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A great big snake, like the snake in the old Norse myths, tile biggest damn snake in the universe, and it was hissing. “Eeey!” yelled all my Japanese friends. Something had gone rocketing up out of the water, exploding maybe half a mile in the air, exploding with a thunderclap of noise and a cluster burst that looked like a white phosphorus shell out of a 4.2 mortar. “Son-of-a-bitch!” said Charlie Daniki. “I just remembered I forgot something!” “What?” “I forgot to stay the hell off this son-of-a-bitch of a boat, you cotton-pickin' rest cheap juicy couture home for hookworms.” Charlie Daniki is like that; when he's really frightened he makes jokes. When the Reds staged the May Day riot near the Emperor's palace, Charlie and I found ourselves next to a blazing Chevrolet on its side, with about two hundred hardhearted Waseda University students all carrying eight-foot loaded bamboos staves gathering around us. They were fixing to work us both over with the staves and Charlie had looked over at me and said, “Well, you miserable Klu Kluxin' bastard, now you know what it means to be on the other side.” But Charlie Daniki didn't pick any other side; he stayed right with me, talking fast to the unfunny college boys until three truckloads of Metropolitan Police came charging in to the rescue. His favorite magazine is True, he's that kind of Japanese, and I wish there were eighty-six million more just like him. “Nothing to worry about,” I-said.


That's what my major used to tell me early in 1945,” said Charlie. “I'm moving up front. Come on.” We went up to the bow rail. Satin was there, her camera clicking. “Hi, Bob. I hope these make it. A telephoto lens and infrared film. What do you think of it?” “Looks like a bathroom in hell,” I said. “How far away do you think it is?” “I couldn't be guessing, ma'am.” “Maybe fifteen, twenty miles. Too close,” said Charlie. “There's going to be some more action—that red part is getting brighter,” I said. Satin was shooting with her Leica now, holding it to her face, the long, bright telephoto lens shining against the night blackness. For a few seconds we heard only the boat sounds and the distant hiss of steam. Charlie had moved up to the group around the scientists. Another fireball exploded, and my eyes were used to the darkness now. The brief trails of bright ribbons from the fireball lit the deck. Charlie came back, quite serious now. “Some disagreement among the scientists, Bob,” he said. “One of them, a younger man who is not so famous, says it's dangerous to go much closer. I was wrong on the distance. Right now we're only eleven juicy couture large pammy tote miles from the center of the new islands.” “Why don't we cruise around at this distance until morning? That should be safe enough.” I could see Charlie's face in the light from the bridge. He hung his head a little, and one shoulder was high,' Charlie Daniki was ashamed of something. “The captain.” “Yes? What about the captain?” “You saw him today. He was an admiral. Very proud, much bitterness.


Because there are so many reporters on this ship he must show off. Me is sailing right into the center now at full speed.” “With those things exploding out there? And there'll be crazy currents!” Charlie nodded. “I think maybe it will be disaster. So does the young scientist. But not the captain. Full speed straight ahead—hello, Pearl Harbor!” Deet Byron walked toward us. The smell of whisky was Still strong, but he was quiet and steady. “Quite a show! Glad you came, Satin?” She put the Leica down, turned to Byron. “I don't know the light values on this volcanic stuff. I did some daylight eruption shots of Mount Aso, down south, and they weren't much. I'm trying four different types of film, a special filter, and running through the changes on the Leica and the Rollei—but still I don't know.” “Aren't you worried a little?” “Sure I am,” she muttered, lifting the Leica again. “If I'm not exactly sure of what I'm doing, I'm bound to worry. But after I've run this stuff through the darkroom I'll know how to shoot this kind of thing next time.” This was Satin Shea. The ship riffled through the black water. I thought I could begin to feel the heat. Another fireball exploded, and the sound was like a gunshot close by. I closed my eyes and I could still see the bright spider legs of light. Chapter Five SOMETIMES YOU GET A CRAZY CARNIVAL spirit on a deal like this. The word got around quickly that the captain was a little mad, that he was going into danger with the ship because he wanted to prove something. “Same thing with the battleship Yamato,” said Charlie Daniki. “Biggest damn battleship in the world, number-one secret.
 
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