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"I had the lock changed, don't you remember?"
"Well, this is a fine time to tell me! What am I going to do, that is the question at this present time."
"Just hold on, Tommy. I'll swim out with the keys." She tossed her beach robe aside and dived into the water. In a moment she climbed aboard and turned over the keys. Tommy tossed the old set aside and put the new ones in the lock. He turned the key and the outboard started up immediately.
"Now," said Tommy, smiling again, "we are all set. I'll turn around and take you back to the dock, Mary Lou, and I thank you kindly for swimming out."
He moved the gear shift into reverse and gave her the gun. Nothing happened. He moved the shift into a forward position and the boat drifted helplessly. He tried it again both ways.
Tommy Bolt got up from his seat at the wheel. He walked the length of the boat and back. He glanced at the receding shore. The cords in his neck stood out like pieces of garden hose. Slowly, with a kind of chilling calm, he began to recite a bill of particulars and intentions. His first act upon reaching shore, he said, assuming that he ever set foot on dry land again, would be to purchase a sledgehammer with which he would smash the outboard motor into little pieces. He might then attack the pontoons of the so-called F-l-o-t-e—B-o-t-e and sink it to the river's bottom. He raised his voice, recalling a whole list of grievances. He denounced state cops who would pinch a man for driving a dinky little golf cart without a license plate. He spoke with scorn of uppity waiters who had never heard of turnip greens. He charged that a hex hung over him in this benighted town of Crystal River. He wished never to hear the name of Crystal River mentioned in his presence again. Address all communications, he directed, to T. Bolt, Citrus County, Florida. As he paused for breath, Mary Lou Bolt, who had been hanging over the rail at the stern, inspecting the outboard, spoke up: "Tommy, I think I see what the trouble is. There's a cable tangled down there. Just a minute, I think I can fix it." She held on to the rail with one hand and leaned down to get at the cable. She straightened up, climbed back over the rail and walked to the wheel. She slipped the gear lever into reverse and the boat responded at once. She moved the lever forward and the craft moved smoothly ahead. She brought the lever back into neutral, smiled at her husband, walked to the rail and stepped over it and plunged into the water, swimming with long, graceful strokes back toward the dock.
Tommy Bolt gripped the rail and watched her until she had climbed up on the dock and turned to wave.
"Pals," he breathed, "there is a girl in a million."
He went back to the wheel and settled himself comfortably there once again. He moved the lever and the accelerator and the floating platform eased out from the shore, turned and pointed south. There was nothing said for a few moments. Then, moistening his lips, Tommy Bolt began to speak. It was a sort of soliloquy, and (as is his custom when delivering a major statement of his views) he began to enunciate with elaborate precision, lingering over syllables, spelling out words to which he wished to give particular emphasis.
"Can you beat this, pals?" he said. "Ain't this hog heaven though? Look at this river, fed by underwater springs and clear as crystal, which explains the name. Hey, did you see that old mullet jump out of the water there? Watch now, he'll jump again. There he is! Ain't that a sight? A mullet ain't a fish, though. A mullet is a vegetarian. You can't get him with a hook, you got to get him in a net. Oh, man, there goes another one!"