Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 25

With any luck, when the Russians came to, they’d jump to the obvious conclusion. The last thing Cannon needed was the crew nosing around his cabin.

He passed a few more compartments, then took a turn down a side catwalk and finally came to the cleaner’s closet. Inside, he quickly found what he needed: two glass jugs of bleach, and a small bottle of acetone. He had a pocket sized just so for the acetone. The jugs, on the other hand, were too hefty. Taking one in each hand, he peeked out of the closet. He saw no Soviets in evidence.

He stepped out onto the side catwalk, looking aft, then forward. The Russians would, in all likelihood, still be out cold if he went that way, but there were too many of them around the bunkrooms for his comfort. He could hardly go diving out of the way, either, carrying Iseabail’s materials.

Forward was little better, given that he knew there were Russians awake in that direction. Then again, he would have a head start on them, and he doubted very much the midnight bridge watch could spare more than a man or two to chase him down.

He preferred those odds. Forward it was. He had only a dozen or two yards to the base of the companionway up to the main deck. It cast shadows in red on the overhead, illuminated by the night lights from the gondola below. Cannon tiptoed up the steps as quickly as he could. He heard voices from the bridge and froze. Nobody called out in alarm. A moment or two later, he was through the hatch, and back in the world of hallways and doors.

Without incident, he made it back to his cabin. Iseabail was waiting for him.

“Good tae see ye didna ge’ caught,” she said.”

Cannon nodded. “Closer than I would have liked,” he replied, setting down the bleach and producing the acetone from his pocket.

“Ach, ace,” she said approvingly. “Haul ’em intae yon washroom.”

Cannon did so. On the floor of the shower was an enormous tureen, five gallons at least. “Where in the world did you find that?”

“I didna find anythin’. I bribed yon steward to le’ me borrow it for the nigh’.”

Cannon raised an eyebrow and lifted one of the jugs higher. “Couldn’t we have bribed him to bring us these?”

“Didna want tae make him suspicious,” Iseabail said.

“What does he think we needed the container for?”

Iseabail shrugged. “I tol’ him tae use his imagination, an’ that we’d have it for him early in the mornin’.”

Cannon set the jugs down. “You’d better get to mixing, then. I’m going to get some shuteye.”

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