Mermaid Chapter 7. Part 1.

I’m now over 200 k words and I can’t seem to stop. Here the first part of Chapter 7

Josh needs to get Sal from Long Island, Tom starts home and we meet the first of the indentured, Sphinx.

Chapter 7.

Mermaids Traveling.

Josh.

Monday morning started with Mera and I Swimming back into town. I needed to go over to Woods Hole to arrange for a lighter, talk to Ray about some people for the dock on Montauk, get a charter yacht and talk to Joe. When we got into the harbor, I pulled Mera into the boat and said; “Let’s get dressed. It’s going to be a busy day.”

“So where do we start?”

“Let me see if we can find father. I’ll check with John, but who knows what he’s been up to.”

After I got dressed I went over to the harbormaster’s office. Jennie was on duty. I asked her; “Hi Jennie, have you seen my father?”

“He’s eating breakfast with the harbormaster.”

“So what have they been up to these last few days?”

“Mostly cleaning up and making sure we’re better prepared for the storm. They think that we all got caught flatfooted and that we needed to better prepared.”

This was the man that two weeks ago barely acknowledged that up top existed. Of course he had been soaked up in his grief. I said; “Ok, I’ll chase him down.”

I went back to the boat to get Mera and took her across to the diner. Helen was here and I said; “Hi Helen, are my father and the harbormaster still here?”

“Hi Josh, right over there. By the way the kids want to know where Chrissie went.”

“To meet with Tom’s parents. They’re coming back this week.”

“So what do you want for breakfast?”

“Mera?”

“Pancakes with sausage and orange juice and coffee.”

“Make that two.”

I took Mera over to where Noro and John were sitting and sat her down. I asked; “So what have you two been up to?”

Noro answered; “Little stuff mostly. Getting a better weather report set up both up top and below, Making sure that damage is taken care of. So what have you and Mera been up to.”

“Getting ready for Chrissie, Tom and Tom’s parents. Also Sal is coming out and I need to arrange to get the car to the Cape.” John asked;  “The car?”

Mera said; “Sal uses a Duesenberg as his undercover vehicle. It draws attention. We’ve taken advantage of that down in New York and we want to do that here too.”

Noro said; “A Duesie? That attracts attention all right. But is that what you want?”

I said; “Mera, you there for more of it than I was. As far is it goes, Ray’s boys were already talking about him.”

“Dad, Sal used that car to get in with the mob even though everybody in the mob knew he was a cop. As far as anybody over here will see all he is just another mob troubleshooter. Josh and I want to keep the eyes off Tom until he can talk to us and we can figure out what to do. Sal knows what he is doing. He’s also closing the deal with Sillia.”

John said; “Isn’t that dangerous?”

I said; “John, the navy and the outfit are keeping an eye on them. That may explain that sub I heard yesterday.  And Sal was the one who realized what the sharks were in the first place. I suspect that he’s likely to give them the same treatment that Tom did, though not by accident, this time if they show up.”

“Sal seems like a remarkable fellow.”

“I thought so. Mera, you saw more of him than I did.”

“Father, I could see the Change in him. The growth and changes almost as the days went by, the acceptance of tasks even though he hated them. Yes it was remarkable to see.”

“So what are your plans to today?”

“I want to take Mera over and talk to Joe about wrangling up one of the charter yachts, Talk to Bill over at freight about a lighter over to Montauk and talk to Ray about putting some cover on the dock. The other side is looking at Sal and I want them to keep looking. Mera, we need to get going.”

I drove us over to the yard. When I carried Mera in Moira was wearing a long dress and there was a wheelchair next to her desk.  That meant that Mera had been right and that Moira was fairly far into her new life. She said; “Hi Josh, Mera!”

“Hi Moira, where’s Joe. I need to know which of the charters haven’t been pulled yet and if he knows some Swimmers that might want some extra work.”

“Joe’s over in shed two.”

I walked over to shed two where the sounds of hammering and sawing told me that a boat was being worked on. When I walked into the shed the boat at hand was a Herreshoff sloop that needed some repair.  Joe was supervising the installation of new halyard winches. He called out; “Hi dad, we should be finished in a minute.  Ok the screws need to go like this so that the crank goes like that.  Do both port and starboard the same way. ”

He climbed down off the boat and said; “What can I do for you, dad?”

“I need to know which of the charter boats hasn’t been pulled yet. I want to make a pick up over at Montauk.”

“The “Tuna Chaser” is still in the water. Do you need a crew?”

“I’ll captain, but I need a couple of crew to handle the lines and a couple more that have experience in night work. All swimmers”

“Is this family business or the other kind of business?”

“Both and neither. Sal, from Mike’s outfit is coming out to the Cape and he’s been working undercover on the thing that got Tom caught up in it.  I want to make him coming over to the Cape look like a Mob operation.  I’m having his car lightered over too.”

“His car?”

“Somehow Mike’s agency got their hands on a huge Duesenberg roadster and Sal has been using it to play mob troubleshooter for the last couple of weeks. What he’s really been doing is chasing down Tom’s sharks. ”

“That sounds like fun. I’ll go and get the boat and I’ll bring some people I know. If this guy has been chasing Tom’s sharks I want to talk to him.”

“Ok, I want to leave tonight and get over to Montauk in the morning.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem. Meet us at the dock at 4:00 or so. Should we bring guns?”

