Josh GoldfadenUSAWriting2008
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Nautical Intervention (short story excerpt)

Cap gives the signal to cut the boat’s engine so Little John cuts the engine.

Bertok, who gets an itch in the middle of his back whenever he’s nervous and who’s entirely too muscle-bound to get near the itch, tries to scratch it with the tip of his machete.

Cap gives me the help Bertok out, he’s liable to butcher himself with that machete look, so I scratch the itch. Bertok moans lightly, remembers the command for silence was given ten minutes ago, and tries to blend the moan into something aquatic, a porpoise call is my guess. Cap gives him an approving nod.

Little John steers us toward the yacht and Daeng pulls his balaclava tight and passionately strokes the shaft of his AK-47. His glass eye shimmers in the Mediterranean night sky: he enjoys this way too much.

The yacht we are approaching, The Good Life, is dark; they’re asleep, whoever they are. It’s what people mean by clockwork, I suppose, the way we all know our parts. Bertok hooks the steel ladder to their starboard bow and Daeng slings back his automatic and goes first, his little frame scampering like a woolly bug.

Once aboard, he does a series of Hollywood somersaults and back-flips, producing a pair of Colt 45’s which he points in all directions. My weapon of choice is a solid birch rolling pin, an agile yet not too deadly companion who’s gotten me out of some pretty hairy situations in addition to rolling out delicate, buttery pie crusts. Daeng does his little whistle which means all clear and Cap, myself and Bertok climb aboard. Little John waits with the boat because he’s too goodhearted and utterly not fearsome. Also, his the patrol-boat-is-coming hoot is a perfect mimic of a sperm whale song. It’s uncanny.

Below deck, we split into two groups and I’m stuck with Daeng, who keeps asking time? and then answering it himself with ninety seconds! and then a hundred twenty seconds! At the bedroom door, he gives me an elaborate sequence of hand signals which could mean anything but I think say I’ll riddle them with bullets and you thrash the corpses to further death with your rolling pin. I give him my junior high school coach’s sign for steal second base, for slide, and for the suicide squeeze.

He shakes his head at my lack of professional brutality, kicks down the door and does another of those somersaults into the room. I step over the discarded door, annoyed that it was probably unlocked anyway, but as Cap is always reminding us, it’s chiefly Daeng’s showmanship which makes him a successful pirate.

I flip a light switch and Daeng shouts, “Who wants to fucking die?”

The middle-aged couple in bed look a lot like I’d look if I was woken up by a hairy Indonesian maniac in a black mask pointing an AK-47 at me and asking if I wanted to die.

“Nobody’s going to die,” I say, indicating my rolling pin.
“No way,” he says. “Last time nobody died and it was bullshit!”
“Nobody dies.”
He raises a bushy eyebrow and gestures to the woman.
“No,” I say. “Absolutely not.”

We march them onto the main deck where Bertok is duct-taping the hands and feet of two men and two women. Bertok is a virtuoso with duct tape and a machete and it’s a shame they’re too afraid to enjoy his handiwork. When all six are bound, Cap steps forward.