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|Chapter 21: Interview|
The room was austere and a little threatening. That was Lisa’s first impression as Officer Gonzalez ushered her inside. Taking a seat in the police station conference room, Lisa cast a baleful eye at a large box of donuts at the far end. It was the room’s sole inviting aspect.
Smiling, Officer Gonzalez motioned at the donuts, “Some stereotypes are real, I suppose. Go ahead, help yourself.”
Lisa reached for a donut, chuckling, not realizing that she’d smoothly been put at ease. “Police and donuts... Why is that, anyway?”
Officer Gonzalez shrugged, and helped himself to a donut – in spite of loathing them. He’d put them in the conference room himself, shortly before Lisa’s arrival. “They taste good and they don’t need to be heated, I guess.”
“Thanks for the police cruiser outside my house; that makes me feel a lot safer,” Lisa offered, and then took a bite.
“All part of the job,” Officer Gonzales replied, setting his own donut down and picking up his pencil and notepad. The notes would be solely his own thoughts and observations; the room was wired for both sound and video, and he’d made sure they were recording. He led off with a few softball questions, asking about Joel’s swim out to Atlantis. Then he asked, “Have you been in touch with Trevor Carlson lately?”
Lisa nodded. “Just a couple of hours ago. I told him you’d probably want to speak with him, so I asked him to call back later today.”
“Where is he?”
“In Italy, with my boyfriend, Joel. I’m not sure exactly where; we’ve been careful on the phone, because of the situation with his father,” Lisa replied.
Officer Gonzales took a deep breath, hiding his displeasure at the news. “That presents a problem. I need to verify that he’s alive, and a voice on the phone isn’t sufficient. When will he be back?”
“Unless things change with his father, he should be back sometime in late spring. He’s sailing around the world. He won’t come home until he’s sure that his father can’t take him or his boat, Atlantis. I can prove he’s alive, though,” Lisa said, pulling out her phone and bringing a photo up on its tiny screen. “It’s a photo of Trevor, and that’s the view down from the Rock of Gibraltar behind him and the monkey. It was taken after he crossed the Atlantic, so that makes it after that problem with his father. I can e-mail you the photo right now, and you could compare it to Trevor’s driver’s license, right?”
Officer Gonzales nodded. ‘Clever. I wonder if you thought of that yourself, or if you had help? Photos can be faked, but I can request passport entry info from the Brits and Italians...’ “Okay, we’ll do that before you leave. Now, what do you think Trevor’s father intended; was it to kill Trevor?”
Lisa blinked in surprise. “You’re asking me what I think?”
“That surprises you? Mind if I ask why?”
Lisa shrugged. “Yeah, I was told that you’d just want the facts–”
“Bridget Bellevue. She said to just tell you what I know, and be honest,” Lisa replied.
“That’s all? She didn’t try to guide you?”
Lisa shook her head. “No, she just said to tell you what I know, that what you need are facts,” Lisa said, choosing to omit Bridget’s prior advice, due to feeling that it might harm the case against Dirk.
Officer Gonzales began writing on his notepad, and then asked, in a deliberately offhand way, “So what do you think?”
Lisa shrugged again. “Well, if you’re asking, I guess it’s okay... I think Trevor’s father is a killer. I think he murdered Trevor’s mother – I’ve seen the divorce papers. I also think he might want to kill Trevor the same way. I think you should arrest him so Trevor can come home. Can you do that? Or make it safe for Trev to come back?”
“I’m not at liberty to comment on that at the moment, but I assure you, I’d like to see your friend be able to come home. We’re working on it,” Officer Gonzales replied carefully.
“Why can’t your prosecutor, or whoever, just talk to a judge and get Trevor emancipated so he can come home? His father is suspected of murder; that has to be a good reason,” Lisa said.
“Florida law is a bit complicated on that issue and we can’t do much right now. Okay, I’m trying to sketch in some background information on the death of Rachel Carlson... How long did she own the Ares before her death, and where did she buy it from?”
