INTO THE NIGHT
It was a long drive from Tuscaloosa to St. Augustine. An all day drive. Morrissey drove most of the way with the girls hanging out in the back seat. They were playing like little kids on a holiday. He let it go. They needed it. Tabine especially needed it. To be a little girl again and remember being happy. But there was a big storm on its way. He kept thinking about that. How to pull it off. How to keep everybody alive. Everybody except Evelyn. She had paid ten grand up front to get 'Melody' back with a promise of ten more upon delivery. He would have to up that ante to maybe thirty grand, and then double-cross her. There were a lot of unknowns. Evelyn was some kind of snake. Like that one that screwed up everything for Adam and Eve. What a fucked up situation that was. He glanced into the rear view mirror. In his mind, two little girls playing patsy with their hands. He pulled off the road to take a piss.
Morrissey walked back to the car, zipping up his pants. Penny had climbed behind the wheel.
"Get in the back, Jack," she said with a smile. They were about two hours from St. Augustine. The sun was going down. Penny turned the radio on pushing the buttons restlessly as she barreled down the highway which kept rising and falling. A jazzy number came up only to disappear as she rode through a valley. Then some station in New Orleans and a disc jockey talking to truckers about road conditions and the weather. Then just static. She glanced into the rear view mirror. Tabine was slumped against Cully.
"Put your arm around her, Cully," she thought to herself. And Cully put his arm around her. Penny smiled and drove on. She knew they were heading into something scary, but something that had to be done.
St. Augustine in the night was just another place.
"What do you want to do Cully?" she said into the rear view mirror. Tabine was fast asleep, her head on Morrissey's lap.
"Pull in somewhere Penny," he said. "We just need to crash." Penny drove on looking for a motel. Morrissey sat there looking down at Tabine. Petting her like a sleeping cat. He thought back about that day that changed everything. That day his wife and young daughter died. The punk he killed to avenge them. That's what started his renegade life of evening up the scores where lawfulness fell short. The guy was just a punk kid. He never stood a chance, really. Morrissey felt sick. He ran his fingers through Tabine's hair. He caressed her cheek. The shit was about to hit the fan. He did an inventory in his mind of his resources. It would all come down to guns and people and who would win, and how. He thought about Evelyn and how her mind was working. She knew she would have to pay out a lot of bucks to get Tabine back. And she knew it would get more complicated than that. And he knew he had to out-think her. He looked up at Penny pulling into a motel. The DelRay Inn. He looked down at Tabine. They were both tough. And they were both babies. And he knew that if he made the wrong move, he wouldn't be able to live with it.
NO REST FOR THE WEARY
They all slept together that night on a single bed. But it wasn't about sex. It was about solidarity. Being one in the face of something dark and menacing. Morrissey had a dream of faces parading past him. Pale faces as though lit by moonlight. Faces of dead people. People he had killed. He thought about giving them their lives back. Giving them another chance. Making the bullets fly backward and out of the bloody hole. Making the hole disappear as the bullets returned to the chamber of the gun in his hand. Throwing his gun into the river. He woke up sweating and breathing hard. Penny and Tabine were snuggled up against him. Sound asleep. Naked and vulnerable. He ran his hands idly over their skin, reliving that dream in his mind. There's no undoing a thing. They deserved to die. He stared off into the darkness of the room. He saw Evelyn laughing. He saw Anika's flailing arms as she sank into the sea. He saw Evelyn laughing. He saw some woman dead in some motel somewhere. And Evelyn laughing. He saw Tabine being raped into nightmarish consciousness. Evelyn laughing. He saw Bonaventure forcing Penny to the floor and heard her screaming. He sat up slowly and eased out from between the sleeping girls. He walked into the bathroom and threw up. He splashed his face with water at the sink and looked into the mirror at Evelyn materializing in the doorway behind him, laughing and then fading back into nothing.
Cully went down to the motel lobby as the girls got dressed that next morning. He grabbed a complimentary coffee and looked over the stacks of brochures at the front desk. Marineland, Gatorland, Midgetville, Mystery Fun House, Ringling Brothers Circus Museum. He looked up at the clerk behind the desk.
"How can I get tickets to some of these places?" he asked.
"I can arrange that for you, if I know the number in your party," the clerk replied. Cully picked out several attractions.
"I'd like tickets for one adult, and two kids to these three," he said, fanning the brochures out across the counter.
"I'll have those ready for you this afternoon," the clerk smiled. "Would you like me to put them on your room tab?"
"Great," Morrissey replied, pocketing the brochures. The girls came bouncing down the stairs and went over to the complimentary breakfast table. They grabbed a couple of cheese Danishes and coffee and walked over to where Cully was sitting in the lobby by the big aquarium.
"So what's the plan, Stan?" Penny said, as they sat down opposite him on the small turquoise vinyl couch.
"Well," Cully said, "Mickey and Laurie and the kids will get in this afternoon. I'd like for you two to go pick them up at the airport."
"What are you going to do?" Penny asked.
