Master Of Deception

The Tale Of A Busted Bassmaster

Lt Commander Brian L Stephens - Ret April 22, 2014

My next-door neighbor was a professional bass fisherman and actually made a living doing what he loved. He traveled frequently and was always visiting lakes where all he did was catch bass after bass. Now I don’t know much about any kind of fishing, but from the looks of all of the goodies in his garage he must have been pretty good at it…or so I thought.

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Photo: reysart.com

At first, I really didn’t think much of it. The man didn’t have much of a personality and always kept to himself. Truthfully, I could barely beg a “Hello” out of him. I never noticed any family, so fishing for a living seemed like a logical possibility. He was just some lucky loner who wet a line for a living and managed to bring home a paycheck doing it. What’s wrong with that?

Recently though, some odd occurrences have caught my attention, including a pair of shady characters coming and going at all hours of the night. These guys are strange and out of place for our neighborhood. I mind my own business, but in my late 50s and a retired veteran, I know when something is amiss. I kept telling myself the pieces weren’t adding up. Wouldn’t you know it, I was right about my third wife and I was right about this guy!

I was flipping through the newspaper like I do every morning and instantly recognized my neighbor’s mug shot on the front page of the Crime Blogger. He wasn’t a professional bass fisherman after all, rather a professional fraud.

The Tribune reported, “Pedro Morales was arrested in Ocala, FL. on Saturday, August 10, 2013 while attempting to drive off with a fellow angler’s $60,000 bass boat. The seasoned criminal, posing as an active member of an elite bass fishing organization, attended major fishing tournaments all over the Southeast where he is now linked to a spree of robberies.”

The article continued, “Morales is suspected of masterminding a multimillion dollar crime wave spanning seven states with multiple cells. Expensive boats were the primary target over the last five years, with as many as 100 vessels stolen and stripped of hull identification numbers before being exported to Mexico in inconspicuous cargo containers through the Port of Miami. Reports indicate the inside job included participants at every level, including customs officials. A multi-agency investigation is currently underway and will likely reveal additional details in this breaking story.”

Of course, The Tribune is far from the end of this tale. Actually, this is exactly where the plot takes a turn. Pedro Morales isn’t a real fraud at all. As a matter of fact, there is no Pedro Morales. There are no stolen boats, there was no crime committed and there is no ongoing multi-agency investigation. The entire story is bogus. It is a flat out bunch of junk that simply rolled off my tongue as I sipped a fresh cocktail and puffed on a Cuban cigar. I am the master of deception, not Pedro Morales.

The truth is, I’m a crime novelist and I explore the deepest reaches of the human psyche through intellectual behavior and our natural tendency to believe what we want to believe. It is the sad truth, but the general population gets excited over other people’s misfortunes. We enjoy crime and drama, as long as we aren’t the center of attention. Remember, not everything is as it seems and not everyone is who he or she appears to be.

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