“I’m sorry about this. I know you are disappointed,” Walter said as he stared out at the sun setting behind an eerily calm ocean. It had been another sweltering August day. Usually the ocean breeze helped keep him cool, but there hadn’t been a breeze in several hours.
“Story of my life,” Bill muttered under his breath.
“What was that?” Walter asked.
“Nothing. I really don’t mind not catching anything. I still appreciate you bringing me out here. Deep sea fishing was something I always wanted to do, so at least I got that experience.”
Walter knew he was being a little bit personal, but deep down he was hoping that Bill would still pay for his wife. Walter did feel bad that Bill hadn’t caught anything, but in the end Walter had bills to pay, and he could really use the extra person fee.
Starting a new career as a tourist fishing boat captain had been much more expensive than he had expected. Even used, his boat, The Reel Appeal, had cost nearly twice that of his house. Once he added all of the needed equipment, he was in a mountain of debt. It was all worth it though. He got to wake up every morning and head out to the open sea. Even the days when he didn’t have any clients, which was more often than not, he headed out to sea. He couldn’t afford to advertise much, but he knew if he could catch something big, really big, he would get some media attention and the free advertising that came with it. Walter knew it was only a matter of time before that happened because nobody could find the fish like he could.
That is what made today so frustrating. This was Walter’s spot. He had found it months ago and had been having amazing luck with it. Every client he had brought to the spot had caught at least one trophy worthy fish there, but today it was like all the fish just left. Walter had so much confidence in the spot that he had stayed in it far too long, and now it was too late to try another spot. With his business still in its very early stages, he really didn’t want bad word of mouth or a bad online review. Walter was thinking that maybe if he offered Bill another trip for free, it would smooth things over.
“She wasn’t feeling too well this morning, and I thought bringing her out here would make it worse,” Bill replied.
Why did Walter have to bring up his wife? Bill had just had six wonderful hours of not thinking about his wife and his regular life, but now he was brought back to reality. He wasn’t looking forward to going home. Despite his wife agreeing to go deep sea fishing with Bill for his fortieth birthday, she hadn’t stopped complaining about it since. This wasn’t especially shocking since his wife complains about absolutely everything, but Bill just had enough. While they were getting ready to leave for the trip, his wife’s complaining and nagging was reaching new levels of annoyance, so Bill just left without her. He knew she was going to be very upset, especially since he turned his phone off before she even got a chance to call him, but he figured it was worth it. He was disappointed that he hadn’t caught anything, but the peacefulness of the tranquil ocean was worth it. For the past six hours, he felt more relaxed than he could ever remember.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Walter replied.
“Oh, it’s fine. She will be okay. Also don’t worry, I will pay for her as well,” Bill said as he cast his line back into the water.
“You really are getting the hang of this, but it’s getting dark. We should be heading back.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” Bill replied, not hiding the disappointment in his voice.
“Tell you what. How about you let your line all the way out and you can troll near the bottom as we head back, maybe you can catch something yet.”
“Sounds like a plan,” Bill replied, and his persistence was finally rewarded a few minutes later when he felt his line tug.
“Hey, I got something,” Bill yelled towards the cockpit.
“Fish on!” Walter yelled back as he pulled back the throttle and turned the boat off. “Let’s reel this sucker in!”
“Whatever it is, it seems really big,” Bill said.
“Awesome. How about I use the auto-reeler to get it most of the way up and you can finish it. That way we aren’t out here all night.”
“Yeah, that sounds good.”
Five minutes later, it was time for Bill to take over.
“Alright Bill, you take over. You are gonna have to give it all you got, because whatever it is, it is big. I thought it might break the auto-reel machine.”
It took Bill another fifteen minutes, with a lot of help from Walter, to reel it in the rest of the way. He couldn’t help but be disappointed though, when it finally broke the surface.
“Seriously? It’s just a rock?” Bill said as he used the winch to pull the massive boulder onto the boat.
“Damn,” Walter replied as he went back to the cockpit and started the boat again.
“Wait a minute. Did you see that?” Bill asked.
“See what?” Walter asked.
“Check this out. The rock is pulsing with some kind of green light.”
“Whoa, I see what you mean. That is pretty damn cool. It must be some kind of bioluminescence.”
“What’s that?” Bill asked.
“It’s something that fish use deep in the ocean where there is no light. Through evolution or whatever they develop the ability to create light from their bodies. Some use it to attract mates and others use it to attract food.”
“Whatever it is, it is pretty cool. We should take our picture with it.”
“Great idea,” Walter replied.
“Why don’t you set up the camera on the tripod with a timer, so we can both be in it?”
“I’ll set it to take several pictures in a row, so we can make sure to have one when it glows.”
A few minutes later, the camera was set up and Bill and Walter were hugging the giant rock and smiling as the camera took the photos.
“How did they come out,” Bill asked as Walter went to check his digital camera.
“I’m not sure. My damn camera went on the fritz. It won’t turn on.”
“That sucks. I have a camera back in my car, we can use it when we get back to shore,” Bill replied.
“What about your phone?”
“My battery is dead,” Bill lied. He didn’t want to face his wife’s wrath until he had to. “Speaking of shore though, we should start heading back. I’m feeling pretty weird all of a sudden.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’m not feeling so hot myself. We probably got overheated pulling that damn rock up.”
“Walter,” Bill said.
“What is that?” Bill asked, pointing to a bright light that seemed to be growing bigger.
“That’s a yacht. Damn things coming right for us though. I got all my lights on, he should be able to see us,” Walter replied.