"I'm going to find us a beach house so we can all kick back for a couple of days. So you girls probably need to go pick yourselves up some fun-in-the-sun attire this morning." Penny and Tabine smiled at each other. Cully pulled the keys to the torpedo out and tossed them to Penny. Then he fished for his wallet.
SETTING THE STAGE
Cully walked the girls out to the car.
"The plane gets in at 2:30. So, bring everybody back here. Wait for me, if I'm not already back." Penny threw Cully a kiss as they drove away. Tabine followed suit with a happy wave.
At the front desk, Morrissey talked to the clerk about beach houses, and boat rentals. Just two blocks down and one block over was a row of beach houses, and the marina was an easy walk from there. He strolled down the sidewalk smoking a cigarette. The morning air felt good. Glancing between the buildings as he walked along he could see the ocean and the surf rolling in. A couple of surfers. A tanker way out on the horizon. A family with kids out picking up shells.
There was one beach house that was vacant. A bit run down, but still with a cozy feeling to it. It had three bedrooms and a deck looking out to the water. He booked it for a week. He took his shoes off and walked the beach at the water's edge, making his way to the marina. A group of grey-haired men were standing around a charter fishing place, getting ready to be taken out on the water. He walked over and waited to talk to the man taking their money.
"I'm looking for a boat I can take out myself. Take the family on a little cruise along the intercoastal." The man pointed on down the boardwalk.
"See where that blue shack is? The surfboard shop?" Morrissey nodded. "It's the next place after that, you can't miss it."
The woman smiled as he approached and told her what he was looking for.
"I've got three available right now," She said. "How many people do you need to accommodate?"
"Five adults, two kids."
"Come with me, I'll show you one that would be just about right for you." They walked along the pier. She pointed to a small yacht. "That's a 39 foot Tiara. Really easy to handle, too."
"How easy?" Morrisey said.
"If you can open a bottle of cola, you handle it," she smiled. "Climb aboard and look around." Morrissey stepped across to the boat, the woman on his heels. "It's got a nice sized observation deck, a salon/lounge that converts to sleep six. If two are kids, I think it would work for you."
Can you outfit it for some deep sea fishing?" Morrissey asked.
"Absolutely. It comes with two Oceanmaster offshore anglers strong enough to bring in a record-breaking yellowfin tuna, should you be so lucky."
"It's perfect," Morrissey said. "I'll take it."
"By the day, or by the week?"
"At least a week," Morrissey replied.
"I'll put you down for a week, if you want more time with it, we can work it out later."
"Perfect," Morrissey repeated.
He walked out to the main drag and caught a cab.
"I need to get to a liquor store near here," he said. He kept the cabbie waiting as he grabbed several bottles of booze, tonic water, and a couple of six packs of soft drinks. "22 Sunrise Drive," he said. He paid the cabbie and threw in a nice tip, then carried his bags into the beach house. He dumped the drinks into the fridge and walked back to the motel. He looked at his watch. Time enough to take a little nap before the gang arrives. He kicked off his shoes and sprawled out on the bed. But, there was no way he could sleep. He stepped out onto the balcony and sat down staring out at the sea. A plan was unfolding in his mind like a badly edited movie. He calls Evelyn...they plan to meet somewhere...she brings the money...Tabine is on the boat...Evelyn sees her waving...she goes toward the boat...Morrissey's head began to nod and his head slumped slowly down. He woke up at 2:45. He walked back into the room, sat on the bed, and put on his shoes.
Morrissey walked down to the lobby. He looked outside. There they all were. Standing by the torpedo, pulling bags out of the trunk. He felt a strange excitement as he stepped out. Micky, Laurie, and the kids had been like his family for quite a few years now. Little Peggy came running toward him.
"Uncle Cully!" He bent to swoop her up into his arms. He spun her around in a circle.
"Oh Peggy! My Peggy Sue..ooh..ooh..ooh.." he sang. She hugged his neck laughing as he carried her to the car. "How old are you now, baby?"
"I'm not a baby," she protested. "I'm nine!" He held her out at arm's length and swung her around in the air again.
"Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty Peggy Sue.." He set her down on the ground and she took a few dizzy steps and fell onto her butt. "Oh come here, you big girl, you!" he said, bending to scoop her up again. He pretended to bite her cheek. "Aaarrrr...aaaarrrhh..! He set her back down as he stepped into the middle of everybody else. "Laurie!" he said, hugging her. "Did you have a good flight sweetie?" She nodded and flashed a big smile. "Cullin!" Morrissey said, giving the gangly eleven year old boy a manly handshake and then grabbing him around the neck and rubbing his knuckles into his blonde hair. "Knuckle sandwich...knuckle sandwich!" He pushed the boy back and shook him by the shoulders. "Look at you! You're looking more and more like me every day!" He turned to Mickey and they hugged with manly firm pats on each other's backs. "You're here, man! We're goin' fishing tomorrow morning!"
"Hell, yeh," Mickey said.
