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|Chapter 18: Discoveries|
By late afternoon, Trevor and Joel had finished their exploration of Pompeii and exited via the Marina Gate, turning in their headsets on the way out. As they walked away, Joel jumped on his skateboard. “I’m hungry, how about you?” he said, skating in the general direction of the Marina di Stabia.
“You’re always hungry,” Trevor replied, cutting Joel off, and then racing ahead. “But yeah, me too. I’m starved.”
They followed the streets, taking a different route back, and after a few blocks, as they neared the river, Joel spotted a bank. “I need to change my cash,” he said, ducking inside before Trevor could reply.
Trevor followed Joel inside, and waited while Joel took care of the exchange. When they came out, Joel looked down the street, towards the marina, and his eyes lit up. “Look what I see,” he said, and then pointed. “Food!”
The tratorria – an Italian term for an informal restaurant – had a sidewalk patio, and the waiter escorted Trevor and Joel there to seat them. He smiled and held his order pad at the ready, so Joel said, “No Italiano, uh, menu?”
The handsome, nineteen-year-old waiter grinned and replied, in near-perfect English, “Most tratorria don’t have menus. This one specializes in pizza and calzone. Calzones are like a folded-over pizza, with extra filling and sealed at the edges. We do a mozzarella, meatball, and pepperoni here that’s very good.”
Trevor and Joel shared a glance, and Trevor nodded, so Joel replied, “Two of those, please.”
The waiter scribbled on his pad, and then asked, “Something to drink? We do wine by the carafe here; it’s just five Euros.”
Joel’s face lit up. “Okay, as long as it’s Italian wine. Thanks.”
The waiter smiled and walked away. Joel leaned back in his chair, looking at the passing pedestrians a few feet away, and said, “Eating Italian food and drinking wine in an Italian sidewalk cafe. This is the life, man.”
Trevor grinned, and after an idle glance at Joel’s shirt, replied, “Yeah, it’s a day to remember.”
The wine arrived, and then the calzones, and after he’d taken a few bites, Joel declared, “This is the best I’ve ever had.”
Trevor grinned and asked, “Have you ever had any before?”
Joel shrugged. “Nope, and now you’re going to insult me again, aren’t you?”
“What are friends for?” Trevor asked with a chuckle.
While they ate and drank, they watched the pedestrians on the busy street, and talked about their plans for the next few days.
After the meal, as they strolled along the crowded sidewalks, skateboards in hand, Joel thought, ‘I think now would be a good time...’ After watching Trevor carefully for a moment, Joel slipped his arm around Trevor’s shoulders.
Puzzled, Trevor asked, “What are you doing?”
“Are you scared that people will think you’re gay, just because I’ve got my arm around you and I’m wearing a Stonewall shirt with triangles on it?” Joel asked, leaving his arm in place and giving Trevor a wicked grin.
Trevor stopped in his tracks, which dislodged Joel’s arm. “You knew?” Trevor asked in a shocked whisper, his eyes opening wide.
Joel spun around to laugh at Trevor. “Well, duh! Think about it; Lisa gave it to you and she’s my girlfriend. Do you think it’s just possible that she might have mentioned it to me, like maybe betting me that you’d been too chicken to ever wear it? Or, genius, you might remember that I have a gay uncle who’s out, so maybe I know about the gay triangle symbol and I know what Stonewall was?”
Trevor felt his cheeks coloring. “So when those German guys talked to you, and then when those two girls showed up, you–”
“Duh again; I made you squirm a bit,” Joel said, starting to crack up, which drew attention from a few of the passing pedestrians.
Trevor shook his head, surprised and bemused. “I was going to tell you once we got back to Atlantis. I thought I’d got you good. So, why’d you play along?”
“Three reasons. One was curiosity. I’m always ragging on you for hiding, so I decided to see what it felt like to be ‘out’ in public. Not too bad I guess, but I knew Italy was more accepting than back home, and I also knew I could turn the shirt inside out or just take it off if it got to be a problem. Second reason; I wanted to show you that it’s okay,” Joel said, stepping close to Trevor.
