A PRIVATE EXCHANGE by Henry Louis Gates

By Henry Louis Gates

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He nodded and reached out with shaking hand to flick on the radio that connected him directly with traffic control in Rio. Francesca eased into the pilot's seat and slipped on the headset. The voice of the traffic controller came on. Carlos asked for help with his eyes. Francesca began to talk, explaining their predicament to traffic control. ” she said. ” “Caracas too far,” Carlos croaked, mustering the strength to talk. ” Several more moments dragged by. The dispatcher's voice came back. “There's a small provincial airstrip two hundred miles from your position at San Pedro, outside Caracas.

Even if he shut down the engines, he and Zavala would have to be scraped off the wooden sides of the old boat. ” Zavala yelled. “Stay on course,” Austin shouted. Zavala swore softly under his breath. He had every confidence in Austin's ability to get them out of a tight spot, but sometimes his partner's actions defied all logic. If Zavala thought the order meant certain suicide, he didn't show it. His every instinct told him to whip the wheel over and take his chances, but he grimly held their insane course as steadily as if the two-hundred-foot boat that filled his vision like a big white wall were nothing but a mirage.

Now the Carpet had taken wing and was coming abreast of the Red Ink. Austin knew of Ali's last-minute switch to a smaller propeller that would be better in rough seas. Austin wished he could trade in his large calm-water propeller. Ali had been smart to listen to his weather sense rather than the forecast. ” Austin shouted. “She's at one-forty now,” Zavala yelled back. “Wind's up. ” Austin knew a high-speed turn was risky. The twin catamaran sponsons skated across the surface with practically no water resistance.

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