A Little Paranoia
When Jones arrived in Washington, he was still uneasy about events in Cincinnati. Heike, having picked him up at the station, shared his concern. She said,
"Since we're already involved in our own special subversive activity, the last thing we need is to be suspected of things we haven't done."
"I wonder what the members of the House Un-American Activities Committee would think if they knew about us."
"Well, Jones, we're not communists. You're as middle-of-the- road American as anyone could be. Refugees like me are always suspect, but I've been checked very thoroughly by the FBI."
"We aren't ideolouges of any kind. We're just trying to make atomic war less likely."
Heike briefly raced a taxi next to her when the light turned green, and then replied,
"The members of the committee wouldn't like that. They're the people who say it's better to be dead than red. But they might be hard put to it to find a criminal pigeon-hole to put us in."
"Of course, lots of people are trying to influence decision- making at the top levels. Practically all the senior officers in all the services, and virtually all the defense contractors."
"Yeah, but they mostly don't like better red than dead people like us. We're also the ones who are planning to falsify data."
"But Heike, we haven't yet done anything at all subversive. It's only in our heads. You want to remember that if you're put in the interrogation chair with a bright light on you at FBI headquarters."
"As it happens, I was once in a similar situation. You soon forget everything, and just try to please your questioners. Anyhow, the plot thickens because General Smith and God knows who else simply assume that we'll be willing to falsify data. Are they accomplices?"
"It thickens further because we won't actually falsify data. We'll program in ways which unjustifiably discount certain kinds of data at the expense of others. Things like that could easily be honest mistakes."
Heike made a slightly screeching left turn and replied,
"But aren't. They'd be mistakes that we're too smart to make."
"But which we might make on a sleepy morning when I've just gotten off the train, and you haven't had enough coffee."
"Except that we'd catch them later on."
Both Jones and Heike began laughing. Heike asked,
"Have we defined away our own criminality?"
"It would become clear only if conversations like this one were secretly recorded."
"Oh God! Could there be a tape recorder in this car?"
"Jones, we'd be utterly screwed if there is."
"Well, any device would have to be in the interior. I guess we can take all the seats out. What a job!"
Heike smiled and said,
"We'll take it to one of the parks and pretend that we're cleaning everything."
When they arrived at JOAD, Jones made his way to Wentwoth Thurmond's office. Went looked up as Jones appeared in his doorway, and asked,
"Just come in from Cincinnati to see Heike?"
"And you. A bit of a problem has come up. The people at CASP don't think that a submarine-launched atomic missile is going to be ready for some time. Certainly not one with a range of a thousand miles."
"That means we'd have to fire from the Baltic. The Baltic is a tough one, Jones."
"I know. At the entrance, there's three hundred miles through the Kattegat and Skaggerak where it's too shallow to submerge. That's at least fifteen hours, and it's only in the dead of winter that most of it could be done at night."
Went agreed, adding,
"Even then, you can't motor past Copenhagen at midnight without anyone noticing. And that's in peacetime. It couldn't possibly work in wartime."
"In any case, it's been a while since you've shown much enthusiasm for atomic missile subs."
Went nodded, not quite decisively, and said,
"In the last war, there was only one kind of submarine. We sank ships with torpedoes. Now there are going to be two kinds. The missile subs will be like bombers. They go out hoping to unload before they get sunk. The defensive anti-sub subs are the fighter planes. They kill other subs and save the country into the bargain."
"I guess you'd rather be a fighter pilot, Went."
"Think of being a fireman. You get lots of excitement fighting fires, and then you save women and children. Little boys are quite right in wanting to be firemen. Everyone loves you, particularly the women you save. I missed my chance to be a fireman, but this could be even better."
"The only trouble is that women don't seem to be particularly attracted to firemen."
"Are you sure?"
"I knew the ones in my home town. They had more or less okay wives, much like the police wives. None were spectacular."
"Women can be dense. But, surely, they couldn't resist a man who kills a lurking enemy in the depths before that enemy can drop a dozen kilotons or so into their children's bedroom."
"I'm sure you'll be in great demand, Went."
"Perhaps so. A sort of Clark Gable of the cold war."
"Is Barbara going to be Vivien Leigh?"
"Certainly. I don't want anyone else, I just want to make her more glamorous."
"She already is pretty glamorous."
"Yeah. I guess I just want to add more excitement to our lives, the way it used to be."
"When we were at war, yes. That can be arranged."
"A good war, I hope."
"Anyhow, the present sub concept seems to be strictly offensive, but with these unrealistic assumptions. What should we do with it?"
"We should probably scrap it, but Admiral Benson believes in it. The best thing is just to finish the project in a hurry. Then, we can get on with underwater fighter planes."
"Not with the aid of PT boats, I hope."
"No. We proved that they just aren't stable enough. Can you and Heike get me up a simulation showing how well attack subs will work?"
"I imagine we can."
"And then we'll need a whole lot of attack subs, hundreds of them."
Immediately after leaving Went, Jones stopped in on their new hire, Hanford Roderick. The latter announced,
"Everyone calls me Han, as in the Han Dynasty. I understand that you're just plain Jones."
"It might be better if I were Tang, as in the Tang Dynasty, but I don't think people could adapt. Have you already been swimming in the Potomac today?"
