Virginia had stopped mentioning it, but Cash knew she would respect him a lot more if he earned money, instead of spending it. Most of it was his own money, to be sure, but Virginia was old-fashioned that way. She believed in tired old male stereotypes, Cash thought, even though she declared herself a feminist.
So he decided to start a luxury private cruise business. He was good at boats, as long as they were crewed, good at luxury, and liked cruising. What could go wrong?
He wished with all his heart that his friend, Marcus, was not in prison for trying to murder his wife, Cash’s sister, because Marcus would be very good at organizing something like this, and would be a lot of fun to work with too. But no, Marcus was despicable, right? Almost killing Cash’s sister in a fire that he set. He claimed innocence, but no one believed him. Cash wanted to believe him, but then, he was Marcus. Marcus always had a thing about limits.
The very first cruise set sail on a brilliantly sunny, still morning, in Cash’s father’s 76 foot Alpha Express, with crew (cook and two boat hands) and eight guests. Cash knew most of the guests, and had given everyone a discount rate for this, the first official luxury charter cruise of the “Lily Pad”.
When the trouble started, Cash thought, “What would Marcus do?” and promptly fired a boat hand for stealing drinks, flirting with Mr Jessop’s girlfriend, and stealing tissue-wrapped luxury soaps from the women’s washroom. Firing someone at sea is rarely a good move. The other boat hand withdrew his services in protest, and since he had also been drinking heavily. Cash regretted not hiring his father’s usual crew. These guys were friends of friends, and agreed to a cut in pay for the maiden voyage. Would he still have to pay them? What would Marcus do?
Then Mr Jessop’s girlfriend went a shade of green and broke out in hives. The cook had forgotten she was allergic to shellfish. Cash fired the cook. They would need to return to port immediately.
Most of the guests, cocktails in hand, departed the “Lily Pad” without negative comments. Mr Jessop was livid, however, and demanded not only a comped cruise but a voucher for future cruises. Cash wondered: if the experience was so bad, why would he want another one? But he hand-wrote a voucher anyway, planning to never honour it as he couldn’t see himself continuing in this line of work without a partner.
Mr Jessop’s girlfriend was a woman named Diane Crosby. She was a college student, studying law, who lost her scholarship, and so was accompanying men like Mr Jessop on luxury cruises and what-not. She was used to people forgetting her name, or asking her to put her bikini on, or standing far too close, or ignoring her completely. She was almost relieved about the food poisoning, although it was the sickest she had ever been. She really, really did not like Mr Jessop, nor any of his friends, and certainly not that young asshole who was in everyone’s face, pushing drinks.
A hospital bed and an IV seemed preferable, to Diane Crosby.