As on every other ship belonging to a major cruise line, women passengers--mostly single, widowed or divorced--outnumbered the males by an uncomfortable margin. To correct this disparity, the ship employed a dozen or so males--the Gray Panthers--ranging in age from their late 50s to early 70s. These men--always presentable, good manners, above average conversationalists capable of playing a decent hand of bridge and dancing the fox-trot, tango and rumba--traveled free of charge. They neither smoked nor drank overly much and were expected to devote their time to entertaining--quite properly, for the most part--clients of the opposite sex. If a shipboard romance thrived, so be it. It was not the Captain’s duty to enforce morals among his passengers. It was, however, his responsibility to see that the Gray Panthers behaved in a fashion befitting his ship’s good name. Dealing cocaine, even in minute amounts, was an unforgivable offense.
“Castro saw Robinson do this?”
The mistress shook her head. “Not exactly. First he saw a passenger giving Professor Robinson some bills. He thought this was odd and a couple of days later witnessed the same thing again, this time with another passenger. And yesterday evening, three men asked him whether Robinson was around. The Professor apparently spends a lot of time in Castro’s bar. Later that night, one of the men had too much to drink and spilled a drink on himself. He emptied his pockets, dumped everything on the bar and Castro thought he saw a small plastic bag with some white powder in it. Obviously, it could have been anything but he said the man snatched it back and walked away--or staggered--very quickly.”
The Captain carefully replaced the cap on his
His mistress nodded.
The Captain sighed. According to Interpol, virtually every cruise ship asail carried between 20 and 200 pounds of illegal drugs at any given moment. Even senior citizens were not above making a few thousand dollars by shepherding caches of drugs--usually not more than a pound or two--from one port to another. The smugglers were often women in their 60s who had been on cruises at least once before. They were rarely caught.
The Captain sighed again, rubbed his forehead. “Have Professor Robinson’s cabin searched. If you find anything, have one of the men bring him to me.”