A puzzled look crossed Lisa’s face. “Trevor never mentioned exactly how long. A few years, maybe. I think he said she bought Ares off somebody who hadn’t kept it up too well, but that’s all I remember.”
Officer Gonzales kept his face expressionless, and wrote as rapidly as he could. Then he asked another series of questions about Joel’s swim out to the Atlantis. Then he asked, again, “You’re absolutely certain that Trevor is alive?”
“I’ve known him forever... I’d know if it wasn’t him on the phone, and my boyfriend is with him. Of course he’s alive,” Lisa replied, perplexed by the question.
“Can you call him for me, right now?” Officer Gonzales asked.
Lisa shook her head. “No, they keep the phone off, because they’re worried somebody might track it. They also can’t use it at sea.”
Officer Gonzalez wrote rapidly, and then asked, “What about a satellite phone, or single-sideband radio? A charter yacht like that would have to have some pretty advanced communications gear.”
Lisa stared at the officer for a few moments, and then replied, “I don’t know about the radio; it looks complicated as hell, but I don’t know what kind it is, just that there’s more than one. He did have a satellite phone, but his father made him keep it in the chandlery except for charters, so he doesn’t have it now.”
“I can probably get the Italian Coast Guard to put out a hail for him; boats with radio have to monitor channel sixteen. I’d need a better idea of where he is in order to do that.”
Lisa blinked, her mind racing. Setting Trevor up to be found by the authorities was not something she’d bargained for. Joel had been drunk when he’d mentioned Pompeii, and she’d chided him for it, reminding him that Trevor was on the run. It only took her a second to decide that she wasn’t going to disclose what she knew. “All I know is he was in Italy. Why don’t you just wait a few hours? He’s supposed to call me, so I’ll tell him to call you.”
Officer Gonzales asked a few more questions, concentrating on Lisa’s body language, and then he ended the interview by saying, “Thank you for coming in. Do everything you can to get Trevor to call me. I’ll be in touch with you soon.”
When Lisa left the police station, she was confused by the way the interview had gone. She decided there was one person who might help her understand it, and help her decide what to do next; within minutes, Lisa was on her way to Bridget’s house.
As soon as Lisa had left the interview room, Officer Gonzales walked down the hall, where he tapped once and walked into Detective Alfred’s office. Taking a seat, he flipped through his notes. “I just interviewed the Whitaker girl. According to her, Trevor Carlson is in Italy, and can’t be reached because he’s keeping his phone off. I’m supposed to wait for his call. She got evasive when I suggested trying to get in contact via a radio call from the Italian coast guard. Right now, I don’t know whether the kid is alive or not, and I have nothing other than her say-so to indicate that he is. If not, she’s complicit somehow, or she’s been duped. I suspect the latter. Interesting that the last person other than her to see Trevor alive is Bridget Bellevue, who just happens to be a friend of Lisa Whitaker’s, isn’t it?”
Detective Alfred shrugged. “Yeah, but from where I sit, I think the evidence points to Dirk Carlson, and you might have a serial killer on your hands. If there’s any thought he might have killed his son–”
Officer Gonzalez held up a hand. “Way ahead of you there. I’ve already called the D.A.’s office, and they’re going to get a warrant issued. Just a criminal complaint, to bring him in for questioning, no formal charges yet – They’re holding off on the grand jury for now – but I expect to have him in custody within a few hours. The tracking device on his car is functioning and he’s still up in Cocoa Beach, so I’ll have the locals pick him up. As soon as they’ve got him, I’ll do the transport myself and have a long chat with our perp on the way back here. Can’t hurt.”
“Sounds good. I think you might be onto a capital case here, and those, if successful, always look good on the ‘ole resume. If the kid is dead, I’d suggest pushing for an indictment on all three murders; three separate counts are damn hard to beat,” Detective Alfred replied.
Officer Gonzalez nodded, choosing his words with care. “Yeah, my guess right now is that the Carlson kid is sleeping with the fishes somewhere. Okay, I’ve got a shitload of paperwork to do. I’ll keep you posted.”
