Bodie and the Smugglers: Part III

Bodie and the Smugglers: Part III
Bodie had to admit that he was tired– dog tired. It had been a long and stressful day.  Tired as he was though, his mind kept drifting back to his work and the thought wouldn’t go away that he should meet Henry at the windmill when they pulled the pump.  Monroe could handle it; he was a good hand. But Bodie hated signing POs for new pumps when a quick rebuild would have sufficed.  That’s the way he’d always been wired when it came to Mr. Connor’s money.  

Even with that the thought of supper and crawling into bed was taking over.  Strolling into Haddon’s and settling at the bar he ordered a beer and a chicken-fried steak with a side of home fries from Eloisa.

“Bodie!” she greeted him with concern. “You look absolutely whipped, worse than you did the other day…you need to slow down and get more sleep!”

Bodie nodded and told her that was exactly his plan as soon as he finished his supper.

Tommy was on his way to Haddon’s when he passed the Coast Guard Station and saw Chief Long heading out. Tommy pulled up to visit for a bit and the Chief rolled down his window.

“Hey Tommy, I figured you and Bodie would be getting ready to head out for some fishing tonight,” he called.

The notion popped into to Tommy’ head that now would be a good time to practice the story he’d been cooking up for Bodie. Who better to practice on than Chief Long?

“I ain’t going out there no more in the dark, Chief.  ‘Cause last night some smugglers tried to get me and Wehman!  They shot at us and tried to catch us but we knew the back bays a lot better than they did and we got away!” Tommy was telling the biggest lie of his life and hoped he was pulling it off.   

“Holy Moses!” exclaimed the Chief. “Did you get a look at their boat Tommy, anything that might help us identify these people?”  

“Umm…well no…not uh…not actually.  We was too busy running away so we didn’t see much of nothing,” trying to act brave but still a little scared.

The Chief then explained that it was very important Tommy tell him everything he knew.

“Where exactly were you and Wehman when you ran into them, Tommy? And how many boats were there?  Could you see how many men?” the Chief asked. “You say that they shot at you, was it automatic fire or single shots?”

And then he paused, sensing that maybe something wasn’t right…“Are you okay, Tommy? You look a little sick to me.”

Tommy was squirming in his seat right about then; this had definitely gotten out of hand. The Chief was asking him important questions that Tommy hadn’t gone over yet in his mind and he didn’t know what to say.

“I didn’t see anything Chief because I was hiding down in the bottom of Wehman’s boat.  Maybe you should be asking him instead of interrogating me,” Tommy’s thoughts were racing as he replied almost haughtily, praying the Chief might back off.

“I’m not interrogating you. I’m trying to gather information so that I can catch these people and put an end to this. I can’t have people shooting at citizens and it is my job to stop smuggling.  And that’s what I intend to do!” the Chief said, louder and more sternly than Tommy wanted to hear.

Tommy wished he could disappear.

“Where is Wehman? I need to talk to him.”  

“He went to San Antone, Chief. I don’t know how to get hold of him.”

“I’ll get hold of him Tommy.  You can bet on that, and we’ll get to the bottom of this―QUICK!” the Chief snarled.  “You better be careful Tommy because if they saw ya’lls boat and if they think you can ID them they’ll be after you boy. Stay close to home and I’ll be in touch.”  

And with that the Chief rolled up his window and drove away.

Tommy was just sick. What he thought would be a fun thing, to practice his story with Chief Long, didn’t work out the way he thought it would at all. Now he was lying to the United States Coast Guard and, to top it off, to his friend Chief Long.

“Oh how DO I get myself into these messes?” Tommy asked himself aloud.

Chief Long thought that there was more than something a little fishy about Tommy’s story and he decided to drop into Haddon’s to see if Bodie had been there. When the Chief walked in he saw Bodie at the bar working on a chicken-fried steak and a mountain of fries.

“Pull up a stool and have some supper,” Bodie said, offering his hand.

