Here’s the thing…
Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.
I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.
But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.
Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.
I was a fool for thinking that I could help Nadia when the whole time she was playing me. There didn’t look like any tension between them, and nothing that would convince me that he had any sort of hold over her.
I cursed myself for my own stupidity.
With a shake of the head, I went over to the bar attached to the beachside restaurant and order a cold beer, then another. The bartender gave me a long measured look as if trying to gauge my age, but I was old enough and had the ID card to prove it.
It was a curse to look so young for that reason, but I suppose, like more old men, I would eventually curse being old. At least, that’s what my mother said, along with the warning I should not be so eager to start drinking booze.
At least I didn’t smoke, though that hadn’t always been the case, and, at times, it was hard not to reach for a cigarette in moments of anguish or anger, like now.
I was on my fourth bottle when I heard someone sit on the stool next to mine. About the same time I recognised the perfume wafting my way.
“So, this is where you’re hiding?”
I looked sideways at her. My first thought was to tell her exactly what I thought of her. That passed quickly. No telling how many of her friends were here, and the thought of facing Vince was not something I wanted to do, any time.
“What do you want?”
“I thought I saw you on the pier?”
“I like to see how the other half live. What’s your excuse?” OK, that didn’t come out exactly how I wanted it to.
I could feel her glaring at me. She knew exactly what I was talking about. At least she wasn’t going to dodge the issue.
“I do what I have to. If it means I have to cosy up to a rattlesnake, then I will.” Delivered barely above a whisper, but spat out with a great deal of venom. “What happened out there?”
“Rico got busted for having a dead body on his boat. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”
“I didn’t put it there if that’s what you mean.”
“He hasn’t got the brains for something like that. Not in plain sight.”
That was an odd thing to say, in plain sight. Did that mean they were in full view of Rico’s boat the whole time he was not on it?
“Why do you say that?” I looked sideways at her. Slightly sunburned on the top of her cheeks. No makeup, and surprisingly, she looked very different, not as grown-up.
“The yacht was parked three bays down. Engines were not working again and Alex had to come back and just made it into the dock. Sent down a couple of divers to check the propellers or something.”
“You see Rico on his boat?”
“Briefly. He was with a couple of Benderby’s thugs. They left the boat, and about ten minutes later we left the dock. Alex said some fishing line had fouled the propeller.”
“What happened then?”
“We went down below to have lunch. The Captain took it for a run, everything seemed to be working, and we came back. That’s when I saw you and Rico on the dock and all the police. You in some sort of trouble?”
“No. The FBI has taken over the investigation, and told Johnson to let us go.”
“I’m sure Johnson is absolutely thrilled the feds took over his ticket to becoming the next Sherriff.”
“Why? Is he in the Cossatino’s back pocket?”
“You’re asking the wrong person. This will put a dent in your plan to help me out with Alex. I can’t pretend to like the bastard for much longer, and I swear if he touches me again, I’ll kill him.”
I guess it was easy, for a minute, to forget that her brother was exactly the same with other women, and, when we’d been at school, girls too frightened to say no. Perhaps it was the Cossatino blood running through her veins, that it was alright in some cases, and not in others. “That’s ironic after what Vince has done, and probably still does, don’t you think?”
The bartender stopped and put a half-full glass of straight bourbon in front of her. A nod and the bill was paid.
She looked at me, picked it up and drunk the contents straight down, then said, “You’re a bastard smidge. You know I could crush you like the insignificant bug you are, but I’m not going to. You see, I like you, no matter what you think of me. Just call me once you’ve got over your bout of smug superiority.”
A smile, or a grimace, I wasn’t sure what it was, she slid off the stool and left.
© Charles Heath 2019