Hard Times in the Land of Plenty
Leta really pissed me off the way she treated the girl, so I took Cindy and got us a cup of coffee and set down at a table.
"Cindy how long has Leta had you hid out?"
"I've been working for her about two weeks. I stayed with Heidi for almost a week while I was getting uniforms, passport, and going to the doctor. I also had to quit my job and move some personal stuff back to the farm. Then I came here and learned to dive"
"And Leta told you to act like you're a dumb shit and follow me like a pet dog?"
"Well, something like that."
"So, are you a dumb shit?"
"No, and I'm already wishing I had not taken the job, I was at the top of my class all through school."
"Did you say you have a passport?"
"Go tell Leta to get us Airline tickets to Brownsville we better check on how they are doing."
Mono picked us up in Brownsville and took us to Port Isabel. I'm starting to understand why Anita wanted to learn to fly. When you live off the normal path it gets difficult to find ways of getting there. Mono caught me up on where everybody was and what they were doing.
When we pulled up to the building I could see right away why those dumb shits went broke. They must have spent a million bucks remodeling the place. It didn't even look like the same place. It had more concrete than the airport in Houston and the buildings looked like they were painted with white polyurethane. Damn ole Leroy would never believe this. I wonder where Linda got the old Taylor Marine diesel pickup? It still looked new along with everything else. Cindy and I carried our small amount of luggage into the office and I waved bye to Mono.
The office building had several small offices and a secretary working her first day. She was having trouble with everything and was in the middle of setting up a computer, printer, and Fax. I told her who we are and that we would go find Linda. We ran into Buddy first and he was in the middle of explaining to a girl the concept of knocking down the highs and filling the lows and that making it smooth on the first pass was a waste of time and material. When he bent a thin piece of wood along the curve you could see the light turn on in the expression of her face. He patted her on the shoulder and then looked up and spotted us.
"Damn Buddy, you the only one working?"
"Hell yes, I've been trying to tell you that for years."
"Yeah right, where is Linda?"
"They're in the wood shop making another set of parts, we have six going and she said we needed another six started. I guess Gloria has sold a few, or she might want to stock the pieces like we do with the little cats."
We went through the wood shop door and Linda yelled, "Hey Levy there are some jump suits in the supply room, ya'll can start running the big router"
"Nice to see you too Linda"
"I ain't got time for your shit Levy, either build some boats or go home"
"Yeah, yeah, in the words of Leroy Taylor, "Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty, Better Get It Now, Or Ya Ain't Getting Any", everybody gotta pull their weight and all that"
I guess some things will never change. I took Cindy with me to the supply room and found us some jump suits. They weren't too bad, made of some stretchy material, short sleeved and were not hot. I got us some safety glasses and dust masks and I started showing Cindy how to rout parts. Before we quit we had parts for six sets of hulls.
Linda came by and said it was time to quit and said the showers were located where the old paint room had been. I told Cindy that since Leta had told her to follow me everywhere that she could take a shower with me. The look on her face told me it wasn't going to happen.
Russ and Buddy were in the shower and told me that they were staying in the office and that Leeann had bought some more beds for us. He said the kitchen, from what Linda had told him, was from Anita's apartment and still there, and there were two bathrooms with showers. They had just stacked a few of the desks in one office and were using the others for bedrooms. Linda and Leeann were living on Linda's boat. I told them that Cindy was a bit shy and not to give her a hard time.
Linda and Leeann joined us and said they would cook. I figured that was a good thing, Cindy could probably cook but I wasn't that great. I learned that Gloria was doing Linda about the way that Anita had done me. Just sell the hell out of the boats without a care as to who would build them. I told her it would probably be a short term thing with the survival boat but that the boat could be used for cruising also. They had a few plans drawn up for it to be a pleasure boat but thought they would let Gloria sell all she could first. We decided to start producing the 28' cat again.
I asked about the truck and found that Anita had put it, the trailer, and four 28' cats in their Dad's cousins building in Brownsville. There was also a full set of templates for the 28 and the cat house. Linda said she had not known about it until the cousin showed up wanting her to get the stuff out of his building. It sure sounded like the "Cover My Ass" Anita that we all knew.
I found out there was only nine of us plus the new secretary. With Cindy, Buddy, Russ and myself coming from Caulker. It was plain they had not been doing much hiring. They told me they did not want any experienced help because they wanted them to learn "Our" way and they were getting about half of the senior class, and that they were already working on Saturdays. I told her to see if they would work Sundays and use them if they would.
The next morning we started on the assembly of the hulls. Leeann had made an assembly table with slots for the bulkheads much the same as the 28's were made. You could clamp the bulkheads to some angle iron bolted to the table and it kept them from moving. She had fold down steps on the table that would allow you to stand on them to reach the top. Everything worked just as it should and she had a lot of drill fixtures to make sure that all the holes were the same and matched with their counter parts.
I told Linda that it looked like she had it all under control and that Cindy and I had better head back to Caulker. Yeah!, well, we wont be leaving until school is out. I could tell that Cindy's ass was dragging but she never said a word. When we did get around to talking about it she said that Clawdy had told her it would be different but to just keep her mouth shut and do whatever was needed because you don't get to be L Team by being average. That sounded a bit deep but I'm not going to contradict Clawdy, that girl would do a rain dance on my head and she put up with very little of my bullshit.
