PART II: THE KINGPIN
THE PIRATE PART I is free on all eReaders
THE PIRATE PART II: THE KINGPIN
Max is sacked out on the couch. It’s dark in the mobile home, but the sun is playing around at the edges of the miniblinds.
Jack shakes his shoulder, “Wake up, Dude. I’m leaving.”
Max stirs. “Shipping out?” he groans, half asleep.
“No. Special assignment with the DEA.”
Max comes awake. “DEA?”
“Drug Enforcement Agency,” Jack says.
“You’re always saying,” Max says whimsically, “you want a big adventure.”
“Well I got one this time,” Jack says. “I’m going to Puerto Rico.”
“Duck if they start shooting.”
“Hey, if Wendy calls tell her I’m at sea, ok?”
“Don’t forget to send her some money for diapers.”
“Yeah, diapers.” Jack is standing there in his Coast Guard uniform. He looks fit and official. His seabag is packed and leaning against his leg. He feels like he’s growing up and growing away from Max. In his friend, he sees his old self. The old me, he thinks. Max is falling back to sleep under a sheet on the couch. Max smokes weed every day, watches game shows all morning, Jerry Springer in the afternoon. He doesn’t think about what he’s going to do when he grows up.
“Buddy, I have to go,” Jack whispers, but Max is snoring. “You keep looking at boats, ok?”
Jack hoists his seabag onto his back and walks through the pimp little kitchen and out the door. A minute later, the sound of his truck starting shakes the windows and the miniblinds. Outside, Jack puts it in reverse and backs out onto the street.
Those two long bridges that have appeared on millions of postcards, the ones that seem to be a few feet above the clear blue water, running parallel for miles and miles. Two lanes heading northeast and two lanes heading southwest, connecting all the little islands between Miami and Key West.
Right now Eduardo Scabado is sitting in the back seat of his Eldorado. The car is going 70 miles per hour along that long low bridge heading southwest. Thug-1 is driving while Thug-2 fiddles with the controls on the radio. Eduardo likes the chee-chee cha-cha Cuban music. Twangy guitars, marimbas and that calypso sort of sound. He likes the parts when the mournful woman sings and especially when she is joined by a male singer with a high squeaky voice. The heartfelt duets where the man sings sadly about the saucy girl who doesn’t return his love. Those songs remind Eduardo of his childhood in Cuba.
“Chee-chee cha-cha, please,” Eduardo says from the back looking up from his Surface Tablet where he’s playing Fruit Ninja. God, he loves these games. They’re more addictive than cocaine.
Thug-2 tunes in the radio to a good song and Eduardo smiles, snaps his fingers. “Yeah, I like this one so much. It makes me think of my dear mami.” Eduardo gets a faraway look in his eyes as he glances south across the open ocean towards Cuba, where his mami is buried in the sacred soil. He relishes the melancholia of the moment. His otherwise emotionally empty life calls for this.
The only honest feelings he has anymore are those he has for his mami. Any feelings of true joy or love he had in the past are gone. Since rising to the rank of Jefe del Sindicato, he’s shut down all emotional connections with anyone. It’s kill or be killed now. Meaningless relationships, making deals, selling, collecting and stashing away as much cash as possible, that’s all there is, he reminds himself of this every day. Whenever he thinks about the future, he makes up some pleasant lies. The truth, he knows, is too grim to dwell on. The Jefe role is exciting and glamorous in the moment but Eduardo knows from looking at his predecessors, he will come to a sudden, bloody end. No retirement. No 401k. No condo on the beach with kids and grandkids running around. No driving to church in an Alzheimer’s haze—leaving his blinker on all the way there. It’s going to be a bullet in the head and a splash in the ocean someday. All the higher ups in the Sindicato are demented and dangerous. Eduardo is certain he will die at the hands of his managers or their enemies, and if not them, it will be law enforcement. He switches off these dark thoughts to focuses on the task at hand. Find Coast Guard boy and seize the cash Cuban and White Guy say they paid him. Then force him get more product.
Eduardo slashes at Fruit Ninja. He’s getting angry. God, the mood swings. From melancholy thoughts of dear mami, to fear of his inevitable death, and then anger over being ripped off. He wonders about this Coast Guard sailor. Probably a pasty white kid who pinched some of that seized grass and thought he could get away with it.
He’s in for a big surprise. Eduardo slashes three juicy watermelons. He glances out the window and sees a small aircraft flying across the sky. It’s a jet, and it’s climbing into the brilliant blue. Eduardo thinks about rising higher into the Sindicato. He’d have just such a plane to hop around the world in while putting deals together. He’d trade in Thug-1 and Thug-2 for some ninja style hit men. His own personal bodyguards instead of these knuckleheads. He’d hire some legit guys from one of those mercenary companies. He’s heard about them, seen websites advertising former US Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. Hired guns to protect the highest bidder. He considers the irony—US military soldiers, assassins, lethal operatives trained to protect American interests, but they end up leaving the US Military where they are expected to lay down their lives at a moment’s notice for some two-faced politician or a power-hungry general. They’re supposed to jump out of a plane in the middle of the night, land in a place like Pakistan or Syria, and go kill terrorists for what? For glory and honor and patriotism? For minimum wage? For mom and apple pie and Chevrolet? Bullshit.
Eduardo is on a riff chopping fruit. He’s never made it to this level before.
Those soldiers figure it out pretty quickly, especially when they start getting emails and text messages from companies like Blackwater and DynCorp and Triple Canopy. Those shadowy companies offering to pay $150,000 a year to protect an African dictator or Central American businessperson (aka Kingpin) who, ironically, they’re supposed to defend the USA from. Eduardo knows that many of these Rangers and SEALs are like professional athletes, loyal to the team who offers the biggest paycheck, and then even barely so, because they are taking advice from their agent. Eduardo glances out the window and sees the jet now just a speck far off in the sky. He watches it soaring high into the brilliant blue over the ocean. Little does he know that Jack Turner is in that jet, headed with Mr. Banks and several other members of the joint DEA / Coast Guard team to Puerto Rico. Eduardo wants that jet or one like it, and he wants it full of buffed up body guards, hot babes, good food and liquor.
“This makes sense,” Eduardo says to Thug-2 who looks back over the passenger seat.
“What’s that, boss?” Thug-2 asks.
“The Coast Guard seizes our shipments.” Eduardo intentionally says ‘our shipment’ to make Thug-1 and Thug-2 feel ownership for the business, but it’s just a ruse he picked up on one of the management training podcasts he’s been listening to.
Thug-2 smiles because he does in fact feel ownership.
Eduardo sees the grin and thinks, damn this shit works, look at him. He does feel ownership. He’ll do whatever I tell him, probably take a bullet for me; all because I work a little management-speak on him. Poor fool. Eduardo continues, “This Jack the sailor boy, I don’t know if I should kill him or put him on the payroll.”
“He’s got some big balls.” Thug-1 glances at Eduardo in the rear view. “Especially for ripping off the Coast Guard.”
“What are we gonna do when we find him, boss?” Thug-2 asks.
“I don’t know,” Eduardo quickly slashes two watermelons, several cantaloupe and a bunch of bananas, “but I’ll figure it out before we get to Key West.”
If you enjoy a good Sea Story,
these two salty tales are free on all eReaders:
Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Smashwords and Kobo.
Malcolm Torres is the author of original Sea Stories.