You know it's going to be a rough summer when you spend Father's Day visiting your dad in the local lockup.Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queencasino boat is flushing raw sewage into the harbor-which has made taking a dip at the local beach like swimming in a toilet. He can't prove it though, and so he decides that sinking the boat will make an effective statement. Right. The boat is pumped out and back in business within days and Noah's dad is stuck in the clink.Now Noah is determined to succeed where his dad failed. He willprove that the Coral Queen is dumping illegally . . . somehow. His allies may not add up to much-his sister Abbey, an unreformed childhood biter; Lice Peeking, a greedy sot with poor hygiene; Shelly, a bartender and a woman scorned; and a mysterious pirate-but Noah's got a plan to flush this crook out into the open. A plan that should sink the crooked little casino, once and for all.
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Knopf Books for Young Readers
September 12, 2005
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Excerpt from Flush by Carl Hiaasen
The Coral Queen had gone down stern first in twelve feet of water. Her hull had settled on the marly bottom at a slight angle with the bow aiming upward.
She was a big one, too. Even at high tide, the top two decks were above the water line. It was like a big ugly apartment building had fallen out of the sky and landed in the basin.
Abbey hopped off my handlebars and walked to the waters edge. She planted her hands on her hips and stared at the crime scene.
Whoa, she said. He really did it this time.
It's bad, I agreed.
The Coral Queen was one of those gambling boats where passengers line up to play blackjack and electronic poker, and to stuff their faces at the all-you-can-eat buffet. It didn't sound like a ton of fun to me, but the Coral Queen was packed to the rafters every night.
There was one major difference between Dusty Mulemans operation and the gambling cruises up in Miami: The Coral Queen didn?t actually go anywhere. That?s one reason it was so popular
By Florida law, gambling boats are supposed to travel at least three miles offshore beyond the state boundaries before anyone is allowed to start betting. Rough weather is real bad for business, because lots of customers get seasick. As soon as they start throwing up, they quit spending money.
According to my father, Dusty Mulemans dream was to open a gambling boat that never left the calm and safety of its harbor. That way, the passengers would never get too queasy to party.
Only Indian tribes are allowed to run casino operations in Florida, so Dusty somehow persuaded a couple of rich Miccosukees from Miami to buy the marina and make it part of their reservation. Dad said the government raised a stink but later backed off, because the Indians had better lawyers.
Anyway, Dusty got his gambling boat and he got rich.
My dad had waited until three in the morning, when the last of the crew was gone, to sneak aboard. He'd untied the ropes and started one of the engines and idled out to the mouth of the basin, where he'd opened the seacocks and cut the hoses and disconnected the bilge pumps and then dived overboard.
The Coral Queen had gone down crosswise in the channel, which meant that no other vessels could get in or out of the basin. In other words, Dusty Muleman wasn't the only captain in town who wanted to strangle my dad on Father?s Day.
I locked my bike to a buttonwood tree and walked down to the charter docks, Abbey trailing behind. Two small skiffs and a Coast Guard inflatable were nosing around the Coral Queen. We could hear the men in the skiffs talking about what had to be done to float the boat. It was a major project.