My first impression of Mort and Noel was that they were father and daughter.
They came up the channel in a 42-foot sloop-rigged Oyster, as beautiful a boat as you would ever want to see. I stood on the dock and watched as the gray-haired guy behind the wheel brought her in expertly, giving the engines just the right little reverse kick before cutting them.
The skinny blonde in the bow tossed the lines down to me and I made the yacht fast fore and aft. Then she spent a few minutes fussing around with the fenders, making sure they were just right, looking over at the guy the whole time as if to say "Is this OK?" Like a daughter anxious to please her demanding father.
The guy finally jumped down to the dock, moving nimbly for an old man, and then handed down the blonde. I figured him to be about fifty-five or sixty, but in good shape. Medium height, thick through the chest, with iron-gray hair and mustache and a captain's hat pulled down low over his eyes. He had a sort of presence about him, a way of commanding your attention. I didn't even take a good look at the girl until we got inside.
"Name's Mort," he said, crushing my hand. "This here's Noel. Gonna moor here a few days, if that's OK."
"I'm Jim," I said, flexing my hand surreptitiously. "Welcome to Four Palms Marina. You sure you don't want to dock it? Give you a slip with electric, phone, water, for thirty bucks a day."
"Nope. I like to moor, get a little privacy." He was already walking towards the office with the blonde in tow. I caught up and opened the door for them, and then went around behind the desk.
Mort looked around at Four Palms Boating Supply, which I keep as neat as a pin and well supplied with marine essentials, and said "Boy, that AC sure feels good. Florida in July - Jesus Christ. It's never this hot out on the water."
"Where you coming in from?" I asked.
"Newport. Been out two weeks."
I was impressed. That's a long cruise for two people. I had the feeling Mort was waiting for me to say so, however, which goes against my nature, so I just nodded.
Noel spoke for the first time. "We need to replace some fittings. Some cleats and fairleads." Her voice was flat and lifeless.
"No problem, " I said. "There's all sorts of stuff on the back wall." I took a closer look at her and liked what I saw. About my age, maybe a little younger - say twenty-five. Skinny, but with wide hips and big, round tits moving around under her t-shirt. Stringy blonde hair, not too clean. Her face was attractive, in a vacant sort of way, with a wide, pouty mouth.
She gave Mort a little glance, like she was asking permission, and he said "Yeah, go check it out, get what we need." As she turned to go past me down the aisle he surprised me by trailing his big hand down the curve of her hip and giving her ass a proprietary squeeze. Making a point for my benefit.
"I'm gonna need water and diesel," he said. "And let's say three days on one of the moorings." He had a hint of a smile on the corner of his mouth, like he knew his little demonstration had gone home.
"No problem," I said evenly. "Just fill this out." I slid a registration card across the desk and turned my back to straighten up a display. So he was her sugar daddy, big deal. All it takes is money.
"This your marina?"
"I manage it. Guy who owns it lives in Miami, doesn't get up here too often." I turned back around. No point being rude to a customer.
"Looks like business is a little slow." He looked up from the card to glance meaningfully out the window at the row of slips, which were mostly empty.
"Yeah, July and August are the slowest times for us. Come back in September, place'll be full. Sometimes we get two, three boats waiting in line to dock." I sounded a little more defensive than I had meant.
He gave me a little smile and a nod, and handed me the card. Mort Carson, captain and owner of the Miss New Jersey, registered in Newport, Rhode Island. No mention of the blonde.
Noel came back up to the desk and dropped a handful of stainless fittings on the counter. I looked at her out of the corner of my eye as I rang them up. A long, hot shower and a good night's sleep, and she would be beautiful. But right now she was dead on her feet, swaying from side to side and staring into space. She reached behind her idly with one hand to scratch her back, causing the white t-shirt to pull taught against her heavy breasts. Her eyes met mine, but she let her gaze slide by with no change in her expression.
"How much I owe you?" asked Mort impatiently.
"Eighty-three fifty for the fittings and three days mooring," I said, feeling flustered. These two were really getting under my skin. "No charge for the water, and you can pay for the fuel later."
