Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 29

“Wha’, tha’ easy?” Iseabail sipped from her teacup. She sat across from Cannon at a table in the corner of the lounge, far from anyone else. Nevertheless, they spoke in low tones. Two plates were stacked between them. Out the windows to Cannon’s right, the occasional puffy cloud floated past. In the far distance, the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea melted together.

Cannon looked into his own teacup with the air of a man adrift. “Isea, I could kill a man for a decent cup of coffee.”

Iseabail’s eyes twinkled. “Ach, tha’s good news.” To Cannon’s raised eyebrows, she explained, “Means ye willna be stickin’ wi’ yon insufferable Englishman act.”

“We’ll have to stop in on a roaster in Hawaii. They know what they’re doing.”

“Wouldnae know,” Iseabail said, daintily placing her teacup upon its saucer. “I’ve aye never had the ken of coffee. Dinnae know how ye drink somethin’ so bitter.”

Cannon sighed and shook his head. “I don’t have the time to tell you how wrong you are.” He looked up at Iseabail, then back to his teacup, then took a disappointing sip. “At dinner, we need to impress Volkov. Have you finished the reading?”

“I was done on the train.”

“Well,” Cannon said, “read it again. If we don’t pass for experts on Central American history, we don’t get on Volkov’s good side. If we don’t get on Volkov’s good side, we can’t get him alone to knock him out.”

“Ach, I know the plan.”

Cannon picked his teacup up. He looked into it, then set it down and pushed the saucer away. “Get to the reading. There’s a test when you’re done.”

“Wonderful,” Iseabail grumbled. “An’ here I was hopin’ we could keep our run at yon card tables goin’. Nae as much money in it as the job, but it’s aye easier.”

“That’s thinking like a real pirate.” A shark’s grin spread across Cannon’s face. “Read fast, and we’ll have time for some fleecing, too.”

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