Paradise Lost

Paradise lost





          Puerto Rico 1949 is a rich tourist filled island, under the control of Alfonse Capone.  Al Capone as he liked to be called, ruled the island since 1939.  He was elected to the seat of governor of this small island, during the revolutionary days of 1938.  In it’s wild days gun runners and drug runners controlled the small island nation.  Al Capone put a quick stop, to all of the illegal activities passing thru the island by using force and diplomatic negotiations.  Al Capone had made his money, in oil and natural gas exploration in 1935.  A shortage of cash was not a problem for Capone, he had plenty of it.  When Capone got tired of making money, he sold off all of his assets and made out quite well.  His estimated value was in the trillions, even after he walked away from the oil business.  Capone wanted a nice relaxing life, away from the hustle and the bustle of city life.  So he moved to Puerto Rico, where he knew he could build a nice new life for himself.  Puerto Rico was a separatist state from the rest of the United States in 1949.  Separatist states were considered independent states of the United States, with one plus no taxes.  One could afford to hold on to billions, and not have to pay any of it to Uncle Sam.  This really appealed to Capone since he was sitting on a mass fortune; he wanted to make sure he kept as much as possible for his retirement days.

           Capone arrived on the Caribbean island, on July of 1938 from New Orleans.  Immediately upon his arrival he started buying up real estate, on the south shore of the island.  Most people on the island didn’t care for the isolation of the south shore.  To Capone it was the isolation he wanted, to relax and just enjoy the one thing he loved the most the peace and tranquility of the ocean.  Construction began within six months on his compound, he named it Crystal Palace.  By late March of 1939 Crystal Palace was completed, It was completed remarkably ahead of schedule.  Capone paid over 1.2 million dollars, so for that kind of cash he got it built extremely fast.  Once settled in to his new home, Capone lived the kind of Hermit life keeping to himself.  He shared his home with only a handful of servants, security personnel.  Capone was a relatively unknown personality, on this small island.  He made several donations to build hospitals and other good causes, however he always made sure that the contributions where kept anonymous.  He shied away from the spotlight, as much as he could.  Capone had carried with him a dark shady past, along with his businessman past.  Capone had grown up on the tough streets of Milwaukee; his schooling consisted of time spent behind the toughest jails of the area.  On the streets he was the bank, he made money as an illegal lending institution.  You needed a loan you went to Capone; only problem was his payment plans weren’t very affordable.  Speculations were that when he ran the banking industry, the local hospitals made a tightly profit as well.  Capone was ruthless when it came to collecting debts owed.  He gave a person so many days to pay back the loan, if the time was up and it wasn’t paid, he would collect his debt in other ways.  Although he never killed anyone, he did produce a lot of customers for the local area hospitals.  Once Capone made his money on the streets he moved to New Orleans and began investing time and money, in drilling companies specializing in oil and gas exploration.  In 1931 Capone’s ship finally came in, his drilling company hit the biggest oil deposit in history.  Only a few miles off the Gulf of Mexico, Capone drilling hit for an oil pocket with at least the capacity of producing 5,000 barrels of oil per day.  At the time that had never been heard of, and oil rig producing so much.  But Capone was tough; he worked his men and his equipment hard.  At the same time that’s what was expected, his drill crews earned 4 times higher paid than that of the average drilling crew of the day.  About a year later, while still ahead of the game Capone sold all his shares of Capone drilling walking away with a nice chunk of change in his pockets.

          Life on the island was getting more and more difficult, for the local community with the onset of violence from the local drug runners and gun runners running the Caribbean.  Capone stepped in and got involved in politics, right away things began to change for a positive turn.  Capone called in a few friends from the mainland, to help him clean things up.  Once elected governor Capone ran the cleanest most profitable tourist island, between the Bahamas and Florida.  All three-vacation spots were competing for a million dollar a year tourist trade.  Capone was not in it for profit, he just wanted his new home base, clean and free of undesirables.  Capone would rather deal with a bunch of whiney tourist, than ruthless drug runners.  He also figured and if I can keep the undesirables out, also turn a profit for the island hey it’s worth it.

          On September 1940 the hurricane season was beginning; the area would receive at least 3 to 4 heavy storms each season.  In past years the damage was minimal a few trees blown away, some area flooding nothing major.  But this year the storms had intensified, the two that had passed the island so far had done quite a bit of damage including knocking out utilities for the island.  Again Capone saved the day, he managed to get the utilities for the island up and running in relatively quick time.  Hurricane Martin was on the path to Puerto Rico, it was packing 150 mile and hour winds.  It hit Cuba first, completely whipping out the small island.  When the storm reached Puerto Rico, it had gained strength it was packing winds of 175 miles and hour and putting down six inches of water an hour.  The hurricane lasted for over 72 hours, pounding away the small island and destroying everything in it’s path.  Losses were in the millions, in both monetary and life.  Thousands of people were killed and left homeless; the only people that survived were those that managed to reach the safety of the shelters.

