Three hours later, far beyond the starboard bow, Rich caught sight of Anuanuraro Atoll. He leaned his head below and cupped one hand to his mouth. “Land Ho!”
A few moments later Ramona climbed up on deck. “I looked at the barometer, it has dropped further.”
“I’m feeling it,” Rich said.
“The weather looks good,” Ramona said.
Rich pointed to the east. “The sky over there is a little different. That’s more than darkness. There’s something going on. We will be in the lagoon long before any bad weather arrives.”
They approached the island and Rich sailed close the western shore looking for a passage to the lagoon. On the northwest side of the island, an opening appeared and Rich motored into the lagoon.
Rich dropped the anchors and made certain they held fast to the lagoon’s bottom.
As night fell Rich and Ramona watched the yonder lightning glow and pulsate in the distant eastern sky. The lagoon rested peacefully with barely a ripple. The palms onshore stood majestic, still, and tall.
“The calm before the storm,” Rich said.
“I’m glad we were close to an island?” Ramona said.
“It would be a bumpy ride otherwise,” Rich said. “Often times the safest place during a storm is at sea. It’s the land that gets in the way. More ships are lost because of the land than by the sea; that is if you know how to sail.”
“Why didn’t we stay at sea?” Ramona said.
“A lagoon is safer,” Rich said. “If there was not a lagoon here, we would have sailed on.”
A sudden strong rush of wind passed over the lagoon and all stood quiet. “That is like a warning shot,” Rich said.
“We are prepared,” Ramona said.
“The barometer has dropped quickly,” Rich said. “This will be quite a storm. It could last for a couple days. We won’t sail until I’m sure it is all clear.”
“I’m going to my quarters,” Ramona said.
“I’ll stay up a little longer,” Rich said. “Good night, Ramona.”
“Would you like me to prepare a cup of tea for you?” Ramona said.
“That’s kind of you,” Rich said. “If I want something later I can get it.”
“Good night, Rich.”
Ramona went to her quarters and Rich continued to watch the sky quietly illuminate. The wind picked up and he snapped the pilothouse canvass. Rain streaked across the windshield. He knew sleep would elude him, so he put a large pot of water on the stove for tea. By the time he climbed back into the cover of the canvas the wind beat hard against it. He slipped out the pilothouse and made sure the deck was secure.
Movement on shore caught Rich’s eye; in the dark something moved between two palms. Rich strained to make it out. It eventually became clear two men dressed in dark clothing were pulling something across the land from the outer shore to the lagoon shore. “The Soviets,” he murmured, “they are dragging a raft.”
Rich slipped back into the pilothouse and removed the AK 47 from the bench. He sat and waited. The hostile weather made it impossible to hear any approach. He looked through the windshield and observed the two men paddling to the starboard side of The Odyssey. He crawled out the port side waited for them to make contact with the boat. Listening carefully he heard them hoist themselves onto the aft deck.
Rich hunched low and walked foot over foot along the side of the pilot house with the AK 47 pressed tight against his shoulder. He moved to the rear of the pilot house. The two men in black secured their raft to The Odyssey; their backs to Rich.
Rich said calmly, “don’t move and welcome aboard. Now turn around slowly with your hands up.”
They did as Rich ordered.
“Who are you?” Rich said.
They said nothing.
“Why are you on my boat?”
They remained silent.
“Look, you two,” Rich said. “I’m nobody to be afraid of. I’m clueless as to why you are here. Are you Soviets?”
They stood quietly.
“That sounds as if I know something,” Rich said. “I had a run in with the Soviets a while back. I delivered one of your diplomats who defected to the CIA. Do you wish to defect also? I can facilitate that.”
There was no reply.
“I’m making a joke,” Rich said.
“My name is Boris.”
“And my name is Dmitri.”
“My name is Rich.”
“I have a young lady below,” Rich said. “She’s asleep in her quarters. She’s scared to death about this storm. She hates guns and violence and to tell you the truth so do I. So here’s the deal; I figure you two came from sub a mile offshore. You aren’t going to make it back before this storm really gets nasty. You’re welcome aboard as long as you remain civilized. I have some tea.”
“It seems as if our choices are few,” Boris said, “and you have the weapon.”
“I’m going to do something very stupid,” Rich said. He dropped the AK 47 from his shoulder. He grabbed hold of the barrel with both hands and flung it into the lagoon.
“In a reciprocal gesture if you have weapons will you at least toss them in the raft,” Rich said.
Both reached inside their jackets and removed pistols and tossed them in the raft.
“Let’s go below and ride this storm out,” Rich said.