The Modern Jolly Roger

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					                                      Modern Jolly Roger

                                      May 26, 2006

Esperanza Fuentes vowed to make her first and only wedding last forever. No matter

what Alan Shiprock did she was not going to be divorce number five. Even when Our

Lady of Mount Carmel nearly burned down in the middle of their ceremony she did not

give up. When the cruise ship they had scheduled their honeymoon on sank off the coast

of Puerto Rico she shrugged it off.

“I will make this work!”

An alternative last minute trip to Key West seemed the perfect solution. It was not too

expensive and was easily scheduled. Even this could not turn the tide on what had been a

tsunami of bad luck from pouring over their nuptials. After arriving six hours later than

expected at Miami airport, their honeymoon plans continued to encounter snags.

The northeast was enduring its worst spring flooding in seventy years. Their plane was

not happy with a new electrical overhaul. Miami International was playing host to one of

a dozen marches against the evil empire of George W. All and all it was not the best of

starts to their new life.

“What else can go wrong?” Esperanza sighed.

“I‟m sorry sir. Your SUV was reassigned two hours ago.” Manuel Montoya might have

believed he was remorseful when he apologized for this inconvenience, but he had not

even begun to be sorry yet.
“Reassigned is curious word to me Manuel.” Obnoxiously pronouncing the young man‟s

name, Alan was not in mood for anymore rejection.

“Because if you don‟t get me an SUV to drive my new wife down to Key West in, you

will truly get to appreciate that word. Now pick up the phone and make a call. Don‟t

make me get on the phone with your reservation service. Trust me you don‟t want me to

do that.” Counting to three over and over again in his head, Alan was fighting an

outburst of rage. There were ten people waiting behind him, who did not want to witness

a scene. Normally this would have been the perfect moment for one of his patented rants,

but on this day in particular Alan Shiprock was trying to be the better man.

“I am sorry sir its Memorial Day weekend all I have is compact…”

“I‟ll count to ten Manuel. Please don‟t let me get there.”

“Sir you don‟t understand…”

“One, two, three, four…”

“We really don‟t have any…”

“Five, six, Seven, Eight…”

“I promise you…”

“Nine, Ten.” When the young man shrugged his shoulders the attack began.


conversation in the terminal stopped. Mothers covered their children‟s ears, and grown

men cowered in its corners.

“I have a Cadillac STS Mr. Shiprock would that suffice?” Manuel had never heard

anything like that in all of his twenty some odd years. His eyes nearly popped out of his

skull, and his ears puckered up like a child sucking a freshly picked lemon.
“If that‟s all you have?” Completely calm and quite relaxed Alan shrugged his shoulders

now in an attempt to imitate the agent.

“It is.”

Alan Shiprock was the life of any social gathering the tri-state area had to offer. Born to

five generations of contract lawyers, his professional agenda was written before he was

glint in his great grandfather‟s eyes. Everyone wanted Alan to be their friend and he

accommodated nearly all of them with open arms and an empty glass.

Unfortunately his relationships were barely capable of being defined as superficial. If

you spent three hours with the youngest Shiprock he could make you feel like you were

his long lost twin separated at birth. On the contrary, if you spent the better part of three

years with him, dreams of murder and dismemberment began to seep into your brain.

Perhaps it was his shallow need to be superior to everyone. Perhaps it was his propensity

towards public displays of arrogance. Whatever the reason, he never lasted very long

with anyone.

Apart from his personality, Alan was superficial in many other ways. He did not own a

single piece of clothing under forty dollars; including his silk boxer shorts. This overly

attired façade helped mask a large beak like nose, and lack of any physical definition

whatsoever. When Alan turned sideways he could disappear behind a stop sign. What he

lacked in appearance though he made up for it with flashy panache. Never far away from

a young lady far more attractive than himself, he did well in the arena of bedpost notches.

Not quite thirty years of age, he had just embarked on marriage number five. Elizabeth

Taylor once called him to give him marriage advice, and he listened. No Alan was not a
physically abusive person nor was he a philanderer. His failed marriages equated to his

failed friendships. No one wanted to be with him longer than a year or two.

Fresh off his burst of rage, the new Mr. and Mrs. Shiprock were flying south on the

turnpike towards the Florida Keys.

“Are you proud of yourself now?” Esperanza was no longer frightened for her well being.

She had witnessed his incomparable outbursts before. They were ninety-percent gas and

only ten-percent flame. Esperanza grew up in a household with an abusive drunken

father, so a bit of long-winded cursing was a welcome change for her.

“No but I certainly feel better than I did a half hour ago. By the way in case I forgot to

say it, you look amazing in that outfit.” Artfully changing the subject, Alan winked at his

new bride. It was true. Five years younger than himself, Esperanza was a devastating

beauty. Her curves could make Salma Hayak jealous. It pained most men just to gaze

upon her image. A tight halter top and colorful sarong did little to hide what God had

blessed her with.

“Flattery will get you everywhere and anywhere.” Esperanza still held delusions of true

love and romance despite being far from virginal. Unfortunately neither she nor her

current husband had the slightest clue what either of these words really meant. They

equated a romantic evening with pornographic videos, an overpriced bottle of wine, and a


“Three hours to Key West baby can you wait or should we pull into a rest area?”

Considering their upbringings and surroundings neither of them had developed a lick of

class. Rubbing elbows with Senators, Alan still couldn‟t tell anyone what a salad fork
was for. Esperanza could not be bothered with underwear, and stockings only got in the

way. They were quite the pair.

“I‟ll try.” Playfully licking her finger, she moved the saliva covered digit down between

her breasts and winked. Anyone watching this charade would have had a difficult time

keeping down his or her lunch.

Florida City reminded both of them of a Las Vegas strip mall. A series of gas stations and

clothing outlets grew up from out of nowhere as if they had come to the last chance

saloon before the end of a flat planet. One second they were driving through dozens of

palm tree nurseries in Homestead and then strip malls galore.

“I need to tinkle.” Esperanza was not picky as she pointed towards the dozen or so gas

stations to her right and left. Unlike most women he had known his new bride would not

be opposed to a “squat and squirt” on the side of a highway if she had to. Strangely this

helped to endear her to him.

“How about a drink for the road?” When it came to drinking this was merely a rhetorical

question. They were on vacation and alcohol would be consumed. Neither could be

classified as a drunk, in that neither of them missed a day of work with a hangover.

However, Friday and Saturday nights seldom saw either of them as the pillar of sobriety


Convinced that Florida was another country in comparison to Bucks County

Pennsylvania, Alan was not the least bit concerned popping open a couple of El

Presidentes and leaving them shamelessly in the cup holders of the rent a car. With

Florida City disappearing into their rearview mirrors and the sun just starting to light up

the early morning sky, they crossed over into the Florida Keys. Not able to appreciate the
beauty that is US1 below Cart Sound, they viewed very little until they made it to Key


“Wow, look at all these hotels?” Born and raised in the small town of Chalfont PA,

Esperanza had never seen anything like this. Beachfront resorts and tourist traps dotted

the landscape like stars over a rustic mountain. Every block another seashell superstore

or Holiday Inn beckoned the tourists with their American Express cards to come in.

“Yeah there certainly are a lot of them.” The buzz of his third beer thumped through his

tired brain while he struggled to stay awake at least five hours past his usual bedtime.

Alan had never been south of the Mason Dixon line, and this alone gave him the extra

energy he needed. With each passing moment he expected something amazing to reveal

itself. Excluding the palm trees though nothing had particularly sparked his interest.

Nothing that is until the sun rose above the muddled horizon.

They crossed numerous bridges on the overseas highway, which lead them to several of

the postage stamp keys. Even Esperanza who looked ready to drift off at any moment

perked up with the flashes of pink and magenta clouds.

An impressive solar display lit up jet-black shallows until they too took on a whole new

life of teal and aquamarine. A mangrove and governor‟s plumb oasis emerged directly

from the ocean itself warming the hearts of these two weary travelers and lightening the

load on their minds. For all the hard times and obstacles of the past few days they were

easily revived by the splendor which is the Florida Keys.

Dozens of brown pelicans and frigate birds swooped like dive-bombers magically

stealing fish and crustaceans up right before their very eyes. Even the awkward cackle of
the boobies squawking and squealing the morning hours away caused the corners of their

tired mouths to turn.


Returning to “civilization” only briefly they raced through the Marathon, the largest of

the keys, at world record speed.

“Looks like red neck central down here.” Passing dozens of trucks with gun racks, and a

few high flying Confederate flags, they were not appreciating the change of scenery.


The gateway to lower keys was mind blowing. Seven straight miles of bridge dug a path

between the Gulf of Mexico and the mighty Atlantic; on both sides stunning views of

unimaginable beauty. Sticking her head out of the window like a homesick Golden

Retriever, Esperanza let out a scream of ecstasy. This was the honeymoon she imagined

since the age of five. Escaping the doldrums of Bucks County and entering a tropical

paradise of legend was the kind of things dreams were made of.

Snapping photo after photo of everything that passed, Esperanza leaned over and

whispered in her husband‟s ear.

“I love you.” For some reason when she said those words, Alan melted away. Nearly

every woman he‟d known since junior high school eventually professed their adoration

for him, and for most of the time it rang hollow. When Esperanza Fuentes said it though,

he knew it to be true. In spite of having more flaws than attributes she really did love


“Key Deer Habitat what is that?” Seeing the signs to reduce speed, Alan reluctantly

pressed the brake pedal. Luckily he did, as he turned the next corner there were three
police cars lined up in a radar trap. In unison he and Esperanza moved their open

beverage containers below the dashboard and waved as they passed.

“They have deer down here?” No sooner had she said in when a dog-sized creature ran

out in front of them. Thank God for anti-lock brakes they stopped some ten feet away.

“That‟s not a deer it‟s a fucking Chihuahua with antlers.” Laughing in spite of

themselves, they flashed their bright lights until the tiny creature scattered across the


A couple of fellow motorists and an environmentalist or two ran to the aid of their

precious creature. Gently assisting the little fellow back into the safety of the sea grapes

they waved at all the drivers to thank them for their care. It was as much touching as

bizarre. The rest of drive was completed at a much slower pace. Suddenly aware of how

special the sanctuary was that they had entered, Alan would not be responsible for

hurting one of the Conch Republic‟s icons.

“Boca Chica key. Boca Chica Channel.” Each little piece of land had a name, and each

expanse of ocean between the two was named as well. For some reason the way Boca

Chica flowed off her tongue caused Esperanza to giggle uncontrollably. Repeating the

names over and over again they played along with one another. Time flew passed.

Key West arrived disappointedly as they pulled onto US1. Looking more like a cross

between Key Largo and Florida City Esperanza wished she had booked a hotel on Boca

Chica key. Well if there was one to be booked.

US1 wound around dozens of hotels on one side, and a couple of overcrowded marinas

on the other. Slightly disenchanted they followed the signs passed the strip malls. Just

when they were considering turning around they crossed Palm Ave Causeway and
everything changed for the better. Nearly driving into the other lane of traffic Alan stared

down at Charterboat Row. Esperanza vaulted into the back seat with her camera, she was

far more interested in the greenery of Bay View Park.

On the radio Jimmy Buffett seemed to come alive before them for their own personal

concert. “One Particular Harbor” blared loudly from the twelve speaker sound system.

Every orifice of the vehicle pumped with island passion. It was intense.

But now I think about the good times
Down in the Caribbean sunshine
In my younger days I was so bad
Laughin' about all the fun we've had

I seen enough to feel the world spin
Mixin' different oceans meetin' cousins
Listen to the drummers and the night sounds
Listen to the singers make the world go 'round

Ia ora te natura
E mea arofa teie ao nei
Ia ora te natura
E mea arofa teie ao nei

Alan and Esperanza gladly embarrassed themselves simply for the fun of it while

attempting to sing this French Polynesian part of the song in unison. Their necks were

sore from being torn in every direction at once.

“These houses are amazing.” Never had either of them seen so many Victorian homes in

such close relation to one another. Conch homes with steel roofs and tropical colored

over head shutters and curious eyebrow homes with their huge overhanging eaves.

“LOOK AT ALL THE COLOR!” Screaming out the window, Alan was quite energized

by all of it. Even in the dodgier districts with their shotgun houses, they could not help

but stare on in wonder. They passed countless streets lined with large black olives and

fichus. Their canopies were so large they seemed to reach out across the lane to shake

hands with its neighboring arboretum. While strands of wandering bougainvillea

wandered back and forth over fences and even old abandoned cars. Their flowers fire
engine red, cotton candy pink, and burnt orange dotted a background of rainforest green

like the incandescent light bulbs of a child‟s “Lite Brite”.

“Was that a chicken?” Sure enough strutting confidentially across the street was a hen

with fuzzy little chicks chasing after her.

Stopping in the middle of the road to let them pass, Alan‟s eyes focused on something

else. Parked on the side of US1 was an early nineteen sixties Volkswagen Beetle covered

in shards of mirrors and beach glass. Even an occasional marble or glass bead managed

to obscure every inch of the vehicle except for the front and rear windshields.

“Wow that is funky?” It was just after seven o‟clock in the a.m. when they turned into

Simonton Court. A young lady named Daisy greeted them with a glorious smile and

room key.

Sliding casually down the ancient brick pathway passed what had once been an

abandoned cigar factory; they melted into the tropical landscape. Inside the “Birds of

Paradise” suite they barely stopped to look at the furnishings while racing onto their

private balcony towards their own personal Jacuzzi.

”Congratulations to you both. I wish you the most wonderful life together.” Setting a

gloriously hand fashioned welcome basket and a bottle of Vivelicute Champagne down

on the balcony Daisy showed herself out.

Without thinking they stripped off all their clothes and plopped down into the hot bubbly

lagoon. Even though the sun shone brightly in the early morning hours, they were on

their honeymoon, and modesty was not an option.
                                       May 27, 2006

When Simon Lagrange arrived in Key West during the summer of 1992 he was not

received with open arms. Haitian born and raised he was considered by most a second

class citizen. One night changed all of that. During the worst of Hurricane Doreen he

was at his best. The then captain in the Key West police force came to everyone‟s rescue

with no care for his own mortality. As election time neared for public offices he won the

Chief of Police seat in walk. Simon was the first person of African decent to hold a

position of “authority” in the Conch Republic. It was an honor he richly deserved.

A huge man at nearly six foot four three hundred and ten pounds, Chief Lagrange could

be utterly intimidating. He looked more like a line backer than a politician and surprised

everyone with his ability to fit into the laissez fair south. Side stepping the important

issues while doing more than his fair share of assigned duties; Simon was adored by all.

His ability to be strong and overbearing when need be instilled fear to the less than

reputable citizens need. As a result serious crime had dropped nearly ten percent during

his tenure, and yet no one had a bad word to say about the man.

Unfortunately for his sake all of this good fortune was about to change. A series of odd

circumstances that even the news media needed a playbook to follow had begun to unfold

around him. Six weeks ago several burglaries occurred. At first they involved simple

things like cash and jewelry. Although not uncommon, petty thievery was far less

prevalent than one would think in a tourist town. Therefore the authorities zealously

investigated every detail. The only common thread tying the crimes together was a

calling card; a black linen cocktail napkin with the pirate flag embroidered on it.
When the offenses began to escalate from annoying to sickeningly unusual the pressure

to find the culprit was applied from those on high. The culmination of this displeasure

came when the emblematic hog‟s head disappeared from the Hog‟s Breath Saloon. Key

Westerners were growing impatient with the apparent lack of capability in their law


“Chief you won‟t believe this one?” Every morning revealed another new twist. From a

missing police cruiser, to the dinner menus at Irish Kevin‟s nothing was off limits for

these thieves. Hell, they even tried unsuccessfully to drag a five ton marker buoy,

designating the southern most point in the continental US, out to sea.

“How in God‟s name did they do that?” Known for its many quirky eccentricities, very

few symbols represented Key West like the ancestral home of Earnest Hemmingway.

The star attraction of the estate was neither the house nor the history behind it. No the

star attractions were of the feline persuasion.

Early in the 1940‟s a sea captain friend of the big papa presented him with a unique pet.

It was a six toed cat. Since then hundreds of copulations resulted in nearly half the

population being polydactyl. People from all over the world came to the Hemmingway

house to visit these sixty descendants of that one original animal.

“All of them? How do you take sixty cats in one night? It would take twenty people to

do that.” Floating in the middle of Key West‟s very first private swimming pool, was the

now familiar calling card of the bandit; a simple black napkin with a white skull and

cross bones.

“The veterinarian agrees with you. When he comes once a year to perform vaccinations

he says the best he has ever done was fifty three cats in one day. At night he suggests it
would be five to ten times harder.” Detective David Petrovic had been with the Key

West police department for nearly twenty years, and he had never seen anything like this.

The list of suspects was extensive after the first few thefts. However with each new

wrinkle a dozen more were eliminated. After this latest feat another handful would be

right out the window. Most of the possible suspects were already being detained in the

county correctional facility.

“It has to be multiple criminals. No one human being could pull this off on their own.”

Dr. Javier Lopez was adamant about stating this fact. He was in charge of the

Hemmingway cats for eight years. This entitled him to be cavalier with his statements.

With dozens of trees easily over twenty feet high there was always one or two cats that

avoided detection. Even without the massive trees a thousand of pieces of scraggily

tropical vegetation provided a nearly impenetrable forest in which to disappear. Three

felines could get lost in one strand of bamboo alone. Still, try as they may to find one

remaining resident, they turned up nothing but fur balls.

“Chief?” Scratching at his gray scraggly beard, the detective was truly losing his

patience with these seemingly pointless crimes. Never the cleanliest or most well

groomed man to begin with; he had let himself go this week. Going so far as to wear a

pair of dock shoes with his suit today, Detective Petrovic was more than just disheveled.

“Well we can almost be certain that they will show up soon.” His fellow law

enforcement personnel nodded. They had seen it before. Everything was returned within

seventy-two hours of the original theft. Only each return went to one of the other

locations that had been hit. Irish Kevin‟s menus went to the Hog‟s Breath, and the hog‟s

head went to the Key West Police station.
“What happens if they deliver the cats to the mayor‟s house?” One of the first items

stolen was a solid gold Rolex from the mayor. Nothing had been returned to his house

yet. They figured out the trend some two weeks into the original disappearances, and

were consequently stretched to the limit with officers watching all of the previous

locations for a possible return.

“When that time comes we can look for a new job together.” Patting the much smaller

gentlemen on the back of his outdated blue silk suit jacket, Chief Lagrange could not help

but chortle at the very thought. Sixty cats running around the mayor‟s office when he

arrived around noon would make for an entertaining show.

“What is so funny! It‟s bad enough the press is laughing themselves silly about our

ineptitude.” When the growling voice erupted from behind him, Simon knew right away

who it was. “Red Neck” Randy Roberson had been mayor of Key West for some twenty-

five years. In less than six weeks he was finally retiring, and the last thing he wanted to

be remembered for was this debacle.

“The man has style Mr. Mayor, you have to give him that?” Detective Petrovic was

unafraid after all his years of servitude. He could basically say whatever he wanted to the

mayor without fear of retribution. It also helped that he was married to Randy‟s little

sister Kate.

“That‟s rich detective. Did you think he had style when he stole your police cruiser with

your groceries still in it?” His heavy Jacksonville drawl nearly crumbled in the air, as he

flicked the left ear of the detective.

“It‟s not one person. It just can‟t be.” Humbled by the remark, David kicked up dust off

the sandy driveway beneath his feet.
“Well find THEM then. This is beyond ridiculous now don‟t you think?” The mayor spit

ceremoniously on the ground while addressing all of the crime scene personnel one at a

time. Resembling an even chubbier version of Boss Hogg from the television show the

“Dukes of Hazard”, Randy Roberson truly was a hick. The son of a son of a son of a pig

farmer his beginnings were humble at best. If not for his grandpa‟s Jed Clampett like

discovery of oil on his property, they would still be up to their arm pits in hog shit. Since

then though Randy threw money around for everything he wanted. From his three much

younger wives to his position as mayor, he proved the old adage that anyone and

anything could be bought for the right price. This was not to say that he was a bad mayor

though. On the contrary once in office he had done a stellar job. How he got there?

Well that was a horse of a much different color; a dark green.

“Who are we down to now?” Trying to avoid eye contact, the chief turned to his most

trusted detective with a whisper.

“Criminals? That list has been narrowed to three. Suspects? How many people live here

these days?” No one liked being embarrassed like this. However, neither man was a

negative person. They used sarcasm and irony to avoid painful conflicts.

“What about that Roger fellow?” Raising his eyebrows defiantly the detective had his

own theory about these burglaries and they involved a vagrant drifter who had arrived in

town just as all the trouble started.

“Come on David that man is about as dangerous as a field mouse.” The chief did not

agree, and waved off the very notion of it.
                                       May 28, 2005

Constantly mired in a funk of mediocrity Roger Gladstone was lost in the crowded room

of humanity. Even in a mirror he was hidden from himself a mere glimmer on

background of the important. No one knew his name. Richard or Ronald to his “friends”

he apologized before meeting someone because he knew in a moment his very identity

would be forgotten.

If not for the positive spin he placed on even the simplest endeavor, it would have been a

pitiful existence.

His physical appearance did little to squash his painful inadequacies. Roger resembled a

diminutively plump Art Garfunkel. A man of nearly forty years, he had more pimples

than your average acne crazed teenager. Even the way he dressed was an exercise in

futility. Always two steps behind the latest fashions he struggled to catch up to everyone

and everything. He wore bell-bottoms when Jordache were all the rage, and then threw

them in the trash just in time for them to cycle back into the mainstream.

Life was not easy for the likes of Roger Gladstone. He had this most uncomfortable habit

of cackling maniacally at things that were not the least bit funny. It left those around him

feeling uneasy. Whenever an all points bulletin was issued for a postal employee on a

shooting spree, people called Roger to make sure he was at home. Unfortunately this was

Roger in a nutshell, and nothing he did could change it. Unbalanced as any Libra could

possibly be, he was more than a bit odd. He was for all intensive purposes maladjusted

and queer.

Through the ridicule and isolation, his proverbial glass was never less than half full. It

overflowed in the form of a “gum bearing” grin to make a toothpaste model jealous. This
was his most impressive feature. That “million-dollar” smile came from three rounds of

braces and monthly whitening sessions that he gladly paid for from his modest bank

account. Much like the Cheshire cat of Alice fame, when the lights turned out Roger

never ran into a wall.

A hermit of the highest class, he labored for nearly four decades in the two hundred

square mile area surrounding Philadelphia. His idea of an exotic vacation never went

further than a travel brochure or another of a hundred Jimmy Buffett compact discs. He

lived quite humbly and simply the existence of the ordinary Joe.

What would it take to get a turtle like Roger Gladstone to come out of his self-inflicted

shell? The good people of Bucks County were about to find out.

A life altering experience can manifest itself in many forms. The death of a loved one or

a divorce can sometimes trigger a metamorphosis of butterfly proportions. For Roger it

was nothing as dramatic as this. One day a scared lonely little dreamer woke up and he

was forty. It was too much to handle.

                                     January 1, 2006

The Doylestown police are called to the scene of a local country club when one of the

perimeter residents spots something out of the ordinary. A middle-aged man was

sledding naked down the fifteenth fairway without his flexible flyer.

Roger Gladstone had thrown a spark plug in his noggin. Try as they may with

medications and therapy no one could crack back into his melon long enough to find out

where the dysfunctional break originated.
                                      January 7, 2006

On an especially frigid night in early January, Roger escaped from the Lenape

Foundation for the criminally insane. For two months the authorities scoured the tri-state

area searching for their lost sheep, only to find no trace of the timid little man they had

once sort of known. Roger Gladstone vanished.

                                       May 28, 2006

For the two days Alan and Esperanza had been in town they had done little else but sun,

drink, shop, and fuck; and not necessarily in that order. Both took to the tropical climate

in vastly different ways. Esperanza was a bronzed goddess using her Latin American

genes to forge a gorgeous berry like appearance. Alan on the other hand was lobster red

and no matter what he did he would always remain so. Even the manner in which they

dressed was at polar opposites. A thong, sarong, and bikini top looked quite comfy next

to polo on polo oxford shirts and pleated shorts. The Shiprocks proved in every way that

opposites attract.

They decided to take the advice of the owners at Simonton Court for their breakfast on

this particular morning. “Louie‟s Backyard” was the premier Sunday brunch location on

the island, and they discovered quite quickly why. Emerging from a conspicuously

overly elegant dinning room onto the rear terrace, both of their jaws dropped to the floor.

The back deck faced out on one of the most resplendent ocean views imaginable. Dozens

of handsome yachts radiated warmth against an azure backdrop of morning seas.

“Remind me to kiss Philip when we get back to the hotel.” This was Esperanza‟s idea of

a café for brunch. Some of the other locations they had been to, although delicious in
their culinary means, lacked the ambiance she was accustomed to. Not opposed to a pub

or sports bar one or two nights a week, she also liked a higher class of meal. This was it.

“What are we drinking this morning?” Most people would have gone for coffee, tea, or

juice but not these two. They went right for the alcoholic beverage menu.

“Mmmmm the Louie‟s Passion looks nice how about a couple of them.” Nibbling on

Alan‟s ear, she winked at the waiter who instantly turned his head away.

“And a couple of Bloody Mary‟s as well.” On the contrary when Alan winked the waiter

returned the gesture and pranced off towards the bar.

“I have never seen more fags before in my entire life. This makes New Hope look like a

football town.” Thinking himself clever Alan blurted out the words only to be kicked by

Esperanza under the table.

“What am I lying?” Rubbing his ankle, he slurped back three ounces of ice water

reluctantly. Several of the patrons glared at him, but he could care less. He spoke his

mind no matter how ignorant or uncouth it made him look.

“Forgive my husband he has Turrets syndrome.” Stopping her gaze on Alan she saw that

his face had suddenly turned pale.

“I was just kidding with you.” Her words did not faze him, Alan continued to stare off

blindly. It was as if the ocean itself had scared him stiff.

“Roger?” Could that be who he thought it was?

“ROGER!” Whistling and yelling across the afterdeck he tried to get the man‟s attention.

“ROGER GLADSTONE!” Could it really be him? Alan could not believe his eyes.

Everyone in the Doylestown inner circle knew the tale of Roger Gladstone. Not the most

popular of people because of his strange behavior and appearance, Roger had not really
shocked anyone with his breakdown. His vanishing on the other hand had them all


Without looking towards him the scraggily dressed man dropped a couple of bucks down

on his table and walked down towards the beach. Alan could not be sure if it was really

Roger and chased after the fleeing man. With nearly a hundred people milling around the

deck it was not easy to move. By the time he got to the sand he had vanished into thin


“Who were you yelling at?” Already embarrassed by her husband‟s earlier comments

Esperanza‟s feeling of artlessness grew with each passing moment.

“Do you remember that postman client of mine Roger Gladstone?” Alan nearly missed

his chair when he tried to sit down. He was still visibly shaken by what he was almost

certain he had seen.

“No I don‟t remember him.” Not that this was surprising almost no one remembered the

man, he was that easily forgettable.

“Well I think that was him.” Standing back up he went over to the railing and stared

down at the sand.

“And?” What was the big deal? It was not uncommon to see someone from home when

you were on vacation. It happened all the time.

“Well the man is supposed to be dead in a gutter somewhere in Doylestown not running

around Key West.” Always louder than most of the people around him, Alan was really

blaring out the words. This latest rant drew the attention of a large man at a neighboring

table, and Esperanza was not the least bit surprised when he flashed his badge.
“Pardon my husband he doesn‟t mean anything by it…” Thinking they were about to get

arrested for disturbing the peace, she tried to sweet talk the massive man standing before


“How do you know Roger?” Every Sunday for nearly a decade, the chief of police had

come to Louie‟s Backyard, for brunch with his golden lab Brutus. It was located right

next to the only beach in the lower Keys that allowed dogs, making it an ideal location to

relax. This morning was an exception. From the moment the couple sat down next to

him they had been nothing but obnoxious. Tempted to move to another seat, he heard the

man scream out the name Roger, and then watched as the person he knew by that same

name disappeared. Had they finally found someone who could identify this drifter?

“Roger Gladstone was a client of mine back in Pennsylvania. I‟m a lawyer.” As if trying

to warn the officer to leave him alone, he stated the last part and investigated the badge

closely to make sure it was not a fake.

“Gladstone; so he does have a last name?” On the three occasions they had brought him

into the station Roger professed a lack of a last name. His photograph had not turned up

anything and a snafu with the finger print database caused a match to be impossible.

With everything going on around them, the mayor had insisted that they arrest him for

vagrancy. At least this way they might be able to finally identify him.

“Of course he does. Doesn‟t everyone?” Ignorant to the end, Alan snapped back


“Why were you so surprised to see him?” Simon was not about to be intimidated by

anyone, and continued to hold up his badge defiantly. Rolling his tongue slowly over the

outside of all his teeth, Alan said nothing. Instead he stared the chief down.
“Forgive me for my manners. My name is Simon Lagrange. I am the chief of police here

in Key West.” Esperanza bowed graciously as her dainty little hand disappeared into his

massive mitt.

“Esperanza Shiprock and this prick over here is my husband Alan.” She did not want to

spend the last couple of days of her honeymoon in police station. With a loud smack on

the back of the head, she got her husband speaking again.

“Roger disappeared from a mental institution in Doylestown Pennsylvania back in

January. You can call the police up there if you want the details.” Alan settled back in

his chair and chugged several gulps of his Bloody Mary without taking the policeman‟s

outstretched hand.

“Would you like to join us for brunch?” Esperanza playfully petted the Labrador

retriever. It was not her nature to be rude like her husband.

“Don‟t mind if I do.” Simon tossed his newspaper down two inches from Alan‟s arm,

and spun his chair around sideways.

“Of course the more the merrier.” Alan burned holes straight through the back of his

wife‟s head while grinding his teeth.

“How do you know Roger?” Sensing that her invitation was not welcome, Esperanza

decided to direct the focus of their conversation.

“That is an interesting story! A chubby little man arrived here in January dressed in

hospital scrubs without any luggage or a wallet. He caught our attention when he began

living in Mallory square and Bay View Park. Whenever we asked for his name he

answered with Roger. His photograph jogged no one‟s memory, so we decided to watch

him a while. Over the next couple of months he lost nearly forty pounds, got a job, an
apartment, and seemed to slide right into our relaxed way of living.” With two fingers he

picked up his cup of tea and sucked back on it gently. The site of this huge man sipping

tea caused Esperanza to giggle curiously.

“Then what?” Intrigued by the stories both her husband and this man had told, she was

beginning to seriously wonder who was this Roger Gladstone?

“Well I am not sure how much you have heard about our recent string of burglaries?” If

the recent criminal activity was unknown, the chief did not want to draw attention to it;

he would let her draw her own conclusions.

“It‟s hard not to be. I mean with all the signs and newspaper coverage everywhere.” It

was true. From the moment they arrived people were telling them not to leave anything

valuable outside because of all the things being stolen lately. Each day on the cover of

the newspaper there was a new story and another theory of who this “pirate” was.

“You‟re not even beginning to suggest that Roger could be the thief; are you?” At first

Alan grinned, but as the look on the police chief‟s face grew more serious he broke out

into a fit of hilarity.

“Silly isn‟t it? That‟s what I keep telling my detectives as well.” Simon was actually not

as confident as he had been before. With this new influx of information, he began to grow

more and more suspicious of the man with each passing moment.

“I‟ll admit that Roger is a bit of a fruit loop, but a master cat burglar?” Laughing at his

own inadvertent joke, Alan started shaking his head in disbelief.

From what he had seen of Roger Gladstone there was nothing to worry about. He was

barely able to speak when he first arrived at his office. The man was a bookworm.
Always polite and unassuming Roger did not fit the profile of extravagant thief. No, he

was much more likely to be a serial killer than a burglar.

“If you don‟t mind me asking what did a postal employee need with a trial lawyer?”

Now that he had the man talking, Simon knew which buttons to push for a response.

“I do mind.” Alan would not be suckered into this sort of conversation. Instead he

sucked as loud as humanly possible on several ice cubes.

“How long will you two be with us?” Alan Shiprock was being an asshole, but the chief

was determined to be the better man about it.

“We are leaving tomorrow.” There was something about the pleasant smile on his face

that comforted Esperanza. Most police officers looked so solemn and at times forlorn.

Not the chief though, his face held an air of contentment around it, as if he truly relished

his appointment.

“Perhaps I could take the two of you out to dinner tonight if that would be okay.” There

was more to talk about here. With at least thirty ounces of alcohol on the table, Simon

figured his best bet would be to ask questions later when they were more receptive.

“We sort of had a special goodbye dinner planned. How about we get together for a

drink afterwards instead?” Yes, Esperanza liked Simon Lagrange from the moment she

met him. They addressed only each other leaving Alan completely out of the decision

making process. He might as well have not been there.

“Okay then I will see you at the Green Parrot say around ten o‟clock?” Tourist bars were

far too crowded especially on Duval on Memorial Day Sunday. Therefore he chose a pub

off one of the back streets.
“That sounds wonderful.” Esperanza beamed while Simon picked up his newspaper and

pulled Brutus out from under the table.

“It was a pleasure to meet you both.” There was more to hear about Roger, and he knew

that now. Perhaps he had stumbled across the clue he had been looking for.

“Thanks a fuck of a lot for that. What in God‟s name are you thinking?” Never too

thrilled with police officers to begin with, Alan did not want to spend the last night of his

honeymoon with one.

“What it‟s one drink? Get over it we‟ll still have plenty of time for other things.”

Grabbing his crotch rather forcefully under the table, Esperanza did not appreciate being

scalded like an insolent child.

“Are you sure this Roger person you are talking about is the same one you saw today?”

Still looking rather uncomfortable, she could tell Alan was shaken up by seeing the man.

“Oh yeah it was him all right. You can‟t miss that smile.” It was only a brief moment

from across a crowded deck but he saw that brilliant flash of teeth. No matter how short

he had trimmed his hair or how much weight he had lost, it was certainly Roger.

After an extraordinary brunch they rented mopeds. They nearly killed themselves and

several other tourists as they danced in and out of traffic gleefully intoxicated. When the

sun began to set, they motored their way towards Mallory Square.

World famous for its spectacular sunset gatherings, the square faced due west towards the

Gulf of Mexico. With entertainers and cart vendors everywhere it was grand way of

waving good bye to the passing day. On this holiday weekend it was more crowded than

ever, but no one seemed to mind. After all this was the best party in town.
“Have you ever seen something more stunning in all your whole life?” It was her third

sun set in Key West, and each time she spoke the same words. On the previous two

occasions Alan shrugged his shoulders and smiled. Not tonight though, instead he looked

her dead in the eyes and kissed her lips gently.

“Yes I have.” They were perfect for each other. Certainly not perfect, they both had

their flaws. They were just what the other needed to be a better person.

“Sometimes baby you can be so sweet.” There would not be a marriage number six.

Esperanza would make this work no matter what.

They returned to the room briefly to change for dinner. From the instant he grabbed the

handle, Alan knew something was out of place. Numerous squeals and cries came from

behind their hotel door. As Alan opened it gently, he pushed Esperanza behind him.

“YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!” After nearly ripping out his

hair with his left hand, he dialed 911 with his right.

“Connect me to Chief Lagrange right away!” Twenty minutes later their room and

Simonton Court was swarming with police and animal control officers. Hemmingway‟s

six toed cats had been found.

“And you didn‟t see or hear anything out of the ordinary?” Detective Petrovic was

amazed how easily the thief or thieves moved around without anyone spotting them. It

was inconceivable to imagine that people could be that oblivious. How does one carry

sixty cats into a hotel room on the second floor of a condo complex without anyone

seeing or hearing anything?

“This building is almost empty this weekend. The other two reservations canceled on us.

Plus it is all the way at the back of the property.” Trying to explain herself Daisy could
see from the look on the detective‟s face that he didn‟t believe her. If they knew the

woman they would not have questioned her morality. Daisy never lied about anything.

“How many have we got so far?” Nearly sitting on one of feline visitors, the chief

flopped down at the kitchen table. Dozens of members of the press were stationed in the

parking lot down below. With each new cat-carrier coming out of the building there were

a hundred more photos taken.

“Fifty two chief, we are working as fast as we can.” Dr. Lopez and his team worked

quickly to collect the cats. They were quite aware how embarrassing this situation was

for all involved, and did not want to drag this out more than it had to be. Ten minutes

later they had all but one of the escaped animals. The last one was stuck up in the rafters

of the loft. Five fully-grown adults were cooing and whispering trying to get the orange

female tabby to come down.

“Give me a break already.” Pulling out his side arm the Detective aimed it up at the

rafter. With one swing of his arm, Simon leveled the detective to the ground.

“Jesus chief I was kidding already.” Popping back up to his feet, David shook his head

and chuckled at the turn of events.

“Not an issue you want to play about.” Simon could not help but grin even as he reached

over and brushed cat hair off his partner. Of course he wasn‟t going to shoot the freaking

cat what was he thinking? Detective Petrovic was one of the kindest people alive. David

was not the type to hurt anything or anyone, and even pet sat for Brutus every once in

while. It was a peculiar trait for a police officer.

“I guess this answers one question whomever the thief is they‟re certainly watching us.”

How else could they explain the cats showing up in the hotel room of the Shiprocks? At
first it had been suggested that the criminal read the newspapers for his information.

After this incident though it was obvious they were being followed.

“You still think its Roger don‟t you?” When they were finally allowed back into the

room to retrieve their luggage, Alan cursed their bad luck. Angrily shoving cat shit off

his bathing suit, he was ready to explode.

“Not necessarily. It might have been someone following you from the restaurant.” Not

thinking it through completely David stopped in the middle of speaking, and turned to

face his boss.

“How did they know you were here unless they recognized you at the restaurant? I mean

it must have taken a couple of hours to get all of these cats into the condo.” The detective

was gloating because he had been convinced since day one that Roger was the thief.

“Even if they recognized us, how would they know where we were staying? We booked

the hotel on the drive down here, and no one back home knows what hotel we are staying

in? They would have to have been following us before today to know where we were.”

Not always the sharpest tool in the shed, Esperanza made an astute observation.

“Key West is a small place. If they know your name a few of phone calls and a couple

of bucks will get you any information you need.” Not as convinced that this was planned

before today, the chief was trying to address the situation logically. This was also the

first time one of the stolen items had be returned to a place that was not the site of a

previous burglary. The thieves were breaking with their modus operandi.

“Find Roger and bring him in to the station. To answer your question Mr. Shiprock; No I

don‟t think our thief is Mr. Gladstone. However, I think Roger fled a state run mental

facility for the criminally insane.” Whoever was responsible for the rash of crimes was
well organized and flawless. Roger Gladstone did not fit this profile in the least. After

receiving the police and psychiatric reports from Pennsylvania, the chief was certainly

not convinced of Roger‟s danger to anyone other than himself.

“Criminally insane? Come on chief he went sledding without a jumpsuit don‟t you have

more important things to worry about?” Alan helped his wife pack frantically because

neither of them could wait to get out of this room. Everything was covered in cat hair

and smelled just plain awful as a result.

“Worrying about the safety of the people on my island Mr. Shiprock is exactly what I

have to worry about. Roger Gladstone is on my island and I am worried about his

safety.” Motioning for two of the deputies to depart on this mission, Simon handed them

the last known address for the missing man.

                                       May 29, 2006

“You better have a really good reason for waking me up at two o‟clock in morning.”

