Written by Chohong Choi
Based on some situations originated by James Cameron.
“All right, you have my attention, Rose. Can you tell us who the woman in the picture is?”
“Oh, yes. The woman in the picture is me.”
Brock’s eyes widened and he became speechless. For a few seconds, all he could do was offer Bobby Buell an agape look, but his associate got the message: We’re onto something! Bobby rushed off to call the partners on another line and tell them about the serendipitously good news while Brock stayed on the phone with Rose.
“Mr. Lovett, are you still there?”
Brock snapped back to attention. “Wh-why, yes, Rose! I-is it okay if I call you Rose? Or Mrs. Calvert if you prefer.” He was still taken aback that a total stranger knew what he was seeking.
“Either would be fine. Am I calling at a bad time?”
“No, not at all! In fact, you just made my day. Where are you calling from?”
“Great. Obviously you know something about my work. How’d you like to join
me out here in the
“That’s very generous of you, Mr. Lovett. But I’m confined to a wheelchair most of the time and my granddaughter has to look after me.”
“No problem, Rose. I’ll gladly pay for her trip, too, and make all the necessary arrangements to ensure that your excursion is safe and comfortable.”
“You don’t think I’m serious, Rose? Just give me your address in
“You sound too good to be true, Mr. Lovett.”
“If you still have doubts, I’ll put everything in writing. And this is not a business contract. Where else can you find a deal like that?”
After a ten-second pause, Rose returned with an answer: “Well, all right, Mr. Lovett. I think I’ll take a chance with you. When will we travel?”
“I can have the escorts at your place in two days, and the journey to the Keldysh takes over a day. That means I’ll need you to undergo a health check first because there’ll be flying involved. I’ll reimburse you for your expenses.”
“Oh, I think I can manage that.”
“I’m sure you will.”
“How much luggage can we bring?”
“As much as you want, but please don’t bring the house.”
Rose chuckled. “And pets? I have a dog and some goldfish.”
“They should be okay as long as they’re small.”
“Don’t worry, they are. Now do you have a pen and paper to write down my address?”
“Just fire away.” Brock took out a pen and readied his hand for use as a notepad.
“Okay, I live at…pardon me for a moment, Mr. Lovett.” Brock could
overhear Rose asking her granddaughter for the correct address. “Sorry, but
I have trouble remembering addresses now. Here it is: 8580 Highway 150,
“Perfect. Just pack what you need, Rose, and I’ll take care of the rest. If nothing unexpected happens, I hope to see you on the twenty-eighth. If you have any questions, you know where to call. In case I’m busy, leave a message and I’ll definitely get back to you ASAP. How does that sound?”
“Excellent. I look forward to meeting you, Mr. Lovett.”
Rose hung up and pondered how the last four hours had changed her life. Her day had started off in typical fashion. She woke up at around 5:30 AM, walked outside to enjoy some predawn air, did half an hour of meditation and stretching, and then went inside for breakfast, which Lizzy had dutifully prepared for her. Only after the sun rose to illuminate the beauty of the foliage right outside the house and the mountains in the distance was she inspired to work on her ceramics. Lovett’s CNN interview aired just after ten AM, by which time she had finished two pieces of pottery and was working on a third.
Rose’s hearing had worsened over the years, but she retained enough of it to hear the name of the fateful ship she had traveled on eighty-four years earlier come out of the tiny speaker of her nine-inch TV. After telling Lizzy to turn up the volume, she slowly moved closer to the set for a better look and saw it: the drawing Jack made of her just a couple of hours before the iceberg hit on that night.
Having done little swearing since her acting days ended, Rose could not help but mutter a mild expletive in reaction to this extraordinary sight. Then she had to sit down to allow it all to sink in. A past she had thought buried for good returned to stare her in the face.
Lizzy was still confused over what had just transpired. When Rose summoned for a telephone after an hour of silence following the end of the broadcast, she thought her grandmother was about to call CNN to object to their showing of a nude drawing. She knew Rose had an open mind for art and little problem with nudity, but this time, Rose was the one whose nude portrait had been broadcast to millions of viewers around the world, or so she claimed.
But not only did Rose not object to the drawing, she was adamant about
contacting this Brock Lovett, the man who had displayed it. Once she reached
Lovett, she mentioned something called the Heart of the Ocean, which Lizzy had
never heard of before. Their five-minute conversation ended with Rose agreeing
to meet Lovett in person somewhere in the
“Dear, we are taking a trip.”
“What’s this all about, Nana? Did you just win some contest?”
“Something more important than that. Mr. Lovett has just invited us to join him on his ship.”
“What for? Does it have something to do with that drawing? Is that really you, Nana?”
Rose paused and shook her head in confirmation. “After all these years, I never thought I’d see it again,” she said as she barely concealed her glee. “Now the circle is almost complete.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll explain it to you later. Right now we have to pack. Then you have to make an appointment for me to see Dr. Austin this afternoon or tomorrow.”
Lizzy continued to stare at her in bewilderment.
“Just do it, dear. I promise I’ll explain everything to you.”
Brock Lovett was as animated as a child with a new toy. He was as elated as when he found Hockley’s safe, but this time he had a strong hunch that his euphoria would last. The first person he sought to share his excitement with was Lewis Bodine, his stout, dependable assistant who was nearby having coffee and donuts before he re-boarded MIR 1 (one of the ship’s two deep water submersibles) to return to the wreck.
“Lewis, you won’t believe what I just came across!”
“I just spoke with another survivor, and I think she knows where the diamond is located!”
Bodine seemed unimpressed. “Yeah, and I just spotted a mermaid on the ship’s sonar. I asked for her number, but she didn’t speak English.”
“I’m serious, Lewis! Do you have the passenger files handy?”
“They’re in my computer. What’s the poor damsel’s name?”
“Rose Calvert. But if she is who I think she is, her name at the time of the sinking should be Rose DeWitt Bukater.”
“You mean Hockley’s fiancée? The one the necklace was supposed to be for?”
“The one and only.”
“But why the name change?”
“That’s for you to find out, so take a break from the underwater cat calls and show me what you got on her. Make this your first priority over everything else.”
“Okay, I’ll see what I can find. Does this mean I’m not going back down tonight?”
“Right. You do your homework, and report back to me your findings. You’re excused from any more dives or meetings until Calvert arrives.”
The next person to whom Brock broke the news was Dr. Anatoly Milkailavich,* the director of the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh (as the ship’s full name was known), who was also ready to dive back down to Titanic.
“Tolya, don’t go down tonight. Send Genya** instead.”
“I will not go down? Why?”
“There’s been a change of plans. We’re limiting each dive to one submersible until further notice. Tell the crew except for those going down and those in the engine room to assemble in the conference room in thirty minutes. I’ll meet you there.”
As Dr. Milkailavich walked away mumbling something in Russian, Brock headed to the ship’s preservation room, where Bobby was still on the phone talking to the partners to try to convince them to grant the project another extension. “Come on, Barry. I know it’s been a month…and three days. And it was a short month. What’s another week?”
Over two hundred grand, that’s what.
The biggest problem for undersea explorers is usually money, and for over two and a half years after he first learned about the Heart of the Ocean, or Le Coeur de la Mer in French, Brock was unable to scrape together enough funds to begin his quest for it. Finally, some deep-pocketed investors who had heard about his past exploits and contacted him through mutual friends stepped in with an offer: they would finance his project, while he would deliver them the diamond. Brock and his crew would be compensated monetarily, but lucratively, and he would have the rights to anything else he recovered from the wreck, not to mention the paid publicity gigs he would surely be invited to attend after his expected immortalization as one of the greatest underwater explorers ever.
In addition, Brock and his partners had to bid against others who wanted to secure the services of the Keldysh, which had the best collection of equipment and expertise for their project. Their bid was not the highest, but Dr. Milkailavich, who had already participated in expeditions down to Titanic, saw the opportunity to dive down to the wreck again as too good to pass up, and he signed on to the project.
With the funding and Keldysh’s services secured, Brock thought the
hardest parts of his mission were over. His research was sound and the safe in
Hockley’s suite was supposed to be the final resting place for the diamond.
That was where he looked after making some preliminary dives to blaze a trail
to the suite. Each dive took as much as twelve hours, with the round trip
consuming up to six of these hours. That left only about half of each dive
available to actually explore the wreck. Also, the preparation for and feedback
that followed each dive took longer than the dives themselves and entailed
costs. Technology, or the lack thereof, further complicated a dive this deep.
The impact of the wreck on the ocean floor had caused its decks to collapse, so
the deck plans Brock possessed became almost useless and mapping out each deck
in its current state was practically impossible. Last, the
The absence of his prized objective from the safe was most unexpected, and Brock could have terminated the expedition and cut his losses as a result. But, owing to pride and stubbornness, he chose to plow on. After all, it was not just any diamond he was seeking. An anchor-like fifty-six karats, the Heart of the Ocean dwarfed even the world famous forty-five-karat Hope Diamond. The latter was said to be worth as much as two hundred million dollars, and gemologists agreed that the Heart of the Ocean would be worth even more–if it were in a drier location.
That was why Brock was willing to average thirty thousand dollars a day in expenses and treat Calvert so generously. They were the costs of doing business, and in business, one has to give to get.
Another cost was nuptial breakdown. Well before he boarded the Keldysh, he was married more to the project than to his wife, and she left him and later filed for divorce. Even before he owned the diamond, the diamond already owned him. Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never reckoned with Brock Lovett.
Titanic is only so big. Sooner or later I’ll find that diamond. Or die trying.
Of course I’d rather not die.
The potential dangers of deep sea diving never deterred Brock. Time was the real enemy, and the difficulty of navigating the wreck’s interior, the elements, and the constant demand for the Keldysh’s facilities and Dr. Milkailavich’s expertise gave Brock only a one-month window to complete his work. By now, the project had passed the original deadline with no satisfactory end in sight.
Dr. Milkailavich, who also wanted the expedition to end successfully because it would mean a bigger payout for him and his crew, agreed to extend the Keldysh’s lease to Brock for up to two more weeks at no extra cost, although the crew still had to be paid. But until Calvert’s call, this extension was proving a waste of time and money. Now that Calvert was about to come on board to hopefully assist him, he could feel the Heart of the Ocean beating ever stronger from somewhere inside Titanic’s rusted bowels, as if it were tapping out his name in Morse Code.
For what would be left to conquer after Titanic? The battleship
The CNN anchorwoman’s question was still embedded in his mind. True, each sunken vessel represented a resting place for someone or something, usually both. Maybe it was time to stop raiding the tombs and call it a career.
Yes, Brock would do that–but not before he secured the diamond. He would quit only if he were ahead, and once the jewel was in his hands, he would be way ahead. But his efforts had to pay off now. If he could not pluck the lost necklace from Titanic’s grave, word of his letdown would spread, and he faced the prospect of someone else succeeding where he had failed.
That must not happen. Brock Lovett would see to it.
Too bad for his wife. Had they split after he found the diamond, by which time his net worth would have trebled, it would have meant a bigger payout for her in their divorce settlement.
Life is all about timing and luck–just like it was with Rose Calvert’s call.
Bobby hung up and gave his boss a cautious, but encouraging, look. “I had to twist Barry’s arm a little. I asked for a week while he wanted a final report in three days, so we settled on five. In the meantime, we have to report to the partners after each dive.”
“I hope I remember to do that.”
“I’ll be sure to remind you if you don’t.”
“Gee, thanks,” Brock said in a sarcastic tone. “Anyway, did you tell Barry that I made contact with Calvert?”
“Yeah, and I assume you invited her here? We can place anything we spend on her behalf on the partners’ tab.”
“Excellent. Everything’s falling into place, Bobby. I can practically hold that thing in my hand now!”
Bobby was more somber. “Don’t get too ahead of yourself, Brock. The partners are starting to pinch their pennies. Five days–that’s it. Everyone knows your reputation, and that’s why they’ve extended the deadline twice. But you know what the contract essentially states: find the diamond, and the partners will pay your way to the Moon. No diamond, and you’re responsible for all expenses you incur after the original deadline. Remember, the crew has to be paid whether or not you hit pay dirt. You don’t want a mutiny on your hands.”
“I’ll have something. I promise.” I hope.
“All right, then let’s see some results by Saturday. When’s Calvert arriving?”
“No later than Thursday.”
