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 slightly, when I saw the World Discoverer’s captain. Only hours earlier he had been nearly incoherent and immobile in the infirmary.

Marlys had also returned to her special place behind the bar, while in front of her sat Hathoot and Dutch. Both men seemed glum and stoical, nursing glasses of water. Nonetheless, they tipped their glasses half-heartedly and drank in unison. By contrast, Marlys smiled mischievously. At least the mystery of how Kessler had made it up the stairs was solved. Marlys provided the physical assistance and booze was the anesthetic. I mused to myself, as I tried to figure out the complexities of what I was presently facing.

The Russian captain never acknowledged Kessler or Maxwell, as he headed immediately for the stairs and his waiting boat. I recorded that non-event for later consideration. I walked up to the booth where both men sat. Neither was talking. I pulled up a chair and sat down. Neither man conferred on me as much malice as I thought my proper due. Marlys delivered a bowl of hot coffee over my left shoulder, then her shapely figure, attired in a sweeping blue dress, disappeared behind the bar. Dutch and Hathoot both acted woozy and disengaged. I frowned at them, before engaging Kessler and Maxwell.