Til Kingdom Cay
There are two Bahamas—
Glittering casinos, beachfront resorts and crowded cruise ships of Nassau and Freeport is what most of the world sees. But beyond the capitol, the Out Islands, also called the Family Islands, support a slower pace on a necklace of isolated cays. Law enforcement here may be provincial compared to Nassau, but even in the Family Islands humanity’s dark side emerges when drugs and money mix in a volatile combination.
A fifteen-foot whaler with three men skipped across the evening sea like a flat stone thrown by someone with a strong arm. On the bow rode a bare-chested charioteer, his jeans drenched in spray, a taut line gripped in his left hand, his right hand waving. Each time the boat went airborne over the waves, the yellow-haired rider shrieked in exhilaration. Another young man with caramel-colored skin and a mass of unruly brown curls sat in front of the pilot’s tinted windshield watching the crazy white boy making a fool of himself. Gusts of wind sent the man’s shirt billowing up around his neck obscuring his view of the horizon where breakers exploded in white against the dark sea. He grinned at the pale buffoon and wrapped a towel against his bare legs, a futile effort, for everything was soaked from the spray.
It didn’t matter really. He didn’t know it, but he was a dead man. Had he known, he might have paid more attention to what his companions were doing.
A shirtless, muscular black man, older than the other two, stood at the controls in a pair of rubber reef shoes that kept him balanced on the slippery deck. His shaved head glistened from the salt spray pounding the cockpit’s windshield. Peering through smeared, gold-framed glasses, he dropped his speed. Ahead, furious waves hammered a ragged ledge of sharp black coral, surf smashing and booming the length of the reef.
The boat bobbed toward the cut in the rocks. The dead man looked back at the pilot and held up his hands as if to ask why they were here. The black man bellowed over the windshield. “We’re meeting another boat!” He drew closer. “Should be through the cut any minute now!”
Shrugging, the youth braced his feet against the bucking deck and pulled his sodden towel tighter as the whaler fought the current sluicing through nearby rocks.
“Zeke, take the wheel!” A stupid, salt-soaked grin spread across the blonde’s thin face as he staggered back along the gunwales to the controls. “Hold her into the wind!” the pilot roared as the boat pitched in the chop. His menacing look sobered the youth as he crouched behind the spray shield. Leaning over the plexiglass screen, the leader barked at his other companion. “Get ready to anchor!” The youth rose. “Keep your eyes on the horizon! Don’t anchor until I tell you to! You got that?” He jerked his thumb toward the bow and sent the youth forward.
Crouching in the bow, his hand gripping the anchor, the young man squinted back over the coiled line, waiting for his signal. Th e leader pulled yellow marine binoculars from a bag and circled the horizon. No other boats in sight. He caught the youth watching him. “Eyes on the horizon!” he bellowed, lowering the binoculars.
“Wait for my signal!”
Th e dead man snapped his head back over the bow. At the helm, the white boy watched transfixed as the older man set down the glasses and pulled a sawed-off shotgun from his bag. Crouching to absorb the pitch of the whaler in the swells, the man crept forward.