          The island natives did all the clean up effort, Capone made sure he didn’t ask for assistance from the main land.  Had he asked for assistance from the outside, he would have had to repay the favor back some time in the future.  Capone knew there would be strings attached, he didn’t want any part of owing any one anything.  Besides Capone had all the contacts he needed, from his under world days.  With in 24 hours helped started pouring in, from all companies from the mainland.  Capone was so powerful and wielded so much power, that when he sneezed every body caught a cold.  Besides his help would arrive a lot faster than Federal help, that’s how he liked it.  As the clean up and rebuilt effort continued through out the week, Capone was keeping long hours keeping materials and people moving.  Capone was involved in everything, from construction to demolition. 

          By Friday morning things were shaping up pretty good, everything was just about done.  Upon his arrival at Crystal Palace, he surveyed the damage to his own place.  It would take a complete over haul, to get everything back in to shape so he stayed in the guest house in the mean time.  As Capone walked along the shoreline, he started noticing pieces of military aircraft washed up on shore.  Capone figured that some of these guys, probably crashed landed out at sea in the storm.  But what he saw next alarmed Capone, Pieces of ships and more planes.  Capone thought to himself Mother Nature must have had a real bad stomachache, to spit up all this debris here.  When Capone saw something shinny sticking up out of the sand, it really startled him.  It was the bell of the USS Atlantida, a US Navy ship lost in 1931.  The Atlantida had been lost in a part of the ocean, known as the ships graveyard.  The graveyard was an area, which stretched from Puerto Rico to Grand Bahama Island and Ft Luaderdale, Florida.  Capone didn’t believe in superstition, but he couldn’t explain how did this debris make its way here.  When he contacted the Navy department about his findings, people on the other side of the phone thought he was crazy and hung up on him. 

         As the days passed and construction was continuing on his home, Capone couldn’t help but stare st the ships bell sitting on top of the fireplace mantle.  Finally curiosity got the better of him, he headed for the beach and wrote down as many identification numbers as he could from the debris field on the beach.  Once he had all the information, he headed for Rojas, a small town, which had an extensive maritime museum and library.  The librarian was Robert Frost, a well-known historical researcher.  Capone and Frost hit it off right away, Capone knew if any one could help him it would be this guy.  The men both looked through old newspaper archives, for any mention of aircraft and ships lost, within the area of the ships graveyard.  There were several hundred ships lost; they were all listed in the National Maritime registry.  But there was just one ship missing, The Atlantida how is that possible that it’s not listed.  All the ships that were listed on the registry, had on the Maritime registry the ships name, the cargo, and the date it disappeared.  Both men stayed well in to the night researching it, but at every turn they came up empty.  This ship didn’t exist, or someone didn’t want it to exist.  It had been a long day so both men decided to call it a day, so they headed for the local pub, for a nightcap.  They pulled in to the Paradise Inn; this was the favorite hang out for all local fishing captains.  Capone felt comfortable here; the captains that frequented here were legends worldwide.  There was an open table in the corner of the bar, Capone and Frost sat down and ordered their favorite local beer.  As Capone looked allround. He was amazed, at all the local talent that surrounded him.  Sitting on a bar stool drinking his usual Jack Daniel shots was Captain Edward Smith, captain of The Lauderdale lady.  Next to Smith was Captain Hans Langdorph, captain of the Carpathia. Like these there were many more, allround. Waiting and drinking.  These captains were stranded waiting for the clearance, as to when the port of San Juan would be back to 100% operation.  The port had sustained the blunt of the damage during the hurricane.  So it would take longer than the rest of the city to get rebuilt, in the mean time they just hung allround. Waited. 

          While drinking Capone had an idea, why not charter one of these captains out to the graveyard to see what he could find out.  He approached Landdorph and offered him a drink.  Langdorph accepted and joined Capone at his table, the gentlemen spoke like they had known each other for quite along time, when they really only just met.  As the conversation progressed Langdorph excused himself. With the excuse to go to the bathroom.  Capone knew something was up; Capone had a gut feeling this guy was up to something.  But he dismissed it as nothing, he kept on chatting with Frost.  A few minutes go by and Langdorph returns to the table to continue the conversation.  It was now 0300 and it was last call, the bar was closing down for the night.  Capone agreed to meet Langdorph at his home later on that day.  On the drive home after dropping Frost off, Capone was bothered by the sudden need of Langdorph to go to the bathroom in the middle of a conversation.  Capone was so excited he could barely get any rest; he tossed and turned all night thinking about the trip.  

