Foam on the Large Wave
(Fisi 'o e nauaoam)
Lee and Ajaamil claimed their luggage and then
walked to the front of the terminal.
It hadn’t taken long; this was not the best time of year for
tourism and it wasn’t crowded. Somehow
Crane was of the opinion that he might very well stick out like a sore
thumb in this place and at this time of the year, but he wasn’t the one
who had planned it. He could
only suppose that his contact felt safer here at the far ends of the
Ajaamil hailed a taxi.
The only way that Lee could tell it was a cab was the small,
hand-painted logo in Nepalese on the door.
Otherwise, it was an old beat-up Ford circa early 1950’s,
probably put together with the local equivalent of bailing wire. He even felt the hard end of a spring in the seat when he got
in. Shifting, he finally got
comfortable as the driver sped off toward the destination Ajaamil had
given. That was the only
instance of speed that the taxi was able to maintain.
Despite the weather, there were people about, most on foot, some on
small mopeds. The
streets were narrow--extremely narrow, and if Lee hadn’t been used to
life on board a submarine, he might have felt claustrophobic.
The high, multi-storied brick buildings seemed almost medieval.
They drove past several large squares where Lee was able to glimpse
pagodas, one of them monstrously high.
He saw small displays, some with masks of extremely grotesque
faces-- deities, the captain supposed.
They continued on, still navigating through the
narrow streets, but the houses seemed to be getting a bit smaller, the
steep mountainsides closer. The
driver soon pulled up in front of a temple that had the appearance of
being a bit off the tourist path.
It was still clean, but not as large and elegant as the other
temples he had glimpsed. The
taxi driver looked at them expectantly.
Lee just shrugged. “Sorry,
don’t have the local currency.”
“Do you have American dollars?” Ajaamil asked
with a smile.
“Uh, well, yes, I do,” Lee responded.
“I can pay in U.S. currency?”
“Of course,” Ajaamil replied, his smile
Lee dug into his pocket and pulled out a
twenty-dollar bill. He showed
it to Ajaamil. “This
“More than enough, Mr. Morris,” the Indian
said, shaking his head. “You
need only give him a five, maybe seven dollars at the most.”
“That’s okay,” Lee said and handed the
twenty to the cab driver. “I’ve
taken cabs in Los Angeles. This
was a bargain.” The man’s
dark face crinkled in delight. He
nodded and thanked Lee profusely in his native language.
He jerked the hand brake and jumped out to get Lee’s suitcase.
With a nod, Lee took it and then gazed at the entrance of the
temple before them. They
stepped into the front entrance and walked down a short hallway, that, in
turn, opened up to a large room where sat a life-sized statue of what
looked to be a local rendition of Buddha.
Dark shadows danced on either side of the room and Lee glanced
nervously around. It was too
Then suddenly, somebody detached itself from one
of the shadows and beckoned to them.
Even in the dim light, the figure looked to be a monk, or someone
dressed as one. Light colored
material draped their host, covering all but his face and his lower arms
and feet. Lee was amazed to
see that the feet were bare. It
had to be less than fifty degrees, even inside the temple.
The figure beckoned again. So
far everything had worked smoothly, so Lee had to trust that his luck
would continue to hold. He
stepped forward and heard Ajaamil at his side.
The figure suddenly stopped them and motioned for the Indian to
remain where he was. He turned to Lee. “You
have something for me?”
Crane pulled out the embossed card. The monk nodded in satisfaction and beckoned him to follow.
“I suppose I will wait here with your
luggage,” Ajaamil said sardonically.
“I guess,” Lee responded, feeling a bit less
sure about the situation. However,
if this was the place where he got the information, he could understand
why Mendez wouldn’t want anyone else in attendance.
When the monk gestured again, he stepped forward.
His guide, satisfied, turned and walked behind the statue.
A small, dimly lit hallway curved toward a door that the monk
opened and motioned for Lee to go through.
Taking a breath, the captain did so and found himself in a darkened
room. He stopped, wondering
what to do next. The door
clicked shut behind him and he pivoted, reaching.
If the guide was in the room with him, he had moved silently out of
“Mr. Morris, please walk slowly toward my
The speaker spoke in a lightly accented voice, and
Lee assumed that it was the scientist, Gerardo Mendez. There didn’t seem to be much choice, he began to step
slowly, almost shuffling toward Mendez’ voice.
There also didn’t seem to be much point in saying anything
either. The scientist was in
charge and would most likely answer questions when they were face to face. Lee continued to walk, hands outstretched.
is close enough,” Mendez commanded.
Lee stopped and waited.