"Ok, listen up. Put the bags back in the trunk. I got us a place," Cully said, grabbing Penny and pulling her to him. He kissed her. "Thanks, baby." Everyone began piling back into the torpedo. Morrissey put his arms around Tabine. "You doing ok, baby?" She nodded enthusiastically.
"The kids are hilarious," she said. He could tell she was happy to have some sense of family too. He gave her a quick kiss. "Let's go." For a minute or so, it was a juggling act of how to fit seven people into a Studebaker. Young Cullin opted to sit atop the folded down canvas of the convertible top above the back seat. Little Peggy sat on Morrissey's lap holding on to the steering wheel, pretending she was driving. It was only a few blocks to the beach house, but those few minutes seemed overwhelmingly wonderful to Morrissey. Two things flashed through his mind. This precious cargo, and Evelyn dead.
It took a few hours for things to settle down at the beach house. The kids ran off to the water and made a mess of themselves. Laurie, seeing nothing but drinks in the fridge commandeered the torpedo and took off with Penny to find food. Morrissey and Mickey kicked back with drinks on the deck. Morrissey told Mickey all about the boat he had booked. They would go fishing in the morning. They clinked their glasses several times talking about all that.
"Damn its good to be out of Terre Haute isn't it?" Mickey said, as he refilled his glass from the bottle on the table.
"Hell yes," Morrissey answered raising his glass. He stood and looked at Tabine
at the railing, her eyes on the kids running in and out of the surf. The sun was going down. The sea was turning red into black. Morrissey walked over to her. He put his arm around her.
"Are you all right,baby?" he said, pulling her toward him.
"Almost," she said softly.
"Let's dance," he said. They swayed back and forth. There was no music.
"I need you to be strong right now," he whispered.
"Yes,"she said feebly, nuzzling her face under Cully's chin.
"We're going to take Evelyn down," Cully whispered, his face in Tabine's hair. "Can you help me do that?"
"Yes," she whispered.
"Are you sure?" he whispered.
"Yes," she whispered back, her lips moist against his neck.
A DAY ON THE WATER.
Cully and Mickey turned the boat out to sea. Penny came along. Cully showed her how to work the wheel and the joystick.
"You look so fucking hot," Cully said, arms around her belly as he stood behind her, telling her what to do.
"Get the fuck out of there," Penny said, as his hand slid down into her bikini bottom.
"Holy shit!" Mickey shouted. "I've got one." Cully rushed to his side as Mickey pulled on the rod, spinning the reel tight, then letting it back out.
"She's a real mother fucker, Cully!" Cully held on to Mickey as he fought.
"Oh yeh, bring it in!"
Penny kept steady on the wheel looking over her shoulder.
"Damn it Cully," she muttered as she reached down to touch herself.
They grilled out that night. Sitting in a circle on the sand, pulling pieces of tuna off the spit. Morrissey stood and walked up to the beach house. He stood on the deck looking out on everyone gathered around the fire. He smiled watching Penny and Tabine dancing together, and picked up the phone and dialed.
"Evelyn?" he said. She laughed, just as in his dreams. "I need 30 grand for Melody."
"That's no problem," she answered. "Just say when and where."
"Day after tomorrow," Morrisey answered. "I've got a boat. I'll bring her down to Merrick Island. Do you know where that is?"
"Yes, it's north of me a couple of hours. Why there? Why don't you come on down to Palm Beach, we'll have dinner. It would be nice. I miss Melody so much."
"I'm sure you do. She's hot property, isn't she?"
"Cully, I love Melody. How can you talk so crudely?"
"Oh, cut the bullshit, Evelyn. I know you want her dead. So she can't squeal on you"
"Cully, how could you say such a thing?" Evelyn muttered in a voice of disgust.
"Look Evelyn, it doesn't matter to me what you do with her. She's just some piece of shit girl. I want the money."
"That's not a problem," Evelyn said. "I'll have it for you."
"I'll call you tomorrow," Morrissey said as he hung up the phone.
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
The next day was spent mostly lounging about the beach house or sunning on the sand.
Cully and Mickey leaned on the railing of the deck looking down at Peggy and Cullin splashing around in the surf. Laurie with a magazine and a Margarita, lounged beneath an umbrella watching the kids. Penny and Tabine sat on a blanket in their bikinis, rubbing each other down with lotion. Mickey nudged Cully as Penny and Tabine kissed, and then laid down in the sun.
"That's hot," Mickey murmured.
"Yeh, too hot," Cully replied.
"What's the matter?" Mickey chuckled. "You getting old, or something?"
"In more ways than one, Mick. In more ways than one." He took a draw on his beer.
"Look Mick. Tomorrow we need to meet up with Evelyn, south of here at Merrick Island. We'll take the boat. Laurie would be a nervous wreck if she knew what we were up to." Mickey agreed. "So' Morrissey said, "I got Laurie and the kids some tickets to Marineland, Gatorland, and The Mystery Fun House. She can take the torpedo tomorrow and have a lot of fun. Can you handle lying to her, Mick?"