Simon was less than happy to be answering calls at this time, and a deep sigh from Brutus

suggested he did not appreciate it either. His ex-wife had long since moved on to greener

pastures. Citing phone calls just like these, she vacated the premises with almost no


“I‟m sorry sir, but you have to see what we found at his apartment.” The young officer

had thought about waiting until morning, but this seemed far too important for that.

“Did you find him? That‟s all I really want to know.” Simon was certain his slumber for

the evening was over as he reached over to turn on the bedside light.

“No sir he looks to have packed up and moved on.” Not wanting to describe what they

had found over the phone, he hoped his boss would just drive out there to see it.
“Can you take photos for me?” Simon just wanted to roll over and got back to sleep.

Consequently, he was not surprised when the next voice he heard was from the detective.

“Chief you need to see this. I have a pot of hot water boiling now.” David was the one

that suggested calling the chief. He was the first person the confused officers called.

Apparently short on his finances Roger did not live in the best part of town. Less than a

half block away from the only all nude review on Key West, he was renting a studio in

the back of dilapidated old shotgun house. It had seen better days. Unlike most of the

places he had been called to lately there were no reporters or crime scene investigators

here. As he opened the private entrance and walked inside his eyes popped open.

“The man‟s obviously a Jimmy Buffett fan.” A mural ran from floor to ceiling covering

every inch of available wall space in the ten by ten room. Recognizing the art from the

cover of the “Son of a Son of a Sailor” album, the chief really hoped this was not why he

called him there.

“Don‟t worry there is more.” Detective Petrovic opened the lid on a cardboard box in the

corner of the room revealing hundreds of bar napkins. On each and every one of the black

linen squares was an embroidered a bright white Jolly Roger.

“You couldn‟t tell me this over the phone?” Okay so maybe Roger was involved with

this more than he thought.

“You haven‟t seen anything yet.” Turning off the lights, it took a moment of two for

Simon to see what all the fuss was about. There was a catalogued list written in

luminescent paint on the walls. Next to first nineteen or so there was a check mark. The

very last one caught his attention immediately.

                                 HEMMINGWAY CATS
 Each line coordinated with a crime that had already perpetrated. Only one of them

remained unchecked.

“Call all of the marinas and let them know. Wake up the force. I want plain clothed

officers stationed at every one of them private or public.” Feeling stupid for not

listening to his detective now, Simon did not want the man to get away. He read the last

item on the list out loud.

                                     A PIRATE SHIP

“What do we have around here that classifies as a pirate ship?” Home to millions of

pirates at one time or another, this last item seemed a bit generic in comparison to the rest

of a very specific list.

“Thousands of them actually. Just about every boat on this island flies the Jolly Roger.”

Already on the phone to the station, the detective was not about to gloat. Yes, he knew

there was something wrong with Roger Gladstone, but even couldn‟t have guessed this.

“Let‟s try to get more specific shall we. Officer Mclean I was a list of all possible

matches for pirate vessels. Talk to DOT and get me an index of all boats registered here

in Key West. Talk to immigration and see if we have any special vessels from out of

town. Officer Pearson I want crime scene photos. No one goes in or out of here, and try

not to tip the press off to this one okay?” Constantly using police bands to call things

such as this in, he was half the reason why the press knew more than they did.

“We should put …”

“Detective make sure we have an APB on Roger Gladstone. Use that last photo from

when we had him in custody and let him go. That one shows him with his hair cut.”

Interrupting his deputy, the chief knew what to do.
“I want to talk to the owners of the house do we know where they are?” There were no

cars in the driveway when he got there.

“They were here when we got here. They even let us in.” Officer Mclean could not

understand why his boss looked furious.

“You might want to consider…” Detective Petrovic had some more to add.

“That the owners of the house are really the thieves or that they were working together.

Yeah the idea already crossed my mind.” Always a step ahead of everyone, Simon patted

his detective on the back.

“You didn‟t happen to get an id from the house owner did you? How about a license

plate number on all vehicles in the driveway when you got here?” The chief watched the

heads of his police officers dip towards the ground in shame.

“This is why we follow a set of procedures gentlemen. Go do what I asked you to do, I‟ll

clean up where you left off.” Slightly disappointed in their lackluster performance,

Simon was more pissed off with himself. He should have seen this coming.

“Wake up the judge and get me some warrants.” Looking to David for some advice he

saw the man biting his lip nervously.

“I know what you are thinking something doesn‟t add up here. I know that already, but

we have to follow a path or this will get ugly.” Both men moved off in two different

directions. They had more than just a lead this time.


With the sun rising on a new day, Esperanza woke up to an unfamiliar noise in the other

room. She was surprised to see Alan next to her when she turned her head.
“Someone‟s in the kitchen.” Smacking Alan on the side of the face when he did not

wake up right away, she was petrified.

“It‟s probably just…” The sound of a glass shattering on the floor in the other room

stopped him from speaking.

“Get in the bathroom.” Alan walked towards the door while pulling on a pair of pajama

pants. Despite his diminutive size, Alan was not a man to mess with. He was a black

belt in Tai Kwon Do since the age of seventeen, and was more than capable of defending

his family in hand to hand combat if need be. His only dread as he slid into the living

room was that the intruder would be armed.

“Don‟t shoot it‟s just me.” Although it was dark in the room, there was no mistaking the

smile of the man cowering next to the couch.

“Damn it Roger, you could have just knocked on the door.” Alan cursed as he banged his

ankle on an end table

“What in God‟s name are you doing here? Are you involved in this nonsense

somehow?” Alan rubbed the sleep drearily from his eyes, and spoke as if he were still

the crazy man‟s lawyer.

“What nonsense?” Cheerful and nondescript as ever, he plopped lazily down the couch.

“Cat abductions? Petty theft? Breaking and entering?” Alan chose the armchair as he

swiped a couple of beers from the Styrofoam cooler in the living room.

“It‟s okay honey its just Roger!” Alan screamed towards the other room when he

remembered that his wife was probably hiding naked in the bathroom. A minute later a

scantily dressed Esperanza slid cautiously out of the room.
“Patricia is gone?” Roger looked over at her and waved. Three wives had come and

gone in the short time he knew Alan Shiprock.

“Forgive me, I am not very popular right now so I chose a late night visit. I apologize for

frightening you.” As they reached out to shake each other‟s hand her kimono flipped

open revealing a bare breast. Thoroughly embarrassed Roger turned away and pointed.

“I should get dressed.” Esperanza slid into the other room while giggling at his childish

reaction. A curious thought crossed her mind as she threw on a pair of jeans and a tank

top. The police were looking for him. Picking up the phone and the business card from

the chief she hesitated. In the other room the two of them casually discussing old times.

Through the crack of the door she saw that smile on his face. Instead of calling the police

she sat down on the armchair with her husband and cracked open a beer.

“I don‟t really know what happened honestly. One minute I was sitting in my bedroom

listening to some music the next thing I know I am in the police station. The whole

sledding naked down the fifteenth fairway doesn‟t register at all.” Perhaps it was that

grin or the joyful way in which he spoke but either way Roger did not seem threatening.

“It doesn‟t really matter because the police are looking for you. Come to think of it; how

did you find us?” Alan scowled inquisitively towards the man.

“Small island my friend. Coconut telegraph carries fast around here.” Roger did not

address the police issue at all and toasted cheers with his bottle of beer instead.

“They‟re probably at your house right now looking for you.” It was Alan who considered

making the phone call. After all, Roger was barely an acquaintance. He really owed the

man nothing.
“They won‟t find me there, I am staying on a friend‟s boat. You should come see it. It is

the most incredible brigantine you have ever seen. It‟s nearly a hundred feet long.” For

the first time since he arrived Roger was sounding just like his old self, and this was not

necessarily a good thing. Cackling at strange points during his oration, he reminded

Esperanza of the Johnny Depp adaptation of Willy Wonka. It was slightly creepy the

way he tried so hard to entice them.

“Come on you‟ll love it. We can go for a quick sail and then you can get on the plane

and fly fly away.” Roger spread his arms and made airplane noises.

“I‟m not sure that‟s such a good idea.” Alan had no trouble remembering why Roger

made people nervous at public gatherings.

“I didn‟t steal the Hemmingway cats. First of all can you see me scurrying around

catching sixty of them?” Chasing around the living room clumsily, he could not help

laughing in spite of himself.

“Secondly I am deathly allergic to them. Remember that time at the Chamber of

Commerce thing at your parent‟s house. I ended up at Doylestown Hospital. They

barely saved me from anaphylactic shock.” His story was genuine. Alan remembered

the event clearly. He did not recall that it was Roger though.

“I‟m an outsider that‟s all. I‟m always an outsider no matter where I go.” Not the least

bit ashamed of his truthfulness, his pathetic plea fell hard on Esperanza. Before she

could say anything Alan beat her to it.

“Okay a quick sail but we have to be back on the dock by no later than eleven.” Roger

waved them towards the bedroom as he jumped up and down like an overgrown child.

“Get dressed we haven‟t a moment to lose.”

Less than an hour later they walked casually through the gate into the Conch Marina.

Unknowingly they strolled right past undercover Officer Gregory Fine.

“It‟s him sir, and you will never guess who‟s with him.” Gregory blended in perfectly

with the rest of the staff dressed in his coral colored marina polo and beige shorts.

“Don‟t do anything. Just wait there.” Simon grabbed his radio and alerted the Coast

Guard to cut off all exits from marina. The police patrol boats were already closing in.

They had him.


“So where is this marvelous sailing craft?” The run down shanty harbor barely could be

categorized as a marina. None of the vessels was larger than twenty feet long, and

several of them were resting on the bottom from previous hurricanes gone by.

“It‟s too big for this marina; we‟re just catching a ride out there.” As they turned the

corner past a guard house they came face to face with a twenty six foot long fire engine

red Donzi. In pristine condition and with all working parts it was completely out of place

amongst these Davey Jones wannabes.

“Wow that‟s a nice ride.” Alan was disinclined to allow his new bride on board. He was

almost certain that Roger was lying to him. For nearly fifteen seconds he reluctantly held

himself up on the dock. A dreadful fear crossed his mind. If he got on the boat he was

never coming back.

“Come on baby don‟t be afraid of the boat it won‟t bite you.” Esperanza‟s unknowingly

pushed him onboard. Constantly picking on his trepidation about the ocean, she riled him

up every chance she got.
“Alan doesn‟t like boats much.” In a little baby voice she pushed it one step further.

“They don‟t like me much dear.” Alan casually hopped in beside her and considered

quite seriously throwing his newlywed bride over the edge. Still as they untied and pulled

away, that feeling came back to him again. This was a really bad idea.


“They are headed towards the gulf. They should be at the bridge in less than five

minutes.” Gregory danced in and out of the marina buildings while trying his best to keep

up. Even though they maintained no wake distance and speed; they began to distance

themselves from him.

“Thank you officer we have them from here.” The two coast guard inflatables pushed

together to block off any escape that might have. They were too confident in their

superior position to think about the consequences of their actions.

Just as the perpetrators untied from the dock and shoved off to sea the increasingly

darkening sky opened up with a steady downpour of rain. Seconds before they took the

last turn the visibility was reduced to less than twenty feet.


“Aren‟t you glad I told you to put on your ponchos and stow your clothes in the dry

storage?” Proud of his prognostication, Roger turned back to his passengers and pressed

on the foot pedal. So proud was he, that he took his eyes off the canal in front of him.

“LOOK OUT!” They were traveling much to fast for zero visibility. The second they

turned the bend in the river leading to the Gulf they were upon the two Coast Guard

vessels. With the entrance-exit blocked off there was no place to bail out. It was either

crash through them or crash into the step bank beside them.
Nothing in particular went through his mind as Roger sped right over the bows of the two

boats. The two mighty inboards whined as they came up out of the water, and when the

props landed on the normally bullet proof zodiac hulls they ripped right through. Much

like the sound of a huge balloon popping in a crowded room, it scared them half to death

as the two hulls on each boat exploded. More confused than anything else, Roger spun

the Donzi back around to see what damage he had done.

Everything probably would have been resolved right here had one of the obviously

frightened and overzealous coast guard people not opened fire with his side arm. Three

bullets struck the hull of the Donzi making a horrendous pinging noise. Not sure why

they were shooting at him, Roger spun back out to sea and slammed the pedal to the


“THEY‟RE SHOOTING AT US!” Screaming and wailing uncontrollably Esperanza

buried herself in Alan‟s lap

“Why are the shooting at us?” More confused than anyone, Roger ran away like a

frightened child. It wasn‟t his fault that they had blocked off the harbor. There was

nothing he could have done to avoid them.

“Pull over and let us off!” Alan nearly ripped him from the helm as he grabbed and

twisted Roger‟s collar forcefully.

“Where would you like me to do that?” Pointing to steep banks on either side, Roger was

really scared now. No one had ever shot at him before.

“We‟re about a quarter mile from the nearest drop off point when we get there you can

go. Until then I could just throw you overboard if you would like?” Roger snarled like a

junkyard dog, as he ripped himself from Alan‟s grip.
“WHY DO PEOPLE HATE ME SO? I never do anything to anyone. I‟m always nice

and courteous. It‟s not fair. It‟s just not fair.” Talking quite loudly to himself Roger was

on the verge of another episode. Alan had no idea what to do, as he and his wife watched

the breakdown cautiously.

Roger finally let up on the foot pedal as they turned the last bend in the mangroves

towards the Gulf of Mexico.

“Oh this isn‟t good at all.” There were at least a dozen heavily armed police officers

standing on the bridge in front of them. Meanwhile in the water were four police boats.

They weren‟t going anywhere.

“The option to swim for it is still on?” Strapping him into the seat it became obvious that

Roger was going to make a run for it.

“They‟ll kill you Roger? What did you do?” Not a brave man by any means; Alan did

not want to see the Roger murdered without at least knowing why.

“I was born.” Roger opened up two canisters beneath his sear and adjusted the flow of

fuel to the second inboard. This little speedboat could do eighty on a flat day, and Roger

knew it. Nothing the United States Coast Guard or Key West police for that matter could

keep up with him.

“This is you last chance; swim or flee?” Roger was dead serious.

“Go for the edge.” Alan kissed his newlywed bride‟s cheek and then picked her up in his


“If you really didn‟t do anything Roger why don‟t you tell them?” Not wanting to leave

him alone here, Esperanza pleaded with him to think about this.

“You have five seconds.” Roger said nothing more. He merely stared straight ahead.
“I love you baby.” Instead of jumping in the water with her though, Alan tossed her over

the back and strapped himself in.

“Go!” If he lived to be a hundred years old, Alan would never know what possessed him

to do it. Perhaps it was a belief that Roger had really done nothing wrong. Perhaps it

was a need to protect his client. Perhaps he had just tasted death and wanted one more

chance to feel alive.


The sharpshooters on the bridge did not open fire as the boat sped off towards the

Atlantic Ocean because they feared that might hit the woman in the water.

“Son of bitch he‟s making a run for it.” The chief picked up the radio and called on the

coast guard. They had really not expected this. Blocking off the gulf had been a logical

step. There was no way though to do the same for the ocean. A two mile gap between

Key West and Big Pine Key opened up in less than a mile. Once Roger and Alan got

there, they would be almost impossible to catch in that speedboat.

“He may be able to outrun your pursuit boats but not a helicopter.” The Coast Guard

Captain Vincent Calderone was not really worried even as he watched them motor away.

The Donzi could run for maybe an hour at that speed before it ran out of fuel. There was

nowhere they could get in an hour that he could not follow. No one had to be harmed for

him to apprehend the criminal. They would simply keep a chopper hovering over them

until they ditched the vessel or ran dry.

“Get me up in the air.” The entire situation did not make sense. Chief Lagrange watched

as the fleeing vessel roared out to sea, and shook his head in disbelief.
“As you wish?” The Key West police had their share of neat toys. Their fleet was

constantly upgraded by the department of Homeland Security because of their prime

location for foreign invasion. They had more helicopters and ocean going vessels per

capita than any other city in America. The Key West Police were perfectly suited for

something like this.

There was only one real problem. Nothing like this had ever happened before.       All the

practice had not really equipped them for the moment. Getting in the air to oversee the

apprehension of Roger Gladstone seemed like the only sane solution to this situation.

Otherwise some gung ho naval pilot was going to blow him out of the water.

“Let‟s go sir there‟s a whirly bird waiting for you at the base.”

In fifteen minutes they were racing towards the ocean. In thirty minutes they had caught

up with the Donzi. Only Roger was not running out to sea as he had expected. He was

remaining relatively close to land headed north through the shallow water of the Florida



“What‟s the plan?” Alan shouted loudly to be heard over the rumble of the vicious

sounding inboards.

“Are you a David Blain fan?” Roger‟s words trailed off beneath the sound of helicopter

rotors. Three of them now encircled him in a never ending pattern. Fortunately for him

the authorities seemed content to follow behind him. It was a stupid mistake.

“DO YOU SCUBA DIVE?” Roger winked at Alan as he let up ever so slightly on the

car like gas pedal for the first time since Key West.

“No not really?” It was not until that very moment that Alan truly feared for his life.

“They‟re slowing down. It looks like they are going to pull in somewhere between Big

Coppit and Boca Chica Key. They must be running low on fuel.” Detective Petrovic

stowed away on the helicopter trip even though he was not invited. Quite familiar with

these islands, he pointed to various landmarks. David spent several hours bone fishing

here in the shallows.

“It looks more like they‟re going to swim for it?” Completely stopped in the water, both

men jumped overboard and swam for the shore. As if watching from heaven they could

see a dozen Coast Guard and police vessels finally starting to catch up to them. On land

a rash of blue lights coming from the north and south converged on their location from


“That‟s it I guess?” There was nowhere for them to go. Once they landed on the shore,

they would be arrested and the threat neutralized. He had done his job.

“Where did they go?” One second the two men were swimming on the surface amidst a

number of waves kicked up by the circling choppers, and the next second they were gone.

“WHERE THE HELL DID THEY GO?” Turning to everyone in the helicopter, Simon

expected someone to answer him. Someone had to have seen where the two men went.

“Get the divers in the water!” The chief closed his eyes and clicked on the radio dial.

Had they lost him again? It took a few minutes but the area around the Donzi swarmed

with boats and scuba divers.

“Get us on the ground again.” Simon could not believe it was possible as he landed on

US1. It was Memorial Day Sunday and he had just ordered the only road into and out of

Key West to be shut down. Tomorrow he would be looking for a new job.
An hour passed and at least a dozen divers came in and out of the water. Each time they

held up their hands and shook their heads.

“No sign of them.” They were no longer in Key West and yet most of the police and

Coast Guard personnel still differed to Simon. They hoped he would offer an explanation

for this disappearing act.

“This is unfucking believable.” His reaction told them all they needed to know.

                                       May 30, 2006

“He didn‟t say anything more.” Despite her father in law‟s request to keep her mouth

shut, Esperanza continued to talk to the police.

“What do you know about Roger Gladstone?” Simon was making one last effort to get

some answers as the FBI and Department for Homeland Security prepared to snatch this

investigation away from him at any moment.

“I don‟t know anything more than you already discussed with Alan.” The loss of her

newlywed husband was far more than Esperanza could handle. Every few seconds a tear

and whimper crept up from within her chest.

“We have gone over this a dozen times already chief. I am afraid that I am going to have

to put me foot down now.” Alan Shiprock Sr. was nearly an exact copy of his only son.

With his died black hair, and surgically vacuumed belly they could easily have been

mistaken for siblings rather than father and son.

“I just want my baby back.” Esperanza bawled uncontrollably. Once she opened the

floodgates there was nothing more anyone could do. The lawyer motioned for the

detective to show them back out.
“She doesn‟t know anything.” When the door opened for a second time it was not

detective Petrovic. The fed had arrived, and she was stunning.

“Patricia Vasquez, Department of Homeland…”

“Insecurity.” Detective Petrovic finished her title, and slid past her into the room.

“So it is going to be like that gentlemen?” Her staff remained less than twenty feet away

from her in the hallway.

“What can we do for our country Mrs. Vasquez?” Simon did not want to piss off the

federal government, and eyed his lead detective with a sense of distaste.

“I need all your files; every video tape, warrant, photograph, and statement. Let‟s make

this transition as painless as possible shall we?” The chief barely even glanced at papers

which granted her the authority to take over his investigation. He knew it was just a

matter of time before this happened.

“They‟re yours.” Simon threw up his hands in submission. He was ready to give up this

circus to someone, and it might as well be her.

“Thank you for your cooperation, I will remember it in my report.” Perhaps forty or forty

five years old, the woman was far too attractive for a field agent. Her strawberry blond

hair bounced playfully around her bare shoulders tickling a multitude of freckles.

Obviously a work out fiend, her arms had more definition than the chief‟s did. At one

time she must have been a personal trainer or something similar. No one looked this fit

by accident.

“Can I ask you one personal question before you leave?” The agent pleaded. Simon did

not like the presumptuous way she addressed him in his own building, and did turned his

head away in disgust.
“Do I have a choice?” Carefully and deliberating standing up, Simon reached for the

door handle before she spoke.

“Do you think Roger Gladstone acted alone?” Patricia was not sure what to think even

after ready everything she could get her hands on regarding this case. In general she was

skeptical of small town police departments. They tended to be quite lackadaisical in their

approach to crime scene investigation. Therefore she was pleasantly surprised how

organized the information had been.

“I don‟t think he acted at all. You have the wrong one armed man.” Simon slid out the

door, and moved quickly towards his office.

“How can that be? I have seen the video of his escape.” Up until now Patricia had been

content to let him fade off into the sunset. His last statement was too curious to let pass.

“If someone started shooting at you would you run away or would you stick around to

ask them why?” Pointing towards his head he detoured off towards the men‟s room

hoping she would stop following.

“Yes but they only shot at him because he ran over their boats in an attempt to escape?”

The agent held open the men‟s room door, but did not follow him inside.

“Have you ever hit anything on the highway with your car because you didn‟t see it until

it was too late?” Simon sighed deeply while he settled in at the urinal. What was with

this woman?

“Yes and usually I pulled over to see what it was?” Why did this man trust Roger so

much when everyone else including his own staff thought he was guilty?
“So did he and then they shot at him? Now can I possibly TAKE A FUCKING PISS IN

PRIVATE PLEASE!” Simon had restrained his sizable temper until that moment. For a

brief second he let it boil over.

“So you don‟t think he has anything to do with these thefts? How do you explain the

apartment then?” Let‟s see him try to explain this one away.

“Have you found the owners of the house he was staying in yet?” Apparently she was

not easily intimidated nor did she have any idea of what privacy meant.

“The house is owned by a corporation registered in the Bahamas. They have no record of

anyone staying there at all, but I am sure you knew that already.” This was perhaps the

most intriguing part of the story she had heard so far. It was also the reason Patricia

believed this was all one large conspiracy.

“Can you say patsy?” Simon received this information while he was in the helicopter,

and he smelled a rat immediately.

“Patricia actually, I don‟t really like to be called…”

“Patsy as in a person who is being framed by someone else for something they didn‟t

do.” Slamming his door and locking it behind him, the chief was fed up with the


“I was being sarcastic.” Patricia Vasquez was not a bad person. In fact by all accounts

she was one of the sweetest kindest individuals alive. Let it be known that she was good

at her chosen profession. Running her teams like a well oiled machine, she snapped at

them when they were inefficient and praised them when they followed her strict set of

rules. No one would ever accuse her of being a pushover.
“Looks like we are not going to get a lot of help from him.” No one in her group wanted

to look her in the eyes, they stared down at the floor.

“Can you blame him?” The detective had fired the first shot, and was feeling slightly

guilty for it.

“Yes I can detective. I am not here to hurt Key West or their police department. I am

here to catch the bad guys.” Patricia pointed her team towards their new office, and

raised her neatly trimmed eyebrows his way. Meanwhile David walked over to see his

boss at his office door.

“What do you want?” Simon did not want to see anyone, and as he popped to 500-mg

tablets of Tylenol he simply hoped they would go away.

“You think I like this shit? Lay off I don‟t want them here either. Can you imagine what

Red neck…” Before he could finish the statement the phone on his desk rang.

“Speak of the devil.”


“Jesus Christ how did you talk me into this shit?” Alan was practically freezing to death

as he stripped off forty pounds of scuba equipment.

“I didn‟t ask you to come with me.” Very few people knew about the waste water intake

pipe for the desalination plant on Big Coppit Key. Nearly a quarter mile from where they

dropped into the ocean, Roger guessed correctly that the divers would not discover the

secret to their disappearance. Once inside the three by three pipe, it was just another

seven hundred yards to the now abandoned facility. Roger‟s only fear was that someone

had locked the hatch on the other side. It would have been a long swim back and they

most certainly would have run out of air before then. As luck would have it, he pushed
up on the hatch, and it creaked open into the empty room. Three sea bags full of

provisions and clothing were stashed in the corner.

“So you were the pirate then? You mother fucking cock sucking little bastard I knew I

shouldn‟t have gotten on that boat!” Alan‟s simple brain was only able to conclude one

thing when he saw all the supplies. Roger Gladstone was the pirate and he was blowing


“Are you done yet?” Roger unzipped and emptied all of the sea bags one by one onto the


“I‟m going on a trip. Not because I have to but because I want to.” Opening up the door

to the outside world cautiously, he was not sure what to expect. Would there be police

everywhere? Would they open fire and ask questions later? All of his trepidation

evaporated when he laid eyes on her again.

“Isn‟t she gorgeous?” Roger held in a deep breath as he stared at his dream girl. If he

sailed the seven seas for the rest of his life, he could not imagine anything more beautiful.

“It‟s a ship man?” As impressive as the massive brigantine was with her hardwood

ebony rails and jet black silken sails it was still just a boat. The way Roger looked at it

one would have thought he was staring at a super model. Something about the surface

was strange though. It was actually painful to look at her glare in the afternoon shine.

“So was the Titanic.” Roger blew off his comment with a groan. What had he expected

from a superficial man like Alan Shiprock?

Eighty-three feet from an ornately carved mermaid riding on the bow to her stainless steel

pintails on the stern, this was Roger‟s ultimate sailing dream. Another hundred from tip
of the Jolly Roger to her center-winged keel, a lump formed his throat and his pants as he

stared at her longingly.

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the vessel was a massive skull and cross bones on the

deck which melted almost Daliesque all the way down to the waterline. It was the only

bit of color anywhere on the outside of the vessel. Everything was black all the way

down to the recyclable toilet paper in the head and the sheets in the master berth. If ever

there were a modern day pirate ship this was it. Fashioned to look like an ancient

seventeenth century brigantine, nothing on her was more than forty years old. The

reproduction was the brainchild of a Finnish builder with a passion for golden oldies.

Hidden within the reproduction were the latest in modern sailing conveniences. From

auto sail to a radar/GPS system that could make a United States Naval carrier jealous, she

was state of the art.

“Shall I leave you two alone?” Alan had not seen someone ogle an object like that since

he was a teenager when his very own father bought his first Porsche. For two days he

lived in the garage with his new toy. It was rueful.

“I wish you would.” Roger loaded his bags on board while these five words echoed

through his brain.

“Where are we going?” Alan did not bother to worry about the consequences of his

break with the law. He was in far too deep.

“The more appropriate question would be where aren‟t we going?”

No one disturbed the chief after his phone call with the mayor. They figured he had been

through enough already. Simon stared at the walls trying to figure out where he had gone

wrong. He stared and he stared for nearly eight hours, he did little more than blink.

“Hey chief have you ever heard of a boat called the Jolly Mon?” One of the young ladies

in dispatch who was unaware of the day‟s events pressed the intercom to his desk. At first

he did not answer her thinking eventually she would go away.

“No Lacy I never heard of it.” Simon blinked out the cobwebs from his vision while

trying to recover from his waking slumber. He ceremoniously crushed a Styrofoam cup in

his hands until there was nothing left by pieces.

“Well it was just reported stolen. You should see the latest photos of this thing.” One of

the other dispatchers smacked her on the back of the head and explained to her what had

happened while she was sleeping.

“Sorry to disturb you sir.” Lacy apologized for her ignorance, and was just about to hang

up the phone.

“Why what‟s so special about that particular boat?” It was no one else‟s fault that he was

in this predicament, and therefore Simon chose to return to the living once more.

“It looks like something out of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie.” Lacy looked the

diagrams over and over again from every angle.

“Hello chief are you still there?” Her line went dead, and when Lacy called back, the line

just rang and rang until it went to voice mail.

“Well that‟s strange…” The chief was heavy breathing when he spun her monitor around

towards himself. He had just run half way across city hall in less than a minute.
“When was it stolen? Where was stolen from? Who reported it? Who is it registered to?

I need all of these answers and I need them quick.”

“I‟ll print out the report for you.” Simon Lagrange was not easily excitable. To see him

now, Lacy knew this had to be something really important, so she worked quicker than

her conch republic blood would normally allow.

“Detective, meet me down at dispatch and grab that Vasquez lady on your way down

here.” They would need everyone‟s assistance on this one.

The Juicy Fruit trading company caught his eye right away. Registered in the Bahamas

they were the same owners of the house Roger had been staying in. There was no way

this was a merely a coincidence.

“You say the person who reported this was named Billy Voltaire and his profession was

piano player?” Simon commented casually on the 911 recording with a gentle chortle in

his voice.

“What‟s so humorous about that chief?” Patricia Vasquez was standing behind him and

already had a copy of the report in her hands.

“Jimmy Buffett Cuban Crime of Passion. Billy Voltaire was a piano player up from

Miami way.” Detective Petrovic could tell both his voice and the lyrics he sang were lost

on all those sitting there except the chief who obviously understood.

“All of this comes from Jimmy Buffett songs. The Juicy Fruit trading company, the Jolly

Mon, and Billy Voltaire are all part of his sub culture down here.” Simon had grown

accustomed to the strange flocking behavior and undying loyalty of the Parrotheads to the

man whose music motivated their every breath.
“So what are you telling me that Jimmy Buffett stole this boat?” Patricia turned to

everyone with a clever grin, but found she was the only one laughing.

“No but I would imagine that whoever owns this company is a more than just a casual

fan. I would also imagine that none of this is a coincidental.” As the immigration and

customs information printed out the detective stared down their new “boss” spitefully.

“Tell me why some idiot in immigration and customs didn‟t throw up a red flag on this?”

Although the passport appeared to be quite legitimate, the name on it should have tipped

him off right away. Simon marked the information with a highlighter for everyone to see.

“Spider John? That‟s original.” Unable to contain his hysterics, David tossed the paper

down on the ground.

“I know I am new here, but if this is some sort of gag you like to play on the out of

town…” Patricia could not understand what language these people were speaking, and it

was beginning to annoy her.

“More Buffett lore. The ballad of Spider John is another song of his. Get me someone

in immigration on phone. Let‟s run this passport see if it is legit, though I doubt it. Send

a team to the marina where the Jolly Mon was stolen from last night. Mrs. Vasquez I

would suggest you get a helicopter net up out there and look for this vessel.” This had

been a sick game from the beginning. None of the crimes had ever really been serious

ones. They were merely trying to play with his head. These references to fictional song

characters only strengthened Simon‟s belief that someone had a sick sense of humor.

“It‟s Miss Vasquez if you don‟t mind, and are you suggesting that Spider John here is

involved in this somehow?” Patricia had already called the APB on the Jolly Mon, and

her finger pointed to the highlighted name naively.
“Yes Miss Vasquez that is what I am suggesting. Either this young man is involved with

this or is actually the sole perpetrator here. Roger Gladstone as I have said before is

merely a fall guy. My guess is you will find that the boat he was scheduled to take the

Shiprocks out on it is the now missing Jolly Mon.” Simon held up his car keys with his

left hand and poured himself another cup of tea with his right.

“What about Alan Shiprock? Do you really buy that story we got from the daddy‟s girl

prom queen?” Perhaps she should have done more research about Esperanza before she

spoke because the chief literally growled at her.

“Yeah all those abuse complaints and these photos from a real spoiled child.”

Esperanza‟s file still lie open on his desk. The girl had not lived a pretty life.

“We‟ll be at the Hyatt Marina if you need us for anything.” Detective Petrovic strapped

his gun into his holster pushed him out the door.

“I‟m going with you.” No way was she going to allow the local police to handle this one

on their own. If Spider John or Roger Gladstone or Billy Voltaire were playing some

sick game with them, she would not allow it to go on much longer.

“How do you know so much about Jimmy Buffett music; are you a fan?” They were

listening to the song about Billy Voltaire, and Patricia wanted to know a little bit more

about this bizarre subculture. Growing up in the mostly Cuban section of Miami known

as Hialeah, she had heard the name Jimmy Buffett mentioned thousands of times.

However, she knew very little about his music.

“No not really it is bit too much like country music for my taste.” Simon said.

“What‟s wrong with country music?” The detective elbowed him playfully.
“I‟m Haitian we don‟t do country.” Though the statement of his heritage was correct, it

was meant to be a joke. He was American at this point in time. If they dropped him back

in Port Au Prince he would collapse and fall apart in a day. Although he could still hold

a decent conversation in Creole, it was not really part of his life anymore.

“How about Roger Gladstone is he a Jimmy Buffett fan?”

“According to his bio he is a serious Parrothead, but who knows how accurate that is?

No one really knows the man. His parents died while he was in college. He hasn‟t had a

girlfriend of any significance and his friend, if you want to call him that, have no idea

who he is. Roger Gladstone is a mystery.” Neither Patricia nor Simon disagreed with

him, but they scoffed at the idea anyway. Both of them were too practical to belief that

any person was a mystery. Every personality was the formation of past events. Someone

or something made Roger the way that he was.

“What exactly is Parrothead?” They were pulling into the Hyatt parking lot as Patricia

asked the next obvious question.

“Apparently at one of Jimmy Buffett‟s early concerts someone remarked that his fans

reminded them of colorful Dead Heads. Those are followers of the Grateful Dead in case

you were wondering. From there the name caught on, and has been a rallying cry for the

tropically insane ever since.” Reaching to open her door like the gentlemen that he was,

David ever bought into whole lifestyle of the tropics. Yet, here he was living the life in

Key West that most of these people dreamed about.

“It‟s more about the message than the music. He inspires yuppies and deadbeats from

Hoboken and Fargo to shed off their snow boats and parkas for grass skirts and coconut

shells. They keep searching for the greener pastures of Margaritaville in hopes that they
can escape if only temporarily from their hum drum existence.” Occasionally he caught

himself daydreaming of hammocks and boat drinks, but it quickly faded into the

everyday bullshit known as life.

“So what do we have here?” There were already a dozen police officers surrounding the

dock master who had refused to talk to anyone, so the Chief simply ushered them all out

of the way.

“This man was staying on the Jolly Mon for about a week. Then last Thursday he must

have taken her out for a sail and never came back. I really didn‟t think anything of it

until I got the call from you folks.” Gabriel McKenzie was a salty old sea captain who

had simply lost his nerve to battle the ocean. Grizzled and grey he had seen more than

his fair share of encounters with the law. Only Simon could talk with him. The chief was

a fair man. The chief was a good man. Gabe trusted the chief to do the right thing.

“How about this one Gabe?” On more than one Saturday these two had sat down at this

very dock and drank a couple. Although he no longer sailed the seven seas Gabe loved to

tell his tall tales of mermaids and adventures. Occasionally he would even break into a

shanty or two when the liquor flowed too plentifully. Staring down at the photo of Spider

John he sighed.

“He brought her in near the end of April. Paid me for three months in advance, and I

haven‟t seen him since. Thought it was a bit strange but you know I don‟t ask questions

of those who don‟t want to answer them.” A nod between them seemed to answer at least

a dozen questions.

“Other than the obvious was there anything about this brig that stood out?” With each

passing word Patricia hovered in closer to them both, until finally Simon motioned for
her to back off. Gabe was not the most comfortable person around authority figures to

begin with. He really did not appreciate anyone breathing down his throat.

“She was coated with something funny; a gel coat of some sort that I had never seen

before. All of brass fittings down to the water line and the deck were spongy. Plus for

someone trying to imitate an old brig she was outfitted with some serious gadgets. You

don‟t see a quarter million in GPS, radio, and radar on the average day sailor.” Pausing a

moment for genuine affect, Gabe snarled at Patricia defiantly.

“Since you are asking me, I would say she looked like a smugglers rig. Unfortunately

they didn‟t know much about the trade and made her stand out too much. Any good

pirate knows the best vessel for a scallywag is one that no one sees coming.” For a

moment or two there was silence between the men. Staring at his eyes as deep and blue

as the open ocean itself, the chief wondered. The rest of Gabriel looked decrepit and

fatigued, but those eyes were still quite powerful.

“What could she do?” Simon questioned

“I don‟t know what she looked like below the waterline, but I would guess fifteen at

least.” Gabe did not hesitate to answer

“That‟s fast for an old block sail.”

“The only thing „old‟ about that vessel is the appearance everything else is turn of the


“What about this man?” The photo of Roger drew a smile almost unperceivable grin.

Gabriel was one of those quiet men who could fill an encyclopedia with a single look.

Observing everything closely he never stared, and yet he never missed a trick.
“Comfortable with sheet and winch, he had sail up before he left the marina, and when he

returned. Not too many who can do that these days.” Most of the people trying to listen

in on this conversation were confused. They knew nothing about sailing. They knew

nothing about boats. It was as if these two were speaking in code. For the layman Gabe

was basically trying to say that Roger Gladstone was a good sailor.

“That‟s about all I need Gabe. Thanks for your assistance. If you see anything out of

ordinary around her, you will let me know?” Simon knew the answer before he asked it.

“I doubt it.” This man was not a snoop, nor was he a tattle tale. Privacy was more

important to him than being a law-biding citizen.

“If they catch this one they will hang him out to dry, and I don‟t think he deserves it.”

Simon tried to keep everyone else out of the conversation even as Gabe grumbled his

displeasure under his breath.

“A pirate‟s life for me?” Gabriel limped back through the crowd to his little shed with a

wink and snarl.

“What in God‟s name was that all about?” Patricia was so frustrated with total lack of the

English language being spoken down here she was prepared to cry.

“Roger took the boat, and he‟s running. From what we have seen so far, and from what

Gabe is not telling me, you are going to have a hard time catching him before he gets into

international waters.” His last chance to try and catch Roger while he was in Key West

was long gone. The only chance of anyone capturing him at all was that one of the

helicopters spotted him before he ended up in St. Somewhere with a West Indian girl on

each shoulder and an umbrella drink in each hand.
“So that‟s it? Your investigation is over then?” Was this man for real? Patricia was

dumbfounded by his lack of conviction as he packed up his paperwork and prepared to

leave the scene.

“My investigation was over Miss Vasquez twenty minutes after you stepped off the

airplane. I am just trying to tie up loose ends. Everything that was stolen was returned.

All of our suspects except one has been either accounted for, or has checked out of my

jurisdiction. I‟d say despite doing absolutely nothing right on this case, I am completely

off the hook now. Good luck!” Simon Lagrange was bordering on the high side of fifty

these days, and he had put in his time. If he retired today he could do so with full

pension. The only reason he worked at all anymore was because he liked his job. If the

mayor was going to faze him out due to this latest bit of unpleasant press than so be it.

“What about this Juicy Fruit trading company? What about Billy Voltaire? What about

the house on Whitehead street? Doesn‟t any of this matter to you?” Patricia considered

the Chief to be an ally in this war to do justice, and now she couldn‟t be sure what his

motivation was.

