Flamenco Flood #16

“Hey Dog Man,” I yelled across the water as the boat slowed then coasted toward him. “Where you headed?”

“Thought Dog was going with you to Tenican Heights.”

I shook my head slightly and winked.

“Tammy and I are going on a picnic. Can we drop you somewhere?”

Dog shrugged. “Suppose to go with you.”

Obviously, Sundog wasn’t getting the message. I winked more, shifted my position so Tammy couldn’t see my face and mouthed my message.

“Well, get in and we’ll take you where you want to go.”

Tammy gave me the evil eye. “Billy Marlin, let me off this boat right this minute.”Book cover of Flamenco Flood by author Nik C Colyer

Unfortunately, she was speaking as Dog stepped from shore onto the boat. She stood, pulled her bags together and prepared to get off. I kicked it into reverse and gunned the engine. Sundog lost his footing and fell to the bottom of the boat. Tammy was pushed back and sat hard on her seat.

“Billy Marlin, I want out of this boat right this minute.”

I backed out to the center of the river, set the jet drive into forward motion and tried to think of a way to calm Tammy down without telling her exactly what we were up to.

“Tammy honey, Sundog and I got a job to do and we need your help.”

“I don’t care what you got to do, you asshole, I want out of this boat, and I want out right this minute. Pull over right here Billy Marlin and let me out or I’ll…”

I smiled, pushed the throttle forward and the boat rocketed upstream toward the break in the levee.

Once through the break and onto calmer water, I shut the engine and coasted to a stop.

Tammy hadn’t so much as looked at Sundog. I hadn’t looked sideways at Tammy. Sundog wasn’t looking at anyone. He’d stared out toward shore. He knew what Tammy was like when she got riled up. That chicken shit Sundog wasn’t coming any closer to it than he had to.

When the boat coasted to a stop in the middle of the bay, I looked over at Tammy. I didn’t like trapping her, but business was business. I knew no other way to handle it.

“Tammy honey–”

“Tammy honey nothing, you sleaze.” She snorted the words out like a steam engine. “You take me back to shore right this minute or I’ll scream.”

It took a half-hour, with Sundog hanging off the back of the boat, before I was able to convince Tammy to help us. I lied of course; I had to. I said we were going into Tenican Heights to help Marylou Stalworth get off her island.

“I’ve never known you to help anyone except yourself, Billy Marlin.”

“Things change, Honey Pie. I’ve turned over a new leaf. Getting caught in the flood has given life new meaning.”

I started the engine and the boat rocketed toward Tenican.

Tammy was skeptical, but if I didn’t give her time to ask more questions, maybe we could pull this little caper off.

Ten minutes later, I slowed the engine and pulled the boat around the last bend leading to the front gate of Tenican Heights.

“Here,” I said and handed her Yamelda’s press badge. “Clip this to your shirt.”

I gave her no time to do anything but quickly clip the badge to her blouse. Tammy gave me a grimace, “You tricked me this one last time and I’ll get you.”

“Good morning,” I said as I pulled to the flooded gate. The guard, a pimply-faced kid of twenty, sat upright in a small aluminum fishing boat tied to the top of the guard shack roof a half inch under the muddy water.

“Good morning sir. You’re the guest of?”

“Marylou Stalworth.”

“And your name is?”

I unclipped the badge and handed it over.

The guard looked down at his paperwork and ran a finger down a list. “I don’t see any Keating on Ms. Stalworth’s guest list.”

“She called this morning,” I lifted the camera. “We came out to interview her and take some flood pictures.”

The phones were out, that was a no brainer. There was no way to check if we were genuine or not.

After a long pause, the kid handed the badge back, turned the clipboard around and handed it to me. “Sign in please.”

Inside the famous Tenican Heights, I idled the boat around trees and buildings until we faced the small island.

“Okay Billy, what are you really up to?”

“Were going to the Stalworth property. Look, there it is.”

