Key West author Reef Perkins shares more of his hilarious book,
(Click here for previous chapter)
A 1952, twin-engine Lockheed Lodestar, originally designed to shuttle orphaned moose for the Canadian Park Service, crossed the Colombian mountain range at 14,000 feet and descended rapidly. Mama’s Rose was painted in hooker red on the nose cone, just above a rack of commemorative moose antlers. Mama all but flapped her wings to stay aloft in the thick jungle air.
If the navigator could not find the landing field in fifteen minutes, Mama‘s Rose would run out of fuel and make smoking hole somewhere near Rioacha, on the north coast of Colombia, South America.
Four months earlier, in 1978, I, Roof Durkin, the navigator, traveled to Cali, Colombia using a passport that identified me as Perry Thrust, occupation, palm weaver. The Colombian customs officer, at the Alfonso Bonita Aragon terminal, paused when I handed him my fraudulent documents. His dark eyes traveled side to side in sinister fashion. I held most of my cool. Suddenly the official reached up and…slapped the side of his face. He’d been waiting for a dengue-laden mosquito to land. I exhaled at both ends. I was in the Third World now, but who’s counting.
After a night of Mucho mas Mucho in the shadowy parts of Cali and twenty-four hours without sleep, I approached an old Cessna 172 high wing airplane at the Cali airport and noticed colorful native flowers painted around bullet holes in the fuselage. The pilot was already in his seat, asleep. Capitano Mello was etched into his faded, plastic gold badge. I reached through the pilot’s window, shook Mello awake, introduced myself and climbed into the rear seat hoping to catch a few Z’s of my own. It had been a good night on the town. I looked for a seat belt while Mello waved his middle finger at the control tower. We taxied, took off and flew eastward to recon a proposed landing strip for an upcoming mission.
Shortly after takeoff, I gave up looking for the seat belt and noticed there was no glass in the passenger windows. “Mello, where are los freaking windows?” I yelled into the bug filled breeze. Mello turned in his seat, “No esta aqui?” They are not here? He pulled his headset off and threw both hands up in the air to demonstrate that he was as surprised and concerned as I.
We went into a steep nosedive. “Goddammit Mello!” I burped. Mello grinned sheepishly and managed to point ahead, toward the cockpit ceiling in this case, while he regained control of the plunging aircraft. “Dee lake, she eez one- hundred- sixty kilo-meters deez way. “ he said. “Eet will be looking like El Corazon, Senor Roof.”
My dad nicknamed me Roof because I had a bad case of shingles when I was young and he was hung-over. But, I’ve covered so many people’s asses sometimes I feel like a roof.
“Corazon? A heart!” I translated.
“Si, Senor Roof, El Corazon.” Capitano Mello thumped his chest in the passionate Latin manner. The gesture made him cough violently and we dropped into another uncalled for negative 2-G nosedive.
Mello calmly grabbed an almost weightless film canister, snorted a powdery mixture and quickly regained control of the plunging aircraft, for the second time in less than five-minutes. I pushed my stomach back down my throat and took a tactical nap.
One hour out of Cali, Mello poked me awake. We circled the landing strip and, indeed, a heart shaped lake helped identify the spot. I took a back bearing towards Cali, checked our speed and started my stopwatch when Mello pulled another unannounced negative 2-G nosedive to impress me. I leaned out my window hole and puked up last night’s Hora Contento. “No having dee windows eez good to be making dee pukings, sí, no, eh?” Mello noted with professional understanding. He casually pointed at a jar labeled Teeps. I stuffed a twenty into the fucking Teep jar and the 2- G’s stopped.
Two turns around the dirt field strip and we headed back toward Cali for today’s Hora Contento, Happy Hour. I was queasy and took another tac-nap.
An hour later we landed in Cali. I was finished puking, but wouldn’t forget the lake, shaped like a heart. No one said anything about other lakes.
After my aerial upchuck I was dangerously close to sobriety and decided it was time to begin, again, night games in a sinister city. It was time for a journey… a journey to the other side of sunrise.
Five months after my recon flight I met up with Tony, the pilot. We shuttled Mama’s Rose from Oklahoma to Fort Lauderdale for an overhaul and upgrade. Two weeks of rum and cokes later, modifications were complete.
Tony, a hawkish rogue with an angular grin and I, Roof Durkin, an angular rogue with a hawkish grin, headed south toward El Corazon aboard Mama’s Rose.
