Greenbag Canteen, Part 2

Ufoku Yamada held the little automatic closer to the candle and tried to brush more of the flour from the slide. His usually precise and calculating mind churned like a mouthful of tadpoles. He would perform sepukku. If Yukio Mishima could do it, so could he. The candle guttered and he cursed his ignorance of such practical matters as stoves and electrical fuses.

Iye! No! No honor to let them gloat over his body. He would kill them both. Then the radio, the Canadian Coast Gaurd. They'd believe him. If they didn't at first, a personal call from Joe -- Damn! Joe was on Cyprus -- well, from Brian then, would do the trick. Despite the filth, he could see from the single porthole that it would be dark soon. How long would would it take after the SOS...Aiiee! What if the smugglers came first? The bear-like man and blond woman had no weapons. How angry they'd been when they found the bond locker empty! But the others -- they would have automatic weapons and he only the little pistol.

The sound of the engines changed. Yamada pressed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose with the back of a floury knuckle. The dangling handcuff struck the candle and he clumsily clutched it upright again. Had the other boat finally found them? He didn't want to die. His thoughts wandered again. He had wanted a life of, what? You couldn't say that in Japanese. In English, ohhhh, adventure! He'd thought the weekend with Benjo Ukesama, brazenly demanding, and finally getting, from the daimyo of the entire Japanese underworld, a compromise on the movement of large amounts of cash, he'd thought that had been an adventure. He'd thought the deadly secret meeting in Paris with George and the Iranian had been an adventure. How wrong! This was an adventure. And they hadn't really hurt him. They could have killed him as soon as they reached Spain, thrown him to the fish in the Mediteranean. They'd shared their meals, better meals than he'd been able to make for himself these last two days, and talked to him. They weren't bad people. And the woman even seemed to hint that.... No! He should not think about that now! They were peasants, eta, scum. He had to get away, get back to the very exclusive meeting on the ECU crisis. No, no, they were honorable in their fashion, like ronin, honorable but lost. He would help them, they would help him. It would be a real adventure and he would soon be at Camp David and everything would be alright.

He turned abruptly from the table, hastily undogged the hatch and flung it open to deck and crimson waters of the sunset.

Edward Michael Cholmondeley Frawley III lay in somthing very squelchy, feeling moderately if painlessly dead. A roaring, pulsing, rushing cacaophny surrounded him. He raised a hand in a habitual motion and fingered his nose studs. A small rivulet of muddy water trickled into his eye. Shit. He lay on his back and regarded the sky with one eye. Hell. Did they have a yellowish blue sky in Hell? The noise became gradually but impossibly louder. A 747 loomed and whelmed and dwindled. Airplanes in Hell? Turn head, just a little. Ahhh...He began to remember fragments. All of them had been completely wasted, somthing, somthing, the van that whatsername, somthing, the New Jersey Turnpike....

Cholmondeley (pronounced "Chumly", and no one but his parents called him anything else these days) felt for his vest pocket and withdrew an odd object which he held up before his eyes. Ahhhhh...a cigar, and still wrapped protectively in the strange slice of cheese that emitted the odor of passion and desire. He unwrapped the cigar, thrust the cheese back into his pocket and felt in his Levis for matches. Wet. Very icky and wet. Shit. He struggled, first to roll to one side, then, with a satisfying, stomach-turning, sucking sound, to a sitting position. Yup. The mediam strip of the Jersey Turnpike, right next to the Newark Airport. He lurched to his feet and opened his fist. Some bills, crushed and soggy. Wet muddy paper matches. The huge Swiss Army Knife he'd won playing go with the perverty Afrikaaner. He withdrew the 1957 Buick electra from its place in the handle and carefully, so as not to drip mud on the plush upholstery, reached through the open window and depressed the lighter. A moment later, the cigar alight and emitting an efulgence of ancient pool halls (and, ever so slightly, one of passion and desire), Cholmondeley restored the Buick to its place in the knife handle and thought about the possibility that his parents and Harvard University might have been right.

"I've got it all figured out." Lex and Tina confronted each other on the main deck. "We just turn off the engine, drop the anchor, put that sweet little boat in the water and putt on in to an isolated cove -- I've got one all picked out on the chart -- and nobody'll ever know we're here. We'll..."