“Yes, I know you’re going there, but my question is, why?”

I cut the engine long before we reached the island and let the boat drift in the light current.

“Shhhh,” I whispered. “Were coming to the place now.”

“Billy Marlin!”

I put my finger to my lips as the boat coasted the last fifty yards toward the back of the barn and bottomed on the mud.

I took the keys, leapt out, pulled the boat closer to shore and tied it to a bush.

“You wait here,” I said to Tammy. “We’ll be back shortly.”

With shovel in hand, me and Sundog sloshed our way through a foot of icy water.


I couldn’t sleep because the same hand that slugged Billy Marlin in the jaw hurt like the dickens. Also, I worried about Billy. Did I hit him too hard? Is he still lying out on the street? Why am I so obsessed by him? I had hundreds of questions and they all kept me awake.

The six o’clock buzzer went off. I got out of bed, pulled on my night robe with the fur around the collar, stumbled into my full-sized, mirrored bathroom and turned on the light, except there was no light. I went to the kitchen and found some candles. I peered in the mirror with the dim candlelight and I look like shit. How was I going to do the news?

I poked and prodded at my skin, unable to find any satisfactory resolution to a face that had not gotten enough rest.

I turned on the water and watched it spray out of my gold showerhead while I waited for the water to get steaming hot. I slipped my clothes off and stepped into the glass stall.

By the time I’d finished showering, my maid had slipped into the room, laid out my underwear, then gathered up the discarded night garments. I hired her three months ago, but I never remember her name.

I’d half-dressed before the smell of breakfast wafted into my bedroom.

I walked into the kitchen, as I’d done every workday morning, half-clothed, half-awake and half-ready to face the world. Sandy, or was it Cynthia, had already straightened up, cooked breakfast, cleaned the dishes and disappeared. Except on payday, I seldom saw her. The woman was like a ghost and I liked it that way.

After breakfast, I finished dressing, stepped out of my second-story apartment and waited on the landing for the WASS boat.

At work, my boss, Bob Slaterly, in his unredeemable male fashion came out of his office and looked at me. “Geez, Yamelda, you look like shit.”

While the Temp prepared me for the morning news, I thought about how Billy was doing. I hit him pretty hard. From my dressing room, I called. It surprised me that I knew his number from memory, though I’d never actually dialed it.

I was disappointed when I heard a recorded message. “The party you are calling has been temporarily disconnected.”

All the way through makeup, the morning news and three short meetings with department heads, I couldn’t get Billy out of my mind. At nine-thirty, I found myself with phone in hand dialing the memorized seven digits. When the disconnect message came on, I held my temper and quietly set the phone back on its cradle.

Just before noon, Bob called me into his office. He sat there with his stinky cigar and his dogface reading the local news. “Little distracted?”

“Didn’t get much sleep last night.”

As usual, he ignored my words and steamrolled into his subject. “Go over to Tenican Heights and get us an interview with Stalworth. While you’re at it, see if her chickens are drowned.”

“What kind of spin do you want?”

“Turn her into the wicked witch of the north. Maybe you can make this flood her fault.”

“You really got something against this woman.”

“She screwed us out of the fifth fairway and a million bucks.”

“That was ten years ago and wasn’t it her grandmother that took the whole thing to court?”

“I don’t care. Stalworth’s just like her grandmother.”

“Isn’t it just one small grassy area in a huge golf course?”

His face turned red as the little veins in his nose swelled. He took one draw on his cigar and snorted like a bull. “I golf there every week. Every time I have to skip the fifth, I’m pissed. Rake that Stalworth bitch over the coals.”

I’d never seen Bob with that much venom. It was funny that I’d be revisiting the very site where I spent the night with Billy. I wasn’t sure how I was going to rake Stalworth over the coals, especially since she had been so nice the day before, but I was a professional. My job was to deliver, and deliver I would.

