Well, I've been in the water long enough, guess it's time to come out.
How long has it been? Hours? Days? It seems like days.
Being in the water started with Helena. Wow, she was beautiful; but not in a conventional way. Those dark features; angular face, hypnotic eyes and Giaconda smile. Yes, Da Vinci could have painted her; and she was so smart, could talk about anything. We did speak about everything. Movies, art, theater, you name it. She liked talking about her dad, who apparently had started an education model that revolutionized the way students learn; he sounded like a fascinating man, sadly passed away from lung cancer. I'd never met anyone quite like Helena and she'd never met anyone like me; she told me so. Mostly she liked swimming, at night, in the ocean, and that's where we had our trysts. You ever made love in the water? It's like floating.
The problem was Helena was unattainable.
Not because of money, or status. Well...yes...status. It's who she was with that made her unattainable. Wladimir Gagarin. He'd been a top enforcer for a Russian syndicate in Moscow, before relocating to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York City, joining up with the Odessa mafia conglomerate that runs crime there. It's made up of Russians, Armenians, Ukrainians and sundry other former Soviet satellite criminals. The Italian mafia doesn't even mess with these guys. And I had to fall for one of their top dog's girl. And he had to use my tropical island as a vacation home away from home. Honestly, though, she fell for me first.
I was sipping a cocktail at my favorite beachfront bar and enjoying my early retirement (I retired at forty; the fruits of very shrewd investing on Wall Street, with a mid-seven figures bank account) when she sat down next to me. She ordered a frozen daiquiri and swiveled on her seat to face the ocean. That motion caught my eye, it was something her hair did. I instinctively glanced at her and smiled. She smiled back. I may as well have been looking at Medussa, but I didn't know it then.
God, she was beautiful.
"They make the perfect daiquiri," I spoke first.
She took a sip, "I agree," and smiled at me.
And that's how it started. That first time was like we'd known each other all our lives. I spoke about something and she synergized with it and would segue into something else. Afternoon became early evening and we were laughing giddily courtesy of Messrs daiquiri, margarita and pina colada. She got up to leave.
"Can I have your number?"
"No numbers," she said, "I'll be here, same time, same drink tomorrow."
"Your name at least."
I watched her leave. The way she swayed her hips and the way her hair moved on her shoulders. As she crossed from the sand onto the sidewalk she glanced back at me and smiled. It was perfect; in the background, the sun was dipping below the horizon in a darkening kaleidoscope of golden hues.
"You want to leave that alone, man."
It was Clarence, the Jamaican bartender, as I turned back on my seat. For some reason, I noticed the way his dreads swayed on his shoulders as he shook his head at me, his brow furrowed into a deadly serious warning.
He explained everything.
What is it about what we can't have? Or maybe I didn't know better. Or didn't want to know better.
Clarence warned me, "His name is Wladimir. He's involved with drugs, extortion, human trafficking, prostitution...you name it. Murder even. He's bad news. That means she's bad news."
Murder. But never proven.
Clarence told me, "Eight murders this guy has been involved with. Stay away. Even in Jamaica we heard of this guy."
But I rationalized that I was coincidentally having a drink at that bar the next day. I coincidentally walked from the pavement onto the sand and coincidentally she was at the bar, wearing a white bikini that contrasted lustily with her dark olive skin. She was sipping that same daiquiri and tilted her head forward to look at me over her sunglasses. She smiled as I walked toward her. The siren. Clarence was cleaning glasses and shook his head slightly and turned away as I made my way toward her. I remember when I sat down she leaned toward me and lightly put her hand on my leg. My heart raced. Clarence's silence spoke a thousand warnings as he busied himself behind his bar and Helena and I picked up from the day before. This time when she got up to leave she put her lips to my ears and whispered something; I caught a hint of her perfume, slightly mixed with her sweat. It smelled like something I had to have.
"The lagoon," she whispered in my ear. "At midnight."
The lagoon was tucked away in a corner of the island the tourists didn't know about. It was in an alcove by a small waterfall and embroidered with the lush island vegetation, filled with the warmest turquoise water. The water even felt smooth as silk.
With trepidation, anticipation and a voice saying no! in my head I made my way through the darkened island grass, the full moon casting subtle illumination as I headed towards the lagoon at midnight. My heart was racing, but the region about a foot below my heart dictated what I was doing and why I was going there. As I rounded the curve I heard the soft cascading of the waterfall and then I could see her in the water; it shimmered silently in the moonlight, making doubles and triples of her naked body.
"Join me," she whispered.
I stripped off and stepped into the midnight warmth of the lagoon. She took me in her arms and we kissed for the first time. It was like the first time I ever kissed and I tasted her like the first time I ever tasted anything. She tasted like honey and soft as silk. We danced in the water as our hands explored the other's body, slipping into and onto private regions, heat from our bodies emanating through the water. We kissed and we explored and we made love. The water swirled around us and we made love again.
"Helena," I whispered in her ear.
And now I'm coming out of the water again.
"Okay, easy, lay him down."
I'm laying down on the wooden floor at the stern of the boat, sightless eyes staring at the sky and emerging stars above. The three men have laid me there.
"How long do you reckon he's been in the water?"
"By the state of decomposition? Maybe a week."
"Turn him over."
"See those two bullet holes in the back of his head?"
"Yeah. Professional hit."