“Why are you here Miss Vasquez? You‟re certainly not here to watch me work?” Simon

licked the salty air off his lips, and waited for her to respond.

“I will take your silence to mean the answer is no. Therefore I would guess you are here

to take over as you previously alerted me. So go right ahead and take over my

investigation? I give you the keys to the city. Here take my house keys and office keys

too while you are at it!” Literally handing her his spare set off keys, Simon walked over

to his car and drove home.
“Is he serious?” Turning to the detective and all of the Key West police officers standing

around twiddling their thumbs, Patricia‟s turned to the detective and all the rest of the

Key West police officers. They twiddled their thumbs and shrugged their shoulders.

Nothing the chief did surprised them anymore.

“He‟s always serious miss.” The detective chased after his boss hoping for a better

explanation than what he had been given. Meanwhile, Patricia did just that. She took

over the investigation into the missing sailboat.

“Chief you can‟t really let this go?” They had known each other a very long time, and

David was certain of one thing. Simon was not a quitter.

“Of course not detective, I am going to pursue this on my own. Sans Key West! Sans

department of homeland insecurity!” Not wanting to give further explanation he drove

back to his house.

The detective returned to the crime scene and pitched in.

                                       May 31, 2006

Alan did not sleep well that night. Every time he heard the sound of a helicopter or a

plane engine his eyes snapped open. At any moment he expected to be bathed in spot

lights and gun fire. When the sun finally came up he drew a deep breath made the sign of

the cross and went back up on deck. Almost immediately the glare off the deck dug into

his uncovered eyes. Even in the early morning it was painful to look at without glasses.

Fully expecting to find Roger about, he walked back and forth across the deck.
Only when he got to the helm there was no one there. Panic settled in, and Alan

screamed Roger‟s name. At first it was quiet, but as he looked around him and saw

nothing but ocean in all directions it grew into a shout.

“What are you yelling at?” Wearing nothing except a scowl, Roger came running up on

from the galley.

“Who‟s sailing the boat, fucking ghost pirates?” Alan forced himself to stare at the huge

tattoo on the man‟s chest and to avoid the rest of his nudity. An extremely detailed parrot

nearly life size, grew from his belly button with is beak ending near the base of his neck.

The colors were so clean and crisp, he could only imagine it was a recent addition.

“Autosail.” Roger turned back around while waving his hands angrily.

“What the fuck is an…”

“A computer Alan. A computer is steering us now go back to sleep.” Frustrated by the

fact that he too had not slept well, Roger disappeared below deck.

“Where are we going Roger?” Alan chased his white hairy ass down below. This

explanation was not good enough for him.

“We‟re going on an adventure my dear boy; the adventure of a lifetime. Now get some

sleep you are going to need your strength.” As he closed the stateroom door he snapped

the latch into place.


“What do you mean you couldn‟t find him?” Like everyone else involved with this case,

Patricia did not sleep well the night before. At any second she expected a call from the

coast guard or the Navy saying they had found the Jolly Mon and were in the process of

arresting Roger Gladstone and Alan Shiprock.
“Two hundred million dollars worth of surveillance aircraft and a couple hundred billion

dollars in satellite reconnaissance and you can‟t find one boat?” Not used to being

berated by a woman much less a civilian the naval intelligence lieutenant had to swallow

his pride and tongue before responding.

“With all due respect miss it‟s a really big ocean and it‟s not that big a boat.” His

superiors had asked him to cooperate with the department of Homeland Security on this

one and he was doing his best to oblige.

“We only have to concentrate on American waters lieutenant that should make it a bit

easier.” Abusively sarcastic sometimes, Patricia wiped the lack of sleep from eyes.

“Yes miss I am quite aware of the search objective.” Biting his bottom lip, he could

barely contain the urge to rip this lady a new one.

“In your opinion do you think they are in international waters now?” In less than an hour

Patricia would have to brief her department head and she was looking for an escape route

on this.

“In my professional opinion miss they have been in international waters for a more than a

day now.” This was a waste of time. Not that he would ever tell anyone this, but he

believed they were long gone by now.

“Any idea where they went to?” Capable of shifting gears and tone in her voice so

quickly it was unnerving, Patricia sounded sweet and genuine once again.

“Cuba would be my best guess. That‟s where most people running away from the Florida

Keys tend to go to. Should we suspend the search at this point miss?” Educated guesses

were not what he did for a living. They were the forgeries of others in the intelligence

business not him.
“We will make that determination in the next couple of hours. Please continue on the

current agenda until that time. Thank you for your assistance lieutenant.” The second he

hung up the phone she was on with a good friend of hers at the NSA.

“We found nothing Patricia; not one single photo of the Jolly Mon. I have a really good

one though of you standing on your balcony last night though. That pink Kimono gave

me all sorts of ideas.” Known affectionately to every woman who knew him as the “horn

dog”, Rene Descartes was a brilliant video technician. When faced with a twenty year

sentence of computer crimes against the United States government and a job with the

NSA, a then twenty year old Rene chose the latter.

“Do not waste government money on your follies again Rene?” Impressed and shocked

at the same time, Patricia had in deed worn a pink Kimono the night before on her


“Come on now Miss Vasquez? They keep me cooped up in this shit hole twenty four

hours a day, I need some entertainment.” Devilishly clever and attractive the now

twenty-three year old Rene, spent every waking hour enamored with the opposite sex. If

not for his charming presentation, he would have been smacked a dozen times a day for

his less than professional manner and comments.

“How come you didn‟t find me my boat?” Knowing better than anyone how to handle

young men like Rene, she teased him mercilessly to get him to do her bidding.

“It is probably because she‟s not there? In other words you have me looking in the

wrong place.” His satellite recognition programs were as good as any known to man.

Having designed “smart cameras” that could recognize exactly what they were looking

at, he was single handedly responsible for most of the terrorist kills in Afghanistan.
“Are you sure about that?” Practically oozing sexuality as she whispered to him, Patricia

fought to keep herself from giggling. Sliding on her jogging shoes, she was just about to

go out for a predawn run around her new neighborhood.

“I have every angle of the Jolly Mon programmed into Marisa. If that sailboat were

anywhere in Florida waters I would have found it.” Confident in his programs and his

super computers, Rene named them after models that he had infatuations with. This

particular one was named after super model Marisa Miller, who had just discovered in a

back issue of Perfect 10 magazine.

“Okay well take your guise down a bit south of there, say about ninety miles and let me

know what you see. Thanks baby I got to go.”

“Cuba? I can‟t really do that Patricia…”

“Sure you can honey. It was nice talking to you.” Sometimes she was less than kind to

the young man, but it was all with the greatest intentions that she played with him.

Nothing would ever happen between the two of them, but he didn‟t need to know that.

From the second she stepped outside the door to her hotel room, Patricia felt like she was

being followed. Not sure if her paranoia was due to her previous conversation with Rene,

she continued to run unimpeded.

Coming up on Mallory square though, the feeling began to overwhelm her. For no

apparent reason whatsoever, she stopped dead in her tracks and spun around.

“Hello there.” Staring her down from less than two feet away was the Spider John.

Dressed in a bulky hooded sweatshirt, Spider‟s hands fidgeted around in the front pocket

“Holy shit you nearly scared me to death.” Ready to defend herself against an attack,

Patricia took two steps back.

“Roger sends his greetings.” Two electrodes attached to long wires sprung from his

pocket striking her in the neck. Ten thousand volts penetrated her body sending it into

convulsions as she dropped unconscious to the ground.

Going down on one knee Spider checked her pulse carefully. When he was sure she

would survive the jolt from the stun gun, he pulled back her shorts and placed an

envelope in the waist band of her panties.


Just before noon the chief received the call to come to Key West Memorial. Someone

had attacked Patricia Vasquez while she was out jogging.

“How come I am just hearing about this now?” Furious as he pushed past security

towards her room, Simon crashed into her room.

“Sir she wasn‟t carrying any identification. The paramedics didn‟t know who she was

when they picked her up.” Officer Collins was the first on the scene, and he did not

recognize her either. It was not until detective Petrovic arrived that anyone had a clue.

“What happened?” At her bedside, Simon took the woman‟s hand and whispered at her

disturbingly pale face.

As she recalled the tale, he motioned to Collins to give him the plastic bag with the

envelope inside. Puling two gloves from his back pocket he carefully took pulled it out.

“Who opened this?”

“We thought maybe it had something inside that could identify her?”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” David stepped in front of him before he could rip the

newly graduated officer to shreds.

“Jesus Christ. Never ever touch anything like this. This could have been a damn bomb

or some sort of Anthrax letter.” Realizing it was too late to change the past, he shifted

the contents around in the bag so he could see them all. One was the typical Jolly Roger

calling card, and the second looked like a map. It was still folded and he did not want to

damage of contaminate anything so he left it. A third item slid forth just close enough for

him to see it.

“What‟s that I didn‟t see that before?” Even David was leaning in now to view it closer.

“It‟s a Cohiba wrapper. Made in Havana Cuba?” Simon appeared to be the only one

who recognized right away what this meant, and he kept his discovery to himself.

“Our intelligence had suggested he might be heading for Cuba.” Hoarse and incredibly

tired from her harrowing experience Patricia added her two cents in.

“Rest for a while. We‟ll take care of this from here.” Patting her carefully on the head,

he called in the APB on Spider John, and than called her people back at the station. They

were sending someone over right away.

“Detective Petrovic you are in charge of this investigation. Do us proud!” Having

determined his plan of action already the night before, Simon handed in his resignation

papers to the Mayor‟s office. Three phone calls from the Red Neck had gone unanswered

this morning.

“Where are you going sir?”

“To see a man about a boat.”
It was just after sun set when Gabriel and Simon finished loading provisions onto the

aptly named “Coconut Telegraph.” The nineteen sixties wooden schooner looked like

something from a Robert Louis Stevenson book with her Caribbean adornments and

ramshackle fittings. She was however a very sturdy sailing vessel having crossed the

pond twice.

“I can not believe you talked me into this.” Having sworn to himself that he would never

go back out onto the open ocean again, Gabriel was breaking that promise for the first

time in nearly two decades.

“They could have killed her Gabe. Do you want that on your conscience?” The average

sailing vessel with United States registration would have its fair share of difficulty

clearing Cuban customs. Gabriel though had his fair share of disreputable contacts down

there. No one in Havana would ever know their point of origin when they arrived.

“I don‟t have a conscience chief.” While not nearly as fast in the water as the Jolly Mon,

this boat could turn circles around the larger vessel.

“Then why did you agree to go?” Knowing this was a lie, he decided to play along.

“I‟m bored to death being a responsible adult.” Untying them from the dock, Gabriel

checked off the last two boxes on his list. They were ready to sail.

“Well good bye Key West, should I never see you again it was fun!” The Jolly Mon had

at least a day perhaps two days head start on them. There was no more time to waste.

Brutus sighed uncomfortably from the shade of the bimini. Although he loved the water

he was not a big sailing fan. Scratching the golden lab behind the ears Simon took one

moment to think over his decision, and then shrugged his shoulders.
“Let‟s catch ourselves a pirate shall we?” With an emphatic “Argh” and a couple of

verses of “Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum” they sailed out of the marina.

                                         June 1, 2006

The fact that it was officially the first day of hurricane season was not lost on Alan as

they bounced up and down on the crests and troughs of waves. Having tossed his

breakfast and part of dinner over the side of the rail this morning, he remembered why he

didn‟t like boats.

“Patch or pills?” Unnaturally merry on such a gray day, Roger pulled out a pharmacy in

box for him to partake from.

“What are you talking about?” Leaning back over the edge he hurled air this time as

there was nothing left to regurgitate.

“It‟s sea sickness medicine Alan. From the looks of things I think the patch will have to

do the trick. I don‟t see you holding the pill inside.” Pulling up the side of his Izod

button down, Roger smacked the patch loudly on his shoulder blade.

Building on the horizon was their first sign of land in two days. Seeming to grow up out

of the very ocean itself were a series of dark foreboding mountains.

“Are you going to tell me where we are going now?” Relieved to see land again, Alan

wiped drool from his chin and sipped at a bottle of water.

“There. We‟re going right over there.” Chuckling maniacally Roger stepped back to the

helm. On the key pad he typed in some adjustments to the computer and they moved two
degrees to starboard. The automatic winches pulled in the jib and let out a bit on the

main sail. It was a technical advancement at its best.

“I need to call Esperanza and let her know I am alive. Do we have a phone on board?”

Convinced that he was looking at divorce number five, Alan could not believe he had

agreed to come on this voyage.

“You can call her when we get there. Don‟t worry Alan you‟ll get to see her again soon.

I promise you that.” Nothing in Roger‟s life actually went to plan, so he could not say

things were going exactly as he had planned them. However, they were going far better

than he expected them to.

“I‟m not exactly a oceanic navigator but how can we possibly be approaching a an island

with mountains if we are coming from the south.” As the patch began taking affect and

medicine coursed through his veins, Alan began to gain his bearings again.

“I mean we were in Florida and we have been sailing for two days. What islands to north

of Florida have mountains?” For that matter what islands were there to the north of

Florida? Checking west and east again, he was quite sure they were heading north.

“What makes you think we are north of Florida?” Opening his eyes so wide that he

resembled Marty Feldman, Roger shook back and forth peculiarly.

“Why do you do that shit man? You look like a nutcase when you do that. It‟s really

weird.” Fighting another wave of nausea, Alan moaned. He did not like being kept in

the dark about anything.

“I am a nutcase Alan. Didn‟t you read the papers? I‟m cuckoo. I have flipped my lid.

My elevator doesn‟t go to the top floor. I‟ve got bats in my belfry. All of my dogs are

not on the same leash. I‟m not playing with a full deck. Basically buddy I‟m nuts.”
Cackling away, he danced a jig on the deck moving back and forth with the swells on the

ocean. Brandishing a remote control from his pocket he pushed three buttons and Jimmy

Buffett music roared from all around them. As the chorus from the tune hit home, Alan

gulped quite noticeably. He was stuck on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic with a

madman, and he had no idea how to get home.

Fruitcakes in the kitchen

Fruitcakes on the street

Struttin naked through the crosswalk

In the middle of the week

Half-baked cookies in the oven

Half-baked people on the bus

There’s a little bit of fruitcake left in everyone of us


Except for the two burns on her neck and a raging headache, Patricia was feeling much

better this morning. The air search in Florida waters had been called off, and calls from

the state department to Cuban intelligence were not immediately being answered.

Although a member of their Naval intelligence had called to thank them for the warning.

They could be assured if the Jolly Mon arrived in their waters they would deal with her


“We do no appreciate pirates down here.” Quite seriously the unnamed general finished

off his well prepared speech with these words.

All searches for the man called Spider John had turned up nothing significant. His photo

came back from FBI and CIA headquarters with nothing. If he was an American citizen

he had never been arrested before.
All attempts to discover the true identity of the Juicy Fruit Trading company turned up

nothing except a rather modest bank account, two phony addresses, and an answering

service which the Bahamian government could verify nothing on.

Her boss called twice to ask her when she would be returning to D.C. As far as he was

concerned this was no longer an issue for the department for Homeland Security. The

announcement of Chief Lagrange‟s retirement and subsequent disappearance though had

her perplexed. A thought that he was somehow involved in this whole thing even crossed

her mind once or twice.

The FBI confiscated the map and Cohiba wrapper. Finger print analysis turned up

something peculiar. Every fiber of the letter was clean, but the wrapper had a clear image

of a print. It was traced back to one Roger Gladstone.

“I guess this proves that he really was part of this whole fiasco then?” Uninvited as she

was, Patricia arrived at the Green Parrot just after three o‟clock in the afternoon.

Flopping down at the bar next to Detective Petrovic, she made herself at home.

“I‟d like a virgin Margarita on the rocks with salt please.” Percocet and alcohol would

not have been a good combination at this point.

“It‟s my day off Miss Vasquez.” Although just a block off the Duval Street the Green

Parrot was more of a local hangout. From the looks on their faces she was not welcome

there at this time of day. A steady stream of Jazz played from the world famous juke

box. At one time this was voted the number one bar in the United States, and she could

see why. The mix between small island charm and jazz cellar blended well together.

“Mine too detective.” Without his permission, she pulled out one of his cigarettes and

toasted his beer glass with her rita.
“I can tell by your choice of drinks. Be careful those have a kick to them.” Despite her

physical beauty and somewhat sexy persona, David did not really like her. Perhaps it

was her arrogant sarcasm that grated on his nerves.

“No it doesn‟t but these do.” Dropping her bottle of pills all over the counter, she popped

one and washed it down with the icy concoction.

“Where did he go David?” Reaching into a bowl of snack mix she scooped up a handful

and began munching.

“Who are we talking about now? I get confused these days.” Signaling the bartender for

another beer, the detective figured if he was going to get grilled against his wishes he

might as well be drunk.

“Your boss who do you think I am talking about?” Her head buzzed with a drug haze

Patricia did not usually know. Never taking anything stronger than aspirin and never

drinking anything stronger than a Chardonnay, her body was not used to drugs.

“He‟s not my boss anymore. Being a recent retiree I would think he is probably on a nice

cruise ship somewhere. That is what retired people do isn‟t it?” Nearly drinking the

whole pint in one gulp, he pointed towards a bottle of Jagermeister. The bartender Mitch,

obviously a friend of his shook his head, but David pointed again.

“Listen darling perhaps you didn‟t hear the man. He‟s off duty today.” Not the best of

drunks to begin with, Mitch did not want to have an angry slobbering alcoholic causing

trouble in his bar.

“Forgive me, I will not bother you anymore.” Only she did not stand up and walk away,

she just continued to sip at her Margarita.
For an hour, she sat there saying absolutely nothing to anyone except to order another of

the frozen tangy concoctions.

“What do you want from me?” Finally tired of this David mumbled at her.

“What is it going to take to get you out of here?” Slurring his speech badly now, he just

wanted to be left alone.

“It‟s your day off I don‟t want…”

“Listen lady I know you‟re not here to fuck me, so just say it already and get out.”

Beyond the point of being pleasant he had very little patience left.

“Where did he go?” Quite certain he knew the answer she would not give up on this.

“He went chasing pirates Miss Vasquez. I suggest you go off and do the same.” Waving

her towards the door a couple of the patrons actually cheered as she left. Barely outside

the door she was on the phone to Rene.

“No I have not found him yet. If he is really going to Cuba, than the boat must be

fucking invisible, because I haven‟t seen it. My boss saw the photo log on the satellite

and nearly had a shit fit. I had to lie to him. I told him the satellite must be

malfunctioning. Sorry but this little exercise is over.” Looking at the caller ID Rene did

not wait for her to say anything. If he let her she would rap him around her little finger

and dangle him about.

“Am I a nasty bitch Rene?” Drugged and feeling terribly sorry for herself, she whined

into the headset.

“No you‟re not nasty. I have to go though bye.” Hanging up the phone just as his boss

waltzed into the room, he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Here. Take it and go home in good health.” Stumbling towards her the detective threw

a piece of paper at her, and proceeded to whip out his thing and start urinating on a fichus


It was a map. From all appearances it looked like a copy of a treasure map. Covering the

entire Caribbean the map had the most peculiar ledger she had ever seen. When she

turned to ask him what it was he was already on his way back into the bar.


It had been ages since Simon had been out on the open ocean. He had forgotten how

peaceful the waves could be. Especially on a sailboat where there were almost no noises

besides nature and the creek of the hull to keep him company. Another one of the

thousands of Buffett fans from the conch republic, Gabe played an album now that Simon

had heard once or twice before.

The Last Mango in Paris detailed an apparent real life meeting between the singer and

one can only imagine Captain Tony. A famous man in Key West he was known for his

adventures spanning the globe. From dodging a mob hit inside a milk truck to opening a

saloon known for its business cards and women‟s panties hanging from the ceiling. The

old man is a legend.

On one late night a few years back Simon was hanging out with a couple of rather drunk

hotel heiress sisters on the streets of Duval. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a

group of people gathered around a shell of man. Yet despite his frail appearance there

was an inner power from his steel grey eyes. It reminded him of his current companion.

Regaling the group with all sorts of tales of former exploits he spotted the chief and

staggered over to him. Apparently he knew Simon by reputation. With one motion he
shook his hand and then turned to sign his name on both of the prima donna‟s bellies with

a permanent black marker. Before they could protest or scream, the chief held up a hand.

As the old man stumbled back to his group, Simon announced.

“Congratulations ladies you just got the autograph of one of the most famous patrons of

this island. That was Captain Tony.” It was the only time Simon would ever meet the

man, but it was a memorable experience. Each time, the chief strolled by the Captain

Tony‟s Saloon a tiny grin cracked open his lips.

I went down to Captain Tony's
To get out of the heat
Then I heard a voice call out to me
"Son come have a seat"
I had to search my memory
As I looked into those eyes
Our lives change like the weather
But a legend never dies
I had a third world girl in Buzios
With a pistol in each hand
She always kept me covered
As we moved from land to land
I had a damn good run on Wall Street
With my high fashion model wife
I woke up dry beneath the African sky
Just me and my Swiss Army knife
We shot the breeze for hours
As the sun fell from the sky
And like the sun he disappeared
Before my very eyes
It was somewhere past dark-thirty
And I went back to the head
I read upon the dingy wall
The words the old man said:
I ate the last mango in Paris
Took the last plane out of Saigon
Took the first fast boat to China
And Jimmy there's still so much to be done
That's why we wander and follow La Vie Dansante

“I met him once. You know Captain Tony. I met him once.” Typically mellow and

subdued, the gleam in Gabriel‟s eye told Simon his experience must have been a special

one as well.

“Yeah me too.” Without another word they both took the time to reflect upon their part

in Captain Tony legend. A loud beeping from the other room let Simon know he was
getting an e-mail on his lap top. Before departing he told Detective Petrovic that the only

way he could be reached in the coming weeks was by e-mail.

“Use it sparingly though. The satellite time costs a fortune.” Giving that he had more

Spam filters than the average military establishment, Simon was quite certain David was

sending him a message now.

“You are not going to believe this one Gabe.” The attachment on a simple greeting

message was what could best be described as a pirate‟s map. Simon guessed correctly

that it came from man known as Spider John. It was the same one he had seen in the

plastic envelope the day before.

“Well at least we are headed in the right direction.” At the bottom of the map of the

Caribbean was a ledger with strange combinations of words numbered from one to ten.

The first one was labeled “Havana Day Dreamer visits Cayo Loco.”

“That is the perfect place for this nutcase to be heading „Crazy Cay‟. What are we

getting ourselves into?” No one made treasure maps anymore. Not unless they were five

year old boys with a Johnny Depp fetish.

“Looks more like a Parrothead scavenger hunt than a treasure map to me chief.” Only

looking at the screen briefly before returning back to the helm, Gabriel shrugged his

shoulders. Crazy was a state of mind he could definitely relate to.

“Are you going to bother to explain why that is?” After a good minute of silence, Simon

finally asked the question.

“Each of the items on the ledger is part of Jimmy Buffet song title. While the town Cayo

Loco comes from the novel “A Salty Piece of Land” which he also wrote.” Chewing on a
bagel as he pointed to the words on the screen, Gabe rattled off a series of facts that both

shocked and impressed Simon at the same time.

“Jamaica Mistaica was written after the Jamaican police opened fire on his plane while he

was taking off thinking he was a drug smuggler. If this is true our first two stops would

be Cuba and then Jamaica. Seems pretty straight forward to me?” Without looking back

at the screen again, Gabe pointed out towards the ocean in front of them.

“Cuba here we come!” For the first time in over a day there was something more than

ocean on the horizon.

“Cuba is a mighty big island my friend. Any clue where Cayo Loco is?” Slightly larger

than the Florida Peninsula, Cuba was no place to run around looking for an eighty foot


“Well in the fictional story Caya Loco is an island between the Bahamas and Cuba. In

real life it is an area of town within Ceinfuegos on the southern coast where the Naval

Museum is located. It depends how literally he is translating the novel.” Punching

coordinates into the computer to adjust their course to the south, Gabriel had already

decided what Spider John had in mind.


                                        June 2, 2006

In Alan‟s mind Cuba was home to the devil. Perhaps his father, a staunch pro-JFK man,

had brainwashed him to this fact. However, as they pulled the boat up into a sleepy little

town south of Rancho Luna everyone he met was quite friendly. It was not nearly as

poor and destitute as he had been led to believe. In fact, it reminded him of many of the

photos he had seen of the rest of the Caribbean.
Even the taxi driver, who painfully struggled with the English language, was pleasant and

kind. They didn‟t all hate Americans as he thought they would. In fact when they pulled

into Cienfuegos they were surrounded by people wanting to see them. Little kids held

out their hands and business patrons tried their best to sell them anything they could.

“Half price for U.S. dollars.” One street vendor did not want to take no for an answer.

Finally Roger grabbed his overwhelmed friend and practically carried him off to his final


Often called “The Pearl of the South” Cienfuegos is a most handsome city within a

province of the same name. Early architecture, modern conveniences, and aboriginal

charm come together in an eclectic mix of old and new world. Approaching what looked

like a cross between a fort and castle, Roger spotted the Naval museum insignia.

“I have to go in here for one minute. When I come back out we can take off. There‟s a

bank of payphones over there, why don‟t you call that pretty young wife of yours?”

Prancing around like a little kid with an ice cream cone, Roger was simply ecstatic to be

there. Why; was the overwhelming question rattling around Alan‟s head and yet he could

not bring himself to ask it? Instead he ran for the payphone and dialed an overseas

operator. It took two minutes for his blushing bride to answer the phone.

“What in God‟s name are you doing in Cuba? Is this some sort of joke? I thought you

were dead in some ocean being eaten by sharks or cannibals or some shit like that. Now

you call me from Havana?” Before he had even the slightest chance to get out a single

word, Esperanza was already ripping him a new one.

“Trust me I have no idea what I am doing here either. The man is fucking loony tune. If

I were somewhere other than a Communist country that hates Americans I might run to
the nearest police officer and get him arrested.” Just as he finished this statement two

soldiers casually strolled up to him. They said nothing but stared at him from less than a

few feet away. Unfortunately they blocked his view from the museum. As Roger stepped

outside he spun around looking for his “friend”, but he was nowhere to be found. When

he spotted the armed personnel in front of the phone booths a little voice in the back of

his head screamed “run”. He did exactly that.

“Get out of there Alan. Come home to me baby. You have to leave him on his own.”

After her initial attack, Esperanza moved into neutral and now into defensive mode. Her

poor husband was in over his head. Staring down at the little recorder on her phone she

knew right now the FBI were listening in on this call.

“I‟m worried if I leave him alone he‟s going to do something horribly stupid and get

killed or something.” For a lawyer he often had a problem expressing himself

intelligently. This was especially common when he was stressed. Whispering now he

hoped that the soldiers did not speak or understand English.

“Since when did you care about Roger Gladstone? You said it yourself you barely even

know the man. Since when did you really care personally about any of clients?” Back on

the attack again, she wondered what they were really up to. This behavior did not seem

to logically fit with the likes of Alan Shiprock.

“I don‟t really. I don‟t know what I‟m doing here, but I can‟t ditch him yet. Trust me

Cuba is not where I want to get marooned even if it is gorgeous and everyone is really

nice to me.” Two young ladies approached him now. Barely eighteen if they were a day,

they strolled right past the officers and began winking at him.
“Their looking for you…” Not sure what else she should say, Esperanza paused for a


“Well tell them where they can find me then. I‟m in Cayo Loco at the payphone next to

the Naval Museum.” Before he could say anything else the phone line went dead. One

of the girls was holding down the receiver button. Alan knew this girl. He had seen her

somewhere before. How was that possible?

“Your friend Roger said we should come get you.” That was where he had seen her

before. She was with Roger, but where was it. Looking like a common street walkers

Alan grew nervous about what the two soldiers might think. They looked especially

interested in this latest development.

“He‟s not my friend. Why don‟t you tell him he can kiss…” Before he could finish the

younger more attractive of the two leaned in closely to his chest. Feeling something

sharp poke into his sternum he looked down to see a three inch blade stuck to his polo.

“You should get back on the boat Mr. Shiprock. Cuba can be a very dangerous place.”

Her voice was much softer than her friend‟s, and she had little to no accent. Catching

himself staring away from the blade to her supple young bosoms, Alan ground his teeth

uncomfortably. He knew this girl. Where had he seen her before?

“Excuse me sir, can we see your papers.” All of this was too much for the two soldiers

who now approached the party warily.

From inside the museum a horrendous boom nearly knocked all five of them to the

ground. Smoke poured from one of the windows. Concentrating on this new disturbance

the two soldiers ran for the building leaving Alan lying on the sidewalk with the other

“Get on the boat now Mr. Shiprock before they realize you were involved.” Flipping the

knife back into her purse the two young ladies disappeared into a growing crowd.

For all he was worth Alan ran back across town to where he had grabbed the taxi.

Twenty five minutes later he was charging up the dock towards the Jolly Mon.

“Where the hell have you been? Why didn‟t you meet me outside the museum I told you

I was only going to be a minute?” Before Roger could say anything else, Alan decked

him right there. It had never felt better in all his life to strike someone. What confused

him though was the look of utter shock that came from Roger?

“What did I do to you?” Practically crying the stubbly little shell of man rocked back and

forth rubbing the side of his face.

“Are you fucking kidding me? You sent those two hookers over to drag me away at

knifepoint and then you blow up the god damn museum, and you have the fucking nerve

to ask what you did to deserve that?” So loud was his voice now, that the two dock hands

let go of the lines and moved back towards the marina.

“What hookers? Have you lost your mind? The museum was in one piece when I left

there?” The sincerity in Roger‟s eyes did little to extinguish the fire burning within Alan.

In fact it seemed to egg him on more.

“DON‟T LIE TO ME YOU SICK FUCKING BASTARD! I saw you with that girl

before. I know I did.” Only as Alan raised his hand, Roger covered over his face

defensively and whimpered.

“I didn‟t do anything.” How could this be? How could this man so sincerely and

honestly lie straight to his face? What was going on here?
“What were you doing at the museum?” Moving his hands from his face now, Alan

needed to get some answers.

“I was picking up a package.” Not wanting to be more descript than this, Roger tried to

cover back up again.

“WHAT PACKAGE Roger?” This hide and seek game grew tiresome. Pulling his hands

away again, Alan tried to lower his voice.

“It‟s … It‟s all just a game you know. This whole thing is just a weird dream.” Bawling

loudly and rocking back and forth Roger had no idea how everything had gone so badly

so quickly.

“What are you babbling about?” The sounds of sirens which had been coming from

downtown began to grow louder.

“We have to go. We have to go now.” Apparently heeding the same warning Roger

popped back to his feet, and wiped the tears and blood from his nose.

“DO YOU THINK?” Never had Alan ever wanted to beat someone to bloody pulp as he

did right that moment. Looking at the new Mr. Gladstone did little to squash the image

of that pudgy little ankle biter from Bucks County. How he used to follow Alan around

at any function the two of them happened to be at? The whole night he was never more

than ten or fifteen feet away. Wanting so much to fit in that he would do just about

anything to do so… That was it wasn‟t it? Roger was a pawn. Someone was using him.

“We need to get out of here.” Screaming loudly now, Roger started the little hundred

horse inboard, and pushed them back away from the dock.

“If we get out of here alive Roger you and I are having a serious heart to heart.” Handing

him a Kleenex from his pocket to wipe his nose, Alan assisted pulling in the lines.

Locked in her hotel room for nearly the entire day, Patricia studied over the pirate‟s map

intensely. When staring finally gave way to thinking, she pulled up a Google search tool

and began typing in the ten items in from the ledger.

   1) Havana day dreaming in Cayo Loco

   2) Jamaica mistaka and we all fall down

   3) Gambling with my African friend

   4) Lady Desdemona takes a cruise

   5) Manana means lahaim

   6) Where are the rocks for my boat drinks?

   7) Fins for St. Peter.

   8) Migration attire

   9) Presents to send you from the top of Mt. Homo

   10) Son of a son of a bitch

More than half of them returned with one source; well one man that is.

“Who is this Jimmy Buffett person?” After further research of a vast discography every

entry contained either a song title or part of a song title of the Parrothead king.

While the first two mentioned the destination quite clearly the rest were trivial. Plus

telling someone you are going to Cuba or Jamaica is not very specific. Both islands were

rather massive in size.

“Okay let‟s concentrate on the easy one; Cayo Loco Cuba.” Talking aloud as she typed

Patricia was quite sure this was important. Even with her boss screaming for her to come

back home, she explained that a vacation was in order. After all in three plus years she

had never taken one before.
“Well that was easy. Located in this charming southern city of Cienfuegos…” Reading

the tourist blog out loud, she tried to familiarize herself with Cayo Loco. When she was

comfortable with this, she pulled up and typed Cayo Loco in the current events

search window. There was only one story and it was posted this very morning.

American Tourist Sought for Questioning in Naval Museum Blast

Not even bothering to read the story, she picked up her cell phone. She had missed two

calls. Apparently the Percocet had caused her to sleep straight through them. Dialing

agent Matlin Graves back at the CIA Patricia knew almost immediately what she would

have to say.

“We have two confirmed reports that your boys were at the museum less than five

minutes before the incident. Plus your buddy Tyler at the FBI called me to confirm a

phone call was placed to Esperanza Shiprock from someone claiming to be Alan at that

exact time. Looks like you were right about this one?” No one really knew what to think

about Patricia Vasquez. Too attractive to be taken seriously by anyone at the agency,

they assumed she slept her way into her current position. However, with each new case

she seemed to prove herself and her theories more and more credible.

“Was anyone hurt? Did they steal anything?” Rather than acknowledge what she already

knew, Patricia moved on quickly.

“No it was a little pipe bomb placed on a security alarm. If it wasn‟t located right next to

a window no one in the outside world would even have known it had gone off. Of course

the Cubans aren‟t telling us much more than this. They claim it was a direct attack on

Cuban soil by an American agent. There is some rather ugly finger pointing going on.”

Matlin liked to hear herself talk. This was the one thing Patricia knew for certain. With

people like that, she tended to just sit back quietly and let them go.
“They sent over a composite sketch of Alan Shiprock and a video image of Roger

Gladstone to us about three hours ago. With a little help from our friends at state they are

now scouring the ocean surrounding Cuba for the Jolly Mon. It is just a matter of time

before they find them.” Confident in everything she said even when she was wrong,

Matlin would have done better as a news anchor than a CIA operative.

“Thanks for the update I need to call Tyler now.” If she didn‟t stop her now they would

go on like this all day.

“Say hi to that cutie at the NSA for me. You know he really is dream boat…” It was too

late though Patricia had already hung up and was calling Tyler.

“Yes it is official. Voice print was confirmed the man making the call from Cuba was

really Alan Shiprock.” Having both been in the same class at Quantico, Patricia and

Tyler had become very good friends. Rumor had it they were more than just good

friends. At least once a month they met for a jog in the park or a drink. This call though

was all about business.

“Did he say anything revealing about what was going on there?” Nothing about this case

seemed to make sense. Except for the boat chase in Key West nothing violent had come

of any of this event. Yet, most of DC and Capitol Hill was fuming over this now. It was

a stupid childish game after all. Wasn‟t it?

“I don‟t know. You tell me?” Pushing play on his computer he held the phone up

against the speaker so she could hear the exact conversation.

“He sounds awfully sincere doesn‟t he?” The question of whether Alan was involved

here still had not been answered. Listening to him now, Patricia wondered if he really

was just a man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“He sounds sincere, but why stay? Why get on the boat in the first place?” Tyler Grant

knew very little about the case except what Patricia had told him. He was a bright man

and an excellent agent though. He picked things up quickly.

“Hey are you a Jimmy Buffett fan?” Seeming to change the subject immediately she was

still staring at her computer screen in dismay.

“Of course isn‟t everyone?” Completely serious in his tone, Patricia‟s glum face

brightened up quickly. Here is where her help was going to come from.

“Take a look at this and tell me what you think.” Her email went out quickly and she

waited for an answer.

“Where did you get this from?” Not normally a play by rules sort of man, Tyler was

quite stern in his tone.

“You have seen it already then?” Of course he had seen it. Detective Petrovic told her

that they originals had been sent to the FBI. How stupid was she?

“They gave it to me two days ago. Now where did you get it from?” This was a very

serious matter. Security was important to him.

“It was in police evidence while I was still in charge of the case? Where did you think?”

Not about to throw the detective under the wheels, she would not tell him the truth.

“I am already running scenarios on this as we speak. In fact before you called I was

going over it.” Tyler could tell when she was lying. Despite her beliefs, she was quite

bad at it.

“Well it looks to me that they are headed to Jamaica next.” There was silence on the

other end of the phone for a few seconds.
“That would appear to be true.” This was no longer a matter for Homeland Security, and

he wondered what he should say to her.

“Not sure what the „and we all fall down‟ part means yet?” Again there was silence from

his end. Whenever Tyler did not want to talk about something he took his time

answering. Patricia knew this better than perhaps anyone.

“Neither am I but I have some theories. Let‟s just leave it at that.” Looking at his phone,

he knew this call was being recorded. He could not say anymore.

“Okay than I will let you get back to it than. Thanks for the call if I hear anything I will

let you know.”

“Call me for fun sometimes. Don‟t be a stranger.” Whenever they talked anymore it was

always about business, and Tyler did not like it.

“I promise I will. I miss you buddy.” No matter what paths their relationship had gone

down in the past they were good friends first and foremost. All those late hours at the

academy studying and chatting added up to something more than just students.

“Yeah me to.” They took a few extra seconds to hang up the phone. There was more to

be said, and yet neither said it.


Cienfuegos was swarming with police and army presence when they arrived. News of

two Americans causing trouble at the old Naval museum traveled quickly. Rather than

direct attention to themselves, Gabe and Simon simply restocked provisions and headed

back out for Jamaica.
“I could have used a couple of hours on land.” Happy on the open ocean, Simon was still

a land lubber through and through. After two days, he wanted the feel of solid earth

beneath his feet and he never got it. A dock was the closest he would come today.

“What are the chances of us catching them before they get to Jamaica?” Figuring he

knew the answer already, Simon strapped himself in for a long haul.

“The chances are not good. She is faster on every tack than we are. Even if we take

some longer stronger lines, I still say she distances us rather than we catch up.” At best

the Coconut Telegraph was a full knot slower at full sail. Plus they had at least a ten hour

head start.

Several helicopters and low flying aircraft buzzed them as they sailed off in the opposite

direction of the setting sun. They were looking for the Jolly Mon. If they found her than

this whole trip was for naught.

                                        June 3, 2006

Every ten minutes or so after they left that harbor Alan looked up to the sky. They

wouldn‟t get away this time. Someone must have seen them, and it was just a matter of

time before they were spotted. Yet as the sun went down they were still sailing onward.

Even as the next morning dawned Alan expected they were going to jail. It was time now

to have the conversation with Roger. Ever since the attack on the dock, Roger moped his

way around the boat. Occasionally he slipped a forced grin towards his sailing partner,

but there was none of the banter from the previous days.

“What was in the package Roger?” Taking his hand from the wheel, Alan engaged the

auto sail and fell back into his seat. It had been four days since he first stepped on board

the Jolly Mon, and he was finally getting comfortable with her.
Perhaps it was the Scopolamine patch or maybe it was that the sea had finally begun to

enter his veins.

Stick even the most earth bound tree hugger on the open ocean for a week and a change

begins to take effect. The ocean was hypnotic in its approach. Back and forth up and

down it wormed its way into his heart. Alan began to question his choice of careers if

only for a brief moment.

“Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a

dream.” Singing this childhood song over and over again, Roger did not appear that he

was going to address the question.

“Do you believe that Alan? Do you believe that life is but a dream? I certainly do. Most

of the time we seem to sleepwalk through our days; never actually taking the time to live.

Not you and I though; we are living it up. We are following our dreams!” Crazy as jay

bird was another expression that would have fit well with the Roger rant two days before.

After all that was exactly what this man was.

“What was in the package?”

“Did you ever go on a scavenger hunt when you were a kid? I used to go on hundreds of

them. My mother, God Bless her soul, used to make them up for me. We had ecological

ones, and musical ones. It was a lot of fun. Did you ever go one?” Completely oblivious

to the question, he continued to rant on.

“What was in the package Roger?”

“Well you and I are on one of the greatest scavenger hunts in the history of the world. I

absolutely kid you not. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.” Suddenly his sanity was not

the only thing Alan was becoming aware of. Of course why had he not seen it before?
Who else steals sixty cats, a pack of menus, and boar‟s head; unless they are on a

scavenger hunt?

“What was in the package Roger?” What an idiot? This fool had agreed to partake in

this extravagant hoax of a crime spree and he didn‟t even know what he was getting into.

He still thought this was just a game.

“WHO CARES! The package is not the point. It‟s all about the hunt. We have nine

more items to get and then we get the reward. Do the items on scavenger hunt really

matter anyway?” Finally fed up with the same question being asked over and over again,

Roger lost his temper momentarily. With a grin and a pat on the back he was right as rain

once more.

“Did you even open it up? Did you even ask what was inside?” A weird thought crossed

Alan‟s mind; maybe he didn‟t even know the answer to the question?

“You‟re missing the point. The package doesn‟t matter.” Holding both his cheeks firmly

in his hands, Roger stared him deep in the eyes.

“Someone set off a bomb in that museum after you left. Two girls accosted me with a

knife at the payphones. This is not a game anymore Roger. Someone is going to get

hurt. Someone might even get killed.” Not blinking from the staring match, Alan wanted

him to hear the truth.

“Nine more stops Alan? You can go with me or you can stay at the next destination. It‟s

up to you?” Again he appeared to miss the entire sincerity of the last statement.

“Don‟t you care at all about the consequences of your actions?” Was the man insane or

just plain self-centered? Perhaps it was a little of both.
“Should I stay or should I go?” With the remote control in hand, he searched out the

song from the Kinks and blared it on the speakers.

“I tried to help you Roger, but when we get to our next destination I‟m outta here.

You‟re on your own.” Who is the crazy one; the one who leads or the one who follows?

Alan had been through enough already


After several calls back and forth between Jamaican authorities and state, an agreement

was finally reached. A ten member team from the United States would come to Kingston

and work with the local authorities to apprehend the Jolly Mon and its crew when they

arrived. Reconnaissance flights over the Caribbean to try and find the sail boat before it

arrived were suspended. Only satellite surveillance, which had been unsuccessful up

until now, would be employed until that time.

Cuban officials were still convinced that this was some master plan for United States

domination. They also believed the Jolly Mon was not a real vessel even though several

of their own people at the marina in Rancho Luna confirmed seeing her. This was also

part of the infidels attempt to control them. As such they suspended all searches for the

vessel. Little did they realize, if they had only continued two miles further north, they

would have found her.

“I don‟t know whose ass you kissed to get on this team, but I think it is bad idea. We are

the Department for Homeland Security not the CIA.” Her boss was furious that Patricia

had been included on the team to Jamaica, and he let her know it.

“I am not sure sir why they requested that I be there. However, I would think it in the

best interest of inner office relations that I should go.” This was a bunch of bullshit. The
truth was she wanted to go. Patricia Vasquez wanted to get her man, and she was

lobbying hard to get there.

“Very well, but I want you back here as soon as is humanly possible.” His relationship

with the CIA was tenuous at best, and he knew it. This was an opportunity for one of his

top people to show their stuff.

Tyler and Matlin were also included on the team. The three of them shared a group hug

and couple of memories at the Miami International airport where they all met up.

“Well as best as we can figure it. They will head for Negril. It is the only area really

mentioned in the song; if he sticks to a pattern that‟s where he will be.” A dozen people

spent several hundred man hours pouring over the lyrics to a Jimmy Buffett song, trying

to figure out the next move of a crazy man. Thinking back now it was more than just a

little bit humorous.

Pulling out his cell phone, Tyler played the song for the other two to hear.

It was a beautiful day

The kind you want to toast

We were treetop flyin'

Movin' west along the coast

Then we landed in the water

Just about my favorite thrill

When some asshole started firin'

When we taxied to Negril


Well the word got out

All over the island

Friends, strangers, they were all apologizin'

Some thought me crazy for bein' way to nice

But it's just another shitty day in paradise

Come back
Come back

Back to Jamaica

Don't you know we made a big mistaica

We'd be so sad if you told us goodbye

And we promise not to shoot you out of the sky

“So what we stake out the Negril airport for three days?” Another group of CIA

operatives who looked more like soldiers than diplomats came marching up to them.

They were not convinced by the briefing they were given that this was a real mission.

“Not unless they have found a way to make an eighty foot Brigantine fly?” Not

intimidated by anyone, Tyler moved his six foot two Texas football frame between the

ladies and the new people.

“Captain O‟Connell and team reporting for duty sir. You must by Agent Tyler Grant of

the FBI.” His first impression shot already, the former Navy Seal stuck out his hand even

as he pronounced each letter slowly and with contempt. The two men were nearly the

same size and squeezed each other‟s hands a little harder than they needed to.

“Good to meet you. The mission is simply to find them and contain them. We have the

full cooperation of the Jamaican authorities. We don‟t suspect this will be anything more

than a location assignment on our part. They will handle the messy part if it comes to

that.” His plan was far more sophisticated than that, and there would be a time to present

it. Standing in an airport was not the time though.

“Briefing at the hotel around three o‟clock in my room.” Handing him the folder and two

SD cards, Tyler went back to talking to the two young ladies.

“I am little confused about the „we all fall down part‟ though. It seems if he just wanted

us to follow the lyrics he would have given us the title and nothing more.” Patricia
assumed that everything was more complicated than it really was. She could find

political collusion in a little league baseball game.

“Maybe he is just being poetic?” Never the most intelligent of women, Matlin had drawn

this assignment by accident. If the initial call had not come through to her desk directly,

she would never have been there.

“I think it‟s just a smoke screen.” It concerned Tyler as well, but he was trying to look

beyond it. Negril was clearly identified and he was pretty certain that was where they

were going.

“Yeah but he was so specific with the first one: Havana day dreaming in Cayo Loco? I

mean that was exactly where they went to. It just seems there is more to the part about

falling down to me.” Both of her cohorts looked at her and shrugged their shoulders.

Three hours later they were landing at that very airport in Negril.


                                        June 4, 2006

“I think maybe we have some company?” They took a round about way getting to

Jamaica. A direct route would have been around three hundred miles total from

Cienfuegos to Negril. Only they slipped in beneath the Cayman Islands and approached

from the south.

“What do you mean?” Constantly glued to the radar the past couple of days, Roger

looked like he was getting paranoid.

“We have had a shadow all the way from Cuba?” Pointing to one of a dozen blips on the

map, Roger was quite serious.
“We came from here to here. Any one else would have taken this route. They are

following us.” Drawing his finger across the screen, Roger scratched at his brow.

“We‟re going to Jamaica than?” This in itself was a revelation. After all, Alan had no

clue where they were going.

“We‟re in Jamaica already. Welcome to the city of Negril.” Less than five miles in front

of them the green hills of the west coast of Jamaica approached.

“Why would someone be following us Roger? I mean if they were after the boat why not

just send a helicopter, a battleship, or a plane?” It seemed to like paranoia to him. I was

the same feelings he had since the moment he stepped on board, however to hear Roger

say it sounded crazy to him.

“They‟re following us. No one goes all the way around the Caymans to get here.” His

mind began to wonder. Could the benefactor of his scavenger hunt be following him? I

mean who else could it be? Alan was right if it were the authorities they would have

simply taken them by now.

“We did?” Staring off the bow towards the city of Negril, Alan sighed. In just a couple

of hours he would be getting off this roller coaster ride. A picture of a naked Esperanza

entered his brain when he closed his eyes. He missed his wife. A second picture of him

in a jail cell for twenty years appeared shortly there after.

“What is the reward you were talking about by the way?” It was funny that this

statement from yesterday jumped into his brain now in middle of everything else.

“It‟s a secret.” Holding his finger to his lips, Roger disengaged the auto sail, and turned

them on a more northerly heading north of the coast. They were no longer headed

towards Negril.
“Why do you care anyway? You‟re leaving now, and won‟t be around to see the master

piece ending.” Sticking his tongue out childishly Roger winked and went back to work.

“Fucking nut job.” Under his breath Alan grumbled his words, and took up the slack on

one of the sails. He could not wait to get off this ship.


It was just after six in the morning the day when they spotted a Brigantine of similar size

to their quarry. How they caught the Jolly Mon if it was indeed her, neither of them

would ever know? Without running lights they could not confirm for certain.

“She doesn‟t show up on radar? We could have run right over and not even known it.”

Pointing at the rather sophisticated computer screen, Gabriel circled the area where she

should have shown up. Only there was nothing there. Each man pulled his head away

from the screen to look at the ocean and then back to the screen. They wanted to make

sure it was not some sort of apparition. From out of his back pack Simon withdrew his

Bushnell field glasses and handed them to Gabriel.

An extremely long view through the binoculars confirmed what he already believed but

it was not easy.

“What‟s taking so long?” Standing on his toes in excitement, Simon was ready to get off

this tub.

“It‟s her, but I think I might have discovered the issue the search planes are having.”

Handing the binoculars over to his cohort, Gabriel cracked a gummy grin.

“Damn that‟s bright.” Every inch of the Jolly Mon from the waterline to the top of the

mast glistened so brightly it was actually painful to look at her with the intensified

“Exactly! That coating we talked about earlier is the key. If you are looking at her from

above she just looks like a huge glare on the surface. A plane or a satellite wouldn‟t even

recognize her as a seagoing vessel. You‟d have to be less than a hundred feet above

before you realized what she was. It‟s quite simple and yet brilliant at the same time.”

Wondering now what the spongy material was made from, Gabe kept glancing sideways

towards the ocean. A gel coating which made a boat nearly invisible to radar, fly over,

and satellite was a useful item.

“It certainly is unique. It hurts just to look at it.” Flipping his sunglasses back down over

his eyes, Simon drew one deep breath.

“Well at least we found her.” Patting his friend triumphantly on the back he settled into a

hammock for a well deserved nap. They were not blessed with auto sail, and traded shifts

to sail twenty four hours a day.

Backing off on the sail, Gabriel and Simon high fived each other. They were not going to

take her at sea. For now on it was just a game of cat and mouse, and the cat was ready to


Confused by this path south of the Caymans, Gabriel shrugged his shoulders and

continued the chase. Even as Roger turned north again away from the coast, they merely

matched his moves. There was no where Mr. Gladstone could run now where they could

not follow. No where except back out to sea, and neither of them expected that move to

be made.


“What is with the satellites? I don‟t get it.” It had been nearly six days since the Jolly

Mon first cast off from Key West, and not a single photo had captured her image.
“I agree she was all over the southern coast of Cuba and we got nothing.” Rene Descartes

was allowed to converse with Patricia again, and it made him a much happier man.

Sneaking around behind his bosses back was dangerous. Especially given his past

infractions, they watched him extra carefully.

“Well I have a net all over the western coast of Jamaica. If they come within three miles

of land I will get them this time.” The Jamaica government did not have the same

resources the US did. Therefore they were relying on radar to spot incoming vessels.

Once spotted a group of three roving helicopters was called in investigate. They were

hoping the satellite would catch the stragglers.

“Keep us informed.” The three friends sat in a closed office in Negril. Relying entirely

on the ex-seal captain and his men to do the field work, they were working blind.

“Immigration, police, navy, and customs have every legitimate marina on this entire

island blanketed. If the Jolly Roger pulls into any of them, we‟ll have them.” This was

the part of the project which Tyler was assigned to coordinate, and as usual he did an

incredibly efficient job.

“What about the illegitimate ones?” Leave it to Matlin to say something like this.

“There is nothing big enough to pull an eighty foot sailboat with a ten foot keel into.

They need a dock to get off that baby.” A son of a Cuban fisherman, Patricia knew a

little bit about boats. What she didn‟t know, she could certainly understand when her

father explained it to her? Having given him the specs on the Jolly Mon, she waited for

his answers on her instant messenger.

“You‟re worrying too much about this. With the net we have in place there is no way the

Jolly Mon can get anywhere near Jamaica without us seeing them.” Trying to sound
overconfident now, Matlin stood up triumphantly and toasted herself with a cup of


Her job was the easy one. All she had to do was make sure every business and hotel in

Jamaica had a copy of the photos of Alan and Roger. Considering the police did most of

the work for her, she had reason to be comfortable.

Neither Tyler nor Patricia looked so confident.


For nearly twelve hours they sat silently off the North Central coast of Jamaica until the

sun set. It was a trying time for both men. Roger watched and waited patiently for the

sign he was sure would come. Alan twiddled his thumbs while bitching and moaning

incessantly about how he wanted to get off the boat.

“That damn boat is still sitting there.” Tapping the little dot on the screen, Roger could

contain himself no longer. Reaching for the radio he was about do something stupid

when he spotted something on shore.

Without warning Roger perked up and announced.

“Let‟s reggae.”

They crossed the four miles without incident. No boats approached them, and none of

the helicopters buzzing around the island approached them. Dropping the sails

completely the drifted skillfully towards shore. With the lights of Ocho Rios less than a

mile to their west, and the shore a hundred yards to their south, Roger dropped anchor.

With the wind and current going to sea the Jolly Mon swung around leaving them fifty

yards away.
“Water is about fifteen feet deep. That‟s Ocho Rios over there. Give me two hours

before you announce yourself.” That was all Roger said as he grabbed a water proof bag,

and jumped over the side. There was no tearful goodbyes or anything else. Peculiar as

usual, he disappeared into the night.

“Well it has been interesting.” Pulling of his clothes, Alan slid over the side, and slowly

swam to shore with a dry bag as a float. By the time he got there, Roger was already

gone into the blackness.

“Give me two hours before you announce yourself? I‟ll give you two minutes all right.”

Mumbling to himself, Alan shook himself off and redressed. The cool night air was

surprisingly brisk as marched up the beach towards the nearest hotel.

Located in the front parking lot of the thirty room bed and breakfast was a payphone. It

took ten minutes for them to connect him to the correct police precinct, and another ten

minutes for anyone to take him seriously.

Alan copped a squat on a planter and waited patiently to be arrested. Only no one came to

the Oscar‟s Oasis by the Bay. An hour passed and then another and he just sat there. A

week ago they were shooting at him and now he couldn‟t even get someone to pick him

up after he turned himself in.

Frustrated and tired, he walked back out to the beach and approached a pool side Tiki

Hut. A fresh faced bartender slid up to him and announced his name to be Randal

Worthington the fourth.

“Well Randal Worthington the fourth what‟s good to drink here.” The laugh that

followed cracked a smile on his face.
“Well mista just about anything I makes is good.” Before long Alan and Randal were

shooting the breeze about everything. The cool evening had scared away the rest of the

tourists, and it was the off season after all. They talked about their wives. They talked

about their jobs. They talked about women. Both of them were having such a good time,

they barely noticed the first volley of gunshots. As they moved closer though; both men

dove down beside the bar.

Staring off towards the water, Alan spotted a Roger as he came running down the beach.

Never had he seen a man swim so fast in all this life. It took him less than a minute to get

back out to the Jolly Mon. Before the police even got to the beach he had pulled up

anchor and was already at full sail. Even the clouds were conspiring against them on this

night. As they blocked out the moon, the jet black Jolly Mon disappeared.

“Did you see a white mon come through here?” Staring down at Alan on the ground one

of the officers patted Randal on the top of his hair.

“No I seen no one.” His answer was truthful. Unlike Alan who was watching the beach,

Randal was covering his head and face in terror.

“What about you sir?” It would have been the perfect time to turn himself in. It would

have been the perfect time to say yes, he went that way. Instead Alan shook his head and

said nothing.

“We lost him. Get back up over to Oscars. No sir no sign of the man who made the call

into the station either. Maynard searched the parking lot and no one is there.” Turning

his back on the approaching officers, Alan casually sat back down at the bar.

“How about another one of those Redstripes Randall? It looks like it is going to be a long

night.” Three hours went by with dozens of officers weaving in and around him, and yet
not a single person noticed him. As Randall closed down the bar for the evening the two

of them prepared to catch a taxi to a late night local establishment.


“How the hell does he get away from you? Come on there were a dozen police officers

shooting at an unarmed man on foot I might add.” Storming onto the scene Patricia was

furious. Pointing fingers at everyone involved she did not stop bitching until Tyler

finally held up his hand.

“Listen they came into Ocho Rios and not Negril. It‟s a big island. No one was

expecting them here. The fact that they noticed him at all is a miracle.” Out of the

corner of his eye he spotted the skinny white man in the pink polo shirt.

“What about Alan Shiprock? He called in three hours ago to the police station, and no

one even bothered to come after him…” Holding up his hand again, Tyler signaled for

her to be quiet. Then he pointed that same finger towards the two men walking down the


Jogging leisurely towards them, he was followed by a confused Patricia. Just as he got

there he flicked on his flashlight.

“Alan Shiprock I presume.” As the light hit his face Patricia nearly fell over.

“Hey guys about time you got here.” Drunk and just plain stupid, Alan waved at them

                                          June 5, 2006

“We are down here on vacation. How many times do I have to say it?” It had been a

really bad night for Simon and Gabriel. Unlike their foe, who skated easily past the

Jamaican radar and touched down in Ocho Rios, these two had been detained. For the

better part of twelve hours they sat patiently the equivalent of an over glorified jail cell

waiting to be questioned.

When someone from the Jamaican authorities finally did visit them he did not believe

their story. It was after all not true.

“Are you aware of the shooting incident here in Ocho Rios last evening?” A very smug

and overly educated young man of twenty continued down his check list.

“How would we know anything about what happened last night? You picked us up,

confiscated our vessel, and shoved us in here. I might add that all of this was before we

had even cleared customs or spoke to anyone in immigration. This by JAMAICAN

LAW IS ILLEGAL!” Normally a very calm man or infinite patience, Gabriel finally

chose to end his silence. The young man in front of him backed up and then out the door.

About three minutes later, Patricia Vasquez and her team strolled into the room.

“I should have known you were behind this sh…”

“I didn‟t ask them to pick you up if that is what you are referring to.” Flopping down in

the vacated seat of the Jamaican, Patricia waved playfully.

“You cold ass bit...”

“No one invited you to join this investigation Chief Lagrange.” Not appreciating the way

that Simon was attacking his friend, Tyler opened his mouth. Although Simon was much

broader across the chest they were nearly the same height as he stood up.
“We found him and tracked him here. We had him. You fucked it up. This is on you.”

Cutting through all the bullshit now, Simon spoke his mind.

“Why didn‟t you call us instead?” Shocked to hear him tell it like it was, Patricia

motioned for Tyler to sit back down.

“WE‟RE IN JAMAICA! You work for the United States Department for Homeland

Security. Exactly how could I have known that you could help us with this?” None of

the people in the room responded. Not even the few from the CIA and the one member

from the state department knew how to respond to this.

“How did you know they were coming to Ocho Rios?” Realizing she had no answer to

the previous question, Patricia continued.

“Because we followed him from Cuba?” Acting as if hers was the stupidest question he

had ever heard in all his life, Simon raised his palms upwards and shrugged his shoulders.

“You followed an eighty foot Brigantine at full sail with a forty eight foot schooner?”

Trying to show her nautical knowledge, she alerted them of her doubts.

“They weren‟t at full sail, and they ducked down south of the Caymans that‟s how we

caught up to them.” For only the second time, Gabriel chose to respond. With his history

with law enforcement, he knew this line of questioning was not going in his favor. Once

they start to doubt you, your chances of getting out are greatly reduced.

“South of the Caymans to get to the north shore of Jamaica? That sounds rather illogical

to me.” Another Jamaican official much older than the first strolled quietly into the

“Do you know the history of this case sir? If you do I am sure you understand to logic

has nothing to do with it.” Simon continued to stare directly at Patricia with a vile glare

that burned holes through her.

“You should have called me and let me know what you were up to. We could have

helped each other.” Trying her best to get into his favor, Patricia attempted to sweet talk

her way back into his good graces.

“I will reiterate what I said earlier. We are in Jamaica. You would for the United States

department of Homeland security. Last time I checked this was a bit south of your

jurisdiction.” The conversation was old. The Jolly Mon was getting further and further

away from them now.

“We got Alan Shiprock last night.” Proudly announcing her arrest, Patricia was not

surprised with his response.

“Good for you. I wasn‟t really after the minnow though Miss Vasquez. I was after the

whale.” Falling back down into his seat, Simon gave up on trying to reason with them.

“Any idea where they are going next?” Having not quite broken the rest of the imbedded

code yet, Matlin finally opened her mouth to join in.

“Another island in the West Indies I would expect. Otherwise we would have gotten a

map of the world and not of the Caribbean.” After he said it, Simon realized how much

of a mistake it was.

“A map? You have a copy of the map too. What is this thing posted on a website

somewhere?” Tyler believed only the FBI had it, and now here was at least one other

person that had a copy.
“Are we under arrest or can we get our boat and leave?” Turning to the only Jamaican in

the room, Simon had nothing more to say.

“We could keep you here longer to discuss the events of last night. There is some belief

that you might be tied in with this entire plot.” Even as Tyler spoke Simon had already

buttoned his lip now, and would say no more.

“What does he mean by „Gambling with my African friend‟?” Continuing to ask

questions anyway, Patricia hoped she could get back through to him. It was too late

though, Simon was done.

“Simon please help us. Do you really want him to get away?” Leaning in close enough

for Simon to know it was only for him, but still speaking loud enough for everyone else

Patricia made a final plea for help.

It was in vain.

An hour and half later they were released along with their boat. Only now an entire

satellite was dedicated to following their every move. If they did find the Jolly Mon, they

would know about it.


“Alan you are going to be extradited to America tomorrow to be tried for aiding and

abetting a criminal. Do you really expect us to take this statement at a face value and not

ask you anymore questions?” With the other two out of the way, the group entered the

cell of Alan Shiprock.

“I refuse to make any further comment on the chance that I might otherwise incriminate

myself unfairly.” Having given a five hundred word written statement upon arriving,

Alan refused to say anything except this.
“We have several direct charges pending in Key West. We have eye witness accounts

from Cuba. We have a copy of the call you made to the Jamaican authorities here. You

will not walk on this. You‟re going to jail.” Playing the bad cop quite convincingly

Tyler leaned over Alan menacingly breathing in his face.

“I refuse to make any further comment on the chance that I might otherwise incriminate

myself unfairly.” With a wink this time, Alan delivered his same statement verbatim.

“Get him back to Florida. Stick him in some nice rat infested gang raping cell in

Homestead. Maybe he‟ll change his tune then?” His last attempt to intimidate went off

unsuccessfully, as Alan blew him a kiss this time.

Walking out of the room, Tyler cursed loudly and slammed the door.

“We lost them. That son of bitch knows exactly where Roger is going. I fucking know

it!” This had been Tyler‟s first chance at a coordinated effort with the other departments

and he was furious to have failed.

“Don‟t worry about where they are going. We‟ll figure it out soon enough.” The first

two clues had been quite simple ones, and it stood to reason that the rest would tumble.

They would know before the sun rose tomorrow just which island Roger was going to


                                                June 6, 2006

Disembarking at Duvalier Airport
Seeking transportation to town
As the purple ink dried on his passport
He could still feel the eyes look around

Business in Aruba concluded
He now had a little money to spend
That's how I came to meet my African friend
With my weekend at Haiti concluded
I now had a little money to spend
That's when I came to meet my African friend
That's how I came to know another good friend
“Well we have three choices as far as I can see it. Africa which is straight out, Aruba

which is one helluva haul from Jamaica, or Haiti which is less than two days sail from

here.” As they listened to the song, and Simon printed out the lyrics, Gabriel opened up

the sails to head east. In his estimation this was also a simple clue. They were going to


“Where in Haiti though?” The mistake everyone had made here was to assume that

Roger was going to Negril. They had not figured out Ocho Rios from the clue. Had they

taken a couple of extra minutes to think, they would have realized he went to Duns River

falls. Jamaica mistaica and we all fall down. Once there he retrieved hi package from a

public bathroom, and got caught by an off duty police officer parking in the lot with his

mistress. There was more to the title than just the song itself.


“Gambling is the key word here people. My guess would be they are going to casino in

Haiti or Aruba. If anyone else can come up with a better explanation I would be happy to

hear it.” Although they were no longer assigned to the case of the missing Jolly Mon,

they were still curiously discussing its possible next destination.

“Is there a casino in the airport? It does mention Duvalier airport after all.” Addressing

Tyler‟s challenge Matlin seemed the least upset about their failure in Ocho Rios.

“It doesn‟t matter they won‟t send us there. This case is over for us. The Cuban‟s got

our police records from Key West and our account. They are aware we were not

attacking them. Therefore there is no rush on this anymore.” On her second glass of

Chardonnay now, Patricia did not want to discuss this anymore. It was too frustrating for
her. She was very spoiled in her professional career. Things always seemed to work out

for her. This was a blemish on an otherwise perfect record.

“So the Jamaicans don‟t warrant the same attention as the Cubans I see?” Matlin was

very dark skinned though no one ever asked her what her racial background was.

Occasionally though she visited questions of color and those around her wondered.

“We have a decent political situation with them, and they are not ninety miles away from

our border. The whole lack of Communist party affiliation and Bay of Pigs thing doesn‟t

hurt either.” Trying to make light of her comments, Patricia winked playfully. Everyone

knew she was of Cuban descent.

“What if he is going to Aruba or Africa? What if this list is just a bunch of shit?” There

were more questions than answers about this man. Matlin threw these out there to see

who would bite on it.

“I‟m tempted to take a vacation to Haiti. Let‟s see him slip through my fingers again. It

won‟t happen.” Snapping the button off her wine glass she slammed it down on the

counter in anger. Even a nasty glance from the bartender did little to change her attitude.

“I have two weeks?” Honestly Tyler had been thinking of a vacation anyway. There

were some really parts of Haiti from what he had heard. The civil unrest and

impoverished locals did little to draw in the tourists these days, but it was still a

Caribbean island.

“You two are as crazy as he is. Let it go! He got away. Sometimes the bad guys get

away. That is just part of the job description.” On her third umbrella drink in less than

an hour, Matlin waved off her imaginary foe in the air.
“Yeah but how? How does he keep getting away? He‟s a man not a God damned ghost.

How does he do it?” Gingerly picking up the second glass she toasted the snarling

bartender from across the bar.

“How did he come in and out of the radar net? No one saw him at all. We saw the

Coconut Telegraph who was supposedly following right behind him. How come we

didn‟t see him?” No one had answers for this yet. Tyler asked the folks at NASA and

the NSA but they had not idea why he was not showing up on satellite imagery.

“Let‟s fly to Duvalier airport and ask him?” Completely serious about her earlier

statement, she wondered if Tyler was serious about his.

“Okay. I‟ll call home and let them know I‟m not coming back.” As the only one not

drinking Tyler should have been the responsible one. He didn‟t like losing though either

and was willing to go the extra mile to win.


“Absolutely not!” You haven‟t been here for three weeks and now you want to take a

vacation. Get on a plane and get back here to Washington Vasquez. That‟s an order!”

Her boss an ex-military man with self control issues was furious.

“An order sir? I think I feel a cold coming on sir. Yeah I don‟t think I could possibly

make it to office for at least a couple of weeks.” It was not smart for her to play games

like this. She was in high demand though in the law enforcement community. Both the

NSA and FBI had made her large offers to leave Homeland Security. If he really wanted

to challenge her on this his was not the only game in town.

“Listen to me Miss Vasquez. Roger Gladstone is a ghost. He‟s a figment of all of your

imaginations. What has he really done wrong? So he saw a couple of cats and a sailboat!
Who really gives a shit? I will not allow you to throw your career away over this. Use

your brain young lady!” Her boss realized that he needed her more than she needed him.

Only he needed her at the office. If she wasn‟t going to be there then she could leave,

and he would find someone else. No they would not be as good as she was, but they

would do the job like the told them to.

“All of this conversation has aggravated my cold further sir. I am afraid I will have to get

back to you after I have napped a while.” Sitting naked in her hotel room, Patricia

glanced over at Tyler. It had been ten years since their last encounter, but he was still

quite good. Looking at his face now though, she remembered why they never worked

out. He was after all older and wiser. He constantly wanted to tell her what to do. Like

all men they all wanted to tell her what she should do.

“I‟m not going to say a thing.” As much as he wanted to tell her she was being stupid,

Tyler said nothing of the sort. After all he had just faced a similar call two minutes

before her, and had been threatened with retribution as well.

What was it about this case that made the Alan Shiprocks, Simon Lagranges, and Patricia

Vasquezes of the world want to keep going? What was it about Roger Gladstone that

drove everyone crazy around him?


Before his thirtieth birthday Roger had never even heard a gun shot. Now here he was

two weeks before his fortieth and he was dodging bullets for the second time in a week.

It was insane.

Didn‟t they realize this was all just a game? He wasn‟t hurting anybody with his hunt.

Why did they care so much about him? His entire life Roger just wanted to fit in. From
early on during his elementary school days he realized this difficulty. Something about

the way he laughed or the way he looked made other people nervous. Even his own

mother and father had trouble relating to him. Often closing him off in his bedroom to

play out a million and one different fantasy scenarios, they too had no idea what to think

of his strangeness.

As he grew older the gap between he and his contemporaries grew larger. After one

particularly embarrassing night in college, resembling something like the Carrie prom

night with the pig blood, Roger vowed to bridge this gap. Going so far as to taking

classes on how to fit into society, he began dressing and socializing differently. Despite

being a “lowly” postal employee, as his mother referred to him, he attending many social

galas amongst the Buck‟s County Elite. It helped nothing.

Still the butt of more jokes than conversations, he chased behind everyone. Only a few of

them even knew his name. Things started going really out of control the night his parents

died. Not far from the edge, he began teetering on the other side.

On his thirtieth birthday one of the only women he had every truly dated, bought him

tickets to a Jimmy Buffet concert. It was a life altering experience. Both the words and

the way of life seemed to strike a chord within him. Although still somewhat of an

outcast, the Parrotheads embraced him into their ranks. They were after all a group of

mostly dreaming outcasts not quite sane and not really in tune with reality. It was perfect

for him.

For a decade he had embraced this lifestyle and music into his soul. Margaritaville was a

real place as far as he was concerned. It may not have an address as much as a state of

mind, but he had found it.
On the night of his thirty-ninth birthday everything went terribly wrong. It should have

been one of the greatest evenings of his short life. A stunning young lady from the local

club had shone more than a passing interest in him. Crossing a room of three hundred

people this absolute beauty walked right up to the shy pudgy out of touch man and kissed


“I have been watching you all night. You really know how to party.” All of her friends

called her Desdemona, and she was hot. No she was super hot. Any watching from the

outside would have known there was something not quite right here. Those who didn‟t

know Roger assumed he was rich. Those who did know him knew it had to be some sort

of gag. A couple of them even went so far as to suggest that he paid for this “chance”


It was nothing of the sort though. Roger really had no idea who she was. For the rest of

the evening this “Parrott Chick” as she referred to herself, never left his side. Whispering

sweet nothings in his ear, she had him wrapped around her talons.

“Do you want to get out of here Roger?” If he had been slightly more observant he

would have noticed that she had not been drinking anything alcoholic all night. If he had

been slightly more observant he would have noticed at least three other new Parrotheads

at the monthly meeting. If he had been more observant he would have noticed that this

was a set up.

“Sure where do you want to go?” Only Roger was not observant. Roger was not

thinking at all. It was not a sex thing. He assumed he wasn‟t going to get lucky; mostly

because he never got lucky. No he was thinking with the little head. Roger just wanted a

“How about the Virgin Islands?” Leaning in close enough that he could smell her

frangipani scented perfume, Desdemona blew him a kiss.

“Are you serious?” Roger had never traveled anywhere before. He had never been on

an airplane or even a train for that matter.

“What you‟ve never been to the islands?” One of the new comers, also a very attractive

young lady swooped in from out of nowhere.

“I have never been to any island.” Having not spoken to this woman before he was

surprised who familiar she acting around him.

“You call yourself a Parrothead and you have never been down island before? What are

you like forty years old?” A young man who had been perhaps the most popular new

addition to the party, closed in.

“You‟ve been to Key West at least though right?” Still another young man put his arm

around Roger‟s shoulder.

“No I have never left Pennsylvania.” Always the kind sweet man of good temperament,

he did not like being ganged up on. It felt all too familiar to him.

“The pirate looks at forty and what has he done? Nothing. What a waste? How can you

listen to this music and call yourself a fan when you have never even lived the life?” One

at a time they took little bites at him. Like a pack of lions taking down an elephant they

danced around him and snipped at his hindquarters.

“Poor little Roger never lived. He tries so hard to fit in with us. He tries so hard to be

something he is not. Forty years old and never even been to Key West?” Several of the

other people laughed nervously at what these people were doing. No one came to

Roger‟s defense.
“I bet mom was really disappointed with you.” The final blow came from the person he

thought was his friend. Desdemona took him down completely.

“What is wrong with you people?” Then from out of the crowd, Alan Shiprock stepped

up. As he walked into the circle everyone cleared. He did not really like Roger

Gladstone, but he did not like bullies.

It was too late though. The damage had already been done. Roger Gladstone had been

broken down past the point of recovery. That evening he went home and went out to the

golf course for a little midnight sledding.

Sitting here now, a single tear slid gently down his cheek. What had he done to deserve

this? They told him to complete the scavenger hunt. If he completed the hunt he would

be set for life. She promised him nothing would happen. She promised him that he

would be safe.

Desdemona promised him she would never hurt him again.

She lied.


                                          June 7, 2006

As expected they had lost the Jolly Mon that night. They were not able to pick her scent

up again either. Unlike the trip from Cuba to Jamaica, this one was shorter. There was

far less ocean to traverse and no other island chains between them. Still there were at

least a dozen different paths they could taken. Having watched his trip around the

Caymans they knew the direct route was not necessarily the one Roger would take.
Both of the Casinos in Haiti were in the Capital City of Port Au Prince, so there would be

no sneak attack this time. If Roger was truly going into a casino as they envisioned he

would only have two real choices; the El Rancho and the Royal Haitian.

Rumor had it the song which inspired this trip had taken place at the Royal Haitian.

Therefore Simon was concentrating his efforts here. Gabriel would stake out the lobby at

the El Rancho. However, if Simon spotted him at the Royal he would abandon it and

come to his aid. Having seen a couple of the disguises Roger employed in the past,

Simon was not convinced he would arrive as himself.

Port Au Prince was not the prettiest of Caribbean cities as a whole anymore. Though

some of the older colonial and Victorian buildings still held their turn of the century

beauty. However, even most of them had been left in disarray and disrepair with the

latest bouts of violence and rebel attacks. It was a city under attack.

Rich in history and tradition they had grown less and less regal. Desperation and hatred

had replaced a free spirit and desire. It was not a comfortable to place to walk around

anymore. Returning to the island of his youth did not faze Simon in the least. What he

found here though amongst the ruins nearly tore him in half?

Those with money and influence had long ago abandoned this country for hopes of a

better life in America and Europe. They left behind a defeated people. Even the pleasant

people at the hotel had a sort of dead look in their eyes as they spoke to him.

“Sir Haitian citizens are not allowed in the casino. I am sure you are aware of that

already.” One of the managers moved towards him when they heard him speak in Creole

to the croupier.
“Move along and don‟t bother me again.” Holding up his passport casually along with

his badge, Simon had no time for racist casino pit bosses.

“Pardon me sir.” Not used to being talked to like that, the man moved towards his boss.

They conversed for a moment, and then the senior man shrugged his shoulders. Nothing

more came of the incident.

With his face towards the front entrance at all times, Simon bet sparingly and mingled

with his fellow patrons. Most of them were French, and enjoyed conversing about every

subject on the planet. He obliged them sparingly not wanting to lose concentration.

Suddenly a familiar face entered the revolving door. Only it was not Roger Gladstone.


“This place is a dump.” Patricia had less than kind words to describe the Royal Haitian.

“It reminds me of one of those Vegas casinos of the main drag with the fifty cent Kino.”

Continuing to make nasty comments, she settled in at one of the slot machines. With her

hair spiked and raised to new extremes she was barely even recognizable. Tyler

reluctantly listened to her bitch and complain since they got off the plane in Duvalier

airport. He wore a fake mustache but other than that there was no mistaking his identity.

Walking through the whole casino slowly he looked at every patron in an effort to

determine if Mr. Gladstone was there. Finally coming to the last black jack table he

paused for a moment.

“You two are wasting your time here. You‟ll only scare him away.” Leaning back from

the table only slightly, Simon whispered towards him.

“He won‟t even know we are here.” Despite his assurance, Simon scoffed at the idea.
“I could spot little Miss Homeland Security from a mile away. What‟s with that hair?”

Both men chuckled for a brief second, and then Tyler walked back across to the slots.

“Did you find him?” This country was horrible as far as Patricia was concerned. She

could not believe she could possibly get fired for making this her vacation.

“No but your friendly neighborhood chief of police is here. Don‟t look at him Patricia!”

Undercover work was not her strong suit. It was apparent from the way she glared at

Simon from across the room. He tried not to acknowledge her.

“Damn it he figured out the clue.” Proud of herself for figuring out that Roger was

coming here she was surprised he had done the same.

“It wasn‟t that difficult Patricia.” Sometimes he wondered what she was thinking.

Sometimes Tyler wondered if she was thinking. Other than criminals she was convinced

the rest of the world was stupid.


A pregnant woman in a casino was a strange site. With smoke and alcohol at every turn,

it seemed a bizarre environment for her. Right away both Tyler and Simon caught her in

their sites. They followed her all the way from the door. Walking straight for the hotel

manager, she handed him an envelope. Without a words or anything, she moved back

towards the front door. There was something familiar about her.

Summoning the security manager who shrugged at him earlier, the hotel manager

whispered something to him. Moments later, at least a half dozen security personnel

moved towards Simon‟s table.
“Sir will you kindly step away from the table?” Trying their best to be discreet, they

motioned for Simon to follow him. Once he was on his feet and moving they went for

Tyler and Patricia.

“Damn it the hooker from Cuba.” It was the same girl they had seen in the security

footage from Cayo Loco. That was why Tyler recognized her immediately as well.

They had made them and were having them moved out. Any second after their arrest for

some illegitimate charge, Roger would stroll into the casino. Once here he would pick up

whatever package he needed for the next leg of his scavenger hunt, and then disappear for

the next island.

Hoping against all hope that Gabriel would come here if he had not heard from Simon in

an hour, the chief allowed himself to be taken it. They agreed to check in every hour and

if they did not hear from one another they would converge on that hotel.


It was just after five thirty in the evening and Simon had not checked in yet. Gabriel

walked away from the bank of payphones towards the front door. Out of the corner of his

eye he caught site of the young man.