          As morning came Capone woke up to find two dark government sedans, parked in front of his home.  Capone thought to himself this isn’t good, well might as well invite them in for breakfast why be a rude host.  Capone walked out on his front lawn, walked right up to the cars, tapped on the window.  The men inside rolled down the window, Capone jokingly looked at them and said to all three don’t tell me there’s a three stooges convention in town and you fellas are sure to get first prize right.  None of the three men smiled, well fellas at least join me for breakfast after all I can’t have the government; accuse me of being a bad host.  All three men walked in to the home, Capone offered the men breakfast and anything they wanted to make their stay comfortable.  All three refused, so Capone poured himself coffee and struck up the conversation.  All right fellas who sent you and what do you want with me.  Mr. Capone we are with the department of National Defense and Homeland security.  I am agent G Gordon Liddy lead agent in charge; these are special agents Frank Nitty and special Agent G Edgar Hoover. We are here because we received a tip from from an informant, that you had information regarding the ship USS Atlantida.  Well fellas listen sorry you guys traveled all this way to go home with empty pockets.  All I have is a island, that’s been hit by a disaster, but if you fellas want to contribute some federal aid to help rebuild it, I wont tell any one we can keep it between us what do you say fellas.  Capone gave the G-men a smirk, in his own style of being his, usual wise guy cracks.  The agents tried to be as polite as possible, but agent Hoover didn’t care for Capone at all. Hoover had run in to Capone years earlier, when Capone was in Chicago running the North side gang.  Unfortunately for Hoover, Capone always managed to slide with out spending one day in jail.  Hoover had a definite grudge, against Capone because he always slipped through his fingers.  Now Fellas if you will excuse me, I need to go and take care of the business of governing this island.  Why don’t you guys escort each other out the same door you walk in, have a nice day.  Mr. Capone we will leave how ever, since you are the governor you will report anything else you locate from the Atlantida won’t you.  After all it would really be ashamed, if we had to come back and start looking over all of the islands financial records.  Capone looks at Nitty smirks and says listen Gordon, don’t you know it’s a Federal law to harass a government official.  Now you fellas enjoy the islands hospitality and try to relax, you guys really are tense and need to work on your tans.

          Capone knew something was definitely up, why are the Feds so interested in this ship.  One thing he needed was the best captain on the island, so he headed to find Frost.  Frost had been the local librarian but he also knew all the locals better than Capone.  Frost could possibly recommend a captain, who could be trusted to keep a secret.  Upon arrival at the library, he found Frost looking kind of upset.  Wait don’t tell me you had visit by the Feds right, your also suppose to keep them informed of all activities related to the Atlantida.  Frost was really upset, how can these people come in and treat people as if they were criminals.  Capone kind of smirks and says yeah imagine that, especially law avoiding citizens such as us.   Frost asked how he could help out, Capone told him exactly what he needed.  Frost tells Capone you already met the best, he is captain Smith.  Capone hadn’t spoken to Smith last night; He was introduced but didn’t really speak to him.  Smith hates the Feds a lot more than you and I ever will, trust me on that one Frost tells Capone.  Capone jokingly says why did they audit him every year too, to see where he hides his millions from his fishing.  Frost looks at Capone seriously and starts telling him the story of captain Smith.  Smith was responsible for the US Navies 3rd fleet in the Atlantic in 1925.  With out warning while the fleet was patrolling the Scapa Flow Straights, they were ambushed by the Chechnian Navy.  It was a complete slaughter for the 3rd fleet, Captain Smith had no warning from Naval Intelligence, and he was held solely responsible for loosing the fleet.  In reality two days prior to leaving for patrol, the State department had received intelligence that there would be an attack on American interest in the Atlantic region.  The warnings were passed on to all of the fleets’ commanders for each sector of the Atlantic, however Smith and the 3rd fleet never received the warning.  Smith was purposely used as bait, to get the United States involved in the Chechnian conflict of 1926.  As long as the United States had a legitimate reason to attack Chechnya, the United Nations would back US reprisal.  Smith was found guilty of dereliction of duty, stripped of his rank and sentenced to Levenworth, Federal prison for 10 years.  I could see how that, can make someone a little bitter Capone tells Frost.  After getting out of jail in 1936, Smith moved to Puerto Rico, to live as far away from the mainland as possible The men walk in to the Paradise Inn, in a corner stool is captain Smith drinking his usual Jack Daniels shots.  Hello Captain Smith I’m Alfonse Capone we met briefly last night, yes Mr. Capone I remember you how can I help you today?  Well here it is I would like to hire you and your boat, Ill pay you top dollar and all expenses.  What kind of fish are we fishing for? Or do I don’t really need to know?  Well Captain it’s kind of sencitive, it usually is when someone offers to hire my boat with all expenses paid the men chuckle.  All right I don’t really know and I really don’t want to know, so when do you want to leave and where are we going.  Capone looks at him and tells him I really don’t know, Smith says yeah I know where that is I been there before as he smiles. Let’s meet at the library tonight at say 6:00 o clock tonight, Smith says no problem I’ll be there.

          The men meet at the library as agreed, Smith right on time as his navy training trained him to be.  Ok what’s the plan Mr. Capone; call me Al he tells him.  Well I want to go the ships graveyard; I want to locate the Atlantida.  Smith tells him forget it, can’t locate what’s not there.  The last known location of the Atlantida, before she went down was 12 miles due east of Virginia Key.  That’s way up in New Port News, Virginia, nowhere near the graveyard.  Captain I thought you might be a little skeptical, so I brought a little souvenir to show you.  Capone pulls out of a burlap bag the bell of the Atlantida, to show as proof to Smith.  Smith can’t keep his eyes off it, he can’t believe what he’s looking at.  Where did you get this he asks Capone, Mother Nature delivered it to my front door during the hurricane.  Captain Smith was intrigued; The Atlantida should not have been any where near this neighborhood.  All reports showed it to be 1000 Miles further up north.  But then he realized this was after all, a government owned ship so they could say it sank anywhere they wanted it to if it benefited them some how.  Ok Al where do we go from here, why do you want to locate the Atlantida so bad?  I could see going after maybe some Spanish gallions; they bring in a hefty profit of Spanish gold at least.  But the Atlantida is only going to begin you empty pockets; it’s worthless it doesn’t have anything worth salvaging.  Most likely the Navy already found it and stripped all the valuable hardware and weapons of her, even if we were to find her its just worthless.  Captain Smith you let me worry about cost, you just help me find her ill share 25% of what ever we find of value.  Great I get to get 25% of nothing, I am not sure if Ill have time to spend it all, maybe I can even invest some of it Smith laughs.  You know Smith it’s your positive outlook on a situation, which motivates and gives me hope in this partnership as the men smile. 

