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LTJG McNally

       “Shut up!!  Shut up!! -- oh -- gott kveld, Fru Borg!”

        “ . . . That was a close call.  The old lady almost saw you giving me a sharp word.  Remember, we’re supposed to be a happy couple.”

        “You can be happy.  I know it was supposed to be a formal dinner, but you didn’t have to be wearing a tuxedo tonight.  At least I think it’s night.  Night lasts what, two months now?”

        “Another six weeks.  The falling snow is very pretty in the streetlights.  Tromsø is a very pleasant place, actually. The people are comfortable and productive.  Once you get used to the long night . . .”

        “Easy for you to say!  I keep counting the articles of clothing you have on.  Thermal underwear, shirt, pants, tie, jacket, socks, boots, hat, coat, gloves . . .”

        “Not a surprise, with you watching me put them on.  You don’t have to look.”

        “I can hardly help it.  My mouth always goes dry, seeing you get dressed.  Why did they have to stick us in a one-room cabin??”

        “I don’t know.  Anyway, it was a nice dinner.  The food was good.  The speeches weren’t too long.  We have to show respect for the natives.  And the art gallery show was interesting.”

        “Too many scenes of ice and snow for my taste.  I kept finding myself in the photos . . . Undeserved karma for a Miami girl. . .”

        “O.K., I’ll give you that.  You earned every bit of that medal.”

        “Yes, I wish I could have worn at least that.  It was cruel, when I finally swam ashore, having lost all my clothes two days before, they wouldn’t give me even a bikini to put on.”

        “They were thinking quick.  You can’t blame them.”

        “O.K., all right. . . But that was in the nice warm Aegean.  Why the f**k did they send me here?  I never went through a real winter before and now I’ve had three months of the Arctic . . .  You’re from North Dakota, you have no idea.  Sometimes I want to cry . . . I was born to feel the hot sun on my shoulders, warm sand between my toes.  Now I can’t feel my toes at all!”

        “Don’t look down.  Seeing snow on your toes reminds you of the cold . . . By the way, very good job on your toenails.”

        “I did what I could to get ‘dressed’.  I figured white goes with what they’re always plunged into anyway.  Brrrr!!”

        “Don’t do that!  Don’t rub your arms!  You’re supposed to be comfortable in the cold.  A radical nudist.”

        “A radical numb - ist is m - more like it.  I can’t feel my feet, or my hands.  Or my tits.  Look at my nipples, they’re like little rocks.  They might fall off and I won’t notice.  Are you s - sure I can’t run?  It’s six more whole b - blocks!”

        “No, no, not until we turn off this main drag.  In fact, we’re walking too fast as it is.”

        “Don’t slow down!   You’re slowing down!  You b - bastard!  I hope you have to do this someday!  I hope your dick and your b - balls fall off!”

        “Do I detect sexual harassment here?”

        “Oh f**k you! . . .  Remember, I outrank you . . . Ensign.”

        “Yes you do . . . Lieutenant Junior Grade.”

        “They should promote me to Commander, after this.”

        “Admit it, if it wasn’t for me watching you, you would have blown your cover here long ago.  You almost did when Lindstrom asked you to model for him.”

        “I d- did say ‘yes’.”

        “Yes but I saw your jaw clench.  You hesitated.”

        “Of course.  The last thing I want to do is show myself off even more.  I’m a modest girl.  On South B - beach I always wore a one-piece.  Anyway I d - don’t think Lindstrom n - noticed.  I went back to sipping my martini.”

        “Another thing, you shouldn’t drink.”

        “It keeps m - me warm when I g - go out.”

        “Yes, but two martinis? . . . If you’re going to walk naked through a Norwegian winter you can’t impede your circulation . . . Anyway you shouldn’t have been surprised when he asked you to pose.  I’m an American artist and they assume you, the nudist, are my model.”

        “Some artist.  I still don’t believe you got that Community College degree.”

        “Hey, that ‘midnight sun’ charcoal I did with you lying in the snow, that went over well.”

        “I’m s - still not imp - pressed. . . You took your d - damn t - time having me p - pose. . . my b - butt got numb . . . and with half the t - town watching . . . all bundled up with their thermals on . . . God, I’m c - cold!  P - please walk faster!”

        “I told you . . . don’t rub your arms!  Don’t hug yourself!  You’re supposed to be welcoming the snow on your bare skin!”

