and finding his doped-up basket case bud Coleman along the way. But for Serge, "getting hitched" doesn't necessarily mean "settling down" not when South Florida is crawling with slimeballs, swindlers, unrepentant jerks, and annoying bystanders whose ranks need some serious thinning.
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By Dorsey, Tim
William Morrow & CompanyISBN: 0060585609
It was another typically beautiful morning in the middle of the Florida Keys. People were drunk and people were screaming.
Patrons from the roadside bars heard the commotion and carried drinks outside to watch the routine mess on U.S. 1, the Nation's Highway, 2,209 miles from Fort Kent, Maine, on the Canadian border, to the tip of Key West.
The road was snarled to the horizon in both directions. Standard procedure: midmorning congestion, then the chain reaction of rear-enders from inattention. Now a parking lot.
Drivers honked, shouted obscenities, turned off their engines and popped beers. A Mercury overheated and the hood went up. Ninety-nine degrees.
Two sheriff's deputies stood at the window of their airconditioned substation on Cudjoe Key. Veterans Gus DeLand and Walter St. Cloud. Drinking coffee. It was the beginning of the shift, the part where they were supposed to review the latest bulletins on all the serial killers and mass murderers heading their way.
Gus looked out the window with his hands on his hips. "We've got to do something about that road."
"I've never seen a crucifixion before," said Walter, holding a ceramic cup covered with swimsuit models. "Check out this new mug. I got it in Vegas. When you pour a hot beverage in it, like coffee, the bathing suits disappear. I don't know how it works."
The fax activated. Gus headed toward it.
He came backreading the all-points bulletin. "... Brown Plymouth Duster, brown Plymouth Duster, brown Plymouth ..."
"What are you doing?" asked Walter, holding a coffee mug at eye level.
"Mnemonic device. Possible serial killer heading this way... . brown Plymouth Duster, brown ..."
The fax started again.
Gus came back with another piece of paper. "... Metallic green Trans Am, metallic green Trans Am, metallic green ..."
"I brought one back for you, too."
"... Trans Am ... What?"
"Coffee mug." Walter set it on Gus's desk. "Figured you might need it since you're divorced."
Gus stuck the mug in a bottom drawer.
"Aren't you going to use it?"
"I'm not sure it's appropriate in the office. But thanks for thinking of me." Gus held up the second APB. "Spree killings in Fort Pierce. Six dead and counting. They got a partial license." Gus began repeating a number.
Walter set his mug down on the first APB, making a round stain. "So, busy day already. Crucifixion, traffic jam and now two serial killers on the way."
"No, the second is a spree killer." Gus handed the fax to Walter.
"What's the difference?"
"One's in more of a hurry."
"They always come down here."
"And blend right in."
"Just look at 'em all out there," said Gus. "Hell-bent to lose their minds in Key West. A psychopath would be the quiet one."
"But it doesn't make sense," said Walter. "They're on the run, and this is the ultimate dead end. What are they thinking?"
"Who says they're thinking?"
The log jam started at Mile Marker 27 on Ramrod Key, feeding on itself for an hour. New arrivals flying down the Keys in convertibles and motorcycles and pickups pulling boats, getting closer to Key West, anticipation busting out of the cage, coming upon stalled traffic way too fast.
It quickly backed up over the Seven-Mile Bridge. People with to-go cups of warm draft stood in front of the Overseas Lounge and watched a Chevy Avalanche sail into a Cutlass, knocking the next six cars together like billiards, a half dozen airbags banging open like a string of firecrackers. Three minutes later, the audience outside the Brass Monkey saw a Silverado plow into a Mazda, the twenty-two-foot Boston Whaler on the pickup's trailer catapulting over the cab.
Sirens reached the Sandbar, a rustic stilt-top lounge poking out of the mangroves on Little Torch Key. Customers ran to the cross-breeze windows overlooking South Pine Channel and the bottled-up ambulances unable to cross the bridge. The gang at Boondocks heard a whap-whap-whap-whap and looked up at the runners of a sheriff's helicopter called in by the stranded emergency vehicles.
The Mercury with the raised hood had since caught fire, and the tiki bar crowd at the Looe Key Reef Resort appreciated the uncomplicated entertainment value when it reached the gas tank. A fishing guide with sun-cracked skin set his Miller on the bar. "This is worse than general. I have to make Boca Chica this afternoon."
"Why don't you call Foley?" asked the bartender. "See if it's reached."
A cell phone rang inside the bar at Sugarloaf Lodge.
"Foley here. Hold a sec, let me stick my head out... . No, road's clear here. Traffic's fine" Crash. "Check that. A dope boat just rolled ... because I can see the bricks in the street ... Yeah, people are grabbing them and running away... ."
More whap-whap-whap. Another chopper cleared the roof of the No Name Pub, a 1935 roadhouse hidden in the banana trees on Bogie Channel.
The customers wandered out the screen door and up the road, where a helicopter hovered over the bridge. Loudspeakers cleared the fishermen below, and the aircraft set down, scattering bait pails.
The rotors stopped. One of the pilots in a green jumpsuit got out and took off her helmet.
A bar patron approached. "What's going on?"
"Car fire caught the brush on Summerland and jumped the road. Need a place to rest the engines."
Three more patrons leaned against the bridge's railing. The oldest was a well-read biker from north Florida named Sop Choppy who had relocated to the Keys under hazy circumstances. Bob was the middle in age. He operated a very seasonal accounting firm on the island and closed in the summer to run a customerless tour service with his personal pleasure craft for tax reasons. The youngest was also named Bob ... Continues...
Excerpted from Torpedo Juice by Dorsey, Tim Excerpted by permission.
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