          After leaving all of the government affairs in order in the capital of San Juan, Capone drives back to the Port of Arecibo to depart with Captain Smith.  As far as every one was concerned, the governor was away on fishing vacation for a few days.  Frost, who the men liked and trusted, would join the two men plus frost had a lot of knowledge of the local oceanography which would be a great help on the trip.  The trip would take them on a zigzag pattern scanning the ocean bottom with sonar; this was considered state of the art technology of the time.  Capone had heard of sonar from the local gun runners, they would use it to drop bundles of guns on the ocean floor if they were getting pursued, once it was safe and clear they would return locate them and picked them back up.  Captain Smith humor me just how does a fishing boat come equipped with sonar asks Capone.  Well you see when you are fishing for hammerhead sharks, it send a magnetic signal and helps you locate the school.  With a Smirk Capone just says oh ok sure, did it work on Moby Dick also? Nah all I did with Moby Dick was sweet talked her in to getting in to my fishing nets, I have a way with the ladies you know as he smiles.  Inside Capone knew from personal experience fishing captains like Smith had to ran guns himself to pick up a little extra cash here and there.  This didn’t bother Capone at all, the way he figured it everyone has to survive some how.  Both men were really hitting it off quite well; they felt real comfortable with each other.

          The Lauderdale lady departed Arecibo port at 03:00 that morning; the calm breeze of the ocean was quite pleasant and peaceful.  Frost started studying the charts as they headed on a course due South East, Frost carefully plotted the course ahead of time.  One thing that concerned Frost was if this wreck was past the Puerto Rico shelf, it would be virtually impossible to reach.  The Puerto Rico shelf was a steep drop in the ocean floor of about 5 miles.  Technology would not help them get what they came to find.  But Frost stayed optimistic, the way he figured it if the Bell washed up on shore then the wreck can’t be anywhere near the Shelf.  Two hours out Captain Smith begins setting up the sonar equipment and mapping out the ocean floor, hopefully with a lot of luck they might find the debris filed of the Atlantida.  After about two hours the sonar goes crazy bringing up radar images of a huge wreck.  Frost looks at the area on the ocean charts, he gets very excited there are no wrecks listen on the charts for that area of the charts.  Well I think we might have the Atlantida, captain Smith reports to Capone.  Both men mark out the location on the navigation map so in case they have to return they can locate her again.  Smith had extensive diving experience from his navy days, as and underwater demolition expert.  Capone had recreational experience in diving, however in this shallow depth there wasn’t a need for great expertise.  Besides they way both men figured it, if the rip tides don’t kill them the sharks will have them for brunch.

          Both men suit up in their dry divers suits, they grew on each other thru out their short partnership and they learned to trust each other with their lives.  The wreck was lying in about 60 Ft of water with some harsh rip tides, depending on the time of the year.  During the hurricane season, the southerly currents brought heavy rip tides in this area.  Both men watched each other’s back as they descended down to the wreck, it took them about 20 minutes to reach the wreck.  Smith looked at the ships bow and the letters confirmed it USS Atlantida.  One interesting fact was, the ship midsection had a hole about the size of the Grand Canyon.  Smith knew this ship had been purposely sabotaged; this was definitely not the work of little green men from space in the ships graveyard.  Capone signals Smith it’s time to come up, they are running out of air so both men start ascending slowly up the life line.  Once dried up and back in the Lauderdale lady, Captain smith starts examining the photographs he took of the explosion.  A very heavy grade weapon did this; nothing in our navy’s weapons arsenal can even do this kind of damage.  Capone suggests maybe some other foreign government has better technology than we do, to cause this type of damage.  Smith replies impossible see the way the damage is spread out, this is to precise it’s almost like someone took a scalpel and neatly blew a hole through the steel.  Tomorrow well take a closer look, Smith tells Capone for now its sleepy time.

