We’ve spent six months in this steel tube, at five hundred meters below sea level, so we put antlers on the two newbies and filled their bunk with helium balloons. The antlers are a ten-point rack and an eight-point rack that Tanzer cut from two bucks he bagged in the Virginia woods last fall. For the newbies he sanded the points sharp.
We can barely move in these tight quarters, so we weren’t surprised when they went to bed and we heard pop, pop-pop. It feels good to laugh.
They talk soft around the rest of us, and tiptoe everywhere, even when they’ve taken the antlers off to work.
Qualls made a pun: “Be a deer and pass me the salt.” Now everyone says it.
Shelby and Winston pretend to aim rifles and laugh at their eyes getting big.
Yesterday, during their off-hours, we couldn’t find one. Kent walked down the length of the sub carrying the antlers, checked every nook, behind the pipes, between consoles, and finally found him hidden inside a torpedo tube. He pretended to be asleep, like he’d forgotten it was time to antler up.
Tonight’s the big show. Eight Points waits by the bunks, Ten Points by the periscope, and we all sit in the cafeteria between them. We ante spare change and nicotine patches into empty dehydrated pea cans.
On Callahan’s countdown from ten, they’ll charge. The antlers will clatter.
The dark water all around us will keep quiet.
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