The Chief took a stool after the handshake and passing on supper.  He got right to the point.

“Bodie, Tommy Meyers just told me that he and Wehman were chased and shot at by smugglers last night out on the bay and I need to get in touch with Wehman to get his side of the story,” the Chief informed him rather officially.

This time it was Bodie nearly choking on his beer.

“Tommy and Wehman night fishing, and smugglers too?” Bodie asked, laughing despite the seriousness in the Chief’s tone.

“It’s no laughing matter, Bodie. Tommy said that somebody shot at them as they gave chase.  The boys shook ‘em off in the back bays. Now I need to get in touch with Wehman immediately.”

“Well have you gone by his house, because that’s probably where he is,” Bodie said, still halfway chuckling.

The Chief told Bodie that Tommy said Wehman was in San Antonio and had no way to get in touch with him.

“Well I have his cell phone number,” Bodie said. “Why don’t we just give him a call?”

Bodie dialed the number and after a few rings Wehman answered.

“Wehman this is Bodie. I’m sitting here with Chief Long and he has some questions for you about the smugglers you and Tommy ran into last night.” Bodie could hear Wehman saying something as he passed the phone to the Chief.

Now Bodie couldn’t hear but one side of the conversation, but he could tell that Chief Long wasn’t very happy. He turned beet red and was almost spitting when he talked, but as the conversation dragged on he relaxed and was almost laughing when he handed the phone back.

“Well it seems that our boy Tommy fed me a tall tale that he and Wehman cooked up – just so he wouldn’t have to go fishing with you tonight,” the Chief said, now fully grinning.

Chief Long filled Bodie in on everything Wehman had told him, and between bites of chicken-fried steak, Bodie’s wheels started to turn.

“What say you and I teach old Tommy Boy a lesson, Chief Petty Officer Long?” Bodie quipped with a wicked face-wide grin.  

“Oh, do tell, Mr. Allen…Please Do Tell.”

Bodie gestured toward the far corner of the room and he and the Chief took a table where it was quieter to work up a plan. When they shook hands and parted ways they were both laughing and looking forward to giving Tommy a night he would remember.

The next night just as it was getting dark, Bodie ran his Tran SVT up near the pass and set his Power Pole. He pulled a plastic container from under the console then sat and waited. He couldn’t help but look at his watch now and then, and laugh a little.

Tommy was sitting at home thinking that he should go to Haddon’s and have a beer with Bodie to settle his nerves.  But since his conversation with Chief Long he’d been scared to leave the house. Tommy jumped when he heard a loud knock at the door.

Tommy opened the door a crack to find Chief Long and two tough-looking Coasties. All serious and wearing side-arms.  

“Tommy Meyers,” the Chief deadpanned gruffly, “You are to accompany us to the Coast Guard Station where we will board an RB-M and search for the smugglers you ran into last night.”

Tommy couldn’t speak and thought he was going to faint. The most he could do was nod weakly, feeling his knees giving out. The two tall Seamen each grabbed an arm, half carrying him to their waiting truck.

On the way to the station Chief Long laid it on thick and heavy about the smuggling problems they’d been investigating near the pass, and that the most sightings seemed to occur during the middle of the week.

“But…but it’s the middle of the week now,” Tommy cried.

“Correct sir, and aren’t we lucky that we have you to help ID these characters for us,” Chief Long snapped.

As the RB-M sped through the night toward the pass, Bodie was getting ready for part two of their plan. He started laying out Roman candles on his leaning post to fire when he got the signal from Chief Long.

As he saw the running lights of the Coast Guard boat make the turn out of the cut he heard the sound of an outboard motor coming from the gulf. Bodie listened hard and in the light wind he also heard the rumbling of a diesel motor.

Bodie grabbed his phone and called Chief Long and told him what was going on. “We’ll drop Tommy off on your boat when we get there and then crash their party” the Chief told Bodie.

