This is the continuing story about four individuals on a sport fishing trip to Mexico. Last time you rode with Krego, Berman, George, and me from Newport Beach down the San Diego Freeway (I-405 and I-5) toward Tijuana. On that leg, Krego broke a mirror in Berman's car, and from a separate incident also caused Berman to get pulled over by the California Highway Patrol. |
The flight from Tijuana to La Paz was smooth and without incident until a small snack was served. Included on the tray was a small, hard, yellowish pepper that I tested by putting on the tip of my tongue. YOW! I replaced it and took a long swig of my beer. George had been observing me.
"Really hot, huh?" he said with a devilish grin.
I gave him a meaningful look. "Brutal! And I didn't even take a bite!"
Berman was sitting across the aisle with Krego snoozing in the window seat beside him. He caught George looking at him.
George held up the pepper on his tray. "Hey, Berman, try these. They're delicious!"
"Yeah, yeah, I was watching. You guys aren't gonna pull that crap on me." Then Berman grinned and held up a finger. He also nudged Krego awake.
Krego squinted and looked annoyed. "What the hell do you want, fat boy?" He grabbed what was left of his beer and drained it.
"They're about to take up our food trays. Before they do you gotta try these peppers. They are absolutely delicious--to die for!"
"Blow it out your ass!"
"I'm serious. I've already had three--mine and theirs'," Berman said pointing to George and me. We nodded. "I got one left." He picked it up, "So, what are you chicken, big man, big talker? You gonna let me whip your butt?" He threw the pepper toward his mouth, but it landed on his blind-side shoulder (to Krego) while he acted like he was chewing. He held up a cucumber slice. "Thing is, you gotta chase it with a cucumber to enhance the taste." Berman threw the cucmber in his mouth and crunched it up with a smile. "Delicious!" He gave Krego a self-satisfied smirk. "Guess I shut you up. What's the matter, big man, afraid? What a punk!"
Krego grabbed his pepper and a cucmber slice. "Creampuff, you won't ever be able to whip me at nuthin'! Watch this!" He threw both pepper and cucumber in his mouth, chewed vigorously, swallowed, and grinned. "How do you like that? And in half your time!" Suddenly he got the damnedest expression on his face I've ever seen. He began panting, reached for his empty beer, and started convulsing.
Berman took the pepper from his shoulder and held it in front of Krego's face. "Want another?" Then he began laughing. "What a maroon!"
Krego was crimson and gasping. You son of a bitch! I'm gonna kill you!" He shoved Berman into the aisle and ran for the restroom in the rear of the plane. We didn't see him again for twenty minutes. He was chewing on some limes he got from an attendant, and was still beet red and sweating. He looked at Berman menacingly, "Now I owe you one. You really screwed up, boy. See, you never want to get on my bad side, There's gonna be hell to pay."
Berman kept smiling. "I'll take my chances. Besides I owe you a few more too."
The flight from La Paz to Cabo San Lucas (in what I think was an ancient Aero Commander two-engine prop plane) was piloted by a sleepy-eyed, unkempt American smelling of marijuana. The guy wore a tag that read, Capt. Ron. George originally set-up the flight schedule and thought it would be neat to bounce around on a four-passenger plane and land on a grass strip (versus flying via commercial airliner). As George anticipated, the flight did indeed terminate with a landing on a bumpy pasture.
"Smell ya later, dudes," said Captain Ron with a staccato giggle as he headed for a dilapidated hangar to call a taxi for us. Upon takeoff, he handed me a bottle of Sauza tequila that he and I took swigs from during the flight. When we landed I got to keep the bottle as part of the in-flight service. While we waited for our cab, I sat on my suitcase and enjoyed a few more nips.
The taxi driver was curious about American politics. He wanted to know if our guys were as corrupt as his. After some debate, our consensus was that all politicians fit into one of two categories: 1) el bandito grande, or 2) poquito bandito. From watching American television, the driver said our politicians seemed to have an extra portion of condescending arrogance. None of us disagreed. The driver's next question was if Krego was Berman's father. George and I cracked up, Berman looked shocked, and Krego was just plain angry, and vehemently questioned the driver's sanity. The driver taking his cue from George and me started laughing as well, but offered a giggling apology to Berman for suggesting a realtionship to such a burro, which further angered Krego.
Upon checking into the seaside hotel, four giant margaritas appeared while we signed the register--compliments of the management. Unlike stateside slushy-sweet margaritas, these were mostly tequila and made with real lime juice. Very tasty! Being thirsty (and Krego still suffering from the pepper), we guzzled those down and four more appeared.
