Shades of Hemingway / Deja’ Voodoo, Epilogue

Author’s note: This is a continuation of a series. For more information see, Shades of Hemingway and Shades of Hemingway / Medium Exposure.
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“I was beginning to have my doubts on whether you’d show up or not.” Jake Barnes said as he tied my hands behind me. “I mean, I heard you were a clever S.O.B. but still…”

“What are you saying, that you were expecting me?”

“I was expectin’ someone… anyone. Little did I imagine it’d be you.”

I looked into that bulldog face and wondered if my last moments on earth would be crowded with his image leering at me, satisfied that I was once again caught in his clutches.

“What difference does it make whether I came here or not? Robert Jordan’s dead, there’s no one else left to implicate anybody in this kidnapping enterprise you’re involved with. Who’d listen to me anyway? I take my story to the authorities and they’d think I was nuts. Besides, would anyone believe my word against a Key West detective? Not hardly!”

“What in the hell are you babblin’ about?”

“I know why you’re here and what you’ve been up to, Detective.”

At least, I thought I did.

“Think you’ve got it all figured out, hey lover boy?”

“Why don’t you fill me in?” I tried to sound brave but he and I both knew I was soiling myself. There was absolutely no way I was getting out of this alive. Jake Barnes was as happy as a cat catching a canary. In fact, he was purring.

I imagined the only reason I was not dead yet was because Lord Cristobal was intrigued with my connection to the shades. He had instructed Jake to hold me in an upstairs room while they figured out what to do with me. Which I presumed to mean, when and where to dispose of my body. But even Lord Cristobal had to recognize the truth in my statements concerning his relationship with Hemingway. Sometimes the truth is much stranger than fiction. He must have concluded I could not have made that stuff up, so how else could I have known it? I knew that there had to be more to this Hemingway connection, why else would I have been spared?

Jake Barnes is rough in the handling of my ropes, no doubt recalling the swift kick to his balls I had administered a few days earlier. I racked my brain trying to remember anything that might have been pertinent during our first conversation back in Rachel’s apartment to get him to ease up a little.

“I’ll fill you in, smart guy. You’re a goner. Plain and simple. The only thing that keeps me from poppin’ your ass right now is that lil’ ol’ black voodoo whack job down stairs, and he’ll tire of ya soon enough.”

I look around the room I am being held in. It is an open, airy place with a few tropical scene prints framed on the walls. It is a guest bedroom with a couple of table lamps on either side of the bed, still enclosed in plastic. There is a coat hook on the door we came in through. A solitary garment is hanging there. I look closer and immediately identify it, which causes Jake to follow my eyes and then grunt upon seeing it, too. It looked like the top piece of a woman’s two piece pant suit.

“What’s this?” Jake abandons me momentarily, grabs the jacket off the hook and starts examining it. “What’s this doin’ here?”

It is Rachel’s jacket, the one she wore the night she picked me up out on Highway A1A. It was the first piece of evidence that I had to show she actually was in Cuba.

“Rachel was wearing it the last time I saw her, Jake.” I was squirming with the ropes that had me tied to the chair. Jake held the jacket up by it’s shoulder padding checking the size and style, maybe looking for bullet holes and/or blood.

“You saw Rachel in this? You are absolutely sure?”

“Yes, Jake. She was wearing it the night she picked me up.”

Jake winced at the recollection. I had forgotten Jake was her ex-husband up until that moment. He wadded up the garment into a tight, little ball then pitched it onto the floor.

“Rotten rat bastard.” Jake uttered beneath his breath, but his thoughts were not directed towards me. He was calculating something in his head while I sat still watching him do the math. Finally he turned his face to mine, raising his fist menacingly.

“You’ve got to level with me, kid. Tell me what you know about this voodoo mumbo jumbo guy and what’s it all got to do with Rachel?”

I was dumbfounded.

“Jake, you’re not in on all this?”

“In on what? Don’t be pissin’ on my leg and tellin’ me it’s rainin’ ”

“This kidnapping ring. Rich Americans being brought into Cuba and held for ransom out of reach of American law enforcement.”

