Arch Patton, The Bering Sea, Prologue

Arch Patton, The Bering Sea, Prologue

Joshua Boatwright sat patiently, sipping from his small espresso cup, unsure of how he had come to be where he was; tucked into the back corner of the lobby of the Sheraton hotel in Crystal City.

Chapter Five, Arch Paton: 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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...
Chapter Sixteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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, 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, 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...
Chapter Nineteen, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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, 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...
Chapter Twenty-One, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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, 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, 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...
Chapter Twenty-Four, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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, 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...
Chapter Twenty-Six, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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, 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...
Chapter Twenty-Eight, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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, 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...
Chapter Thirty, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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...
Chapter Thirty-One, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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...
Chapter Thirty-Two, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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...
Chapter Thirty-Three, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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...
Chapter Thirty-Four, Arch Patton: The Bering Sea

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, 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...