Saturday morning dawned much too brightly for Cornelia. She had still not been able to
resolve all the conflicts in her head. She reasoned that she should confess everything that she knew about Jimmy to her Aunt, but she thought that the loss of face to her Aunt and to her parents would be too high a price to pay. Besides, Aunt was so excited about getting a regular contract to work on Jimmy’s boat that maybe even she would overlook his line of work.
Walking in the market beside Aunt Josie carrying Isaiah in her arms, Cornelia knew that from the modest way that they were dressed, people would know that they were Christians. However, no one would know the state of their souls. She thought of Isaiah and knew that he was without doubt an innocent child. From what she knew about Aunt Josie, Cornelia knew that she was, as she appeared, a Christian woman. But of herself, Cornelia realized that she was a fraud.
She longed to burst out of her clothes and declare to the world, “No! I am not meek and mild. I am a passionate young woman who wants to experience all that life has to offer. Let me make my own choices before God. I am strong enough to handle my mistakes.”
Then she remembered Precious, and trembled. Precious probably thought that she could tame the drugs that went into her body.
“I don’t know why I bother.” Janvon had said.
It hurt Cornelia to remember it, and then she realized that she wanted his approval very much. It surprised her to acknowledge it.
The day rolled painfully on, bringing the dreaded visit on the boat closer and closer.
Cornelia pretended that she did not own a swimsuit and dressed in her long jeans skirt, a T-shirt and sneakers to go to the dock. When they got to the marina, Jimmy, Julio and Coco were on board engaged in various tasks. Jimmy had on shorts without a shirt and his body glowed darkly golden in the bright sunshine.
The gangplank was down and the three of them trooped on board. After a few minutes, Julio steered the yacht out of its berth. As he was navigating the harbour, Cornelia noticed a small figure waving wildly from the pier. It was Janvon desperately calling them back. She wondered why for a moment, and then it was too late as they were now motoring on the open water of the bay. After some twenty minutes of gentle cruising, Julio dropped anchor and they were bobbing serenely in aquamarine water with the dark green hills of St. James forming a backdrop in the distance under a sky covered with occasional blobs of fluffy white cloud.
“Are you OK Cornelia?” asked Aunt Josie. She was clearly enjoying her Saturday off from work.
“Yes Aunt Josie, it’s nice”, the girl answered.
But in the background came the persistent buzzing of the engine of a small craft that kept getting louder and eventually caught everyone’s attention.
“That guy is something else”, said Jimmy under his breath. “Look, it’s your friend. Has he come to rescue you again?”
Cornella squinted her eyes and realized that bravely motoring across choppy waters on a wave runner was Janvon. He had traveled out of the safety of the bay to find them. Coco threw him a line so that he could tie the craft to the yacht, then he climbed aboard.
“What happen Janvon?” asked Aunt Josie.
“Nothing Miss Josie, I just heard that you were out here and came for a ride.”
She raised her eyebrows, but said nothing else. Janvon walked out of her earshot and
whispered to Jimmy.
“Look, the police are going to come after your boat this afternoon.”
“You should know. Are you clean?”
“Idiot, is come I come to help you, so don’t play innocent. Are you clean? If not, you
have to dump the stuff now!”
“How do I know that you are telling the truth?”
“You are willing to take that chance?”
“What is this about anyway?”
Janvon nodded at Cornelia and her family.
“Them. I don’t want them mixed up in your drug crap.”
“Oh, you want to be the big hero! Well buddy, yes, I am willing to take that chance.” He narrowed his eyes and Janvon knew that once he got off the boat, his life would probably
not be worth anything.
“Jimmy” Julio called.
Jimmy walked over to his associate who was listening to the police frequency on the boat radio.
“Amigo, they’re looking for us!”
Jimmy’s eyes were scanning the horizon, but none of the other craft in the distance seemed threatening. His nostrils were flared but he only said: “They can look, but they won’t find. Head for Caygua Cove, Julio”.
“What about that wave runner?”
“Cut the line”, he looked at Janvon, “He won’t be using it again.”
Coco deftly cut the rope freeing the small craft, then raised anchor and Julio motored off
What is going on?” Aunt Josie asked as she saw the wave runner marooned out in the sea.
“Just taking a little cruise Miss Granville. Relax.”
“You don’t tell me to relax boy. I saw when that man cut the rope to the wave runner.” Julio mumbled something under his breath and Jimmy turned around to face him.
“Cut it out Julio. I decide who, if anyone, gets shot. Just drive nice and easy to the
Cove. We can’t outrun a police boat, but we can hide.”
He turned to the three passengers.
“I don’t think that I have to tell you that if everyone keeps calm, no one gets hurt.”
And with that he reached under his seat and opened an icebox that was filled with snacks. Under the chips and biscuits was a pistol. He picked it up and let it hang loosely in his right hand.
