who’s ticklish.”
Shane laughed hard. “No such luck, mate. I’m not ticklish at all... but you are!” he said, with an evil smirk, turning to walk towards the salon.
Trevor moved fast, darting in behind Shane and putting his hand just under Shane’s armpit, but Shane twisted free and dashed away before Trevor could do anything. However, Shane’s very sudden response left Trevor no doubts. “You’re ticklish too!”
“Nosy abusive bastard!” Shane called back, as he put the air horn back in the nav desk drawer. He returned to the cockpit, eying Trevor warily. “Right, now I know: you’re going to torment me for this whole trip!”
Trevor laughed, resuming his place at the helm. “Like you wouldn’t have used that air horn on me if you’d thought of it first.”
“True, that,” Shane admitted, sitting down beside Trevor, their shoulders touching. “Just remember; revenge is a dish best served cold – or any other way I can arrange it.”
Trevor laughed, giving Shane’s bare shoulder a friendly jostle with his own. “As if you need an excuse,” Trevor said, smiling as he looked into Shane’s mirthful eyes.
“It’s not often that I meet someone who appreciates my wonderful sense of humor,” Shane replied in a less boisterous tone, his eyes locked on Trevor’s, and then he turned his head to watch the horizon for a few moments. His smile faded, and he asked quietly, “What was it like for you... out there. You told me the events, and your course, and some of what you did, but not what it was like.”
Trevor shuddered slightly. “Rough – and scary. After I missed Reunion, I knew I had only a few weeks at most – Atlantis was leaking more and more, and my food supply couldn’t last me for long. I decided on the Southern Ocean route, because it was the only way I could think of to get anywhere fast enough to matter. I was so lonely; I didn’t have anyone to talk to for months, and I ended up talking to Atlantis a lot. Some days weren’t bad – when the weather was okay – but others were hell. I didn’t think I’d survive, and so many times... I thought I was about to die. I went on, because there wasn’t any other way. I guess I decided that if I was going to die, I’d die trying.”
“That’s one hell of a thing... brave, determined, against rotten odds, over six thousand miles in a stripped hulk under jury rig, but you made it. I’ve said it before, but that’s one hell of a story. You told me you kept a journal; could you turn that into a book?”
Trevor’s journal – the new one, beginning after the attack – was in his cabin, and he was about to offer to let Shane read it, but he hesitated, trying to remember if he’d mentioned anything about being gay in it. Unsure, he replied, “Yeah, I’ll dig it out for you soon, but it’s mainly just notes on navigation methods and a log of a few things. I’m not a writer – but I’ve read your stuff and you are. Those reporters sure as hell seemed eager for my story, and that gave me an idea I’ve been meaning to bring up: I think a book about my trip would sell well. Then, you showed me some of your writing, and I remembered that thing you typed up for the press, where you sounded American. So... what do ya think? It’s my story, but you’d be doing most of the work – so fifty-fifty on any proceeds?”
Shane grinned broadly. “I love it! You’re on, mate! This will be a blast, and might make us some serious coin as well. I’ve never tried writing something as big as a novel before, but how hard can it be? Okay, uh, I guess we’ll need to start somewhere, and the beginning is as good a place as any. You’ll need to decide what the book is really about; your entire trip, or your survival after you left the Seychelles, until you got to Carnarvon.”
Trevor hesitated. “I guess... start from Florida... but how can we, when we don’t know for sure what happened with my father, and what he may have done? Maybe... write the Seychelles-to-Australia part, see if it works for a book, and then if more is needed, add it? Do you use a word processor, or write by hand?”
“Both, depending on what’s handy, but we’ll need the computer for something this big. The one aboard works just fine for writing. Okay, we’ll do Seychelles-to-Carnarvon, for now. Hmmm, I’ll start taking notes, including on what you just said about what it was like,” Shane said, pulling a pad and pencil from a pocket on the wheel housing and beginning to write.
Trevor grinned, pleased with the idea, and then he laughed. “Yeah, ending it at Carnarvon is a good idea, otherwise you’d have to write about us talking about writing it, and then write about writing it, and then write about writing about writing it–”
“My head’s going to explode if you keep that up,” Shane quipped, and then his eyes glazed over for a moment. “A good way to end it might be after foxing the press, when we sailed away... ” he said, jotting down the idea.
“We should work backwards, sorta starting at Carnarvon, because that and the Southern Ocean stuff is fresher in my head,” Trevor suggested, for reasons that had nothing to do with his memory and everything to do with his intense compulsion to avoid thinking about the pirates.
They talked, and Shane took notes, for the rest of the way to the entrance to Boat Haven Loop. They anchored just outside the broad entrance as the sun touched the western horizon, talking long into the night, working together on their newfound project.
Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.
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Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions. Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice. Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading. Special thanks to glsswm for helping me with some technical points. A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.