Walking underwater at a brisk clip at the bottom of a large body of water. Water is crystal clear blue like liquid sky, the sand is white and firm, and I glide forward with little effort. I breathe normal in the water – no oxygen tank, scuba gear or wetsuit necessary. There’s no doubt I’m in water, though, because exhaling or talking creates bubbles that float to the surface.
I am walking with a stocky and very tall partner, Gene, played by the late actor Ken Howard. We are underneath a superhighway. Huge light-gray concrete supports rise from the sand bed to the surface off into the distance of the body of water, which appears to be around 75 feet deep. The structure emits audible rumbles from the traffic moving on it and I feel the resultant sound waves shake the sand underfoot in regular, low-frequency sine-wave undulations.
The light refraction from the surface into the water is bending the light so much that we can see profiles of the cars and trucks driving on the highway. A large 16-wheel semi passes over. Gene leans down and taps me on the shoulder.
“That’s the one,” he says. “That’s him.”
I take a notebook out of a shoulder bag and write a couple notes. The book has a police shield on it. I realize I am a detective or some sort of undercover officer.
“How did undercover turn into underwater, Gene?” I ask.
“Stop asking stupid questions,” Gene gruffs. “Go see where we are.”
I float to the water’s surface and poke my head out. The superhighway rises another 75 feet over the water and ribbons off towards a city skyline about 10 miles away. I dive back under and head towards the bottom.
“We’re in Chicago, Gene!” I exclaim. “That is so strange. I thought we were in Pontchartrain.”
“Ah, Christ,” Gene says. “At least there’s Lenny’s bar.”
We arrive at a transportation depot, buzzing with people arriving underwater from all directions, and take an escalator up from the sand bed into a sprawling complex. At the top of the escalator, Gene motions to the right and we walk around a wall into a cavernous but skinny, empty, oak wood-paneled room reminiscent of The Campbell Apartment in Grand Central Station. I unzip my trench-coat, which is dripping puddles and leaving a trail of water behind me. My clothes underneath, however, are warm and dry.
“Thank God you’re wearing a tie,” Gene says, breathing a sigh of relief. “It’s that skinny stupid black shit you insist on, but it’ll do.”
We sit down at a table by the bar and the bartender, impeccable in a crisp white shirt, bow tie and black vest, looks up at us from polishing a highball glass, and smiles.