Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

River Rat
Book 5 of the Dawnwalker Cycle
Wes Boyd
2005, 2010

Chapter 33

January 8 - February 5, 2000

The Bahamas

There is a colorful and historic lighthouse overlooking the picturesque harbor of Bowman Cay, not far from Great Abaco Island. Don McLean lay back in the shade of the Bimini top over the cockpit of the Cal 36 they had on dryboat charter for a couple weeks. He had a beer in his hand, and was contemplating the lighthouse. Pretty, he thought, but pretty boring. "Sure as hell wish we could come up with a little action," he commented to his buddy Art Payne, who was sharing the charter with him.

"Would be nice," Art agreed, his fingers around a beer on the far side of the cockpit. "I had hoped we could come up with a babe or two to make this trip worthwhile."

"Yeah," Don nodded. "I just haven't seen much running around loose. Either they've got a boyfriend, or they've got too much money to want to mess around with us."

"Oh, hell, we ought to pick up something sometime," Art said. "I mean, check out that babe on the Pearson that's coming in. Now, that's a looker!"

It was over behind Don, but he swiveled around to see a somewhat smaller sailboat not far away, with three women aboard -- no guys. That was interesting; it wasn't something you saw every day. It was sailing along slowly, jib down, main eased out to the point of luffing, obviously looking for a place to drop the hook.

What caught his eye -- and what had caught Art's -- was the blonde standing up on the bow, wearing what had to be the briefest yellow bikini he'd ever seen. As he watched, she nonchalantly popped a bubble of bubble gum. "Cute," he said. "But shit, that's jailbait and you know it."

"Damn good looking jailbait, you have to say that," Art grinned. "But you know those older sisters of hers aren't going to let her out of their sight."

Don's eye had been on the jailbait blonde; now he glanced back toward the cockpit of the Pearson. There was a bigger and older woman in a red and white string bikini, hanging onto the mainsheet -- not particularly stacked nor particularly good looking was his immediate reaction, although obviously muscular and in shape. Farther back, at the wheel, was a slightly shorter woman, about that age or even older, wearing a denim-colored bikini, a baseball cap, and sunglasses. Again, not particularly a looker or well built, but obviously solid and strong. He glanced again in surprise when he noticed the woman at the wheel had a cigar clenched in her teeth. His first thought is that he would really rather neither of the older ones hit him; they could do some damage, and the one at the wheel looked like she knew she was tough and didn't care who knew it. "No shit, Sherlock," he replied. "They could hurt a man, either one of them, especially that butch one at the helm."

Nothing brewing there, he thought, although it was nice to check out the jailbait blonde as the Pearson passed close abeam. "Hey, Don," Art said softly, to keep from being overheard, as close as they were. "The babe on the bow," he said, a note of awe in his voice. "Check that out!"

"Yeah, sexy," he nodded at the young blonde, who was leaning out over the bow, working on her bubble gum, holding onto the forestay with one hand, an anchor in her other hand, held well out from the boat, looking like she was getting set to drop it.

"Yeah," Art said. "But how big is that CQR she's holding at arm's length?"

"Shit," Don replied, getting his point immediately. "Twenty-five pounds at least, maybe thirty." She'd been standing there holding that anchor at arm's length for at least a couple minutes, looking casually into the water. Once he thought about it, he was pretty damn sure he couldn't do that -- and she hardly seemed to take notice. "Yeah," he said thoughtfully. "I don't know that I'd want her to hit me, either."

Scooter glanced back over her shoulder -- the Phoebe Lee was getting pretty well clear of the Cal 36 now. It was shallow in here, so they wouldn't have to lay out a lot of anchor line and would still have pretty good scope. The water was unbelievably clear, not like the Chesapeake at all. "OK, that should do it," she said. "Michelle, go ahead and drop the hook, let out the line to the double red mark and snub it off."

"OK, Scooter," Michelle replied from the bow, giving the anchor a toss -- not hard, just enough to get it a few feet away from the boat. The chain rode shot past her, and the poly followed. Once the anchor hit bottom, it went out pretty slowly as the boat pulled forward.

Scooter glanced ahead. The single red was going through Michelle's hands; it wouldn't be long now. "Crystal, sheet in hard."