We departed Fort Lauderdale International Airport, winged for a touch-and-go in Bimini, turned south and flew across Cuba and the Caribbean toward the north coast of Colombia. By the time they scrambled jets in Cuba, if they did, we were over Grand Cayman.
“Tony, I hope you remembered to turn the wing tank valves on. Over.” I said into the headset microphone.
“Wing tanks? Ah, I think so. Ah, Over.”
We crossed the Colombian coastline and climbed to 14,000 feet to clear the lower mountaintops. With no high altitude oxygen system onboard the air was dryer than a popcorn fart. Our lips split and started to bleed. It was hard to breathe, even harder to smoke. The soft-white mountain clouds looked like a co-ed pillow fight from above. Cold nipples of stone poked through the feathery billows below.
“Shit!” Tony said for the hundredth time.
Tony continued to display a limited vocabulary during our trans-Caribbean flight. “Why didn’t you mention the fucking mountains, Roof? …Shit!” He said it again, spattering blood on the windscreen. “Over,” he gagged.
“You’re the pilot. Over.”
I silently confessed to slackness and turned my headset volume down to muffle Tony’s crass exclamations and painful observations.
Soon, the grim Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains fell behind. We descended to three-hundred feet over scrubby terrain and flew the NOE (nap of the earth) in case the army decided to set up its only working, steam powered, radar unit. I was excited but, according to Tony, “…too stoned to know which way is up.” Unquote.
I knew which way was up. “Hey, Home-Fry, when you’re going down, UP is hard to miss! Over.”
“Home Fry? Good point, though, Over.” Tony glanced at the fuel gauges, “Shit!”
I chuckled at his painful lack of imagination and tried to eyeball a safe place to put Mama down. We’d have to hike out of the jungle, if we survived the landing.
“I gotta get Mama on the flat, Roof, before she digs her own grave. Tally ho, Muthafuka!” Tony looked at me,” Get ready to die, Roof. ”
“How? …Over.” I snorteled.
The cockpit intercom hackled. Tony pressed the transmit button, “Not everything is funny, you know. Over.”
“I know. Over” My chest constricted with laughter.
“Well, if you know, then why do you think everything is so fucking funny? Over.”
“I don’t know. Funny makes me laugh. That’s why I don’t read the Bible. Over.”
“What? Why not? Over.”
“It’s not funny. Over.”
“You know, floods and famine and hell and harking angels. And all that guilt shit really kills the buzz. Bums me, man. That kind of shit is-not-funny. Period. Over.”
“You’re kidding me, right? And what’s so funny about crashing into the jungle and dying? Over.”
“Nothing, but since we haven’t crashed and died yet, it seems funny talking about it and exactly how do you, quote, ‘ Get-ready-to-die?’ You’re funny as a fart in a deep-sea suit. Over.” My belly hurt.
“Jesus, I’ll be glad when this trip is over. Over.”
“You’re breaking up…reducing squelch level… say again last transmission. Over.”
“Shut the fuck up. Over.”
“Say again last …”
Yes, the reconnaissance flight seemed a little blurry at this point in time and Tony was a funny guy but he started to get on my nerves. However, being the navigator, it was my job to find the lake and “do windows.” Since I couldn’t find the lake, I decided to clean the blood-spattered windscreen. A few energetic swipes with an old snot rag dipped in Mount Gay rum and …SHIT! There in front of us was the heart- shaped lake, El Lago de Corazon. There is a god! I checked the compass bearing and VORTAC signal. The Cali radio beacon was directly on the reciprocal course!
“Hoo Boy! Over!” I crackled over the intercom.
“Who’s Roy? Over?”
“That’s it! Over.” I pointed and jammed my finger into the windscreen.
“What shit? Over?”
“The Lake! Over.” My finger throbbed.
Tony ripped his rotted leather headset off and looked at me, one foot away, in the co-pilots seat, “What fucking cake?”
I pulled my equally rotted headset off and stuffed my throbbing finger into my armpit. With clenched teeth and my good hand, I wiped Tony’s bloody lip spatter from my new Ray-Ban, gold frame, real aviator sunglasses. “Look down Man! It’s the damn lake. OO-Fucking-Verrrrr!” Instinctively I pointed at the lake and jammed my finger again. “Dammit! Over.”
