“Carnarvon!” Bridget declared, motioning for George to join her at her desk. She transferred the playback from the headphones to a speaker, and played the segment of Joel and Lisa’s conversation with Shane again. They could only hear Joel and Lisa’s side of it, but Joel’s mention of Carnarvon was clear.
“Carnarvon is in Western Australia,” George said, and then he opened up Google Earth on Bridget’s laptop. “Yeah, about five hundred miles north of Perth, and that’s the area we were looking at before Joel mentioned Tasmania,” George said, zooming in on Carnarvon.
Bridget sighed. “Then why did Joel say Tasmania? Wait, perhaps we may be leaping to conclusions. Let me look at that for a moment,” Bridget said, turning the computer towards her and beginning to type. She entered ‘Carnarvon Tasmania’ in the program’s search bar and then watched as the maps shifted, flying to Tasmania and then zooming in. “Ah, perhaps we have a coincidence, or perhaps not, but there is a Carnarvon in Tasmania, only it is not a town, it is a bay; Carnarvon Bay.” Bridget explored the area for a few moments before noticing a Wikipedia icon, which she opened. After reading some of it, she smiled coldly. “Interesting. The main town on the bay is Port Arthur, the site of a famous colonial-era prison and also, ten years ago, the scene of Australian’s worst modern mass-murder: a killing spree that left thirty-five people dead. Carnarvon Bay is approximately thirty miles from Hobart, somewhere else Joel was kind enough to mention. This would fit everything Joel and Lisa have said.”
George scratched his head. “Yeah, maybe... except he said they’re flying into Perth, and that’s in Western Australia.”
Bridget angled her head thoughtfully. “We thought that of Carnarvon as well,” she said, as she typed ‘Perth Tasmania’ into the search bar. “I have found it!” she declared haughtily, tapping at the screen. “Perth, Tasmania, and it is just over a hundred miles from Carnarvon Bay. On the edge of town, there is a large airport... Ah, it is named Launceston Regional Airport... and on the reference page it lists several airlines, including service to Sydney. However, we originally assumed the central coast of Western Australia due to a mention of going down to Perth, yet this airport is northwest of Carnarvon Bay. I also cannot help but note that Hobart is much closer. Additionally, Hobart International Airport is located even closer to the road route to Carnarvon Bay, and is right on the coast – from the sound of it, Trevor either is or will be staying on a boat other than Atlantis, with someone named Shane. I wonder if flight scheduling might be a factor...” Bridget opened an airline search engine and began typing. A few minutes later, she pronounced, “There is a difference; going to Perth reduces the stopover in Sydney by several hours, though likely not enough to make up for the drive time. Most perplexing.”
George frowned, looking at the computer screen. “I can see several possible conclusions, based on what we’ve got. Maybe Trevor is staying ashore somewhere so the difference between the airports isn’t as great, or maybe he’s getting a ride from someone who wants to go to that area anyway. Or, maybe Lisa and Joel had to settle for that route because of the frequent flyer award; those have a lot lower availability than for-sale seats. Or, maybe Joel wasn’t telling the truth about Tasmania at all and Trevor is in Carnarvon, Western Australia. Another complication is something else Joel said; that Trevor hasn’t checked on Atlantis. That makes it pretty damn clear he’s not on her and likely isn’t close by.”
Bridget sighed, her dour expression returning. “This is maddening. We’re closer, though we cannot even say for certain that he’s staying in one of the two Carnarvons; as you postulated, he may well be ashore or on another boat. Is there a way you might check Lisa and Joel’s flight reservations or Trevor’s insurance records?” Bridget asked.
George shook his head. “They normally don’t release stuff like that without a warrant. I could probably get it without one but not without drawing too much attention. Better to wait until they land with the coke; that’ll give my drug task force access to whatever we need. However, that won’t tell us exactly where Trevor is. We need the name of the boat, or the street address if he’s ashore. Unless we get more, I think we’ll have to wait until Lisa and Joel are busted and either he’s arrested with ‘em or he tries to visit them in jail. That’ll be a perfect setup for Sanchez’s people. They could cover more than one location, but they’d need to know specific locations, not just a general area like a town.”
Bridget nodded. “Regrettably, at this juncture, we appear closer, though not quite close enough. It appears we have little option for the moment save to wait for their trip and hope for further information in the meantime. All we truly have to base the Tasmania idea on is a remark from Joel regarding what he planned to tell the private investigator. We have no reason to assume his veracity in this circumstance, therefore I think Western Australia is still our most plausible location, though the appearance of a Carnarvon in both locations is… most perturbing.”