        “Well . . . I’m not.”

        “Don’t talk so soft.  What?”

        “I s - said . . . I’m not.  F**k those Tibetan yoga techinques!  They don’t help at all!”

        “You don’t seem too dedicated to them.”

        “I’d rather scoot inside, and get warm.  M - miserable as our s - stupid wood stove is.  Why can’t we g - get it fixed!  It’s either f - freeze on that stupid bare mattress, with just a stupid slipcover, or get t - too close and b - b - burn my toes!”

        “I told you, it’s not in our budget . . . And we can’t put in an application for state aid, generous as it is.  We can’t get enmeshed in the grid.”

        “Th - thank God for that hot t - tub.”

        “It’s more like a cold tub.  You always put it on the coldest setting.”

        “Well it f - feels warm to me.  I have t - to c - crank it up in stages.  Otherwise it’s s - scalding even on the c - coldest setting.  But I can’t stay in 24/7 -- Hey!  Don’t stop and adjust your boots!  Right n - next to my f - freezing b - bare feet that are t - turning b - blue!  You j - jerk!  Um -- gott kveld!  Gott kveld! . .  Gott kveld!”

        “Extend your hand out more when you wave.  Like it’s a warm night and you don’t feel the -- ”

        “F**k you!!!  F - f - f**k you!  I h - hope you r - roast in Hell! . . . Actually I w - wouldn’t m - mind that myself right now . . . Only t - two more blocks t - till we turn!  C - can I run?  P - p - please??”

        “I can’t give you orders.  You know you can’t run until we get onto our street and out of sight.”

        “Oh shit!  Th - this is so un - unfair!  When will I g - get clearance??  J - just to p - put on a p - pair of Uggs and flannel p - pajamas?  Oh please God p - please -- I’m s - so c - c - c - cold!”

        “As long as those hundred molecules of thorium are in your liver, with no way to get them out . . . the minute you put on a scrap of clothing, even a shoelace around your waist, or a pair of flip flops, the Chinese will know where you are.  Maybe the Russians too.  Though I doubt they’re playing ball with each other.”

        “I d - doubt it.  Th - that K - k - kuryagin is an idiot . . . Th - thanks for r - reminding m - me, for the t - tenth time.  B - but why c - can’t they hide me somewhere?  At least somewhere w - warm??  I’m starting to cry.  Tahiti.  Aruba.  Oh g - god . . . even Bangladesh!  Please God!”

        “Don’t torture yourself.  You’re a ‘radical nudist’ living in Tromsø in one of the most nudist-tolerant countries on the planet.  Why they picked a place above the Arctic Circle, I don’t know.  As for having you parade around in public, my guess is, the idea is ‘hide in plain sight’.  The Chinese have no idea what you look like, or your new name.  Remember, they can’t detect you if you don’t have any clothes on -- and they don’t know that.  They’re not looking for a naked person.”

        “I s - still d - don’t like the idea of thorium . . . in my body.”

        “It’s about the least radioactive substance there is.  Perfectly safe.  Don’t hug yourself!!”

        “I c - can’t help it. . . . okay.  See?  W - walking normally, arms at my s - sides.  I think.  I have to l - look down.  I c - can’t feel them.”

        “You’ll be fine.  There’s no wind, just a bit of snow falling, and it’s not that cold.  It’s only minus three Celsius.”

        “‘It’s not that cold’!  ‘It’s not that cold’!  I t - tell you, if there’s a G - god in heaven --”

        “Don’t look down at your feet!”

        “I have t - to.  I can’t t - tell where I’m p - putting them. . . What if I s - s - step on a nail that’ s under this s - snow?  I w - wouldn’t be able to f - f - f - feel it!”

        “Don’t worry.  The Norwegians have the cleanest sidewalks in the world.”

        “I - I - I’m d - d - dying, Roger.  I c - c - can’t ev - ven walk straight any m - m - more!”

        “You’re in no danger, Meg.  Remember the testing.  They said you’d be in no danger.”

        “They s - said no d - d - huh . . .  d - d -  . . . ahhh!!  shit!!! -- d - danger.  They d - d - didn’t say n - n - no p - p - p - . . . uhhh . . . pain!”

        “Almost there, Lieutenant.”

        “H - here we are, our l - left t - turn.  B - bye!  Asshole!!”

        “Hey!  Don’t kick snow in my face!  . . . DID YOU HEAR ME??”


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