"In this case, yeh," Mickey said.
"We'll tell her we're going fishing, and Tabine and Penny want the day to go shopping. Think that would work?" Mickey nodded.
"She'll be pissed later, but I can handle it."
"I'm going to call Evelyn and tighten up the plan for tomorrow. We'll need most of the morning to make it down the intercoastal to the island. I'll tell her 3pm is the rendezvous time. I've got some big bucks for you, Mick. But, like I said, I don't want you getting into the action unless some bad shit starts going down."
"Well look," Mickey said. There's no way I'm going to just stand around if Evelyn gets the upper hand on you." Morrissey patted him on the back.
"I know that, but she's not going to be that lucky, Mick."
That night Laurie and Mickey played some card games with the kids at the kitchen table. Morrissey walked out on the deck where Penny and Tabine sat talking.
"Wow, look at that fucking moon," he exclaimed.
"I like the way you say 'fucking moon'" Penny giggled. Morrissey shook his finger at her.
"You are one naughty little girl!" he said.
"You know you like it," Penny teased. He sat down with them.
"We've got some shit to deal with tomorrow," he said. He looked over at Tabine.
"I'm going to kill Evelyn, Tabine," he said flatly.
"Good," Tabine answered.
"Do you want a chance to give her a piece of your mind, or spit in her face?"
"Definitely," Tabine replied. He looked back and forth at them and lowered his voice.
"Penny and I are going to meet Evelyn in the parking lot at the island marina and get the money. She won't want hand it over unless she knows I've got you, Tabine. The boat will be docked along the pier. I want you to be on it. On the observation deck and clearly visible. We'll lead Evelyn to a point where she can see you. We'll get the money from her and let her go over to the boat to get you. Wave, so she thinks its all cool. Then go on into the cabin. Mickey will be hiding in the bathroom listening to anything that goes down. If he needs to, he'll step out and plug her then and there. But try to keep her talking a few minutes while Penny and I come on board. We'll restrain her and then we'll head out to sea a few miles and dump her."
"I can't wait to watch her drown," Tabine said coldly. She stood up. "I'm going to go back to the bedroom and clean my Luger," she said.
"Most likely you won't need it Tabine, but better safe than sorry," Morrissey said. He glanced over to Penny. "Are you ready for this?" Penny nodded. "Are you scared?" he asked.
"A little. I don't want to lose you, Cully."
"I don't want to lose you either sweetheart," he said. "And I don't want to lose Tabine, or Mickey either. I don't want to lose anybody. Except Evelyn. We're going to have to play this really tight. Things might not go the way we planned. We have to be ready for anything."
"We'll pull it off," Penny said.
"Yes. We will. And then, we're going to start really living, Penny. You and me. I'm tired of this craziness. I used to not care whether one day someone would take me out. I didn't have a whole lot to lose. But now, I do." Penny got up and sat down on Cully's lap.
"I love you, Cully," she said.
"I love you too," he replied, cupping her face and brushing her hair back. They kissed. "I'm going for a walk," he said.
"Do you want me to go with you?"
"No sweetheart, I just want to wind down a little."
Cully walked the beach down to the marina and strolled out along the boardwalk. He stopped at a pay phone and dialed Kieriakas collect.
"Yes, I'll accept the charges," he heard her say. "Cully?"
"Do you have the money?" he said.
"I thought you said thirty thousand," she answered.
"You know how it is these days, Evelyn. Everything just keeps getting more and more epensive. Especially where human flesh is concerned."
"You have such a nasty way of putting things, Cully," she muttered.
"Funny coming from you, Evelyn."
"Ok, I'll have it," she said.
"Forty thousand," he repeated.
"Yes, for Christ's sake," Evelyn said in a louder voice. "How do I even know you have Melody?"
"I won't take your money until you see her. She'll be alone. I get the money. You get the girl. Penny and I will be waiting for you in the marina parking lot on the island at three in the afternoon. You show us the money. We'll show you the girl.
You give us the money, then you can do whatever you want with her."
"I'll be there," Evelyn said.
"Alone," Morrissey said.
"Yes. Alone." He hung up the phone and took a deep breath.
A SURPRISE FOR THE KIDS
Morrissey walked back into the beach house and sat down at the table.
"I got a little surprise for you guys," he said to Cullin and Peggy.
"What, Uncle Cully," Peggy said, looking up at him. He smiled and pretended to grab her nose between his fingers.
"Well," he said, reaching into his pocket. He laid the brochure for Marineland on the table.
"Wow!" Cullin said. "Is that where the dolphins are?" Morrissey nodded.
"Like Flipper?" Peggy said.
"Yep. In fact I think Flipper lives there when he's not making movies." He reached into his pocket again. "Almost forgot this," he said laying down a brochure for Gatorland.
"Oh my God!" Cullin said excitedly.
"Oh, and this." He laid down the brochure for Mystery Fun House. The kids started jumping up and down. Peggy was grabbing his face and kissing his cheek with her little slobbery mouth.
