It was the ’60s. It was a crazy time. Sex, drugs, and SPECTRE. I never heard of SPECTRE or Largo before. I answered an ad that sold me on the idea of spending lots of time in the Bahamas and the Keys. “Must like and can handle physical work. Burly men preferred.” That fit me to a T, I thought. I thought it’d be loading boats.
When I got to Nassau, though, it was a different story. I got my uniform, which came out of my paycheck, by the way, and a machine gun. Now I’ve gone hunting for panthers in the Everglades with my grampa, but I’ve never fired anything like that. I mean, it was part of my training in Korea, but I forgot everything. I was a mechanic. I didn’t even touch a gun after basic training. But it all came back quickly and I was okay.
Still, I wondered what the hell we needed with guns if we were going to be working on boats all day. It smelled fishy, I tell you what. In more ways than one. And I thought about going back home to Teehatchapatchee. But then Largo got us all together and told us if we tried to leave, we’d be shot. Great. Looked like I was stuck. And we hadn’t been paid in two weeks. I started to feel like I was a slave.
That Largo didn’t tolerate failure, neither. My buddy Ray was sent to someone’s hotel room to rough him up and bring him to Largo. I mean, what the hell? Who is this guy Largo? Ray was a helluva nice guy, too. He was a big guy, could take care of himself in a jam, but I couldn’t see him roughing anyone up, let alone shooting them. He was a big pussycat. But Ray went; he didn’t exactly have a choice, y’know? The guy ended up beating him up and sent him back to Largo who got pissed off. He slapped him in front of all of us, which was bad enough, but then we had to throw him into the pool, which had sharks in it.
Man, I couldn’t sleep for three nights after that. I mean, I knew Largo had sharks, but I didn’t think he’d let ‘em into the pool. I thought he was gonna teach Ray a lesson and let him go. That’s when we all saw that Largo doesn’t mess around. I still see those sharks tearing ol’ Ray to pieces.
Largo didn’t like anyone looking at his niece, either. How could you not look at her? Oh man, she was beautiful and sexy. There was a rumor going around that she wasn’t his niece, if you know what I mean. We all talked about it in the henchman’s quarters every night. One of the guys who’d been there longer told us that Largo caught his buddy checking her out and flirting a little. That was the last time anyone saw that guy. Another guy was overheard joking about the nature of their relationship, and he came back to the barracks missing an arm. It was fed to the sharks.
In fact, guys dropped left and right. You learned to keep acquaintanceships at a superficial level. Be friendly, but not friends. It could be the last time you see him. One night this guy snuck on to the grounds and he got away, even after he was caught in the shark pool. I heard it was the guy who beat up Ray. We all caught hell for that one. Everyone involved who let him go was shot.
And of course, there were victims of friendly fire during the incident itself. It was a bad scene. I thought I was a goner for sure.
But I outlasted the others, and since I’d worked on a boat in Korea, I was promoted to the Disco Volante. That was some better work. That guy who got away from the sharks (we come to find out he was a British agent—a got-damn government agent—how the hell was we supposed to get that guy!) kept snooping around, so we dropped some grenades in the water. Now that was some fun! Too bad we missed him. We missed him and he got away again.
Couple more of us was shot in the head for that one.
Finally, the big day arrived. The day of the job we was all hired on for, it turned out. The feds were on to us, though, and they were there in force. We got some really intense fire, I tell you what. I thought I was a goner for sure then, too. But the boat blew up and threw us into the drink, and I lived.
I’d say it was a miracle, but the waters were full of sharks. No miracle in my book includes sharks. Goddamn sharks! Of course, I was presumed dead.
Luckily I had a life insurance policy made payable to my girlfriend in Miami. Fortunately, that’s where the mission was. When I learned exactly what it was, I was real glad it failed. That Largo extorting the world for a hundred million bucks with nukes? That would’ve been some bad news right there.
I swam to shore without the feds seeing me, hoofed it to my girlfriend’s and hid out there for a few days, and when she collected on the life insurance, we started over here in Belize, where we opened a joint called Ray’s. We don’t serve nothin’ but shark steaks. Rest in peace, buddy.