In order to understand Plan 88, you must first understand us as a people. We, as Rhodesians, live on a continent that hates us for the colour of our skin, distrusts us based on the blood of our ancestors, and would, given the opportunity, destroy us without hesitation. This reality, along with the rise of Communist and Nationalist forces around us, created the need for a plan that would be enacted on Die Dag. The Day.
We are to few and too scattered to protect everywhere at once, and so we must make the choice of who and what we can save. Plan 88 was created to make those choices for us and, if followed to the very letter, it will save our people.
Should Die Dag ever come then Plan 88 be executed without emotion or remorse. To save our people we will need to be ruthless and calculating. To fail is to die.
- Colonel Patrick Delano
Mid September, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Luis Casillas heard the roar of the PBY Catalina flying boat before he saw it. The heavy engines made a drone like no other and he turned, shadowing his eyes, looking to the East and was able to make out the aircraft against the rising sun. It was just beginning its descent after clearing the mountains and he could feel his pulse began to quicken.
He glanced around for the hundredth time to ensure everything was perfect. A small American jeep, freshly cleaned, was waiting at the end of the wooden pier he stood on. A driver, dressed in immaculate white, was standing patiently next to the jeep, offset by the fat customs official with stained tie and bulging buttons. Luis grimaced but there was nothing else he could do. He had already spent a fortune greasing the palms of the local government to get the land grants he wanted. He had the land, the plan, the location, now he needed the investor.
The plane roared overhead and he felt the buffeting wind of the huge engines. He smiled to himself as the customs officers hat went flying and the man had to waddle after it. Several small children were waving frantically at the plane and he was relieved to see smiles on the faces that looked out of the aircraft windows. So far so good.
The plane did a wide sweeping turn and he was aware of a man with a camera snapping photos of the village and he felt his heart skip a beat. The village itself was small with an airport that could handle DC-3's and a poorly maintained road through the jungle to connect it to the rest of Mexico. It looked like any other Mexican village with white washed houses and dark tile roof tops. Stray dogs ran freely in the dirt streets and half naked children pursued them with abandon. He was thankful that the state government had at least installed sewer systems in the past year.
There were already a half dozen hotels in the area that serviced mostly American guests looking for a getaway. Tourism was alive and well in the area but not in the way Luis had in mind. He envisioned something else, a resort, where guests could find anything they wanted, and not have to wander the dirty streets and see naked children. A resort where a guest paid their entire fee up front, one that included their airfare, their hotel, and restaurants. He had come up with the idea while reading about cruises when he was a younger man.
The Catalina finally came around and leveled out, bearing down on the small port. The huge hull sliced into the gently rolling swells of the Pacific Ocean, sending up a huge spray of water that burst against the propeller blades. The aircraft settled into the water, slowing so that bow pushed up a large wake that rolled away to rock the small fishing boats plying the waves.
Luis swallowed nervously and tugged at his white jacket again. He had dressed as he had seen white men dress in National Geographic, in white pants and jacket, though he wore a cowboy hat to shade his olive skin. He had never actually met his guest, only heard of him and read about him. It had simply been luck that Henry Cornell was in the United States when Luis reached out to him. The man could hardly travel without attracting attention. The American media had been all over his visit and the investment's be been making throughout the States.
The roar of the Catalinas engines died away to nothing as the aircraft coasted into the jetty, two crewmen expertly leaping from the aircraft with lines in hand, securing it to the jetty with the assistance of several local men. The door of the airplane opened, Luis swallowed and stepped forward.
The first person off the plane stopped him in his tracks. It was a blonde woman, hair tied back in a severe bun, with a pair of dark sunglasses and a semi-automatic pistol on her hip. She was followed immediately by a towering blonde man who was clearly her brother, dressed in the same khaki shorts and collared shirt, matching firearm and sunglasses.
"Mr. Casillas?" The woman asked him and he nodded, mumbling his response before quickly clearing his throat.
"Yes, that's me." He held out a hand which she ignored, turning instead to gesture at the plane.
The man who stepped off the plane was as tall as his bodyguard, sporting a casual polo shirt, pants, tall leather boots, and a brown hilted six shooter revolver. He too wore a pair of dark sunglasses but where the blondes ignored Luis, he smiled and stepped quickly across the dock to accept Luis's hand.