The senior class looked like they wanted to learn to do things right so I tried to help them learn and taught them a few tricks. Now here is a surprise, Cindy likes fill and fair, there has to be something wrong with that girl. She helped Buddy teach the new people how to do it with the least amount of work and now he thinks she hung the moon. I have told him that she is my secretary and she is not working production when we get back to Caulker.
I told Cindy that we were not working tomorrow, I had errands to run and a few people to see. We dressed in our white and yellow uniforms and borrowed the shop truck. We stopped at the cafe and visited with them then I went by DJ's house. He was repairing some traps and I asked about his boats and if he was still fishing. He had several people working for him and was enjoying life. Vera was working on a pizza oven at his son's business and I thought he was going to cry when he saw me. We ate some pizza and visited for a bit. I couldn't find anyone else so we went to the cemetery and I visited Mom, Dad, and Leroy. I stopped at the bank and visited while Cindy got a debit card with a $10K limit on my account. I thought she might have to make a trip up here without me sometime, so she was set up if she needed it.
Linda told Cindy she had a job there any time she wanted it. I pointed at myself and she said "Not A Chance," she drafted Mono to take Cindy, Russ, Buddy and I to Brownsville to catch our plane to Houston. In a way I hated to leave but I sure missed everyone at home. After a long wait in Houston we were on the way home. I don't know why but I started feeling strange about going home. I looked over at Buddy and Russ and they were very quiet, even Cindy seemed lost in thought.
When we got there Brende and Twilia were waiting for us. They were both jumping up and down and waving and laughing. It is hard not to be happy around those two.
I asked Brende, "has Leta lost her mind letting you two pick us up?"
"No, we drew straws and we lost"
"Yeah, well let's go get a fried pie"
"Nope, Leta said bring you straight home"
"Oh, did she miss me?"
"Nope, she's got some work for you" and they started laughing again
As soon as the boat stopped Buddy and Russ were off to the dive shop to see Ireni and Joci. I was in a group hug with Leta, Clawdy, Rae, and Rachel. Then Clawdy and Cindy started jabbering in German. I could tell that they were talking about me and Clawdy was not happy with me. I thought maybe I had better move on so I told them I was going to say hello to everyone. I wonder what the hell I've done now.
I walked through the boatyard to see what they were working on and talked to Andy and Marko for a few minutes and figured I may as well find out what I had done wrong so I headed to the office. Leta asked me if I made Cindy work sanding boats.
"Nope, I did not"
"She said you did"
"Nope, I don't think she said that"
"Cindy did he tell you to sand the boats?"
"No, Linda needed the help so I helped her, and I found out that I am good at it, and she told me I could work for her anytime I wanted to. I learned by working for her that I don't have to do the bullshit that you wanted me to do. I'll go back and work for her and you can find somebody else"
And I said, "Whoa, wait a minute. Leta, and if you're involved in this, you too Clawdy, Cindy is my secretary, she works for me, and if she wants to build a boat I'll help her build the damn thing. And if she leaves here to go work for Linda, I'll go with her to make sure she gets there and has a place to live. Leta you are not going to make her say what you want and act like an idiot just so you can laugh at me. It does not bother me for you to laugh at me, but it does bother her to be made to look like a fool. So take your little notebooks and your pens and shove them because I'm not letting her do it. We built this place by treating employees right and paying them above average wages. You are not mistreating an employee while I am around. I am moving to the city and take over the farm, bakery, and the motor shop. I'll have my secretary call you when she gets my office set up.
I grabbed Cindy by the arm and led her out of the office into the dinning room. My intentions were to go looking for Buddy and Russ in the dive shop. What I found was Russ, Buddy, Ireni, Joci, and Mercedes standing in the dinning room. I looked at Russ and said, "I guess ya'll heard" they all remained silent but nodded their heads. I told Russ and Buddy to bring my big boat around to the front of the shop and to load the treasure boat on it. I had Ireni and Joci get two sets of dive gear and load it on the boat. Cindy was pretty much still in shock so I looked around for Brende and Twilia but they had gone to help Kate on one of the islands. I loaded up our luggage and we headed for Belize City.
We stopped at the islands and I talked to Brende and Twilia to hopefully keep them from saying anything to Leta that would cause them problems. Brende pretty much said what she thought without caring about consequences so I got promises from them that they would keep their mouths shut. I talked to Rubi and Dani and told them I was going to work the treasure site they had told me about over a year ago. They were still of the same opinion, that it would be nothing but trouble because it set exactly on the borderline of Belize and Mexico. I asked if the boat wreck was still next to it and it was. I told them we needed to get to the city and buy some food.
When we got to the dock at the motor shop almost everyone came out to find out what was going on. I sent Cindy to the grocery store and I went in the bakery and told everyone that Leta would be running Caulker and I would be hanging out around here until we came to some agreement on how the business was to be run. If we could not come to an agreement then I would offer my share to Leta and Lena and go start over somewhere else. I told them that I did not see any way that their jobs would change other than possibly some change in ownership. I filled the fuel tanks while Cindy put away the groceries and shut down for the night.
The next morning I headed to Chetumal Mexico. When we reached the dock at the University of Quintana Roo, Lena, Raine, and four customers were getting ready to tour the Mayan Museum. It was obvious that Lena did not know of my disagreement with Leta so I asked if Raine could take the customers to the museum while Lena showed me where the Marine officials hung out. I explained in detail the problem and it didn't seem to surprise her, which I thought was odd. I told her I would be hanging out at the bakery and she told me they would have a two day break starting day after tomorrow and she would talk to Leta then come and see me. I could tell that something was not right but did not question it. She showed us the office and left to catch up with Raine and the customers.