A bright light suddenly shone in his eyes and he threw up his arm
in surprise. As soon as he
became used to the light, he lowered his arm and gazed at the tall man in
front of him. Mendez was
probably an inch taller than he was; thin, with graying hair and intense
brown eyes. Again Lee waited for the scientist to make the first move.
“Please follow me,” Mendez said quietly.
They went through another door and it was quickly
apparent that this corridor was dug directly into the mountainside.
The walls were smooth, but they were definitely solid rock.
They walked for about twenty feet and then there was another door,
one that looked like it was more suited to the Seaview rather than
inside a temple. Mendez
undogged the hatch mechanism and opened the door.
The figure that had led him into the dark room was waiting in a
chamber about the size of the missile room.
It was furnished conservatively and seemed to serve as a
combination of living quarters and workroom.
“Have a seat, Captain Crane,” the monk said,
in flawless British English, pulling back his hood.
The man appeared to be native Nepalese.
Whether he was an actual monk, Lee couldn’t venture a guess.
“Thank you,” Lee murmured.
“Would you care for some tea?”
He would have preferred coffee, but if nothing else, the tea would
serve to warm him up a bit. The
room seemed to have some heating, but it was minimal.
Mendez pulled a chair close to the captain.
“I was beginning to think that the planners of this rendezvous
were not going to let us meet.”
“May I see some identification, please?” Lee
asked matter-of-factly. “You
have the advantage of knowing me, but I don’t have the same
“Of course, Captain,” Mendez said with a
smile. He produced a
driver’s license, but Lee handed it back not totally satisfied.
The scientist handed him an envelope.
Opening it, Lee saw a hand written note from the admiral.
It was coded in the cipher that Nelson had established for the two
of them to be able to verify people in situations like this.
“Are you satisfied, Captain?”
Perfectly. The admiral
warned me not to accept anything edible from you,” Lee said wryly, not
quite sure what the warning was about, but guessing.
Mendez grinned and then began to laugh.
Finally, he choked out, “I will let Pran do the honors, then.”
He saw Lee’s slightly puzzled face and continued.
“I like my food very spicy and my drinks strong.
I have had neither since I have been here, so you are safe.”
Lee smiled and nodded.
“Now, could you explain what it is that I am going to take back
to Admiral Nelson?”
“Soon, Captain Crane.
But I have been living in almost total seclusion for the past few
months and I now have the opportunity to interact with someone, for
however short a time it is.” Mendez
turned to the monk, who was returning with a tray containing three mugs
and a pot of steaming tea. “No
offense, my friend.”
“None taken,” the Nepalese replied.
“Your jokes wear thin, perhaps the captain has some new ones.”
Lee smiled. He
found himself quickly liking these two men and was glad there was going to
be some bantering before the business that had brought him to this place.
He sipped his tea and found it to have a flavor he was totally
unfamiliar with. “Excellent.
What is it?”
“A local blend that I put together myself,”
Pran said, pulling up and chair and sitting near the two men. “And I will not divulge my secrets. I plan on packaging and selling it for money to make repairs
to the temple.”
Nodding, Lee drank the tea and then poured himself
“Is Harriman safe?” Mendez asked.
“Last I heard,” Lee answered. “But then, I haven’t had contact for over two weeks.”
heard about the courier, Anderson, and worried about the others. This project is too important to end up in the hands of
someone else and definitely too important to be allowed to die with us.”
“I plan on getting your information back safely,
Doctor,” Lee said with great conviction.
“Our enemy is very cunning, I’m afraid.
I sincerely hope you are right, for the admiral’s sake, for the
future, and especially for you,” Mendez said, his voice losing its more
light-hearted note. The
scientist sighed. “Perhaps
we’d better get the business done and then we can have something to
Pran got up.
“I will fix something appropriately delicious, gentlemen.”
He looked at Lee. “Including something for your companion outside.”
“Thank you, my friend.”
Mendez beckoned to Lee. “Come
with me. You will be
receiving the information in a way that will make it much more difficult
for any unauthorized individual to access.
In fact, I would daresay that it would be impossible."
Crane raised one eyebrow in question, but Mendez
didn’t say anything. The
scientist motioned for him to sit in a chair that looked a great deal like
a doctor or dentist’s chair.
Complying, Lee watched as Mendez walked over to another table.
“At the sake of sounding skeptical, could you explain what
“You won’t be harmed in any way, Captain,”
Mendez assured him. “It’s
something else I have been working on.
Pran has been my guinea pig and so I know it works.”
“Just call me Lee, Doctor,” the captain said.