As soon as Officer Gonzales returned to his cubicle, he phoned the main switchboard. “This is Mike Gonzalez. A Trevor Carlson will be calling me from overseas. Accept the call if it’s collect, and put him through to me right away, anytime day or night. I’ll have my cell on at all times.”
With that done, he checked in with the District Attorney’s office, and found that the arrest warrant for Dirk Carlson had been issued, and that the Cocoa Beach police were already en route. Nodding to himself, he began gathering his things, expecting to be making the drive north to Cocoa Beach within the hour.
Jim’s search for Trevor had not been going as well as Jim had first hoped. The local police had been of little help, seeing the interloping American lawyer as little more than an annoyance. They had no means of tracking Atlantis anyway, and all Jim had been able to find out was to reconfirm that Atlantis had entered Italy at the Port of Naples.
Now, Jim faced a new problem.
It had only taken ten minutes after the attempted arrest for Jim to learn that the police had arrived at his home; one of his neighbors had tried calling him at the office to let him know, and the secretary had relayed the message to Jim’s cell. A few phone calls later, and Jim had all the confirmation he needed.
Getting into his rental car and pulling back out into the early morning traffic, Jim set his GPS, entering the Marina di Stabia as his destination. As he pulled away, he mumbled, “Keep your head down, Dirk, and don’t do anything stupid.” Jim was reluctant to call, but after a few miles, he spotted a pay phone, pulled over, and used a pre-paid card he’d purchased at the airport to pay for the call. As soon as Dirk answered, Jim said, “It’s happened; they’re looking for you. They raided my house.”
“Shit,” Dirk replied, his stomach churning “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, I wasn’t home,” Jim replied. “Look, I’ll call later; I have to keep this short; I’m on a pay phone and don’t know how much is left on the card. Just stay put and stay inside. I’m working on something that should fix this, but I can’t talk for long right now. Just try not to worry, okay?”
Dirk shuddered. “I’m on the run with a warrant for my arrest; what’s to worry about?”
“Calm down. I know it’s rough, but just hang in there. You’re safe where you’re at; they went after that tracker on your car, and next they’ll start checking your credit card records. We should be covered,” Jim heard a warning beep, and correctly guessed that the card was almost out of money. “The call is about to be cut off. Hang in there, I’ll call soon...” Jim heard a rapid series of beeps, and then the call disconnected. He made a mental note to buy more Telecom Italia cards, and in larger denominations.
When Jim arrived at the Marina di Stabia, he looked for Atlantis, but there were no catamarans her size in the marina. Walking towards the office, Jim began to wonder if the information given him by Trevor’s bank was accurate; they had been reluctant to talk to him at all, and only showing them Trevor’s photo along with a signed power of attorney from Dirk had swayed them enough to agree to give Jim ongoing information regarding Trevor’s ATM use. The last attempted transaction had taken place at an ATM just yards from the marina, so with nothing else to go on, Jim had decided to follow up that lead.
With the photos of Trevor and Atlantis in hand, Jim strolled into the port office, and gave the young female clerk his best charming smile. Jim, muscular and handsome, was attractive, knew it, and did not shirk from using it to his advantage. Careful to keep smiling, he began asking questions of the clerk. Jim soon discovered that she spoke very little English, but her enthusiastic nodding when shown the photos of Trevor and Atlantis made Jim smile with relief. “Where is he?” Jim asked, and then pointed at Trevor’s picture. “Where?” while pointing out the window and shrugging.
The clerk understood, and shook her head. “Not here.” She tried to remember the English word, and then gave up. Walking over to the other desk, she pointed at the globe. “He go around. All around,” she said, circling the globe with her finger.
“He’s doing a circumnavigation?” Jim asked.
“He go around,” she said again, pointing at the globe.
“When did he sail?” Jim asked, pointing at his watch, and then motioning with his hands to indicate a boat sailing away.