“You don’t have to say “Over” when we are talking face to face you fucking idi–” Tony mumbled …”Oh! The lake …the lake! It looks like a Rorschach test to me, reminds me of a puss … “
“A roach test?” I asked. “Over.”
“Never mind … Let’s do it Roof, we’re running on vapors!” We shook hands.
“OUCH! Let’s do it … TO IT, TONY! Over.”
We put our headsets back on.
I butted out a spliff and burnt a hole in my new cargo pants. The smoldering canvas smelled bad and I hurt myself trying to put the ember out. It was a bad sign; I’d made my own, “Smoking hole.” I cracked the co-pilots window. The visibility improved quickly but the draft sucked the rolling papers and air chart out the opening.
There was, however, one problem in advance of all others. On our down-wind approach we spotted a dozen cows grazing on the dung-spattered landing strip.
“Cows. Over” Tony reported.
“Roger on the cows. Over.” I crackled.
“Bull shit!” Tony used a different word! It broke the monotony; it was time for fun.
“Probably some cow shit too. Over.” I replied with razor sharp wit and took advantage of his good mood by firing off a few pre-death jokes.
Tony ignored me. With a set of balls a professional bowler would admire and only three-hundred feet of hot air between us and South American dirt, Tony snap-rolled Mama’s Rose onto her port wing. “We’re going in!” We were light and low on fuel. Tony buzzed the scrawny cows close enough for us to see flies swarming around their boney butts.
“You forgot to say Over. Over.” I noted.
All external noise faded as we angled, ass-first, toward the terra firma. On our next downwind pass Tony reached between his legs.
“Not now, Tony! Let go of that thing. It’ll grow. Over.” I quipped, knowing it would probably be my last good joke. Tony ignored me, again, grabbed a fuel valve and dumped gas out of the port wing tank. Then he grabbed a flare, lit it and tossed it out his window at the end of the run. The cattle hobbled out of the clearing and the dry grass didn’t stand long under the fast flames. The smoke gave good ground wind direction and cleared quickly. Plus, as Tony pointed out, “Less fuel onboard and a non-flammable landing strip will improve our chances of surviving…Roof…Maybe… Over.”
From three-hundred feet the field looked like a giant cookie sheet, speckled with smoking dobs of half-baked brownie dough. The fire sputtered-out near the succulent jungle foliage. We turned into the wind for final approach. With another unnerving snap roll Tony leveled out, “Full Throttle! Full Flaps! We’re going in! Fuck, Roof! Reminds me of Nam, Man!” He laughed through bloody lips.
“Yeah, Tony, me too but, enough with the snap rolls, Okay?” I adjusted my lopsided Ray Bans and tightened my harness.
In a bloody mist of vocal prayer we turned final approach, clenched our clenchables and augured into the fertile pasture. It didn’t take long to realize we were alive and intact, but the cockpit harbored an undisclosed and unpleasant odor. I stared at the smoking cow patties surrounding us then, suspiciously, at Tony.
“What a landing! Hot shit! “Tony grinned and pointed proudly at his chest with his thumb.
“Yeah, you bet it is. And you forgot to say over. Over.”
“It’s OVER, you fucking idiot!” Tony yelled. “Take that damn headset off, Roof!”
“I’m not going to do it, man! I’m not, I mean it. Goddamit Roof … OK, Over. There, are you happy? … ah shit … OVER.”
“Roger, out.” I pulled my headset off, fingered my ears and climbed out of the cockpit. “Well, okay, here we are.”
Tony’s face was beet red. Must be altitude sickness.
“Really? Roof, the Fucking Genius.”
“Do I detect a less than positive attitude, a neh-ga-teeve note of cynicism, man? Come on Tony, we made it, lighten up. Over. Just kidding, just kidding.”
Years ago Tony worked effectively for Brother Louv and the Zion Coptic church and was, in my opinion, still spiritually inclined. Being alive appeared to add to his immediate devotion and I took advantage of his weakness. “Positive vibration, ooowee … pos-ee-teeve,” I droned in my best Bob Marley and made a few dread reggae moves.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, Roof, we made it. Now all we got to do is get back. Cake- fucking-walk.”
“Yep, you got that altogether, Tone. Let’s check out the bush, man.”
“Jesus, I’ll be glad when this trip is over, I mean-really over,” Tony mumbled.