"Right, Skip," Crystal said, and began to quickly overhand the mainsheet. Just about that time, Scooter could see Michelle quickly wrapping the anchor poly around the cleat and setting it off. Timed it just about perfect, she thought with satisfaction as she cranked the wheel hard over to help the boat gybe. The wind hit the hard mainsail and began to swing the boat around, but the bow, being held fast by the anchor, didn't want to swing. Very quickly, the boat swung around and pulled up into the wind, the main luffing as it got into irons, but the snub that the anchor gave to the boat told her that it was set pretty well.

"Good enough," Scooter smiled. "Drop the main and bag it up. We're here, dudettes."

"I'll come help with the main," Michelle offered.

The roller reefing system they had on both the main and the jib was pretty good, but it took an extra set of hands to do it efficiently. It had taken a couple times to work out the drill, but they had it down pretty well by now. "Don't know that we want to piss around with the Bimini tonight," Scooter frowned. "The day is getting pretty well shot in the ass, and I'm thinking we might blow the hell out of here in the morning."

"Depends on if there's any action, I guess," Crystal said. "Those two guys in the boat back there were checking out Michelle pretty good."

"I saw," Scooter grinned. "I've seen better, but I've seen worse, and I'm getting pretty close to eating crackers in bed."

"You mean you're ready to sleep with crumbs?" Michelle laughed.

"Not quite," Scooter laughed. "But getting there. Oh, hell, might as well be friendly." She turned around and looked at the boat not too far behind them. "Hey, dudes!" she yelled. "Any good bars on the beach?"

"Nothing real classy," came a voice from the other boat. "The Pirate's Den is kind of a dive, but it rocked pretty good last night."

"Way cool!" she yelled back. "We'll have to check it out."

"Nice maneuver, sailing to anchor like that," they heard. "Your motor's not working?"

"Hell no, we don't need no steenkin' motor," Scooter grinned. "What do we look like? Baloney boaters?"

"Way cool," they heard one of the guys on the other boat reply. "Maybe we can buy you girls a drink."

"If you're buyin', we're drinking!" she yelled back. "Give us a few minutes to get this thing buttoned up and let's hit the beach!"

"Looks like a couple possibles," Michelle grinned.

"You two are the ones with all the burning desires," Crystal smiled. "Go for it, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not up to taking my pants off for much less than a ten."

"Picky, picky," Michelle teased. "Jennlynn would go for it as long as it's vertical."

"And so long as the money is green, and there's enough of it," Crystal teased back. "I think Jennlynn is cool, but I'm just a bit more picky."

"Your loss," Scooter laughed. "Especially since there's two of them and three of us."

A few minutes later, the three of them had gotten dressed a little more formally for the beach -- Crystal and Scooter had both pulled on fairly short shorts and Canyon Tours T-shirts. Michelle had pulled on a very short wrap-around skirt and a Canyon Tours T-shirt as well, except hers was very tight, and had been cut off so it was only a "Canyon" T-shirt. Scooter was just pulling in the painter for the dinghy when the two guys pulled up in a fairly big Zodiac, pushed by a small outboard. "You girls like a lift?" one of them asked.

"Oh, hell, why not?" Scooter replied. "That hard boat is a little on the small side for the three of us."

"Besides," Michelle grinned. "It'll be good to be on a raft again, even if it is on the dinky side."

In a couple minutes, the five of them were on the raft heading for the beach. "Are you three sisters?" Don asked after a round of first-name-only introductions.

"No, just friends," Crystal said. "We work for the same company."

"You look like you know what you're doing around a boat," Art commented.

"We ought to," Scooter snorted. "That's how we make our living."

"Sailors?" Don asked, just a little surprised.

"I like to think waterman, that's the term I was brought up with," Scooter grinned.

"Where at?"

"Arizona," Michelle smiled.

"Arizona?" Don frowned. "There's no ocean there."

"No," Crystal laughed. "But there's a hell of a neat river we run rafts down seven months a year." She pointed at her T-shirt.

"You mean, like Grand Canyon?" Art said, eyes wide.

"Hell yes, we don't piss around with lesser canyons." Scooter laughed, echoing Crystal's words to her of less than a year before.

