It was more than twenty-four hours stuck doing nothing, waiting for Señor Eduardo Phillipe. It's a crazy trick of life, Clinton thought, but everywhere we get stuck is noisy. Although that didn't seem to bother his brother. The only thing on Morgan's mind was Javier and Clinton's plan. For once Clint had a plan. It used to be they only ever talked about needing one, but now he had put something together. How much of that was down to Clinton, and how much due to the Colonel, was up for debate.
"It's clear then?" Clinton asked him for the umpteenth time. "Cos you're on your own when Eduardo gets here."
"It's clear," he replied.
Late that afternoon the noise, well most of it, ceased. Rather like turning off the music that had always been there in the background, now the sounds of nature came to the fore. Those sounds were mostly the wind, which was ripping through the encampment, seemingly gliding off the mountain tops.
Morgan was stood beside his brother, they both watched in tense anticipation as the small plane made it's approach. The double propped fixed wing B55 making a broad sweep around the base, heading up towards the ridge they'd driven over to get there. The landing was tricky with the high winds, and the plane dipped dangerously to the side when a gust caught it. But the pilot was obviously experienced and it landed safely. The boys watched as the airplane taxied around and back towards them. Señor Phillipe stepped out, followed by two men neither Clint nor Morgan had seen before, but they both recognised Miguel, the last man out.
"You're okay about going back with Miguel?" Clint looked at his brother with an air of worried concern.
"Sure. I mean I never really thought I'd see The Captain or that ship again, but what the hell. Seems like you've got it figured out." Morgan added that last bit to counter his brother's obvious nervousness. He knew full well that Clint didn't have it figured out, he was rolling the dice and hoping for snake eyes.
Eduardo, Miguel, and the two other men with them disappeared inside the main building. Clinton turned to his brother. "There's not much choice anyhow," he admitted.
"That's what I guessed," Morgan smiled, if only out of a certain satisfaction in knowing he'd got that right.
Clinton slung his arm around him and pulled him close. "At least it's not you going up in that tiny plane."
"What happens when you get to Miami?" Morgan wanted to know.
"That is down to Ana. She's taking care of things, I'm only along for the ride." Now it was Clint's turn to smile.
Morgan didn't believe any of it, but he let things pass. Somehow he hoped this would work out and they'd end up back together in America, but that seemed a long way off, at least for him. And what about Javier? he mused. Where would he fit in?
After supper Miguel showed up in their hut accompanied by one of those other two men from the plane.
"Never thought I'd see you again after what happened in Caracas," Clint smiled.
"I'm just here to drive the merchandise to Cartagena," Miguel told him.
"And my brother," Clint added.
"Sure, that's the deal."
Morgan was suddenly listening. What deal? He asked himself.
"And Javier? He could have done that." Clinton knew Miguel was more important than he appeared.
"Si, but Señor Phillipe wanted me." Miguel turned to leave.
"Is he back?" Morgan asked.
"Javier? Not yet, but he won't be too long. Be ready to leave first thing, it's a long journey." With that Miguel opened the wooden door and stepped out into the rapidly descending darkness.
"What exactly are you doing on the plane with Eduardo and Ana?" Morgan fixed his eyes on his brother.
"It's insurance," Clint told him.
"Sure, it's more than insurance." Morgan wasn't going to push it. He trusted his brother, he always had. Turning around he clambered into the hammock.
Clinton stared at Morgan, several thoughts fixed themselves in his mind, each vying for control. Would he be okay? Would he persuade Gregoire, assuming he was still there? And The Captain? Too many questions. And right there at the back of his mind was how he thought about Morgan, his brother with Javier, with The Captain.
It was after midnight when Javier got back. Morgan was sound asleep, but not Clinton.
"It went okay?" He whispered.
Javier was climbing into his hammock. "I guess, I'm back."
"Tomorrow you're going with Morgan and Eduardo's driver Miguel to Cartagena. You probably don't know what's planned." Clinton watched him through the almost darkness of the hut.
"I know what's planned. I'm beat. I need some sleep." He lay down disappearing in the embrace of the hammock.
Clinton said nothing more, but he couldn't fall asleep. The one thing that was certain was Morgan would be saying goodbye to Javier if he got back on the ship. Clint was banking on that. Never mind what else happened, Morgan had to be on that ship.
Finally, he did fall asleep. He drifted off on the thought that he'd convinced Eduardo they could all meet up in Miami. Had Eduardo really bought that idea? He doubted it.
As usual, everyone was up early, the hut was mostly empty when Morgan fell out of his hammock. Joining Clinton in the little washroom, he bent over the basin and started brushing his teeth. His brother stood behind watching him.
"You know what happened with Eduardo in Caracas, I can't get it out of my head." Clinton was talking to his back as Morgan spat into the basin.
"Well, that's why he bought your plan to meet up in Miami." Morgan stood up and grabbed the rough piece of material that served as a towel.
Clinton stared at Morgan, he didn't reply, but stepped closer.
"Don't worry, I'll be okay," Morgan assured him.
"You like Javier," Clint changed topics.
"Yeah, I do, but..."
"But?" Clinton rested a hand on his brother's shoulder.
"But, I'm getting on that ship and Javier is... I don't know what he will do."
"I guess that's for him to figure out. But you'll miss him?"
"Clint," Morgan looked his brother straight in the eyes. "I'll miss you more."
Clinton smiled. "It'll work out and I'll see you in Miami."
They walked out together. Morgan had an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, but he ignored it. He decided to be philosophical, it'd work out, or it wouldn't, nothing much he could do either way.