“And you think I’d have somethin’ to do with that? I oughta bust you up… Wait a minute! Who’ve you been talkin’ to?”

“That guy, the one I was talking to you about… the one they call ‘Manolo’.”

“You mean Garcia?”

“Yes! Sargent Garcia! He brought me into Cuba to locate Rachel.”

Jake looked at me like his mental capacity just went into overload. I could see his pupils faintly dart back and forth as if they were processing data, there was almost the smell of circuits burning.

“Jake! I came here to rescue her! Garcia brought me here the day I left you in Rachel’s apartment!”

You’ve come to rescue her?” I could read the disbelief mixed with contempt on his face, but only for an instant. Jake’s face turned to an expression of confusion. I swallowed hard. Could it possibly be that I had Jake all wrong?

“Jake, why are you here? How did you get into Cuba and who told you to come here and find me?”

“Police business, kid… you’re barkin’ up the wrong tree.”

“Police business? Jake, you’re in fucking Cuba, man! You are completely out of your jurisdiction and you know it! If I’m gonna die so far away from home at least tell me why!”

“Whoa… hold on a minute, son! Who said anythin’ about dyin’? I’m haulin’ your ass back to the States personally to see that justice is served.”

“And what about Rachel?”

“You let me worry about Rachel, limp dick. Your ass is in a sling, buddy. I’d be more concerned about hirin’ a good lawyer than playin’ the hero if I was you.”

“Detective Barnes, what do you think I did… what am I being accused of?”

“You are going to be held by the Cuban government until I can make arrangements for you to be transported back to the States and be formally charged.”

“Charged for what? Aggravated assault on your privates?” Immediately I regretted bringing that up.

“Murder one, hot shot.” Jake cupped his crotch and gave it a wiggle.

“What? Detective, who am I supposed to have killed?”

“Officer Robert Jordan of the Key West Police Department.”

I stared at Jake Barnes in disbelief. He had alluded to his suspicions when we were in Rachel’s apartment but I thought it was just part of his routine. This came from way out in the far left quadrant of the known universal field.

I knew two things. One was that I stood a better chance of defending myself once I was back home. No matter what the implication was or the flimsy evidence that Detective Barnes thought he had, I knew I had nothing to do with Robert Jordan’s killing. If it meant going back to the States in the quasi-custody of one of Key West’s finest at least I was assured of returning in one piece. My defense would be clearly seen and sorted out then.

The second thing was not as comforting. Rachel was in Cuba and had been held at La Casa Vinales de Eden. Whether she was still here or had been relocated remained to be seen. But somehow I was now more relieved because of Jake’s presence. His being here seemed to have been for Rachel’s welfare, finding me was an afterthought. I recalled him saying he was expecting “someone” but not necessarily me. Could it be we were both lured here because of our involvement with her? I was being set up and Detective Jake Barnes was charging to the rescue despite proper protocol.

And as these thoughts churned inside my head, Rachel’s predicament seemed far less important. I had to somehow convince Jake to stop thinking like a cop and trust me. The pieces were loosely coming together and between the two of us we could solve this thing. Most of my calculations had been correct or at least within the general proximity of accuracy. The shades had not abandoned me and were still giving me direction, I just needed to press them further. I had to be allowed more time. Discovering Keith’s role in all this and his relationship with Lord Cristobal… therein lies the key to the mystery.

But that was not the only issue. Deep in my heart I knew there was another cause rising to the surface and my mind was now clearer on the point. I knew that I did not love Rachel. As quickly as the emotion had grabbed me in the beginning it was fading. I reflected on the early morning mist that was in the parking lot of Rachel’s apartment building the morning I fled to Cuba. In those minutes with Jake in that upstairs bedroom of La Casa Vinales de Eden, the fog was lifting. I loved Naty Revuelta and could not leave Cuba without her.

She would be waiting for me…

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Coming in the Spring of 2009: Shades of Hemingway / Bone Island Abattoir

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