Here They Come
smiled at Daddy and watched myself change completely, hypnotized as my hair
dropped to the floor in clumps. Daddy read a magazine and peeked over it in the
mirror. My hairdresser, Kim, I think her name was, continued to gab about her
boyfriend, telling me embarrassing details about a scandalous friendship she’d
unearthed, by accident no less, behind her back and under her very nose, if you can imagine that.
couldn’t imagine it, and it held no interest for me. I felt she had finished
with me long ago but continued to primp and comb subconsciously making a snip
here, a snip there while she spoke and danced around me like a performer in the
much as it bored me to listen to her personal life it was a nice break. Mind-numbing
but relaxing, almost.
hour later the reflection of a waifish girl in bib overalls stared back at me.
It made me think of Allysa Milano
with a short spiky do. I liked it, I smiled in the mirror and took a quick
selfie with the new phone Daddy bought me, and posted it so my friends could
see. A thick perfume of hair product hung about the shop, even with the front
door open the breezy morning offered little relief. I took tiny breaths through
my mouth so I wouldn’t get sick and the occasional
gush of wind blowing through offered little comfort.
Digital red numbers on the wall-clock blinked
five ‘til noon and my butt was numb. A man across the street paced left, then right.
He had sunglasses on, like an FBI
agent even though the weather was a Seattle-gray outside. Kim’s voice faded as
my attention drifted to the man outside, still pacing. His hand to one ear,
lips moving, he looked at the front of the shop. I felt like his eyes studied
me even though I couldn’t see them through his
glanced at Daddy, my eyes pleading for his attention.
He looked up, smiled and shrugged.
he thought I was referring to the hairdresser. After all, Papa, (“Frank Sr.”),
taught me, we pay for all things with time
or money and still other transactions, like this one, ‘requires us to sit and
listen to someone’s stories, ad nauseum.’
Daddy glanced up again. And my eyes darted to the front of the shop
where the man across the street had his hand to his ear facing our direction.
His lips still moving, talking to an invisible man.
eyes widened, he stood and threw down his magazine.
Let’s go, he
motioned with his head and dug in his wallet, fishing out money. I popped out
of the chair, took off my apron, and brushed off as we moved. Glad to be out
of that chair. Kim, stood
still, frozen by the sudden movement.
go, Kim!” Daddy smiled and threw down a wad of cash, “You did a great job, I
love it! Keep the change.” he said and waved. We flew out the door. Someone
yelled after us, “Thank you! Don’t let
Kim’s love life chase you away—oh, wow! Thank you! Come again!”
the corner of my eye, I saw Mr. FBI wannabe staying parallel with us, moving
down the street as we headed towards our boat. He had short dark hair with gray highlights,
curly, middle-aged. Dark blue
windbreaker, tan khakis, and dark shoes.
His stride was broken like his body wasn’t made for moving fast and he began to
limp and fall behind.
crossed the road and stayed behind us, fading back a block, then keeping pace.
Daddy called Sam and put him on speaker.
He held the phone close as we walked, speaking loud so he could hear us over
the street noise. My legs pumped hard trying to keep up.
come here, bra, dey swarm da boat when I
go fo smokes, dey barely miss me!” Sam said
over the phone.
beer can, left by a homeless man, clattered down the pavement after us. And I
caught a glimpse of a hunched over body
in a doorway. I could smell the dank city air and small specks began to hit my
face as we moved.
Daddy paused a moment weighing his options, “change of plans, we’re headed to
the Shilshole marina— Shipwreck and Gunner have a boat there, remember? We’re
about six blocks away, let Henry know
where we’re headed. And tell him to hurry.”
thing, Cap'n.” He hung up.
Daddy?” my shaky voice betrayed me and things were moving sideways. And even
though I had complete confidence in Daddy and my uncles, my heart raced with chaos
and uncertainty. We walked, too
fast, his hand holding mine. He said:
remember him don’t you, hon? He’s got the big boat, use to be a Navy oil
barge.” He gave me time for this information to soak in, I nodded, “and he owes
ran a few steps. Walked two. Ran a few more.
tired of running, Daddy,” I whined and
saw hurt in his eyes, instantly mad at myself for saying it.
know—I know you are,” He said, slowing down, “I’m tired too.” He studied me,
the fine mist on his face made his sharp features shine. “Frank—your
grandfather, found us. We’ve got to have a better plan than just running away.