As soon as Trevor’s call with Lisa and Joel was done, Shane reappeared. Trevor smiled and told him, “They made me promise to tell you they both said ‘Hi’, and thanks for calling and looking after me. They both want to talk to you again, as soon as my new cell gets here. I’ll bet it and my new driver’s license are already at the yacht club.”
Shane sat down beside Trevor on the sofa. “So, how are you feeling now? I know that call to the cop has been weighing on you.”
Trevor gave Shane a shy smile. “You were right, I feel a lot better now that the call’s over.”
“Any news from Lisa and Joel?” Shane asked.
Trevor nodded. “Yeah, Joel has those emancipation papers I was telling you about. My father actually signed them, just like he promised. As of December 17th, I’ll be legally an adult.”
Shane shrugged. “Lazy sod. Some of us have to achieve that the hard way, by having an eighteenth birthday, like I did,” Shane quipped.
Trevor laughed, feeling at ease. “I’ll take it however I can get it. Anyway, Lisa and Joel are worried, and Lisa said that if I don’t go see a doctor, she’ll make sure I really need one.”
“Smart girl,” Shane replied, chuckling.
Trevor glanced at the phone in his hand. “One more call I really need to make: Ned. I’ve got to find out what’s going on with Atlantis.
Shane smiled; the change in Trevor was apparent, and in Shane’s opinion, a very good sign, even though he suspected that the road ahead would be a long and sometimes bumpy one. “Ring away, though I think you should wait until midnight and wake the bastard up.”
Trevor shook his head and laughed. “I think I’ll avoid pissing him off until Atlantis is out of there,” he replied, and then motioned for Shane to sit beside him. “Listen in. I’d like your read on what he has to say.”
Trevor made the call, which was answered by Ned’s wife. Upon hearing a woman’s voice, Trevor asked, “Could I speak to Ned please? My name is Trevor–”
“Oh!” she said, followed by a few moment’s of silence, before she added hastily, “Hello, are you... doing alright?”
Trevor blinked in surprise, and glanced at Shane, who shook his head to indicate that whatever she’d heard, it wasn’t through him. “Yeah, I’m okay. Is Ned around?” Trevor asked, wondering who he was speaking to.
“Yes,” came a hesitant reply, followed quickly by, “Please hold.”
Shane shielded the phone’s receiver and whispered, “Sounds like Ned’s missus, Melody. I think she’s okay, in spite of being Ned’s wife. She sounds a bit put off, though I can’t be certain; I’ve only met her a few times.”
The line clicked and Ned’s voice came on, “Hello, Trevor.”
“Hi Ned. I called to see how things are going with Atlantis.”
“Still much like you last saw her. She’ll be fine, but it’ll take time. I’ve completed the survey and a full inspection. I’ve also begun a cleanup, including removing what’s left of the internal deck sole. There’s a lot to do before we’re ready to start installing things. I’ll need to go over final plans with you within a week or so, such as for galley layout, and then have you select fittings and gear; everything from electronics to the woodwork style and colors. I’ve been working with your insurance company and no bothers so far from them,” Ned said.
“That sounds good, thanks. I’ll be back in a few days. Do you have any idea how long until she’s ready to put to sea?” Trevor asked.
“By my reckoning, a few months. Three at least, more likely four. Many of the components aren’t stock items and will have to be ordered and delivered. I need to do the fiberglass work and repaint her before we refloat her, and I’d like to do the plumbing and bilge work before then as well; it’s easier while she’s dry hull. Some good news is you’re set with your insurance for rental replacement until she’s ready to put to sea, though I imagine being stuck on a boat with that conniving bludger Shane is far from a joy. If the Blake’s won’t see reason and be done with him, I’ll see what I can do about getting you set up so you can camp out on one of the boats in my yard.”
“I’m very happy on Kookaburra and Shane has been great; I love having him aboard,” Trevor replied quickly, looking at the scowl on Shane’s face. “Speaking of Kookaburra, I like what you’ve done to her. The galley layout is awesome, and the modern trim and dark woods in the salon and cabins look great, especially with the light wood decking. I like the satin-finish brasswork inside too; it doesn’t need as much polishing. I’d like to use Kookaburra as kind of a model for what Atlantis will look like.”
“That’ll work, and I’ll go over the rest with you when I see you. I’m a few weeks away from needing to hire some extra help; we’ll need the major issues squared away by then. I’m making lists of everything she’ll need, right down to the pots and pans. I’ll give you copies of the lists, along with some catalogs for the fittings, appliances, electronics, boom, sails, and all sorts of gear. Then you can take your time picking them out; might as well do it right. Also, you’ll have all-new wiring; might as well do the job right while we’re at it,” Ned said.
