A Pagan's Nightmare

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Authors: Ray Blackston
breezes, no sign of
    Still, Ned held to a measure of caution. Though he noted the sun stroking the palms, the clear aqua waters, and even a few
     teeming schools of fish, he kept turning and peering over his shoulder at any passerby, especially the ones coming and going
     from Abaco’s sundrenched marina.
    This marina was circular and modest, holding maybe forty boats, total. Both Ned and Lanny felt relieved to see that the first
     two they passed—a white yacht and a pale blue sailboat—were dubbed
Sea Princess
Come Sail Away,
    “Free at last,” Ned muttered to himself.
    Lanny slung the binoculars over his shoulder. “There’s no biblical character named
Sea Princess,
is there?”
    Ned admired the yacht and said absentmindedly, “Nah, I’m pretty sure there’s not.”
    Lanny walked ahead on the circular dock. “Guess we’re safe, then.”
    Ned was still admiring the yacht when a small, caramel-colored hand reached out and tapped him on the arm. The boy appeared
     to be no more than twelve. He wore an Abaco Marina Staff T-shirt, and he smiled up at Ned.
    “I wash your boat, mister. I’m dock boy. My job.”
    Ned took a step back and shook his head. “Um, son, I don’t own this boat. But I do own an airplane.”
    The kid was not impressed with Ned’s aeronautic possessions; he just wanted to earn a tip.
    Lanny hurried back to speak to the boy. “Do you know this marina well?”
    Dock Boy stood proud and smiled. “Yes, very well.”
    “Have you seen a charter called
The Miranda?”
    Dock Boy shook his head. “No. We have a famous fishing boat called
The Matador,
but no
    Lanny pressed further. “What about a charter called the
    Dock Boy looked confused. “The
Sani what?”
We think it could have been commandeered by religious freaks.”
    “Ahh,” said the dock boy, cocking his head and pointing at the visitors. “You two are preachers, and you come to the islands
     to preach commandments.”
    “No, no, no,” Ned replied with waves of his hands. “We are not preachers. We’re not even religious.”
    Dock Boy nodded. “That’s what many on island say.”
    Lanny grew impatient, and he moved in front of Ned in order to address Dock Boy. “So, are any zealots here on the island?”
    “You know—people wildly religious, offering rewards for capturing non-religious folks, and changing the names of boats to
     suit their agenda.”
    Dock Boy shook his head. “Ahh, no, no. Island as always…. Fishermen, tourists, sunbathers, and the flashy boaters like you.”
     He held out his hand and grinned. “You have nice tip for dock boy?”
    “I told you we don’t own a boat,” Ned said. But he peeled a ten from his wallet and handed it to the youngster. “You’ll keep
     an eye out for
The Miranda?”
    “Yes, yes.” The boy pointed south to the white sands. “You go enjoy beach and fruity drink.”
    Lanny also gave the youngster a ten. “And you’ll keep an eye out for a thin, auburn-haired woman named Miranda?”
    “Yes, yes. You enjoy fruity drink as well.”
    Lanny and Ned walked the rest of the circled dock back to the steps. He and Ned were already back on the sidewalk, striding
     in the shade of the palms, when Dock Boy yelled from the bow of a sailboat. “If you like movies, my cousin Manuel just opens
     Tiki Theatre. Just up street. Shows Americano classic every night.”
    Ned waved over his shoulder to dismiss him. “Okay, kid. Sure.”
    According to the maid Lanny spoke with in the Abaco rental office, no one had used the Timms’s beach bungalow since early
     July. Undeterred, Lanny led Ned on a search of the shopping district—Lanny asking questions and showing pictures of Miranda,
     Ned listening closely to every music lyric that sounded from storefront or boombox. No one knew anything; the islanders seemed
     shy with all responses.
    In front of a beachware store Ned caught up to Lanny and tugged

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