“Spider John.” Having seen him at the marina on that first night several months ago,

Gabe was impressed that he still recognized him. It might have been that he was on edge

more than usual. Therefore he watched the crowds a little more carefully. Whatever the

reason, as he walked out the front door, he kept his peripheral vision on this man.

He was so intent to not let Spider John sneak up on him, he did not see the pregnant lady

directly in front of him. Before he knew what was coming, a switch blade knife was

flying towards his chest. There was no way to avoid it. She had caught him unaware.
Luckily he was able to spin slightly away from her, causing the blade to lodge in his

shoulder and not his heart.

Screaming out only slightly in pain, he elbowed her violently to ground. He spun around

in time to stop Spider John from hitting him on the other side. Realizing he had lost the

element of surprise the man dashed off into the crowd. When he turned back towards

where the pregnant lady had been, there was only pillow lying harmlessly on the ground.

Falling down to his knee, Gabe clutched tightly to the blade. They had not killed him,

but he certainly was immobilized.

Fighting back the urge to pass out, he managed to get a police officer‟s attention. An

American tourist stabbed in the streets of Port Au Prince, got him an expedited

ambulance ride to the hospital. No one needed that kind of publicity.


With all of the commotion going on in the streets out side the hotels, and within the

casino no one noticed Roger Gladstone waltz in the Royal. Mixing quite comfortably

with the patrons he slid up to the forth black jack table as instructed. There he placed

three fifty dollar bills upside down on the table in front of the dealer. With the skill of a

magician the dealer pulled one hundred and twenty five dollars worth of chips and

another special chip from under the table.

Roger played four mock hands winning three of them by accident. Once he had

completed the illusion of gambling, he went and cashed in all the chips; all the chips that

is except for the special one. Slipping silently into the streets he casually strolled back

down to the marina. Once back on the Jolly Mon he prepared to depart.
“Why do they keep fucking following you?” Unaware of the existence of a map, Roger‟s

benefactor cursed him from the corner of the darkened parlor.

“You scared me.” Nearly jumping out of his skin, Roger turned the lights on. If he was

frightened before, he was plain petrified now. Sitting in the chair, Spider John held a

pistol in his hands.

“What did I do wrong?” More frightened that he had let them down than with the danger

to his own mortality, Roger whined pathetically.

“WHY DO THEY KEEP FOLLOWING YOU?” Up on his feet now, John struck him on

the side of the head viciously with the back of his hand.

“Who is following me? What are you talking about?” Whimpering childishly, Roger

was utterly confused. Until now he was not aware anyone knew where he was. He

didn‟t even realize that John was following him.

“They seem to know exactly where you are going. Why do they know Roger?”

Knowing that intimidation only worked for so long with him, John lowered his voice.

Eventually Roger would start to cry, and then nothing would be accomplished.

“Who are you talking about?” His voice grew louder and more obnoxious with each

question asked.

“You really have no clue do you?” Roger was not really good at lying. Having seen this

before, John stopped his attack. If he was not telling them where to find him than who

was? Desdemona certainly was not doing it; was she? Paranoid now that someone else

in his organization was leaking information, John drew a deep breath.

“Do you remember Chief Lagrange from Key West?” Trying to gain an understanding of

the depths to which his pigeon would crawl, John tested him.
“Of course I remember him. He was the only nice person in that whole place. The rest

of them hated me.” The chief was a good man doing a job. Not once was he nasty or

angry like the others.

“Everyone hates you Roger; everyone except us. Remember that for now on will you.”

It wasn‟t Roger. He wasn‟t leaking the information. Who was it than? Who amongst his

people would betray him?

“Change of plans Roger. I want you to skip around on the list. Go for the fifth one

before the fourth. Is that clear?” Before he finished speaking Roger was already

nodding. If they had a list of the targets they certainly would not find him. If they were

being fed information on a need to know basis then they would be there.

“Okay then get on your way. I am sorry I yelled at you. It‟s a very stressful job being a

pirate you know?” Joking and poking at the man playfully, he knew how to handle

Roger. Build him up then break him down, and then build him back up again. He

loathed pathetic creatures like this. They made him sick to his stomach. However, they

were the ultimate means to an end.

“Yes I am beginning to realize that.” Cheerful and refreshed again Roger took his latest

piece to the puzzle, and slid it into the safe hidden behind the false wall in his cabin. As

soon as John stepped off the boat, he would move it to the safe in the other room. After

all, he didn‟t really trust the man much either.

“Keep your head up Roger you are close to one third of the way to the ultimate prize.”

Security cameras all over the Jolly Mon told the story that John needed to know. Roger
would move this piece to the other safe as soon as he left. Trust was not something John

expected from anyone. In response he trusted no one.

Sliding carefully out onto the deck he retired back into the streets of Port Au Prince.

Much like a chameleon he could blend in anywhere. Despite the fact that his skin was

much lighter and his clothes much nicer than the people around him, no one bothered to

look at him more than once. Within moments he had disappeared again.


                                       June 8, 2006

Being in jail for the second time in a week did not bother Simon. The fact that Gabriel

was not here with him, and that he had not showed up yet bothered him to no end. Gabe

was a dedicated man. If he was not here then something had gone dreadfully wrong.

When the cell door opened Simon was caught up in thought, he barely even noticed the

small man plopping down on the bench next to him.

“Chief Simon Lagrange to what do we owe this great pleasure?” Percy Wiggins was the

brightest men of his age. Barely thirty he was one of the few non-compromised officers

in the Haitian police force. No one could buy him, and he never turned a blind eye on

anything or anyone. Much like the fellow officer he was about to question he was a good


“You tell me.” Who was the pregnant lady? What was in the envelope? These two

questions kept Simon up most of the night.

“Do you know a man named Christian Du Champs?” Carefully handing the photo to

him, Percy was certain he knew the answer already.
“No. I don‟t believe I have ever seen him before.” It was a rather grainy surveillance

photo, but he was quite certain he had not seen him.

“How about this photo?” This was a waste of time. The three people he just brought in

here were all American law enforcement personnel. They were not buying drugs from

Mr. Du Champs as the note suggested.

“No I haven‟t seen him before.” His police photograph did not ring any bells.

“You know these two though correct?” The photos of Tyler and Patricia landed in his


“What I am under arrest for captain?” He could deny his association with them, but what

good would it do.

“Were you here with them?” Trying to get everyone‟s story together, he asked the same

questions expecting different answers.

“No I was not.” What had they told him?

“Who were you here with Chief?” There were only three of them, and it was suggested

that there should be four.

“A buddy of mine.” Where was Gabriel? If he did not hear that answer soon he would

ask it.

“Where is your buddy?” The other two had refused to give either one of their names.

They kept insisting they were here on vacation. A call to the United States state

department and the FBI revealed their lofty positions. There was more to this than they

were letting on. Straightening out his perfectly ironed uniform, Percy had a very pleasant

West Indian voice. Born to poor day laborers in the mountains, he had come from very

humble beginnings. It was not evident now though.
“I wish I had that answer. Maybe you can tell me?” Cracking his neck and stretching out

his arms, Simon was feeling old. The tight quarters on the Coconut Telegraph were not

might for someone of his size.

“What is his name?” Pulling out a pad and pencil, he licked the end and grinned.

“Gabriel.” More worried that he was hurt than that someone would find him, Simon was

prepared to be honest with them to a point.

“Gabriel McKenzie?” His only other the day before had also included an American.

This one had been stabbed in broad daylight outside the El Rancho casino.

“Where is he?” Now Simon was really nervous. The police knew his last name.

“He is in the hospital chief. Someone tried to carve their initials in him yesterday

afternoon about ten minutes after we picked the three of you up.” Percy was no longer

taking this casually anymore. There was something here!

“Is he okay?” What had he gotten poor Gabe into?

“He‟s fine. A couple of stitches and a transfusion were all that was required to patch him

up but nothing more. He‟ll be out by tonight.” They were friends, he could tell from the

concerned look on his face.

“Did anyone see the attacker?”

“A couple of people did; yes”

“Was she pregnant?” Both men stopped for a moment and stared at each other.

“What is going on here chief?” Two of the four witnesses at the scene thought the young

lady was pregnant. The other two did not. Security images from the Royal showed the

woman delivering the evidence against the chief showed a woman at least six months

“You want the long or the short version.” What could it hurt to tell him the truth now?

Unless the local police were part of the conspiracy, they could actually be helpful.

“So what you telling me is that the man causing all the trouble in Key West, Cuba, and

Jamaica is the same man that was here today?” They were on their way down to the

casino. If Roger came back in after they had apprehended him, he would be on tape.

“That‟s correct Captain.” When they entered the front door, the manager walked right up

to Simon, only after he looked at the bars on Percy‟s uniform did he retreat.

“We showed you the video tapes already captain.” No one at the casinos really liked

Percy Wiggins. He was a boy scout. Gambling facilities did not like boy scouts.

“I would like to see the videos from right after you removed these folks.” Licking and

sucking at his teeth nastily, he showed the two of them into his security office.

“What do you mean you don‟t have the tape? You have the one from before the arrest.

You have the one from two hours later. Where is the other one?” Sure enough in the box

of videos there was a gap between them where a tape had most obviously been removed.

“I‟m sorry sir you must have already taken it.” The security manager made a big mistake

when he suggested this. The normally kind and sympathetic Percy let loose.

“Would you like me to empty this casino? I will do so. I will close this establishment

down for a week if I feel like it. Get your men in here now!” His eyes turned dark and

his demeanor went out the window.

In five minutes the room was filled with all the security personnel. No one knew where

the video was. This had cover up written all over it, and Percy knew it.

“Well since you are all going to play stupid; lets see how stupid you are? Which one of

you let this man in the door? Where did he go?” Using the Interpol photo of Roger
Gladstone he went steadily around the room. Everyone looked shamefully away from

him. Suddenly one of the younger men held up his hand.

“He was here yesterday sir for only about ten minutes though.” Thierry Joueuse was a

quiet man from up in the hills like that captain. They stuck together whenever possible.

“Where did he go?” Walking the exact path, they came to the black jack table he was at.

“Who was dealing while he was here? Did he talk to any of the patrons sitting with

him?” Simon had said nothing until this time. Sensing that Percy had the right idea

though, he pushed now.

“David Marseilles was dealing the table, and no sir he spoke to no one.” Patting Thierry

on the back they went to the hotel manager who assured them that David had not shown

up for work today. In fact yesterday had been his first day dealing at this casino.

“I know where David lives. Question for you sir? I thought anyone with a criminal

background was not allowed to work the tables here?” Having been the officer who

arrested David three times for drug possession, Percy knew who he was.

As expected the hotel manager attempted to talk his way out of it. Only the police

captain held up his hand.

“We will address this at a later time. I assume if the missing video tape shows up we will

not be informed. Therefore I will not even bother to request it.” Stomping out of the

room, Percy had flexed his muscle effectively.

“Have you ever thought of coming to work in the United States? I know some folks in

Key West that are little short handed these days.” Completely impressed with the young

man and his methods, Simon would have hired him if he still worked there.
A mostly local area of Port Au Prince broke Simon‟s heart in two. Ten people in a two

bedroom apartment with no indoor plumbing were everywhere. Homeless vagrants died

in the streets and it took days for anyone to pick up their bodies. Dogs feasted on the

trash and garbage which littered even four lane roads. It was a horrible existence.

Perhaps the nastiest of all the buildings is where they went to find Reginald. His mother

met Percy at the door shaking her head. Without a word she went into the other room,

and came back with Reginald. She was squeezing his ear so tightly it turned purple.

“Do you know this man Reggie?” At first he shook his head only as he mother dug her

nails in he changed his tune.

“What was the chip for? Who did you get it from?” It took twenty five minutes to get all

the information they needed. For once he did not have to arrest the young man.

“So one of the local dealers grabs him two weeks ago, and offers him a lot of money to

do something that was not illegal.” They were driving back into town now, and Simon

was not sure why.

“Why aren‟t we going to pick up the dealer?” Not one to tell a fellow officer what to do

he was surprised as they pulled into the hospital parking lot.

“He‟s downstairs in the morgue if you really want to see him. I figured you would want

to get your friend and go after the pirate. We have wasted enough of your time already.”

The captain believed everyone involved with this story except the casino staff. If anyone

was going to catch this man, the chief would.

“Thank you captain. I meant what I said about the job in the US. Give me a call

sometime if you are in the area.” Handing him his business card, Simon ran into the

They were just discharging Gabriel just as he got to his room. After a couple of minutes

or reminiscing and an apology or two they left together.

“I completely understand if you don‟t want to go any further on this. I‟d be happy to pay

for a flight back to Key West for you.” Simon could no longer ask him to do this. It was

getting dangerous now. People were being stabbed and drug dealers were being shot. It

was no longer a game.

“Chief you couldn‟t‟ keep me off that boat if you tried.” His resolve and toughness

revealed once again, Gabe rubbed the taller man on his hand.

“Besides who the hell is going to watch your clumsy back!”


“Well it really depends on which song with Desdemona he is referring to? There are a

couple of them.” Sitting at the airport, Tyler and Patricia were trying to figure out where

they were going to next.

“He may not even be referring to a song at all. Desdemona is a fair significant character

in his Tales from Margaritaville Series.” Shaking her head at Tyler as he spoke, Patricia

could not believe this.

“Am I the only one he doesn‟t worship this Jimmy Buffett character? You actually read

his books too?” This was getting a bit ridiculous.

“Any true Parrothead reads his books?” As though it were the most foolish question he

had ever head, Tyler blew her off.

“If he sticks to songs you have Desdemona is building a rocket ship and Fruitcakes?

Neither one of them really mentions a place though.” Reading through the lyrics

carefully, he left space for Patricia to look over his shoulder.
“What about this?” Highlighting one of the stanzas, she pointed towards a place hidden

in the lyrics

She was down in Puerto Rico
Doing a scientist
True, he was no geek though
She was taken with his kiss
It was under the giant telescope
Where she heard the calling voice
It came screaming though the light years
She never had a choice

“Well it certainly is close enough to Haiti to make it a viable next step?” Her cell phone

rang but Patricia did not recognize the number. At first she thought about letting it go to

voice mail, but with everything going on she finally answered it.

“Patricia we need some help.” They were more than a day behind, and the winds were

not being kind moving east across the Caribbean Sea. Simon had no choice but to call in

some assistance. Besides after the attack in Haiti it was becoming obvious to him that the

more help they had the better.

“So that is why we couldn‟t find them! Damn it Simon you should have told me this

before.” Hanging up the phone without saying another word she called up Rene.

“You have been looking for the wrong thing on your satellite images.” Passing on the

information about the photo and radar resistant surface to him, she hoped he would have

an idea how to get around this.

“Basically, I am looking for a big shiny spot on the surface of the ocean? Okay that

shouldn‟t be that hard in the Caribbean.” Even with his sarcastic side in tact, Rene began

changing one of the programs he had for boat recognition.

“Where should we be looking for them now?” His programs could be set to find

anything. If they wanted a big shiny spot he would find it for them.
“Between Haiti and Puerto Rico somewhere? Simon seems to think Roger will be taking

an open ocean shot across to there. The asshole has to know by now that we are on his

tail.” Each time they guessed where he was going next. Eventually they would have to

be wrong. This was not an exact science after all.

“Well it would help if you let me know north or south. As Hispaniola goes there is a lot

of ocean between the Haitian side and Puerto Rico.” If he knew they went to the north

instead of the south it could eliminate more than half of the time.

“Let‟s hope they went on the Caribbean side. Try the south first.” It was just a guess on

her part, but sometimes guesses were crucial when one was playing catch up.

“I‟ll get back to you as soon as find something.” It would take hours to separate the

photos and hours more to analyzing them for a human being. With the computers though

it was just a matter of minutes after they captured the photo to determine what it was.

The only problem was. I was a mighty big ocean to be looking in.


“We should try to figure out this whole list in advance. Having to play catch up when we

missed him at the previous location is not the best way to do this.” Simon realized that

Roger was better at this game than he expected. The fact that he had help was not

making it any easier.

“Well if we are talking about the song Manana and he is sticking to the same pattern;

then St. Thomas or Tortola will be his next step after this.” Pulling out one of his CD‟s

he played the song for his friend as they tacked against the wind for the hundredth time in

an hour. As the important lyrics came up he jotted them down on a piece of paper
But women and water are in short supply

There's not enough dope for us all to get high

I hear it gets better, that's what they say

As soon as we sail on to Cane Garden Bay

Called all my friends on those cheap nightly rates

Sure was good to talk to the old United States

While the lights of St. Thomas lie twenty miles west

I see General Electric's still doing their best

“What about the lahaim part? That‟s a Jewish version of cheers right?” Not that he was

pointing to the obvious but Gabriel did have some Jewish blood in him. His mother was

an orthodox Jew after all.

“Yeah that‟s a loose translation, but it works. Tortola is not big on its Jewish history. St.

Thomas on the other hand has the second oldest synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.

Could it be a coincidence? Yes it is possible, but I don‟t think so.” They felt like a

couple of Dan Brown junkies. Looking for codes in every possible word, both of them

went word by word through every clue.

“Should we even bother trying to catch him in San Juan? I mean he could already be

there by now. Maybe we should go straight for St. Thomas. Tyler and Patricia are

catching a flight and will be there in two days. We‟re still a day and half out.” Simon

was not asking his opinion as much as he was talking out loud. It was foolish to think

that Roger would stay in Puerto Rico long enough for them to get there. However, if they

made a line straight for St. Thomas they might just get there.

“It‟s up to you chief. This is your party.” It sounded logical though, and Gabe was not in

any position or condition to argue.
“I‟ll call them and let them know.” Only as he went to pick up the phone the email

notification went off on the computer.

It was from Detective Petrovic.

We picked up your friend Skippy Evans yesterday. You will never believe the story he had to tell me.

Listen to the attached wave file.

“Yeah about three weeks ago we gets a call offering us a lot of money to do a job. I tried to explain that I

was clean these days, but they didn’t want to believe me. Anyway! They gives me and couple of friends ten

g’s to steal a bunch of cats. They says I don’t want you to hurt them or nothing. Just catch them and bring

them to this hotel. So I says to them sure why not? It was the easiest money I ever made.” As the audio

went silent Simon read the rest of the email curiously trying to figure out what was going on.

When I showed him a photo of Roger and Spider John he turned up his nose. No it was a sheila that gave

us the job mate. A real hottie looking Spanish girl. Any clue who he might be talking about?

Skippy was a life long crook. A mixture of Australian audacity with street smarts. For

all of the bad things he had done in his lifetime the one thing he never did was lie about

it. Perhaps that was the reason he never spent any significant time behind bars. What

stymied Simon though was the idea that someone else was involved in thefts from Key

West? It certainly made sense, but why? What did the events in Key West have to do

with what was going on now? The relationship did not fit together with the likes of

Spider John and Desdemona.

“Do you think he is telling the truth?” Listening carefully Gabriel turned to his friend.

“Unfortunately Gabe, Yes I do.”


Roger was quite good at following orders. If they told him to skip Puerto Rico and move

on to his next location he would do it. Only it just didn‟t feel right. None of this felt

right anymore. None of this was supposed to be so serious.
Why did everyone take things so seriously? Life was fun. It was meant to be enjoyed to

the fullest without hurting anyone else. Wasn‟t this the goal of living?

Tired and annoyed at the serious nature of his benefactor‟s visit, Roger nearly ran

aground pulling into the shallow water harbor.

“Darn it pay attention Roger.” Dropping the sails, he decided to motor his way in. His

trip into Charlotte Amelia was going to have to be delayed. He needed a nap. After tying

up to the dock and paying off the immigration official, Roger locked up the hatch and fell

into a nightmare.


                                       June 9, 2006

San Juan was the second most popular embarkation point for cruise ships behind Miami.

Nearly every one of the major cruise lines had at least one ship in port at all times. The

reference to Lady Desdemona led Tyler to belief they were trying to symbolize royalty.

This cut the options to two cruise lines either Princess or Royal Caribbean. Considering

it was a Friday the options were limited on Princess. All of their ships left on Monday or


“We have three Royal Caribbean boats in port today; the Adventure of the Seas, the

Serenade of the Seas, and the Empress of the Seas.” Both of them nodded on the last

option. It seemed the most royal of the bunch and seemed to go well with Lady.

“We are looking for this man? If he comes on board or if anyone sees him near this ship

please call me on it?” Normally Tyler would not have flashed his badge. Only he was
not going to set himself up for another repeat of Haiti. They would know who he was

and why he was standing there ahead of time.

“What are the chances of getting Miss Vasquez on board ahead of time?” There was a

good chance that someone would call up the local FBI office. There was a chance

someone would call Washington D.C. to see why the two of them were here. Luckily

though no one questioned their motives, they simply let her on the ship with an escort.

“We set sail at two p.m. Naturally, at the point we will have to ask you to debark.

Unless of course, you would like to go on a cruise? We have a couple of state rooms still

available?” It was meant to be a joke, but Patricia took a moment or two to consider it.

“Only if one of your ports of call is St. Thomas?” This time she was the one kidding


“Yes miss it is the first stop on our trip.” Turning to Tyler she shrugged her shoulders.

They had their passports with them. If for some reason Roger did not show up they could

always just continue on to St. Thomas

“Why the hell not?” They no longer needed to stake out the dock in this case. They

would be on board the ship the whole time.

Little did they realize that on Sunday afternoon the Majesty of the Seas would also be

leaving from San Juan pier number fifty-six. It had the fourth item on the hunt.


The Marina in Red Hook on the north side of St. Thomas was relatively full for this time

of year when the Coconut Telegraph arrived. They had only one slip left that was big

enough for something her side. Simon gladly pulled out his credit card. This trip had
been a larger than expected expense, but he paid it without thinking. He had invested

quite shrewdly over the years. He was not going broke anytime in the near future.

Right away Gabriel spotted an old timer, he knew from golden days. They shot the shit

for a few moments and promised each other a drink later on that night. Finally as he was

about to walk away he pulled out a photo of the Jolly Mon.

“I‟m looking for this vessel Mitch. She‟s quite unique as you can see. If you here any

mention of her let me know okay?” His old friend assured him he would, and then they

parted ways.

“Let‟s catch a jitney bus over to the Synagogue?” As a youngster working the live

aboard and day sailor trade, Gabriel had been here in St. Thomas a lot. He knew the

island far too well. Things had changed a bit since then with dozens of timeshares and

hotels going up. Hurricanes had taken out any number of buildings and bars he had

frequented. All in all though, it was still a St. Thomas.

Even as the converted pick up truck skirted up and down through the hills towards the

tourist side of the island, Gabe was still able to point out landmarks to his friend. Despite

being severely overcrowded and tourist filled it was still a beautiful place to live. As they

descended the long winding road leading to Charlotte Amelia, Simon gasped.

“That‟s a lot of boats.” There were three full sized cruise ships at the dock that seemed to

stretch for a mile out into the ocean. Thousands of day visitors crowded the streets like

ants in a farm. Shopping for trinkets and souvenirs they mobbed boutiques and buildings

in a frenzied attempt to take over the world. It was chaos.

“How does anyone live here in this mess?” Dropping them off in front of the Hard Rock

Café, the bus driver shrugged his shoulders.
“Them pays the bills.” It was the off season and still it was mobbed.

“Come on we have a bit of walk from here.” With each block they moved away from the

center of town the masses grew thinner and thinner. Finally on the street they were

looking for there were only a couple more adventurous tourists looking for the real

bargains. In front of them was a hill that seemed to go straight up. It reminded Simon of

something out of a San Francisco.

“You didn‟t tell me we would be hiking today.” By the time they got to the gate of the

synagogue, neither man could breath.

“Jesus that‟s steep.” One of the Rabbis laughed at his choice of words, and showed them

in the front gate.

“Welcome to the second oldest Synagogue in the Western Hemisphere gentlemen. Those

people in Curacao only beat us by a little bit.” For a Rabbi Haim Yamin was a whole lot

of fun. Acting much less like a religious figure than a football coach, the man was funny.

Even his description of the history of Judaism in St. Thomas was hilarious. His personal

tour of the facility was free, although they did have a little collection plate near the front

for donations.

“What is with the sand on the floor?” Simon watched Gabe for the proper behavior to

exhibit in a place of God, but he continued to ask questions anyway. Haim was thrilled

to tell him all he wanted to know.

“The sand on the floor is a remnant of the days of the Marranos, Jews during the Spanish

Inquisition who were forced to convert to Christianity but who secretly continued to

practice their Judaism. Since practicing Judaism was punishable by death, they met in
cellars with sand covering the floor in order to muffle the sounds of their prayers.”

Shuffling his feet on the floor, he demonstrated the lack of noise made.

“I have never seen the seats face each other like this before?” Gabe had spent his fair

share of time in Synagogues as a child and this was different to him.

“The Synagogue was built in the Sephardic style since its original congregants migrated

as a result of the Spanish Inquisition. In Sephardic architecture, the seating permits

congregants to face one another instead of theater-style as in Ashkenazic and most

stateside synagogues. Also in keeping with Sephardic architecture, the bimah, where the

Rabbi or reader stands, is opposite the arc in which our six Torahs are housed. Welcome

to the theatre performing for you tonight at six thirty will be the one the only; me.” His

happiness was contagious. It brought a smile to even the most hardened faces.

“You seem to be bleeding there.” Pointing at Gabe‟s shoulder, the Rabbi looked

concerned for a moment. Before he could say a thing, he sat him down and readjusted

the dressing on his wound.

“Fishing accident?” Trying not to answer too many questions Gabriel lied to him.

“With what a filet knife?” They both looked at the man and managed a little smile.

“What are you gentlemen doing here? I get the strange impression that this is not a social

call or a sightseeing tour for you.” A bright man who could read people like his precious

Torah, Haim stepped back a bit.

“We‟re looking for someone.” From out of his pocket, Simon pulled out the photo of

“I haven‟t seen him here. Chances are if I had I probably wouldn‟t tell you. This is a

place of protection. Given our history we have to watch out for our own you know?”

They nodded at his humor, and thanked him for his time.

“He‟s in a lot of trouble Rabbi. We are honestly not looking to hurt the man. If you see

him please tell him we were here.” Leaving some money in the basket, they casually

stepped out the front door.

“That‟s an amazing building. I can‟t believe it was built in 1833 is still standing. I mean

with all the hurricanes that rip through here?” Simon was really impressed with the

Synagogue. In between a set of apartments at Smith‟s Fancy and several houses it

seemed such a strange place for a landmark.

“Do you think he will pass on our message?” Only Gabriel was not paying attention to

Simon anymore. His eyes were focused on something else.

“Go back inside now.” Pushing him up the hill they nearly crashed through the front


“Is there a rest room I could use?” With his eyes wide open he shook his head towards

the door.

“Of course follow me back this way.” As the Rabbi led him to the bathroom Simon

stared out the carved openings towards the street.

Roger Gladstone was huffing and puffing his way up Synagogue hill. They had found



The nap had done him an incredible injustice. Instead of relaxing him or getting him

more prepared for his day, it had stressed him out more. Dreams of violence and
retribution for his sins were outlandish. At one point he was in a prison in Haiti. They

hung him upside down on a cross and were burning him alive. They kept asking him

over and over again where he had put the coin. It was horrible.

When he woke up he was late as usual. Services were starting at the Synagogue in less

than an hour, and he wanted to be there far before then; the less people in the building the


His hallucinations continued when he swore he had seen Chief Lagrange on the hill.

Only after rubbing his eyes and looking back up the apparition was gone. Standing now

in front of the Synagogue doors he tried his best to catch his breath.

Had he really seen the Chief? With this hand on the door handle he stopped briefly.

What had John told him? He was being followed. Were they really around here

somewhere? As he panic finally set in, Roger ran back down the hill.


“Thank you again for your hospitality.” Gabriel came back into the room, but Simon was

gone. He must have been following him. Reaching for his satellite phone, he paused.

What if the phone call scared the man away?

As he opened the door this time, he looked in either direction but there was no one to be

seen. Chances are they had gone back into town. In his weakened condition he had to be

careful not to over exert himself, so he moved slowly down the hill. Stopping three paces

outside the door, he changed his mind. Eventually Roger would have to come back here.

Walking to the door at Smith‟s Fancy he waited for one of the residents to leave, and then

he slid inside.
“Sorry I forgot my key. Thanks” They did not look the least bit concerned. Once inside

he took up a seat in the courtyard next to the fence. If Roger came back he would be

ready for him.


Wait for Gabe or follow him? The question was answered quickly in his mind. They

could not allow Roger to get away again. Gabriel would understand. As Roger turned

the corner, Simon rushed after him. Only as he turned the exact same corner he had

disappeared. There were three shops and bar on that little stretch of street. There was

nowhere else the man could have gone.

Sticking his head in the jewelry store, Simon never took one eye off the street. There was

no Roger in here. The same was true of the crafts store, the liquor store, and the

boutique. That left only the bar.

It was not a tourist bar by any means. Dark and peculiarly decorated it was a local

establishment through and through. His skin color limited the strange glances he could

only imagine that Roger drew as he came inside. Walking slowly Simon kept his hands

out in front of him preparing for an attack that did not come. When he did not find him

right away, Simon slid into the bathroom. Searching both the ladies and men‟s loo he

nearly got smacked twice.

During his absence Roger jumped out from behind the bar, and threw a hundred dollar

bill on the top then rushed out the door. When Simon came back out he garnered at least

a dozen looks of incredulity. His eyes fell on the hundred dollar bill.

“Shit!” It was too late. By the time he got outside the entire street was empty from the all

the way down by the dock back up to Synagogue hill. Roger had outsmarted him again.

“Well either we guessed the wrong cruise ship or he is not coming here today.” Pissed

off at their unlucky circumstances, Tyler shouted and then boarded the ship.

“Maybe he‟s not coming here at all? This whole situation is crazy.” Well at least they

would get to take a cruise to St. Thomas, and it was two for the price of one because it

was last minute. Perhaps they should just keep sailing and forget all about Roger



Several of the residents of Smith‟s Fancy looked at the strange man in there front yard.

When night fell and he had neither gone in somewhere or left they finally called the

police. It would turn out to be Roger Gladstone‟s savior.

It was just after eight p.m. when Roger returned to the Synagogue. He had ditched

Simon who continued to search the streets and shops of Charlotte Amelia in vain.

Knocking on the front door, he hoped that someone was still there.

“Welcome you are a little late for services though my son.” Haim recognized him from

the photo right away.

“I have something for your Rabbi. It‟s a little gift from Israel that I thought you might

appreciate.” From out of his bag he withdrew a hundred-year-old bottle of wine.

“You are out far past Chabas time young man. Come inside before you get us both in

trouble.” In the candle lit room, the two men discussed world events and the status of

Judaism in the world. Although he was nervous given the warning from the men earlier

in the day, he did not let on his concern.
“I should be getting back to my boat Rabbi. Thank you very much for lending me your

ear.” Little did the man realize but he had already gotten what he came for. In between

trips to the restroom and the tour, he found the package stuffed underneath one of the

seats. It was now tucked skillfully back in his sack.

“Not that it is any of my business Roger, but why were those two men looking for you

earlier today?” Honest to a fault the Rabbi naively thought he could help the situation.

“They think I have done something wrong. They are mistaken.” A bit nervous now,

Roger looked around the room expecting to see one of them jump out from the shadows.

Only they were the only two in the room.

“I have lived my life under the code that good humor and happiness make the world go

round. Yes I have made my share of mistakes, but each night when I blow out the

candles I feel good about myself. How about you Roger?” With a wink the Rabbi

moved back towards his residence. He knew a lie when he heard it.

“I haven‟t done anything wrong.” Whispering to himself, Roger stuck out his bottom lip

childishly and stormed out the front door. Running smack dab into Gabriel, he struggled

to get away. He was not going anywhere.

“Please Roger don‟t make me hurt you.” Staring him dead in the eyes, Gabe began

dragging him down the street.

Just then bright lights behind him and in front of turned on blinding him. Blue lights

flashed on the top of both the cars.

“Let the man go, and get down on your knees.” Holding his weapon out in front of him

one of the officers approached. As if on cue gun fire erupted. Not from the officer and

not from the two men getting down on the ground either. Two of the bullets struck the
man sending him sprawling the ground. In a fit of panic Roger ran down the hill.

Somehow in between the flying bullets and crashing windows he managed to get away

without a scratch. Just as soon as the attack began, it ended.

Gabriel rushed to the aid of the fallen officer. Certain the man had to be dead, he was

relieved to see no blood. The office had been wearing a bulletproof vest and all three

rounds struck him in the midsection.

“Get him an ambulance!” The three remaining officers were confused. They were aware

the shots had not come from the man on the ground. However, they assumed he was

somehow involved. Now to see him aiding their fallen brethren they had no idea how to


“Damn it call an ambulance already! You can arrest me afterwards.”


Roger rushed back onto the Jolly Mon with his latest piece of the puzzle. Only the thrill

of the acquisition had long since passed. Had he just watched a man being murdered?

Was Spider John or one of his associates responsible for the attack? What would they do

to him now that he had been followed again?

He was so exasperated by the day that he did not even notice the lock on the hatch had

been jimmied open. As he crawled down inside he heard a voice.

“Roger Gladstone you have been a very bad boy.” Lying naked as a jay bird on his bunk;

was Desdemona.
“Cast us off and come to bed.” This latest screw up was too much for John. For now on,

Roger was to be accompanied at all times by Desdemona. When the last piece of the

puzzle had been acquired, she was to kill him


Simon returned to Red Hook and got the Coconut Telegraph and then sailed it back into

town. If Roger was still on the island he was there. Plus eventually he would have to

pick Gabriel back up again. Three phone calls to him had gone directly to voice mail.

Could the man be in trouble again? If he was this was the last straw. No matter what he

said, Gabe was going home after this.

Only as he turned the corner by Frenchman‟s reef to enter the harbor, he spotted at least a

dozen set of blue lights.

“What in fuck happened now?” Sailing past the cruise ship dock, Simon had no idea

what to do. Obviously he could not just walk into town and ask, because chances were it

had something to do with him, Gabe, or Roger. While weighing his options, he spotted

something out of the ordinary. A large black Brigantine with sails open was heading

straight for him.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Trying to call Gabriel again, he still got his voice mail.

What should he do now? In the back of his head he heard a little grumbling voice say.

“You follow him dumb ass.” That was what Gabe would want him to do.

Turning sail, he following the Jolly Mon back out to sea.


                                        June 10, 2006
There was extra security everywhere when the Empress of the Seas arrived in port.

Photos were being distributed to several of the security officers. One of them approached

Tyler and handed it to him.

“Looks like your friend struck here last night.” It was a photo of Roger Gladstone.

Grabbing his phone he called into Washington. Although his boss was furious, he was

instantly placed back on the case.

Two of the field officers in Charlotte Amelia raced down to the dock to meet him. There

they briefed him on the events from the night before.

“Where is Gabriel now?” They had guessed it right by coming straight here. For the first

time the pirate had struck out of sequence. This would make following him nearly

impossible. They would have to watch all of his possible locations for now on.

“He‟s in the local jail. We have someone down there with him, but he isn‟t doing a lot of

talking at this point.” Tyler‟s reputation proceeded him, and the agents were more than

willing to work with or for him given the circumstances.

“What about Simon Lagrange?”

“Who?” Their answer was enough for him. Gabe would never give the man up, and if no

one knew he was than obviously he had not been involved.

“Patricia, you should get on a flight back to Puerto Rico. Eventually he has to go back

there.” This was an FBI matter, and they would not allow her to be involved.

“You‟re assuming he hasn‟t been there already?” Knowing why he was saying it, she bit

her tongue on saying anything else.
“What do you think?” They stared each other down for a minute, and then she flagged a

taxi. Sometime tomorrow she would be in San Juan. She only hoped it was not for


Her phone rang, it was Rene.

“How much do you love me?” This was all he said, and he was waiting for an answer.

“It depends on what you have for me darling.” She knew it was good. Whenever, he

started a conversation in this way, he found something she desperately wanted.

“He‟s somewhere near Tortola. At around three a.m. last night I got a photo of the Jolly

Mon. I trained Marisa to look for it, and she found him.”

“I love you immensely. What direction was he headed in?” This was wonderful news

for several reasons. One was that she would not have to go back to San Juan now.

“He wasn‟t going anywhere. The boat was at anchor.”

“You are the best. I owe you a blow job or something next time I see you.” Yelping

triumphantly, she passed on the information to the FBI team.

“That‟s British territory over there. We can‟t just go…”

“Get me the coast guard. Explain to them that we have a boat in distress in international

waters. Give them the description of the Jolly Roger. Tell them we are not to let her out

of our site.” Tyler ran towards the taxi stand.

“Where are you going?” His team mates were shocked at his behavior.

“I‟m getting on a boat to Tortola.”


Boat drinks. Boys in the band ordered boat drinks.

Visitors just scored on the home rink.

Everything seems to be wrong.
Lately, newspaper mentioned cheap airfare.

I've got to fly to Saint Somewhere.

I'm close to bodily harm

“This really doesn‟t fit in with his pattern at all. I mean Tortola is not St. Somewhere.

What does he mean on the rocks?” All of this time alone was driving Simon crazy. For a

man who spent most of his life alone it was a peculiar feeling. Perhaps it was just that he

was not comfortable piloting this vessel by himself. Every time the depth finder alarm

went off, he expected to run aground.

Still despite his feelings of ineptitude he managed to follow the Jolly Mon from St.

Thomas to its current anchorage. It had not been easy even though it was such a short

trip. He was not familiar with the waters and reading charts was not his strong point

either. Besides which sailing alone when you have never done it is far more difficult.

When the Jolly Mon dropped sails and then eventually anchor, he nearly ran into her.

Tacking a merely hundred yards away from her, he cursed at his idiocy. Had Roger been

out on deck he could have seen him, even in the dark of night.

Now, he was moving in a circular pattern. Going a half mile out, he simply circled the

Jolly Mon waiting for some signs of life. It had been six hours though, and no one had

moved. Something was not quite right. Picking up his cell phone he dialed to Patricia


“Yeah we know he‟s there already. We‟re on the way. Don‟t make any moves until we

get there.” Her assurance that Roger Gladstone was not getting away this time was not

fulfilling. Her assurance that Gabriel McKenzie was safe and sound though soothed his

other ills. Until they got there he would just continue his holding pattern.

Several British naval and coast guard vessels closed in around the Jolly Mon. Three

United States Coast Guard helicopters and two cutters joined the growing armada. At the

request of the British government, they were to hold back while the locals investigated.

A single patrol boat approached from the south. On a loud speaker, he asked politely for

the occupants of the Jolly Mon to come up on deck; this in addition to a hundred radio

requests were completely ignored.

“We‟ll have to board her.” Another of the PT boats pulled up alongside the splendid

brigantine. Cautiously six men climbed aboard. Constantly making their presence

known, all of their requests and demands went unanswered.

Hovering fifty feet above them in a coast guard chopper Tyler shook his head nervously.

“Something isn‟t right here…” They were the last words he would ever speak. Without

warning the Jolly Mon exploded violently sending the eighty foot main mast through the

bottom of the helicopter. Tyler and the pilot never knew what hit them.


Even a half mile away the Coconut Telegraph felt the impact of the blast. Three of her

port holes imploded sending glass throughout. Pieces of splintered fiberglass ripped

through the jib and cut two of the sheets. This was nothing in comparison to the

horrendous boom which knocked Simon to the deck.

“I…my …ummm…” No words came to Simon. There was no time for reflection.

