Another Day In Paradise
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by Barry M Vass
Description: Head out for adventure and romance with Jimmy and Naomi as they sail the high seas, dodging pirates and terrorists every step of the way! Experience the unforgettable chase from Florida to the West Indies, and then on to Jamaica, where the two lovers are finally captured in a pitched gun battle. Imagine yourself in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip as a group of terrorists blow up a megaresort, bringing the city to its knees. While most of the terrorists are either killed or captured, one survives to dog Jimmy and Naomi across the snow-capped mountains of Northern Nevada in a desperate, last-ditch attempt at revenge? Take off into high adventure you'll never forget!
eBook Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: August 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [376 KB]
Reading time: 233-327 min.
"Vass' prose is fast and lean; his characters witty and cunning, even when they're not sure where they're going and worried about how they might get there." Susan Skorupa, Reno-Gazette Journal
They finally caught up to us one night in Key West.
To tell the truth I'd been expecting it. When you know what I do, and can walk into any casino in the world and beat the house at its own game, let's just say that people are going to be interested in your whereabouts. And by this reasoning it doesn't really matter if they're good guys or bad guys; any attention is unwelcome.
And we hadn't been exactly subtle in our comings and goings. We'd flown up to Foxwoods in Connecticut a few days ago and walked away with a little over ten thousand dollars. A neighbor was selling out and going back to the Rust Belt, and he had a thirty-four-foot catamaran, nearly brand-new, that he let me know a while back he would part with for five thousand dollars.
This goes a long way in explaining what we were doing in Key West that night. I'd taken control of the boat that very afternoon, and after some dithering around in the swells near Marathon, we'd come to the conclusion that it was only appropriate to make a quick fifty-mile sprint down to Land's End. And then we could celebrate my new acquisition with a few drinks and a nice seafood dinner...
It was the kind of night you get used to in the Florida Keys. It had rained briefly that afternoon when we were sailing around the islands in the heat of the day, but the rain was over now. High, puffy clouds blew across the face of the half-moon in the stiffening trade winds. The night was warm and humid.
Naomi spotted them first. We were about twenty yards out of Sloppy Joe's, holding plastic cups of Mount Gay and Coke when she grabbed my arm.
"Don't make a big thing out of this," she whispered, "but I think we're being followed."
I made a pretense of kissing her--not a hard thing to do since Naomi is a beautiful woman: tan and fit, with a great smile and loose, sun-bleached brown hair hanging past her shoulders--and noticed them hurrying out the doorway behind us. They were two fairly intense Middle-Eastern guys dressed in slacks and sports coats. It was the sports coats which gave them away. Key West boasts a young, hip crowd that likes to party, and you don't see a lot of sports coats. People down here don't really care what they look like. Then, too, it was probably difficult to hide a gun in a shoulder holster dressed in shorts and a tank top.
Naomi and I had been sailing pretty much all afternoon and were dressed appropriately. We wore bathing suits and loose-fitting Aloha shirts with rubber flip-flops on our feet. My wallet was stashed in a back pocket. From the corner of my eye I saw one of the men pull a photograph from his jacket pocket. They shifted their gaze from the photograph to me and then back to the photo again. They talked between themselves. After a moment they seemed to reach some sort of decision and the photo was put away. They stepped resolutely toward us.
We were frozen on the narrow, cracked sidewalk, a tableau of uncertainty. I nervously drained the rum and tossed the cup into a convenient trash can. A stream of happy young people flowed around us, some stepping into the street.
"Mr. Spencer?" one of the men called out. "Hey! Are you Jimmy Spencer?"
I grabbed Naomi's hand and we bolted through the crowds, kicking off our flip-flops as we went. We ran like frightened animals. I glanced back at one point and saw them chasing after us. Naomi's cup, still full, was thrown to the ground.
Key West is a compact little island out at the end of the Florida Keys. The locale is jammed with bars, restaurants, homes and tourist attractions. Despite the small area, it's easy to get lost if you don't know your way around. Naomi and I had been coming down for nearly three years to drink and carouse, with the result that we knew our way around Key West like natives. We especially knew our way around in the dark.
We ducked into a service alley behind a restaurant, came out the other end, ran into, through and then out of a crowded little bistro, ducked into another dark alley, finally ending up behind a trash dumpster. We huddled in the shadows, breathing hard.
"It looks like someone found us," Naomi said finally.
I found myself nodding. "Yeah, you knew they would eventually. Something like Free Money is just too tempting to give up on."
"So what do we do now?" she asked, squinting at me in the gloom.
"We do what we always said we'd do. We cut and run."
She nodded soberly, saying nothing but clearly unhappy.
"Let's get back to the boat." I grabbed her hand and we sprinted off toward the short-term docks.
There's only one way into and out of Key West: the Intracoastal Highway which connects the hundred-mile scattering of islands to Southern Florida. It was pretty much a certainty that if they were looking for us in Key West they'd have that route covered.
But the catamaran changed the equation, hopefully in our favor. The boat was big and fast, with a huge forty-foot sail. And I really doubted that they would be watching the docks. They hadn't seen us when we'd arrived, so why would they be looking there now? With the strong off-shore breezes we could probably be back in Marathon in a little over an hour.
Our love of the sea and sailing had grown during our time in the Keys, and we both looked forward to any excuse to cut loose from the land. Naomi often said it made her feel like a pirate. But this was different. Nothing's very much fun when people are looking for you with evil intent in their hearts.
We darted through a maze of busy side streets, finally ending up at the docks. I paid the attendant the fee and we hurried down the floating wharf to our boat.
I jumped onto the canvas deck and began pulling up the multicolored sail. "Let's get out of here!" I shouted over my shoulder.
"You've got that right!" She untied the two restraining ropes holding the big cat to the pier and tossed the ends onto the wharf.
I got the jib up, grabbed the tiller, caught the stiff wind and we surged away into the night.