Englert continues this smart, witty series with beloved Labrador retriever Randolph and the perfect blend of intrigue, humor, and intellect. Here, Harry and Randolph are on the open sea searching for Imogen, the object of both their affections. Original.
J. F. Englert, a writer of fiction and nonfiction for both print and screen, lives in Manhattan with his wife, P. Englert, daughter, C. Englert, and dog, R. Englert.
AN APPETIZER IS CAUSE FOR CHAOS
THE CRUISE DIRECTOR TAKES CHARGE
D Two weeks after being plucked from the lethal waters of New York Harbor by a police helicopter, Yours Truly, a Labrador retriever with a penchant for literature, and Harry, his dangerously abstract and artistic owner, were once again aboard a nautical vessel off our beloved isle of Manhattan. This time, though, the circumstances were quite different.
On our last disastrous waterborne outing there had been nothing but hardship and grimness. There had been nothing delicious to eat. Nothing at all—not even a stale New York pretzel or something seductively sticky and grizzly seared by the sun and a thousand commuters’ feet to the steel deck.
Harry and I had chased Imogen, my mistress and his lady love, off the rain-slicked Staten Island Ferry and into the water in the middle of night. Even for a water dog such as myself, this had been harrowing and unpleasant. The conclusion was also ambiguous.
That is, the world was supposed to believe that Imogen was a victim of those waters never to be heard from again—but Harry and I had a different understanding. We were confident that she had feigned her death and now wanted us to find her in a distant place of her choosing, safe from a world of diplomat-spies, nation-states, profiteers, and other rogues intent on claiming her uranium fortune.
She had left a “constellation map” to lead us to her. This is why we were heading south toward the Caribbean aboard the Nordic Bliss, a monstrously oversized, but tidy, Scandinavian cruise ship. In a handful of days’ time we would be disembarking on that quaint Dutch island of Curaçao where the architecture is pleasant pastel, the temperature a steady eighty-five degrees. We believed our mistress was hiding there in some cove beneath the stars waiting for us.
As far as our pursuit of Imogen went, passage on the Nordic Bliss made sense since it was a “pet lovers’ cruise” and something that even scrutinizing and hostile eyes might dismiss as natural for an artist and his dog.
But soon it would become clear that our trip by sea had the trappings of one of those expeditions that start with celebration only to grow progressively more troubled before ending with all hands going down in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle far from hearth and home, gone without a trace. I would learn that the Nordic Bliss was chock-full of characters who would threaten to turn this middle-aged Labrador’s chin completely white, leading to more than a few encounters with the absurd and the ridiculous and, most unfortunately, to some untimely passenger deaths. This last wrinkle would demand the particular abilities of Yours Truly’s 2.3 pounds of smoothly functioning gelatinous gray matter.
Though doubt and chaos loomed, in these first shipboard hours the hard edges of recent memory had gentled somehow, and Yours Truly was able to entertain a dream of peace—in this case the hope of an eventual reunion with our Imogen under more permanent circumstances that would eventually leave us all hearthside again in our cozy Manhattan abode. In the meantime I harbored the fantasy that I might soon be lazing beneath the shade of Harry’s deck chair discreetly dipping into the classics as our drumming liner slid toward the tropics.
The late-spring sun poured golden light down on Brooklyn and Staten Island, making even those lesser boroughs with their factories and sagging docks seem luminous. Harry tossed a last streamer into the breeze and watched it sag and flutter down the side of the ship until it was lost in our wake. There was music playing on deck—a trio producing Caribbean confections on the steel drums. Colorful, umbrella-crowned drinks were being consumed—Harry was draining his perilous third mojito and swaying a little too loosely for my taste, unable
Excerpted from A Dog at Sea: A Bull Moose Dog Run Mystery by J. F. Englert All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.