Copyright (c) 2016 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Three Latino men and one Anglo woman were preparing the one-hundred thirty-foot Toro Natación for an unscheduled night cruise when Janet Reynolds and four of Rico Alfaro’s men arrived at the Miami Beach Marina. A brisk night wind drove large waves against the wharf pilings, but the huge yacht was unmovable in the water. No crew member looked twice when a body was dragged aboard and a sobbing Janet was forced below deck with a gun in her back. “No esperes ninguna ayuda from any of them,” the gun wielding man told her as he locked her in a spacious cabin. “All Mr. Alfaro’s employees saber a la mente su propio negocio (know how to mind their own business.)” The stateroom was larger than her double-wide trailer. Janet plopped face-down onto a king-size bed and began to cry.
Janet felt only a slight tremor as the huge yacht moved out into the ocean. Five minutes later, one of the Anglo women crew members entered the room carrying an expensive-looking crimson dress. “Hi, I’m Karen. Ernesto wants you to wear this,” she noticed the question on Janet’s face. “The brute with the scar across his face who had the gun in your back.” She placed the garment carefully on the bed, then brushed short blond hair from her eyes. “Ernesto is in charge when Rico is not around. He and the his macho friends like to pretend they woo women into having sex with them … but no matter how they do it …. rape is rape!”
“How can you work for people like this?” Janet sobbed.
“I don’t have any choice,” Karen said. “My husband ran a charter business, taking tourists on fishing and sight-seeing trips. I’d only been married six months when I found he had a serious gambling addiction. I was only supposed to work three months to pay Rico off for an eight-thousand dollar debt. I’ve been here more than a year and we now owe more than ten-thousand.”
“Where are we going?” Janet asked.
“About twenty miles off-shore,” Karen said. “They’ll weight the dead man’s body and then toss it overboard, after that … the party will begin.”
“Does this happen all the time?” Janet gasped.
“Money attracts all the wrong kinds of people and Rico has business interests all over Florida,” Karen said. “Drugs, prostitution … even some things that are legal. He’s one of the largest contributors to the Governor’s re-election campaign and most of the state legislators. It literally allows him to get away with murder.”
“Is there any way to get out of this?” Janet picked up the dress, looked at the label, and then flung it onto the carpeted floor.
“My husband Ted is the pilot of this vessel and the radio operator,” Karen said. “There was an earthquake in the gulf about two-hundred miles east of Havana. Ted advised against taking even a huge boat like the Toro Natación out, because of the chance of giant waves, but Rico insisted. All you can do is stall for time and hope that Ernesto and the others get drunk enough to fall overboard.”
Thirty minutes later, Janet heard the diesel engines come to a stop. From somewhere above on the deck she heard a splash as something large was thrown in the water and then music began to play. Thankfully, Jack and her children were locked up in the back room of Rico’s bar. Janet closed her eyes and her three children’s tiny faces seemed to be looking at her for answers. She opened her eyes and took a deep breath. If her family was going to get out of this jam, it would be up to her to do it. She picked up the expensive dress and sighed.
The three children were asleep on the filthy mattress, but Jack lay awake worried about Janet. A thousand times he wished they had never bought the damn lottery ticket. Finally the door opened and Sheriff Buford “BB” Jackson waddled in carrying the next day’s printed itinerary. “The plane leaves at six in the morning,” he said handing the paper and the lottery ticket to Jack. “Rico will fly us to Atlanta himself.” He looked at Jack and grinned. “Your wife should be back from her pleasure-cruise by then.”
“If Janet is hurt in any way … I’ll kill you,” jack promised.
BB ignored him and went on. “Rico will wait in the rental car with the kids while you, me and your wife, go inside lottery headquarters to collect the money. Remember, I’m hired as your spokesman, attorney and bodyguard … No one will suspect the sheriff of the county where you live. There will be no pictures and no publicity. I’ll do all the talking.”
“How do you ever expect to get away with this?” Jack was furious.
“I’ve been looking for a way out of my own financial situation for over a year,” the sheriff said. “After you won the lottery, everything just fell into place.” He reached down as if to stroke a sleeping Kit Kat’s soft baby hair but Jack knocked his hand away. “When Harry Walton and his gang got involved … I thought that eighty-six million might slip out of my fingers … but everything works out in the end. That kind of money can buy a new identity anywhere in the world.”
