The Major’s Surprise, Episode 40, Odysseys in Paradise

The next morning Rich awoke to the patter of rain on the cabin’s roof. Melodic thunder echoed from atop the hills surrounding the harbor. The rain fell steady and gentle, nearly casting a spell of euphoria over Rich.

“I’m not going out in this,” Rich thought as he looked through the porthole. However, an hour later the rain reduced to little more than a drizzle. “It would be nice to have breakfast prepared by someone other than myself.”

A couple blocks from the dock Rich found a small restaurant that served American breakfasts. It had been a while since he had sausage, eggs, and french toast.

By the time he finished breakfast the heavy rains returned. He paid the waitress.

“You can stay until it is not raining so hard,” she said.

“Thanks,” Rich said, “but I’m used to being wet.” And he bolted from the restaurant; down the street and towards The Odyssey.

As he neared the dock he noticed military jeep parked near the entrance to the dock. The horn beeped and an arm from the jeep beckoned Rich.

Rich ran to the driver’s side. The flap was down. Inside sat Major Oaks.

“Hop in,” Oaks said. “I have to get a report from you.”

“If it’s all the same to you, let’s go to my boat,” Rich said. “I’m soaked and I want to get into something dry.”

Rich dashed to The Odyssey with Major Oaks behind him carrying an attache case. They stepped onto the boat and scurried below.

“Have a seat, Major,” Rich said. “Do you mind instant coffee?”

“It’s fine,” Oaks said.

Rich lit a burner on the stove and sat a pot of water over it. “That should be about ready by the time I change. I’m going forward and get into some dry clothes. Make yourself comfortable. And if coffee isn’t to your liking I got some of that Tang orange juice.”

“Coffee is fine,” Oaks said.

“I’ll be right back,” Rich said, ducked into the forward quarters, and changed into dry clothing.

He stepped back into the cabin. “That feels better. Hey, I got tea. I never thought to ask.”

“Coffee is fine,” Oaks said.

“So, did you hear from Caracas?” Rich said.

“Yes,” Oaks said, “they would like to know about any unusual encounters you had and they want some verification of others. I got a call at 5:00 this morning and spent two hours on the phone with the CIA.”

“Well,” Rich said, “where would you like to start?”

“Was there something about a watermelon in Buenos Aires?” Oaks said nearly smiling.

“Oh, that one,” Rich said. “I nearly forgot about it. I had every reason in the world to think this guy from Europe was there to assassinate me. I rigged a melon with a hat and the guy shoots the melon.”

Oaks stared at Rich.

“Were you with a man who got killed in Rio Gallegos?” Oaks said.

“Yes, I have every reason to think the man who tried to kill me Buenos was the same to kill Tommy in Rio Gallegos,” Rich said.

Oaks opened his attache case and pulled out a legal tablet. He pulled out a pen also and started writing. “Give me as much detail as you can.”

They sipped coffee as Rich talked and Oaks wrote.

After a half hour, Rich said, “That’s about all I can recall about those events.”

Oaks flipped the pad shut.

“Do you want to know about the Marxists rebels in Patagonia?” Rich said.

Oaks opened the pad. “Yes, of course.”

Rich spoke in detail about that episode.

“Is that all?” Oaks said.

“There was the thing not that long ago in Adamstown,” Rich said.

“Tell me about it,” Oaks said.

Rich talked while Oaks wrote.

After Rich completed his statement, Oaks said. “You got an AK?”

“Yeah,” Rich said.

“Where did you learn how to use one?” Oaks asked. “I worked for a newspaper in Maine and I did a story on the local Marine Reserve unit. We went to a firing range and they taught me. And when you’re alone at sea, you are always looking for some things to do, so I squeeze off a few rounds here and there.”

“Is that all?” Oaks said.

There were the pearls,” Rich said, “but I don’t think that had anything to do with anything.”

Oaks smiled.

“You know something?” Rich said, “That’s the first time I’ve seen you smile.”

Then Oaks began to chuckle.

“Did I say something funny?” Rich said.

“I joined the Marines during the Korean War,” Oaks said. “I wanted to see action so bad. I hardly saw any action before the peace treaty was signed. I saw more of the aftermath of action. I wanted to make a career of the Marines. Went to college for four years and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Told the Marine Corps to send me anyplace there is a conflict that needs resolved. I’m looking for action and it seems to just cozy right up to you.”

“I’d gladly trade you places,” Rich smiled.

“You keep a clean boat,” Oaks said looking around the cabin.

“Well my underwear in the drawer isn’t folded military, but they are clean,” Rich said.

“Thanks for the coffee,” Oaks said and stood.

“Anytime,” Rich said.

“Can you stay around until I get some sort of confirmation on this,” Oaks said tossing his notes into the attache case and snapping it shut.

“Sure,” Rich said.

“If there’s anything you need,” Oaks said.

“Are you married?” Rich said.

“I have a wife and little girl,” Oaks said. “They’re in Colorado. She’s caring for her mother.”

“I was going to invite you to go sailing beyond the bay,” Rich said. “Thought it might be nice for you and your family.”

“Thanks,” Oaks said.

“Have you ever sailed?” Rich said.

“No,” Oaks said.

“There’s nothing like it,” Rich said. “Next time you have a day off.”

“If you’re around for the weekend?” Oaks said.

“Sure,” Rich said, “we’ll go out and squeeze a few from my AK.”

“Sounds like a Marine holiday,” Oaks said. “You don’t suppose you can bring your AK out to the post and let my men take a look at it? I doubt if any have seen one.”

“Give me a time,” Rich said.

“How ‘bout breakfast at 7 hundred hours at the mess,” Oaks said, “and maybe an informal briefing of the weapon at 8 hundred hours?”

“I’ll shave,” Rich said.

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