With feather-soft steps Dancing Cloud glided along the narrow wooden path leading to the front of the craft. When Powloo warriors traveled the river, which today is known as the Rio Grande, they were careful not to step on either side of the canoe, but always walk in the exact center. Balance was everything. Balance and silence. The same was true here, he thought, some nine hundred years later, in the cold waters off the coast of Maine, or San Diego, in a German submarine, silently patrolling the heavily-trafficked sea lanes of northern New England, or the strategic ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. How did a member of the Powloo Nation, a non-German speaking American Indian, infiltrate the elite Nazi submarine command and get the choice assignment to serve on a prestigious spying mission in the coastal waters of the United States? Read on and I shall tell you. I just need a little time to think of something. (You're testing my patience! -- Ed.) Be patient.
The precision drills, the systematic repetition of exercises, the dives, the surface maneuvers, the commands barked out in a harsh and unfamiliar tongue, all of this, everything, was totally alien to Dancing Cloud. The idea of being underwater and enclosed, inside the belly of some giant mechanical whale -- it was like a dream to him, a fantasy, a hallucination. That's what it must be, he thought -- a hallucination! (Now what? The Indian has a dream? -- Ed.)
No, the Indian doesn't have a dream. Meanwhile, off the coast of Maine, or Long Beach, a group of experienced Navy frogmen get ready to dive. With them, for the first time in naval history, a woman. Her name... Maureen.
No, they told her, they're not kidding. And then, after fitting themselves into skintight rubber suits and synchronizing their watches, they set out into the coastal waters in a small, motorized boat known by a familiar name. (PT boat? -- Ed.) It was not a PT boat.
The waves made it a choppy ride and, this being December, or maybe February, it was cold, extremely cold. Maureen shivered, unaccustomed to such bitter weather. But, what could she do?
"Brr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r," she said, "and nuts to you," she added, a little dig at yours truly.
Meanwhile, back inside the Nazi submarine, our Powloo friend Dancing Cloud was totally disoriented at the sight of all these modern things, things he could not possibly comprehend, like radio, and glass, and metal. He wasn't much help to the rest of the crew, either. In fact, his presence there was as much an anomaly to them as it was to him, and they treated him the way you would treat someone who walked around in a loincloth and carried a small pouch containing some beef jerky and a couple of sticks of spearmint gum. (And Lincoln's Visa card? -- Ed.)
Meanwhile, all sarcastic remarks aside, off the coast, either coast, the motorized boat that carried our intrepid Navy frogmen, plus Maureen, was approaching the spot at which witnesses claimed to have seen the German sub.
"Do we have to dive into freezing water?" Maureen asked.
"Yes," came back her answer.
"Thanks, Jim," she groused, although there was no one there named Jim. Anyway, (Excuse me, but just how do you expect to get out of this? You've got this Powloo Indian from the Eleventh Century on a German U-boat, you've got a girl you tried to impress by Xeroxing your brain about to dive off the coast of either Maine or California, and -- Ed.) You've made your point, thank you, Ed., but I can't listen to you. I mustn't listen to you. I must go on, I must keep writing. That's all there is to it. (All right, but -- Ed.)
"That's the spirit, Jim. Now you're on your way."
"Now, can I please get out of this rubber suit and back to -- "
(This ends Chapter Eight, on a somewhat confusing note.)