The sheriff was laughing as he closed the door. Jack sat on the bed and thought about Janet. He prayed that she was okay.
The ocean was strangely calm and the sky clear when Janet strolled onto the upper deck of the expensive yacht. Nat King Cole’s Mona Lisa played over loudspeakers crooned by a Latin singer. Starlight reflected off the intricate beadwork of the red Oscar de la Renta cocktail gown. Janet had to admit the dress fit like a glove with just the right amount of cleavage. She knew she looked better than good and it somehow made her feel stronger …. Maybe she could use these men’s lust to her advantage.
“Alabanzas a los cielos! Senorita you look exquisite!” Ernesto strolled toward Janet extending his pudgy arm. When his fingers brushed against her waist, she slapped away his hand. Janet strained to remember the Spanish she took in High School. She addressed all of the men, gazing at each with a look that she hoped promised that he was the only one. “Yo no soy alguna puta para ser pasado como una botella de tequila! (I am not some whore to be passed around like a bottle of tequila!)” She turned and adjusted the straps on her low-cut dress. “Voy a elegir uno de ustedes para una noche de placer exquisito... pero sólo uno! (I will choose one of you for a night of exquisite pleasure … but only one!)”
Ernesto laughed. “It takes a very strong man to tame such a woman,” he said glaring at the others. “No hombre on this boat can defeat me in a fight!”
“It takes more than a strong arm, to win a woman’s favors,” Janet told him smiling at the others. “If you are such a man … then prove it!”
“Yes,” several of the others said. “Deje que la mujer a elegir (Let the woman choose) who she will sleep with.”
“I will play along with this little game of yours,” Ernesto said taking a switch-blade knife from his pocket and flicking it open. “But you will be in my bed before this night is over … or you will be food for the fishes.”
Jack couldn’t keep Kit Kat from crying; he was making the other children cry as well. A large Latino reeking of alcohol and with vacant eyes, had been back twice pounding on the locked-door in the rear of Toro Magnifico telling him to callar esos malditos niños! “We need food … and milk for the baby,” Jack told him when he stormed back again. “Your boss won’t like it if we get sick before he gets our money!” Jack thought what he said sounded stupid, but he was surprised when the guard staggered back twenty minutes later with a bag filled with burgers and fries from McDonalds along with two cartons of milk. “The baby needs a bottle to drink out of,” Jack told the obviously drunk man when he was handed the bag. The man shook his head. “No entiendo,” he muttered. Jack stuck his thumb in his mouth and made sucking noises. “A bottle,” Jack said removing his finger. “The baby needs a bottle!”
The man was staring stupidly at Jack’s wet thumb and so Jack jabbed it in his eye. A split second later Jack hit him as hard as he could when the man was bent over rubbing his eye socket. The large Latino stood erect and smiled showing rows of gold-capped teeth. “I’ve done it now!” Jack gasped. “He’s going to kill me!”
“Mama dijo que llego a montar el burro a continuación (Mama said that I get to ride the donkey next),” he muttered just before both his eyes turned inward and he crashed to the floor.
Jack held Kit Kat under one arm as he dragged Sally and Mick through a storage room filled with cases of beer and wine. “Where are we going?” Sally began to cry again holding a half-eaten cheese-burger in her hand.
“Shhhh … you must be very quiet,” Jack told her. “We’re going to find momma!”
Janet had slow-danced with every man on the Toro Natación at least twice including Karen’s husband Ted. The man let his hand roam across her backside whenever he was turned away from his wife. Poor Karen Janet thought This guy is a real prize.
“Enough of these games!” Ernesto thundered stopping the music. “It is time for you to choose!” He pulled the switch-blade knife from his pocket. Starlight glimmered off the razor-sharp edges as he flicked it open. “Let’s hope that you make the right decision.”
Janet was standing near the railing on the upper deck and she happened to look down into the water. The ocean was full of shimmering fins and lashing tails all streaming past the hull going in the same direction. She looked across the hull toward the horizon. A dark wall of water was coming toward the boat. “Line up across from me,” Janet said undoing several of the buttons on her dress to keep all eyes on her. “I want to compare each of you … before I pick the lucky winner.”
All seven men lined up on the deck opposite from her flexing their muscles with several sucking in their stomachs including Karen’s husband.
