Fair Winds and Following Seas
“Lets take the boat.” Dar leaned in the doorway to the kitchen, arms folded.
Kerry looked up from her laptop, one eyebrow quirked. “Given the line to get off the island this morning, it’ll probably be faster.” She agreed. “And there’s a dozen other people at the office with cars if we need a ride. Sure. Why not?”
Dar nodded. “I’m going to go down and turn the engines over.” She said. “I’ll run by the cottage on the way and check out the kids. I know they said it was all peaches last night at dinner but…”
“But you want to see for yourself.” Kerry chuckled. “I’ll catch up on the mail and meet you down at the marina. Did you see on the local channel they already demo’d that whole area near the docks? They have a dome up for the dockmaster’s office.”
“I saw. That was cool.” Dar slid her sunglasses into the front of her collar. “I want to find out where they got that tent, because it would work in nerd camp.” She winked at Kerry. “C’mon dogs, lets go.”
It was a breezy morning. Dar waited for the dogs to jump into the back of the golf cart and then she backed out of the underground spot and pulled up the ramp and paused, regarding the line of cars backed all the way up past their driveway from the ferry dock. “Holy crap.”
Chino, seated in the rear dock with her head out the side of the cart, sniffed the wind. “Gruff!” She let out a soft bark.
“Mommy Kerry wasn’t kidding, huh?” Dar turned left along the road and rumbled along in the gravel until she got past the cars, then bumped up onto the road and into the right hand lane heading towards the water. “What a mess.”
She hadn’t realized there was a line. She had just felt like being on the water, with the bright sunny morning, the breeze and the incrementally smaller amount of humidity in the air. To come out and find it was actually a more efficient commute just brought on a wry smile.
As she parked at the cottage, she saw one of the service staff approaching with a small cart bearing a coffee setup and a covered tray. “Morning Carlos.” She called out, as the dogs jumped down and trotted over, sniffing knowingly at the tray.
“Morning, Ms. Dar.” The waiter cheerfully greeted her. “I was just bringing over some coffee and some little pastries for the boys and girls here.”
“Don’t let them hear you call them that.” Dar chuckled.
“Oh no they are very nice.” Carlos paused and stopped the cart, whipping out a cup and picking up a smaller pot to pour thick, dark coffee into a cup, and then handing it over to her. “I like to start out with the deliveries here, because they are all so cute and fun.”
Dar accepted the cup. “Thanks.” She could smell the rich, sharp sweetness. “How’s it going for you all? Things settled down any or are you still sleeping over at the Mansion?”
Carlos had taken the cloth covering off the tray and selected a small pastry, breaking it in half and offering a piece to each patiently waiting, tail sweeping dog. “It is okay.” He straightened and regarded her. “Things are a little better, you know?” He made a gesture with his hand. “Everything is moving forward, and so people pay attention to that and don’t complain so much.”
Dar nodded. “Yeah, I can imagine, though I have no idea what the hell anyone would complain to you about out here.” She looked around. “I mean, c’mon.”
Carlos smiled, his perfect, even white teeth flashing. “You are very practical. That is what the boys were talking about yesterday, yes? That if you can do something you do something, and if no? Move on and do something else.”
“What’s the point of complaining.” Dar agreed. “Waste of energy.’
“Exactly.” Carlos nodded. “So I, too, do not complain. We are doing fine here, and everyone thinks even if there are little troubles, it is better to be here than staying on the other side of the water with all the big troubles.” He took the cup back from Dar and put it in a dish bin on the bottom level of the cart. “There are many worse places.”
Dar thought about the previous day. “No doubt about that.”
“I have heard that you and Ms Kerry have found a new house.” Carlos remarked, unexpectedly. “They said it was a big place?”
“True. The old Hunter place in the south Grove.” Dar said. “House is as big as that damn mansion up there. No idea what the hell the two of us are gonna do with it really.”
Carlos regarded her, his head cocked a little to one side, a faint smile on his face. “Well, Ms Dar, if you decide it is so big a place you need some help to take care of it, you will let some of us know that, yes?”
Dar was a touch surprised, then realized she really shouldn’t be. “We absolutely will.”
Carlos smiled more widely, and then winked at her, before he twitched the cover over the tray of pastries and turned the cart once again towards the cottage.
Dar went over and opened the double door for him to roll the supplies inside, and gave a brief wave to the greetings from inside. She followed him into the cottage and closed the door.
Kerry had just slid her backpack onto her back and put her sunglasses on when a knock came at the door. She pushed the glasses up onto the top of her head and went over, pulling the door open and taking a step back. “Hey Clemente, c’mon in.”
The hospitality manager, sweating as usual, came inside and closed the door behind him. “I am sorry to disturb you, Ms. Kerry, it will only be for a moment.” He said. “The booking office asked me to find out for how long you will want the cottage.”
“Ah.” Kerry considered that. “I’m going to guess about a month.” She responded. “We have some other arrangements we’re working on, but it’s kind of tough out there right now.”
Clemente nodded. “There is no problem. At the first, there were many people who were also interested in the cottages, but the idea you said, that Ms Dar said, to contract out the units no one is living in, this was excellent.” He said. “Now our problem is with the traffic we have so many people who were so interested in that.”
“Ah!” Kerry felt enlightened. “Now I get what the line up is.”
“Si.” He nodded. “All the solutions make more problems.” He agreed. “But all the people who were making so much noise, the government and so on, they are happy now. The unit owners getting fees for their units, they are happy. The booking office now has not enough place to keep the money they are making, they are very happy, and you can be sure that I told everyone where this idea came from.”
“Well.” Kerry hitched her thumb under the strap of her backpack. “It was kind of obvious.”
“Si. Now only the ferrys are not happy, and we have to find a way to fix that problem.” Clemente said. “But at any case, thank you for this, and I will let the booking office know, and if you do not mind I am also going to say to them they should not charge you for this because you came with such a good idea.”
“Hey, we’ll take that.” Kerry told him, as they both walked towards the door. “I think they owe us a few favors for Dar’s fixing the security cameras and setting up internet for them too.”
“Absolutely.” He held the door open for her. “And oh yes, Lisette at the desk has told me that the governor is looking to speak with Ms. Dar. He was asking for her last night, but you had not yet come home and he went on his helicopter this morning.”
“Uh uh.” Kerry walked out onto the landing and started down the steps as he closed the door behind them. “I’ll let her know. We’re going to take our boat over to our office – so we probably won’t be back until tonight but..” She glanced over her shoulder. “Our cell phones work at the office. Have him give us a call if you bump into him.”
Clemente nodded. “I will do that, absolutely.” He said. “Would you like a ride to the marina? My cart is just there.”
“Sure.” Kerry agreed. “To the cottage, matter of fact. Dar’s probably there with ours.” She pushed her sunglasses down as she got into the service cart and hoped for another progressive day.
It felt amazing to be out on the boat. Kerry put her feet up on the aft gunwhale and sipped her freshly made cup of herbal tea as the Dixie cruised across the slightly choppy water, keeping Chino and Mocha company as they lay on the deck enjoying the breeze.
Dar was up on the flying bridge threading a course past the causeway, and obeying the speed limit gave Kerry a chance to look at the coast on either side of them, remembering their first trip up the waterway and seeing there was some improvement from the wreckage to be seen.
Things that had been half sunken, the overturned boats, and other debris had been towed out of the water, some just dragged up onto the shore, some completely gone, a few of the boats had been refloated and were bobbing near the trashed piers, tied off onto whatever was available.
There were a lot more boats around now. A few police and marine craft, but far more pleasure craft moving across the bay, fishing boats moving purposefully towards the ocean, and here and there, skidoos zipping around near the islands that had taken damage in the center of the bay.
Here in broad daylight, the damage was still visible and evident, but the lack of power and communication were not, and as they passed some of the condos, the windows there were now covered and there were no longer drapes and debris flying around them.
