Book Two, Sunset & Vine
Veritas numquam perit.
‘The truth never dies’
‘Hello world, today is a perfect day for sailing…straight to a fiery Hell!’
An emotionless mumble from a face saddled with a catatonic stare, locked onto a boat named, “Killer Fish.”
A sleek, late model, 55ft. Sailboat moored serenely to a dock in Marina Del Rey. Peacefully resting, as it swayed side to side with the languid ripples of the bay. Clanging lanyards sang soft, rhythmic pings that imitated church bells. The owner, no doubt, cocooned down below in one of its luxurious staterooms, lost in a lazy Sunday morning ‘snooze-in.’
The yacht club’s parking lot was empty, its entrance protected by a formidable steel gate and a 7-ft. Chain linked fence.
A car with darkened windows sat quietly in the driveway; its barely audible engine can be heard humming above the quietness of the early morning. The car’s curving outline went almost unseen in the early morning mist. Fog accompanied the lingering chill. The weather mingled with heated exhaust from the twin tailpipes of the new, burgundy and beige, Rolls Royce Wrath, creating twin plums that came to life and floated effortlessly in the air, morphing into a small ghost-like figures emerging from the depths of the earth.
‘This is for you my sweet. May your beautiful soul finally continue in peace,’ the mangled voice spoke through flowing tears. Images materialized of an exuberant 11-year-old boy jumping up and down on a lakeside dock, showing off his first fish catch, of an 8-year-old singing happy birthday to his mother I love you, mommy! An 18-year-old graduating high school…then, of his cold, lifeless body lying on a hospital gurney.
Reflecting upon the journey that had led to this point, ‘How could so many sources come to the same conclusion? Psychics, an army of private investigators, untold number of Dream doctors! And… the “note”. The most critical piece of evidence uncovered, confirming my belief in his murder.’ A last look at the piece of paper, staring down at it, her tears fell onto it, inked words began to bleed and fade, along with the meaning of its words. ‘No one believed me, I am duty bound, as a mother, to seek…revenge. Lies and murder have hounded this family for almost three generations.’
The manicured hands grasped the crumpled note on top of the cream-colored, leather steering wheel with the strength of white knuckles, driven by an unforgiving force. Throwing her head back against the padded headrest, eyes tightly closed, a deep breath held long enough for a fleeting image of her loved one. Then…a re-targeted stare-down, ‘From birth to death, to the eternal reunion,’ whispered words drifting from trembling lips, covered in desperate tears. Simultaneously, pressing the car’s accelerator into the floor.
There was no turning back. The huge, two-toned Rolls Royce’s powerful 624-horsepower twin-turbo V12 engine delivered its maximum power… instantaneously.
In just 4.1 seconds, the beast of an engine had delivered the nearly 5000 lbs. Automobile to 60 miles per hour, tearing through the metal gate, crossing the pedestrian boardwalk, then becoming airborne. Hurtling through the air, it landed a direct hit onto the center of the boat, “Killer Fish.” The impact created a military grade, fiery, explosion, shaking the entire marina and shattering the tranquility of a perfect Sunday morning.
Screams erupted from every direction. The decks of surrounding residences and coffee shops filled with bystanders in disbelief. All watched as the Rolls Royce’s front tore into the center of the burning yacht, splitting it into two as it began to sink slowly. The tail end of the car started to submerge…leaving the personalized plate as the last object to disappear into the bay.
A short distance up the coast, Malibu had already burned off its morning marine layer. The bright sunlight rudely cut a sliver of an opening in the massive, darkened bedroom’s deep green, velvet draperies. The beam of light zeroed in on the closed eyelids of Montague as he slept soundly. Ignoring his 4:00 am routine, today belonged to his wife.
Stirring, he turned onto his side, extended his arm across his wife’s empty spot as if to embrace her. With one eye open, he stared at her indented pillow, the space that had held her head through the night, inhaling the familiar sweet scent of her presence. Feeling more love for her than he ever thought possible. It reminded him of the previous evening, the dinner she had prepared for the two of them (Puttanesca, his favorite dish) on the veranda, in balmy weather, overlooking the sparkling city lights that clung to the coast from Santa Monica to Palos Verdes, against the shimmering black water of the Pacific. Their old favorite, “Moon River,” played in the background. She alone was responsible for pulling him back from the edge after their son’s death.