Bobby whistled his concern at a tight timetable that just became tighter. “Then we’d better get cracking. Personally, I’d search as much of the ship as I can before she gets here.” He winked at Brock. “Or she might lead you to it and demand a cut.”
“If her information’s good, I’ll compensate her with a sizable reward. Small price to pay.”
“Fine. I hope this works. Now let’s draw up a contract stating the terms of her visit.”
“Whoa, now hold on a minute! I already told her that I wouldn’t make her sign anything. This visit is not going to be a business transaction.”
Bobby’s eyes widened. “You’re inviting her here with no conditions? What if she’s just coming to relive old memories instead of helping us find the diamond?”
“Of course I want her to help us find the diamond. But shoving a piece of paper in her face and saying ‘Sign this or else!’ isn’t the right way to go about it. I’ve been labeled a grave robber already. I don’t want to add ‘Exploiter of Old Ladies’ to my list of credentials.”
Bobby put his hands up to concede defeat. “Just trying to maximize our returns–or minimize our losses. You know you still need to get her to tell you where it is.”
Brock yawned before rubbing his brow and brushing the stubble of his chin with a rough palm. “I know. I only hope she’s cooperative.”
“The problem is I don’t know how much you can pressure her, since she’s old. But you might have to do that. Only don’t look like you’re doing it!”
“Yeah, that’s gonna be a problem, but let me handle it. In the meantime, Bobby, help me book a trip for Rose and her granddaughter. They live at this address.” Brock showed Bobby the back of his hand. “We need to get them safely and comfortably here as soon as possible, so spare no expense. Rose uses a wheelchair and has pets–a dog and some goldfish–so keep that in mind. Time is tight, but do what you can. And here’s the important part: do not publicize her visit.”
Bobby copied down Rose’s address. “Got it. So, what areas haven’t we hit yet?”
“Plenty. The same places I mentioned to Dave and Barry yesterday, although we’ve just finished combing the debris in Hockley’s suite. Nothing there, unfortunately. I was planning to hit C-Deck when Rose called, so I relieved Lewis and Tolya of that duty and sent Genya in their place. Lewis I’ve put on research duty to dig up Calvert’s past. Tolya I’m meeting with the rest of the crew in the conference room in about fifteen minutes. Why don’t you come along?”
“I booked an appointment for 10:15 tomorrow morning, Nana.”
“Thank you, dear. Now let’s go to the den.”
It was a moderate distance to the den from the kitchen, and Rose insisted on walking there under her own power, while Lizzy followed behind just in case she needed assistance. Her life was about to be radically transformed again. That was the story of her century-long existence.
As she slowly walked to the den, she reminisced about a conversation she had
with a Mrs. Olga Kulikovsky almost forty years earlier. She and Simon were on a
The Kulikovskys were Russian émigrés who had lived in
How prescient those words sounded to Rose now.
Ever since she stepped off the Carpathia, she had been running from her own name. After she started her own family, she longed for the day when she would have the chance and courage to relay the story of the first seventeen years of her life to a family member who would understand. But in recent decades, that list of family members had shrunk. Lizzy, her closest remaining relative to whom she entrusted her life, was the best candidate–and practically the only one.
This was probably Rose’s final chance to pass on her full legacy. How she planned to do this she would have to figure out between now and once she arrived on the Keldysh.
“How many luggage pieces do we have, dear?” she asked as they entered the den.
“A lot. Around ten, I think.”
“I think we’ll need most of them.”
“Why so many?”
Rose thought slowly before replying. “Let’s just say I have this feeling that this may be the last time I’ll ever take a trip so far away from home. I want to make it…special.”
“And what are you gonna put in it?”
“Anything I could fit. Clothes obviously, plus a few books, some writing stationery, and the pictures on the desk and in my bedroom.”
“All the pictures again?”
“That’s right, dear. Do you have anything soft to protect them in the luggage?”
“I think we have bubble wrap lying around somewhere. Let me go see.” Lizzy left the room.
Once she made sure that her granddaughter was out of sight, Rose removed from her book shelf well-preserved works by Mark Twain: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Gilded Age, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These were not just any books by Twain; none other than Mrs. Margaret Tobin Brown had bought them to replace the same titles she lost when her first fiancé–that Caledon Hockley–had taken them from her right before they boarded Titanic. As out-of-print editions that were over eighty years old, they would be worth a bundle, and this did not even take into account the fact that one of Titanic’s most famous survivors, a folk heroine, had purchased them.
Rose never tired of reading these three titles.
Simon had taken a passing interest in her reading habits. His work did not allow him to do anything more than that. But some of Rose’s seemingly tireless fascination with Twain’s works rubbed off on him, and that made his work a little easier, if still demanding. As long as his wife was happy, he was happy.
Rose stared at a picture she took with Simon and the boys in California–one
of the first Beth had taken of her parents and brothers. It was an image Rose
had kept dear to her heart for almost seventy years. Never photogenic, Simon
was averse to having his picture taken, usually posing for one with hesitation.
His attitude towards the lens matched that of good old Amsterdam Vallon, one of
Rose’s earliest friends from her immediate post-Titanic years in
That picture was a keeper wherever Rose went, including on this trip.
The Twain titles were not the only things she removed. There was one more title that she kept close to her for almost as long: a well-preserved copy of the premiere edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary. The old and heavy 1922 hardback with pages made from India paper was an informative reference for its time. Rose took it out of its open-ended box, which she had custom made for it, and laid it on her bed. She opened it, but not to read its entries, which she and her children had already pored over a countless number of times. For the last sixty-two years, long after the dictionary had served its original purpose, it had assumed a new life as a safe deposit box after Rose had its core hollowed out to house something that was very special to her. Boasting a four-inch thick spine, the dictionary was eminently qualified to masquerade as a book while guarding something that only one person had seen for the last eighty-four years.
Rose’s copy of Webster’s New International Dictionary
Every book can be a treasure chest of information, and Rose’s dictionary literally fit the bill. She dug through the balls of cotton placed around the object as padding and to keep it from churning around and giving itself away. Then she took the object out to study it for the first time this year. However, the real treasure was not this object per se, but what it represented all these years. During this period, Rose developed a fortitude that was as hard as the thing she had in her hand at this moment. Resiliency was one of the pillars of her longevity–one reason why she was around to celebrate her eightieth birthday and beyond. No one else in her immediate family–whether related by blood, marriage, or in spirit–ever made it this far. Not Simon. Not Beth. Not Sam. Not George.