The clerk pointed at a calendar, indicating the previous day. Jim nodded, and then glanced out the window. ‘I guess it makes sense, if he’s trying to stay away until he’s eighteen,’ Jim thought, his mind racing as he confronted a new set of problems.
Jim spotted a wall map, which showed Italy, and walked over to study it. ‘He’ll have to head south, then east, and that means he’ll probably go through the Strait of Messina,’ Jim realized. ‘And unless he stops, I’ll have a hard time beating him there.’
With a hurried wave of thanks, Jim dashed from the office and headed south, driving as fast as he dared. ‘I’m getting too old for this cloak and dagger crap,’ Jim mussed, in spite of being in his early thirties and never before having done anything akin to what he was attempting.
At the start of their second day in Capri, Trevor was making coffee in the galley when Joel bounded out of his cabin. “Good morning, Captain Bligh, it’s a fantastic day!”
Trevor rolled his eyes. “If there’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s morning people.” Trevor glanced at Joel, and then did a double-take upon seeing the red speedos Joel was wearing.
Joel grinned wickedly. “I remember what you said the other night, which makes this sexual harassment!”
Trevor scratched his head and gave Joel another look. “You could at least wait until I’ve had coffee before you start up on that. You’re evil. You do know that, right?”
“It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it,” Joel replied, and then nodded towards shore. “Seeing that Roman villa after the phone call yesterday was great, but for today, how about hanging out near the beach? There’s a grocery store half a block inland, and I could get some stuff so I can cook some Italian food while we’re at sea... speaking of, when are we sailing, and to where?”
Trevor fixed two mugs of coffee, handed one to Joel, and took a drink before replying, “What do I keep telling you about that? It’s your trip too... and anyhow, you’ve read up on Italy a lot more than I have. I’d like to get to the Aegean Sea within a week or so; that way we can take it easy and not stress about time as much. The forecast for the next few days is pretty good for a run down to the Strait of Messina, so we can stay a day or two more, see something else, whatever.”
Joel scratched his head, and then replied, “There’s Amalfi, which sounds pretty cool, but that’s close to here. I’ll tell you what I would like to see: Stromboli. It’s an island, near the entrance to the strait, and it’s got one of the world’s most active volcanoes, plus a town. We have to pass pretty much right by it, so I’d like to have a look. I’ve never seen an erupting volcano before.”
“Sounds cool,” Trevor said, nodding eagerly.
“After that, stop along the strait, at Scilla on the mainland side of the north end, and then somewhere in the Sicilian coast along the strait... then, after Sicily, maybe hit up a couple of the towns on the south side of the toe of Italy, and after that, it’s a straight shot across the Adriatic to Greece,” Joel said.
“Sounds like a plan,” Trevor said, and then asked, “Want to eat onshore, or on the boat?”
“On Atlantis. Just cereal for me. Then we can have lunch ashore; I’d like to go back to that one we ate at last night. The food was great, they speak English, and they’ve got a beachfront patio, so you can guy-watch and I can girl-watch.” Joel said, reaching for the cereal and a bowl.
“Remind me to tell Lisa you said, that,” Trevor said, with an evil grin.
Joel laughed. “Nice try, but no dice. Go ahead, I’ll tell her anyway. She knows I like to look, and as long as that’s all I do, she doesn’t care. She likes to look at guys; you’ve seen her at our swim meets, right? No big deal.”
With a defeated shrug, Trevor poured himself some cereal. “I’ll just have to try harder... but yeah, a beach day sounds cool.”
As they ate, bantering back and forth, Joel decided to broach a sore subject. “Any idea what you’re going to do, about calling that police officer?”
Trevor stared at his cereal for a few moments. “I don’t know. Lisa and Bridget sounded pretty sure all I have to do is tell him I’m alive, but what if they’re wrong? I’m a runaway; if he orders me to come home, I might be a hell of a lot worse off and lose Atlantis too. Can he order me to go back? I don’t know, but I’m betting he can, and if he does and I don’t go, I could land in trouble that won’t go away when I hit eighteen. Are you going to bug me if I don’t call?”