"Lex! Baby!" The deepening reds of sunset turned her unblemished cafe-au-lait skin to purple velvet. "You don't just 'turn off' an engine like that. An anyhow, ya gotta have power to winch the anchor off the foredeck. And to run the davit winch to get the boat down. You want to try an move that thing with the hand crank? An besides they already know we're here. Bad news is, Canada spooks been listening to us since Gibralter, probably know exactly how many times we flush the head." She tried, without success, to get one more swallow of beer from the empty bottle, them hurled it over the rail. "Good news is, they know we ain't a Russian sub, so they don't be payin' any attention to us. If we just stop cold, they'll lose the signal, sombody will fire off a fax or email or somthing and they'll start thinking about why should an old freighter stop out here an' hol' its breath."

"Alright! So lets just put in the clutch or turn off the propeller or whatever it is you do and start with the anchor." In one smooth motion, like a cartoon acrobat, he turned on his heel and was slammed to the deck by the swinging mass of the galley hatch.

Tina stared speechlessly. Ufoko Yamada stood in the hatchway in suit trousers and undershirt, grease spatters fogging his glasses, streaked with flour, the tiny automatic clutched in his hand. Lex groaned and lurched to his knees, his back to Yamada.

"Lex! Lex, honey. He's got a gun. Lex baby, you ok?

Ufoko looked down curiously at his hand, then let it fall to his side. "Please, Dr. Cannes, Mr. Andiak, come in please. Eat an iced cream. Have some steak and American beer. We must plan most carefully."

Ed Frawley fumed silently. The telex -- or was it an antique computer terminal? -- in the crowded little office stuttered and spopped.

"That's all she wrote." Earl snapped cigar ash into the melon half on the rolltop desk. Got to get the new block from Boston, they won't ship direct, it's gotta go to the distributor in Portland. They got the kit and the rest in Portland, so it comes up to Bangor Tuesday, maybe Wednesday and TC picks it up. Figgerin' TC's right, he usually is, he can mic a wristpin with his fingers, you can have it Sunday week after next. That or we try to shoehorn the big Ford mill out of that junked Sunbeam Tiger into it."

"We only have a two weeks!" Jenny wailed. "Can we get to Port Medway from here without a car? We could pick it up on the way back."

Ed looked morose. "We're not going to have some kind of funny miscegenated botch on our Beamer."

"Look, kids. I got business in Moncton. It's only a few hours on to where you're going. Load all your stuff into the Caddy. TC will look after the place. I can get Bruce down from Machias to cover the hair, the old frumps love him, he's always looking for some extra money and a chance to put the make on Smitty, Smitty don't give a shit, it all works out. What's it now?"

She looked at her watch. Ed observed that it was a gold Rolex and thought of the camera. The old lady barked. "Right, right, go getcher stuff into the Caddy." She tossed him a heavy ring of keys. "Then come in t'the house, that's behind the beauty parlor, and we'll eat somthing and make like a hocky player and get the puck out of here. We'll be in Moncton by seven, less they hassle us at the border, you don't have any dope or guns do you? They know me, we won't have any trouble, get you where you're going before midnight, you don't know what TC's done to that GM mill. We'd be there for dinner at eight if I had a flying liscence!" She cackled and stubbed out her cigar, slapped a leather cap on her head and shooed them out of the office into the big truck bay where the BMW sat, dwarfed beside a disemboweled Timber Jack transmission half as big as the car. "Go on, git. Hey Smitty, where the hell are you?"

"God!" thought Ed, without a hint of blasphemy. "Jack Kerouack. On the Road. I always had a fantasy of being on the road with Neal Cassidy. I never imagined Cassidy would be...." The thought trailed off into mysto fogs as the BMW trunk lid popped open.

Cholmondeley Frawley plodded along the shoulder of the northbound lane. He'd only had to wait for twenty minutes for enough of a break in the traffic to get across to this side. Only one driver had deliberately tried to run him down. If he could get to the rest stop a mile or so ahead, he could get a ride into New York or up the Thruway to the Mass Pike and he be sailing. He scraped an overlooked clot of mud from his elbow. Yeah, he hadn't looked too appealing to the sort of old funts that frequented the Jersey Pike to start with, and the mud was a crowning touch. But if he picked his man just right and slid in next to him at the coffee counter, the piece of cheese would take care of it. Shit, he wished he could figure out some way to get the Buick properly registered. Maybe he should just break down and steal some plates for it. His cigar had gone out. He swaddled the butt gently in the cheese slice and put it back into his vest pocket and plodded toward the distant shimmering buildings.

Under a moonless sky, the Cadillac whispered along the last stretch of highway. Hooo-wee, she drove fast. The last time he looked, the needle pointed to 140 mph. Well, as Earl had pointed out, no cop wanted to mess with sombody with a car cost more than his house. Jenny gazed regretfully at the basil & peppercorn pate', belched lightly and slid the plate back into the little refigerator.

