Ramsey suddenly realized that he was allowing himself to be guided by a blind man. He laughed, found that he had to explain the laughter. "It was the way you handled that brassy commodore," he said.
"You don't lie at all well," said Dr. Oberhausen. "But I'll let it pass. Now, about the commodore: he's a member of the board which passes upon promotions for BuPsych men."
Ensign Ramsey abruptly found that laughter had left him.
Ramsey often referred to his five weeks' training for the subtug mission as "The time I lost twenty pounds."
They gave him three rooms in the sound wing of Unadilla Naval Hospital; blank white enclosures furnished in rattan and cigarette-scarred mahogany, a functional TV set, equally functional hospital bed on high legs. One room was set up for training: hypnophone, wall diagrams, mock-ups, tapes, films.
His wife, Janet, a blond nurse, received a weekend schedule for visits: Saturday nights and Sundays. Their children, John Junior, age two, and Peggy, age four, were not permitted in the hospital, had to be packed off to their grandmother's at Fort Linton, Mississippi.
Janet, wearing a one-piece red dress, came storming into the sitting room of Ramsey's suite on their first Saturday night. She kissed him, said, "I knew it!"
"That sooner or later the Navy and that awful Obe would be regulating our sex life."
Ramsey, aware that everything he said and did in the hospital was being monitored, tried to shush her.
"Oh, I know they're listening," she said. She threw herself onto the rattan couch, crossed her legs, lighted a cigarette, which she puffed furiously. "That Obe gives me the creeking creeps," she said.
"That's because you let him," said Ramsey.
"And because that's the effect he wants to give," she countered.
"Well . . . yes," admitted Ramsey.
Janet jumped to her feet, threw herself into his arms. "Oh, I'm being a fool. They said I wasn't to upset you."
He kissed her, rumpled her hair. "I'm not upset."
"I told them I couldn't upset you if I tried." She pushed away from him. "Darling, what is it this time? Something dangerous? It isn't another one of those horrible submarines?"
"I'm going to be working with some oilmen," he said.
She smiled. "Oh, that doesn't sound bad at all. Will you be drilling a well?"
"The well's already drilled," he said. "We're going to see about increasing production."
Janet kissed his chin. "Old efficiency expert."
"Let's go to dinner," he said. "How're the kids?"
They went out, arm in arm, chatting about the children.
Ramsey's weekday routine began at 0500 when the nurse entered with his wake-up shot to rouse him from the hypnophone drugs. High-protein breakfast. More shots. Blood test.
"This is going to hurt a little."
"Owooooooch! Whatta you mean a little? Next time warn me!"
"Don't be a big baby."
Diagrams. Floor plans of Hell Diver Class subtugs.
They turned him over to a large subtug expert from Security. Clinton Reed. Bald as an egg. Thin eyes, thin nose, thin mouth, thick skin. Sense of duty as solid as his neck. Absolutely no sense of humor.
"This is important, Ramsey. You have to be able to go anywhere on this vessel, man any control blindfolded. We'll have a mock-up for you in a couple of days. But first you have to get a picture of it in your mind. Try flashing these plans and then we'll test your memory."
"Okay. I've finished the general layout. Try me."
"Where's the pile room?"
"Ask me something hard."
"Answer the question."
"Oh, all right. Its forward in the bulb nose; first thirty-two feet."
"Because of the teardrop shape of this class, and for balance. The nose gives the most room for shielding."
"How thick is the radiation wall behind the pile room?"
"I missed that."
"Twelve feet. Remember it. Twelve feet."
"Well, I can tell you what it's made of: hafnium, lead, graphite, and poroucene."
"What's on the aft face of the radiation wall?"
"Direct-reading gauges for the reactor. Repeaters are in the control room, forward bulkhead to the right of the first-level catwalk. Then there are lockers for ABG suits, tool lockers, doors to the tunnels leading into the pile room."
"You're getting it. How many tunnels into the pile room?"
"Four. Two top; two bottom. Not to be entered for more than twelve minutes at a time unless wearing an ABG suit."
"Fine. What's the rated horsepower?"
"Two hundred and seventy-three thousand, reduced to about two hundred and sixty thousand by the silencer planes behind the screw."
"Excellent! How long is the engine room?"
"Uh . . . nope. That one's gone, too."
"Look, Ramsey, these are important. You have to remember these distances. You have to get a feeling for them. What if you don't have any lights?"
"Okay. Okay. How long is the damned thing?"
"Twenty-two feet. It fills the whole midship section. The four electric engines are set two to a level with the gearbox for the drive below center aft."
"Gotcha. Here, let me take a flash of the aft section. Okay. Now try me."
"How many catwalks in the engine room and where located?"
"Look, I just flashed the aft section."
"How many catwalks and --"
"Okaaaay. Let's see: one center of the control deck going forward. One off center into machine stores on the second level below. One called A level into top stores. Same for bottom level: called B level. Short bridging catwalks from A and B levels to the engines and oxy tanks. And one very short to the conningtower-retracted which lifts into a section of steps when" the tower is extended."
