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TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

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Early Monday morning the sun rose over Key West and it was another magnificent day with snow-white cumulous clouds billowing above. Dave's Dad woke him and asked him to get ready for their flight out of Key West--Jesse's plane was scheduled to arrive there at 0900 hrs. Dave noticed his Dad was traveling light so he followed suit and packed two days of clothing while the Captain scrawled a note addressed to "Whom it may concern: We borrowed two bicycles from this rack and we will leave them at the Key West Airport." He signed the note, Neil and Dave, and they were on their way.

The plane was early and it was refueling when they arrived. The Captain introduced himself and Dave to the Pilot and asked permission to board. The pilot nodded yes and so Dave and his Dad boarded. The pilot came on board to run his preflight checklist and said, "Good News, Jesse obtained special permission last night for us to fly directly to Jose Marti International Airport in Havana and from there we can fly directly to the Owen Roberts International Airport at Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, without diverting to Mexico City."
"Good news indeed!" remarked the Captain. "We should be able to do all of our business in one day, except there's been a change in our plans too. We won't be returning to Key West--we want to fly to Miami International instead. Dave started to protest, but then decided to wait and see the reason why because his Dad usually had good purpose for doing what he did.

"Gee, Pop, I told Carman that we would be back in a week or two and we've already paid a whole months rent on the beach house and what about our clothes?" asked Dave.

"I know son, but if we go back to that beach house Carman and her mother will have us tied up like two flies in a spider web. It's better to leave now than later. We can buy clothes in Miami go to where our new mast is being built and travel with it back to the Key West Marina. We can rig it and sail out of there before they realize we aren't coming back. There's an old saying: a succor is born every minute and there's two to take care of him, her and her mother."
"Where are we going to sail to?" asked Dave.

"We've got plenty of time to figure that out. But it's one war at a time so let's take care of the business at hand first. The Captain and Dave fastened their seat belts as the plane taxied to the main runway and they were, at last, really on their way. They had barely reached cruising altitude when the pilot came on the intercom and said they would be landing at Jose Marti International Airport and he began his descent. Jose Marti airport was not what Dave was expecting--it was a modern, huge and very busy international airport. After they landed they taxied over to customs and called Colonel Rodriguez and told him that the President and CEO of the Clean Coal Environmental Corporation wished to take a guided tour of the Havana Cigar Company—would that be possible? Within a short time a military jeep appeared with the Colonel and one of his drivers in it and he welcomed them to Havana. After pleasantries were exchanged the pilot gave the Colonel an envelope and said that it was a token of the CEO's appreciation for showing his friend around the cigar factory.

Dave and the pilot stayed with the plane while the Captain left with the Colonel. Not long after his dad and the Colonel left for the cigar factory another jeep pulled up next to them that made Dave extremely apprehensive because these people were not expected. They asked in Spanish for permission to board and Dave, who speaks fluent Spanish, quickly granted permission and gave them a warm welcome. The officials put everybody at ease when they announced that they were from the Havana Power and Electric Company. The airport manager had called them and said that there were visitors from the United States on his tarmac who were representatives of the Clean Coal Environmental Corporation—could Dave give them a quote for 390,000 tons of steam grade coal, per month? Dave used a satellite phone in the cockpit to call Jesse and explain to him about this latest development.

Jesse said, "Tell them on average, it would cost $120 dollars per ton if we can ship directly to Havana-of course that's less your commission," insisted Jesse.
The wheels were already turning in Dave's head and so he quoted them a price of 120 dollars per ton plus a few centavos. Dave gave them both his and Jesse's phone numbers and as the power company managers were departing his Dad and Colonel Rodriguez returned with three large pieces of luggage and one briefcase full of Havana's finest cigars—fresh from the factory. The briefcase was for American Customs and before the Colonel departed the Captain gave him a bottle of Jack Daniels Black Label and one of Jesse's special mason jars with a lone peach floating in it. With a quart of pure corn liquor and a bottle of Jack Daniels in hand-the Colonel departed in a happy mood.

The pilot ran his pre-flight list again and they taxed to the main runway. The flight to Owen Roberts International Airport at Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, was also short and when they arrived it was a 3-mile taxi ride to the bank where the Captain had his numbered account. They entered the bank and his Dad introduced Dave to the bank manager. They opened a special numbered account for Dave and the bank manager called an assistant to count the money in Dave's luggage. After they agreed on the amount to be deposited, they shook hands and returned to the airport. The pilot had already re-configured his flight plan for Miami International and they were soon on their way back to the United States.

"Gee Pop, will we ever see Carman and her mother again?" asked Dave.
"Not if I can help it," said the Captain. There's many ways to leave a lover... "Slip out the back Jack, make a new plan Stan, and set yourself free." I know that you probably feel like, "Only I can save Carman. But her and her mother were doing just fine before we showed up in Key West and they'll do just fine without us. Besides, they will never forget us because we are the ones who got away. Our clothes and the rest of this month's rent are a small price to pay for freedom."

Dave told his Dad about the sales commission Jesse offered him on the Havana Coal deal, but before he finished his Dad cautioned him that most corporations and other businesses keep sales people around only long enough for them to build up some accounts and then they fire them and steal their commissions.
"Jesse wouldn't do that to me," insisted Dave.

His Dad reminded him that business and friendship don't mix and suggested that it would be a good idea for him to steer clear of the coal deal. Besides, his Dad insisted, weren't you the one who was telling me that Co2 emissions from fossil fuels are killing our oceans?

"Yes," said Dave, "but cheap electricity is the key to cheap manufacturing and better living standards. Currently, coal is about 25 percent cheaper than oil or natural gas and it goes far beyond just generating electricity. All steel comes from coal. Blast furnaces use coal fired steam generators. All types of steel production require coal for "coke"...no "coke" no steel—American industry cannot function without steel. Aluminum smelting also requires cheap (steam generated, electricity) in order to remain competitive with China and Russia.

Fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas are in the hundreds of thousands to millions of years old and they are forms of stored up solar energy, but they are not nearly as energy dense as rocks that imbedded themselves in the earth's crust billions of years ago after a Super Nova Explosion. Elements such as uranium and thorium are perhaps a million times more energy dense than fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas. Switching to carbon free fuels such as thorium would certainly help our environmental problems especially because thorium fission reactors can desalinate seawater with little or no energy penalty, but it's as Jesse said, coal is indispensable to our way of life. In the U.S. alone we consume about 20 tons of coal per person each year whether we are aware of it or not. There was, of course, more Dave wanted to say about the matter, but his dad was fast asleep. 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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