Chapter 5

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Good luck, the intervention of Divine Providence or just a meaningful coincidence, can sometimes favor us at an auspicious moment. One such moment arrived when Borders and Hill went port side to view the French Naval Yard, across the harbor. Musing about the outcome of a continued search, the toll it would take on their so-called vacation and the outcome if they failed, weighed heavily, when, in an instant, all such thoughts vanished. There, braced against the railing because of the strong gusts, his hand and eye focusing an expensive camera, was a man wearing a white Panama hat. Photographing the single ship that remained in port, an aircraft carrier, occupied his full attention. Could the shipyard be a possible target? This absorption and the strong winds masked Borders's approach.

"Good looking carrier," said Borders. "Is this your hobby, photography, I mean?

'Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer,' thought Borders

The stranger turned to look at the two men intruding on his time, his face expressionless, perhaps wondering, whether they were an impending threat or just bothersome tourists. He clenched his teeth and looked back at the ship. The slight scowl gave Borders his answer.

Borders looked at a bulky man, in the age past fifty, where muscle morphed to fat. His khaki Bermuda shorts, baggy at best and a loose blue t-shirt contributed to this reality. Ignoring the two men, the photographer returned to his former interest. Pretending not to notice the snub, Borders stepped up to the railing to take some photos of the aircraft carrier, his part of playing the tourist. After snapping two photos, he looked back at his target. True to his nature, the man had disappeared. Borders looked in both directions, but the deck was clear, nothing moved except tarps, pushed about by strong winds. Hill was still busy snapping photos as if he had never seen a warship before.

Anxious again to set eyes on their quarry, Borders and Hill needed to cross to the other side of the ship and look down at the dock. Perhaps they could catch a glimpse of Panama going ashore. This hopeful sighting became a task easier said than done. The passageway to the other side of the ship was also the entrance to two elevators now crammed with those eager to get to the fourth deck, the exit gangway, as well as others intent on breakfast. Those departing on tours had a sense of panic as crammed elevators left them standing. Old and tired eyes searched for help and leadership. They looked abandoned.

The two men threaded their way through the crowd none the worse for wear as glares gave no physical injuries. The sudden gusts of wind were similar to the other side of the ship. A man chased a hat skimming across the deck like a bowling ball. The hat was winning the race. A number of passengers lined the railing staring at the commotion below. Ten tour buses stood parked in a row, their headlights scowling at the ship. Taxis, limos and vans were parked where they impeded the walkway. Men and women waving posters and cardboard signs yelled for attention, as people scurried left and right, not wanting to be left behind, although the tour buses would not depart for another hour.

Borders craned his neck searching amid floppy hats and waving hands, eventually being rewarded with a glimpse of Panama walking down the gangway. 'Too bad it wasn't a gang plank.' He continued watching - waiting to see which tour bus he would steal him away. To his surprise, Panama passed all the busses and kept walking. Borders felt his surveillance go down the drain. It was just too far away for him to catch up. But still he would have to try. He wondered if there was mischief in the air.

A short time later, Borders and Hill stepped off the gangway and followed in his direction. A tour guide filling the space in front of a bus waved a logo of the tour company they had booked. Her sign informed them to go behind the building at the end of the vehicles where they would find the marshaling point. Perhaps Panama was there. They walked past the busses, squeezing between others who came in the opposite direction, where sudden gusts of wind pushed them into apologetic moments.

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