Dave (everybody called him Shark Boy) could hardly wait to see Jesse—he thought the final bell was never going to ring at school. He wanted to be on board when they did the shake down run on Jesse’s new boat.
Jesse had named his boat Shark-Boy, and it had a complete fly-by-wire control system that was operated by a small wireless joystick similar to the ones they used to use on Game Boy video games. That one little control stick controlled 880 romping-stomping horsepower. The boat design was based on the famous twin-hulled Boston Whaler, made from polished and anodized aluminum, and equipped with side-scanning sonar, radar, and a GPS navigation system. It even had a fresh-water showerhead to use after swimming or diving.
Dave worked furiously on his homework during the bus trip from the school to Red Hook, where he boarded the ferryboat. He was almost finished with it when he heard the unmistakable roar of a race-boat coming up alongside the ferryboat. He looked out to see Jesse blasting from wave-top to wave-top with a young bikini-clad girl sitting next to him hanging on for dear life. Jesse was flying a blue and white University of Kentucky flag over his mining company flag and the pennant on his emergency locater had a black flag with a white skull and bones on it.
When the lumbering steel ferryboat finally docked and disgorged its passengers, Dave hiked up the hill to his dad’s boat shack and saw his dad finishing up the repairs on his mom’s dinghy. New York Dan had already replaced the bent prop on her outboard. Dave’s dad was a man of few words and Dan talked even less, so Dave dropped his backpack inside the boat shack and headed for the fruit stand.
When he returned, Dan said, “I’ve fixed a lot of props but this is the first one that had black shark skin wrapped around it!” He pointed at one of Jesse’s Mason jars that was stuffed with black shark-skin and said, “Your buddy Ryan stopped by while I was unwinding that stuff from the prop and he asked me to save it for DNA testing.”
“I never thought about that,” said Dave, “but it’s a great idea because if that DNA doesn’t match any other known shark DNA, it will prove that what I thought I saw wasn’t just a figment of my imagination. I’ve never seen a modern day shark that could compare to its length, shape, power and aggression—it had to have been a prehistoric megalodon that somehow survived down to the present.”
“How big was it?” asked Dan.
Dave said, “It looked at least fifty foot long, but fear could’ve made it look longer to me—even then though, it was humongous. When it surfaced under the dinghy its dorsal fin was taller than me, and when it raised my boat up on its back, my motor redlined as the prop came out of the water. When the prop finally got a bite, it sent me hard to port, which is what saved me from its tail. It tried to slap me with it, and if it would’ve—well, I wouldn’t be standing here.”
“Santana watched it eat his dad and granddad and their whole crew. He said it was about twice the size of their 30-foot fishing boat. He swore it was big enough to swallow a hippopotamus. The trauma from seeing all that happen right before his eyes caused him to take up goat herding and never again leave his shack on Lovango.”
Dave looked back down at the waterfront, where the tourists were milling about the shops, fruit stands and car rental, and there was Jesse coming up the hill toward them with his new girlfriend.
“Ahoy, Shark Boy,” Jesse called out, “let’s go out to the reef and spear some lobsters and groupers for tonight’s fish boil.”
Dave ran down to meet them, and the whole group of them headed back for the waterfront, where Jesse’s new boat was tied up. Dave could hardly wait to take the helm and try it out.
As they climbed aboard, Jesse introduced Dave to Darlene, his new girlfriend. She was younger and better endowed than his ex-girl friend, LaBelle, but who cared, Dave thought, because he was busy familiarizing himself with the new boat and its spaceship-like cockpit controls, gauges, CRT screen and all of the other bells and whistles. After Dave flipped on the main toggle and lit up the instrument panel, he depressed the starter button and all four engines sprang to life. An envious boater removed the dock lines from their cleats and tossed the lines aboard. Dave eased back the joystick, shifted into reverse and gently backed away from the dock. He moved the stick slightly forward, and it shifted into forward and slightly increased the engines rpm’s. He slowly moved the stick to starboard and then to port as he weaved through the moored sailboats. Soon he passed by his dad’s boat The Flying Circus and moved the stick forward as it effortlessly climbed up on plane.
Jesse held a fresh Cuban cigar in one hand and a king-sized rum and coke in the other as he grinned from ear to ear, with Darlene snuggled up next to him. “Shark-Boy,” he said, “Don’t be shy, pour the coal to her!”
Not wishing to spill their drinks, Dave accelerated evenly until he neared top speed. The onboard computer hydraulically adjusted the forward canard and the main wing over the steering station, as they literally flew from wave top to wave top. Meanwhile the computer monitored the engine rpm and prevented them from exceeding their redline. They had barely hit top speed though, when Dave’s favorite reef appeared. He returned the stick to its neutral position and the big motors instantly returned to idle. The boat settled in the water, and then was raised up by a following wave.
Jesse took the helm and tossed a diver’s buoy overboard while Dave pulled on his fins and mask. He grabbed one of Jesse’s spear guns and rolled backwards off the gunwale. Dave was an expert free diver and spear fisherman, so before long he re-surfaced with a grouper on the end of his spear. Jesse took the speared fish and handed Dave another gun. Jesse stepped on the big grouper, pulled the spear from its eye, and deposited it in the fish box. Before he could close the lid and spray the deck clean, Dave had resurfaced with a large lobster. Jesse repeated the process, but the spiny lobster was not so easy to remove from the spear, and Dave surfaced again with another large lobster before Jesse could put the first one in the fish box.
Dave complained, “Hurry up before that other grouper figures out what happened to his buddy and we lose him.” As Jesse continued to struggle with the spear that was caught in the lobster, he went on, “My grandmother is slow but she’s ninety years old.”
Darlene was careful not to let Jesse see her laughing at him as she took the lobster away from him, and handed Dave another spear gun. Dave soon nailed the other grouper, climbed the boarding ladder, and they were ready to head back to the boat shack.
Back home, New York Dan already had the big copper kettle full of water; they would soon be ready for Big Jesse’s welcome home party. To be continued …