Rich walked briskly towards the pier at times jogging. He stepped aboard The Odyssey and lifted the bench seat. He flipped the dash lights on to see if the cache of weapons remained in the bench. It was all there. He flipped off the light and climbed below to see if anything was missing.
“Hello, Rich,” a voice in the dark said.
“Go ahead,” the voice said, “turn on a cabin light. Personally, I’m scared of the dark.”
Rich flipped on the light. A man in a wrinkled brown suit sat in the corner of the cabin’s bench. He had a two day beard and two month haircut.
“My name is Clyde Acres,” he said.
“What do you want?” Rich said.
“That’s a good question,” Clyde said, “since I just got you out of a jam.”
“You arranged for those two guys to get detained?” Rich said.
“Yeah,” Clyde said. “It didn’t come together exactly the way I thought it would, but Galloway is a good man.”
“So what’s this all about?” Rich said.
“I work for the government,” Clyde said.
“CIA?” Rich said.
“Yes,” Clyde said with a surprised smile, “I work out of the Caracas bureau. We take care of this part of the Caribbean.”
“So, are you taking me back?” Rich said.
“What for?” Clyde said.
“Those two guys said they were bounty hunters,” Rich said.
“That may be,” Clyde said, “but there is no warrant or bounty on you.”
“Than I’m outrunning nothing?” Rich said and sat on the bench opposite Clyde.
“Not exactly,” Clyde said.
“But you can protect me?” Rich said.
“Not exactly,” Clyde said.
“I don’t understand,” Rich said.
“First of all, are you willing to help your country?” Clyde said.
“That depends.” Rich said. “What is required?”
“Nothing more than what you are doing now,” Clyde said.
“What exactly am I doing?” Rich said.
“Running away,” Clyde said, “and avoiding capture.”
“Apparently not all that good at it,” Rich said.
“True,” Clyde said, “I had to provide some assistance, but I think you would have found a way to escape; you see, we do have a little dossier on you already. I know about Maine and Barbuda.”
“There was another near Cape May,” Rich said. “So you can’t help me all the time. At least can you tell me what I should know?”
“That’s fair,” Clyde said.
“First of all,” Rich said, “What ever you tell me won’t be fair to me. None of this is fair.”
“Rich, I know that.” Clyde said. “I will tell you everything I know. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. However, cooperating with us will give you some degree of protection. No matter where you are we will help you. If we should hear you are in any sort of difficulty we will extricate you from it. If it is with authorities all you will have to do is contact a consulate or embassy.”
“I’d rather not have any of this following me,” Rich said.
“This is an offer,” Clyde said leaning toward Rich. “If you accept it you will have us behind you, if not you are on your own.”
“Somehow I don’t think anything you say will sound fair,” Rich said.
“Probably not,” Clyde said. “It’s a lousy world we live in, full of compromises and duplicity. This is the only way I can help you.”
Rich leaned toward Clyde.
“What do you know about what I’m running from?” Rich said.
“Our government must always be vigil,” Clyde said. “It is impossible to defeat us militarily. It would be impossible for a coup. There are few countries with citizens like the US; they are armed like no other and will not accept any type of government than what they have now. If the country appears chaotic it can be taken over. The problem is from sources that can control the information, entertainment, and education. We have the free exercise of speech to express ideas, but at times the message can manipulate and persuade.”
“And our own government doesn’t do that already?” Rich said.
“Sure it does,” Clyde said. “This is not a discussion for now, but sometimes consider the alternative to what we have now.”
“I didn’t mean that in a critical way,” Rich said. “I mean I’m aware.”
“People can think and do what they want,” Clyde said, “but when that source comes from those who want to fundamentally change our laws, it is a slow rebellion. It may take years or decades without a weapon used. What do you know about Sam White?”
“He plans on buying more newspapers,” Rich said. “I think he’s a radical who wants to overthrow the government. I think his goal is to influence people by use of the newspaper. He and his associates are setting up shop where they think they will have the best chance of success. He had weapons, ammunition, and counterfeit plates in the basement of his newspaper.”
“Do you know where they are now?” Clyde said.
“I have a couple of weapons,” Rich said. “The rest is on the bottom of the ocean.”
“The plates?” Clyde said.
“The bottom of the ocean,” Rich said. “Is that helpful?”
“That’s incredibly helpful,” Clyde said.
“Do you know about Judge Stafford?” Rich said.
“Yes,” Clyde said.
“Dave Smithson?” Rich said.
“Who?” Clyde said.
“Dave Smithson,” Rich said.
Clyde pulled a small note pad and pencil from his jacket pocket. He jotted the name. “Who is he?”
“He is a detective for the state of Maine. I worked with him on some news items. Between the two of us a murder was solved and a local government corruption scheme was broke up.”
“What makes you think he is a part of this?” Clyde said.
“He helped Sam White chain me to a drain pipe in the basement of the newspaper,” Rich said.
Clyde flipped shut his note pad and tucked it in the inside lapel pocket of his jacket. “Thanks, Rich. You should get out of here as soon as possible.”
“Where should I go from here?” Rich said.
“I hear you planned on sailing around the world,” Clyde said. “Do so as if we never met. Maybe to help me out, where did you plan on sailing after Grenada?”
“At first I thought about sailing through the Strait of Magellan,” Rich said, “but I think I’ll sail west and pay to go through the Panama Canal.”
“Don’t go that way,” Clyde said. “It’s too confining.”
“Tell me what I’m really up against?” Rich said.
“They have contacts and sympathizers all over the world,” Clyde said. “They are believers, highly motivated.”
“How many?” Rich said.
“From what I know there are about five hundred names of individuals with influence and power,” Clyde said. “It’s estimated that is only 10 to 20 percent.”
“So you need names,” Rich said.
“We can always use names,” Clyde said.
“I’m the bait, right?” Rich said.
“Yeah, kid,” Clyde said. “It’s a screwed up world and I feel bad for you; it’s not your choice.”
“How bad do you think they want me?” Rich said.
“How much counterfeit money do you think could be printed with those plates?” Clyde said. “That’s how much they want you and you can point a finger towards at least three top operatives.”
“So the time they devote to trying to find me is time they can’t devote to doing what they do,” Rich said. “I’m a distraction for them.”
“Yeah,” Clyde said. “You put that together pretty fast.” Clyde stood and shook Rich’s hand. “Take care, my friend. What you are doing can’t be measured by a mere thanks.”
“I’ll just try not to get caught,” Rich said.
“If you come in contact with anyone from the CIA or state department tell them Operation Gomez File 1250,” Clyde said. “Don’t write it down. Now say it to me.”
“Operation Gomez File 1250,” Rich said.
“Don’t forget it,” Clyde said.
They climbed up the companionway to the deck. Clyde stepped onto the pier.
“I’ll toss you the lines,” Clyde said. He tossed the bow line and then the stern. “One more thing,” Clyde said. He reached inside his jacket and tossed a bundle of twenty dollar bills. “I have to account for this, so you’re now on the payroll. Use it wisely. Don’t contact any embassy or consulate unless you are in danger. There are people who watch them also.”
Rich flipped though the bundle of money. “Thanks.”
“Now get out of here and be safe,” Clyde said.
Rich started the engine and slowly putted away from the pier and into the tranquil bay waters. Soon his sails were spread.