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TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

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Shark Boy was up early, on Saturday it was the day of the town rally and he still had some loose ends to secure. Jini and Aura were sleeping when he descended into Jessie's boat and headed for Henley Key. In order for the shark to enter Cruz Bay from the direction of the Puerto Rican Trench, it had to pass through the shallows that exist between Henley Key and Lovango. The first part of his plan would be to use a camera trap and determine what time the big shark is passing through there.

Before he reached the passage, he found the remains of an ocean Kayak and its occupant was nowhere to be found—just what he didn't need because the islanders were already demanding that he kill the shark. Shark Boy decided to keep quiet about the shark's latest victim until after the town rally but he gathered what he could for later identification. All that remained was an ID number stamped into a piece of the kayak and part of an oar. After Shark Boy set his camera trap he headed for the town Gazebo. When he arrived the mayor was just warming up. After a half an hour of campaigning it was Homeland Security's turn and then the Sheriff's turn and after the sheriff swore to protect his constituents the DNR reminded everybody that the shark was under his jurisdiction. It wasn't what the people wanted to hear--they demanded the shark be destroyed.

"How many more people will die before you do something?" shouted the irate mob. "Kill the monster!" another one demanded.

Before the angry mob could get any further out of control Shark Boy took the podium and his voice, became the voice of reassurance and reason. Although the body count is already high, he said, there is a better solution than killing an endangered species. If the DNR will provide me with a satellite-tracking device I will tag the shark and we will know exactly where it's at every minute of every day. We can broadcast its coordinates and warn the boats. And not to mention the countless number of tourists and scientists who will pay big bucks to see this rare shark—it's worth more to us alive than dead. A live Megeladon is worth millions of dollars annually in tourist dollars, but if we kill it we will be killing a much-needed source of income for the Island.

Shark Boy's solution sounded rational but "what about the canoes and kayakers and won't they still be at risk?" "Not if they monitor their marine radios," said Shark Boy.

Shark Boy promised the Islanders he would put the bell on the cat.
The meeting was almost over before news of the missing kayaker circulated thru the crowd.

Once again the mob became restless and once again Shark Boy quieted them with his personal reassurance that he could solve the problem without further carnage. After the meeting was over Dave and the DNR supervisor departed to see what tools they had available to tag and track the shark.

Jini and Aura were washing their hair when they noticed a mirror flashing at them—it was a young mother and her baby. The wave action was brutal and although Jini didn't want to risk her dinghy she and Aura boarded it and headed for shore. Jini set the dinghy's anchor and played out the line and let the wave action push them backwards to within wading distance of the rocks. The young mother was in distress, her baby was sick, the ferryboats were ordered not to leave the harbor and the helicopters and other small planes were grounded and if they didn't get her child to a hospital she would die.

"Can you get her there?" asked the desperate mother. Jini's mind searched for a solution and then she acted. "Give your child to Aura and we will take her to St. Thomas." Aura waded to shore and took the child from her mother and they were suddenly on their way to St. Thomas. Nobody in his or her right mind would attempt such a risky adventure, but a child's life was hanging in the balance. The trip across the opening between Cruz Bay and St. Thomas was perilous and just as they were in sight of the public dock at St. Thomas they ran out of gasoline. Fortunate the wind was at their back—a divine wind was blowing them right into the dock. The baby's lips were completely blue by then and Aura was doing CPR on her. Jini had called the EMS who was there waiting for them. They handed the baby over to the EMS with no time to spare. Later one of the medics told them the baby could not have survived even a minute longer without medical help.

Jini traded gasoline tanks with another sailor who invited them aboard for tea before they headed home. By then Dave had called and although he was relieved to hear they made it safely to St. Thomas the trip home against the wind would be, to say the least, even more dangerous.

His mother and Aura reassured him they could make it but that he should stay there just in case they needed rescued. Dave watched them through his binoculars. At least half of the time they were down in a wave trough and could not be seen but then they reappeared again. Before long, Jini and Aura were tying the dinghy to the stern of The Dream Weaver. Dave wanted to lecture them for not taking the big boat, but he decided his comments were not welcome. They did what they had to do and there wasn't time to do it any other way. The baby survived, the mother was saved, the grief of burying her child and whatever plan God has for that little girl's life can now come to pass.

The Island has lots of brave sailors and pilots, but in this case three women did what none of them could do—get from Cruz Bay to St. Thomas in a small dinghy during the aftermath of a hurricane.

Dave's phone rang and it was his Dad calling from Key West, but he could barely hear him because of the wind noise. Key West was getting its aft kicked, but he was nevertheless ready to re-launch the Flying Circus as soon as the storm passed. He was not able to find any crew to make the trip back to St. John during hurricane season so he told Dave that he had called his long time sailing buddy from Waynedale. His old partner agreed that no sane person would attempt such a trip during hurricane season, but asked, "When are we leaving?"

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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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