So progress was being made. Kerry sipped her tea thoughtfully, enjoying the tang of the orange spice against her tongue as they made a long, arching turn to the south parallel to the shoreline and with the eastern sun shining brightly there was a lot to see.
Kerry shifted her chair so the sun was at her back and just watched it go by. Along the seawall there were barge after barge parked, some with cranes on them, some with dumpsters, and she could see workers busy removing damaged and destroyed property.
Moving forward, for those owners of this high priced real estate anxious to get the storm behind them.
Different than what she’d seen on the television that morning, where neighborhood after neighborhood inland were still flooded, houses were falling part, and people were in shelters, standing in lines for cups of Kool aid and peanut butter sandwiches.
Two insurance companies had gone under. Just left the state, turned off their phones, scattered to the winds abandoning all their customers. The state government had said they were working on a plan to get some funding to cover things.
No one knew how long that would take. Some people, houses utterly destroyed, just left them, and drove north, leaving their banks holding the bag with now mostly worthless mortgages.
As of this morning, six thousand people had died. Twenty thousand were injured, and in hospitals some of which had taken damage themselves and were struggling. Tomas had been one of the unbelievably lucky ones. The hospital ship Mercy was due to arrive this afternoon, to try and help.
Sea tow was busy trying to clear the channel at Government Cut so the hospital ship could enter, and PortMiami was finding space and enough undamaged pier length to let her tie up.
The storm itself had unexpectedly petered out, being sucked into a frontal boundary that had stolen the energy from it and Bob was now a remnant low, somewhere up near Newfoundland. New York had seen some flooding, but it hadn’t been as bad as they’d expected and now that Bob was gone, the news organizations were circling back again to Florida to fill their slots since the threat to the seaboard had just really been that, a threat. They’d swept the leaves up on the Mall in DC and moved on.
Florida Power and Light, who had, truthfully, been working around the clock had reported that morning that while they had a plan for restoring all the power poles that were now probably sunken either in the Everglades or in the Gulf, fixing the two power plants that had taken catastrophic damage would take longer.
One of them was nuclear. Fortunately the structure of Turkey Point had been thoughtfully considered, Kerry had learned that morning, possibly by the same people who had built their condos as it had been rated to stand up to roughly fifty percent higher winds than even Bob had managed to produce.
So they didn’t have THAT problem. But the plant was offline and had no external power to run it’s management systems and were on a diesel generator to maintain control of the reactors.
Great way to start the morning. Kerry shook her head. “Okay kids, we’re almost there. You ready to see all your friends at the office? Even that cat?”
“Growf.” Chino commented, tongue lolling.
“Hey Ker?” Dar’s voice crackled through the intercom. “We’re about ten minutes out.”
“Yep.” Kerry hit the button and responded. “Need anything?”
“Do we have any oatmeal cookies onboard?”
Kerry got up. “Probably not, hon. Maybe peanut butter.”
There was a lot of activity and yelling voices audible when they walked up the road from the sailing club to the back of the office property.
“Uh oh.” Kerry commented, as both dog’s ears perked up, hearing the sounds.
“We cursed ourselves.” Dar agreed mournfully. “When we said at least it wasn’t Monday.”
They increased their pace and as they reached the side of the building they could see flashing lights ahead of them in the parking lot. “Oh boy.” Dar muttered.
There were at least four police cars in the lot, and as they came around the corner they saw the staff en mass standing in front of the building, fronted by both Carlos and Maria, with Mayte at her side, speaking forcefully to the cops.
“Wait.” Kerry grabbed Dar by the back of her cutoff overalls. “Maybe we should let them handle it.”
“C’mon.” Dar started to move forward, hauling her along. “We own the property and the company, Ker.”
“I know, but if we get involved, will Martians land?” Kerry nevertheless released her and caught up alongside. “I mean, the water delivery worked out, didn’t it?”
They crossed the front yard and were spotted, and their crew separated to let them through, looking without a doubt relieved to see them.
Dar removed her sunglasses and edged to the front, getting between Maria and the police, making the most of her height, and her presence. “What’s going on here?” She pinned the closest policeman with her eyes. “You got a problem?”
Kerry sidled up next to Mayte and tugged her sleeve, bending her head close to listen to Mayte’s rapid whisper.
“I’m sorry? Who are you ma’am?” The cop responded, with brusque courtesy. “What’s your interest here?”
Dar eyed him. “I co own the property and the business that’s inside it.” She indicated with her thumb the building behind them. “So I’ll ask again, what’s going on here?”
State police, she glanced at the uniform. Not the city cops, or the county cops, these reported to the governor and the cars in the lot were FHP.
“Ma’am, this area, the whole section of the city, has been ordered closed, and evacuated.” The officer said, “This has nothing to do with you. It applies to everyone. You have until four PM to leave the premises, or you’ll be arrested and taken to jail.”
He blinked. “Excuse me?”
“Why?” Dar repeated. “We’ve been living and working here since the storm. Why now? What happened?”
“Ma’am, it’s not your business or even my business as to why. We’ve been asked to secure this area, and that’s what we’re going to do. All of these people need to be out of here by 4. That’s all.” He jerked his head at her. “Let’s go.” He said to the other police officers standing by.
“Hold on.” Dar said. “What’s the perimeter?”
The man stopped and looked at her. “Ma’am?” He made the word sound like a curse.
“How far do they have to go. What is the perimeter of your evacuation area.” Dar ignored the tone. “How far south does it extend?”
Faced with a reasonable question and no real reason not to answer it, the man looked around. “Jaspert, can you answer that?” He said. “I’m not from this part of the state.”
“Obviously.” Carlos muttered.
One of the men standing behind him, a tall, lanky man with a very visible Adam’s apple nodded. “Main Highway on the west, to St Gaudan’s on the south, on up to Mayfair.”
The assembled group looked at Dar, clearly waiting for her to respond.
Clearly expecting some fireworks.
Dar just nodded. “Okay, that works.” She added, in a mild tone. “We’ll be out of here.”
Expecting more pushback, it surprised the cop, and his expression shifted a little “Okay, that’s good to hear. Have a great day.” He gave them all another nod, and then he, and his officers turned and walked back to their cars, not without a few backwards glances.
They got in and drove off, lights still flashing, but in silence.
“Assholes.” Carlos said, after a brief silence.
“Payback from them other assholes?” Hank suggested. “So what’re we gonna do, junior? Alamo part two?” He asked Dar. “Sure as hell we’re not going to just roll our asses over for those beige pussies.”
Dar turned and regarded them, her arms folded. “Actually. We’re going to do just what they asked us to do.” She announced. “Lets get everything loaded into those RV’s. Pete, can you hitch your Jeep up to Scott’s trailer?”
Everyone looked at each other in bewilderment.
“Say what?” Hank responded.
“I… can….? “ Pete said, his voice full of question.
“But Dar.” Maria spoke up. “Where are we going?”
“Someplace south of St Gaudan’s.” Dar seated her sunglasses on her nose. “And damn it, I’m going to need another router.” She said as almost an aside. “Josh, grab the production router from the server room and all the AP’s we have.”
Hank had a minute of realization. “Oh!” His eyes opened wide. “Oh yeah! Yeah! Hell yeah.” He turned and started back towards the building at a trot. “Hey Carlos! Get your boys together and put that generator up on my truck.”
“What about all that work?” One of the carpenters asked, pointing at the building. “I guess we’re done?”
Kerry was chuckling, and shaking her head. “C’mon, lets get going people.” She said. “Bring all the tools, too. Where we’re going, we’re gonna need them.”
It was late afternoon before the caravan started out with Hank and his Humvee in the lead, and the three RV’s taking up the rear. Between that were Pete’s Jeep, and the rest of the cars the various builders and veterans and lifters had brought and even Scott’s trailer in the mix.
