A couple of guys from the 70s named Kansas and Will trucking down from my birthplace of Saint Pete started the story of Michael Reisig’s Caribbean Adventure Novel: The Road to Key West.
Yawn, was this water babies, certified PADI diver’s initial reaction.
How typical for two souls in search of themselves heading to the southernmost point in the United States to live in a VW Van and discover a passion for diving?
We lived in Speedos and flip-flops, and when we wore out our rubber sandals, we went barefoot until our feet grew so calloused that the punishing rock could no longer draw our attention.
The new life of hardened souls is the exact allure to the Parrotheads who will flock to the island from all corners of the mainland this weekend to take in the tunes and lifestyle of Jimmy Buffet. These followers will “phlock” to the island from the positions as college professors, morning news anchors, law offices, and high-profile positions within their community to envision, oh yes… Speedos instead of snowshoes, and dreams of finding treasure at the bottom of our reef system.
… in seconds we were burrowing under it like two lunatic sand eels. It was obvious the coral had grown around something. It had deteriorated before being encrusted, but there was some shape left, and when I hammered the gnarled growth with the handle of my net I uncovered the rusted remnants of what might have been metal bindings and hinges – a small chest.
Reisig, who lived in the Keys for twenty years, entertains with a wild imagination of the culture, which draws global visitors ear-round, for the experience cannot be captured elsewhere. Treasure is found, pirates find Kansas and Will, one that happens to be a cross-dresser! Throw in a woman by the name of Banyan who plays them both, then leaves them both for a conga player named Reginald Damascus, and a bank robber named Sergio you have cocktail conversation which will stir the pot at the most dull dinner party you can imagine yourself in the midst of.
Just this week, I found myself in the midst of a not-so-dull Monroe County Republicans party at the Hogfish and was just on the verge of dishing to our own, Assistant State Prosecutor Manny Madruga, about the dirty deeds and details of Reisig’s fictional drug-dealin’ pimp attorney who had fled to Miami.
“Manny, I’m reading this book. There’s an attorney, Justin Mames. He’s really a drug-dealin’ pimp who steals a magnificent golden pyramid while en route to the Peruvian National Museum. A couple of crazy fish collectors who live in a trailer in the Lower Keys are trying to steal it back. They find him at the airport having a drink with one of his bodyguards waiting for his delivery. Kansas, with his buddy who should have been an actor instead, sneaks behind the bar and distracts his nemesis.”
“Wow. You’re Justin Mames. The famous attorney, aren’t you?”
Mames liked that – brought him right around. He nodded, a small smile of ego escaping.
“Man, I’ve always like your style,” I continued earnestly. You’re your own man. Nobody sets rules for you. I think you’d have been a great mayor for Key West.”
Kansas buys him and his bodyguard a drink while Will fakes choking to distract them and the other patrons long enough for Kansas to add crushed sleeping pills into the shots of Bacardi Dark. The duo make off with pyramid with documents from the Tortuga Enterprises, only to alert a KWPD detective, who turns out… to be playing with the bad guys.
Find out what happens next when Mames, the detective, and Kansas have a confrontation on White Street Pier with the pyramid in between!
This book is the perfect pairing to nurse the damage done the night before under a cabana on the beach. Do not, as I advise with any Keys’ book, attempt to read surrounded by pine trees and dreary skies and people who don’t know how to order anything other than a Bud Light! Diving into the pages will have any novice wanting to dive for treasure, mingle amongst the cross-dressers, and set themselves and their friends up for adventure after adventure all the while creating love triangles, nemesis, and friends along the way.
It’s the characters of your life that make the stories you remember, and the very best you can hope for, is to be one of those characters.