After 10 years my job was done.
For all of those years I worked under contract for the DEA, ICE, ATF, NSA and once for the CIA. Ten years of my life basically undercover and pretending to be retired with a fishing habit. I made more money than I can ever spend. Especially now. I have been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. I put the Bogart in Bogart! Forced to retire and given a death sentence. Oh well, I’m not in any pain.
Most of the work I did was investigating large drug cartels in the Florida keys. I’ve put hundreds of people away. I’ve also let some people slide. As judge and jury I found some people that were not a detriment to society. Just good people that took some wrong turns. They never knew the power I had.
During these years I was befriended by some people that made my life a bit less lonely. There was Max, Jack, Joe Beans and Flo. The first three were also connected to the federal government in some way. I knew about this in an awkward sort of way but none of us talked about it. We did, however, work in conjunction from time to time. Mostly dealing with bad people that needed a good ass kicking. Sadly but rightly several of these people were removed from the roster of the living. We didn’t work as a government team. We worked as individuals that saw something horribly wrong and attempted to rectify it. Flo had something going on with Max but none of us talked about that. To all the world we looked like a bunch of aging retired fishermen.
Joe Beans appeared to be an extreme eccentric. He threw parties, ran for political office, and drank heavily. He is a very wealthy man! The other guys and gal are pretty secretive about their lives. If Flo is with the government she never lets on.. She is certainly everyone’s best friend.
When I first found out about the cancer Flo came to visit me in the hospital. She brought special snack meats from Fausto’s grocery market. The doctors said there was no need for any kind of special diet. I’m in no pain and I can eat whatever I want. What a way to go.
In the capacity I was given by the several government agencies I did a lot of undercover. My successes were achieved by the information I gleaned at the local bait shop. A bunch of the local boys and myself would show up there at the end of the day chugging beer and smoking cigarettes. They all told great stories. They all used names in their stories while bragging about this or that. All those names ended up in jail or dead. The boys at the bait shop themselves were strictly off limits. I made this damn clear to whomever I was working for. To keep my cover I sometimes partook of some of the drugs they had at parties and cook outs. A little coke. A little pot. I was always the first to go home. I was the oldest. They all expected it. Besides there were reports to write.
When I first heard about the cancer I was working on a human slave trading organization. The boys at the bait shop knew nothing about this. They were good ole boys dabbling in the minor drug trade. They looked at me as the old retired guy. That was my front. Carl Marsh. Beer drinker. Retired guy.
The human trafficker was a Cuban. Had all his papers in order. Appeared to live a sedate life. But he didn’t. He mostly smuggled teenage girls and he acquired a desire to befoul each and every one. From another undercover source I was able to get near him at the Green Parrot one afternoon. His name was Franco. He was the brother of a guy named Smut that Max and the county sheriff had disposed of some years back. Smut was a piece of shit child molester. Nobody misses him. I’d bet that even the bull sharks that consumed him couldn’t wait to crap his remains out.
Franco and another guy were discussing a new cargo of girls in regular voices that no one was paying attention to. Except me. They had ALL of my attention and from two feet away I took it in. All of a sudden I had a coughing fit. I hacked for a good three minutes. I went out on the sidewalk and hacked up pieces of lung and blood spattered phlegm. Woke me right up! Took a ride up to University of Miami hospital and checked in. They said I was gonna die. Nothing to be done. Nothing to fix. Weirdly, except for coughing spells, I wasn’t in any pain.
I went back to Key West and hung out with Flo for a few days. We went out for drinks and dinner. I told her I was dying. She cried a little and then I cried a little. I called Max. He would take care of Franco based solely on what I told him. I learned later that he did. Again the county sheriff was involved. Again there were bull sharks in the mix.
I continued to go down to the bait shop and hang with the boys. Good bunch of fellas! If I felt a coughing fit coming on I left. Nobody needed to see the result. My birthday came and I was officially retired from all government work. I had a ton of money in the bank and few worries. Except for the pieces of lung and blood that kept coming up. I thought of ending this very suddenly but the doctors all assured me I would go peacefully.
I finally quit smoking. My reasoning was that I didn’t want the cigarette smell in my clothes when I was viewed in my coffin. I also converted to Judaism because I had heard that they don’t believe in hell. Just wanted to cover the spread. Max dropped in and told me the deed was done. And seventeen teenage girls had been rescued. Nice thing to have in mind as nature took its course.
I died on a Thursday and was buried the following Monday. Joe Beans bought me a Gravestone. It said, “Here Lies Carl. He Liked To Hang Out On Bridges”. The boys from the bait shop showed up all sniffling from a shared 8-ball. After I was interred they all went down to a strip bar and paid $50 for lap dances. Like I didn’t know that was going to happen! None of them ever knew that I could put them all behind bars for over twenty years. Whatever they were they were friends.
Joe Beans, Max and Flo rented a boat and went out into the Atlantic to throw me a ceremonial wreath. Then they all lit up a cigarette and popped a Busch beer.
Nice to have friends.