"Know what you mean." Earl was saying. She listened attentively when somone else was speaking, but rattled steadily when a silence seemed to threaten. "My boy, he's a turd, y'know? He's ok, makes a hundred grand a year or somthing, but he's dull, warehouse networking consultant or some such thing. But his kid, my grandson, he's a rat. Regular international bad shit. Bust him in the chops I ever saw the little bastard." She punched the padded dash.

"Oh, that's auful." Jenny felt pale. "Edward's not into real crime. He just has no sense of what's important. You'd think, after four years of Harvard,..."

The limo began to slow rapidly, then yawed to the left. "Port Medway, coming up. What's the next landmark?" Early twisted enough to pass a delicate sandwich plate back through the open panel.

In a few minutes, the long car was creeping along an unpaved lane, inching around curves so sharp that the tires bumbled perilously on the edge of the ditch on one side and bushes scraped the coachwork on the other.

"Jeez, kids. You said some kind of Jewish resort, not a mountain goat path. We'll make if it don't get any worse, though." Earl nudged the limo over the crest a steep little rise. The Caddy started down the other side, bottomed out heavily, lurched forward as Earl gunned the motor, then settled on to the center of its frame and rocked gently, all four wheels in the air.

"Jeezus B. Jeezus and four hands around!" Earl sighed and flung open the door. "PedXing time. Hope Captain Ahab doesn't dock here, damn thing get fulla harpoons in no time. I think we're there. There's a light just yonder an' what looks like a boat. Ain't even 11:00 local time yet. Oughta be somebody still up."

The hydroplane screamed across the sea, whapping with tooth-loosening force on the gentle swell. They'd spent too much time talking. Then it took longer than they'd expected to get the thing down into the water and loaded with the frozen steaks and beer. There's been an argument over whether or not to take as much of the cocaine as they could find. In the end, they had 120 cans of anchovies that they thought were mostly cocaine jammed into the little forward cuddy. It was nearly dawn but they had Medway light dead ahead and should be ashore before full light.

"Yarrrgggghhh!" Tina's eyes bulged and Lex cricked the wheel a tiny bit, and barely in time. He'd been staring at the complex instrument panel again, trying to figure out how fast they were going. The big, lurching bouy bellowed and groaned at them and flashed by on their right. The hydroplane rolled and yawed, then momentarily straightened out and began to bang harder on the growing chop.

Tina and Ufoku white-knuckled the combing despite their full seat harnesses. "Slower! Slower! Cut it!" Tina tried to scream over the howl of the engines. Before he could turn to look at her, Lex saw the patch of foam. Damn the dark. Nothing to do, going too fast. With a rending shriek, the plane leapt into the air, rolled to the left, struck with a crash still upright. Water gushed up over Tina. He could see the huge rent beneath Tina's feet, the water a frothing streak below, not pouring into the boat only because their speed kept the bow high and the hole barely above water. Breakers were now visible ahead. Without slowing, he aimed for the dark patch that should be the opening to the little cove. Only one try. Breakers, then a bouy flashed by, then suddenly a breakwater and Holy Shit! Boats and buildings and rocks all around. He rammed the throttle to off.

The hydroplane's nose came down abruptly and hard. A guyser like a stream from a giant firehose jetted up into the cockpit. They were slammed against their harnesses and suddenly all the noise stopped. The little hull was stationary, awash and sinking rapidly. They clawed at buckles as the wreck began to draw them under. It burbled and sank.

Stunned and gasping, Lex and Tina bobbed in still water. Their wake, reflected from the shore as ripples, sloshed against them. Yamada! Where was Yamada? There! Just popping to the surface. The stillness was dumbfounding. Nothing could be seen of the dead Bolivian's racing plane but the tip of the long whip antenna extending about a foot above the water, displaying one limp little streamer of shredded miniature flag. From a tall pole a hundred feet away, a sodium vapor light cast its ghastly yellow glow and pitchy shadows over the silent cove. The stars were dimming except for one that shone brightly in the faintest glimmer of dawn.

"You folks always in that much of a hurry for a morning swim?", said the Artist from the wharf above their heads.

There is a meta-story intermezzo as well as the continued story.

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Copyright (c) 1994 Michael Spencer. Permission to reproduce or transmit by electronic means for non-profit purposes is granted provided that the text, including this notice, remains unchanged.

Resident Alien is an occasional publication of the Bridgewater Institute for Advanced Study. It appears variously in electronic, paper and other formats such as serial gummed labels.