Jumping to his feet, he lowered the damaged jib and began cleaning burning embers from

the deck. Back near where the explosion had occurred there was utter chaos. On the

surface a there was nothing but debris. All three boats were gone.
“Virgin Gorda.” Much like the explosion the next stop on this terror ride hit him out of

the blue. Covered with hundreds of limestone boulders, some the size of a trailer home,

Virgin Gorda was the answer to the next riddle.

Where are the rocks for my boat drinks?

Located less than fifteen miles from Tortola, Simon had no time to waste. Dialing

Patricia on his phone he was not surprised when she answered crying.

“He‟s going to Virgin Gorda. Get whomever you have left out here to follow me!”

There was no time for grieving. There was no time for anything else. Roger Gladstone

was no longer a playful thief. He was a murderer.

“Tyler is dead! He‟s dead.” Having never lost anyone close to her, Patricia could not get

herself back together. The shock of it all was too overwhelming.

“Patricia? You need to hold it together with me. We have to get this man. We have to

get him fast. PATRICIA!” Born and raised in the world of hard knocks, Simon struck

quickly at her.

“I‟ll contact the British.” Sniffling back the sobs, she picked up her radio.


“This is bizarre looking place.” Roger Gladstone had never seen anything like Virgin

Gorda. An ancient glacier had conspicuously piled thousands of granite boulders up on

this little island. There appeared no reason or rhyme behind their appearance. Some of

the other Virgin Islands had a few of them but nothing like this.

“It‟s a moraine field Roger. Keep your mind on the prize.” Smacking him playfully on

the side of the face, Desdemona pulled him through the labyrinth of rocks.
No matter how she downplayed it though, it was an amazing place. The sunlight danced

in and out of the crevices and cracks causing many an observer to compare this site with

a cathedral. Tourists climbed up and down the pre-laid path of wooden planks and rope


“This is like the ultimate pirate‟s playground. ON GUARD!” Treating his finger like a

sword he poked her in the ribs.

“LISTEN! I am serious now. We have to get what we are here for and leave. Now grow

up!” It was incredible how quickly her personality could shift from warm and loving to

downright demonic. In the darkness of a four sided boulder cave her eyes glowed like

coals on a fire. Scolded and abused Roger said nothing for the rest of the walk. As they

came to an opening in the granite jungle, she pointed him on.

“Get the package from the man on the beach, and then meet me back at the boat. Is that

in anyway too difficult for you to understand?” Gulping quite audibly, Roger merely

nodded and did as he was told.

There was nothing strange about a man on a beach by himself. There was something a

bit bizarre though about a blind man in a three piece suit trying to hide behind a palm

tree. Reluctantly he approached and the man ducked further into the foliage.

“Tell your boss we are done. My employers do not appreciate the way he ties up loose

ends. Make sure he gets the point!” How the old man managed to scatter his way back

through the mass of trees with a cane, Roger would never know. Concentrating hard on

the words though, he made a mental note to pass on to Desdemona.

The remaining three British ships closed in on Virgin Gorda. Local police were left to

clean up the mess that was the Jolly Mon and the two patrol vessels. Having lost many

friends and fellow servicemen, there was a glare of hatred in their eyes as they charged in

towards the beach.

This had gone from obtain and detain mission to revenge. If this Roger Gladstone so

much as showed his head, they would shoot it off. Mercy had gone right out the

proverbial window.

Armed to the teeth and smelling blood they literally invaded the tourist area with guns

pointed. One by one they searched at least three dozen people against the photo they had.

Finally a man of about forty from Germany verified he had seen this man. He was being

yelled at by his girlfriend.

“They were headed for the beach.” Instantly on the radio, the naval captain dispatched

one of the boats to that area.


Pulling up the rear, Simon came sailing into the main marina on the island. Giving the

minute size of this little stretch of land, it was also the only marina. One of the dock

hands hopped on board to assist him, and was instantly amazed as he did it all on his


“Wow you certainly can handle this rig…” Staring at the debris on the deck, and the

splintered port holes, he stopped speaking.

“Have you seen this man?” With a badge in one hand, and the photo in the other Simon

had no time for pleasantries.

“Nope I haven‟t seen him before.” Every boat that came in here, he boarded.
“He would have been coming across from Tortola.” Again the young man shook his


“Just about everyone comes from there. It is the immigration and customs jump off

point.” Trying to converse with the police officer only briefly the young man was not

comfortable with law enforcement. Simon was hardly paying attention to him; his eyes

were focused on something else.

“When did that Hunter pull in here?” A thirty six foot hunter black as the night glared

from across the marina. It had an all too familiar surface to it. A much smaller vessel

than the Jolly Mon it could have been its little sister.

“You mean the cheeseburger in Paradise? She just came over this morning…” Before

the young man could finish saying another word, Simon already had his side arm drawn.

“I have him Patricia. Get your boys over here right…” Something glittered on the deck

stronger than the surface. The little voice inside him that had developed in two decades

of police work instructed him to “hit the ground”. Grabbing the deck hand, they dove

into the mass of ripped sail.

Several shots broke the silence of the early evening. Ricocheting off the mast and deck

the bullets struck no one. Lying there on the deck Simon reached for his satellite phone.

Only it was in pieces beneath his new friend.

“Fuck.” Drawing a deep breath, he jumped out from behind the sail with his weapon in

front of him.

“No luck chief.” Standing on his deck above him was Spider John. In his hand was an

Uzi. It was pointed right at his head.
“You‟re like a pit bull man. What do you do with a vicious dog when it bites its owner?”

Before he could answer his own question several more gun shots erupted from back on

dock. Shuddering for a second of two, Spider dropped his gun took a half a step and fell

over the bow into the ocean.

Expecting he was dead, Simon opened his eyes defiantly. Only he felt no pain, he felt no

impact. Looking back towards the dock he saw her. Patricia Vasquez stood there with

her Beretta in hand. Shaking uncontrollably, it was obvious from her facial expression

that she had never shot anyone before.

His head turned back towards the dock where he had seen the Cheeseburger in Paradise

minutes before. Only she was not there anymore.

“Damn it. Where is your back up?” Practically leaping from the kneeling position to a

full run, Simon sped off towards her.

“They‟re at the boulders place?” Her gun was still raised, and it took a hand from Simon

to return it to her holster.

“We need an all points on an thirty six foot ebony sailboat. Are you listening to me?

Roger is getting away again!” Shaking her shoulders, Simon needed her help.

“I‟m listening.”


                                        June 11, 2006

Despite having a dozen private and military helicopters over the area in less than an hour

it was too late. In the dead of night with nothing but spotlights to work with they would

not find her. Under the cover of darkness Roger had fled Virgin Gorda.
“You‟ve looked better. She‟s looked a hell of lot better.” Strolling aimlessly up the dock

was Gabriel. His eyes went from Simon to the Coconut Telegraph and back again.

“Fins for St. Peter?” This was no longer a curious trip across the Caribbean to capture

the one that got away. This was now a mission of revenge.

“The name of the song is Fins. I‟ll get to work on the lyrics now.” Gabriel was not going

anywhere. He had fifteen stitches in his shoulder from that crazy wench. They were

going to hunt them down if it took them to the far reaches of the planet.


She came down from Cincinnati.

It took her three days on a train.

Looking for some peace and quiet;

hoped to see the sun again

The NSA had been called in to break this code. At the request of the British government,

the United States put its full weight behind the apprehension of Roger Gladstone and his


She's saving up all of her money.

Wants to head south in May;

Maybe roll in the sand with a rock'n'roll man,

Somewhere down Montserrat way.

It seemed a waste of government resources to Ritchie Miller. This was far too easy for

him. Look for the name of the Caribbean island somewhere in the song, and then figure

out what it referred to. Being a Parrothead himself, Ritchie was the only one who passed

the test on the previous clues. In fact he scored one hundred percent.

Sailed off to Antigua.

It took her three days on a boat.

Lookin' for some peace and quiet;

Maybe keep her dreams afloat.

But now she feels like a remora,
For the first time in this investigation though they were being smart about things. Instead

of trying to figure out one clue at a time, they were going to break out a whole path.

Ritchie quickly eliminated Cincinnati from the list as it was a bit too inland. This left

him with Antigua and Montserrat.

“Well we have a St. Peters Anglican church on both Antigua and Montserrat. The later

though was famous for its resiliency. It was one of the only ones to survive the volcanic

eruptions. I would guess this is the more likely target.” Usually a book and computer

nerd Ritchie was not used to speaking in front of a room full of brass. It was a bit

awkward for him and his voice cracked once or twice.

Well now, if I ever live to be an old man,

I'm gonna sail down to Martinique.

I'm gonna buy me a sweat stained Bogart suit

and an African parakeet.

And then I'll sit him on my shoulder

and open up my trusty old mind.

I'm gonna teach him how to fuss,

Teach him how to cuss,

And pull the cork out of a bottle of wine.

“Martinique is really the only place mentioned in the next song, and the only attire is a

sweat stained Bogart suit. We are not sure where one would find this sort of thing on

Martinique but we are working on it.” This was so incredibly bogus. Why did they have

a man with a PHD in mathematics working on this kind of stuff? He felt like in an idiot.

Yeah, I thought I might sail down to Bridgetown

Spend some time in the Barbados sun

But my plans took a skid when I smoked a whole lid

Wound up where Id begun
“Again only one location mentioned in this song. More than likely he is going to

Barbados. My opinion is that he is referring to Mount Gay with this last bit. The Mount

Gay Rum distillery is a likely target.” With each clue he marked a map to show the

progression of his trip to the south. Tortola led to Montserrat, Barbados, and last but not


And the lady she hails from Trinidad

Island of the spices

Salt for your meat, and cinnamon sweet

And the rum is for all your good vices

“Son of son of a sailor refers only to the island of Trinidad. However, the addition of the

word bitch really doesn‟t meld anywhere in with the rest of the lyrics. We are still

working on this one.” The trip and assumptions seemed to fit well together. Ever since

the hunt began he was moving south. Therefore this profile worked for him.

“What about the belief by many that he has not been to Puerto Rico yet? Do you agree

with their conclusion that he will be going to a cruise ship?” If Ritchie was feeling

childish and immature, he could only imagine what this hardened war veterans were

thinking. To hear their voices now he understood. No one wanted this assignment.

“It is more likely that he was in San Juan already. His trip and stops have been very

specific and the order of them appears to be important.” What was he a mind reader? He

had no idea if this psycho had been to Puerto Rico yet.

“Can we track this new vessel using satellites?” Without acknowledging a word Ritchie

said, the admiral turned to Rene instead.

“Now we can sir. It was just a matter…”
“Good. Let‟s put a net over the entire Caribbean. I want to know where he is in a next

couple of hours. Then I want to try and apprehend him. If that is not possible we take

out the sailboat and move on.” Completely ignoring Rene, the admiral was only looking

for a one work answer from him.

“Has anyone tried to take into account what he has been collecting at all of these

locations? What if he is stockpiling parts to some kind of weapon? Blowing up the

sailboat might not be the best of ideas.” A quiet man by nature, the chief of staff very

seldom spoke up at this kind of meeting. Therefore it caught many off guard when he

began speaking.

“He‟s right you know.” Both the CIA and State department directors jumped in. Their

reasons were selfish though. International waters made them nervous. They did not want

to end up with another international incident. As it was the British were out for blood.

They did not want to get caught in the middle.

“What do you suggest we do? Should we ask him nicely to stop?” A naval man for forty

some odd years, the Admiral was not a subtle man.

“Diplomacy can come in many forms admiral?” The sweet relaxed tone of the Chief of

staff had everyone around him nodding.

“State let‟s get going on these locations. Make some calls and warn them what they have

coming their way. We do not want another Tortola on our hands.” The funeral for agent

in charge Tyler Grant would commence in less than two hours. Most of the people in this

room would be there. The press would certainly be there. They had gotten wind of the

connection between the Jolly Roger in Key West and all the other events that had taken

place, and they were running wild with it.
“Montserrat is under British rule which makes life easy. They probably won‟t even need

us for that one. In Barbados we have a good working relationship because they are ex-

brit as well. Trinidad on the other hand is a bit sketchy these days with their affiliation to

that crack pot in Venezuela. Don‟t even talk to me about Martinique. You know the

French.” Several of the people in the room laughed at his comments.

“Do your best director? Until that time Admiral you will work with NASA and the NSA

directly to try and locate Mr. Gladstone. We should avoid firing on the Cheeseburger at

all costs. I will leave this up to your best judgment.” Having called the meeting the chief

of staff nodded and stood up to leave.

Hiding a grin as best as he could; the Admiral nodded carefully. A death warrant for

Roger Gladstone had just been signed and no one even knew it.


                                         June 12 2006

For the first time the Coconut Telegraph had the advantage. After switching of the

damaged jib and halyards Gabriel and Simon were back on the water. They were just as

fast as their prey now. In fact Gabe estimated they might even have a half knot on the

Cheeseburger in Paradise. There was only one little problem.

“Where do you think he‟s going; Montserrat or Antigua?” Neither of them was

particularly confident about which location was next on the map. Antigua was far closer,

but it didn‟t feel like the right decision. The problem was Antigua was further west in the

chain whereas Montserrat was further south into the lesser Antilles. If they guessed

wrong they would be almost a day behind before they figured it out.

It therefore became more important than ever to catch her quickly.
“I‟m leaning towards Montserrat. If worse comes to worse we can catch up to them in

Barbados, but I would rather not give them that much room to breath.” Simon was still

smarting from the incident in Tortola. His ears had not stopped ringing.

“I want to catch his ass now! None of this waiting around for him to come to us.” They

had reluctantly taken on a third passenger. Patricia dropped her suitcases on board

without even asking. Her bosses repeated threat to fire her went by the waste side. He

was going and that was that.

“But the Department for Homeland…”

“Fuck the department, and fuck you. They killed a friend of mine.” Hanging up the

phone in his ear, she jumped onto the Coconut Telegraph and pointed south.

“I tend to agree with Simon on this one about Montserrat. Antigua to Barbados seems

too long a leg for him at this point.” Gabe had never been onboard a boat with a female

before when it involved work. He was not comfortable with it yet.

“I don‟t know where I‟m a gonna go when the volcano blows!” They both turned with an

incredulous stare towards her.

“What; I have been listening to a lot of Jimmy these days? I am quite aware that the song

Volcano is about the island of Montserrat.” Quietly proud of herself Patricia said nothing

else as they pressed on.


“Come on answer your damn phone you bastard!” Desdemona had been trying to call

Spider ever since they high-tailed it out of the harbor in Virgin Gorda. Her last image of

him standing above Simon was all she had to work from. They turned out too sea and

she did not see him from there. All they heard was a couple of gunshots. She assumed
he had killed the annoying police officer something she had been unable to do with ten

shots. Only if he killed him than why was he not answering his phone? Had they

arrested him? What could possibly have gone wrong?

“Tell me one more time what the stupid old badger told you!” Ever since the event in the

cave, Desdemona had been very tense. With each passing hour she grew nastier and

more vicious with Roger and he didn‟t like it. What he also didn‟t like was all this

gunfire. It was against his nature to be so violent.

“Tell your boss we are done. My employers do not appreciate the way he ties up loose

ends. Make sure he gets the point. I told you this three times already.” Roger was really

starting to wish he had never signed up for this adventure. It wasn‟t fun anymore.

“And you may have to tell me five more yet so stop bitching! ANSWER YOUR

PHONE!” Her hostility finally boiled over and she crushed the cell phone in her bare

hands. For someone barely over a hundred pounds soaking wet and less than five feet

tall, Desdemona was a handful. Constantly working out she was an extremely deceptive


“I am not sure I want to do this anymore.” His bottom lip jutted out, and Roger stormed

out of the room.

“You‟re what?” For the first time in weeks, Desdemona laughed whole heartedly.

Following him out of the cabin and back up on deck, she licked blood from a cut on her


“This was supposed to be fun? This was supposed to be exciting. I‟m scared now. I just

want to go home.” It was how amazing how childish this nearly forty year oaf could be.
“Home? What home Roger? You have no home anymore. Come back to reality my

little Fruitcake.” As much as Desdemona wanted to pummel Roger into a million pieces

and leave his bloody corpse for the fishes, she had to remember one thing. She needed

him. Both her and her partner were wanted in nearly three dozen countries for piracy. If

either of them showed their face for more than a brief moment they would be arrested.

Added to this was the desire of her less than scrupulous associates to mount her head on a

pole somewhere. If she showed up to pick up the pieces someone would be picking up

hers with a mop. For this reason she had to indulge Roger. Whether it was sexually or

just with a bit of light patient laughter, it was her obligation to oblige the man.

“I am your family I am your home? Come on now Mr. Jolly Roger I need you. We need

you. You‟re a pirate looking at forty and what have you done with your life? This is the

ultimate adventure and you are half way there.” Grabbing his chubby cheeks in her

hands she stood on her toes and kissed him gently. Noticing that she had gotten a bit of

blood on his forehead, she sadistically spread it all over his face. Of course he had no

idea what she was doing. Thinking she was merely rubbing his face, he closed his eyes

and allowed her to rub him. In her mind she pictured his whole body covered with blood

and it calmed her down somehow.

“I don‟t want you to hurt anyone anymore. You could have killed the chief with that

gun.” Still completely unaware, he whispered to her.

“I‟ll try not to hurt anyone else cross my heart.” She derived sick pleasure from the

knowledge that she had stabbed that man in Haiti, and that the Jolly Mon explosion

probably killed dozens of people. Squeezing him tightly she could not help but chuckle

at his ignorance. Roger knew nothing about any of it.

“Known by at least a dozen different aliases Spider John was actually born Richard Dick.

Yes his parents were nearly as sadistic as he is. About five years ago he officially

changed his name to, wait for it, Jimmy Buffett. Yes legally is name really is Jimmy

Buffett. Talk about a nutcase huh? Well he is wanted in at least a dozen countries for

everything from piracy to murder. He was a very bad man.” They were down to one

satellite phone, and Simon did not really want to use it. However, an e-mail from

Detective Petrovic had him intrigued. Matlin Graves from the CIA had mysteriously

forwarded the investigation record to him on purpose by accident.

“What about the girl?” Gabriel snorted from the back of the boat as he asked this.

“Well they still don‟t know much about her to be honest. They are almost never seen

together. Plus she changes her appearance so often. I mean look at the six photos I sent

you of her. Would you recognize her in a crowd?” It was true this girl was unique.

From a blond haired blue eyed valley girl, to a black haired dark skinned Cuba prostitute.

She was a chameleon.

“She‟s deadly though. The attack on Gabe is only the tip of the iceberg on this one.”

Checking the office, the detective did not want to get caught talking about this one the

phone. After all this was not his investigation anymore.

“They have her personally responsible for at least ten kills. She has an affinity for knives

and explosives.” Practically whispering now, he watched as three officers walked into

the room.
“Well she‟s not that great of a shot or else I wouldn‟t be having this conversation with

you. I appreciate the info. I‟ll let you …” Simon wanted to get off the phone. He was

not sure who was listening in on this conversation.

“One more thing you‟ll want to know. We got some partial results back from my little

car jacking experience. It turned out that some Miami punk kid stole it. When we

questioned him about it, he says some hot Latina chick hired him. She told him it was an

audition for a much bigger job. Only when he completed it, she never called back again.

What do you think of that?” There was no answer on the other end. Simon had just had

an epiphany.

“Of course she did.” Smacking himself on the side of the head, the chief had his answer.

Key West was an audition for a thief. They probably hired a dozen different people to

complete the burglaries. They were shopping for the best candidate. Roger won.

His prize was this scavenger hunt.

“Roger probably wasn‟t even the best thief. He was the easiest to control. He was the

one least likely to resist. He was easy to brainwash. Damn it I was right about him all

along.” Simon did not even realize he was talking out loud.

“He murdered Tyler?” Choking up as she said the words Patricia could not believe that

Simon was saying these things.

“I seriously doubt it. It was her. It was Richard Dick. They set him up. Was Roger

there when they attacked you in Port Au Prince? Did he shoot the police officers in St.

Thomas? Did he fire the shots in Virgin Gorda? Do you even think he knew about the

Jolly Mon being wired to explode?” Now Roger was wanted for murder. They were

about to hunt him down and kill him, and he probably didn‟t even really understand why.
“He‟s the one showing up for all these drops! He‟s the one following the map!” Visibly

upset by Simon‟s downplaying of Roger‟s part in this, Patricia looked ready to cry.

“Because he thinks it‟s a game. He believes these people are his friends and that they are

playing together. He doesn‟t understand the magnitude of his actions. Prepare to come

about.” As the sail began to lull off and winds changed, Simon ducked under the main.

“Coming about.” They had become quite efficient at this by now. Even Patricia ducked

instinctively and moved to the other side of the boat. It did not even interrupt their

conversation for more than a few seconds.

“He‟s not an idiot Simon. We‟re not talking about a ten year old here. He‟s an adult.

Roger Gladstone is quite aware of what he is doing.” Not convinced at all by his words,

Patricia kept up her attack.

“Yes but he doesn‟t think what he is doing is wrong. He‟s collecting things from people

on various islands. That‟s all he is really doing?” Even Gabriel raised his eyebrows at

this idea.

“The coast guard shot at him in Key West. You brought him into jail twice. Come on

chief?” Only Simon continued to shake his head. In his mind Roger was not really

responsible for any of this.

“He‟s just looking for a friend. Don‟t you remember what Alan Shiprock said about

him? The man would do anything to get a friend.”


Having suffered thousands of tiny earthquakes and eruptions and a dozen or so not so

tiny ones, Montserrat was an ever changing landscape. Three times the island was

completely evacuated, and only recently had anyone returned to live there. Like most
active volcanic islands, it had dramatic rock drop offs and outcroppings on all sides. It

was not like Hawaii with its porous burnt orange pumas though. This surprised

Desdemona who had never personally been her before. Instead it was like a shiny grey

driveway running off into the ocean. On this day a fine misty spoke poured harmlessly

from the Soufriere Hills Volcano. The acrid smell of sulfur in the air burnt at her contact

lenses. Today she was a red headed hair dresser from Canada. In some demented way

this was fun for her. This life of an ever changing personality and appearance kept her

from remembering her horrible beginnings.

Sold into sexual slavery before the age of thirteen by a lecherous stepfather in

Kazakhstan, she hated her life. In a way she hated being female. Why had God cursed

her with beauty? Why did men want to use her constantly? The very thought of it now

caused her to crush the muffin in her hand. Cursing everything, she picked the pieces off

the deck and shook her head.

No one could ever understand what it was like being her. She never got to be a child like

most normal people. They treated her like an adult from the first moment her breasts

began to form. They treated her like a slave every day after that.

Then one day a young man named Richard approached her at a Jimmy Buffett show in

Great Woods New Hampshire. He was different than the rest. He didn‟t try to take

advantage of her. He didn‟t treat her like a second class hooker. Richard truly treated

her like an equal.

They shared common interests. They shared common backgrounds. Both had been

horrible abused as youngsters. They both dreamed of a world so much different than the

one they had been forced to grow up in. This is what drew them to the Margaritaville
mentality; a dream world where everyone lived to party. Only these two took the

lifestyle to another completely different level. They wanted to be pirates for real. They

wanted to deal a blow back to the people who hurt them. They wanted to be larger than

the life they came from.

Having spent two years in the Naval seal training, Richard was a potentially dangerous

man. He taught Desdemona everything he knew, and he was a good teacher. They

trained and planned together. In four short years it was amazing what the two of them

had become. A deadly and efficient Bonny and Clyde with now limitless amounts of

funding, they had devilishly clever and demented minds to go along with an almost

bulletproof demeanor. Neither of them feared death. In some ways they figured it was a

better place to be.

In between their hundreds of capers ranging from pointless tom foolery to well planned

political assassinations, they planned their retirement. A quite little villa on the coast

somewhere in Central America had their name on it. Costa Rica or maybe Honduras was

where they would live the rest of their days. Once there they could revel in the past four

years and try to forget the twenty some odd before then.

When one of them woke up in tears the other was there to console them. When anger and

hatred consumed their very soul and being, the other was there to curtail the. Only now

her other half was nowhere to be found and she was nervous. All of the fears of

yesteryear came flowing back into her heart and mind.

“Answer your phone already.” Not yelling anymore, she was really scared. They had

never gone more than a day without talking to one another. It was killing her.
“Are you okay you look a bit down?” Always the optimist and the pest Roger bounced

up to her with that smile on his face. That sickening pathetic gleaming grin made her

stomach turn over. How she loathed this wimpy little toad of a man?

“You wouldn‟t understand.” Vulnerable and tired, she did not have the strength to lash

out him with her usual exuberance.

“Sure I would. Come on try me?” Roger had no idea who this woman was. He had

never taken the time to try to really get to know her. All that he cared about was that she

seemed to like him. At least she talked to him and slept with him so that was enough.

“Let‟s go over the plan again for today…” Only as she spoke the words her eyes focused

in on the radar. About two miles in front of them there were at least a half dozen blips;

each one of them five too ten times the size of themselves. They were riding into an


“We have gone over it…” Roger now looked at the radar screen as well.

“We have company. Get out the maps, we need to change our landing point.” They had

planned on pulling directly into the capital city of Plymouth and walking right up to St.

Peters. Only it looked like someone had tipped off the British because they had the

harbor blockaded.

“Take us back around the northern tip of the island. We will circle in the open ocean

until dark.” How did they always know where he was going to be? Roger certainly

didn‟t know ahead of time. They only gave him one clue at a time. Yet, the authorities

were constantly one step ahead and she did not understand how. Only she and Richard

knew where they were going; right? Was that why Richard was not answering his
phone? Had they captured him and he broke under questioning? Picking up her phone

she dialed him again and it went right to voice mail.

“Damn it where the fuck are you?” Desdemona trusted him implicitly. There were so

many times in the past he could have sold her out and he never did. No Richard had not

tipped them off that she was coming. Who then?

“Of course, why didn‟t I think of it before?” This little scavenger hunt although

coordinated by them was designed by their buyer. The man who would buy the final

puzzle had arranged this trip. He must have leaked the map ahead of time to the

authorities. But why would he want to do that? If he didn‟t want them to succeed than

why pay them half the money up front? It didn‟t make any sense.


After a day and a half, they had serious doubts about the decision to go to Montserrat.

There had been no sign of the Cheeseburger in Paradise, and everyone was overly

anxious. Just when they were starting to get at each other‟s throats, Gabriel cried.

“Two miles off the starboard bow.” Pointing out towards the darkening horizon, he

waved the two of them back to the telescopic lens.

“That‟s her!” Simon recognized the vessel right away. It was sailing circles out in the

open ocean.

“Let‟s do this right this time.” Grabbing the cell phone Patricia made the call back to


As if sensing they had been discovered the boat began making a beeline from the

Northern shore.
“Do we follow?” Gabriel was quite sure the British were going to blow the boat out of

the water and he did not want to be anywhere near them for that.

Without so much as a warning, the air around them began to shake and shudder.

Somewhere deep within the island of Montserrat there was a growling which was

followed by a groaning. Like a great big burp a blast of gas and ash left the Soufriere and

darkened the air above.

It only lasted for about thirty seconds, but the results were lasting. Simon could not get

the satellite phone to grab a signal. Twice he got the harbor master at Plymouth for a few

seconds only to lose it again. Their radio had been completely destroyed by a stray bullet

from Virgin Gorda.

“COME ON ALREADY! What do you want with us?” Looking up at the sky like God

was personally wronging him, Simon screamed.

“We follow them then.” With charts in hand, Gabriel planned their landing. There were

at least fifty British navy regulars stationed in Montserrat because of the eruptions. Only

now they were assigned to watch St. Peters. No one could get in or out of that church. It

was just not physically possible. Even if they got inside, there six plain clothed soldiers

waiting for them. It was the ultimate mouse trap. The only thing missing now was the



                                       June 13, 2006

It was just after midnight and all was silent in Plymouth. They had seen neither hide nor

hair of Roger Gladstone. The arrival of the three Americans did little to change their
plans. They only dispatched two patrol boats to the north end to block in the

Cheeseburger in Paradise.

“Yes sir she is still at anchor in Fox‟s Bay. No one has come on or off her since we got

here.” The captain winked at Simon and smiled. At first he was not sure whether to

believe their claim that they had followed the pirates into shore. Only when they got to

the boat it had already been abandoned. A very nervous Gabriel had climbed aboard to

verify. He kept expecting the vessel to explode at any second. Especially as he made

some rather interesting adjustments to her navigational instruments, and removed the

spark plugs from her huge diesel. Even if they got back on board, that boat was going


Now it was just a matter of waiting for Roger to show up at the church. Only he was not

coming. Time passed slowly while they told stories of the Jolly Roger and his many near

misses at being caught. It was just after four thirty when the commotion began.

First it was a small tremor from the mountain which set up several alarms again. They

were forced to shut down the motion sensors because of it. Secondly several dogs in the

area mysteriously began to howl and moan for no apparent reason.

“Something is about to happen…” No sooner had Simon said it when at least four parked

cars, including two army vehicles, erupted into flames and exploded.

The captain did not even flinch.

“Stand your ground and hold your posts.” Distraction tactics were not going to affect this

grizzled veteran of the battlefield. Despite the fires and glass which fell down to the

ground, it was surprisingly quiet as they waited for what would come next. Popping

sounds were following by metallic clinking as several objects bounced towards them like
billiard balls. For a brief second the soldiers and Simon stood watching curiously, and

then someone screamed.

“GRENADES!” Scattering like roaches when the lights come on, they dove into

buildings and behind cars. In the crowded alleyways of Plymouth though, there was

almost no place to hide.

Instead of fire and brimstone though they were encircled with a plumes of smoke. No

one had thought to equip this group with gas masks. The idea had not even occurred to

them given the history of the attacks. Reaching for their eyes and throats several of the

soldiers went down to the ground. Only the captain and Simon managed to get

themselves into the church.

“Gas Masks. Get your gas masks out!” It was too late. Two of the stained glass

windows shattered as grenades now fell inside.


“YOU PROMISED ME!” Roger was furious and refused to go inside the church now.

“They‟re just sleeping you big baby. Now grow some balls and go inside will you.”

Looking quite peculiar in their world war two issue gas masks and shorts they slid past

the bodes of fallen army regulars.

Walking up to the alter Roger proceeded to sign the cross, and apologize to God for his

sins. Then he grabbed the five foot tall pillar candle on the right side.

“Let‟s get out of here.” This was Desdemona‟s idea of fun. Chaos and mayhem were

what woke her up in the morning. Seeing twenty men on the ground beneath her feet

made her maniacal side grin ceremoniously.
Traveling nearly two hours overland they came to Fox‟s bay. Neither of the two PT

boats had left their position. They had Cheeseburger in Paradise completely boxed in on

the shore.

“You have two minutes to come up with a plan.” Reaching below a clump of debris

where she had hidden several armaments, Desdemona retrieved what could only be

described as a rocket launcher.

“Otherwise those two glorified dinghies are going up in smoke.” It took her at least two

minutes to assemble the weapon. Secretly she hoped that Roger did not find a non-

violent alternative. She wanted to fire this thing ever since Richard purchased it in

Karachi six months ago. The opportunity had just not arisen yet.

“Do you have any of those gas grenades left?” Stripping off his shirt and shoes, Roger

prepared to do something he would never have dreamed he could do before.

“Are you crazy? Do you really think you are going to swim out there and drop these on

those boats?” Sputtering and giggling uncontrollably Desdemona could not believe he

was going to go through with this.

“According to my doctors, yes I am. Plus look who‟s talking, Rambette.” With his gas

mask wrapped around his neck and a plastic bag full of grenades he began to wade out.

Stopping briefly he changed his plan.

“I need a gun.” Without hesitation she handed one over to him. Adding it to the bag he

went on his way. Only instead of boarding the two PT boats, he went for the

Cheeseburger instead. Once on board he arranged the grenades strategically all of the

ship and tied one long string to all of their pins. Reaching out one of the portholes, Roger
fired every bullet in the magazine harmlessly out to sea, and then he ran around turning

on all the lights.

“What the fuck is that loony up to?” Back on the beach Desdemona watched as his

master plan unfolded. Relinquishing the rocket launcher, he replaced it with a sniper

rifle. It was not her preferred weapon but from a three hundred yards away it was a more

viable choice.

In a sign of ultimate blunders the captain of the two vessels committed his entire force

including himself to board the Cheeseburger. Just as the first of the boarding team

reached the door to the main cabin, Roger pulled the string and ducked. Bullets and

screaming followed. It lasted about two minutes and then following a couple of loud

thuds there was silence.

Roger dragged each of the dozen soldiers up onto the deck. It was back breaking work.

Getting them back across to their boats took every last ounce of strength he had in him.

Collapsing onto one of the cushions he struggled to catch his breath. He was so spent

that he did not see one of the Navy man slide up from the water. When the grenades

began to explode he jumped overboard.

“You‟re a dead man!” Not hesitating he pointed his sidearm at his head, and reached for

the trigger. A single shot rang out. Only it was not Roger falling. Reaching for his neck

the man tumbled backward. Roger cried out. Grabbing a towel he attempted to stop the

man‟s bleeding.

“Hold on. Hold on you are going to be fine.” Only he was not going to be fine. His

blood ran slowly down the side. The two man locked eyes. Tears poured from Roger

down onto the fallen man.
“I didn‟t‟ want this. I didn‟t want any of this.” Crying uncontrollably he squeezed at the

man‟s neck to try and stop the bleeding. It was in vain.

“Oh please you slobbering buffoon.” Two more shots struck the man; one in the head

and one in chest.

“What were you going to do let him suffer? Jesus you certainly are an idiot.”

Desdemona was caught off guard by the charging Roger. She went sprawling to the deck

when the weight of his body struck her. In his hand he held the gun she had given him.

It was now pointed in her face.

“You sick bitch. You sick twisted cunt. I hate you. I hate all of you.” Only Roger could

not bring himself to do it. It was not in him.

Laughing loudly, Desdemona pulled the weapon away from him. Without warning she

kissed him deeply and passionately. Trying to pull back, Roger was locked his grip.

Finally he gave up and allowed himself to be taken.

“Now you know what it feels like to hate. Congratulations Roger you are a man.”

Throwing him off her back onto his cushioned seat, Desdemona rolled the now deceased

solider into the ocean.

                                       June 14, 2006

At least two dozen helicopters and twice as many search planes from five nations were

scattered all over the Caribbean between Montserrat and Barbados. They had authority to

shoot first and ask questions later. Their mission had been defined clearly; seek and

destroy the Cheeseburger in Paradise and her crew without prejudice.

Awake and suffering from unnatural headaches Simon, Gabriel, and Patricia lay in their

hotel rooms for in ordinate amounts of time.
“I can‟t believe that bitch whipped my ass again.” Feeling emasculated once more, Gabe

stared at his ceiling.

“She took out forty of us total Gabe don‟t take it personally.” Having heard the story

from the north side of the island, everyone assumed Desdemona had done the same

damage over there that she had done here. No one knew it was Roger.

“We should just cut our losses and let military do their thing.” Patricia came stumbling

into the room, and fell on the bed next to Simon. He shuffled over to give her more space

to spread out.

“I can‟t give up now.” Simon had a habit of holding on to things too long. His marriage

was a perfect example of that.

“You don‟t really have a choice. We won‟t catch them now. If they are going to

Barbados they will be there before he get out of bed.” Gabriel knew the facts about the

distance between islands in the Lesser Antilles. They would not catch them now.

“We could fly to Trinidad?” The two of them stared at Simon.

“You‟re as nuts as they are. Face it we failed, lets leave it at that. Tuck your tail between

our legs and limp on back home while we still have a pulse.” Even thinking about Tyler

now did little to motivate Patricia, it only made her more sad and homesick.

“Well I can‟t ask any more of the two of you, but I am going on.” Trying to sit up,

Simon nearly passed out. As the blood rushed to his head it began pounding again.

“You have a problem my friend.” Gabe was not so ambitious. Lying there in that bed,

he could do little but breath.

“Yeah I know.” Taking Gabe‟s hand, he squeezed it forcefully.
“Thanks for you help. I‟m sorry about the shoulder.” Waving back at Patricia he said

nothing. They kept expecting him to turn around and come back, but he did not.

Simon caught a taxi to the airport. He would not give up.


“They found the Cheeseburger in Paradise tied up at a pier in Castries St. Lucia.

Authorities are not sure if they got another boat or not. The harbor master verified that

two of his live aboard vessels are missing.” Detective Petrovic continued to keep Simon

in the know telling him all of the details that Matlin secretly passed on to him.

“They could easily be in Martinique already. Although I doubt it with all the air traffic

over them right now.” Should he fly to Martinique? Should he fly to Barbados? No he

should go where they found the boat.

“I need one ticket to Castries.” Pulling out his overly used credit card, and his passport

Simon made his decision.

“Make that two.”

“No make it three.”

From behind him, Gabriel and Patricia came walking up.


                                       June 16, 2006

There had been no sign of Roger or Desdemona in three days. It had been the longest

time between sightings in the past two weeks. No one knew what to think. Given the

broad scope of the Martinique clue the experts were not sure if they had already been

there and gone. Most of the effort was being concentrated on the Mt. Gay facility on

Barbados. This seemed a next most logical location to capture them.
Meanwhile the three amigos scoured the island of St. Lucia tirelessly. For some reason

Simon was still convinced that they had never left there. After a day and half they finally

took a deep breath and relaxed. Lying next to the ocean at one of the more swank hotels

on the island, they were slipping on fins and a mask.

“I have not been snorkeling since I was a kid.” Ever since they landed here people were

trying to convince them to go to Anst Chastanet for a snorkel or a Scuba dive. They

finally took them on it.

“Not me, I go scuba diving at least once a week.” Gabe disappeared beneath the surface

with Simon chasing playfully behind him. On the surface Patricia splashed wildly to

keep up.

Unlike the completely over dove and abused reefs of the Florida Keys, these reefs were in

excellent condition. Several purple chromis danced around them in a dizzying ballet. A

green sea turtle turned circles back and forth in front of them. It was as if he was daring

them to come further out to sea. Suddenly there was screaming up on the surface. Both

of them popped back up next to where Patricia had been snorkeling.

“Some asshole on a jet ski nearly too my head off!” They searched the ocean for the

wave runner. They did not have to wait long as the man came screaming back past them

again. This time he was being chased by a woman.

“This is a marine sanctuary!” One of the hotel owners yelled from the beach but they

continued on.

All three of them in the water said nothing. They just stared as two skis sped around the

corner of one of the massive Pitons.
“No it couldn‟t be?” With her mouth wide open, Patricia turned to her colleagues for

recognition. They were as shocked as she was.

“No matter what I said about you being crazy Simon I take it all back.” Gabriel thought

this was insane. They stole two more boats. In his mind this meant they were on their

way to another point on the map. Simon insisted though that he thought they were still

here. He was right.


Without word from Richard still, Desdemona had made the decision to lay low for a

couple of days. The heat was too much right now. If the buyer had tipped off the

authorities they would be waiting no matter where she and Roger went to. One of the ten

houses she and Richard had purchased around the Caribbean just happened to be here in

St. Lucia. It was as good a place as any to relax.

Roger had chosen to forget about the dying man in Montserrat. It was just one of a

million images from the past month he locked into his unconscious. When all this was

done he would need some serious counseling. For now though, he was enjoying a new

Desdemona. Ever since his actions on the Cheeseburger, she treated him with a great

deal more respect. In fact it seemed he really had found a true friend.