“It doesn’t look like he is turning though.”
“No it doesn’t,” Walter replied. Walter quickly opened the compartment under his seat and pulled out a large flashlight. He turned it on and began shining it towards the boat and then began waving it around. “Come on you bastard. Turn.”
“He isn’t turning. What do we do?”
“Hold on tight!” Walter yelled over the loud motor on the approaching yacht.
The driver of the oncoming yacht seemed to notice Walter’s boat at the last minute and turned hard to the right, just missing it. Walter looked up as the yacht passed and saw the man driving look down smiling, obviously not caring that he nearly hit them. The large wake following the man’s yacht caused Walter’s boat to rock violently back and forth, with Bill and Walter holding on tightly so they didn’t go overboard. Walter saw it happening like it was in slow motion, but couldn’t react fast enough to stop the rock from falling off of the back of the boat and into the ocean.
“Damn, we lost the rock,” Walter said when the boat’s rocking slowed. Bill had been faced the opposite way and now turned to see what Walter was talking about.
“That sucks. It was pretty cool. You think we could catch it again?” Bill asked.
“Not a chance. With the currents and how deep this area is, it would be pretty much impossible.”
“Oh well, at least the trip ended up having some adventure after all.”
“That’s true,” Walter replied with a laugh. “Well, let’s get ourselves back to the marina before someone else tries to run us over.”
Twenty minutes later The Reel Appeal was pulling into the marina. Walter docked his boat and tied it off while Bill climbed out.
“Thanks again for the day. Here is your money,” Bill said.
“Thank you. I’m just sorry we didn’t catch any fish. If you want to try again sometime, I’ll take you out for half price.”
“Thanks for the offer, but don’t feel too bad. I had a great time. The ocean is really peaceful. You know you really should make people pay beforehand. What if they just take off before paying?”
“Yeah, people tell me that all the time, but I guess I just trust in the goodness of others.”
“Speaking of the goodness in others, isn’t that the boat that almost ran us over,” Bill said pointing to a large yacht that was parked several slips down.
“Yeah, I think so.”
The two men watched as a man climbed out of the boat and onto the dock, where he promptly threw up. He tossed his boat keys to a man standing on the dock and began stumbling towards the parked cars.
“I think he is drunk,” Bill said.
“Me too. Hey! Hey!” Walter shouted as he began jogging towards the man.
Bill followed, planning to intervene if Walter tried to fight the man. Despite Walter’s shouts, the man didn’t look up and was in his car and pulling out of the parking lot before they even got to his boat slip. They watched as he ran the red light at the intersection and nearly hit another car that had a green light.
“That guy is a maniac. He is going to get someone killed,” Bill said.
“Who is that?” Walter asked the man standing there that caught the boat driver’s keys.
“His name’s Randolph Jenkins. Goes by the name Randy,” the man replied.
“He almost hit us out in the water and now it looks like he is driving home drunk,” Walter replied.
“No surprise. He is a jackass for sure. You see how he tossed me the keys like I was his valet? I don’t even work here, I just happen to have the slip next to him. I have been asking to move slips for years, but all the ones that come open are too small and when I tried to pay people to switch, they all laughed in my face, because nobody wants to be next him.”
“I haven’t been here long, but I don’t think I have seen him before,” Walter replied.
“Well you wouldn’t have. You normally take your people out early in the morning. Randy probably doesn’t even wake up before two,” the man replied.
“Sounds like a real winner. Well, thanks for everything Walter, I really enjoyed it,” Bill said.
“Glad to hear. Don’t forget my half-price offer. Call me if you want to set it up.”
Bill sighed heavily as he pulled into his driveway. He knew he couldn’t avoid her any longer, but that didn’t make it any easier. His friends always asked him why he stayed with her all these years, with her being so mean. In truth, he didn’t really know. The standard answer he always gave was that she wasn’t as mean as they thought and that most of the time she was nice. This wasn’t exactly true, because even in her best moods she nagged him. Part of him always thought he deserved it because the stuff she was complaining about really did happen. If she was nagging about leaving his dirty dishes on the dinner table, it was really his fault for leaving them there, when he knew he shouldn’t have.
In the end, he stayed with her because he loved her. Maybe he didn’t love her as much as he had ten years ago, but he still loved her. He could never picture himself with anyone else and he knew that even if they did split up, he would never date again. None of that was going to be much help to him now though. He knew that when he went inside, she was going to go off like an atom bomb and he wasn’t in the mood for a big fight. As nice as his day was, he was beginning to feel the effects of reeling that rock in. He was a thin man, but in terrible shape and his muscles were beginning to really ache. All he wanted now was a nice cold beer and some quiet time in his recliner, while he watched the news. He let out another big sigh and got out of his car.
“I wish she would just give me ten minutes to drink my beer in peace before she starts in,” Bill said as he opened the door.
“Hey honey,” Joan said as Bill walked into the kitchen.
“Um, hey,” Bill replied.
“There are some cold beers on the fridge door if you want one.”
“Thanks,” Bill said as he opened the door and grabbed a beer.
“The news just started if you want to watch it.”
“Okay,” Bill replied confused. “Joan, are you feeling okay?”
“I feel great. Why?”
“No reason,” Bill said as he headed to the living room.
He wasn’t sure what was wrong with Joan or why she was acting like nothing happened, but he wasn’t push his luck by asking why. Maybe she really didn’t care that he went without her. After all she didn’t want to go in the first place. Or maybe she was just biding her time. Either way, Bill was going to enjoy it, so he sat in his chair, opened his beer and turned on the news.