Not father. Not mother.
And certainly not Jack.
Another pillar was patience, which often went hand-in-hand with fortitude. “Let the fish come to you,” Brigadier Bown of the Salvation Army once told her. She had balanced that advice with “making it count” ever since. The “fish” in the form of her drawing had arrived and seemed to be calling out to what lay inside her dictionary.
Jack must have protected it all these years…for this moment.
Almost instinctively, Rose returned the item to the dictionary, replaced the cotton, and inserted the dictionary back inside its box just seconds before Lizzy returned to the den with a giant roll of bubble wrap. “Here’s the wrap. I think there’s enough for everything.”
“Great. Use it on the pictures first, dear.” Wow, that was a close call.
As Lizzy began to wrap the pictures in the den, Rose thought about how to deal with Brock Lovett. He obviously wanted her help in finding the Heart of the Ocean after having been at it for three years, or so the media stated. She could discourage him from the outset, but feared that this would backfire because it could sound too harsh and abrupt. Perhaps there was more to Lovett than his image as a tomb raider. Even if he said his invitation for her to join him on the Keldysh was not a business contract, he could still send her packing if he thought her too uncooperative, and that would ruin her best chance to reconnect with Jack’s memory at the site of his demise.
No, fortitude and patience had to work in concert with diplomacy.
Soften Lovett up, yes, and hope that he would see things from the perspective of someone who was there in more capacities than one. Then perhaps he would realize that Titanic was not just a wreck whose wares were waiting to be “salvaged”–that it meant something different to those who were actually on the ship. The task would not be easy. Rose was entering Lovett’s domain with only Lizzy at her side, so the overall advantage was his.
But Rose had seen worse odds before. When she landed in
“It is my custom to keep on talking until I get the audience cowed,” Twain once said. Rose did not intend to scare anyone, but she wanted to make an impression on her listeners. By staying assertive and maintaining the initiative, she could prevent Lovett from dominating the meeting and imposing his agenda. She already possessed one asset: Lovett’s apparent belief that she survived the sinking. This gave her some leverage, and if she could convince him to understand her position, if not agree with it, that would be a bonus.
Most of the Keldysh’s crew tried to fit into its conference room, and those who could not jammed the doorway and corridor outside it to hear the announcement Brock was about to make.
“Glad all of you could make it,” he began. “There’s a new development in our search for the Heart of the Ocean, and just in time. I’ve just been contacted by another survivor of the sinking. Her name is Rose Calvert.” He paused to allow Dr. Milkailavich to provide a simple translation of his words to some of his Russian crew who were not so fluent in English.
“Remember that drawing we found in the safe yesterday–the one of the naked woman?” Brock continued. Restrained laughter among the crew greeted this statement. “Mrs. Calvert told me she is the woman in the picture.” The laughter gave way to some surprised murmurs. “And she posed for it wearing something that strongly resembles the Heart of the Ocean.”
Several skeptical faces appeared among the crew, which Brock had anticipated. “Now you may ask why I believe Mrs. Calvert. Not once did I mention the name of the diamond–not to her nor on CNN. She mentioned its name to me! And you know how I limit the information the rest of the world gets to hear about this project. That is why I believe her.”
Brock saw most of the skepticism disappear, which was a good sign. “I’ve asked Mrs. Calvert to join us on the Keldysh, and she’s agreed to do so. We all know why I’m doing this. This project is a business venture. For many of you, it began one month and three days ago, but for me, it’s been three years. That’s a little too long already, so this could be the break we’re looking for. But we have to use discretion as well. Mrs. Calvert is over one hundred now. We’ve been subjected to enough media scrutiny already, so we can’t be seen trying to pressure an elderly survivor for information. That means I want everyone to be respectful to Mrs. Calvert and her granddaughter once they arrive. Is that clear?”
Everyone either nodded or muttered in the affirmative before Bobby chimed in. “Just be your natural selves, but treat her as a guest, which she is. If she thinks you’re putting on an act, she won’t want to help us.”
One crew member, perhaps in reaction to Bobby’s remark, had a question for Brock: “Can we bring up the subject of the diamond to her, even casually, or do we leave that to you?”
“Good question, and I’m glad you brought it up. Because my partners and I put up the money for this venture, we have to protect our investment, so no one may discuss the diamond with Mrs. Calvert or her granddaughter in my absence. If I find that you have, your employment here will be terminated immediately with only a trip back to shore. That applies to everyone on this ship, so spread the word to anyone who’s not here. Any other questions?”
There were none, so Brock concluded the meeting. After waiting for Dr. Milkailavich to finish translating, Brock had a question for him. “Tolya, are the adjoining staterooms available?”
“Yes, but I must clean them first.”
“Great. Just have them ready by Thursday afternoon. But I want you to be around when we interview Calvert.”
“But why not continue diving with both MIRs before Calvert arrive here?”
Brock sucked his teeth before answering in a low voice. “Actually, I was thinking of canceling both dives and wait for her to provide the information to locate the diamond, but that’s not guaranteed. So I’m hedging my bets by sending down only one. That will save some money, which could run out any day now. It was hard enough bringing up the safe, only to find no diamond inside. Calvert is my last hope.”
“Is this starushka really Titanic survivor?”
“Oh, yeah,” Brock answered unhesitantly. “She’s a survivor, all right. In more ways than one.”
“That must be the escort service. Let me get it.” Lizzy went to answer the front door. It was almost 7:30 AM on the morning of March 27, 1996.
Two days after making contact with Brock Lovett, Rose and Lizzy were all packed. They had eight suitcases and one large trunk ready to go.
“Good morning. Is this the residence of Mrs. Rose Calvert?” greeted a stocky, middle-aged man after Lizzy opened the door.
“That’s my grandma. And you are…”
“James Sommers of SoCal Logistical Services.” The man took out an identification card and showed it to Lizzy, who examined it thoroughly before handing it back to him. “A Mr. Brock Lovett sent us for you. Is your grandmother around?”
“She’s inside. Do you wanna come in?”
“Thank you.” Mr. Sommers followed Lizzy into the house. Rose met them halfway in the living room.
“Good morning. I believe Mr. Lovett sent you for me. I’m Rose Calvert.”
“Good morning, Mrs. Calvert. James Sommers of SoCal Logistics.” They shook hands. “And yes, Mr. Lovett has sent me for you.”
“How are you today?”
“Fine, thank you. Pardon me for sounding so hasty, but we got a lot of
ground to cover today–literally. Allow me to summarize your itinerary first. We
have a limousine and pickup waiting outside to transport both of you, along
with your luggage, to the airport for your flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia in
Canada, where you’ll spend the night at the Prince George Hotel–one of the best
in the city, I heard. Tomorrow a helicopter will first fly you to an offshore
base in the
The mention of a limousine and a luxury hotel left Rose and Lizzy flabbergasted and speechless. Mr. Sommers had expected that.
“Mr. Lovett knows there are a lot of stops, but these are the only arrangements he could make on such short notice. That’s why he wants to make it up to you in some way. But before we leave, I have to see proof that you’ve undergone the necessary health check with your doctor for travel, Mrs. Calvert.”
“Certainly. Lizzy, could you get the certificate Dr. Austin filled out?” Lizzy went to the kitchen and returned with a form that she handed to Mr. Sommers, who gave it a quick look and seemed satisfied.
“Excellent. You should be all set, then.”
“I hope you haven’t forgotten my Pomeranian here, as I reminded your representative on the phone yesterday.” Rose pointed to Freddy, who had come up beside her wheelchair. “And the goldfish, too. Did you make the necessary arrangements for them so they won’t have to travel in the cargo hold?”
“We certainly have. Your flight to
“Oh, Freddy’s very well-trained for that.”
“I’m sure he is. As for the goldfish, you might want to put a cap on the bowl if you have one. Otherwise, we’ll give you one. We’ve arranged for an air pump to be on board the aircraft. We also have plastic bags–like the ones in the pet shops–to hold the fish temporarily and safety harnesses for the dog and fish bowl for takeoff and landing. What we don’t have is fish feed.”
“No problem, I have my own. I’m impressed by your preparedness, Mr. Sommers.”
“That’s why Mr. Lovett chose us, Mrs. Calvert. Well, then, we must get going. Should we start by helping you load your luggage aboard the vehicles?”
“Yes, please. Lizzy, why don’t you help Mr. Sommers bring out the trunk first? The suitcases can go next.”
Lizzy was about to lift the trunk when Mr. Sommers stopped her. “Leave all
this to me and my partners, Lizzy. Please stay with your grandmother and make
sure your personal documents are with you, like ID for crossing over into
As Lizzy readied the personal items she and her grandmother would bring with
them, Rose stood up from her wheelchair and took the opportunity to look around
her home one more time before leaving. The ceramics studio and the majestic
view of the mountains outside its windows were a picture perfect scene–a far
cry from the vast emptiness of the
Will I ever see the sunlight reflect on this panorama again?
Once all the luggage was loaded onto the two vehicles and Rose and Lizzy
were seated in the limo with their pets, the caravan set off for
The vehicles arrive at the airport
About an hour and a half later, they arrived at the airport and were quickly whisked to an area for private aircraft, away from the commercial airliners, where a small jet awaited. Mr. Sommers and an airport porter transported the nine pieces of luggage into the jet before helping Rose board the aircraft, followed by Lizzy, the pets, and Rose’s wheelchair. Then they handed them off to a tall woman who greeted them.
“Welcome aboard, you must be Mrs. Calvert and her granddaughter.” The woman then shook their hands. “I’m Jill. I’ll be your flight attendant today.”
“Hi, Lizzy Calvert.”
“Pleased to meet you, Jill. Just call me Rose.”
Again, Lizzy was stunned by their mode of transportation. Not only did the plane have business class-sized seats, there was even a sofa on board. All the seats were made of leather. There was enough room for Rose, Lizzy, and their pets to have free run, as they would be the only passengers on this plane, which seated up to eight. In addition, there was a lavatory, a mini-bar in the back, a satellite phone, and an eight-speaker entertainment system comprising a TV, radio, VCR, CD, and laserdisc players.
(L) Rose’s flight; (R) Interior of the aircraft
“Nice aircraft, huh?” Jill modestly commented after seeing Lizzy’s dazed reaction.
Rose was more composed. “I knew we’d be flying a private plane, but I didn’t expect this.”
Jill was well-prepared to address Rose’s inquiries and comments. “Mr. Lovett
wanted to get you to
“That’s smart of Mr. Lovett.” He really expects me to deliver the Heart of the Ocean.
“Yes. Would anyone like a drink before takeoff? All food and drink are on us.”
“Uh…a Diet Coke would be nice,” said Lizzy.
“Just water,” requested Rose. “And some for my dog as well.”
As Jill went to get their drinks, Lizzy whispered to her grandmother: “You must have won some sort of lottery, Nana.”
Lizzy’s words jolted Rose. Mother said almost the same thing when
“You know these things don’t come for free, dear,” she whispered back. “But be respectful. If someone offers you something, you can accept it or politely decline. Just don’t let it go to your head.”
Two men in uniform soon came out from the cockpit to greet them. “Hi, I’m David Goldman,” said the first. “Welcome aboard. I’ll be your pilot for this flight.”
“Richard Wells here,” said the second man. “I run this joint when Dave’s asleep.” Everyone laughed while Jill returned with Rose and Lizzy’s beverages.
“Are you and your pets comfortable?” asked Mr. Goldman.
“So far, so good, Mr. Goldman,” replied Rose between sips of water. “How long is this flight?”
“About six hours. If you don’t mind me asking, Mrs. Calvert, I know you’ve had a health exam, but are you okay with all this flying? I believe you have a helicopter flight after this and…some people can’t tolerate all these takeoffs and landings.”
Rose and Lizzy smiled at each other before Rose responded. “Mr. Goldman, I’ve been flying before most Americans owned cars–when two-seater biplanes were still the norm. I think I can handle it.”
Both pilots and Jill were impressed. “Wow, I have to tip my hat to you, then,” commended Mr. Goldman.
“How safe is this plane?” interjected Lizzy after downing some soda and letting out the gas. “I hear smaller planes aren’t as safe as larger ones.”