“Great. I was worried that I’d damaged some of what’s left when I ripped some out for rigging.”
“The engines look okay and the missing parts can be replaced, but I want to do a full tear down and rebuild on both. Might as well, while we’re at it. She’s going to be a new boat when I’m done, better than she’s ever been. I’ve some ideas on that, though I’ll wait until I can show you. Take care of yourself, and I’ll be seeing you soon then,” Ned said.
“Thanks Ned,” Trevor replied, before saying goodbye and ending the call.
“That fucking bloody piece of shit is still trying to get me sacked,” Shane fumed, but then he shrugged and added in a calmer tone, “but that’s nothing new. Thanks for the good word, but I wouldn’t bother if I were you; if he thinks you’re on my side, he might make your new bows out of solid lead.”
“He sure does have it in for you. You know him better than I do; got any ideas about what he said about Atlantis?” Trevor asked.
Shane shrugged. “The technical stuff is over my head, but... putting aside the fact I wish he’d drop dead, I didn’t hear anything amiss. I’d watch out when the stuff starts arriving though, to make sure it’s all new and not some old crap from his yard done up, but I’ve heard nothing except good things about his work.” Shane paused for a moment, and then asked, “What does all this do to your plans to find Ares?”
Trevor sighed, slumped forward, looking down at the deck and feeling frustration. “I wish I knew. I asked Lisa and Joel about the professor, but they said they don’t know yet. If it’s still going to be in April or May, and Atlantis takes four months to get ready, I’m screwed; I couldn’t get back in time. I’ve got to do something but I don’t know what. The reason the professor wants Atlantis and will look for Ares is so he can test the new gear he’s building. I don’t see any way I’ll get another chance if I miss that window. I have to be there, I’ve got to find her. Maybe... maybe I can fly home for a week or two and get a rental replacement there, if I can find a catamaran with enough power – a big powerboat cat could do it easy.” Trevor paused and glanced at Shane, seeing the hurt look on his face. “Shane, I love being here, but I have to find Ares and this might be my last, best chance. I need to find her now more than ever; it might be the only way I’ll ever know for sure if my dad killed my mom, and if Dad’s innocent, this might be the only way to clear him.”
Shane gave Trevor a faint smile, replying softly, “I’ll miss you a lot if you go, but I understand. If it was my mum, I know I’d be the same. How long have you been on this quest of yours?”
Trevor took a deep breath, remembering... “I was walking home from school one day, not long before my eighth birthday. When I got near my house, there were some big black sedans there, with coast guard insignia. The insignia had the Coast Guard name and also ‘Semper Paratus ’. That scared me because I thought it meant something to do with pirates and I knew my mom was at sea. I’ve hated old pirate movies ever since.
“I was heading for the door when the old lady from next door came rushing out of her house. She grabbed me, hugging me, saying over and over, ‘It’ll be okay, really it will, honey.’ I can still hear her like it was yesterday. I wanted to get away from her so bad, worse then anything I’d ever wanted, so I wouldn’t have to keep hearing her say that... I don’t know if I knew what it all meant, I just knew something terrible had happened. I wanted so bad for it to not be real, but she kept saying that...” Trevor’s voice broke, and he turned away, not wanting Shane to see the tears forming in his eyes. He took a deep breath, and continued, “I got away from her and ran inside. My dad was sitting at the table with a couple of guys in uniforms. My dad’s not a drinker, but he had a bottle of gin open and I could smell it when he pulled me into a hug – and he told me there had been a problem, that my Mom was missing, but that people were out looking for her. I was crying by then, but I asked, over and over, if she was going to be okay, but nobody would tell me she was going to come home. I kept asking, I even begged, but they wouldn’t,” Trevor said, his voice breaking as the memories overwhelmed him and the tears ran freely.
Trevor had turned his head away from Shane, and Shane could guess why. He reached out and put a comforting hand on Trevor’s bare shoulder. “Let it out, Trev. Don’t keep it inside; that’s something I learnt the hard way.”