Trevor saw the mischievous glint in Joel’s eye, and asked, “That’s two. You said three.”
Joel grinned. “Three is so I could do this,” he said, peeling the Stonewall shirt off. After smoothing his hair back into place, he looked at Trevor for a few moments, waiting, and seeing only confusion, Joel added, “Strip off, Trev. Either we trade shirts or I’m never going to let you forget the fact that I had the balls to wear this all day and you wouldn’t even wear it back to Atlantis.”
“You would, I know you would...” Trevor said, and for a moment, he looked for an excuse. “I don’t want to take my shirt off in the middle of the street,” Trevor said, instantly realizing just how pathetic his words sounded.
Joel snorted. “Like you’ve ever been shy before. Lose the shirt, Trev.”
“You’re telling me to strip? I feel so sexually harassed,” Trevor said with a pout.
“Shut up, that only works when I do it... now, are you gonna trade shirts with me, or am I going to tease you for the rest of our lives about this?” Joel asked, smirking.
Trevor looked around at the busy street, thinking, ‘He’s right. He wore it all day with no problem, so why the hell not? And if I don’t, he’ll make fun of me forever, and worse, he’ll be right.’ With a casual shrug and a smile, Trevor tugged off his shirt, exchanging it with Joel for the Stonewall one.
Joel watched as Trevor pulled the shirt on. “Okay, I didn’t think you’d do it, but you did it,” Joel said, as he put on the shirt Trevor had been wearing.
Trevor took a deep breath and began walking. “See? I’m not as bad as you think.”
Joel joined up, and after a few moments replied, “Yeah, I’ll admit that, but then nobody could be as bad as I think you are.”
Trevor gave Joel a playful punch in the arm, and they continued their walk back to Atlantis. On the way, right at the edge of the marina, they stopped at a small wine and beer market, and Joel bought a dozen bottles each of three different German beers, and then a dozen Italian beers.
Loading each of their skateboards with a box full of beer, they pushed them down the dock towards Atlantis. “This is gonna be good,” Joel said with a grin, and then he glanced at Atlantis. Stopping cold, he stared at Atlantis and then pulled Trevor to the side, which placed a rack of rowboats between them and Atlantis. “Trev, get behind me. No joke, but there’s somebody on Atlantis and it looks like a cop,” Joel said quietly, and then eased aside so Trevor could peek around the rowboats.
Trevor felt his hair stand on end. For a second, he hoped that Joel was joking, but one look at Joel’s face belied that. Trevor edged behind Joel and looked ahead. ‘He’s sitting in the cockpit and all we can see is his cap, but that looks like the caps those customs cops wore...’ Feeling his pulse quicken, Trevor said, “Oh, fuck.”
Joel looked again. “There’s just one, and we don’t know what he wants. Maybe he’s something to do with the port?”
“Or maybe he’s after us,” Trevor said, feeling his gut clench.
“He can’t be after me,” Joel said, and then explained, “I’m here with their government’s and my parents’ permission. It can’t be anything about going into the off limits area in Pompeii, because we didn’t give our names to any officials, and they wouldn’t have known where to look for us anyway. I think you should stay here and I can just go ask him what’s up.”
Trevor shook his head. “Don’t. They might arrest you.”
“For what? I’m not a runaway and I’m not doing anything illegal. Besides, got any better ideas? He’s on Atlantis, so what else can we do?” Joel asked.
“Atlantis is mine so I should be the one to do this,” Trevor said, not wanting Joel to take the risk.
“Like hell. If they’re after anybody, they’re after you,” Joel replied, and then added, “Trev, there’s no time to argue and you can’t change my mind, so let me do this. We need a plan. When I get there, watch me. If it’s a cop and not a big deal, I’ll scratch my leg, and you just stay out of sight. If I scratch my head, it’s a cop and there’s trouble. In that case, I’ll tell him you’re in Rome and then I’ll take Atlantis out to sea and head north. I can use the nav display, so I’ll go exactly one mile north and get in as close as I can to shore. I’ll wait for you there, and I’ll turn my phone on so you can call from a pay phone if you need to.”
