TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

The secretive conversations between Dave (everybody called him Shark Boy) and his dad were cut short when Jenny opened the hatch cover. The wind was howling, rain started coming in, and she was clearly agitated as she shook the water from her rain gear.

“Something is wrong with this picture,” said Jenny “when a woman has to get out of her warm bunk and go topside in the rain, while two able bodied men stay below in a warm, dry, cabin.”

“There’s nothing wrong with this picture,” Dave’s dad said cuttingly, “Captains give orders and underlings obey them! You won’t see anything wrong with the system when you’re the captain and you’ll probably be harder on the crew than I am. And don’t get my bedding wet—stay in the “V” berth, because you’ll need to be getting up frequently to keep an eye on the chaffing gear—we’re in the middle of hurricane season and no amount of precaution is enough.”

After that brusque dismissal, he turned back to Dave and told him, “Get my laptop computer, son, and check NOAA’s last satellite picture and see what this storm looks like. So long as it’s blowing stink out of the east nobody will be going to Lovango.”

As soon as he had the current satellite image of their part of the Caribbean on the computer monitor, Dave cried out in dismay, ”Holy crap, Pop! The onscreen photo shows another tropical storm even bigger than this one south of here!”

“Turn on the radio,” the captain calmly replied, “let’s see if we can pick up any local radio traffic.”

What they got was not much. All the radio transmissions Dave could find were full of static and fast becoming inaudible as the storm progressed. When waves grow taller than a boat’s radio antennae the solar energy accumulated in the top thirty feet of the ocean makes communications by radio sporadic at best.

#*@%#$ … she’s coming on, boys!” said a desperate distant voice.

“That’s Mad Jack McCall,” said the captain, “sounds like him and his ancient lumber schooner might be in trouble. He’s somewhere between Venezuela’s Orinoco River and here, bound for Port Everglades.”

He mused to himself quietly, “Some say Mad Jack has a death wish for sailing during hurricane season, others say he’s a brave man who’s naturally fearless, and still others say he’s just a crazy old alcoholic. But it’s how we live our lives that counts—not how we die. Huh! I remember all the times Jack said, ‘I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.’”

“Pop,” said Dave, interrupting, “it looks like these storms are going to collide right where we’re at; what do you think will happen?”

“Who knows, but with a little luck, the storm coming from the south will overcome the one from the east, and if we can get a southern blow we can make a run for the backside of Lovango, drop the hook, put you ashore and search for the pirate’s escudos. They’re worth about 18,000 dollars apiece nowadays. But no amount of gold is worth losing you, so let’s remember, caution and safety first.”

“What about Jenny, what are we going to do with her?”

“Maybe she can stay with Ryan,” the captain answered, “or with the Analusleiscu sisters. But we’ve got to keep this quiet. Nobody that doesn’t need to know should know what the two of us are doing.”

“I knew a man, once upon a time, who spent time in a federal prison. He said that some were there because they confided in a girlfriend or wife, and after the relationship turned sour, the significant other used the FBI or some other police agency to exact revenge. The rest of them, he told me, talked too much and word got around to one of the countless snitches who would do anything to cut a better sentencing deal with the prosecutor.”

“A prudent man plans, executes his plan, and never ever rats, especially on himself. If we find the gold, nobody else needs to know about it, not even the monk.”

“O.K.,” Dave answered, “Enough said, Pop. But where will we hide the gold if we find it?”

“I have a safe place,” his father answered, “but we must keep this an absolute secret, because if we don’t the government will want to confiscate or at the least tax it, thieves will want to steal it, and all our friends will want a loan. Not to mention the current landowner, who will certainly claim that it is really his. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Blackbeard’s ghost didn’t hire a lawyer too, and try to put a claim on it!” To be continued.

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John Stark

The author of the "Tales from the Caribbean" fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer