“Should I shoot her in the head?”

            “Hell, no,” the other voice said. “Somebody will hear it.”

            It was the middle of the night and the voices were coming from below me on the end of the pier. I was trying to sleep on top of the old houseboat I was living on, Pier C, Slip 32 at Pleasant Harbor Marina on Lake Pleasant, north of Phoenix. It was warm inside and I didn’t want to spend the money on the gasoline it would take to run the air. I had slept in a lot worse places. Uncomfortable, sandy, dirty, buggy places in faraway lands while waiting for the target to show.

            Instinctively I reached for my prosthetic foot when the second voice said, “Just throw the bitch in, she’ll sink like a rock.”

            I could hear the rustle of plastic sheeting as I rolled over. I had my foot in my hand when I looked over the edge. The end of the pier was dimly lit, but I could make out the two of them. One was a big Mexican looking guy, the other was smaller with a wife-beater tee shirt and tats all up and down his arms and across his neck. They had hoisted what looked like a long wrapped package to their shoulders, then slid it silently off the end. For a second it floated and they watched until it began to sink, then they turned and trotted back down the pier. The package was just under the surface when I saw it move and I went over the side.

            The Lowrance HDS-5 depth finder mounted in the cockpit had told me that the water was eighty feet deep at my mooring, so I kicked hard when I hit the water, knowing that if the package was weighted it could get away from me. My fingertips brushed it, but now it was straight up and down and sinking fast. I felt the panic of failure rising in my throat and I kicked with all I had, stretching my hands out into the darkness and there it was and I touched it, then it was gone. Then there it was again, and I got a finger hooked into a fold of plastic, and this gave me a handhold, and I brought it to my chest. It was definitely a someone, but they weren’t moving now. I kicked for the surface. It seemed to take a year.

            We finally broke the surface and I struggled to hold the head end of the package up out of the water as I kicked for the end of the pier. I grabbed a slimy algae-covered support rod and pulled us up against the flotation barrels. Now what? There were no ladders and the water-heavy package was hard enough to keep up out of the water, let alone lift it up on the deck. While I considered this, a backlit head drifted over the edge and looked down on me.