AN UNTITLED SAIL
(Sequel to Sail to a Future)
Edward S. Heyman
Also by Edward S. Heyman
Yes Ma’am, Madam President
Sail to a Future
Pro Omnis Humanum
Copyright © 2005 Edward S. Heyman
Library of Congress Number: 2004098549
Revised and edited 2013
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the work of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locals is entirely coincidental.
RICHARD AND WILLIAM HEYMAN
His wrinkled face reflected in the mirror told the old fisherman that he was now an old man. He wanted to be done with the fisherman’s life. With the market prices for tuna higher than ever before in history, he risked taking his loaded trawler to Hong Kong, the busiest and wealthiest port in the Orient. He had a fortune in his freezers. The profit would secure his retirement. He was confident that Causeway Bay was safe and his old trawler would be lost among the thousands of craft plying Hong Kong’s polluted waters. The current price of tuna made the risk acceptable to the old man who had ignored international fishing laws and every other kind of law for forty years. During those yearshe made a decent profits by selling his catch at little known ports of call where government officials either did not exist, or if they did exist, could be bribed to leave him alone.
His crews were made up of men hiding from the law, ex-convicts who were unemployable, or men who had failed at everything they had ever tried. He used men who needed some money, food and a bed. Everyone had ever who worked for him was aware that the old man would cheat them of part of their pay when he paid them off. Many of them knew about him before they signed on, but the word was out that the old man fed them well, and hid them from authorities if they were being hunted by the law. When this catch was delivered and paid for, he would live the rest of his years at the cottage in China that he had bought in a moment of inspiration years ago. The old man knew where to find little-known or seldom-used harbors. He’d steered his trawler on moonless nights past unmarked reefs and half-sunken wrecks to weather-beaten docks rarely used by licensed fishermen. He would stay long enough unload his catch, refuel and buy provisions. Every few years he knew where he could put the boat into dry-dock for repairs, bottom cleaning and painting, before he put back out to sea. He paid cash bribes to officials who never asked for his papers or inspected his fishing trawler. Additional bribes were handed over in cash to labor brokers who supplied out-of-work men of decent health. On rare occasions the old man paid additional bribes to keep one or more of his crewmen out of jail. He always got that money back when he deducted the amount from their final payment when they left him.
The rusting trawler was tied to a weathered, splintered pier built over smelly-barnacle crusted, creosoted pilings. The old fisherman watched as his sweating crew tossed frozen fish from the trawler's refrigerated hold into a net. A rusty squealing crane lifted the net to the pier where the fish were weighed before his customer’s unloading crew tossed them onto a rattling conveyer. His mate oversaw the entire procedure as he stood alongside an observer from the packing plant whose job was to see that only tuna were weighed and tossed onto the conveyor. The old man watched the action from the fly bridge.
Joe Powers lay drugged and unconscious on the floor of the stinking, damp, stifling compartment, hidden just aft of the chain locker under the bow of the trawler. He was oblivious to the shouts of workers and the snarl of a rattling noisy gasoline motor powering the crane. The business of unloading the catch of tuna continued on the other side of the thick bulkhead hiding him from sweating crewmen tossing frozen tuna into a net. His clothes were cast-off rags from his Oriental crewmates. His once muscular physique showed the results of drugs and malnutrition. Joe’s skin was bronzed a deep brown from years at sea. When he was awake, his eyes saw only what happened in front of him, and his brain functioned only to beg for more narcotics which had turned him into a human robot. His body began to fail after years of hard labor as a drugged slave of the old fisherman. Whenever Joe said he wanted to leave or refused to work, the mate beat him with a bamboo whip that drew blood and put scars on his back that seldom completely healed. Once, when the trawler was hundreds of miles offshore, Joe had mounted enough courage to rebel. The mate mocked Joe and offered to let him jump overboard and swim to shore. When Joe declined to jump overboard, he was beaten until he was unconscious. Joe was incapable of thinking about escape after that one try. He silently did everything the mate ordered him to do and waited for the promised reward of enough narcotics to shut down his body and brain at the end of his shift. Joe lived from one drug high to the next. Before they tied up to the pier this time, the old man personally saw that Joe was drugged and sleeping.
The old fisherman watched a policeman in a blue jumpsuit board the trawler. He carried one thousand American dollars in an envelope in his pocket. He expected the officer to make his way to the fly bridge, shake his hand and take his bribe unseen by anyone on the shore. Buyers of his catch had assured him that proper hands had been greased. At the worst he might have to pay a fine of a thousand dollars under the table to another official. He felt the envelope in his pocket and put his fingers on it ready to hand to the policeman.
The old man began to have serious concerns when the officer climbed on a suspended wood pallet and ordered the crane operator to lower him into the hold. No policeman had ever done that during all the years he had been a rogue tuna fisherman.
Officer Hardy, a Caucasian, born and raised in Hong Cong, was one of many white detectives still employed by the government after China regained control of the territory. He had received a tip about a slave on the rogue fishing boat. When Officer Hardy descended into the hold, he knew where to look.
“What have we here?” Hardy wrinkled his nose at the appalling stink after he located the hidden panel, flipped a latch and opened the compartment where his flashlight revealed Joe curled in a fetal position on the filthy floor. Officer Hardy pressed the transmit button on his walkie-talkie. “Call for an ambulance. Stop unloading and don’t allow anyone on or off this boat!”