The lights on the RB-M went dark and Bodie raised his Power Pole and let the boat drift into deeper water. The RB-M almost scared him as it appeared off his port bow in the darkness, and a very frightened and wild-eyed Tommy Meyers was helped aboard.

“Might be a good idea for you to head on in Bodie. I’ll give you a call as soon as I get a chance,” said the Chief.

Bodie started his boat and saw the Coast Guardsmen mounting a machine gun on the deck turret and handing out rifles. When he was back inside the cut he jumped the SVT up, turned on his running lights and headed back to port.

On the slow ride in he told Tommy about what he knew and what they had planned to do in order to teach him a lesson. Tommy just rode in silence as he took in everything Bodie was telling him. Then Tommy started talking and he was still telling Bodie all about how it all went wrong as they idled into Bodie’s boat stall.

“It was all Wehman’s idea, honest Bodie. I told him that I was scared to go out in the dark fishing and he said that a story about smugglers would get you to change your mind and I wouldn’t have to go with you.  I didn’t mean to get Chief Long involved, I swear.  It’s just that when I started telling him my story I couldn’t stop.

The next morning Bodie’s cell phone rang and it was Chief Long. “I’d appreciate it if you and Tommy could drop by the Station, if you would, Bodie.”  

“Well I was headed to the ranch to oversee some work Chief, but I’ll go get Tommy and be there in a bit,” Bodie said.  

Bodie phoned Monroe and told him that Henry and his crew would be at the windmill at 9:00 and that he should meet them there. “And be sure that if that pump can be repaired, that it is…”

Bodie picked Tommy up at his house and told him that the Chief wanted them both at the Coast Guard Station. “They’re going to keelhaul me and then throw me in the galley,” cried Tommy.

“They’re not going to keelhaul you, Tommy. And it’s the brig anyway; not the galley. Let’s just go see what the Chief has to say and how they came out last night with the boats out in the Gulf.

When he pulled up to the gate the guard on duty recognized Bodie and Tommy and waved them through. Chief Long was waiting.

“Well Tommy how does it feel to be a hero this morning?” Chief Long asked with a chuckle.

“He- he- hero?” Tommy stammered.

Chief Long explained that they were able to catch a modified diesel powered shrimp boat that was loaded down with drugs the night before and while the high powered boat got away from the scene, they were picked up about 20 miles down the barrier island by a cutter with assistance from a helicopter.

“Yes sir,” the Chief beamed as he slapped Tommy on the back. “Had you not told me that whopper about smugglers and had Bodie and I not planned to scare the hell out of you out near the pass, why Bodie wouldn’t have been there to hear the boat engines and our RB-M wouldn’t have been where it was last night.”   

“So you’re not going to keelhaul me and put me in the galley?” Tommy asked sheepishly.

Chief Long looked at Bodie who simply rolled his eyes between sips of coffee.

“No Tommy, we’re not going to keelhaul you.  And by the way it’s a brig, not a galley,” said the Chief.

“Yeah – That’s what Bodie told me.  But a man can’t be too careful these days,” Tommy sighed with relief.

“So am I going to get a reward and a medal for being a hero and all that stuff?” Tommy needed to know. “Hey – wait until Eloisa hears that I’m a hero; heck I bet I get free beer and food and stuff! Hey Chief, do you have any pancakes?”

Tommy was already counting his chickens

Bodie saw the Chief’s mood changing and quickly thanked him for the coffee as he ushered Tommy through the building and towards his truck.

“Come on Tommy let’s get you out of here before the Chief decides that you really do need a good keelhauling,” Bodie giggled.

“That’s not funny, Bodie. That’s not funny at all,” Tommy stammered as his usual frown settled across his face.  “But I did help the Chief get them smugglers… now didn’t I?

Bodie drew a deep breath and cranked the engine.  “Yeah Tommy,” he muttered. “You’re a hero alright.”