“John Pond here with your Channel Eight weather on the tens,” the man on the TV proudly announced. Bill didn’t care much about the weather, since it was always the same. Hot. He was reaching for the remote when it happened.
“So was that the big plan all along?” Joan shouted as she came storming in the living room holding a big lasagna dish she had apparently just taken out of the oven. Her face was beet red and her oven mitted hands were shaking with anger. “You wanted to go by yourself the entre time, so you just strung me along for weeks. If you wanted to go by yourself, you should have just told me. Maybe I could have made plans of my own.”
Bill didn’t know what was going on. She was fine when he got home, but now she looked like a volcano about to erupt. Had she been lulling him into some sort of false security?
“I didn’t plan to go by myself. It just happened,” Bill replied.
“It just happened? You say that like it was an accident! You made the choice to get in the car by yourself and turn off your phone so I couldn’t call or track you. Don’t play me for some kind of fool,” she replied. The redness from her face was spreading to her chest now and that was never a good sign.
“I’m sorry okay,” Bill replied and then under his breath added, “I wish you would just drop it.”
To Bill it seemed like slow motion. As soon as he said it, he saw Joan’s grip on the lasagna dish give way, and it fell to the ground and broke into several pieces, sending glass and tomato sauce in every direction.
“Well that’s just great!” Joan yelled. “There goes your birthday dinner! I spent hours on that!”
Joan turned and went back into the kitchen, presumably to get something to clean up the mess. Bill sat there confused. It had to have been a coincidence. Did what he wished for actually happen? Of course he had been wishing for her to drop the argument, but that wasn’t what he said. Then, like a punch in the gut, he remembered what he said right before he came inside. He had wished for her to leave him alone for ten minutes and then when the weather on the tens came on, she blew up, like he figured she would have done from the beginning. Was this real, or was he just imagining it? Were his birthday wishes really coming true? He decided he should test it out. He knew based on the dish dropping, that he needed to be clear about what he wanted, so he thought for a moment and decided how to word his wish.
“I wish my wife was no longer mad at me,” Bill whispered under his breath.
Nearly as soon as he finished his sentence, he heard his wife stop shouting in the kitchen. A moment later she came walking out of the kitchen with a big smile on her face.
“I guess we will have to go out for your birthday dinner, if that is okay sweetheart,” Joan said.
“Yeah that sounds good. It could be fun,” Bill replied. He couldn’t remember the last time she called him sweetheart, or the last time she suggested they go out to eat. She always complained that it was too much money. “You don’t think it will cost too much?”
“No, I’m sure it will be fine. Besides, your birthday is a special occasion. I’m going to go get changed into something nicer. You should change too. Or you could just wear that. You look so cute in your fishing hat.”
Bill was speechless. His wish had come true. He figured he must be dreaming, so he pinched his arm. It hurt, but he wasn’t sure if that was supposed to mean anything. Was it not supposed to hurt if you got pinched in a dream? He followed Joan into the bedroom to take a shower and get changed for dinner. After his shower he walked into the bedroom and saw Joan sitting at her vanity, in her best dress, putting on her make-up. Joan had never been a very good looking woman, even ten years before, when they met. Bill didn’t mind, because he knew he wasn’t attractive either. They had been a good match back then. Neither one physically attractive, but both very intelligent and that is what made them attractive to each other. Bill had loved her brains. She was the only woman he had ever met that could keep up with him in computer coding. In fact, though he wouldn’t admit it, she was a better coder than he was.
Their relationship developed as they both seemed to realize around the same time, that they weren’t going to be able to find a more attractive partner and without ever saying it out loud, they both knew the other felt the same way. Bill often wondered if there were many more relationships out there like theirs, where they were really only together because they each settled for less than they wanted. Overall, he had to admit that the relationship had been mostly good. In fact the first seven years were really good. They had several mutual interests and generally enjoyed being around each other, and he wasn’t sure about her, but he eventually grew to find her attractive.
Things really changed three years ago when the company she worked for went out of business. Joan found herself without a job. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to find another one. She began to believe that it was because she was a woman and the computer world tended to be nearly all men. Her anger grew steadily over time until she seemed to always be angry.
As Bill looked at her reflection in her mirror, a thought struck him. He still wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or not, but he figured he might as well make the most out of it, whatever it was. Bill was a very skinny, very geeky man and he had never had a date with a pretty woman before. He knew he should be ashamed for even thinking of it, but what harm could it do.
“I wish my wife was the h-,” He stopped himself. He had to remember that the wishes seemed to be literal. If he had finished that wish and asked for the hottest woman, his wife would have potentially gotten a really high fever, or maybe even burst into flames. He needed to be clear and concise. He thought for a moment about saying attractive, but realized that she might turn magnetic or something. He decided that pretty was a safe bet and he couldn’t think of any harmful meanings so he gave it a shot.
“I wish my wife was the prettiest woman alive.” He whispered.
To Bill’s astonishment he saw his wife physically transform right before his eyes. A moment later she turned to him a smiled. She was stunning. He couldn’t believe it worked. She was without a doubt the most gorgeous woman he had ever laid eyes on. While she was overweight or out of shape before, she didn’t have much of a figure. Now she had great curves in all the right places. Bill still didn’t know why this was happening, but he was certainly liking it.
“How do I look?” she asked.
“Well, you better hurry and get dressed so we can go. We don’t want to eat dinner too late. I’ll wait downstairs.”
Bill hurriedly put on his best suit and headed downstairs, where Joan was waiting for him.
