The Flying Cloud, R505 - Season Two

Episode 83: I'm Afraid the Honeymoon is Over

Everett and Clarice examine the barge

"I believe I've located this resort the Governor is searching for," said Jenkins. "We know that the late Yakov was a singer. It was straightforward to identify the venues where he performed. Most of these were nightclubs, but he also had an extended engagement at a place called the Romantischer Badekurort, located near the mouth of this river here." The signalman indicated a spot on the chart some distance to the west.

"Should we inform His Excellency?" asked MacKiernan.

"I'd hesitate to do so immediately," said Everett. "He as much as told us that his office had been infiltrated by the nationalists. We'll send in a party disguised as tourists and contact him after we've investigated the place ourselves."

"There is one problem," said Jenkins. "This place appears to be a honeymoon resort."

"Oh dear," said MacKiernan.

"This does leave us at something of a loss," Everett observed.

For several moments, the room was silent. At last Clarice shook her head in exasperation. "Find two people to pose as honeymooners," she announced, as if the answer should have been obvious to everyone.

"Aye," said MacKiernan, "that might work. But who should we send?"

"Pierre and Sarah?" suggested someone.

"I have read the establishment's brochure," said Jenkins. "They only accept Caucasian customers, preferably ones with `Aryan-Nordic characteristics', whatever those might be."

"How strange," mused Everett. "This would seem to be place an unprofitable restriction on their clientele in this part of the world. It's unfortunate Helga is no longer available... though perhaps this may be for the best."

"Jenkins and Emily?" said Clarice, with obvious glee. Her companion frowned.

"I don't believe this will do," said Everett. "After their inquiries in town, they will almost certainly have been marked by agents."

All eyes turned to Clarice.

"Now wait a second," she said warily. "Just because I have light hair..."

"This was your idea," said Emily with a malicious smile. "Now who shall we pick to be your `husband'? We'll need another blond..."

They rode to the resort in silence. Clarice kept an eye on her companion, but Everett, who'd learned something about minefields during his service at Gallipoli, knew better than to open his mouth. They were still not speaking when they arrived.

The lobby was elegant, with a distinct tropical theme. A copy of Gaugin's Nevermore, Oh Tahiti hung from one wall and a calendar above the reception desk showed a woman in a bathing suit on an island beach poised beneath the words, `You'll look better in a Ujelang!' If the clerk thought his guests' behavior remarkable, he was too well-trained to mention this. "Herr and Frau Case," he beamed, "it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance! If you would come this way."

Their rooms occupied a bungalow next to the beach. The accommodations were luxurious, well-kept, and furnished by someone with a decidedly un-British concept of romance. Clarice examined the silk curtains, the oversized bed, the imaginative library, and scowled. "Don't get any ideas!" she announced.

"I wouldn't think of it," replied Everett. "I'll make my quarters on the verandah. I've slept in worse places," he added with what seemed like a hint of irony. Clarice gave him a stern glance, but the captain's expression gave no clue to what he might be thinking. She scowled to herself. Advances she could have dealt with, but the man's reserve was becoming annoying.

The next morning dawned peaceful and bright. Clarice lay in the monumental bed, listening to the distant whisper of surf, until her reverie was broken by a tap on the window. Snatching up her bedclothes, she pulled back the curtain, hoping to catch Everett by surprise, but the captain was standing with his back to the pane lest he see something he shouldn't.

"I hope I didn't disturb your rest," he said politely, "but if we plan to conduct any substantial investigations today, it might be best to begin soon."

"Very well," she replied, fuming. How dare the man continue doing nothing she could plausibly object to! This was not a game she was used to losing. And what should she wear?

It took Clarice some time to select suitable footwear and pick an ensemble to match. By the time she emerged from the bungalow, her mood had improved. This was an adventure! Her Aunt Leviatha would be horrified. Emily would be jealous. And she was pleased to see a genuine smile flicker across Everett's face before he managed to suppress it. Ha! she thought. I win this round!

"You look quite striking," said the captain, offering his arm. "Would you care to accompany me for a walk around the grounds?"

"Of course, `my Dear'," she replied, with barely a trace of sarcasm.

Soon they were strolling around the perimeter of the resort, doing their best to look like ordinary guests. Everett made a great show of discussing the plant life, pulling aside branches to point out some undistinguished piece of flora. Clarice had no idea what he was looking for, but she was not about to lose points by asking. At last he pointed at the ground to indicate a barely perceptible path that disappeared in the direction of the river.

"I expected as much," he announced. "Let's see where this leads."

Before Clarice could object, the captain had plunged into the brush. She followed, doing irreparable damage to her stockings. She found him standing on the bank, gazing at a motorized barge tied to the shore below. Somehow his clothing had not been affected by their scramble through the jungle.

"This must be how the nationalists have been resupplying their airship," he said, indicating the grimy vessel. "I imagine we'll find a portable hydrogen plant and mooring mast aboard."

"You're not expecting me to set foot on that filthy thing!" exclaimed Clarice.

"Of course not," said Everett, "unless circumstances compel us to..."

Before the captain could finish, branches stirred behind him and a muscular figure, clad in a brown outfit so severe it was almost a uniform, emerged from the brush. The man drew a pistol.

"So, Herr Everett," he gloated. "You must have thought we wouldn't recognize... OOF!"

The man folded as Everett rendered him unconscious. His gun bounced off a rock, discharged, and spun into the water. The shot echoed across the estuary, frightening birds into flight. There was an outcry from the direction of the resort.

Everett listened to the cries. "I believe our adversaries have been alerted to our presence," he observed. "We might do well to escape aboard this barge. If you could cast off the mooring lines while I locate the motor."

One didn't grow up in a coastal town like Darwin without learning a thing or two about boats. Clarice slipped the hawsers free, use a pole to push the craft clear of the shore, and inspected her fingernails. Then she turned to see how her companion was doing. She found him studying a dubious hunk of iron.

"It appears to be a single cylinder make-and-break engine," he observed. "These can be the devil to start."

"It's an Orion three horsepower!" said Clarice. "My aunt had one of these! Allow me!" She elbowed the captain aside, found a cloth to protect her hands, and pulled the starting handle through a few times to loosen up the engine. Then she pulled it through again until the piston was balanced on its compression stroke and switched on the magneto.

"There's a trick to these things," she announced. As Everett watched, she wrapped her fingers around the handle -- being careful to keep her thumbs out of the way in case it kicked back -- and gave it a hefty yank. There was wheeze, a bang, and the motor chugged to life.

"Well done, Miss Blaine," said Everett. "That should place our hosts at a disadvantage." He gestured toward the shore they'd left, where a party of guards were gesticulating angrily and firing pistols in their direction. "We might wish to crouch behind this bulwark until they come to terms with this situation."

They relaxed, enjoying the sunshine, as the commotion behind them grew fainter. "What shall we do now?" asked Clarice after they were out of range.

"If you could take the helm for a moment, I'll see if I can find us some tea."

Next week: Rabaul Rousers...

Comments about Episode 83? Start a new topic on the Forum!

StumbleUpon        submit to reddit Reedit