I reached into my backpack, grabbed a snub .38 and put it in my pocket. I never go dancing in the bush without a partner.
We clambered across the smoking earth, playing hopscotch on smoldering cow turds. It was fun. It was getting dark. I wished I had not worn flip-flops. Natives were nearby. I could hear Jimmy Hendrix on a distant boom-box.
Curious eyeballs hunted our jerky progress. We approached a crude Tiki hut. A single dangling fly strip was full and unmoving. Hundreds of tiny legs flailed helplessly. Attorney flies circled, trying to eat each other while consoling the doomed. A cow mooed at a monkey and a small jungle dweller slipped out of the bush. He wore a paisley loincloth, his dick was stuffed into a Budweiser (ed. can I use this without doing time?) coolie cup and his bony left arm sported a crude tattoo, Cap Tony for Mayo…
“Are you from Key West?” I asked.
The native looked at his feet.
“Shut up Roof, let me handle this.” Tony pulled a blood-filled bug off his ear and ate it. It was a Nam’ thing.
”Mucho bugs, no, eh?” Tony said and spit out seven spindly, still moving legs, one at a time. He smiled at the groinally-festooned native and burped.
“Si senor, mucho bug. In espanol, dee bug is to be called ‘El bicho,” no, sí, eh?
“Si, mas mucho bugs esta aqui. Life’s a bicho, no?” Tony winked at me, cracked the bug’s shell with his incisor and continued with a grin, “Si, mas muchos bug esta aqui, sí, no, eh?“
The small brown native looked like a rusted garden gnome but stayed in the game. Even the diminutive dick-Bud knew better than to fuck with a bloody-lipped, white-assed, bug-eater.
After a few minutes, however, Tony started losing ground to the gnome. He picked his teeth with the last bug leg and remained locked in a mindless, but heated, debate with the four-foot Guajira Indian. The subject, “How many fucking bugs are on or in “El Mundo?” I stepped forward to cover Tony. He was not good with numbers.
“Buenos dias, senor” I charmed in.
“Buenos dias, deek-brain.”
That was uncalled for. “Hey, Tonto, if you’re thinking about fucking with me you might as well go over there, lay down, grab your coolie and die comfortably… save yourself a gringo ass-kicking…You com-fucking-prendo?” I said, to break the ice.
“Si, mucho bicho.” The jungle gnome turned to other natives milling about in the bush and made a mock face of fear. They covered their mouths and coughed politely. “You are El Picaro, no, sí, eh?” Coolie crotch asked.
I didn’t know what Picaro meant but assumed it was a compliment. How could I not impress a toothless, four-fucking-foot Indian in the bush?
“Si, EL-PICK-A-ROW. Ah, anyway, look, we’re here to establish a new trading route between your piece-of-shit truck, parked over there in the bush,” I pointed, “and our piece of shit plane parked over here in a pile of Cow Shit!” I swatted a bug big enough to make a Happy Meal and pointed at Mama’s Rose with my injured finger.
“Si, mucho bicho.” The Indian glanced hungrily at my swollen digit that looked too much like a Vienna sausage for my comfort.
“All right. It’s simple, its business, it’s American, it’s fun, it’s getting late, so let’s load this flying condom and wrap it up for the day.”
“Si, no problemo. Dark eez good for making dee crime, no, sí, eh?”
“Grassy-ass, amigo.” I gave the Indian my personal, autographed, Fong Dynasty, real woven bamboo Chinese finger trap as a token of our friendship. He put his finger in one end, his dick in the other and wandered into the jungle quite animated, amazed and unknowingly vulnerable. I winked at Tony. “White man’s medicine.” I explained.
“Fuck it. Over.” Tony swatted a bug and left it uneaten. He was miffed. We kicked the gnome’s abandoned coolie cup in awkward silence and shuffled back toward Mama’s Rose.
The Indians loaded the pungent burlap bales in less than an hour. I started to close the cargo door when a smoking truck pulled up and two-dozen chickens, compressed into four bamboo crates, were loaded on top of the cargo. “Deez pollo is for making dee good luck, sí, no, eh,” the chicken stacker advised and, either made the sign of the cross or, crudely scratched himself. He was short, it was hard to tell.
The peeping cluckers took up more space than they were worth and would be hard to cook in-flight. The first thing I’d have to do is hold them out the window by their feet just to get the fucking feathers off but, hopefully, the cargo they camouflaged would make them more palatable in the end.
