"Another Haul, Part I"
"Another Haul, Part II"
"Another Haul, Part III"
“Can I help you?” The man behind at the package counter looked slightly amused with the size of the box Cal was lugging through the door.
“Actually, yes. I need to forward these books to my address in Belize.”
“It’s gonna be a big shipping charge with it weighing so much.”
“That’s fine. I’ve been saving for this trip for years.”
“Going on vacation?”
“Actually, moving to my summer home.”
“Perfect time to leave, I’d say. We’re looking at a long, hot summer.”
The fact was, all Cal’s payments had been in hundred dollar bills, and with just over a staggering seven million in cash, the number of bills in his possession far exceeded those he could smuggle south in a fake leg cast. He could carry a million or so, along with Dale’s as well, but the other six million would be waiting when he arrived – carefully concealed inside a box of hollowed-out travel guides, histories of Central America, and Spanish phrase books. The box, weighing in at 70 lbs, cost over $200 to send. Feigning astonishment, Cal paid in cash and departed. Hopefully a good cover of a routine doctor’s visit (which he was currently missing) had dissuaded anybody from following him. He was confident that Jim kept him under close surveillance.
When they had discussed how they would get their profits south, Cal had played dumb. Dale didn’t need to know about the extra cash (since it implied he was grievously underpaid). It was exceedingly dangerous to trust it all to an overseas shipping company, but better that that lose it in customs, misplaced luggage, or run the great risk of drawing attention to himself as he negotiated a wire transfer. It needed to stay in cash, and with nobody but him knowing about it. He trusted Dale implicitly, but to broadcast the fact he’d been taking in nearly three times the profit when they both faced the same risks was unnecessary. What Dale didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
They would depart early the following morning, head out for another shipment, but diverting south then east instead for a long sail around to Miami. When there, they would dock, pay Carlos and Mike, and disappear. It would be assumed they’d been arrested. Cal and Dale had agreed to tell them they were doing a special shipment which would entail them stay the night in Miami. They would also be paid extra for it. They were enthusiastic despite the long, 200 mile trip through the Keys. Miami had plenty of bars, which was to their liking.
They would be flying into Guatemala, grabbing their luggage, and immediately boarding a bus into Belize. The less anybody knew of their final destination, the better. Using public computers, Cal had researched a beach resort in Belize, reserved two adjacent condos, and advised the staff to hold his mail for his arrival. Assuming him to be a typical, big-spending American, they eagerly agreed.
When Jim called that evening, Cal asked him the standard question: “Are we on for this weekend?” Indeed, they were. Everything, at least to all but the most scrutinizing observer, was completely normal. Do a shipment, deliver it, get paid. Same as it had been for three years.
In the morning, he kissed his wife and walked out. He was startled with how easy it was. Lifeless marriage or not, they’d been together for fifteen years, and he had anticipated it would be harder. But it was not. Whistling, he picked up
“You all set? You got everything? We’re not coming back for anything, you know.” Cal wanted this to go off flawlessly. He was nervous enough as is.
“I got it all. Just a few sets of clothes and a lot of cash. Whatever else I need, I’ll buy. You?”
“Same thing. My leg’s gonna fall asleep wrapped right in money and an air cast, but whatever. It’s a labor of love, I guess.”
“Well then, let’s do this.”
As the sun rose in the brackish water of Royal Harbor, they departed for the last time. Luxury awaited.
At nearly midnight, they docked and Cal handed $20,000 each to Carlos and Mike. “DO NOT be drunk tomorrow, got it?” He attempted to look stern. “If we mess this one up, they’ll come for ALL of us.”
Nodding their heads severely, the brothers hailed a cab and departed for seedy bars where they would undoubtedly lose their money to absurd generosity and celebratory rounds for everybody.
“They’re gonna wish they’d saved some more of their money here.”
“Yes. Not our problem though.”
Cal and Dale, sporting but one carry-on bag each, took a cab to the airport and were in flight to Guatemala by dawn the following morning. With Cal limping dramatically in his fake cast, the two negotiated customs, picked up their bags, and began searching for bus lines. To their great pleasure, a number of the airport employees spoke English. As they paid for the tickets, Cal thought, “this is too easy.” Within two days, after a bumpy ride across the border into Belize, they would be residents in paradise, lavishly rich, and probably bored.
The resort they had chosen was a coastal one. Residents could elect to stay short-term or long term, in a spectrum of accommodations that ranged from simple hotel-style rooms to luxurious, multi-room suites overlooking the water. Even the luxurious ones were affordable. $3,000 a month secured not only all housing, but also meals – which they could take either in their rooms, or in the elaborate dining room in the resort’s central area. Cal, having spent his first night drunk in celebration, then spent the next two alone trying to recover from hangover-complicated jet lag. He missed his wife, even though she probably didn’t miss him. Dale remained scarce, spending most days exploring either the resort, or the surrounding coastline and town. He updated Cal in the evenings.
“There’s TONS to do here, between constant hot chicks on the beach, bars everywhere, scuba diving, sailing… you name it. Actually, I’m going to see what I have to do to get a sailboat here. This place even has its own marina.”
Cal’s books and cash arrived on the fourth day, much to his relief. When the lobby called, he dressed and wandered out to pick them up. Dale was gone, having departed early that morning for more exploration. Clearly he liked Belize.
Lugging the box back to the room and struggling through the door, he set them down on the bed. Dale was sitting in the corner, pointing a silenced pistol at him.
“Open the box. I already know what’s in it.”
“What the hell… What are you doing, Dale!? ”
“I’m getting paid, finally.”
“I’ve BEEN paying you!”
“A mere pittance of what you’ve been getting.”
Cal, shaking now, started bargaining. He missed his wife again. “Look, we’ve made it out, we’re safe, and we’re off the radar. I’ll split it with you, alright? 50:50.”
“No. It still leaves one problem.”
“How! We’re OUT! Don’t you get it?”
“The problem is you. You still know too much.”
“So do you, Dale!”
“Yeah, but I still work for them. You jumped ship.”
“You WORK for them?”
“You think you’re the only one that talks to Jim? Oh no. I’ve been keeping tabs since our first shipment. My job has been to make sure you don’t become a liability. Now you have.”
“And what the hell are you? An asset?”
“Still employed, and my paycheck is in your box.” Raising the pistol, he fired twice. Stepping over Cal’s body, he scooped up the box, tossed the gun on the bed, and left.
Copyright © 2009, Ben Shaw All Rights Reserved