“I was thinking we could go to Sal’s Italian restaurant over on 5th. Their Lasagna is a lot better than the one I was making you.”
“That sounds great,” Bill replied.
Thirty minutes later, Bill and Joan were enjoying the best meal they had ever had. Sal’s was widely considered to have the best Italian food in the city, but Bill didn’t chance it. He made sure to wish that it was the best meal and wine in the world and it certainly lived up to that billing. Bill was in heaven, but he began to wonder if his wishes had limits. Did he only get a certain number of wishes and if so, how did he know how many? Maybe the wishes were really birthday related and he only had until midnight to make them. In the end he decided that it was best to think of some big important wishes and make them before midnight in descending order of importance just in case. He was just digging into the best cannoli on the planet when he came over.
“How are you doing sweetheart,” the man said as he looked at Joan.
Bill watched as the man pulled a chair from the table next to them and sat next to Joan. The man then picked up her hand off the table and kissed it like out of some cheesy romantic movie. Bill was completely at a loss for words. Who was this guy and why was he doing this?
“Excuse me. My wife and I are having dinner,” Bill finally said.
“You can keep eating, I wasn’t talking to you. This young lady is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I thought she and I could have a conversation.”
“Sir, I’m really going to have to ask you to leave,” Bill replied. He was getting angry now.
“I don’t give a damn what you are asking,” The man replied as he stood up. Only now did Bill realize how massive the man was. “So you just sit your pencil-neck geek ass right there and shut up.”
“Pencil-neck geek? Was I transported to the seventies somehow?” Bill stood up and even stretching himself to his fullest height, he only came up to the man’s chest. Bill had never been in this type of situation before. In fact he had never even been in fight before. He was homeschooled until college and then went to a school where most people were bigger nerds than him. He wasn’t even sure why he was so angry or what he planned to do, but he couldn’t let this man take his now beautiful wife.
“You really should just walk away now, before the EMTs end up rolling you away,” the man replied.
Bill looked at his wife who was looking back at him with a soft look of love that he had never seen before and before he knew what he was doing, he punched the man as hard as he could. The punch landed square on the man’s jaw, but the man barely moved. Bill wasn’t sure what to do next, but then he remembered about his wishes.
“I wish I knew how to f-,“ Bill never got the word out. The man’s punch hit Bill’s jaw so hard, he could feel it break. Bill fell backward so quickly, he didn’t have time to try to break his fall. The back of his head hit the floor so hard he nearly lost consciousness. His mind was swimming. He needed to make a wish, but his mouth was filling with blood and he couldn’t get any words out. He desperately hoped that just thinking the wish would work, but no matter how hard he tried, nothing changed. He looked up at the man towering over him. The man reached behind his back, pulled out a gun and pointed it at Bill. Bill raised his hands in an effort to say stop, but the man just stared at him. The last thing Bill saw was the man pull the trigger.
Randy pushed the button to start his BMW and gripped the wheel tight. The world was slightly out of focus and his head was swimming. He was surprised he had thrown up, he never threw up when he drank. Of course it had been a while since he last drank. He couldn’t remember how much he had to drink tonight, but it had been a lot. He was in no shape to drive, and he was pretty sure he almost just ran over a fishing boat, but he needed to get home before his father, and he needed to sober up. As Randy was pulling out of the parking lot, he glanced in his rearview mirror and saw two men running toward his boat. He looked ahead just in time to see the dark green SUV right in front of him. Randy swerved just in time to avoid hitting the car’s front end.
Randy pulled over a block later and put his head on the steering wheel. He knew it was a bad idea to start drinking again. Had he really thrown away five years of sobriety because of some money problems? The phrase money problems didn’t really do the issue justice, but still he should have known better. If his father found out he had been drinking again, it would make everything much worse. If things could get worse that is. Randy closed his eyes, took a deep breath and slowly let it out.
“I wish I wasn’t drunk,” Randy quietly said.
Randy took another long slow breath and sat up. He needed to get home. When Randy opened his eyes he was pleased to see that the world had shifted back into focus. Then he realized that his head wasn’t foggy any longer. He put the car back in drive and pulled back onto the road. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he was having no trouble at all driving. In fact, when he thought about it, he didn’t feel drunk any more. The near miss at the red light must have scared him enough to sober up. Randy decided it was best not to question it, and accelerated. He needed to get back to the house and have time to shower before dinner. He may have sobered up a bit for now, but he still should take a cold shower and he certainly couldn’t sit down to dinner in a shirt he had spilled scotch on.
Fifteen minutes later, he pushed the button on the car’s visor to open the gates. He watched as the giant wrought iron gates, the left one with a giant letter R and the right with a giant letter J, swung open to let him into the compound. Randy’s father, who was also named Randolph, but everyone called him RJ, hated it when Randy called it a compound, but Randy always argued that the name fit. Fifty acres, seventeen buildings for humans and eight buildings for animals, with a main house that could easily house over fifty people and they wouldn’t even encroach on each other.
The Jenkins’ were rich, there was no doubt about it. Well, to be more accurate, RJ was rich. Randy certainly had never wanted anything he didn’t get. All the most expensive clothes, cars, boats, and jewelry he could ever ask for. The one thing that Randy didn’t have was money. Randy was an addict in the worse possible way and had been for a very long time. He was addicted to everything that caused even the slightest bit of pleasure.
When Randy came home from graduating from college, a four year degree in six years, His father was very pleased. Randy was finally going to be able to take his position in RJ’s company and work his way up where he would eventually take it over. Since Randy’s mother and RJ’s wife had died eight years prior, this was the only thing that really kept RJ going. He loved his company, but he was tired of running it and he wanted to retire and enjoy his massive fortune that took him a lifetime to acquire. Unfortunately RJ had already had two bad experiences of letting someone else run the company and they both went horribly.
One of them kept making the dumbest decisions in what seemed like an effort to do something different just for the sake of being different. The second man embezzled millions of dollars in a matter of three months. RJ needed Randy to take over, because he knew Randy would run it the right way. Despite Randy’s many flaws and vices, RJ knew he was incredibly smart and had an innate business sense. Unfortunately it took Randy less than two weeks after getting home to get arrested for trafficking meth. RJs fortune and influence was able to get the charges reduced to possession and a stint in rehab.
Randy had done very well in rehab and sixty days later, he was clean and sober and taking his place at the family company. Randy did well for a few years, and seemed like he was well on his way to taking his rightful spot. Then he met Paul, an associate attorney in the company’s legal department. Paul invited Randy over to see the college basketball championship. Randy hadn’t really had any friends since college so he gladly accepted. Unfortunately Paul had also invited Nico, Paul’s bookie.
Randy didn’t think anything about it at first. He had many vices over the years, but had never gambled. It started off innocently enough as Nico and Paul began making silly bets like who would win the tip-off or what player would commit the first turnover. After a while, Paul and Nico seemed to be having a lot of fun, so Randy asked if he could join in. Nico gladly allowed him to join and things took off from there. Paul and Nico were drinking heavily, so Randy thought he was at an advantage since he was staying sober. The three of them made many bets over the next two hours and when it was all said and done, Randy walked away with nearly ten-thousand dollars of their money. That was all it took. He had found a new addiction and he fell hard.
The problem with gambling is that nearly everyone loses in the end. The addict will always point to a big win they had to prove that they had been successful before and will be again, but they always gloss over the dozens of losses they had in between the wins. Because Randy grew up extremely wealthy, he had a twisted sense of money and its value. He refused to bet small, and it didn’t take long before his father noticed the ever growing bank withdrawals. When RJ figured out that Randy had another addiction, he sent him back to rehab, and cut him off completely from cash. RJ still paid for everything Randy wanted and let him use a credit card, but only gave him a five-hundred dollar limit and had it set up so it couldn’t do cash withdrawals.
RJ was trying his best to make sure Randy couldn’t gamble if he wanted to. Unfortunately, Randy’s bookie was willing to let Randy gamble with possessions like cars and jewelry, and since RJ and Randy had so many of them, RJ never noticed them missing. Things went along this way for a couple of years, until the football championship game came along and Randy wanted to bet big. Bigger than Nico could handle, so Nico introduced Randy to a big-time bookie from New York. The man was willing to take Randy’s ten-million dollar bet, but wasn’t interested in cars or jewelry. He wanted to bet cash, and knowing who Randy’s family was, was willing to give Randy the credit to make the bet. Randy had some insider information and knew his bet was a sure thing, so he agreed to ten-million dollars in cash. The inside information didn’t help, and Randy lost the bet. The bookie was very upset when Randy said he didn’t have the cash and roughed him up a little bit. He gave Randy two weeks to get the cash, or he was going to cut Randy’s testicles off, and to prove he was serious, he made one of his men pull down his pants and show Randy how it had been done to him.
The two week deadline was tomorrow and Randy still didn’t have the money. He had gone to his dad, who was upset and unsympathetic. His father told him it was time he owned up to his mistakes and he wasn’t going to bail out Randy any longer. Randy had tried to sell or pawn everything he could get his hands on, but the people he was selling to could sense his desperation and severely undercut him on what they offered. Randy still needed six million dollars and there was only one way he could get it. He simply had to get his dad to understand, and tonight’s dinner was his last chance.
“Hey dad,” Randy said as walked into the dining room.”
“Hey son, how was your day? You took the boat out?” RJ asked.
“Yeah. It seemed like a great day for it,” Randy replied. He wasn’t sure how his dad knew. Had one of the servants told him?
“It sure did. How was the water?”
“Calm. Really calm actually.”
“Nice. I love it when it’s like that. By the way Rick is going to be joining us for dinner.”
“Great.” Randy replied. Rick was his father’s best friend and also happened to be the chief of police. Randy wasn’t going to be able to convince his father for the money in front of Rick, so he figured he might as well start now. “Dad I need to talk to you about something.”
“Sure son, what is it?”
“It’s about the money I need.”
“Son we have been over this. I can’t bail you out every time you get in trouble. You have to learn to fend for yourself. I’m not going to always be here you know.”
“Dad. I’m not asking you to bail me out every time, but this time is important. These are bad guys I’m dealing with.”
“Maybe Rick can help,” RJ said as he got up and walked over to the bar, and poured himself a scotch.
“I think that would just make it worse.”
RJ walked over to the French doors, opened them and walked out onto the balcony. Randy was struck by a memory of his mother. His mother and father rarely ever argued, but having the dining room on the third floor had been a big one. RJ thought it was ridiculous and that a dining room should always be on the ground floor, but his mother believed the balcony would be a great addition and the view overlooking the large lake in the back would make for great before and after dinner conversation. In the end his mother won, and to everyone’s surprise, once the house was completed, RJ had agreed that it was perfect. Randy never asked, but he always felt that when RJ took his drinks on that balcony, he was remembering his late wife.
“Listen son, when Rick gets here, we can all have a discussion and figure out the best plan. Rick can get you protection.”
“Dammit, I don’t want protection, I want this to be all over! I only need six million dollars more. It’s not that much. We can easily afford it.”
