Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Danger is Not My Middle Name #11
“What the hell are you DOING?”
The voice sliced through my preoccupation with the scrap of paper like a knife. I turned and saw Marlon, our cabin steward, standing in the doorway, surveying the damage.
For a moment, Marlon looked flummoxed. Then he rephrased: “What the hell are you doing, sir?”
(They teach Princess staff to be polite.)
Marlon stood there surveying the damage, quivering with dismay and the keen desire to put everything right. Immediately. I had the sense I was in the presence of a worker ant.
“There was this other worldly creature that drifted through the walls,” I explained. “It was looking for what was under the bed.”
Marlon inched closer to me. I suspected he was trying to smell my breath, which considering the stress I’d been under tonight, wasn’t a good idea.
“A creature, sir?” he asked.
“Drifting through the walls?”
I nodded again.
Marlon looked at me with skepticism, which was completely understandable under the circumstances.
“If you say so, sir,” he said softly. “If you give me ten minutes or so, I can clear this mess up.”
He stood there, looking at me expectantly, almost as though I hadn’t just told him a supernatural being had ransacked my stateroom.
I nodded once and left. As soon as the door closed, I heard many sounds of things being firmly put back in place along with Marlon’s soft but distinctly hostile muttering coming from within.
I went to the only place I could think of where my people resided: the Internet Lounge and collapsed into a chair, all the better to examine the note.
Across from me was the same couple I’d seen at breakfast a few days ago.
The man was sitting behind a closed laptop, eyeing his wife, who was frantically typing on the keyboard, totally ignoring him.
“I thought you said five minutes,” he said. His voice held out no hope at all that this was going to be the actual case.
“I have just a one more comment to make,” she said, without looking up or slowing her typing.”
“You said that ten minutes ago, Sheree,” he replied with a sigh. His voice was full of resignation. No anger. Just resignation. He must be married, I thought.
“Flickr’s like that,” she said. “You know that.”
He said “Uh huh.”
“And I need to buy another 1,000 minutes,” she said.
He said “Uh huh.”
He saw me looking at them and half smiled and winked. I winked back, hoping it wasn’t like some gay thing.
Then I unfolded the note.
There was a sequence of numbers and the letter “G.”
I didn’t graduate in the top 84% of the Ray Hunker Correspondance School of Detection for no reason. I knew what the numbers had to be within just a few minutes. It was the one thing overlooked by the creature. It had to be a phone number – a phone number I was supposed to protect with my life. Why?
WWBD? I asked myself. (“What Would Bogie Do?)
I went to a telephone and dialed.
When the voice on the other line said “hello” – I nearly swallowed my tongue. I knew precisely who it was.