Global warming. Sea level rise. Floating Community. Attempted Robbery at a pearl farm.
Naked and Fu...
"She's a 'pagan priestess'? She worships the ancient gods and goddesses?" Ted spoke with confusion as he and Eric Mann headed away from the gangway and the three towering masts of the "Venus on the Half Shell". The two were headed back toward Ted's runabout. "Then there's that bizarre painting? And the way she was dressed, or only half dressed?"
Eric said, "It's because she's rich and famous. She thinks she can do and say anything she wants, and get away with it."
"Still." Ted said softly and cast a backward glance at the large vessel.
"Right." Eric told him, "She can get away with being, what people around here would call a 'Devil Worshiper'; and the yacht is named after a certain being, who many would call a 'Devil Woman'.
"'The Shellfish Are Screaming'? I didn't even know that she'd written a book! How could I 'persuade the owner of the local bookstore' not to sell the book when I didn't even know about it?" Ted wondered, "And I'm facing a 'lengthy amount of jail time'? I've been 'torturing' the oysters?"
"She's an actress Ted." Eric told him. "Putting on a good act. Following the script. Who knows if she actually believes what she was saying, or if she even understands it?"
"I'm sure that her husband understands it." Ted told him, "While she's just making a lot of noise, I'm sure he's not. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I actually might be in some very serious trouble with the law."
"Probably not." Eric told him. "But it still might be a good idea Ted, if you got yourself a lawyer."
"A lawyer? Well the only one in town is James Palmera; but he's just the guy who handles the filling out of wills and other legal papers. You know, two guys disagreeing about where the boundary of their neighboring property is. That sort of stuff. He helped my father make out his will. He also helped us when we searched out the legalities of having a watch-gator at the pearl farm; and he's helped us with licensing matters. Just the usual legalities that any business is required to deal with. I can't remember if he's ever actually had to argue a case in Court."
"Licensing matters?" Eric said, "You're running a licensed business?"
"Of course we are. We've got all the licenses and permits that are necessary, just like any legitimate business. That's all we need."
"'Legitimate business'? So you have paperwork - legal paperwork, to back you up?"
Ted thought for a moment. "That's right. I'm running a totally lawful operation. If they try to shut me down, they'd be wasting their time."
"Maybe not." Eric said, "W. Parker Harrison is one of the top lawyers in the Country. He's 'a Harvard Law School Graduate'. He's a guy who attends luncheons with the President! I'm sure the man hasn't come all the way here to Shellfish Shoals, just to blow smoke."
"I'm torturing the oysters?" Ted shook his head. "That's just too bizarre to be taken seriously."
"That doesn't matter to those people in the Social Justice Movement. One word from W. Parker Harrison, or Clarissa Kellington, and they'll be coming after you, from now until the end of time."
Now Ted checked his wristwatch.
"It's getting kind of late. I don't know if Steve Palmera would have the time to see me today. I'll have to go in and speak to him in the morning."
Eric said, "Then this might be a good time for you to go have a talk with the owner of the local bookstore."
"Have a talk with him? I hope you don't think that Clarissa Kellington and her husband were right when they accused me of forcing him to cancel shipments of her book? If I ever tried to go ordering any of my neighbors around like that, believe me, every one of them would laugh in my face. Then I'd be getting laughed at by my old man for trying to order them around."
"That's not it." Eric told him, "What I meant was that you should warn him and everyone in Shellfish Shoals. Clarissa and her goons are the ones who want to go ordering all of you around. Then anyone in this town, who was caught laughing at them, would be in very serious trouble."
Two hours later at the Langosta Boatel, Andalib and Xavier were lying breathless and happy in her bed in room 16. "Well, we haven't had sex three times in one afternoon since -- " Andalib paused, "we were holed up in that little floating hotel. What was its name again? Can you remember?"
"The Love Boat." Xavier smiled.
"It was not called the 'Love Boat'!" Andalib laughed and took a deep breath. "I loved that show by the way." Andalib sighed. "Everyone was always happy and even when things didn't go according to plan, it always turned out to be a happy time."
"Pity life isn't like that, huh?"
"Says who? Anything is possible, X. All you need to do is believe in what you want and that you can do it. Other than that -- " she shrugged, "You hope that you find someone foolish enough to do all the hard work while you sit back and reap the rewards."
"Someone like Ted MacKenzie?" Xavier smiled. "You still haven't told me exactly why you chose the MacKenzie farm for this job."
"Is it really that important to know, Xavier?"
"Yes. I want to know that it wasn't simply about Ted."
"We've discussed that already, X. I don't have feelings for Ted." Andalib said as she got out of bed and walked toward the bathroom. "Don't you believe me?"
"Andi, you could talk a blind man into buying a pair of binoculars, so, forgive me for not believing you so easily." Xavier smiled ruefully and held his breath as Andalib walked back to the bed still completely naked.
"I chose Ted because he's a young guy that would easily fall for me."
"Bet you weren't planning on him being like a monk or something." Xavier laughed.
"Ted isn't a monk. He practices celibacy, that's all."
"Sounds like a drag."
"Besides," Andalib said trying to change the subject, "When I said to find someone foolish enough to do all the hard work while you sit back and reap the rewards, I was talking about you."
Xavier jumped out of bed and chased her, easily catching her in the corner and pinning her there, easily picking her up and carrying her back to the bed. "That wasn't very nice." He said softly.
"I know. But I'm not nice, you know that." Andalib smiled and reached for him.
Now there was a knocking at the door.
"Oh crap." Andalib called out, "Who's there?"
A muffled voice came through the door. "It's Quin! We have to talk!"
Xavier groaned. "Oh not now."
