“One thing at a time. What is it you want first?” I asked over the rock solid satellite connection.
“I want to go home,” she said. “There are lots of great looking men coming and going from here, but I miss home.” She was almost in tears.
“Let me talk to the admiral,” I said. She obviously handed the phone back to him.
“Congratulations again Max,” he said. I could tell there was more. “Too bad so many people had to die, but at least they were the right people.” It was pretty close to a ‘Don’t blame yourself’ speech.
“Don’t worry admiral, I’m not in danger of going postal. Some of my team have different ideas about what is the right way to go, but in the end no one endangered anyone else on the team. I’m calling because Jen wants to go home and I have things to do here yet. How about sending a man with her for a week. If there is anything funny going on, I will rush home. I expect the threat of a take over in Aster is over. I would still like her to have protection for a while just in case.”
“Kind of like a condom on a guy who had a vasectomy,” the Admiral suggested.
“Something like that sure,” I replied.
“My men don’t come cheap. The people around here love her and all that, but business is business.” he suggested.
“Well I got her into it, I guess I can foot the bill for a body guard.”
“You just want one man to live in with her and be her shadow?” he asked.
“Exactly,” I replied.
“5k a week,” he said to me.
“Do it and put it on my bill.” I said.
“I think I will put it in the paper thug’s bill,” he said with a laugh. “It really is a cost of doing business.” I was surprised how fast my slang got picked up at the swamp.
“Whatever, just make sure she stays healthy.” I said. “Give it the rest of the day for the word of Estavante’s end to get out, then send her home. Meanwhile put her back on please.”
“It’s me,” Jen said into the phone. “I got the gist of it from the Admiral. So what can I do for you?”
“What did you decide about the yacht? Do we need to scuttle it or can we sell it?” I asked.
“The admiral has a genius computer and financial man here. Of course I did have to sleep with him, but the Yacht has been re-registered in Panama. The registration paperwork is in your name. You can sell it at anytime. I am having the paperwork sent to my office in Aster.”
“Very cool,” I replied. “So give me the website, so that I can reference it to the harbor master. After all the ship’s documents are all in Estavante’s name. I don’t suppose you know what this thing is worth?”
“I have no idea,” Jen said. “Alex probably does.”
“I’ll ask. So name me a good island with not too many laws?” I demanded of my friend.
“”Barbados it’s as good as any,” she said.
“That works for me,” I admitted. “See you back in Aster in a week or so.”
I returned to the bridge. “Make it Barbados,” I said. I waited a moment then asked. “What’s this tub worth with clean paperwork?”
“Quick sale in this market, a million maybe a little more or less.” he suggested.
“Tell you what, after a week in Barbados, sail it somewhere and sell it. Take out all the expenses of sailing it to a sales point. We can split the money in six parts. One share for each of the pirates,” I said. “One for me of course, and one for the Irishman.”
“Why not let me do a wire transfer to you for a quarter mil right now. You sign it over to me, I just happen to know a guy,” he said then laughed.
“You damn shipping tycoons. Too bad you aren’t Greek.” I said with a laugh. Do the transfer and I’ll call Jen to do the paper work. But you are paying for this vacation in Barbados make no mistake about it. And if you fuck the other pirates, I’ll lead the mutiny.”
“Very well Miss Christian,” he said with a laugh.
The seven of us spent a week at one of the tourist trap hotels and casinos. Even though I had told Alex the trip was on him, as part of the yacht sales price, I relented and handed each player ten grand to lose at the casino. To a man they did. Even I lost the ten grand. It took all week but I managed.
At the end of the week, and after an additional three day voyage, Martin, Smith, and I got dropped with our baggage at a small pier in Fort Meyers Florida. My first purchase with my ill gotten gains was a laptop computer at Wal-Mart. The second purchase was from Craig’s list. It was a very nice three year old PT Cruiser just like the one I had at home. Well it was a classy looking black woody. I bought it from a woman who had lost her job and needed to sell it to pay her credit card bills. I loaded the weapons and money into the rear of the cruiser and planned to head for home. Martin and Smith checked into a small motel and awaited a pickup from Swamp Thing. The pickup was set for the next day.
Since I decided that I needed to get the cruiser registered temporarily in Florida, so that I could safely drive it back to Aster, I needed a place to spend the night in Florida.. “So Martin does that offer from the yacht still hold?” I asked standing in front of his motel room door..
“Always,” he said.