I told the Mexican government guy that several of the Taxi boat people had approached me to remove the wreck in the shallow water and told me that since it was in Mexican waters that I would have to talk to them to get paid for moving it. He looked at my map and checked his computer to see where they showed it, and then informed me that it was not in Mexican waters and that I would have to talk to Belize to get any money. I thanked him and asked if there was a Marine office in Corozal Belize. He told me he thought there was, and put on a big smile as we left. We went down the coast to Corozal and explained the same thing to the Belize government people with almost identical results. I did tell him that we were going to try to pump enough mud out of the wreck to drag it to deeper water and cut it loose. He assured us that the Mexican government was the one we needed to talk to.
I punched in the grid coordinates and we dropped anchor over the site. After untying the 28' cat we used the crane to sit it in the water. It was only 8 to 10 feet deep here so staying over the position was not going to be a problem. We hooked up the sucker hose and made sure the discharge hose was wired into the recovery box and pointed at the screen. I told her to pull on the rope tied to the sucker nozzle if anybody came looking and I went to work. I had explained the procedure to her and after 30 minutes she came down and I checked her out on how to use it and went up. We had to remove about 2 feet of dirt before we got into anything. I called it quits after two hours, pulled up the hose, tied the boats together and made sure we had the nightlights on. We ate some canned soup with crackers along with a fried pie and I showed her how the toilet worked and where to sleep. I thought it might be best to sleep in the captain's chair. We were back at it at first light and got busy. We were only into the coins for about an hour out of the six we worked but it looked like we might have over a thousand. I sucked the mud out of the wrecked boat next to the treasure and tied a rope on to it. I hooked it to the crane and drug it over into 50' of water and cut it loose.
We loaded up the little cat and headed to the city and got there in time to eat. It was getting late by the time we talked for a while so we decided to sleep on the boat. Cindy separated the coins into piles of bronze, silver, and gold and I tried to separate them by grade based on what I had learned from the past sales. I bagged them up and put them in the hideout hole. Cindy never said a word about them one way or the other so I told her I might have to use them to settle up with Leta. She just nodded her head and asked what we were going to do next.
I got paper and pen from Lupito and we inventoried everything that was left from Taylor Marine that was still in storage in Lupito's canvas shop. I told her to take the list to the motor shop and get it on their computer and save it to a file that she could e-mail after we found out where we were. Lupito didn't have a whole lot of advice but thought maybe we should have some coffee and a fried pie and think about it. We set there for about an hour and Heidi came in from making her deliveries, she handed me her sales book and asked me what to do with the cash sales. I told her to hang on to them for a few days until Leta told us what she wanted.
I went to the motor shop to see what was keeping Cindy and I needed to call Linda, I was almost there when I saw Lena, Raine, and the tour boat pulling up to the dock so I headed that way. Raine threw me the lines and I tied them to the dock then she handed down the ladder and came down. She told me that lena wanted to talk to me and she headed to the motor shop.
"What's up Lena"
"Well, I waited until the divers left this morning and set down to talk to Leta and hear what she had to say. She went on and on about how you and Cindy had over reacted. When I told her that the five employees that were standing in the dining room listening didn't seem to think that you and Cindy were at fault. She then jumped on me for taking your side and I told her I wanted the figures on what the business was worth and she could make me an offer or I would put my share up for sale on the business website. I then asked how much she needed for the tour boat and she told me it was yours. Raine and I have been planning to make a change for a while and she has our new website ready to go live, and this seems to be a good time to move on. Do you want to sell this boat? Or do we need to go find one"
"I'll take 60% of book value, I would just give it to you but I think Leta and I are going to bump heads on the business so I'm gathering my pennies. I can't let Linda go under without having a chance to make it. You might want to stick around close because some very valuable property may have to be sold cheap to clean up the mess. I'm not really trying to hide anything from the employees, but I don't want to worry them anymore than they are so I'm just letting them think that it will soon blow over"
"Levy, I'll find out what this boat is worth and get a check to you. I also want you to know that while I have never really wanted to be a part of the business end of all this, I am grateful that you came along and saved Leta and I from what was probably a suicide boat trip trying to get to the USA. I have thought about it a million times and there is just no way we could have even made it to Port Isabel, much less slipped into the USA and lived anything close to what you have been able to do for us. I'll never go back to La Pesca but I am glad I started there. Because I did, I know what people like Rubi, Dani, Russ, Buddy, and the other local people you have helped feel about you. I'm sure it's the same thing that I know. Leta could never have done it, and I didn't have a clue. You are the one who did this, it's true that the suitcase full of money got it done faster but all of us know that you could have done it by yourself. Every employee knows that you made it and let Leta run it. She is going to have a rough time because she will want to keep the dive business and half the instructors are already packing their bags. Sandy, Russ, Buddy, Ireni, and Joci are going to work for Linda. Ireni told me that they have plenty of money to make it until Linda can get the boat business going. If I thought Raine and I would be of any help we would go with them. Worry about yourself first, if you can make it, then you can help the others"
"It just seems like I have failed"
"Bullshit Levy, you ain't gonna let these people down"
"Stay with me Lena, I need the help"
"Sorry Levy it just ain't my thing and I'll only be in the way. Raine and I have decided that if we don't make money with the tour boat, we'll buy a pirate flag and start intercepting money shipments headed to the drug dealers"
The look on her face told me that she was not making a joke and I really hope they do well with the tour boat.
