Chapter Nine

   All right, the water was too choppy that night, so they decided to return to shore, hopeful that tomorrow night would bring calmer seas. "Hallelujah!" exulted the only female member of the outfit. In the meantime, aboard the German sub, the crew was voting on whether or not to keep their strange visitor, or to let him off along the coast somewhere. Of the eighteen in the crew, the vote went this way: Keep... 0; Get rid of... 18. It was unanimous, so they moved in close enough to shore to let him off.
   "Where are you taking me?" Dancing Cloud asked, with a mixture of hand signals and grunts.
   "What's he saying?" a German sailor asked another, in German.
   Soon they were close enough to the shore to surface briefly and let Dancing Cloud off. As it would happen, their exact location was 42 degrees latitude, 70 degrees longitude, or just off the coast of Hyannisport, Massachusetts, and within one hundred yards of the beach that fronted the estate owned by one Joseph P. Kennedy. That's right, Joseph P. Kennedy. (Why? -- Ed.) I have no idea.
   Meanwhile, the frogmen, and Maureen, retreated to a tavern, The Copper Lantern, in the town of Hyannis, for some sustenance. The place was packed with all sorts of rough-and-tumble local types, many of them nervous about the state of the world and what was happening overseas, but oblivious to the threat looming just off their own coast.
   "I'm starving. What's good here?" Maureen asked the waiter as she and the other frogmen took their seats at a large booth in the rear of the place.
   "Do you like clam chowder?" the waiter shot back.
   "I love clam chowder," Maureen replied enthusiastically.
   "Then you better go somewhere else, because we don't serve it here."
   "What? Oh, I get it. Jim? Jim?!" Maureen looked around in vain. There was no way she'd find me in there. "All right, then, what do you serve here?" she finally asked.
   "We've got cod... " he began, trying to think.
   "I hate cod," she moaned.
   "We've got cod steak, fried cod, filet of cod, cod sandwiches, let's see... "
   "Do you have anything that's not cod?" she asked him.
   "Ah, anything that's not cod. Hmm... "
   "I mean, other than the coffee," she quipped.
   "Well, I'm afraid even the coffee's got some cod in it," he went on, laconically.
   Maureen, thoroughly exasperated, just sat there, fuming, unable to say a word.
   "Mmmmmmmphhhhmmmmphhhh!" she mumbled unintelligibly as the other frogmen gave their orders.
   "Cod steak, cod potatoes, and cod coffee," Greg started.
   "Filet of cod, creamed cod, and cod coffee," Sonny chimed in.
   "Cod sandwich and cod coffee," went Ben.
   "Same as him, but give me a cup of cod chowder as well," added Farley. (Those are the same names you used before! -- Ed.)
   "Nothing for you?" the waiter asked Maureen.
   "Oh, all right, give me a bowl of cod chowder."
   "Sorry. He got the last one."
   "That's it! Jim? How can you do this to me? I thought we were friends?"
   We are.
   "Then why did you throw me into this stupid situation?"
   I want you to take back what you said about me being an oddball.
   "I never said you were an oddball."
   Yes you did. In Chapter Seven.
   "I did?"
   Let me read it to you: "I really don't know him that well -- met him at work a few years ago. Bit of an oddball." There. Those were your exact words.
   "All right, I did say those things. I'm sorry." (Hey, excuse me, but can't this kind of dialogue take place somewhere else? You're placing a terrible burden on the reader [Aw, poor reader -- Me] who has to sift through all this flotsam and jetsam just to find the barest shred of a story, or characters, or anything that makes the slightest bit of sense. Hey! Are you listening? -- Ed.)
   Yeah, yeah.
   "Who's that?"
   Ed. The editor. I don't know. Some guy the publisher is paying to pore over the prose (Watch the preponderance of p's! -- Ed.) and nit-pick about every last syllable.
   "Well, I feel he's intrusive."
   So do I, but what can I do?
   "There's plenty you can do."
   "Of course, Jim. Who's writing this?"
   I am.
   "Right now, you're writing this, what I'm saying, right now?"
   Yes. So what's your point?
   "Well, just... keep writing."
   Well, I will. But, you have to promise me something.
   Promise me you'll keep Ed. here busy. He's a pain in the ass, but he really can't do anything.
   "I'll try." (I heard that, and yes, I admit that I'm somewhat powerless in this situation, but I can make recommendations, and those recommendations go straight to the top, or as near to the top as you can conceive. Let's put it this way, you'd be quite impressed if I told you who this went to. So don't get any big ideas! I'll be watching. And I won't be taking any more breaks, either -- Ed.)
   I hope he's done. (I am, for now at least -- Ed.)
   "So, what are you going to do, Jim?"
   I need a good story. Or an interesting character.
   "You've already got the makings of both. What about the inventor of the shoelace-tying machine?"
   "Now there's a story. Guy invents useless device -- "
   Well, I wouldn't call it useless.
   "Okay, harmless device, and he patents it, and then, he disappears. Poof! Sounds fascinating to me."
   Well, you would like that sort of thing.
   "What's that supposed to mean?"
   I wish I knew.
   "Look, Jim, how about it? Just count me out, okay?"
   But you're my most interesting character so far.
   "Then don't make me go scuba diving off the coast of Maine! I'll take a smaller role, just make it warmer, okay?"
   San Diego?
   Okay, Maureen, but don't expect a miracle. I feel a writer's block coming on.
   "Cheer up! Get on with it!"
   I should be so confident.

(This ends Chapter Nine. I'm thinking, I'm thinking.)

Chapter Ten