He began to say something else, but the prick of a needle
interrupted his question. Looking
accusingly at Mendez, he immediately fell asleep.
It was the smell of food that woke him, rather
than the voices that bantered nearby.
“Ah, Doctor, the captain is awakening,” Pran
said as though from the end of a tunnel.
Lee tried to sit up, but the room was spinning too
violently and he lay back down on the narrow bed.
Mendez appeared at his side. “What
the hell was that for?” Lee asked accusingly.
“What I have put in your brain cannot be
extracted by conventional means such as truth serums.
However, anything we discuss, can,” Mendez said.
“Please trust me when I tell you that you have what you came for
and it will remain safe until you have returned to the United States.”
The scientist held a cup to his lips and Lee drank from it.
More of Pran’s tea, he realized.
Whatever the Nepalese man put in it, the drink also seemed to have
the effect of clearing his head.
He felt a tiny incision at the base of his left ear, only noticed
by the fact that something had felt different, but owing to Mendez’
secrecy, Lee chose not to ask about it.
He figured what it must be anyway.
Soon he was sitting up and a short time after
that, he was cautiously making his way to a small table where a very
delicious-looking dinner was waiting.
The two men gazed at his progress with good-natured amusement, but
were soon pointing out a variety of dishes for him to try.
Lee was familiar with many of the world’s cuisines, but much of
what was before him was unfamiliar. The
rice he recognized and took some of that first.
“Baji,” Pran said.
“Flattened rice. It
is good with the chhoyla, the spicy meat.
I made it for the doctor here, but he claims it is too bland.”
The Nepalese shook his head as Mendez laughed.
Lee tried some and declared it good.
“The only thing that he finds hot enough for his palate is sanan,
the pickles,” Pran explained. “You
might not want to try them.”
But Lee was feeling adventurous, now that the goal
of his mission had been attained and he was among friends.
It was indeed hot and he choked, trying to take a deep breath, but
when the fire in his mouth waned, he still found it to be quite good.
There were several other dishes and he tried at least a small
amount of each one, washing them down with what Mendez called thon,
a sort of local rice beer. Finally,
he sighed and leaned back in his chair.
“Excellent, Pran. You
should market this, too.”
The monk smiled.
“If I was in the United States, perhaps.
But these are commonplace here, Captain.”
“Nevertheless, it’s the best meal I’ve had
since I started all this globe-hopping.”
“I will be sorry to see you go, Lee,” Mendez
said, almost dismissively.
“Personally, except for the fact that I miss the
Seaview, I am sorry I have to leave, too.
I have enjoyed this short time immensely.”
He gazed at Mendez’ wistful expression.
“I suppose I need to leave quite soon.”
“Yes. We just
don’t know how much our enemies are able to figure out from your
travels, but if you stay here too long without reason….”
“Yeah, I know,” Lee said sardonically.
“I guess one session with the spiritual advisor is enough to get
me on the road home. I was really not looking forward to another 10 K
“Not a great cover for a submarine captain, is it?
But take heart, you will be flying from here to Taiwan and there
you will board a plane for Hawaii where you will meet the Seaview.”
Lee smiled. “Good.
I’m ready to change back into my uniform and do something normal,
like take the boat on a deep dive.”
A short time later, Lee left the temple with
Ajaamil, who had waited patiently through the afternoon in the inner
courtyard. The Indian did not
accompany him on the flight this time.
It was a longish flight, owing to the looping southerly route to
avoid flying over the People’s Republic of China and Lee dozed off
several times. Finally, though, they landed and he headed toward the airline
information desk to get his tickets for the flight to Honolulu.
He informed the airline agent who he was.
“Mr. Jeffrey Morris?” the young Chinese man
“Yes, from Santa Barbara,” Lee answered.
“I should have tickets waiting for me.”
“May I see your passport, please? And other identification.”
Lee frowned, wondering what was going on.
He had never been asked for this much identification from an agent
before. Something political
happening that he hadn’t heard about?
He dug out his ID’s and handed them over to the young man.
Instead of handing them back, the man said,
“There is an irregularity. Will
you come with me?”
“What kind of irregularity?
I was told that I would have tickets waiting for me.”
Alarm was warring with irritation.
“Please come with me and my superiors will
“You will either accompany me willingly, sir, or
I will have to call security.”
The alarm bells claxoned in Lee’s mind and he simply turned and sprinted for the terminal entrance. He never made it. Someone blindsided him only twenty feet from the main entrance and at the same time, he felt the sting of a hypodermic needle in his upper arm. Then there was nothing.
|Foam on the Large Wave Prologue|
|Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents|