“Who’s your favorite author?”

It’s a question we all get at least once… probably ten times… in our lives. Most people will tell you that it’s King — if you’re a horror and suspense buff — or Patterson — since his stuff is everywhere — or classics like Hemingway, Austen, Fitzgerald, and the list goes on and on. And, don’t get me wrong, I love all of those authors. I’ve never been the biggest fan of King’s work, but people say that’s because I haven’t read The Dark Tower. My favorite author is Jimmy Buffet.

“WHAT?! JIMMY BUFFET?! The guy who lost his shaker of salt?!”

Yes, yes, the guy who made his millions on his laissez-faire attitude, barefoot mentality, and with a band called “The Coral Reefers”. I’d imagine the pun was intended.

Buffet wrote a few books in his life, and I’ve read them all, but the one that really stuck with me was Where is Joe Merchant? Joe Merchant is like a hybrid between Elvis and Keith Richards, or Mick Jagger, pick your poison. Biggest celebrity of all time, kind of thing. Well, Joe Merchant goes missing, supposedly having fell off the back of a cruise liner, and for years people claim to have seen him here or there.

Trevor Kane, an heiress to a fortune earned from a hemorrhoid-ointment company, is his brother, and the love interest of Frank Bama, our protagonist. Without giving too much away, Frank and Trevor get caught up on an insane journey that leads them all around the Caribbean and the tropics, and Frank does it all from his old WW2 Grumman Goose.

The story speaks to me because I’ve always loved the Gulf — of Mexico, that is — and I’ve always had a penchant for planes. I took my first flying lessons when I was eleven, and never finished them up. These days, I wish I had. Anyway, I’m a barefoot junkie. If I can avoid having shoes on I will. Now, wait a minute, I’m not the guy that goes barefoot to the grocery store, or the movies, or anything like that. But if I’m at home, off work, my shoes are off and my feet are as nude as the statue of David.

More than all that, though, Frank Bama lives a carefree, almost gypsy-esque lifestyle that puts him all around the place. And his “home base” of sorts, is an old hangar down in the Florida Keys. Did I mention how much I love them? Well, let me tell you. Went the first time in March of 2001, my mind stayed there until I went back on my honeymoon in 2008, and then I forgot it again; I’m sure that bastard is still there, sipping coconut flavored booze and staring at emerald-green water.

If you’ve never read any of Buffet’s work, I suggest you start with Where is Joe Merchant. You can find it here, on Amazon.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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