“Thanks, man,” Trevor said, wishing that he could think of a better idea.
“I’ll take these, that’ll make it seem more natural,” Joel said, as he stooped over and began pushing the two skateboards and their cargo of beer towards Atlantis.
‘He’s going to show up with two skateboards!’ Trevor thought, watching from behind the rowboats, but it was already too late to call Joel back. Rattled by that thought, Trevor sat down so that he wouldn’t appear to be so obviously hiding, and waited, his nerves on edge.
Pushing his awkward load, it took Joel several minutes to reach the Atlantis. Every so often, he stole a glance at the boat and the ominous man in the cockpit. When Joel reached the stern, he took a deep breath, stood up, and called out, “Can I help you?”
The man stood up and turned to look at Joel. With a sour expression, he pointed at Atlantis, and then at Joel. The question was obvious, so Joel nodded.
Shoving his cap back a little, the harbormaster pointed at the deck and said, “Dieci Euro.” Then he pointed at one of the mooring lines, and said, in a louder voice, “Dieci Euro.”
Joel understood that the man wanted money and was likely connected with the marina in some way, but Joel had no idea how much he was being asked for. He pulled a twenty Euro note out of his wallet, gestured at it with a nod, and glanced up as the man – who was the harbormaster – shook his head and hopped down onto the dock to face Joel.
“Dieci Euro!” the harbormaster said.
Joel looked at him for a second, and then, after scratching his head to show puzzlement, pulled out a second twenty-Euro note.
Trevor’s eyes opened wide as he saw Joel’s head scratch. ‘Oh, fuck,’ he thought, rising up into a crouch and preparing to run. He looked around, and for the first time noticed several fishermen watching him with interest, making Trevor feel even more conspicuous, hunted, and exposed.
The harbormaster shook his head, and then opened both hands, palm out, towards Joel. “Dieci,” he said, hoping that Joel would finally understand.
Joel looked for a moment, and then pulled out a ten, and glanced up to see the harbormaster nodding. With a feeling of relief, Joel handed over the banknote.
The harbormaster took it and nodded, and then walked away, heading back down the dock.
With his view blocked by Joel’s body, Trevor hadn’t seen the transaction. All he knew was that Joel had given the signal, and now the man he still thought to be a police officer was heading his way.
Trevor stood up, and for the first time got a good look at the harbormaster, whose tan clothes and black cap trimmed in gold braid looked, from a distance, very much like the Italian police Trevor had seen. As he was about to break into a run, Trevor noticed that there was no sign of a gun. Forcing himself to keep a steady pace, he began to walk towards shore, fighting the urge to look back. ‘If he was running, I’d hear him,’ Trevor thought.
Joel watched the harbormaster leave, and then he saw Trevor begin fast-walking away. ‘Oh shit, scratching my head was the signal,’ Joel remembered, taking off at a full sprint.
Joel raced past the puzzled harbormaster just as Trevor darted out of sight around a shack, still walking fast.
Tearing around the corner, Joel skidded to a halt. Trevor was nowhere to be seen.
“Trev, it’s okay!” Joel yelled, knowing that Trevor must be within earshot. Joel looked around, trying to figure out what to do next. Trevor, who was crouched behind a garbage can, heard Joel and stood up to look. Glancing back at Atlantis, Joel yelled, “Everything’s fine, come on, fast!”
Before Trevor could say a word, Joel turned around and raced back towards Atlantis.
Running at full tilt, Joel gave the puzzled harbormaster a friendly wave and raced on past.
Trevor watched Joel go. ‘What the fuck is going on?’ he wondered, and then began walking towards Atlantis, and after a few paces he broke into a jog.
