This is Part II of a short story I'm writing. Part I can be found below.
Warning: This post contains references to sex and drugs. Alas, there is no rock and roll.
The next day, Jerry and Diane developed a plan. They would buy a used car for cash, steal some plates and drive very carefully so as not to get pulled over or noticed. They’d go to Florida, buy some sort of boat and head to South America. They’d find a plastic surgeon that would change their faces without asking a lot of questions, then go sailing, chasing the sun.
The plan was mostly Jerry’s idea. Diane realized right away that he was much smarter than she was and he had just as much to lose, so she trusted him and went along with his idea.
Those first few weeks were intoxicating. They drove at a grandfatherly pace through nondescript flatland towns, stopping every evening at cheap hotels and screwing like rabbits. There wasn’t a lot of affection in the sex, rarely any kissing and never any cuddling or hugging afterward. There was a lot of heat, though, and that suited Diane just fine. She’d always liked bad boys and bad boys tended to fuck rough. She understood Jerry was rough because he was grieving and angry and that suited Diane, too. She still missed Randy, bastard that he was. Randy was 28 and she was barely 17 when they started dating and she could do that math easily enough. God, had she been stupid about Randy. Just looking at Jerry’s profile while they drove along the interstate through yet another cornfield, she’d get so excited her thighs would tremble and she’d beg him to pull over, tugging at his belt while he found the next off ramp. They pulled behind truck stops, the far end of rest areas, once in the grimy bathroom of a Taco Bell in the middle of nowhere. She understood because she had her own anger she was working through.
They bought a weathered seventy-five foot boat from a cranky recently widowed woman in Key West. It had a mildewed living area that was covered with dog hair. The widow was already drinking gin and tonics at ten a.m. She’d counted the cash slowly while Jerry and Diane fidgeted, finally signing the title and handing it over. When she staggered a bit walking up the dock, they realized she was counting so slowly because she was completely shit faced, not because she was suspicious. Which was good, since they had no intention of re-registering the boat.
When they hit South America, they decided to split up for the plastic surgery. They figured they would be less conspicuous, even though Jerry doubted that once they flashed the money, the doctors would care anyway. Diane came out pretty, with sculpted cheekbones and an aquiline nose. On the spur of the moment, she had treated herself to D cups. Jerry came out even more handsome, with thicker hair and a smoother brow, an elegant Roman nose and a strong cleft chin. They looked nothing like they had. Both had gained weight as well, Diane from losing her meth habit and Jerry from eating regularly again. Not even the sharpest eye could look at their wanted posters and recognize them.
Diane convinced Jerry to hit Rio de Janeiro for Carnival before they left South America. She was always up for a party, they were already nearby and one of the rules Jerry had established was that she absolutely could not do any drugs on the boat. Diane pretended to go along with that and had no desire to ride the meth train again, but she bought a pound of the smooth South American weed. She figured it would last a long time and Jerry was partial to getting stoned so he probably wouldn’t be too pissed. The plastic surgeon had also been free with pills and she had Vicoden and Xanax, in what she thought of as the large family size economy bottles, hidden in the bottom of her dresser.
Carnival turned out to be a blast. They drank until they were dizzy and nearly falling down drunk, dancing in the streets, held upright by the mass of humanity. At one point, she felt herself being embraced from behind. The touch was so gentle and warm, it took her a moment to realize it was Jerry. She turned around and he kissed her, tongue and all, really kissed her for the first time.
They’d staggered back to their hotel, and had sex over and over again under the twirling ceiling fan and Diane felt something like love for him then.
Jerry had grown up on Puget Sound so he knew boats but it had been years since he’d captained one. It had taken a while for him to get back in the groove. Diane had no interest in learning, much to his annoyance.
They’d had nothing to do on the boat and had covered each other’s life stories several times.
Jerry’s father was the president of a bank and his mom was a popular pediatrician. Jerry had an older sister who had died when she was climbing Everest. Jerry was aggravated when Diane confessed she didn’t know where Everest was. She knew it was a mountain but thought it was in Canada or Washington State, someplace like that. He’d given her his patronizing smirk when he explained where Nepal and Tibet were and asked her if she’d ever heard of China at least. He’d apparently been Mr. Wonderful all through high school and college, one of those boys who never would have looked at her twice unless she was on her knees giving free blowjobs at the kegger. She’d hated guys like that and now she was stuck with one. He’d gotten involved with the ELF movement when he met Sheila in grad school. Sheila was already an activist and had turned him from a frat boy to a socially aware granola crunching radical. Diane had hated those types, as well.
Diane’s story was much simpler. Only child. Grew up on a dairy farm in Kenosha. Mother took off for parts unknown when she was in sixth grade. After her mom left, the farm started to fail. Her dad started spending longer hours with the cows and the bottle and ignored her. She started hanging out with the older kids who skipped school and got high behind the Tastee Freez. In high school, the nice boys never looked twice at Diane unless they thought they could get her high and fuck her. Sometimes she let them. She met Randy when she was beginning her senior year and by the time she was twenty-two, she was riding behind Randy on his bike regularly, hanging out at the Rapid Wheels club and sometimes didn’t see her dad for weeks at a time. By the time she was twenty-five, she was cooking meth in the shitty trailer in the middle of a field twenty miles from nowhere and on the fast track to becoming a full-blown tweaker. In a way, getting busted may have saved her life. It had definitely saved her teeth; she looked better now than any other tweaker she’d known. Since she’d had the plastic surgery, she even felt pretty for the first time.
Now, here they were on this boat in the middle of the ocean. She couldn’t even show off her pretty new face. Diane was getting restless. She wanted to walk on dry land. She wanted to do something other than staring at the water and the sky and Jerry. Most of all, she wanted a big bloody steak and a cold beer.