Karen, standing beside Janet, was furious. “Ted! What the hell are you doing?” she screamed.
“Sorry babe,” Ted told her, “se trata de un concurso para los hombres (this is a contest of men) … it wouldn’t be right to leave me out!”
“If she chooses you, I will exchange your markers for the three-hundred you lost last night to take your place,” one of the men suggested.
“You are still gambling?” Karen screamed. “I don’t believe this!”
The wave was as large as a four storey building on the horizon, a black wall moving rapidly toward the yacht from behind the men. The huge water craft was beginning to list. Several eyes were beginning to turn. Janet unbuttoned the dress all the way and let it drop to the deck and all eyes were on her. “Hang on to the rail,” she whispered to a sobbing Karen.
The men were all too busy shouting to notice the sound of vast amounts of moving water.
“Buscarme, y no te arrepentirás (Pick me, and you won’t be sorry).”
“Era el mejor amante en la Habana! (I was the best lover in all Havana!)”
“Vamos a hacer amor a ti... ¿por qué no elegir el mejor primero? (We’re all going to make love to you … why not choose the best first?)”
The massive forty-foot wave struck the huge yacht from the rear port-side thrusting it upward like a surfboard before turning it vertically in the air. Janet put both arms around Karen and held tightly onto the boat-railing as they capsized and were plunged under the cold Caribbean waters.
Jack and the children crawled between cars until they were away from the gravel parking lot behind Toro Magnifico and then they ran. They skirted behind several warehouses and then down the sidewalk and into the street when they spotted a slow moving truck with Biological Disposal Systems printed on the side. Jack had just twenty-six dollars and the lottery ticket in his wallet. “I’ll give you twenty bucks to drive us to the marina,” Jack pleaded with the driver after the truck applied its brakes.
“The Miami Marina is only two miles from here,” the driver said looking at the frightened children and touching a silver crucifix dangling on a chain above the dashboard. “My name is Pablo Rivera … and I do not charge for being a Christian.”
“It will be crowded with all of us in your cab,” Jack said. “If you want , we can ride in the back.”
Pablo shook his head. “You would not like the company you were riding with.”
“What are you hauling?” Jack asked him as they filled the cab.”
“The unwanted parts of the dead,” Pablo whispered to Jack and then smiled at the children as he began to shift gears.
Janet thought her lungs would burst when with an explosion of bubbles the Toro Natación up righted. A dripping Karen was still holding onto the railing beside her. “I thought we were going to drown,” Janet moaned.
“Rico Alfaro is an evil gangster,” Karen said gasping for breath. “But he does know quality in a boat.”
All the crew members had been swept a hundred yards into the ocean except for Karen’s husband Ted. He pulled himself back onto the deck clinging to a mooring line. “Help me throw these to the crew,” he said releasing two self-inflating life-rafts from an emergency station. He stared at the ravaged yacht as he dragged one now inflated raft toward the port side. “I’m probably in deep trouble with Mr. Alfaro.” He moaned.
“No deeper than the trouble you are in with me,” Karen said as she rushed up behind her husband. She pushed him and the raft over the side.
“These are four-man rafts,” Janet said looking at instructions on the second raft that had just self-inflated. “With provisions for a week at sea … perhaps we should put this other over the side too?”
Karen produced a tiny knife from inside her brazier. She quickly punctured the raft in four different places. “Made for four men … but they will hold seven rats,” she said as she pushed the destroyed raft over the side.
“Do you know how to operate this boat?” Janet asked.
“Of course,” Karen said. “Who do you think has been the real Captain of this ship while he’s been drinking and gambling?”
Pablo Rivera was easy to talk to. Jack ended up telling him all about winning the lottery and then being held prisoner by first Harry Walton and then by the sheriff and the mobster Rico Alfaro. “Money attracts all the wrong people,” Jack told him. “If I can get my wife back, I’d be happy to never see that found money again.”
“Do you know the name of Alfaro’s yacht?” Pablo asked as they pulled into the marina.
“I don’t,” Jack said almost breaking into tears. “It will take a miracle to find her. All I know, is one of his thugs said it was very large.”
“In order to have miracles happen,” Pablo told him as he stroked the crucifix dangling above his dash. “You must first believe that they will happen.”
