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TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

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Dave (everybody called him Shark Boy) pulled apart the big lobsters, removed their heads from their tails, broke off their barbed feelers, removed their mud veins, and slid the tails down the board to Chef Pierre. Pierre chopped them up with his big cleaver and made a huge pile of the lobster meat. Pierre then checked the veggies simmering in his kettle while Dave filleted the groupers. Pierre closely inspected the fillets for bones while Dave scraped the cast-off skin and innards into a five-gallon bait bucket, and then the chef chopped the fillets too, and carefully taste-tested his chowder before adding four more heaping cups of his secret red Caribbean seasonings.

The monk and his milkmaids were coming up the hill, heavily laden with tins of fresh goat's milk and butter, rounds of aged cheese, and several loaves of fresh baked Tuscan bread that had been basted with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt over their spit tops. The Monk was attired in a flowered shirt, straw hat and khaki shorts while the milkmaids were wearing short frilly dresses with white aprons.

After the traditional cheek kissing, Pierre added their goat's milk and butter to his chowder, then the chopped lobster and grouper meat, and finished his preparation by slowly blending in potato flakes to adjust the thickness while he stirred the kettle with his sawed-off wood rowing oar. By the time the guests had all arrived the sun was setting in a blaze of colorful glory, and Pierre's chowder was giving off a magnificent aroma that excited the guest's appetites.
The milkmaids, some of whom were bulging with child, passed around hand carved slices of the Monk's fresh baked Tuscan Bread along with chunks of stinky cheese, while Jesse introduced everybody to his lady, Darlene. Darlene was a Kentucky belle of high pedigree from a prominent, politically-connected family in Lexington, Kentucky. She had milk-white skin, a quiet southern drawl and delicate manners, but dark flashing eyes which let you know that she was a highly spirited woman. Whenever the milkmaids bent slightly forward to slice off samples of bread and cheese it became obvious they weren't wearing any underwear because it exposed their bare bottoms. That caught Jesse's roving eye and also Darlene's eye, because she was watching him watching them.

The milkmaids next served another Italian favorite, extra virgin olive oil with primo Parmesan cheese freshly grated into it. As everyone got busy dipping their pieces of Tuscan bread into the olive oil, Pierre ladled his lobster-fish chowder into large wooden bowls.

The guests' spirits soared as they ate their fill. New York Dan started a night fire and added some special tree bark to ward off bad spirits and insects. Everybody begged Shark Boy to tell about his close encounter with the big shark, but Dave wanted to wait for the results of the DNA test before he made any claims about the shark being a pre-historic Megalodon.

Catrina passed around fresh Cuban cigars for after-dinner smokes and the fiddle players and squeezebox band played Jesse's favorite rendition of "Turkey in the Straw" and other old-time Kentucky tunes before they performed their final piece: "My Old Kentucky Home." Jesse and Darlene immediately rose to their feet in a show of respect for their state song, and by the time that song was finished even Pierre the Frenchman had a tear in his eye.

After Jesse and Darlene sat down again, Mona removed her crystal ball from its carpetbag and all conversation suddenly stopped. The silence was total until Mona finally broke it by murmuring: "I see a girl from the captain's past, her name is Captain Wendy, she is confused and sick." The captain's jaw dropped, but no words came from his mouth—he was left too shocked to speak. How could Mona possibly know about Wendy? She left the Caribbean twenty years before they moved there.

The guests started talking amongst themselves, but Catrina scolded them. "Silence, she is trying to say something."
"Yes," said Wendy's voice, calling faintly from the crystal ball, "I am in dire straits and I don't know what to do. Help me."
The captain stood up and left the circle and it was obvious he wished to be alone. Dave turned to Jesse, and asked "Who in the world is Wendy?" Jesse claimed he didn't know, she must have been before his time, but Dave didn't believe him.

After Wendy's face faded from Mona's crystal ball, it was replaced by an image of the dearly departed Santana, whose ghostly voice issued a warning, "Beware of the treasure cave, bad spirits live there."

Jesse jumped to his feet and moved like a cat across the circle to look into Mona's crystal ball. But it was too late, Santana had faded away too.

"What did he mean by treasure cave?" demanded Jesse.

The proverbial cat was out of the bag. The slightest mention of treasure around an amateur archeologist like him instantly got his juices flowing, and he too left the circle, but not before he motioned for Dave to follow him. Darlene felt abandoned as Jesse and Dave moved far from earshot.

Jesse turned and exclaimed, "Boy, have you been holding out on me? You and Santana were tighter than a plug in a jug. If he knew something, you knew it too. Ever since I caught you and that monk up on the cliff on Lovango, I've suspected that you were hiding something."

Whenever Shark boy was extremely nervous he stuttered, so he tried to remain silent, but after Jesse stared him down, he finally stammered, "You ... you ... you'll have to talk to my dad." 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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