When the guys from the local Bureau in Puerto Rico called he knew there would be a problem. No one called him for simple tasks like this unless no one else wanted to do it... The Mope was already in custody so they just needed to start collecting more evidence in the case, perhaps get back some of the cocaine he'd managed to throw over the end of the dock just before being arrested.

That was why they called Frank. He'd been a navy seal during the gulf war and was fully qualified to deal with extreme conditions... of course there was the fact that they didn't have anyone else who wanted to do it.

They called him and filled him in on the details. His first thought had been to say no, but he wasn't really the type that backed out just because of a little impediment in the way. The most glaring one being the canal - it meant that there would be some fierce nasty water and strong currents. He requested a full face diving mask, a sealed, haz-mat suit, someone to be there to disinfect him when the business was over and a secure line to make sure he didn't get washed away from the piling.

412 kilos of cocaine was something that they didn't want to let out of their sight. He agreed and was on a plane in a few hours.

He arrived at the Mope's residence and they walked him to the dock area where he looked down uncomfortably into the swift, brown water. He put on the suit; dive boots and began loading the weights. He secured the line, set up his method of communication with his partners and lowered himself into it.

It was like an insistent, lukewarm bath. Underwater, his body flapped and waved like a flag in the current. The water moved at almost 15 or 20 knots and he was certain this entire venture would end badly if he didn't find some way to secure himself better. He surfaced again, pulled himself out of the water and tied on more weights- about 80 pounds of them - and dove again. The weights helped but not as much as he would have liked, the current was a constant fight. He felt the container slide past his arm as his partners lowered it behind him

Thirty feet down, the water was mud soup. The silt and earth churned constantly in the rushing water, a whirl pooled muck that never cleared from the bed - there was almost no light, almost no visibility. Frank followed the line into the dark, his feet mired in the sludge. Each weighted step was a chore as he lifted his feet; each movement was another new struggle against the current.

He began his search by feeling along the base of the piling until his hands grasped the first of what would be many kilos of water logged cocaine. He drew it near his face but it was too dark to make out anything on it. It settled immediately in the weighted netting. He filled the container then tugged on the line and waited for it to rise.

The trip there and back seemed to take hours. Here it was a muted rush of warm murk and the current raged against his arms and body, the weights pushed his feet into the mud, the low roar of the water filled his head. He felt as if he were trapped in some rushing, fatty artery.

Then something shoved against his shoulder...

At first he thought it might be a tire or weight or something caught in the piling. Maybe it was something they kept here to help someone locate the stash... something... maybe a log that had gotten stuck on the piling and waved back and forth in the current - it had enough weight to push him back in the mud.

He was feeling impatient and uncomfortable with the area, he looked up to see if he could make out anything above. The container lowered again, and he quickly grabbed the line to adjust its position. He found more cocaine and loaded it, more and more cocaine- now almost everywhere he searched. He fumbled in the darkness for more - the thing in the current moved him again.

He absently pushed it back this time, feeling some kind of pliant texture under his gloves. He bent and loaded more cocaine then pulled the rope for them to raise it - and him this time. If it were some kind of tied baffle he was going to have to get it loose or find a way to avoid it... he pushed his hand forward and felt it briefly again as the current whipped it away then shoved it back against his shoulder. He yanked the rope again and his line grew taught as he moved upward.

When he entered the water that last time he had a waterproof flashlight strapped to his wrist - he wasn't about to be down there with the potential of some loose piece of jetsam with the potential of ripping his suit or knocking him out of range again.

With a light he moved with a bit more confidence. The flashlight made a short column of bright murk that betrayed many more packets of cocaine. Frank saw then in abundance in the mud, oblong aluminum foil and plastic wrapped in duct tape, and he packed them into the netting. Once again, the object in the current shoved him back. He shone the flashlight back toward the piling to see if he could see the impediment in the water and it bumped him again... he fought the current again and turned... there was movement out of the corner of his eye and he lifted the flashlight -

- to find himself mask to snout with a shark. The flashlight blazed across the dead black eyes and the jagged toothed mouth... it jolted forward and bumped past him, shoving him back.

He did not argue or shove this time, just moved.

On the surface he surveyed the cocaine packets laid out on the dock... out of 412 kilos he managed to get about 200. This would be plenty.

He glared at his partners' amused smiles and began the disinfectant procedures. The rest of the cocaine could just stay at the bottom for all he cared. If that shark wanted to be in his way he was perfectly willing to let it.

Some impediments could be left right where they were.


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