Dar was the last to leave the building, and she locked the door behind her while a group of six waited for her on the sidewalk. “Okay.” She shoved the key into her pocket and gestured towards the side road. “Let’s go.”
They headed for the sailing club. Carlos accompanied her and Kerry, along with two of the veterans, Sasha, and Josh, one of their LAN techs.
“Gotta tell ya, boss.” Carlos said as they walked along the road towards the water. “That did not go the way I thought it was going to go this morning. I figured it was gonna be a scrap.”
Dar chuckled. “Scrapping’s fine, but there wasn’t really a purpose. We’ll end up in a better place this way anyhow, and closer to being functional.”
“You think it was those jerks from yesterday?”
“Could be.” Kerry had her backpack on her back, full of stuff she’d taken out of her and Dar’s office, just in case. They’d locked all the doors, but anyone who really wanted to get in probably could, and all the equipment they could carry had been stacked into the underneath bins of the RV”s, and in trunks of the caravan.
Josh had his own backpack stuffed completely full of gear. “Wild.” He commented briefly. “But hey, we were just sleeping under desks. Not like it was the Hilton.”
“Just roll with it.” Dar advised them. “We’re not going to the Hilton now, but at least the view’ll be better.”
“Place has a wall around it, right? Someone said that.” Carlos said. “Hank said it, once he stopped laughing.”
“It does.” Kerry answered, as they crossed the road between their building and the club. The late afternoon sun was at their back, and the club itself had most of the debris and broken furniture removed and hauled away, leaving it looking bare. “But it’s not twenty feet tall or anything. Dar jumped over it.”
“Still and all, a walls a wall.” Carlos looked content. “And we got the pooches.”
Chino and Mocha trotted along with them, noses busy sniffing the onshore coming air.
The sailing club deck was now easy for them to negotiate though, and they walked down the concrete dock to where the wood started, up and across the pier they’d built that was extended out to where the Dixie was sedately tied up and rocking just a little.
“Stupid people. But if they are locking everything up, no one to sell to anyway.” Sasha said. “Maybe more people stay down there where we’re going.”
“We haven’t been around there long enough to really know, but probably.” Kerry said.
They boarded the Dixie and Dar left Kerry to sort everyone out while she climbed up to the flying bridge and settled behind the controls.
Carlos climbed up behind her. “Feels weird to just leave after all we did around that place.”
“Yeah.” Dar started up the inboard engines, hearing them rumble to life behind and below them. “But I had enough of the jackassery anyway. If it’s legit, and they’re locking the area down, no point in arguing. If it’s blowback from the guard, no point in sticking around for it. No one’ll win that one.”
Carlos had sat down in the fiberglass seating area behind her. “Figures you’d show up with a plan though.” He chuckled a little. “Never thought of that one, moving ops down to your new place.”
“We’re loose!” Kerry called up, and Dar engaged the engines and pulled back away from the dock, threading between the two broken columns and the debris she’d moved aside when they’d first gotten there.
She swung the bow around and started south, already looking forward to docking the Dixie into it’s new home.
She owed the troopers a thank you, for making the shift a mandate, and getting it done all at once, and removing any second thoughts they might have had, and she couldn’t repress a smile because she was pretty sure there was some jackassery behind it, and it made her happy it had worked in their favor.
They would make it work. With any luck, they’d started on the trenching and when they got there she could reveal that part of the plan to offset the loss of their internet connection, slow as it had been, with the phones and the comfort of all the office’s structure and facility.
There was doubt, Dar knew it. Some of the construction workers had been reluctant to come along, until Hank had talked the place up and that had gotten all their folks a little interested too.
She adjusted the throttles and they were coursing along, the boat rocking a little in the chop the bow was stolidly plowing through, making the most of it’s V hull and the power of the twin inboards.
The wind from their progress was blowing the hair out of her eyes, and with the sun tilting towards the western horizon, it was pleasant and almost cool, and Dar thought they would have a little time of twilight left to get things set up before it got dark.
It would be interesting, if nothing else, and absent any comfortable couch to rest on, they could sleep right on Dixie and she was glad she’d had them fill up the tanks.
“This is nice.” Carlos commented, after a period of silence. “Better than that dodge ball road rage freak show on land. Hope those guys all get down here all right.”
“Hank and Pete’ll get em through.” Dar adjusted the course a little bit, watching the depth sounder. “Would you stop a Humvee with a machine gun on the roof?”
Kerry passed around some cups as she finished making a pot of coffee in the Dixie’s small galley. Their riders were seated comfortably in the living deck and the ride so far had been pretty smooth. “Kinda radical, today, huh?” She brought the coffee pot with it’s marine gimbal over to the table and put it down.
Then she took a seat in the chair nearest the door and relaxed.
“Yeah.” Josh nodded. “Been a freaky week, but I didn’t’ figure to end today in a big boat moving the office.” He stirred some cream into his coffee and sat back in the chair. “Sucks we lost net, though.”
“True.” Kerry agreed. “But given that Key Biscayne’s between the new place and our old place there’s no way a point to point would do anything useful.” She folded her hands. “We’ll think of something.”
Sasha was seated cross legged on the couch against the sidewall, her hands curled around the coffee cup. “Too much trouble there.” She pronounced. “Lots of people where we’re going, Residential. Not so far from the U, they kept those kids there for the storm.”
“Dar says those buildings are built for it.” Kerry leaned on her chair arm. “So they’d probably buy everything you have to sell, Sasha, They’ve been living on ramen noodles for the last week or so I heard on the local news.”
Sasha nodded briskly. “No good back at the other place until the businesses open up again.”
“Did you know they were going to shut that down, ma’am?” Josh asked. “You guys showed up and it was like you’d planned for it. We thought we were going to fight about it, but I’m glad we didn’t. That thing yesterday was creepy.”
Kerry cleared her throat. “Dar and I talked about moving operations last night, matter of fact. We had some things in mind, and we knew that building was becoming a bit of a trouble magnet. I’m just hoping that they really are shutting down the area, and we don’t come back to a literal dumpster fire.”
“That could happen.” One of the two veterans said. “This other place sounds safer. Hank said there was plenty of space.”
“Oh, there is.” She smiled. “That’s the one thing that shouldn’t be a problem.”
Kerry felt the engines throttle down a little. “And I think we’re getting close.” She concluded, leaning over to look out the window of the boat. “Yep. Coming up on the dock. This one, at least, we didn’t have to put together from wreckage.”
They all turned in their seats to look out, as Dar brought the Dixie around the edge of the trees coming to the water and the stone dock appeared, with it’s seawall, and overlooking the water, the house.
“Oh. Wow.” Josh said, in an astonished tone.
“Shooo.” One of the veterans whistled. “Lookit that.”
Sasha turned all the way around on the couch and looked outside, as the Dixie slowed and turned, heading for the pier. Then she turned back around and looked at Kerry, both eyebrows hiked right up to her hairline.
Kerry got up. “We never do things halfway.” She said. “Let me go get ready to tie us up.” She went to the door and paused, glancing back at them. “Welcome to Hunter’s Point.”
Night found them all in the kitchen. The generator was going outside, and there were long cables run through the open doors to fans making it all tolerable.
The three RV’s were parked outside the door to the kitchen, where the loading dock was, and the RV servicing company had just left after filling their tanks.
Tents were scattered everywhere, as the group spread out across the grounds and Sasha had set up her miniature yurt right by the spring, clasping her hands over and over again in an almost ecstacy of silent delight.
The carpenters had taken over the garden shed for a workspace. The general construction guys had spent an hour outside looking at the pool deck, discussing what had to be done to sort it all out.
Along the long counter in the kitchen were the supplies, and in the small courtyard outside in back, in front of the RV’s, they’d set up the grills.