Roger was growing on her. No longer did his smile turn her homicidal. Something about

his genuine warmth was working its way inside her. More like an older friend than a

sexual partner, she found herself wanting to be around him. Perhaps it was the loss of

Richard that had drawn him closer. He was after all the only person now in this world

that knew who and what she was, and still did not want to kill her.
After a day of recuperating on a hammock up in the hills, they chose to tool around the

south coast on a couple of wave runners. It was a welcome retreat. Now though as they

ran low on fuel they pulled back up onto the beach at Soufriere and returned the rentals.

“What do we do now?” Roger was happy again. His glass which had a hole in it for a

couple of days was overflowing again.

“I think it‟s time we have a serious discussion.” Taking his head, Desdemona led him up

a path into the mountains.

“What do you know about William Kid?” Figuring correctly that Roger had no clue

about any of the original pirates, Desdemona would have to describe it all to him.

“Billy the Kid?” What did a wild west gunslinger have to do with this?

“You know nothing then. CaptainWilliam Kidd was a pirate my naïve friend. Although

he started as a pirate catcher first, he was lured over to the dark side by power and

money. Much like you were.” Squeezing his cheeks lovingly, she continued the history


His last adventure captured the ultimate treasure ship the Quedagh Merchant. Despite

being a nearly two hundred tons bigger they brought her in. Only Captain Kidd made a

dreadful mistake. Sailing her triumphantly into New York he claimed to have recovered

this treasure from other pirates. Part of the booty was from the East Indian Trade

company, and they revealed his ruse. William was hung. The Quedagh Merchant though

did not stay in New York. It was instead claimed by that same East Indian Trade

company who attempted to sail it to their sister company in Tortola.”

“The West Indian Trade Company. The very first publicly traded company in the world.”

Leave it to Roger to know some freakish fact like this.
“That is correct. Good boy I‟ll give you some crackers later.” Helping him up the

mountain over several boulders, Desdemona continued on.

“Well when the vessel left New York it weighed just over five hundred tons completely

laden. Only when it arrived in Roadtown it was only slightly above its dry weight of four

hundred tons. Both the manifest and captain were missing along with an estimated

hundred tons of treasure. This was one of the great disappearing acts in the history of

trade ships. Many people believed that the treasure simply never left New York and this

was merely a distraction. Only we know the truth about that?” With a sultry wink she

placed his finger to her tight bulbous lips. All of this exercise had Roger wanting a more

intimate cardiovascular workout.

“A hundred tons of booty ended up somewhere in the West Indies between Cuba and

Trinidad. Spider and I have spent the past ten months trying to discover the final resting

place of this treasure. We were not having a lot of luck until about four months ago. A

gentleman from Madagascar sent us the original ships manifest from before the ship was

captured. There were twenty or items on this list which he had circled. With a little

research we determined that all of these pieces were currently on exhibition throughout

the world.” Only a hundred yards further up the hillside there was a break in the thick

jungle. This was where their house was located. There were no roads in or out. It was

the ultimate hideaway; completely invisible from the air or sea.

“Sounds to me like it really did end up back in New York?” Thinking he was clever,

Roger piped in.
“Oh how foolish you are my jolly Roger? No it did not end up in New York. In fact it is

far more interesting than that.” Breathing quite heavily they strolled into the kitchen,

where she poured two glasses of lemonade.

“Here is what you took from the museum in Cayo Loco. Assuming you do not speak

sixteenth century Spanish, here is a translation of it.” The original parchment was barely


“It is a copy of an eyewitness account of a one of the sailors on board the Quedagh

Merchant. Apparently he got loaded one night in Havana and began to spill his guts

about what really happened on that trip from New York. Twenty minutes later someone

spilled his guts with a blade. No one could ever confirm the story.” Reading through it

carefully Roger, kept looking up at her as he read.

“And you think this is true?” If what the letter said was true they were headed in the

right direction.

“I don‟t know really, and I don‟t really care if it is true or not.” Smacking her lips from

the freshly squeezed lemonade, Desdemona blew a kiss towards him.

“What?” If he was confused before, he was completely dumfounded now.

“Our job is not to find the treasure Roger. Our job is to find out if the story is true. We

are being paid to prove the Quedagh Merchant ship treasure really still does exist.”

Stripping off her sweat stained clothes Desdemona slid into the courtyard, and dove into

the pool. One of the more bizarre house layouts Roger had ever seen included a stilt

house built around a huge lagoon like horizon pool in the middle of a dense jungle.

Barely a thousand square feet it was tiny but the amenities were incredible. The view of

the Pitons both east and west of them was overwhelmed by the open ocean itself.
“Well does it exist?” He waited for her to say something more, but eventually when she

did not he dove in the pool next to her to ask the question.

“Who knows? We only have six pieces of the puzzle so far. They are relatively

inconclusive. Mostly hearsay so far, but who can tell what we will find.” Wiping some

dirt from his forehead, Desdemona drew a deep sad breath. She missed Richard, and by

now she feared for the worst.

“If this person that is paying us knows where all these pieces are already. Why wouldn‟t

they just collect them themselves and figure out the answer? It seems stupid to hire us to

go collect things they already know about don‟t you think?” His words and thoughts

were clear on concise. Only his logic was completely off the mark.

“As the story goes he came across a map. This map detailed the location of ten markers.

After one found the ten markers they should be able to determine the whereabouts of a

second map which should lead the owner to the treasure. On several of islands like Cuba,

Haiti, and Virgin Gorda the clues were hidden. He sent his people in to find the pieces

ahead of time and we were just there to pick them up. Whereas in Jamaica, St. Thomas,

and Montserrat; we had to find the clues ourselves. At all of the last four locations the

clues are still missing. It will take a bit of luck and a whole lot of courage for us to get

them. He wants us to find them Roger. If we do then we will never have to work a day

for the rest of our lives. Can you appreciate that thought?” Richard‟s deal with Roger

was quite simple. Make it through the list in one piece and I will give you ten million

dollars cash. Only you can never return to the United States again. His deal with the old

man in Madagascar was similar. Bring me absolute undeniable proof that the treasure

exists and I will give you twenty million dollars. Only you can never commit another
crime or set forth in any civilized country for the rest of your life. Now Richard had no

intention of giving any money to Roger. When the tasks were complete he would retire

the man permanently keeping the money for himself.

“Of course ten million dollars will last me forever.” Why did it hurt her to stare deep into

his eyes now and listen to him speak so cheerfully? Four days ago she would have slit

his throat for the very fun of watching the blood ooze out of his body. Something had

changed in her and in him for that matter since that day. They were different.

“Help me finish the trip. Help me prove that the treasure exists and you will have your

nest egg.” Gently rubbing the corner of his mouth, Desdemona whispered to him.

“Only on one condition?” Before he even said it, she knew what it was.

“You can‟t hurt anyone else.”


                                      June 17, 2006

No one recognized the photos of Roger that they were showing around. Every jet ski and

wave runner vendor on the south side turned their palms to the sky.

“They were rentals. You could tell by the stickers on the side. Someone is not telling us

the fucking truth!” Furious that they were going to strike out again, Gabriel cursed.

“You may want to try Reggie's down the way. He‟s got two skis he rents out once in a

while. He bought them from me a while back.” Sensing that this was very important the

vendor changed his tune. Two minutes before he claimed they had checked all the

possible locations already.

“A purple and yellow Kawasaki two person.” Lowering his voice so none of his clients

or friends could hear what he was saying.
“Thank you.” Kissing him on the cheek, Patricia signaled for their taxi driver to pick

them back up.

St. Lucia was far prettier than any of the other islands they had been too so far. Although

in defense of Jamaica they never really made it into the mountains. Here though

everything was so green. Emerald to forest everything had a hue to it. Plus those Pitons

were so majestic. Large spirals of volcanic rock shooting off in the sky from apparently

nowhere. They were the remnants of volcanic conduits were carried lava to surface to

built this very island. Now covered in ferns and mosses they were beautiful

“There is no roads leading down to Reggie's. Warning to you though, Reggie don‟t like

outsiders. He probably won‟t talk to you. Plus there are rebels up in these hills. They

don‟t like outsiders either. Call me when you want to be picked back up.” Without

another word the old man drove off down the road leaving them next to huge sign which

read.   No trespassing private property. Violators will be shot.

“Does anyone else feel this was a bad idea?” Barely two minutes down the hillside they

came across an abandoned gin still and campfire. There were at lease a dozen bullet

casings scattered on the ground.

“Yeah a very bad idea.” The metallic click of the slide on a shotgun froze them in place.

“You must be Reggie.” Without turning around, Simon put his hands in the air.

“And you would be?” His accent sounded more like Scottish then West Indian. Turning

slowly he was surprised to see a well dressed white man standing there.

“A police officer from the United States.” It took them nearly twenty minutes to relate

the entire tale to him.
“Well that is an interesting story Simon, but I didn‟t rent them my wave runners.”

Walking back down the hill, Reggie did not want to talk about it anymore.

“For now on mind the no trespassing signs.”

“They killed my best friend Reggie. Please? Please help us.” Genuine tears poured

down the side of Patricia‟s cheeks. The gnarly old codger just shook his head and said

nothing for a few seconds.

“Her name is Svetlana Kuskin. She and her boyfriend bought a house from me about

three years ago on the hill. She‟s up there now. Only the man she is with is not her

boyfriend.” Before he could say another word, Patricia handed him the photo of Roger


“Yeah that‟s him.” There were no more pleasantries. Pointing to a place on the hill

several hundred yards up, he grumbled.

“Be careful of the rebels. They aren‟t as soft as I am.” In a moment he was gone back

into the woods.

“Make the call?” Staring at the two she wondered if they should be doing this on their



Roger woke up in a panic. Covered in blood he struggled to wipe it all off of himself.

Only as he did there was nothing there.

“It was just a bad dream Jolly Roger.” Wiping off the sweat with her night shirt,

Desdemona kissed his shoulder. Just than an alarm went off next to her bed. Jumping to

her feet, she ran to a laptop computer. Several camera angles popped up in front of her.
Figuring it was just a couple of rebels passing through she didn‟t look too carefully at

them. Only as she wiped the sleep from her eyes, she chuckled.

“Damn it these people have a serious hard on for us.” Roger was standing behind her

shaking his head.

“Relax I am not going to hurt them besides its time for us to get out of here again

anyway.” All their clothes and gear were already packed up since yesterday. The rest

were already in their escape vehicle.

“They‟re three hundred yards below us on a fifty nine percent grade. We‟re less than a

hundred feet from the summit. Don‟t worry we will be on our way down well before

they are on their way up.” With that Roger and Svetlana were back on the run again.


The house was completely abandoned when they got there. Smoldering ashes in the fire

pit were all that was left of their trash and debris.

„This girl really knows how to cover her tracks.” On the counter top in the kitchen was

one of the pirate napkins from Key West. On the back of it written in lipstick was a

message for them.

Mother mother ocean

After all the years I’ve found

An occupational hazard means

My occupation’s just not around

I feel like I’ve drowned

Gonna head up town

“Pirate looks at forty.” Nearly all three of them said the same words at the same time. It

was of course the lyrics to another Jimmy Buffett song.
“We need to shut off this island from the outside world.” Simon had been on the phone

since the moment Reggie disappeared. His call to naval intelligence was patched right

through. He had been given a civilian security code which skipped all of the usual bull

shit he would have had to go through.

“State department is already on the phone with the St. Lucians. They are formulating a

plan. Don‟t worry no boat will leave that island for the rest of the day. I promise you


“Where have we heard this before?” Gabriel tried not to chuckle at the words because

honestly they were not meant to be funny.

“What do you think?” They had come to trust Simon‟s gut instincts lately mostly

because he had yet to be wrong about anything. He seemed to know exactly what Roger

was thinking and doing as if he was in his head.

“They won‟t catch them. We need to get to Martinique or maybe even Barbados.”


                                        June 18, 2006

For twenty four hours the police and military scoured the island and its surrounding

waters but they found nothing, nothing that is except the two missing sailboats. They

were lying scuttled on a bottom of a remote bay on the north end. Apparently they were

to the getaway vessels this time.


The United States government funded the plane tickets for the three amigos for these and

all previous flights they had purchased. Figuring they were not having any luck

capturing Roger and Svetlana on their own, they basically hired on their services.
“There is no official record of a Svetlana Kuskin in the United States. However, her

name appears on the incorporation papers for the Juicy Fruit Trading Company. The

Russian secret service and Interpol turned up some interesting dirt though that I thought

you might find interesting. Check out the photos and the records.” Sitting at an internet

café in downtown Fort-Du-France, Simon was conversing directly with Matlin Graves

via IM.

It took a few minutes for the files to transfer but when they did Simon was not

disappointed. Several terrorist like photos appeared. In each one the woman was

obscured and in each one her hair was a different color. There was no doubt though that

this was who they had been looking for.

“Apparently her step father Yugevny sold her into prostitution at the ripe old age of

thirteen. She must have taken offense to it because a decade later she hunted him down

and did all sorts of nasty things to his body.” Another set of post mortem and crime

scene photos arrived for his viewing displeasure. “The officials in Kazakhstan spent three

months trying to hunt her down, but found nothing. In Germany right around the same

time, she revisited the site of her first job. Burning the whorehouse to the ground and

killing at least six of the pimps running it, she made the front page of the Berlin

newspaper.” Both the photos and newspaper article arrived now on his screen. One of

the patrons walking by covered her face in shocked horror.

“Sorry research for a story I am writing.” For now on Simon blocked off the screen from

everyone else.

“After that though she disappeared into thin air. This must be about the time she and

Dick Dick began their careers as pirates.” Matlin confirmed what Simon was guessing.
Svetlana Kuskin was her real name. She had never bothered to change it. Perhaps it

gave her strength to know she had overcome her horrible beginnings, and she needed to

remember her past for strength.

“This girl has a million different looks huh?” Matlin looked through the dozens of

photos they had collected in the past couple of weeks.

“That she does Matlin. Let‟s hope we recognize her when she shows up here this time.”

The folks at the NSA still had no idea what to think about the clue Migration Attire. A

sweat stained Bogart shirt did little to jog anyone‟s memory in the Martinique

government. They had no idea what attire referred to.

Truthfully no one had a clue where on Martinique these two were going to show up at. It

was not the largest of islands, but it was big enough that finding them would be

impossible without some more information.

“Is there a Margaritaville store here in Martinique?” What made him think of it Simon

would never know, but he did.

“No, Key West, Jamaica, and Cancun are the only down island locations.” Even Matlin

was a Parrothead. She knew the location of all the stores which disturbed Simon even

more. Perhaps he was not the best suited person to be trying to ferret out this man.

Maybe he should be sending emails to Jimmy Buffett chat groups instead.

“What is a Bogart Shirt anyway?” Reading the lyrics for the hundredth time, Matlin

wondered what he was referring to.

“It‟s a Bogart suit not shirt. You know those types of suits Humphrey Bogart used to

wear in the old movies…” How many places could there be in Martinique that had old
Bogart suits? Pulling up a browser on his computer he typed the key words Bogart, suit,

and Martinique into his search tool. It came back with only one dead on match.

Suit worn by Humphrey Bogart in the movie the Maltese Falcon to be auctioned off at the Sons and Daughters of Paris charity

auction Sunday June 18th 2006 at the Palais du Monde, in Fort-Du-France, Martinique.

“Matlin let me get back to you in a little while.” Running to the newsstand, Simon picked

up that days paper. In the entertainment section he came across the auction. They had



The Sons and Daughters of Paris were not too thrilled to be handing over one of their

highest expected sellers to an American police officer. However, Simon assured them he

would try not to damage the piece. Quickly moved his hands through all the pockets he

searched every last crevice for some sign of what Roger could be looking for but there

was nothing.

“Could you mistaken about the clue? Maybe they are taking the suit itself?” The French

lieutenant Ricard Manot was fascinated with this case, and with Miss Vasquez. Since the

moment they got here, he had been attempting to pump her for information.

“It‟s possible. However, in Haiti he received a coin of some sort. The two don‟t really

mesh with one another.” Running his hands carefully and slowly of the fabric now,

Simon was convinced he was looking the in the right place.

“Perhaps someone in the Sons and Daughters group is part of the caper. They might be

placing the next piece in the puzzle in a pocket after it has been purchased?” Despite his

continuing lecherous glances turns Patricia, Ricard was quite astute and had been very

helpful in trying to apprehend Roger and Sveltlana.
“That is extremely possible. However, I really don‟t…” His fingers moved over

something into the fabric. Several stitches outlined a handmade pocket in the liner.

“I‟m sorry to say it but we are going to have to…” Without warning, Patricia pulled out

a Swiss army knife and went to work carefully opening the jacket on a seam. Twenty

seconds later she had the liner out and was working to retrieve what was in that pocket.

“It looks like…”

“Microfiche?” Before she could say it Ricard pulled out the plastic strip.

“The Bibliotheca is closer than my office.” Grabbing he clue from her, Richard drove

them down the street to the library. Once inside he cleared out several of the people so

that there discovery would be kept secret.

“Simon what in God‟s name is that?” Shocked and horrified by what she saw, Patricia

held her hand up to her mouth. Ricard signed the cross on his chest. Gabriel said

nothing but his eyes were dilated five times past normal.

“It looks like something out of the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom movie.”

Strapped up on a dinghy rock wall were at least a dozen skeletons in shackles. Each

photo showed another set of bodies. There were at twenty in all. The photos after these

were from outside the cave where the initial photos were taken. The next set was of the

mountain where the cave was. Each progression moved backwards until the vantage

point was a boat some two miles off shore.

“Iles Juan De Nova.” All three of the Americans turned to face the lieutenant slowly.

“An island owned by the French off the coast of Madagascar. I was stationed there for

three years in the mid eighties. That is where these photos were taken.” It had been a

very dull assignment. Most of his time was spent taken quinine pills and fighting off the
advances of his outwardly homosexual superior. It had not been a good time in his

military career, and he shuddered now just to think about it.

“Do you think those photos are real?” Hoping that the content was some sort of movie

prank, Patricia shuddered to think they could be real.

“Yeah unfortunately I do.” Backing up to the initial photos, Simon tried to find

something that could identify the bodies.

“Patricia and Gabe, can you two make sure this jacket gets back to the Paris folks in one

piece? We need Roger and Svetlana to bid on it tonight. They can‟t know it has been

tampered with.” Without hesitation they did exactly as they were told. Meanwhile

Simon and Ricard continued to study the microfiche.

“The leather garments on the ground.” Pointing to where he wanted Simon to focus,

Ricard knew exactly what they were looking for.

“At least eighteenth maybe seventeenth century don‟t you think?” Simon was not an

expert in clothing but he nodded.

“English swords probably merchants from the looks of them.” Turning around to face

the Frenchman now, Simon was thoroughly impressed.

“History major, I wrote my thesis on the evolution of early European clothing.” Both

men chuckled at his comments. At least fifty five if he was a day, Ricard was in fabulous

shape. Dressed in a comfortable linen suit and open toed sandals he looked far less like a

police officer than an entrepreneur. It was obvious though from the way that his eyes

glanced that ever woman that walked in the library that Patricia was not his only interest.

The man was a dog and sniffed everything that walked near him.
“I know this might sound childish, but is there any chance they were pirates. I mean the

clothing side of it.” Having seen the movie Pirates of the Caribbean far too many time,

Simon was feeling quite uneasy about all this pirate talk.

“Well anyone could be a pirate monsieur. However, as far as the clothing, no I would

doubt it. These look more like merchants than swashbucklers.” For five minutes he

pointed out the difference in clothing and jewelry to Simon. It was quite fascinating.

“Why would someone hide this inside of a jacket of Humphrey Bogart?” It was a

legitimate question to which Simon had no real answer.

“I think this is just one of ten clues. For all I know the clues might lead to something?”

They both looked on the film and Ricard began cackling.

“A pirate‟s map monsieur; now that seems a bit childish to me?” Neither man could keep

a straight face, but they continued talking anyway.

“So each piece to the puzzle is another clue as to the location of something or someone?”

Simon nodded and then shrugged his shoulders for he did not have the true answer to the


“Well I wish you all the best with your search. My men and I will be at the Palais this

evening. If Mr. Roger Gladstone arrives we will be waiting for him”


Unlike Montserrat with its blockade of ships, Martinique seemed to welcome them in.

There was no sign or presence of military as the two of them moved through the streets of

Fort-Du-France. Then again, his own mother could be standing in front of him right now,

and would not recognize this version of Roger Gladstone. Desdemona had done a

phenomenal job disguising him. This was to say nothing of the job she did on herself.
“You should really think of going to Hollywood after this young lady. Your skills are

wasted on a path of unrighteousness.” Poking carefully at his foam body suit, Roger tried

his best to lighten both of their spirits.

“I have no interest in the United States or it‟s movies Jolly Roger. Your country only has

one redeeming quality and he is already married.” Poking back at him, Desdemona

motioned them through a crowded parking lot towards the Palais. Sliding cautiously in

the front door, she was not too thrilled to be doing this during daylight hours.

“They‟re here again.” Whispering in his ear, Desdemona gripped him tightly so he could

not stare back at them.

“Patricia Vasquez and Gabriel McKenzie are in the office behind you. That can only

mean that Simon Lagrange is somewhere close by as well.” Neither of the two in that

room made her nervous. Between the two of them they were barely more dangerous than

Roger. The chief though was a dangerous and intelligent man. He could very well be a


“We will have to come back for the auction.” Given the past few experiences, Roger was

not looking forward to direct confrontation.

“No you idiot. If they are here, they know what we are looking for. If they know what

we are looking for they will stage a bidding war with us, and then pounce when we win.

Even these costumes will not save us then.” Reaching inside of her body suit,

Desdemona grabbed a canister of gas.

“No you promised me? I will make a scene...”
“Relax this one is just colored smoke. It wouldn‟t even hurt an asthmatic.” Pulling the

pin she moved towards the back of the room. On the stage at least thirty of the items

were being previewed. Amongst them was the suit they were looking for.

The canister fell and the pink smoke covered the room in a blanket.


Ricard had planned for something like this. His plain clothed officers waited at every

exit. No one would leave without being thoroughly interrogated. It was ingenious

There was only one problem with his master plan. Two old overweight tourists from

Canada entered the building and two young well dressed Martinique police officers left in

their stead. None of the undercover agents bothered to check their identification or the

crime scene bag they were carrying.

Roger and Svetlana simply strolled out the front door. Twenty minutes later they were

back on board their escape vessel on their way to Barbados.


                                      June 19, 2006

Where there were three Americans on a mission to stop the Jolly Roger there was now an

added Frenchman? Completely astounding and embarrassed Ricard signed on to join the

hunt. After all he had several weeks worth of vacation coming to him.

“You can join us on one condition. Leave Patricia alone!” Not an overly protective

person, Simon had no time for testosterone driven men. If Ricard was going to help

them, his mind and entire focus needed to be on the prize.

“Il n‟y a pas du quoi (It is nothing).” They shook hands and went about their pre-

boarding ritual on Liat airlines.
Less than an hour later the little twenty passenger plane touched down in Barbados. With

more than fifty people watching the Mt. Gay distribution plants and distillery like it was

Fort Knox no one really expected Roger and Svetlana to succeed at this location. Simon

had even suggested they might skip this and go directly to Trinidad.

“We have searched every nook and cranny on this premises and come up empty. There is

no microfiche or gold coins hiding in the rafters here.” At each new location there was

another set of authorities and another government to work with. Each police and military

force was certain that they were invincible, and each time Roger and Svetlana had

embarrassed them all.

Yes the Bajans appeared more organized than the rest. Yes they had a larger force

protecting the locations than any other. Yes the location seemed more specific and easier

to protect. No there was no way to really stop them if they chose to come in guns


“Could we be missing the point here? Maybe they are not going for the rum plant at all.

Maybe they really are going to Mount Gay. It is a city on this island you realize?” Well

versed in just about everything Ricard was turning out to be a very useful arrogant prick

to have around.

“Where would be going though?” Simon was not above admitting if he was wrong.

“Presents to send you from the top of Mt. Homo could refer to the highest point in the

town of Mt. Gay don‟t you think?” Even Patricia had accepted that this could be

possible. However, she still trusted Simon‟s instincts on these things. He had been

amazingly accurate so far.
“Highest point of elevation on the island is Mt. Hillaby it‟s barely a thousand feet above

sea level. I don‟t really think that fits the bill.” Simon had done some research of his

own on this. It did not work for him.

“What about the Mt. Gay Jolly Roger tour?” Looking through a number of brochures on

a rack, Patricia handed this one to Simon. She did not seem all that excited about her

find, and went back to the rack after handing it to him.

Gabriel and Simon shared a glance with each other.

“I could check it out if you would like?” It was at least another ten hours before Roger

and Svetlana could have sailed here, so they were not in the great big hurry. Of course

this was assuming they were on a boat. Having found the two stolen vessels in St. Lucia

on the bottom of the ocean, no one was really sure how they were getting around these

days. If they were flying they could already be here amongst them.


“THERE‟S NOTHING HERE!” Svetlana was furious. She had ripped the Bogart suit

apart stitch by stitch and found absolutely nothing. This was tragic. One missing clue

could be the difference between twenty million dollars and nothing.

Walking over to the safe, she tried to steady herself. Carefully and purposefully she

opened it and examined the six clues she already had. They were compelling but

certainly less than conclusive proof that the treasure was indeed real.

“Do you mind if I ask you a question?” Standing at the edge of the room, Roger knew

better than to come inside while she was in the safe.

“Go ahead.” What was he going to ask her now? He was like one of those five year old

toddlers that never stops asking questions.
“Do you think the treasure is real?” Leaning in he swung back and forth on the door

frame slowly.

“What does it matter?” Trying to concentrate on the clues, she was growing annoyed

with him again.

“Well why wouldn‟t we try to get the treasure for ourselves? I mean we‟re the ones

taking all the risks. Why should someone else get it?” It was not like Roger to be truly

and outwardly selfish. Most people would have been angered by a statement like this.

Desdemona grinned triumphantly at the knowledge that greed was taking over this

precious sweetheart of an angel.

“Mostly because our friend in Madagascar would have us hunted down and murdered.

Besides what do you and I need with a billion dollars in booty?” In her hand she held the

single sterling silver pound they collected in Haiti. That was where the name came from

after all. A British pound was a literally sixteen ounces of silver.

“A billion dollars?” Gulping down his piece of juicy fruit, Roger could not even

comprehend that kind of money.

“Yes Mr. Jolly Mon the treasure of the Quedagh Merchant, if still in tact, is estimated at

billion US dollars. No one needs that kind of money.” Not even she was that kind of

greedy. It was pointless. Only men like her buyer required more and more money to fill

an otherwise cavernous void inside.

“Do you know where it is?” Sticking his head further and further in the door, he was

about to be the proverbial curious cat.

“No and I don‟t care really. Listen come in if you want to. You pain in the ass child.

Come see the clues already!” What did it matter if he saw them now? She would still
have to kill him later anyway. Ripping at the jacket liner again, she kept hoping the clue

would fall out onto the bed.

“Here is the letter you recovered in Cuba. Here is the crew log from Jamaica. Here is

pound silver from Haiti. Here is the shipping manifest from St. Thomas. Here is Captain

Kid‟s ship manifest from Virgin Gorda. This is my personal favorite. To think the

William Kidd actually wrote this with his own hands is just too cool. Here we several

sets of insurance documents from the East Indian Trading company detailing the

movement of treasure from New York to Cuba. Lastly we have the microfiche from

Martinique showing us the fate of the remaining captain and crew of the Quedagh

Merchant. OH WAIT NO WE DON‟T HAVE THAT DO WE!” Literally tear at the

jacket now, Desdemona was about ready to have a hissy fit. She was certain now that her

beloved Richard was dead. It was ripping her apart inside. It felt like someone had torn

her in half.

“You miss him don‟t you?” The soft way he spoke to her now was strangely reassuring.

If Desdemona needed kindness this was the man to provide it.

“I miss him like the desert misses the rain.” Not trying to be poetic as much as she was

trying to be descriptive, she caught Roger off his guard.

“Why are you with me than?” Putting her hands up to his face, she did not know whether

to beat him to a bloody pulp or kiss him.

”We need to get these last three pieces.” Pulling on a Jolly Roger crew shirt on, she

chuckled at herself in the mirror.

“Let‟s go my first mate.” Pulling the safe shut, she dragged Roger out of the cabin.
Ten minutes later they boarded they Jolly Roger disguised as part of the cleaning staff.

Desdemona went about creating the illusion while Roger carefully climbed up to the

crow‟s nest. As instructed he removed a brass plate cover from an old knot in the

mahogany. There inside were several sheets of folded paper in a plastic bag. They had

piece number eight.

Casually climbing down the ladder, he was very proud of himself. Then suddenly

someone grabbed his ankle and yanked him down to the deck.

“Hello Roger Gladstone my name is Lieutenant Ricard Manot, and you are under arrest.”

Pleasantly restraining him, Ricard locked his hands behind his back with plastic ties.

“Now where is your little friend?” Spinning around in circles Ricard did not want to be

caught napping. His eyes scanned the deck for the deadly Svetlana.

“Simon I have Roger. Svetlana is missing though.” Before he could finish speaking

Simon handed the phone to Patricia and ran for his rental car.

Luckily he had drawn up a map to the dock ahead of time. It was a just in case scenario,

but he was glad he did.

With a police escort they raced for the dock on the north side of the island where the Jolly

Roger was being loaded with supplies for its daily booze cruise.

“Come on Roger tell me where she is and maybe I won‟t feed you to the sharks.” Having

read the psychological profile on Roger, Ricard was aware that he was quite weak. He

required the stability of others just to survive. On his own he would crumble.

“Are you looking for me?” It was too late for him to see her. Jumping down from the

deck above them, she landed right on top of him. Her weight and the angle she hit him at
dislocated his right shoulder leaving him writhing in pain on the deck. Drawing an eight

inch blade from her waste she moved in for the kill.

“NO DON‟T DO IT!” Shaking his head and screaming violently Roger would not allow

her to do it.

“Roger now is not the time honey…”

“You promised me. Please you promised not to hurt anyone.” Pleading from his knees,

Roger shuddered with fear.

“You fucking pussy this man would have killed you without thinking. Why do you

care?” Dragging him up to his feet by his ear, she sliced off the plastic restraints. From

the distance she began to hear the sounds of sirens.

“I will not be a party to any killing…”

“Spare me the bullshit Roger. You have already been member of that party before.”

Literally chucking him over the edge into the water, Desdemona stared down at the

helpless lieutenant. His head and face oozed blood onto the wooden deck slowly.

Like a shark in the water, a primitive feeling inside her cried for her to finish him off. As

if her animal instincts were taking over her hand moved the blade towards his throat.

Digging it in next to his left ear she drug it all the way to the left.

“Fuck you Roger.” The first of the blue lights pulled into the parking lot of the marina,

Svetlana went over the side of the boat nearly landing on top of her partner in crime.


Simon came rushing onto the Jolly Roger only to find Ricard bleeding profusely from his

head and neck.
“She went overboard.” Trying his best to talk, Richard held his right hand against his

neck. Simon shouted instructions as he pulled off his own shirt and wrapped it around

the wound. Only as he did so he was surprised how little blood soaked through.

Svetlana had barely scratched the surface with her blade. It would certainly leave a nasty

scar but he would not die.

“I had him Simon. I had him in cuffs.” Holding the plastic ties in his hand, Ricard

cursed loudly in French. The humiliation of being best by a tiny woman and pain of his

shoulder were equally smarting right now.

“We‟ll get him back. Don‟t you worry we will get them both.” One by one the team of

divers came back to the surface. They found no one in the water. A naval blockade of

Bridgetown harbor was no more successful. There was no sign of either of them.

                                      June 20, 2006

“Well you might find this interesting.” A set of satellite photos beamed to the hospital

computer room showed something none of them were expecting.

“Is that what the hell I think it is?” No wonder they had not seen hide nor hair of them

since St. Lucia.

“Yes it is. That my friends is a submarine; an old world war two Russian attack sub.

She‟s probably been refitted as most of them have for personal use. There is no use for

them in combat these days.” One of the Naval intelligence operatives joined the

conversation with Patricia and Rene from the NSA.

“We have the birds all of the southern Caribbean searching for her plus two of our fish

from Florida are running a sonar net on the area.” Every time it seemed this chase could
not get any stranger something new arose. Their pirates were now using a personal

submarine for their attacks.

“Well at least it doesn‟t have any torpedoes right?” Chuckling to himself Rene as usual

said the wrong thing.

“Actually it has the capability for two belly torpedoes maximum yield could nearly take

out a small cruise ship.” Simon dropped his head in his hands no one else said anything.

“I doubt they have any fish on board though. Getting a submarine is much easier than

getting a functioning World War II torpedo these days.” Even as he spoke though Simon

shook his head. If anyone could do it this woman could.

They were not looking forward to their trip to Trinidad before this latest attack. It only

added to their apprehension. No one in the Trinidadian government was happy to see

them coming. In fact, they nearly managed to talk the US out of sending them at all.

Vowing to take care of it on their own, they did not like anyone dictating policy to them.

“Let‟s get to the airport.”


Roger preferred being on the surface. This thing was dreadfully dark and dreary.

Besides it did very little for his claustrophobia to be inside this tin can over a hundred

feet below the surface. It made him jumpier and edgier than usual to be down here.

“Listen you little twit I didn‟t kill the man so stop asking. You can be such a fucking

baby.” Of course Desdemona neglected to tell him about the slice she left the man with.

“I could have left your ass there to be hauled off to jail. Next time I might do that you

ungrateful little bastard. That‟s twice I have saved you and not a single word of

gratitude.” Trying to play herself the bad girl now, she had to mask the smile within.
This was getting fun for her again. Not since Richard disappeared had she felt this alive


“Thank you but…”

“Enough with the buts Roger, but this and but that, get over it. I am trying to look at our

latest clue here.” Wrapped up in the paper and plastic were at least a dozen photographs.

“Shit! You asked me if I thought the treasure was real. I am ready to answer that

question now Jolly boy.” Handing him grainy photo after grainy photo Desdemona

giggled uncontrollably.

“The treasure is real.” Photo after photo showed various catalogued pieces of golden

statues and chests of British silver. It was sickeningly impressive. On the paper

surrounding them were dates and originated manifest notations. These pieces were


They danced around the little submarine ducking under pipes and trying to keep their

balance. It was the happiest he had ever seen Desdemona, and for a moment Roger

thought perhaps they had a chance.


“Fire a warning shot or two over their bow.” Sonar picked up the little sub moving south

past St. Vincent. From there they called in two British sub hunters into the area. A

helicopter hovered above them while the hunter killer mimicked their every move

underwater. They were going nowhere.

“Dropping two charges sir a half click to her west.” From the belly of the British craft

three coffee-can sized depth charges dropped into the two hundred-foot plus water. The

ocean was so clear here that they could make out nearly every detail of their prey.

The autopilot spotted a reef jutting out about three hundred yards in front of them, and

decided to turn them seaward. Taking a more direct path than the average pilot would

have taken it knocked Roger and Desdemona down onto a bunk bed in a head. They

laughed at the set of events and leaned in for a quick smooch. How could they have

realized they had turned right into the path of what should have been a warning shot?

When the three depth charges exploded less than fifty yards to their starboard, it jarred

them like an earthquake. The entire vessel shook uncontrollably. Three of the pressure

valves buckled and a seal near the prop cracked. Water poured in upon them from

several angles. Within seconds the twin props failed, and they were going down.

Still close enough to the shelf, there was no danger of dropping off into the five hundred-

foot crevice just west of them. They gently plopped down on a sandy outcropping.

Inside, Roger struggled to get to the escape gear with thousands of gallons of ocean

pouring in around him. Once he had secured the two sets of scuba equipment he turned

back to Desdemona.

“What are you doing?” The water level was waste high and growing.

“We need the items.” With all her might she pulled open the safe, and secured all the

items within. The ocean was now tickling at her chin. By the time she had her regulator

in her mouth she was standing on her tiptoes. Roger was already reaching for the release

above his head. As soon as the water had pressurized the cabin inside he clicked the


“Riley what part of bloody warning shot didn‟t you get! We set warning charges to

detonate three hundred feet away from a vessel. Christ you idiots are killing me!” The

British captain was not known for his compassion. His voice on the open frequency had

everyone involved cringing in their boots.

“I want the Dorchester on the surface, and I want divers in the water. Let‟s go men get it

done!” Despite all of their loathing for his authority and his attitude they moved quickly

to their posts.


Roger was by no means an athlete. Luckily though there were two physical activities he

didn‟t really well in this world. He could sail and he could scuba dive with the best of

them. At two hundred and fifteen feet below the surface they had very little time to

waste. Given the diminutive size of the tanks they had on board they would barely have

enough air to decompress on the way up. Then there was of course the other problem.

Whoever had shot them down was more than likely waiting on the surface for them. If

they simply popped up like corks they would be arrested.

There was not a second to waste. The sounds of the helicopter grew louder as they went

up while the British submarine had surfaced a hundred yards seaward of them. It was all

around a bad situation. They looked at one another about eighty feet from the surface

and shrugged their shoulders. It appeared they would finally be caught.

Pointing towards an opening in the reef Desdemona did not want to go down without a

fight. As they approached they realized it was a cave. Roger shook his head as they

entered pointing towards his air gauge.
Catch 22 at its best. Go for the surface and be captured. Enter the caves and run out of

air and be dead. Still Desdemona did not hesitate pressing forward. In the back of her

mind she hoped against all hope that they cave would lead them to air. If she was wrong

they would not have enough air to get back.

Kicking with all her might she pressed on. With nothing to illuminate her surroundings

but the light stick, she struggled through the ever-narrowing tubes. Finally behind her

Roger pulled violently at her fins. He had run out of air. For a second she thought of

leaving him. Kill him now and get it over with. Only looking back at the shear terror

and confusion in his eyes, she could not bring herself to do it. Handing him the octopus

to her tank, she nodded. Less than a thousand pounds of air between the two them did

not bode well for getting out of there alive, and yet they pressed on.

They were down to five hundred pounds, and still saw no light at the end of the tunnel.

Well past the point of no return, Desdemona was worried. What would it feel like to

drown? Would it be painful? Suddenly, her eyes picked out a faint light up ahead, but

they were under three hundred pounds now. Kicking with all her might she nearly pulled

Roger to the opening in the reef. She slid through it and was less than ten feet from the

surface. Only the opening was too small for Roger. They stared back at each other for a

moment. Ten feet from the surface and they were about to run out of air.

Waving gently towards her, Roger pulled the octopus from his mouth and grinned. He

had resolved to let himself die in order to save her.


“What do you mean you can‟t find them? Was the submarine on bloody autopilot?” His

blood was boiling past the normal level as the Captain screamed.
“No sir, the hatch was tripped from the inside. They are out here somewhere.” Trying

his best to keep his cool the SAS commander reported only the facts and nothing more.

“Well then find them you idiots. Jesus do I have to think of everything.”


Word of the sinking had just reached the three Americans in Port-au- Spain. They were

currently researching everything there was to know about this microfiche.

“Well they haven‟t found them yet? That means more than likely they slipped away

again.” Patricia turned to Simon for some reassurance that it would not end with Roger

and Svetlana dead in the ocean. It was not that she cared for their well being as it felt like

a hollow victory at this point. Plus given the circumstances of this case she had a million

questions she wanted to ask the two of them anyway.

“Two hundred plus feet underwater with divers and military everywhere, I don‟t think

even those two could have gotten out of that.” Shutting down his computer reluctantly,

Simon scratched at his tired eyes. This whole ordeal had drained him tremendously.