Cindy and I went to visit the asshole government man to tell him that I had some more coins to turn in whenever he could find an appraiser. I told him he could set it up and let me know when because our appraiser was here on a diving vacation. I gave him the phone number of the motor shop and told him I was helping at the farm and they would get the message to me. We picked up several packages of 2 X 3 inch zip lock bags, some sharpie pins, a printer for my laptop, and headed to the RubiDee Lagoon.
With Rubi and Dani helping, we sorted the coins again and changed the grading of a few. We got them in the ziplock bags with a number on each one and Cindy typed up a description of each coin and listed them by type alloy and grade. We didn't have the scale or the camera so we made everything appear to be the same as our other coin sales. Cindy printed us out two sets of the coin lists and we were ready and waiting on the call.
Lena picked Cindy and I up and we went to see Leta together. She may have a strange attitude about employees but Leta is not greedy and she is very honest unless she thinks you are trying to put one over on her. The three of us set down at the big table in the office and she handed Lena and I a copy of some papers. She had each asset of the business separated out and showed the support equipment and appraised value and the amount of income. One of the pages had the bank statement and a line under the date, which was yesterday. Damn, that was a serious chunk of money. I was also amazed at how much the dive shop and the islands made.
Leta said the money was easy enough to divide but the property was a bit difficult. I asked them what part they wanted and Leta said that she had put her life into the dive shop and she would like to keep it. I just nodded OK, and asked Lena what she wanted. She said she would take the islands, the support boats dedicated to them, Rubi, Dani, and Kate, plus the tour boat with 175K being paid to me for the tour boat out of her share of the money.
That would leave me the shop, boatyard, four 28' cats, and all the property on the mainland. They did not have the income of the islands or the dive shop but they were damned sure more than I had hopped for, and the money was plenty to keep them going without having to get into my personal money. I had put several years into this but I felt like I was way ahead of anything I could have dreamed.
Leta wanted to keep the bank account because of the auto pay to the employees. She said she would stop the pay to our employees effective Friday. I am guessing that she thinks she got the best deal and is being a little generous. I told her to write out the checks and she handed me the deeds to my property. She gave Lena her check and deeds along with the government agreement, allowing lease to all the sandbars. She asked if everyone was satisfied with the deal and Lena and I agreed that we were. She then looked at me and said "Get your damned secretary out of my dining room"
I couldn't believe she said it. Lena was even more shocked. Then Lena looked at her and said "Leta get your damned office out of Levy's shop and get your damned employees out of his boatyard dorm, get your shit out of his apartment, and move your god damned boats onto your own side of the dock, and move your god damned compressor", then she headed for her boat with Me, Cindy, and Raine running to catch up.
Wow, I didn't know she could spin the tour boat around in it own length, and the damned thing would fly.
"Lena you better slow this thing down before you blow it up" I finally had to pull back the throttles or I think she would have blown it. Raine took over the helm and I tried to calm Lena down. She was pissed off beyond belief and you could not follow what she was saying. I caught a few things like, what the hell she was going to do with her two golf carts but she was god damned sure going to get them. And if she caught me delivering Leta's freight or her passengers she was going to sink my boats. Cindy was crying, Raine was crying, Lena was screaming and I finally just yelled "SHUT UP" just as loud as I could. They all shut up.
"Now, we need to go to the bank and get our employees wages sorted from hers. By the time we get that done we probably will think of whatever else we need to take care of." I thought I would go back to Caulker tomorrow to see if I could figure out something that would work for Leta and her people. I just can't see all of us going to war after all we've been through. I told Lena that I would get her two golf carts and put them in Lupito's canvas shop.
I was able to talk to Jimmy and told him to carry on with the farm and freight but to start charging Leta for the farm goods, freight, and passenger service. I told Heidi to charge Leta for bakery items, then told Jennifer to charge Leta for any motor work. Leta had four motors on order and I told Jennifer to charge her the going rate. She said she thought I was being a bit hard on Leta so I told her that if Leta had treated her the way she had Cindy that we would all still be right here having the same discussion. I was not letting anyone treat an employee like they had a lesser place in life. I told her that when I was the Manager I had cleaned the bathrooms at Taylor Marine because the other employees were busy and I hopped that she would do the same.
Cindy did not want to go with me to Caulker the next morning but I told her that the dive shop was not going to move and that we still had to do business with them and there was no way to move the shop or the boatyard and we had employees to look after.
When we pulled up to the Dock at Caulker Rae and Rachel took the lines and tied us up. When I asked where Buddy and Russ were they told me that Sandy, Ireni, Joci, Brende, Twilia, and a couple of others had quit the dive shop and some of them were gone to tell their families bye as they were going to Texas. I asked if the dive boats went out and she said they had but some of them had more than six customers. Brende and Twilia came up from the boatyard dorm and had their belongings with them so I just pointed to the boat. I asked if they ate at the dive shop and she said that they had. Well shit, I thought I better go see what I could work out. I had not even got in the door and Leta started in telling me that she was cutting back on the number of customers and she thought she could have all the instructors out of my dorm within 2 weeks. I tried to tell her that they could stay there but she just was just not having it. She was going on about moving the compressor and getting the electricity on separate meters. I asked her if my people could eat at the dive shop and she said she was going to charge me full price. I didn't like the way it was going so I asked her where she was going to put her fuel tanks. She said she would have them moved to her dock. I told her it would be cheaper to just have some new tanks installed because they would have to tear out the dock and a lot of concrete to move them. She had moved out of the apartment so I thought I would try my last card to reason with her.
