I got a call a week or so ago from Tim O'Hara, about an article he was writing for the Key West Citizen. I first met Tim two years ago, when he drove myself and Robert Silk around Key West, discussing historic sites and colorful historic events. At the time I was in the process of writing "Companion Episode 2 - Cooking The Books."
The article that prompted his call related to the island of Wisteria, a short boat ride from Key West, and the still-lingering controversy surrounding Bernie Papy's shady attempts to purchase the island in the 1950's.
I enjoyed chatting with Tim, and we agreed that digging around in the life of Bernie Papy never fails to amaze, amuse, and confuse.
Tim, of course, has to report news, something I have utmost respect for. I openly embrace the fact that I get to fictionalize an already fascinating story.
The three Key West Companion Episodes (each just 50-ish pages long) were originally published by Greg Banks at Wheelman Press as kindle-only novellas. I always saw them as coming together as a full second book, and in a few weeks, they will finallly be published together in one volume.
Below is an excerpt from that second episode, relating to the 'purchase' that is still making news. The fact that these events are still relevant, still alive and lingering in today's news, just brings home for me how enjoyable it has been to write this series:
Papy opened the door to his hotel suite, still wearing his pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers.
“Come in, Frank,” he said.
Frank Lester entered and shook hands with Papy. Papy put his arm around Frank Lester’s shoulder and patted him on the back.
“How have you been?”
“Wonderful, wonderful,” Lester said, in that business-speak that hides the truth as deeply as possible.
“So good to see you again.”
“When you called I was delighted to hear from you.”
“How are the wife and kids?”
“Wonderful. Couldn’t be happier.”
“Great. That’s great. Oh, forgive my appearance,” Papy said.” Not exactly business attire.”
“No, no,” Lester said, sinking into a plush sofa. “It’s your castle, Papy. When in Rome, and all that.”
Papy set two glasses on the small table between them, and poured bourbon into each glass. He offered Lester the bourbon and said, “Thanks for coming.”
“Not at all, not at all. The pleasure’s mine.”
“Well,” Papy said, sinking into an arm chair opposite Lester. “Let’s get down to business, shall we.”
“Let’s,” said Lester. “What’s cooking?”
“Wisteria,” Papy said.
Frank Lester looked at him questioningly.
Wisteria Island sits across from Key West, a small island, reachable only by a short boat ride.
“Doesn’t the navy own Wisteria?” Lester asked. “Don’t they dump their garbage on it?”
Papy smiled. “I’ll take care of the property deed. The navy doesn’t necessarily own it.”
“How are you going to pull this off, Papy?”
“Don’t worry about that,” Papy said confidently. “Let’s skip ahead to your part of this.”
“What’s my part?” Lester was beginning to feel a bit concerned.
“The part where you make money hand over fist,” Papy said.
“What do you have up your sleeve?” asked Lester.
“I’m already having Davis draw up the papers. By a few weeks from now, I’ll own Wisteria Island. Just trust me on this. Then we clean up the navy’s garbage, and begin building a top class resort.”
Lester thought for a moment. “I do like the idea,” he said. “I suppose my only concern is – “
“Let me handle the details,” Papy interrupted. “If you like the idea of building the best damn resort, on a beautiful little island a five minute boat ride from Key West, running the whole operation in-house, making all that money without breaking a sweat, if that sounds good to you, then let’s just agree in principle and sign the papers in a few weeks.”
“You’re a hard man to resist, Papy.”
“Then don’t resist.” Papy smiled broadly.
Frank Lester smiled back. There was a note of uncertainty in his smile. He raised his glass toward Papy.
“To cooking the books!” Papy said.
“To cooking the books,” Lester echoed.
Note: be sure to check out "Key West Special Edition" now available for Kindle. The paperbacks of both books will be available very soon.
April 15, 2015