Cruise On

Day 9 of Leigh Down’s illness and Day 8 of cruise husband and stateroommate Clark Barr’s was one of feeling far better. The loss of taste and smell remained, keeping meals unpleasant necessities more about temperature and texture than any sort of flavor.

“This is so discouraging, having taken this cruise with a primary goal of food immersion, then having things become better than I could have imagined bonding in love with you and you being wholly on-board with my primary goal and its side-effects, then losing all sense of taste and smell and having eating become more chore than pleasure” she lamented, getting a rise from him via squeezing her own hips to emphasize her side(-located) effects.

“Thankfully Royal Prince is compensating everyone, so you’ll be able to have another opportunity on a future cruise, once this whole COVID-19 thing and everything else related to SARS-2 is worked out.”

“Assuming I can arrange enough time off from work.”

“Be thankful you’re not amongst those who may be getting permanent time off from work.”

“There is that” she sighed, casting her defocused gaze towards the floor. Suddenly realizing something, her head quickly snapped back up, “I’m going to have to check in with work sometime today and let them know I’m stuck here, since unless things change really quickly, I won’t be in for Monday morning as planned.”

“Yeah, if you want your job, that would be advisable. I ought to do the same thing with my work, since they’re expecting me Monday as well.”

Rather than respond, she was staring at the wall.

He commenced lightly massaging her shoulders, one shoulder per hand, “Whatcha thinking about?”

“I would’ve already been off the ship and home today, if things had gone normally. Or riding with you to get off with you in L.A.”

“Except you wouldn’t have because I would have gotten off in S.F. two days ago.”

She cuddled into him, rolling and twisting around for nuzzles and kisses. “Maybe this is better (kiss). Even with no sense of taste (kiss).”


Coming-on-duty First Officer Glenn had an urgent question upon arriving on the Bridge for her going-off-duty peer First Officer Crunklebunk—urgent enough that Officer Crunklebunk had to stop her at an appropriate social distance. “How is the captain?”

“Unusually laconic.”

“Does he have it?”

Officer Crunklebunk nodded. “Active disease, hence his quarantining in his office.” Using a protective clean handkerchief between her hand and the bridge’s IR thermometer, she measured her forehead temperature. The results displeased her. “Up a full degree C from the start of my shift. I may have it too. Next time you see me, I’ll be wearing a face mask.”

“Measure me, please.”

“37 point 3 C. What do you normally run?”

“High 36. 37-3’s edgy for me. I’ll have to track it. Are you OK staying on until I can arrange PPE, so I don’t spread anything I might have?”

“Sure. I’ll go carefully wash my hands and do a sterile wipe-down.”


Officer Glenn returned a few minutes later wearing a protective mask, handing a sealed package with the same to Officer Crunklebunk.

After officially handing off control of the ship, First Officer Glenn had one final question for departing First Officer Crunklebunk. “Status update on Captain’s efforts to arrange berthing?”

“No updates, nor efforts towards them that I’ve seen. My sense is that his current greatest challenge lies within.”


Leigh decided that a freshly-arrived email was worth sharing, “Well… looks like I wouldn’t have been going to work on Monday anyway.”

“You look so….”

“I’m waiting.”

“Studious? Professorial? Something in your reading glasses.”

Plllllbbt! she raspberried, then coughed. “Be glad I don’t need them to read your face clearly.”

“I thought I was an easy read.” Hack! “So what’s the deal?”

“Amalgamated Composites is a non-essential business, thus closed for the time being.”

“They’re not doing work from home?”

“Not now, according to this.” She nose-nuzzled him, “I don’t feel like debating with them about this, nor anything else, presently. Anything from your place of employment?”

“Not yet” CCHHH! “I’ve been reading about Newsom’s statewide shelter-at-home order last night. Maybe it has to happen like that, but it seems pretty dire to me.”

“If the idea is to keep people from mingling and spreading this thing, doesn’t it make sense to have a uniform procedure for the whole state rather than each city or county doing its own thing?”

“Possibly” he sighed. “So many things we don’t know about this disease yet.”

Now it was her turn to sigh, as well as cuddle into him more. “It’s all happening so fast. I hope that what we’re reading is correct: that we’re on the survival side of this.” Hack!

“How long is this thing supposed to last?”

“Fourteen days is what I’m reading.”

“Ulaaaaaaagghh!

“Tell me about it. Wanna do some marching, just to be sure, even though thankfully we’re not wheezing?”

“Yeah. But you have to do 3 cycles before you dock against my plush port for our fourth.”

“Taskmaster” he teased, cueing up the video.

🎼 Honk! t-thh Honk! t-thh HonkHonkHonk
Honk! t-thh Honk! t-thh HonkHonkHonk 🎼…


Later in the afternoon, Clark received the email response for which he’d been waiting, reading it carefully.

“Don’t keep me in suspense.” Cough!

“Same deal as your place. Which doesn’t especially surprise me, given that as you know we’re mostly a prototyping operation, and not a lot of design work seems to be going on as the impact of this body blow hits us.” Cccc! Chhhh!

“Let’s not talk about body blows, please. Nor COVID-19.”

“What would you rather talk about?”

“Nothing. Let’s go to bed early, or at least take a nap.”