"Where are you going to put your office"
"In the dive shop. I'll have the door and window closed up. I'm not going to sell equipment anymore and Clawdy is going back on a boat because we don't have the tour boat or islands"
I could tell this was news to Clawdy by the look she gave Leta. She got up and went somewhere and came back in a few minutes with her belongings and asked if she could catch a ride. Leta did not say anything to her, she just asked me if we had it all covered.
"Yeah Leta I just need to load Lena's two golf carts, and I think that will take care of everything. Good Luck, and I guess we'll see you around"
When I got out to the boat Buddy and Russ were there with Ireni and Joci. I asked them to help me load two of the golf carts. While they were loading them I talked to Andy, Marko, Rae, and Rachel. I told Andy that if Leta gave him and Mercedes any shit about living in the dive shop to move into my apartment. I then told Rae that I would have the contractor come out and build them a new kitchen and we would find them a couple of cooks. I told them that I was going to be extremely busy for a bit and just to keep working and they would still be paid. They all said they had plenty of work and might need to hire someone to take up the slack for Buddy and Russ.
I asked Sandy if she would rather build boats or run a dive shop. She said she would rather run a dive shop but she was not working for Leta. I told her not to get to deep in Linda's shop because I didn't think Leta would have any employees left in a month and I might need her to run it when I bought it back. She said she would just unload her stuff and stay with Rae. I told her to try to hang on to all the instructors and they could use them in the shop and the yard for a while and see what happened.
Clawdy went to work for Lena and between her and Raine they had the new website for tours and islands going within a day. Raine called Leta and told her that Lena and I had told her since the website belonged to L Team that I said if Leta didn't let them place a button for diving and the islands on the home page that we would sue her. I found out later that if she had refused, the dive website would have been deleted. I'm not sure I would have went along with it but Lena was not going to listen to what I thought anyway.
Three weeks later Leta woke up and saw that the dive business was a lost cause. I gave her 500K for the business and all assets. Raine and Clawdy had the new home page up before Leta had got out of site. There was a story about how the dive business had grown so large and so fast that it just self-destructed. It was now under the management of "Levy and the L Team" There was a combination of new and old pictures of the crew but none of Leta.
The wall was removed, Sandy and Clawdy were in their office and I flat told them that 24 customers at a time was the maximum for divers and the tour boat and islands were up to Lena, Rubi, and Dani. If they wanted 500 customers at a time it was damned sure their problem and not mine. Buddy, Ireni, and Joci came back but Russ decided to stay in Port Isabel. I suspect that he and Joci had a falling out but it was not my business and none of them ever told me.
I was getting nervous because things were going smooth again. Jimmy told me that the farm was not making a lot of money but it was not operating at a loss the way it had been. The shipping business was still operating with just Jimmy's two girls but they were needing help. Everybody in the city knew what a Heidi Pie was and most of them bought them. I saw Jennifer scrubbing the floor in the motor shop and gave her a thumbs up. Rae and Andy kept the shop and boatyard busy, and ... what the hell is Lena doing here this time of day.
"Levy come go for a ride with us"
"Can it wait?"
When we got about halfway to the islands she put the boat in neutral and said come look. We went into her and Ranie's suite and "Gawd damn, where did you get all that money?"
"A Drug Dealer died and left it to us"
"Son of a bitch, oh hell. Tell me about it"
"Well there was this guy in Chetumal that we always talked to when we stopped there. I guess we have known him about 6 months. Anyway he never seemed to work so one day he started telling us about how he brought in drug money about once a month and turned it over to the big man in Chetumal. He said he was thinking about stealing the money but he needed a little help. We were suppose to be up close to the border and when his boat came by we were suppose to wave a shirt like we were having trouble with our boat. They stopped and he came over and looked at the motor then yelled for the other two guys to come and help him. When they climbed on the boat he shot them, then he told me to tie up to the other boat and we moved the money over to our boat. Then he told us to get up on the deck and he was going to shoot us too, so I shot him. Then we tied a bunch of junk from their boat on to them and dumped them overboard and washed our deck. He never said anything about shooting anyone so I didn't feel bad about shooting him. We had left Chetumal four hours before the meeting so there is no reason for anyone to suspect us. It was the same time we always leave. He said they would find the boat and think someone had captured them and stole the money"
"Oh Boy, how deep was the water?"
"Over a hundred feet, I think that's why he chose that spot"
"What the hell are you going to do with it?"
"I thought we would give you half of it for helping us hide it and figure out how we can get away with spending it"
"Damn Lena we have more money than we can spend now"
"I know but we took it away from the drug dealer so it was going to be his ass when he didn't have it or the drugs he was suppose to buy with it. Don't you need another Orphanage Farm or something?"
"Lena don't do this shit again, if you do, don't come to me for help"
"OK, where do you want to put it?"