"I can believe it of you and Crystal," Don nodded. "But Michelle, you just don't look like what I think of as a Grand Canyon raft guide."

"I know it's hard to believe," Crystal laughed. "But she's the company's senior boatman."

"You mean you're like a senior in high school and a Grand Canyon boatman?" Art shook his head.

"I was once," Michelle laughed. "But that was years ago."

"You're pulling my leg," Don grinned. "You can't be over sixteen at the most."

"Better not tell the guy who owns the company that," she laughed. "He might have second thoughts."

Before long, they pulled the Zodiac up onto a wide beach and hiked across it to a row of businesses, one of which was an interesting-looking if slightly seedy bar. "We've been here a couple days," Don said. "This is probably the coolest place here."

It was cool and dark inside; the place was about half full. They found a table, and a black waitress came over to get their orders. The guys, Scooter, and Crystal ordered beer, but Michelle said, "I'm in the mood for cheap bourbon. George Bickel if you have it, but JD will do if you don't."

"Are you sure you want whiskey, miss?" the waitress said in a lilting West Indian accent.

"Yeah," Michelle nodded. "Better make it a double. Oh, and maybe a beer chaser, I'm thirsty too, whatever you have on draft."

"Whatever you say, miss," the waitress said.

"Michelle, are you sure you know what you're doing?" Don asked dubiously.

"Yeah, I like cheap bourbon; don't ask why. I can barely hack that high priced single malt Scotch some people think is so cool. Dad says I'd be happier drinking moonshine out of a Mason jar, and sometimes I think he's right. George Bickel is about as close to it as you can get."

Don glanced up to see the grins on Scooter and Crystal's faces. He'd tried George Bickel once. That one time had been enough. From the looks on their faces, it seemed like they figured this teenybopper was about to learn her lesson.

The waitress came with their orders a couple minutes later, and asked if they'd like to have dinner. They allowed as how they'd like to have a couple first, and the waitress turned to go. But, Michelle spoke up and said, "Hang on a second, will you?" The waitress turned around, and Michelle took the bubble gum out of her mouth, tossed down the double, followed by the large mug of beer in about three seconds flat, then popped the bubble gum back in her mouth. "That was pretty good," she grinned. "I could hack another one of those if these guys are buying," she grinned.

"You're kidding!" Art said, eyes wide.

"That made a fairly good warm-up," Michelle grinned. "I'm in the mood to have a little fun tonight."

"Hell, I'll buy," Don, shook his head. "I can't believe that when another one of those hits you that you'll be crawling out the door."

"Never had to crawl home yet," Michelle grinned. "First time for everything, I suppose, but I don't think it's tonight."

Over the next hour or so, they had a couple beers each -- except for Michelle, who had four, plus four doubles of Bickel. However, the alcohol seemed to have no particular effect on her, except that it made her giggle and pop her bubble gum more. They each ordered hamburgers, fries, and beer, except that Michelle ordered two beers and two more double shots!

By now, both Scooter and Crystal were giggling -- not so much from the beer they'd been drinking, but from the awed reaction of the two guys as they watched Michelle toss back all that booze and still be working her bubble gum.

It was the bubble gum that irritated a guy at the next table who hadn't been paying attention to how much Michelle had been drinking. "Hey teenybopper," he said with a sneer, "Shouldn't you be drinking some kind of bubblegummer drink like a Long Island or a Zima or some girl shit like that?"

"I can drink your ass under the table any day of the week," she replied with just as much of a sneer.

The guy at the next table was the kind who would have slugged a man who made that kind of a statement, and some women. But Michelle looked so young and so girlish that he just couldn't bring himself to do it. "Aw, bullshit," he replied. "You're just talking trash, bitch."

"You buy it and I'll prove it," she grinned. "In fact, let's do it this way. First one to barf or pass out pays."

"Shit, this will be like taking candy from a baby," he sneered.

"Sure will," she laughed.

By now the exchange had drawn the attention of several people at tables around them, plus the waitress, the bartender, and the bouncer. "Let's start this off simple," she said. "I'm getting a little tired of George, let's have about four doubles of Absolut for each of us to get started."

