Patrick C. Crowell
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Two Years Later

Heads at OIA craned in order to view the Amazon-like beauty strolling down the people-mover hall toward the concourse hub. Her short, cute companion scurried along side. Orlando International Airport was teeming with travelers and their well-wishers, but those lucky enough to get a view gawked at the pair, mesmerized by the vision. The tall woman stretched legs that rippled like a racehorse’s, and despite hiking boots and cargo shorts, lustful eyes followed until she loped out of sight. Her wavy, calico-colored hair was clipped back and bobbing in rhythm to graceful strides. A Quicksilver backpack was pulled tight to her chartreuse camisole over broad shoulders, displaying a shapely, athletic form, making men drool and women envious. Even in her clunky boots, the five-foot eleven-inch creature seemed like a supermodel.
Through hazel eyes she glanced down and smiled at her towheaded friend in a light blue sundress and flip-flops, who also sported a backpack. DeeDee's really excited, she thought. This is going to be a blast.
“ I’m more excited than you,” Adel Blair said to her petite friend.
“ No you’re not!” DeeDee Lane chirped. “We really need this vacation. You, especially, after all those trials in a row. I’m more excited because I’ve finally got you out of the office. Now maybe you won’t be such a ‘B’.”
“ I’m sorry, DeeDee. I know I’ve been tough to live with.”
“ It’s all right, Adel. You were under a lot of stress. Five jury trials in four months is a lot. I still can’t believe we won them all.”
“ I know. What a streak we’re on. But, you know, of all of them, I’m still happiest about the Quintana case.”
“ Well, you take an illegal immigrant and win him over two million bucks from a Polk County jury—you oughta be.”
“ He and his family deserve every penny.”
“ Why don’t we advertise like the Morgan firm? Instead of ‘For the people,’ we could be ‘For the underdog’.”
“ We don’t need to,” Adel said. “Besides, that doesn’t have a very good ring to it.”
“ Yeah, well, I need the ladies room,” DeeDee said.
“ Me, too.” As if on cue, they veered like birds in formation toward the restroom on the right.
“ So’d you get the surf report off the Internet?”
“ I did,” Adel said, then teasing her friend with purposeful silence.
“ Well come on, then, Gator! What does it say?”
“ Eight to twelve feet all week—overhead to double overhead—quadruple for you Seminole spongers.” Adel smiled at her sidekick. She enjoyed their constant banter about their favorite Florida schools.
“ Hush up, or we’ll hire away your football coach! Ours is about to retire.”
“ We’ll believe it when we see it.”
Exiting the restroom, the pair resumed their trek down the terminal to their gate, unaffected by alert, admiring eyes, feasting again.
“ Whoa, what have we here?” a fit man about fifty mumbled, catching sight of Adel Blair and DeeDee Lane ambling toward him and his friend. John Pfeiffer and Peter Cromwell were waiting to board their flight for another surf trip to Costa Rica. The athletic-looking beauty flanked by a cute blonde stunned Pfeiffer.
He elbowed his friend, who was dozing next to him under a broad brimmed surf-hat. The long-limbed Cromwell lifted his brim and focused his blue eyes on the appealing sight, stroking his formidable chin with approval. Tilting his hat back down to resume sleeping, aggravated when his nap was interrupted again, this time by a foul odor.
“ Man, I told you not to eat that Whopper!” he said, without re-raising his brim. “Now you'll be fluffing air biscuits the whole damn way to Costa. I’m gonna sit in the back of the plane.”
“ The flight’s full,” Pfeiffer said, “you’re staying right next to me.”
“ Oh, God!” Cromwell said. “Kill me now.”
“ Man, that is rank!” Pfeiffer said proudly, “even if I do say so myself.” However, Pfeiffer never averted his gaze. “You’re missing it, Peter. Here they come.”
“ Susan would be mad at you.”
“ Hey, she says that I can get my appetite anywhere I want, just so long as I eat at home.”
Cromwell re-lifted the brim of his hat. The two men were seated within a grouping of teal blue chairs at gate 74 of OIA, waiting to board American Airlines flight 555 to San Jose. With empties here and there, it seemed Adel Blair and DeeDee Lane were striding directly toward them, and they realized the gorgeous pair was likely to join their flight.
“ Man, I wish PE could’ve come,” Pfeiffer said.
“ I know,” Cromwell said. “At least then, I’d be entertained.”
Doctor Patrick Edward Shriver, known as PE to his friends, was a family practitioner from Port Charlotte, and normally instigated their quintessential guy trips. At the most five-foot-six, Shriver was the shortest in the group, yet he was the boss. Though he might not surf as much as the others, when it came to stories, practical jokes and horseplay, he was the frontrunner. His grayish-brown hair was closely cropped, and when it was wet, it draped about his high forehead like short curls atop a Greek statue. Indeed from the profile, Cromwell often thought the man looked like Aristotle, but head-on he resembled a caricature of good ole George W. Bush—it was the shape of his head and cut of his mouth. Because PE couldn't join them this particular trip, the faction felt leaderless—as though G.W. had lost the election, or had abdicated his reign, depending on one’s political point of view. The usual makeup of their surf group was interesting: two lawyers, a doctor and his grass-roots brother, Cromwell's son-in-law and grassroots brother-in-law. But for this trip, like two years past, none of the others could make it. Not even the doctor.