"Take me to get my boat and then follow me"
"I told you I wanted to be a Pirate"
"No, you told me if the tour boat didn't work out you would be a Pirate, and the tour boat is working just fine. All your Father and Uncle did was find a boat, and because they knew it had to belong to someone, they were pulling it to shore, and what did the drug dealers do? You two are going to get your ass's killed doing shit like this. You better think about your Father"
Raine got some trash bags and started dividing the money into two piles and bagging it up. I got my boat and they followed me to the islands. We moved the money to my boat and we put their half in the hideout that I had shown Lena years ago. I told her that it would be there when they wanted it but a sure way to get their ass killed was to let a drug dealer find out that someone was spending a lot of cash. They got back on their boat and went to get fresh linens and supplies for their next trip. I split my money into smaller bags, removed the gold coins and stuffed the drug money in my hideout. The meeting with the government on the coins was still a few days away so I locked them in the arms locker.
Cindy and I were eating breakfast when Ernie came in, He nodded to Heidi and came to our table.
"Levy I have a message for you from a friend in the government building. He claims that the reason it has taken so long to get your sale set up is because they had heard about the split up of L Team and they thought they would have an advantage if you were desperate for money. Also they knew that your appraiser would have to return to work. So, they waited trying to starve you out."
"Thanks Ernie, did this friend have a name"
"Now Levy you know better than to ask that question"
"Sorry Ernie, it was a stupid question"
Two days later Cindy and I were in the government office for our appraisal. The asshole Minister of Antiquities asked where our appraiser was. So I told him he had to return to Florida but he had graded the coins and given me a high and low price before he left. He said he was sure your man would price them somewhere in that range and if he didn't we could get him and a friend of his to come down to see what the problem is. It would cost us a week of diving and the plane tickets. We moved to the room with the long tables and the Minister had a quick conversation with his appraiser outside the door.
Cindy had packed the bagged coins in numerical order in the case and we started arranging them on the table in numerical order. I gave the appraiser a list and he started behind us looking at the coins. His only comment was that we had a lot more gold coins this time. Three hours later the two people on the adding machines agreed that the total was 2.7 Million. I looked at the Minister and told him that it fell within what my man had judged them so it looked like he owed me, and I double checked my calculator, One Million, six hundred and twenty thousand. I looked at his people and they were nodding their heads. He said it would take about 20 minutes to get the check and his people rushed off to do so. The security people started gathering the coins and I told them to leave them where they were until I had my money.
The Minister commented that I had not brought anything in a long time and I told him that we had been busy and we no longer had his people to watch over us. I told him if he would send us some people we would show them where we got the coins. I could see that he was thinking hard on it. A girl brought the check and the Minister signed it and handed it to me. I noticed that his was the second signature and asked about it. He told me that it was a new policy on checks over a set amount. I just said OK and if I had any trouble with it, it would be their loss on future finds. Cindy gathered our stuff and we left.
We stopped at the bank and the check amount was transferred from the government account to mine so I guess all went well. When we got to the bakery I told Cindy to go in and get us a fried pie and a coke and meet me on the boat. I got a trash bag and went to my hideout and put what looked like a million in it, closed the hideout and placed the bag on the table.
We ate the pies and talked a few minutes and I dumped the bag on the table and told Cindy to put 800 thousand in it, count the rest of it and hide it in her bed. I fired up the boat and we went looking for Rubi and Dani. As we approached the islands I saw Herbs dredging barges at work and wondered what was going on, and it's the first thing I asked Dani. Lena has hired them to build a very large island which she plans to rent to tourist on a daily basis.
"I guess one of you will have to tell me why a tourist would pay a daily fee to visit this beach when there are miles of them available for free"
"Nudist, it's going to be a big island with security people, dressing rooms, a taxi dock, and I think she said some rooms to rent, a restaurant with a bar, and a lot of other stuff"
"I hope she has something in writing from the government to cover her ass"
"She does, and she is having Herb build a wide inlet for her boat at the nudist island and at our island. Lena, Raine and Clawdy are moving to our island but Clawdy will still handle bookings from the dive shop. She is changing it to where Clawdy does all the booking through the website and the people will also pay by credit card through the website. She will just go over and check the website once a day. She said it will only take a few minutes to answer e-mail and check the bookings. Then she will also be working some job at the nudist island. We were surprised that she took that job but Lena gave her a raise and it does not seem to bother her"
I handed the trash bag to them and they asked what it was for. When I told them, Rubi asked if I minded if they built a few more islands. I told them I would have no reason to care because I was no longer in the island business and they might ask Lena.
"Levy, Brende and Twilia want us to have them an island built and they are going to quit at the dive shop and work for Lena. I am pretty sure they plan to live with us"
"Oh shit what am I going to do with those two girls"
"I guess you'll have to come out to the island and keep a real close eye on them"
"That's not funny Dani"
"I know it's not Levy because every eye on that island is going to be on those two, and nobody will be watching me"
"Shit, I'm getting out of here, you two be real careful where you spend that cash, I heard a drug dealer got robbed up toward Chetumal"
"Don't worry about us, but don't let Lena have any of that cash because I just don't think she believes they will kill her dumb ass"
I headed to the dive shop to see what Sandy could tell me about Brende and Twilia. What I found out was sure not what I wanted to hear. Because Twilia had chosen my birthday as hers, She was now 16 and so was Brende. From what Sandy said, and Cindy confirmed, they could work as prostitutes legally and there was no way I could stop them. But, they were not going to do that. They were going to run the taxi service as their own business and she thought they were trying to figure out how to con me out of some taxi boats so I had better be careful what I told them when talking about boats. They also had Lena agree not to let any other taxi service have a dock. They planned to run from Belize City, Caulker, and Ambergris. Also they planned to have their own island and get Lena and Clawdy to rent it out along with theirs.