The waitress just shook her head in disbelief. "You want what?"

"Oh, if you don't have Absolut, any kind of strong vodka will do," Michelle grinned, and turned to the smart mouth. "Unless you'd rather do this with Everclear."

"How about 150-proof rum?" the bartender suggested.

"That's kind of candy-ass but it'll do," Michelle grinned.

"Jesus, you little bitch, you really are talking trash," the big guy said, as some other guys around his table began to laugh at the sight of him being challenged by this teenybopper blonde.

In a couple minutes the waitress had returned with the drinks. She set four glasses down in a row in front of the two of them. Michelle grinned at the guy and said, "Last chance to back out, turkey."

"Ah, bullshit," he said, grabbing a glass and tossing it back. It hit him pretty hard, for having been sitting there and drinking beer for some time. He took a couple deep breaths to recover, and started to say something when he noticed Michelle polishing off a glass of rum . . . the fourth glass.

"Drink up," she grinned. "You get those polished off and we're going to get serious."

"There ain't no fucking girl that can drink like that," he shook his head as he tossed back his second. It took him a while to get through the four glasses; it was powerful stuff. "There," he said finally.

"You give?" she laughed. "Or you want to get serious?"

"You don't talk to me like that, bitch," he said. "I can still drink your ass under the table."

"Good, set 'em up," she said to the bartender. "This guy needs to learn his lesson."

By this time, there wasn't a lot of talking in the bar -- what was going down had gotten around. As before, Michelle tossed down her double rum, and he had to struggle with it. Finally, there came a time when he picked up the glass, leaned back, and it fell all over him as he collapsed to the floor.

"Pussy," Michelle sneered, got up, and hopped up on the table where his buddies had been sitting, and did a victory dance, hands clapping. As others began to join in the rhythmic clap, her little dance turned into a strip tease; first her crop top came off, slowly and tantalizingly. She tossed it to Crystal, and started working on her wrap skirt as the clapping continued. She looked like she was starting on the tiny yellow bikini top that was barely there at all; raised her hands to the tie at the back of her neck, then dropped them to the side, squatted in the knees a little, and sprang into the air, nailing a back flip onto the floor!

That brought down the house! There were cheers, shouting, shocked looks as she bent over, extracted the big guy's wallet from his pants, and handed it to the bartender while his buddies looked on in pure shock. Money started flying through the air onto the clear space on the floor, fives, tens, even twenties; Michelle continued her dance, and soon there were bills hanging from under the strings of her bikini, as well. She worked her way over to a small stage at the end of the room, where a band had been playing until the drinking contest got real serious; she grabbed a mike, and started in, "When a man grows old and his balls grow cold, And the tip of the tool turns blue, And it bends in the middle like a one-string fiddle, He can tell you a tale or two," and continued right on down through the full length of the poem, to the cheers of the crowd. Somewhere in there, the passed-out guy's buddies hauled him out of the place and disappeared.

"She's got a mild buzz on," Scooter commented to an amazed Don and Art. "Must be the rum, or she'd be doing something dirty, not just Eskimo Nell."

"I don't believe any of this," Don said. "My God!"

"The word among the raft guides is that she can drink any two of them combined under the table," Crystal teased. "It would be any three, but there's this one guy who works for GCR. He must go 300 pounds, and if he's one of them it starts getting difficult for her."

"How can a person drink as much as she's drunk tonight and still be vertical, let alone nail a back flip?" Art shook his head.

"Good question," Scooter grinned. "And you're not the first person to ask it, either."

Eventually Michelle worked her way down to the last line of the poem: "I'd say he was fucked, wouldn't you?" There were cheers and applause, and by the time she got back to the table, there were even more bills hanging from the strings of her bikini, to go along with the pile that Scooter and Crystal had rescued from the floor. In spite of all that, she was still pretty hyper. "Hey, Don!" she grinned. "I'm horny. You want to arm wrestle?"

"Arm wrestle?" he asked incredulously, remembering watching her hold a CQR at arm's length earlier. She still looked like a teenybopper, but after the last hour or so, a very superhuman one. He was now more than a little scared of her. "You'd kill me."

"Aw, be a good sport," she grinned. "Like I said, I'm horny. If you win, I'll take you to bed."

