Thursday, 24 October 2013
The River Boat chapter 5
The End Of The Rainbow
Dan walked the deck to the back of the river boat. The Misty was still tied to the back railing. Dan's first impulse was to cut it loose but upon further deliberation he had decided to hang on to it for the time being. If the Misty proved to be stuck fast, then the other vessel might be his only other avenue of escape.
Aboard the other vessel there would not be enough room for all of the hostages he presently held. He would have to dispose of some of them. He would have liked to get rid of the woman and the man below deck but the man below he may need to pilot of the catamaran, if that was his last resort. The kids, especially Ray, he would need to nurse the man below deck back to some functional use.
A police cruiser up river was coming full clip in his direction. Dan ran back into the cabin, and pulled the chest away that barred the door to the bedroom.
Swinging the door open, he waved the gun for Sandy to come out. At the door way Dan's hand shot out and seized her by the front of her top. He lifted her up until she stood on her toes facing him. Blowing booze-reeking breath in her face, he barked an order: "Listen and listen well, get rid of them cops. Try something funny and I'll plug everybody in this room before the cops even step through the door. Tell them that you ran aground last night and your mother and father are out getting help. I'll be listening to every word you say."
A short time later the police knocked at the door. They showed her a picture of Dan and asked her if she had seen him. Sandy shook her head not looking directly at the officer who questioned her.
"Is there a problem here?," Officer Brooks asked her.
"No sir, my parents went out to get someone to help us get off this sand bar. We ran aground late last night."
"The Catamaran at the back, is that yours, too?," Officer Brooks
"Yes it is, my dad likes to sail when ever he gets a chance," Sandy responded with a quivering voice that was near breaking up with fear.
"How far up river are you and your folks going?," the other officer asked.
"All the way up to Canada," Sandy informed him, whipping at a tear.
"OK, I hope you and your folks have a good trip," Brooks tipped his hat then turned and walked back to the cruiser with his partner. They talked for a couple of minutes then made a hundred and eighty degree turn back in the same direction they had come.
"I think we better report this one in," Brooks said to his partner.
"What is there to report,” Jeff asked, “A nervous kid on ancient river boat stuck on a sand bar?"
"No there is more to it then that. Some thing was not right back there. For one thing, why didn't her parents use the catamaran to go get help? Number two, the skiff was still on the back deck. How did they get to shore, swim?"
"Anyway I could tell that the girl wasn't just nervous she was terri- fied about some thing. While we make a report on this, run a check on the registry numbers for both the catamaran and the river boat. I have a feeling we're going to come up with some very interesting results."
Dan listened to the fading drone of the motor. When it was gone he shouted, "Are the pigs gone?"
"Yes, I think they believed me,” Sandy answered in a faltering voice. She did not know how much more she could take of his unpredictable rages. She sat in a corner holding her knees to her chest wishing she could melt into the woodwork around her. She now knew how her mother had felt. She feared that she herself was on the thin edge of insanity. She continued to sit holding her knees with her head down, rocking back and forth, bracing her self for his next outburst.
"Every body out of the bed room!,” Dan ordered. “Sandy, you get at the helm." Sandy jumped like she had been kicked, at the mention of her name. “You!,” he said to Ray, “Go to the catamaran and see if you can fire up the motor. The rest of us find some poles and help by pushing away from shore.”
As Dan turned to go out, he spotted George at the below-deck hatch, where he stood swaying like a drunken sailor. Dan brought the gun up.
"I'll handle my own vessel," he informed Dan.
"Look mister, I give the orders around here. I'm the one with the gun in case you haven't noticed!" he screamed at the top of his lungs.
He held the gun so tightly his hand shook. George spread out his arms and said, "Go ahead, but you won't have any one to pilot the catama- ran if this vessel is stuck fast to this sand bar."
"How did you know my next plan?," Dan shouted.
"Common sense," George responded.
"Are you trying to be a smart ass or something? Dan screamed, as the gun in his hand shook more violently.
"No! only trying to save my own ass is all." George responded
Dan took a deep breath and forced himself into a semblance of control and the shaking in his gun hand subsided. In a more composed voice he spoke: "If I let you go to your boat what's to stop you from taking
off with your own vessel once on board?"
"The rope, your gun and the hostages,” George said resignedly.
Ray poled the starboard side. Clare and Dan poled port side. Dan
chose a position nearest to the stern of the riverboat to keep watch on George. On Dan's order both George and Sandy gunned the motors simultaneously and the Misty groaned then lifted free of the sandbar.
Dan shouted at George, "Mister, shut her off and climb up here on board, very careful-like. I don't really have any use for you or your boat any more. You're just excess baggage to me now. I could just shoot you and the bitch and be rid of you."
