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Jim Ed Perez stood in the doorway of his store, just below the sign that said Perez Marina and Nautical Supplies, catching the late afternoon breeze coming in off the bay, watching the sun dip into a cloud bank at the western horizon, all while keeping an eye on a squall to the south and the stolen boat sliding by the marina store and on by the line of big boats already tied up in slips and then being inexpertly backed into an empty slip down the way.

He knew the boat was stolen because he had received an advisory from the Coast Guard to be on the lookout for it, not that he needed the advisory. He would have known the boat was stolen anyway from the fact that Charlie Wyatt was at the wheel and Charlie’s twin brother, Bobby, occupied the chair beside him. People said that Charlie, like pretty much all the Wyatts, was dumb as a hammer and a little off plumb and that Bobby was dumber and even more off plumb. One thing that was certain was that the two of them in their entire lives would never earn half enough money to buy the Blackwater 41 Sportfish with quad 350hp Mercs they were tying up as Jim Ed watched.

“What in the world are you boys doing out of prison?” Jim Ed called down the way. He knew they were supposed to be in prison because they were three-time losers and because the third robbery was of Perez Marina and Nautical Supplies just four years ago. “And where’d you steal that boat? And most important, what are you doin’ back here?”


“We are out of prison because the prisons are overcrowded according to some judge or other and because somebody else said we was not violent and not a threat to society,” Charlie shouted.


“An’ we didn’t steal the boat. We borrowed it.” Bobby Wyatt now doing the shouting. “Beside which we was innocent.”


“Innocent of what? You damn well robbed me an’ who would loan you boys a boat like that?”


“An’ we are here because we are gonna rob your store.” Charlie Wyatt shouting as he jumped to the dock.




“You bet your sweet ass.”


“I don’t think so. Not this time.”


“Well, you gotta another think comin’.”


Jim Ed stepped back into the store and turned the sign in the window to CLOSED. He walked to the counter at the back of the shop and called the police. Then he reached under the counter and took a double-barrel shotgun from its rack, broke it open and reached into a drawer for shells and loaded it.


“Jim Ed, we know you are in there. Better open on up!” Charlie Wyatt said.


“Yeah, we saw you go in,” Bobby said.


“Sign says CLOSED!”

“Don’t care nothing about that,” Charlie Wyatt said and kicked the door in . . .

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