And we’ve got to get out of here, first, so I can think. We have to have better
heard the frustration in his voice, and
below that, sadness. Our options, if we had any, weighed heavy on him.
last six months had been like that. It all started when Daddy docked his boat
off Papa’s private dock in Orange County, California. He had brought back a
hull full of illegals for a sizeable amount of money. Papa didn’t need the
money, God knows, but he liked to keep Daddy busy and away from me. But it
almost got Daddy and my uncles killed.
uncles, I should explain, Sam and Henry, the Tongans, were childhood friends
with Daddy and practically grew up together on a boat making money however they
could around the waters of New Zealand.
ten years later, Daddy met Mama when he had been working at one of Papa’s
industrial ports, running guns south of the border. He had been Papa’s favorite
captain before he met her. The way Daddy explains it, she had been sunning
herself lying on a stretch of lawn in front of the office building when she
smiled at Daddy and that was all it took. The rest is history, as they say.
Daddy and Mama were head over heels, and Papa was beside himself. And when mama
died to give birth to me, Papa was
devastated and went from an uncomfortable tolerance of Daddy at the dinner
table to a full-on hatred at the sight of him. After nine years something
inside him snapped and he had his lawyers draft papers of legal guardianship of
me, claiming Daddy was incompetent and never around.
happened fast and I never knew any details. Papa always told me Daddy was busy
working for him and I had no reason not to believe him, after all, it was the
truth and for the first six months of living at the mansion in Orange County, I
was happy. After a year I was lonely. And after two I was heart broke and only
thought about being with Daddy and my uncles again, back on the boat. We only
spoke on the phone during that time, me and Daddy. The next couple of years I
saw him at Christmas for a tearful holiday and heart-wrenching
departure. After two more years, I understood, fully, what was going on and my
loneliness and heartache mingled with anger.
wasn’t until he came back from Mexico six months ago that I broke away and
decided it was now or never.
whim, I swam out to the boat when it was docked off Papa’s pier with nothing
but the shirt and shorts I was wearing. I pleaded tearfully with Daddy to take
me, take me anywhere, and against his better judgment, we left, together.
Daddy, my uncles, and me.
had been skulking up the coast for months, staying hidden in bays and inlets by
coastal Islands. San Clemente, San Miguel, then up to the Farallons and the Sound
near Seattle. We stayed hidden from the Coast Guard, who had
surely been alerted. Papa could manipulate
them with nothing more than a phone call, by claiming a stolen boat or tips he
came by on the smuggling
circuit, etc. He dealt with gray areas
and knew people on both sides of the law.
he donated to Coast Guard causes generously. One Christmas, at the mansion, we
had a party with a lot of people, probably hundreds, and he gave the sitting
Admiral and his small circle of commanders nautical watches made by Rolex. And
before the night was over a good portion of people at the party received a gift
from under our tree. A Club membership, expensive liquor, a box of Cubans, etc.
point is, Papa had enough sway to set the government on our trail. We ended up
here, in Ballard, North of
Seattle. Daddy had brought me for a haircut, even though I knew he didn’t want
it cut. He liked my hair long. But, I felt, I was finally working on the boat
like I dreamed and, as part of the crew, I didn’t want to bother with it
anymore. After all, at thirteen, it was time to grow up.
hurried with Mr. FBI close behind. Daddy mumbled under his breath, saying
something about Frank, calling off the
dogs, then he mumbled, ‘ecce autem venerunt’. He spoke in Latin sometimes, but I didn’t
know what it meant.
I was frustrated. And on the verge of tears. It broke my heart to see him worry
about me. I’d do anything for him. But I
wanted him to stay alive too. Right now
I couldn’t hate Papa more, I wanted him to leave us alone. Let me be with
glanced at me, saw my face and slowed his pace a bit.
and boats appeared through trees lining the street. A man in front of us, suit
sunglasses, rounded the corner standing between us and freedom. He faced us.
And stood expressionless half a block away, beneath a tree growing out of the
sidewalk. Nothing abnormal stood out, but his body language said everything.