Joel shook his head. “Nope. Lisa can tell them pretty much everything you can, and like I said the other day, it’s your decision. It’s also not as urgent now, at least I don’t think so. Anyway, I just want you to know that if you want to talk, I’m here, and I won’t try to push you.”
Trevor looked at Joel and smiled. “Thanks. Basically, I don’t know what I want to do, except that right now, I’m thinking of procrastinating for a day or two to see what’s going on. I want to hear how Lisa’s interview went before I call, too.”
“Sounds reasonable, which is kind of a shock, coming from you,” Joel replied, and was promptly rewarded with a view of Trevor’s middle finger, and a grin.
“More sexual harassment,” Joel quipped, and then added seriously, “Yesterday, you said you’ve tried your ATM card and it proved your dad had locked your accounts. Are you sure?”
Trevor looked out the window, a sad expression on his face, and then at Joel. “Pretty sure. I tried it at Marina di Stabia when I used your card, and in Lisbon too. It just says insufficient funds, even if I try twenty Euros. Either he froze the account, or he emptied it. Either way, it must have been him.”
Joel nodded, not wanting to push Trevor. “We’re supposed to call Lisa when we sail. Maybe she’ll have good news.”
After they’d both had breakfast, Trevor stretched, and then said, “I’ll go deploy the Zodiac.”
Joel shook his head. “No need for it. We can just swim to the beach.”
Trevor nodded. “Works for me.”
“Go get changed,” Joel said, grinning.
Trevor glanced down at his board shorts, and then at Joel’s speedos. “Let me guess, you’re wearing those and don’t want to be the only one?”
“I saw guys wearing ‘em on the beach and on the sea walk yesterday. Come on, it’ll be fun, and besides, we both need a workout and I want to race you” Joel said, not willing to tell Trevor his real reason. “Wear those white ones I bought you. You look hot in ‘em.”
“That’s sexual harassment!” Trevor said, painting a shocked expression on his face.
“Shut up, that only works when I do it,” Joel replied, chuckling.
“One of these days, I’d love to hear your convoluted reasoning for that,” Trevor said, as he turned and headed for his cabin.
When Trevor returned in just the white speedos, Joel nodded approvingly. “Those look great with your tan. Okay, ready?”
“Have you given any thought to what to do with the keys?” Trevor said, arching an eyebrow.
Joel walked out into the cockpit. “I’ve got cash tucked in my suit and the salon door key on my drawstring,” he said, pulling the key out.
Trevor closed the salon’s sliding door and stood next to Joel. “Then lock it and let’s go!”
Atlantis was anchored with her stern facing the beach, so Trevor and Joel parted, heading for the tiny platforms at the aft of each hull. When they were in position, Trevor called out, “I’ll let you do the count, but no cheating this time!”
Joel nodded, and as he stretched out, said, “Okay, on three. The finish line is the sea walk. First to hit pavement wins. Ready?” Joel gave the count, and the two friends, muscles rippling in the sun, dove into the azure water.
Pulling hard for shore in a freestyle crawl, Trevor inched ahead, but after covering the first hundred yards, his lead was barely an arm’s length. With Trevor just a yard ahead, they reached the shallows and stood, running in the swallowing water and gentle breakers, kicking up fountains of spray that sparkled in the sun. Trevor held his lead to the waterline, and as they both kicked into a sprint, racing onto the beach, Joel began to close the gap.
Giving it all they had, they neared the pavement, neck and neck. Joel tore onto the pavement a fraction of a second before Trevor, and they both knew it. “I win!” Joel hollered, holding his fists high, to the amusement of dozens of people on the beach and boardwalk.
“You did,” Trevor admitted, as he jogged in place for a few seconds to cool down. “I was faster in the water, and you’re faster on land.”
“Yeah, but you’re only faster than me in the ocean, not in a pool,” Joel replied, and then added in a more serious tone, “But yeah, you won the swimming, and the end of the race was damn close; I think you were less than a quarter of a second slower.”