“Probably, but just for show. I don’t expect any real trouble. Ok, well I need to arrange the lighter and talk to Ray about putting some people on the dock. I’ll see you at the dock.”

I went back to the office. I said to Mera; “Mera, Joe’s handling the boat, so I’m off to the freight office. I will be back for lunch.”

I got in the truck and drove over to the freight office in Woods Hole. Bob was in the office and said; “Josh, good to see you. That tank car of seawater got up ok?”

I had sent that tank car out on Friday . Actually it was an empty move for a car that would be used for chemicals that would be loaded in upstate NY. Which meant that the transfer didn’t cost me very much. I said; “I think so, but nobody’s said anything on the other end. Right now I need to have a car lightered from Montauk.”

“When do you need the lighter?”

“We’re looking at tomorrow morning.”

Bob pulled the list of available lighters.

“Ok, there’s one in Sag harbor that’s available. Get the car there by 10:00 AM and they can drop it off here on their way up the canal.”

“That will work.”

“What kind of car is it?”

“A Duesenberg.”

“Wow. I’m going to keep an eye out for that when it shows up. Which account?”

“Its family business so put it on the family account.”

“Ok, Josh, will do.”

Two Down, One to go. I drove over to the outfit. Ray said; “Hey, Josh. So what’s going on?”

“That high power troubleshooter I was talking about is coming over to the Cape and I was hoping that I could borrow a couple of your boys over on Montauk for security and to drive his car over to Sag harbor tomorrow morning.”

“You expecting trouble, Josh?”

“Not expecting, avoiding. I’m trying to make a splash with Sal so that the people on the other side look at him and what he’s doing and not what other people are doing.”

“Well big Jim told us to look out for him, so he’s expected. I was going to get to you anyway for a boat but it looks like he talked to you too.”

“Sal sent a telegram to me on Saturday. I suspect that his father in law was his go to for the outfit but I didn’t have the details.”

“Which dock in Montauk?”

“The yacht club, I think, since I’m using one of the charters. I want to make as big a splash as possible.”

“Ok, I’ll set it up.”

I headed back to the boatyard with all three of my tasks done. Maybe I could get some waterman time after lunch. Joe and one of his boys were wheeling Mera and Moira across from the Office. Mera called out; “Josh! You’re back.  How did it go?”

“Well the lighter is at Sag Harbor, Ray is providing security and the boat is taken care of. So what have you been up to?’

“Well, Moira is almost done with her Change and we were just going to check out the boat house that they were converting for them, Tom and Chrissie. Why don’t you come with us?”

I followed them over to a boathouse and equipment shop that had been closed for some time. Joe said; “We thought that we would move the office over here to the front and Moira and Chrissie could work if Chrissie wants to. There’s room in the back for two apartments, at least to start.”

Mera said; “So here is Tom’s shop? I’ve never seen it.”

“Mother, right over there, across the street.”

“Not that large to live in.”

“Mother, when Tom rented it he hadn’t met Chrissie yet. Things have been so chaotic for the last two weeks that he hasn’t even been around long enough to straighten things out. Essentially, Tom has been running back and forth to Vermont for one reason or another and has been so busy dealing with what other people have been handing him to deal with his own situation. Anyway, when he gets down we’ll get things straightened out.”

The boathouse was filled with hammering as various people from the yard and other people were working away. Joe added; “We want to have it ready by the end of the week.”

I said; “Tom and Chrissie can live down below under sea for a while but Tom at least needs to get his pots in order for next year. It’s going to be tight for me and more than likely worse for Tom.”

“At least he’ll be able to move the pots here and work on them in the boathouse.”

“Mera, we need to get back to the dock.”

“Josh, we all are going for a Swim to get Moira acquainted with her new self. The pots can wait a day. I also want to see how easy it will be to get out of the water after a long Swim.”

“Well, let’s go to lunch first.”

“We can eat lunch at Moira’s. Moira and I made some sandwiches.”

Moira still lived with her father, who she more or less took care of after his wife Helen had died in a car accident five years ago. Considering Moira’s Change I was going to have to talk to Mera about that. We rolled Moira and Mera up into the house on a ramp that I hadn’t remembered seeing before. Alex was there at the table and said; “Josh, Mera, it’s good to see you, you especially Mera. So what brings you by.”

“Well Alex, you know that Tom and Chrissie have gotten together and we wanted to start to see how we could fix them up. I also needed a boat.”

“A boat?”

“Yes, I want to use one of the charter yachts to make a splashy pickup on the Island and Joe handles them in the offseason. So I needed to see Joe and recruit a crew for the day. Joe handled that.”

“Anybody we know?”

“No, this is somebody we met in New York.”

I caught Alex up on the events in the city in the last two weeks over lunch. He already knew about Chrissie and Tom’s little adventure because Joe had told him. I also told him to expect a shipment from Tom’s parents in a day or so.

“Tom’s parents are coming down with him and Chrissie and should be here Wednesday.”

“Good, I want to meet them.”

After lunch was over we headed toward the water. We went to the back of the boathouse and undressed. Then Joe slipped Moira into the water and Mera and I leapt in. Moira’s tail was still fairly weak but she would need to keep her gills wet frequently from now on. I remembered what had happened with Chrissie and reading in bed and so did Mera.  The Swim was short as Moira’s tail muscles were not yet developed fully. This had been a dangerous time for merfolk in the past as the newly changed mermaids had to pass from land to sea.  Nowadays it was routine as the newly changed were surrounded by others and protected by their bowers.