“This is actually pretty sweet.” Carlos commented, nodding his head. “You weren’t kidding when you said there’d be plenty of room, Boss.”
“Heck ya.” One of the lifters agreed. “We could set up a dozen gyms around the place, and you’d never even see us.” He looked around. “Had no idea this place was even by here, and I used to ride through this area every morning on my bike.”
“I love all those trees.” Josh said. “And the rocks and everything. It reminds me of some places we used to camp at when I was a Cub Scout.”
“Place is built.” Carlos reached behind him and thumped the wall. “Looks like it didn’t even blink at that storm.. but it’s up on a little bit of a rise with that deck and everything.”
An oddly assorted smorgasbord was spread across the huge kitchen table, a mixture of the sandwiches Sasha had left, along with cookies and doughnuts and boxes of cereal and bags of tortilla chips. No one cared, everyone was content to grab a plate and just munch.
“Tomorrow, we’re going to arrange for spot coolers.” Kerry said. “Dar was right, we’ll set up this area to work in, and that big storage room behind us to the left there we can rig for the servers.”
“We can build a platform for them to sit on.” One of the carpenters said. “This is some nice woodwork in here. Someone knew what the hell they were doing.”
“Someone did.” The plasterer agreed. “Six, maybe eight places that need some work, but the rest of it’s pretty solid.” He looked over at Dar. “You said you had power coming?”
“We do.” Dar assented.
“You pay someone off for that?” The man meant no offense, his tone held only curiosity. “Cause I heard that guy from FPL talking before. They’re screwed.”
“Sorta.” Dar’s pale eyes twinkled a little in the light from the battery lanterns. “Let’s say it was a barter. I figure we have to suffer another couple of days and something decent’s going to happen. They already started digging over on the property line.”
“That the green metal casement I saw on the edge there?” Carlos asked. “At the end of that big trench? What is that?”
Dar nodded, a smile on her lips, but remained silent as Kerry took up the explanation.
“With our usual luck, it turns out one of the major service provider international lines comes in right off the coast there, and of course we happened to be here when they wanted to ask if they could bring it up over our property, and of course it was a company who had a good idea of who it was they were talking to.” Kerry pointed her finger at Dar. “So of course, we traded a right of way for power and internet.”
“Of course.” Dar echoed, drily. “Because if that was going to happen, it’d happen here, and to us.”
“No shit, really?” Pete was seated on the counter, eating a banana. “But they can’t get power either, can they?”
Kerry chuckled, and shook her head, looking over at Dar.
“Actually, they can. It’s emergency power. Runs through the conduits from the NAP. Ties into their fiber hub ring.” Dar said. “Which is sitting under the sidewalk on the other side of our wall. So they’re running a tap back in the same trench they’re bringing the line up over and giving us a feed.”
“Of course.” Carlos laughed. “And some internet.”
Dar nodded. “Saved them weeks pulling new lines down the coast to their previous landing point.”
“So that’s why you needed another router.” Josh spoke up. “And that big old spool of cable. And those extra APs!”
Another nod. “Yep. We’ll run a line in when they’re done to the storeroom in there, and split service out from there. It’s open. We can cover a lot of the grounds.” Dar glanced at Kerry. “That was her idea, actually.”
“That’s some damn funny stuff right there.” Hank was in the corner, a bottle of pop in his hand. “Like of all places to have that happen, it comes here?” He said. “And you happen to buy this place? “
Dar lifted her hands in a silent shrug.
It was, really. Kerry smiled. “At least once they’re done, we’ll get our connection back. It’s a pain in the ass not having it after we did.” She leaned back against the wall. “Glad we got hold of the RV folks before we lost signal.”
“So – we’ll have power and high speed like, ten times faster than we’d ever get it at the office.” Carlos summed up. “Damn.”
Dar shrugged again, but chuckled.
Kerry got up. “Okay folks, lets get some rest. It’s been a day.” She ordered. “Lot more to do tomorrow.” She picked up a remaining banana as they rest stood up and started filtering out of the room. “Goodnight!”
Outside the sky was darkening overhead and the clouds had cleared a little, giving them a good view of the stars and with the lack of power in the area, they were more vivid than usual.
Kerry walked outside onto the deck with Dar and looked up, taking a breath of the sea breeze coming off the bay and listened to the soft rush of the tide against the seawall. “You were right about coming here.” She said, as she took Dar’s hand and they started down the leveled slope towards the pier.
Dar had a flashlight in her other hand and she idly lit the path for them. “Maybe. Not like we had a choice.” She said. “But it feels a hell of a lot better to be here, then back at the office.” They skirted the edge of the deck. “Remind me when we get back onboard to try and contact my folks.”
“Let them know where we are?”
Dar nodded, as they walked from level to level, past the empty pool. “Glad we brought our mobile apartment with us though.” She said, as they reached the steps down to the stone pier the Dixie was tied up to. “Wasn’t really in the mood to either fight with staff all night or sleep on that wooden floor.”
Chino and Mocha were climbing down ahead of them, happy and tired from running around their new playground and they walked up the teak gangplank onto the boat and went right over to their large water bowl near the back gunwale, drinking from it together.
“I’m glad too.” Kerry opened the door to the cabin and went inside, turning on the inside lights and the air conditioning that would make the boat a comfortable place to be with it’s kitchenette and it’s shower, and the small refrigerator that was stocked with a supply of their favorite things.
And the queen size bed in the compact bedroom in the bow, with it’s soft cotton sheets in ocean colors amidst the mellow scent of polished teak, with shaded windows on either side. After the long, hot day, she was looking forward to stretching out in it, with the quiet of this dark new dock alongside.
She left Dar at the radio station and went to the refrigerator to remove a bottle of wine, setting it on the counter and retrieving two stemless glasses.
The dogs bumped their way inside and went over to the couch to jump up and curl into contented balls. Chino had a smudge of mud on her head and Mocha turned over onto his back and waved his paws in the air.
“No answer.” Dar came over and took a seat in one of the two comfortable bucket chairs in the living area. “I’ll try again in the morning. But I let the island marina know where we’re docked in case they come in and ask.”
Kerry brought the glasses over and handed her one, sitting down in the other bucket chair. She held out the glass and touched it to Dar’s, letting out a long exhaled breath. “Well, welcome home, hon.”
Dar laughed and lifted her glass in a toasting gesture. “Lets just hope it all works out.”
“Well, here’s to chaos, in any case.” Kerry took a sip of the wine and let her head fall back on the cushion of the chair. “It is what it is.”
The next morning was blessedly quiet. Kerry finished up putting things on a platter for a nibbly breakfast and picked it up to carry outside onto the back deck of the Dixie, which was bobbing gently at dock, the rubber bumpers protecting her hull from the stone pier squeaking softly in rhythm.
The pier was also a jetty. It came out from the land and then presented a right angle to the oncoming tide, extending past the length of the boat with a solid surface to the sea bed that protected the docking area from wake and was large enough to hold two boats the size of theirs, or handfuls of smaller ones.
Dar was standing on the pier talking to two men in work boots, Dickie’s shirts and long pants, with a logo patch on the sleeve and tool belts around their waists.
Chino and Mocha had already mounted the steps and were roaming around their new playground. Kerry heard Chino bark, far off, somewhere beyond the house.
She put the platter down on the table on the back deck next to a pot of freshly pressed coffee and seated herself, picking up a half a pop tart and taking a bite.
It was warm, but not yet hot, the sun was coming in behind them and lighting up the edge of the property, giving her a nice bit of shade to have her breakfast in.
Dar gave the two men a genial wave, and they departed, their boots making a soft, crunching sound as they climbed up the steps and moved quickly out of sight. With a satisfied nod, Dar came back onto the boat and took the other seat.
“Everything okay?” Kerry picked up her coffee cup and took a sip.