“You can do any thing you want, this is a free country. You can kill, rape, rob, pillage, You can sabotage the space shuttle or blow up an entire city if you have a mind to do so but some day we all have to pay the piper," was George's solemn warning to Dan.
Dan swung his fist into George's abdomen. George went down on one knee, holding his stomach.
"In a free country I am also at liberty to give a philosopher a tummy ache,” Dan laughed boisterously. “Don't they know how to make a man any more?," Dan asked, mimicking a pleading look towards heaven, hands outstretched. Then more seriously, "Now get your smart ass into the cabin.”
Dan pushed George into a chair and turned to Ray: “Tie him up. he barked. I guess all I have around here is four women and a baby, or should I say four hens and a baby." Dan flapped his arms and clucked
like a chicken, all the time looking straight at Ray. His peals of
laughter could be heard on both sides of the river.
Stopping abruptly he took another swig from his bottle. Every one sat around silently not daring to move for fear they be noticed. George sat in a chair tied up. Clare was in the bed room with Natty, Ray and Sandy sat on either side of the table. Dan was in his own world at the helm. “I have to get off this river soon,” he thought. “They will know by now that I'm not in the Helena area and they'll start searching every vessel on the Mississippi.”
"Ray! Take over the helm for a while, I have other things to do. You! get in the bed room with the others," he barked, motioning to Sandy with the gun. Sandy jumped, knocked the chair over and timidly made her way along the wall farthest from him.
Dan let out a roar, and watched Sandy bolt into the room slamming the door, as his insane laughter once again filled the room. Sandy sat hunched in a corner covering her head with both arms as she cried uncontrollably. Clare went to her side. When her hand came in contact with Sandy's arm, she jumped screaming and flailing her arms like some horrible creature had touched her.
"Sandy, please don't be afraid, it's just me, Clare." Clare put her arm around Sandy and encouraged her put her to put her head on
her shoulder. Clare was without words; she just held her and let her cry. When the crying subsided she said, "I can't comfort you by saying that this insanity will soon be over, I don't know that for sure. All I can tell you is we've still got each other to take strength from for the time being. Come on, Sprite missed you." Clare helped her to her feet.
"San! San! Lav San!" Natty stood on the bed with her arms outstretched in anticipation. Sandy picked her up and tears once again rolled down her cheeks."Oh Sprite, I love you too. If it weren't for you I would have given up long ago. You are the only reason I've hung onto my sanity. I want to see you get safely out of this. I want to see
you grow up into the beautiful, intelligent and loving woman I know you are going to be."
"Now that's what I want to hear, that is the thoughts of a survivor. If we keep thinking like that we will pull through this,” Clare said reassuringly, embracing both Natty and Sandy. “My greatest wish is to see you all grow up to become the success I know you can be."
"Oh Clare! For the short time I've known you I have grown to trust and love you for the caring person you are. If we make it through this and we can't find our uncle I would be honoured to have you for our mother." Clare closed her eyes and prayed.
"Who the hell are you looking at?," Dan roared at George, stopping his pacing to and fro. George kept silent. “Speak when you're spoken to!,” Ray yelled. A loud slap resounded across the room. The momentum of the slap was so hard that both George and his chair fell backwards with a crash. Dan bent down and righted George and the chair he was still tied to.
“If you must know what I was thinking, then you shall know. You are like the trapped rat that would eat its own mother and siblings to save its own hide.”
"Very good, Mr. Philosopher! Very good!" Dan feigned surprise at his wit.
"Son! What do you say I should reward this would-be hero/philosopher with, for his philosophical enlightenment. Come on son, this is your chance to prove to me your self worth and that your a man. Tell me what this man's reward should be?,” Dan cajoled.
Ray remained silent, his terror stricken eyes riveted on Dan as he approached him in deliberation. Dan seized the hair at the back of Ray's head and yanked his head back so that Ray's bulging eyes stared straight up at Dan's enraged red face. He asked him once more, in a low, sinister growl, not unlike a cornered wild animal giving warning.
"What should this man's reward be?" Alright then if that's the way it's going to be, you piece of useless, quivering slime, this is the way it's done.”
Something cracked, followed by a sudden bright light. A sharp pain developed over Ray's right eye, then he found himself on the floor. His right eye had swollen shut and blood ran down the front of his shirt. Dan kicked him in the right flank and ordered him in a sickening growl to get back on the helm if he wanted to keep the fingers of his right hand.
