tagRomanceThe Chase

The Chase


She should have been dead; my car missed her by inches. I rounded a corner and she stood there in the middle of the road. My angry words gave way to concern as she ran up to the car window. Her eyes looked scared; her clothes looked like she had been in them all night. There were smudges of dirt on her yellow blouse and her cheek.

She said in a scared voice, “I’m in terrible trouble and I’m desperate. Will you help me?”

I looked at her. She was about twenty-five or so with mousy brown hair that hadn’t been combed in a while. She had a nice figure and was about five feet six inches or so. When she leaned over to plead with me, I noticed that she had blue eyes and was not shy in the breast department. The only thing she had with her was a small purse and some type of gym bag.

“Did you have a car accident?” I asked.

“No, no; it’s much worse than that. Can I get in your car? They are looking for me,” she pleaded.

I made a snap decision that I knew was going to be a terrible mistake—my life was a series of snap decisions that always seemed to go sour. Nevertheless, whether it was that terrified look on her face or those very nice breasts, I said, “Get in.”

She ran around to the passenger side, opened the door and quickly sat down. I started to accelerate to get up to the speed limit and then glanced at my mystery guest. She was silently crying; tears were running down her cheeks. I thought, “She looks like a whipped puppy who has been chained in the backyard all night.”

I said, “Nothing can be that bad. My name is Bob Shipley and I’ll be glad to do what I can for you. First of all, what do I call you?”

She wiped her nose with the side of her hand and said, “My name is Carol Watkins. Thank you for picking me up; I am in serious trouble and don’t know what to do.”

I noticed the sign telling me that Oceanside City was three miles ahead. I knew that Oceanside City was a fairly wealthy suburb of Mobile, Alabama. There was only one way in and out of it on Route 8 according to the map. The map also mentioned the scenic ocean views, and so I took the less traveled road.

I said, “Well Oceanside is coming up in a few miles and we can get help there, but to get help, you have to tell me your problem.”

Carol looked at me frightened and said, “I can’t go back to Oceanside; that’s where all my troubles started. They are looking for me there.”

We were coming up to a sign that said ‘Blakely Park’ with an arrow pointing to a side road. I took the turn and pulled into the park—two baseball fields and six tennis courts. I turned into a parking spot by the baseball fields and stopped the car.

I quietly said, “Carol, I am not on any time schedule. I will help you if I can, but you have to tell me what’s going on. So just take your time and tell me your problem.”

Carol was silent for a few moments and then sighed. She said, “I have been a third grade school teacher in Gainesville, Florida for the last four years. It was my first teaching job, and my life was starting to settle down. My folks are both dead and I am an only child so I’m on my own. The school year ended and I decided to take a vacation and see New Orleans.

“I stopped in Oceanside last night and checked into a motel. There was a bar and restaurant across the street and I went there for some food. I went to the bar first and then planned to go into the restaurant.

“A man came up to me and started talking. He seemed nice so I let him talk. We had two drinks and he asked me to have dinner with him. I was shocked; but whether it was because I was on vacation or maybe the drinks, I said yes.

“Just as we were about to go into the restaurant I heard him say, “Oh shit.”

He looked scared and said, “Carol, I screwed up. I thought I had until tomorrow afternoon before they realized what was going on. I’m going to try to talk myself out of this, but in case I don’t, take this bag and have a good life. There is money in the bag--lots of it. It is drug money. I collect the money once a week from our distributors in Mobile. Tomorrow I would give my boss the money I collected.

“I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be arrested. The cops in Mobile would catch one of my guys and squeeze him; he would give me up for a shorter prison sentence. So I decided to get out--to steal the collection money and run.

“Two men just came into the bar and are sitting at a table. They are here for me. They probably think you are part of this, so you are in trouble too. I’m going to talk to them. If we leave together, take my bag and go out the back way. Don’t get caught; they are not nice people. Remember, Oceanside is where the big shot bosses live; they control everything here including the police, so don’t count on any help from them. If you go to the police, it is the same as giving yourself and the money to the drug bosses. Just take the money and enjoy it.”