"Yeah, I usually go out about five, and then try to get going on some kind of intellection about eight or so."
"Speaking of intellection, there are all kinds of things people would love to have you do. Went, for example, wants an attack sub versus atomic missile sub simulation."
"I thought you already had something like that."
"We have submarine vs destroyer simulations, but this would be between two or more submarines. Went wants to be in the attack sub zapping the Soviet infiltrator."
"I imagine I could produce that if he fills me in on the details of submarine activity."
"He'll be happy to do that at length and in detail. He's even become connvinced that he has to learn a little about programming. I think you'll find him fairly easy to work with."
"I assume that, when it's all done and he plays the attack sub commander, he'll want to be able to win most of the games."
Jones laughed in an affirmative way, and added,
"Having won most of the simulation games, he'll use the results to argue for attack submarines. Admiral Benson will then have JOAD recommend the purchase of same. The navy will then be delighted to have a reason to need to order new submarines. That will make certain defense contractors very happy. That will make the congressmen in their districts happy. Those congressmen will then see that the navy gets whatever it wants next."
Han seemed much amused at this recitation, and reacted,
"Now I know I'm in Washington, and not in Rising Sun, Indiana."
"I think you'll find, as we have, that it really doesn't take a great deal of time to program the kinds of simulations that are wanted. You run up something and try it out. The naval officers point out results that are unrealistic. So you alter a parameter or add a sub-routine to take care of a special circumstance. And so on."
"That's good. Heike also has a project for me. A programming language, no less."
"Really? I thought she was going to do that herself."
"She says she'd rather do pure mathematics. She also wants to publish my results in her journal."
"My programming skills aren't up to that level. But let me know if I can help in some way."
Jones next stopped in on Heike, and asked about the programming language. She explained,
"I first approached Captain Stallman, explaining how talented Han is. He was pleased because he found him first. I then suggested that Han could undertake a major project which could also be patented and even make JOAD money."
"A programming language could turn out to be something that almost all computer people would want to use."
"And pay to use. I also made it clear to Captain Stallman that it would be entirely JOAD property. He laughed and asked if it would be something that CASP couldn't steal. I assured him on that point."
Just before noon, Jones and Heike left, ostensibly for lunch. In fact, They turned north up Connecticut Avenue, and, after some ten minutes, turned into a small park organized around a statue of Benedict Arnold. Jones was amazed and said,
"This must be the only statue of Benedict Arnold in America."
"Or anywhere else. No one seems to like traitors much, and Arnold must be in second place after Alcibiades."
"And you brought us here in the hope that we can slip into the number three slot?"
"Only partly. I often bring a take-out lunch here in summer. Even then, there's never anyone here, and I like the grassy mossy feel of the place. I also remembered that there's a really large trash bin right behind Benedict. That will fit in with our cover of clearing out the car."
As they drove around behind the statue and saw the large rusting steel container, Jones said,
"The people who put the trash bin there may not like the statue."
"The park and the statue were probably the gift of some rich man who was more impressed with generalship than with loyalty. You don't turn down gifts of that size, but you can sneak disparaging comments, such as trash bins, in around the edges."
The clearing-out-the-car fiction turned out to be fairly realistic. Heike threw everything whose present value or purpose wasn't clear on to the gravel of the drive. Jones began taking obviously useless things to the trash bin, but, since Heike could imagine a use for almost anything, there were some disputes. It was itself overflowing, and she remarked,
"The people who're supposed to empty the bin probably want it to overflow."
"A further comment on Benedict?"
After clearing the floor of the car, they pushed the front bench seat forward as far as it would go. It was attached in various ways, and Jones got down on his back between the seats. All sorts of metal things jabbed into him as he probed, but he said,
"This seat is mostly empty space, with only springs, and I can feel around."
After a moment, she asked,
"How's it going?"
"I certainly haven't found a tape recorder, but I can't get my head into position to actually see up into the seat. In fact, I'm not even sure I can get my arm out."
"You've got grease all over your shirt."
"I've also got blood flowing where the end of a spring got me."
"I can probably do it better. I'm so much smaller."
Heike she squeezed in, partly on top of Jones, and found that she could wedge her head under the right side of the seat. She announced,
"There's obviously nothing here. This may be crazy."
Jones kissed her lightly where her neck met her shoulder blade. She laughed, patted him on the head, and withdrew somewhat to look under the driver's part of the seat. When that came out empty, she asked,
"What about the seat backs?"
"They're sewn shut. The only way we can search them is to cut them open."
Heike shuddered visibly at the thought, and replied,
"I think my love of my car is beginning to out-weigh my paranoia. Besides, You'd have to be a professional upholsterer to take anything in and out of the seat backs without leaving any traces."
"And you'd have to do it each time you changed the tapes."
Heike looked relieved and twisted into a sitting position, still resting on Jones. She asked,
"Do you like having me sit on you?"
"You're very light, and, since I'm trapped here, I can do a little exploring without alarming you."
After a short time, she was out of the car helping Jones extricate himself. They did take out the easily removed back seat, and that, too, was guiltless. Heike attempted, not very successfully, to get Jones cleaned up. She then said,
"Counter-espionage seems to have its costs."