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The Adventures of Danny Weston continue... March 2024

He found buried treasure. Can we please call it; "rescue money", unless you insist on claiming this is a True Story about... how I escaped from Cuba with $60 million in US Dollars in a foreign countries stolen zodiac under the cloak of the wolf moon chased by members of the Cuban army in Jeeps, Land Rover's and... Machine Gun Fire.



The 2024 Toronto Star Short Story Contest

"it didn't make dead line... why not? no one really cares."

 

 

The Adventures of Danny Weston continue...

Escape from Cuba

 

  

All night Danny could hear the wind whistling through his resort’s ocean view balconies

sliding door frame. Both windowpanes were vibrating as though people had climbed up and over

the railing banging desperately on the windows seeking shelter from the storm. 

Highly unusual weather this time of year for the northern coastline of Cuba's, Cayo Coco region,

thought Danny. After all, it was mid-January 2024 and all he wanted was blue sky, no rain, no

storms, no clouds, and with the 'wind chill factor' outdoor temperatures somewhere north of +28c all day long. And the first full moon of the year was due tomorrow night. Come on Mother Nature, play nice. 

The digital clock glowed red, 3:32 a.m., as he tossed the bed sheets to the side and

clambered to his feet, wiping crusty deposits of sand that had accumulated in the corners of both

eyes attempting to sneak a peek outdoors through the doorway sheers. What the heck is going on

out there? God, I feel like Mrs. Kravitz, the nosy neighbour from the TV series, I Dream of Genie

It was pitch black outside as he slid open the door and stepped out onto the balcony 6 metre’s

above the ground. 

Hey! Hey YOU! What are you doing looking into my room? Scared, Danny turned on the outdoor balcony light only to reveal an 8' shrub swaying in the breeze that may have possibly resembled a human being, if he were under the influence of marijuana, but, no. It was just an 8' shrub blowing in the breeze. 

Geeezus Weston. You're a idiot. Thank God no one else was awake looking out their windows. 

It had been storming for days. No one was on the beach during the day. And for the past 10 days Danny had been the first one on the beach every morning. No other footprints were present,

ever. He was always first, like always, the consummate morning person. But right now, 3:40 a.m.

it was cloudy, windy, as unseasonably cool January temperatures were blowing across the

blue seas, unrestricted from the Florida Keys directly to the north.

Hey... I made a rhyme? Go back to bed you idiot. My morning walk is going to be a tough one. In a few hours the tide will be IN making walking the beach a grind. More like trudging I’d say.

Back to bed. But first, mother nature calls. A quick look in the mirror while he fills the bowl below.

Well, "the tan" is progressing. Only 4 days left. Pray for sunshine. I don't want to return to

Toronto looking like I spent the entire vacation in the hospital. Forget the sunscreen. Today, we

break out the OIL. One good thing, there's plenty of toilet paper left. After all it is Cuba, and as

legend has it, the food can remind you of being anorexic, without actually being anorexic. You can

eat all you want at the "all you can eat buffet”, but, until one gets acclimatized with the food and

water in Cuba, what goes in, may involuntarily exit, projectile style out the “back door” with very

little warning, if any at all, in a yellowy-brownish-splattering-liquid state. Never argue when

mother nature calls. And never trust a fart in Cuba. And respect the laws about having your

papers near you always. No, not your Passport, not your paper money, not your Cuban paper

travel visa but a roll of toilet paper. Yah. NEVER… forget the toilet paper. 

Tucking back in, Danny cleared his mind, and starting drifting off thinking... hit the beach early!

Before anyone else does. Be on the beach at 6:30 a.m.... less than 3 hours from now. Stop thinking,

go to sleep. The wind is howling. The balcony door is shaking. I can't believe I thought that shrub

was a human being. Stop... think... ing. Danny was finally back to sleep. 

Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa!

Startled. Danny awakens searching for his mobile phone on the nightstand beside his bed sidetable. STOP ALARM. It's 6:15 a.m. Time to get up. Let's go. Early bird gets the crabs he utters. To the 3rd wharf this morning, if possible. Hey? No noise? It's quiet outside. Danny throws open the sheers, and slides the balcony door open. No wind. I can see the stars. It's pitch black but, in 15

minutes dawn will be breaking. He looks up the coastline and the tide is IN, all the way to the

crest of the beach. It's gonna be tough walking today. Get your running shoes, shorts, T-shirt, and

your "I Love Cuba" baseball cap on and hurry up and get out there if you wanna be first!

Jumping down from the boardwalk and onto the sandy beach it is clear the storm has washed up a lot of kelp, and other ocean debris onto the shoreline. What will I find today? God I’m talking to myself again. More plastic tossed from Cruise ships or fishing vessels washed ashore? Maybe a dead body? Whoo hooo. Hawaii Five-O, the Cuban version. Book'm Pedro. 