“I might be able to beat you in the pool, now,” Trevor said, grinning.
Joel shook his head. “Big words, considering there isn’t a damn pool here. I’ll make sure to find one sometime soon, just to prove you wrong.”
With a laugh, the two friends walked, side by side, back onto the beach and along the waterline, joking back and forth, just enjoying the place and the day.
Trevor and Joel walked to the end of the beach and looked up at the soaring cliffs looming ahead. Peering at the dizzying precipices that towered a thousand feet above, Trevor said, “I guess growing up in Florida doesn’t prepare you for stuff like this. That’s awesome.”
“Yeah, Florida is so flat, everywhere. I’ve seen pictures of stuff like this, and I’ve been to the Rockies, but it’s still wild being here and looking at it,” Joel replied, and then slowly turned in a full circle, taking in the view of the town, the sea, the crowded beach, and the soaring rocky escarpments of the island.
Trevor nodded towards the water. “Want to swim back along the beach? We could use the workout.”
Joel nodded, and followed Trevor to the water, where they dove through the gentle waves.
When they reached the marina jetty at the east end of the beach, they doubled back, then back again, giving them a slow and steady hour of swimming. As they emerged from the water, walking up onto the beach next to the marina jetty, Joel pointed ahead, “There’s the restaurant we ate at last night. Want to sit out on the patio, or inside?”
Trevor glanced down at his wet speedos, and then looked around, seeing that they were not the only guys wearing them on the beach or along the boardwalk. With a shrug, Trevor replied, “Either way, but I don’t know if they’d seat us inside dressed like this. Besides, the view is awesome, so maybe the patio.”
“That’s what I like about you, you’re so decisive,” Joel said, giving Trevor a punch in the arm. “The patio it is.”
They walked along the boardwalk for a few minutes, drying off in the hot sun, and then headed for the restaurant. When they reached the doors, Joel shouldered his way in ahead of Trevor, and asked the girl at the reception desk, “We’d like to sit on the patio, please. Can we have the same waiter as we did last night? We were sitting over there,” Joel said, pointing to the nearest table in the dining room.”
The waitress shook her head. “That is Giovanni’s station. So sorry, but he has off today. Follow me please,” she said, and led them to the patio, where she seated them.
As soon as the waitress had given them menus and left, Trevor arched an accusing eyebrow at Joel and asked, “What was with the waiter request?”
Joel shrugged. “He seemed pretty nice so I figured why not ask for him,” Joel said, not taking his eyes off the menu.
Trevor waited a few seconds, and then said offhandedly, “Would this have anything to do with all the looks and smiles he was giving us last night?”
Joel kept his eyes on the menu. “I’m glad they’ve got English translations here, because this menu is complicated. Everything’s in courses here, starting with antipasto by the look of it. Got any ideas on what to have?”
“I’d give that a three out of ten,” Trevor said. Joel looked up in surprise, and Trevor explained, “Your attempt to change the subject. I’ll give that a score of three out of ten, but I’m probably being way too generous.”
Joel began to smile. “I guess you figured it out, huh?”
Trevor snorted and chuckled. “You’re as obvious as Lisa; you know that, don’t you?”
“That’s not true; I was dragging you to the guy, not bringing the guy to you,” Joel said, doing his best to look innocent and failing miserably.
They ordered their meals; Trevor and Joel were having lunch, but the menu was identical to a dinner menu. Italian evening meals begin with a starter (Antipasto), a main course (Primo) of pasta, rice, or soup, and then progress to a second main course (Secondo) of meat or fish, a vegetable course (Contorno) and then, finally, a dessert course (Dolce) of fruit, cheese, ice cream, or pastries.
The prices were high, so they both limited themselves to three courses, and they both took Bridget’s advice and ordered the Tiramisu cake for desert.
After the waitress left, Trevor continued where he’d left off. “Lisa took guys to the pool so they could see me in speedos. You tricked me into wearing them to a restaurant so the waiter can see me. I don’t see a difference.”
“I’ve been wrongly accused!” Joel said, holding up a finger and shaking his head. “I wanted to race you and we both needed a workout. Hauling you into the restaurant was just... an incidental fringe benefit. Hell, I’ve seen you attempt to flirt back in Florida. Your method is to give ‘em an eyeful and then let them flirt with you. So, I figured the white speedos would help.”
Trevor looked out at the beach, watching the water. “That waiter was kinda cute...” Trevor said, very quietly.
“So why didn’t you do anything last night?” Joel asked.
“I wouldn’t have felt right leaving you behind,” Trevor replied, and then added with a bashful smile, “And because I didn’t know he was into guys until you said so today.”
Joel arched both eyebrows. “Uh, you said earlier that you saw him looking?”
Trevor shrugged. “I did, but I wasn’t sure. I just saw him look a few times.”
Joel snorted. “That’s because he looked away when you looked at him, you idiot. I spotted him right off. I guess I should have said something then. As for leaving me behind, I think I can find my way back to Atlantis,” Joel said, flicking a thumb towards the boat.
Trevor leaned forward, resting his elbows on the table. Using his left hand, he began using his fingers to count. “Let’s see... one, you like to clothes shop. Two, you can cook. Three, you know more about gay symbols and stuff than I do, because Lisa had to explain that Stonewall shirt to me when she gave it to me. Four, you’ve got better gaydar than I do–”
“All of which proves that you suck at being gay,” Joel said, smirking. He studied Trevor for a few moments, surprised that Trevor hadn’t glanced nervously around at the mention of ‘gay’, and then added, “I didn’t know that Lisa had to tell you about that shirt.”
“Oops,” Trevor said, wincing. “I guess I’m going to be hearing about that for a while, huh?”
“Count on it,” Joel said, with an evil grin, a grin that grew all the larger as he spotted their appetizer – fried mozzarella and stuffed portabella mushrooms – on their way to the table.
As they ate, they looked out across the beach, at the sea, and Joel said, “This is like paradise, man. I’ve always wanted to see Italy.”
Trevor glanced down, as the table began to rattle. “That funicular, again,” he said with a grin.
Joel laughed. “Yeah, that table we had last night was on the rear wall, and must have been right next to the tracks,” Joel said, as they heard the funicular rumble past on the other side of the wall, slowing as it approached the beachfront station.
“I wish Lisa was here to see all this,” Trevor said, looking around at the scenery, knowing how much she’d love it.
“Me too,” Joel said. “I miss her so much it hurts. I just hope that, by the time I get back, her father isn’t so down on me.”
After lunch – which they both agreed was superb – they walked back out onto the boardwalk, and Trevor pointed to some clothing stores on a side street. “I’m in such a good mood, I’ll even subject myself to the agony of your shopping.”
Joel glanced at the stores, shrugged, and shook his head. “Nah, thanks man, but not today. We’ve got to get groceries, I don’t have a lot of cash on me, and I’m not dressed for clothes shopping.”
Trevor stared at Joel for a few moments, growing suspicious. “I’m calling bullshit. I’ve got enough cash on me for the groceries, and I’ll be getting them because you got lunch. Not dressed for clothes shopping? More bullshit. We’ve seen guys in speedos walking around all day, and you’re not exactly shy. Look at me and tell me that this has nothing to do with my money issues?”
“I just don’t feel like shopping,” Joel said, trying to dodge.
“This is you we’re talking about. Do you really think I’ll believe that?” Trevor said, with a trace of a smile.
Joel sighed, and then nodded. “Okay, I don’t really need more stuff, so I figured you could use the money more than me.”
“Two things. One, it looks like I might be able to go home soon. Two, even if I can’t, a few hundred won’t make a difference, and if it does, I’ll call and beg you for help, and by then it’ll be months from now, at least. Third, I’ll feel guilty as hell if you do this.”