I gathered Shawn, my skinny cameraman, a raincoat and three extra sweaters. Henry huddled in the pilot’s seat dressed in an insulated plaid shirt and felt-lined Levis that made him look like a fat, though colorful penguin. His Hemmingway, windblown face grimaced as I ordered us to Tenican Heights.

As Shawn was casting off, I settled in the relative warmth of the cabin cruiser then yelled up. “Can’t find my press pass.”

Shawn poked his head below. “Guards won’t let us in without ’em.”

Henry idled while I tore through the contents of my bag.

I leapt from the boat, ran across the deck and into the studio.

A half-hour later, new pass in hand, I pushed through the double doors and stepped into the boat. “Sorry guys.”

I sat hard as Henry pulled the boat fast away from shore.

Henry turned to me. “Once were in Tenican, where we going?”

“Fifth fairway.”

“There ain’t no fifth fairway.”


“Holy shit, Stalworth’s?”

I nodded.

“We looking for trouble?”

“We’re going.”

Although it wasn’t raining, the day was dark. I stayed below where it was warmer. Halfway to Tenican, the fog attacked my hair. It lay limp and lifeless, plastered to my head. Where was Sylvia when I needed her?

I peeked out when we pulled up to the miserable-looking guard sitting in the middle of the little aluminum boat. The guard looked at my pass. “How could you be Yamelda Keating?”

“Look at me, idiot. Who else could I be?”

“But, she passed through here an hour ago.”

“I don’t know who went in earlier, but I’m Yamelda Keating. I have an interview to get to. You better figure this out pronto or there’ll be shit to pay.”

“Do you have another form of identification?”

I fished in my purse while I grilled the guard.

“What’s your name?”

“Sammy O’Dell.”

“Well, Sammy O’Dell, you’d better start looking for another job, because I’m calling your boss.”

I found my driver’s license and snapped it over to him.

He studied it, then handed it back. “I’m sorry if there was any inconvenience, Miss Keating. I’m just doing my job.”

“Well, you little creep. You better start sending out résumés, because your job is almost over.”

“Thank you miss. You can pass.”

Henry took off fast, almost swamping the kid.

A mile later, I was looking for my phone to get that kid fired when another boat passed within twenty yards of us. It was Billy and he was driving a sleek, low-profile ski boat toward the entrance with a blonde sitting with her arm around him. I stared in fascinated horror as the ski boat approached to the left. I glared at Billy as he stared at my breasts, not even bothering to look at my face.

I screamed as Billy passed. “Turn this boat around this instant.”

Henry jammed the throttle into high and spun the wheel to the left. The boat rotated on a dime, throwing me to the deck.

I pointed at Billy and screamed, “Catch that boat.”

Shawn yelled, “What about the interview?”

“Fuck the interview. Can’t you see this is more important?”

Shawn smiled and lifted his camera. “Want me to shoot it?”

Sundog rotated as the boat passed. “Shit, Billy, it’s Keating.” Dog grabbed my right shoulder and spun me toward the back of the boat. “Jesus fucking H. Christ, Billy, they’re turning around.”

“Slam it, Billy and lose them or we’re in trouble.”

I jammed the throttle and the ski boat hunkered down.


I’d been sitting miserably in my little aluminum skiff since before dawn. I was freezing as I huddled in my too-thin Security jacket, wiping my nose with a soggy handkerchief. My glasses had been steamed up for hours as the morning fog rolled over flooded Tenican Heights. What a mess.

My grimace turned to a, “greet-the-guest” smile as another in a short list of boats lumbered up to the roof of my guard shack. My shift was almost over and I was glad. Too many more shifts like that and I’d quit that stupid minimum wage job.

I tucked a lock of hair under my military bib hat, pulled down on my jacket to straighten the creases and sat up with a military stiffness. I’d just finished an eighteen-month stint in the Navy. The automatic at attention stance was hard to let go. I held myself back from saluting.

