Being Inspired, maybe - 90

A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like.  For instance:

And, then, the words:

I watched six figures rappel down from the bridge and land silently on the deck.  With no lights, it had been difficult to see them, and for a moment, after the initial surprise, I realized the boat had actually slowed down as it passed under the bridge.

They disappeared inside in a matter of seconds, and I was left with the feeling I hadn't seen anything at all. Where the ropes should have been still down, they were gone.  I looked up at the bridge but there was nothing but inky blackness punctuated by car headlights quickly passing from one side to the other.

Then, once past the bridge, there was a slight increase in speed, and, magically, the lights on the bridge came back on.

It was as if nothing had happened.

My first thought; it was the entertainment.  It was the sort of thing [name] would organize simply because it was something her sister wouldn't think of.  It was, at times, hard to understand their competitiveness, and lengths they'd go to outdo each other.

Then, others came out on the deck, the smokers who couldn't have a cigarette on the inside.  The boat itself was ablaze with lights, but, in places, there were dark patches and t was these the smokers went to, where only the glow of the cigarette was on display.

Being downwind of them, every now and then cigarette smoke wafted down in my direction, enough to make my eyes water.

Time to go back inside.

I entered at the top level, and there was a walkway around that gave a partial view of the lower level where the main party was taking place.

The music had stopped and there was an unnatural silence.  People were gathered in groups, talking quietly, but then I noticed several black-clothed figures with balaclavas walking amongst the groups with bags.  People were dropping phones and other items in them.

The black figures were, possibly, the men who had rappelled down from the bridge.

Then I heard a voice.  "That's it, folks, just drop your phones, watches, jewelry, wallets, and handbags into the receptacles as they come to you.  Just a reminder that anyone caught calling for help will incur my wrath, and I suggest the quicker you drop your possessions the quicker we will be gone.

Wow, it was an old-fashioned stickup, and this wasn't even the wild west.

Watching downstairs, my attention was momentarily distracted, and I felt the barrel of a gun in my back.  "Don't do anything silly," a male voice behind me said.

I turned slowly, hands out where he could see them.  One of the black-dressed thieves.  But he didn’t look that old.  Perhaps new to the team he was placed in a position where he could not cause trouble or do anything rash.

"Not intending to," I said.

I was not an expert in firearms, but I had spent time with Celeste at shooting practice, she owned a Glock something or other, and had offered it to me to fire a couple of shots at a figure way down the end of a tunnel, and inevitably missed.  I had not expected or handled the kickback.

But what I had noticed was the safety, mainly because I suggested I might shoot myself in the foot, and she had told me when she handed it to me, she said the safety was on.

So it was with the weapon my assailant was holding.

There was about a meter and a half between us, but the gun hand was closer, being faced with a gun most people would think twice about fighting back, assuming the assailant would use it against them with horrific results.

Even if I could wrest the gun from him, I still had the problem of stopping my assailant from raising the alarm.  That would probably come down to what I remembered from sparring practice when at school my sports teacher thought my talent might lie in boxing rather than rugby given the number of fights I used to get into.

Perhaps that might come into some use in this situation.

"Come on, let's go," he said, waving the gun in the direction he wanted me to go.

I stood my ground, "Where?"

He looked impatient and slightly annoyed.  Once again, he waved the gun in front of me.  Now or never.

When it was in front of me I reached out and ripped it from his hand with my left and the followed through with a quick step towards the hip, swinging my right hand hoping to hit him in the jaw, looking for a TKO.  My only advantage was surprise.

And, surprisingly, it worked, and he crashed to the floor.

It took a minute or so more to get back to the deck and recover a lifesaving buoy with a rope attached, to tie him up, and move the prone body into the shadows.

I peered over the railing and noticed the party-goers had been herded into the back half of the dance floor with two assailants covering them with drawn, but not aimed, guns.  My guess, they too had the safety engaged, a good idea. No need to be accidentally shooting anyone.

Robbery with threats was better than robbery with violence, and someone injured or killed needlessly.

Through the opening out on to the outside deck, I could hear the sound of a high-powered boat, one I suspect would be coming alongside to collect the thieves.  This was a well-organized team; it had been less than a half-hour from landing on the boat to leaving.

Minus one.

The question was, would anyone come looking for him?

Time for a quick call to emergency services.

When the call connected, I asked for the police, then said quickly, "The River Queen, six-plus men robbing the guests, a boat coming to pick them up, currently, we're a half-mile past the River Bridge heading seaward.  Hurry or they'll be gone."  I hung up before they started asking time-wasting questions.

I had estimated there were either six or seven of them in the team, having had to take control of the boat and manage the crew, of which there were three, and for the duration of the cruise would be up in the bridge together. 

The catering staff was all down on the party level, and easily managed with the partygoers.

It made me think that someone on the boat or working with the catering staff was their inside informant.  This robbery was too well organized.

I heard footsteps coming up the stairs.  Obviously, they were not leaving anyone behind.

I moved back into a recess and waited.  I had the gun, and not sure if I was going to use it. I was not sure what I was going to do if they confronted me.  I didn't think they'd find their compatriot, not unless they started opening doors, but they might not have time.

I could hear the boat come alongside and the voice of the leader, the same man who ordered everyone to give up their belongings, telling his men to  get on the boat, and then the disjointed voice over a radio, "Reilly."


"Is he there?"

"No.  Probably goofed off like he usually does.  We ain't got time for this."

A minute’s silence, then, "Let's go."

I waited a few minutes after the footsteps faded down to the lower deck.  I could just see them forward, the boat still moving at its usual speed, the black dinghy tied at the side and four men aboard, one coming down from the bridge and the two who had come looking for their missing friend just arriving.

A minute at the most they'd be gone.

No one had come out from the lower deck, nor did I see the crew.  Some threats must have been made to prevent anyone from being adventurous.

The three others were now aboard their dinghy and it had been cast off.  I moved quickly to get closer, then as the boat pulled away from the side, I aimed the gun at the motors and squeezed the trigger. 

It kicked in my hand and the shot went nowhere.  I tightened the grip and aimed again this time trying to compensate for the kick.  This time it hit something, so I kept firing until the bullets were gone.

The boat had slowed, and I could hear yelling.

Then I saw another boat, blue lights flashing, coming towards the boat from ahead, and moving very quickly.  The men in the dinghy had also seen the boat coming towards them.

They were coming back to the boat, but this new threat stopped them, and I could see one of the men struggling to turn the boat, and, suddenly one of the two engines died, and the other, overcompensating, started making the boat turn in a tight circle heading towards shore.

The police boat had caught up to the boat and was attempting to come alongside, and it looked like the steering and accelerator for the remaining engine was stuck full-on, making the exercise difficult.

Job done; I threw the gun in the river.

I went back inside and down to the main deck where everyone was huddled in the back section.

I saw Celeste off to one side with her sister and parents.  "What's happening?"I asked.

"Where have you been?  There was just a bunch of criminals here and took everything we had of value."

"I was in the restroom.  Something happened to the doors and I couldn't get out.  Not until a minute or so ago.  But I did see a police boat chasing after a rubber dinghy with some people in it, so I don't think your crooks got very far."

Her parents and a number of others dashed over to the side of the boat to watch that drama unfold.  I went over to the bar, which had just reopened, and ordered a large scotch.

Celeste came over and sat beside me.  "Now, tell me, where were you really?"

© Charles Heath 2020


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