“They’re about to bring the conduit in from the road.” Dar put her feet up on the gunwale and regarded the tray, selecting a peanut butter cup. “Did we raid a vending machine?”
Kerry chuckled, chewing on her pop tart. “This was left over from when we were stocking the office.” She explained. “I didn’t have any perishables stocked onboard, like milk or eggs. We left too fast.”
“No complaints.” Dar bit the cup in half contentedly. “I can hear people getting going up there.” She indicated the house. “Our dogs are helping.” She took a sip of coffee. “Condensed milk?”
“The very best in hurricane supplies, hon.” Kerry relaxed back in her chair. “I feel like we took a step backwards in this whole communication thing though. You think it’ll be a lot longer before we get that service in? Maybe we should let everyone carry on here and go back to the island.”
Dar thoughtfully chewed her tidbit, her pale eyes regarding the seawall, and the neatly set stones in the front of it. “Without a connection it’s not much use us being here.” She admitted. “We can get more done back there.”
Kerry watched her from her peripheral vision. “But you want to stay here.” It wasn’t a question, and she could see the corner of Dar’s lips twitching into a smile. “Yeah, I do too.” She admitted. “I want to explore every inch of this place, because who knows, Dar – we might not have another chance if they get really ratty with us over the legal business.”
“Totally not my gig.”
Dar chuckled. “Tell you what, you can go explore and I’ll start setting up the infrastructure with Josh. Run those cables and get what I can in place so when they are ready, we can get things moving.” She said. “The kids really do have everything under control back there. They’re keeping our delivery dates and Angela’s in touch with Colleen.”
“Did you see Elvis has Celeste doing QA?”
“I did.” Dar smiled.
“And..” Kerry suddenly paused and covered her eyes. “Oh my god Dar I completely forgot to tell you, and we never went back to the island yesterday.”
Dar watched her in mild alarm. “And?”
“The governor’s looking for you. He wanted to talk to you. Clemente told me as I was going out the door and then… well crap. With everything that went on yesterday it slipped me.” Kerry lifted her hand and looked up at Dar’s profile.
Her partner shrugged, blue eyes widening. “And?”
Kerry’s brows twitched. “Aren’t you curious about what he wants?”
“No. Not really.” Dar responded in a mild tone. “I’m sure he wants something. I’m sure I don’t really want to give it to him. Phones being down is a great excuse not to contact anyone.” She picked up another peanut butter cup. “Actually I’m glad you didn’t tell me.”
“Well, I didn’t so ..” Kerry now also shrugged. “Well, maybe they’ll work some miracle and we’ll get phone service down here. I’m going to turn on the sat tv inside the boat here and see if I can pick up the local channel, see if there’s anything we need to know.” She got up, and picked up the second half of her pop tart. “See you up at the house.”
Dar toasted her with the coffee cup, settling back to finish it as she watched a few seabirds circling the edge of the shore, their beady eyes, she was sure, firmly planted on her table with it’s remaining peanut butter cups. “Don’t even think about it.”
“This is cool.” Josh rolled the spool of ethernet cable to a halt and followed it into the shade of the open door to the house, flipping it over onto it’s side and sitting on top of it as he pulled a crimper from his back pocket and pulled out a loop of slack. “This place is cool.”
“It is.” Leon, the other LAN tech agreed. “But you lucked out, man, you got to ride on the boat.”
“That was really cool.” Josh cut the end of the cable, then he used the stripper to peel back the thick rubber covering and exposed the inner copper core. “Its like a regular tiny apartment in there. Got a kitchen and all that.”
They were inside the house, just inside the doors to the pool deck, and a carpenter had thrown together a little set of shelves for their makeshift gear. Leon was configuring one of the little switches, powered from a UPS sitting next to it, getting it ready for the cable Josh was working on.
“We drop this here, and then run it along the baseboard back to that side door to the hallway back to the room they’re setting up for the servers.” Leon said, regarding the little shelves with some satisfaction. “Know what we’re gonna need though?”
“PDU.” Leon confirmed. “Gonna be sweet to have power and some aircon.”
“Yeah, is that not a rig or what?” Josh laughed. “Can you believe that? I talked to those telco guys out there. Man they are so freaking happy with that thing they put there. Like it’s a new baby or something. Said it was the first whatever it is in Florida.”
“Those guys are almost done.” Leon craned his neck and looked outside across the deck, to the edge of the property where two figures were huddling over the metal box, one of them with his head actually inside it, the second holding a flashlight. “They dug a hole right under that wall.”
“Yeah with the dogs helping. That was hi-larious.”
Josh finished putting an end on the cable, then he made a loop and carefully taped it into a circle, fastening the loop to the back of the shelves with a zip tie before plugging a patch cable into the jack he’d terminated and then extending the other end to the back of the switch. He pushed it into one of the connections, but not all the way. “No telling what’ll be on the other end.”
“That’s what Dar always says. Don’t want no spike coming in from it when they power on and blowing this thing up. I don’t have a spare.” Leon agreed. “Okay, done here. Let me shut it down.” He unplugged the switch and stood up. “Lets go see if they got something in mind for a PDU. I bet that guy Hank’s got something or knows where to get it.”
“Hell he found a refrigerator.” Josh dusted his hands off. “Did you see Kerry’s look when they drove in with that?”
Leon chuckled. “Man’s a born scrounger.”
They walked along the wall and then into the entrance to the service hall, where a veritable blizzard of activity was taking place. The big storage room had it’s doors flung open and were flat against the wall on either side, and two carpenters were kneeling inside, a battery powered light clamped to a shelf over their heads.
They were fitting a platform into place in the center of the floor large enough to put a rack on top of. “We can run the cables up through here.” Leon said, pointing at the shelf running just over their heads along the side walls of the room. “Got to keep those doors open anyhow to vent out the spot cooler with.”
“Duct out the hot air through that window across from here.” Josh nodded. “That’s a good size room there. It’s bigger than the server room back at the office.”
They continued on into the kitchen, which for the moment was empty of people but not of foodstuffs and a big thermal jug of coffee they took advantage of.
To one side, pushed against a wall in a niche that seemed to be intended for it was a large refrigerator with a satin metal veneer, it’s cable draped neatly over the top. It still had the energy sticker on it’s front, and the partially opened door emitted the distinctively new plastic smell.
The doors and windows were all wide open, and from the back entrance door they could hear some voices outside, and the beeping sound of a truck backing up, along with the grinding of its gears.
“Coolers you think?” Leon sat down on one of the small stools along the table.
“No idea. Could be anything.” Josh was leaning against the work surface across from him. “Spot coolers, more generators, small box of elephants.. lemme go see.” He pushed away from the counter and went out the back door, down the entryway to the back door that was standing wide open.
Beyond it, two trucks were standing, their drivers holding papers talking to Kerry, and Carlos was guiding in a third to back into the loading dock. The trucks were mid size panel sided commercials, and as the backing truck stopped Josh could see into the open back of it.
Spot coolers. He nodded. “Six.” He said to Leon, who had come out behind him. “And a mess of ducting. Where in the hell did they get that stuff with the whole city shut down?”
“Like this was the plan the whole time.” Leon nodded. “We work for fucking wizards and shamans, dude. Aint no other explanation.”
“Okay! It’s going hot!”
Kerry regarded the vaguely familiar looking large boxy device now installed just inside the back door leading out to the deck. There were thick, black cables snaking everywhere, and one of them was running across the stone surface all the way across and then off into the ground cover until it reached the big metal box that had been installed.
After a long, almost thoughtful moment, a red light appeared on the device, along with a soft hum. The device seemed to consider the condition, and then a series of other lights lit up on the back side of it, then a series of lights popped on the front of it, where yet more thick black cables were running off inside the house.
Behind her, she heard cheers.