Danny gets into his walking groove now about 4 km away from the resort he reaches the first of 3

wharf's heading out from the shoreline from abandoned resorts destroyed during last years

hurricane season. Kind of eerie seeing empty buildings along the Cayo Coco shoreline. Security

guards still patrol and protect the Government owned properties. 7, 8, 9, 10. 10 push-ups at the

first wharf. 10 more at each wharf, and upon my return, 10 more at each wharf making

it 60 push ups each morning. This helps with my Yoga practice. Off to the next wharf, about 2 km

away. Walking is surprisingly easy. It's like walking on concrete as the 4 days of steady wind have

blown away the top layer of sand and made the base quite firm to walk, run, or stroll along.

It's 7:10 a.m. and the sun is rising. Nobody else yet. Geezus, what if I'm the only one left on

this Archipelago? He starts singing; “Oh, Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a

fateful trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship… hmmmm, mmm hmmm, a 3

hour tour… with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the Billionaire (inflation), and his wife, a Movie

Star, The Professor, and Mary Anne, here on Gilligan's Island. Hey... what the? What is this?

As Danny approaches a mound of kelp, he thinks.... oh my goodness? Oh my goodness? Two

suitcases? Did someone fall overboard? He looks around, and for as far as the eyes can see, no one

can be detected.

The orange sunrise is half-way above the horizon and rising fast. He can sense the warmth of the

Sun radiating off his face. He wipes away the sand, and tears away the kelp that has seemingly

grown attached to these mysterious treasures. Damn they're heavy. They look like large camera

cases. They're the plastic kind and clamped on each side, and all 4 edges are sealed in plastic with

a kind of duct tape.

Danny grabs both cases and struggles to pull them further in-land, off the beach edge and out of

sight from any curious and prying eyes. He checks again... no one is around. He rushes to place

fallen palm tree leaves over the cases and brushes clean the track marks from the beach into the

hiding area.

A couple of pelicans fly over and hover over the oceans edge and dive bomb headfirst into the surf grabbing their morning breakfast. Yeah. Good idea, breakfast. I'm hungry. Danny heads back to his room to gather up a sharp knife to cut the cases open and a shovel from maintenance to bury them pending what he finds. Don’t take any chances, he thinks. Ask a member of the resort

maintenance crew for a shovel and tell them you’re building an extravagant sandcastle and give

them $20.00 for the use of it. But when will you do this? The sun is up and out now and tourists

are already out walking the surf. Hmmm. Do it tonight when no one is around and risk someone

else finding the cases? Right! Tonight it is! There is a Full moon in two more nights.

And just like Johnny Depp, from the movie “Pirates of The Caribbean” he whispers; yoh ho me

hearties... tell NO one (until you know what's in the cases? Like waterlogged camera equipment?)

And off Danny strolls, back to the resort. It’s 7:30 a.m. Breakfast. The tide will be out in 6

hours. It’ll be dark in 12. What do you suppose is in those cases?


10 years later…

 

Danny is now 62 sitting out front of his home in Bora Bora overlooking the south Pacific


Ocean reading a bedtime story to his 8 year old grandson, Ross. Grandad, tell me again about the


time you dreamt you found $60 million dollars in cash and how you escaped from the Cuban

 

army while they shot at you with machine guns! That’s a really cool story.

 

Shhhhhhhh Ross? You know it’s just a story right? Uh huh grandpa. Ok Ross. But you promise to go

 

to sleep, and that this is the very last time we tell this story. Uh huh grandpa, even my mom and

 

dad say… it’s just another one of your stories. 

 

Ok… so let’s start with him out for his morning walk and finding all 6 suitcases, and burying them

 

so no one else could find them, then returning that night to dig them up, opening all 6 cases and

 

finding all that money. Yeah Grandpa… cool.

 

Well, Danny initially found 2 cases, but as he strolled back to the resort that morning, he found

 

four more cases. Two covered in sand and kelp, and two floating in the surf. He buried those as

 

well but returned early the following morning at 3:00 a.m. A full moon was taking shape behind

 

some cloud cover.  He had to be careful not to be exposed by the first full moon of the new year.

 

Oh yeah grandpa, the wolf moon, right? Ow Wooooooooo. That’s right Ross… both Owww


Woooooo. They both laugh.

 

Danny had plenty of light, and a shovel, a flashlight, and a knife to cut open the suitcases.

 

No one was around. Everyone was sleeping. He was sweating profusely. He opened the first case

 

and discovered it was full of USA money. Wrapped in plastic. He was hysterical with

 

glee. He figured it was drug money as all the cash was wrapped in vacuum packed plastic


wrappers. So now Danny thought, “how am I going to get this out of Cuba with no one seeing me?”


High Speed Boat? Low flying plane? Load it onto the vacation charter jet hoping no one stops him?


No No No Ross… that same morning as out hero, Danny, was heading back to his resort he


noticed a funny shaped object rising out of the water, about 1 kilometre from shore. It was in fact


a submarine. He even took photo’s of it and never gave any further thought to it, until later that


morning at breakfast.