Trevor took a breath, then another. Finally, in a faint but steady voice, he carried on, “Later that night after the coast guard left, Dad was very drunk, but he held me while I cried. All I knew was that my mom was out there somewhere: in trouble and all alone. The next morning, and for a long time after, I woke up, and it’d hit me again, and no matter how hard I wished it wasn’t, it was real. I camped out by the phone, hoping and waiting, but she was gone. Dad put me in counseling, but that didn’t help at all. I was a mess, for a long time,” Trevor said, choking back a sob. “I was ten when she was declared dead, but it still hurt. Dad – I think he did it for me; what the counselor called ‘Give me closure’ – had a funeral for Mom when I was ten. There was casket and a wreath, but the casket was empty. He even had a headstone put up. I go there sometimes. That’s a big part of why I need to find Ares, so I can finally have Mom buried in that grave. I needed to do that, even before I found out Dad might have killed her. So now, I have even more reasons. She’s been gone most of my life, but I still miss her–” Trevor’s words caught in his throat, forcing him to stop. The tears ran freely now, the wounds still raw, even after so many years. “There was always something... odd about Dad after Mom died. A kind of a... distance. He’d change the subject when I mentioned her, and he got all awkward if I was upset. Later, I just figured he was grieving too, until I found the divorce papers – which he won’t even talk about. Now, I just don’t know what to think anymore.”
Shane pulled Trevor into a gentle hug. “I know how much it hurts to lose your family, Trev. I do, because I went through it too. It sucks. I haven’t talked about this in years, but with you I can. I usually just say my mum died in a car crash and leave it at that, but... I was with her when it happened. We lived a few kilometers outside Cairns, on a country road. We’d been to the grocery store and were coming home. It was raining. I remember the squeak of the windscreen wipers going back and forth – I’ve never been able to hear that sound since without my guts churning.
“We were stopped at a stop sign; it was late afternoon and the rain was getting heavy. I remember it drumming on the car. When we stopped at the stop sign, I looked right and left, then... I remember seeing the headlights, and there was another sound... That’s all I remember from before it happened. Then, I felt water on my head and woke up, hurting all over. Everything was a blur, I... Mum was still next to me, but it wasn’t water on me – it was blood. The doorframe was all pushed into her, and it’d gashed her neck. I couldn’t move my left arm and I was pinned in my seat. I twisted around so I could reach her... I tried, I tried so hard to stop the bleeding, but there was so much blood.”
Shane’s voice caught in his throat, and Trevor held him tight, their heads on each other’s shoulders, as Shane’s body was wracked by a sob.
Shane took a few breaths and continued, his voice breaking, “I tried to save her but I didn’t know how. I tried to stop the bleeding, and I remember screaming at her, begging her to wake up. I got dizzy and started fading out. Next thing I knew, a fireman was cutting my seatbelt and the steering column to get me out. I remember looking back at the car as they stuffed me in the ambulance; there were fireman standing around it and the truck that had hit us, not doing much, and my mum was still inside. They didn’t tell me until later, but I knew it then – she was gone. I was in hospital for a week; I had a broken arm, loads of bruises, and I’d lost a lot of blood, but coming home was the worst of it. That’s what made it... real.”
Trevor felt Shane’s tears and eased his grip to give Shane a pat on the back. “Oh man, that... that must have been... like your world ended. I was able to keep hoping for a while, but for you, you were with her when... oh man,” Trevor said, words failing.
Shane took a ragged breath, his sides heaving as the old wounds opened anew. “There’s worse: I was the driver. Mum had been teaching me, because I’d asked to start learning early. I was already in surf lifesaving, but after what happened, I focused on it, especially first aid and stuff. I thought that maybe if I’d known some more first aid then, maybe I could have...” Shane’s words trailed off, and Trevor felt him shudder again. “They said the truck that hit us lost control in the rain on a curve and left the road, and we were just stopped in the wrong place at the wrong time. The truck driver wasn’t hurt much, but our car was thrown across the road we were stopped on. It happened a week before my sixteenth birthday – I’ve hated my birthdays ever since.”
Trevor tightened the hug for a moment, feeling Shane’s sides heave in misery. “You were hurt bad too, and had a broken arm. Did anyone ever tell you that there was a chance?” Trevor said, hoping like hell that he was right.
Shane sighed. “No, they told me she wouldn’t have lived, that the impact was on her side, and she was hurt in all kinds of ways. I didn’t believe them then, but over the years, as I’ve learnt more, I kind of accepted it. I still – or I did, until I left – go to her grave a lot. It helps.”
“I think that’s part of why I have to find Ares and my mom. I remember her funeral, just before Christmas when I was ten. Dad had it because she’d been declared dead. We watched them lower an empty casket into the ground, and I wanted to find her, so she could finally have a real funeral, and a real grave. And... unless I find her, maybe I’ll never know if Dad killed her or not.”