On the low shelves to her right, she saw lights now on the small switch, and it started it’s little green and yellow dance, and suddenly she experienced a vivid memory of being in New York, her nose almost smashed against the front of a router, a lime green light blaring into her eyes and almost being able to taste it.
Beautiful and cheery, success defined by it’s color and tangible light.
There was a wireless antenna on the top of the shelves, just lying there, on top of a square piece of very expensive metal with Dar’s laptop on top of it, open, a pale blue cable running from it to the box, her swimming fish screensaver sending a splash of reflection against the pale wood wall.
“Is it up?” Dar came back from the inside room, dusting her hands off. She had her hair pulled back in a pony tail and there was dust on the front of her tank top as though she’d leaned against a grimy shelf somewhere.
“It’s thinking about it.” Kerry indicated the stack of equipment, which was humming and fluttering and making burbling noises as it went about it’s business of bootstrapping.
Dar lowered herself to the stone floor and settled cross legged behind her laptop. “Let’s see what we got.” She cracked her knuckles, in a visible good mood. “This is going along better than I’d anticipated.”
“Shuh.” Kerry admonished. “Pretend it’s a shitshow, please.”
Dar smiled, as she unlocked the laptop and regarded the screen it revealed. “Switch is up. Now what’s coming from… ah.” Her brows wiggled happily. “Port’s up.”
Kerry came round and sat down next to her, looking over her shoulder as her partner’s long fingers sped over the keys in a veritable explosion of cryptic command line call and response. “Is that a ten gig port?”
“It is.” Dar said, with some satisfaction. “If I’d tried to buy that commercially it’d taken me ten years with the age of facility around here.”
“We have a ten gig port in our pool deck?”
“We do. I’m going to steal some of the address space we were going to use for the datacenter Mark was looking for.” Dar said. “We’ll need a DMZ here… so I’ll use that slash 26 for now, and we’ll put a slash 23 inside. That should hold us at least for a week.”
Her voice trailed off into muttering about masks and gateways as she typed along, her head rocking back and forth a little bit.
Kerry made a snorting sound. “Maybe.” She glanced at the shelves, and then jumped a little. “Did you do it already?” She asked, as she dug her phone out of her pocket. “Damn, Dar. That was fast.”
“Doesn’t take long when you know what you’re doing.” Dar smiled. “Tunnel’s up. Phones should work now.” She observed the wireless point, which was now a happy, contented blue color. “They took our routes without any bitching. And our capwap’s up. Now let me go figure out where else to light up.”
“Just like that.” Kerry was scrolling through her messages.
“Just like that.” Dar leaned over and bit her on the shoulder. “Those jerks from Alabama did us a favor. Maybe I’ll call Gerry and get their asses up to Palm Beach to guard the governor’s country club.” She winked at her. “Be right back.”
Kerry remained where she was, already imagining she could feel the faintest reduction in the humid air from the spot coolers they couldn’t possible have running yet in the hallways behind her as she went through her texts, pausing to respond to two of Colleen’s.
Then she turned to her mail, aware of Dar’s laptop next to her softly chiming as it picked up mail as well. “What in the hell did we do before we had email?” She asked aloud. “Did we really write in longhand on pieces of dead tree, put them in wrappings of more dead trees, and have someone walk around and hand deliver them?”
She looked up, past the edge of the door, across the pool deck. Outside, four workers were using a manual hand pumped washer, it’s intake hose dropped right into Biscayne Bay to clean the stone with thick bristled, long handled brushes, the tang of the salt water and cleaner sharp in her nose.
Kerry turned around to look behind her, to find Hank coming across the open floor, his boots scuffing a little against the stone surface, one of the contractors trailing behind him with dirt covered gloves and a scattering of pine needles stuck to the knees of his work pants. “Hey.”
“Got some good news.” Hank said. “Doug here, he dug round the place and this here’s got plumbin.”
Kerry paused. “Well, didn’t we know that?”
“Useful kinda plumbing.” The contractor Doug said. “Like, they did the whole deal, ma’am. There ain’t no fixtures in place or nothin, but all the lines go out under the ground and y’all are hooked up to city sewer.” He responded confidently. “All it’ll take is some porcelain and caulk and you all are good to go. Don’t need to bring in them portos you were talkin bout.”
“Oh!” Kerry said, slightly startled. “Really?”
Doug nodded. “Now..” He looked to either side, and put a finger along his nose. “I can’t say whether that there hookup’s legal. Know what I’m saying?” He said. “I mean, it’s all solid pipes and all, but I didn’t see no typical city meet me for it. Just goes in there.”
Kerry thought about that. “Well, it’s a hell of a lot better than if you’d told me those pipes just went out into that Bay.” She pointed over her shoulder. “So now we just need some fixtures.”
“Sure I can find me some.” Hank responded. “Aint no problem.. all we need to do after that is get us some water turned on.”
“Oh.. well so that.” Doug pulled off his gloves and stuck them in his back pocket. “There’s a tap off that spring out there. It’s valved off and I didn’t turn the house on cause I wanted to make sure there wasn’t no busted pipes first.” He explained. “I didn’t see none, so I’ll crank it up a little, and do a quick check.”
“The spring.” Kerry repeated. “Is it potable?”
Doug nodded. “I tested it. It’s pretty good, it’s coming up out of the aquifer. But if I were you, I’d put filtering on it, in case cause there’s lots of stuff in the groundwater round here. Or in case the salt water comes in.” He paused thoughtfully. “Place this size, you want to get commercial water turned on, not sure it’ll give you enough pressure for the whole place and all that. I saw a city meter. It’s locked though.”
“But the spring’s good enough for now?”
Doug nodded again. “Oh yeah. But like I said about the filtering…”
Kerry smiled at him. “Would you like to install filtering for us? I think it’s a great idea. Can you do it or do we need to wait?”
He was shaking his head. “Nope, can do it right away.” He said. “Matter of fact, let me go see if I got something I can start with in my truck.” He waved cheerfully, and headed towards the entrance door of the house, propped wide open with flashes of greens and browns, whistling under his breath.
Kerry hitched up a knee and rested her elbow on it. “That Guard captain really did do us a favor.” She said, in a wondering tone. “Holy cow that’s amazing news. That was the last thing I was really worrying about, getting water supply.”
“This place right here? This is righteous.” Hank agreed. “Couldn’ta worked out any better, and whatcha know? Less assholes round.” He looked at the machinery. “That all working?” He pointed curiously at it.
“It’s all working.” Kerry agreed, with a sudden, grin. “This really is all working.” She got up and dusted off her knees. “C’mon. Lets see what else is going on. Maybe Dar found a manatee offering cable tv.”
“I can prob’ly can find us a television too.” Hank hitched his camo pants up. “Lemme to take the Vee out and find us some crappers. Hey Zoe!” He let out a yell as they walked along together. “Ya’ll wanna go shoppin?” He glanced at Kerry. “My ass is colorblind. You all don’t want me pickin out nothing that goes in a house.”
“Are we going to have a choice of colors?” Kerry eyed him. “Or is to better not to ask?”
Hank grinned at her. “Ya’ll are learnin fast.”
The sun was setting in the west, sending long shadows through the trees and spears of red and gold between them. The sounds of work had faded, and now seagulls were drifting over the edge of the land, inspecting the goings on with a wary fascination and cocked wings as the deck emptied of strange humans who retreated into and around the house.
Outside behind the kitchen Jerry the lifter was peeling a mango, standing behind the outdoor cooking area that held the sturdy gas grills front and center, two of them lit and waiting for action, the third already smoking what was, he thought, some jerked chicken from somewhere promising lots of lean protein for dinner.
He cut chunks of the mango into a blender and added several calamondins to it, then capped it, and turned it on, looking on with pleasure as it pulverized the fruit, plugged into a outdoor power strip attached to an extention cord that was running back into the back door of the kitchen.
