Amid the quiet humming of the engines of the boomer, or nuclear ballistic missile submarine, Lieutenant Commander Luke MacKay updated his calculations in relative silence. “Crikey,” he crowed. The others in the control room looked at him quizzically.

“Gator,” the executive officer cocked his head.
“Jammed my thumb last night,” he winced, massaging the appendage and speaking in his distinctive accent.
“You’ve looked in pain all morning, Lieutenant Commander. Why not go see the doc?”
“I think I might.”
“Go right ahead,” the graying man advised.

Luke stood and said, “Sir.” He exited the control room, heading away towards where the boomer’s sole healthcare provider worked.

As he moved along the narrow passageway, he saw a scowl-faced fire control technician who saluted him.

The bullish, robust man saluted back and continued on his way toward the missile compartment. Down in the four level abyss, there were nine sleeping bunks, some rudimentary exercise equipment, and a medical room squeezed amongst twenty-four lethal torpedoes.

The commissioned officer in the Royal Australian Navy, who was a part of a two-year personnel exchange program, had been at sea for the past forty-seven days aboard the U.S.S. Eleanor Roosevelt. He was serving as the sub’s navigator and head of the Operations Department.

Lt Cdr MacKay tapped on the door and heard a delicate voice say, “Enter!”

“Sir,” the independent duty corpsman snapped at attention. “What’s going on?”

The sandy-brown haired, dark-brown eyed man ducked to get through the doorway. Once inside Luke stood tall, puffed out his chest, extended his calloused hand, and offered, “My thumb.”

“Let’s take a look,” reached out the considerably shorter hospital corpsman with rich, glowing brown skin.

“Thanks, doc!”

Petty Officer First Class Bryton Parham took the weathered, thick-knuckled, blue-veined ham hock into his own slender hands. “Where does it hurt,” he inquired, squeezing gently and staring intently.

“Ooh,” winced Luke.
“I’m so sorry, sir,” apologized Bryton.
“No! That didn’t hurt too bad,” admitted the Aussie. “You just made something else throb,” he grinned, whispering.
“And what would that be, Lieutenant Commander?”

“Him,” winked the six foot tall foreigner as he guided the doc’s hands toward his groin.
“Hmmmm.” Bryton shook his head and half-smiled. “Is your thumb really hurting, sir?”
“Yeah! You doubt the word of an officer,” he chuckled quietly.
“Never,” the medically trained enlisted submariner rolled his almond-shaped light-brown eyes and fluttered his luscious eyelashes.
“I was hoping you could see after both.”

“And what would your wife say, sir,” Bryton twisted his lips as he turned away in the cramped space.
“She would see that sexy little bubble butt you have and understand,” Luke offered, staring at the apple bottom.
“I doubt that,” remarked the community college graduate as he gathered supplies.
“You’re right,” admitted the guy in his late thirties who was due to take command of his own vessel upon return to his home county.

“I knew it,” the petty officer smacked his lips.
“Only partially,” retorted the rascally fellow.
“Huh?”