Page 2 of Hawkes Harbor

Dr. McDevitt took a deep breath. He was witnessing what he'd only been told of before—Jamie's hysteria at sunset.

"There's nothing to be afraid of in the dark," he soothed.

"The hell there ain't!" Jamie was rapidly losing control. He looked around wildly, as if for an escape. "Bad stuff happens when it's dark. God, what's gonna happen now? Now what? God," he cried, "it's too late. It's dark. It's already dark."

Dr. McDevitt pushed a button on his intercom, called for an orderly and an injection. As rapidly as Jamie's hysteria was escalating, a pill would take too long.

"What bad stuff, Jamie?"

"You know. I can't stop it!" He paced, his eyes wild and empty. "I can't do nothin' about it! I'm too tired." His voice trailed off into a sob. "I'm too tired ..."

"Jamie," said the doctor, "you're going to need an injection now. I'm going to try not to be late with your medication again."

"Don't hurt me." Jamie gripped the back of his chair. "Please."

Lee advanced with the hypodermic; Jamie offered no resistance.

The orderly left, and Jamie slumped back into his chair.

His eyes gradually dulled as the tranquilizers took effect. His breathing returned to normal.

Something nagged at the doctor's memory. Yes, here it was in the police record—Jamie's deportation from three countries. Suspected of smuggling. Could any of this story be true? He shuffled through the papers, found a worn and well-stamped passport.

"Hey," Jamie said. "That's m-m-mine."

"Of course it is, Jamie. We're just keeping it for you. You can have it back."

"Okay," he muttered. "But don't lose it. I never lost a passport. Kell said I was the only person he knew who never lost a passport.... You know, Kell had a U.S. passport, but he wasn't a citizen ... he was Irish. But he had a couple. Knew where to get good fakes."

"So, Jamie, sometime will you tell me about your shark attack and the Burmese pirates?"

"Yeah. Wish Kell was here, though. He could tell a story. We had drinks on the house every time...." Jamie's voice trailed off drowsily.

Dr. McDevitt called for an orderly, and Jamie left docilely for his room. The doctor made a note. He must always schedule Jamie's sessions in the mornings. It would probably be a while before he was weaned from the strong evening sedation.

Once the young man had gone, the doctor couldn't help glancing at the darkened window. Interesting story, yet how much of what he said was true? The doctor suddenly looked away, wondering what the dark could contain that could terrify a man who had faced Burmese pirates. Who laughed at sharks.

Andaman Sea March 1964

"Well, Jamie, if you don't hurry and get that engine started, we'll cook."

"I'm working as fast as I can. It's hard to breathe down here. Anyway, you want it done right, don'tchya?"

Jamie came up from the engine room. He was dripping sweat. He was wearing only a pair of cotton drawstring pants, but they were soaked and clinging to him and he seriously considered taking them off, too. It was easily 100 degrees, and a bright sun reflecting off the clear water, the white sand of the beach and cove, added to the heat.

He could use a swim anyway. First, a cigarette.

Jamie sat down at the table under the boat's awning and tapped a cigarette out of the package that lay there.

"Whoever thought this tub was a pleasure boat didn't know what pleasure was," he remarked.

It was a nice little one-cabin cruiser, or had been once. Fifteen years and a lot of rough use had changed it considerably.

"Well now, Jamie, we can be buyin' our own yachts, now, can't we? This tub got us out of Rangoon, and it'll get us to Sri Lanka. That's all that's needed."

Kellen Quinn sat idly in the seat behind the wheel. Other than constantly adding up how much money they'd have waiting for them in Bangkok, there wasn't much else he could do at this point.

Jamie picked up a water jug and took a small, careful swallow. Neither he nor Kell mentioned the fact they were starting to watch the water supply.

"You can fix it, can't you, lad?"

"Yeah. Don't worry." He rubbed at the gold stubble on his chin. It showed up glittering against his tan. His normally dark blond hair was striped gold with sun and salt; his hazel eyes looked almost yellow in his tanned face.

Jamie Sommers was twenty-one years old and he was very, very rich, if he could get to some place where he could spend his money.

"It's a good thing I got those spare plugs." Jamie had insisted on a few parts, once he got a look at the boat that was supposed to get them to Sri Lanka. Parts were harder to find on the black market than rubies, but rubies weren't going to run a boat.

Buy a yacht. Now there was a good idea. Jamie put the dangerous escape from Rangoon out of his mind, letting it wander to how to spend his money.

He'd been thinking along the lines of week-long drunks and very pretty ladies—adding a yacht to that mix was a good idea.

He picked up the worn leather bag that lay on the table. Very carefully—Kell had fits about the pearls getting scratched, but there sure hadn't been time to do any fancy packaging—he slid the contents onto the table.

Pearls. Jade. Rubies.

After two years, it was apparent General NeWin's socialist government wasn't working; most people thought sooner or later it would collapse. Meanwhile, the black market in Burma was a trader's market, medicine, cooking pots, even soap more valuable than pretty stones—

A score waiting to happen for a thinking man like Kellen Quinn, an acting man like Jamie Sommers.

"This one's mine, right?" Jamie held up an 8-carat, teardrop ruby. He liked the rubies the best. Pearls and jade were pale next to rubies. Kell had taught him how to judge jewels—the clarity and color to this one was breathtaking. This one was a keeper. He wasn't going to "translate" it into cash. It made him feel good just to look at it. Yeah, he was keeping this one.

"I told you after you downed that armed guard, whichever one you want."

Kell watched Jamie hold the stone up to the sun. In truth, Kell was the more amenable to this because, as valuable as it was, the ruby was not the rarest of the gems. Several of the very old jade pieces were worth twice as much. And the artifacts—the poor kid showed no interest at all in the artifacts, and they were worth more than the rest together.

Let the kid have his ruby, Kell thought, standing up. He too was shirtless, burned dark by the sun, almost the same dark mahogany as his hair. His Irish blue eyes were startling in his face. Tall, lean, handsome, at first glance Kellen Quinn appeared much closer to forty than fifty. Just a touch of rusty gray in his hair, stubble, a few wry lines around his eyes, belied his youthful appearance.

Kell walked to the back of the boat and leaned over to dip his neckerchief in the sea, wring it slightly, and tie back around his neck.

He glanced out to sea and paused.

"Company," he said.

Jamie slipped the ruby into his pocket but pushed the remaining stones back in the bag.

They were anchored in a large cove of a small island— unmapped, uninhabited, stunningly beautiful, like most of the scattered Andamans. The islands weren't on any shipping routes; and since the political upheaval in Burma they were no place for tourists or anyone else who lived by laws. But they were a very convenient place to rendezvous, to trade cargoes. To hide while you repaired a boat...

As Jamie got a closer look at the small ship bearing down on them, he knew it was no pleasure cruiser.

A gunboat. His heart picked up pace.

"If it's military we're dead," Kell said. "Don't do anything foolish, lad."

Jamie glanced at him. He had considered swimming to shore—it wasn't close, but Jamie was a very good swimmer. He had been checked by the thought that Kell'd never make it. Kell had lived most of his life on the sea and couldn't have swum a horse pond. Besides that, as good as Jamie was, he'd be mowed down before he was halfway there. He knew about machine guns from the navy.

They could see who manned the ship now—not military, but certainly not civilians. Burmese, bare to the waist, loaded with ammo belts, carrying submachine guns and automatic rifles; most wore pistols, too.

Jamie thought briefly of their own pitiful arsenal—Kell's Luger, his own .38—he'd lost the M60 in that scuffle on the docks. Well, that didn't matter now, not against these guys. Anyway, neither he nor Kell was much at gunplay—both would rather use something else: Kell, words; Jamie, fists.

"Pirates," Kell said, and Jamie slipped the ruby out of his pocket and popped it into his mouth.

"You know, I thought I smelled a setup. Cahill was acting a wee bit peculiar."

"If so, we have a hope," Kell said. Jamie loved that about him: Kell always had a hope. "If they know what they're looking for and we make it easy for them to find it, they may leave us alive. After all, a third of the gross national product of Burma these days comes from smuggling; they don't want to scare off trade."

Jamie tried to picture himself and Kell as valuable economic factors ... then this abstract musing was crowded out by images of the different ways of dying Jamie had heard discussed....

He and Kell stood in plain sight on the back deck as the ship swung alongside of the little cruiser and a few of the machine-gunned thugs boarded.

Kell muttered, "If they think we're hiding something, they'll gut us to search our stomachs, without bothering to kill us first. So no tricks, lad.... Welcome, gentlemen." Kell raised his voice in greeting, as if they were long-expected guests.

Tags: S. E. Hinton Fantasy