I woke up the next morning with noon-like sun streaming into my squinting eyes. My head pounded, and I still felt inebriated. Where was I? Lying on a polished blue tile floor next to a shower still fully clothed. The bed hadn't been slept in. I faintly remembered puking several times during the night, and it smelled like it. The toilet was unflushed. I staggered around and found a clock--5:30 IN THE MORNING! The boat was scheduled to leave the dock at seven so I flushed the toilet, removed my clothes, jumped in the shower, sat down, and let the water splash over me while I napped for about forty-five minutes. I found the others at the dock about fifteen minutes before we were supposed to cast off. I looked much worse than my companions.
George kept shouting (toward the ocean), "Aqui pescado!" which earned him a stupid-gringo glance from the captain and his single crewman.
I asked if there was any beer on board. The crewman pointed to two cases of iced beverages, beer and coke. I popped a beer and sat back in a fighting chair, of which there were two. The beach in front of the hotel was beautiful, and I thought taking a long nap in a cabana would be a better place to spend the day than on a rolling sea. At least my churning stomach and aching head would like it better. The beer helped.
"Hey, George, enough already!" Damned shouting hurt my head. I noticed George for the first time. While Berman, Krego, and I wore shorts and tank-tops, George was dressed like he was going on a Mediterranean yacht cruise. The Mexican crew exchanged glances and snickers with us.
The day was glorious, and when we got out past where you could see land--beyond the horizon--I sobered and woke up enough to see the boat had one engine (and therefore one screw) and no radio.
"Guys," I said soberly (well, almost), "Something happens out here and we're toast. There's no redundancy and no way to contact anyone for help."
"Yeah, but what are the odds anything happens?" said George.
"I'm just playing what-if."
Krego spoke up. "Hell, I'm not too worried about it. Somethin' happens these beaners are first-class jerry-riggers. Have to be with the kind of equipment they have to deal with."
I winced at the word "beaners". Good thing we had the crew out-numbered. On the other hand, if they wanted to throw Krego overboard, I might help them. AUTHOR'S NOTE: Krego eventually learned a great lesson and ended up a changed man, but that's another story. More to come as a separate installment.
We hooked up with several marlins, but failed to land them. I brought in a sailfish--not real large; just a bit over one-hundred pounds--and asked for it to be released. The captain was horrified at such a notion and outright refused. I figured he'd probably sell it to some fat, rich gringo who would have the fish mounted so he could brag to those at home about his heroic struggle to bring it in. For the remainder of the day, we could not avoid huge pods of dolphins, which the captain said indicated huge schools of yellow tail tuna were in the area. Would we like to switch lines and catch a few? Okay by me since all I wanted to do was kick back and relax for the rest of the day. The others were clearly (and vocally) disappointed they wouldn't be catching marlin, but relented. This was a smart move by the captain who probably figured we'd keep one for the hotel chef to prepare for our dinner, and give the rest to him. Good call. We pulled in over thirty and kept one. The captain sold the rest to local restaurants.
On the way back to shore, Krego hooked into a humongous blue marlin. What a trophy! After he fought the beast for about thirty minutes, straining and sweating greatly; Berman hooked a hammerhead shark. The captain wanted to cut the line, but Berman was determined to land the fish. Hammerheads are almost never solitary. When you see one, chances are a hundred more are nearby.
"We no bring on board!" shouted the captain, and when the shark was about five meters from the boat, he cut the line.
About this time, Krego's blue marlin was exhausted and close to being landed. The crewman stood by with a gaff. Unfortunately (for Krego), Berman's hammerhead (on the way back to open water) took a large bite out of the marlin. A few of the hammerhead's cousins also joined in, ruining Krego's prize catch. He was livid.
"Berman! You, you...! I oughta throw you to those sharks! You're gonna make me famous--famous like Charlie Manson!"
"I have just as much right to catch a fish as you do," whined Berman in a nasally voice.
"We did not come here to catch sharks, you big dummy!"
"Berman kept whining. "Sharks, marlins--who cares? They're all just fish. You're just pissed because I was going to land mine before you, and in half the time! I whipped your ass again!"
"Berman", Krego growled with a very menacing look, "Just shut your face or we're gonna dance when we get ashore." He put a finger right in Berman's face. Berman looked quite frightened and slunk down in his chair as if trying to disappear.
As we neared the shore about five o'clock, I spotted a solitary Pelican that turned into a sky full when I began throwing our bait fish into the air.
Krego slapped Berman on the back of the head. "Hey, dummy, why don't you throw your line out; see if you can catch a few pelicans? Makes as much sense as hooking a shark." He grabbed a remaining beer and sat down quietly, still dreaming of the one that got away.
Copyright by Gene Myers. Read more adventures in AFTER HOURS: ADVENTURES OF AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN www.strategicpublishinggroup,com/title/AfterHours.html Also available at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and borders.com
New from Gene Myers - SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE, PublishAmerica (August 2010)
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