“We’ve both had a lot of pain. Me, I was alone except for my step dad and aunt, though neither of them were much interested in me, especially after that. My aunt never said it, but I think she blames me for the crash. My step dad wasn’t shy about saying that he thought I was to blame, but he and I had never got on well so that was no surprise. I can understand them thinking that, because I blamed myself too, for a long time.” Shane sighed, breathing hard and holding Trevor tight. After a few long moments, he said softly, “If I’d been a better driver, or if Mum had been driving, maybe we’d have pulled away from the stop sign instead of waiting for the truck to pass, or maybe she’d have seen it coming in time.”
Trevor hugged Shane tight, wishing that he could find the words to ease his pain. “That doesn’t make it your fault, Shane. A few weeks before my mom died, I was nearly hit by a car that came racing out of a driveway. I jumped out of the way, but if I hadn’t and I’d been hurt, maybe Mom would have canceled the charter and stayed home. Does that make it my fault?”
Shane took a few deep breaths and wiped the tears from his eyes. “You just made that up to make a point, didn’t you?” he asked.
With a soft, sad chuckle, Trevor replied, “Yeah, kinda... it was like a year later when I almost got hit. How’d you know?”
“Just a hunch... your voice changed a little. Thanks, and thanks for caring about me. It’s been a long time since anyone has.”
Trevor felt Shane’s breathing become more even. “I do care, a lot, and as for my point, it’s still a good one; it wasn’t your fault,” Trevor said.
Shane hesitated, and then changed the subject back to Trevor. “You had your dad, but then you found out he may be your mum’s killer. That must have pulled it all open again for you.”
Trevor took a few deep breaths and replied, “Yeah. That, and wondering if that bomb on Atlantis was his doing. It took me a while to figure out it probably couldn’t have been. Then the–” Trevor shuddered, though not hard, as he remembered the pirates.
Shane held Trevor tight, knowing it was time to begin to share his own dark journey. “After my mum died, I was a mess. I had nightmares all the time and tried to cut myself off from the world. A social worker recognized the signs when I was sixteen – the panic attacks were happening a lot by then – and had a doctor send me to see a psychologist. She put me in a discussion group to make me talk about it and that helped some. What really helped me was my old best mate, Gazza. He was there for me; I don’t think I could have coped without him. What I have is called post traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes soldiers get it if they go through something traumatic during war, but anything really bad can bring it on. I think that’s what you’ve got, Trev, and that’s why the panic attack, and that’s why you’ve been trying to avoid dealing with things, like what’s going on back home, or with Atlantis. You were pulling away, closing yourself off, and the panic attack was a warning sign. You can get over it, but it’ll get worse if you don’t deal with it.”
Trevor took a deep breath, wincing as another ugly truth he was avoiding came back to haunt him. “I have to get over it. I can’t go on like this; I’m not fit to be a captain like I am.”
Shane gave Trevor a pat on the back. “You’ll be okay. We’ll try you out on something small: the Zodiac. We wanted to have a look at the cliffs, so we’ll take the Zodiac out of the lagoon and to the far south end of Boat Haven Loop and hike to ‘em. No worries there either; I can handle the Zodiac just fine, no matter what, but it’ll give you a chance to get back at the controls of a boat. I think you’ll do fine,” Shane said, breaking the hug and settling back into the sofa beside Trevor.
Trevor nodded and smiled. “Sounds good. I do feel different today – better than I’ve been anyway – and I think that news about the pirates helped a lot. Thanks... uh, how did you get Joel’s number anyway?”
Shane grinned. “The phone has a redial button and he was your last call – oh, speaking of calls; when I made the appointments, I used my name. I figured we’d best avoid using yours. It also means we can put the bills on my Medicare card, which will take care of most of the expense.” Medicare is the name of the Australian national health billing system.
Trevor began to frown. “The way I heard it, the nurses at the hospital played a big part in the news about me getting around town. Won’t I be confirming the whole story if I go to a clinic and tell them what happened? If the story gets out, I’m going to be hounded by press. Officer Gonzalez told me to keep my location a secret, because he’s not positive there won’t be another try at killing me. He did tell me to have the local police call him if I had any trouble, so maybe they, or the customs officers, could make sure what I tell the doctor and staff isn’t blabbed.”
Shane’s eyes opened wider. “That’s a problem. Medical stuff is supposed to be confidential, but... We could head down the coast to Kilbarri or even Geraldton, but that’s a longer run. The worst part though is we’d have to tell Mr. Blake we’re leaving the region and he might ask why.”
Trevor sighed. “Not good.”