          As morning arrives every one is awakened by the sounds of Coast Guard patrol boats and search planes.  Smith knows this is not a good sign; he looks to Capone and jokingly asks him if he remembered to renew his fishing license and bring it with him.  Smith knows trying to run with the airplanes above is useless, the Lauderdale Lady is built for speed but it can’t outrun a plane. The best bet sit still and wait till they come to them, maybe they are looking for a lost ship it could be nothing.  As the coast guard ship got next to the boat, Capones smile fades immediately when he gets sight of who’s on board.  On board is none other than Special agents Liddy, Hoover and Nitty, Well captain Smith how is the fishing, asks agent Liddy?.  Well quite nice actually I just caught three Special agents I could use as baitfish; the sharks will love the special treat.  Capone laughs unfortunately the special agents didn’t find the comment very funny at all.  So what can I help the Office of Homeland Security with today gentleman, asks Capone?  You know why we are here Capone so don’t play stupid, Oh you guys are fishing also great pull up a chair captain Smith knows the best fishing spots.  We want everything you have on the Atlantida, or we start searching your vessel.  Smith looks straight at Liddy, tells him to go for it search all you want as long as you got a warrant.  Capone is starting to panic slightly knowing how resourceful the Feds can be when they want something real bad.  However he’s got faith that Captain Smith knows what he’s doing, otherwise he wouldn’t have welcomed them to search.  Liddy knows he’s got no grounds to search; no judge is going to issue a warrant with out just cause.  Liddy looks at Smith and says. I can search your vessel, we are outside of the boundary lines, and we are in International waters. Under the Home land Security Act of 1929 the law doesn’t require me to have a warrant if I feel a ship is a threat to American safety.  Smith smiles and asks the coast guard captain, what are the exact coordinates of their present location.  The captain of the Coast Guard cutter tells him exactly, what Smith wants to hear.  Smith purposely rose anchor minutes before the Feds boarded his ship, this would make it appear as if they were trolling genuinely fishing.  He knew the rip tide currents would bring him back towards land, during hurricane season.  Being this was hurricane season the plan was working flawlessly.  So Smith tells Liddy sorry but we are not in International waters any more, we must have drifted back in to US waters so you better have a warrant or bye bye.  Liddy knows Smith is right, him and his men get off his boat and leave but before they do they warn the two men that they will return.  Capone just found a whole new level of admiration, almost like he worshiped him like he was some kind of hero.

          Both men gear up for one more dive, they know they are on borrowed time so they have to make this dive count.  They reach the wreck and go inside of the wreck, both men are panicked by what they find inside of the cargo hole.  It’s human cadavers in orange jumpsuits all chained up, these were prisoners of some sort.  In a corner of the cargo hole they see a medium size wooden crate with property of US Government stamped all over it and a heavy lock on it.  The men both come back up and rig up a balloon bag, Smith used balloon bags all the time when he ran guns, when trouble came he would drop the guns off in the ocean, he would later on inflate the bags when it was safe and raise them up from the oceans bottom to his ship.  As the bags inflate and start lifting the heavy crate gently upwards, Smith investigates the cadavers closer.  Upon his investigation he realizes that these prisoners were being transported to Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.  Each one had a destination bracelet, almost like cattle being branded.  Smith didn’t quite know how this piece of the puzzle fit in; one thing was for sure these guys paid the ultimate prize.  On the deck of the Lauderdale Lady Frost secures the crate with heavy ropes to the side of the ship.  The crate is much too heavy for Frost to lift on board by himself.  Frost waits for Capone to come up and Smith so the crate can be lifted on board.  Meanwhile Smith takes one more set of pictures of both the damage and of the cadavers in the jumpsuits.  While he takes the pictures, he makes sure he takes special attention to the ID tags on the wrists. About 20 minutes go by and Capone signals Smith it’s time to come up.  Both men slowly start ascending up the lifeline, as he swims up Smith is intrigued about the cadavers.  Finally on board of the Lauderdale Lady all three men rig up the lines to the two tow cables and raise the crate up on the ship.  The crate feels quite heavy, Smith estimates it to weight about 1500 Lbs.

          In the distance they see trouble coming in and coming in fast, Smith gives the order to raise anchor and move.  Smith is going to use an old smugglers trick, He’s heading out to deeper waters where the water drops a few degrees in temperature, and this along with the warm air causes a fog affect.  Smith has faith in his lady; she’s done this many times before and never let him down in the past.  After about a half hour, they make it out to the safety of the Laurence Basault Straits and in to the welcoming arms of a thick fog bank   Capone wonders what’s going thru Smiths mind what’s the master plan, so he asks Smith what’s next on the game.  We sit and wait till nightfall, and then we cruise past them and sneak in to Cedar Key.  Cedar Key used to be a heavy trade port, for gunrunners running guns into Cuba.  But after Cuba became a democracy and communism fell, the gun running trade collapsed and no one had a use for Cedar Key.  Smith knew this would be the safest place to lay low for a while, no one so going to look for us there.  The way the Feds figured it we are expected to show up in Puerto Rico, well to their surprise we wont show up right away.  Capone asks Smith what exactly do you mean right away, we do need to go back and bring what we found right.  Smith tells Capone relax we are fishing remember so the only thing we are bringing back are Atlantic Marlin.  What about our package this is coming back right, or what do you have in mind Smith?  Well we are going to leave this safely in Cedar Key then head back in to Puerto Rico, they will surely keep a tail on us for a while till they loose their scent and forget about us.  We then come back pick up our care package and hopefully become silly drunks from spending our fortunes on a lot of booze and partying.  Now let’s get to Cedar Key, as Smith fires up the twin Caterpillar diesels and heads back in from the fog.  Morning comes and success they reach Cedar Key safely, Capone knew he made the right choice as captains go with Smith.  Frost notices along the way that the crate has rare markings, along with the usual property of US government stamp. He has only seen this in ancient biblical books and scripture.  Frost notifies both Capone and Smith of is findings, both men look at the markings but aren’t sure what to make of them.   Smith suggests opening it Capone agrees, Frost has reservations about this, so he tells both men to wait he has an idea.  Let’s get an expert to look at this before we open it, I know the right guy for the job he tells the men.  Well what’s the matter what are you afraid of Frost, we tell someone about this guess what we have to split what ever we find 4 ways instead of 3.  I don’t care Frost tells them, this doesn’t feel right.  Smith thinks about it for a second and realizes Frost is right; in his mind he gets flashbacks of the cadavers in the Atlantida next to this crate.  All three men agree to bring in an expert, in archeology Biblical studies

