He finished with his glasses and put them back on.
"I'm trying to
think what else I can tell you about being a defrocked drug agent in a
state penitentiary. I caught up on my knitting?"
"I'm going to order a drink," I said, and I did. I thought
about the bottle of Advil in my desk drawer at work. My hand ached,
worse than it had in weeks.
"One hell of a current in there at the change of tide," Fontana
was saying. "Especially an autumn tide. Mix it up with a new moon, you
got a doozy. That's why that tug's straining like it is."
I looked, and he was right.
"The way to do it is wait till the freighter's right between the
jetties, the narrowest point. You do it with some dynamite in the bow,
say fifteen pounds. Nothing fancy. Dynamite and sandbags, a directed
charge. You blow a hole in the port bow; it swings the whole ship
around. Kid stuff."
"You need a hobby."
He laughed. "What I hear is you like to drink a fifth of Maker's
Mark a day and hang out in titty bars. Is that a hobby?"
I shrugged. "It's a free country."
"Yeah? You should turn on CNN sometime. You got survivalist
militias, you got whacked-out religious cults, you got kids with purple
hair running around calling themselves antiglobalists. They don't
think it's a free country. The whole thing makes me glad I'm out of
law enforcement. Maybe you should get out too."
He couldn't leave the binoculars alone. He had picked them up
again, taking off his glasses to squint through them. He said, "You
could get some serious action in this town, come to think of it. Your
old buddies at the Bureau are scared shitless these Cubans are going to
get serious someday, actually do something instead of screaming at each
other on AM radio and shaking their fists at Castro."
"I wouldn't know."
"I thought you out-to-pasture FBI guys all stayed in touch, had
I let it slide. It was a nice afternoon, cool for October and a
little windy. Fishing boats were scattered all over the channel, a
regular traffic jam. I felt sorry for the harbor pilot. Not too sorry,
of course; those guys have a hell of a union. I could see the stern of
the freighter now. In a few minutes the ship would be heading out to
sea. The waitress brought my drink.
"I been playing with this thing," Fontana said. He had slipped on
a pair of calfskin gloves. I looked down, and there was a little black
gizmo on the table. "Try it out. You'll get addicted. A friend of
mine, his sister's kid turned me on to it."
There was a screen, like on a pager. The thing was the size of a
cigarette pack, with a dull metal casing, and when I picked it up, it
was heavier than I had thought it would be. I wasn't big on games.
"You push the button on the side to start it up," he said.
I did. Nothing happened. Then the screen lit up and displayed little
green letters. The little green letters said, Bang!
Right then I knew what was going to happen next but I didn't even
have time to breathe.
The explosion ripped through the patio like a gust of wind. Someone
in one of the fishing boats was yelling, "¡Coño! ¡Coño! ¡Coño!"
Everyone was screaming. On the wooden deck, on my stomach, I looked out
from between two balusters and saw the freighter in flames. It had swung
sideways in the channel, nose down and sinking fast. A guy on the
tugboat was going nuts, trying to get the lines loose. He gave up and
dove overboard, and the tug capsized.
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