That silenced everyone as Julio ordered the hostages below deck so they could not see where he was going. After twenty minutes, they turned into a thicket of mangroves that sheltered an inlet. He expertly manoeuvered the yacht among the trees and then stalled the engine. Coco then jumped overboard and swum to a boathouse that was almost concealed in the foliage. He climbed on the small pier there and undid a rope that held a huge door shut. He strained to swing the door so that it opened upward revealing the dark cavern inside of the boathouse. Julio steered the boat gently into the building, then from the pier, Coco swung the door shut with a thud and a splash and the company inside were plunged into complete darkness.
In the cabin, Cornelia in frustration clambered up on the deck, still carrying Isaiah.
“I need to see what is happening up there”, before her Aunt or Janvon could stop her, so they followed.
When Jimmy spoke, his voice appeared soft as it was absorbed by the moist wooden walls of the boathouse.
“Remember, I have a gun and I am prepared to use it.”
Josie groped in the darkness and held Cornelia’s hand.
“My dear, please forgive your foolish Aunt. If it were not for my selfish desire to be the mechanic of this beautiful boat, I would not have got us into this mess.”
Cornelia’s heart sunk even lower than ever. She waited on Jimmy or Janvon to correct her Aunt and reveal the full depths of her deceit, but neither of them did. In a way, she wanted them to. It would finally relieve her of the burden of guilt that she had been traveling with for nearly two weeks now, but she could not bring herself to do it either. From somewhere in the boat, Julio produced an electric lantern that was so bright that it lit the entire bridge and surrounding deck. Above them came small high-pitched squeaks and Cornelia looked up to see what she thought were black shadows swirling above them. She whispered to whoever was listening to her.
“What are those?”
Janvon answered in a steady voice, “Don’t be scared, just some bats.”
Immediately, as he said that, one shadow dived low into the penumbra of light, twittering as it swooped. Cornelia screamed and held her head. Her high pitched squeal seemed to excite the animals as within seconds, twice that number could be heard squeaking from all sides as they dived, swooped and soared on silent wings. She screamed again causing Isaiah to wail. Coco laughed then said something in Spanish.
Jimmy silenced him, “Coco leave her alone”. Then more gently added, “Lia, they are not going to trouble you. If we keep quiet they will fly back up to the roof and stay there.” But there was no silencing Isaiah and he wailed incessantly until Jimmy ordered Cornelia to take him and her Aunt into the cabin where there was electricity. When they had done so and closed the hatch above them, Janvon spoke again.
“OK Jimmy, what next?”
With a slow deliberate movement, Jimmy released the safety clasp of the pistol.
“I should kill you.”
“For what? Warning you?”
“How did the police know about us?”
“Everybody knows about you man, it was just a matter of time.”
The gun was now level with Janvon’s head and Jimmy’s hand was steady, but his finger was not on the trigger.
“Tell me Rasta bwoy, why you come out here today. Is so you love the girl?”
The gun quivered a little.
“Is she worth it? Don’t you see that she is one of them little gladys gal dat head turn easy over little pretty things? Look how she put her Aunt and cousin in danger.”
“You mean like Precious?”
Jimmy’s hand tightened on the gun, but he kept his index finger straight ahead, away from the lever that would release a bullet from the 9mm barrel.
“Yeah, like Precious. I hear she dying of AIDS. It serve her right. She wouldn’t hear and get herself hooked on the stuff.”
“You know that Cornelia is worth it Jimmy. Why else would you be spending so much time with her when you could get so many other girls in Mo Bay.”
“I like her strength. If she gets through this OK, she will be my girl forever.”
Jimmy lowered the gun. “But I not going to kill you, cause she couldn’t forgive me that so easy. You hear dat Rasta bwoy. I not killing you, today.”
While they had been talking, Coco and Julio had come off the boat and with a small
electric torch were doing something in the boathouse. Then there was the sound of another motor and the whir of a winch as the yacht was pulled out of the water and up a slight incline on to a dry dock. When the front of the boat was completely out of the water, the motor for the winch was shut off and the two men set to work removing the parcels that the diver had strapped onto the hull some days before and stacking them on the landing of the boathouse.
They worked quickly in the solitary beam of light. When they were done, Janvon felt when they started the motor again and the boat slid back gently into the water.
After that, Jimmy ordered Janvon to join the others in the cabin, and the group left the inlet for the open sea. Julio sailed directly for the harbour and docked the boat. Jimmy then opened the cabin and sat on deck waiting for his passengers to emerge.
“It was nice to have you come for a ride on my boat Miss Granville.” He went up close to Isaiah’s face and touched him, using his hand to shield the boy’s face. “With a little luck, maybe he will sail with me again.”
Josie said nothing, but held Isaiah firmly with one arm, and Cornelia’s wrist with the other and gingerly walked down the gangplank. Janvon followed them off. While they were walking down the pier, Cornelia pointed out to her Aunt that Isaiah seemed to sucking on something as saliva was running down his mouth.
“Come Isaiah, open your mouth for Mamma”, Josie coaxed, then released a long anguished breath.
Lying on the soft pink tongue of the child and covered in saliva glinted the dull light of a bullet.