Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 27

“Good,” Cannon said. The wall clock chimed the first few bars of the Internationale. It read eight o’clock. Cannon turned his watch back two hours as the captain announced breakfast. “We make Hawaii tonight.”

“Aye cuttin’ it close,” Iseabail observed.

“Clean up and get dressed.” Cannon flipped through the timetable on the nightstand. “If we don’t have the idol by tomorrow night, all of this is for nothing.”

“Nae yer best speech ever,” Iseabail said. “Ye’d best take yon folio an’ see if ye can run intae our cap’n. It’d nae do tae miss dinner.”

“Most assuredly, Mrs. Smith,” Cannon said, putting on the accent again.

“Ach, I thought maybe ye were done wi’ that,” Iseabail grumbled. “I’ll be along.”


Iseabail retreated to the washroom. Cannon tied his tie, put on his hat, and headed out into the corridor with the folio under his arm. He joined the flow of passengers headed for the dining room.

Most of them spread out, looking for tables with a modicum of privacy. Cannon stayed close to the balcony, keeping an eye on the new arrivals. The captain came through the doorway, along with a dozen stewards. While the captain doffed his cap and made his way for his table, the stewards moved to form a wall as they’d done the first night, to keep the rabble out.

Rabble though he was, Cannon did not intend to be stymied this time. He rose, threaded his way through the crowd of passengers coming down the stairs, and slipped past the row of stewards before they altogether realized what was happening.

The captain blinked at him as he sat down at the table. “Just a moment of your time, Captain Rokossovsky,” Cannon said. He became aware of a pair of the burliest stewards looming over his shoulders.

The captain held up his hand, and the stewards became incrementally less menacing. “Yes, comrade passenger?” He had a warm voice, with less of an accent than Cannon expected.

“I wondered, sir, if I might present you with a gift.” Cannon laid the folio on the table and pushed it toward the captain.

The captain raised his eyebrows doubtfully, an expression which fit with the lines of his careworn face. Pushing his hat aside, he opened the folio and read a few lines. His eyes widened. Quickly but reverently, he turned to the last page. He looked up and met Cannon’s eyes. “This is real?”

Cannon nodded. “I am assured it is.”

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