Lobster war with modern day pirates, compel two men to arm their vessels with automatic weapons—pirates soon begin disappearing. Too much shooting on their trapping grounds, just off Walker’s Cay, Bahamas—and the disappearance of a thief, his crew, and boat; prompts the Prime Minister into passing legislature to expel the men.
Everglade’s City lies on the edge of the Ten Thousand Islands, 33 miles east of Naples, Florida. The small, quaint, stone-crab trapping capitol of the USA appeared to be the answer to their dream of being left alone to fish for a living.
A conversation with a local trapper, at the beginning of their second season, ended the dream. “Y’all wanna haul a load of pot?”
Many tons of marijuana later, Roland approaches Ray. “Becky says a buncha guys she’s never seen have been fishing along the road to Chokoloskee. She’s been driving her moped past ‘em, and they don’t even have line on their poles. Becky says they talk on small walkie talkies, and the same boat is always out in the bay.”
A short time later, Roland and Becky are in their plane—flying south toward Nicaragua and a new beginning. Ray and many others will soon be heading toward a new beginning also—guests of the Federal Government.
ABOUT THE BOOK
CHAPTER 1—The story begins with Ray and Jesse out to catch a thief. During the long run north along the pre-dawn shoreline of Key Largo, Ray’s memory goes back to St. Croix. During this period he was working for his father, who sold his traps and moved from Key Largo to the Virgin Islands to begin trapping. He thought there would be no thieves. It's here that Ray meets the only woman he will ever love but fate intervenes. His mind is brought back by Jesse’s voice coming from the CB speaker. The chase begins, but it appears the thief will once again get away. A small error made by the thief changes everything.
CHAPTER 2—1962 Ray meets Aretha in Bebop Charlie’s bar on St. Croix. She’s a tiny island girl nicknamed Little Bug by Bangor while still a schoolgirl. Ray and Rita, as she prefers, fall in love. While working with his father, Ray finds it difficult to find time to be with her. Thieves come in a large ocean racing boat from Puerto Rico to pull Ray and his father’s traps. Unknown to anyone, Bangor is involved with a wealthy drug smuggler who has homes on St. Croix, Bogotá, San Juan, and Miami. Bangor is his airplane pilot and yacht captain, and is allowed the use of both when his boss is not there. Bangor and Ray devise a plot to eliminate the Puerto Rican thieves.
CHAPTER 3—Bangor’s friends provide the location of the town where the thief boat is docked, and they pull it off perfectly. Bangor takes his boss’s yacht close to the marina entrance and Ray uses a rubber dinghy powered by a Seagull motor to sneak in and board the boat. After the thieves are taken care of, Ray finds time to spend with Rita and eventually hands her an engagement ring. The wedding engagement party for Ray and Rita is a success and is still talked about to this day. After the reception, Bangor begins teaching Ray to fly, but fate intervenes again. Bol and Jennifer return to Key Largo and give their son Ray the boat and traps.
CHAPTER 4—Ray uses every ounce of energy he has on re-establishing his trapping business in Key Largo. In the Pilot House Bar, owner Moon Mullins introduces Ray to Roland and Becky Cameron. Roland had just lost his crawfishing boat to the bank in Riviera Beach. Becky was raised in a swordfish longline family on Martha’s Vineyard, so they get along great. Before leaving, it’s settled that Roland will be Bol’s First Mate, and Becky will build traps for Bol.
CHAPTER 5—After losing his boat, Roland and his long-time mate, Lester Mutt are allowed to use an old Whaler with an outboard engine to pull his traps one last time to get an accurate count. They spot a small dive boat near his line and soon determine that a thief is emptying their traps. A west wind is blowing hard, so Ray decides to use it to get rid of a couple of thieves. He and Les then head to Marathon in the Keys to operate a crawfishing boat for an ex-employer. Becky hates being left behind and settles the bank problem quickly, then heads to Marathon. Becky is building traps when she meets Mongo. He arrives on a Harley but his size makes it look like a scooter. When she spots the tattoos covering much of his face and neck, and the long chinaman ponytail protruding from his bald head, she’s tempted to run, but... Les meets Rose Manicossa and immediately hates him because of a slur he made toward his ‘Lynie.’ Les later beats him badly, but for another reason—killing of his pal.
