“Roger, my love, I know you no better after two years than on our first stolen afternoon on your veranda.” Hilda, the unhappy wife of my boss, would never have come with me to Japan, (nor would I have asked her). Yet at the moment of our ship’s sailing I nursed the same wounds as the American girl, who abruptly turned her head, caught me staring, and pointedly mimicked my gaping before sauntering off. Another impossible American, I thought, impertinent, imperious, but that didn’t make her any less beautiful.The crowd on the deck dispersed, the sky grew darker, and I felt the wide sea’s sweeping blackness, menacing, and powerful. Alone on deck I permitted myself a glance toward the lifeboats above, hoping for a sign – an opened flap, a groping hand – but there was nothing, only the surrounding water’s terrifying size, enfolding us both.“What do you scribble in your little notebook? What you don’t dare say, I bet.” She held out her hand. “My name’s Janet Thompson.” The girl I’d seen on deck, definitely American, as I’d guessed. She had followed me after dinner, when I wandered into the empty bar. A group of other passengers lingered outside on the promenade deck.“I watched you writing, even while you were eating in the dining room.” She sat down next to me at a round side table. “You’re not a writer, I already asked the purser.” “Don’t listen to pursers,” I said. “They’re paid to lie.” “He says you’re a diplomat. Your name is Roger Barnes. Shall we have a drink?” Hilda had been fond of saying, “There simply are no coincidences, Roger.” And I had let her ramble on, disbelieving. I think differently now; we never just meet one another by chance. “A drink? By all means,” I said, calling toward the man at the bar.I immediately saw that the bartender, with his back to us – was in his undershirt, unshaven. His starched white bartender’s jacket hung on a hook by the mirror.“He’s choosing to ignore us,” I said.