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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded release of three short crime stories and this longer story.



 

Chapter 3

“Make sure you’ve got the lanterns lit before the sun goes down,” Dan Bagley had told me, condescension dripping like sour syrup from his puffy lips. “You can’t just dawdle down there when you feel like it; they have to be shining before dark. If we can’t see the lights we could run aground. You’d better stay straight while you’re there, we can’t afford to have this messed up.”

     Yeah right—like I’d be waiting for a boatload of contraband and taking it lightly. Like

self-preservation wasn’t enough motivation to do things right for Christ sake.

     The boys are way late, at least eight hours behind schedule. After all the shit I’ve been through, they should at least be on time. Where the hell are they?  

     Out there somewhere on the green-green ocean.

     Actually, it’s black at the moment and changing to gray at the horizon, as the sun begins to rise behind me. You really become aware of horizons by the seaside, especially if you’ve been up all night waiting for a boat that’s hauling your future inside its fuel tank.

     It’s clearly an either-or situation for me: Either I get caught and go to jail for a good piece of time or I get away with it and buy myself some freedom for more than likely a lesser period of time. But what the hell, there aren’t any better offers in the wind and at least I’m not slaving in the hot sun for peanuts like so many others around here. 

     They call Florida a “right to work” state. I believe that means the owners are always right and somebody else does the work for them. I studied labor laws in college; I know these things.

     The higher the sun rises the more I worry. Without some sort of visible marker, it might be difficult to find this relatively small spot on a long hunk of featureless beach, even in bright daylight. Sand goes on in either direction for miles and miles. I clearly need to rig something up for the daylight hours. I try to think but the hot sun is scrambling my brain.

     How much warning, will the boys need to keep the keel out of the sand? Should I rig up a gaudy signal flag? What if the wrong people see it? Will everyone involved in this deal go to burning hell?

     I wonder if the cops know about the van. Maybe they’ve already gotten to Carole and there’s an APB out for a white VW bus with Colorado license plates and black eyelashes painted above the headlights. Maybe the highway patrol is going through it now as I sit here helplessly waiting, only a mile down the beach.

     But waiting is all I can do.

(To be continued)

ebook only $1.99 – through March 15!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

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“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded release of three short crime stories and this longer story.



 

Chapter 3

“Make sure you’ve got the lanterns lit before the sun goes down,” Dan Bagley had told me, condescension dripping like sour syrup from his puffy lips. “You can’t just dawdle down there when you feel like it; they have to be shining before dark. If we can’t see the lights we could run aground. You’d better stay straight while you’re there, we can’t afford to have this messed up.”

     Yeah right—like I’d be waiting for a boatload of contraband and taking it lightly. Like

self-preservation wasn’t enough motivation to do things right for Christ sake.

     The boys are way late, at least eight hours behind schedule. After all the shit I’ve been through, they should at least be on time. Where the hell are they?  

     Out there somewhere on the green-green ocean.

     Actually, it’s black at the moment and changing to gray at the horizon, as the sun begins to rise behind me. You really become aware of horizons by the seaside, especially if you’ve been up all night waiting for a boat that’s hauling your future inside its fuel tank.

     It’s clearly an either-or situation for me: Either I get caught and go to jail for a good piece of time or I get away with it and buy myself some freedom for more than likely a lesser period of time. But what the hell, there aren’t any better offers in the wind and at least I’m not slaving in the hot sun for peanuts like so many others around here. 

     They call Florida a “right to work” state. I believe that means the owners are always right and somebody else does the work for them. I studied labor laws in college; I know these things.

     The higher the sun rises the more I worry. Without some sort of visible marker, it might be difficult to find this relatively small spot on a long hunk of featureless beach, even in bright daylight. Sand goes on in either direction for miles and miles. I clearly need to rig something up for the daylight hours. I try to think but the hot sun is scrambling my brain.

     How much warning, will the boys need to keep the keel out of the sand? Should I rig up a gaudy signal flag? What if the wrong people see it? Will everyone involved in this deal go to burning hell?