And panic shot through me.
knew what was coming and without breaking stride,
I let go of Daddy’s hand. I let my steps fade, my legs wobbled, mind numb and
on autopilot. Daddy focused on the man like a wolf on prey.
expressionless man slid his hand inside
his windbreaker. “Mr. Delgado—,” he
began. Daddy reacted with a speed that was hard to match. He reached into his pocket
and faked throwing sand at his
face. The man ducked. And Daddy threw an
uppercut like Sugar Ray Leonard, smashing his glasses. His head snapped back,
sunglasses flying and Daddy kicked him hard in the stomach with his heel. He
flew and slammed against the side of a brick building, slumping, his hand to
his middle. He groaned. Daddy was on him in
a second, hands inside his windbreaker
and pulled his gun out. Then a man ran up behind us. Swinging, hitting Daddy in
the back of the head. He lost his feet, and the man jumped on him. And I
looked for something to throw, a rock, anything.
was struggling with Daddy on the ground, trying to lock his hands behind him
with a zip-tie. I wanted to hit him with my fist but I couldn’t get a good
angle and danced around them in a panic.
I screamed, “Let him go, you shit!” I
was going to jump on him and hit him when Sam launched into the frame like a
college linebacker. His entire body off the ground like a missile when he hit
the man. They hit the ground hard and rolled.
him!” I yelled, “Get—get his hands, Sam!”
Sam stood and used the man’s own zip-ties
found in his windbreaker to tie his hands behind him. Then he jumped on the one
Daddy hit. And zip-tied him, too.
groaned and blew dirt off his face by contorting his lips. While Sam, a dark
hulk with his knee squarely on the back of the FBI wannabe, stood, making the
man beneath him gasp for air when the
grabbed Daddy’s knife and cut his tie and helped him stand. He braced against
the building and felt his head wound.
are you?” Daddy asked, looking at the men on the ground. People started to
heart raced and breath hitched while I tried to make sense of it. Papa had his
men track us. He had to! God, I hated him. Did he want Daddy and my uncles
dead? Or just roughed up and detained for a while? And just as I asked myself
these questions, one of them spoke:
“We’re U.S. Marshals.”
Shock bolted through me. They really were the Feds! I digested this information and wondered what he was
say next. The day turned dark and I smelled the ozone in the air and the rain
came, soaking us all. It had no effect in dispersing the crowd, which angered
me. I looked at the Marshals and then at Daddy.
that’s all he said, at first. Was he buying time? Waiting for backup? I started
to breathe hard and Daddy came near and
put his arm around me.
do you want?” he finally asked the men.
expected to hear something about a stolen boat, or drug running. Something Papa
would use to get Daddy out of the picture for a good long time. My body was
shaking. My heart beat uncontrollably. They were after us now, for real. Papa
would have the Feds put
Daddy away for years, if not a lifetime. And I’d never see him again!
breath hitched, and I tried to quiet myself.
“We’re looking for—,”
he groaned and took in a
breath, “Daniel Delgado— also goes by Captain Jack,” he struggled while Sam moved
him like a sack of potatoes, next to his
Daniel,” Daddy said. “What do you want?” his voice firm and short.
want to question you,” the Marshall said, “we need to talk.”
said nothing, just looked at us with one eye like a fish face-down on the
nothing. Daddy sighed:
no time to water-board you or play loud music through megaphones until you
talk,” he looked at the people gathering, “I suppose I could have Sam break one
finger at a time, but you’re on the right
side of the law, and I still respect that…,” He studied the man on the ground, “despite
my checkered past. Had you been working directly for Frank, this would be a
different story, entirely.”
appreciate that—” the man said, face pressed hard against the cement, his one
eye examined us. “As it is,” he spat and blew dirt off his lips, “I’m in no
position to have a civil conversation, even though I’m grateful as hell you
kept your friend from breaking my fingers.”
waited, “That’s it then?”
told me later, the fact he was a Federal agent and wouldn’t say why he was
looking for us, set off all kinds of warning bells. I understood that to be
on, eh, Capt’n?” Sam said, looking around at the gathering crowd. Sirens in the
background coming our way.
go,” Daddy grabbed my hand and we ran the next four blocks. My mind went blank.