We spent about an hour in the water and then Joe and Moira went back up so that Joe could get the boat ready.  Mera and I Swam out to the bower to touch base with Mike about Sal. As we got there he was just coming back from a Swim with Nera and Eltra.

“Mike, did Noro tell you about Sal coming out or is he still playing hooky up top?”

“He hasn’t been out yet today so it’s the latter.” “I wish that he would remember that he had obligations down here.”

Eltra said; “Josh if there were any real problems down here I would let him know. Frankly it’s good to see him doing things rather than mulling over mother.”

Mike asked; “So what about Sal?”

“Mike, I’m taking one of the charter yachts to pick him up tomorrow morning. I can pick you up on the way out.”

Nera said; “Put Mike’s suit and my dress on board . We will Swim out.”

“Are you sure, Mike.”

“Nera’s been getting me to do longer Swims and this way I learn how to deal with the under sea. So, yes.”

“Ok, We’ll meet you at the yacht club dock for dinner.”

I got the feeling that Nera was keeping Mike under as much as possible. Mike didn’t seem to be complaining. He also seemed ten years younger.  They Swam off as I dealt with some small stuff and then Mera and I Swam back to the yard and then took the truck back into town. Mera said;

“I think that the arrangement that Joe and Moira have set up is going to work out for them. For Tom and Chrissie too. I wish that we had been able to set something up like that when I Changed. I think that Chrissie felt neglected for a while.”

“Well there were some rough spots for a while until she got her tail. I think that Mike and Stella have a better arrangement with Suzy and Cindy.” Having two daughters six years apart and one having to go “under sea” had not been fun. I said to Mera; “I need to drop by the house and pick up my captain’s suit.”

I had a fancy captain’s suit for when I took charters out during the summer. It was amazing how it made me invisible to people.  I had been known to run a boat and then the next day do business with the person who I had taken out and they had had no clue that I had run the boat for them.

We went over to the house and I changed my clothes. Then we went over to the dock to wait for the boat. When we got down to the dock I went over to the harbormaster’s office looking for John and Noro.  John was there, but Noro wasn’t. I asked John; “Where’s my father?”

“Josh, he’s gone down to Groton to talk to the Electric Boat people about some sort of submersible radio station and a potential land line.   He doesn’t want to get caught flatfooted again.”

Whatever happened to “lander twaddle?” Of course it was good to see him being his old self again even if it was giving me headaches. I said; “Ok, when he comes back, tell him that Mera and I have gone over to Montauk with Mike and Nera to pick Sal up.”

“So that’s why the captain’s suit.”

“Yeah we’re making it look like some big mob thing. That way the other side doesn’t pay too much attention to what we are really doing.”

“So it’s a shell game?”

“Yeah, on a couple levels. The big thing is to make such a big splash with Sal that we get Tom and his parents back with nobody really paying attention. I’ve got to go.”

I could see the boat coming up to the dock and I wanted to get Mera over there so that we could get aboard as fast as possible. I walked over to the truck and picked Mera up. As the boat came alongside the dock, Joe reached over and I handed Mera over to him. Then I went back over to my boat and got Mike’s suit and Nera’s dress.  Then I jumped on the boat and said; “Ok, let’s go.”

Joe took Mera down into the cabin as I walked into the wheelhouse. George from the yard was handling the wheel. He called out; “Hi Josh! So we off to Montauk or the bower.”

“Montauk. Nera’s meeting us there with Mike, her guy.”

“Nera has somebody?”

“It was like lightning. Ask Mera about it.”

“Well I hope that it works out for them both.”

Nera had had a reputation.

“So far it has. You’ll have to judge for yourself.”

“So what’s this about?”

“Well it has to do with Chrissie’s bonding with Tom and what showed up.” “The sharks? That weren’t really sharks. Joe showed the pictures around.”

“Yeah. This is bigger than that though. The same people were trying to taint the water at the bower down in New York and messing with all the wrong people. When you have the feds and mob on the same raid on the same side you’ve really pissed off just about everybody and that’s what these people did.”

“So this guy is part of that?’

“He’s been working undercover with the mob to find the people behind it. We’re arranging to have him come over looking like a mob troubleshooter to distract the other side from Tom until we can get him back and under cover. Ray is setting up some people and we’re providing transportation for him and his bonded.”

“So that’s why you’re playing yacht captain.”

“We want to make as big a splash as possible. People judge by what they see. What they’ll see here is big time mob troubleshooter and his moll being given the red carpet treatment.  The rest will sort of be invisible.”

We pulled into Montauk harbor and bedded down for the night.

Tom.

The alarm clock went off. Chrissie and I had stayed up too late distracting each other and I was rather fuzzy. Chrissie wasn’t. She said; “Tom, we need to get out of the pool before your sister shows up.”

“Unnngh”

Chrissie dragged me to the top of the pool and said; “Mister, you get out of the water right now.”

I slowly climbed out of the pool. Chrissie said; “Change and bring that wheelchair over.”

The Change had never seemed to take as long or be as painful. After it was complete I went over and grabbed the chair and pulled it over to the pool. A flash of golden light came THROUGH the door. Without actually opening it. The golden light said; “Oh, you’re up. It’s Changed this morning for breakfast.”