Mr. Wells did not try to mince words in his response. “Generally, yes. No aircraft is perfect, but the equipment we’re on–a Gulfstream III–is a proven model with a gold safety certification. Then again, an aircraft is only as good as its pilot–or pilots–and me and Dave like to think we’re one of the best partnerships in the sky.”
Lizzy seemed reassured, so Mr. Wells had a question for Rose. “I’m curious, Mrs. Calvert. This Mr. Lovett who’s paying for your trip is the guy who’s currently exploring the Titanic, right?”
“That is correct.”
“I saw him on TV a couple of days ago. Would you have something to do with his work?”
“I was there, Mr. Wells. It’s been a while, but I was there.”
Her audience, aside from Lizzy, was awed once again. “Wow,” said Mr. Goldman. “You’re no stranger to danger, Mrs. Calvert. That makes my last question sound stupid.”
“Not at all, Mr. Goldman. The three of you aren’t the only ones finding this out for the first time,” Rose said as she assuredly squeezed Lizzy’s hand.
“I am humbled,” confessed Mr. Goldman.” He checked his watch. “I think we have to cut short this conversation, ladies, because it’s almost departure time. So, without further ado, I’ll let Jill prepare you and your pets for takeoff. Just sit back, enjoy the flight, and don’t worry. You’re in good hands.” He and Mr. Wells returned to the cockpit.
As the aircraft taxied toward the runway to await its turn for takeoff, Rose issued a telepathic message to her late husband. Simon, please forgive me if you hear me. I hope you understand what I’m doing. I must connect with Jack again. I never told you about him, to my everlasting regret. You’ll always be the man of my life, but it was Jack who made it happen.
Those were the words that first came to mind for Lewis Bodine when Brock mentioned that Rose Calvert was likely Rose DeWitt Bukater. He continued to repeat them to himself for the past two days every time his research on Rose Calvert yielded some unexpected twists.
His frustration was clear. The information on the Heart of the Ocean he and Brock worked so hard to obtain was supposed to be rock solid. Hockley’s insurance claim stated, in no uncertain terms, that he had secured the diamond in his safe. Hockley reiterated this on May 3, 1912, or Day Twelve of the U.S. Senate Inquiry into the sinking, and added that after he placed the diamond in the safe, he heeded the call for all First Class passengers to assemble near the grand staircase on A-Deck. He thought it was merely a drill and all would resume their normal activities after that. When he realized that the exercise was real, it was too late to return to his cabin to retrieve the diamond.
Bodine and Brock never admired Hockley, whom they considered a spoiled playboy who could never thrive on his own in the business world. But they deemed Hockley smart enough to have insured the diamond and then left it in his safe rather than take it with him as Titanic sank. That seemed like a win-win combination for both parties. Hockley claimed the insurance money for the diamond, while Brock would rescue the diamond from Hockley’s safe eighty-four years later.
That was until the safe failed to produce the diamond, but rather some old works of art that led a certain Rose Calvert to come calling. While they had yet to meet, Bodine already held a minor grudge against Rose. It was hard enough trying to determine where else to search in the wreck as time began to run out on this venture, and now this fossil of a woman was about to arrive on the Keldysh at Brock’s expense, but with no assurance that she could help locate the diamond. Still, Bodine attached a slim ray of hope to Calvert’s impending visit because the expedition had exceeded a month and was testing the resolve of even the most tenacious members of the crew.
He reached for another can of Red Bull–his ninth since Monday evening, when he began poring over Titanic’s passenger files in his computer again and double-checking them with his contacts at the National Archives’ main depository in Washington, DC, its Northeast branch in New York, and the Public Records Office in London, all of which housed the bulk of the records for Titanic. He also re-read the insurance records. Now the unthinkable became possible: could the information contained in them be wrong?
All this was enough for Bodine to tear his shaggy mane out.
Given his limited time, he could only focus on Calvert as per Brock’s instructions. Rose DeWitt Bukater and Rose Dawson were the only “official” Roses among Titanic’s passengers, but a few other female survivors’ names came close. Inexplicably, Rhoda Abbott of steerage was listed as “Rosa Abbott” on the White Star manifest. Rosalie Bidois was Madeleine Astor’s personal maid. Rosa Pinsky of Second Class was listed as “Rosee”. All three were accounted for in the lifeboats and the first two definitely passed away decades ago. The third one–Pinsky–was twenty-nine or thirty-two at the time of the sinking. If she were still alive, she would be at least one hundred thirteen. But, as a Polish immigrant, she seemed an unlikely candidate for a blue-blooded American society woman.
Of the two Roses, Bukater was listed among the dead–one of the very few
First Class women to have died in the sinking. Her body was never found, but
that did not raise eyebrows, as many victims’ bodies were lost to the whims of
On the other hand,
Maybe she was a stowaway? Plenty of hiding places in that ship.
Bodine scrutinized the dossier on
Could that have been
Who was the “young lady” Lowe helped?
The New York Office of the City Clerk, which specialized in marriage
records, had nothing on
Perhaps Rose was not even
The Ventura County Clerk and Recorder in
To see if Calvert had relations who might reveal more about her, Bodine
checked the records of all residents surnamed Calvert who died in
Thinking that the death of someone as prominent in society as a physician would merit mention in the local paper, Bodine consulted the Ventura County Star Free Press, the main newspaper for the county, to confirm his assumption. True enough, the paper’s obituary section for September 23, 1990 had an entry for Samuel Clemens Calvert, whose name alone would have garnered attention in the media. Someone in the family was evidently a Mark Twain fan. Dr. Calvert, a World War II veteran and widower, was survived by his ninety-five-year-old mother, Rose Dawson Calvert, a former Hollywood actress, and his twenty-seven-year-old niece, Elizabeth Raines Calvert.
Bodine nearly spit out his Red Bull. There it was: the name Dawson–just like the other Rose on Titanic. Rose Dawson and Rose Calvert could be one and the same.
Or it could simply be a coincidence. “Rose Dawson” sounded like a fairly common name, and there could have been a few Rose Dawsons resident in the country at the time who married and lived to a ripe old age. Besides, the obituary did not state that Calvert was a Titanic survivor. Bodine thought that was worth mentioning.