It was an interesting night. I didn’t get much sleep, but I got a lot of penises, in a lot of places. I suffered from muscle memory all the next day. Even as I stood in line for the temporary license tag, I squirmed at the feeling, phantom or otherwise, of something in my rectum. Since I had not want to get stopped along the way, with a car full of weapons and a box full of cash, I had spent the uncomfortable twenty minutes in line at the Florida DMV.
When I finally arrived in Aster, two days later, I drove my newer, classier cruiser straight to Jennifer’s office. I found Jen’s bodyguard sitting in a Cadillac SUV outside her office . “So what does it look like on the ground here?” I asked after explaining my interest.
“I swear, I have not seen anything that even comes close to a threat. Nobody has paid the least bit of attention to either Jen or Bob.” he replied.
Since Mike was in his late twenties and had a body as hard as muscle and bone can get, I had to ask. “So how is Jen in bed these days?”
He looked a little embarrassed, but he finally said, “A hell of a lot better than I would have expected from a forty year old woman. Her body is really in good shape.” When he said that about my friend, I was more than a little jealous. Us women are so bitchy, even with our friends.
“She works out and runs like five miles a day,” I said.
“It works for her, and yeah, we have been running together,” he said.
That’s not all, I thought. Since we both knew the score, there was no need to make it an issue. “So I guess your job is done,” I suggested.
“Well I think I will hang around till something comes up for me down east,” he said.
“My god you are smitten,” I said with a laugh. “You should ask Jen about that, before you make any plans.”
My largest problem at that moment was a ton of cash in my gun safe. Since I drove up from Fort Meyers, I still had it in the back pack which I had used to transport it home. I knew enough to know that it was almost useless to me in it’s present form. Even after all the shucking and jiving in Barbatos, and giving money to Smith and Martin as a bonus, I still had over 1.5 million bucks in cash. That is one hell of a lot of cash to hide. I did not want that much money around. It was one thing to have professional killers after me, but quite another to have every gun thug in the southeast trying for me as well.
“Jen, Maxine,” I said into my real cell phone. The burn phone had gone into the lake, where I had eaten lunch that day, as I did most days when I was home. “Tell me what to do with all this cash. I need to get it into a bank or something.”
“Well I am sure your friends in Virginia can get you waivers to just walk in and deposit it. Probably not here but in Tryon.” she suggested.
“Could you take care of that. Just tell me where and when to take the money and I’ll do it.” I replied.
“How much do you have?” she asked.
“1.5 with an M,” I said.
“Now that is a lot of cash,” Jennifer replied. “You know there is going to be tax and other expenses.”
“Yeah like your fee,” I said.
“Well let’s call Mike my fee, but I do want to be paid for the week at the swamp. That was BORING.”
“How much?” I asked.
“Five thousand should do it. Bob and I did get a rest and a chance to become friends again.”
“I’m sure,” I said. “Is Mike still here?”
“No, I sent him home,” Jennifer replied.
“I expected no less.” I said. “You have my number if anything looks odd?”
“Of course, and you need to call Blevins sometime today,” Jennifer said.
“Why the hell do I need to call him?” I asked.
“The dirty cop investigation is still going on and he wants you to hold his hand I think. Oh I’ll call your friends and see about the deposit.” Jen said just before she broke the connection.
“Blevins,” I said when he answered. “Jen said you wanted to talk to me.”
“Yeah our dirty cops are falling all over themselves naming names. Especially since the commando raid on Estavante’s Place. You wouldn’t know anything about that would you?”
“Let’s say I did, even so it isn’t your jurisdiction.” I replied.
“No it isn’t, but the news said there was all kinds of information on his computer about who Estavante did business with. Do you have any more cop names?”
“The Feds have all that information. I assume they will share. Why don’t you call this number,” I said it then I read off Lamar’s number. “Tell him who you are and what you want.”
“Thanks Max I owe you,” he said.
“Yes you do and I’m going to collect real soon.” When I said that, I had no idea it would be so soon.
“Hello,” I said into the phone, which had just played the Mag 7 theme again.
“I was told to have you just walk into the main office of your bank and hand them the bag of money. They will deposit it and notify the proper authorities, who have been advised to expect it and you today or tomorrow.”
“I’m headed to Tryon with the money this afternoon. I want it out of my gun safe.” I assured her.
“Blevins, I’m calling in that favor. I need you to ride shotgun for me,” I said.
“When?” he asked.
“Right now,” I replied. I didn’t want the information floating around.
“Pick me up outside in five minutes,” he said without even asking what the favor was.