Konan understood Lilly’s rage. No, he never had a child of his own to care for, but he had people that he cared for. It was no big leap for Konan to empathize with Lilly. He also knew that Lilly was one of the kindest, sympathetic, and loving people he knew. The fact that she wanted the killer to suffer, proved that even the sweetest among us had limits.
“We’ll get him, Lilly.”
“I know. I’ve got to head back to the hospital.”
“Okay. I’ll come by after I’m done here.”
When Lilly left, Konan pulled out an atlas and looked at the nearest ports closest to him. Konan sat at his desk and stared at the map. “If I knew the law was after me, what is my surest way from here? The law would lock down airports, trains, and buses. Water?”
Konan picked up the phone and dialed the ports in Biloxi. None of them had the facilities to support a large commercial ship. That left Gulfport and Pascagoula for him to check out. Tiredness crept into his mind, he hadn’t slept in over 24 hours.
Annabelle had said something about Calder’s grandfather being a pirate. “A smuggler, that’s what she said. Where would a smuggler put his ill-gained goods?” A quick search of the Internet browser showed that Gulfport had a port next to a series of warehouses. He wrote down the number and dialed it on his cell.
Konan spoke with the harbor master and discovered that The Jezebel had departed at 0330. He requested the logs for the ship, and the harbor master sent them straightway. Janko, Manson and Rankin walked in. Manson and Rankin sat at their desk, Janko took a seat next to Konan.
“What have you got?”
“I don’t know, Chief. I’m too tired to see what is there. Calder isn’t on this list of passengers for The Jezebel.”
“When did you last eat?”
“I haven’t. There’s too much going on for me to stop.”
“Go home and bathe. Eat and get some rest.”
“Go home, Konan. That’s an order. Gareth is safe.”
He drove home, showered, dressed in his pajamas and crashed out on the couch. Konan tossed and turned, but sleep never came. He got up and made coffee, then called the hospital and checked on Lilly and Gareth. Lilly answered on the first ring.
“Hey,” she answered. Her voice cracked from tiredness, anger still tinted her voice.
“Hey. Lemme run something by you. If you were running from the law, how would you get out of state?”
“Plane or bus. Why?”
“I think our guy took a ship.”
“Did you check the logs? Or call the harbor?”
“Yeah. The Jezebel is the only ship that fit the description of a standard smuggling vessel. I pulled its logs but the suspect isn’t listed.”
“That doesn’t mean he isn’t on the ship.”
“I know, but it left at 0330 this morning.”
“What’s its next destination?”
Konan took the phone from his ear and stared at the wall. He had spoken to the harbor master and had the clarity of mind to ask for the logs, but he forgot to find out its next port of call.
“I’ll call you right back.”
Konan took out the scrap of paper he had scribbled the phone number for the harbor on and dialed it. He waited with bated breath as the phone rang. Finally, someone answered.
“Hi, this is Detective Konan from the 117th. Is the harbor master in?”
“No, but maybe I can help. What do you need?”
“Could you tell me The Jezebel’s next port of call?”
It took several minutes, but Konan was given the answer he searched for. Immediately after hanging up, he dialed the harbor in Alaska and asked for the harbor master.
“Harbor master, how can I help you?”
“Hi. I’m Detective Konan from the 117th in Fredericksburg, Mississippi. You are expecting The Jezebel to arrive in a couple of days, right?”
“That’s correct. Why?”
“I suspect there is an unlisted passenger aboard. He is a suspect in multiple homicides. I’m going to send you a photo of his drivers license, if you see him please let me know at the number on the fax sheet.”
“Thanks, your help means a lot.”
Konan bid the harbor master a good day, and hung up. Then, he called Lilly.
“Hey. Sorry. I have a muddled head. The Jezebel is headed to Alaska. I sent a copy of Calder’s drivers license. The harbor patrol is gonna keep an eye out for him.”
“Great. I am so tired, Konan.”
“I can imagine. Do you want me to come up there and sit with you for a while?”
“You don’t have to.”
They talked for a few more minutes until Konan heard Lilly snore softly. He hung up the phone, sat in his recliner and closed his eyes. Soon, his snores filled the trailer.
