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Chapter 23

The rising sun was just peaking over the edge of the horizon; it’s rays rushing over the surface of the Gulf of Mexico illuminating this island that looked much the same as it did when was created.

Shrimp boats, with their holding tanks full, were pushing through the still dark waters headed into Mansfield Cut, after a hard night of work, the crews were putting away their nets and tools anxiously awaiting their time, their homes, and family.

Steele awakened from a deep sleep very comfortable and warm, in his sleeping bag, in the rear of his Range Rover. Steele actually felt it before he heard what had awakened him, that sound he now recognized as a helicopter.

Sliding out the back, Steele sat on the tailgate, legs dangling, watching the helicopter following the coast up from the south. Steele reached into the corner of the Rover, pulling a blanket closer to him, partially covering his right arm and leg.

The copter made a circle as it passed over the cut and swung back north over the jetty’s, hovering for a moment, then setting down blowing sand in all directions.

Steele stayed right where he was watching, his only eye staring with a cold & emotionless steadiness.

The machine kept running and after a brief moment the sliding door opened, then two big men stepped out followed by Johanson.

The two big guys were wearing matching black suits with white shirts, maroon ties and dark glasses. Johanson was in a very large loose floral print shirt with khaki pants. All three approached Steele having to trudge through the thick churned up sand about fifty yards. As they neared Steele the two men in black moved to either side leaving a leering Johanson standing in the middle…they stopped about six feet away from Steele.

Steele hadn’t moved, he looked old, tired, and helpless…until you looked into his eye.

“I guess you’re wondering how I found you…huh?” Johanson’s smirk was sickening to look at, “I bet you’re wondering how the hell I’m out of jail.”

Steele didn’t respond at all. His demeanor almost conveyed boredom. One of the men began to look around, something was wrong here.

“Well, I tell you, old boy, this here justice system is tailored made for guys like me…innocent until proven broke, they say…and I ain’t broke, not by a long shot.” Johanson wasn’t having the affect that he had expected…and he wasn’t happy.

The nervous big guy now focused back on Steele…and that blanket.

“I could just take you out right now Steele.” A cloud of something akin to fear passed over Johanson’s face, a reaction to Steele’s lack of response. Then it vanished, just as quickly, “but first I’m going to break you. I’m going to wipe that track up with team Rhoad/Steele, then when you’re beaten then I’ll…” Somewhere else, anywhere that Steele’s eye was, said something to him, something he had seen before in the eyes of a stalking lion. Johanson didn’t like the feeling that look provoked in him, “Let’s go!”

Johanson turned and slogged off through the sand, the two guys looked carefully around and followed Johanson repeatedly checking back on Steele, who remained just as he had through the entire encounter steadfast unmoving like a piece of steel.

The menacing group loaded up the nervous big guy, placing his watchful eyes on Steele one last time as he slid the copter door shut. The pilot revved the turbine and immediately took flight spinning about and quickly headed off towards the west…soon out of sight.

Steele watched them fly away then pulled his hand out from under the blanket…in his hand was his black 12 gauge Winchester Defender scatter-gun…Steele clicked the safety to on.

Johanson settled back into the plush seat, his leer now firmly back into place on his face, “Man did we put the fear of God into that old bastard!”

One of the big guys said, “Yeah you did, boss, you scared the shit out of him!”

The other big guy, the nervous one, looked at him with disgust, he had always despised butt lickers. Then he said, “That man wasn’t scared…not even a little.”

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