Soon the feminine duo was upon the pair, taking nearby seats. Pfeiffer and Cromwell stifled their behavior. They were, after all, married and older and, for the most part, professional, and though set upon their usual good time, some propriety was in order.
“ Hello, gentlemen,” the perpetually friendly DeeDee addressed the suddenly shy duo. By their attire, she could tell they were surfers—cargo shorts, T-shirts adorned with open-buttoned Luaus, sandals, Oakleys draped about their necks with cords—either that or fishermen, but they were clearly going to Costa Rica.
“ Hello there,” Pfeiffer replied. “Are y’all heading to Costa Rica?”
“ Yes, we are,” DeeDee said, proud and excited.
“ Where to?” Pfeiffer asked.
Cromwell studied his friend. Though Pfeiffer was a highly successful lawyer that had warmed up in law enforcement, he was generally a quiet man. Loyally married and proud of his family, his occasional aplomb surprised his friends when he came out of his shell and spoke to random women.
" A place a little north of Jacó Beach, near Puntarenas."
" No kidding, that's where we’re heading. Are you surfers?"
" Well, she is," DeeDee replied, glancing at Adel. "I'm a sponger," she added, referring to those who donned swim fins and rode the waves on foam body boards. "And you guys?"
" We're both surfers, heading to Boca Barranca."
" Wow," Adel said. "We're staying at the Fiesta Resort. You guys, too?"
" Yeah," Pfeiffer smiled. "We usually stay at another place, but a couple years ago, Peter, here, an’ I checked it out, and we wanted to give it a second chance.”
“ How was it?”
“ Well …,” Pfeiffer hesitated. “The surf and the hotel were great.”
“ Was there a problem?”
“ We had, uh, a small episode in the water with a toothless Tico,” Cromwell interjected. “And Puntarenas is nasty.”
“ But it really wasn’t any big deal,” Pfeiffer said. “Anyway, it looks like we're in for some good surf this week. Have you seen the reports? It's a south swell."
" Yeah," Adel replied. "Looks like double overhead!"
" Man, I can't wait," Cromwell said, sparking a round of agreement from the group.
For Pfeiffer and Cromwell, this was their tenth trip to Costa Rica and they had it down pat, though this trip would certainly prove different—they all did, in one way or another. It was an interesting subculture of baby boomers, Cromwell had often thought—those who still loved to surf—a group about which he was sure a great percentage of Americans was unaware. It was an impression reinforced whenever he met people who seemed surprised to learn that at 50, he was still a surfer and traveled to surf—like living the Endless Summer dream, but in small, manageable bits.
Pfeiffer and Cromwell introduced themselves, and were enjoying speaking to Adel and the enthusiastic DeeDee about riding waves.
“ So what do you guys do?” Adel asked.
“ We’re both lawyers,” replied Pfeiffer, “but this guy has some dream about writing novels. And you?”
“ I’m an attorney also.”
“ No kidding. Where do you work?” Cromwell asked.
“ My own firm … McKerrin and Blair. I’m in partnership with my boyfriend. We do plaintiffs’ work mostly. How ‘bout you guys?”
“ I work at Bilious and Headley,” Pfeiffer said. “He’s a sole practitioner.”
“ I’ve heard of your firm,” Cromwell said to Adel.
“ So, Plaintiff’s work,” Pfeiffer said. “Personal injury?”
“ You bet,” DeeDee interjected. “We just won a two-million dollar verdict for a poor illegal immigrant!”
“ No kidding. What happened?”
“ He lost an arm in a fruit conveyor,” Adel said. “It was because of the way his boss made him do his work. We sued the grower and the manufacturer.”
“ One of their defenses was that he had no rights because he was in our country illegally,” DeeDee said.
“ That lost, I hope,” Cromwell said.
“ Yeah, but we didn’t really go after a part of the case that bothered me most,” Adel said.
“ What was that?” Pfeiffer asked.
“ False imprisonment. They wouldn’t let this poor guy go home to Mexico before the accident. The judge granted summary judgment against us on that claim because he came here, illegally, looking for work.”
“ That seems like a stupid rationale,” Cromwell said.
“ Well, at least it’s nice to know that our country protects the rights of non-citizens—even those who come into our country illegally,” Pfeiffer said.
“ You haven’t been reading the papers lately, buddy,” Cromwell said. “There’s a house bill designed to declare them all criminals and deport them.”
“ How could we do that?” DeeDee asked.