Dan held the gun over his right hand. Painfully Ray gritted his teeth
and managed to pull himself upright by grabbing unto the edge of the railing along the side of the helm. Looking down he saw the glass over the compass was cracked and smudged with blood. Dan walked over to George and with his foot pushed the chair he was tied to over on its side.
"Count your self lucky, pimp, that I lost the mood," Dan said turning away.
Dan stood by the railing on the deck looking absently at the opposite shore sliding past him. “I must leave tonight. This is the end of the road for me on this river. I must secure a vehicle and travel west to the nearest airport as soon as we enter the State of Missouri, which will be some time tonight.”
“It takes time for them to issue warrants from one state to the other, with some luck they may not have one on me yet in Missouri. As long as they think I'm on the river they will concentrate on the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas.”
“My most urgent problem is what do I do with this boat and it's
occupants? All those containers of gasoline below deck! That's it,
Danny boy, there is going to be an explosion. Tragic ending for
vacationing family that perished in river boat explosion,” Dan
mimicked a news report and grinned.
Ray pulled out the rusty spike from his pocket and held it tightly in his right hand. It wasn't just a desire to lash out anymore, it was self preservation. He knew that some action would have to be taken
soon or they may not make it to another day. He also sensed that
it was just a matter of time when he would kill some one and once
he started he may not stop at one.
"Pimp! Would the cops be looking for your boat for any reason? Because this boat is about to have a tragic accident." Ray's fears were confirmed.
Dan stooped down and put his finger over the bullet hole. "Do you remember how that feels?,” he asked grinning. If you do, then answer my question. I'll repeat, is any one looking for your boat?"
"No," George replied with misgiving.
Dan removed his finger from the wound and kicked him in the side. Don't worry, pimp, you won't be feeling pain much longer.
Ray, watching Dan's every move, saw his chance. It was now or never. Dan stood facing George absently holding the gun to his side. Ray launched himself off the helm platform straight at Dan's back. Like slow motion, Dan had begun to turn in his direction but was too late; both Dan and Ray crashed to the floor, knocking the gun out of Dan's hand. It slid across the room out of reach. Ray pressed the spike to the back of Dan's neck just below the skull.
"If you try anything I'll drive this spike home to the back of your brain!" Ray screamed, filled with red hot hatred.
"Don't do it son, Don't be like him, full of hatred and perversion. He's not worth it, he's the one that is the slime not you," George pleaded with Ray.
"You don't have the guts to do it, you're too yellow to do it!,”
Dan goaded. “Have you ever killed anything, Ray? It's a messy job, blood and guts all over the place, sometimes even brains oozing out of a smashed skull"
Ray faltered and almost retched, then reinforced his effort by pressing harder with the spike. A small stream of blood trickled out. With rage he screamed back, "I know what your ploy is, but it won't work. Know why, my dearest father? Because, unfortunately for me, the same blood that flows through your veins flows in my veins, too. Not by choice. If I had a choice I would spill this vile blood on the ground and burn it. There isn't anything more I wish than if you would give me a reason to spill yours."
"Go ahead son, you might actually enjoy it. Have you ever held anything living in your hands and felt the power?,” Dan went on. “The power to be God-like, to have a life at the mercy of your hands. Life and death is yours to decide."
Ray faltered again and Dan's hand shot up to seize Ray's hand that held the spike. Ray pushed down on the spike and blood ran out freely from the wound. Dan's arm dropped.
"Don't underestimate me. You're right, I may not have not have what it takes to kill anything that lives, animal or human, but you are lower than that. Maggots and parasites I can kill," Ray informed him. “Sandy, come out here, we have a very large, annoying insect here that needs tending to."
Sandy opened the door a crack not knowing what to expect, then she saw Ray sitting on top of Dan holding something to the back of his head. Sandy stepped out of the room hesitantly.
"Do you really have him? He wont hurt anyone?," she asked with uncertainly.
"Don't worry about him, get the gun over there by the refrigerator."
Sandy made her way timidly to the refrigerator and picked up the gun. Turning, she pointed it at Dan and fired. The recoil made her drop
the gun. The bullet had made a furrow in the floor right up to Dan's nose. Picking up the gun again she walked up to Dan and pointed the gun in his face.
"I hate snakes and If you as much as twitch this gun will go off again and this time I won't miss." Sandy warned him.
Ray released the spike and went to George, then turned back to Dan.
“My sister is very nervous and she's filed with fear and hate, the
same hatred you yourself have put inside her. One word of advice: Sandy is a good shot. She proved that at the carnival. As nervous as she is though, if you as much as sneeze, she may take it as a threatening move and kill you. On the other hand she may miss what she's aiming at and you may end up losing some part of your anatomy that you may not care to part with."
Ray stooped down to untie George.