“Randy, you know better than to raise your voice at me. As to your first point, if it isn’t that much money, then you should be able to pay it.”
“You know I can’t. You cut off all my ways of getting cash.”
“And that leads us to the second point. We can’t afford anything. I can afford it. You most certainly can’t.”
“You really don’t get it do you? This guy is going to cut off my balls! I need to get him the money.”
“Oh I seriously doubt he would do something so drastic.”
“Yes he will dad. I need that money!” Randy was growing increasingly frustrated. Why didn’t his father get it?
“Well I’m not giving it to you. You can always sell your villa in Italy. Your mother left that to you in her will. Last time I checked, it was worth about five-million.”
“I don’t have time for that!”
“Well perhaps you sit down with the man and share a drink. You could talk him into waiting for the sale, or even give it to him. Maybe he would like to summer in Italy.”
“Dad you know I don’t drink.”
“I’m sure this one time it would be okay. You could use that fifty-thousand dollar bottle of scotch I have on the boat. Oh wait, never mind. That bottle is empty isn’t it?” RJ said as he walked back inside and stood next to the bar. He knew. Randy wasn’t sure how he knew, but he knew.
“Dad,” Randy started, but he wasn’t sure what to say next. He let out a big sigh and took last ditch effort. “Dad think about it, all of your money is going to be mine someday, so really this is just a loan of my own money.”
“Well, it won’t be yours until I die, and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Dammit!” Randy was at the end of his rope, and felt defeated. He didn’t have any other ideas. He looked at his dad and muttered, “I wish I had all of your money now.”
It looked like it was happening in slow motion. RJ’s drink sloshed over the side of its glass and the liquid hit the floor. RJ took a step and stepped right into the liquid and began to fall. He reached out towards the bar to stop his fall, but hit the handle of the knife they used to cut limes and lemons. The knife flew up into the air as RJ fell on his back, hitting the floor with a large thud. The knife spun as it fell to the floor. Randy reached out a hand to stop it, but he was too late. The knife stuck RJ and the blade buried itself deep into RJ’s chest. Randy was stunned. He couldn’t believe what just happened.
Randy bent down to help his father. There was so much blood, he wasn’t sure what to do. He slowly pulled out the knife and was about to put his hand on RJ’s chest to try to stop the blood when he heard someone yell. He looked up and saw RJ’s best friend and the chief of police, Rick standing there with his gun pulled out and pointing straight at Randy. Randy was in shock, his brain could register what was going on. He stood up and put his hands out.
“Put down the knife Randy and put your hands above your head,” Rick shouted.
Randy was confused. What was going on? Why was Rick pointing his gun at him? Why were his hands covered in blood? Randy began to back up. Maybe if he got far enough away from Rick, he would put his gun down.
“Stand still Randy! Put the knife down and stop moving,” Rick yelled as he took a few steps forward.
Randy could see Rick’s lips moving, but he couldn’t hear what he was saying. All Randy could hear was his own heartbeat pounding in his ears. He needed to get further away so Rick would put his gun down. Randy continued to back up.
“Randy! Stop moving! Please don’t make me shoot you!” Rick was still coming forward.
Randy needed to get further away. He kept backing up. Something touched his back. What was it? He needed to get further away from Rick. He took another step back and all of a sudden he felt wind. Was he falling? He turned around and saw the ground below. He reached out to stop his fall, but it was no use. He died on impact.
Walter went back to his boat to finish locking everything up for the night. He was glad that Bill had paid for his wife, but that wouldn’t help that much. Walter didn’t have any clients booked for the next two weeks, and that was going to make it tough to pay bills. He had a group of business men booked for two full days in a few weeks, but he needed money before then. After he bought gas and supplies, he only had enough money left to pay for six nights at the hotel, and that was at the cheapest hotel in walking distance.
When he started his business, he had grand visions of making tons of money and being able to retire early, although his idea of retirement still included fishing every day. It didn’t take long before the harsh reality of owning a small business hit home. Literally. By the end of his fourth month, he was so far behind in his mortgage, he was forced to sell his house for less than it was worth, before it got repossessed. Luckily he had some equity left so he was able to come away with some money. That money didn’t last long though, because a few months later he was forced to spend several thousand dollars repairing his boat. A few months after that, he was evicted from his apartment when he couldn’t pay the rent.
He began sleeping on his boat, which he didn’t mind, but the marina had a rule against living in the boats docked there. Walter ended up at the Palm Court Motel. It was the nastiest, most unsanitary place Walter had ever been in. He couldn’t be sure of how many people had been murdered in that room, but he could say for sure it was at least three. The hotel was a haven for criminals, and drugs, both those using and those dealing. Walter spent as little time there as possible, usually only sleeping, before heading back to his boat bright and early. Walter had recently began thinking about just staying far out in the ocean at night so he could sleep on his boat, and nobody could see. He worried about pirates or criminals though and as bad as his hotel was, at least he could still call 911 if he needed to.
Walter walked into his hotel room, tossed his boat keys on the table, pulled his own blanket out of his duffle bag and laid it over the rock hard hotel bed. He may have had to stay there, but he wasn’t going to catch who knows what from the crusty thing they called a bedspread. He grabbed the remote and turned on the nightly news. The TV was tiny and from the eighties, but at least it worked and he got to watch the weather, so he could know what to expect the next day. He knew that TV weathermen were usually morons, but the radar maps were always useful and he could get an idea of where to go, or not go, when he headed out into the ocean. Most people used their smartphones for that type of info nowadays, but in his current financial state, Walter only carried a cheap flip-phone. Tomorrow’s weather looked fantastic, there wasn’t going to be a cloud in the sky. Walter turned off the news and pulled out his copy of The Old Man and the Sea. Walter could never pinpoint exactly why, but that book had been the one that made him want to be a fisherman, even back when he first read it when he was twelve. It wasn’t a particularly happy book, but Walter found it incredibly interesting. Walter glanced at his silent phone and sighed.
