Below, Rich poured hot water for tea. Boris and Dmitri sat beside each other on a bench in the cabin. They looked at each other from time to time as they sipped the tea bewildered by the unexpected events.
“The way I see it,” Rich said, “you guys really have the upper hand; after all, you got a submarine. The young lady sleeping in the forward quarters has only been held in the arms of her father once—when she was an infant. I promised to take her there. Her father lives on Reao; it’s about four or five days northeast. Let me deliver her and you can do whatever you do to guys like me.”
“We are not in a position to make that decision,” Boris said.
“What do you want me from anyway?” Rich said.
“From my experience an exchange,” Dmitri said. “We capture you and we keep you until our two men are returned.”
“I’m nothing,” Rich said. “I’m not a spy or an agent for the CIA or anybody. I’m a farm boy from Ohio that stepped in a pile of dog crap and can’t get the smell off his shoes.”
The door to Ramona’s quarter opened. She walked out rubbing her eyes. At the sight of the two men she stiffened. “Who are they?”
“Boris and Dmitri,” Rich said, “from your friendly neighborhood Soviet submarine just down the street.”
She quickly sat next to Rich as if looking to him for protection.
“What are they doing here?” Ramona said.
“They have come for me,” Rich said, “and somehow I hope they have it within them to see you get to your father in Reao.”
“You mean I might not get there?” Ramona said.
“I have no idea what you guys are made of,” Rich said, “but for now we have a storm to contend with. We may all need each other before it’s all over.”
“May I use your radio?” Boris said.
“Sure,” Rich said, “leave a dime on the shelf.” Rich stood and turned the radio on. “Push down when you speak.”
Boris radioed the submarine and made contact. They spoke entirely in Russian.
Boris hung the mic and sat back on the bench. “I told the commander we are the guest of your boat until the storm subsides. I also said you were not the man we are looking for.”
“Thanks,” Rich said, “How can we be sure Dmitri will go along with this?”
“Dmitri gave me the sign that you are telling the truth,” Boris said.
“I am an expert in such things,” Dmitri said. “You are telling us the truth.”
“You guys don’t seem so bad,” Rich said. “I feel bad for poisoning your tea.”
Boris’ eyes widened he sprung forward.
Dmitri thrust his arm to Boris’ chest. “Boris, shutka. I can tell, he’s making a joke.”
Boris began laughing, so did Dmitri and Rich. Ramona chuckled uncomfortably.
“Are you guys hungry?” Rich said.
“We have not eaten since dinner,” Dmitri said.
“This is a special occasion,” Rich said. “Have you ever had chili?”
Boris and Dmitri looked at each other and said no.
An hour later they were eating and talking like old friends except for Ramona; she said little. The Odyssey swayed and bobbed, but with nowhere near the ferocity that it might on the open seas.
Ramona went back to her quarters around 10:00 PM.
“Do either of you play chess?” Rich said.
“Boris is the worst chess player in the entire Soviet Union,” Dmitri said.
Rich looked at Boris. “Boris, did you bring and rubles with you?”
They played chess for an hour. They were all becoming sleepy.
“There is enough room for us all out here,” Rich said.
“Are you not going to sleep with the girl?” Boris said.
“She is a girl of virtue,” Rich said. “If not for her I would have never tossed my rifle and there is a chance I may have—let’s just leave it at that.”
Rich zipped the canvass and reinforced it with straps. He slept on the bench of the cockpit with the furious rattle of canvass and howling wind streaking across the lagoon. Rich afforded Boris and Dmitri the luxury and comfort of the cabin.