Joel nodded. “Okay, you can’t count, and you’ve got a point. Thanks, dude. But... this is a tourist resort, right? I swear, I’ve read that tourist places are where you don’t want to shop. I’d like to have a look, but I probably won’t buy anything. I’d rather shop for real in a non-tourist area. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for any guys checking us out, because I’m still on a mission to get you laid.”
“Anything you say, Lisa,” Trevor replied with a laugh, dodging away before Joel could punch him in the arm.
They stopped at three small stores, which predominantly sold T-shirts and beachwear. Joel browsed, but Trevor could see that he’d been right; the quality was poor and the prices were high.
Emerging from the last clothing store without having purchased anything, Joel stretched, looking around as he said, “Feel like doing anything else today, before we hit the grocery store?”
Trevor looked down the boardwalk, and shook his head. “The pavement is getting too hot for my feet.”
“Mine too; we’ll stick to the shade of the buildings. The supermarket is only a block down the waterfront from here, just inshore from the marina. We’ve never been in an Italian supermarket, this should be a blast,” Joel said, turning to head for the market.
Entering the small supermarket, Trevor felt the air conditioning on his bare skin. He picked up a shopping basket, suddenly feeling painfully underdressed, a sensation re-enforced by a few staring shoppers. “I don’t know about you, but I feel naked being in here like this.”
Joel chuckled. “Yeah, kind a weird, huh? Just think of it as something you can’t do back home: grocery shopping in speedos. I just hope they don’t boot us out for being barefoot, but maybe that’s okay here.”
Trevor jostled Joel’s elbow and angled his head to indicate an aisle. “That woman is barefoot. This store is next to a marina and a beach so I doubt they’ll bug us. Come on, let’s see what they’ve got,” Trevor said, heading deeper into the small supermarket.
Their first stop was the cheese section, and Trevor spotted the smoked provolone Bridget had told him about. “Looks kind of like a gourd,” he said, looking at the weird shape, which was like an eggplant that had been pinched in the middle. Trevor put one in the basket, and then grabbed a wheel of brie.
“What’s this,” Joel asked, holding up a white round piece of soft cheese. “The label says caprino.”
Trevor took the cheese, and after glancing at it said, “It’s got a picture of a goat on the label, so it’s probably goat cheese.”
Joel put the caprino in his basket. “Gotta try it.”
They ended up with nine different kinds of cheese before moving on to the pasta section, where Joel picked out noodles for the lasagna he was planning to make. The next item into the basket was dried portabella-stuffed ravioli.
The next stop was the alcohol aisle, where they picked out a bottle of Bellini – a mix of sparking wine and pureed peach. Joel’s eye found a pinched triangular bottle with a bust of Apollo on the label, and he stopped to look. “Italian brandy. Gotta try that, too. We’re okay on beer for now, so let’s see what else they’ve got.”
“You’re not buying beer? I figured we’d have to get the Zodiac and make two runs with it just to get your daily beer supply aboard,” Trevor said, smirking.
Joel laughed, and flipped Trevor off, only to receive a shocked stare from another shopper in the aisle, which Trevor found hilarious, doubling over laughing as Joel began to blush.
They visited the bakery section, picked out some interesting looking cream cakes, and then, with baskets full, headed for the cash register.
Standing in line, Trevor again felt painfully underdressed. When they reached the register, the nonchalant attitude of the cashier put Trevor at ease, and he paid while Joel began bagging.
As they walked out of the store with two bags each, Trevor stopped, put his bags down, and handed Joel a few coins. “That’s the change,” Trevor said, as he picked his bags back up.
Joel stood staring at the coins in his hand for a few moments, and then, with a puzzled expression on his face, looked up at Trevor and asked, “You paid, so why are you giving it to me?”
Trevor glanced down at his speedos. “Because I don’t have a pocket and it wouldn’t stay put under my hip like banknotes do.”
“So what am I supposed to do with it?” Joel said, glancing down at his own tight swimsuit.
“It’s not my problem now,” Trevor said, snickering.
“Asshole,” Joel said, laughing as he put the change in one of the shopping bags.
© 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.