I said; “How did you do that sis?”

“One of those things I picked up. You’ll pick things up too if you work at it. Well come on to breakfast.”

That explained SO much. She walked back through the door without bothering to open it. I pulled the other wheelchair over and Changed again. I said; “Water magic. When we get back to the Cape, first thing.”

“Right. And I’m going to teach you whale talk. She comes down, she gets whale snot.”

“And anything else your mother can teach us. Let’s go.”

We rolled through the house to the kitchen. Mother and father were there, along with Diana and her husband, Stephie and Boris. All were in Changed Form. I asked; “So what’s the occasion?”

Mother said; “We wanted to help you get used to your Change. The natural course of events has been disrupted for you and we want you understand that Change is normal for us.

Chrissie dear, after breakfast, go back in the pool until we are ready to leave. That way you can keep your gills wet as long as possible. Tom can pack for you both.”

I got out the map and showed mother and father our way out. I said; “Father, do you know any lakes that we can stop at between here and White River Junction? We found that lake on the on the other side and that was a help to get us through the night though Chrissie was very uncomfortable. If we can find a lake, or even a pond for a short time it might make the trip a little easier even if it is fresh water.”

“Well there’s this small lake south of Berlin. It’s a bit out of the way though.”

I looked at the map. Berlin was off of route 2. I said; “It looks like it would work and since we’re leaving a little late it looks like a good place to stop for lunch. That’s how we’ll do it.”

After breakfast was over we rolled back to the pool and Chrissie slid in. I got dressed and put everything else but Chrissie’s dress in the suitcase. After doing that I said; “Ok I’m going to take this and get the rest packed in the trucks.”

The actual packing didn’t take very long since most of it had gone with the freight people to the railroad. I just had to pack the shotgun, the rifle, the ammunition, the books mother gave Chrissie, some rugs and a few odds and ends that I had found in my stuff after the freight people had left. The last thing I packed before the suitcase was my toolbox from the closet followed by the wheelchair. Father packed some gardening stuff that mother wanted to give Chrissie, another rug, an old chair, some kitchen stuff and a lamp from my room.  The last thing he packed was yet another box of books for me.

“These are books that have helped me with the business. Since you are starting out, you need these more than I do.”

Just as we were finishing Larry drove up. He said; “Tom, I finished your pistol and the other two. I figured that I would go ahead and get them done because I’m going to be busy with farm issues while Father is gone.  You’ll need to tune the action as it’s rough but it’s complete and ready to go.  Since you are going down to the Cape anyway I was hoping that you could hand deliver the other two.  Here’s Al’s address.”

He handed me three boxes and two boxes of cartridges and said; “The top one is yours. I smoothed the action more than I did with the other two as Al likes to fine tune and finish the pieces himself.  Here’s some specials for your pistol and a box of regular rounds for practice and tuning.”

I put the pistols and the cartridges with the others in the back and tied everything under a canvas tarp. Mother brought Chrissie out in the other wheelchair. She said; “I think it’s time to get going. Is everything just about packed?”

“I’m about done. Tom?”

“I’m done. Chrissie, let me put you in.”

“Ok, Tom.”

I put her in the seat and then took the wheelchair over to father’s truck. I said to him; “You can pack this anyway you want. We’ll use the one in my truck.”

Just as we were ready to leave Hilda came up with a picnic basket and a thermos jug. She said; “I made some sandwiches and salad for you so that you don’t have to stop.”

“Ok. Thank you.”

Hilda handed the basket and jug to mother who put them in the back of their truck and we were off. It was one of those fall days where the weather was still a little warm and everything was clear and colorful. Chrissie had the camera out and took pictures again as we traveled. She said; “It’s too bad there isn’t a color film.”

“I imagine that somebody’s working on it.”

We got to the pond about noon and Chrissie had a short Swim after out picnic. She had me take a few pictures as she danced for a short time.  I hope that nobody else saw her. When we got to White River Junction we went in for dinner and then Chrissie went to bed in the tub again.  With a book this time. She said; “This works better with a book.  You don’t know how much trouble I got into for reading in bed during my Change.”

Sal.

I was sorry to leave the hotel. It was if the place was made to be a perfect honeymoon hotel for merfolk.  Still, after a comfortable night at the end of the dock we snuck into the room early in the morning to dress for breakfast. Sillia wanted me to forage for seafood but I wanted us visible today. Before Sillia  dressed I handed her some towels and said; “Rub yourself down with these.”

“Why?”

“Something Tom put in his report. You have a bunch of hormones right now that leak into the water and I want the sharks to be looking everywhere for you. So I’m going to give these to fishermen with a twenty and tell them to drop them offshore. Sharks looking for you are going to have to work for it.”

“Oooh, confusion to the enemy. I like that.”

She rubbed herself down with the towels. When she was done I took them and put them in a laundry bag that I had taken from the maid’s cart. Then I walked down to the pier where the party boats were.  I walked to the shed at the end of the pier. There were three men wearing captain’s hata and a young woman behind the desk. The  woman said; “Hi, what can we do for you?”

Wearing my nice suit I wasn’t exactly looking as if I was planning to go on a fishing trip. I answered; “May I speak to a captain.” “I’m the captain.”

I flashed my badge and said; “I’m with the task force investigating the water tainting in Brooklyn . I was looking for somebody to take these towels out into open water and drop them.”