     I wonder if the cops know about the van. Maybe they’ve already gotten to Carole and there’s an APB out for a white VW bus with Colorado license plates and black eyelashes painted above the headlights. Maybe the highway patrol is going through it now as I sit here helplessly waiting, only a mile down the beach.

     But waiting is all I can do.

(To be continued)

ebook only $1.99 – through March 15!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

Read Full Post »

“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded release of three short crime stories and this longer story.

     Carole got a job as a copywriter at a Clearwater talk-radio station and our lives began to change once again. But the more things change the more they stay the same, they say, and I got back on the drugs and alcohol spiral. Only now I had a willing an enthusiastic partner.

     We were like two moths attracted to the same flame.

     But drugs and alcohol, plus squabbling, lead to infidelity and risky behavior. Soon I was strung out and desperate for something to call my own.

     And then one night, Barry Simpson, my old college pal, called from Orlando. “An old friend of yours is in town, Keith,” he said to me.

“Someone I know is in Orlando—right now?”

“Yep, from back in Zenith City.”

“Who the hell is that?”

“Dan Bagley.”

“You’re shitting me….”

     “Nope, it’s true.  He called me the other day from Daytona Beach, said he was going to be in town in a few days. He’s got some other dude with him.”

Regret fills me as I recall my trip to Orlando. If I had stayed at home with my family instead of taking the drive, there might be someone else on this beach instead of me. And I might still have a chance at a normal life.

     Bagley and Schmidt seemed so confident and free; I was taken in. I let Bagley lead me down wrong the path, much like the first time we met. That was back when we were kids and he talked me into sneaking out of Sunday school to smoke Lucky Strikes in the alley behind the church.   

     Sometimes you’re a little slow to learn, I guess.

It’s approaching nightfall now, and still no sign of the boat. Worry has turned to abject fear, overcome only by the need to ease the boredom. I turn the portable radio on as the grapefruit sun gets sliced up by the edge of the world. 

     Hendrix is playing “Manic Depression.” and things are indeed, a frustrating mess. 

     And to think that beaches were one of the reasons why I came to Florida…. 

(To be continued)

ebook only $1.99 – through March 15!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

Read Full Post »

“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded release of three short crime stories and this longer story.

     Carole got a job as a copywriter at a Clearwater talk-radio station and our lives began to change once again. But the more things change the more they stay the same, they say, and I got back on the drugs and alcohol spiral. Only now I had a willing an enthusiastic partner.

     We were like two moths attracted to the same flame.

     But drugs and alcohol, plus squabbling, lead to infidelity and risky behavior. Soon I was strung out and desperate for something to call my own.

     And then one night, Barry Simpson, my old college pal, called from Orlando. “An old friend of yours is in town, Keith,” he said to me.

“Someone I know is in Orlando—right now?”

“Yep, from back in Zenith City.”

“Who the hell is that?”

“Dan Bagley.”

“You’re shitting me….”

     “Nope, it’s true.  He called me the other day from Daytona Beach, said he was going to be in town in a few days. He’s got some other dude with him.”

Regret fills me as I recall my trip to Orlando. If I had stayed at home with my family instead of taking the drive, there might be someone else on this beach instead of me. And I might still have a chance at a normal life.

     Bagley and Schmidt seemed so confident and free; I was taken in. I let Bagley lead me down wrong the path, much like the first time we met. That was back when we were kids and he talked me into sneaking out of Sunday school to smoke Lucky Strikes in the alley behind the church.   

     Sometimes you’re a little slow to learn, I guess.

It’s approaching nightfall now, and still no sign of the boat. Worry has turned to abject fear, overcome only by the need to ease the boredom. I turn the portable radio on as the grapefruit sun gets sliced up by the edge of the world. 

     Hendrix is playing “Manic Depression.” and things are indeed, a frustrating mess. 

     And to think that beaches were one of the reasons why I came to Florida…. 