“ We depend on them too much,” Adel said. “We virtually invite them here with our systems, because the big contractors, growers and factories want them here because they’re cheaper, and then we would declare them illegal and deport them?”
“ Kind of hypocritical, isn’t it?” Cromwell asked.
“ Where’d you go to law school?” Pfeiffer asked Adel.
“ Florida,” Adel said.
“ We did too. That’s where we met, and we’ve been friends ever since.”
“ Great,” DeeDee said. “Three Gator-lawyers. This’ll be a fun trip.”
“ No,” Pfeiffer said. “We’re litiGators.”
“ Don’t mind her,” Adel said. “She’s one of those.”
“ A Seminole?” Cromwell said, with a look of feigned disgust.
“ Yes, and proud of it!” DeeDee said. DeeDee had gone to school in Iowa, but she’d been taking Internet courses at FSU for a while.
“ So, how long have you been surfing?” Pfeiffer asked.
“ Not long, really. I had an unusual case two years ago. My private investigator’s girlfriend was killed, so I spent a lot of time with him and he taught me. DeeDee learned to sponge board. We rode the hurricane surf last year and loved it, so he talked us into going to Costa with him and his friend.”
“ Oh, where are they?” Pfeiffer glanced about for other surfers. Adel’s investigator, Ace Rider, was hard to miss at six-feet-four, and with long, sun-tinged brown hair falling beyond his broad shoulders. His friend, Shea Rodriguez, otherwise known as Ricochet because of his penchant for running into things, was shorter. Both clearly had the look of longtime surfers.
“ They should be here any moment.”
“ Her boyfriend doesn’t mind,” DeeDee interjected. “They have a great relationship. He and she are my bosses, but I run the show!”
Adel raised her eyebrows.
“ Somehow, I believe that,” Cromwell smiled.
“ Well, you obviously do other athletics,” observed Pfeiffer. “You look like you’re in great shape.”
“ She’s a national champion rower!” DeeDee bragged. “Me too, whenever she’s in my boat!”
Cromwell and Pfeiffer sensed Adel’s discomfort over discussion of her personal life. Though very aggressive in court, the introverted athlete disliked being the center of attention, a problem with which she was constantly confronted. Adel hoped the conversation would change direction.
Her wish was granted when everyone suddenly became aware of an obnoxious little fellow struggling with his wheeled travel bag, bent over to fix something. He backed straight into the assemblage with his broad, muscular butt pointing straight at them. Head down, the odious man had long, thick, orange hair falling about his broad shoulders and dangling around the sides of his hidden face. He was muttering in something pigeon.
" Estupido baggo," the group heard the man utter. Backing towards them rump upward, swinging his airborne tail, he bumped into Pfeiffer. The lithe Pfeiffer jumped backward, blue eyes widened.
DeeDee began giggling while Cromwell and Pfeiffer became indignant, Adel also taken aback. Then, the incomprehensible person backed his posterior towards Cromwell and butt-slapped Cromwell’s thigh, as though he wanted to knock someone over.
" Baggo el brokeno," the strange little man muttered, and even the three lawyers cracked smiles.
" Can we help you?" Adel asked.
" Si, Señora, si, help me," the bizarre being said, as he stood and took a long gander at Adel towering over him, keeping his back to Pfeiffer and Cromwell. "Baggo el brokeno, Señora … aye, que beautifola, Señora," he added, as his senses were filled with Adel Blair.
Cromwell became suspicious. The person was acting Latino, but Cromwell knew enough Spanish to realize that it was not being spoken. Pfeiffer was at the same time beginning to recognize all-too-familiar traits.
" Ace! Ricochet! What are you two doin’ over there?" DeeDee asked, and Adel turned to check out her private investigator and his friend behind an empty gate desk, cracking up while Ace was recording the weird events on a digital recorder.
Pfeiffer and Cromwell shared instincts, turning back and snatching the orange hair right off the head of the peculiar intruder. Adel was shocked to observe a wig removed, but when the fellow turned about and roared laughter, she realized that it was all a prank.
" PE!" Pfeiffer and Cromwell chorused. "What’re you doing, man?"
" I couldn’t let you assholes have all the fun!" the newcomer declared, as the entire group gathered around him, exchanging embraces while Ace continued recording with Ricochet by his side.
" You coy dog!" Cromwell said. "You told us you couldn’t come!"
“ I did, didn’t I. What does that tell you about me … and about you?”
Ace and Ricochet sauntered over with the camcorder still going.
“ Hey, I met these two guys at the ticket counter,” PE said. “They’re going to the Fiesta, like us!”
“ They’re our friends,” Adel said, and they all exchanged greetings.
DeeDee leaned to Adel. “Leave it to Ace and Ricochet to get in with this guy,” she whispered. “This trip’s going to be really fun.”
Adel smiled. “Looks like it’ll be full of surprises.”

Copyright © Patrick C. Crowell 1995-2004.
All rights reserved. Rev. 3-2



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