Swan Dive! Ch. 34: Moving Day

U-Haul trucks filled several parking spaces beside the swimming pool wall at RayRay’s Paradise. Standing at the top of the state-of-the-art apartment complex stairs, Ruby Arenas waved with both hands at her new neighbors who prepared to unload and move into their new homes. Ruby got so excited at what she jokingly called “RayRay’s commune,” she clapped her hands.

Kim Phillips and Marty Durkin stepped out of a large 20-foot orange and white truck.

Randall Lark got out of his 26-foot extra-large truck in which he had loaded furniture and boxed belongings, most of which he bought at a discount just the day before from an estate sale that emptied out the mansion of a deceased former cocaine dealer.

Sam Bennett showed up looking like a wizard wearing a pointed paper New Year’s Eve hat, playing with a yoyo and wearing a backpack. A flock of seagulls circled his head serenading him with high-pitched squawks that to him sounded like a celestial choir.

In a good mood for the first time in a long while, RayRay had set up beside the stairway a banquet table he covered with a tablecloth decorated with skulls and crossbones. Piles of fresh bagels, fresh squeezed orange juice, lime marmalade, a variety of melon slices, tangerines, nectarines, mangos, coconut milk, soy milk, granola and other breakfast treats created a food mountain ready to climb.

 “I’m glad to see you took some of my advice about healthy eating, RayRay,” Ruby said. “But on such a happy day the tablecloth pattern leaves something to be desired.”

“I had the tablecloth left over from last year’s ‘Biker Pirate Night’ at the bar,” RayRay said.

 “How could I forget,” Ruby said. “Those bad boys brought a live alligator with them.”

“Without a leash,” RayRay said. “But that poor baby seemed under your spell. She even let you pet her.”

“We’re kindred spirits,” Ruby said. “I talked the Crushers Motorcycle Club president into setting her free in the swamp.”

“He was under your spell, too,” RayRay said.

“Witchy woman,” Ruby said.

Pointing to an empty U-Haul truck with the back door open RayRay radiated goodwill.

“I just rented two apartments to a couple of those wrestlers who stood up for Sam when the whole world except us was against him,” RayRay said. “They’re decent boys I might hire as doormen.”

Ruby frowned.

“Do we really need bouncers?”

“With that screwball billionaire gangster Borys Popov running all over with a checkbook and a chip on his shoulder, everybody in Clearwater Beach needs protection,” RayRay said.

“Even here in Paradise?” Ruby asked.

“The twins will work security here at the apartments as well,” RayRay said.

Rocco and Ricco, known in the raw professional wrestling world as “The Terrible Twins Tag Team from Hell,” stood at the edge of the storage shed roof where they had been sunbathing. Both men posed with their hands on their hips. Wearing matching fake leopard skin bikini bathing suits and black knee-high patent leather boots with purple laces, the men waved. Clean shaven and movie star handsome, their curly natural blond hair hung below their shoulders. Chests, arms and rippled stomach muscles glistened with sweat from an early morning workout. Carved as perfectly as a Michelangelo Renaissance masterpiece sculpture the lovable wild men stood as vigilant sentries guarding their newly established territory and extended family of beach misfits.

“Come on down, boys, and get something to eat,” RayRay said.

Rocco and Ricco raised their arms over their heads as if celebrating a victory. Then Rocco bent at the knees and leaped, his arms extended out at his sides, his lower back arched, his head lifted skyward with his arms raised above his head as he entered the brimming blue swimming pool with palms together as if in prayer, his powerful body cutting the water with almost no splash.

Ricco followed.

A champion Acapulco cliff diver could not have delivered more perfect plunges.

Despite the successful daredevil stunt, Sam Bennett began flapping his arms wildly, running in circles, laughing, shouting and repeating himself.

“No, no, no.,” he screamed.

The gulls looked at Sam like they wanted an explanation, apparently figuring he owed them something since they hadn’t dive-bombed the buffet.

“What, Sam? What?” Ruby asked.

“That’s not how you fly,” Sam said.

Relieved, everybody chuckled.

Rocco and Ricco climbed from the pool uninjured and headed for the granola. After eating, breaking bread together as the wrestlers put it, everybody moved into what they hoped to be meaningful new lives.

Trusting in the future, that afternoon Ruby kept her door wide open, her reggae music playing softly inside. Durkin set up the frame for the new water bed he wanted since he was a teenager. Randall hung framed Malcolm X and Huey Newton posters. Kim decorated with new purple drapes. Sam laid out his sleeping bag and constructed simple brick and board shelves where his drone gulls would roost. Rocco and Ricco decorated their place in a jungle motif complete with life-sized furry stuffed animals they won at carnival strongman competitions and lion roars on the stereo.

Paradise was living up to its name.

Sort of.

Nobody noticed Kim peering from the side of her new drapes. Nobody heard the two harsh hushed whispers crawl from her mind and from her mouth as she focused a laser beam stare on Rocco and Ricco when her dueling split personality took over.

“They don’t look so tough to me,” Shannon said.

“We can take ‘em,” Tara said.

“I want a cage match,” Shannon said.

“Bring it on,” Tara said.

At first nobody saw Borys Popov, either, as he watched the action from a parked and fully-loaded 2023 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. That morning, raising high-powered military grade binoculars to his eyes, he had peered and sneered at each face – Ruby Arenas, RayRay Gigliardi, Marty Durkin, Randall Lark, Kim Phillips, Sam Bennett and a couple of monsters he didn’t know, longhairs who reminded him of East German bodybuilders loaded with anabolic steroids.

A KGB-style assassination list fit the bill. With these American degenerates out of the way Borys could regain his power. Maybe he wouldn’t have to destroy Clearwater Beach after all. Nuking the beach still appealed to him, though. Maybe he’d just kill each nemesis first then nuke the beach with a ticking atomic time bomb. By the time a mushroom cloud appeared over RayRay’s Elbow Room he’d be safe in the arms of a couple of new Ukrainian brides in Ft. Lauderdale. Everybody else was moving. Maybe the time had come for him to move the base of his illegal operation, too.

After everybody got settled into their new digs Durkin stretched out on a lounge chair at the far end of the pool. Randall stretched out at the other end. Durkin and Randall noticed the van at about the same time. Randall nodded, seeing a familiar unwelcome face grimacing through the open window.

Both men got to their feet and converged on the gate.

“Let’s go,” Durkin said.

“USA, USA,” Randall said.

On this new day, this new team working together on the same side, two very different men – one white, one Black – headed up the street to have a talk with the Florida boss of the Russian Mafia.

Escaped again from his cage, Dillon watched the high noon confrontation unfold from his perch on a nearby telephone wire.

“Oh, shit,” the parrot said.