Shane stood up and began to pace. “Maybe we could tell him we’re heading for Kilbarri; that’s not all that far and there’s a famous national park just inland. I can tell him we want to see it – not a lie, if we actually do, but I don’t like the idea. I can handle Kookaburra in open water so I could get us there if I have to.” Shane stopped to think for a moment, and then added, “Wait, we’re missing something big here. You’re going to the clinic as me, remember? First, you tell them that your life could be at risk if word gets out, and you then tell your story only to the doctor. Just say you’re Australian and were taken to live in Yankeeland a few years ago – that’ll explain your accent. If anyone does leak, they’ll have the wrong name. If it goes further, we could probably get the customs guys to come out and say that I haven’t been out of the country at all. I think they’d be happy to do that, ‘cause it’s true. Another thing that’s handy for us, my reputation in Carnarvon: scum of the earth sums it up well enough. They hate thieves, and many also think I’m taking advantage of the Blakes. Not everyone knows me, but if the medical people start flapping their gums to others, they’ll soon find someone who does, and that’ll likely put an end to any credibility for the story.”
Trevor gave Shane an apprehensive look. “This is becoming a complicated mess. Any idea when Friday my appointment is, and how many times I’ll have to go?”
“The first is at nine on Friday morning. You have to see a general practitioner once, because he’s got to refer you to the psychologist. I set it up for appointments for both; they’re only a block apart. I told them you’d had a panic attack and that someone had tried to kill you a few months ago, and you’d been through some trouble since. They agreed to both appointments based on that. Worst case, we cast off and try again in Kilbarri or Geraldton.”
“Maybe I should go under my own name; I think my boat insurance would cover this,” Trevor said, and then paused. “Uh, with them, I’d have to pay out of pocket and they’d reimburse me later. Any idea how much this’ll cost?”
“I wouldn’t if I were you; you never know who might hear of it, and as for the costs... I don’t know what they charge around here. Back home in Cairns you’d be out a hundred or more per visit without insurance, and they might want to see you a lot,” Shane replied.
Trevor winced at the thought of parting with that much cash. “Okay, I’m convinced. I’ll go as you.”
“Okay, we’ll kick back here until Thursday, then head for Carnarvon. Hold out your hands.”
Trevor complied with the unexpected request, and to his own surprise, found his hands steady. “Hey, that’s an improvement! When you had this, did your hands shake?” he asked.
“Yeah, sometimes, and sometimes I’d shake all over. I got worse for months though, before that social worker noticed me.”
Without thinking, Trevor put his arm across Shane’s bare shoulder and gave him a one armed hug. Then, with his arm still in place, he glanced at it, suddenly wary of close physical contact with Shane, worried what Shane might think. Trevor hurriedly pulled his arm back, only to find himself looking into Shane’s puzzled eyes.
It took Shane a moment to understand Trevor’s reaction, and mindful of Joel’s warning, Shane said, “Trev, you were just being a good mate, and in any case, you’ve no need to stress out about stuff like that with me. Put your arm back.”
With a bashful grin, Trevor did as he’d been asked.
With a shocked, horrified look appearing on his face, Shane jabbed an accusing finger at Trevor’s arm and declared loudly, “That’s sexual harassment!”
Trevor blinked in startled surprise, and then he saw the corners of Shane’s mouth twitching. Trevor’s mind spun for a moment before he remembered Joel’s identical accusations, and then it clicked. Leaving his arm on Shane’s shoulders, Trevor nodded once and said, “When Joel gets here, remind me to kill him.”
Shane laughed, giving Trevor a nudge with his shoulder. “He put me wise to your evil ways, he did. So, it’s lunchtime; what would you like to do after lunch?”
Trevor was about to suggest beach flags, though he stopped just in time as he realized a problem; after his panic attack, he was in no way willing to think of pirates to keep from getting hard, and wrestling around with an almost-naked Shane would surely do that to him. He knew that even a straight guy could get hard sometimes in situations like that, and in fact he’d felt Shane half hard against him more than once, but Trevor knew that frequency was the problem; an occasional incident could be explained away; frequent ones could not. Shane knew he was gay, which in Trevor’s opinion would make it even more awkward. So, Trevor said, “We could work on the book?”
“Ripper! I’ve been wanting to. And, if you’re okay with it, now maybe I can ask some things about...” Shane let his voice trail off.
Trevor took a deep breath, and nodded once. “What happened after I left the Seychelles. Okay... I know I have to talk about that sometime.”
They took up their normal spot on the salon floor, side by side, with Shane at the laptop and taking notes.