I couldn't find fault with it from a business standpoint but I sure didn't like it. Only a very stupid fool would believe that they would not go on the island and in the restaurant and bar. They will do whatever the hell they want to just like they always have. I wondered where they got the money but then I remembered the checks from Gloria. I'm sure they have all the wages they ever made because they have no expenses, and I know they made several hundred a week in tips from the divers. Must be nice to have people hand you money just because you look like a centerfold model.
I decided to stay in the apartment tonight. That way I could be sure of catching the girls. Cindy said she was going to do some laundry and asked if I wanted her to do mine. What a silly question. I got mine gathered up and she went over to the dorm. I wondered if she knew there were machines in the back of the dive shop. I went to see what Mercedes had for dinner. She had plenty of help so we talked for a while. She said she was real surprised at Lena and never knew she could stand up to Leta the way she did and she wouldn't be surprised if she owned half of Belize in the next ten years. I told her that I thought her ideas would make a lot of money but I sure did hate to see Brende and Twilia work for her. She said that they were exactly like Rubi and Dani and were never going to work for anyone but themselves. I knew she was right but I still didn't like it. Everything has just changed so much that I feel lost or maybe out of place. I don't know it is just a strange feeling and I don't like it either.
Cindy came in and set down and Mercedes went back to work.
"Cindy, which do you like best, secretary or building boats"
"I liked working for Linda"
"You do realize that she and Leeann are a couple"
"I like Leeann too"
"Do they know that"
"Yes, we visited some"
"Well go in the office and call Linda and see if they can still use you, and if you can stay with them. If you can't stay with them it's not going to work and you will wind up back here and just as god damned lost as I am, and I'm telling you that it's a crock of shit"
"Who did you lose"
"That's the problem Cindy, I just don't know"
I caught the Terrible Two when the dive boats came in and I told them I needed to talk to them. We went through the line and got a load of food and set at the big table in the office. I asked them if they had figured their expenses for running a taxi and they said they knew what the upkeep on the dive boats was and they knew how much fuel a round trip to each of their destinations would burn and Jennifer had told them how many hours they could get out of an engine. I asked, how about captains license to run a taxi? And found it was the same one to drive a dive boat and the government just issued them to the dive shop as needed. I asked if they planned to steal my boat drivers and they told me that every girl in the boatyard and every driver at the dive shop had a license so she didn't think we would have a shortage. I asked if they had planned to take the plain Jane girls? They wanted the best looking ones. I made them aware that I was not going to be happy with them and Lena if they picked through my dive crews and told them they needed to start looking now because it would only take about 6 months to build everything on the island. They said Lena had locked Herb in at 160 days completion.
I asked how many boats they were going to run and they said 3 with 1 spare. Two making a loop to the city and one making a loop to Ambergris, Caulker, and Chapel. I commented that Chapel probably wouldn't produce much. Twilia said that I was nuts if I thought rich people were against getting naked. I told them that I had plenty of boats and that I was going to pull out the worst looking ones and have Andy, Marko, and Rae's girls strip them to the hulls and repair, replace, and paint them. I would have the motor shop rebuild the motors. They wanted to think on paint for a couple of days and the canvas sides and tops because it would be better if they were not thought of as L Teem boats so the nudist wouldn't be connected to the dive business or Heidi's bakery. I thought that was a good idea.
I told them that as of this minute to start thinking of everything from a business point of view and never tell a customer how much you made, or what even the smallest item you used, cost. Those boats new will cost a customer 50 thousand dollars each. I'm going to take a loss and sell them to you for twenty each. If I ever hear from anybody what you paid for them, you wont like the cost of the next ones, and one thing you didn't even mention is insurance. One accident could wipe you completely out, as in back to where you both came from and that would not be pretty. How long do you think two centerfold models would last where you came from? I can tell you for sure that you have not thought of everything, so you better start writing stuff down as you think of them. When you put up your price signs, have two prices, one for less than 200 pounds and one for over 200 because you can't have every seat full if they all weigh 250 but if you have all but one weighing 150 you can have a couple of fat slobs.
We took our plates back and talked some more and they were asking good questions when Cindy came up and told me Linda was going to call back with the reservations and flight number and went back to the desk Oh well I didn't need a secretary anyway.