"Forget me! where's the other gun?," George asked just when there was another shot fired. Ray turned to see smoke drifting lazily up from Sandy's gun. Dan lay still with his right arm outstretched. A gun fell out of his right hand.
"Where did you shoot him?," Ray asked.
Sandy shook her head and responded in a tremulous voice, "I don't know, I saw a movement, I didn't have time to point, I just fired." She dropped the gun and began shaking, she wanted to cry but the tears wouldn't come.
Ray walked over to her and held her in his arms to comfort her.
"Please don't be upset Sandy, It's over now, you made the right decision."
Once she had regained composure he asked her calmly, "Would you untie him, I'll get the other gun and check him out.” Ray pointed to Dan who still lay prone on the floor, a stream of blood coming from somewhere under his right side.It was not a mortal wound but it was too close to the heart for Ray to attempt removing the bullet. He cleaned the wound as best he could and bound him up with gauze. He was surprised that the boat hadn't run aground after this length of time unattended. It turned out that it had just kept going around and around in
circles. A helicopter flew over them, went to the opposite shore then turned and flew back over them in the opposite direction.
"I think that it's the police,” Ray told Sandy. “Would you go out and show them the welcome mat? We have some garbage here to give them."
Sandy smiled for the first time in three days and left with a bounce in her step.
After the police had left with their goods the river boat fell silent. Sandy turned from watching the police helicopter disappear over the tree line, and with a big silly grin she said, "Turn on some tunes brother, every one looks like they just got back from a funeral!"
Ray turned to Clare who sat at the kitchen table playing with Natty. “What's got into her?,” he asked.
"Oh, just some thing that us girls have knocked around, while
we were locked up in the bedroom, you'll find out soon enough,"
The police sent an ambulance to take George and Clare for observation at a near by hospital. Clare came back to the river boat after three days. She was diagnosed as having a bruised diaphragm. With rest she was told she would recover fairly quickly. For the time being she would have to refrain from doing anything that was strenuous or required lifting. George was sent back after a week of recovery from four broken ribs and multiple contusions.
A representative from the sheriff's office showed up at the door with a court summons. George accepted the court summons for them to appear in court the next day for Dan's indictment in Columbus, Kentucky.
For the first time in many years the shackles of fear melted away and there could be heard once more the sound of true happy voices on board the river boat. It was time to tell Ray about her and Clare's plans, Sandy decided excitedly. When all in question were seated at the kitchen table she cleared her throat and spoke.
"This is the way it goes,” Sandy said to Ray. “I've accepted Clare's offer to be our custodian. She's wonderful with Natty and Natty loves her like she was her mother. That man over there, do you know who he is? He was our distant guardian for the last two years. Remember the snoopy fisherman?" Ray looked at George and smiled,
"So you're the one that called the cops when things got too hot and you're also the one that would pretend not to be watching us when you
would troll your way up river ever so slowly past the river boat. So it's come to this, huh, a plot to over throw my authority. I surrender!" Ray got down on one knee from his chair and spread his arms out. “A man has no voice in a woman's world."
“Right after Dan's indictment hearing we were thinking of going to the judge for a custody hearing. George has offered to sit in on it with us,” Sandy informed Ray.
"Sounds like all the bases are covered and you didn't even
need me. What other conspiracy went on behind that bedroom door?,"
Ray asked Natty. Natty sang, “Ya! Ya! Ya!”, stamping up and down on the table, then jumped into Clare's arms.
George stood next to Clare with his right hand on her shoulder.
"After the hearing if every thing goes well, as I promised you, we're still taking that trip to Canada to look up your uncle. Besides, we all need a holiday and I'd like to see if it's true that the Great Lakes are as big as what they say."
"What about school?," Ray asked.
"Oh that! That's a minor detail for a former high school literature teacher from Woodville high in Woodville, Mississippi, said George.
"You were once a high school teacher, why did you quit?," Ray
"I couldn't handle the stress and I had to resign. Then I decided to start my own business in sales and service by phone which turned out to be even more stressful then the teaching job. Retiring from that job as well I decided to open a small service station and auto body shop. I thought it would be more of a hobby then work. Well I made good money at all these enterprises but the stress was all the same. To put it simply let's say I'm going to come out of retirement as a private tutor."
"OK teach! give me five and welcome aboard," Ray stuck out
his hand for George to slap.
"How much longer are they going to be in there?," Ray asked Sandy.
"As long as it takes," Sandy responded sedately, whilst sitting on crossed fingers. Music from a radio drifted in from somewhere down the hall. Natty stamped her feet on the bench and swayed, singing “Ya! Ya! Ya!” Sandy wished she felt like Natty did.