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 them, and then slid onto the deck on all fours, springing to my feet in a low crouch, sideways to my aggressor, in a long-practiced Aikido maneuver. I ended up facing an astonished Filipino. Around his neck hung the strangest looking clock I had ever seen. It was the size of a dinner plate but surrounded by a thick rubber bumper. Its huge numbers were nearly effervescently white. The clock swung from the Filipino’s neck like a pendulum. Thoughts of Lewis Carroll returned.

“What do you want?” I demanded irately. “And who are you?” Then I relaxed my posture and reached for my bag. I looked around the Lido deck. The Filipino and I were alone. He finally clarified matters, after finding his voice.

“I’m the night deck watch. The Purser requires the honor of your presence.” He mumbled, with half of what he said in a singsong Tagalog variation. I understood enough, particularly his pointing finger. I looked at my Breguet chronometer. It told me that it was four. I followed the Filipino, checking the sea behind us fluming off the fantail. It was still running high, but it was down from when I had fallen asleep.