CHAPTER 6—This begins with a true story of a shooting on Cay Sal Bank, a few miles from Cuba, but still international water. Les accepts the job of mate on another boat while Roland and Becky are on vacation in Jamaica. His captain, Billy Brown, was known to crowd other crawfishermen. When Rose and Doc show up on Cay Sal aboard the Rose Garden, all hell breaks loose. While vacationing in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Roland and Becky meet Cheeta, the bartender in the Treehouse Bar, and soon learns that Cheeta is part of a marijuana smuggling operation...On the next trip to the lobster bank behind Cuba, Roland brings out a Thompson Sub Machine Gun that he bought. It proves to be a persuasive tool when dealing with pirates.
CHAPTER 7—After a successful trip to Cochinos, another trip is planned. A shoreline trapper named Chili-Mac temporarily takes the Captain’s place on Sea Shadow. When the small Marathon fleet arrives on Cochinos Bank, the weather begins turning bad. As the boats all monitor the Marine weather bands, Becky gets an up to date forecast as she listens to country music station WQAM in Miami. Her love of country music is why several fishermen are alive today. The storm turned into a hurricane, but because of Becky, all of the boats but Sea Shadow had time to put out extra anchors and ride it out. Everyone hopes Chili-Mac and his crew are okay. Once Roland and Becky return to Marathon, they board their new airplane and head to Montego Bay for some R & R. While there, Ernie Pehoff approaches them with a problem. He needs a co-pilot for a drug run. Roland eventually tells Spank that he and Becky are tired of the offshore fishing and thieves, and are going to Martha’s Vineyard where she grew up.
CHAPTER 8—Roland loves the Vineyard and accepts a job with Captain Sean O’Malley who operates a small longline swordfish boat. The work suits Roland and he gets along great with all but the Portuguese First Mate. The brute’s drunken attempt to knife Roland when they’re on the deck alone in the middle of the night fails and...When Roland must beat ice from the rigging before leaving port, he begins planning to return to warm weather fishing. They buy an offshore boat and locate dockage in Riviera Beach. They're soon carrying traps to the shallow bank near Walker’s Cay, in the North Bahamas. Les shows up and moves aboard to resume his duties as First Mate. Raymond James buys an offshore boat and the two men team up. The island natives soon learn that they can make good money stealing lobsters from the two men’s traps. When Roland and Les deliver the natives a message by ‘chain mail’ from their airplane, the natives abruptly stop stealing their lobsters. Everything goes smoothly for a while, but soon the shooting will resume.
CHAPTER 9—Ray sends word for his crew to get to THUNDERHEAD and prepare her to leave within the hour, and then he visits a gun shop. When at sea he unwrapped four new AR-15s and the crew realizes that this trip will be different. When it’s obvious that the Miami River boats have set a few traps among Ray and Roland’s 3000, they approach the rusty old boats with a warning. Roland fires a burst from the Thompson as Ray empties a 30 round clip from one of the new AR-15s along the waterline. “Load your few traps and leave. You won’t get another warning.” Antonio Pelez and his Nassau partner, Broffus Pinder show up with a small load of traps. They’re smart and keep away from Roland and Raymond when they spot their boats. Lester tells Roland that he’s missing quite a few new traps. Ray and Roland begin checking closely with their LORAN-C and quickly determine that many of their traps are also missing.