Lena and Raine came in, "Hey Levy can I start a tab for the people working for me"
"You'll need to set it up with Mercedes and give her a head count. I hear you've been up to some new and exciting things which include poaching my employees" You steal Brende and Twilia and probably a few boat crew, and Linda steals my secretary, it's been a bad day"
"You don't need a secretary, you need a sidekick, you know, like Lone Ranger and Tonto, or Lena and Raine, or Brende and Twilia"
"Yeah but I don't want to hang out with some guy. I would rather share my boat with a girl"
"Well god damn Levy, look around, just walk in the dinning room and ask who wants to be your new sidekick"
"Naah, I'm waiting on Brende and Twilia to grow up"
"Well congratulations, they've been waiting for you to wake up, because they are damn sure old enough. This is a different world Levy"
"Nope ain't gonna happen"
"Well then go get Elke so she will shut up"
"Yes stupid, Elke, you know the girl who always happens to be making a fresh apricot fried pie when she sees you pull up. Heidi will probably pay you to take her so she doesn't have to listen to her whine because you never look at her"
"Yes Elke, sometimes I think you are the dumbest person in the whole damned world"
After waiting for Cindy to get her flight information, Lena and Raine volunteered to take her to the big airport the next morning and I asked her to check the boat for anything she might have left and followed her out. She went straight to her bed and pulled out the stash of money. I told her that I was going to give her nine thousand because if you got caught with more than ten thousand the Feds would be on you right then. I had to explain the Feds to her. She told me she had changed the sheets on both beds and put my clothes away. She asked about her replacement and I told her I was thinking of Elke. She said that she knew Elke was sure interested in me, and the only thing wrong with her is she didn't like girls. I thought a few things but I didn't comment.
The next morning at breakfast I told Andy, Marko, and Rae that the four boats I had moved over to the dock in front of the shop were to be torn completely down to the hulls and they had to be like new when they went back together. And that Brende had not decided how she wants the paint but try to talk her into staying with white and then whatever color she chooses for the canvas and seats would work with it. And If they would load the motors on my boat and tie them down I would take them to the motor shop.
I waved bye to Cindy as she and Raine were headed to Lena's boat. The boat was running so I guess Lena was waiting on them.
I checked with Sandy to see if she needed anything. She wanted to up the total divers to 24 students and 6 certified because the cost per diver was almost double what it was when we were running wide open and she had 3 crews at a time on off cycle. I told her she could adjust the number a bit but I didn't want the train wreck looking for a place to happen that we had in the past. She said nobody else wanted that either. She was also going to give Brende and Twilia more time off because they had a lot of shit to do. I agreed with everything she wanted and went to see how the loading was going. Rae had all four boats on the wheeled cradles and they were pushing them in the door. Pulling the motors was all quick disconnect with Buddy lifting them off and tying them to pallets. They used the dock crane to set them on my boat and I made sure they were tied to suit me.
When I reached the motor shop I tied up and went in to see Jennifer and told her what I had and what to do with them. A girl from the freight shop was moving some stuff with the forklift and we waved her over to the dock. There were four of us so Jennifer told me to go get a pie and they would unload.
I walked into the bakery and Elke said she had saved a couple of apricot pies when Heidi loaded up to make her rounds.
"How is everything in the bakery business"
"What was that you said a few days ago, same ole 6 and 4, still making 9"
"Yep that's about it"
Heidi pulled up and a couple of girls went out to unload her van. She brought in her sales book and bank bag and stopped to visit. I told them that Linda had hired my secretary so I was going to have to find another one. Heidi gave Elke a slight push on the shoulder.
"Levy what would your secretary have to do? Any special skills"
"Nothing really, why, are you interested in the job"
Heidi said "She damned sure is, go get your clothes El" and she gave her a push. "Julie, you just got promoted, take over for Elke. Levy don't you leave or I'll break your legs. Elke get up there and get your clothes, Rita go help her. Levy don't you bring her back, if she don't work out for you, just send her to dive school because I have had all of her watching you leave that I'm putting up with"
"Heidi why didn't you tell me"
"The time was not right and I told her if it was meant to be, it would happen, and by god you better make it happen"
All the girls from the motor shop came running in and up the stairs they went. It sounded like a Chinese fire drill. Then back down they came with each of them carrying Elke's clothes and the few personal items she had.
"I didn't know she had any white and yellow uniforms"
"Two of them, for a long time"
"Does she have a passport"
"We may need to go to Port Isabel to see how Linda is doing"
"Have a nice trip"
"Well I guess I better get back to Caulker"
Elke was standing on the deck talking to the girls on the dock. I told her we had a lot to do and asked if she was ready. I climbed up and pulled the ladder up and locked it in the rack and asked one of the girls to untie the bow line and showed Elke how to stow it and then pointed to the aft line and told her to grab it when I got the engines running. The girls were giving her a hard time telling her she was suppose to yell, Cast Off The Aft Line. She yelled, "Gimme The Damned Rope" and away we went
I had her stand in front of me and I started telling her about the gauges and the throttles and how you needed to push them both at once or you would go in a circle. I pointed to the tachs and told her to adjust the throttles until they read the same, then pointed toward Hicks Caye and told her where she needed to line up on. Then I told her we would get her bikinis and then she could practice with one of the little cats. She was having fun and I noticed that I was too.
I told her to throw the lines to whoever came out when we pulled up to the dock. She didn't do a perfect job but Marko got us tied up and we got down the ladder. I sent Elke to see Ireni and Joci and I walked in the shop I could see Rae and Buddy marking the bottom of a hull and walked over. "How are they Looking"
Rae said, "Not bad just the usual rock gouges and there ain't no way to stop that. I'm marking the bad ones with a red marker and we'll grind them back and put a layer of glass on them before we fair them"
"Sounds good, got me a new secretary"
"Bullshit, you just want somebody here to make pies"
"Well yeah maybe that too"
I walked into the office and set down to talk to Sandy when she looked behind me and said "Godohmighty look at that"
I thought it was Brende at first, I looked back at Sandy and said, "What do you think of my new secretary"
"Heidi's gonna kick the shit out of you Levy"
"She's the one that sent her"
"Well then she ain't never seen her looking like that"