"Thank you, Uncle Cully...um...um...um." Morrissey pushed an envelope full of tickets to Laurie.
"Take the torpedo Laurie. Have a blast. Mick and I are going to go fishing in the morning."
Laurie shook her head and laughed.
Oh Cully, you shouldn't have done that. You're too much, really."
"Well, I did, and the tickets are not refundable so go have fun, Laurie."
"Uncle Cully," Cullin said. "Can I go fishing with you guys sometime?"
"Absolutely! But tomorrow you go have fun. You'll love the dolphin show. Besides I want you to keep an eye on your little sister. Don't let her out of your sight. Will you do that?" Cullin nodded. Cully hugged him and patted his back. "That's my man! And day after tomorrow, I'm going to take you fishing. And besides, you need to start learning how to handle a boat."
"You're the coolest, Uncle Cully." Morrissey laughed and looked over at Mickey.
"Did you hear that? I'm the coolest."
"Hey," Mickey replied. "If Cullin thinks you are cool, then there's no doubt about it.
"What about Penny and Tabine?" Laurie asked. "They'll be stuck here all day."
"Oh, you know those gals, they'd like nothing better than to lie around and be lazy all day and pose for the boys down on the beach."
"Hey," Penny said, walking in from the deck. "I heard that!"
"You know its true," Cully chuckled.
"You know you like it," Penny said, walking off to the bedroom.
Morrissey and Mickey went out on the deck for a nightcap as Laurie hustled the kids off to bed. They went over the plan again....and then again. Penny and Tabine were sound asleep when Morrissey walked in. He looked down at them as he undressed.
"Cully?" Penny said, looking up at him with sleepy eyes.
"Yeh," Morrissey said, bending down to kiss her.
"Come to bed, baby," she said, patting the space between her and Tabine with her hand. He slipped in between them and wrapped his arms around Penny.
"Cully?" Penny whispered as he kissed her neck.
"What, angel?" he said.
"Hold Tabine, Cully."
"Just do it, Cully. Hold her."
Cully turned and put his arm around Tabine pulling her to him. She turned sleepily to him, her face nuzzling under his chin. He ran his fingers through her silky hair. Penny caressed his shoulder, and snuggled against him. He could feel her warm breath on the back of his neck. He pressed his face into Tabine's fragrant hair. They woke the next morning still clinging to one another, the rising sun sending red streaks across the dark and quiet sea. The slow and rhythmic sloshing of the surf seemed to get louder as the sun climbed above the horizon turning from red to orange. Crying birds swooped back and forth low to the water.
THE DAY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
After breakfast out on the deck, the kids were antsy to get going. Everybody walked out toward the torpedo to see them off. Morrissey carried Peggy.
"I want you to tell me all about it when you get back ok, baby?" he said.
Peggy pouted and grabbed his face with both hands as though to make sure she had his full attention.
Uncle Cully, I told you already I am not a little baby!" Morrissey laughed.
"Oh, that's right. I forgot. You're a big baby now!"
"I'm not a big baby! I'm almost ten!" He held her tight with one arm and tickled her, laughing as she shrieked and squirmed in his arms. Mickey gave Laurie a kiss as she climbed into the car. The kids waved excitedly from the back seat as they drove away.
"Ok," Morrissey said, turning to look at the others. "Everybody got their gear?" The foursome walked the beach over to the marina and the boat. "Its going to take us about four hours to get down to Merrick's Island," Morrissey said. "That will get us there plenty early. So, lets all just relax and cruise along and enjoy the beautiful day."
Penny and Tabine peeled down to their bikinis and sat out on the canvas chairs on the deck in front of the cabin as Morrissey slowly maneuvered the boat out away from the marina. He unfolded a navigational map of the intercoastal waterway and laid it out next to him. MIckey stood next to him as he steered through a succession of buoys. He looked out the window.
"Nice view, eh?" Mickey chuckled, looking at the girls slathering each other down with lotion.
"Its the good life, isn't Mickey? Are you carrying right now?"
"Yeh, its under my jacket right here." Morrissey pointed to a gym bag on the floor. "Get that .38 out of there and stash it in the bathroom. Maybe in the closet under the towels. Just a spare n case it needed."
Mickey disappeared and returned.
"What else you need, Cully?"
"I think there's still some bait in the fridge, why don't you go out on the back there and throw out a line. See if you catch us a big fat tuna. Better yet, see if the girls want a little deep sea fishing lesson."
"Now you're talking," Mickey replied.
"Hey,"Morrissey said over his shoulder. "Don't you be pinching on those little bottoms. Remember you're married."
"I can look can't I?" Mickey said.
"Hell yeh," Morrissey chuckled. "Get yourself an eyeful."
