Poseidiana

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They had been touring the ship for almost two hours. They had seen the wine cellar, two ballrooms, the in-line skating rink, a Kraft restaurant and a luxury suite designed by Vera Wang when Nick said wait, Jack was not going to believe the basketball courts. Jack hadn't seen Nick in twenty years, but it seemed to him they were taking up right where they left off. Nick lording it over him. Look at me; I've got it all.

They'd been in the Navy together, gone through basic, shared a couple of drinking binges and a girlfriend in San Diego, but they'd never been what Jack would call friends. It was the lording over. Look how well I did on my seaman's test, how much I know about Scotch, how this UCSD co-ed I'm dating, the swimsuit model, her dad owns John Wayne's old place in Newport. But they'd had some laughs together; the drunks, the girl in San Diego (not the daughter of the rich guy from Newport, another girl), and they'd shared the miseries of their first three months at sea, so that was something. After that, Jack had gravitated towards the Shore Patrol; it was easy work and he had already decided that the Navy was not for him. The SP would open the doors to police work, and that was what Jack thought he might do. Nick worked his way into an officers' training program, and they hadn't seen much of each other after that. The last Jack had heard before Nick found him on Facebook, Nick had gotten a navigation job with one of the cruise lines, Princess, he remembered, because that had seemed kind of perfect.

Nick's time as navigational officer for the Princess Line had certainly paid off. He was now the captain of this ship, the Poseidonia. Ship was hardly the right word. It was a floating city. In addition to the in-line rink and the Kraft, there was a casino, a driving range and a miniature golf course. State of the art health club facilities including a jogging track and a Pilates studio. The ship carried one thousand, eight hundred passengers. Most ships this size took three times as many, but the smallest rooms on the Poseidiana were two room suites and many of the luxury suites were three and four bedroom mini-palaces. In addition to the Kraft, there were seven other dining venues, including one that had a cooking demonstration/culinary arts center. There were ten bars, one of which sat five hundred for cabaret-type entertainment.

That entertainment was world-class. Last year, Nick said, Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters had been flown to meet the ship in the Bahamas for two shows each. A little dated, but the people who could afford this kind of cruise tended to be older and their tastes more conservative. "My first year as captain," Nick said, "we were still booking those eighties Flock of Haircut 100 bands. I had to change it up quickly before we wound up with Duran Duran or Sparks."

"So that's part of the captain job, booking the entertainment?" Jack asked. They were back in Nick's quarters now, an office suite worthy of a Wall Street exec.

"Dude," Nick said, "that's virtually my only job. A computer steers the ship, and I've got an army of a dozen geeks who worry about that. Other than booking the Foo Fighters, which was major with the company, I just have to show up at the captain's table for the meals and charm the wealthy, which, as you may remember, has always been something of a specialty."

"You ever hear from Catherine," Jack asked, pulling the name of the Newport heiress from some compartment in the back of his brain reserved for useless information.

"Her dad went belly up in the recession. Had to sell the Wayne place and everything else he owned. She reached out and I got her a job as a hostess in one of the lounges on the Alaska line. Kind of sad. Forty-two year old woman, no skills and sagging tits, talking to people with half her breeding. 'Would you like a table by the window tonight? I think I can manage that.'"

"You mentioned something about a job," Jack said. He was remembering another of the reasons he didn't really like Nick.

"Let me show you something. Nick picked up a tooled leather humidor from his desk. "This was Castro's. Well, it was Hemingway's first. His widow gave it to Fidel when he saved the Hemingway house in Havana."

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