As he passed the harbormaster, he recognized him for what he was and breathed a sigh of relief. ‘He looks like a cop from a distance, so why did Joel give the signal when he was standing right in front of him?’ Trevor wondered, and began running faster as he saw Joel skid to a halt next to Atlantis.
As Trevor closed the final few dozen yards, he saw Joel stoop over and pick up a box, and then turn to wait for him.
Trevor slowed to a stop as Joel looked down bashfully and said, “Sorry about giving the signal. He wanted money but I couldn’t understand how much, and I scratched my head without thinking.”
“Okay, but why did you race back here?” Trevor asked, and then glanced over his shoulder towards the retreating harbormaster.
Joel rattled the box. “Uh, I had to catch you so I left the beer on the dock. I was worried somebody would steal it, so I figured we should get back here fast.”
Trevor snorted, and then groaned. “You scared the hell out of me over beer?”
Joel nodded, and then set the box down on Atlantis’ deck. “Sorry, I guess I did, huh? I didn’t remember it until I saw you, and didn’t think before running back.”
Trevor shook his head and laughed. “Thinking being totally alien to you, of course... I guess I should be surprised that you came after me at all. And in case you didn’t notice, Einstein, you were at the shore end of the dock, and Atlantis is near the far end. Anybody who took the beer would have had to get past us, put it on a boat, or swim for it.”
Joel put the second box aboard and then picked up the skateboards. “I guess that guy rattled me more than I thought. I think he’s connected with the marina; he was pointing at Atlantis and the mooring lines, and wanted ten Euros.”
“I think he’s the harbormaster. I guess the port guide was wrong; it said no fees at the public dock here except for the electric hookup, and I already left a deposit for that,” Trevor said, as he helped Joel carry the beer into the cockpit.
“I’m just glad he wasn’t really a cop,” Joel said, as he began to unpack the beer and load it into the refrigerator.
“Me too. Atlantis could have been taken and I could have been hauled off to jail,” Trevor said, feeling hunted again.
“And I’d have had to get a hotel room for me and the beer,” Joel said, looking at a bottle and licking his lips.
“Somehow, I think you’d have had a happier night than I would have,” Trevor said, smiling at Joel’s antics. Then, he added softly, “Thanks for doing that... being the one to come back here, I mean.”
Joel stood up and faced Trevor. Reaching out, he put a reassuring hand on Trevor’s shoulder and said, “I can joke about it now, but I was scared for you back there. I’m glad everything was okay this time, but we’d better remember that you’re in danger. Going into the off-limits areas in Pompeii probably wasn’t a good idea; what if they’d called the cops?”
“Yeah, they might have. I’m glad we saw what we did, but I’ll keep that in mind next time. When I was hiding I really did think I might be going to jail,” Trevor replied.
Joel pulled his hand away, but before he’d moved it more than a few inches, a thoughtful look crossed his face, and he pinched the fabric of Trevor’s shirt and gave it a mild tug. “Going to jail wearing that might not have been fun,” Joel said.
Trevor blanched slightly, and then tugged the Stonewall shirt off. “Shit, I never thought of that, or I’d have ditched it,” he said, holding it up to look at it.
“Yeah, neither did I, until just now. If we’d have been busted in Pompeii, I’d have been going to jail in it. Maybe wearing that isn’t a good idea when we’re breaking the law.”
Trevor turned around to hide the smile that was forcing its way onto his face. “Yeah, and I’m a runaway so that rules me out until I’m eighteen. You’re fine though, so you can wear it every time we’re in port, like maybe when we go to check out some bars.”
Joel snorted. “Thanks a lot. I did wear it to go to Pompeii and to a restaurant. You wouldn’t have, even without the runaway stuff. I guess this proves that I’m a lot cooler about gay stuff than you are.”
Trevor grinned and turned back to face Joel. “In that case, there’s no reason for you not to wear it, right?”