He stared straight ahead. The waterway was opening up now. The sea was a shimmering silver. He cranked the front window opened and breathed the salty air. He pictured Evelyn getting ready for the day. Driving north from Palm Beach. Knowing her, she was probably scheming to get Melody and get the money back too. She'd be outnumbered. But maybe she's got someone with her. Laying low and out of sight in the back seat. Maybe even in the trunk. She could have a couple of punks following her in another car. Armed to the eyeteeth. He compulsively reached for the gun in his shoulder holster beneath his jacket. He could hear the girls laughing behind him on the rear deck. Getting lessons from Mickey. He glanced back over his shoulder looking at Tabine in the chair, rod in hand. Mickey behind her, bent down his arms reaching around to show her how to handle the line. How to jerk the pole. Set the hook. Let it out. Reel it in. He's surely getting a nice look at those sweet little tits of Tabine's. He'd probably like to fuck her, who wouldn't? He wondered if Tabine would like to get laid. He thought about setting it up. Then he felt like such a rat for imagining it. He couldn't let Mickey get away with that. He couldn't betray sweet Laurie like that. He glanced west to a crowded beach and looked down at his map. That's got to be Daytona Beach. He thought about some little bunny getting fucked in a motel room by a college hunk. He thought about how a sense of danger in the air can give a man a hard-on. He remembered that marching through France. Wanting one last fuck because you could die any minute.
HOT TUNA REPRISED
"We got one! We got one!" Penny shouted excitedly, running into the cabin. She fumbled in her bag for her camera. Morrissey locked the wheel and turned around. There was Mickey standing next to Tabine on the back deck. They were holding a big yellowfin. Penny was holding the camera. Penny was waving with one hand.
"Lean your heads together." Click. "Now lower the fish a little." Click.
"Look at each other. Big smile" Click. "Now kiss Mickey, Tabine." Click.
"Oh shit," Morrissey thought to himself.
"Hey Mick!" he shouted. "Gut that sucker, and we'll pop it in the broiler. Penny come here,' he motioned to her. "Listen, don't set Mickey up like that. He can't handle it."
"We were just having fun," Penny said.
"Tell that to Laurie."
"You're right, Cully. I wasn't thinking."
"Well, start thinking." Penny's face fell.
"I'm sorry." He pulled on Penny's arm.
"Come here," he said in a softer voice. He pulled her into his arms and kissed her, his hands sliding down to feel her soft bottom.
She buried her face in his chest.
"I'm scared Cully," she said. He put his hand beneath her chin and coaxed her face up.
"Look at me. Don't say you're scared. Say, we're going to pull this shit off."
"We're going to pull this shit off," she said.
"Say, we're invincible, and nothing can stop us."
"We're invincible. Nothing can stop us."
"That's right," Cully said with a smile. "Now say, kiss me."
"Kiss me." He moved her slowly backward to the bathroom door. He closed it behind them. They were in there for about ten minutes.
BEER AND FISH
They dropped anchor about an hour short of Merrick Island. They sat out on the front deck in a circle, pulling chunks of blackened tuna off a platter.
"This is so fucking good," Tabine laughed. Morrissey looked over at her. She had changed a lot since they picked her up off that motel room floor back in Alabama. A scared child then. A scarred child. But she's got time to pull out and away from that shit and leave it behind. She has time yet to have a life. In his mind, it cleared away any nagging doubts about laying Evelyn to rest. He looked down at his watch. He stood up and looked at the others.
"Ok, its now or never. We're going to cruise on in to Merrick Island. We've got to get very focused now." He felt like he was directing a movie. "We'll tie the boat up at a pier. Penny and I will go down to wait for Evelyn. Tabine you'll be standing out here on the deck. Mickey, you're in the bathroom cocked and loaded. Everybody straight on that?"
"Here's to family," Mickey said, raising his beer.
"That's right, Mick," Morrissey said. He bent to clink his bottle to Mick's. The girls raised theirs.
"To family!" It got quiet after that. Mickey hauled the anchor up. Morrissey fired the engine. The girls double-checked their guns.
It was about two in the afternoon when Morrissey spotted the island dead ahead. He handed a pair of binoculars to Mickey.
"Tell me what you see, Mick."
"What are we looking for?" Mickey said as he looked through the binoculars toward the island.
"Anything and everything," Morrissey answered. "Just start telling me about everything you see."
"Ok," Mickey said, focusing the lenses. "There's a trawler. Looks like its on its way out for a run....a few people wandering the beach. A couple of surfers on the north end....I think I can make out the marina...its a little further south." Morrissey cut the wheel a bit.
"Let's just stay out here a ways, I'll take us on down that way."
"I can see the marina....about a dozen boats...smaller than ours, I think," Mickey said.
"Can you see the parking lot around the marina anywhere?"
"Not yet....Wait...now I see it," Mickey said. Morrissey pulled the throttle back bringing the boat to a crawl.
"Let me take a look, Mick," he said reaching for the binoculars. "Hold the wheel steady." He walked out onto the front deck and studied the parking lot. Half a dozen cars. A guy with his trunk open. He was pulling out several red life jackets. He studied the dock, looking for a place to pull the boat in. Penny and Tabine came up beside him. "Are you ready ladies?" he said, still scanning the situation.