"And then, you'd really kill me," he sighed.

"No one's died yet, but if they did, wouldn't it be a hell of a way to go?"

"Oh, all right," he said, putting his elbow on the table. "I might as well make a fool of myself."

For having fairly spindly little teenybopper arms she was about as weak as an M-1 tank. Despite his best efforts, she controlled it from the beginning, bending his arm far toward the table. Almost at the point of losing, he held on desperately -- until his arm snapped over the other way as she quit trying. "You gave up," he charged.

"I said I was horny," she smirked.

"Hey, Art!" Scooter said. "Wanna arm wrestle?"

"I don't think I'd stand much more of a chance than Don did," he said, amazement showing at this whole evening. "Same deal?"

"Let's make it sporting," Scooter grinned. "If I win, I take you to bed. If you win, you take me to bed."

"Then there's no point in us wasting our strength, is there?" he shook his head. "I mean, let's save it and put it to good use."

The night was yet young, but there were other things to do besides sit around and get shitfaced. Before long, they headed for the door. The five of them crossed the street in pretty high spirits. Though it was dark, they could see a few people around, and all of a sudden a couple of guys dived toward Michelle. Scooter grabbed Art and Don by the hands and dragged them out of the line of fire.

It was all over within seconds, and a blur of motion and flying bodies too quick to describe more precisely, but when it ended, black belts Michelle and Crystal were standing over two guys lying unconscious on the sand. "Your drunken buddy's friends," Crystal snorted.

"I hate to just leave them here and walk off," Michelle replied, sounding a little perturbed. "I mean, he lost fair and square."

"Hey, people," Scooter grinned. "I might have an idea."


It was snug in the quarter berth in the cabin of the Cal 36, but Scooter wasn't complaining when she woke up the next morning. Art had been pretty good, and they'd gone until late before falling asleep, occasionally taking note of the equally happy but horny sounds coming from the V-berth in the bow. Art was stirring, too, and she watched happily the shock of recognition he had when he realized who he'd spent the night entwined with, and what had happened the night before. "Jesus!" he shook his head. "I don't believe any of it."

"Last night?'

"Yeah," he said, still fumbling with reality. "My God! Is she like that all the time?"

"Michelle?" she grinned. "No, sometimes she gets wild."

"That wasn't wild? My God!"

"Oh, she was feeling pretty happy," Scooter grinned. "She was flying maybe midrange last night. She usually doesn't drink like that unless it's someone else doing the buying. She has to knock it back pretty good to get even a light buzz on, so it's a mixed blessing."

"How can one person drink like that and survive?" he shook his head. "Especially one her size?"

"Interesting question," Scooter smiled, squeezing him close with one arm and reaching with her other hand toward a sensitive spot that had been well-used the night before. She squeezed it hard, and felt it come to life. Good, they hadn't killed it the night before, not for the lack of trying. "Like I told you last night, you're not the first person who's asked it. The short answer is, I don't know, and neither does she. My theory may have nothing to do with reality, but it'll do till something better comes along."

He frowned and shook his head. "What's this theory of yours all about, anyway?"

"You know how some Asians, and most American Indians, have trouble metabolizing alcohol, which means that they have trouble holding their booze?"

"I've heard it," he nodded. "I don't know how true it is."

"It's true, and it's genetic. At least that's how I understand it, anyway. Apparently there's some enzyme in the blood that actually metabolizes the alcohol. Some people, Asians, Indians like I said, don't have much of it. My guess is that she has a shit load."

"Makes sense, maybe," he sighed. "And yeah, I can see how it could be a real pain in the ass if you were trying to get drunk out of your own wallet." He shook his head, let out a sigh and changed the subject. "Hey, thanks for the evening, and last night. That was damn good."

"Thanks," she grinned, giving him a quick but sultry little kiss. "I thought it was kind of fun, too."

"Oh, shit!" he said, the realization coming to him. If she had that kind of energy . . . yes, she could indeed kill a man. "What happened with Don and Michelle?"

"Apparently they survived," she grinned. "At least judging from the snoring I'm hearing."

"Yeah, I guess I remember it now," he said, thinking back to the night before. "I seem to remember them partying pretty good while I was fading."

