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Old 08-04-2014, 06:19 AM
DKR DKR is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2011
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Default World of the Chernti : The Fisher People

Chapter One
The Launching



He was just about ragged out. The trip had been epic, even for him. Singapore to Tokyo, then on to Seattle and then add in the crap he had to endure from Customs and DHS. Next he flew on to Phoenix and before finally stopping in New Orleans. All this driven by the need for speed.

He'd agreed to deliver a boat to Belize, friend of the family thing, to placate his father. Now all he had to do was make the yard in Gulfport before tomorrow evening. The owner would meet him at the yard and he would 'assist', teach in reality, the new owner the ins and outs of sailing a cutter rigged ketch. Because Dad knew he hated to teach, his normal fee had been tripled and he'd promised to visit the yard to ensure any and all work had been done correctly.

Walking up the concourse, he spotted a kiosk offering limo service to the casinos in Biloxi. The man sitting behind the counter raised an eyebrow when he asked if the service would be able to stop in "Guf Port" and drop him off.

"Ya'all from around here?" was the skeptical answer.

"Not really. Was raised in Mobile, mostly." He took a moment to explain his need to get to a boatyard in Gulfport.

"You be work'n on de platforms den?"

He shook his head. "Got a boat to deliver down South. I'm kinda in a hurry, if you aren't going..."

The old man behind the counter laughed as he dropped a GONE sign in a slot on the outside of the booth. "Forgetabuncha tourists, I get paid by the run. Dropped a lot of plucked chickens here this morning and don't see anyone but you, so let's get going, Son"

He followed the man outside to the parking lot and was surprised to seen a luxury shuttle coach, one that would hold 20 or more passengers. The driver waved him inside as he walked to the front of the vehicle. As Mac stowed his seabag, he noted the old man carefully checking the oil, and pulling on belts and such.

He could appreciate the effort. More than once, he'd been stranded overseas when the local POS jitney crapped out, threw a belt or caught fire. Shrugging, he took a seat. It all came with the territory, good or bad. The driver was soon in his seat and they headed to the slab that would take then East on I-10. In no time they were flying along, right at the speed limit.

With any luck, he'd be at the yard in just over an hour. Going over the checklist in his head, he was interrupted in his musings. He looked up, the driver had said something. "Sorry, missed that?"

"I said, you get anything to eat lately? Your belly be growl'n loud enuf to hear all da way to here. Dat airplane grub ain't no good for ya."

"You got something in mind?" The driver was right; he'd passed on the airline food, just too iffy if you were heading out to sea soon after landing.

"Day be a place in Bay Saint Louie, got the Gumbo to kill for. Ya know?"

"What do they put in it?" Gumbo could have just about anything, it paid to ask.

That got a laugh. "Better ta ask what day don' put in it. Got da shrimp, got da sausage, got damn near everytin'. Sound good?"

"If it hasn't killed you yet, I guess I could use a good meal." Less than a half hour later, he had to admit, the gumbo was world class. The diner was non-descript, clean as an operating room and the cook seemed to be a friend of the driver. All making for a good meal.

The good meal ended when a skinny dude walked in the door and pulled a gun, demanding cash. The woman behind the register just opened the drawer and handed over a small wad of bills. That just seemed to enrage the bastard.

"That all you got! Where's the rest?" That just earned him a head shake from the cashier.

Ranting, the man walked toward their table. Stopping, he pointed the gun at the driver, screaming for him to hand over his cash. That netted him a few dollars. The gun now pointed at Mac.

"Gimme your wallet!"

Rather that comply, Mac calmly kicked over the table forcing the thug to take a step back. Before the guy could get his balance, Mac grabbed his hand, the one with the gun, and slammed it over his knee. You could hear the sound of breaking bones. Before the creep could really get a good scream going, Mac slammed the thug's head back into the counter behind him. The resounding 'thock' left no doubt the guy was going to be no more trouble.

As Mac was setting the table back upright, the cook came running up. After cursing for a few minutes he added, "This be the sonofabitch that robbed me last time."

"How long ago was that?" Not that Mac cared, but it might calm the man down.

"Been two months now. Last time, he had a knife. The damn judge, he give 'em 30 days in the county pen, now he come back. This time with a gun." The cursing started again.

