Florida Straits – 113

Written by: Dana Coen; Watch Now: – Sorry, not available on Amazon

Brumby (Brum) came to Mac’s (M) apartment dressed in dark glasses and trench coat because “you only spend time with spy’s.” He said he had moved into Rock Creek Park with a good view and asked M to come with him to a lunch in his honor given by the boss of his new firm. Mac felt uncomfortable but agreed to go and was introduced to Larry Kaliski, senior partner at Ryan, Price and Sealy. Brum left her by herself and she saw Kaliski and others ogling her and Brum gloating about being with her. Upset, she confronted him and he flew off the handle playing the martyr about having to constantly pursue her and walk her dog. He angrily shot that he “wasn’t going to jeopardize this opportunity because of something that happened to her in her past” and told her to “get in the car.” He later called and left a message on her machine that he had calmed down enough to talk and gave his address which meant that M had to come to him. She did and found him, still arrogant and playing the martyr, but she apologized to him. She told him that he “challenged her, in the best way, my preconceptions about men.” He asked “do you love me?” and she said “yes.” He said “is that because I love you,” and she responded, “because you ARE you.” He lit a match and said he was adding “another light to celebrate another week of having each other in our lives.”

Dr Walden and her son Danny came to JAG when Chegwidden (C) had forgotten their dinner date. She had told C that Danny had “good character” for returning a “friends” stolen goods. Renee, in Harm’s (H) apartment, advised him that he should not keep information about his newly found brother, Sergei, from his mother because she had a right to know. Before that was settled Chegwidden called with an assignment.

Capt Berroa of the frigate USS Stanley Dace went to rescue Reynalda Montilla, a girl floating in the ocean off Cuba, and had his ship “painted” by a Cuban vessel. Berroa backed the other vessel off but C sent Harm (H) and Bud (B) to investigate. Berroa, a Cuban orphan himself, said that Reynalda would probably be sent back because she wasn’t “feet dry” (having had her feet on US soil). She and her father had been in a 12 foot scow going to Florida when it sank in total darkness. Her father put air in his pants for a flotation device for her to use but was separated from her. She said she had been poked by sharks until rescued. Her mother died when she was three and said she wanted to be taken to the US. Berroa denied permission for the INS agent, Mrs. Vitagliano, to land aboard the ship and told H that he was going to see that Reynalda got to the US. Thinking quick, H suggested that the INS might send Reynalda to the US because her father was dead and she had relatives in Florida. Chegwidden told H that the “president was having ‘Elian Gonzales nightmares’ and doesn’t want her anywhere near US soil.” Harm didn’t tell C about the helicopter incident then explained to B that he “respected the captain because he was smart enough to stay true to his principles without breaking rules.”

Vitagliano said she was sending Reynalda back because she had relatives in Cuba with the means to care for her. She explained that the circuit appeals court had held that a 12 year old could apply for asylum but a 6 year old wasn’t old enough to do it. Reynalda began having stomach cramps while Berroa was alone talking to her and he then suggested that they take Reynalda to the US for diagnosis and treatment. When questions about it, Berroa claimed that he had not suggested Reynalda fake an illness; because, if he is going to break rules, he “breaks rules cleanly.” Reynalda developed a fever so Vitagliano decided to allow the ship to take her to the US. Then while H was on the speakerphone trying to explain to the SECNAV and C about the change of plans, they heard the general quarters alarm on the ship and H hung up. The Cuban vessel was back and in a threatening posture. The Cubans claimed that Orlando Montilla, her father, was picked up by a garbage scow and had returned to Cuba. Then Reynalda became “stable,” so Vitagliano flip-flopped and wanted to send her back to Cuba to be with her father. Harm suggested that they request verification of the Cubans claim and eventually the Cuban government invited Vitagliano and H to come and see. They were taken to see Castro and were shown on ZNN where the SECNAV and C watched.

The Cuban interpreter wasn’t translating correctly during their interview with Reynalda’s father, so H confronted her on it. She then began interpreting correctly but the father seemed pressured to say that he was happy in Cuba with his newly offered job and wanted to be with Reynalda. Harm told the captain of his orders but Berroa ordered him to stand down, then headed for Key West. He then revealed that his Cuban parents had sent him, at four years of age, alone, to the US when they heard that Cuban children were being sent to school in East Germany. His father died in prison and his mother died of “heart failure” when she was 38. The SECNAV and C called and Berroa put the call on speakerphone so the SECNAV couldn’t swear or act abusive. Chegwidden advised the SECNAV to relieve Berroa of command but before he could Berroa cut the connection. Harm advised the XO, Cdr William Crozier, to get the SECNAV back on the phone but he said that he wouldn’t. Harm asked if it was “worth your career to take a dive for the captains principles.”

Crozier wanted to talk to Reynalda who then told them that she still wanted to go to the US because she and her father had made an agreement that the one who made it would stay and the other would keep trying. A flash message came to the XO from the SECNAV and Berroa put Crozier under arrest so he couldn’t take it. When they arrived at Key West they were stopped by Rodney Koger of the state department who told Vitagliano that it was the 7th circuit appeals court who set up the age of 12 and “we are in the 11th circuit.” Harm stepped in with the idea that the parents wishes had no bearing when they were “abusive. He endangered her life in a broken down ship.” He suggested Vitagliano take Reynalda into custody for processing. And B said “if the father wants to contest it he can come her to testify.” Vitagliano backed Koger down, then Reynalda was shown putting her feet on US soil and Berroa taken into custody. Vitagliano told H that if she “wasn’t too old, too short or too married… never mind.”

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