For those of you who have patiently waited for continuation of Cabin With a Balcony, I may finally be able to continue.  Thank you for your interest; I hope you enjoy.  Others who may just be reading the site for the first time may go back to January, 2015 for the beginning segment.  Critiques are welcome!


Chapter 6, Cruise Day 3

Captain Rogers sat in deep thought.  He arose from his desk and began pacing back and forth.  To some it would seem he sought to solve the world’s problems by the determination of his stride and furrowed brows.  He was thinking he had not gotten this far without taking a few chances, that nothing or no one would stop this shipment from taking place; therefore it could mean losing Robert.  Funny, he thought, Robert doesn’t know that this is also my final deal.  I am going to retire to Aruba, relax with my “savings” and watch the world go by.  To hell with all these difficult people.  Robert is getting to be a softie like his dad.  William did everything he possibly could to keep me from “ruining my life”.  I knew he had to go down with the ship that I helped sink.  What’s one more Goulet in the scheme of things?  What little remorse the captain might have felt had been destroyed long ago.

As Robert walked toward the lounge, his thoughts were about his father.  Now that he had mentioned him it would be difficult to get him off his mind.  He began to replay memories.  Sure, his father had been away at sea a lot.  Sure his mom worked a lot.  Robert was left alone much of the time, but it couldn’t be helped.  Robert’s father was a man of honor; proud to be a ship’s captain, and both parents tried to instill honesty, character and behaviors they believed would keep him in good stead in life.

What went wrong?  Robert slowed his walk after asking himself this very real question. He had never asked himself this before.  Why, he thought, am I thinking this now?   Nothing has gone wrong; things are just the way they always were.  Sure, he’s getting a little nervous, and more careful, but it is just time to move on.  He had brought Betty Lou into the picture to throw off suspicion.  He had been too abrupt that day in the lounge.  If it seems that he cares for her…so what?  Maybe he does.  Her quiet innocence touches him somehow.  He smiled to himself when he remembered her sweet explaining about the dinner and show responsibility for Judy Lane.  Their time together made him feel like he used to when he had a family.

Robert consoled himself as he reached the lounge doors by remembering he did try to obtain the college degree his father had always wanted for him.  His father’s ship sank when Robert was only nineteen.  Mom died the next year; a heart attack, but he was sure it was from heartbreak at William’s loss.  Next came flunking out of his third year due to his introduction to selling drugs by his father’s old friend.  Father surely could not have known the captain that Robert knows   Robert knew deep down that drugs were not the answer, but he made himself believe that his father may have thought it was o.k. temporarily.  He had asked himself many times why his father thought this man was a friend.  He only remembered a statement long ago made by his father to his mother, that David Rogers could sure use a friend.  A small, still voice prompted the sinking doubt and disappointment he could imagine in his father’s eyes, but sounded further and further away as he opened the door, and the lounge voices silenced the guilt.



When you contribute to a Roth account you will probably pay more taxes today so that in retirement your taxes will be lower.  If you already have a retirement account and are considering converting to a Roth, the same will apply to the converted amount.  A Roth is beneficial if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket at retirement, as high earnings time is when you face the biggest tax bills.  So, will you indeed be in a higher tax break then?  No one has that crystal ball since political policies can change, your income may have been affected by a company downsizing, etc.  Motley Fool’s article Rule Your Retirement by Robert Brokamp, CFP has a few guidelines:

If you are single and have $37,450 or less in taxable (not gross) income, or are married and have $74,900 or less in taxable income, you are in the 15% tax bracket in 2015.  The Roth is probably your better bet.

Since younger workers reach their greatest earning years in their late 40’s or early 50’s it makes sense for them.

The closer you are to retirement will require you to use an online tax calculator to estimate your current and retirement tax liabilities in order to feel comfortable with projections.

Most people drop into a lower tax bracket when they retire.

Since we seem to have large government deficits and underfunded entitlements it is expected tax rates will go up.  That would fall to the younger, higher-income individuals or families.


