The Bering Sea

An Arch Patton Adventure

The Bering Sea,

an Arch Patton Adventure

Arch Patton, the slightly aging CIA operative, finds himself assigned to  a secret mission, ostensibly to secure the freedom of the son of a portly United States Senator, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The action takes place in the Bering Sea and Russia, opening on Little Diomede Island, 2.4 miles from the Russian owned Big Diomede Island. Arch Patton had just returned from a nefarious assignment in Africa and thrust again into intrigue and a possible danger or a fiasco. “That ‘best man’ (Arch Patton) had just come out of West Africa under the bloodiest of circumstances, somehow having improbably accomplished his mission. The skewed manner in which his mission had been conducted would no doubt have the Agency looking like a stone cold, heartless bureaucracy.. He’d sent a low-life field agent off to save the drug-dealing nephew of a corrupt scumbag of a senator. This time the mission had not even the remotest possibility of success. From the Prologue

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Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

Chapter Five, Arch Paton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIVE The Landing at Little Diomede Island The cushions were pulled from me in the middle of the night. A night that was not a night, aboard a cruise ship that wasn’t a cruise ship. I reacted badly. As the cushions were being jerked from me, I slipped under...

Chapter Six, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER SIX The Island The washroom door swung open. Felipe stepped through the entrance, dropped a pile of dry clothes on the floor, and then looked at my nakedness. I had nothing cover myself with. He stared for a few seconds, looking openly at the roadmap of my...

Chapter Seven, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER SEVEN Hull Down in a Following Sea I moved through the throngs of passengers now populating the corridors of the ship. Murmurs of “doctor” came from some of them, as they reacted to my surgical scrubs. I had removed my coat. The temperature maintained inside...

Chapter Eight, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER EIGHT The Pass of the Isle of the Tsar of Russia Instead of going to my own cabin, I headed directly down to Botany Bay’s number 36. There was something about the way in which the Basque woman had looked at me earlier, which was drawing me back. Don had stayed...

Chapter Nine, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER NINE Down to the Bottom of the Bering Sea I moved down the corridor with a purpose. Don stopped at his cabin door. I turned back to him with a snap. “Where are you going?” I demanded the things I had unloaded from my ditty bag almost scattering. “What do you...

Chapter Ten, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TEN The Isle of the Tsar of Russia The slow stuttering trip out of the current and into the island’s lee took less time than it seemed it should because of the back current. Dutch had held to a dogged steady pace, stroke after slow stroke, swimming out in...

Chapter Eleven, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER ELEVEN The High Cliffs of Russia Dutch moved the bottle of Bacardi back to his lips, runnels of tears falling from his cheeks. I pried the half-empty bottle out of his clenched hand. I propped it back into a cleft between two nearby rocks. “Stop blubbering and...

Chapter Twelve, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWELVE Down to the Sea I awoke to find the fire burned out. Not even a plume of smoke came from the pile of ash. I sat up and rubbed my eyes and face. We had the Bic and my Stryker flint if re-ignition were necessary. If we remained atop the island plateau for...

Chapter Thirteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTEEN MAKING WAY TO THE PRIBILOFS Filipe brought the Zodiac close into the steel hull. Three adventurers—dirty, disheveled and nearly naked—in the bottom of the craft. My watch, the canvas bag, `and my jockey shorts were all I had saved from the island. Don...

Chapter Fourteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FOURTEEN THE AGUIAK The Basque finished her rendition of the Mouseketeer song. Don plopped down on his bunk with a very pleased look on his face. “Like we don’t have enough trouble?” I asked him, shaking my head into the silence. “What the hell do you think...

Chapter Fifteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTEEN Golconda When I finished my delivery to the assembled passengers, the staff crew and the audience repaired to the back of the Lido deck. The World Discoverer's ('Lindy') fantail was one flat teak surface, polished clean with brushes and stones at least...

Chapter Sixteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER SIXTEEN NOT UNMINDFUL OF THE FUTURE Dutch smoked his Lucky Strike and then started another. I allowed him some time alone, to think about his situation, as well as what we might do about it. I climbed back toward the cleft, to examine the vein of copper and...

Chapter Seventeen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Pribilofs The Lido lounge pulsed with drinking passengers, most of whom smoked cigarettes on deck as well. I had thought that only about thirty percent of the population still smoked, but the sample of humans we had aboard the M/S World...

Chapter Eighteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN St. Paul Island     Günter spent the next ten minutes getting his routine down. He would be the point man with Immigration, and he had to be totally convincing, whoever the immigration official was. I prepared him in case more than one boarded, the...

Chapter Nineteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER NINETEEN THE REINDEER Our Zodiac rounded the end of a long gravel spit. I was relieved. I had not wanted to trudge through another interminable stretch of deep sucking stones. Not with our frail doctor in tow. The bay we entered was flat, round and large. The...

