“Harrington, I need you to tell me the truth. Did you actually perform the safety inspection?” Jacobson, late of the Lodestar Line transatlantic passenger and shipping service, regarded his close friend with an air of resignation.

“Well, Jacobson, the fact of the matter is…no. I forged the safety inspection certificates and pocketed the money.” Harrington did not sound terribly broken up about this; in fact, his tone was positively, and perversely, cheery.

“Really? Those were forgeries? I suppose that’s to be expected given our circumstance, Harrington, but they were quite well done,” Jacobson laughed. What more could he do, when confronted with such a gleeful admission of guilt?

“Thank you. I’ve found I have quite the gift for forgeries; I have been forging things as your chief safety inspector and pocketing the money for years now,” Harrington said. That explained his positivity, at least: he’d doubtless been on eggshells for years that his friend would find out their relationship was built on lies and thievery.

“If we make it though this, I’ll have to set you to work forging a divorce certificate for me,” Jacobson said.

He cast his eye out on the wreckage that surrounded them, the flotsam of the foundered luxury liner SS Croesus. Then he looked at the solitary lifeboat that remained, watching water seep inside over and around the official inspection tag.

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