Once I got out of the service, the last thing I thought I’d be doing was to stand guard on another body of water. I applied for the security job expressly because it was about as far away from water as I could get. I never liked boats. I hated open water, and despised standing watch in freezing fog.

It had been a strange shift. First, I had to sit chilled to the bone in the aluminum fishing boat, tied to the roof of our drowned guard shack. At ten, the first weird thing took place. The news crew from WASS came through with, of all people, Yamelda Keating. I’d seen Ms. Keating on TV, heard her friendly voice, and most of all, had seen her amazing breasts. In person, though my glasses were so foggy I was having a hard time seeing anything, she looked just as sweet, but her breasts weren’t half the size they were on TV. With that one revelation, my morning burst. Maybe my entire life was shattered.

While the boat pushed away from the guardhouse, my mind struck on every possibility. She must have worn falsies on the tube. The camera played visual tricks to make her look bigger. Maybe she had one of those push-up bras. If Yamelda Keating didn’t really have breasts as big as the camera portrayed, then what about all the rest of the women I’d seen on television. What if the cameras faked their breasts too?

My world was crumbling right before my very eyes. I’d spent the better part of the hour in introspective depression. My minds eye kept falling on the ugly truth. If the famous, Yamelda, “Big tits”, Keating didn’t have large breasts at all, who could I trust?

It was about the same time I came to that depressing conclusion that a large cabin cruiser pulled up to my little aluminum boat outpost.

I sat up straight and refrained from saluting once again. A bedraggled, washed out woman with a sneer handed me a press pass. I carefully looked at the pass. “How could you be Yamelda Keating?”

“Look at me, idiot. Who else could I be?”

“But, Ms. Keating passed through here an hour ago.”

“I don’t know who went in earlier, but I’m Yamelda Keating. I have an interview to get to. You better figure this out pronto or there’ll be shit to pay.”

“Do you have another form of identification?”

She looked in her purse while she asked my name.

“Sammy O’Dell.”

She handed over her driver’s license. “Well, Sammy O’Dell, you’d better start looking for another job, because I’m calling your boss.”

My mind screamed as I inspected her license. If she was Yamelda Keating, then who did I let through?

I was sitting in my boat that floated much lower than the gunnel of the cabin cruiser. There was only one way to prove the real Yamelda Keating. I stood full height and peered over the top of the larger boat. Trying not to be obvious, I stared at the driver of the boat, looking at the chest of the woman in my periphery. Oh my God, it was Ya-melt-a. I’d been in Clancy’s more than once in the last few months and I knew her nickname.

Bewildered, yet fundamentally reassured about all my female icons, I smiled and handed back the identifications. “I’m sorry if there was any inconvenience, Miss Keating. I’m just doing my job.”

“Well, you little creep. You better start sending out résumés, because your job is almost over.”

She gave me a dirty look, then turned toward the front of the boat. The cabin cruiser kicked into high gear and almost swamped me as it left.

If she’s Yamelda, then who was the woman I let through an hour ago.

While I reached for my radio, I looked out to the junction of Hummingbird Lane and Silver Fox Road under ten feet of water. I watched as the big cruiser made a lazy turn toward what would someday be the fifth fairway.

At the far edges of the fog, almost invisible, like a ghost ship, the cruiser’s engines bogged then caught and the big boat whipped around. In the silence of the cold morning, the engines crank up and I watched as the nose repositioned itself pointing directly at me. Two hundred yards away, the boat was closing fast. Their wake alone was enough to swamp me and the engines weren’t slowing. The cruiser was chasing a ski boat. A hundred feet between me and the ski boat, I pulled my engine starter rope. It coughed. I pulled again and it sputtered. I had seconds before I’d be mowed down. I pulled a third time and the Tweetie-Pie engine kicked into life. It pushed me out of the way of the boats to the length of the tether I forgot to unfasten. The boat spun around and drove me right back into their path.

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