Pat Ruger: Caribbean Shuffle

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Chapter 37

I was dropped off by a taxi at my house in the early evening. I saw a note on my front door and wondered who was wanting me this time. The paper said, “I’ve got your stuff. –Margaret (next door)”

I sighed. Nothing was easy, it seemed. I walked across the driveway and the neighbor’s yard, and knocked on the door. Margaret answered. She was an older woman, what we used to call a spinster — she had never married. Margaret was nice enough, but pretty much kept to herself.

“Just a minute, Pat,” she said when she saw me. She disappeared and returned with one of my bags. “There’s 3 more …”

While she went for the other bags, I pulled the first one out the door onto the porch. The others followed and I thanked her for her thoughtfulness.

I dragged the luggage home and into my bedroom. I had a thought and opened each one. Sure enough, there was the gem bag full of Canary Island diamonds.

I called Amanda with the new smartphone she gave me before she left. “Babe, I have a little problem.”

“What’s that?”

“I have about $13 million in of diamonds here in my luggage.”

“Nice problem to have.”

“What do I do with it?”

“I forgot to tell you I had a talk with the I.R.S. According to them, as long as you claim the total value of the diamonds and pay the taxes, you can keep them.”

“I can’t afford that …”

“I thought of that. I asked what you can do, since you don’t have the cash for the taxes, and they said to let a certified jeweler hold them while they are being appraised and sold. They’ll withhold the taxes and you’ll get the difference. I’ll send you list of jewelers they sent me.”

“They’re not my jewels,” I protested. “It doesn’t seem right.”

“Whose are they?”

“Well, I guess I don’t know that.”

“I would consider them found. That’s perfectly legal.”

“Okay, I’ll figure something out.”

“I know, honey. What do you want me to do with the payment from the State Department?”

“What payment?”

“Remember,” she reminded. “I said they would pay you for your assistance with Mister Chavez?”

“I forgot … how much we talking?”

“Eighty thousand.”

“Put it in Jimmy’s name and send it to him. He can use it, now that he’s going to retire.”

“Jimmy’s retiring?”

“Well, he hasn’t yet, but I thinks he’s going to join us at the firm.”

“That’s wonderful! The girls will love him … Have you talked to them yet?”

“Not yet, thanks for reminding me.”

“Love you, Patty. Stay safe.”

“Love you, too.”

We hung up and I felt empty again. I dialed Lola and said, “Hello? Is this my business partner?”

“Boss! Are you home?”

“Yeah, finally.”

“I’m going to call Anna and we’re going to party with you tonight!”

“No, please, I hope you don’t mind. I’m really tired. I want everyone in the office tomorrow. I have an announcement, someone’s joining us.”

“Who?”

“I’ll tell you in the morning. Will you call everyone?”

“Of course! It’s so nice to have you home!”

“I know … sleep well, I know I will …”

She laughed. “Okay, Boss, see you in the morning.”

I hung up and somehow fell sound asleep in my own bed. I woke up early, still dressed in those damned fishing boat rags. I called Jimmy and asked him to meet me at my office at 9, and he said he would.

I tore off my clothing and walked into the shower. It might have been the best shower I’d ever experienced. I dried off, shaved and put on the first clean clothes I’d worn in weeks, at least my own clothes. I looked at myself in the mirror and knew I’d made the right decision.

I placed the bag of diamonds in my floor safe and covered the floor with an extra-large area rug from the other room, making sure it didn’t look out of place. Then I went to my blue Camaro and started it up. I revved the engine, feeling the familiar vibrations up through the gas pedal and seat cover, and it felt good. I drove to the office.

Entering the building, it felt familiar but odd. The girls were there and came over to hug me, practically squealing. When they finally released me, I walked over and shook Jacob’s hand. “Thanks for watching over our girls, Jake.”

“It was them watching over me and you know it,” Jacob replied, sheepishly.

“I figured as much,” I said, laughing.

Jimmy strolled in looking like a new man, though his shoulder was bandaged up pretty good. “Hi, guys.”

“What happened to you?” asked Anna.

“A little scrape your partner got me into …” he laughed.

“Is that who’s joining us?” Lola asked excitedly.

“If he wants to …” I replied to Lola, then said to Jimmy, “Let’s go talk in my office.”

He followed me in and beat me to my chair. “I like this …” He said, swiveling it back and forth.

I laughed because he didn’t know what I was offering. “Remember the diamonds that I kept?”

“The real ones? Yeah.”

“Well it turns out we can keep them. We just have to pay income taxes on their value. Half are yours.”

“What?” He seemed shocked. “Those were all yours, buddy … all your idea. I just went along with it.”

“We risked our lives together … hell, you even got shot. You said you’d retire if you could swing it financially. I’ve got five million reasons for you to do just that. Come run the office here for me.”

“Run it for you? Where are you going to be?”

“New York. I don’t want to live without her.”

“I understand, Patty boy. Believe me.”

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