It was hard to think. I wondered what the agents wanted as the rain whipped my
face. Daddy pulled me faster towards the marina and Shipwreck’s boat. A
homeless man with a shopping cart full of bags came around a corner at the
wrong time. The cart exploded and his life’s belongings flew all over the
street. Daddy shouted sorry and we
We made the marina, entered a chain link
flew down steps leading to a floating wood plank. I remembered the boat the
minute I saw it. It was big. Shipwreck sat in the wheelhouse, all white hair
and beard, smoking a cigarette and looking at the dials on the dash. His
sizeable arm hung out a sliding glass
window like he was pulled up at a drive-thru, ordering coffee. Gunner must have been
we got close Daddy whistled with his tongue rolled against his teeth, a
he waved and we clomped our way towards him on the floating dock.
climbed aboard, and he came down the staircase to greet us, extending his hand.
Daddy took it and squeezed, shaking hard.
you, for this, my friend,” Daddy smiled with gratitude.
he said, “I’m in debt to you and that Tongan crew. I’d be stone-dead and cold
in Davey Jones’ locker, if you hadn’t showed
up that day, in the middle of the Bering Sea, with diesel fuel and tools!” I
could see him smile through his beard.
paid your debt in full today. We’re goi—,” Daddy began, but Sam still running
on adrenaline, interrupted:
bra?” Sam said, reaching for his hand.
Where’s that brick-headed brother of yours?”
Shipwreck shook, vigorously, whiskers contorting in huge curves on his face.
tryin’ to fin da kine, hana hou,
you know? He like to get lolo working
on da boat…” Sam smiled as big as he was, putting his pinched fingers to his
lips and sucking in.
as Henry was mentioned, graceful as a moose
balancing on a beach ball, he burst on the scene clomping down the gangway from
which we came, grocery bags swinging in hand.
emerged from below, checking the engines.
time fo da kine, brah!” Henry barked, spilling over the bulkhead, “We go, now!
Hele on! Dey right behind, brah!”
“Hey Gunner—,” I waved,
my head swiveled to
Henry throwing grocery bags and hoisting his enormous mass over the side.
Groceries spilled, oranges rolled across the deck. Everyone moved with one purpose,
to launch the boat.
“Hey, Karysa!” Gunner barked, slapping
still in the air, as he ran by. “Hey Sam, Jack, Henry!” he said in
let’s go!” He pulled Shipwreck’s sleeve, jerking him into motion and flew down
galley’s stocked!” Shipwreck shouted as he moved, “Bring her back
in one piece, Jack! We’ll
hold ‘em up!” And they dropped to the dock facing suits with sunglasses
thudding towards them.
clear, Capt’n?!” Sam shouted, bounding up the stairs to the wheelhouse in two
and Daddy scrambled to the stern, bow,
and starboard clearing the lines. And
And Sam cranked the diesel engine alive and we pulled away from the dock,
slowly. Way too slowly.
heard a noise like a car backfire and turned fast enough to see Gunner falling,
holding his knee, blood between his fingers. He rolled and clutched in agony.
Three agents restrained Shipwreck like handlers in a zoo trying to subdue a
wild beast with white fur. He struggled while others darted around the gaggle,
and hopped over Gunner.
feet of water between us and the dock. Two knots, then five, too slow—
excruciatingly slow. Sam was being conscious not to draw attention on the way
out of the inlet, but his sense of calm turned my insides into a milkshake.
agents sprinted. Twenty feet of water between us and the dock now. We were
pulling away, far too slowly.
first two hung in the air, and hit the side like a bag of hammers, clinging
desperately. A third missed completely, hitting the water with a splash. The rest
drew up short and watched us get further
walked to the side and pounded on their hands until they let loose and plopped
in the water, bobbing like corks in our wake, fading like the rest.
emotions were running high.
do you want with my father?” I screamed and shook, I didn’t know if the agents
heard me over the engines. And I clenched Daddy’s arm, glancing up at him. I
looked back at the agents on shore, and the one Daddy hit. His eye, puffy and
bleeding, the front of his shirt, dirty from lying face down. His countenance,
angry. One hand on a gun, the other on a phone.
need to talk with Daniel Delgado!” he shouted.
for?” Daddy called.
few seconds passed in silence. And he shouted:
relation to the murder of August
Ingersoll!” He held his phone to his ear. “If you turn the boat around, I
won’t hold your crew on obstruction!”
