*If you have not done so already, please read the following before continuing:
“Another Haul, Part I”
“Another Haul, Part II”
“You ready man?” Dale’s question brought Cal out of his introspection. They were readying for another three-day trip out to fish, but also a pickup. Much had changed over the course of three years, but the practice was still the same. They were drug runners.
Three months after their initial haul, Mike and Carlos started showing up dockside still very much intoxicated. Infuriated, Cal had told them that if it continued, he’d fire them outright and hire somebody else willing to work hard and act more responsible. Their response was cocky, and insinuated that they’d go to the police about Cal’s side work. Even more enraged, he amplified his threats. He knew where they lived, who their friends were, and if they so much as farted suspiciously, he’d ensure they talked to nobody. Though their English was limited, they got the picture. Cal was implying he’d silence them permanently. This was not a gentleman’s trade. One wrong move, and either the law was after you, or some higher-up who wanted to make sure you never squealed. Their behavior improved, and Cal regretted his threats for some time before determining they were necessary. Dale, equally concerned, sided with Cal – at least in theory.
“Would you actually follow through if they sang?”
“I doubt it. I’m not a killer. But I sure as hell can burn down their houses and scare the hell out of them.”
“That might scare them right to the police though.”
“I’m trying not to think about it. If they keep on the straight and narrow, I’ll give them both a raise here soon; keep them coming back for more. Everybody gets greedy. Shit, I know I have.”
The greatest nuisance was the matter of what to DO with their money. Mike and Carlos clearly blew it on booze, probably some sort of narcotics, and God knows what else. Women, maybe. Dale just sat on his, as did Cal. Dale was unmarried, so had no complications about sharing his profit with his wife, but Cal’s situation was more difficult. He’d thought about it for some time and eventually reached the conclusion that his wife would either leave him in horror (and go to the police), or be thrilled with their newfound wealth and quickly change her lifestyle to match – but they couldn’t do that. He opted not to tell her, and just kept generally silent about it. She knew something was amiss, but he was able to fairly blame it on smaller catches, less income, and barely making ends meet along the way. To the best of his knowledge, she bought it.
There had been complications in the drops a few times. More than once no coordinates had been issued, and fishing was continued with no pickup. Those weeks were skinny, obviously, and the anger registered on Mike and Carlos’ faces quickly. They were growing accustomed to their extra income. Not only were they coming to expect it, but they may also have been relying on it to continue their opulent lifestyles. They always presumed it was Cal’s fault, which was not at all the case.
When shipments resumed, they were always greeted by a different boat, and Cal had to assume that the last one had been apprehended by some law enforcement agency. The people changed, too, but never got any friendlier. Exchanges remained silent, tense affairs.
Over drinks after the latest haul, Dale and Cal discussed what they would eventually do with their profits.
“How long you plan on doing this, Cal? I mean, I know you gave me, Mike and Carlos raises, but I know you still take a big cut. When do you plan to cash out?”
“I haven’t decided, actually. Almost every time we go out, I think, ‘this is the last one. I have enough now.’ But then Jim calls and we do it again next time we’re out. Yeah, I got a fair bit stored away, but Ellie isn’t going to understand at all if I just quit, and I’m sure not staying around here either. I don’t think I’d be safe. Jim’s come to expect a shipment from us, and I really don’t know how to tell him I’m about ready to quit.”
“You think he’d come after us if we cashed out?”
“Unfortunately, yes. From what I gather, we’re his best suppliers. For what we take in, we’re being overpaid a LOT. The only thing that justifies that is our reliability. Just changing hands from the barrels to our boat more than doubles the price of the cargo. It’s all shipping costs, I guess. Hell, you can buy a kilo from the farms in Columbia for only about $900. By the time it’s in New York, though, it can go for about $23,000. A whole lot of assholes are getting rich along the way here, and that includes us, and no doubt Jim, too. If we bail, he loses his income. He’ll be pissed, I’m sure.”
“So how do we get out of this?”
“I don’t know, really. The best conclusion I can reach is just leave one day and not come back. Ellie won’t really miss me, but I’d be sure to leave her a huge chunk. We haven’t really been talking for more than a year now. She thinks I’m depressed, and shit, maybe she’s right. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s having an affair either. She’s tells me I’m distant all the time.”
“You saying you’d just leave her behind?”
“Yeah. I’m rich, Dale. I’ll buy a new wife somewhere; well, at least a mistress. Wives cost too much.”
“That’s awfully shitty.”
“So is drug running” he shot back quietly.
“So let me get this straight, you plan to just leave one day and not come back? You talking on the boat, or flying, or what?”
“I mean just heading out one day and taking a long haul to another port, tying up, finding an airport, and leaving the country.”
“What about your money? It’s still in cash though, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, that’s the only problem. And I’m not sure where to go, anyway.”
“There’s always a Swiss numbered account.”
“That’s bullshit. They still know who you are and if you show up with over a million dollars in cash, they’re going to raise their eyebrows, and probably also make inquiries. I’ve already researched that. As far as I can tell, it has to stay cash, and it has to stay with me. I can’t even wire it anywhere without catching unwanted attention. Everybody’s big into stomping out money laundering, which pisses me off.”
“So we’re stuck with a shitload of cash and no way to transport it.”
“Yup. And if you declare it at the airport, they’ll detain you for sure. A middle aged white guy hauling a bag full of money? Yeah right. TSA will commence with a body cavity search immediately.”
“What about smuggling it on your person? Like in a fake arm cast or something?”
“Yeah, I guess that would work. There’s not enough metal in the money to set off the machines. Question is, can I fit it all, or do I have to use a leg cast.”
“Either way, you’re out of the country, right?”
“Yeah, without a visa. Dammit, every scenario has me talking to some governmental authority at some point, either for a travel visa, citizenship, buying land, a house, etc. And if I try to avoid all that, I’m stuck living in a shit third world country, which isn’t how I want to retire. I’m 38, Dale. I can’t just hack it in the jungle anymore. And besides, that’s not what I got rich to do this for anyway.”
“So basically we’re screwed.” Dale looked irritated.
“Maybe. I dunno. Your fake cast idea sounds pretty good. When do you want to get out?”
“Any damn day is fine with me. I’m getting paranoid. I don’t hardly have any friends anymore, I can’t spend this money here, and all I do is fish for tuna and sit on a huge heap of cash that’s not doing me any good.”
“Wanna shoot for three months from now? That’s enough time to tie up some loose ends, figure out a destination, and hopefully do it all without attracting Jim’s attention. I’m sure that asshole has us tailed 24/7. We’re his retirement, too, I imagine.”
“That works. What port we going to head to, and what’re we going to tell Mike and Carlos?”
“We’ll tell them we have a special assignment and they’ll get paid double. Then I pay them, they go drinking or something, and we just walk. I figure we sail for Miami. That place is busy, which I want. Sound good?”
“I guess so. I’ll start looking at resorts where I can live forever.”
“Yeah, me too. I’m thinking Belize. You?”
“I have no idea. I’ll go with you and check it out, if you don’t mind. No promises I’ll stay though.”
“I’d love to have you. We can troll for mistresses together.”
As they walked to the car, they discussed their ideal mistress, down to the color of her eyes. They had money now, and potentially a way out.
To Be Continued…
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw All Rights Reserved