The Key

04/27/12

-Why can’t we go again?

-Be bad for you.
-Bad for me? How so?
-Jus’ bad.


-It’s just a key.

-A sandbar practically. A couple of palms. Mangroves.

-Huh. Looks safe enough to me.
-Señor should jus’ go back to his hotel, no? Nice beach at hotel. Clean.
-But we want to go over there.



-Look, I have plenty of money.
-Be better you go back to hotel, señor.
-But my wife wants to snorkel.
-So she snorkel at hotel, yes? Snorkeling good at hotel.
-But the water in front of the hotel is all cloudy. There’s hardly any fish. The wind is lighter out there. Look.



-Jesus Christ. You people. Here.

-Take it.

-Just talk to your friend.

*

-So what’s the deal, baby?
-The guy said we shouldn’t go.
-What do you mean he said we shouldn’t go? Did you tell him we’d pay?
-Yeah. Even tipped him to get things greased with the boat dude. Vibed it was a bad idea.
-Cripes, what’s it, a fifteen minute putter out there and back? You can see the waves breaking on the reefs from here and it looks gorgeous. Private.
-Well, apparently it’s a no go. Guess it’s a superstitious thing or something.


-Superstitious.
-Yeah. Let’s just forget it and head back to the hotel.
-I don’t want to go back to the hotel. Snorkeling in front of the hotel sucks. I want to see a barracuda.
-You’ve seen a barracuda.
-No, I haven’t.
-Yes, you have. Remember our trip to the BVI?
-You saw a barracuda in the BVI, I didn’t. I was sick, remember?
-Let’s just head back to hotel and hang. Read a little. Play some bocce with that Canadian couple. Order a couple of micheladas. Maybe the hotel area will get better after lunch.



-Please don’t start with the eyes.
-I just don’t get it. That boat guy has been been motoring around all week. I’ve seen him. Back and forth, back and forth. What’s the big deal?
-Guess there’s a good reason. Oh, what? Now you’re giving me the pout too?
-I bet you didn’t even tip that guy.
-I did.
-Oh, yeah? How much?
-Like twenty bucks.
-American?
-Of course I gave him American. Pesos are like play money. They take dollars here.

-Hey—wait. Where are you going?
-I’m going to go talk to the boat guy.
-Honey, don’t….
-Sweet talk. Be right back.

*

-You’re just mad because I made this happen. Here. Rub some sunscreen on my back. Phew, what’s wrong with you? It’s not like it’s a reflection on your manhood or anything. Negotiating is what I do for a living, sweetie. One of the first things they teach you in law school is everything, no matter how impossible, can be negotiated. Don’t forget to do the backs of my arms.



-Hell, negotiation is how I got you to marry me in the first place.
-Gee, that makes me feel sooo much better.

*

-Oh, baby, look! To the right, eleven o’clock. A stingray! Do you see it? Oh, the water is so clean out here. See, I told you this would be better than at the stupid hotel. I can’t wait to get into the water.
-Wait a minute, why is he—?
-Hmm?
-Why is he going around the island?
-I don’t know. Maybe it’s a better place to anchor. Ask him.
-I don’t speak Mexican.
-You mean Spanish.
-I don’t speak Spanish.
-Neither do I.
-But I thought you said you sweet talked him.
-I did. In a way.
-In a way?
-Mostly I just pantomimed.
-Pantomimed….
-Yeah. And upped the cash-o-la gesturing a smidge.
-Oh, great.




….
-What? What’s wrong now?
-I just…I just don’t…this doesn’t feel right.
-Oh, will you relax? See, he’s cutting the motor. Guess we’re anchoring.
-Honey? Oh shit, honey, get in the water.
-In a sec. I need to adjust my mask.
-No, get in the fucking water right now!
-What? Oh, no. Oh, Jesus!
-Please! Please God no! We have money! Please! My wife, we have—

~ fin ~

kieranshea2020

A huge fan of the interpretive private eye films The Long Goodbye (1973) and The Drowning Pool (1975), Kieran Shea‘s stories have appeared previously in Shotgun Honey, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and elsewhere. He’s also written a couple of novels and one short story collection.