“What’s your name, agent?”
“I’ll call you!” Silence again. I’m not sure the agent heard. He was pointing
towards our boat, talking on his cell. Then he shouted:
Allen—Thomas Allen! U.S. Marshal’s Office, Seattle!” He held up his gun hand to
funnel his voice, barrel up.
Coast Guard cutter gliding around the bend in the inlet passed us on the port
side. I saw agent Allen pointing our way and talking on his phone while we
rounded the bend and they disappeared. Sam increased our speed without drawing
attention, and before I knew it we were out of port, up the coast. We ducked around
the other side of a freighter
heading north, saw the cutter come out of Salmon Bay and turn south. And we
months ago,” Agent Allen’s voice, full of static, came over the phone. “That’s
when we found the body, it was frozen by the roadside leading out to the mine.
Somebody wanted us to find him.
he’d been alive the previous week. A lot of eyewitnesses
saw him in town, he drank at a bar, signed the bar tab and he was even caught
on camera at a supermarket and bank the same day.”
boat lolled to the side when the waves of
a passing boat finally hit us. We were moored
offshore of Vancouver Island, Canada. A private inlet, except for a
yacht two hundred yards away. We sat in the galley. All of us.
leg was on automatic, bouncing up and down like a piston. Elbows on the table,
head in my hands, I looked at Daddy and saw confidence come over him, which did
a lot to alleviate my nervousness.
eyes lit up when agent Allen gave us this last bit of information. And he shot
months ago, I was in La Paz, Mexico fighting for my life in a shit-hole jail
off the Baja.” There was silence on the phone.
you prove it?” Agent Allen finally said.
looked at my uncles, Sam and Henry, passing a bowl between them, taking turns
lighting it. Their eyes were red, but they listened close to what was being
said. Sam caught my eyes and nodded as if to say, ‘it’ll be alright.’
Then he stood
like someone stuck him in the butt with a needle and darted out of the galley
and through the hatch towards the living quarters.
it shouldn’t be hard. I’m sure the jailer will remember me. He was taking bets
on my survival, Henry was in the next cell—yeah, I’m sure he’ll remember us.”
“We’ll make some phone calls,”
said, “In the meantime can I get you to come in?”
in a bit,” Daddy looked at me and winked, “I want to take my daughter up
through the channels and do some camping on the way.” My heart leaped, I love
to camp offshore with Daddy and my uncles. It’s like we’re the only ones
the universe and I cherished having them all to myself.
burst into the Galley waving a small piece of paper, leaned across the table
and handed it to Daddy.
“Wait a second, Agent,” Daddy looked
smiled at Sam. “How about a receipt for diesel from the La Paz marina?”
pause on the phone, I could tell the agent was thinking about it on the other
certainly help—does it have your signature?”
that will certainly help, yes, fax it to me and bring the original when we
meet. Where can I catch up with you, Captain?” That was the first time he
called Daddy ‘Captain.’
you meet me in Nome, in say—a week?”
meet you there, you have my numbers. And I’ll follow up with the jailer. ”
next week was one of the best times of my life, I’ll never forget it. Just as
I’ll never forget the weeks that followed which were the worst and changed my
life forever. But for the time being, I had my Daddy, and I had my uncles and
it was us and only us in the universe for a while. And I was happy.
Michael Stewart works
as a Designer/Architect
for a major high-tech company in Puget Sound, North of Seattle.
He spent 4 years in the Marine Corps and held various jobs including
shoveling manure, working in an Animal Clinic, swamping cherries in the
orchards, driving a cab, a personal trainer, digging ditches with a hand
shovel, and bus boy.
He is married to a wonderful woman who supports his writing. A nurse with years
in the spotlight as a circus performer and fitness professional. His
step-son has an adventurous spirit, like his mother and is a mechanical
engineer on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea. He has two talented and beautiful
daughters currently attending UW.
He and his wife enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, and their peace and quiet.