Global warming. Sea level rise. Floating Community. Attempted Robbery at a pearl farm.
A Devil Gator?
That evening Ted sat alone at a desk in the cabin of his bachelor's sloop, wondering. Just what the hell is going on?
He prayed silently. Lord. Just what is going on anyway? This has been one very strange day. I actually had Andalib swimming in the oyster farm, to stir up the alligator? Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. Then I almost had sex with her, but I didn't because that guy Xavier showed up.
He's obviously an important part of her life, while I'm just a guy she wants to play with. Is love just something that happens to other people, but not me?
Now, I'm suddenly surrounded by all these people, who might be called...what? What should I call them? Should I call them "criminals"? "Suspicious characters"? What should I call Andalib; or Xavier, or that guy Quin? "Suspected of involvement in the robbery at the pearl farm"? That's right. That's what they are.
What about Eric Mann? Did he really try to demand a bribe from Xavier and Quin? Andalib says that I shouldn't trust him. How much should I trust Andalib?
Then there was that totally bizarre meeting aboard the TV Star's yacht? She was acting all bizarre and threatening. Her husband on the other hand, was not bizarre, but his threats were even worse; and what's with all this business about us torturing our oysters?
Why is this happening, Lord? In your Word the Apostle Paul, or was it Peter, wrote; "Be sober. Be vigilant. Your enemy the devil like a hungry, roaring lion, stalks about seeking who he may devour."
The Devil is like a lion? How about like an alligator? A 'devil gator'?"
Is this all happening because we brought in the alligator for security? That's what a lot of people here in Shellfish Shoals are thinking. Even before Doris Schaffer died, they were warning us there'd be trouble. Do you want us to get rid of the 'devil gator', like everybody else here does, Lord?
If we do get rid of it, and ask Eric Mann to transport it back to the alligator farm, what will we do for security?
Ted then softly quoted scripture. "'The Lord is our strength, our shield and our fortress'?
"Please be the strength, shield and fortress for us, Lord. Amen."
Then he wondered, What about Clarissa Kellington, and W. Parker Harrison? They won't be as easy to handle as any devil gator! And how do I handle Andalib and her gang? And what about Eric Mann?
He remembered another scripture. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
Ted switched on the lap-top computer on the desk in front of him, and logged onto a Bible website. He went to Ephesians, Chapter 6, and read:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take the up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
"Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."
Ted sat there for a long moment, looking over the text. He focused on the phrase, "...the helmet of salvation..."
Yes. A helmet, to keep my mind from being injured by Clarissa Kellington and W. Parker Harrison; along with Andalib, Xavier, Quin, and even Eric Mann.
There are just too many of them. I can't handle them alone.
"Lord." He prayed, "Have mercy on me a sinner; and on all us sinners who call to you, from here in Shellfish Shoals."
At 8:45 the following morning, Ted MacKenzie arrived at the dockside Office of James Palmera, Attorney at Law. The office was not yet opened for business. Eric Mann had arrived with Ted.
They were not the only people waiting here. Andalib and Xavier also stood outside the door.
Eric Mann looked amused. "Look who's here Ted."
Ted asked the two, "You two have got one of the top lawyers in the Country representing you, and yet you're looking for the services of a different one?"
Andalib said, "Any barely competent shyster mouthpiece would be better for us than Park Harrison. He wants to deliberately loose the case, in hope of promoting the agenda of the Social Justice Movement."
Eric nodded. "God save us from those who would save us."
Ted and Andalib both said, "Amen."
Now a man spoke behind Ted and Eric. "That's the first time I've ever heard myself called a 'mouthpiece'."
The two turned to see the man, who was in his mid forties, dressed in a white, short sleeved shirt, light blue tie, and dark pants. He carried a briefcase and had an amused look on his face.
"Good morning Jim." Ted greeted him. "This is Eric Mann. Everyone, this is James Palmera. The lawyer who we all hope will give us his assistance."
Andalib looked at the man, taking in every detail. He looked back at her and smiled. "I see why you've caused quite a stir around here, Miss Elkhart. I can assure you though; my competence is far beyond 'barely'."
Andalib looked at him. "Are you competent enough to handle the defense in a criminal case?"
Ted asked, "Or explain why producing cultured pearls, isn't a crime?"
Jim Palmera had taken out his keys.
"Very easily." He said, "Even against any overpriced celebrity 'mouthpiece', with an Ivy League education."
That morning, beneath the heavy sun, the passing vessels, the splashing waves, and all the other sounds of the harbor's regular activities surrounded them as background noise. One of those sounds was the roar of a rotating, airborne engine, which suddenly increased in volume.
They all looked up into the sky, in the direction of the flying vessel.
Ted looked at Eric. "I thought the helicopter you hired, returned to its base?"
The bounty hunter shook his head. "That's not the one I hired."
Eric reached into a pouch on his belt, and pulled out a pair of binoculars. He put them up to his eyes for a closer look at the copter.
"That's not the pilot I hired either. This one's got an insignia." He told everyone. "'BNN News'. The Buoyant News Network."
Andalib asked, "BNN News?"
"That's right. Right now you've got a Major TV Star and her celebrity Attorney husband, anchored right here in Shellfish Shoals, making a fuss about the oysters being tortured. That's a TV News Event. The kind of News that's gonna change your badly bungled break-in at the pearl farm, from a minor case, into a major event, in which everyone living here in Shellfish Shoals might end up being involved."
From where they stood, outside James Palerma's office, they saw the helicopter circling around the community, carefully keeping a safe distance from all the moored structures, so as not to stir up the water. The aircraft moved a short distance away from the community. Then it stopped to hover.
Ted spoke. "He's hovering over the pearl farm."
Eric said, "Probably taking pictures "
"But there really isn't all that much to see. Everything that's happening is going on under the water, and watching oysters producing cultured pearls is boring."
"But an alligator" Eric Mann told them all "is exciting to watch, even when it's lying totally still. I'm sure they'll find something they consider 'newsworthy'."