Finally, an aide to the Admiral motioned him into the inner sanctum of the most senior Clerk he had been privy to. The admiral was huge, both in girth and height. The Clerk introduced himself as Admiral Reinhardt. He was in a spotless uniform. Unusually, for a Clerk, he got right down to business.
He had a low voice that Skinner was sure could still be heard for blocks. “I’m going to be blunt Mr. Skinner, I was the one who pulled the plug on your bird brained idea the first time. I personally thought at the time that your proposal of pigeon guided bombs was one of the most lame brain ideas I’ve ever encountered. When the project came across my desk, I took one look at the initial proposal and immediately canned it. I never looked back.”
Skinner was about to explode on the man, but the officious Clerk held up his hand and continued. “I have since seen the error of my ways. It seems my right hand man races pigeons. When he came across your memo proposing that the Reds were using your unorthodox guidance system he became very, persuasive. Over a period of a few days, he harangued me on the virtues of your bird’s brains. He cited chapter and verse of your paper along with others, he brought to my attention, extolling the virtues of pigeons. He was certain that the Soviets had indeed taken the idea I rejected and created a “wonder weapon” that had stopped our bombers cold.”
“Quite frankly, he wore me out.” The Admiral pointed to the officer standing near the door. “Captain Claiborne this is Dr. B.F. Skinner. Dr. Skinner this is Captain Claiborne.”
Captain Claiborne rushed forward and grabbed the Doctor’s hand. “I’m very pleased to meet you finally Dr. Skinner. Your idea is brilliant and the facts all point to the Soviets using your theories” His enthusiasm went on for a good five minutes before the Admiral had had enough. Skinner himself could not get a word in edgewise and was very glad that Captain Claiborne was on his side in this discussion.
After Admiral Reinhardt put an end to the Captain’s filibuster, he once again got to the point.
“I think you can see how the Captain eventually was able to get me to take a second look at your theory, that the Reds are using your idea to shoot down our bombers and more importantly to me, how they will probably use the system to damage and sink our navy. Please arrange a demonstration for Admiral King, within a week, to assist us in convincing him to take your idea seriously. Don’t worry, Doctor, this time you will have expert assistance in exactly what you have to do in order to convince a jaded Admiral like me. Captain Claiborne will be attached to your side (and quite frankly away from mine) for the remainder of this project.
You will need to do two things. Present and then convince Admiral King of your theories and devise a way to counteract your own creation. Captain Claiborne here has assured me that this is a real and grave threat to any future and current naval operations. If the Commies are working on a guided missile that can
For your information, we believe the Soviets’ have already tested shall we say
The missile flew so fast that very few saw it or heard it until after it hit the ship, very much like the descriptions of the V2 rockets. That’s probably why it went right through the ship without exploding. Just too damn fast.”
Skinner finally got an opportunity to talk. “Admiral, may I have a copy of all the reports and testimonies of the witnesses? I will need all the information I can gather if I am going to fulfill the second part of your mandate. I will need everything pertaining to this project and access to all who have seen the weapon in action.”
“Of course, Doctor. Once again, I do not regret the decision I made the first time I laid eyes on your project. In my opinion, it was just too outlandish and too good to be true. I now admit that I was wrong and humbly ask for your help in ending this scourge of missiles. Give me a 16-inch naval shell the size of a small car and the smell of gunpowder over this guided bullet any day. That’s how a naval battle should be fought.”
Somehow, Dr. B.F. Skinner had a hard time picturing the Clerk getting anywhere near a 16-inch naval cannon or gunpowder, but left the room on a cordial note.