CHAPTER 10—Becky spots a small town nestled amongst the Everglade’s near the bay. Roland takes the plane down to low altitude and circles Everglade’s City. They spot traps everywhere, so they land and spend a couple of days. They return to tell Ray, “We’ve found paradise right over on the west coast near Naples.” Within a month they have all of their traps on shore and are beginning the migration west. They are soon settled in as stone crab trappers and are accepted by the locals. Most have followed their battles by reading the newspaper and watching the television reports of their war against pirates. It actually could have been the paradise we had searched so long for, except for one small fact. It was the drug import hub of South Florida. During the next few years, many tons of marijuana is smuggled into the surrounding swamps. The small town becomes like a lawless town of the Wild West, and there’s damn near as much shooting. Some of the scenes are almost slapstick comedy, but that’s the way we were—carefree, cow town rich, drunker’n hell, and didn’t givashit about anything but the next load and next round of drinks. Soon Ray and all of my pals were sent to prison. My wife and I climbed into our plane and headed for South America.
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A few minutes before eleven, Manny shook Roland’s arm. “Time for you to take the watch.” Five minutes later he had a fresh cup of coffee that was so strong the white glass marble with a string through it, which the captain used to test it with, couldn’t be seen an inch below the surface. As he sipped the brain rattling elixir he scanned all the gauges and checked the compass heading. Satisfied that all was as it should be, Roland went out on deck to make his rounds to be certain that all the gear was riding well in the heavy seas.
An hour and a couple of cups of coffee later he returned to the deck to make his rounds again. While standing near the stern he sensed someone behind him. When he turned, he was startled to find Polo standing close to him. The man was so big that Roland never considered him a stealthy person, but he had obviously moved quietly up behind. He saw the small bottle of whiskey in one of the man’s huge hands and the other in the pocket of the long wool coat.
“Your watch’s not for a couple of hours Polo; get some rest.”
“That kid you made a fool of is my nephew, you smart ass cracker bastard. Who in the hell do you think you are? Comin up here givin us your line of bullshit and putting us down, like you’re some kinda hot shit fisherman.”
“That lard ass bag o’ shit was born a fool and works hard at keeping his reputation.” In one motion so swift that it surprised Roland, the huge man removed a switchblade from his coat pocket and pushed the button that sent the six-inch blade out, locking into position. He overestimated himself in his drunken state, but far worse, he underestimated the young man in front of him. He lunged with the knife coming at Roland in a wide arc—Too wide!
Roland stepped aside and let the man’s own weight and momentum work against him. As the knife went by his head, Roland ducked low and grabbed the man’s leg at the ankle with one hand. His other hand grabbed the seat of the man’s pants and with arm strength that was used to throwing one-hundred-pound lobster traps five high, he lifted the man and gave him a hard shove. The man’s scream was so faint that he heard the whiskey bottle hit the deck. He slowly walked back to the cabin and checked on the two sleeping men. Neither had stirred during the confrontation. He continued drinking coffee and checking the boat as they plowed on through the heavy North Atlantic seas toward home. At dawn he shook the captain. “Hey Cap’n, I can’t find Polo.”
“Huh, what? Mmmmm, okay I’ll be right there.” Moments later the captain was beside him, “Y’can’t find ‘im?”
“I got up to take a piss off the stern and didn’t see him, so I looked up on the bow and all around. He ain’t on this boat Cap’n.”
“Shit! Yer positive ‘e ain’t passed out som’rs down below?”
“Cap’n, I’m positive he ain’t on this boat.”
“Goddamn drunken Portogee. Damn! When did ‘e relieve you?”
“Three AM, right on time. A little drunk, but right on time.”
“Well, kick ‘er off autopilot n’ reverse course while I call the Coast Guard. Get ‘er back on autopilot then n’ wake Manny and both of y’s be lookin for ‘im. Per’aps ‘e just recently fell overboard and we might still spot ‘im.”
“Roger that,” Roland said as he went to the wheel thinking, The sorry bastard fell overboard alright; right where he planned to throw me after he shoved that pigsticker in my gut.