Penny had changed into jeans and a jacket. Tabine had a towel around her waist. Another hung from her neck.
"I'm scared," Tabine said.
"You'd be crazy if you weren't sweetheart," Morrissey replied, still holding the binoculars to his eyes. He lowered the glasses and smiled at Tabine. He put his arm around her. "You can't let fear fuck with you, baby. Fear can be your friend. It can make your heart beat faster. Make your veins swell a bit with oxygen and adrenaline. Fear is like a wild horse. If you hold onto the reins real tight though, it can take you places." Penny took the binoculars and looked over to the marina.
"There's a Mercedes pulling in," she said.
"Keep your eye on it, Penny," he said. He took Tabine's hand and pulled it up over his chest.
"Feel that, Tabine? Feel the way my heart is beating?" She nodded up at him. "That's the wild horse in me." He reached up and cupped her face. "You can do this. You're a mean bitch, remember?" She nodded. "Say it," Cully said.
"I'm a fucking mean bitch," Tabine said.
"And its Evelyn's time to suffer now," Morrissey said. His fingers caressing her cheeks. "Say it."
"It's Evelyn's time to suffer."
"Thata girl," Morrissey said, bending his head down to kiss her lips.
"It's a woman," Penny said. "She's getting out....she set a briefcase on the hood...she's lighting a cigarette....she's leaning against the side of the car. She lowered the binoculars. "Its her Cully." Morrissey nodded.
"Anybody else in the car?"
"I don't think so," Penny said, raising the glasses to her eyes again.
"Ok," Morrissey said. "Let's get off the deck."
"Ok, Mickey," he said, taking the wheel. "It's showtime." He revved the motor and cut the wheel. They cruised slowly up toward the island. He spotted an empty bay at the end of one of the piers.
"Penny, keep your eyes on Evelyn." Penny squinted into the binoculars through the cabin window. "Tell me any move she makes." Morrissey eased the boat up alongside the pier. "What's she doing Penny?"
"She's still standing there. She keeps putting her hand in her coat pocket."
"Figures she'd be carrying," Morrissey muttered. "Is she looking this way?"
"Mick, go tie us off real quick." Morrissey cut the motor. Mickey stepped back into the cabin. 'Ready, Penny?" Penny nodded. He looked at Tabine. "Ready?"
"Yeh, let's get this over with."
"Mickey, just lay low, buddy. Let Evelyn come aboard. Be ready to move if it sounds like she's pulling some kind of shit on Tabine. Tabine, watch Penny and I as we walk down the pier. When we get near the building, go ahead and stroll out onto the deck. Watch for Evelyn coming your way. You know what to do, right?"
"Wait for her in the cabin," Tabine said. Morrissey nodded.
"We're wild horses, right?"
"Yeh," Tabine replied. "I'm a mean bitch on a wild horse."
"You got it, baby," Morrissey said. "Come on, Penny. Let's do some business."
Morrissey and Penny rounded the corner of the marina office and walked toward the parking lot. Evelyn looked up and saw them. She picked up the briefcase and came toward them. She smiled as they drew close.
"Penny, darling. You look lovely," she said. Her face went flat as she looked at Morrissey. "Where is she?"
"Where's the money?" Morrissey said.
"What do you think I've got in this case, my homework?"
"Open it up. Let's see it."
"You're not a very trusting person, are you Cully?" she said, unsnapping the clasp at the top of the briefcase.
"I wouldn't exactly call you trustworthy, Evelyn," Morrissey muttered. Evelyn opened the case. Morrissey looked down into it.
"Good," he said. She closed it up.
"So, where is Melody?"
"Come on, I'll show you," Morrissey said.
"No funny business," Evelyn said.
"Believe it or not, I'm a man of my word." He stopped at the side of the building, and pointed down the pier. "Down at the end, see her?" Evelyn looked and smiled. Tabine was standing against the railing of the deck, waving. "She's all yours," Morrissey said, reaching for the case. Evelyn released it and began walking quickly down the pier. There was a sudden loud squealing of tires from behind them. Morrissey spun around in time to see flashes of fire coming from the passenger side of a dark sedan. He pushed Penny down just as he felt a hard punch in his right shoulder. He tried to reach for his gun but his arm felt numb. Penny, on her stomach, pulled her luger out and aimed. She fired several rounds shattering the windshield. The car careened wildly and smashed into the side of Evelyn's Mercedes. A man stumbled out of the passenger side, firing toward them. "It's Guadamole," Morrissey said. He fumbled awkwardly for his gun with his left hand. Penny fired off two rounds and the thug dropped to his knees. Morrissey took aim. A single shot to the head, and the thug went flying backward and tumbled onto the asphalt. Penny jumped up, grabbing Cully. He looked down the pier. Evelyn was running toward the boat. "Come on," he said to Penny, clutching his bloody shoulder.
Evelyn stepped aboard the boat walking cautiously toward the cabin door. She reached into her pocket and drew out a revolver. "Melody?" she called.
