Artie Mondello, an eighteen year old, six foot one male, grinned down at the sleeping form of his years younger, several inch shorter, bandmate, Dennie. Artie reached down and and took hold of the quilt which lay just above Dennie's bare feet and covered him to his neck. His grin grew wider as he pulled the quilt off of the sleeping youth.
The early morning chill sent an immediate shiver to Dennie's system and his deep blue eyes flew open. "Give it back!" Dennie demanded, reaching for the quilt in Artie's hands.
"Uh-uh," Artie replied, shaking his head and causing a lock of blond hair to fall over one eye as he stepped out of Dennie's reach. "Our plane leaves in six hours and we have a long trip to the airport," Artie stated. "Get up and get ready. Dad wants us to leave in less than three hours."
"Three hours!" Dennie repeated, pushing his tousled brown hair out of his eyes so he could glare at his bandmate. "I can sleep at least another hour."
"Don't you want to go for a last walk around the place?" Artie asked, his green eyes twinkling because he already knew the answer.
"An hour's sleep versus a walk in sandy woods in a place with no entertainment, no traffic laws, no other tourists, and no one who can speak English except our hosts," Dennie debated, his voice laced with heavy sarcasm. "Hard decision but, well, set the clock," Dennie ended, sitting up far enough to snatch back his quilt.
Dennie lay back down and curled up, covering himself from head to foot with his quilt. Artie shook his head, set the alarm for his bandmate and left the room. He exited the house through the kitchen, hearing the morning stirrings of their hosts as they prepared for the day.
Outside, Artie inhaled deeply of the fresh morning air. He understood why Dennie had disliked the location their father had chosen for their annual family vacation. It was a remote small village, hours away from the town where they had arrived. The people here spoke only Haitian Creole, so communication was all but impossible for Dennie. Artie, who had taken two years of French in high school, could make out some of the words, but not enough to hold a conversation.
There was no public transport and driving anywhere was a major risk as there were no traffic laws. But then, as Dennie had pointed out when they had arrived, what did you expect from a place where a driver's license was given to anyone who could afford one?
Artie knew why his father had accepted the invitation of Dr. Duvalier, an old college friend, to stay at his plantation for two weeks. His father, a former member of the NYPD and currently the most sought after private investigator in the world, had been working almost non-stop for the past year. Even Artie and Dennie, detectives in their own right, had been unable to take a vacation for the past year without getting involved in another case.
Here, so far removed from civilization, all the Mondellos could relax with out fear of being drawn into a new investigation. The past two weeks had been quiet and peaceful. Even the drumming which had kept the boys awake their first night at the plantation had become common place and was no longer an interruption to the tranquility.
Artie decided to stroll down to where the sandy terrain gave way to rocky incline. The island, for the most part, was a pitiful sight. Soil erosion was evident everywhere and the once forested island was close to being a desert. But the Duvalier plantation was still flush with vegetation.
Artie smiled, his thoughts on a certain blond-headed, green-eyed girl as he made his way along the path. For the past two years Artie had been "dating" seventeen year old Callie Shaw. He was looking forward to "seeing" her again. If only she could have come along this vacation would have been perfect. Unlike Dennie, who enjoyed going to parties, movies and sporting events, Artie preferred the quiet life. A roaring fire, a good book or a friend to talk to and he was perfectly happy. He didn't enjoy being alone but he never had cared for large crowds.
Artie stood still and watched as the sun began to rise above the small mountain in front of him. He was going to miss this place. If only he could stay for a few more weeks, he would be more than happy to go home. He just wasn't ready to give up the comradery he had established with his surroundings.
Artie reached the base of the mountain then moved along the path to take another route back. Dennie would be waking soon and breakfast would be waiting. Reluctanly, he started back.
Halfway to the main house, Artie heard three male voices in what seemed to be a heated argument. Since the speech was so fast, Artie could understand nothing of what was being said, but he thought it prudent to take a look and make sure the argument, if that was indeed what was occurring, did not get out of hand.
As Artie neared the threesome, his foot came down on a twig which snapped and alerted the three to his presence. "Je regrette," Artie said, attempting to apologize for the intrusion.
The three men stared at Artie, the one man on the right with straight black hair and a thick mustache, growling, "S'en aller."
Artie gave the three men an apologetic grin and backed off. Obviously, he had been mistaken about the argumentive nature of the conversation.