By mid-afternoon, Rich finished exploring the island and returned to the man’s home.
“Have you seen what you come to see?” the man said.
“This is a beautiful place,” Rich said.
“Where will you go next?” the man said.
The man’s words seemed shallow, empty, and insincere to Rich. For now, he knew the horn was a signal for the two men to safely board The Odyssey. Safety was not his concern. No society is without some trace of impurity.
“I won’t know until my sails are set,” Rich said.
“I think you have become a part of the island life,” the man said. “Everyone else who comes and leaves knows exactly where they want to go next.”
“Where would you like to go?” Rich said.
“That is to suggest I’m not satisfied,” the man said.
“Are you?” Rich said.
“Yes,” the man said. “My choices are few,” he said and gestured to his surroundings. “The fewer a man’s choices the more satisfied his life. The key to a satisfied life is a simple life.”
There was something about the way he said it. Rich felt as if the man was hiding a disdain for him.
Rich shook his hand. “Thank you, sir.”
The man smiled.
Rich walked back to The Odyssey.
He searched everywhere for anything missing. He suspected most, the weapons, but they were all in place.
“If they didn’t take anything then they must have left something,” Rich thought.
Rich looked in every conceivable place, even the engine compartment. Nothing looked out of place, nor was there anything that appeared strange or new.
He leaned against the galley counter and thought. “Poison.” He opened the refrigerator. It was not secured shut. “I always let down the latch to keep the door from swinging around.”
Rich grabbed two pots from the cabinet. He poured about a cup of drinking water from the refrigerator in one and the same amount from the faucet leading to the holding tank. He then retrieved water from overboard and filled both the pots with seawater. Within ten minutes he caught two small fish with a net. He placed one fish in the pot having the drinking water and the other fish in the pot with the faucet water leading to the holding tank.
In five minutes the fish in the pot with the drinking water was dead and the other still alive.
“The Soviets really hold a grudge,” Rich thought, “or could White and Smithson be behind this.”
He heaved the poisoned water overboard.
Rich immediately shoved off. He motored through an opening in the reef and entered the open waters.
That night he watched the sunset. He sat at the chart desk and ran his eyes and fingers over the map with little clue or inspiration of where to sail next.
“It is strange,” Rich thought, “we did not even exchange names. I guess I was a dead man from the start.”