Going Down with the Ship
By Eric Douglas
As soon as Andrea Perez and Jackson Pauley arrived back at the dock, Andrea took off again, heading straight for city hall. They had just discovered that the planned location for the new artificial reef, the USS Destroyer Beauregard, was not a barren patch of sand after all, but actually a living carpet of coral reef. She wanted answers.
She now knew for sure that something was going on with the artificial reef project and the preparations for the sinking. There was no reason to sink the ship right there when there were plenty of other places where it could go. Someone was either asleep at the wheel or up to no good.
Andrea’s car nearly slid to a stop in front of city hall, where she jumped out and barged into the city offices. She hadn’t stopped to change or shower. She was in a t-shirt and shorts, with her long raven-black hair tucked up under a ball cap. Andrea was looking for Glenn Downing, the man who was organizing the project to sink the ship.
Andrea didn’t even bother to speak to the receptionist at the front desk. Instead, she slipped past the counter and headed straight for Downing’s office. The middle-aged woman attempted to stop her, but wasn’t successful.
“Mr. Downing. We need to talk. I was just diving on the site where you are planning to sink the ship. Have you even been out there?” she shouted. “It’s a complete coral reef. It isn’t in the greatest shape, but it’s a reef.”
“Who do you think you are barging in here like this?” Downing reacted, ignoring her shouted question. “You have no right to come in here like this. Get out of here. Mrs. Charles, call the police,” Downing said looking past Andrea to the receptionist. Downing wasn’t physically intimidated by the petite Latina so he didn’t pay attention to what she was saying. A decision he would eventually come to regret.
“Mr. Downing, you can call the police if you want. I’m sure they’ll want to talk to you when I explain to them that you’re breaking a series of federal environmental laws with what you’re planning to do,” Andrea said as she stood toe-to-toe with the larger man. Federal and state laws protect most of the reefs around the Florida Keys in one way or another. If nothing else were deemed applicable, Andrea was willing to see him charged with littering to the largest degree for dropping a ship directly on top of a reef.
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Downing replied, attempting to back-pedal a bit. “You must’ve gone to the wrong place. We aren’t planning to sink the Beauregard on top of a reef. You’re obviously mistaken.”
“I’m not mistaken. I’m very confident of what I saw,” Andrea retorted.
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