“What for?”

“There have been some strange shark attacks along with the fish kills and we are testing how some chemicals might attract sharks. If you see sharks call this number when you get back in and they will give you five dollars. If you get pictures we’ll send somebody out for them and we will give you twenty.”

“We don’t need the money. Those fish kills cost a lot of people on the water their livelihoods. So we’re glad to do it.”

“Well call if you see sharks. We really appreciate this.”

I handed the bag with the towels over and three cards with office’s number. Then I headed back over to the hotel, went over to the car, opened the trunk, reached in and took Sillia’s necklace from the bag. Then I walked back into the room where Sillia  was dressed. I said; “Today we sparkle.”

I put the necklace around her neck. Then I rolled her into the restaurant for breakfast. After breakfast, I rolled Sillia out to the car and got out the Graflex and took her picture in front of the car and a picture of the hotel. When the bellhop came out with our bag I had him take a picture of both of us.  I went over and took a picture of the fishing pier for the file. Turning around, I took a picture of the pool side of the hotel. Then I went in, paid the bill and left a five dollar tip to pay for the towels. After stopping for gas we were off. From Patchogue, I drove over to the outfit in Port Jefferson where they had never heard of a protection racket and on to Riverhead where they hadn’t either. For businesses that were illegal everything actually seemed to be pretty normal. We stopped for lunch and quiet Swim on the beach. I asked Sillia; “Are you enjoying the trip?”

“So far, yes. Frankly I’m glad the sharks never showed up.”

 

“So am I, but that means that they may be cooking something else up. Between all the traveling around and the towels, I hope that they are totally confused at this point. I’m going to make one more stop in Sag Harbor and then it’s off to Montauk and a nice long Swim.”

Sag Harbor was another bust on the protection racket front, so I drove out to Montauk. Montauk had been a center for bootlegging for a while in the early years of prohibition with a big chunk of violence in the beginning. Which had quieted down fairly quickly.  I hadn’t mentioned Josh at any of the places I had been visiting, because those were tied to the outfit but I wondered what would happen if I did out on Montauk. The first place I stopped in, in the fishing village, hadn’t had any protection racket issues, but they did know Josh. They were also pretty pissed about the shark attacks and mentioned Chrissie when I brought it up. They spotted what Sillia was right off the bat and treated her like royalty when she mentioned Mera.  After that it was off to our last stop, the Wyanadote Inn.

The Wyanadote Inn was a cover for the bootleggers who went out to the ships just off the international border at night. At the beginning of prohibition this had been a major transhipment point but these days, like the rest of Montauk it was more or less a backwater. I went in to ask around and check in. Mrs Smith, the woman who was behind the desk said; “Mr. del Vecchio, we’ve been expecting you.  Captain Claytor would like to meet you at the yacht club for dinner to go over the arrangements for your cruise.”

“Ok, my wife would like to go down to the beach and she can’t walk.”

“For a Swim? We have a cart available for that. May we bring your bag in and park your car?”

“Ok.”

“Joseph! This gentleman needs the cart. Take his bag and park his car.”

The cart was a lightweight wooden frame with large rubber tired wheels. It was perfect for the beach. I picked up Sillia and took her back to our room so that I could change my clothes. I said to her; “Sillia, hand me your necklace. I want to put it in the hotel safe.”

“Ok Sal.”

She undid the necklace and handed it to me. I walked down to the front desk and said; “I would like to put this in the safe.”

The lady took a look at it and said;

“I’m putting this in a box in the back of the safe. It has to be worth more than this hotel.”

“It should only be for a few hours. This was a sudden gift. We’re going out to dinner with Captain Claytor and can make arrangements then.”

“With Josh? Ok, then things make sense.”

I went back to the room to pick up Sillia and take her down to the beach. Carrying a blanket, I put Sillia on the cart and started down toward the beach. The cart  moved easily over the hardened beach sand as I dragged it around the bluff and out of  sight of the inn and the road. When we got to a good place I said; “This should do it.”

Sillia started to get undressed. She said; “Well what are you waiting for?”

I started to take my clothes off and when I was done, picked Sillia up and took her down to the water. I Changed and followed her under. Once we were deep enough she grabbed me and said; “Let’s confuse the enemy.”

So we made love. When our session was over, Sillia said; “Let’s grab a snack.”

She Swam down to where there were some sea urchins. She picked two up and handed one to me and said; “You crack them like this with your claws.”

She cracked it open. She pointed at the inside and said; “This is the part that’s good.”

I did what she did and ate the meat of the urchin. It was a totally new experience. I said; “I’m not sure that I like raw seafood, but at least it’s fresh.”

“Well you’ll learn and it’s part of your world now. I had to learn and it wasn’t all fun. At least you have me to show you how. I know, there’s some oysters. ”

She swam down and pulled them from their attachments. She said; “Here, nature’s aphrodisiac.”

“How do you open them?”

“Stick your claw in like this.”

She stuck her claw in and pried the oyster open. She said; “Here, I’ll do yours, this time.”

She did it again and handed to me.

“Well down the hatch!”

I swallowed the oyster.

“Let’s see if it worked.”

She kissed me, which went on it its inevitable way. Afterwords, I looked up.

“It looks like it’s starting to get dark. I think that we need to go up top.”

“We could sleep down here.”

“We will. But first we need to go to dinner with Josh.”

