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TALES FROM THE CARRIBEAN

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Dave (everybody called him Shark Boy) closed his cell phone and was emotionally torn between staying at the boat shack with his dad, NY Dan and Big Jesse, and returning his mom's dinghy, but he knew his mother and Aura needed him.

"I have Mom's dinghy and she needs it," said Dave. "Aura's on the Dream Weaver with mom. Her dad was killed in Afghanistan last year and her mother died of a stroke last night and Mom is helping her with the funeral arrangements."

"I'm sorry to hear that," said the Captain. "But who's Aura?"
"She's the girl in the Aubury dinghy who's been sailing around our anchorage this summer," explained Dave.

"Oh, I see," said the Captain as he winked. "Well, don't make the ladies wait. We can talk later, but I hardly can wait to hear about the eagle that landed. Dan and Jesse are planning a party tonight so along with your other obligations see if you can find us some lobsters and fish for the big-boil tonight."

"Will do," exclaimed Eno. "And it's great having you back Dad. I really missed you."

"A real man would take his sweet time and make the girls wait," snorted Jesse. "If you jump too quick they'll expect it all the time. Take your time, it's their job to bitch and it's our job to give them a reason."

The Captain intervened on his son's behalf and said that under the circumstances the women should have priority.

"Do what you can to help, especially Aura--losing her parents that close together must be terribly hard on her."

Enzo jogged down to the public dock, jumped in the dinghy and in the wink of an eye was approaching Dream Weaver's transom.

"Ahoy," said Enzo, as he scrambled over the stern pulpit. "Mom, the guy's at the boat shack are planning a fish boil tonight. Do you and Aura want to come?" Aura started to decline but before she could say no Jini accepted the invitation. "We'd love to come! It's just what the doctor ordered, for Aura. She needs a break. Maybe meet some new friends and she already knows Catrina and Anna. Maybe Catrina will have your star chart finished and if Anna brings her crystal ball it will be an interesting evening."

"Mom," asked Enzo. "I'm going reef diving. Is it OK if Aura comes along?" Aura was to shy to say anything so Jini said it for her. "Yes, I'm sure she would love to Enzo. You know how I worry when you dive by yourself but, of course, you do it anyway, you're such a daredevil--just like your father. Aura, honey, I would feel better if you tended the dinghy for Enzo while he's diving."

"Yes, Mum," said Aura. "I'll watch over him."

Before long, Enzo and Aura were nearing his favorite lobster hole. He removed his shirt, pulled on his swim fins, loaded and cocked two spear guns and flipped on the safeties before handing one to Aura and rolling backwards over the gun whale with the other one. Aura slowly circled and watched below as he approached a lobster hole. The lobster saw him coming and pulled back inside its hole so Enzo swam around behind it and waited. Aura wondered how anybody could hold their breath that long. When the lobster, at last, poked its head out. Enzo sent his spear thru its back and headed for the surface. When he surfaced he took a big breath and gave Aura the lobster on the spear. He took the other gun and dove again. Before Aura could remove the lobster from his spear, Enzo returned with a second one even bigger and with both of her feet planted firmly on the spiny creature she pulled the spear free, reloaded his spear gun and handed it to him. He dove again while she struggled with the second lobster. This was Aura's first lobster hunt but she wasn't about to admit it and by the time Enzo resurfaced she had removed the spear from the second one, and had already reloaded his spear gun. This time Dave hung on the side of the dinghy and let the current carry them along the reef until he spotted a large Grouper. It ducked into the reef so Dave circled around and waited. The fish's curiosity got the best of him and when he poked his head out again Enzo put a perfect hit on him just behind the gill plate. The fish was bleeding profusely and before Dave could get back to the dinghy a large hammerhead shark suddenly appeared and began circling him. He knew this shark and it was not going to leave without the fish so he yanked the spear from the grouper and offered it up to the hungry shark and in one swift move, propelled himself out of the water, over the gunwale and back in the dinghy. Aura gently rolled on the power and they were off to hunt another reef.

"Weren't you afraid when you saw that shark?" asked Aura.

"I was born on a boat and was swimming with sharks before I could walk—that's why the West Indians call me Shark Boy. I've caught and released that female hammerhead twice before because she has two marks on her dorsal fin where I tagged her, but the tags are gone--she has to eat too, so I shared my catch with her. We understand each other," proclaimed Dave. "I get along with most of them except for one big ugly Megelodon and he's tried three different times to get me. The first time, I hooked him and fought him all night; he pulled me all the way to Superstition Bay before my line broke. The second time was after dark too and he got under me, but I slid off his back and out ran him, the third time he chased me into shallow water and I shot him twice, the first shot bounced off his boney head but the second one stuck behind his gill plate, but it didn't seem to bother him because he swam off with my spear and spear gun."

"Oh Enzo!" exclaimed Aura. "That's scary."

"Every time I've seen him," added Enzo, "was after dark. Megelodons are supposed to be extinct, but I've seen him three times and a few weeks ago Dad, Mad Jack and another guy saw him too--he's as aggressive as he is big and he's without a doubt the reason so many fishermen around here have mysteriously gone missing. He gets under you, capsizes the boat, circles back and well, you know the rest of that tune—before you know it you've been transformed into shark poop. We suspect he lives in the Puerto Rican Trench. It's over five miles deep with plenty of running room for a monster shark. But someday, I'll prove he's no figment of our imagination—I'll drag his dead carcass into shallow water and take a picture of him—A picture that's worth a thousand words!"

They were approaching Sandy Spit when Enzo asked Aura if she would like to go ashore with him to see something. She hesitantly nodded yes and after she motored close to the beech Enzo tied the painter to an overhanging branch and they waded ashore hand in hand. They hiked up to a grassy knoll that overlooked a passage and sat down on the grass. The sound of the surf and sea birds cast a magic spell over them and after a few moments Dave nonchalantly pulled a gold chain with a jeweled cross from his pocket and said, "Aura I have something for you, but it's our secret. Please take this cross. There's no strings attached and I want you to have it before you return to school."

Aura was shocked. But when she finally spoke, she insisted that she couldn't accept it. But Enzo was persistent and refused to take no for an answer.

"Please," insisted Enzo. "It's something I found and I want you to have. But if anybody asks about it just say that you found it in your mother's things and that you have no idea where it came from."

"Oh, Enzo," insisted Aura. "I can't be telling lies."

"But if you tell the truth," said Enzo, "it could cause me a real problem and if the authorities find out about the treasure they will confiscate it. It was hidden near here over 300 years ago before I found it, but that's our secret. My aunt in Chicago is going to have it appraised, converted to cash and deposited in a bank for my college tuition."

Enzo placed the chain around Aura's neck, hooked it and gently kissed the top of her head before she stood up and they headed back down the path to the dinghy—they needed more seafood for the party. To be continued.

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John Stark
About This Author
The author of the "Tales from the Caribbean" fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012.
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