It took Joel a moment to think of a comeback. “Yeah there is; I wore it a hell of a lot longer than you did, so it’s still your turn, just as soon as it’s safe. I’m patient; I can wait. Speaking of, when are we sailing to Capri?”
Trevor shrugged. “Why are you asking me? This is your trip too.”
“Yeah, but you’re the domineering, overbearing, dictatorial captain!” Joel shot back, laughing. Then he added in a more serious tone. “It’s only about an hour and a half from here, so let’s try out this great beer tonight and then sail in the morning. Hey, we’re on shore power so that means the washer-dryer can run, right?” Seeing Trevor nod in reply, and Joel continued, “Then can we do some laundry? Everything I’ve got is dirty and I hate subjecting myself to your tacky wardrobe.”
“I’d say something bad about yours, but then you’d just point out that you need to go clothes shopping, right?” Trevor asked, and then turned to retrieve his laundry from his cabin.
“That was the plan,” Joel admitted, as he ducked into his cabin in search of his own washing.
When Trevor returned, he found Joel standing beside the washer with his laundry in his arms. Trevor set his own down on the deck and crouched down to search through it as he said, “Separate out the whites. I learned the hard way that you don’t wash colors with whites; I’ve still got green-tinted socks to prove it, because I accidentally washed them with that shirt,” Trevor nodded at the pea green sleeveless shirt that Joel was wearing, “a couple of years ago.”
Joel dropped his laundry, aiming for Trevor’s head but missing as Trevor ducked back. As he separated out his socks, Joel said, “Years ago? You’ve got clothes that are that old? And you’ve still got the green-tinted socks? You’re hopeless.”
“You’re trying to trap me into saying something that you can twist into a shopping trip, aren’t you?” Trevor asked, with a smirk.
“That, plus it’s true,” Joel said, and then he held up a pair of his boxers. “What about underwear? They aren’t white, but they’re light.”
“We’ll do ‘em in the second load, along with the socks; they go better there and there’ll be lots of room,” Trevor replied, and began shoving the colored laundry into the washer.
Trevor loaded the detergent dispenser, and then retrieved the Stonewall shirt from the salon to add to the load. Then he emptied his pockets and shucked off his boardies, tossing them in too. Standing in just his boxers, Trevor glanced expectantly at Joel, who was still wearing shorts and the green shirt.
Joel stared at Trevor for a moment, and then looked down, pulled up the hem of his shirt. Pausing when he’d bared only his stomach, Joel looked back at Trevor and asked in a shocked voice, “Why are you looking at me? Are you just going to stare at me while I take my clothes off?”
Trevor leaned back against a counter, crossed his arms, and nodded. “Yep.”
Joel laughed and peeled off the shirt. “Damn, I’m going to have to work harder to stress you out; you’re learning,” he said, tossing the shirt into the washer.
“Yeah, after the way you got naked to zing me in the bilge, I really don’t think you’d freak about me watching you take off your shirt,” Trevor replied with a laugh.
Joel emptied his pockets and then popped the snap on the waistband of his shorts. Raising his eyes to find Trevor still looking, Joel said with a pout, “I feel so sexually harassed.”
“Shut up and strip,” Trevor replied, still watching and grinning.
Joel chuckled and stripped his shorts off, tossing them into the washer. He stood, leaning against the counter in his boxers, and smiled at Trevor. “I guess you really are learning. At this rate, you’ll be acting almost like a normal human in, oh, a year or three.”
“I’m already normal, thank you very much,” Trevor shot back, rolling his eyes.
Joel crossed his arms and studied Trevor for a moment. “Oh yeah? Let’s find out. Yes or no; do you check guys out in the locker room?”
“No,” Trevor said hurriedly.
“Liar,” Joel replied, snickering, and then adding, “That’s my point. You got defensive, and you do it by reflex. You think it makes you some kind of pervert if you admit it, right?” Joel waited until Trevor gave him a single nod, and continued, “Okay, now take a wild guess how I know for a fact that you were lying.”
