***Be sure to check out the second installment of my other story in the post below***
They found the well just where the black man had described, and proceeded to fill their containers.
"Now what?" Jack asked, looking at Willie.
"Guess it's time for another meeting" Willie responded.
"We need to figure out a game plan, and quick" another man in the group said. "Cuz we sure as hell don't want to hang around here. It's nice and all, but I ain't real keen on shootin' it out with every scumbag who passes by. Somethin' a little more secluded is what I got in mind."
"Six o'clock at my boat" Willie said. "We'll do us a little strategizing."
The other men nodded. Having hoisted their water containers up on their shoulders, the group trudged back to the dock and headed for their respective boats anchored in the bay.
Skiffs could be seen motoring and rowing toward the shore across the gin clear bay as other crews went to replenish their water. Willie motored his tender alongside Island Time, and Jack helped him hoist it back aboard. Willie's wife Peggy appeared on deck and invited Jack to stay for dinner. She would not take no for an answer...
Jack thoroughly enjoyed Peggy's pot roast dinner, the last of the fresh meat from Island Time's tiny freezer. He mopped the gravy from his plate with a piece of fresh baked bread, then settled back in his seat in a state of contentment he'd not experienced since his world had come to an end.
"That was beyond delicious Peggy!" Jack exclaimed, patting his belly.
"Aww, just an old family recipe" she humbly replied, though Jack couldn't help but notice the grin on her face and the pride in her eye.
"Let's do a little pre-strategizing" Willie said as he rose from his seat. "Be right back".
He disappeared down the aft companionway to the master stateroom, and in a few moments returned with a chart and a bottle of top shelf whiskey. "Jack?"
"Certainly" Jack responded.
Willie got three glasses down from the cabinet, tossed in some ice cubes from the freezer, and poured the amber liquid over them. He passed two glasses to Jack and Seth, then returned to the table with his glass and the chart. They rolled it out, and set their coasters on the corners to keep it flat.
"Where to?" Willie asked.
Jack studied the chart, and took a sip of his drink. "Hmmmm...." he hummed softly as he stroked his stubbled chin. "There's a lot to consider. The range of the boats in our little flotilla, the number of people, where we might be welcome, topography...."
"I've been thinking about that a lot myself" Willie stated after a pause.
"What do we hope to accomplish?" Seth asked. "I mean, are we looking for any port in a storm, or are we looking for somewhere to settle?"
Jack looked up at Seth, then looked at Willie, trying to catch some kind of clue in their expressions. Peggy stopped drying the plate in her hand and looked at the men, as did Seth's wife Katey, who was putting the dishes away in the cupboard.
"Ladies?" said Willie.
Peggy spoke first. "I would feel much better if we could find some place where we could be fairly hidden, and grow a garden!"
"I'll second that" Katey chimed in. "I'm scared for our son."
"That's what I want" Seth said. "Somewhere safe where we can raise Mikey."
"The problem is, I don't know where the hell that place is" Jack said. "There's too many uncertainties, we just don't know what the hell is going on anywhere!"
"I've been listening to the side band radio, but it's been pretty quiet" Willie said. "Everyone seems to be keeping radio silence."
"My short wave is the one thing I forgot to grab before I bailed" said Jack.
"Maybe someone else in the group has one" Seth offered. "Maybe we should just hold off 'til the meeting. I sure as hell don't know where to go."
"I think he's right" Jack said. "Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. We need to take stock of what we got, who we got, and go from there."
"Right you are" said Willie.
"It's almost time" Katey interjected, pointing at the brass clock on the side of the cabinet, atop the matching barometer. It was 5:40.
The little fleet of skiffs were darting back and forth amongst the big boats, picking up passengers and heading toward Island Time. Jack and the others walked out on deck, and waited for the fleet to assemble. The little dinghies converged on the trawler as before, fenders and lines tossed from boat to boat as they rafted up around Island Time's stern.
Once everyone was tied up, Willie stepped atop the aft cabin roof to address the assembled.
"Evenin' folks. As I'm sure most of y'all heard by now, this town got sacked by pirates. The place got shot up pretty good, and the town folk scattered. The raiders made off with anything of value, and there's nothing much left here. I know there's some kids out there among us, my grandson included. And I know that we all want to keep our families safe. This place, obviously, is not safe. It's too open, unprotected, and therefore vulnerable."
"Now the question is, where do we go. There's a lot of variables that play into that question, and that's the purpose of this meeting: to find out what those variables are, and how we can work around them."
"Here's what we need to know. First off, we need a head count. Total people in this group, sex, age... We need to know of any special situations y'all might have health wise. We need to know what stores y'all have, how much fuel, what weapons and how much ammunition... All of this will help determine where we might go, and what we can do. But first, I need to know who is willing to continue on. Are you good with remaining in a group?"
"I am" said a man, his arm raised.
"Me too" said another.
"Why not make a stand here?" a woman shouted.
All eyes turned to her, then back to Willie.
"Ma'am, I believe it's too dangerous to stay here. It's too exposed. I've got a bit of a military background, in combat, so I feel pretty confident in my assessment. Not knowing what weapons we have, or how much ammunition is a factor as well, but even if we were armed to the teeth this spot isn't very defendable. The locals got run off in one attack. I don't know how many more might come, or how many we could fend off. Personally, I think it best to avoid potential trouble at all cost, and we've seen that trouble has come here."
Jack scanned the crowd and saw heads nodding in agreement. The woman then put her hand in the air and nodded herself.
"Okay then" Willie said, after surveying the scene. "What I need now is an inventory of what y'all got. Food, water, fuel, guns, ammo, clothing.... We all need to know this so we can decide how to proceed. I know some of y'all on the small power boats are pretty much running on fumes. There's no fuel here. Whatever they might have had, the pirates made off with. We could make a run around to the other side of the island and see if we might find some there, but I have my doubts. All the towns here are on the beach, and open to attack. Hell, the pirates who hit Red Bay might be around the bend themselves for all we know."
One by one, each captain recited a list of the provisions they had aboard, numbers of people, weapons, fuel.... Jack jotted the information down on a note pad as they rattled off fuel supplies, cans of corn, shotgun shells, coils of line, and all the other items they had packed aboard their vessels......
Do or Die - Slowly the boat weaved its way through tight packed bay, and finally they came alongside *Tropic Star*. Happy greetings were exchanged between the crews, ...
2 years ago