The plane climbed steeply up before banking right and leaving the now almost completed airfield behind. As Clinton peered through the tiny window he saw the barren ridge and the road that descended towards Delicias. He'd imagined they'd be five on-board, that the two guys looking like bodyguards would accompany them. But they had gone with Javier and Morgan, two trucks, one driven by Miguel, the other by Javier. That was why they wanted him, and in each vehicle a minder riding shotgun.
He turned back to look across at Eduardo and Ana. She smiled. Señor Phillipe had a blank expression, stern and cold. "Don't make any mistake," he told Clinton. "You know what to say."
Ana lightly touched Eduardo's hand, her slender manicured fingers resting a moment. Clinton fixed his gaze on the gloss red nails.
"He'll be fine, señor," she whispered sexily.
"You said we might just walk through with no control." Clinton's voice betrayed his tension.
"We might, kiddo. But if not, your passport was stolen, got it?" Eduardo reached towards the mini bar on-board, he needed a drink. It wasn't Clinton who was annoying him with his worrying, but what was going down between himself and Hector Agaze. He was certain there was something he'd missed.
The plane followed the river and border, they were low enough to see the countryside below, only blocked now and then by thin wispy clouds floating beneath like candy floss. Clinton let his mind drift, thinking about Morgan, he dozed off. It was the change of engine noise that jogged him back to the here and now. Looking out, all he could see was blue, blue sky and blue sea.
"Where are we?" He asked Ana.
"About halfway I think. Just about over Haiti. Would you like a drink?"
He brushed his hair back off his forehead and squinted, rubbing his eyes and stretching in his seat. "Yeah, thanks."
She twisted the top off a tiny bottle of something, poured it into a glass and topped it up with some coke. Passing it across she regarded him. "Are you okay?"
"Sure," he replied, taking the glass and bringing it to his lips. "Tired, I guess." He sipped the alcohol. Rum and coke.
She returned to her book and he turned back to look out the window. Time seemed to crawl with nothing to do but sit and listen to the drone of the engines. The drink helped relax him, but he could never quite shrug off that uneasiness that had been a constant companion ever since he watched Morgan drive away earlier that morning. It would be three days before they met up.
Finally, they were descending. Clinton felt the tension returning, he was gripping the seat arms with both hands, taut like a violin string about to snap.
"It's a private airport and a private club." Ana looked at him sympathetically. "Try to relax."
But he couldn't. Then the plane suddenly dropped like a stone as they hit an air pocket. His stomach was in his mouth. He grabbed the little brown bag and held it to his lips.
The plane bounced, banked left, straightened up, and the rest of the descent was smooth. The next thing he was aware of were the wheels hitting the tarmac as they whizzed pass neat lawns and trees that looked as manicured as those on a golf course. When the plane had turned and taxied back to its allotted place, the steps came down and he followed Eduardo and Ana out onto the tarmac and across to the single story building above which a sign proclaimed, "Ocean Reef Club Airport."
They were standing inside the building when a man in uniform approached them. "Mr Phillipe, would you follow me please sir?" he asked.
Eduardo had Ana at his side, he nodded and walked through the hall after the man, Clinton followed behind. A car was waiting outside and the chauffeur opened the door. For the first time it registered with Clinton how elegantly sexy Ana was. She glided into the rear seat, her silky smooth long legs disappearing inside in a single sweep, leaving Clinton standing looking at her.
The chauffeur waited a little impatiently for Clinton to join her and Eduardo, before he closed the door with a satisfying clunk.
It couldn't be this simple, Clinton had to wonder how come there were no controls, how they could just swan into an airport, private or not. But the question didn't last long in his thoughts. He looked through the smoked glass as they swung past a golf course and some other complex building, before he glimpsed the ocean.
The suite they were shown to would have blown Clinton away had he not had a taste of luxury back in Caracas at Eduardo's apartment. He knew how the guy lived, just as he knew how the life style was financed.
"Take the first bedroom and keep out of the way," Eduardo cut into his daydreaming.
Clinton turned back from the huge glass windows overlooking the ocean and quickly disappeared into the bedroom. He shut the door behind him and collapsed on the bed, sinking into the mattress that seemed to engulf him in a soft embrace.
He wasn't going to get up, but had heard the door open and close. Either there were visitors or Eduardo and or Ana had gone out. He hesitated, the words of Hector Agaze played through his head, the instructions, this was one time he couldn't fail. Clinton pulled the paper out of his pocket, unfolded it and looked at the address,1289 Southwest 185th Avenue, Homestead, FL, USA. How far was that?
Gripping the solid brass door knob, he turned it and opened the bedroom door, steeping out, he listened. Silence. There couldn't be guests, so they must have gone out. Then he noticed his bag and one of the suit cases they'd loaded on the plane. He bent down and picked them up, returning back inside his bedroom where he left them. Going into the hall he walked towards the huge lounge with its panoramic ocean view. On the side table along the hallway he noticed a key card with a note underneath.
This will let you in and out. Get something to eat. You can charge it to the room. Ana.
It didn't say anything about where they had gone, when they'd be back or what he was expected to do, if anything. He went back into the bedroom, dug down in his bag and pulled the envelope out. He took out the wad of notes, stuffed half into his pocket and the rest back in the envelope and his bag. He'd go now, he decided.
In the lounge he found the bar and poured himself a drink, Dutch courage. He sat on the edge of the Scandinavian sofa, looked out at the view and picked up the phone. "Yeah, hi. I need a cab to go to an address in Miami, Homestead."
The concierge said it would be five minutes. Clinton smiled to himself as he finished his drink. How the fuck did I get us into this? He knew he was responsible for everything that happened, not only to himself, but to Morgan. Then he laughed, because sometimes it was Morgan who caused them trouble.