Previous, Next, Numerical Index, Chronological Index.
For All Nails Pt. 138g
A Proposition

June 6, 1949
Angel Island
the docks
2200 hours

"You take good care of the town, Danny." Sheriff Walker Bush paused for a
moment and gripped his deputy's elbow. Escobar had offered to take them both
along to hunt the shark, but Ortega had to stay; he was popular in the town and
Rodriguiz would need civilian help in tracking down the terroristas that had
done so much harm in just a few days, and besides he was missing a hand and had
been an army man. Bush had been a navy man, had steered a liferaft for over a
hundred miles on the sea, and besides had dealth with a shark before. _Oh,
yes._, he thought with an icy shudder that had nothing to do with the cool
summer night. "I...I know she'll be in good hands." 
"Si, well, euh..." Ortega was silent for a moment, keenly aware of the patrol
launch's crew watching them. He suddenly grinned and clapped his boss on the
shoulder. "You'd better come back soon, Walker, or this town will be jodido
beyond all recognition. You know what stupid huevóns all these Mexicanos
Bush stared at his Mexicano deputy for a long moment before bursting out in
laughter and clapping him on the back. "All right, Danny...I'll be back." He
turned and walked toward the boat, suddenly realizing that for the first time
since coming to the island, he was sorry to leave it. 
June 7, 1949 
800 hours
Somewhere in the Gulf of California
"You've got a good crew on the island, Sheriff." 
Bush looked up from the chum line, his hands still methodically tossing the
dead and mutilated whitefish into the sea, his hands sloppy with blood and
organs.. It was good work; mechanical work, that let him forget the disaster
he'd left on the island and the beast somewhere in the water. 
"Well, er, gracias, Captain." The big shore patrolman was outlined against the
morning sun. "You've got a pretty fine crew yourself...I'm so sorry about your
boys two days ago, if I could have..." Escobar laid his hand on the rail.
"Don't give it a moment's thought, Sheriff. Hans and Maurice died in the
service of their country, shot by cowardly cabrons in the back. The reckoning
_will_ come." Escobar's hand tightened on the rail, his wristwatch, stamped
with the hammer and sickle of the city of Viva, glittering in the sun.
Bush's smooth rhythm faltered for just a moment. "I'm sure it will. Any sign
of...the shark?" His hands slowly got back in time. 
"No, the damn audar's[1] on the fritz again, so we're down to hunting for
aletas and his sendero. You and our dead fish friends here are the best hope
we've got, until the audar starts up again." 
"You can count on me, Captain. I'll catch the enemy." 
2000 hours

_It can't be possible._ It was a measure of Bush's emotional state that his
suspicions penetrated through the layers of fatigue brought on by 6 hours of
running a chum line and 6 hours of lookout duty. His arms hurt. His legs hurt.
His eyes hurt. His skin, especially his hands, was a sea of zinc oxide, slime,
fish blood, and sunburn. He barely recognized himself in the head's small
mirror as he wiped himself off with recycled seawater. 
He was aboard a shore patrol ship of the United States of Mexico, surrounded by
fellow veterans. And yet. Escobar's watch. The black "tattooing" spread up the
gunner's forearms. And that nail, that single carpenter's nail wedged into the
faux planks of the boat's lounge/bunk room's card table. 
There were a thousand explanations for each, but one pattern, one pattern that
glowed in his mind with an intensity brighter than a tracer shell. 
_But why?_
2100 hours
"Pregunta, Sheriff."
Bush hoped his caution wasn't too obvious. "Que?" 
"Política. Do you care?" 
"Of course." Bush shrugged. "If you're asking what party I belong to…I don't
know. My father backs Silvia, so I suppose I do the same out of loyalty. Why?" 
"Oh, bueno, bueno…" Captain Escobar pushed his drink back and forth along the
lounge's table, the smell of it reaching Bush three feet away. Men of his
father's generation had told him that Mexican beer had improved immensely since
the cultural alliance with the Germans of a decade earlier. _It must have been
el pinche madre…_, Bush thought with some horror. 
"I only ask you, Sheriff, because I am curious. As I said, I don't only hunt
the tiburon that swim in the sea, I hunt the ones that walk on land." Escobar
looked at Bush. "You know that there are those who would bring down President
Silvia and all that we have accomplished; those who would turn the war we still
may yet win into a disaster beyond disaster against the norteamericanos."
"Oh, si." The boat grew silent, outside of the snores of sleeping crewmen and
the splashing of waves. 
"I like to think I have played some role in defeating those cabrons, Sheriff,
some role in protecting peace and order in this nation. You're a hero of the
war and a hero of the peace, and we may need good men like you in the years to
come." He raised a hand. "I make no offers, Sheriff, no promises, only…I ask
that you think. When we have killed the beast, we can discuss this better. Will
you think, Sheriff?" 
"Oh, yes." 
June 8, 1949
800 hours
The shark's teeth snapped shut bare inches from Sheriff Bush's outstretched

[1] OTL's sonar