Trevor studied Joel’s face for a clue, and finding none, Trevor offered, “You’ve seen me?”
Joel shook his head. “Nope. I’ve got a news flash for you; just about all guys, even straight ones, check each other out sometimes. It’s just natural curiosity, I guess – at least that’s why I do it. So, I admit it, but you lie. That’s what I mean when I say you’re not comfortable with yourself, it’s like you think there’s something wrong with you.”
Trevor nodded, seeing Joel’s point, and then added one of his own. “Okay, but... We’ve got at least three gay guys, counting me, on the swim team, and the other two are out to the team. Most of the rest of the team seem pretty cool about it, but just what do you think the reaction would be if the gay team members admitted checking out guys in the shower and stuff?”
“Some wouldn’t like it, in spite of doing the same damn thing themselves. But I’m not suggesting that you broadcast the fact, Trev. It’s just you and me here, and you instinctively lied, in spite of knowing that you can level with me. It was just your gut reaction, and you do it because, at some level, you think there’s something wrong with who you are,” Joel said, smiling happily at the point he’d made.
Trevor was silent for almost a minute before replying, “I guess you’re right.”
Joel gave his chest a proud thump. “I pretty much always am. I just think it’s strange that you have hang-ups about who you like, but you seem totally oblivious about things you should have hang-ups about, like being weird, freaky, stupid, and–”
“Shut up, you ass,” Trevor said, and then he laughed, shaking his head.
“Leave my ass out of this, I feel so sexually harassed,” Joel said with a pout, turning and slapping himself on the butt. Then he checked on the beer and added, “I’m going to grab a shower; the brews should be cold by the time I’m done.”
“I’ll bet that’ll be the fastest shower on record, seeing as how much you love beer, so I guess you’re going to reek,” Trevor said, and then laughed as Joel gave him the finger.
Still laughing, Trevor turned the combo washer-dryer on, and then went to take his own shower.
In Florida, a very disturbed Jim rushed into his living room, with a piece of paper in hand. “Dirk, you better look at this. The phone company just faxed it over; it’s a text message Lisa sent to Trevor’s phone. It hasn’t been received yet, but that’s not the issue. Here, read it.”
Dirk took the paper, and began reading, his eyes widening as he did so. “This isn’t right. I disabled those engines to try to keep Trevor from going out, not to kill him! I didn’t think he’d be crazy enough to take his boat to sea with dead engines.”
Jim sat down “That’s not important right now. The problem is that it can be made to look like a murder attempt, and you are already a suspect for your wife’s death on a very similar boat. Lisa witnessed Trevor’s rescue, and then you were fucking stupid enough to go cruising by her house. Damn it, you know you’re under observation, so doing that was just... insane. Look, I’m a civil attorney, not a criminal one, but I know a hell of a lot more about this stuff than you do, and I’m telling you, you’re setting yourself up to go to prison if you don’t wise up. You just don’t understand how serious this is, or what it means. Did it ever occur to you to wonder just how they were following you?”
Dirk, crestfallen because he knew that Jim was right, shook his head. “I’ve seen them around the chandlery and my house, and they’ve followed me before, being pretty obvious. I swear I looked, but I didn’t see anyone following me before I went by Lisa’s house.”
Jim rolled his eyes. “They let you see them for a reason, Dirk. That’s to put pressure on you. In addition, by being obvious at times, they put you at ease when you don’t see them. I’m going to show you exactly how they did it – assuming my guess is right, and it probably is – in the hopes that this will finally get it through that goddamn thick skull of yours that you’re in grave danger. Follow me,” Jim said, standing up and walking out to the garage, where Dirk’s sedan was parked next to his own.
Dirk didn’t say a word, and watched in silence as Jim crawled on the floor, feeling under Dirk’s car. It took ten minutes of looking, but at last, Jim felt, inside the Chrysler’s plastic nose assembly, what he suspected was there; a small plastic box, attached with double-sided tape. Glaring at Dirk, Jim held his finger to his lips, and then mouthed, “Get down here.”