 

Lining up at the buffet were a group of men and women in uniform. They came ashore in an

 

inflatable raft, one of those motorized rafts called a Zodiak - Government Navy Class - seeking


help as their submarine was experiencing some technical problems with their air conditioning and


ventilation system. It was in need of parts. They went on to say; "they would have to stay at the


resort for a few days, or just until the parts could be delivered and the repairs could be made.


Currently they can't all breath when submerged. The CO2 scrubbers and air filtration, sterilizing,


deodorizing processes need review before we can legally submerge with all on board.


We may have to leave some behind if we require a quicker than anticipated response.


As fate would have it, it was a Canadian submarine. As a fellow Canadian, Danny spoke with the


crew and when he discovered their plight, as fate would also have it, Danny was a former Air


Conditioning, Refrigeration, Ventilation and Heating mechanic, a former contractor, and College


Professor. So the crew took Danny out to the submarine so he could have a look at the system. It


was discovered all the system needed was some minor electrical repairs to get everything back


and functional, and he could have the system running at 100% before they took Danny back to


shore. So... ummmm Danny asked for a favour, and get a moment with the Captain of the

 

submarine. One was hastily arranged. It was here a Top Secret deal was hatched Yes indee-dee.

 

Later that afternoon, the inflatable boat, ok... everyone, all together... the Zodiak - Government


Navy Class with twin 200 hp outboard motors and a small crew brought Danny safely back

 

to shore. Danny jumped onto the shoreline, 100's of tourists tanning, looking at him.... who the


heck is this guy? And I guessed it was also everyone's guess why would the Cuban army coming in


Jeeps and Land Rover's with machine guns drawn.... as Danny is dropped off.


Every stopped and withdrew their weapons, hanging up their mobile phones, orders from


superiors to call everyone back.... senior army guys yell, STOP. And within seconds, you couldn't


hear anything but the crashing of the surf. The army retreated. Some waved to the Canadian Navy


Sailors in the Zodiak - Government Navy Class... Everyone returned to their submarine.


A plan was struck

 

Later the fowling morning under the cloak of darkness, Danny with his own suitcase packed,

 

carrying a shovel, and flashlight left his room for the last time at 3:00 a.m. He walked down the

 

beach to where the 6 suitcases stuffed with drug money were buried. He looked out over the

 

water to where the submarine had been anchored some 1000 meter’s from shore and turned ON and OFF his flash light until he in turn was flashed a confirming signal. They were in


the water and coming for him and his treasure. Sweating profusely Danny took one last look


around the area, the full moon was bright and the sky was shining brightly revealing trillions of


twinkling stars, and.... all of them, coming to shore, and then quickly leaving shore for the


submarine 100% exposed. It was now or never. He started digging. His heart was

 

pounding. In less than hour, with the help of the Canadian navy, Danny will have loaded the

 

suitcases onto the submarine and in about 4 weeks they'd be pulling into a harbour in Bora, Bora,


and be on his way into the welcoming arms of a prearranged approved and authorized financial


handler with 6 suitcases filled with more than enough money to retire and leave more than


enough of an equal share to his two sons and other ancestral relatives legally able to draw


revenue from designated streams.

 

The last of the suitcases was unearthed, brought to the surface and dragged to the edge of the

 

beach, ready to be loaded into the approaching inflatable boat, Zodiak - Government Navy Class


flashlights are communicating.


In came the sailors hitting the shore, pulling up their engine so the propelling forward would stop


and the propellor wouldn't be damaged.

 

Hurry Danny, load the cases and let’s haul ass. As they shoved off, the Cuban army was racing

 

along the beach in their jeeps and land rovers with machine guns blazing.


Where the hell are these guys coming from? Sand spitting up as bullets fly around them.


Quick… push off. We’re stuck in the sand, we need a wave to come in and lift us up. Toss the


suitcases, we gotta get outta here. We can’t have any incidences. Captains order’s. The Cuban


army was closing fast. Flood lights revealing the Zodiac loaded with people was trying to get-away.

 

Bang, Bang, Bang… non stop machine gun fire, just missing the inflatable raft… missing the crew

 

members. PUSH. PUSH. PUSH. Just then a wave came in and lifted the boat up and it started to

 

move off the shoreline. The Cubans were about 100 metres away and closing.


STOP or we will kill you.

 

Drop the engine! Danny get IN the boat and hang on! HIT IT! And the engine roared as they lifted

 

off the edge of the beach crashing over the incoming surf! A cloud cover had just rolled providing


cover as they disappeared, last seen heading for the Submarine and into the dark of the night,


The wind started to howl. It was coming directly into shore. The breaking surf was getting violent.

 

The Cuban’s stopped and unloaded for their vehicles. Aiming towards the dark horizon, they


continued shooting… and then, poof, the Canadians and Danny had vanished.


“Dew jew tink dey will make it Pedro?”

 

Little Ross was sound now asleep. Yeah we made it all right, with everyone placing the palms of

 

their hands firmly over 12 holes bleeding air from the raft. We just made it. And lived to

 

tell you about it. Good night little Ross. Another adventure ends. And when will yours begin?

 

The End

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