Trevor began talking Shane through the departure from the Seychelles, and Trevor was fine until he reached the point where he woke up with a gun poking him in the stomach. Trevor began to shudder, so Shane draped an arm across Trevor’s back.
Trevor took a deep breath and carried on, eyes clenched shut, giving a full recount of what had happened. He’d told Shane a condensed version before, but now he told it all.
Upon reaching the point where he’d been shoved over the railing, Shane could feel Trevor shuddering, though not as badly as he’d known him to do. “Want to take a break?” Shane offered, giving Trevor a one-armed hug across the back.
Trevor took another deep breath and shook his head. “If I don’t do this now, I won’t,” Trevor said, and carried on, describing his exhausting ordeal and then what he’d thought was his final plunge. Trevor told it all, in an almost numb voice, finishing with freeing himself and barely making it back to the surface.
“How did you feel then,” Shane asked. His main reason for inquiring wasn’t the story, but an attempt to draw Trevor out and keep him talking.
“I was sure I was going to die. I was adrift, hurt, and knew there was no hope of rescue. I saw Atlantis’s lights, far off, and didn’t think I could make it, or have any hope even if I did. I don’t know why I started swimming for her, I just did. I had no idea what I’d do when I got there – if I ever did – I just... I couldn’t give up.”
Shane smiled softly, giving Trevor’s bare shoulder a squeeze. “You didn’t give up, and that’s why you’re alive and they aren’t.”
Trevor smiled at Shane, feeling shaken though calmed and reassured by Shane’s arm across his shoulder blades. Trevor carried on with his recount, telling in detail of reaching Atlantis, using his shorts to help make a rope so he could hide between her hulls, and then of his idea to board the pirate trawler.
Now it was Shane’s turn to shiver. “I don’t think I’d have been able to do that. You were hurt, exhausted, and naked, so you decided to raid their bloody boat.”
“I could hear them on Atlantis so I was hoping to sneak in and either find a gun, an EPIRB, or use their radio,” Trevor said, and then went on to tell of his time in their hold, of finding his valve kit, and realizing that the perfect place for the abrasive grit was the pirates’ engines.
“What was going through your head then?” Shane asked.
“It was the only thing I could think of to do that would hurt them, because I hadn’t found a gun or anything else I could use... after I added the grit, I remember thinking, ‘Paybacks are a bitch, you pirate bastards.’”
Shane grinned. “That was cool; you never told me that bit before. Did you think, then, it’d kill ‘em?”
Trevor shrugged awkwardly, due to resting on his elbows on the deck. “I knew it’d probably hurt ‘em if their engines failed, like maybe leaving ‘em stranded. I hoped it’d leave them out there forever, but I didn’t have a lot of hope; I knew they probably had radios, but I was hoping that once their engines died, they’d have no power. I hoped it’d kill ‘em, or at least get ‘em caught, but I figured it was a long shot – my only shot.”
“The nice bit is that they punched their own tickets as a result of what you did. Irony is a cast iron bitch, and you sicced her on those motherfuckers,” Shane said.
“I went back to my search, looking for an EPIRB...” Trevor carried on, telling of his search, and thinking, in the dark, that he’d found one of his EPIRBS based on touch and shape. He kept on, telling of returning to his hiding place, and then ducking underwater when the pirates opened fire as they were leaving. He then gritted his teeth in anger as he described reboarding Atlantis, seeing her gutted, and then finding that what he’d risked his life to get was his garlic crusher.
“That must have truly sucked,” Shane said, giving Trevor a sympathetic pat on the back.
“It did, and I hate that fucking thing. I’m glad I’ll never see it again,” Trevor said, scowling at the thought of it.
“That’s right, you left it on that log you set afire,” Shane replied, remembering that part of Trevor’s tale.
“And good fucking riddance,” Trevor replied, and then shrugged. “Even without the chance to put the grit in the engines, the trip to the trawler was worth it. The wrench I brought back came in damn handy.” Trevor then told of his desperate rush to get Atlantis underway, driven by his fear that the pirates might return. He also mentioned keeping his gun with him almost every second, in case they did.
“A handgun wouldn’t have been a lot of use against that crew,” Shane observed, shuddering at the thought.
Trevor shrugged again. “I know. I knew they’d kill me anyway so I wanted to take as many of them with me as I could: no reason not to. I’m good with a pistol, and if I ambushed ‘em I’d have got a few before they got me.”
