Excerpt #2 From Dave Barry’s new book ‘Insane City’

Wedding party gets that sinking feeling

 

Behind the Clarks, standing a few yards apart from the group and looking bored yet observant, were Mike’s two massive bodyguards, Ron Brewer and Paul Castronovo, wearing khaki slacks, polo shirts and navy blue sport jackets. Brewer and Castronovo were former New York City Police detectives, veteran partners who had left the force under the cloud of an Internal Affairs investigation arising from the unusual number of cases wherein suspects whom they were about to apprehend elected instead — according to Brewer and Castronovo’s official reports — to leap voluntarily to their deaths from the roofs of tall buildings. This had happened often enough that the other detectives had — not without a certain amount of respect — nicknamed Brewer and Castronovo the Tinker Bells, in recognition of the magical power they had to enable people to fly, at least for brief periods.

The Tinker Bells liked working for Mike Clark. He paid a lot better than the NYPD, and he wasn’t picky about how they handled problems as long as it stayed out of the news. In fact, Brewer and Castronovo got the impression that Mike had hired them specifically because of their reputation. He seemed to enjoy it when they got physical with people who dared to approach him in public, or simply happened to be in his way.

With the wedding party lined up in processional order, Blaze Gear led everyone across the lawn to the Wedding Gazebo, which overlooked the section of beach where Seth had pulled Laurette and her children out of the waves. The beach was dotted with groups of sunbathers, kids shouting, random music coming from various devices. Motorboats cruised past offshore; closer to the beach, two young men on Jet Skis chased each other in ever-tightening circles, jumping each other’s wakes.

Blaze gathered the wedding party around her and began going over the timetable for the ceremony. The Jet Skis got closer, engines snarling.

“I can’t hear a thing,” Rose announced.

“What?” said Sid.

“I SAID I CAN’T HEAR A THING!”

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” said Sid.

The truth was that at that point, nobody could hear much over the din of the Jet Skis.

“Maybe we should do this inside,” said Seth.

“What if they’re here tomorrow?” said Tina. “They’ll ruin the wedding.”

“No they won’t,” said Mike. He walked over and said something to Brewer and Castronovo, nodding toward the Jet Skiers. Immediately the two big men started lumbering toward the wooden walkway to the beach.

“What’re they gonna do?” said Kevin. “Swim out there and punch them?”

As the wedding party watched from the gazebo, the Tinker Bells crossed the beach, stopping at the water’s edge. Brewer waved an arm over his head, getting the attention of the Jet Skiers, who were now about 20 yards offshore. Brewer made a shooing gesture: Get out of here. The Jet Skiers thought that was pretty funny. One of them gave Brewer the finger. The other revved his engine and moved closer, laughing, beckoning mockingly at Brewer: Come and get me.

What happened next happened quickly, and went unnoticed by almost everyone outside of the wedding party. Brewer said something to Castronovo, who stepped a little to the right, shielding Brewer. Brewer unbuttoned his jacket and shifted his position slightly. Then there was a faint popping sound, barely detectable over the roar of the engines and the other beach noises.

“What the hell?” said Kevin.

As he spoke, the closer Jet Ski began sputtering and emitting smoke. Its driver, no longer cocky, dove off and swam frantically to the other machine. He scrambled onto the back, barely making it aboard before the driver gunned the engine and took off at full speed toward the horizon. Both driver and rider looked back repeatedly and fearfully. The remaining Jet Ski bobbed in the swells. It coughed out a last plume of smoke and died.

Brewer and Castronovo turned and walked calmly back up the beach, Brewer buttoning his jacket. A dozen or so sunbathers were looking at them; several were applauding.

For a few seconds the wedding party stood in stunned silence. Then Big Steve said, “Did he just shoot at them?”

“Of course not,” said Tina.

“Definitely,” said Meghan.

“Wait, he shot a Jet Ski?” said Kevin. “Even in Miami, that has to be against the law.”

“Well,” said Marty, “legally, he—“

“Legally, he works for Mike Clark,” said Meghan. “That’s really all you need to know.”

Reprinted by arrangement with G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. From Insane City copyright 2013 by Dave Barry.

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