Chapter Twenty, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY The Eigenfunction We climbed back aboard the World Discoverer (aka 'Lindy'). Benito was nowhere around, which provided some much-needed relief. I hesitated for a brief instant. The supervisor’s throw had caused me bruises I had only begun to feel. The...

Chapter Twenty-One, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Gambell Spit Don and I ran through the corridor to the port side of the ship, where Marlys’ cabin was located. The sound of a guitar, and singing grew louder as we neared our destination. Marlys’ cabin was adjacent to the stairway that connected the...

Chapter Twenty-Two, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO Riding the Trough Sheriff Maxwell and I sat on either side of his old, cast-off military desk. He had laughed heartily when I had inquired, nervously, about whether he was related to Agent Maxwell of the Department of Immigration. “You’re supposed...

Chapter Twenty-Three, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE Chukchi   I dressed in my Lindy-provided blue sweater. There was no name on the front of the beautifully knit Canadian wool, just an embroidered representation of the ship over the left breast, and the white stitched letters, “STAFF” on the back....

Chapter Twenty-Four, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR 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,...

Chapter Twenty-Five, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE Providence   My body craved sleep, but my mind wouldn’t slow down. I pulled the Aguiak gold nuggets from my small table drawer. I rolled them around in my hand, like rough-cut dice without numbers. Then I took the Leica out of my pocket and shot...

Chapter Twenty-Six, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX PROVIDENIYA Our cruise director’s office door was slightly ajar. Her cabin was as before, stark, although not as severe as Captain Kessler’s. Benito was at her desk. Her cabin was huge, compared to what I was assigned, but then, after the Captain...

Chapter Twenty-Seven, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN The Mouseketeers   After Don departed, I re-inventoried the contents of my drawer. The last of the papers in the sheaf of documents we had poured over, but Don had nothing to do with recon satellite photos or maps. They had to do with the target....

Chapter Twenty-Eight, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

Chapter Twenty-Eight Line of Departure I rapped on Kessler’s door, before barging in without an invitation. We were alone. He sat at his desk, as before. I filled the seat Commander Hathoot had occupied the day before. His salutation of “Professor” lacked goodwill. As...

Chapter Twenty-Nine, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE The Mission   When the last lyrics in You Light Up My Life faded away, I got up to click the CD player off. Erect, I decided on impulse to replay the songs I had received from my secret admirer. I pushed the counter button to ‘one,’ then laid back...

Chapter Thirty, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

  CHAPTER THIRTY Reconnaissance in Force   My mission statement had been short. I concluded the situation report and then waited for my team to begin the questions and cross-examination. I expected the silence to be brief, and I wasn’t disappointed. “This whole thing...

Chapter Thirty-One, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE First Contact   I headed to the fantail. The passengers gathered along the rail, watching the action down on the dock and waiting to go ashore. Borman strode alongside me all the way from the bar, his First Mate’s uniform causing passengers to give...

Chapter Thirty-Two, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO High Noon   “Sarda” was the name painted on the side of a large white building not far from the dock. We walked to the site, always on broken or badly cracked concrete. When we had arisen that morning, I had checked the dockside from my porthole....

Chapter Thirty-Three, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE Third and Long   The afternoon wore on. Dora, whom I had reckoned to be Khromov’s assistant, after many swallows of Johnny Walker Red, proved to be his sister, as well. So, the slight mystery of their resemblance was resolved. Maryls had tired of...

Chapter Thirty-Four, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR Night Moves The tarmac, laid across the concrete surface area of the dock, was empty. The walk from Sarda’s was short. It still took me awhile, though, as I was carrying an automatic pistol, and I wanted to be certain that I would not be...

Chapter Thirty-Five, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE The Gulag   Following the Mouseketeers gathering, I made my way through connecting corridors with Marlys’ trailing not far behind me. My mind abandoned vital business, which I had discussed in detail at the meeting. Instead, my attention was...

Chapter Thirty-Six, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX Instrument of God   I approached the chessboard. I examined the table, the woods used in its construction, and the players themselves. I hefted a white rook, after glancing at Kasinski for permission, and getting his nod. Double tournament-weighted...

Chapter Thirty-Seven, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN Endurance   Kasinski and his assistant preceded me through the pipe. Our direction seemed up, although from deep underground it was hard to tell. The cool air bit into my torso, now uncovered by the cashmere coat. I’d spent five thousand dollars...

Chapter Thirty-Eight, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT A Fool’s Game We rode the Tundra Cat right to the edge of town. I had made no further effort to engage Kessler in conversation during the trip. The Russian Jeep was waiting on the concrete road when we arrived. Once more, the three of us crawled...

Chapter Thirty-Nine, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE      Into the Valley   Marlys left abruptly. Whether to terminate our relationship (one that might not exist), or simply to forget about me. I couldn’t tell. I locked the door. Then, I turned out the light, in order to enjoy a small measure of...

