Acts of Nature

Acts of Nature by Jonathon King Read Free Book Online

Book: Acts of Nature by Jonathon King Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jonathon King
was looking at a three-strike rule and after he was released he’d come home to the Ten Thousand Islands thinking he might try to live straight for a while, stay the hell out of trouble. But none of his old running buddies had stuck around to ride with. The place was still a shithole if you wanted to do anything but scrape boat bottoms or hire on with a commercial fishing crew or work in the stone crab warehouse. You could try to make some extra cash by catching gators and selling the skins that, yeah, was illegal but really hadn’t been considered that by anyone who grew up here because their daddies and their daddies’ daddies had always done it. You could pilot an airboat around the Glades and the islands, taking tourists from New York or the Midwest out on the water trails and point out the hyacinths and gator holes and give tutorials on the flora and fauna. But someone was always askin’ some stupid-assed question and you couldn’t just yell at ’em to shut up, or if you did, you got fired by the tour operator.
    Buck had called Bobby the Fence about the electronics and such that they’d got the other night over in the suburbs but Bobby was working a deal with a guy he said had hijacked an entire eighteen-wheeler full of big-screen televisions and would have to get back with him. Or maybe that was just bullshit to set him up for the lowball price that Buck was already expecting. Things were tight, but this wasn’t a place where ingenuity let a man down. Buck was only a kid when things were tighter and they were doing a lot of surviving in the Ten Thousands on what seasonal stone crabs you could catch and living on the fish you pulled for your own consumption. But then the state of Florida put a couple of brains together in Tallahassee and came up with a cap on the amount of fish each commercial rig could catch. They called it conservation but the locals here in the southwest corner of the peninsula called it money out of their pockets. It was during these slow 1980s that the best cash crop coming off the Gulf of Mexico was in the form of bales. Marijuana suppliers bringing product up from South America were constantly trying to find a new pipeline to avoid federal authorities. Buck’s father, one of the best guides in the Everglades, had already come across a few lonely bales out near some access roads where the small plane pilots either got scared and dumped their loads or simply missed the dirt strip by a few hundred yards with the last one out the door. He had also come upon some water-soaked packages out on the fishing grounds and the scuttlebutt would be that boaters trying to bring in loads to land had dumped them while being chased by the Coast Guard. Buck’s father was never one to waste, no sir. Knowing people, he got the word out and was able to conceal his finds until someone contacted him. He didn’t get full price, but the cash was American and he didn’t want to smoke the shit anyway.
    Soon after, what had once been occasional found money became a business. The suppliers were looking for boat-handling middlemen to unload the pot off the big smuggling ships offshore and then use their native knowledge of the hundreds of small inlets and rivers through the thick and unmapped mangroves to get the product to land-based drivers. Buck’s father was one of the best and was recruited. His mistake, as he told Buck later, had been bringing on the chuckleheads when the demand became high and when the word, as it always does in a small community, started getting passed around on the docks and down at the Rod & Gun Club. Where Buck’s father was careful, hoarding his newfound money, planning a retirement, the chuckleheads were spending. They’d taken trips up to Tampa and over to Miami to buy four-by-four pickups, projection TVs, jewelry for their wives and girlfriends, and new outboards for their boats. They paid cash, but sometimes the businesses that sold the goods still kept records. One hot, muggy

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