Thin Lizzy continued
Thin Lizzy continued…
Pulling into the parking lot of the Port Townsend Boat Haven Beth felt exhausted. It was 2am and she had taken the ferry and driven from Seattle after receiving a call that her father had not returned from his 1st day of the spot-prawn season. Beth had a man with her in the car and it was in fact his vehicle that she drove. The car was a black BMW M3 with heated leather seats and dark tinted windows. Beth knew if she weren’t so tired and worried about her dad she would have relished driving the sleek car. But having to drive silently in the dark not knowing where her father was took the thrill out of the experience. She wished Matthew could have driven but after single-handedly finishing the bottle of wine they had been sharing at dinner he was in no condition to drive. Beth had suggested she knew the way to Port Townsend by rote so maybe it would be best if she drove, giving him the chance to hand over the keys without feeling like he had to ask her to drive in his inebriated state. He was snoring in the passenger seat before the ferry even left the dock.
Rubbing her eyes she looked over at the now quietly sleeping man. He’d been much more attractive in the city. While still wearing his pinstriped lawyer’s suit, he’d taken off his tie and unbuttoned his collared shirt. He somehow looked less powerful to Beth. She quietly eased the door open but had forgotten to take the keys out of the ignition. The car expensively pinged to remind her to take the keys and she quickly snatched them out so as not to wake Matthew. He merely rolled his head to the other side away from the overhead light.
As Beth stepped out onto the gravel of the parking lot she realized the high-heeled boots she wore were completely inappropriate. The gravel crunched unevenly under her feet but she hobbled her way over to the harbor master’s quarters. Rapping lightly on the glass she saw lights were on inside the office. Opening the (always) unlocked door Beth called out “Charlie?” into the dimly lit room.
“Lizzy?” came the gruff voice of Charlie Helmsworth. “That you? Didn’t hear your car pull in.”
“I’m in a friend’s car tonight Charlie. Left the jalopy at home. Any word on my Dad?”
“I was just picking up some chatter on the shortwave. Come on in!”
She walked into the darkened back room and saw Charlie sitting at the old wooden desk with his gigantic white cat Moby curled up in his lap. Charlie motioned to the extra chair while leaning in to turn up one of the radios. She could hear voices coming out of the box but it sounded like they were speaking in codes. Charlie was scribbling notes on a piece of paper and staring intently at the radio. Suddenly the radio cut to static.
“Damn. They must have switched channels.” Charlie fidgeted with the knob but couldn’t find the signal again. “Grab me that chart kiddo,” he pointed to the large navigation chart spread out on the table in front of Beth. She brought it over to him and he quickly began checking the numbers that ran alongside the chart with the numbers he had written down while listening to the shortwave.
“Just what I thought!” he cried out in his biggest Bingo voice. Beth flinched at his unexpected outburst. Being in the same room with Charlie made his voice even louder than it had been on the phone earlier. But she still leaned in to see what he was pointing at on the chart.
“They were giving coordinates! See here how this number is the same?” he pointed with gnarled fingers at his pencil scrawled notes and then those on the chart. The area he pointed to fell right in the middle of the Straight of Juan De Fuca where the international boundary separated the US from Canada. “I think they’ve got somebody up around the border and we’re the closest Port of Entry!”
Almost on cue the phone on the desk began ringing. Charlie snatched it up before the first ring was finished.
“Harbormaster Charlie Helmsworth here. How can I help you?”
Beth heard Charlie’s half of the conversation consisting of many “yes ma’ams” and “right away ma’am.” Placing the phone back when finished he turned to Beth.
“They found your dad’s boat.”
Beth looked at him expectantly.
“And he’s alright.”
She let out a sigh.
“But he was tied up and had been drifting for a couple of hours on the tide.”
“He was what?!” Beth almost couldn’t understand what Charlie had said to her.
“They think some drug smugglers were coming across from B.C. with the ebb tide in Kayaks and somehow got caught up in your dad’s prawn line. When they could get their boats free they took over his boat and tied him up. But he’s ok. And they are bringing him in to us right now.”
Charlie lifted the heavy cat off his lap and set him on top of the big chart. “They’re going to need our help bring those boats in the dark. Let’s get down to the dock so we can light them up.”
Beth followed him down to the marina as if in a daze. Within minutes they heard the chugging engine of the Thin Lizzie and the smoother engine of the border patrol boat coming in behind it. Running over to her dad’s slip, Beth could see her father wave sheepishly from the helm. She quickly helped him secure the boat and hopped on board running over to give him a hug.
“You ok dad?” she checked him over for bruises.
“Just a little sore where they had me tied up. And I think we lost all the prawn traps when they cut them free.”
“As long as you are ok. That’s all that matters.”
Turning to see how Charlie was doing with the Border Patrol boat Beth saw a woman step onto the dock. In the quiet after the boat engines shuddered to a stop she could hear Charlie’s loud voice as he refered to the woman as agent Holdsten. Whipping her head around Beth watched in horror as the woman walked up the dock towards the ramp that went up to the harbormaster’s office and the black BMW in the parking lot. In a flash, Beth realized that by some strange twist of fate the border patrol agent was Matthew Holdsten’s wife.
“I’ll be right back Dad!” Beth cried as she hurried after the woman. But it was already too late. Standing at the top of the ramp, illuminated as if on stage by the bright lights Charlie had turned on for the arrival of the two boats, stood the recently awakened Matthew Holdsten. His wife strode purposefully up the ramp to meet him.