Chapter Forty, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY Wet Work   On the way to the Lido deck, I stopped at Don’s room, and assured myself that the Basque was going to be on the radio while the rest of us were ashore. I opened Don’s door, unannounced, then greeted his bedmate. She held up her radio. I pulled...

Chapter Forty-One, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE To Live and Die for Dixie   A small tendril of smoke curled up from the end of the suppressor, which I had once more pointed down at the floor. The machined steel part had done its first job well. There had been almost no sound. Possibly, a short...

Chapter Forty-Two, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO       The Rotting Deck   My Breguet told me that we were twenty minutes late for our meeting with the Russian Jeep, which was supposed to be all the way down at the dock, near the ship. Moreover, we did not have Hathoot’s passport. I was not sure...

Chapter Forty-Three, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE Morituri te Salutamus   The Tundra Cat slowed. I had taken the back bench-seat. Don and Dutch were up front, with the drivers near the windscreen. The box of Johnny Walker Black label had been carefully jammed under the front seats. The Purser, at...

Chapter Forty-Four, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR Straight to the Heart Kaminski’s assistant poured snifters of Black label all around. He dispensed generously. The level of the full liter bottle was only half full when he capped. I rolled the straight booze around in my glass, and then sniffed, as...

Chapter Forty-Five, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE Hell Comes to Breakfast I waited in the dark. The cell door did not open. My mind wandered briefly. Were the six rounds remaining in the Kel-tec meant for more than Kasinski and Alexi? At any time in my career I could have played out my string. The...

Chapter Forty-Six, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-SIX Beyond Effective, But Not Maximum, Range   Our situation’s complexity had just gone from that of a labyrinthine scheme, to that of a Gordian Knot. I saw but one course of action, and it seemed a darkly tunneled one without light at its end. I...

Chapter Forty-Seven, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-SEVEN Harassment and Interdiction Fire   The Tundra Cat whined over the top of the soft summer mud at top speed. I knelt next to Don, who lay on his back. The vehicle’s constant movement caused him to groan, with each small bounce or course correction. I...

Chapter Forty-Eight, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-EIGHT Running At Full Plane I didn’t expect any problems with the two drivers. Not for another thousand dollars each. Loading Dutch and Don into the Jeep posed no big hurdle, as both men had overcome their initial shock at being struck by a bullet. Dutch...

Chapter Forty-Nine, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FORTY-NINE Providence Bay   We ran alongside, loping at half speed, while the 'Lindy' sprinted at top revolutions. The larger vessel refused to slow down. The way things stood, there was simply no hope of getting aboard. I bent down to Hathoot, who was...

Chapter Fifty: Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY      Crossing the Rubicon The ship’s fantail had been abandoned, in the Lindy’s pell-mell run for the open sea. After a while, heads reappeared over the high lip of its solid steel railing. “Indy, how are you doin’ down there?” I heard Don yell into his...

Chapter Fifty-One, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY-ONE Stalemate The doctor was examining Kessler, who lay on his back, as I stepped through the hatch to the infirmary. He had cut away any clothing surrounding the laceration. When he noticed my presence next to him, he moved slightly to the right in...

Chapter Fifty-Two, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY-TWO “Dust-off”   “Perhaps you’d like to see a bit of the ship?” I presumed on the Captain, to change the subject. I needed time in spades. Time with Maxwell. Time with the radio on board the Coast Guard helicopter. Time to get myself together. The...

Chapter Fifty-Three, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY-THREE The Missed Rung Captain Cherno and I both rose to our feet simultaneously, our business together obviously concluded. We repaired to the interior of the Lido deck where Agent Maxwell sat across the booth from Captain Kessler. My eyes flared...

Chapter Fifty-Four, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY-FOUR Beat to Quarters The cylindrically machined suppressor was cold in my hand, where it had remained since Cherno returned it to my possession. It felt bitterly cold. I slipped it, with some difficulty, into my front left pants’ pocket, before opening...

Chapter Fifty-Five, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE Angel of the Morning I opted to refresh myself before checking on Don and the Basque. My cabin door was unlocked and partially open. I did not even gripe out of disgust for the violation. Somehow, my space, and in fact, my very person, had become...

Chapter Fifty-Six, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY-SIX See You Real Soon   I felt Don’s huge presence nearby, before he hunkered down, forearms atop the rail next to me. “Sitka,” he said, his gaze following mine across the extended docks, and beyond, sweeping up into the green mountains. “It’s a cold but...

Chapter Fifty-Seven, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

CHAPTER FIFTY-SEVEN Cochon II   Our van made it four blocks before getting pulled over. Over the top of the stacked luggage I saw that we were not being stopped by a marked vehicle. It was a sedan with one of those portable ‘Kojak’ red lights stuck to its roof. “You...