Rather than say anything, Mac carefully pushed the thugs other arm out and slammed his work-boot into the guys hand. Again the sound of breaking bones was heard all over the diner. "Gonna be a lot longer a'fore he bothers you again, eh?"

"Thanks, Mister. Things are so tight, I just can't afford..."

Mac held up a finger, stopping the rush of words. "I can't afford any hassle with the Sheriff... What are you going to tell him?"

Now the cook was smiling, "Big 'ol brother come in to eat, this punk pulled a gun. Got his bad self stomped on. Ain't ever seen this brother, but the dude was big enough to play pro ball, ya know?"

"Good. How long will you wait to call this in?"

"When he wake up and the screaming starts to bother me...maybe." After a shrug, he added, "Dinners on me, Mr. football guy."

Mac just nodded and walked out to the limo. He'd be happy if the owner waited long enough for them to clear the County line. The driver joined him a few minutes later, "Ol' Johnny, he be tell'n the Man just what he said." After a snort, "That sumbitch, he ain't coming back. Ya know?

"Just so your friend doesn't dump him in the bayou, for the gators. He could kill a gator. The guy was a meth head for sure."

"Ya, the place be crawling with 'em; nowadays. Wish I know'd a good place be free of the scum..."

"You find out, let me know, would you?" Another reason he enjoyed being at sea, a real lack of scumbags, at least offshore, for now. He gave the driver the address of the yard and settled back to enjoy the rest of the trip in silence.

When they pulled up in front of an imposing fence, Mac asked, "How much?"

"Didn't have no passengers this run, jus' deadhead'n to get home. Ya know? Ain't gotta do any paperwork that way."

"Thanks for the ride then, I really appreciate it."

"Next time you come back, go eat to Jimmy's, he got day best of shrimp. Good luck on your delivery, hope you get da good winds and all."

"So do I, thanks again." He stepped off and watched as the van left in a swirl of dust and tree litter. Entering the yard as unnerving. In addition to the tall fence, topped by razor wire, he didn't miss the flood lamps, which would bathe the entire area in bright light. The door to enter what had to be the office was heavy metal, set in a recessed frame, and with more than one deadbolt. Had things gotten that bad in the last few years?

Once inside, he found a small waiting area, with another door marked as the office entrance. It didn't open when he grabbed the doorknob. Looking around, he finally spotted the camera. He waved and said, "Mac MacConnel, I'm here to pick up a boat?" The door buzzed and he walked into a much larger office area, one fronted by a wide counter. Tall enough that it came to damn near chest height, the counter was made of some kind of polished material.

Shortly, a man walked up and asked, politely, "May I see some ID, please?"

The request was normal enough, expected even. One didn't just hand a vessel over without checking. A lot of checking, in fact. After handing over his well-worn passport, he took a seat. This could take some time, if past experience was a guide. The man would check that the document was legit, then look through several databases, to ensure he was both real and really in-country. Brave new world, indeed.

Less than a half hour later the man reappeared. Sliding the passport back across the counter, he added a large envelope, a small envelope and a small stack of loose paperwork. "You're a day early, thank you." As he touched in stack in turn, he said, "Ships papers, already cleared with the Port Captain and the DHS weenies. Your papers for Belize, transit, visa and so on. Nice this time of year, by the way. This is the manifest of installed equipment that we tested. EPA paperwork and certification." He made a face after that remark.

Finally, he pushed the envelope across the desk. "This arrived by courier yesterday, from the Bolt's owner." He shrugged. "If you'd like some privacy, we have..."

"No, that' fine." Mac picked up the envelope that had come over to him and took a seat. He found a rather substantial pile of cash and a letter. The owner had been delayed, business and all. Would Mac please proceed to Big Creek Port and they could meet there. The wad of cash was his fee in advance plus a bonus. The letter held a promise for more money and an additional bonus. He would deliver the boat, then leave. There were other jobs waiting, and he hated to be at someone's, anyone's beck and call. He'd gotten his fill of that kind of crap in the Navy.

"Bad news, Sir?"

Mac looked up, "Eh? No. Just a request to do some last minute provisioning for the boat, the owner will meet me at the other end."


******

This is the start of the book. If I see some interest here, I'll post more.

Enjoy.
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