The second revelation–that Calvert was ninety-five in 1990–made Bodine scramble again for his file on Bukater, whose date of birth was April 5, 1895. That would have also made her ninety-five had she been alive in 1990.
But it still did not prove that Calvert was Bukater.
The third revelation–that Calvert was an actress–alarmed Bodine. That was a great foundation for someone who wanted to assume another person’s identity and con her way to an objective, and in this case, what better objective was there than a cut of the riches that would come with the recovery of the Heart of the Ocean?
This is starting to look like Anesthesia all over again.
Bodine finished reading the obituary. The three Calverts had lived together
since 1974, when the two women moved from
Next stop: the Linn County Recorder in
Bodine asked the recorder’s office if anyone named Rose Dawson or as close
to that as possible had married a man surnamed Calvert over the past
eighty-four years, and struck gold again. One match existed: in 1921, Rose
Dawson, twenty-six, married Simon Fraser Calvert, thirty, in
At least one segment of Calvert’s life became a little clearer to Bodine. He
theorized that from 1921 to 1974, she lived in
So it was possible that the Rose Dawson who became an actress and later
Bodine was fortunate to be working in an age in which so much information had literally become available at his fingertips. The Keldysh had the latest telecommunications equipment, including that which gave him internet access. In recent years, the internet had become easier to use with the advent of a new format called the World Wide Web, which one could access on his or her computer with a program called a web browser to open web pages for different sites. These new tools made the internet’s popularity explode. Bodine had heard about a new one-stop movie website that debuted only two months earlier. This site originated from some men’s obsessions with beautiful actresses, and they turned their fantasies into an online newsgroup and then an all-inclusive movie database. The entire project started as a hobby, but its administrators added so much information to the database that they decided to fully devote themselves to maintaining its archive on almost everyone and everything in the show business world by going commercial. The result was IMDb.
Bodine narrows his search on IMDb’s search page
A search for “Dawson, Rose” on IMDb actually netted one result. Bodine saw
As an actress,
What Bodine would have really liked to see were some of the movies that
By the predawn hours of the twenty-eighth, Bodine had worked almost fourteen hours straight and twenty-five of the last thirty-one. He could barely keep his eyes open, as the effects of his last shot of Red Bull were about to wear off. In the last two days, he had been able to trace Calvert’s past back to 1920 and possibly even earlier, but not indubitably as far back as 1912. That was already quite an accomplishment, but none of the information he had gathered so far could prove, beyond a doubt, that Rose DeWitt Bukater survived the sinking and renamed herself Rose Dawson, who, in turn, became Rose Calvert. Pending a call back from the AEA, Bodine decided to go with the evidence he had, and this suggested that Calvert was not Bukater.
Okay, lady. At best, you’re a ghost. At worst, you’re a fraud. Either way, you don’t belong on this ship.
He slumped onto his bed to catch a few hours of well-deserved shuteye, after which he would try to change his boss’ mind before Brock wasted money on an imposter.
Rose’s flight touched down on
When the sun rose on the twenty-eighth, Rose, Lizzy, and the pets, fresh
from a good night’s sleep and having enjoyed the hotel’s complimentary
breakfast, took a trip to one of Halifax’s three cemeteries where the dead of Titanic
Calm down, Rose. You can’t look like this in front of Mr. Lovett.
She gradually regained her composure. If Jack hadn’t saved me, I’d have ended up like this ages ago. And there would have been no Rose Dawson. She looked at Lizzy and smiled.
And no grandchildren.
“What is it, Nana?”
“It’s like going back in time, dear.”
“Do you know anyone buried here?”
“A few.” But not the one I’m looking for. “And I don’t have enough flowers for all of them.”
Not knowing at which specific grave she would lay her flowers and not having enough time to decide, Rose simply placed the bouquet at the base of a sign stating that that section of the cemetery was dedicated to Titanic’s victims. Then she and Lizzy returned to the limo.
The next stop was a landing field on the city’s outskirts, where a large, powder blue helicopter was ready to take Rose to meet Brock Lovett aboard the Keldysh. Because there was no ramp, three men had to carefully and manually lift her and her wheelchair into the helicopter. Again, she became visibly edgy, which prompted the pilot to inquire about her readiness to fly.
“Are you ready for takeoff, madam? It’s a five-hour trip with one stop.”
“I’m all right,” Rose replied with as much poise as she could muster. “Ready for takeoff when you are.”
Rose’s ride to the Keldysh (photo by Gary Hebbard)
Satisfied, the pilot started up the engine and advised everyone to buckle up before liftoff. Before long, the helicopter had nothing but water below it.
Bodine woke up an hour before noon eager to resume his research. He downed another can of Red Bull–his tenth–to shake off his drowsiness and was almost ready to report to Brock, but gave the AEA a little more time to return his call. By the early afternoon, it still had not come and he had found nothing new on Calvert. Knowing that she would arrive soon, he grew restless and decided to inform Brock of the results of his investigation. No sooner had he stepped out of the lab to find his boss than he heard the sound of a helicopter heading towards the Keldysh.
Scrambling quickly, Bodine raced to locate Brock and soon spotted him and Bobby near the submersible launch, presumably headed for the helipad. “Hey, boss!” he shouted as he ran to them as fast as his girthy frame would allow. “I got some breaking news!”
“I hope it’s good, Lewis.”
“Afraid not. Is that Calvert’s chopper on its way here?”
“Well, you might wanna deport her back to
“You don’t think Calvert’s the real deal?”
“Well, she’s here already.”
Bodine decided to cut to the chase. “Boss, she’s a goddamn liar! Some nutcase seeking money or publicity. God only knows why! Like that Russian babe, Anesthesia!”
“They’re inbound!” interrupted Bobby.
Bodine and Brock went to observe the helicopter on the starboard side of the ship before all three of them moved to the forecastle to meet it, while Bodine continued to press his boss. “Rose DeWitt Bukater died on the Titanic when she was seventeen, right?”
“If she had lived, she’d be over a hundred by now.”
“A hundred and one next month.”
Bodine stepped up his offensive. “Okay, so she’s a very old goddamn
liar! Look, I’ve already done the background on this woman all the way back to
the 20s, when she was working as an actress–an actress! There’s your first clue,
Sherlock! Her name was Rose Dawson back then. Then she marries this guy named
Calvert, they move to
Brock remained unfazed and had to respond even more loudly as the helicopter hovered above them, preparing to touch down on the Keldysh. “And everybody who knows about the diamond is supposed to be dead or on this boat, but she knows!”