“Oh, right.”

We went back up and got dressed again. I put Sillia on the cart, took her back up to the Inn and put her in the car. Then I went in to the front desk. I said to the lady behind the desk; “I would like the necklace from the safe.” “To be honest I’m glad you have it and I don’t have to worry about it.”

She went and brought the necklace back out. She asked; “Do you know where this came from?”

“It was a gift from under sea from one of Mera’s relatives living down in New York.”

“When you see Mera, tell her that Hilda at the Inn said hi. She needs to spend more time up top. And drag Josh down more. The last time he was here, he looked terrible.”

I took the necklace back out to Sillia who put it on. I got in the car and we headed around Lake Montauk to the yacht club. As I was pulling in I saw a man in a captain’s uniform pushing Mera across the parking lot. At first I didn’t recognize who it was and then it jibed. It was Josh. I called out; “Josh! So where do I get the chair?”

“Drive the car over to the valet station. Mike and Nera are already inside.”

I drove the car over to the valet station and got out. I said to the young man at the station; “I need a chair for my wife.”

“Right here sir. May I park your car?”

I handed him the keys and said; “Go slow, there’s a lot of power there.”

I picked Sillia up and put her in the chair and rolled her in. Josh and the rest were over at a table near the corner. Mera spoke up; “I see that my aunt has come out of her bower. It’s about time.”

Sillia said; “From what mother said, she was annoyed that you didn’t make time to visit.”

“I meant to, but things got so busy and then there were the issues with Tom and Chrissie. I see that she’s giving power tools away again.”

“The necklace?”

“Yes. That necklace is, in its own way as much a power tool as Sal’s car. It says that you have clout, because if you didn’t, you couldn’t wear it. That is the sort of things that queens wear.  In this case that’s who it was obviously meant for.  Normal mortals aren’t fit to wear something like that.”

Sillia said; “It’s not just a gift or reward for Sal’s saving the bower? Mother said that it’s likely that Mary, Stella and Nera have something coming too. Also, your aunt wants to come to your daughter’s wedding. ”

Mera said; “That’s going to be complicated. It’s going to hard to transport her along the island. Josh, do you have any ideas? Sillia, Nera already has one of my aunt’s gifts.”

Sillia said; “Mera, Sal and I found a small hotel on Long Island that’s almost perfect for people like us. Sal’s parents could bring her out that way. It worked very well for us, didn’t it Sal?”

“Yes it did. While the hotel staff didn’t seem to know about people with tails, the arrangements worked very well and they have a saltwater pool.”

“I think I want to know more about this place.”

“Mera, I’ll give you the information about it when we are on the boat tomorrow.”

“In any case, dealing with my aunt can be complicated. What seems simple on the surface, isn’t. Those gifts have more than one level to them. That’s one reason that I didn’t visit in amongst all the other complications.”

Sillia said; “Mera, make sure that my mother and Stella understand that. They are much younger than you are.”

“I will, trust me. Nera, Eltra and I have been through it once already, haven’t we?”

Nera said; “Don’t remind me, Mera. At least this time we are bonded and that makes us stronger. I’m less vulnerable to what she wants now that I have Mike to take care of.”

“Am I that much of a burden, dear.”

“No Mike, do not think for one second that you are a burden. Before, my life had no reason and that made me vulnerable.  Now it has a reason with love and that makes me strong. You are my reason and I am yours. That’s what’s important.”

If I had had any doubt that Nera was a good thing for Mike it was gone now. Of course the improvement in Mike in the few days since we had seen each other was amazing. I asked; “So other than making a show tomorrow, what’s the agenda, Mike, Josh?

Mike said; “Sal, I think that you should see Tom’s island before you talk to him.” “Mike, there isn’t anything out there anymore.”

“Josh, I still think that he should see the island for himself. Maybe he’ll see something that we missed. He’s been chasing those things longer than anybody. Looking at pictures doesn’t tell the story without context and we can provide that.”

I said; “Well the evidence seems to indicate that Tom took a huge bite, pun intended, out of the ranks of the Alopias as they call themselves. From what I could tell, their nasty little club had, at best 23 members. That was before they met with Tom’s shotgun. And in spite of every little signal that I could send, they decided not to crash Sillia’s and my bonding.”

Mike said; “Wasn’t that risky?”

“I brought a shotgun, like Tom did, and my dad’s boss sent a submarine with Swimmers and a destroyer out to play.”

Josh said; “So THAT’S why that boat went out on Sunday.”

“Dom, dad, the admiral and I had it all planned. Sillia and I were going to go out on the beach and close the deal, go for a swim to get the sharks interested and then split. Dom sent me a telegram saying that I was needed for urgent mob troubleshooting so that the people in the hotel wouldn’t suspect that we suspected. That’s how we found that great hotel, wasn’t it Sillia?”

“Sal, I was glad that the sharks never showed up frankly. Frankly I wish that we could have just stayed at the other hotel, but there was no way to know and Fire Island is sort of traditional for closing the deal.”

“Mike, this morning I made up some towels like Tom did and had some party boat captains drop them out at sea.  I told them to call Mary and report if they see any sharks. That way if they do try to follow a scent trail they going to be looking for me in all the wrong places.”

“You were making a splash all day with the outfit. What if they were following you through that?”

