Into the Breach

Dr. Murphy was in his cabin. In spite of the shipboard informality I was becoming accustomed to, I knocked. His door opened. The aging man let me in. He waved me to recline on one of his unmade bunks. I looked around briefly, wondering if the Filipinos ever entered his place. It wasn’t dirty, but the room was unkempt everywhere I could see. He sat in his single small chair, identical to the one in my own cabin. He peered at me over the top of his tri-focal glasses. I thought about what I needed to say for a moment.

The doctor might be totally unnecessary, with respect to the mission, or he could determine, like in the song, “who went free or who to blame.” Earlier, we had worked well together as a team. I had acted as the doctor, however, and he as my assistant. We had administered more than fifty morphine injections to seasick passengers, as well as to the Basque and Dutch, who more likely suffered from hangovers from the Mouseketeer blowout, rather than seasickness. In many ways, we had left legality behind when we departed St. Lawrence Island.