Dirk dropped to his knees, and then flipped over on his back, turning his head to squirm past the air dam. Jim aimed the flashlight at the object, and then hauled Dirk out of the garage and into the back yard. “Do I have to tell you what that is?” Jim said harshly.
“A tracking device,” Dirk said, feeling a cold chill in spite of the blazing hot day.
“At least that, but there’s a chance it could be a bug too. I don’t know enough about what the police use to be sure, which is why we’re out here. I should have thought about a tracking device before, but the fact they tailed you from a distance made it obvious. Think carefully; is there anywhere else suspicious that they could have tracked you to?” Jim asked.
Dirk shook his head. “Except for my trips up here, I haven’t gone much of anywhere since Trevor left, just stuff for the chandlery... Except I did stop by Joel’s house once to try to talk to him, but no one answered the door.”
Jim shook his head. “That alone is dangerous, under the circumstances. Ironically, we have an excuse for your trip past Lisa’s house, due to that lawsuit against her father that I advised you not to file: you were checking the address so the notice could be served. The notice of the suit was served to Robert Whitaker at that address a couple of hours ago. However, this text message, plus your stop by Joel’s home, changes the equation a bit. Dirk, at this point, I would not be at all surprised to see a warrant issued for your arrest; any perceived threat to witnesses is grounds, and you’ve cleverly handed them that on a silver platter. From the cops’ point of view, it’s easier to put a murder suspect in jail than to extend protection to the witnesses.” Jim glanced in the direction of his garage, “Here’s another bit of information for you; I’ve got a car in my garage with a tracking device on it, in large part because you’ve kept me in the dark, and that pisses me off. Dirk, I’m fucking sick of these games. I’ve had enough. I’ll lay it on the line here; either you come clean with me, or we’re done.”
Dirk took a deep breath, and nodded. “Confirm one thing for me first; can you be put in legal risk from, or made to disclose, anything I tell you, such as about a crime?”
“No, not if you tell me, client-to-lawyer. In that case, it’s covered by attorney-client privilege. I’m your attorney of record for civil matters, for over two years now, and there are grounds here for me to be concerned from a liability perspective, so I’m asking you to level with me. Are we clear?” Jim replied.
Dirk paused for a moment, looking around Jim’s back yard. “Okay, I guess I’ve got no choice. I wasn’t protecting just myself, and it’s not what you think–”
Jim held up a hand to stop Dirk. “Not here. I just wanted to know that you would, and I will hold you to that. We’ll talk when we have time, and we don’t right now. The first thing we need to do is deal with that tracking device, and then solve a few other problems,” Jim said, as he reached out his cell phone.
“How?” Dirk asked.
“By ordering a pizza, of course,” Jim replied, and then proceeded to do exactly that.
Fifteen minutes later, while Dirk was packing upstairs, Jim took another step, one he hadn’t told Dirk about and planned on keeping to himself. Sitting at his computer, Jim reserved himself a ticket to Naples, Italy. When he was done, Jim nodded to himself as he thought, ‘If I can take care of this part of the problem, the rest should go away.’
Jim shut down his computer and then opened his safe. He withdrew one bundle containing ten thousand dollars, and then another. He had just finished locking his safe when the doorbell rang. After a quick peek through the window, he yelled, loud enough for Dirk to hear, “Pizza’s here!”
© 2010 C James
Please give me feedback, and please don’t be shy if you want to criticize! The feedback thread for this story is in my Forum. Please stop by and say "Hi!"
Many thanks to my editor EMoe for editing and for his support, encouragement, beta reading, and suggestions.
Special thanks to Graeme, for beta-reading and advice.
Thanks also to Talonrider and MikeL for beta reading.
A big Thank You to RedA for Beta reading and advice, and to Bondwriter for final Zeta-reading and advice.
Any remaining errors are mine alone.