“Well Jim had Dom plant people from his outfit in all the places that I was going to visit to keep an eye out for that. Jim really wants to find the people who sent the zombies. That’s one reason I made such a large amount of noise all over the Island today. The other reason is that I was hoping that the protection racket would have spread beyond Dom’s outfit.  It hadn’t, which sort of says that it’s related to the sharks.  It was so dumb though.  That racket is what led us to the warehouse in the first place and it was like leaving a bread crumb trail. When I get back, Frank and I are going to talk to the families of the missing sharks.  I want to see if any of the sharks had money issues. I’m also going to talk to the other kind of sharks, the ones that make loans.  I also think I will get the names of the gambling houses from Jim. Which leads me to another thing I want to talk to you about tomorrow, Josh.”

“What is that, Sal?”

“Actually it’s more Mera than you, and Chrissie’s wedding.”

“Chrissie’s wedding?”

“Yes, Mera, I’ll explain tomorrow. You might enjoy the reason why.” “So how is the rest of your family doing?”

“Mera, well now that I’m closing the deal, Cindy is getting impatient for her tail. She feels left out now.”

“It will come, In time.”

“We told her that. Other than that everything seems to be fine. Dom is heading back to work and Tara is building a pool like dad’s. At least that the way things were going weren’t they Sillia?”

“Between all of us, daddy no longer has a choice. Sal, was there anybody in the outfit that thought daddy was a freak over mother?”

“Sillia, every single one wanted Tara up top, tail or not. Almost all of them knew about the tail already and didn’t care or were enthusiastic about it.”

Nera said; “When we get together, I’m going to teach Tara and the rest of the ladies who don’t know it how to defend yourself with water magic.”

“Me too, Nera?”

“You definitely, Sillia. I don’t want you unarmed when you are with Sal.”

“Oh, I’m not unarmed.”

She opened her purse showing the butt of her pistol and said; “When we get to the Cape I’m going to have Al modify my little friend here so that it works better with my hands. But I still want to learn water magic too.”

After dinner as we were leaving I said; “Mera, Josh, Hilda at the Inn says hi. Also could I give you Sillia’s necklace for the night, Hilda was worried.” Mera said; “Don’t worry about it, Sal.  That necklace is bonded to Sillia until she lets it go.  It cannot be stolen now.  Most people won’t even see it unless she’s wearing it. If it does somehow get stolen, unless the thief is a very powerful fae, the necklace will work to get back to Sillia. That’s one of the double edged swords of my aunt’s gifts.  I learned that the hard way and there all too many times that I wish that I could give my gift away, but it, like so many things is my responsibility.”

“I’ve never seen you wear jewelry.”

“It’s sitting at home in the house. As I said, it can’t be stolen. Even if I were wearing it I could make it so that you did not see it. Sillia, I will teach you how to use its power to conceal itself , or Nera will. Anyway, Sal, just leave the necklace in the car overnight. It will be fine. Frankly with the things that go with that necklace, before too long you will wish it were stolen.”

Josh said; “Sal, Mera’s right. I also want Sillia wearing that necklace tomorrow when we pick you up here. To make as big a splash as possible.”

Hilda.

I watched Tom and my parents leave. Then I went over to the house and did some cleaning until lunch. It was time for my Run. It was meeting day and since Tom wanted them to know that he had been there, I wasn’t going to miss this one. There was a special present that Boris and I wanted to give them. We wanted to make sure that the other side knew just how dangerous Tom was. I picked up the leather backpack that Di had made me years ago, put the envelope inside and walked across the road and into the woodlot and maple stand that we had across the road that had nothing but forest on the other side. Once I was deep enough into the lot I took off my clothes, slipped them in the backpack, put the backpack on and Changed. Then I was off, looking for Sphinx.  As I ran into the hills I sniffed for the smell of Sphinx eating lunch.  More than likely she had just killed it. There it was, some faun had made a mistake. I followed the scent until in a small clearing, there was Sphinx with her lunch.

“Hello Wolf, would you like a bite?”

We never used real names or Changed in our meetings though I was sure that she knew mine. She didn’t know that I knew hers and I wasn’t about to reveal that I, or anybody else in the family knew. Sphinx had no way of knowing that  she had passed too close to mother on one of her trips up to talk to me and mother’s abilities told her just about everything about Sphinx. But those were her secrets unless we could get her to ask for help. So far she hadn’t.

She held up a kidney.

“This is the best part.”

I normally like my kidney’s cooked but I had no problems with it juicy and bloody.

“Thank you.”

We saluted various parts of the dead faun until we were both no longer hungry.

“I think that we should wash up a bit first. I have some interesting news.”

We both went over to the stream to wash the blood off. Once that was done I went over to my pack and got out the envelope. I handed it to her and said; “I think that the Manager will want to see these.”

She opened the envelope and started to look at the pictures. I said; “My brother in law, Tom came up with his bonded and stayed for a while.”

“Is he still here?”

“No, he left this morning. I wasn’t close enough to discover which way they were going. The family didn’t want Tom to know I existed because that might hurt his feelings so we were kept separate.”

“It looks like he gave Tooth’s friends a very bad day.”

“Apparently they spoiled his bonding and he was rather upset with them about that. At least that was what they were saying around the house. He was shooting near my cottage. Getting in front of his gun is a death sentence.  As my bonded found out the hard way.”

“He also got pictures. The Manager will not be pleased.”