I held the door for them as we went back outside. Mort went through first, and as Noel went by she looked right at me and gave me a quick smile, bringing her face to life for a moment. I'm no high- school kid any more, but that smile, coming on top of her previous indifference, gave me a thrill. But when we got back to the big Oyster bobbing gently next to the dock she went aboard and disappeared below.
I hooked up the hoses, and as Mort and I stood there in the beating sun he described all the features of his yacht in loving detail. It was a terrific boat, the kind you could take around the world, and it had all sorts of nifty adjustments to make it easier for two people to handle it. But I guess I didn't seem too interested, because he eventually trailed off.
"It's a real beauty," I said truthfully. "Classic lines. None of that modern dropped-transom shit."
"You bet. Miss NJ was laid down in ninety-two, but you wouldn't see any difference from an Oyster laid down in the thirties. You get a design that works, you keep it."
"Lot of brass," I said. "Must be a lot of upkeep."
"Oh yeah," he laughed. "Lucky for me Noel loves to polish brass. She keeps it gleaming."
I was working up my courage to ask him some questions about Noel, when I saw his eyes turn cold and his jaw firm up. I looked up and saw that she had come back on deck wearing a pink bikini top that barely contained her soft tan breasts. She leaned over the side, showing so much cleavage that I could see right between her breasts to her flat stomach, and said "Almost done?"
"Just about," I said cheerfully. After getting an eyeful I turned back to the fuel pump with a cocky grin on my face. Take that, Mort.
He didn't say anything, but he must have given her a hell of a look, because when I turned back around she was gone.
"Take any mooring you like," I said, indicating the row of buoys in the little man-made harbor. "And feel free to give me a call in the office if you or Noel need anything else."
He gave me a stare, and looked like he was going to say something macho, but finally he just nodded and jumped back aboard. I cast off for him and watched as he motored over to the farthest buoy. Noel came back up on deck, wearing the t-shirt again, and she snagged the buoy expertly and moored the yacht. Then they both went below.
I didn't see much of either one of them over the next couple of days, which was disappointing. There isn't a hell of a lot to do at Four Palms in the off season, except stay out of the sun and drink plenty of liquids. I really wanted to see Noel again, but I would have been happy to shoot the breeze with her sugar daddy Mort just to pass the time.
When she called the front office on Friday around noon, I recognized her voice right away.
"I think there's a problem with the port engine," she said. "You think you could take a look at it?"
"I'm not much good at fixing diesels. But if you come over to the dock I'd be glad to take a look."
"I can't bring her in by myself. Mort won't be back till later tonight, and he wanted everything to be ready to go."
I was getting a lot of vibes, a lot of stuff coming through between the lines. I had a good feeling about this, you might say.
"OK, in that case I'll row out in a dinghy. Be right there."
It was about a two-minute row over to the Miss New Jersey, but I still broke a sweat under the stinging July sun. When I came up the stern ladder she was sitting in the cockpit under an awning, an apologetic smile on her pretty face.
"Your name's Jim, right? I'm sorry, Jim, I just tried the engine again and it sounds fine. Must have been a bubble in the fuel line or something."
She was wearing a bikini top and faded jeans, and she looked a lot cleaner than the last time I had seen her. The jeans were tight across her hips, but left a noticeable gap at her narrow waist.
"No problem," I said. "Glad to hear it."
"How about a cold beer? It's the least I can do." She gave me a direct look that made me very curious to find out what else she might do for me.
"Anything cold would be great," I said, and she went below and popped right back up with a couple of icy Buds.
Beers have a way of disappearing in a hurry in the Florida heat, and we polished off two each while we chatted amiably. She told me she graduated from Florida State two years ago and still hadn't decided what to do with her life, which sounded pretty similar to my own situation. We kind of skirted around the subject of what she was doing with Mort, and talked for a while about the Bahamas, which was where they were headed next.
"Mort wants to do some scuba diving and explore some of the uninhabited islands over on the western side," she said. "I'd rather spend the time in Nassau partying, but he likes to get away from the tourists."
.... There is more of this story ...