Shark Boy’s flight from Miami International back to St. Thomas Airport was almost the reverse course of the one him and his Dad sailed two months earlier. The big difference of course was the time element. Their trip north by sailboat to the New River Marina took over a week and the flight back to his home island would take but a few hours. The sail trip north will be forever etched in his mind while the trip home was just another flight. Everybody was crunched together on the plane and there was no place to move around, no wind, no smell of the salt-air, no flying fish, no dolphins, no sailfish and there was nothing to see but clouds. It made him happy to know that the St. Thomas airport would soon appear and he could get off of that airplane.
Shark Boy could hardly wait to talk with his mother and catch up on the news from home-especially news about Aura. His plane taxied towards the terminal and stopped at the yellow line directing the passengers towards customs. Even before Shark Boy reached the terminal the coconut telegraph was broadcasting his arrival. Customs waved him thru and all around were well-wishers as he embraced his Mom and kissed her on the cheek.
Shark Boy’s mother (Jini) began by reading a list of things he needed to do. Football practice had already started and Aura would be here tomorrow for a visit before school started. Dave had led Aura to believe they were the same age, but the truth was Dave was younger than her by more than a year. He swore Jini to secrecy about the matter because he feared Aura wouldn’t be interested in a guy younger than her and after they got together he was compelled to keep the ruse going. Dave didn’t mind telling a fib but he didn’t like getting caught.
Their taxi ride to Red Hook was accompanied by honking horns and friendly waves from the West Indians who lined both sides of the narrow, up and down, the dangerous, curvy road. They were just in time to catch the next ferryboat to St. John and then they would be home. Shark Boy looked at the boats on their moorings in Cruz Bay and not seeing the Flying Circus there among them caused him to wonder what his Dad was doing.
His Dad was of the opinion that there were too many people living in the islands and if that shark ate all of the realtors, developers, business owners, lawyers and politicians it would be a great improvement. The Captain first came to the islands in the 1970s and stayed at Avery’s Landing. People lived and let live, back then, especially in the French Quarter and there were no signs about “no shirt, no shoes, no service” and etc., but as time passed people kept coming until almost every inch of the Island was covered with condos, hotels, or expensive homes and a magnitude of laws and rules followed them.
In the old days if two men fought over a woman and one got stabbed the islanders proclaimed that it was just a Cuban crime of passion, messy and old fashioned. They’d clean up the blood and the party continued. Now days when that happens there are police reports, investigations, hearings and trials with lawyers, prosecutors and judges and the men still fight over the women.
Some of the Islanders agreed with the Captain, but those who had lost friends and relatives to the shark wanted it destroyed. The overwhelming opinion of the islanders was in favor of killing the beast.
Jini said, “The mayor is holding a rally at the town Gazebo this Saturday, and he’s invited Homeland Security, The Department of Natural Resources and all of the other agencies charged with public safety and he also invited you to voice your opinion.”
Shark Boy’s first thought was that the mayor must be up for re-election, but he kept the thought to himself. He wanted to hear more about Aura, but he would see her tomorrow and she could tell him herself. His Mom surprised him by saying that she was going to sell her boat and move aboard the Flying Circus with his Dad and they were going to try and reconcile their differences. Dave wondered if his Dad knew about this plan, but he was too shocked to comment. Jini said that she was no longer able to do the up-keep on her boat and Lord knows the Circus is a shambles below deck and could use some of her tender loving care. Dave could not argue that point, but he nevertheless wondered if his Dad knew anything about her plans?
Dave found the dinghy in its usual spot and him and his mother loaded their things in it and headed for the Dream Weaver.
Dave asked Jini, “How much are you asking for the Weaver?”
Without hesitation she replied, “$250,000, but I would come down to $200,000 if it were a cash deal.”
Dave remained silent, but his thoughts centered on his Mom’s inflated asking price. One third of her asking price was a more realistic figure whether it was his mother, or anybody else. With the economy the way it is and with so many boats on the market, $80,000 he felt, was more realistic. She bought the Dream Weaver during good economic times but since the bottom fell out of the big sailboat market it was only worth about a third of what she had paid for it.
Early the next morning, Dave hustled to catch the ferry because he was on his way to meet Aura at the airport. Her plane was on time and soon after it landed Dave saw a vision of beauty departing the airplane. When customs saw Shark Boy and Aura walking arm in arm they waved them thru. Aura was excitedly telling Dave about her summer of one design racing on Long Island Sound and about her summer at the Hampton’s. Dave told her about him and his Dad’s adventures and the rally the mayor was holding the next day at the town gazebo. It was like they had never been apart. After the taxi ride to Red Hook and a short wait for the ferry to St. John they arrived in Cruz Bay. While they headed for the dinghy Dave told Aura about his Mom’s plan to reconcile things with his Dad and that she wanted to move aboard the Circus when his Dad returned and sell her boat.
Aura’s first question was, “Are you going to buy your mother’s boat?”
Dave hesitated and remarked that she was asking too much for it. Aura was of the opinion that money should not matter between family members.
“If that’s so,” insisted Dave, “she shouldn’t mind selling it to me for around $80,000 because that’s what it’s worth.” Aura gave him a dirty look and so, he dropped the matter. Dave went on to say that he was in no hurry to buy something that would tie him to one spot because he wanted to go to college. What would he do with it when he was ready for college? It would be like having an anchor tied to his butt. Besides big sailboats are easy to buy and hard to sell. Three years of neglect is enough to render any boat, a derelict and the Dream Weaver was far from being Bristol. Aura inquired about his Dad and Dave said that he was still in Miami, but after he put the new carbon fiber mast on the Circus, he would still have to wait until December before it was safe to sail it back to Cruz Bay.
Dave and Aura took the dinghy out to the Dream Weaver where Aura unpacked her clothes. She made Dave go topside while she changed into her shorts and tank top. Dave pretended to be making the Weaver ready to sail, but he couldn’t resist sneaking a peak thru the hatch cover at Aura’s well-tanned body. It was high 12, and although the sun was shining in Cruz Bay-the horizon was pitch black. The waves were beginning to build and they were running opposite the tide which caused the boats to buck and tug at their mooring lines. Dave battened down the Weaver’s hatches and they jumped into the dinghy and headed towards town for lunch.
Everywhere the West Indians welcomed him home and asked if he was going to kill the monster. Dave evaded their questions by saying the shark’s fate was up to the DNR-the decision was theirs to make-not his. When they arrived at Boss Penny’s saloon Dave found a secluded table for two but Aura wanted to talk to Jini and so she left Dave sitting alone. Everybody in the saloon was talking about the tropical storm that was fast approaching, but the shark was on Dave’s mind more than the tropical storm.
To be continued…