It was getting dark. Tony and I knew we were in heavy air, over gross weight and could not make 14,000 feet. We would wait until daylight for fuel and good light to weave through the mountains and those hard body, co-ed clouds.
Back in the plane we pecked at some popcorn, drank water, scratched a spot on the floor and slept a troubled sleep. Fucking, clucking chickens.
Just before daylight an unwise rooster crowed.
Tony snap-rolled out of a deep sleep, reached into the rooster’s cage, grabbed the offending bird by the neck and milked a loose, but primo, Colombian bud down its gullet. Tony rolled over and went back to sleep. So did the rooster.
I woke up laughing but, within an hour, it was too hot to sleep or laugh. Not everything is funny, you know. We got up, poured some Mount Gay on a hundred bug bites and made ready for takeoff. Our fuel had arrived during the night. Tony and the Indians dumped sixty US Army surplus, five-gallon jerry jugs into the wing tanks. I poked a few cow turds off the nose gear and rolled a farewell, Adios, bye-bye spliff with a page from my fake passport. A few pokes, a few tokes, some warm Cokes and it was time to go.
Tony completed his normal pre-flight inspection that consisted of trying to do a chin-up on a wingtip. Back in the cockpit he hesitated then, reluctantly, put on his headset. “She looks good to me, Roof, let’s turn and burn.”
“Over, godammit!” Tony bellowed.
“It’s going to be tougher than petting a fish, but we CAN DO, man! Over”
“Stop yelling in the microphone. Over.”
My ‘Over’ was beat down by the sound of Mama’s ancient radial engines firing off. Fuel, smoke and toasted dung perfumed the low jungle air.
“That smells funny. Over.” I said.
“Not everything is funny, you know? Over.”
The engines droned and Tony waited…
“Hoo Hoo! OK, you got the Roofster, Mister T, hyphen, Bone … OVER.” We were having fun now!
Tony shook his head and pushed the throttles forward. He taxied Mama’s Rose onto the crisp dungway. There was no wind, not good; consequently it didn’t make any difference in which direction we took off. Mama’s Rose taxied to the end of the clearing. Tony spun her around and stood on the brakes. I punched the control levers, “Full pitch, full mix!” Tony hit the throttles. The old engines clattered like a bra strap in a dryer. Tony let off the brakes. Mama started to roll but even with her Lockheed heart she couldn’t get off the ground. Not having a choice made our next decision simple. Tony punched a brake and waltzed Mama around again. He kept Mama moving through the turn to keep our speed up. “Well, that didn’t work out too well, R-Bone, let’s try it again, going the other way. Over.”
I grabbed the control levers, “Should I toss those clucking chickens? Over.”
“Negative. Try to get them to flap their wings… you dumb fuck, Over.”
“Balls to the wall, baby to Mama, we’re coming in! Over.” I transmitted.
“Stop that shit, will you?”
With six levers at the stops, Mama’s Rose groaned like an old whore on a double shift. Tony let off the brakes, the RPM gauges redlined and we hurtled across the brown, pimpled face of the earth. With no runway remaining, Tony wrenched back on the steering column. Just as he yelled, “Flaps up, gear up!” we hit a palm tree and drove a frond through the nose cone. Luckily, the moose antlers absorbed most of the impact.
“That’s not good. Over.” Tony said.
“That’s bad, but not as bad as that. “ I pointed at the oil cooler outside Tony’s window. It was full of straw and fire-baked cow turds. So was mine.
“Musta stirred it up on the first pass. Over.” I said.
“No shit. Over. “
“Yes, shit. Over. “
“You’re a real suppository of information, man.” Tony shook his head. He must be having trouble clearing his ears I thought. The cockpit filled with a stomach-turning stench as the cow turds burnt off.
Suddenly, Tony ripped off his headset and stuffed it out the window. He hit the autopilot button, stuck his fingers in his ears and stared intently ahead. The oil coolers smoked as the debris burned away.
I daydreamed that someday an Indian, wearing Tony’s headset as a status symbol, would stumble out of the bush and amaze a National Geographic expedition that had arrived with the well-funded intent of locating the last untelevised, naturally naked tit on the planet.
