Cheap At Any Price
Bev Vines-Haines
Lester Granite restored things.   Lives, marriages, families, careers, and he was darn good at it.  So his ads said.  So he paid the people to say who still gave out advice and financial help to Port Au Prince earthquake survivors. 

The earthquake, yes it was bad.  He had to admit that.  He just happened to snag the silver lining as people struggled to make it to the US Mainland or other locations, people who simply didn't have the heart or stamina to wait out a national recovery.

And how, really, does one put a fair price on hope and recovery?  What's too much?  In Lester's mind (and wallet) if the desired results were obtained there was no harm and no foul.  He had a few connections in Florida that turned out to be 'perfect time and perfect place' appointments.

His brother, Hugo, and another fellow by the name of Antoine, procured a couple of boats for running 'packages' around the Caribbean.  Too often they'd been intercepted and delayed by over suspicious drug agents.  Shifting their cargo to humans seemed to dramatically cut down on government interference. 

He began to see himself as a dream maker, a miracle man, the one and only person who could charm hope back into existence.   He knew there were a few naysayers who challenged his costs, his magic.  And yes, due to the overwhelming demand for quick, safe and occasionally undocumented passage, his boats would ride a little full.  Still, for the bargain contract of just $4500, one individual could shorten the wait time and other legalities and land safely on the Florida coast, in Cuba or several other possible destinations.  Going further?  South America?  Mexico?

Lester could arrange it all.  Take the base ticket from Miami to Cartagena, add his standard 50% upcharge and the world opened for everyone.  He'd moved more than a few doctors and teachers to other locations, places where jobs and pay were a bit more stable.

And families.  Everyone deserved a fresh start, an unbroken home, a life without chaos.  He transported children for just $4000 if the entire family bought passage.   There had been an unfortunate loss once or twice.  People can panic when they get claustrophobic.  His contract clearly warned of close quarters and possible stress.  It always amazed him how drug companies could caution of endless dire consequences but the arbiters of travel found that insufficient in his line of work.

He found ways to stay out of sight, duck beneath  the radar, and keep things running smoothly. Life could be harsh.  Whether it was Mother Nature or the do-gooders who ran around 'fixing' things, the world needed miracle men like Lester.

First published: May, 2012
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