Carol looked at me and said, “He walked up to the table with the two men; after a few minutes the three of them left the bar. I grabbed my purse and his bag and went to the women’s bathroom. There was an emergency exit and I went out. I saw them in the parking lot, and then I heard a shot; they shot him. I must have screamed, because they saw me and I started running into the woods. They shot at me three times before I could get out of sight.

“I ran and walked in the woods for twenty minutes and finally found my way back to Route 8. I walked back to my motel trying to stay out of sight, but when I got there I could see two police cars in front of my motel room—they were in my room and searching my car.

“I walked to this park and sat in the baseball dugout all night. I was so scared. Twice police cars drove through the parking lot, but they never stopped.

“I was desperate this morning and that is why I stopped you. Can’t we just turn around and go away from Oceanside?”

“Carol,” I said. “The police had a road block set up this morning when I drove through. They were only checking cars leaving Oceanside. Cars going to Oceanside were not stopped. We can’t get you out that way.

“And they know you are on foot and wearing the same clothes as last night; your yellow blouse is going to be an easy thing to spot. Just to be sure, I am going to drive through Oceanside and see if they still have a roadblock. If you see any police, just get on the floor so they can’t see you.”

Carol pleaded, “What am I going to do?”

I answered, “Let’s check Oceanside; just stay out of sight.”

I drove through Oceanside at the speed limit. I noticed a police car at each of the two big intersections of the main street. Two miles outside of Oceanside there was a long line of cars. It was a police roadblock. Cars were turning around; we did also. Getting out of Oceanside was going to be tougher than getting in.

I turned on the radio and got a local station. After a few minutes the news came on. The male announcer said, “For all you people leaving Oceanside today, be prepared for a long wait. Police have roadblocks on either side of our city. The unofficial word from a police spokesman is that there is a terror alert and they are checking identifications and all vehicles for suspicious activity.”

The woman announcer continued, “The local churches have repeated their protest to the city council that the cruise ship Sea Challenger should not be allowed to be based at Oceanside Port since they agreed to host the first annual National Nudity Day Cruise. The churches maintain that Oceanside will be tainted with immoral conduct.”

The male announcer interrupted with a joking voice, “But Cynthia, don’t you think that a three night, four day cruise with all guests and crew naked would be a blast. Can you see yourself having a ball? There are only thirty couples and in the last two days all but two cabins have been booked. Now if you would like to…

“Absolutely disgusting,” interrupted Cynthia.

“Well I guess that means you aren’t interested Cynthia,” continued the announcer, ‘But if any couple out there is interested, and has fifteen hundred dollars, there is still time to book a cabin…and now for the weather…”

I turned the radio down. Carol asked in a frightened voice, “What are we going to do now? I’m trapped in here. I can’t even buy different clothes because the police are all over Main Street. Can’t you think of anything we can do to get out of this awful place?”

I thought, “Snap decisions; the story of my life.”

We drove back into Oceanside with Carol hunched down in the front seat. I spotted a sign before an intersection that said, ‘Oceanside Port.’ I thought, “I can’t believe I am even thinking about this. You have never done anything so crazy in your life.”

I thought again, “Unless you are going to ditch this woman, I can’t think of anything else to do.”

I said, “Carol, I have a wild idea, but it is the only idea I have to get you out of this town.”

“What?” asked Carol.

I continued, “There is a cruise ship leaving today. It will be gone for three nights and four days. When it returns the search for you will probably be over; and even if not, you will be wearing different clothes.”

Carol said, “That sounds like a great idea. I really think it will work and I’ll do any thing to get out of this mess. Why don’t we…WAIT…you are talking about the nude ship, aren’t you? I could never do that; it would be so embarrassing; I would rather die first…”

I interrupted, “Carol, you might die first if these people are as bad as you told me.”

Carol was silent. Finally in a shy voice she asked, “Would you be going with me?”

I answered, “It is a couples ship. They probably wouldn’t allow a single person aboard since that single person would only cause problems.”

Carol said, “Maybe we could go on the boat and wear clothes, and if not, we could just stay in our cabin and order room service. That should work.”