(To be continued)

ebook only $1.99 – through March 15!

Amazon/Kindle: https://amzn.to/3AzETuy

Barnes and Noble Nook:  https://bit.ly/3u24Y2O

Apple: https://apple.co/3D4kb6T

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3isQyUP

Scribd: https://bit.ly/3oskPXN

Indigo: https://bit.ly/2Yo4PeC

Read Full Post »

“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded release of three short crime stories and this longer story.

     Carole Loraine Stivers Waverly, to be exact, my little flower child, in all her swirling confusion and beauty.

     I was happy to see her and ecstatic to reunite with Mike.

     Carole and I had been quite the couple. I don’t think we spent one night apart for the first three years of our marriage. We fancied ourselves like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, even had their album cover on our bedroom wall. Two Virgins—that was us.

     But when the marriage fell apart, it was gone in a hurry: seemingly happy at Christmas—separated by the Fourth of July. Went from lovers to haters in one hell of a hurry. I guess it was my fault but sometimes I’m not so sure.

     It’s clear to me now that I was trying to bring back the past. If only I’d been smarter or tougher or richer, maybe I never would’ve brought them to Florida. Could’ve kept them out of this mess, if only I’d been strong enough to make it alone…

Chapter 2

Out here on the sand, the waiting is tearing me up. The more I worry about the boat, the more I start to think about Carole and Mike: how much I miss them. The thought makes me hurt, a sad, sick sort of pain.

     My only escape from this lonely prison is to go back in my mind and try and see where it all went wrong. Drift back to the edge of disaster and see where I slipped off.I can see now where our life began to change, how I let certain things push me in the wrong direction.

     We were doing okay there in the beginning. Had a decent apartment and a semi-normal life and Florida seemed okay. I was staying clean and had a job as a tennis instructor at a resort and spa in Clearwater that was paying the bills. The three of us seemed reasonably happy.  

     Then I had one bad break. A real bad break… 

     Slipped on a leaf playing in a money doubles match, broke my leg and couldn’t work anymore. Had no health insurance or financial safety net. But there were plenty of pain pills around.

(To be continued)

Read Full Post »

“My Ship Comes In” is the fourth story, a novella, in T.K. O’Neill’s Northwoods Pulp Reloaded release of three short crime stories and this longer story.

     Carole Loraine Stivers Waverly, to be exact, my little flower child, in all her swirling confusion and beauty.

     I was happy to see her and ecstatic to reunite with Mike.

     Carole and I had been quite the couple. I don’t think we spent one night apart for the first three years of our marriage. We fancied ourselves like John Lennon and Yoko Ono, even had their album cover on our bedroom wall. Two Virgins—that was us.

     But when the marriage fell apart, it was gone in a hurry: seemingly happy at Christmas—separated by the Fourth of July. Went from lovers to haters in one hell of a hurry. I guess it was my fault but sometimes I’m not so sure.

     It’s clear to me now that I was trying to bring back the past. If only I’d been smarter or tougher or richer, maybe I never would’ve brought them to Florida. Could’ve kept them out of this mess, if only I’d been strong enough to make it alone…

Chapter 2

Out here on the sand, the waiting is tearing me up. The more I worry about the boat, the more I start to think about Carole and Mike: how much I miss them. The thought makes me hurt, a sad, sick sort of pain.

     My only escape from this lonely prison is to go back in my mind and try and see where it all went wrong. Drift back to the edge of disaster and see where I slipped off.I can see now where our life began to change, how I let certain things push me in the wrong direction.

     We were doing okay there in the beginning. Had a decent apartment and a semi-normal life and Florida seemed okay. I was staying clean and had a job as a tennis instructor at a resort and spa in Clearwater that was paying the bills. The three of us seemed reasonably happy.  

     Then I had one bad break. A real bad break… 

     Slipped on a leaf playing in a money doubles match, broke my leg and couldn’t work anymore. Had no health insurance or financial safety net. But there were plenty of pain pills around.

(To be continued)

Read Full Post »

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