"You did pretty good yourself," she grinned with a smile. "Since they're sleeping it off, would you be up for a morning quickie?"

"I'd love to say that I was," he replied slowly. "But I have to say that my head is saying that it's the morning after the night before."

"Oh, we can take it easy," she grinned, giving him another quick but hot kiss.

"Hey, answer me one thing," he said as they started to snuggle together. "It's all true, right?"

"What's all true?"

"That the three of you are Colorado River raft guides, Michelle really isn't a teenager but really is human, and that this isn't a dream?"

"We spoke the truth," she laughed softly. "We're all Colorado River boatman, Michelle looks and acts like she's a teenybopper, mostly because she wants to and she works at it. The next time you see her, take a close look at her eyes; they give her away. Most people don't see that far, all they see is the bubble gum and the braces and the belly shirts. She is actually twenty-five and the senior boatman in the company, partly because she started pretty young and stayed with it. We work damn hard, but we make up for it by playing hard, too. As far as this being a dream, if I could have seen ahead a year this time last year I wouldn't have believed it either."

"How about this Jennlynn you were talking about last night?"

"That's true, too," she giggled. "In her way she's even more astonishing than Michelle, even if she isn't a boatman. She'd be disgusted with me right now."

"Why would she be disgusted with you?"

"Because I'm doing this for fun, not for bucks, and pretty good bucks at that. But I honestly think I get more fun out of it than she does."


Sometime later, they were feeling rather relaxed when they heard stirring noises coming from the bow compartment of the boat; apparently someone else was having a morning quickie, too. "I hope you don't mind, Scooter," he smiled. "That was pretty good, and you're pretty good, too. But I really have to use the head."

"I do, too," she smiled. "Actually, I suppose we ought to be getting around a little. I'll bet Don and Michelle wouldn't mind some coffee. She might even have a little bit of a head on her this morning. It'd be nice if she did, just to prove that she's actually human for once."

"You know," Art said as he swung out of the quarter berth, "I feel a little sorry for your friend Crystal over on your boat by herself."

"Because she isn't getting any?" Scooter grinned as she started to slide out of the narrow bunk. "Don't be sorry. If she'd wanted some she'd have had it. She did a bit of sportfucking when she was a little younger; she knows how to do it and doesn't mind Michelle and me having our fun. Michelle and I have sort of been lying back and giving her the chance to make the first move on someone. If she doesn't want to, fine with us."

"She's pretty cool, too," Art grinned, thinking about last night. "Jeez, I'm glad you dragged Art and me out of the line of fire when those two guys jumped Michelle. That was pretty cool, too. I wonder how they're feeling now."

"Probably not very happy," Scooter laughed. "But they brought it on themselves."

"Well, damn it, I'm curious," he smiled, grabbing a pair of binoculars and throwing back the sliding hatch. He stood on the companionway step, and looked out over the harbor. "Still there," he grinned. "Damn, you have an evil mind."

"I don't know," she laughed. "I thought it was pretty creative."

Art stepped down and handed her the binoculars. She got up on the step and stuck her head and upper body out of the hatch, apparently not caring very much that she still had no clothes on.

"Yep," she grinned, looking over the bay at the two guys, what she could see of them. It wasn't much, just their heads and bare feet. The rest had been buried in the sand -- wet sand at that, they'd borrowed some buckets along with some shovels from a construction site and made sure the two were packed in tight so they couldn't dig themselves out. She couldn't read the sign that she'd put by their head, but knew what it said: "We lost a bet. Tickle our feet but don't dig us out, no matter how much we beg and plead." By now, it was along in the morning, people were up and about, and the feet were getting some attention. "You know, I'll bet they're going to be pissed when their buddy sobers up enough to go looking for them."

"I'd say that's a fair prediction," Don grinned.

"I'm a lover, not a fighter, like Crystal and Michelle," she smiled. "Maybe discretion is the better part of valor. I hear they have a pretty good bar and a nice harbor on Elbow Cay. What do you say we up anchor and sail off that way before they get dug out? We'll get Michelle to take her guitar tonight, she's damn cool, and maybe Crystal will even find someone to have some fun with."

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