"I'm here, Evelyn," Tabine answered from inside the cabin. Evelyn peered cautiously into the cabin. Tabine was standing by the captain's wheel, smiling.
"Melody darling," Evelyn said, walking toward her. In the bathroom Mickey listened, gun in hand. Tabine glanced out the side window of the cabin. She could see Penny and Morrissey running down the pier toward the boat.
"I've missed you, Evelyn," she said. Evelyn reached and caressed Tabine's cheek with her hand.
"You're prettier than ever," Evelyn said. She took Tabine's hand. "Come on sweetheart, let's go home." The bathroom door pushed slowly open. Evelyn heard it, spun around and fired. The shot splintered the door, and Mickey fell to the floor. Morrissey and Penny boarded the boat. Evelyn suddenly gasped looking down.
"Melody?" she said, looking at the knife in her stomach.
"That's for Anika," Tabine said. She jerked up suddenly on the stiletto's handle sending the blade up into Evelyn's gut. "And this is for my parents," she muttered. The gun fell from Evelyn's hand as blood began to spill out onto the floor. Morrissey and Penny appeared at the door, guns drawn. "And this," Tabine said, "is from me." She twisted the blade around inside Evelyn, pushing it up as far inside her as she could get it. Evelyn fell to the floor and onto her back. She looked up with wild eyes. .
"Melody?" she gasped, with a trickle of blood spilling from her mouth.
"I'm afraid you're mistaken," Tabine said, bending to the pull the blade out. "My name is Tabine." Morrissey stepped in and grabbed Mickey up into his arms. "I'm ok," Mickey groaned, clutching his side. Tabine looked up at Penny. "It just like you said," Tabine murmured, looking down at Evelyn and the blood spurting out of her stomach. "A fountain." She dropped the knife to the floor and fainted.
TWO DAYS LATER
Morrissey lay on the hammock out on the deck of the beach house. His right shoulder was heavily bandaged and his arm was in a sling. They had rented the place for another week. He smiled as he looked over at Penny sitting on the glider with little Peggy. They were coloring together in Peggy's 'Mystery Fun House' coloring book. There was a lot of happy chatter and giggling between the two of them.
They had split Evelyn's money four ways. And they decided to keep the boat another week too. He looked over at it anchored a little ways off shore. He'd have to figure out in a day or two how to patch that bullet hole in the bathroom door. As for how to explain the missing sink. That it was out there somewhere between Merrick Island and St' Augustine at the bottom of the sea would be hard to explain. Especially since it was tied to a corpse.
He shielded his eyes from the sun and looked out to the boat. He could see Laurie sitting out on the front deck looking back at him through the binoculars. She had gotten over being pissed at Mickey for getting himself shot. In fact, she was even gracious enough to help Penny and Tabine mop up all the blood in the cabin. Laurie waved. He waved back. Tabine waved too, and then dove off into the water and began swimming to shore. Mickey was at the back of the boat with Cullin. It was easy to spot Mickey with the wide cumberbun of white gauze wrapped around his gut. Young Cullin was seated holding the deep sea angler in his hands. Happy days were here again.
Little Peggy jumped up and trotted over to Cully.
"What sweetheart?" he said reaching out with his good arm to pull her close.
"Mystery Fun House was my favorite thing," she said.
"Yeh? Why's that?"
"Well, there was this magician there and..."
"Did he have a magic wand?"
"Did he have a cape?"
"Yes. But guess what?"
"He pulled a baby bunny out of my ear!" Cully pulled her by the back of her neck.
"Come here. Let me see if there's another one in there." She pulled away.
"No, Uncle Cully."
"I just want to see if there's another baby bunny in there."
"She leaned forward and whispered in his ear."
"There is another one. But, he's sleeping."
Tabine walked out onto the deck dripping wet, pushing her plastered pale blonde hair back.
"I'm freezing!" she said, rubbing her arms and shivering.
"Come here," Cully said, patting the hammock next to him. She climbed on and he pulled her to him and rubbed her arm. She laid her face on his chest.
"How did I get so lucky?" Tabine said softly. Cully ran his hand over her wet hair.
"I don't know, Tabine," Cully mused. "Maybe somewhere back there in your youth or childhood you must he done something good."
Penny walked over and smiled down at them. She bent to Cully and kissed him.
"You know what I want?"
"What do you want, angel?"
"We've already got a baby," he said, squeezing Tabine. Tabine jabbed him firmly in the ribs with her finger.
"Ow! Damn it! Such a mean baby!" Little Peggy stood there watching, her hands to her mouth giggling.
"Uncle Cully, you're silly!" she said.
"Oh yeh?" Cully answered. 'Well you're ridiculous!" he said, sticking his tongue out at her.
"No, Uncle Cully, You're ridiculous!" Peggy blurted back.
"I agree with Peggy," Penny said.
"So do I," murmured Tabine.
Note: This first draft of Nothing Comes From Nothing is copyrighted by Dan Smith, January 23, 2012. All rights reserved.