“I wish someone would just call and set up a trip.”
A moment later the phone’s ringtone broke the room’s silence with a suddenness that startled Walter so badly he fell off the bed and hit his elbow on the bedside table. He sat up quickly and stared at the phone. It was really ringing. Walter quickly got up and rushed to answer it.
“Captain Santiago Deep Sea Fishing. How may I help you?” Walter asked as he answered the phone.
“Hi. My name is Marie Whitman and I was hoping to be able to book some fishing excursions for my company.”
“Sure, I could help you with that. When were you thinking about doing this, and how many people were you looking for?” Walter asked. A company sure sounded promising.
“Well that might be the problem. I need to book six people for four days, starting with the day after tomorrow. I know its last minute, but I’m starting to get a little worried. We have people from all over the country coming to town for an award celebration and we had fishing trips arranged for months. Well a few minutes ago the guy called and canceled. He didn’t even give me a reason, he just said he had to cancel. Anyway, I found your website and was hoping you could fit us in,” Marie said. Walter cold hear the desperation in her voice.
“Well Marie, today is your lucky day. It just so happens, I was planning to be on vacation this week, but decided to stay home instead, so I am free for those days,” Walter replied. He figured it wouldn’t give her confidence in his business if she knew that he had so few people booked.
“We were set to pay the other place twelve-hundred dollars a day, and that included three cold meals and pictures of the people and whatever they caught. Is that okay?”
“Yes ma’am. That will be fine,” Walter replied, trying to keep his voice calm. That was at least five-hundred more than he would have taken, of course he would need to get another camera, since his had apparently broken earlier. Four-thousand eight-hundred dollars would certainly help him for quite a while. Maybe things were picking up.
“Okay I’ll be by with the first group and the contract the day after tomorrow. Is eight in the morning okay?”
“That will be perfect. I am located at the Barnacle Marina. Slip 145. I will see you then.”
That night Walter slept more soundly than he had in months. Things were finally going his way. Walter stood looking at the camera selection at the electronics store. He only had two-hundred dollars to spend on a new camera. Any more than that and he wouldn’t be able to buy the meals he needed to feed his clients. Unfortunately the camera he needed was six-hundred dollars. He had forgotten he had spent so much on it before and now was a little panicked. His entire setup on his boat was based on that camera model. If he got a different model, he wouldn’t be able to use the water=proof housing, and all of the other gadgets he had set up. He could record video, take underwater shots of the fish on the line and even print photos and burn video all on the boat. He loved the setup, and he knew that it made people really feel like they got their money’s worth. He glanced over at the camera next to it and saw a big giant sale tag on it.
“I wish that just for once, the thing I wanted to buy, would be the one on sale.”
“Is there something I can help you with, sir?” The young salesman asked as he walked over to Walter.”
“I’m not sure yet. I was thinking of this one, but it is kind of expensive.”
“I see. Wait a minute. That one is on sale. Someone must have removed the sign. Let me go get another one.”
A moment later the man came back and placed a large red sale sign that listed the price at two-hundred dollars.
“Is that better?” the young man asked.
“It sure is. I’ll take it.”
An hour later Walter had finished setting up the camera in its housing and was starting up the boat. He figured he might as well test the camera setup, and he deserved a little celebration, for him that meant going fishing. He still loved fishing more than anything, and he used all his free time to keep searching for that one big catch. Luck was on his side recently and maybe today would be the day he would catch his own Moby Dick.
Walter had been fishing for a few hours and had caught a few fish he would be able to sell at the market, but he still hadn’t hooked a marlin. He was beginning to think that his little run of luck had run out. As he sat there staring out at the calm ocean, he began thinking about the past twenty-four hours. So many weird things had happened. First, Bill had caught that giant rock with the bioluminescence. He had been around the water most of his life and had never seen anything like it. They had almost been run over by a drunk rich guy on a yacht, then he had the lucky call from Marie and then the camera he needed was on sale.
Suddenly a thought occurred to him. He had wished for the call and the sale. Right before Marie called, he had said he wished he would get a call, then the phone rang. Then this morning. He had said that he wished for the sale then the man told him it was on sale. He was making something out of nothing. Wishes didn’t just come true for no reason. Then again, unexplainable things happened all the time. He decided to give it a try.
“I wish I had an Italian sandwich from Fratelli’s.”
Walter looked around and didn’t see anything. He began laughing almost uncontrollably. He must be losing his mind to think something like that could be real. Maybe he was spending too many days by himself staring out at the ocean. Maybe he was cracking up. He locked his pole into the fisherman’s seat and stood up to stretch. He stretched out his back and headed into the cabin for a soda, and then he noticed it. Sitting on the counter was a sandwich wrapped in the distinct butcher paper with the Fratelli’s Italian Kitchen logo clear as day. Walter was dumbstruck. Now he really was losing his mind. He slowly walked over to the sandwich and unwrapped it. Sure enough it was an Italian sandwich.