          As the Lauderdale Lady reaches the port of Arecibo. The sight of Federal agents, waiting on the dock, welcomes them.  Smith and Capone pull the lines and tie off the boat while Frost starts unloading the fresh catch of the day.  Agent Liddy pulls out a warrant to search the vessel.  Smith looks at him with disgust and tells him to make sure, he turns the lights out when they are done.  All three men walk away with out answering any of the agents questions, Capone in his usual wise guy ways tells Smith you think they’ll let us keep the fish after all some of them are undersized? Smith just laughs it off.  The men head for the Paradise Inn for a drink, to discuss the next part of the plan. The men will lay low for a while; this will give Frost time to get a hold of his old friend.  Frost makes a few phone calls to the University of Miami where his old friend Edgar Cayce is the head of the archeology and spirituality department.  Edgar Cayce and Frost go back a long ways, both men had written several papers together on the theories of time travel and biblical studies and how the two where related.

          About three months had passed and things had finally quieted down enough, for the men to return to pick up their treasure.  Smith had taken this time to study the pictures taken in the wreck; he had some contacts in the Navy archives department willing to help him with out asking too many questions.  He found out that the prisoners were Chechnian revels that had been kidnapped, were being transported to Guantanamo Bay Naval base for interrogation.  This was common practice, in times of war the United States would capture and kidnap then interrogate suspected terrorists on foreign soil, this would not raise any questions of inhumane treatment by organizations such as Amnesty International.  As long as the interrogations were conducted on foreign soil United Nations rules of human rights didn’t apply.  It was a neat little loophole the diplomatic community found to get allround. The United Nations rules on human rights.  On the morning of the day Smith had planned to run out to Cedar Key, he gets an unexpected visit from Captain Langdorph.  Smith and Langdorph tolerated each other but they were fierce competitors.  Smith made small conversation, as he was preoccupied with Cedar Key, Langdorph had made fishing enquiries about the area allround. Cedar Key.  Langdorph didn’t tell him anything; he just played stupid like he hadn’t fished the area of Cedar Key in years.  Langdorph knew Smith was lying to him, but he left as quickly as he came.  As Smith was fuelling up the Lauderdale Lady for the 12-mile rip to Cedar Key, he couldn’t help but wonder what Langdorph was up to.  Smith tossed it off to the back of his mind, didn’t give it much thought.  At allround. Midnight Smith leaves the harbor; the Lauderdale Lady is loaded to make it look like it’s a midnight fishing run.  The captain of the boat in the next slip from Smith, made small conversation with Smith if he was heading to the Canyon tonight there be plenty of strippers running the southern current tonight.  Plus the fact that it was a moonless night; it was the perfect night for fishing strippers.  Smith answered he wasn’t sure what he was going for; he would figuered it out when he got out to the Canyon.  Smith purposely made it a point to tell Captain Halsey next to him where he was going, this way if any one comes snooping for info they’ll be sent the wrong way.  In fact Smith counted on someone coming looking for him tonight, he was sure he was being watched.  No matter if they go looking for him in the Canyon, they are going to be looking for a long time.  Since he’s going nowhere near the Canyon, Smith was a master of deception when it came to passing miss information.

          As Smith cruises past the channel markers out of the harbor, he kept on looking allround. To see who would follow him out.  He saw nothing out of the normal pulling out just past the outer marker of the channel.  Once out to open sea he headed a course due south, doing the better of 25 Knots.  Smith knew by running hard and fast he would burn more fuel, but he had to make this trip in less than 4 hours tops before the sun came up.  Smith arrived in Cedar Key in record time, only took him two and a half hours on a normal four-hour trip.  He quickly sets up his rigging gear and begins lifting up the crate off the shallow lagoon bottom.  Smith had done this type of operation quite a bit as a gunrunner back in the day, so it was a piece of cake for him.  As he got the crate on board, he thought he heard the sounds of twin Detroit Diesels pulling fast.  He knew only one boat in the fishing fleet had twin Detroit’s, it was The Carpathia.  He quickly fires up his own set of twin kitty Cat Diesels and makes a run out of the lagoon.  Smith knows the owner of the twin Detroit’s, it’s none other than Langdorph with a group of Feds trailing.  Smith isn’t worried the Lauderdale Lady can out run anything they brought to this party, especially Langdorphs boat it was held together with Duct tape and bubble gum.  Smith knew once he made it out to open water, he was in the clear.  He just had to make sure the spotlights didn’t reach his boat; otherwise they will have the name of the boat, which they can find later at the dock.

