Chapter 7 Summary
Leonard keeps working assiduously at the warehouse, and eventually all of the machines are unpacked. His next responsibility is repairing the recorders before they get taken to a recording room in preparation for the line tapping. As Leonard completes this phase of his work, he finds himself pulling back from the people around him. He eats in isolation and stays in his workroom for most of the day. Over lunch, he frequently hears other workers, often Americans, telling stories of other espionage work they have done. He marvels at their openness and occasionally hears the name of certain individuals mentioned more than once. Since he stays alone most of the time, Leonard has become adept at eavesdropping. Glass checks on him periodically but is busy and rarely stays long. When the machine repairs have been completed, Leonard begins working on some wiring with a taciturn German man named Rudi.
One day, as he and Rudi are finishing a stage of their work, a man walks into the room and introduces himself as John MacNamee. MacNamee is a British scientist with few teeth and a noticeable lisp. He informs Leonard that his next assignment will have him in the tunnel that is now nearing the lines that the British and Americans need to tap. As they close in on the lines, specialists in vertical digging have been brought in to ensure that the tunnel does not collapse as it heads up to the Russian lines. MacNamee takes Leonard into the opening of the tunnel and asks what kind of clearance Leonard has. When Leonard responds that he is now level 3, MacNamee indicates that he may get upgraded to 4. At the end of the tunnel, MacNamee leads Leonard through the door into a cement room; Leonard is impressed that the workers have been able to build this structure underground. At the opposite end of the room, another door opens into the still-unfinished vertical tunnel. In the alcove beneath the vertical tunnel, the noises from the street above are overwhelming. Leonard and the other workers are encouraged to keep quiet in all parts of the tunnel to avoid being overheard. Both the Americans and the British worry that the Russians will find their access tunnel while doing routine repairs on their lines.
When Leonard asks why they are going to such great lengths to tap into lines whose encoded messages would be nearly impossible to decode. MacNamee explains that the Americans developed technology that allows them to read the uncoded message beneath the coded one. The British are miffed at the Americans’ delay in sharing this technology, but agree to work together. MacNamee insists that this information will guarantee he gets fourth-level clearance. On the ride home from work, Leonard feels as if he is between two worlds; he never talks about Maria at the warehouse nor does he discuss his work with her. He considers that maybe he is only truly himself when traveling between the two.