“This place is great.” Pete walked down the slope to the outdoor area, a rifle in a camouflage cover slung over his shoulder. “Ten thousand times better than that office for pretty much everything.” He said. “way more space, way less potential assholes.”
“No kidding.” Jerry finished mixing his smoothie and poured it into a cup, it’s contents thick and fragrant, a mixture of the mango’s sweetness and the tang of the citrus, with a swirl of green from herbs recently scrounged. “And now we got real internet. Life is good.”
“And legit power.” Pete picked up one of the unused calamondins and bit into it, chewing it with evident enjoyment. “This is the way to live, y’know? On your own land, and all that.” He looked around them, slowly nodding. “Nice.”
Jerry nodded. “It’s beautiful here.” He started consuming the smoothie. “No close neighbors, the water and all… I can sure see why they bought this place.”
“Thought they were nuts until I saw it.” Pete admitted. “Just snap deciding like that, but Junior’s got the knack for that just like Andy does. No thought, just boom.” He snapped his fingers. “And now look.” He extended one hand out in a wave. “Couldn’t ask for better.”
Leon and Josh were just coming back from the RV parking area, a coil of cabling over their shoulders, and Leon with an empty backpack draped over his back. They gave the two of them a wave before going back into the house, where the door was now closed as the early evening breeze off the water rustled the fallen, dead leaves from the storm.
“Been such a weird time.” Jerry said, folding his massive arms over his chest. “Two weeks ago I didn’t know any of you all, hardly. Just Carlos, and I was working in the health store selling vitamins to people who would chase em down with a chocolate milkshake.”
Pete smiled. “I was working in a Jiffy Lube.” He said. “No idea when that’s coming back. Whole area’s still flooded. No idea what happened to my trailer, for that matter.”
“Nah. Not really.” Pete smiled a genuine, gentle smile. “When Andy called me and asked me to come help out, I never even looked back. I knew whatever we were getting into, he’d make sure we were taken care of and sure enough, here we are.”
“You were in the service with him?” Jerry asked. “Seems like a straight up guy.”
Pete’s lips twitched, a little. “He is.” He replied. “We’d all have followed him to the bowels of hell and we did a few times. He has that same mojo that Dar does, that thing where no matter what the fuck all is going on, it’ll get sorted out and you’ll end up on the right side.”
“Like you said, here we are.” Jerry lifted his smoothie in a toast. “Nobody round here’s living better than we are.”
The two Labradors came into view, galloping along across the ground heading for the house, ears flapping, tails steering. There was mud on their coats and they pattered over the leaves happily, tongues lolling pinkly.
“Great place for the dogs.” Jerry noted. “Well, let me see what else needs moving.” He picked up the cup and winked. “Then it’s off to the arboreal gym.” He sauntered back to the house.
Pete finished his calamondin slowly, just standing there and looking around, watching as the dogs went to one of the large oak trees, looking up into it and barking.
Squirrel, he deduced.
The yellow dog stood up and put her front paws on the tree trunk, and barked commandingly, and as if in response, not a squirrel but a tall, lanky body emerged from the tree, moving down from branch to branch as the dog’s tails wagged into a blur.
Dar sat on the bottom limb and regarded her pets, as Mocha whirled in a circle, nearly falling down in his excitement. Then she turned and grabbed onto the branch and swiveled around to lower herself and hang from her arms, glancing down to make sure the dogs weren’t underneath her before she let go and dropped the few feet to the ground. “Cut that out, you mutts!”
She had a backpack on her back, and visible against the tree bark was a long cable, and she paused to adjust the cable straight before she turned and walked towards where Pete was standing.
Pete enjoyed the moment. Dar was just one of those people who were so unconsciously unselfconscious it was a pleasure to simply watch her stroll along, moving with that faint swagger and muscularity that was so natural and unstudied.
Dar wasn’t cute, and she wasn’t what he thought of as pretty, but she was primally beautiful and that was seriously attractive to him in it’s frank boldness without really having any sexuality involved. “Hey Dar.” He greeted her. “What’cha doin up that tree?”
“Hanging wifi.” Dar reached him and captured the last remaining calamondin. “Whole area here’s lit now.” She added in a tone of satisfaction. “It probably reaches out to that shack. Maybe even the gate.”
“You could have asked one of your little techie boys to do that, y’know.”
“What, and given up the fun of climbing that tree?” Dar’s pale eyes widened in mock horror. “Dad’s on the way over.” She added. “Now that they can call us again they want to see what the hell’s going on over here. They got back a few hours ago.”
“Sure.” Pete agreed. “There’s room down there at the dock.. or is he driving over? You tell him the office is blocked off?”
“He’s running by there to see if it really is.” Dar produced a tiny, somewhat piratical grin. “You know my dad. He’s pretty pissed off at the whole thing the way it went down, but I told him it’s much better here.”
“Truth.” Pete glanced past her as Sasha emerged from the house with a large metal bowl of something, and Ben, one of the veterans right behind her with a tray. “Are we going to go rustle up some stores? We could use some resupply.”
“I can run the boat out and get some fish.” Dar chewed her bitter little orange. “But Sasha seems to have sources.”
“Yeah, I don’t ask too much either.” Dar sighed. “I heard Publix has like five stores they’re going to open on generator. I can only imagine the chaos.”
Pete’s gray eyes widened. “Like Black Friday at Walmart.” He paused. “Maybe we should get front in line with that Humvee.”
Dar started laughing in reflex. “That’ll make the news.” She swallowed the last of the tiny fruit. “But today was a good day. We’re in a lot better place now. With all the space I can house the whole company in there once we get a few more coolers.”
“You going to do that? I mean.. it’s your house.” Pete said. “Kinda weird.”
“Not our house yet.” Dar smiled easily. “Gotta do what’s right first, Pete. We’ve got people counting on us to keep things going.”
Andy’s image. “Yup, hear that.” Pete agreed cheerfully. “Think we got ice in that fridge yet?”
“Let’s go see.” Dar dusted her hands against her cargo shorts and headed for the door, as the scent of char broiling rose around them from the grills, and the sharp fragrance of jerk seasoning followed.
The kitchen was a bizarre mixture of stolid old house and odd technological post apocalyptic addition, with the spot coolers pumping away and providing a blessed coolness, their vent ducts snaking under hastily built wooden ramps and through the windows to release the hot air outside, and their drain hoses snaking out far enough for the slope to take the condensation all the way to the Bay.
It was more than large enough to hold everyone, though, and between seats by the work counter on the window side of the room and seats around the huge block table on the other side, everyone was busy with plates full of weirdly mixed grill and Vietnamese charred vegetables and pitchers of cold iced tea.
Just to be able not to sweat, and to be comfortable almost made the menu irrelevant but Leon’s jerk chicken drew praise from everyone and Sasha as usual made magic with the ingredients on hand.
Kerry’s contribution had been the ice tea. There were leftover cookies and doughnuts for dessert, but they were for now sitting back and just talking, discussing the day and what had gotten done, and what the plans were for the following morning.
The water was on in the sinks, and Hank had managed to scrounge a total of two toilets the plumber had installed in two of the downstairs bathrooms. They had no hot water, but the sun shower had come over from the office and with the facilities in the RV’s, everyone was pretty much okay.
The pop up tents had moved inside, in the large room just behind the hallway where the spot coolers were providing enough drier, more comfortable air to allow everyone a chance to get a good night’s sleep.
There was a feeling of peace and safety. Seated on one of the stools next to Kerry was John, the ranger who had poked his head inside an hour or so earlier, looking around in some amazed alarm.
“So much stuff’s going on.” He now said. “We weren’t sure what all the… I mean, we knew something was happening.” He paused. “We weren’t sure if it was okay to come over here.”
“Of course it is.” Kerry answered immediately. “You’re all welcome here, and tomorrow we should sit down and talk about how we can be partners going forward.” She added. “As long as you all want to. It’s a big place. We need help.”