Without answering I turned right on the street that led to the port. The marina was big with maybe a hundred boats at berth. The parking lot was very large. I spotted a building with a sign that said ‘Sea Challenger.’ I parked and turned to Carol as I said, “Let’s go in and talk to them about the cruise.”

We walked into the building and there was a table set up in the lobby with a sign that said, ‘National Nudity Day Cruise.’ There was a pretty blond woman about five feet two inches tall sitting behind the table. She stood as we approached her.

I hesitated but no one said a word, so it was up to me. I said, “My wife and I are on vacation and we heard about the cruise on the radio. We are tempted to go if there are still available cabins, but we have never done anything like this before. What can you tell us?”

The blond woman grinned and said, “My name is Jill and I am the cruise director. We still have two cabins open. The boat leaves in three hours, but we are boarding now for those who arrive early. It should be a fun cruise. There are only thirty couples so everyone will get to know each other. Don’t take that the wrong way; this is not a group sex boat or an orgy. National Nudity Day is an acknowledgment of a lifestyle—a way of life—that some people feel is a healthful and wonderful approach to the human body. July fourteenth is the last full day of the cruise and it happens to be National Nudity Day—we plan to award many prices in celebration including our own Ms. National Nudity Day queen.

“The rules are simple. As soon as the ship passes the three-mile limit, all clothes are banned for the entire cruise. Both the volunteer crew and the guests will be naked for three nights and four days. We will have games and contests and great food, just like any other cruise, but the difference is that we will be naked.

“This will be my fifth time I have been cruise director of a nude ship. The previous four were fantastic.

“The only real rule is that we expect full participation if you come—no hiding in the room and things like that. And I should tell you that the first thing we do as we pass the three-mile limit is to have a mandatory emergency ship drill as required by the Coast Guard. Of course, we will all be nude for the drill not counting our life preservers.

“I’ll answer any questions you have, but really the decision is up to you. As first timers you will be more nervous than some of the other passengers; that is expected. First time men always have the same problem—unwanted erections at the worst possible time. It does happen, but no one will make a big deal out of it. First time women actually have a curiosity on a style question—should they trim their pubic hair like many of the other women, and if they do, what shape should they choose.”

Carol was blushing and I said, “Jill give us a few minutes to talk it over.”

We walked out of the building and looked over the parking lot. Carol wasn’t talking so I asked, “What do you think?”

Carol was quiet and then said, “I just can’t do it; to be naked in front of everyone including you. I have never done anything like that in my entire life. I am really a prude in a lot of ways.”

I answered, “Carol, that’s your decision. We’ll try something else.”

We walked back to the car. As I opened the door Carol grabbed my arm and said, “Look.”

A police car was had come into the parking lot and slowly driving up and down the aisles. It was still far from us. Carol gasped, “OK, I will do it. Just get me away from this awful place.”

I took my suitcase from the car and Carol grabbed her purse and the gym bag. We hurried back into the building and told Jill, “We decided to go. Do you take American Express?”

Jill said, “Of course,” and swiped the card and had me sign the receipt. She continued, “Please fill out the registration information card and then you are free to board. Your cabin number is 28 on B deck. Since we are not going to any ports, you don’t need a passport or anything.”

We went to the counter to fill out the registration card. I said to Carol, “I think pretending to be my wife is the way to go. You can’t use your last name since the police have it from both your motel registration and your car. I’m not sure even your first name is a good idea. If you agree you will be Mrs. Shipley; what first name should we use?”

Carol answered, “Jean is my middle name and I always liked it. Why don’t you put down Jean?”

“Done Jean,” I said. “Also, they know your address in Gainesville by now. You should either call a friend to go to your place and clean it out hoping the police weren’t quick enough to get there yet. Or just walk away from all of it.”

The new Jean thought for a moment and then said, “I’m going to call a friend who really needs money. I’m going to tell her to go the apartment and take whatever she wants; to turn off all the utilities, and to call my school and tell them I won’t be returning.”

The new Jean went to an outside phone and made the call. She came back to me and was about to say something when she gasped and said, “That man with the woman getting out of the car. He was one of the men who came into the restaurant last night. What is he doing here?”

