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Dave (everybody called him Shark Boy) scrambled aboard the Flying Circus, tied the painter to an aft cleat, and in one long breath tried to tell his dad, the Captain, about the huge shark that had attacked him. Because of its humongous size and color, its tall dorsal fin and odd shaped head it had to be a Megalodon even though they were supposedly extinct. His dad asked Dave to slow down, take a deep breath, and start over.

The night breeze was cold and the Captain, clad only in shorts, returned below deck while Dave took a seat in the main cabin. His dad rummaged around down below looking for something to drink. Shark Boy gathered his thoughts and caught his breath while his dad grumped about not having anything to drink except Big Jesse’s half-full Mason jar with a peach in it. Although the Captain’s thirst tempted him to drink it, he clearly remembered his last experience with Big Jesse’s moonshine—it beat him like a rented horse—and he had no desire to repeat that experience.

But finally he came back up and sat down, and Dave spent an hour excitedly telling his dad all the details about his encounter with the shark.
Dave’s dad sat quietly and listened, and then sighed and said, “That’s the only reasonable explanation for all of the fishermen and sailors who’ve gone missing around here—it makes more sense than the Bermuda Triangle, or UFO theories. I believed you the last time you encountered that shark, even though it’s hard to believe such a shark could exist after they’ve supposedly been extinct for five million years. But Rosa and Catrina believed it was true too, and after your second encounter with this same shark, there is no doubt left in my mind that the creature actually exists.

“Holy crap Pop,” Dave blurted out, “Rosa invited me for tea tonight and I completely forgot about her. I wonder if she was trying to forewarn me about the shark?”

Dave’s dad said, “Anna was here when the sisters stopped by so they didn’t say much, but they’re terribly concerned about a vision they had from the dearly departed Santana who warned them about a cave-in. Did you tell them about the treasure cave?”

“No way Pop, I never said a word,” said Dave. “But Santana’s last words to me before he died were don’t go near that cave—evil spirits lived there.”
“I’m concerned about a cave-in,” said the captain. “No amount of treasure is worth seeing you buried alive. I would never forgive myself. Let’s err on the side of safety, and put the excavation on hold for now.”

“But Pop, the monk said the cook at the Chicken Ranch is headed for Puerto Rico next week and it would give us a perfect window of opportunity to excavate the cave. And, there’s more too: the monk gave me permission to tell you that he found Santana’s weasel cache in caves under the old outhouse, and best of all, he discovered Santana’s secret recipe for anti-fungal coconut-butter.
The captain whistled through his teeth and was flabbergasted by this news because he had given up any hope of ever finding the recipe for Santana’s nut-butter. But finally he said, “Big Jesse will be back from Kentucky tomorrow. Although I don’t cherish doing more than a two-way split, he’s a trained mining engineer and with him onboard it would be a lot safer and eliminate the problem of the owner catching us digging there and charging us with trespassing. Jesse can show a work order from the sheriff saying that he was looking for a body that a confidential informant said was buried there.”
“That’s perfect,” said Dave. “I saw two sets of human remains inside the cave and that would all fit together like a glove.”

“Yes, this changes everything,” his dad said. “But we should still keep quiet about Santana’s recipe for the nut-butter, because it’s probably worth more than any treasure hidden on Lovango.”
Their conversation was interrupted when Dave’s cell phone rang. It was his mother calling and she wanted to know where her dinghy was. Dave looked at his dad for an answer and his dad suggested that she use his dinghy until he fixed hers, but Dave could tell by the tone of her voice she was not happy with that particular swap.

Dave’s dad then headed back into his cabin, but before he did, he reminded Dave not to miss school in the morning. “Ooooh Dad, do I have to go to school tomorrow?” Dave asked.”Yes,” said his dad, “Sometimes a man has to do the opposite of what he wants because the self-discipline will make him a better man.”Now Dave would rather have a tooth pulled than face his mother, especially when she was drinking alcohol, but he unconditionally loved her and would never leave her stranded. So Dave jumped into his dad’s dinghy after removing the painter from its cleat.

When he arrived at the dock his mom was standing with both fists on her hips. His dad’s old outboard motor sputtered and cut down to running on just one cylinder when he tossed her the line. She said nothing and gave him the silent treatment during their trip to the Dream Weaver.

Dave kept it from getting to him though, his thoughts already on the next day and school. He made a bed on a cockpit cushion, and just before he closed his eyes he watched Dream Weaver’s small masthead light drawing tracers around the Southern Cross. What a magnificent sight! He was grateful for a dad who could repair bent props, broken transoms and wounded feelings.

Squabbling sea birds and a hot Caribbean sun greeted him when he awoke the next morning. It was time to brush his teeth and head for the ferry dock. He could buy his breakfast at the dockside fruit stand to eat while he waited for the ferryboat to arrive. It was going to be another boring bus trip to school.
But before he bought his breakfast, he could not resist walking around the corner from the dock to take another look at Jesse’s new boat. He did a double take when he saw the new name freshly painted on the transom … “SHARK—BOY.” He felt himself blush, but he was flattered beyond any words in his vocabulary, and he was relieved more than ever that his dad had decided to bring Jesse onboard for the excavation …

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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