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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #31

By Mark W. Meier

Part 31

Act IV

Windowed The Soul

Chapter Four


Bimini

A sunshade supported by a metal frame.


By the end of the business day you’d purchased your own Neo. A few thousand dollars meant nothing to a man worth a quarter of a billion. You also had a new employee – Howe’s brother-in-law – to see to the new addition to your fleet.

While all that was being accomplished, behind the scenes your legal department had located a spot for your new Canadian factory – Dannacona, Quebec. Good utilities, nearby access to the St. Lawrence River, an international airport in Quebec City only a few miles away, and a railway even closer. Getting to the United States by road would be convoluted, but certainly not impossible. You’d probably never need to drive there anyway.

Delivery of your Neo wouldn’t happen for a few days. You’d cajoled and threatened when they told you it would take a month, but they wouldn’t relent until you put a ten thousand dollar incentive on the table. “Three days,” they’d said. No amount of money shortened that time frame.

Preparation for a sailing race was a lot like getting a new factory going. You needed to spend time perusing the charts where you’d be racing, and getting to know your new boat was a must. A vagrant puff of air could change how a boat as small as your Neo reacted. So you intended to practice, practice, practice.

The major difference – you had employees who would see to the zoning regulations, legal hurdles, and required permits for your factory. Only you would be on the Neo.

Your new “boat guy,” as you thought of him, told you he’d have everything ready for a Saturday morning shakedown. In a way, you named the boat after him: Sell Short. You didn’t dabble in the markets much, but he was named Isaiah Short. Your way of remembering what to call him. That he’d take the boat’s name as a threat never occurred to you.

Polly’s Landing was just south of where I-95 crossed Lake Marion in South Carolina. You’d be well out of the swampy area north of the interstate.

With initial research done for both the race and the new factory, you had nothing left to do but stare out your window again, longing to be on the open water. The Savannah River was visible from your twelfth floor vantage point, and you imagined sailing. Even though you’d just been out on your yacht, you felt the walls closing in on you.

“Victor.” You moved back to your desk to power down your computer. “I’m taking the rest of the day off.”

“Very good, Mr. Grambic.” Your assistant nodded and made a few notes. “I have your numbers if something urgent crops up. Schwartz will be ready with your car in a couple of minutes.”

“Call the club. I want my yacht ready to launch by the time I get there.”

“Yes, sir.”

When you arrived at the Savannah Yacht Club the engines on Resonant Frequencywere idling and the moorings were singled up. A deck hand coiled the lines the moment you climbed aboard, then Panicked Pilot engaged the screws. You finally took a deep breath as Tybee Island shrank astern. The open ocean beckoned.

Less than an hour later your serenity faded. I’d stirred your mind to rise to the challenge of sporting competition, and merely watching the ocean aboard a power yacht no longer satisfied you. Another hour passed as you grew angry and agitated.

“Adam!”

A hesitant answer filtered back from the helm. “Sir?”

“Take me home.”

Other members of your crew stole glances at you. Your yacht swung around and headed for shore.

Perfect. Now for a bit more ire with a Coast Guard inspection.

I called in a favor from a Brother to the north, and he diverted a cutter to cross your path. The captain of the Southland had been monitoring shore traffic along the Carolina coastline. It didn’t take much trouble to rouse her suspicions of such a short trip off shore.

Thirty minutes later a loudspeaker blared off your starboard. “Resonant Frequency, this is the USCGC Southland. Cut your engines and prepare to be boarded.” A Sikorsky MH-60 Jayhawk rose from the vessel’s stern landing area and orbited to your port beam.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood slipped a shipment of drugs through a gap where Southland normally patrolled. A small boat entered Stone Bay, and cocaine worth a few million dollars would be distributed from Jacksonville.

Mayhem. Wonderful.

Panicked Pilot didn’t wait for permission to throttle back and turn off the engines.

You climbed to the sundeck to meet the boarding party, and a few minutes later the Southland pulled alongside. A squad of armed sailors jumped aboard with practiced ease, followed by an ensign and a young lieutenant.

The rifle-wielding enlisted sailors fanned out, while the eager ensign stayed beside and a bit behind the lieutenant. You were covered from every angle, and resented having weapons pointed at you. The helicopter continued to circle your yacht.

“Michael Grambic, Captain.” You knew better than to offer her a handshake. “What can I do for you?”

The lieutenant gave you a steely-eyed stare. “Lieutenant Swale, Mr. Grambic. We’ll be inspecting your vessel.” She nodded to Ensign Eager, who took the squad of sailors below.

You sat on the edge of the hot tub. “Any particular reason you think I’m doing something suspicious, Lieutenant Swale?”

Swale remained standing and alert. “I find it interesting a yacht like yours would head away from shore, then suddenly reverse course without pausing to get a line wet or even take a sounding.”

“Drug interdiction?” You knew the area was rife with drug trafficking. “But if you were watching us on radar you’d know we didn’t rendezvous with anyone.”

“A small boat wouldn’t show up on radar with ten-foot waves, Mr. Grambic.” Swale rolled with the deck as a particularly large wave lifted the Resonant Frequency’s stern, then the bow, and dropped them in the same order. “A cigarette boat, or four, would easily be able to bring you sizable shipments of cocaine.”

You smiled at the idea of being a drug dealer. Sure, a good deal of money could be made short-term, but the long-term risks made legal businesses far more attractive. “Search away. Can I get you an iced tea while we wait?”

Swale relaxed a fraction. “I would be delighted, but I can’t accept anything while on duty.”

In all, the Coast Guard spent half an hour searching Resonant Frequency. They found nothing, but most disappointing to me is they didn’t irritate you.

Maybe next time.

Eventually Captain Swale and her crew moved back to the Southland. The Jayhawk settled on the stern of the cutter, and the boat moved off to do something about the drug trade. They should know better. The supply will always find a way as long as the demand exists.

A crewman cleared his throat. “Sir? You have a call from shore.”

“Thank you.” You ambled toward the bridge.

A minute later the pilot handed you a handset. “Grambic,” you said.

“Mr. Grambic,” Victor Howe said. “We’ve received a call from the Paris police. There’s been an explosion at your factory there.”

I smiled.


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