          Two and a half hour later Smith pulls in to Capone’s dock, at The Crystal Palace Capone greets Smith at the dock.  Quickly both men unload the crate on to the back of Capone’s pick up, and Capone drives it out of sight.  Smith fires up the Lauderdale Lady and bring her back to the other side of the island, to her slip this will not raise any suspicion, plus he wanted to be sitting on the deck as he watched the Feds roll in.  Smith pull in to the slip and ties off, he walks over to grab some breakfast to bring back to the boat.  As he sits down on the deck to enjoy another beautiful morning in paradise, Langdorph and the Feds pull in to the harbor.  Smith waves at them as they pass by; Smith knows they are looking for the guy that out ran them a few hours ago.  They question Smith who told them exactly what they wanted to hear, he told him he tried to go out last night but outside of the channel he fouled up a fuel filter and had to come back.  The Feds didn’t believe him nor did Langdorph but with out a single shred of proof otherwise, they had no choice to leave him be.  Agent Liddy didn’t quite believe the tale, so he asked Smith if he would show him the fouled up filter.  Smith simply refused to show him anything; Smith grew to hate authority specially the Feds.  So he told agent Liddy you want to see anything on my boat get a warrant, otherwise get lost.  I am trying to enjoy a beautiful breakfasting and beautiful sunrise and you are like a hemorrhoid annoying me, so go play G-man some place else. 

          The day passes slowly captain Smith, takes this down time to relax somewhat of a commodity these days.  Capone and Smith agreed to meet later on that evening at The Crystal Palace.  Smith is bored of the waiting, he knows the longer they wait the longer agent Liddy has time to gather search warrants.  He contacts Capone and they agree to bring in Frost and Edgar Cayce.  Smith picks up both men at the Library and all three head to The Crystal Palace.  They take the back roads, which takes longer, but makes it more difficult for government agents to follow them.  Although if agent Liddy really wanted to, he would just pop in at any time.  The men arrive at Capone’s home after three hours of back road driving.  Capone kind of looks at Cayce and makes a remark jokingly he has the look of a medieval wizard, with long gray hair and the Fuman Chu mustache and Beard.  Frost assures Capone that this guy is the best in the field, Capone just smiles and shakes his head in a gesturing if you say so.  While in his mind the impression Capone got, was that this guy looked like a homeless person a common every day bum.  But Capone kept an open mind through out the whole thing, after all worst came to worst and he didn’t produce results he just wouldn’t get a portion of the treasure.

          All four men look at the crate Cayce studies the writings on the crate closely.  After about 20 minutes he gives the men the news they been waiting to hear.  Gentlemen you must take this back to the ocean bottom, and leave it there.  Some things are not to be tampered with by human hands.  Capone and Smith both look at Cayce and tell him forget it, we didn’t do all that work to come up empty handed.  Cayce warns the men bad things will occur if this is opened, he explain the writing warn of disaster and harm to come to all those who dare, trample on holly ground.  Capone asks exactly what he means.  Cayce reads the warning on the crate; it speaks of super natural forces beyond our understandings.  He tells them inside of this crate is the original Ark of the Covenent, the original Ten Commandments it is protected from forces of biblical proportions.  Smith orders Cayce to stop pulling his leg, that stuff is all pure myth, Believe what you want but I will not open this and I plead with you not to also.  Frost agrees with Cayce, Capone on the other hand insists they didn’t come this far to be left empty handed.  The men argue for a bit, till there is a loud bang on the front door.  All of a sudden it’s agent Liddy with a hand of Special Agents, executing a search and seize warrant.  Liddy and his team make it to the room where the crate is, all four men are ordered on the ground.  As Liddy is checking the men for weapons, he can’t help but notice the crate.  So I see you did find the treasure of the Atlantida, thanks for recovering it for us.  Capone looks in shock what do you mean us, you mean for the government right.  No I mean for Hoover, Nitty and I, we been after this for years.  You mean you guys aren’t with the office of Homeland Security, well sort of but we are also deal in oddities on the side.  Our oddities are treasure and you found it for us.  Smith looks at the men in disgust, you know I should have known from the beginning the Office of Homeland Security couldn’t have had such an interest in this.  But tell me just how did you get the funding to approve all of this surveillance, after all it takes quite a bit of cash and Washington doesn’t exactly have deep pockets to afford this.  Well I suppose I could tell you in a few minutes you guys are going to be dead anyway, your going to be shot while you were trying to escape.  See Smith the Government doesn’t like it when the flow of illegal drugs keep coming in to the mainland, so I assured them I knew who the main source was, and I could arrest him and bring him to justice.  Just who is the main drug lord for the region asks Capone, well since you ask Ill tell you Capone.  The drug lord for the region is you, of course I am I wish someone would have told me sooner smiles Capone.  So how are you going to explain the three other innocent casualties, asks Smith well they were collateral damage from the raid.

