Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 39

The dinner rush was just beginning as they left. They navigated upstream toward the lounge, finding it nearly deserted, and went to the forward end of the room. There, Cannon knocked on Volkov’s door.

“One moment!” the Russian shouted.

Cannon exchanged a look with Iseabail as various thumps and scrapes sounded from behind the door. A few heartbeats later, the door opened. “Is first time I have entertained,” Volkov explained, ushering them in. “Please, hang your hat by door. We had to move tables together. Ah! You brought vodka.”

Cannon placed his hat on the hook and dipped his head. “You needn’t have gone to any trouble,” he said, handing the bottle over.

“Oh, but if we did not, is nowhere to sit,” said Volkov with a smile. “I have told chef to do stuffed duck, since Mrs. Smith was so pleased by Kiev cutlets. I hope it will be a nice surprise.”

“Aye, most likely,” Iseabail said. She smiled pleasantly.

“May I take your jacket, Doctor?” Volkov asked.

Quickly, Cannon shook his head. “No thank you; I do not disrobe outside of my own room.” Iseabail snorted, turning it into a convincing cough before Volkov could notice. Cannon smiled to himself. He thought it was a good bit, too, stiff, formal, and British in precisely the way good old Dr. Smith was.

Volkov stepped back. “I mean no offense,” he said.

“None taken, dear Mr. Volkov,” Cannon replied. “I was raised with a certain set of rules, you know; it’s very hard to shake such things.”

“Da, of course.”

Cannon took a moment to get his bearings. He had the deck plan in his waistcoat pocket, and happily, it seemed accurate here, too. They stood in a hallway, with two doors on each side. Directly to their left, toward the zeppelin’s skin, was a sitting room with private windows. Further ahead on the same side was the larger bedroom. Another, smaller bedroom faced it, along with a washroom and shower, and the remaining space, directly to their right, was a dining room. At the far end of the hall was another door, artfully blended into the light wood paneling, which led down to the crew deck.

Iseabail elbowed him, and he just caught the end of Volkov’s sentence. “… through here,” the Russian said, reaching past them with an arm that seemed to be six feet long all by itself. He opened the door to the dining room and waved them in. “I will join you in just a moment.”

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