>> Off the Big Island
"There it is!" Daren Guy called and Sonya Chan came bounding up from the cabin in an itsy bitsy white bikini.
"It's huge!" she said. Viewed from a sailboat, 200 miles from land, the fishing boat with a large red circle painted on the hull took up a large part of the horizon. And their futures, it appeared.
"So what's going on, Daren? Who's this guy Sushi, and what's with the girls he's delivering to you?"
"Honest, I don't know. Something your friend Paul and his sidekick got me into it and ..."
Daren stopped. They had not discussed exactly what had happened to Paul van Bricken, the skipper of this boat when it was called Pet Shop, and his crewman. Or how it came to be called Wet Spot. Or why the pink sails and life rings were stored below. He guessed that she could guess. Steering the story carefully through the shoals of his sins, Daren continued.
"They'd arranged it with this guy Sushi, and he's been bugging me for days on the radio about a planned rendezvous, and there's money involved, and although there's millions in the near future, at the moment I'm a little cash shy and ..."
They were close enough now that they could see the ship's name, Tuna Maru, and a dozen brown-skinned women lined up along the rail.
"Where're they from?" Sonya wondered.
"No idea about that either. But that's gotta be Sushi."
A Japanese male in a fuchsia aloha shirt was herding the girls along the railing to where a ladder made of nylon rope and plastic slats dangled from the deck down five stories to the water.
"This is gonna be tricky," Daren said, angling the yacht toward the end of the rope. "No way our anchor reaches the bottom this far out." Fortunately the swells were running small, but still ... Wet Spot was a 69-footer, but compared to this floating fish factory ... even a little bump from Tuna Maru could be catastrophic ... His skills at the helm, working the motor and the wheel, would be tested.
"They look Filipina," Sonya said as they drew nearer. And it's a testament to the world we live in today that her first thought was that they were radical Filipino Muslims from Mindanao, sent to America to commit terror. But then she noticed their mini skirts and halter tops, and that from this distance they each appeared to be quite attractive. And barely legal.
And then she guessed right -- sex trade -- and had a flashback to her brief foray into that dirty business, which started with a photo shoot aboard this very boat for Pet Shop magazine.
Revulsed, she turned away and gasped. "It's getting crowded out here!"
Bearing down on them was another ship, even bigger than Tuna Maru.
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Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek.
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