Being Watched, Episode 89, Odysseys in Paradise

The next morning Ramona emerged slowly from the companionway with her cup of tea. Rich had his coffee and glanced at her. She sat across from him.

“I’m sorry for not cleaning up last night,” Ramona said.

“That’s okay, I didn’t mind,” Rich said.

“I’m sorry for going off on you, also,” Ramona said. “I could have been more tactful.”

“I don’t like tactful people,” Rich said. “What I mean is I don’t like people trying to be tactful with me. They are always hiding their feelings—and the truth.”

“So where do we go from here?” Ramona said.

Rich smiled. “I don’t hold grudges nor do I take offense. As far as where we go from here–right over the horizon, to Reao.”

“I’m just concerned for you,” Ramona said.

“And that’s what makes it so easy for me not to take it personal,” Rich said. “I know you care.”

“And I know you care,” Ramona said. “I can’t think of any other reason you would do this.”

“I don’t mean to alarm you,” Rich said, “but there was an episode with a Soviet submarine and guns not so long ago.”

“Yes,” Ramona said, “that’s in the past.”

“Not exactly,” Rich said, “a periscope has been visible on our port side for about a half hour. It’s about 50 yards out.”

“Do you think it is them?” Ramona said.

“A good possibility,” Rich said.

“What are you going to do?” Ramona said.

“It’s obvious I’m not going to take any armed action against them, given the current sensitivities onboard,” Rich said sarcastically.

“Why are they watching us?” Ramona said searching the waters for the periscope. “I see it.”

“Keep an eye on them if you like,” Rich said. “I’m going to slip below and try to make radio contact with them.”

Rich grabbed the mic from the radio. “Hello, this is The Odyssey to submarine, what do you want?” Rich repeated the message every 30 seconds for five minutes.

He climbed back on deck. “They hear me, they just don’t want to respond.” Rich waved at the periscope.

“They want me to know they are there without being obvious,” Rich said. “Now that they know that I know, the next move is theirs.”

Five minutes later the periscope disappeared below the waves. Rich continued on course without seeing the periscope. He walked around the deck every hour with the binoculars fixed upon the water.

As they ate supper in the cabin a superficial conversation dominated the meal. The Soviet submarine dominated Rich’s thinking.

“I feel something strange,” Rich said.

“What do you mean?” Ramona said.

“I’m sorry,” Rich said. “It was more when I was on deck.” He stood and checked the barometer hanging on the wall. “That’s it; the pressure is dropping.”

“That means a storm,” Ramona said.

“Yes,” Rich said and he stood over the chart desk. “We are not far from a small island. It appears to have a lagoon. Those are the perfect places to ride out a storm.”

“How far away?” Ramona said.

Rich grabbed the sextant and climbed on deck for a reading. He returned and pinpointed their location. “We’re right on course for it, another four hours.”

Ramona looked out the porthole. “It looks clear.”

“It looks great as far as the eye can see,” Rich said. “By the time we arrive at the island, it will be close to sunset. We’ll see if a way can be found into the lagoon and we’ll anchor there for the night or until the storm passes.”

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