Walter timidly picked it up and examined it. It looked just like the real thing. He took a deep breath and took a bite. It tasted wonderful. It was without a doubt a Fratelli sandwich, because nobody else had their secret dressing, and it was the best sandwich he had ever tasted. He slowly ate and enjoyed the rest of the sandwich. He really was at a loss for words. His wishes were literally coming true. What was his next move? He knew before he even fished asking himself the question. He tossed the wrapper aside and ran back out to his seat and grabbed his pole.
“I wish I would hook the largest Marlin in the world.”
Almost before the words were out of his mouth, he felt the massive tug on his pole. It had worked. He started to try to reel in the line and could tell immediately that it was bigger than anything he had ever caught in his life. He locked the pole in, turned on the auto-reeler and stood up to stretch again. This was going to be a big fight and he needed to make sure he was ready. He was going to be famous. If he got the biggest Marlin ever, he would make the cover of nearly all fishing magazines and would certainly be in the news and maybe even in that world record book that came out every year. He would make sure that every picture had his company’s logo in it and his business would sky-rocket.
A moment later his boat lurched backward very hard. The fish had pulled so strongly on his line that the front end of the boat had actually come out of the water. He looked down and saw the auto-reeler begin to smoke and then it froze up, giving the boat another sudden jolt. Walter jumped in the seat, grabbed the pole and began to pull and reel. He had no idea how big it was, but it would have to be massive to pull the boat like that. The fish pulled again, and this time the boat nearly stood completely on end. Nearly everything that wasn’t bolted down flew past him and into the ocean. His large toolbox struck him on the back of the head as it flew by.
The fish let up and the front of the boat slammed back down, causing Walter to fall out of his chair. His head was pounding and he was seeing white spots in his vision. He was pretty sure the toolbox had given him a concussion, but there would be time for that later. He needed to get this fish under control. He jumped in the chair again and decided to let the line go out. Maybe if he let the fish swim for a while, it would get tired. A minute later the fish had pulled all of the line out and he began to pull the boat. Walter couldn’t believe how fast the marlin was pulling the boat. Walter ran in the cockpit and checked the GPS, and according to it, they were going nearly eighty miles per hour. Walter knew that some Marlins could swim that fast, but while pulling a boat?
Walter walked out back to his pole, just as the boat stopped. Was the fish tired already? Walter didn’t hesitate and began reeling in the slack on the line. He had reeled in about half of the line when the marlin jumped out of the water about ten feet from the back of his boat. He was amazed. He was pretty sure it was a black marlin, it didn’t make any sense. The largest black marlin he knew of was a little over fifteen feet. This marlin was at least twice that, which meant it would have weighed upward of two tons. For a moment, scenes of glory and money passed before his eyes. It was going to be even better than he had imagined.
Then the boat lurched again. The front of the boat was pulled out of the water and the boat itself was almost perpendicular to the water. The fish was too big, and if it kept swimming down, he would pull the boat down with him. Walter began to panic. He wanted to catch the fish more than anything ever in his life, but it was simply too big. He was going to die if he kept trying. He would simply cut this one loose and try the wish again and be more specific next time. He frantically looked around for his bolt cutters to cut the line, then remembered he had put them in the toolbox and that had hit him on its way into the ocean. He decided to just unhook the pole and throw the entire pole into the ocean. He began pulling on the hooks to release it, but the marlin was putting so much pressure on the connectors, he couldn’t get them to move. It was no use, he wasn’t going to be able to un-hook the pole. What was he going to do? He remembered that he had a backup pair of bolt cutters in the cabin.
He ran back into the cabin and there they were. He grabbed the bolt cutters and right as he turned around the boat lurched again and this time it had been too much. He watched in horror and the back of his boat went below the surface of the water. Once the surface had been broken, there was much less resistance and before he knew what to do, the entire boat had been pulled under. The force of the water knocked him back and he felt his leg hit something. The water rushed in so quickly, he barely had time to hold his breath. The entire boat was under water and the cabin was nearly full. He looked up and saw a pocket of air near the top. If he could get to that pocket, he could take a deep breath and swim out and up to the surface. He tried to kick his legs to swim up, but realized his right leg was stuck. He looked down and saw that his foot was lodged in a cabinet. He reached down and tried to free it, but it wasn’t budging.
He forced himself to be calm. He needed to free his foot and get to the pocket of air and he couldn’t do that if he was panicking. He looked back up and noticed the brass bar attached to the wall that he used to hold paper towels. He reached up and grabbed the bar, and pulled with everything he had. He felt himself rise up and suddenly his face was in the air pocket. He sucked the air greedily and began to look down for the way out. He noticed that his foot was still trapped in the cabinet. He had broken it loos from the wall.
He didn’t have much time. The longer he waited, the further he was sinking and he had sunk so far already that there was no light in the water. He decided that with him being under water, he would be able to pull the cabinet with him up to the surface. He took a huge breath and swam down and out of the cabin. Once he was free of the boat, he began kicking and paddling as hard as he could towards the surface. The swim was easier than he thought. The buoyancy of the wooden cabinet seemed to be pushing him up. His lungs were burning. He had been swimming so hard for so long, he must have been close, but the water wasn’t getting any lighter.
Then, without any warning he felt a sharp pain in his arms and head. He was stunned. He had hit the ground. The entire time, he had been swimming the wrong direction and now here he was at the bottom of the ocean. His lungs were about to give out. He couldn’t hold his breath any longer. He was about to give up and he saw it. A few feet in front of him he recognized the green pulsing light. The rock Bill had fished up was sitting right in front of him pulsing its green light. The pulsing light was hypnotic. It made all of his worries seem to melt away. He sat there staring at the pulsing light as everything faded to black.