Ship, boss, ship! Bodine was disturbed by Brock’s apparent gullibility towards Calvert’s story, not to mention annoyed with his boss’ decision to trust his own intuition over his subordinate’s research. But since Calvert had arrived, he dropped the matter for the time being. Soon, the helicopter’s noise was deafening enough to drown out even the loudest voice, and everyone stopped talking to prepare to meet the woman who they hoped would change the course of their treasure hunt for the better.
For most of the last five hours and hundreds of miles, Rose had seen nothing
but water and the occasional vessel from her seat. The
That certainly was not the case on the late evening of April 14, 1912.
As calm as the ocean was today, it was as still as a frozen pond on that night, except that it was very much fluid and the only frozen objects in the water were icebergs. Had it been somewhat emptier, there would have been no collision. Alternatively, had there been more ships close by after the collision to respond to Titanic’s help signals, more people would have been saved.
Approaching the Keldysh
Recent weather was responsible for conditions in the
Or history would have only been postponed until the next unfortunate ship laden with thousands of crew and passengers crossed an iceberg’s path, as every shipping practice and regulation in place during Titanic’s sailing would have stayed intact had it not sunk. Human wisdom never precedes human folly.
None of that would have concerned Rose had she made it to
Sinking or no sinking, the week that began on that Sunday would have been far from ordinary for Rose.
She glanced at Lizzy, who had kept a watchful eye on her for much of the flight. Snuggled up in a warm coat, with a doting granddaughter by her side and a well-behaved pooch on her lap, she felt secure.
Thank goodness I didn’t jump two nights earlier.
Throughout the trip, she thought about her drawing. Pretty soon, she would see it in hard copy for the first time since that night. Its reappearance also made her think about how far the world had come since then. How many people had to die before they succeeded in building a heavier-than-air machine that could fly like a bird or an underwater vessel with the ability to dive down to Titanic’s wreck and even retrieve objects from it, including the drawing?
But it was arguable if these feats could compare to Rose’s own achievement
in surviving for the past eighty-four years. Those with a scientific and
technological bent often overlook the human element, admitted Mr. Word during
their conversation at the SA shelter in
What would Twain have said about Titanic’s demise had he lived that long? Then Rose recalled that Twain had already said it decades before Titanic was conceived: “Isn’t it odd that we should take a spasm, every now and then, and go spinning back into the dark ages once more, after having put in a world of time and money and work toiling up into the high lights of modern progress?” he wrote back in the Nineteenth Century.
Mr. Clemens, you’d have a field day describing how the world has turned out since you left us.
The helicopter touched down on the helipad, and Rose could see through the windows a gaggle of men waiting to receive her. Many wore orange overalls with yellow helmets, but three were clad in casual civilian attire. The first was a sandy-haired man with stubble on his face wearing a bright yellow jacket. The second man, holding a walkie-talkie in one hand, seemed like the all-business type, as Rose could tell by seeing through the sunglasses shielding his eyes. The third man, with the roundest physique of all and also wearing shades, seemed like the irreverent type, as his t-shirt featuring a large happy face with a bloody hole between its eyes attested. But the cynical look on his face told Rose that this was likely one of the doubters of her story.
She had expected that, and she was not afraid.
The doors of the helicopter opened and a breeze entered the cabin. Rose wrapped Freddy inside her coat and buttoned it up halfway. The luggage exited first before the first man, whom she recognized on TV and spoke to on the phone, came over to greet her.
“Mrs. Calvert, I’m Brock Lovett. Welcome to the Keldysh.” He offered her a hand as two other crew members lowered her wheelchair to the helipad.
Rose instinctively returned Brock’s shake before he extended his greeting to Lizzy, who received it a little more warmly before she assumed control of her grandmother’s wheelchair and followed the rest of the crew, who transported their luggage to their quarters. Lovett brought up the rear carrying the goldfish bowl.
After allowing Rose and Lizzy some time to unpack, Brock and Bodine headed to their cabin to check up on them. The relative quiet allowed them to renew their discussion of Rose.
“Our luck is about to change, Lewis; I can feel it.” Brock was still giddy over Rose’s arrival.
Bodine simply shrugged at his boss.
“So what’s your first impression of her?” Brock asked, even though he already knew the answer.
“The same as my last.”
“That good, huh? You’re a tough customer, Mr. Bodine.”
Bodine stopped walking. “I still think you’re taking an awful big risk inviting her here, boss. I just don’t wanna see you get burned.”
Brock put an arm around his assistant’s shoulder before lowering his voice. “How long have we known each other, Lewis?”
“Almost seven years.”
“Right, seven years. And how many dives have we made together during this time?”
“See? I lost count already, which shows how important you are,” Brock stressed with a squeeze on his rotund friend’s shoulder. “And speaking of risk, do we risk less every time we close that hatch to our submersible and bid farewell to the surface for a little while, not knowing if we’ll ever come back up?”
Bodine nodded in comprehension of his boss’ point.
“We’ve been through thick and thin together, Lewis, and you’ve done amazing work on this project. There’s no one I trust more–not even Calvert.”
Bodine managed a weak smile. “You can also thank a steady supply of Red Bull.”
“Yeah, that really comes in handy.” Brock yawned and rubbed his eyes. “Neither of us has slept well in two months. But now that Calvert’s here, our mission is almost over…for better or for worse. Let’s see how much we can get out of her, but let’s make it look good, too.”
The two resumed their walk to Rose’s cabin. “At least we got some great footage down there,” Bodine indicated. “So if this project doesn’t pan out, there’s always The Discovery Channel.”
CONTINUED in More Portraits.
*The surname “Milkailavich” appears to be
invented. In fact, searches on Yahoo! and Google going up to twelve pages deep
indicated that the only Milkailavich was Anatoly Sagalevitch’s character in Titanic.
Perhaps James Cameron erroneously or deliberately gave his friend such a unique
surname for the movie. It could be a play on Sagalevitch’s middle name (or
patronymic), Mikhailovich (“son of Michael”), which is common in
**That would be Evgeny Cherniev, one of Sagalevitch’s top assistants on the Keldysh.