First Night: The Conflict Between Hope and Cynicism
Story by Dr. Lee Brazil
Foreword and Epilogue by:
Written by Ron Breazeale, Ph.D.
All Rights Reserved
A beach near St. Paul’s
ST. GEORGES, BERMUDA
December 22, 2019, 8:40 A.M.
Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
~ Pamela Vavll Starr
Father Allen was taking his morning walk. He was a small man, an average man, perhaps a bit on the heavy side, a man who looked to be in his late fifties. Graying black hair, casual dress — slacks, Bermuda shirt and sandals. The weather was clear, but cool, and there was some fog. He loved this time of day and he loved being by himself. He could think . . . and he had much to think about today. He understood from his dream last night that late this morning he and St. Paul’s would have a visitor, a woman, who would return something to the church that had been taken many years before. And that, if asked, she would assist him with a second visitor whom he would receive later in the day.
They had been communicating with Father Allen in this way for many years. When he took charge of St. Paul’s it began. Who the authors of the dreams were, he did not know. But he had learned to pay attention to the dreams and follow their direction.
Father Allen stopped and stared at the bay. But only for a minute. He had to return to his walk and to St. Paul’s.
The dreams had told him months ago that his second visitor would arrive today and would be accompanied by Father Allen’s friend, David, and that he and David must keep the true identity of his second visitor secret while assisting him in obtaining safe passage to Boston.
Father Allen and David had arranged for the second visitor to assume the identity of a crewman on The Saint, a cruise ship that would set sail for Boston later that afternoon,
Father Allen picked up his pace. He had much to do before his visitors arrived.
ST. GEORGES, BERMUDA
December 22nd, 2019, 9:15 A.M.
Pessimist: One who burns his bridges before he gets to them.
~ Sidney Ascher
Lee was seated in the bow of the boat. Through the fog he could see no more than ten feet ahead. He said nothing, trusting that David, at least according to his story, was an old, very old, seaman and could handle the situation.
Lee put his focus on trying to understand, to believe, what he had heard and seen in the last few hours. His previous trip to Europe that had included a delivery for Jennings had been relatively uneventful. He had expected the same on this trip. Not people trying to kill him, and a side trip to Bermuda. And David and Edward and the story of The Carol Deering. Who were the “they”? Little green men . . . from Mars? This all had to be just some form of an elaborate ruse. The lifeboat. That was the only hard piece of evidence. It could have been faked. And the talking computer? That wouldn’t be that hard to do these days. But the new hair was real. Lee tugged at it. “Rogaine has strong competition,” he mumbled to himself and laughed. And a quick tanning of the skin. No problem. That could easily be done. So what did he have? A lifeboat from a ghost ship, a talking computer, tall tales from a man who said he was 122 years old, and a super hair replacement system and some strange dreams.
And the man Emanuel who they were trying to make him look like so he could board The Saint for Boston. They had forgotten one important detail. The hook. How many Emanuels are walking around with a prosthetic hook?
But for what purpose was all of this? If they wanted the package that he was carrying, they could have taken it. But David had said nothing about it.
They were nearing the center of the bay, and the water was becoming choppy. The fog was starting to lift; St. Georges was coming into clear view. They would soon make shore. Lee scanned the horizon, trying to keep a small case of seasickness from becoming a large one. Focus on the horizon, right? said Lee to himself. To the west of St. Georges, Lee thought he saw something in the sky. At first, he thought it was a plane from Wade International. As it grew closer, he could hear the chop, chop, chop of a helicopter. It was moving fast and heading directly for Lee and David. As it neared, it slowed. Within a few seconds, it was directly overhead and started to descend. The water around the boat became even rougher and washed over the gunnels. Lee caught a rope tie with his hook and clutched the right gunnel of the boat with a death grip. David increased their speed and began shouting and waving the helicopter off.
The boat could be swamped, Lee thought, but Boston Whalers never sink. At least that’s what he remembered from reading one of those sailing magazines his partner, Bill, used to bring to the office.
A rope ladder appeared from the side of the helicopter, unrolled, and dangled in the wind. A figure dressed in black, attached to the craft by a cable, began to descend the ladder. The deep breathing Lee had been doing wasn’t working. Fear was beginning to take control. Over the roar of the helicopter, Lee could hear David. “Don’t worry, Dr. Brazil. They are going to begin to have engine problems in just about . . . ten seconds.”
And as predicted by David, by the count of ten, the helicopter engines began to misfire. Black smoke began to pour from the exhaust, and the pilot pulled the craft away and headed back, now moving slowly in the direction from which they had come.
The water calmed, and David slowed the boat. They were heading for a boathouse. As they approached, the large double doors opened and they pulled inside. The doors closed immediately behind them with a clang. The boathouse was dark and smelled of fish. There was one light hanging from a rafter near the back. A man stood under the light. He wore the same uniform as Lee. He reached out to assist David in mooring the boat.
It was then that Lee noticed it. The hook. The man had a hook like Lee’s for a left hand. He assisted Lee from the boat. David quickly introduced them. “Dr. Brazil, Emanuel Rodriguez. Emanuel, Dr. Brazil.” They shook hands and nodded.
“A beautiful match,” said David. “I would have difficulty telling the two of you apart. But — enough. Emanuel and I must go. I will find other transportation for him to Boston. But first Emanuel and I must deal with our good friends from TransSea. I’m sure they’re the ones who sent the helicopter. They would love to have the package that you are carrying, Dr. Brazil.”
“You know about the package?” asked Lee.
“Yes, of course.”
David cut Lee off. “There is not time to talk more. Our friends will be returning. I assume you do not want to meet them.”
David cut Lee off again.
“So if you believe what I have told you, go to St. Paul’s. Father Allen is expecting you. He does not know about Edward and much of what I have told you about The Carol Deering. We . . .I mean, I would prefer to keep it that way. I have told him only that they have arranged for an elaborate disguise for you. An old friend of yours is with Father Allen awaiting your arrival.
David looked at his watch. He looked at Lee, this time making eye contact. “You see, each of us only has a small piece from the whole puzzle. Mine is Edward and The Carol Deering. Now go while you still can. You will eventually understand all that I have told you. If you choose not to wait for the understanding to come, take your chances in St. Georges. Unfortunately, I doubt you will last very long.”
Emanuel opened the door that led up the dock into the street. Lee looked back at David.
“Good-bye, Dr. Brazil, and good luck,” said David.
“Yes, well . . . Thank you, David . . . and you, Emanuel.”
David smiled. Emanuel nodded.
“Thank you, I think,” Lee said under his breath, as he started up the dock toward St. Paul’s.