Calder slept most of the way to Alaska. He knew they were getting close by the change in the temperature. He stared out of a small window and looked upon the massive mounds of white snow. His grin stretched across his face, and he rubbed his hands together gleefully. The door opened behind him letting in the cold wind.
“Hello, my friend.”
“Captain Adam.Are we close?”
“We are less than a day from port. I’ve received bad news though.”
“What bad news?”
“The port authorities have received a copy of your drivers license. They want to search the ship when we arrive.”
“Who is this Konan?”
“He’s a cop in Fredericksburg. I underestimated him.”
“Tonight, I will move us closer to shore, take a lifeboat and escape. I’ll tell them we ran into foul weather and lost one. You’re too close to freedom to fail now.”
“Thank you, my friend. My grandfather was right to trust you.”
Adam bowed his head slightly and gave Calder a slight smile. Calder returned it with a slight smile of his own. “After this,” Adam thought, “I’m done with this wretched family. My debt is paid in full.”
Hank Calder stood up when the door opened that night. Captain Tyree Adam beckoned for him to come out of the hold. Calder obliged. Adam and Calder walked to an uncovered lifeboat. A sack of food sat on the floor next to the oars. Calder shoved his bag into it. The outline of the shore was less than a mile from where they had anchored.
“Go, my friend. Go quick.”
Calder stepped into the boat and sat down. Adam lowered him into the ocean. By the light of the moon, Calder rowed the lifeboat toward the shore. Freedom was less than a day away.
Rid of his passenger, Captain Adam stood on the bow and watched as Calder rowed silently through the night. “Good riddance you evil little man. I’m glad to lose the weight your family put around my neck.”
At 0518, The Jezebel pulled into port. A group of armed men boarded the ship. Captain Adam and his crew stood on the bow their hands raised into the air. A grey-haired man with a full beard and bushy mustache walked over to where Adam stood.
“Do you have anything to declare before we tear into your ship, Captain?”
“No sir. We, that’s my ship and crew, are clean. Be gentle with my ship.”
The old man chuckled and nodded at his squad. They set out and searched The Jezebel high and lo. Another team stormed the hold. All teams came up empty handed. Adam smiled. Passing a surprise inspection wasn’t difficult if you knew it was coming. Adam put out enough money to know when such surprises were coming.
The old man bit on his bottom lip and shook his head.
“Have a good day, Captain.”
Adam watched as the men departed his ship. His thoughts turned to Calder, and he smiled. He wondered where the man was now, and if he had crossed into Russia.
Calder hadn’t crossed into Russia. Instead, he began to realize how unprepared he was to face the winter weather of Alaska and Russia. Only now did the realization of his arrogance set in. The cold wind coupled with the spray of the ocean bit deep into his flesh.
The current was against him causing him to exert more strength to stay on course. He cursed himself for his pride. This was not the first time his hubris had led him astray. “My haughtiness has delivered me into the hands of my enemies. Nature will do what the cops could never do. It will end me.”
Lilly and Konan sat in the lobby outside of Dr. Wilkins office. Both detectives sipped on their coffee and stared at the walls. “What is it with hospitals and the color white,” Konan thought. He wrinkled his nose and made a face, Lilly watched him from the corner of her eye.
“Don’t you smell that?”
“Smell what, Konan?”
“Bleach, Pine-Sol, and…” he sniffed the air like bloodhound and smacked his lips, “more bleach.”
Lilly grinned, for the first time in weeks, she grinned without forcing it. She tried to hide it, but the grin grew larger until she chuckled. Konan gave her a lopsided grin back.
Their friendship had survived.
After spending weeks in Intensive Care, Gareth was moved to a room. He remained comatose, but he breathed on his own. Many hard decisions were left to make, but Konan had no doubts that Lilly would make the right ones.
Plus, Calder would no longer be around to harass them. His body, what remained of it, had washed up in the mouth of a river in Alaska. The rumor was that he had escaped onto a smuggler’s vessel and disembarked in a life raft somewhere off the coast of Alaska. He had capsized. No one knew how he got to Alaska, and to be honest, no one cared that he did not survive.
Lilly embraced the news, happy that the case was solved, and her son was safe.
She reached over and took Konan’s hand in hers. He smiled, and she smiled back. God only knew what the future would hold, but the promise that shined in both of their eyes would guide them to happiness some sweet day.