“Apparently his bonded was doing the other kind of shooting while Tom was blowing Tooth’s friends and constructs away.”

“They are going to have to die.”

“I think that these show just how hard that’s going to be. And it’s rather pointless now.”

“What kind of person carries a shotgun loaded with specials to the beach when you are planning for fun and games?”

“Tom, apparently.”

“So what did he do while he was here?”

“I don’t know exactly. He modified a .22 for his bonded so she could learn how to shoot and he was doing some stuff underwater but I couldn’t see what he was doing. He also spent a fair amount of time in the shop.”

“The word had gone out to look for Tom, but the focus of the search was on the shoreline, toward Maine. We figured that he needed to keep his bonded near the ocean so that she could wet her gills. How did they get around that?”

“They set up an old sugaring tank with a salt water pump system. Andy helped Bob, Scott and the rest as they built it. I think Tom’s father got a telegram, but I never saw it.”

“And he slipped through our net like it wasn’t even there. We don’t know what his friends are up to because so many of us were looking for Tom in all the wrong places and we’ve just about lost all the assets in New York. How many copies of these photographs are out there?”

“Two sets that I know about, one to the farm and one to Boris. How many others there were, I don’t know. I do know that Boris said that he had sent along a set to the people he used to work for. That’s Boris’s set there.”

“Won’t he miss it?”

“It was in the trash when I was cleaning up the office.”

I worked at the Sheriff’s office. As far as Sphinx knew it was just doing the cleaning three times a week. But there was a lot more than that. Sphinx had praised my initiative for getting the job.  I wasn’t about to tell her that Boris had offered the job in the office to me once he was elected the first time. Or what most of it entailed.  I had never told Sphinx about my deputy’s badge or the fact that I was Boris’ on call for detective work.  We had been tempted to put pages from the briefing book “in the trash” but we felt that that would have been over the top. Sphinx put the pictures back in the envelope and then put the envelope in the shoulder bag she carried and said; “This was very good work. You will be rewarded. If Tom should return or make contact, use the dead drop.”

She leaped up a tree and was away. After she had been gone for a while, Boris came into the clearing. I said; “Want a piece?”

“No, Stephie might smell the blood.” “Does it bother her?”

“Not really, but the idea that I might not like her cooking does. I’ve had lunch already anyway.  So they were looking for Tom in all the wrong places, just like he figured they would.”

“Should we have given them the photos?”

“Well Tom wanted them to know he was here and they already knew about the pictures. The photos don’t really tell them anything other than the fact that Tom is very dangerous.  If they haven’t realized that by now they are idiots.”

“Should we have told them more about what Tom did here?”

“What did Tom do here other than modify some guns? You were here for more of it than I was.”

“Other than make sure that Bob and Scott knew completely about the threat, and to make sure that mother and father knew that the people on the Cape were not responsible for what happened in any way, the gun stuff was about all. I think that Tom did what he did simply because the enemy expected him to do something else. They expected him to try to run and hide along the coast, in Maine. Instead he came here. They wanted a war between father and the people on the Cape and instead the alliance is a strong one even if Tom and Chrissie should be killed now. If they ARE killed we will all be looking for the true killers. That’s why he sent those pictures and that’s no small thing.”

“No it isn’t. Well now that this is over I have to go back to being Sheriff. I wish that we could bring Sphinx all the way in.”

“So do I, but until we can get her son free, there’s little we can do.”

Boris and his friends had managed to get Andy free of the other side while we were still in Europe. Sphinx’s son was still a hostage, which is why she still worked with them even when she was uncorrupted and not Twisted. Though, I could see the start of some taints of the twist.  Mother had cleared the compulsions and taints when she encountered Sphinx before, though. So Sphinx would not commit suicide involuntarily if captured. She still might try, to save young Gregor. Mike had made several attempts to track Sphinx and find her son but his people and Mary’s irregulars had had to be careful to not give themselves away and the other side had managed to hide themselves too well.

Boris left. I put my pack back on and headed for home. I Ran back to the woodlot, Changed, got dressed again and walked back to the house to finish the cleaning. A couple of hours later Diana phased at the front door.

“Hi, Hilda! Sphinx made her train. She’s on her way to New York.”

Tailing somebody was easy if you were invisible and could fly. I hadn’t quite mastered the invisible part yet and I couldn’t fly. Mother was teaching me the invisible part, but it took a knack and I wasn’t quite there yet.  Having a sister in law who knew how to be invisible and could fly as well made things much easier. I said; “Was there anybody else watching her?”

“No, I think they still trust her, as much as they trust anybody. Well, I have to be going.”

The chapters so far.

Chapter 1.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/a-snippet/

Chapter 2.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/07/01/mermaid-chapter-2-nsfw/

Chapter 3.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/mermaid-chapter-3/

Chapter 4, part 1(Now chapter 5.)

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/mermaid-chapter-4-part-1nsfw/

Chapter 5, part 2.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/mermaid-chapter-5-part-2nsfw/

Chapter 5, part 3.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/mermaid-chapter-5-part-3/

Chapter 6 part 1.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/07/31/mermaid-chapter6-part/

Chapter 6, part 2.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/mermaid-chapter-6-part-2/

Chapter 6, part 3.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/mermaid-chapter-6/

Chapter 6, part 4.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/08/11/mermaid-chapter-6-part-4/

Chapter 6 end.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/mermaid-chapter-six-end/

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