The Cessna rocked in the hot wind blowing over the Atlantic, thirty feet below. I held a course of 280 degrees, steering largely by the sun but referring occasionally to the compass. As I approached the three-mile limit ringing Florida, the bales of high-grade marijuana in back, grown by my friends the Morales family, had me slightly on edge. I rocked the wings up, banking first left and then right to make sure I had no company. Those boys in the DEA were a force to be reckoned with.
I shot over the empty beach at one hundred-fifty miles per hour, quickly heading inland over unoccupied countryside. I knew better than to aim straight for my home field; the days when you could bring a load of contraband into a Florida airport were long gone. DB and I practiced a better method.
We'd arranged a rendezvous a few miles west of the little town of Farth, and I struck up a more northerly course, aiming for that patch of palmetto scrub. Our habit was to never land with a load of weed, but rather to dump it from the plane into the waiting arms of Oso, somewhere out in the sticks. Or at least as close to Oso as I could get, without putting a twenty-five pound bale of sinsemilla upside his head.
Of course, it would have been difficult to fly a plane at low altitude and dump marijuana out of it at the same time, which is where DB came in. DB―short for both Dante Berto and Doggy Breath―was Oso’s kid brother and my kicker. His job was uncomplicated; kick the weed out on my command. It was a simple and hopefully foolproof system.
It was less than ten minutes flying time in my Cessna 180 from the coast to the drop zone, and I knew that Oso wasn’t far away. I told DB to prepare the load.
He unstrapped himself and climbed into the back, which in most Cessnas was occupied by passenger seats; I’d opted for cargo instead of passengers. DB released the tiedowns which prevented the load from shifting en route, removed the modified baggage door, and awaited my command.
Oso heard the approach of the 180, speaking a single word into his radio. “Puke,” I clearly heard. I spotted him waving the red bandana, and then nodded to DB.
He began to kick bales out the baggage door, laughing all the while. I could hear his raspy muttering over the engine noise. “Barf,” he grated, then, “Spew…vomit.” Every time a bale parted company with the Cessna, he uttered another synonym. “Upchuck,” he giggled. Much of the English DB used concerned throwing up, thus the inspiration for the nickname Doggy Breath, as well as the reason for his roughened voice.
“Heads up,” I spoke into the microphone.
DB was an efficient kicker―twelve bales of marijuana were out the door and on the ground before we were far beyond the marker.
“Towel twelve,” I spoke over the radio, indicating to Oso that it was time to clean up the mess. I kept the plane headed on the same course, just in case anyone was following us unobserved. The DEA boys were beginning to use high altitude surveillance aircraft, difficult for us guys doing buzz jobs to detect.
DB took great care in sweeping out the baggage area with a whiskbroom before replacing the door then rejoined me in front. We were infinitely careful not to bring back the slightest trace of illegal substance to our home field.
“Gracias,” I said.
“De nada,” he politely, though malodorously, replied. The Morales boys had all been thoroughly instructed in proper manners by their mother. Had she been here to witness it, Dolores Morales would never have tolerated the display of vomitous invective just employed by her son.
I would have given DB a breath mint, but I knew from long association that he would just have to throw it up. DB regarded anything edible, even a breath mint, as food and thus something to regurgitate once swallowed. So we flew back to the short dirt airstrip outside of Farth, satisfied that we had once again gotten away with an illegal though thoroughly enjoyable flight.