"Good. You see, you can do this if you set your mind to it. Now, tell me how the four staterooms are placed."
"Stop dodging the question."
"Wise guy! Let's see: captain is top level starboard behind the electronics shack. First officer portside behind the recreation room-sick bay. Engineering officer starboard below the captain's quarters and behind the machine shop. Electronics officer portside below the first officer and aft of galley stores. That's the place for me. Gonna cut me a private door into galley stores."
"Where's the galley?"
"That's one I can answer. It's far port, top level, entered through the wardroom. Selector controls for the prepackaged meals are against the bulkhead separating galley and wardroom. The galley-wardroom unit is between control deck and rec room."
"What's behind the staterooms?"
"Machinery of the Palmer induction drive."
"Why an induction drive?"
"Because at the dive limit for Hell Divers, there can be no weak points in the hull, therefore no shaft through the hull."
"You're getting the drive on the hypnophone tonight. Every man blindfolded. There'll be a model for you to work on day after tomorrow."
"What's the pressure hull limit for Hell Divers?"
"Three thousand and ten pounds to the square inch or 7000 feet."
"Stick to your first answer. Pressure varies with different water conditions. You'd be okay at 7100 feet in one place, dead at 6900 another. Learn to depend on your static pressure gauge. Now let's go to the atmosphere composition. What's a vampire gauge?"
"A little device worn on your wrist during deep dives. Needle goes into your vein, tells you if your CO2 diffusion is fast enough so you won't crock out. It also tattles on nitrogen."
"What's minimum diffusion?"
"When you get below .200 on CO2 you get the jeebies. If your blood CO2 count goes to four percent you're in trouble. With nitrogen it's different. The sub-tug atmosphere is supposed to be entirely cleared of it. A small quantity of helium is substituted."
"How do you get by with the high atmospheric pressure?"
"Aerobic carbonic anhydrase is fed into the atmosphere by the ventilator system. This speeds up the
CO2 loading and unloading of the blood, prevents gas bubbles forming."
"You're good at that. Did you know it before?"
"My emotional telemeter is just a glorified vampire gauge."
"Oh, sure. Now, why is the electronics officer so important?"
"Contact with the exterior control motors is by coded wave pulse. If the E-system breaks down when a subtug is submerged, it stays submerged."
"Right. Now, let's go through the plans again."
"Start with the reactor room. In detail."
The nightly hypnophone sessions flooded Ramsey's mind with the new knowledge: pressure hull, resonating hull, tank hull . . . pressure compensating system . . . header box . . . reactor controls . . . search and sounding . . . diving plane controls . . . valve controls . . . pile check-off . . . sonoran automatic-navigation board . . . atmosphere controls . . . automatic timelog, Mark DC . . . external and internal TV eyes, specifications for servicing of . . . gyro controls . . . two controls . . . plastic barge, oil, components of . . . needle torpedoes, external racking system . . . torpedo homing systems . . . scrambler systems . . . systems . . . systems . . . systems . . .
There were times when Ramsey's head felt filled to the bursting point.
Dr. Oberhausen appeared in Ramsey's quarters on the fourth day of training. The doctor's impressed clothes gave him the appearance of a bedraggled robin. He came in quietly, sat down beside Ramsey, who was seated in a viewerscope-sequence training hookup.
Ramsey pulled the fitted faceplate away from his eyes, turned to Dr. Oberhausen. "Ah, the chief of the inquisition."
"You are comfortable, Johnny?" The sightless eyes seemed to stare through him.
"Good. You are not supposed to be comfortable." The doctor's chair creaked as he shifted his weight "I have come about the man Garcia who is engineering officer of this crew."
"What's wrong with him?"
"Wrong? Have I said anything was wrong?"
Ramsey completely disengaged the viewerscope, sat back. "Come to the point."
"Ah, the impatience of youth." Dr. Oberhausen sighed. "Do you have a file on Garcia?"
"You know I have."
"Get it please, and read me what you have."
Ramsey leaned to his right, took a file folder from the bottom ledge of his coffee table, opened it. Garcia's picture on the inside front cover showed a short man -- about five feet seven inches -- slim. Latin features -- dark. Black curly hair. Sardonic half smile. The picture managed to impart a sense of
devil-may-care. Under the photograph a note in Ramsey's handwriting: "Member Easton championship water-polo team. Likes handball."
"Read to me," said Dr. Oberhausen.
Ramsey turned the page, said, "Age thirty-nine. Came up from ranks. Ex-CPO machinist. Ham radio license. Born Puerto Madryn, Argentina. Father cattle rancher: Jose Pedro Garcia y Aguinaldo. Mother died at birth of daughter when Garcia age three. Religion: Catholic. Wears rosary around neck. Takes blessing of priest before each mission. Wife: Beatrice, age thirty-one."
"Do you have her picture?" asked Dr. Oberhausen.
"A pity. I am told she is quite beautiful. Continue, please."
Ramsey said, "Educated at New Oxford. That accounts for his British accent."