She called out. "Do you want to come back in about an hour Quin?" Then she said quietly, "We're naked and fucking."
They heard muffled footsteps walking away, outside the window where the blinds were drawn.
"When will he be back?" Xavier asked.
"Not for an hour." Andalib smiled. "More than enough time for us to make it four times in one afternoon."
Nearly an hour later Andalib got out of bed once more and got in the shower. "After we've spoken to Quin, I want you go leave, OK?"
"Really? And why is that?" He asked already pulling on his clothing.
"We can't been seen together so much. I still have to get Ted to trust me completely. After the little fiasco with the botched oysters, we have less than nothing to set us up for a while."
"We have that necklace."
"And how long can we survive off it?" Andalib called.
"OK, I get it."
"Also, I want you to keep an eye on Quin."
"Why? He's in deep with those highflying idiots. We should be looking out for ourselves, no-one else."
"I still want those jewels, Xavier." Andalib said softly. "Especially that ring." She whispered.
"What?" Xavier asked not hearing her.
When the knocking came again, they were modestly clothed. Andalib went over and opened the door. Quin stood in the doorway smirking, still dressed in the yacht club outfit that he'd worn aboard the TV Star's yacht. A patch displaying the photo of a naked Clarissa Kellington, along with the words "Venus on the Half Shell", was sewn on the breast pocket of his vest.
"Okay Mister!" Andalib demanded, "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't slam this door on you, and never talk to you again?"
He asked, "What are you angry with me for?"
Xavier now stood beside her. "I can't believe you don't know."
She said, "You want me to 'go along' with that bitch? You want me to say that I was sexually abused by my father, when you know that isn't true."
"Andi," he asked her, "can you prove that it isn't true?"
Xavier took a step closer to him. "I ought to beat the crap out of you right now!"
Quin raised both his hands. "Relax folks. I was just trying to fit in with our hosts. I went along with them and got welcomed aboard their yacht. I was hoping to get a good look at where Clarissa Kellington keeps her jewelry."
"Oh?" Andalib said puzzled. "You seem to fit in perfectly."
"Sure." Quin grinned. "Just what did you think I was doing?"
Xavier nodded. "Lapping up that bullshit and spreading it."
"I was 'pretending'." Quin emphasized. "Am I welcomed in now?"
"Sure." Andalib replied uneasily but let Quin in anyway. "Welcome as always."
He stepped into the room and she shut the door. He sat in the chair beside the door.
They all remained silent until Quin said, "Well, it's not going to be easy. When she's not wearing the gems, they're all locked in a safe, deep inside the yacht, with all kinds of security alarms set up from bow to stern."
"I see." Xavier said, "How about when she's wearing them?"
"That's right." Andalib said, "I've been thinking that we should get her alone. Then we kill her and grab the stones; or I'll grab the stones while you two throw her to the gator."
Xavier said, "Sounds good to me."
Quin said, "You can't be serious. I know you're angry 'cause of what she wants you to do but..."
"Angry doesn't begin to describe it, Quin." Andalib said menacingly softly. She stared at Quin unblinking for a long time until Quin shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Satisfied that her point had gotten across, Andalib chuckled, "A gal can still dream, can't she?"
"Your dreams Andi," Quin told her quietly, "got us all arrested."
"No Quin!" She told him, "It was your incompetence when it came to carrying out our plans!
Because of you, the Nightingale is now impounded and in a dry dock! We wouldn't be able to make any kind of a getaway."
"Since that isn't possible," he told her, "then we'll all just have to go along with whatever Clarissa Kellington wants."
"How many times do I have to say no?"
"If you want to get close enough to her, so that you can grab her stones and toss her to the gator, it shouldn't take all that long, if you only say yes."
"Forget it. Even if I did say yes, we still wouldn't be able to make a getaway. Even if we could, who do you think would be the first suspects?"
Now Quin asked, "What else do you suggest we do, while waiting for our trial to begin?"
"Well," Andalib told him, "you could perform community service like I did. It might be good for you to perform the exact same service that I performed. At least I'd feel good about it."
Xavier told him, "We both would."
"Listen!" Now Quin spoke firmly. "You don't have any idea who you're dealing with. Clarissa Kellington and W. Parker Harrison are both members of the Social Justice Movement."
"Just like you?" Andalib said, "Except that they're actually successful."
"I'm just a dues paying member. Those two are among the ones who give the orders."
"But I'm not a member" she said, "so I don't have to take their orders, and neither does Xavier. We've decided to get ourselves a different lawyer. One who is not gonna force us to plead guilty, and say that we were 'rescuing the oysters from imprisonment'. Maybe that's what some members of the Social Justice Movement might be willing to go along with, but we're not members."
Quin told her; "No guilty plea will be made, if you just go along with whatever Clarissa Kellington wants, when it comes to promoting social justice."
"That's why we're getting ourselves a different lawyer." Andalib asked, "How does me committing slanderous libel and saying that my father raped me when I was a child, promote social justice?"
Quin got up out of the chair beside the door and said, "If you want to avoid being charged with the break-in at the pearl farm in Lake Shore, you'll keep W. Parker Harrison as your lawyer, and go along with whatever he and his wife tell you."
"Lake Shore?" Xavier said, "You didn't tell them we were involved in that? Did you Quin?"
"No. That's what they told me. I'm saving my own skin by doing whatever I'm told. When you're a member of the Movement, you'd better not argue with the people who give the orders."
Andalib spoke. "Then I know what I have to do."
"Go along with helping to promote social justice?"
"No!" She said, "Get myself a lawyer who isn't totally nuts!"
Yanking the door open, Andalib grabbed Quin by the front of his shirt and pushed him out.
"Now stay the fuck away from me!"