"You must be Luis." They shook hands. "Henry. So this is Puerto Vallarta eh?"
Luis nodded, still nervous.
"Nice spot. I see you met Tom and Brittany." He gestured at the two blondes. Tom was speaking with the customs officer who was looking very much like he wanted to be anywhere else at that moment. "They keep an eye on me when I'm abroad."
Luis could only nod at that and resisted the urge to slap himself to refocus.
"Yes, they were very polite."
"Ha. Yes, that is one way of putting it." Henry snorted dryly. "Polite." He chuckled again.
"Did you have anything you wanted to see first?" Luis managed to get himself back on track and gestured toward the waiting jeep.
"Yes, let's take a roll around town." Henry made for the jeep and Luis hurried after him. His head was hurting. They both spoke English, but their accents were so different it was all he could do to keep up with the conversation.
"Here, take off." Henry was speaking to the driver of the jeep as he climbed into the drivers seat. Tom and Brittany swung themselves into the rear two seats and Luis was forced to jump into the passenger seat. This was not going as he had planned.
For the next thirty minutes they cruised the small town and Luis, despite his earlier misgivings, found himself warming to the Rhodesian. The man might have been wealthy but other than his silent bodyguards he looked like any other gringo in town. They drove past hotels with fading plaster, the local police station, a large church, numerous restaurants and bars, along the waterfront and past the airport. Dust whipped up around them everywhere they went but Henry hardly seemed to mind. They spoke very little during this time and it wasn't until Luis had guided Henry north of the city to a small clay brick building that sat on the side of the bumpy mule track that they parked the vehicle.
Henry climbed out of the jeep to stretch his back. The two blondes had also climbed out and stood like golden sentinels just out of earshot, heads constantly moving as they scanned the brush and the roadway.
"Okay, so there are already a bunch of hotels, restaurants, bars, drunk white folk and plenty of poor Mexicans. Why am I here, Luis?"
"Well, Henry," Luis blushed slightly. Henry had insisted on being called by his first name. "I have a plan that combines all of those into one package, if you will. Please, step into my office." He gestured to the small brick building.
Henry nodded, no sign of amusement at the building being called an office. He pulled off his sunglasses and stepped through the small door. Inside, the building was a single room with tables lining every wall. The two prettiest girls in the village had been hired to wait with prepared tequila and lemonade, along with water and some snacks. They hurried forward as Luis followed Henry inside.
They drained their drinks, the blondes taking only water, before Luis gestured to the large prints on the wall. He had a friend in civil planning for Mexico City who had helped him with the plans since he wanted as few people to know about the idea as possible.
The plans showed a sprawling resort with pools, guest rooms broken down into separate buildings, a main lobby, and manicured grounds sprawling right out to the white sand beaches currently hidden by the hot airless jungle. For three hours the two men talked as Henry bent over the plans, his hands folded behind his back. The two Mexican girls were quite forgotten as they stared at Tom in amazement, he was undoubtedly the biggest man they had ever seen.
At length Luis fell silent. There was nothing more he could say. Henry was still staring down at the plans in front of him and for a long moment he said nothing. Then he began nodding slowly.
"Alright Luis. I like it. I will invest in your project." He held up his hand before Luis could say anything. "But, that said, I have some conditions. You can agree to them right now, or I leave and you never see me again. You agree, and you're on that plane with me back to Mexico City and get things sorted out before I leave for Africa a week today."
"What conditions would those be?" Luis had no choice and he knew it. Henry knew it.
"First off, I own 80% of this project right now. You get 20% as managing partner. Two, I will be sending a site manager from a construction firm I own in New York, he will oversee everything. Three, you will have to handle the local side of things. I don't speak Spanish. But," He stepped closer to Luis. "If you fuck me..." He tapped his pistol and Luis swallowed, then nodded.
"We both know I don't have a choice, Henry. It's a deal." They shook hands and Henry's smile returned in a flash.
"Excellent! To the plane!" He seemed jovial and relaxed. Luis felt the tension go out of him. He had an investor. He just needed to make it a reality.