Pablo slowed down as he drove the truck past hundreds of moored boats big and small. “We’ll look for the most expensive boat here,” he said. “Your Mr. Alfaro sounds like an egomaniac.”
“That’s got to be the biggest yacht here,” Jack said pointing toward a huge boat coming in from the ocean heading toward the docks.
“Whoever is piloting that thing is either drunk or crazy,” Pablo said. “They are coming in much too fast!”
Jack gasped as the Toro Natación got close enough to see two women standing on the deck. They jumped off just as the huge vessel rammed and splintered the dock. “My wife doesn’t drink,” Jack yelled with joy. “So she must be the crazy one!”
It was after midnight, two days later when the Reynolds family returned to their double wide trailer just outside of Baxley Georgia. A huge crowd of people covered the lawn in front of their house and half the street. A large pile of fresh dirt stood on the lawn. “How did they know we’d be home today?” Janet asked as they looked for a pace to park. “It looks like half the town has been digging for buried treasure!”
“They probably been waiting here ever since we left,” Jack told her. “We ain’t staying long we’ll dash inside, grab our photo albums, that quilt your mother made before she died, a few other things and then we’re out of here for good.”
Deputy Bobby Joe Tinker tried to escort them safely inside their home but the crowd was too large. Jack and Janet both rushed toward the door carrying the children wrapped in blankets.
“What about all our old times? They don’t mean a damn thing now?” Tony Cordess yelled just before he threw a beer bottle. The empty container just missed Janet’s head.
“You people are crazy,” Jack yelled back. “We’ll be happy to share, but we need time to get our heads on straight.”
A lawyer from Atlanta tried to shove a paper in Jack’s hand. It was a class action suit that said a half-dozen people had injured themselves walking on Jack’s unkempt lawn. “You should have put up a sign warning people of the danger,” he said.
“I want my casserole dish back now!” Ruth Watson spat just before Janet slammed the door in her face. “There better not be even one chip or scratch in it!” Janet could hear her yelled warning from inside the house.
“Bobby Joe said to let him know when we’re ready to leave and he’ll have two deputies escort us out of town,” Jack told Janet.
“It’s funny,” Janet told her husband. “Now that we have a fortune … I no longer see its value.” She put her arms around Jack and kissed him. “We are together as a family and that’s all that matters.”
Just then, a bottle crashed through the living room window and burst on the carpet spreading flaming gasoline across the old battered couch and quickly spread to the walls. Within seconds the mobile home was consumed in flames.
Two fire trucks responded from Baxley and a third from Rockingham but the trailer was a total loss within minutes.
Eighteen hours later, police and fire officials found the charred remains of a man a woman and three children in the still warm ashes.
“She should have married me,” Deputy Bobbie Joe Tinker bawled as two EMT’s loaded the burnt bodies on a gurney. “I would have given her a Porsche!”
Dotty and Mike Purser ran from the waves across the white-sand beach toward where their parents sat with their baby brother. Three weeks at the Fiesta Americana resort in Acapulco had given them all deep glowing tans. Janice Purser scolded her daughter. “Dotty! I told you to put on suntan lotion after each time you go in the water. You don’t want to get a burn do you?”
The girl looked around the beach and laughed. “For a minute there I didn’t know who you were talking to,” she said.
Fonzareli Estaza and his wife Kim walked arm in arm from the tennis courts. “How are the new bride and groom doing today?” John Purser asked.
“Better,” Fonzi laughed. “You don’t know how much driving a truck affects you until you no longer do it!”
“Do you miss your old job?” John asked him.
“It was amazing what my employers did with the donated bodies once they were used up,” Fonzi said. “They burned them together and then sent each family a box of ashes with a name tag on it. I won’t miss that at all!”
“Did we tell you we’ve been thinking of buying a yacht?” Kim gushed.
“She keeps telling me what a great Captain she’d make.” Fonzi winked at John. ‘But we know better don’t we?”
“Speaking of money,” Jack said. “You remembered to mail your brother that check didn’t you?”
“I gave him enough to buy out his partner in the excavation business,” Fonzi said. “Let’s hope he spends it wisely.”
“He was the best tunnel digger I’d ever seen,” John gushed. “A tunnel that collapses behind you and leaves no trace. That’s ingenious!”
“People that can vanish and leave no trace …” Janice leaned-in and kissed her husband. “That’s even better!”