Randy White: Everglades

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Randy White Everglades
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    Everglades
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Everglades: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Everglades

Randy Wayne White

Hope could not exist if man were created by a random, chemical accident. Pleasure, yes. Desire, yes. But not hope. Selfless hope is contrary to the dynamics of evolution or the necessities of a species.

- S. E. TOMLINSON “One Fathom Above Sea Level”

I have always thought there might be a lot of cash in starting a religion.

- GEORGE ORWELL, 1938

My letter of yesterday will inform you of the departure of Tecumseh. There can be no doubt his object is to excite the southern Indians to war. [These] include the Seminole of Florida.

The implicit obedience and respect which the followers of Tecumseh pay is astonishing. He is one of those uncommon geniuses which spring up occasionally to produce revolutions, and overturn the established order of things. If it were not for the vicinity of the United States, he would, perhaps, be the founder of an empire that would rival in glory Mexico or Peru. No difficulties deter him.

- Governor of the indiana territory, later U.S.President, William Henry Harrison, on the Shawnee leader, Tecumseh, who accurately prophesied the New Madrid, Missouri, earthquakes of 1811

chapter one

Izzy

Izzy Kline said to Shiva, “Today, she hopped in her Beamer and drove across the Everglades to Sanibel Island. She’s got a couple of friends there, so it could be she’s looking for help: a marine biologist named Ford, and someone whose name you might recognize.”

Shiva was wearing sandals and a Seminole medicine jacket, rag-patched, rainbow reds, greens, yellows, belted around his waist like a bathrobe. Shiva’s hair was cut Shawnee style: a fifty-six-year-old male, born to a Canadian mother in Bombay, India-indifferent to the irony.

He was standing in a bedroom that was larger than some of the West Palm Beach homes he could see across the Intracoastal canal through the western window of his beach compound.

In the bedroom was a Buddha-shaped bed with canopy, a gymnasium with sauna, a meditation corner, an office with computers and security monitors. The place was done in white tile and teak, all decorations in gold except for several wooden figurines on the walls. There was a carving of an impressionistic cat, several masks with horrific faces and two rare Seminole totemic masks.

The carvings had been added within the last two years.

Shiva said to Izzy, “I haven’t seen or talked to you in a month. So why do you show up now, bothering me with this garbage?”

“It seemed important. She doesn’t believe her husband’s dead. I already told you.”

“You’ve been working for me for-what?-ten, twelve years. You know I hate details-as if I have the time. I don’t care about this woman.”

“Details-Jesus Christ, are you kidding? If she finds out the truth about what happened to Geoff Minster, say good-bye to your casinos and your development. Three tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, explosives grade. Does that ring a bell? It’s my nuts in the wringer.”

Shiva looked impatiently at the Cartier watch he wore on his left wrist. “You need to leave. I have a massage scheduled in a few minutes. There’s a new girl among the disciples-with a nice body for a change. I don’t want you interrupting.”

Izzy Kline: Lean, gaunt-cheeked, with a scar below his right eye, dimples and a dimpled chin-a ladies’ man. Ex-Israeli Army, he’d trained with the Mossad, chosen to leave his adopted country rather than face morals charges, returned to America and been hired as security manager by a controversial religious leader, Bhagwan Shiva, founder of the International Church of Ashram Meditation, Inc.

Strictly business.

Shiva had established his first church west of Miami Lakes, the palmetto country between Okeechobee Road and Opa Locka, edge of the Everglades. This was back before he’d changed his name from Jerry Singh. He’d started with forty-some disciples, mostly dropouts and runaways who’d craved the discipline, and liked wearing robes and growing their own food.

When he’d had cash, he’d bought land. He’d bought a lot of it west of Miami. Cheap swampland.

Eighteen years later, Shiva now had a quarter million followers worldwide, and one hundred twenty Church of Ashram Centers, mostly in the U.S., Great Britain and Europe, though the numbers were declining. In the last five years, his organization had been crippled by lawsuits, IRS investigations and aggressive TV, magazine and newspaper exposes.

He’d been described as the “wizard of religion” because of elaborate miracles staged before thousands. He’d been called the “rich man’s prophet,” and an incarnate “sex guru.”

Kline didn’t believe Shiva was an incarnate anything; he knew him too well to fall for his holy man act. Izzy was the only person in the organization who spoke frankly to Shiva. As a result, he was the only man Shiva could be open with, behave naturally around-and who also scared him a little.

Izzy knew everything.

Shiva sighed and said, “Okay, okay, so why should we be worried about her two friends on some island? Where’d you say she went?”

Izzy said, “She sent her cousin an e-mail, said she’s driving to Sanibel today.”

“An e-mail. You have access to her computer? Or did you break into her house?”

Izzy had broken into her house. Several times; twice in the last week. He enjoyed going through her drawers. He’d found a couple of fun items hidden away. But he said, “No. I hacked her password. The one friend she’s going to see, I think you’ve probably heard about. Which’s why I’m telling you. A guy named Sighurdhr Tomlinson. Or Sea-guard, I’m not sure how you pronounce it.”

“Sighurdhr Tomlinson,” Shiva said, considering it, but not giving it his full attention. “The name sounds familiar.”

“Remember Miami River, the archaeological site where you tried to build the condo complex? That group of protesters who futzed it? Eco-freaks, all the shitty PR they caused. How many millions’d we lose on that one?”

Shiva was nodding now. “Okay, yes, I know who you mean. He was with the protestors, one of the leaders. I remember one of my advisors telling me- not you-that he was a kook. Like most of them. A heavy drug user. That’s the information I got.”

Izzy said, “Really? That’s all? There’s more. You know me, I’m a fanatic when it comes to background checks.”

Shiva said, “I don’t think I’m interested.”

Izzy said, “I think you should be.”

“Why? I don’t see the point.”

“Because what I found out about this guy is kind of interesting. For instance: Fifteen, twenty years ago, he was implicated in a terrorist bombing at a U.S. naval base. Killed a couple of people.”

That got Shiva’s attention. “ Really. A bombing. Hum-m-m-m.” Thinking about it, how the information could be used.

“Yeah, but he skated. The feds didn’t nail ’im. I’m not sure why yet. I’m still working on that. There had to be a reason. ”

“But there’s a record?”

“Not official, but it’s there if you dig deep enough.”

“Is there anything for him to find out about Geoff?”

“Maybe. I don’t know if the guy was being straight with us or not. It’s possible he hid away some papers. Or maybe he had a secret friend. Who knows? What I’m saying is, we’re both screwed if his wife figures out what really happened.”

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