Murder Sets Sail coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.
In excerpt 1 you met Chris. He’s the poor sap who desperately wants a charter.
In excerpt 2 and 3 you were introduced to the bad guys of the story. They are richer than God and more evil than Satan. They could buy a yacht of any size they want, but they need a couple of boats that are not in any way connected to them to bring in a shipment of China-white.
In this excerpt meet the other chump, but he won’t be around for very long. He owns the second boat the bag guys are going to appropriate for this little job.
* * *
Alone in the cockpit Jimmy started thinking about Mary. He’d thought of her a lot since leaving Hong Kong. They had corresponded since he left, exchanging three or four letters a year. But it was not until this trip that he started wondering if she would like to join him. He knew she hadn’t married. They were still close enough he was sure she would have mentioned if she was involved. They’d had a lot once. It had been the situation that had driven them apart, not their feelings for each other. It would be nice to have Mary always alongside him, to share things with. She had always been one he could depend on.
When he got to Honolulu he would write her and ask if she wanted to join him for a while. She might like this kind of life and decide to stay on indefinitely. The more he thought about it, the more pleasant the idea became, and the more possible it seemed. It suddenly became a desperate necessity to write and mail the letter as soon as possible.
Why wait till I get to Honolulu? He thought, I’ll write it now. Tonight when I get off watch. Marcus Island was just ahead of them. Only a day or two away. He could mail the letter there and maybe there would be an answer waiting for him when he got to Honolulu.
He didn’t know anything about Marcus Island except the chart showed it had a radio beacon on it. If it had a radio facility it might have people there to man it, and if it had people then it probably had mail and supply service. He decided to stop in there. If there were no people there, he hadn’t lost anything except a little time.
He didn’t say anything when the other two came on deck after dinner. He was too engrossed in his dreams of Mary. He saw her running toward him at the airport in Honolulu, her blond hair shining in the sunlight, though he had no idea what the airport looked like. He had visions of the two of them walking along deserted, palm-lined beaches. They would sail together to some of the nicer places he had been to, and together they would explore new places.
Larry relieved him at the tiller and he went below and sat down at the drop leaf table. His plate of food was waiting for him there but he ignored it and started the letter. Dear Mary, I know it has been several years since we’ve seen each other and I suppose we have both changed a bit. No. No. That wouldn’t do at all. He would have to tell her about the sailing before he asked her to join him. Dear Mary, It is after supper now and I am sitting in the cabin writing this. I’m on my way to Honolulu with two chaps I picked up in Hong Kong. They’re rather nice chaps, really. They’re Yanks in some kind of telly advertising business I think. No, that wasn’t it either. He wasn’t writing to tell her about them. He made several more attempts and finally gave up. Maybe the things he wanted to say would go on to the sheet of paper easier in the morning. There was no hurry really. He had two days before they got to Marcus Island.
After plotting the noon sight the next day he came on deck to take the noon watch and changed course ten degrees to the north. Neither of the other two paid any attention to him as he trimmed the sails for the new course. It was not till Larry came to relieve him at four o’clock and he said, “The course is zero-five-zero,” that they discovered the change.
The two of them stared at him. “You changed course?”
“Yes. Thought we might stop at Marcus Island. Maybe take on some water. Look around a bit.”
“Marcus Island,” Max exclaimed. “There’s nothing there. We’d just be wasting our time.” Max didn’t know if there was anyone on Marcus Island, but with the cargo they had on board he didn’t want to take any chances on stopping there.
“It wouldn’t be wasting any time. It’s right on our way.”
“You don’t even have a chart for it. There’s nothing there, I tell you. Even if there is a harbor, how are you going to find your way in? You’ll probably put the boat on a reef.”
“Ah. No. There’s a radio station on the island. They must have some kind of harbor there.”
“And if they don’t, what do we do, spend half a day sailing around the thing looking for a harbor that isn’t there?” Max taunted. He saw Larry reach to the bottom of the cockpit for the short, stubby club they always used to kill the fish they caught. Max knew what Larry was thinking and at the same time wondered if it was necessary yet. “I still think it just be a waste of time,” he said to keep Jimmy’s attention.
Larry hit Jimmy hard from behind, just above the right ear.
Jimmy Harris twisted a little as he went down, his knees folding so for just an instant he was sitting on the edge of the cockpit before his body fell backward across the deck, his head catching on the lower life line. He lay there, arms spread out to the side, his head turned to the left, his eyes wide open, staring straight ahead. Keeping the club poised in his right hand Larry felt for a pulse at the wrist of the outstretched arm.
“Is he dead?” Max asked.
“Think so. At least he’s close enough to it not to give us any more arguments.” Larry said and laid down the club and lifted the legs out of the cockpit.
“Better weigh him down before you throw him over,” Max said while Larry finished stretching the body along the deck.
“Why bother. He ain’t going anywhere.”
“I’d just as soon not have him floating around. You can never tell when some other boat might come along and find him, or he might get washed up on some beach somewhere on that island he was so anxious to get to. No sense giving anyone any reason to wonder where he came from.”
“I suppose,” Larry said. “I just figured the sharks would get him before anyone found him.”
He went below and returned with a five-pound Danforth dinghy anchor. He tied Jimmy’s two legs together attaching the anchor with a length of line to the feet. He pushed the anchor over the side between the toe-rail and the lower lifeline, and it clanked against the side of the boat. He picked the body up at the shoulders, turning it athwart ships, the weight of the anchor pulling at the feet. The knees bent suddenly when they got to the rail and then the body passed through, the back of Jimmy’s head thudding against the toe-rail before it went over the side. What little disturbance the entry of James Harris cause in the water was lost in the bubbles of the wake.
“Wish this thing had a self steering vane,” Max said thinking now he and Larry would now be standing four on and four off watches. It as the only expression of regret at the passing of Jimmy Harris.
Copyright © 2013 by Paul J. Stam
All rights reserved
Another new novel of mine, Murder Sets Sail, will be coming soon from Second Wind Publishing. This novel is not a mystery. You know from the beginning who the murderers are and who they intend to murder. Adventure aboard a sailboat from Honolulu to Hong Kong.