John smiled shyly at her. “Um.. what’s all with the cables all over?” He asked. “And you all using a generator? I don’t hear one going like I thought there was last night.”
“It’s regular power. The other cables are internet.” Kerry told him. “You’re welcome to come share.”
“How did you do that?”
Dar’s phone rang, and she was spared the tale as she opened it and held it up to her ear. “Dar Roberts.” She listened for a moment. “I’m sorry about that, we just got phone service back a little while ago.” She paused to listen again. “No I’m not, I’m on the mainland.” She listened again in silence for a longer period of time. “I wasn’t planning to. We can discuss this tomorrow if you’re in the area of Hunter’s Point. Anyone local can tell you where it is.”
Kerry was looking at her with intense curiosity.
“Okay, we can certainly discuss it.” Dar’s voice had that dry formality that was all business. “Goodnight.” She closed the phone. “Governor.” She said, briefly, turning her head to meet Kerry’s eyes. “Apparently we’re going to have him over for breakfast.”
She glanced around at all the surprised, wide eyes looking at her. “He’s pissed off at something. Probably that nerd that works for him blamed me for his inability to do crap.”
“Dar you’re a private citizen. You don’t have to save the planet for him.” Kerry rolled her eyes. “Even though we did talk about you actually doing exactly that.”
“Well I’m going to make him pay through the nose for it if that’s his problem.” Kerry folded her arms. “Not really sure why people being paid by the citizens of this country all think they’re anointed by God.”
There was an awkward silence, as the entire room looked at both of them with some surprise and alarm. Dar caught the looks and grinned wryly. “We’re really not anarchists. Kerry’s gotten a closer look at the inside of politics than most.”
Eyes shifted to Kerry, who stuck out her tongue.
Conversation at that point was diverted, because the back door to the kitchen area opened behind them. “Lo there!” A moment later, Andrew Roberts appeared in the doorway, closely followed by Ceci. He paused and looked around. “This here a party?”
“Sure.” Dar agreed. “There’s some hot dogs and peanut butter over there on the counter, Dad.”
“Nice.” Ceci remarked, as she moved through the crowd and went to the counter, where the dinner buffet was reposing under tin foil. She retrieved a piece of broccoli from one of the pans and turned, leaning against the counter as Andy investigated the other contents.
“Them folks did close off that area, Dardar.” Andy said, as he appropriated a dog and a bun, depositing a glob of peanut butter on top with a grunt of content. “Got it all shut down from that main road there.”
“Well, at least that was true.” Kerry remarked.
“Yes, and they were being pretty snitty about it.” Ceci munched her broccoli. “We told them we were happy if they were being jerks to everyone, not just us.”
“They were jerks.” Hank assented. “But like old Junior there said, they did us a favor cause we came on down here instead.”
Ceci looked around the room, at the lights propped in the corners. “I don’t hear a generator.”
“Ain’t one.” Pete said.
“You have power here?”
“We have power here, and the internet.” Dar agreed. “And some aircon, courtesy of those spot coolers.” She pointed. “Enough power to run the servers.”
Andy was chewing on his peanut butter covered hot dog. “How’d you all do that, Dardar? Everybody’s yapping all over how they ain’t got none. You run you a cable over to that there island?” He seemed mildly curious but unsurprised.
“Pfft.” Hank waved a hand at him. “Easier than that’d be.”
Dar got up and edged around the table. “C’mon, I’ll show you. It’s easier than explaining.” She indicated the internal door to the kitchen. “We just got lucky.”
“At some point.” Ceci grabbed a paper plate and more vegetables, then she went around and took Dar’s empty seat next to Kerry. “We’re all going to admit it’s not luck.:”
Kerry propped her chin on her fist. “Maybe it’s karma.”
“Maybe it’s intergalactic synergy.” Ceci picked up a charred pepper. “So.” She went on. “Fill me in. We were only gone for two days. Can’t take all that long.”
Kerry gave her a sideways look.
“Then I can tell you about what we were up to.”
Dar led the way down the deck past the neatly coiled pressure hoses and sawhorses and the stacks of construction material they’d brought from the office. There was a nice breeze coming off the water and it was not uncomfortable to walk in.
“This here’s some place.” Andy commented. “Ah did not realize that when we were here that first time.”
Dar angled across the scrub grass towards the large metal box now planted on the edge of the property, freshly dug and covered ground leading away into the darkness towards the road. “Haven’t really had a chance to even go over all of it.”
“Ah do like it.”
“Me too.” Dar smiled, as they arrived. “So this.” She indicated the box. “I agreed to let the phone guys install it. They run it off emergency power. So they gave me a feed, and a connection in return.” She half turned and looked offshore. “One of the main interconnects comes in off the coast there. We saw them with a work boat hunting for something so we asked what was up.”
Andy folded his arms and regarded the waist high metal enclosure. “Do tell.”
“They had to bring it onshore two miles north, otherwise. So it was a win win for everyone.” Dar concluded. “There’s a hub under the road out there. Saved them a hell of a lot of time, money and labor to hook up here.”
There was another line of recently covered trench heading towards the house, and just visible in the light near the door to the inside a group of cables were coming out of the ground and going through the opening. “Ah heard there was some all thing that started working at the gov’m,int center. That it?” Andy asked.
“I don’t know.” Dar said. “I haven’t been listening to news all day cause we’ve been busy. They hit us with that evacuation yesterday and we’ve been going full out getting settled here all day.” She looked around, at the house whose lower level now had visible lights on, all the brighter since nothing else in the area had power. “Where did you guys go off to?”
“Had to do me a favor for a buddy up off South Carolina.” Her father responded. “Turned out all right.” He didn’t seem to be disposed to explain further, and Dar didn’t ask him to. “You all goin to bring them server things ovah here?”
Dar pondered that. “Yeah.” She finally said. “I don’t know how much longer that sat scam’s going to hold up. Better connection here. But I might wait a few days until we can get this place more settled. It’s pretty bare right now and they need a place to work.”
“Need you some tables and all.”
Dar nodded. “Richard’s going to have a fit when he sees this place. He thinks that society’s going to get an injunction against us using it.” She said. “Told him I don’t care.”
Andrew chuckled softly. “They aint got time to bother with that there right now, Dardar.” He told her. “That man’s a worry wart, always was.”
“Well he’s a lawyer.” Dar smiled. “Maybe I should ask him to be here when the governor shows up tomorrow. He’s mad at me for something or other.”
“Kerry’ll deal with him.” Dar looked off over the water, where the only visible lights were some emergency beacons on Key Biscayne, and the flicker of what was, perhaps, firepits out on the shore across from them. That and the stolid, low, red and green of the channel markers. “They wanted me to come do something to help them a week ago and I told them to get lost.”
Andy cocked his head in question, one brow lifting.
“We had a crap ton of stuff going on.” Dar said, lifting both hands in a faint shrug. “So who knows. Maybe he’s going to try and pressure me into it.”
Dar chuckled. “If hooking this up really did fix something, it’ll give us some leverage because I already helped him for free.” She remarked. “I should go check the news sites. See what went on.” She considered. “And we can actually research it from the boat. The antenna I put in that tree’ll cover the waterfront.”
They watched Chino and Mocha run across the pool deck, noses down, tails waving.
“Them dogs do like this place.” Andy noted. “Plenty of room.”
Dar put her hands in her pockets, and drew in a breath of salt tinged air. “I like it.” She said. “We’re going to make this into our home. Whatever we have to fix to make it happen.” She swung her gaze around to meet Andy’s. “Whatever deal we have to make over it.”
He smiled at her. “You all going to put you a treehouse up in that tree?”
Dar smiled back. “Maybe.” She admitted. “I am going to build a climbing wall.”
“Hope you aint’ gonna fall down off it and break your arm again.”