Mystery novelist and fellow blogger D.S. Nelson has again offered a great prompt for stories. I really liked the inspiration, and here’s the story that came from it. Thanks, D.S.! Folks, do visit her great blog, and try her Blake Heatherington mysteries while you’re at it.
Rudy looked out the window at the lake. It was a good day for fishing. Cool, but not chilly, and he could just see the first hint of dawn on the horizon. He swallowed the last of the coffee in his cup and turned to fill his thermos from the coffee pot. Sorry, Gina, he thought, you’ll have to make more for yourself when you get up.
Just as Rudy turned back towards the window, something caught his eye – a cabin cruiser. He watched it for a moment; he’d been thinking of getting one himself, now that he and Gina had the lakeside house, so he was paying attention to the different models. This one was too far away for him to see it clearly, but he could tell it had stopped. Two guys stood up. Then, they bent over and lifted something together. Rudy wasn’t sure what it was, but it looked like a big tarp. To Rudy’s disgust, they threw whatever it was overboard. He hated it when morons like that threw their garbage into the lake.
The boat started up again, too quickly, Rudy thought, and the two men sat down. All of a sudden it lurched to a stop. For a second Rudy wondered why. Then he remembered those huge rocks at the bottom of that part of the lake. Every boater in this area knew about them, but these guys obviously didn’t. They must have hit the rocks hard, too, because within a minute or two it was obvious that the boat was in distress. Unless those boaters were as stupid as they were inconsiderate, Rudy guessed they probably had an electronic distress signal on board; but just in case, he pulled his telephone out of his pocket and called in the emergency.
By the time help arrived, the wind had started to pick up considerably, although it was still clear. Water from the choppy waves soaked the faces of the rescue crew, and streamed off the hair of the two men they pulled aboard their small craft. Finally, the team finished its work, and the rescue boat pulled away from the damaged cabin cruiser.
Casey and Neil sat together on the lifeboat, each draped with a blanket. Casey wondered if he looked as bad as Neil did. His stomach heaved every time the boat went over a wave. Neil stared out at the water without saying anything.
‘You OK?’ Casey finally asked.
‘I’m all right. What do you think they’ll do about the boat?’
‘Dunno, but it probably won’t matter.’
Casey agreed. They hadn’t brought much on board, anyway. Well, except for Wayne, and he was over the side of the boat now. Casey and Neil had been careful. They’d even used a tarp to wrap Wayne’s body up after they’d killed him. They’d put the knife in there, too. Casey didn’t think anyone would find anything, and his boat was insured, so that wouldn’t be a problem. Still, he couldn’t help worrying a little.
‘Almost there,’ the helmsman yelled. Neil and Casey nodded. They both felt miserable, but they were glad to be alive.
An ambulance was waiting at the dock when the boat arrived.
‘We’re fine,’ Casey protested. ‘Right now, I just want to get some sleep.’ The quicker he and Neil got rid of these people, the quicker they’d be able to make plans.
‘We have to check you out,’ the paramedic replied. She’d had experience with people who thought they were fine, but then collapsed a day or two later. ‘It won’t take long, and if you’re all right, you’ll be home in just a couple of hours.’
Casey lay back on the gurney. The more he protested, the more questions people would ask. And anyway, he was tired.
The paramedic was right. Casey and Neil were home by four in the afternoon. After that, everything went according to plan. Casey filed a claim with his insurance company, and they actually agreed to pay up with no fuss. A week later, he and Neil met at Johnny T’s.
‘You ready to do this?’ Neil asked.
‘Always,’ Casey smiled. ‘This time, we’ll use your boat,’ he joked.
They walked into the bar and up to the counter.
‘Get you something?’ the bartender asked.
‘Johnny here?’ That was from Casey.
‘Just a sec.’
Five minutes later, the bar’s owner came out. He paled when he saw who it was that was waiting for him. He swallowed and went over to the table where Casey and Neil sat. In a low voice, he said, ‘I told you guys next week!’
‘Yeah, well, you’ve been saying that for a while,’ Neil said.
‘I can’t – it’s my slow season. It don’t pick up for another few weeks. I need more time.’
‘You’ve been saying that for a while, too.’
‘I know, but –’
‘You know the deal. You want to do business here with no trouble, you pay for our assistance,’ Neil said.
‘And I been paying you,’ Johnny protested.
‘Let’s go discuss this somewhere else,’ Casey said. He knew how to make it clear that the subject wasn’t up for discussion. You let one loser off, and everyone else would find out.
Within forty-five minutes they were on Neil’s small boat. It wasn’t as nice as Casey’s cabin cruiser had been, but it would do. This time, they carefully avoided the rocks when they stopped the boat. Neil nodded to Casey and both men stood up, leaned over, and lifted the rolled-up tarp.
From his window, Rudy saw what looked like a replay of the scene from a week ago. It was a smaller boat, but he could have sworn it was the same losers who’d dumped trash in the lake then. I’m nailing those morons this time, he thought. He went and got his camera. It wasn’t state-of-the-art, but it had a zoom lens. A minute later he had the boat’s reg number in its sights. The police would love this.