          As long as we are going to dies anyway, before we do how about we get one little look at the treasure before killing us.  Before finishing the sentence completely Cayce opens his mouth and tries to warn the men no to do it.  Liddy just orders Cayce to shut up, he gets a pry bar and starts to pry the crate opened.  Smith tells the other three men here we go party time, start praying cause it’s going to get hairy from this point on.  As Liddy pull the last nail out, bright light rays start luminating the room and out come six ghostly images.  The men can’t believe what they are seeing unfold in front of them.  Capone starts praying to himself, Frost is hypnotized by the images.  Cayce closes his eyes tightly; he knows better then to look.  The images start forming in to three knights and three Mayan tribal Indians.  The knights take defense positions allround. The Covenent, the three Mayan Indians begin wielding special staffs with a glow on the tip.  As Liddy tries to make a run for the door, he is split in half by the beam that comes off from the Staff of the Mayan Indian.  Smith finally realizes this is the same tool that was used to cut the hole on the side of the Atlantida.  The three knights stand poised and ready for battle, this is beginning to look like the fight at The Alamo.  Smith and the others wait to see what’s next; Hoover and Nitty are quickly knocked to the ground by the Mayan Indians.  Out of the Covenant comes an aerie cloud of white smoke, it starts taking the form of a being.  Within a few seconds a figure that’s about seven feet tall stands in front of Hoover and Nitty and orders them to kneel.  Smith and Al Capone look at each other knowing well whets going to happen next.  Within seconds the tall figure that is carrying a ritual staff starts talking in a strange language, which neither man understands.  At which point Cayce starts up a dialog with the Mayan figure.  Cayce had studied different ancient dialoges; this gave him a big advantage over the others.  As the Indian spoke Cayce translated, the Indians voice tone was evil.  You dare awake what you not understand; you respect nothing you are but a small insect in the universe.  How dare you awaken and disturb the peaceful sleep of the sacred.  You will now be one of us.  The walking undead with the only purpose is to serve our lord.  As Hoover and Nitty beg to be forgiven they are struck down by the power of the mighty Indian chief, Both men’s flesh starts to turn to ash and fall off the bone is turned to dust.  The Indian chief then turns his attention to Smith and Capone, gets in their face and asks them if they are ready to meet the same fate.  For they too will meet the fate of the undead, Smith looks scared but in his own feisty ways looks at the chief in the eye.  He then tells Cayce to translate what he says word by word, Cayce agrees as much as he tries to hold in how scared he is.  Look Chief I’ve faced hurricanes, I’ve faced the fierce powers of the goddess of Atlantis, I fear nothing for I answer to a higher god than you.  My god is the goddess of the seas, she will determine my fate and it is by her hand that I shall be put to death.  The Indian orders one of the knights to smack Smith back down on the floor, mean while Capone tells Smith to shut his mouth.  Capone knows better than to mouth off specially if you out numbered   sometimes it’s just better to back off.  Smith starts praying out loud, I see you are a religious man I respect that the Indian chief tells him.  In a short time you will be meeting your lord, Smith look at the Chief and warns him do, as you must.  From the covenant an apparition starts flowing out it is St Stella Marie the patron saint of all those who take to the seas.  For years you have been faithfully praying to me Smith, you are a decent kind brave soul.  But tell me why I should spare you today, your people have done nothing to protect that which you inherited Mother Earth.  Your kind has polluted, destroyed and manipulated things to meet your greedy needs.  This is not the way humanity is to be.  Smith begs for forgiveness along with Capone, Frost is speechless it’s like he is seen a very bad horror movie.  Smith has the look of a beaten man; he knows this is the end so he tells Cayce to tell her to do, as she must.  The Indian chief makes the decision death it is for these mortals, as he raises he staff to execute the punishment.  St Stella tells the men do you truly seek forgiveness for all the sins you have created and swear upon your souls if your spared today, you will devote your lives to ensure this planet and it’s inhabitants live in peace and unity.  Do you promise to give back and take care of your planet, that you will protect her whenever a mankind threatens her extinction?  We swear we will do all of those things and more.  You will make sure the covenant is lost forever, upon our depart from here.  If you go back on our agreement, you already seen what we can do, we have brought you death and disaster to your world once.  We can destroy at any time, these weather changes you have been experiencing are only a small demonstration of things to come.  If your kind does not change their ways, we will have no choice but to destroy your world.  Capone and Smith both give their word they shall honor her wishes. 

          As the ghostly images go back in to the covenant all the men agree, to keep this their secret so they swear a pact to forever hold the secret.  They place the convent back in to the wooden crate and cart it to the dock.  An hour later Smith arrives with the Lauderdale Lady to pick it up at Capone’s house .As they load the crate back on board, Capone starts boarding the boat.  Smith orders him off he is doing this alone, Capone is not happy with this decision but respects Smiths decision to go at it alone.  As the sun starts to rise The Lauderdale Lady heads on an Easterly course.  Captain Smith and the Lauderdale Lady were never heard or seen again, his last known location was in the area of the ships graveyard, near the Bermuda Triangle.  Capone spent the rest of his life heading the Puerto Rico office of governor along with establishing the environmental organization known as Project planet Earth.  Frost moved to Washington, DC and has been a lobbyist against the oil industry and the total removal of Nuclear weapons and testing through out the world.  Edgar Cayce retired from The University of Miami and moved on to teach the art of ancient communication and ancient cultures.




StarPoet   StarPoet wrote
on 8/28/2008 12:50:01 AM
Nice work here. I liked that you entwined history and history's good and bad figures to make it more interesting. Friendly advice: Break up your story more. It was a good read, but it was sometimes confusing for the paragraphs were together too much. "Let the reader breathe" as I was told a long time ago when I did the same.

Short Story
writing Highwaynomad
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Rating: 10.0/10

Action packed story of historical figueres who make the difference in a corrupt world
A Word from the Writer
If you like what you read please let me know and if any on has ever experience this style of writting before please drop me a line. So enjoy letting your mind wonder in to unkown excitring new world.