Regina proclaimed, “Sixty is the new forty!”
“No, it’s not, right Joanne?” Amy said, “And we’re sixty-five, anyhow?”
“You bet we are,” I said. “Hell, Regina’s almost sixty-six.”
Regina ignored our laughter and rapped the boat’s hull. “Age, shmage! Here’s to a sunny, swimmy weekend with oldest, bestest friends.”
We clinked our crystal glasses and enjoyed the first vodka tonic of the weekend. I placed my signature black sunglasses on the table so my entire face could soak up the delicious rays. After a relaxed hour of chatting and laughing, Regina sent Amy and me below to stow our gear.
We were putting fresh sheets on the bunks when rapid steps rattled the pier.
A husky voice shouted, “Lady, get us out of here.”
The sailboat rocked.
“Get off my boat!”
We heard a stumble. Regina whimpered.
“Throw off the lines, lady. Hurry!”
I lunged towards the hatch, but Amy grabbed my arm and shook her head.
The sailboat’s small engine started. We watched through the starboard portholes as it propelled us out of the marina and towards the Chesapeake Bay.
Where had I heard that voice before?
We tiptoed forward, careful not to alert the hijacker of our presence. If he thought Regina was alone, we needed to keep it that way.
The Cut of Her Jib, an elegant wooden 32-footer, had the same layout as when we’d played hide-and-seek as children.
“You’ll still fit in this cabinet,” I said.
Amy said, “You can’t. You’re way too—"
The man roared over the engine. “Whose sunglasses are these?”
Regina’s had been perched on her nose. Amy’s hung around her neck.
Shit. They were mine.
To keep the man on deck and give Amy time to hide, I advanced towards the bow and shoved the hatch open. Just like in movie closeups, the barrel of a gun stared me in the face. The man dragged me up the last couple stairs.
“Bryan? What are you doing here?”
His lips thinned. “I’m here because of you, Joanne.”
Regina sat in the captain’s chair, secured by a sloppy knot. “You know him?”
“It’s Bryan, from the diner. We sit next to each other at the breakfast counter most weekdays.”
Bryan squinted at the water behind us. “You’re always yapping on your phone. I hear every word. Over and over, you’ve talked about the amazing treasure your dear friend Regina keeps in the tiny freezer in her fancy sailboat.”
“It’s not what you think—”
“It better be. The guys hunting me mean business.”
He untied Regina. “Now fluff the sails or get three sheets to the wind or whatever it takes.”
And we did. We had the sails full and the Jib slicing through the Bay in record time. Regina and I whispered while we tugged and luffed. When Bryan noticed, he trained the gun in our direction and told us to shut up.
“Hey, you.” He pushed Regina. “Drive the boat south.”
I said, “HEAD TOWARDS VIRGINIA BEACH?”
I pointed at the flapping sails, and then at my ears.
“Geez,” Bryan said. “SOUTH TOWARDS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. EVER HEARD OF IT?”
Regina sailed south. I prayed that Amy had cell service and was repeating Bryan’s shouted directions to the good folks at 911.
Bryan barked, “Get the goods, Joanne. I’ve gotta make sure your treasure’s enough to pay those guys I owe. Before they start shooting.”
Regina squeezed the wheel. I doubled over and wailed.
I gagged and heaved. “Bathroom.”
Bryan jumped back. “Make it quick.”
Once below, I rifled the cash out of my purse, then Regina’s, and shoved it into a gallon-sized Ziploc.
Amy peeked out of the cabinet, phone pressed to her ear.
“Service sucks,” she said.
“Give me all your cash. Dump in that bag of costume jewelry you always carry. I’ve got to get this in the freezer.”
I moved the foil package from the freezer’s top shelf and replaced it with the bag.
A boot appeared on the top stair. “Hurry the hell up!”
I responded with my best pretend retching and gagging, and added a weak, “Sorry.”
The foot recoiled and the hatch slammed shut, buying us time to locate an item Regina had mentioned.
After flushing repeatedly in case Bryan could hear, I pulled out the lightly chilled Ziploc, pushed the hatch open, and scurried up top. I couldn’t risk him snatching the bag and locking me below, leaving Regina on her own.
We held our breath as he examined the bag: cubic zirconium rings, sparkly bracelets, necklaces embedded with faux pearls and faux-er gems, and a stack of twenties—at least the bills on the outside were twenties.
Bryan aimed the gun at me again. “I don’t need you anymore, Joanne.”
A slash of silver glinted behind him and I hollered, “Motorboat!”
He elbowed me against the bulkhead and screamed at Regina, “Step on it!”
His ignorance of sailboats knew no depths.
“You have to let Joanne adjust the sails,” Regina said. She stared at a nearby rope.
I took the hint and unwound the rope from the cleat. The wind surged, swelling the sail in the other direction, swinging the boom across the deck like an axe.
The boom caught Bryan with a meaty thwack and pitched him into the Bay, bag of baubles still clutched to his chest.
We shouted, “Amy!”
She emerged from the hatch with the flare gun, full Rambo, and pulled the trigger. We banked on it alerting every local Coast Guard vessel to apprehend Bryan and his pursuers.
An hour later, Regina anchored in a cove. We sat on deck, quiet in the comfortable way of lifelong friends. As the sun sank lower and gleamed brighter, I brought up the package, the unwitting instigator of this life-threatening ordeal. I peeled back the foil, revealing a batch of brownies infused with chopped, dried leaves of the ingredient we called ‘amazing treasure’ in our youth.
Our giggles filled the night, even before the first bite.
About the author
Marcy Dilworth is a recovering finance professional finally pursuing her love of writing. Her fiction appears in Typehouse Literary Magazine, Sledgehammer Magazine, Janus Literary, Blink Ink, and elsewhere. She lives in Virginia with her husband where they serve their precocious rescue pup, Kirby. On Twitter, @MarcyDilworth.
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