“You, mate, are both brave and resourceful. You survived because you wouldn’t quit, and you got your gutted boat all the way to Australia. You survived, and they didn’t,” Shane said, intentionally repeating that fact, knowing that it would help Trevor. A thoughtful look crossed Shane’s face, and he added, “One other thing: when I pranked you with the kangaroos, you were drunk and scared, but your instinct was to fight; you wanted to set stuff on fire and find a way to get us out of there. You don’t give up,” Shane said, giving Trevor an admiring glance and a nod.
Trevor smiled at the compliment. He’d previously told Shane of how he’d jury-rigged Atlantis, so he said, “We’ve pretty much reached where we worked on before. Want to go through that part again, or more on the pirates?” Trevor asked.
Shane couldn’t help but smile as he noticed that Trevor had said ‘pirates’ without shuddering. “I think you’re making progress, Trev. Could you have talked about it in this kind of detail before?”
“I don’t think so – I didn’t want to even think about it.”
Shane took a deep breath. There was one more thing that had occurred to him after Trevor’s panic attack, and it had been nagging at Shane. “Is there anything you’ve left out... anything traumatic? You can trust me; and you do need to talk about it, no matter how bad.”
Trevor gave Shane a puzzled look. “I do trust you, but... I can’t think of anything I missed, let alone anything big.”
“What happened to me was a crash, but I’ve read about post traumatic stress disorder since, including some different kinds of cases. Trev... if they did anything to you besides what you’ve said, it’s important to talk about it,” Shane said, watching Trevor for a reaction.
Trevor blinked and shook his head. Meeting Shane’s eyes, he replied, “I haven’t left anything out, honest.”
Shane studied Trevor’s eyes for a moment, and pressed on. “Okay, though you might be blocking it and not know yourself. Trev, you shudder when pirates are mentioned, but I’ve also realized that sometimes you shudder at other times. It happened when we were playing beach flags and wrestling around. Does... physical contact sometimes make you shudder? Did the pirates do something to you, something... sexual? Is that how you ended up naked?”
Trevor knew instantly what Shane had picked up on, and that Shane was reading it wrong. Shaking his head, Trevor replied, “No, I tore my shorts up myself, to make the rope to hang on with. Honest, Shane, they didn’t do anything to me other than what I said. If they had, I’d tell you. I trust you.”
Shane nodded. “Okay, then we’ve got to figure out why you shudder. I think it’s important, because it’s something linked to what happened to you. What can you tell me of it... any ideas what’s causing it?”
Trevor was trapped and he knew it; he’d promised to be honest with Shane, and didn’t want to lie. “Shane... I know what’s causing that, and it won’t happen again.”
Shane’s eyes narrowed. “So you know, but you won’t tell me? You can’t keep this stuff inside, Trev.”
“It’s not the pirates... not exactly, well sorta. I shudder when I think of them.” Trevor glanced at Shane, whose expression made it clear that he wasn’t going to let the subject drop. Trevor cringed, knowing that he had to admit what was going on. “Shane, I’m into guys–”
“Yeah, we’ve established that already, so?” Shane asked, with a puzzled look on his face.
Trevor swallowed once and looked away. “Uh, wrestling around with you... It’s kinda... it sometimes makes me start to... and I thought about the pirates to make... things not come up,” Trevor blurted, as he began blushing furiously.
Shane blinked in surprise as he realized exactly what Trevor meant. “You bloody fucking idiot! Of all the brainless... Trev, this was happening even after you came out to me, so why the fucking hell would you do something so bloody stupid to yourself to avoid getting a little stiff? That’s probably part of what triggered your panic attack... why?” Shane demanded, and then he cringed slightly and backpedaled fast. “Okay, okay, never mind, I get it. Bloody stupid, but I get it. Did it occur to you that even straight guys sometimes bone up when wrestling around – or for damn near no reason at all? They just ignore it... Hell, if it makes you feel any better, I had to roll away fast a time or two because I was getting hard. It happens, no big deal, but torturing yourself over it, especially after what you’ve been through, has to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! Promise me, right now, that you’ll never do that again.”
This was the first time since the day they’d met that Trevor had seen Shane angry. He also knew that Shane was right. “I’d already figured out it was a bad idea after the panic attack, and I won’t ever try that again. I promise I won’t,” Trevor replied, his cheeks burning.
Shane studied Trevor’s eyes for a moment. “Fair enough. If you feel you absolutely have to deflate, just think of something sad – but not traumatic, like pirates or stuff... and now that I think of it, you’ve added a whole new meaning to the term boneheaded,” Shane replied, cracking a smile and elbowing Trevor in the ribs.
Please let me know what you think; good, bad, or indifferent.
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
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. A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.