The more income you receive in retirement, the more your Social Security benefit will be taxed.  Withdrawals from traditional accounts are included in your income, which can lead to higher Social Security taxation.  Withdrawals from Roths are not.  So, not only are the withdrawals tax-free, but they might also shield more of your Social Security from taxation.  But remember that contributing to a traditional retirement plan or deductible traditional IRA reduces your adjusted gross income (AGI) which affects other aspects of your tax bill.  Use an online tax calculator or speak with your accountant to understand your best move.

AGE 70 1/2

You must begin taking required minimum distributions (RMDs) from traditional accounts at age 70 1/2, or wait a year and take two distributions.  (Don’t ask, I don’t understand)  I have an account that will not only remind me, but with my approval, forward my correct percentage check, so that I never mess that part up.  Beyond this age of 70 1/2 you can no longer contribute to a traditional IRA, but you do not have to worry about RMDs with Roth IRAs, and you can continue to contribute as long as you have income. Roth 401(K)s and 403(b)s are subject to RMDs when you no longer work for the company, but all you have to do is transfer those assets to a Roth IRA to make them RMD-free.  Woo Hoo!  If you have lots of moolah, keeping money in tax-advantaged accounts as long as possible is obviously beneficial in order for you to leave a nice income-tax-free inheritance to your heirs.


There are tables you can access which tell the limits of how much you can contribute to Roth accounts, and higher-income folks may not be able to contribute to a Roth IRA at all.  However, anyone of any age can do a Roth conversion.  There used to be an income restriction, but that is no longer.  Through work the only money you can’t convert is any non-vested employer matches.  You will still owe taxes on the amount converted.  If you have some sort of financial turn-around after your conversion there is a process called recharacterization you might utilize to change your mind; you have until October 15 of the following year to do that.  The conversion cannot be pieced, or less than the conversion, in recharacterization.  If you are concerned, more than one account could be utilized.

If you are unable to contribute to a Roth IRA because of income limits, you still might have an option.  You can contribute to a non-deductible traditional IRA (at less than 70 1/2, though) as long as he or she has earned income, and immediately convert to a Roth.  If you don’t have any pre-tax money in any other traditional IRA accounts, including SEPs, rollovers, SIMPLEs, you can immediately convert that traditional IRA to a Roth IRA,  (“you”, meaning you can ignore what your spouse has.)  Here is the real bonus:  Because you couldn’t deduct the contribution, and because the account had no opportunity to grow, you won’t owe any taxes on the conversion.  This is also known as the “Backdoor Roth”.


If you are confused, so are experts, at times.  A good bit of caution is warranted, especially when it comes to pre-59 1/2 withdrawals and account rollovers.  So triple-check all and work with your CPA for information and confirmation.  Do not give up, though.  Putting in the time to learn all the details, getting help, and making the moves that are right for you can result in thousands of dollars of after-tax monies.


For those of you new to my continuing segments, you may go back to the January 18, 2015 post to read from the beginning; to those of you following my story, welcome back!  Feedbacks are always encouraged. 


Chapter 5, Cruise Day 3 Continued

“Our ship’s doctor will not sign because we will have told him he already had.  Unfortunately, he won’t remember..and yes, we will have a forged document”, replied Robert.

Turning to the captain, Robert said “Your job,Captain, is to announce how sorry you are to give notice of an on-board death of one of the passengers and that a helicopter will be picking up the remains as requested by the family,” Robert continued,  “Also, you will provide the contact information for ordering the helicopter to the radio crew, confirming, and I mean confirming, they will meet us at 9:00 a.m. when we have sailed and cleared the coastal waters of Cozumel.”

“Do I have to stay in the refrigerated area until 9:00?” asked Wilbur.

Slowly and painstakingly Robert responded, “Wilbur, you are an inquisitive guy, aren’t you?  Your answer is yes and no, but you will be put in the wooden coffin, and it will be nailed shut.  The coffin and any other items that need to be transferred will be in the helicopter landing area.  We will have a few boxes there, just to look as if they might be your personal items.  Look, Wilbur, don’t worry.  We have done this many times before, it is no big deal; you won’t freeze.  We still have a couple of days to plan, but Captain Rogers here has some kind of perfection phobia which drives many people crazy, including the guy before you.  The good news, Wilbur, is that you get your cut.  Why, Cap, did you not explain all this ahead of time to Wilbur?”

“I expect Wilbur to do as he is told.  I want no more questions; just finish your plan so we can get on with this.  I want more meetings before the shipment is picked up.  This is Wednesday; we meet tomorrow, same time, and 8:00 a.m. Friday to go over and over this again and again; ON time, same place, or as many times as it takes for me to know you are absolutely sure of no holes in your plan.”  Captain Rogers breathlessly ended.

Wilbur held up his hand.  Captain Rogers looked incredulously at him.  “This is not school, Wilbur.  What do you want, now?”

“I just want to know when I get out of the box, sir.” Wilbur almost whispered.

Quietly speaking while leaning toward Wilbur, Captain Rogers explained, “When you get to shore, Wilbur, our team will open the box, let you out and remove the shipment from the base.  Parties will be present to take over the shipment; monies will be received.  After the parties leave you will receive your cut.”  Captain Roger’s voice began raising, “Robert and I have to wait for our cut until we dock again.  Does that tell you everything you need to know?” Captain Rogers ended in a near shout.

Quietly Wilbur replied, “Yes sir.  Thank you, sir.”

Robert looked at his watch.  ” I have to get to work at the lounge; see you tomorrow.”

“Wait, I need to speak with you Robert,” looking at Wilbur, Captain said “You may leave now Wilbur.”

“Thank you, sir,” replied Wilbur, not moving.

“GO NOW WILBUR!”  Rogers shouted.  Wilbur hustled out the door.

Captain Rogers turned to Robert and said, “Robert, this may be your last trip.  I will not stand for your disrespect, even in front of a goon like Wilbur.  Do you understand that I am the one who brought you into this opportunity?  Don’t answer that…let’s just say that you know too much for this to be your last trip.  Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, very clear, and I agree your opportunity allows me to orchestrate all the movements and plan the cut.  All the players work with me and have for some time.  I have done all your dirty work, including the poor slob who preceded Wilbur, and let me tell you something you may not know.  I have never once enjoyed my job.  I have asked myself repeatedly why I do this, and I know it is for the money, but I have recently begun to realize that money isn’t everything.  You didn’t believe me, but I meant it when I told you that I am resigning after this trip.  Any with that, let me say that it may be you who doesn’t know enough, and just for the record, I believe my father would never have called you friend had he really known the kind of man you are.”  With that, Robert exited, leaving Captain Rogers wondering what happened.  Captain Rogers knew things were changing, and that he had better be ready.

Stay tuned for the next segment of Cabin with a Balcony!


For those of you new to my continuing segments, you may go back to the January 18, 2015 post to read from the beginning; to those of you following my story, welcome back!  Feedbacks are always encouraged. 


Chapter Five, Cruise day 3

Captain David Sven Rogers tapped his pen in a brisk rat-a-tat on the paper he had been working on.  He was extremely annoyed.  Not only was he sitting here waiting with their other partner, but Goulet was late!  The captain made a mental note to meet with Goulet alone at a later date to make sure he understood just who was in charge.

He hated to make this meeting during the day when anyone could stop by his office, and he had pulled Wilbur from his navigation duties to attend, using the excuse of needing him to help order some new equipment.  There was nothing else he could do.  It was time to plan the move.  It had to happen right after Cozumel, and there must be no screw-ups.

The door opened, and Robert arrived.

“Well, Mr. Goulet, what a pleasure”, the captain stated.

“Sorry, Cap, I was detained on duty”.  Robert nodded hello to Wilbur.  Wilbur looked like a scared little kid, but was probably somewhere around 35.  His red hair sticking up in the back crown like he had a bad night and clothes looking like he tried to clean up and look good but missed the mark, led Robert to doubt the old man’s mental capacity in selecting him.

“Did your ‘duty’ involve a certain dark-haired young lady you’ve been seen escorting around the ship?”  The sarcasm dripped from the Captain’s lips, and his eyes spoke volumes to Robert.

Robert returned the look, saying curtly, “I was off duty.  Let’s get on with this.”

Captain Rogers decided now was not the time; they would deal with the situation when Wilbur leaves the room. “All right Robert, what do you have for us?”

“As usual, I will pick up the shipment at the Sundown bar scheduled at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, one hour after we arrive in Cozumel, and drop it off in Wilbur’s room.  It will be incorporated into the wooden transfer coffin base by Wilbur sometime around midnight.  As we already decided, Wilbur will fake a drunken fall in the Blue Room around 1:00 a.m. in front of several witnesses; I will help him to his cabin.  Our doctor will be in his usual drug and alcohol-induced stupor, but with his altered nightcap, he will be unable to awaken.  Around 6:00 a.m. I will transfer Wilbur’s ‘body’ to the refrigerated storage area, awaiting the doctor to sign the cause of death certificate.  Questions?”

“Well, what if you have questions from people?” asked Wilbur.

“I know you are new at this Wilbur, but trust me, no one will ask questions as long as we all do our jobs properly.  If really pushed, we will say that we cannot discuss other passenger issues”,  Robert explained.

“Will the doctor sign a death certificate when I am not dead?” asked a concerned-looking Wilbur.

                                                                                              Look for the next “STORYTIME” segment to learn more!



Day 2, Chapter 4

Judy Lane appreciated the beautiful flowers on the tables as she and Betty Lou, along with their “dates” for the evening walked into the low-lit dining room.  It seemed Judy appreciated a lot of things since Bull came along.

“Oh, look Fred, there are Betty Lou and Judy Lane…and they are with those two gentlemen we met today, Ed and what’s the other one? “

“Hmmmm? Oh, I see.  Don’t know Mae.  I’m sure you will find out though.” Fred replied, fussing with an appetizer.

“Wonder if we can get them to sit at our table….YOO HOO…”

Betty Lou said “Oh look Judy Lane, there’s Fred and Mae.  Should we go over there and sit?”

One look from Judy Lane was all Betty Lou needed to immediately point to a table for four and say “Oh, here’s a lovely table; look at the centerpiece!”  As they moved toward the table Mae was disappointed, saying to Fred, “darn, they must have missed us.”

The two couples settled in.  “Oh Bull, this is perfect” cooed Judy Lane.  Betty Lou could tell this was really something special since she had never heard Judy Lane speak to anyone in that tone; well, maybe to her dog.  While the cooing continued, Betty Lou looked sideways at her escort.  He seemed like a nice enough guy, and she thought it would be a good evening, that is, unless Robert is upset…oh pooh, she can explain it to him after the show.  They were to meet again at the Blue Room around 10:00 since Robert is off at 10:15.  Uh, oh…here comes Mae Walker

“Hi everyone…just wanted to say hello.  I tried to get your attention, but you probably didn’t hear me.”  Judy Lane smiled and started to make introductions, but Bull and Bud stood, shook hands with Fred and Mae, and Bull said “Oh, I think we met our first day out…plus didn’t we converse at the pool this afternoon?”

“Oh, yes,” Mae replied.  By her flitting eyes going from one couple to another, she was itching to find out more, much more.

After a few  pleasantries and unanswered questions, Mae, leading Fred, skittered away from the table.  “Wow, she sure gets around good for an older lady” observed Bull.  Several minutes passed while discussion surrounded grandparents, great grandparents, and getting older in general.  Everyone except Judy Lane had Diet Coke, (OMG, he will think I am a lush), dinner was served and Bull asked the girls about their careers.  Both ladies spent dinner expounding on work stories, not realizing that both Bull and Bud hardly uttered a word.  Bud, however, listened intently to Betty Lou’s stories.  She was a lovely gal, with personality to match.  Too bad she was meeting someone else after the show; he somehow wished he could hear her more.  She had such a way with words, he thought, especially the way she made Mae seem like just a sweet little old lady.  He chuckled to himself, thinking that Mae was nobody’s fool, but possibly could be a sweet little old lady.

After dinner, sitting in the balcony of the show was Judy Lane’s idea, and Bud could now understand why she wanted to sit way up; the acrobat extravaganza was comparable to a show he saw in Vegas, and they were tumbling from higher and higher heights.  He was keenly aware of Betty Lou’s perfume and her sweet southern voice emitting “Oohs” and “Ahhs” at the skills of the performers.  He settled in to watch the show, sometimes letting his mind wander.

“Bud”, what a nickname.  How many other people carry that, he wondered.  Born to a middle class family in Fort Wayne, Indiana 34 years ago this May 6, of 2014, he wondered why the rest of his siblings all had normal names; Sally, Robert, and Victor.  As the oldest, his name was Benjamin Reginald Yarburough, III.  The playground group had their own way of bringing him to common ground.  No way could they have called him Ben, or even Reggie.  Anyway, “Bud” stuck, and by the time he was a teen he liked the association with “Bud”weiser.

His siblings also had normal careers.  From Nurse, to CPA to Banker, they followed the norms.  Father was and is a stockbroker who has done very well, even with the ups and downs of the market since ’87.  None of that ordinary work would do for Bud.  No, he wanted excitement, and he wanted to really make a difference in the world.  Watching what happened to his best friend sealed his decision.  Friend Arthur was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy.  Always friendly, always wanting to help others.  When Arthur started seeing a gal who had some, shall we say, undesirable friends, it was like watching a train wreck.  Bud tried to get Arthur to see, but he was too in love to see, and only wanted to please her.  Actually, so much so, that he died for her…of a drug overdose at the tender age of 20.

It was then Bud decided the DEA was where he wanted to be.  He would like to think that he has, indeed, made a difference.  But no matter how much he might pat himself on the back, he will always regret not having saved Arthur.  He replays that time in his life often, wondering what he could have said or done differently.

Betty Lou grabbed his arm and said “Wow, did you see that?”

“Oh,yes, that was something wasn’t it?”  Bud smilingly replied as Betty Lou’s sparkling eyes had already returned to focus on the entertainment.



Chapter 2 Day 2 Tuesday

“Don’t you think it sounds marvelous?”  Betty Lou asked, starry-eyed.

“No.  I think you are wasting your time with Mr. Sinister shyster.  Should I ask if this romance was consummated?”

By the look on her fallen face, I may have gone too far.  Betty Lou went into her pouting mode.  I tried to improve the situation.

“Well, let’s just see how it goes.  Don’t you want to hear about ‘Bull’?”

That worked.  After a few minutes of general chit chat about last evening, she reluctantly asked me to tell her about Bull.  I shared with her that his name is Ferdinand Edward West, and that, naturally, his nickname of “Bull” is easy to understand. “He and his co-worker won a sales contest, and this cruise was their prize!” I gushed, ” They sold more copiers than any other partner team in the last six months!  They are both cute and so cool.  Actually, I couldn’t wait to tell you that I agreed we would meet them for dinner tonight..I hope that’s alright?”  Before she could speak  I moved on, ” Now, don’t be mad Betty Lou.  I didn’t know you and Mr. Sinister were an item when I agreed to dinner.  Please don’t let me down in this…I will owe you for the rest of my life!”  I was watching Betty Lou’s face closely, and I could see her wheels turning.  “I reallllly like Bull and want your opinion of him, plus he will be happy that his friend has someone for a dinner partner.  PLEASE!”

“The things I do for you, Judy Lane!  What will Robert think?”

“Oh, you can meet him after the dinner and show and explain,” I reasoned.

“So, ” she asked, “was your romance consummated?

My eyebrows did one of those double lifts.

“O.K.”  Betty Lou smiled, “Details later?  I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours!  Let’s get some sun…wait, what show?”

Chapter 3, Day 2

At the FBI office in Tampa, two gentlemen were looking at a computer screen.  The scene happened to be the Princess of the Ocean.  The encrypted message they just received creates an exchange between them.

“Do you think things are going O.K.?” asked the bald, chubby man, while sipping his coffee.

“Couldn’t be better,” said the other, “Fish are biting reads the translation..we have three people on board, nothing can stop us now.  What does DEA say?”

“Says when the Eagle lands, they are ready.”

“Bull never stops, does he?” asked one.

“Nope” said the other.

The ringing phone forced the bald man to put down his coffee, slowly amble to the desk and pick up the phone.  “Eagle Angle”, he answered.  “Yes, we just checked.  No, we see no reason to delay.”  Hanging up the phone he ambled back to the computer, picked up his coffee and said, “Well, looks like we are on.”

At poolside Bull and Bud are enjoying the sun.  Bull waved.  Bud asked, “Who are you waving to?”

After looking around to see who might be listening, Bull replied “To Pete and Eddie.”

“Who?” asked Bud.

“The guys at the Tampa office.”

“They can’t see you.”

“Sure they can; how do you think they know where and how we are?”

“Duh, you send them messages.”

“Yes, but our satellite is taking in the sun, us and the Princess of the Ocean.”

“What did you say? asked Mae.

“Oh, hello Mrs. Walker.  I just mentioned how I like taking in the sun with my friend on the Princess of the Ocean”, Bull smoothly responded.

Mae and Fred Walker had traveled a lot since he retired.  He had plenty to travel with; Walker Feed and Seed, Ohio statewide, had provided.  Growing up within a mile of each other they had gone all through school, college, three children, one grandchild and a successful business.   Now it was time to relax and enjoy themselves.

They had been at the dinner table last night and enjoyed the company of two lovely ladies from Kentucky.  Mae was the type of woman who, when experiencing the lives of others, liked to make their business her business.  An endearing quality, actually, although those in her ladies church group implied she is a little too nosy.

Mae always makes sure she introduces herself and her husband to everyone within a two feet area.

“Beautiful day, isn’t it gentlemen?” Mae asked.

“Certainly is”, Bull replied as he and Bud collected their beach towels to leave.  “Have a good one”  Bull threw the words casually over his shoulder as they departed.

Bud said, “Gee that was a little abrupt, don’t ya think??”

“Don’t worry, Mae is immune to abrupt.”

Bud shook his head and smiled as he looked back to see Mae already chatting with other folks at the pool.




As the rays of the morning sun flickered over my face, I awoke with my friend, Anxiety.  At first I did not know why.  Suddenly I remembered that Betty Lou had not been here last night.  I had tried to stay awake the night before, but could not.  I quickly sat up and looked around.  There she was, sleeping soundly.  With a sigh of anxiety-loss, I got up and went to the bathroom.  I decided to go ahead and shower.  I made sure I had on the “patch”, took a much-needed aspirin, and emerged.

Betty Lou was sitting up and smiling with the look that I must have had when I got back last night.  “What? What?  Tell me!” I demanded.

Over breakfast in the ship’s dining room I heard most of the rest of the story.  It seems that when Betty Lou was sitting alone at the dance Mr. Sinister came over, brought her a drink “on the house”, and asked her to go for a walk, as he was off duty soon.  Well, you know Betty Lou.

“So…what happened next?”  I personally felt she was lucky she had not had to walk the plank into the ocean.

“Well,” she said, “We walked around the deck, stopping sometimes to look at the stars…”  My eyebrows were, I believe, into my hairline at this point.  Only my jaw was still in place.

“Stop!  What caused the big switcheroo?  First he is not allowed to talk to guests, and the next he is buying you drinks and dragging you off for a walk!”  I’m sure I must have sounded a lot like a wild woman, or a loudly screaming Eagle.

“O.K. Here’s the deal.  He said that he didn’t think it was right that he could not personally talk with the guests, and that he has given notice to leave his position.  See?  I told you me may be having a bad day.  He says I have made him realize the life he is missing, and that he would like us to have a real relationship.”  Oh my.

“He said all that at once?!  Why didn’t he say something to you in the Blue Room when he came to our table?  And does Mr. Sinister have a name??”

“Well, he said all that over the course of the evening.  His name is Robert AND his middle name is ‘Lou’ , too.  Isn’t that sweet?  He said he got cold feet when he came up to us because he thinks you don’t like him.”

“Oh, Betty Lou.  He thinks right.  I don’t like him, and I hope this whatever-it-is goes away so you can finally see the guy that I see.  Does he also have a last name?”

“Oh yes, Goulet.  And Judy Lane, don’t worry.  I know you will learn to like him when you get to know him better.  He is really sweet, kind, sensitive and thoughtful.”

“Wait, Goulet.  Robert Goulet?  Good grief, Betty Lou.  Does he sing, too?”

“What do you mean by that?  He’s French.  That’s a French name!”

“Well, unless I am wrong, my grandmother used to play some of his recordings.”

“Well, Judy Lane, I am sure it is simply a coincidence.  I think it is a fine name, and sounds sooooo good with mine.”

I was entertained for a moment or two while Betty Lou repeated her name over and over with “Goulet” last.

“Don’t you think it sounds marvelous?”  Betty Lou asked, starry-eyed.

CABIN WITH A BALCONY (Day One, Page 2) w/correction

Later, as our “sinister” waiter returned, Betty Lou, in her sweetest Southern accent asked “How long have you been working on the ship?”  He slid his sinister-looking eyes to hers and replied “We are not allowed to discuss personal matters with guests..would you like another drink?”

Here’s where I slide MY sinister-looking eyes to him and replied, “no, I believe we have had enough!”  To which he dropped his eyes, made a slight bow, and said “I will bring your check.”

“Wow!   I thought bartenders were supposed  to be friendly!”  This from Betty Lou.

“Well, for one he isn’t a bartender, he is a waiter, but his tip will reflect his attitude in my book!”

Betty Lou, always the peacemaker said “Well, maybe he is having a bad day.  Do you really think they are not allowed to talk personally with the passengers?”

“I don’t know, but there surely is a better response for questions like yours without being rude.  Let’s  go.”

As we left the lounge, I felt his eyes boring through us.  Wow, some waiters take offense when tips are low.

We spent the rest of the day lying in the sun until time to prepare for dinner.  Dinner was all  it could be, with wine or champagne offered.  Betty Lou was afraid if we accepted any alcohol it would be charged  to our cabin.  I tried to explain to  her that they do not know which room we are in, but to no avail.  I had wine, Betty Lou had diet coke. We met several fellow  travelers and sat with a lovely, older couple.  Mae, I believe her  name was, chatted the whole dinner through, leaving no challenge for  us to carry the table conversation.  Yay.  Fred, her husband, looked like he felt the same  way.

I yawned as we left the dining room and told Betty Lou I was going to turn in..  “No, we have to provide any and all opportunities to meet someone!  They are dancing in the Blue Room.  Let’s go in there just for a little bit!”

As we stepped  into the Blue Room, it was a beautiful sight.  Those little lights that go around a ballroom were accompanied by “Once, Twice, Three Time a Lady” being played by a wonderful band.  The crooner was not Lionel Ritchie, but..ah romance.  Both of us tried to look around, but those little lights don’t show much. (Which can be an advantage sometimes).  We sat down at a tiny table, and who should appear but Mr. Sinister, himself.  He saw us and started to turn away, but changed his mind and asked if we wanted a drink.  “No, thank you” we replied in unison.  He made that slight bow again and left.  “What are we going to do now?”  asked Betty Lou, “You have made us look stupid!”

“I beg your pardon?  Did I not also hear you say no thank you?”

“Yes, but I only said that because I know how you feel about him.  Anyway, what are we going to do now?”

At that moment a very nice gentleman leaned over my shoulder.  “Would you care to dance?”  As I  looked up at his Bruce-Willis-when-he-was-younger face, my heart did a flip-flop.  “k”, I said as I rose and took his arm.  I looked back and saw Betty Lou with both arms out, palms up, raised  eyebrows as if to say what the hell?  I could not be responsible for myself at that moment, and certainly not responsible for Betty Lou.

I did look over another time and saw that she had a drink, which was good.  Later, she tapped me on the arm and said “bye”.  I figured she was turning in.  Poor Betty Lou.

When I finally went to my cabin,  floating along the hallway with a smile on my face, I couldn’t wait to tell Betty Lou all about “Bull”.  But I  couldn’t tell her anything.  She was not there.