Adjusting his eyes to the still darkened room, barely lit by the intruding sunlight, he gathered his thoughts. Smiling, he reflected, ‘We’ll get through this,’ on the progress he felt, in lifting his wife from her profound state of grief.
‘She must be on her morning run. Maybe I can catch up with her?’, Assuming, his wife was on her daily three-mile, morning run, across the 23-acre estate. It was a perfect morning for it. Rising from bed, he bounced across the room and threw open the drapes and French doors, flooding the bedroom with beautiful, Southern California sunshine, and a crisp ocean breeze. The view from the perched, cliff-top villa caught a glimpse of the black smoke of a distant fire down the coast.
“NO, NO, NO!” Standing on the walkway of the Marina, a hysterical woman moaned in a high-pitched voice ‘How could something like this happen? How?’ Acrid smoke filled the air above the fiery crash.
Mark Langston wrapped his arms around his wife, attempting to calm her.
‘Who would do something like this?’ His wife Jane cried helplessly, speaking out towards the crowd that had gathered. Flashing lights and blaring sirens of emergency vehicles engulfed the area.
Witness, Mark Langston, provided a statement to the policeman. ‘One minute we were sipping our coffee enjoying the beautiful view and serenity of the harbor, and the next, we see this flash of color go by from the side of our eye, it had to be the very high rate of speed, and the sound of scraping metal against metal…I guess that’s when it broke through the gate. We turned to see a huge Rolls Royce launching into the air right as it became airborne. The impact was just horrifying! I can’t believe what I just saw. Everything caught fire immediately. I thought, there is no way anyone could survive this. It just happened so fast.’ He was shaking, stuttering his words as he spoke.
Montague headed downstairs to the dining room for coffee, switched on the television for the business report in Asia as he grabbed a cup. Casually pouring his coffee, he glanced at the muted screen. A bulletin flashed across, reaching for the remote, increasing the volume ‘A horrendous accident has occurred in Marina Del Rey. Reports are indicating that a driver may have lost control of their vehicle and broke through fenced barriers on the docks of the marina, launched into the air. The front end of the car impacted the middle of the yacht causing an enormous explosion. We cannot confirm any details on casualties. We have no information as to whom the driver is or whether they have survived the crash. Nor are we able to confirm if anyone was aboard the boat at that time. Our information is indicating that no bodies have been recovered, yet. Please stay tuned for developing updates.’ The screen left the face of the reporter and cut to cell-phone-video footage, captured by a marina resident filming the harbor for pleasure. The footage showed the back-end of the burning car as it sank into the middle of the yacht. The license plate read…COSIMA.
The coffee fell from his hand, crashing to the floor. He had suddenly stopped breathing. Then half raced, stumbled through the vast house yelling for Cosima as loud as he could, shirtless, dressed only in pajama bottoms. Barefooted, frantically entering and exiting as many rooms as he could, before running out of the front door, onto the gravel-covered long driveway. Sprinting for the garages, heart beating twice that of panic, fearing the worse, hoping for the best.
His hands took hold of the door handles…he stopped. In a blink of a second, he knew, before swinging the garage doors open, felt it in his bones…she was gone from this world. A confused, defeated, cloud engulfed him, falling to his knees, lifeless shoulders dangling, unable to hold his exploding head up, tears streaming from his eyes onto the floor of the empty garage ‘My soul has died.’ He gasped, as the air left his lungs, as it does to all dying people, the moment our life force is gone…as we cross-over, to the other side.
Death had shadowed him since childhood. He had been the only survivor of his family when they had perished during a transatlantic, two ocean liner collision. He had found a lost sister, Dotty Henderson (long considered a myth, but held a spot in a father’s estate) only to have her brutally murdered with suspicious evidence pointing to his only son. A murdered son, he preferred to believe, died from accidental food poisoning. At this moment, his thoughts became erratic, ‘How can I join her? I NEED to get there? I have to catch up with her. It will be OK if I die now. I have nothing to live for.’ Delirious with grief, Montague collapses onto the cold concrete floor.
The intended victim had not been aboard the ‘Killer Fish.’ Having left the yacht 20 minutes prior for an early morning stroll around the marina with his girlfriend. Stopping for coffee, then accidentally witnessing the unimaginable (clearly recognizing the license plate) episode from a nearby café. Without emotion, both, inconspicuously, disappear into the crowd. The legacy of a black market baby survivor, Dotty Henderson- extraordinaire, refuses to fade, quietly… into history.