In the years immediately following the second Great War, the influence of the western world hung heavy on the islands in the waters of the South Pacific. The harvest of new economic resources provided a wealth of prosperity to those who could afford the gamble. While most rushed to invest in the new found abundance, others merely planned to steal it …
A novel by Eric H. Heisner
Moving across the wide expanse of ocean water, a large sailing yacht gleams in the clear sun lit day. A sharp, wooden hull cuts through the surface and cascades water into the wake. The indigo waters of the South Pacific roll with small caps of white that occasionally lick the vast blue sky. The lone vessel makes a picturesque figure on the seemingly endless canvas of aquatic seascape.
Laid out on the foredeck of the ship, two scantily clad women sunbathe on chaise lounge chairs. Their bodies glisten with oil and sweat as the afternoon sun bakes them to a golden hue. Coming down the stairs from the wheelhouse, a shirtless man strolls toward the two women and talks with them momentarily. He gives each of them a kiss and moves away, disappearing below deck.
The low rumbling roar of engines is heard echoing in the distance. Turning over to their backs, the two female sunbathers put on their sunshades, pull back their hair and position their skimpy suit tops to conceal a small portion of their breasts from the yacht crew.
The distinct humming sound of airplanes grows closer. With curiosity, the women sit up clutching their tops, while scanning the surrounding waters. Approaching from the western horizon like phantasms in the afternoon sun, two Consolidated PBY Catalina seaplanes hover fifty feet above the water.
Crewmen in the rigging of the yacht stop their tasks and the two women wave as the black-matte painted military warplanes roar overhead. Flying several lengths past the designer yacht, the two seaplanes tip their wings and circle back toward the ship. Slowly dropping from the sky, the hulls of the airships dip into the ocean waters and glide on the step like winged speedboats. As the flying planes become water vessels, the airframe sinks lower in the water and ploughs forward. The ocean swells splash over the machine gun turrets and catch the spinning tips of the radial powered props. Glistening like lethal black cats low in the water, the two warplanes creep toward the yacht.
The owner of the yacht steps from below with a white linen shirt draped across his shoulders. He walks to the starboard rail and watches the two Catalina warships taxi toward him. Turning to the wheelhouse, the man signals the Captain to idle the engines and cut the sails. The yacht’s big diesel engines drown to an idle and the crew pulls up canvas in the rigging. The man watches as the nose hatch of one of the seaplanes is opened and laid aside.
The Black Catalina PBY slowly taxies closer to the yacht. From the front hatch emerges a sleek tan-skinned man in a white suit, grey fedora and dark leather eye patch. He gives a curt wave which is returned by the owner of the yacht and the seaplane moves within feet of the glossy wood hull of the sailing ship.
Air Captain P.M. Rasmus is in his latter years and has the speckled grey hair to show for it. In prime physical condition for his age, his serious nature shows through his refined and taut body language. His lone, piercing steel blue eye scans the yacht’s features and watches as the other PBY moves around to the port side.
From the foredeck of the yacht, a crewman rolls down a rope ladder that swings several feet out from the cantilevered hull. Captain Rasmus reaches out and takes a firm grip on the wooden rung. With the agility of a lifelong sailor, Captain Rasmus quickly steps from the seaplane and climbs the rope ladder to the deck.
Followed by two of his men in flight gear, Rasmus steps over on to the yacht. He is met by the yacht’s owner buttoning his shirt and the two women in skimpy sunbathing suits. They look him over curiously and the women snicker between themselves. The owner steps forward and offers his hand.
“Welcome. Who do I have the honor of bringing aboard?”
Captain Rasmus declines the shake of the man’s hand and tips his grey fedora while bending to offer a half bow.
“Greetings. How are you good folks this fine afternoon? My name is Captain P.M. Rasmus.”
One of the women jiggles in her two-piece suit and flashes Rasmus a toothy grin.
“Oooh, aren’t you the dashing one!”
A sly smile creeps across Rasmus’ stone features.
“Thank you Ma’am, I try to be civil.”
Starting to feel an element of tension in the encounter the yacht owner motions over a crewman with the liquor cart. He lifts an already poured cocktail from the setting and gives a sweeping wave in offering.
“Would you and your crew like a drink?”
“No, I’m quite sorry. You see, we still have a lot of work to do.”
Taking a drink, the man looks at Rasmus over his glass.
“Oh, where are you headed?”
The almost clear blue eye of Rasmus scans the deck and the positions of all the crew aboard.
“Nowhere in particular. Wherever our work leads us.”
Leaning her generous bosom over the lacquered wood railing, one of the women smiles down at the Catalina seaplane still idling below.
“How exciting! What do you do flying around with your big black water airplanes?”
Rasmus turns to her and forces an uncomfortable smile.
“They are boat-planes Ma’am, seaplanes if you prefer.”
Swirling his drink, the yacht owner peers over the railing and notices the large caliber machine gun turret at the nose and the ones at each mid flank of the air-water craft.
“What do you do exactly?”
“We are Air Pirates.”
Catching the man mid swallow on his cocktail, Rasmus watches coldly as the owner chokes and laughs through his nose. Finally, putting his drink aside the yacht owner smiles at Rasmus.
The two women stare at the one-eyed humorless Air Captain strangely, not knowing exactly how to take him. Stepping forward, Rasmus’ two men pull pistols from their flight suits.
Captain P.M. Rasmus stares icily at the man and his two female companions.
“Oh Sir, we are quite serious.”
Rasmus gives a slight nod to the Air Pirate on his right and the man points his automatic pistol skyward. The sharp crack of the gunshot stops everyone short as a whiff of burnt gunpowder floats in the breeze. The only sound is the small tink of the empty brass shell casing as it bounces on the wooden ship’s deck.