Ever since they had left Brazil, Jerry had been mum about their eventual destination. All he would tell Diane is that as long as they kept away from the States and kept their heads down, they’d be fine. She didn’t think they could just sail around indefinitely for the rest of their lives, though. She knew that they needed to refuel soon and stock supplies. She just couldn’t get Jerry to tell her when or where. Maybe he wasn’t sure, himself. She’d seen him studying the charts and maps, which may as well have been written in Sanskrit, that’s how much she could figure them out.
The doing nothing was getting to her. Part of the reason why she had liked meth so much was the way it fed her own crazy energy level. She’d never been the type who was content just sitting watching TV or reading a book. She had to be doing something. The federal detention center sucked, but the boat was becoming its own sort of prison.
"Jerry. I’m going to take a shower before dinner, okay?" Jerry monitored the fresh water carefully and always reminded her not to waste any.
"Sure, just don’t screw around in there, okay?"
Diane sighed and went to the tiny bathroom, stripping off her tee shirt and bikini as she went. She knew she’d been getting on Jerry’s nerves lately. He’d been getting on hers. There was only so much room on the boat. There really wasn’t anywhere they could get away from each other.
When she got out of the shower, she pulled on a Green Bay Packers tee shirt and shorts. That passed as formal dinner wear on the boat. Jerry, she noticed, had combed his hair and smelled nicely of suntan oil and warm skin. Dinner, unfortunately, was still the same old vegan crap she hated.
"You’ve got to ditch that shirt, you know, " he said. "You’re from Wisconsin; of course you’re going to be a Packers fan. It’s a clue."
"Oh yeah, I’m sure the sea gulls are own their cell phones to the FBI right now." They’d had this conversation at least six times.
"Well, you need to toss it before we get to Casablanca." He smiled mischievously. "You’re even going to have to put on some big girl clothes."
"Casa who? Like that place in that old movie? I thought that was just a made up place, like Oz or something."
"No, Diane. It’s a real place, on the northwest coast of Africa. We can stop there and spend a couple days, get the boat tuned up, get supplies, then go through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Mediterranean Sea.
"I know you’ve been bored. So have I. This will be a nice break from the boat. I just had to think about where would be a good place to hit land and calculate the fuel and the weather. We don’t want to go anywhere we’re likely to run into a lot of Americans, either. They probably watch America’s Most Wanted on their laptops on vacation."
Diane giggled. "I’m excited! Civilization! We can eat at restaurants, go shopping, and sleep in a real bed. My hair! I can get my hair done. I hate this blonde, every time I take a shower, I lose a handful, and it’s wrecked from the sun. I can’t wait to get a big juicy steak. And French-fries. And a beer!" She collapsed back against the lumpy seat, thinking of all she wanted to do.
"Wait. Do they speak English?"
"Some speak some English. A lot of people speak French, but most speak Arabic."
"Oh," she said. "Do you speak French? Or Arabic?"
"I speak French quite well, I can get by in Spanish and my German is iffy. We need to talk about Casablanca, though, Diane."
"Wow, you speak three other languages? Damn. You are smart."
"Well, Cal Tech isn’t a charm school. Okay, Casablanca is on the Northwest coast of Africa. It’s predominately a Muslim country. Which means that you need to tone it down. You need long slacks or a skirt and a plain shirt with long sleeves. Do you have anything like that? Wearing a hat wouldn’t be a bad idea either until you get your hair done. If you don’t have any clothes like that, I’ll go ashore and pick something up quick first. You need to be quiet when we’re in public and defer to me. Even though you obviously aren’t Muslim, it will just make things much easier and we won’t draw attention. We can do whatever you want and I have a few things I want to do as well. We’re about two days out, so you make a list of what you want to get accomplished while we’re on land, and I’ll make mine."
"I’m so excited, Jerry!" She reached over and gave him an impulsive hug. Jerry looked mildly surprised and fumbled a bit to return it.
"We can have a lot of fun on shore, Diane, and I’m looking forward to it too. But we still have to be very cautious. That’s the most important thing. We don’t want to stand out. We’re just a couple who has the bucks to sail around the world for a while. So it’ll be subdued fun, okay? And only two or three days. The longer we’re in public, the more risk we take."
"Deal. I’ll even throw the Packers shirt away." She ripped it off and ran up to the deck and tossed it over the side. "Whoo hooo! Bye bye Packers! I’ll always love ya!"
The two days seemed endless to Diane, but finally, land was within sight. She’d found a pair of jeans and borrowed a long sleeved white shirt of Jerry’s to wear ashore until she could buy a nicer outfit. It felt strange to wear so many clothes after so long of tee shirts and bathing suits. She put on make-up for the first time in months and was irritated when Jerry made her take it off.
"Low key, Diane. You’re very pretty without the makeup and we don’t need anyone staring at you."
"Okay, whatever. But the first thing I want to do is get my hair done. And buy a couple outfits. Can we do that?"
"Sure. While you’re getting your hair done, I want to find an electronics store. I want to buy a laptop."
"A computer? What for?" Diane had only the vaguest ideas about computers; they weren’t anything that had ever really interested her.
"Well, if I can get a laptop with some sort of satellite internet connection, we can monitor any news about our cases. So, I’m going to need some money. Maybe quite a bit." Jerry was always embarrassed to have to ask Diane for any money, although she never questioned him about what he was using it for or hesitated to give it to him.
"Well, a couple thousand, at least. I’m not really sure how much laptops are going for these days and how much a satellite connection will cost. I’ll have to pay for a year in advance, it’s not like they can send us a bill every month or we can put it on a Visa card."
"No problem. When do you think we’ll be able to dock the boat?"
Jerry smiled. When Diane got enthusiastic like this, she was like a kid at Christmas. "This afternoon. How does that sound?"