Matt, Pierre and Kate hopped from Dream Weaver’s diving platform onto the yacht’s adjacent one, one after the other, Hector and his gun following them closely.
Two curved staircases on the port and starboard sides of the teak platform lead the way up onto the first aft deck.
“Uh, the swim platform is smaller than I expected for a boat this size,” Kate remarked, looking around her feet.
“Seriously, this is what you’re thinking about right now?” Pierre asked, incredulous. She bit her lip.
“It’s only this small for sailing,” Matt chipped in. He knew Kate always babbled when she was scared. “You see this?” he pointed at the large midnight black glossy wall next to them, where the name of the yacht, Sheeba, was inscribed in large golden cursive relief.
“It’s not a wall, it’s a door,” he said. “Like a garage door but in reverse. It swings down and locks into place to make a massive swim deck. You should see it,” he added. “This is where they keep all the toys, jet-skis, fishing gear, scuba-gear, you name it. Everything about this boat is so cool.”
“Shut up, all of you!” Hector interrupted. He waved his gun towards the steps. “Up!”
Although Kate was grateful for Matt’s distracting chatter, she was also dismayed by his familiarity with Saleem’s boat. She wondered when he would have had the chance to find all this out.
The first aft deck was more spacious and tastefully decorated than any Kate had ever seen. Three matching built-in double settees framed a large square teak table. She couldn’t help but notice how spotless and new everything looked, such a contrast from Dream Weaver’s worn cushioned benches. She looked over at the chrome cleats and wenches lining the deck. They gleamed as if they had been polished just a minute before. She sighed. It was stunning for sure but too impersonal and clinical for her. She couldn’t wait to get back to the cosy safety of Dream Weaver.
As they stood there, Hector walked past them, keeping his gun aimed in their direction and without taking his eyes off them, he moved his foot in front of a low sensor panel to the side. The panel lit up and the tainted floor to double ceiling glass doors opened as Hector motioned them through.
Kate couldn’t believe her eyes. It was as she had just been transported into the lobby of a luxury hotel. The four of them gathered into the entrance of the room, a cream marble floor leading them into a wide, open salon with thick cream rugs, shining veneered furniture and several sofas and armchairs facing each other.
The light reflected off every surface. Between the many windows, which Kate imagined provided incredible views of the sea during the day, there were many paintings and art pieces that seemed to belong more in a museum than a private boat.
She became self-conscious of her gawping when she noticed that Hector was observing her. She crossed her arms to protect herself from his gaze.
The wooshing of a hydraulic door at the far end of the room made them all turn and stare as Saleem entered the room.
Dressed in a black silk shirt and black trousers, he stood at odds with the light tones of the room around him. Saleem surveyed the little party as he approached them.
“I would welcome you aboard,” he finally said, “but as you will have guessed, this is not a social visit.”
“Where is my sister?” Pierre asked, stepping towards him.
Saleem tutted, shaking his head.
“A subject I too am eager to discuss Captain Mayol,” Saleem said, gauging Pierre.
“What do you mean?” Pierre held his stare.
Saleem snorted and moved towards the wall. He pressed one of the padded wall panels, which opened to reveal a concealed bar and several expensive-looking decanters. He took out a cut-glass tumbler, fished some ice cubes with sliver tongs from a bucket and poured himself a drink of amber liquid. Whiskey, Kate guessed. She knew Saleem had studied at Oxford and had spent several more years afterwards living in the UK. He certainly seemed to have embraced some aspects of the British way of life.
Taking a swig, Saleem walked back towards Pierre.
“My yacht was raided early this afternoon by the port authorities,” Saleem said, moving his glass in a circular motion to stir the alcohol. The ice clinked.
“What?” Matt’s eyes widened. Saleem threw him a warning glare to stay out of the conversation.
“Apparently, they had received a ‘tip-off’,” Saleem stood in front of Pierre. “Would you happen to know who could possibly have given them such information?”
Kate glanced at Pierre. His face was closed.
“Anyway, it turns out that your lovely sister apparently kept both cocaine and ecstasy in her cabin, so naturally she was arrested immediately and taken into custody. It was strange, she seemed just as surprised as I was by her choice of….recreational activities… To be honest, there was something quite off about the whole inconvenient episode.”
He moved his face within an inch of Pierre and tilted his head. “So now I will ask you again,” Saleem’s voice had an edge to it that made Kate’s inside shrivel. “Did you know anything about this?”
“I am not responsible for my sister’s behaviour. She’s an adult.” Pierre answered, his voice measured and cool. “I did what you asked me to. I took the tanks to the rendezvous point because you gave me your word that as soon as the transfer was done, you would let Anais go.”
Kate let out a gasp and all the men turn their heads toward her but she could only look at Pierre. He fixed his eyes on her. She tried to convey with hers how sorry she was.
Saleem clicked his tongue on his teeth. “Except I can’t let her go when she’s already gone.”
“Now, Hector, here, he thought you might have something to do with her arrest,” he continued. “And I have to admit, it did cross my mind too. But…you have an impressive reputation for being an honest man. That’s why you were perfect for the job. No one would ever think of searching Dream Weaver. Why then, when you were going to get your sister back anyway, would you have got her into trouble like this? It just didn’t make sense.”
Saleem walked over to Kate and smiled.
“How are you finding my humble boat, my Sheeba?” he asked her extending his arms around the cabin with pride. Kate was confused by the sudden shift in the conversation but knew Saleem was not expecting an answer.
“Now Kate, you do remember our last conversation, don’t you?”
She nodded, a lump forming in her throat.
“Sadly, you see, with Anais gone, I am one crew member short and as you can imagine, this will just not do. So I’m going to call on our deal, dear Kate. You will take the place of Anais, as we had discussed. It will be a good experience for you, I promise.”
Kate saw Pierre’s jaw clench from the corner of her eye.
Saleem looked her up and down. “You’re about the same build, her uniforms should fit you just fine.”
Kate shuddered at the thought of being stuck on this boat with Saleem and Hector. She knew that Saleem wasn’t offering her a job, he was telling her she was in his service now.
“No, I…I have the money,” she said. “I can repay you.”
“Do you hear that Hector? She has the money.”
Hector looked at his boss perplexed before deciding to join in and laugh too.
Saleem stopped laughing as abruptly as he started.
“And let me guess, where you got that money from…” he said, looking over to Matt who was holding on tight to the leather bag. “Were you planning to repay me with my own money by any chance?”
“No, it’s my cut she’s paying you with, well at least part of my cut,” Matt intervened. He held the bag forward. “Your money’s all here.”
Kate breathed a sigh of relief.
“Ah, but there’s a small technical issue,” Saleem said, pausing for effect. “That is not my money.”
Matt looked confused. He shook his head. “What do you mean?”
“Let me explain as if this is news to you,” Saleem continued. “You see, I just couldn’t stop wondering who would have any interest in giving that tip-off to the authorities. I am a suspicious man by nature and I’m not easily taken for a fool. So I radioed our friend Danny and he gave me some very vexing news indeed.”
Saleem put down his glass, re-arranged the collar on his shirt and cracked his knuckles in front of him.
He looked at Matt, then at Pierre.
“I have to give it to you, you almost got away with it. So now what I am going to ask you to kindly tell me this…”
Saleem’s courteous mask dropped, revealing a face flushed with anger.
“What did you two fuckers do with my drugs?”
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
- : Fiction
- : Some swearing and dubious writing