After all he was not a teenager anymore.

“At least we can close this case and finally get on with our lives.” Simon picked up his

cup of tea and breathed a sigh of relief.


                                       June 21, 2006

The cavern opened onto one of a million little uninhabited cays in the Grenadine islands.

Surrounded by huge governor plumbs and an out of place lone royal palm tree, it was

invisible from the air. Even as the helicopters danced back and forth around it, they were

completely unaware that she stood in the opening.
Wiping a tear away from her eye, she said a good bye for the man who had completely

changed her life. Richard was not coming back.

She gently caressed the wounds on her new partner. Roger might have resigned himself

to die, but she was not ready to give up just yet. Even as she gasped her last breath of air,

she smashed at the cave opening with her tank. Finally, the ancient limestone gave way

and Roger bolted to the surface.

“Damn I am glad I lost all that weight when I got to Key West, or I would fish food right

now.” Upbeat as always Roger chuckled at his good fortune.

“Any idea where we might be?” For two hours he had gone without asking questions,

but now it was starting again.

“Yeah we‟re in the Caribbean somewhere between Barbados and Trinidad.” Too tired to

argue or set him straight for the hundredth time, Desdemona collapsed next to him on the


“Anything more specific than that?” Always moving three steps ahead, Roger wanted to

know how they would get out of this predicament and move on.

“The St. Vincent Grenadines more than likely that would be Carricou over there. How

we get from here to there? Well that is the question I would like you to answer for me.”

In between them were at least a dozen sandy islands. Each was a good half to three

quarters of a mile apart from one another though, and the last island was close to three

miles from Carricou.

“We could wave down one of these nice British boats and see if they could give us a lift.”

Playfully humming the British national anthem, Roger mocked a wave.
“Let‟s wait for dark and try to…” One of the boats turned towards their island. They

were going to have to hide which meant going back down into the cavern.

“How the hell are we going to breath down there?”


“I want every single little shit island between here and South America gone over with a

fine tooth comb!” Still ranting and raving the captain would not let up on the search.

They had to be around there somewhere.

“Yes sir captain.” Shaking their heads defiantly the three soldiers poured over this little

sandy dot in the ocean. Resting underneath the palm tree on them looked down into the

opening in cave. At first he could have sworn he saw the face of a woman, only as he

looked back down she was not there.

“I‟m losing my bloody mind. Lets get out of here there‟s nothing here.” They had been

searching for close to fourteen hours now, and still there was nothing.


The entire rest of that evening took on a whole new meaning in island hopping. One by

one they swam the treacherous channels to the next little spot of land. One by one they

dared the shark infested waters sometimes shooing them away from a smack on the

dorsal. When all was said and done though, they casually strolled up onto a quiet little

beach on the south side of Carricou and collapsed in a heap. They had made it alive.

Among the relics and clues she had saved from their submarine, Desdemona managed to

grab her wallet and a half dozen different passports. Unfortunately, all of her weapons

and disguises were gone. They would have to get a place to stay and a place to eat

looking just as they were.
Despite their notoriety though, no one seemed to pay them a second glance on this quiet

little island. Mostly European and West Indian the local population was incredibly

friendly and unassuming.

“Come in have the best food on Carricou you will love it.” A woman of nearly ninety

showed the two of them into her Italian Oasis by the sea.

“My husband Luigi, God rest his soul, opening this place forty years ago this week.”

Kind and sweet she gave them more than there fair share of food for their money. Plus

she pointed them towards a bungalow at the back of her property.

“Normally my grandson would be in here, but he is in St. Vincent this week on business.

I would be honored if you would stay with me.” That was exactly what they did. As

they went to bed she even came in to turn down their covers. It was an extraordinary

show of trust in world seriously lacking it. Unfortunately for her it was misplaced.

                                      June 22, 2006

As morning broke Roger and Desdemona slid quietly out of the bungalow and mad their

way for the only marina in town. On the front door step of the woman‟s house, they left

her money and note thanking her for her hospitality.

Several fishermen laughed at them when they asked to rent a sailboat for the day.

“This is not Bequia or St. Vincent here. We don‟t charter boats to be delivered to another

island here.” They laughed and poked each other jokingly.

“How much to buy your boat then?” They stopped laughing.

Six thousand dollars on a company credit card letter, they were in a sailboat again, and

completely provisioned for the twenty-eight hour excursion.

“You are not going to believe this one.” Matlin finally got Patricia on the cell phone.

“She bought a boat in Carricou on one of the company credit cards? How the hell did

they get to Carricou?” Spitting out of her coffee all over Gabe‟s shoulder, Patricia could

not believe what she had heard.

“On second hand miss we will not need to cancel our flight back home.” Ripping the

phone from her hand, Simon stepped back away from the Liat ticket counter and talked to


“The details are sketchy but it appears they swam in from one of the out islands.

Carricou is a small place. They were able to give us a minute to minute view of what

they did while they were there. Included in that is buying a sailboat and heading further

down island.” Matlin talked and talked as usual about nothing.

“A twenty six foot Catalina from St. Vincent to here; how long will it take for them to

arrive?” They still had not figured out the clue for this island, and until five minutes ago

they did not think it would matter. It did once again.

“It would take maybe a day or a day and a half to get to here.” Gabriel was just as

surprised as anyone that they had survived the sinking sub. He was impressed to here

they had a boat and were back on their way.

“If they were cats I would say they have used ten lives by now.” Hailing a taxi cab,

Patricia spoke candidly and all around her agreed.

“You think their longevity is the cool part. Wait until you hear what they name of the

boat was that they ended up with.

“Well the Changes in Latitudes does not change them very fast I tell you that.” This boat

was by far slower than anything Roger had piloted recently. They were lucky be going

forward at all in the heavy squalls they had run into. A tropical wave coming off of

Africa was battering them with wind and waves.

“Be lucky you are not at the bottom of the ocean ingrate.” Having spent most of her life

at sea, even Desdemona was not appreciating this battering. Both her breakfast and lunch

had come back for a second visit already this morning.

“At this rate we are still at least a good day out of Port-Au-Spain. If it were up to me we

should pull into port for a spell.” Roger was not sure how much more this vessel could

take. Despite being kept up quite well, she was not an open ocean sailboat. The ten foot

swells were literally ripping her apart at the seams.

“You‟re the captain. I‟ll leave that part up to you…” Hanging her head over the side

again, she had no problem with getting off the ocean for a spell.

“At this rate we are about six hard more hours to the north end of Tobago. That is really

the only port in this storm.”

“Whatever?” Waving her hand over the railing back at him, Roger decided he was in

charge for now. Making his way west, he headed them for Charlottesville.


                                       June 23, 2006

A nasty little storm was kicking through the southern end of the Lesser Antilles. It

rendered both aerial and satellite reconnaissance obsolete.

The British authorities had been praised for their sinking of the submarine, and chastised

for their inability to capture them from there. CNN officials leaked the information to
them from St. Vincent, causing reporters from around the world to descend on the tiny


“The Modern Jolly Roger strikes again. Left for dead he managed to escape some

hundred peering eyes. His legend grows with each passing day…” This sentiment was

echoed throughout the world. Everyone had their own version of the truth. From his

junior high school guidance counselor to a woman claiming to be his first love, nearly all

of Doylestown PA had their theories.

“You were trapped on board that ship with this vicious pirate. What do you have to tell

us about Roger Gladstone?” One of the reporters made the mistake of showing up at the

Shiprock residence uninvited.

“I think you can suck my fucking cock you ho slut cunt bag tramp dick sucking…” On

the television the beep lasted close to three minutes. When Alan was finished he

slammed the door in her face.

Unlike the rest of world he was not buying into the Roger Gladstone for president.

Embraced by the hippy and rebel generations everywhere, Roger‟s face was now

synonymous with the fuck authority movement in America. Wars in the middle east and

gas prices at home had people on edge. They were looking for a hero. Not the good boy

in a nice suit sort of hero though. They wanted one of their own; a blue collar boy who

fought the system and won.

“Roger was always a dreamer. He kept telling us someday he would by an island, and

now he may get that chance.” John Shelly was an asshole. In real life he did not like

Roger. In fact he loathed him and told anyone who would listen about it. However, now
with cameras everywhere they were best friends. Cashing on his notoriety, John was on

every television station.

“He and I were thick as thieves. We used to do some jobs together. Only I turned to the

straight and narrow since then.” Two fingers right next to each other, he continued to lie

uncontrollably. John had never stolen anything in his life. His parents owned a funeral

home and he was being prepped to take it over. He was a putz. In high school he used to

abuse the mild mannered chubby Roger unmercifully. It was pitiful now that he ran

around telling these lies.

“We went to the junior prom together. Since then you know we dated on and off.” Even

more idiotic the John Shelly was the emergence of the lost girlfriend. Melissa Webber

barely even knew Roger. They went to the junior high prom together because neither had

a date, and ever since then she treated him like dog shit. Now she claimed to be his



“That lying little bitch threatened to have her boyfriend beat me up at senior week.”

Sitting there at a beach front café in Tobago, Roger was watching himself on CNN. A

normal person would have run back to the boat as soon as he saw his face on the

television. Not Roger though, he was basking in the glory of notoriety. If someone had

asked him for an autograph right that moment he probably would have signed it. In many

ways he was quite a stupid man.

The expose on him lasted nearly two hours. It was entitled “The Search for the Modern

Jolly Roger”, and it was hilarious to watch. Barely any of the facts were accurate.
Barely any of the people who claimed to know him knew anything at all. Roger actually

started laughing during some of the more outlandish parts.

“Now somewhere near the island of Tobago Roger Gladstone continues his exploits. In

the same mold as William Kidd and Edward Theach he embarrasses authorities the world

over. Where is he going and what is he searching for? I know our television viewers

certainly want to know. This is …” As the reporter finished her piece Roger swallowed

the last ounce of his Pusser‟s pain killer, and stumbled back to the dock.

Not a single person at the bar recognized him.

“Where the hell have you been?” Desdemona had finally woken up. Still in pain from

her projectile vomiting episode, he sat on a park bench on solid ground trying to regain

her bearings.

“I was just checking out the weather report. It looks like this won‟t blow over until

tomorrow at best. We‟re stuck here until then.” Handing her a grilled ham and cheese

sandwich and a bottle of Ting, Roger flopped down next to her.

“That‟s not the best news I have heard.” Toasting him with her Sprite, she nibbled

gingerly at the crust of her hand out.

“Well I suggest we get us another form of transportation. They know about the boat from

Carricou. They were able to trace your credit card.” Instantly Roger was covered with

the soda she was drinking.

“How the hell do you know that?”

After smacking him quite soundly on the side of the head for sitting at the bar, she began

emptying their scarce belongings off the Changes in Latitudes. They hoofed it nearly six

miles to the port city of Plymouth on the southern end. It was here they expected to find
a new mode of transport. Only the marina was guarded like a bank vault. They were not

getting in there. At the end of the nearly quarter mile of docks two military vessels had

blocked it off. No one was allowed in or out.

“Any other suggestions?” They looked at each other for help but got none. Just then a

sign from the heavens gave them hope.


Jessie James was as nearly as much a cowboy as his name would suggest. Flying sea

planes since he was little kid, he had run more than his fair share of contraband in his

days. Today he was actually conducting a legal transaction on behalf of the British

Government. In his hold were several thousand MRE‟s for the upcoming hurricane

season. A church group in London had arranged for the delivery. Not usually the

humanitarian type he was given permission to deliver this because all shipping traffic had

been interrupted by an embargo. Apparently some idiot calling himself a pirate had

locked up the entire Less Antilles. No one was allowed to go anywhere without being

subject to search. His status was elevated though allowing him to pass right through

customs and immigration.

Pulling up to his own private dock, he waved the guards away with his official

paperwork. Slowly but surely he unloaded each of the boxes stopping in between to

smoke a cigarette or five.

When he was done, he stopped by a bar for a drink or six. After all he wasn‟t flying any

passengers around, so who cared if he was trashed. This was the way a man like Jessie

saw the world. He was an ignorant nincompoop
Only when he returned to his precious Lola that evening, she was not there. Rubbing his

eyes, he looked around in circles. Had he parked it somewhere else?


Desdemona was by all accounts more than a fair pilot. However, she had never piloted

anything like this before. Taking off she nearly killed them by pulling up too soundly on

the yoke. The boys in the tower just assumed Jesse was trashed again. Roger tried his

best to muffle his voice as he spoke. Twice they asked Jesse if he was okay he didn‟t

sound like himself. Luckily his flight plan to return to Trinidad for his second shipment

had already been established. Therefore they were scheduled to go exactly where they

wanted to be.

“I have no idea how I going to land this thing.” Whispering quietly to herself

Desdemona had less than an hour to get herself situated before had to land again. There

was of course no landing gear on a sea plane.

“This isn‟t going to be pretty.” Lining up the buoys like she was bringing in a sailboat,

she picked a spot to touch down.

“Here goes nothing.” She pulled back on the throttle, and dropped the flaps allowing

them to touch down quite smoothly. Even Roger could not help but clap at her success.

“Fuck that was easier than I expected to be.” None of the local authorities said anything

as Desdemona sped past them to a docking area cordoned off for sea planes. Pulling up

next to two more, she waited patiently as dock hands loaded the cargo onboard. It was

just after nine o‟clock at night, and she hoped the dock area would empty soon, so she

and Roger could escape. Standing between the cockpit and the cargo hold, they tried their
best to look inconspicuously at the harbor. All of Port-Au-Spain was on maneuvers.

They were preparing for the Jolly Roger invasion.

“Why don‟t they know anything about you? I mean they keep talking about me all the

time.” On the plane ride here, they played the news radio. Every few minutes another

update on the search for the Jolly Roger came on. They had found the boat in Tobago,

and a bartender could swear he remembered serving two Pusser‟s pain killers to a man

fitting that description.

“Why do you have to ask so many asinine questions Roger?” Looking him square

between the eyes, Desdemona sounded very serious. Slowly the corners of her mouth

lifted up, and she blew him a kiss.

“One more piece to the puzzle and then we go on vacation. Do you think you can go the

rest of this time without asking me another stupid question?” Poking at his ribs with a

steak knife she held close to her at all times, Desdemona winked at him.

“I don‟t see what you consider to be a vacation about what we have to do in San Juan, but

hey I won‟t ask any more stupid questions.” Hurt and childish as usual, he tried to ignore

her for the rest of the evening.


“Have you ever wondered what it is like to fly in one of those things?” Simon and

Patricia sat at a quiet fish restaurant along the peer. They watched as the Lola pulled up

to her dock.

“There actually a lot of fun.” Gabriel came back to the table with a round of drinks. It

was their second and last of the evening. Simon‟s rules was quite explicit. No one was

allowed more than two drinks on any one day. It was these little eccentricities about his
friend that kept him by his side. His rules were as strange as his methods were. Yet, here

they were again one step ahead of Roger. Could they finally close the case? Could they

finally capture this now infamous pirate of the Caribbean?

“Why don‟t they have to go through customs and immigration like the boats do?” Two

and half hours later as they sipped their coffee and talked about life, Simon made this


“Diplomatic missions I would think. See the symbols on the doors, that means they are

government or religious shipments.” Gabriel had been around marinas enough to know

this. He pulled out his field glasses and pointed for Simon to look.

“It would make a helluva cover don‟t you think?” Staring across the water at the empty

cockpit Simon mused out loud. Two people quickly exited the cargo hold, and walked up

the dock. Adjusting the focus, he waited until they got below the dock light to confirm

what his fast beating heart believed.

“It‟s them.” Already on his feet, Simon began running around the dock. They were half

way around the large marina, and the two of them were moving quickly. If he was going

to have any chance to catch them he would have to sprint. Gabriel chased behind him,

while Patricia settled the bill. Her high heels came off and she followed shortly after.

                                        June 24, 2006

It was just after midnight when the security staff changed. Desdemona and Roger made a

run for it. They got to the marina just as a taxi dropped off some returning boaters.

“Can you take us to south to San Fernando?” Holding out United States dollars, she was

not surprised when the taxi driver nodded and grinned at them. He even got out to open
the door for her. As they pulled off though, she spotted an all too familiar face chasing

up the sidewalk.

“Enough of this shit already.” Rolling down the back window, she leaned out. With one

swift movement, she flicked the steak knife at Simon. It missed the skidding off the side

of his head sending him tumbling to the ground.

“Five hundred dollars US if you get us there before him.” Dropping it on the front seat,

she cursed loudly under her breath. Everything had happened so quickly that neither the

cab driver nor Roger realized what she had done. From their vantage point it just looked

like she was leaning out the window.

“Was that the chief again? Wow he certainly is persistent!” Admiring him Roger

grinned from ear to ear, and bounced up and down in his seat. The chase was on again,

and he was a celebrity because of it.


“Your face is bleeding. What the hell happened?” Patricia got there a bit late. Gabriel

was already wiping at the cut on the side of Simon‟s head.

“Call the local authorities. Let them know Roger and Svetlana are here. They just drove

off in a cab heading south along the coast.” As much as the cut smarted, Simon knew he

had gotten quite lucky. Two inches to his right and that knife goes through his eyeball

into his brain.

“Well now that wench has gotten all of us hasn‟t she?” Simon had been the only one yet

to be personally attacked by her until now.

“Finally our car is here.” The valet screeched to a halt in front of them.
“Should you be driving?” Simon slammed his foot on the gas and they sped off down the

same road. Gabe said nothing but continued to administer first aid on the way.


Even with a ten minute head start Desdemona was not feeling comfortable with this

whole situation. Any minute she expected the entire Trinidian police force to come down

on them. If they could get to San Fernando, she had friends there. They would disappear

in five minutes never to be seen again. Getting there though would be the hard part.

Her choice of taxi drivers was paying off. Barely stopping at a light or stop sign the man

pushed his little Citroen to the max. Taking curves in the road like he was on a

NASCAR track, he never once let his foot off the gas pedal

Roger‟s knuckles were pink from holding onto the suicide straps above his head. Not

once though did he complain or say a word. He seemed to understand their need to get

where they were going quickly. The radio for the taxi driver went off. They spoke some

strange language, and then he yelled.

“Road block up ahead, we need to take alternative route. It will cost you a thousand.”

Realizing that the police were searching for his passengers, he decided ill advisedly to up

the stakes.

“The price we agreed upon was $500. Take it or we take your car?” Another knife

mysteriously appeared from within her blouse, and slid up against this throat. Both the

driver and Roger looked on in horror.

“$500 it is.”

“And don‟t touch the radio anymore do we understand each other.” Not understanding a

word he was saying, she did not want to be driven into a trap.
“It is your funeral miss.” This road was not paved like the last one. The car kicked and

bucked helplessly against nature. Through cow pastures and people‟s backyards they

crashed and bumped for nearly an hour, and then they were back on the Oceanside route.

“San Fernando is the next town.” She did not need the play by play, but Desdemona

nodded anyway.

“We need to go to the animal shelter.” Adjusting her bags and such to get ready to jump

out, Desdemona finally told him her final destination.

“It is closed at this time of night.”

“Just take us there and be quick about it.” Every few seconds she flashed the knife

purposely so he still knew it was there.

Jamming on the brakes, they slid up into the parking lot.

“Now get out of here.” True to her word, Desdemona dropped five hundred dollars

through the window. In seconds the driver was a half way out of town already. It was

not until then that he got on the radio to call his dispatch. This left the police way too far

behind to catch them.


Even with the clearance papers it took them nearly twenty minutes to get through the

road block. The officers assured them that no taxis had gotten through. Pointing to a line

of taxis all being held and searched by the side of the road.

“We lost them again.” Simon continued to drive south though. Something was drawing

him down the coast. Other than breathing there were no other sounds in the car as they

broke the speed limit by forty miles per hour at least. When Patricia‟s phone rang,

everyone inside jumped.
“San Fernando the Animal Hospital.” The sign for the turn off came upon them just as

she said it. Down shifting and pulling the emergency brake, Simon barely made the turn

off. They were less than a block away.


A moment after they got inside they could already hear the sirens beginning to sound

from two miles away. They had five minutes at best before the police showed up.

Moving past all the front offices and the cages they came to the oldest portion of the

building. With her knife in hand, Desdemona went into the bathroom. Behind the toilet

she banged away at one of the two hundred year old bricks. It was hollow sounding.

“We have no time.” The sirens sounded like they were right outside the building now.

“Ten more seconds.” Finally the brick gave way and fell to the floor. Shoving it into her

bag, she ran for the back door. When they opened it Simon struck her across the face

with a vicious forearm sending her sprawling to the ground.

Roger charged him but his futile attempt to defend her ended with a single punch to the

face. The Modern Jolly Roger and his accomplice had finally been captured.


                                      June 25, 2006

Reporters from all over the world converged on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. They

all clamored for a view of the most wanted man in the western world. Of course the

government of the Trinidad obliged them sparingly. Taking all of the credit for the

capture, they did not even acknowledge the three amigos from America.

“Yes we are confirming the capture of Roger Gladstone and Svetlana Kuskin. They were

taken into custody in the early morning hours yesterday. They are being held without
bail in the port-au-Spain jailhouse. No move to extradite them to another country for

criminal charges has been approved yet. As we have more information regarding their

future we will let you know. On a side note I would like to thank both the people and law

enforcement of this great national for aiding in the apprehension of two such dangerous

felons.” Reading from his prepared statement the president of the Trinidad and Tobago

beamed with pride. He had done something the great nations of England and the United

States could not. In his eyes he was a global hero.

“What about the insistence of the US government that it was one of their people who was

responsible for the arrest?”

“Is it true that Roger Gladstone is a homosexual?”

“Is Svetlana a former KGB agent?”

Quickly the interesting and otherwise absurd questions of the press rang out, but the

president merely held up his hand and smiled. There would be no questions answered at

this time, as the details were still coming in regarding their infamous inmates.


The arrest photos of Svetlana were horrible. Her nose and cheek bones were shattered

and bruised badly. As a result both of her eyes were black and blue. Roger on the other

hand looked glorious. Simon‟s blow barely left an indentation on his left cheek.

After several hours of ice, most of the swelling had gone down. However, Svetlana was

still fuming as she paced back and forth in her isolated cell. No one had been to see or

question her yet. They chose to focus on the much weaker Roger Gladstone. Her angry

and frustration grew as she tried to imagine what he was saying.
Either completely unaware of her dangerous abilities or just to ego centric to care, they

only left two guards on her cell. Perhaps it was the distortion of her face or her

diminutive size. Whatever, the reason they had seriously underestimated her volatility.

When the time came to remove her from the cell for an arraignment hearing, they did not

call in reinforcements. The two officers shackled her through the cage and then casually

let her out.

Twenty seconds later both were locked in that same cell and her handcuffs were hanging

on the bars. Unlike the men‟s cell block which hand cutting edge security cameras and a

state of the art alarm system, this much older portion of the prison had nothing. Svetlana

was literally in the lobby before anyone even released who she was. Pulling a weapon

from one of the officers, she corralled him close. Under the guise of a hostage, she

strolled out the side entrance ditching him just in time to depart with the three hundred

members of the press.

In less than half an hour the president of Trinidad went from being a hero of the world to

laughing stock of the backward Caribbean. How fickle is fame?


                                       June 26, 2006

Despite their best attempts to keep the news from him, Roger Gladstone was informed by

the press at his arraignment that Svetlana had escaped. Of course his response was

typical Roger.

“Who‟s Svetlana? Where is Desdemona?” Always a few steps behind he had proved to

be much tougher than they expected. He refused to say a word until he was extradited

back to United States soil where he agreed to testify to his crimes committed there. Of
course none of the other countries had agreed to drop their charges at this time. They

wanted a piece of the greatest news story going on the planet. It had death, murder,

action, sex, thievery, and intrigue. What more could a country want to promote?

In the end the US would win out as they often did in cases like this where multiple

countries were involved with an American citizen. Roger would be sent back to Key

West to be charged. Once proceedings were concluded here he would go to Tortola to

stand trial for the murder of twenty-two British Soldiers. In the coming days the charges

against he and Svetlana would continue to pile up.

All told they were each facing over a thousand years a piece. Their only saving grace

was that neither of the British territories of Montserrat or the BVI‟s had the death penalty.

Considering the overwhelming amount of evidence and severity of the charges, Roger

was in quite good spirits as they loaded him on a flight back to Miami.

Two US Marshals and Simon Lagrange were the lucky ones assigned to bring him back.

The addition of Simon was for familiarity. After all technically Simon was no longer a

police officer. Despite the press releases and the word from Martinique, everyone knew

he was the one responsible for capturing the Jolly Roger. Reports from Matlin Graves at

the CIA and Patricia Vasquez at the Department for Homeland Security painted the

pictures of his brilliance. There were several job offers awaiting him in Washington

which he would most certainly refuse. He was retired and needed some rest.

“She‟s going to come to get me you know.” Roger had not said a single word for two

days. It was peculiar for a man who usually never stopped talking. Therefore he caught

Simon off guard when he whispered this in his ear.
“I doubt it Roger. I think she is more likely to come back for these.” Simon had photo

static copies of all the evidence now catalogued and locked to one of the Marshal‟s

wrists. Armed guards would collect the evidence on the other side. There they would be

loaded on a military transport to D.C.

“You watch chief. I wouldn‟t be surprised if she is waiting for us in Miami when we get

there.” Both of the Marshals leaned in to try and hear what was being said.

“She murdered twenty three people Roger. Does the seriousness of this register in that

demented little brain of yours?” The smile vanished from Roger‟s face as Simon spoke.

“She‟s different now. I‟ve changed her. Those two officers in Martinique are evidence

of this. She could have gutted them and hung them from the rafters, but she didn‟t.” As

usual Roger was disillusioned by people masquerading to be his friends. He did have a

point though. Why she didn‟t kill the officers in Martinique was a curious abnormality in

her normal movements? Then there were the sleeping gas bombs in Montserrat which

were curious as well. Had he really affected her somehow?

“I‟d love to see her try that shit on us.” Looking like twins the two US Marshals, Fred

and Barney, snarled confidently.

“Please if she wanted to hurt you there wouldn‟t be anything left of you.” Roger was by

no means an advocator of violence nor was a fighting guru but from what he had seen of

Desdemona she could more than handle her own.

“A hundred and ten pounds just under five feet tall?” Chuckling like an idiot Fred, shook

his head at the ludicrous suggestion
“Yeah if this old man could take her she wouldn‟t even be a test for us. No offense?”

Simon did not say a word to Barney, he merely grinned. There was enough testosterone

being thrown around already without him joining in.

“None of you have clue what that woman is capable of.” Bouncing up and down in his

seat now, Roger kept glancing over Simon‟s shoulder at the photos.

“Do you mind I didn‟t get to see what we found Trinidad?” Whispering in Simon‟s ear

again, Roger wanted to know what the latest piece of the puzzle was.

“Yes I do mind.” Pushing him gently back into his seat again, Simon tightened his seat

belt and loosened his cuffs a bit.

“Don‟t worry he‟s not going anywhere on his own.” Before the two Flintstones could say

anything, Simon addressed them.

About twenty minutes from Miami there was a commotion in the cabin. Flight attendants

danced back and forth and the captain came on to announce they will be landing a little

earlier than expected.

“What‟s the problem?” Fred grabbed the head attendant and flashed his badge at her.

Before she could answer a man walked up and handed him a note.

“Who‟s he?” Barney asked the logical question.

“TSA.” Passing the note down, Fred reached into his jacket and removed the safety from

his weapon. After reading the note Barney did the same thing.

“I told you she was coming for me.” Even before Simon read it, Roger grinned


I don’t know where I am going go when the volcano blows

But I know where you are going to go when this plane goes up in flames

Despite Jimmy’s protest you’re going to go to San Juan airport.

You have ten minutes from now to make a decision 14:02.
As the minutes passed, Simon looked from row to row around the interior of the plane.

Svetlana was a master of disguise. She could be sitting right next to them, and they

might now even know. As the clock struck fourteen twelve there was a visible sigh of

relief from the crew. It appeared to be hoax.

When smoke began to pour out of the ventilation system though the panic set in. Starting

at the back of the plane and moving forward people dropped like flies. Barney and Fred

struggled with the masses towards the front of the plane. Luckily the cockpit responded

quickly and the oxygen masks fell. Those intelligent enough to recognize what was

going on slid the masks over there faces. Simon grabbed the one for Roger first while

hold his breath. Only he did not put the mask on himself. Reaching into his bag

underneath the seat he withdrew his own mask. He was prepared for a contingency such

as this.

More than half of the plane‟s occupants were incapacitated, including the big bag

Marshals. Simon did not panic though. Sitting there patiently, he reached back into his

bag and withdrew a police issues stun gun. The plane began a steep descent. Looking at

the map on the screen he could see that Svetlana had accomplished her goal. They were

landing in San Juan.

It was nearly impossible to talk through the mask, so Simon broke FAA regulations and

text messaged Patricia to let her know what was going on. Her panic was evident from

the horrible grammar and spelling she returned to him including a version of shorthand

that made the messages hard to read.

Army Navy wait at San Rico. You charge Rog.

The two calmest people on the plane were Roger and Simon who stared at one another

and shrugged their shoulders. They both knew this was coming. Neither was the least bit
surprised by the attack. Simon continued to look through the photos while others

screamed and cried for God to save them.

True to her word there were hundreds of police and military personnel on the ground

when they landed in San Juan. It seemed a peculiar place to attempt such a stunt. After

all this was a United States Common Wealth. Whey she didn‟t try to land them on some

small island boggled Simon‟s senses? This was not a big plane. They could have landed

any number of a hundred different places.

They stormed the plane with full riot gear on. Each person was led off individually to be

processed. If Svetlana was disguised as one of the passengers, they would find her even

if it meant strip searches for all eighty five passengers. On a good note none of them

were hurt by the gas. In an hour everyone, despite a headache or two, would be right as


Simon and Roger were carted away under the heaviest guard possible. It would take a

nuclear blast to separate them from one another, as Simon shackled himself to the


“The evidence container attached to your Marshal‟s wrist is the most important thing if

she is going for anything that would be that?” The three commanders came to Simon as

if he was in charge, and he made this announcement.

“We have it already sir.” Arriving with the case barely bigger than a VCR they looked

quite proud of themselves. Holding up the key they smiled and opened it triumphantly.

Only one problem though, it was empty.

“She was on the plane.” Instinctively Simon turned back to face the plane. A sense of

horror swelled up inside of him.
“Get your men away from. GET THEM AWAY NOW!” As the evacuation began at a

torrid pace, the soldiers backed up the perimeter away from it.

A bomb squad was called in as everyone slowly but surely backed away from that


“Well it looks like you may have been a bit paranoid regarding this one chief…” His

statement was interrupted by new activity. What started as slowly as a small plume of

mist from the engines grew larger and larger until the entire plane was engulfed in a thick

cloud of black smoke. Simon casually but purposefully backed up towards the terminal.

“Without further ado…” The explosion lifted the several ton aircraft nearly ten feet into

the air. The concussion shattered car windows as far as a half mile away. Everyone on

the runway was sent flying to their bellies.

Lying there on the ground, Simon and Roger stared at each other blankly.

“I told you she was just here for the clues.” In the chaos and utter bedlam that followed

no one went near either the runway nor burnt out shell of the Liat plane.

Therefore no one saw the single white female jogging slowly towards downtown San

Juan. Svetlana Kuskin had one more clue to acquire, and then it was time to collect her

just reward.

                                       June 27, 2006

With Roger awaiting trial, the debriefing began. Simon and Patricia sat near the front of

a room with nearly a hundred people at desks around them. The questions came from all

angles and every branch of US government was represented.
“Chief Lagrange what do you know about the Quedagh Merchant?” Everyone amongst

them was thoroughly impressed with Simon Lagrange. His methods of capture and

knowledge of just about everything they asked him was phenomenally accurate.

“Not really all that much. Merchant vessel captured by Captain Kidd off the coast of

Madagascar. He attempted to hide its pirated treasure by announcing it was Spanish

Gold. Members of the East Indian Trading company ferreted out his rouse. Shortly there

after he was hung on the gallows, and it took three attempts to break his neck.” A child

of the pirate dynasty, he too had read all the stories like Roger Gladstone. Only he grew

out of that phase, while Roger was just growing into it.

“What do you know about the fate of the treasure after its capture in New York?” There

were so many people talking in the room, Simon could not remember who this person

was. They appeared to be controlling most of the conversation.

“Well until recently I would have thought it was returned to its rightful owners. Having

seen the clues contained within those photo static copies though, I would assume it was

shipped off to St. Thomas shortly after capture and never arrived.” His deductive reason

aside, Simon was a bright man to begin with. Graduating first in his class from Quantico

and the police academy he never ceased to amaze those around him.

“From what you have seen of this evidence what would you assume the purpose of this

scavenger hunt was?” The man‟s voice was hauntingly familiar as though Simon had

heard it a thousand times before. His accent was New England, and his tone high pitched

almost excitedly child like.

“To locate the treasure of the Quedagh, I would think that was abundantly clear?” Why

were they asking him these questions?
“Did you locate the location of the Quedagh?‟

“No sir, I wasn‟t really looking for it either.” Several of the people in the room chortled

at his response.

“Do you believe that Roger Gladstone or Svetlana Kuskin found the treasure?” Again a

couple of them scoffed at this idea.

“I don‟t really have an answer for that. I would doubt it though considering they

continued to search for clues.” On his fifth glass of water already, Simon hoped there

would be a bathroom break soon. Shifting uneasily in his seat, Simon drank some more

to keep his dry mouth hydrated.

“Where do you think the copy of the map you received in Key West came from?”

“I would assume they made several copies for themselves and we got one of them.

Perhaps it was made by someone else who was also searching for it. It could have even

been a test for them to complete, much like the one they presented Roger Gladstone with

in Key West.” All of these questions danced in and out of his mind during the couple of

days after the capture. There were still so little answers.

“Who would have been administering this test?” A second voice from the military

section of the hall spoke out.

“Perhaps they had a buyer for the treasure, and he was testing them to see if they could

find it. It is possible he might have even leaked the map to us as an added test for his

people. This is all just conjecture though.” Patricia was intrigued now with his response.

Simon had never expressed these ideas to her before.
“Did Mr. Gladstone discuss anything about the treasure with you?” It was the director of

the US Marshals asking this question now. Considering the whispering on the plane,

Simon could not blame the man.

“No he did not. He did express curiosity about the clue from Trinidad. However, I felt it

ill advisable to discuss its nature with him.”

“Are you saying he did not know what was recovered from the animal hospital?‟

“Unless he was playing another of his games with me, yes sir that is what I am saying. It

is possible the Svetlana recovered the piece and he had not seen it yet. Or even more

likely that he was just a pawn, and she shared very little of the nature of their mission

with him?” Chatter broke out everywhere around him now.

“So you still contend that Roger Gladstone was a pawn in this process?” With the

darkened nature of the room, Simon could not see the people in the extreme corners. He

was not sure who asked this.

“Yes I still believe that.” Patricia grunted her disapproval at this response.

“You are aware that you are the only one intimately involved with this case that still

believes that?”

“No I was not aware of that.”

After a break they returned to the room, and the questions continued. It took nearly four

and half hours for the committee to grill he and Patricia. When all was done, the head

speaker finished off the debriefing with some very interesting questions.

“Do you think that Svetlana Kuskin will reappear in either yours or Mr. Gladstone‟s lives

in the future?” His solemn tone suggested he was concerned about this.
“It is certainly possible though I would not know why she would. If she did I suppose it

will mean she is still angry with me over the elbow to her face, and in that case I don‟t

believe I will ever see her coming.” Simon knew when he was outmatched physically.

Svetlana was a killer. If she wanted him dead she would accomplish her goal eventually.

“You managed to disarm her in Trinidad…”

“I caught her off guard sir. On equal ground I would probably give her the edge. After

all she missed killing me with a bent steak knife thrown from a moving vehicle nearly a

hundred yards away and traveling at forty miles an hour. I don‟t know about the rest of

you in this room, but I would say I am outmatched.” This time raucous laughter broke

out and most of people seemed to agree with him.

“Given the nature of his relationship with her you do not feel Roger Gladstone would

make a more compelling target?” Another voice from the corner of the room erupted.

“I don‟t have that answer sir. Since Roger is still not talking about her, I may never have

that answer.”


                                       June 28, 2006

“Welcome to the circus?” The trial could not be held in Key West. It was too small and

far too prejudiced regarding this case. Miami was the lucky city to host this most

incredible spectacle. Several other South Florida locations had tried their best to

convince the judge in Key West to send it their way. There were even allegations of

improprieties on their behalf. Someone from one of the Broward County jurisdictions

had tried to bribe him. It was summer in Florida after all. There were not a lot of tourists

spending money. A trial like this guaranteed a huge influx of capital, and they wanted it.
The federal government was subsidizing the cost of trial so there was nothing but an

upside on this one.

“Well you are part of the attraction here my friend.” Patricia Vasquez and Matlin Graves

were riding to the courthouse together. It was day three, and they were finally about to

be directly involved. Roger was still pleading the fifth, and this was disappointing


“Yeah so everyone keeps telling…” Jamming on her brakes, Patricia nearly ran over a

homeless woman pushing her shopping cart across the street.

“Where the hell did she come…” From out of the cart the woman drew a weapon. It was

an M16 with M203 grenade launcher attacked. Cocking the launcher, with one hand she

waved casually with the other.

“For Richard…”


Simon had been approached by every agency in America to come work for them. He was

an instant celebrity, and even talk show hosts were requesting his services. Only he was

not having any of it. Retirement with Brutus had been slow in developing. They had

spent many hours on a little sun fish sailboat he picked up for a few hundred dollars. It

was a start towards his final goal.

Driving towards the courthouse, he was forced to show identification to six people so far.

For all the media and sick bastards there were nearly half as much in security personnel.

There was so much so that Simon felt unsafe. It was the perfect environment for a person

like Svetlana Kuskin to infiltrate.
His stomach had been uneasy all morning. Today was the day she would come for him.

This feeling kept coming up. He even dreamed that she showed up in the courtroom

dressed as a nun, and blew the whole place to smithereens with a bomb disguised at a

cross. It was a disturbing nightmare to say the least.

Ten minutes after he arrived, he heard the screams and shouts of Jolly Roger fans in the

courtyard. His caravan was approaching. Maybe he was wrong about today. Perhaps it

was just a bad dream.

Suddenly the shouts and screams of excitement changed to those of terror. Running to

the window he observed that cloud of gray smoke he had seen twice before.

“Where does she get all this gas from?” It was a strange thought that came to his head, as

he ran for the exits along with everyone else. As with all the other occasions; the police

were ill prepared for this sort of attack. They fell like rag dolls to the ground. As the

second black smoker can tumbling in beside them visibility vanished to nothing.

Twenty minutes later as the smoke cleared, Simon was amongst the first to get to the

armored Fort Explorer. Opening the door he expected to see some gross butchered

version of Roger in the back seat. Only it was empty. Empty that is except for a black

napkin with skull and cross bones on it. Painted on it with an iridescent silver marker

were the words.


This final obligatory nod to Jimmy Buffett brought somewhat of a smile to Simon‟s face.

Svetlana had really come back for Roger, and not to kill him.

It was not until the next day that Simon found out about the attack on Patricia and

Matlin‟s vehicle. He came out of retirement twenty minutes later vowing to find and

capture the Modern Jolly Roger and Svetlana Kuskin if it was the last thing he ever did.



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