Louise landed the jet without a hitch on the aircraft carrier, and she, Ben, and Bud climbed off to meet a seafaring man in a pea coat, long white beard, and cap. Alongside him stood a much younger man dressed in the manner of a greaser juvenile delinquent, straight out of the previous decade. Motorcycle jacket, tight blue jeans, engineer boots, a thin white t-shirt, and fiery red hair duded up in a tight pompadour. He had a Budweiser in one hand and a cigarette in the other.
Bud made introductions.
“Sarge, or uh, Ben Venice, meet the Captain and Red.”
“Hey, fellas.” Ben eyeballed the two gentlemen carefully, “So what’s the story with this boat? You gonna tell me the USS Indianapolis didn’t sink?”
“Oh, it sank.” The Captain began, “I was on it. Sharks took my hand.” he said, as he produced a hook from his left pocket where a hand would’ve been, “Not to mention my leg.” With that, he bent over, clanked his hook against the hollow wooden prosthesis on his right. “Fucking sharks.”
“Whoa. Bad start, pal. Sorry.” Ben said. The Captain just snarled an inaudible response, and kept grumbling as he turned and walked away.
“Don’t mind him, daddio.” Red said, then swigged from his bottle. “Alotta you W.W. two cats came back wrong. You ready to go?”
“We just got here, so sure, why not?” Ben was getting used to being puzzled.
“This is just a stop on the way, Sarge. But we’re close.” Bud said, slapping his old friend on the shoulder.
“How many of those have you had, Red?” asked Louise.
“Ahh, what’re you, my Ma? This is my first one today.” Red replied with a sneer.
“Can you handle the sub?” Louise put her fists on her waist, cocked her head a bit.
“What am I gonna do, crash into an octopus?” Red knocked back the rest of his brew, then dramatically tossed the empty bottle over his shoulder, where it sailed over the side of the ship. “C’mon, you’re getting to be a drag already.”
The three complied, followed the younger man into the hanger bay and then down a few tight flights of stairs, past several thick, locked metal doors until they reached the bottom of the boat. Here, Red click clacked a code into a small numerical keypad, leading to a sharp whistle blow, indicating the door was unlocked. Red yanked the handle up hard and pushed in, into the airlock.
“Here we are, folks. The American dream so dreamy you have to leave America to dream it.” Red said, strutting around a vehicle chained and suspended from the ceiling. It was long, wide, black, and sleek, almost beyond belief. What an angel would be to a human being, this ride was to any automobile. It had room to very comfortably sit 4, with the pilot in the conventional driver’s seat.
“Shotgun.” called Louise, who popped the passenger side open, with an automatic door that slid sideways towards the back to allow access for the backseat as well, then climbed in.
“After you.” said Bud, with his hand outstretched. Ben took him up on it, hopped in the back and slid all the way over. “Pretty wild stuff, huh Sarge?”
“Yeah, this thing is kinda like that Caddy I was driving.” Ben said back, as he lit a smoke and pressed a button above his head that indicated it was there to suck up the smoke.
“Only this one can survive a little dip.” Red said, as he got situated in the driving seat. “We ready to roll? Good. C’mon.” pressing a remote button, a trap door opened beneath them, the chamber filled with water, the chains fell away, and the small submarine began it’s dive. Farther and farther down into the dark, until they reached a satisfactory depth for Red to switch the lights on. Ben watched with wonder as strange and exotic fish darted around. He noticed that Louise was filing her nails like she was on a mile 500 of a dull ride on the interstate.
“You know, I thought you might’ve been full of shit until this very second. Am I dreaming this, Bud?” Ben asked.
“Oh, you haven’t started dreaming yet, Sarge.” Bud replied, watching out his window as a school of seahorses drifted by.