I could see the Santa Marta Mountains in the distance. They looked big. At one hundred forty knots and 10,000 feet we pierced the accumulating cumulus. Our radar was broken. “Could be the palm tree. Over.” I said to no one.
We were flying VFR, visual flight rules. For mental support I called home base on our secure single-side band radio. “Baby to Mama, Baby to Mama, Come back Mama. Over.” The mountains ate my words.
The engines overheated and the oil cooler gauges were redder than a baboon’s ass. Tony’s lips split open again, not from dehydration, but yelling “Shit!” (What else?), every few minutes. I could barely hear him; I’d kept my headset on. I pointed at the discolored windscreen and dug out the old snot rag. The Mount Gay bottle was almost empty. I inhaled, took the last slug and sprayed it on the windscreen with my dry, puckered and now stinging lips. I wiped. Windows done, I cut a slice of burlap from a nearby bale and wrapped it across Tony’s mouth like a Jesse James outlaw mask. Now he could yell “Shit” all he wanted and still see ahead. ”Good moof, Roof,” he muffled.
With no other choice, we elbowed through the high cotton clouds, only five hours to our refueling stop. A large grey shape appeared outside my starboard window. “What’s that?” I looked at Tony.
He leaned over, lifted his outlaw flap and put his mouth to my earphone. “It’s called Cumulus Granite,” he bellowed.
Tony’s bloody mouth stuck to my headset and pulled it away from my ear. Almost immediately his lips lost suction and the headset returned with a sickening snap. I was dizzy for a moment and self-medicated. “And yay, though I fly through the valley of stone, stoned, I shall fear no weevil.” I garbled through a cockpit cloud.
“Stop laughing and quit smoking the damn cargo, godammit! Not everything is funny you know.” Tony bellowed.
“I know. Over.”
I pulled the snub .38 and punched out the oil temperature gauges with the barrel. I was tired of staring at the redheaded sisters of doom. I unbuckled, got up to take a whiz, stumbled over a chicken crate and accidently fired a round through the fuselage, near the cargo door. Our one-gallon piss jug got buried during the loading and I’d been wondering where to seek relief. The bullet hole provided a small, though convenient, facility.
I moved back to my seat with a sense of celestial achievement and reached for my headset.
“I thought you’d shot yourself.” Tony said with uncalled for joviality.
“Nope, but it was one hell of a whiz.”
He shook his head. I couldn’t hear his reply and focused on finding something to roll with.
“If we’re going to die, we might as well die high. Over.” I yelled across the cockpit.
No response. I tore a page out of the mimeographed flight manual, gathered a few stray buds and rolled a fatty. I showed it to Tony. “Say high to Baby Ruth!”
“Getting high is not going to help our altitude, Roof.”
I pulled my headset off. ” Yeah, you could be right Tony, but my spirit will soar, even if my ass doesn’t.” I put my headset back on. “You?”
I glanced at the licked edge of the page and read the faded words, “Procedures for ditching at sea.” I fired up the dog-eared spliff and hoped Tony wouldn’t notice the print. I handed it to him, licked edge down. The clouds thickened, inside and out. We joked and toked while the oil coolers smoked.
With only the sea for company, we flew north, high on dhope.
Tony stared ahead, like a sniper without a gun. He exhaled slowly and smiled a Buddhist smile. “Roof?”
“It’s beautiful up here, isn’t it man?”
“Yeah, Tony, it rightly is.”
“I hope we make it.”
“Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Not everything is funny you know,” he said softly.
The starboard engine coughed like a chain-smoking hooker in a biker bar.
Tony looked over. “Roof?”
“Roof, if things go bad, save a bullet for me, OK.”
“That’s not funny, you know.”
“Not everything is funny, you know.” I couldn’t help myself.
“I know! “ Tony looked at me and smiled again. The starboard engine backfired with a crack and the chickens started cackling.
“Roger on the bullet, Tony. Over.”
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About the Author
Captain Mark T. “Reef” Perkins is a marine surveyor with a colorful past. From commanding a 150-foot 300 DWT US Army diving ship off Vietnam to smuggling in the Caribbean, Reef Perkins has become a living legend. A graduate of both the US Army Engineer Officer Candidate School and the US Navy Salvage Officers School, he’s a man comfortable in or out of the water. Raised in rural Michigan, Reef now lives in Key West where he can get his feet wet. He is the author of the bestselling memoir, Sex, Salvage & Secrets.
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