“Maybe looking for you,” I answered. “Did he get a good look at your face in the bar?”

Jean answered, “I don’t think so. I sat facing the bar so he should not have seen my face. And it was only a couple of minutes or so before they left the restaurant. In the parking lot I was in the shadows. So they know roughly my size, but nothing else I think.”

We boarded the boat and found our cabin. It was exceptional; a sleeping area with two twin beds and a sitting area with a couch and single chair facing a TV/VCR entertainment center. A gift bottle of wine was on the table next to the couch.

Jean said, “I’m dying for a shower. I’ve been in these clothes for a day and a half and I smell.”

She hesitated and I said, “Why don’t you take a shower and I will explore? I will come back in about twenty minutes.”

She nodded and I left. Twenty minutes later I knocked on the door and she opened it. I said, “I have an idea. They probably got a look at the color of your hair in the bar. The Salon is open; I made an appointment for you. They can give you a cut and maybe a color change. Oh—bad news—that man and woman came on board the ship. I think they took the last cabin.”

Jean looked frightened but nodded yes. I said, “Also, get rid of the yellow blouse. They are looking for it. I bought you the ship’s windbreaker jacket; take off your blouse and wear the jacket.”

She nodded again and hesitated. Then she quickly unbuttoned her blouse and put on the jacket. I didn’t turn away. Jean had a beautiful complexion and I had been right, although she was wearing a modest bra, her breasts were beautiful for her figure--probably a B plus or so. Her stomach was flat.

I went with Jean to the Salon and waited. An hour later she came out; she was stunning. The mousy brown hair was now a subtle chestnut color that highlighted her blue eyes. The cut was a swept back French look, completely different from the stringy appearance of yesterday. The jacket zipper was open showing the beginning of the mounds of her breasts. Even without makeup, she had transformed herself into a very beautiful woman.

I said, “Wow.”

She grinned and said, “The gift shop has makeup. I have to buy some ‘make me beautiful’ stuff.”

The ship was filling with passengers by the time we left the gift shop. The ship’s loudspeaker announced that we had thirty minutes before the ship would leave.

We went back to our cabin and I asked if she would like a glass of wine. She nodded and I poured two glasses. She sat on the couch and I sat in the chair facing her. I said, “Jean, things have been happening so fast you don’t even know me; so here goes. I’m twenty-five and graduated with a degree in computer science. I have been working in Orlando as a programmer until three weeks ago; I was laid off because the economy was so bad. I took stock and looked at my options. I decided to move to Las Vegas. It is the fastest growing city in the US and I figure I can get some kind of job out there. I have never been married, and my girlfriend dumped me the same day my company laid me off.

“So when we get back, I’ll continue my drive to Nevada. Fortunately, I managed to save a little money, so I’m not hurting.”

Jean looked at me and said, “My whole life has changed in twenty-four hours. I haven’t even thanked you for probably saving my life. I owe you a lot; I was so scared and you gave me hope.

“After my shower I looked in the gym bag the man gave me. It is full of a lot of money. There was at least $500,000 in hundreds and most of the bag was full of 50’s and 20’s. Maybe I should have just left it in the bar and walked away, but everything happened so fast. So for better or worse, I…we…have it.”

“Jean,” I protested, “That’s your money.”

Jean said, “We have four days to decide that. Don’t we?”

I felt something and said, “We are moving.”

We went to the window and saw that we were ten feet from the dock and were slowly making forward speed. I took Jean’s hand and squeezed it. She squeezed back.

Jill’s voice came on the loudspeaker, “Welcome aboard everybody. The National Nudity Day Cruise has officially begun. I hope you all have a wonderful time. The schedule for the rest of the day is as follows: In thirty minutes we will be at the three-mile limit. At that time you will hear the ship’s whistle blow five long blasts. That is the emergency signal and all passengers and crew are required to muster at the assigned station with their life preservers on. You will find the assigned station for each cabin on your cabin door. It is a federal law that all must attend the emergency drill. One ship just paid a large fine when they did not enforce the rule. So the drill will not end until we have a count that all passengers are at the drill.

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