Nathaniel Cannon and the Panamanian Idol No. 44

The door opened in front of him, and Cannon tensed. Kopeikin stormed through, slammed the door closed, and looked to his left, down the hallway toward the washroom. Cannon flicked the cork out of his vial of chloroform, covered his handkerchief with its contents, and pounced on the Russian from behind. He slapped his left hand hard over Kopeikin’s nose and mouth, holding the handkerchief in place, and wrapped his right arm around the Russian’s throat.

Kopeikin struggled, tried to call out, and then became still. Cannon kept the handkerchief in place for a few moments longer, and lowered Kopeikin to the deck.


Volkov tapped his fingers nervously on the table. A thump came from outside the door, and he sprang to his feet. “What was that?”

Iseabail shrugged. “I didna hear anythin’.”

“No,” Volkov said. His brows came together and his lips thinned. “It was sound of body hitting floor.” He went to the door and pushed it open.


Cannon drew his Mauser and stood across the hall from the door. The door opened again. Cannon leveled the pistol at Volkov. “Easy there, big fella. I’m not looking to kill anyone today.”

Shock spread across Volkov’s face. He looked left, then right, spotting Kopeikin. He let out an anguished cry. “You already have!”

“He’s nae dead,” Iseabail said from behind Volkov. He turned, and Iseabail pointed a Beretta at his forehead. “Only sleepin’.”

“It is me you have killed! Me, and my wife, and my children!” Volkov fell to his knees. “It would be mercy to shoot me now.”

Cannon raised an eyebrow and glanced at Iseabail. She looked as confused as he imagined he did. “You’re going to have to run that by me again. Isea, have we killed anyone today?”

Iseabail tapped her chin. “I cannae bring it ta mind, if we did.”

“They are in Leningrad,” Volkov said. “In Panama, I spoke to American ambassador. About defecting, you see. Kopeikin, he is our political officer. He heard of it. He was taking me back to Soviet Union, never to leave again. Now he will think I did this.” Volkov slumped against the door frame. “And my family is as good as dead.”

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