Author's Note: Quadquell in the Secret Agent Man series but story can stand on it's own.
“Ski, this has been great, I really appreciate you having me this shore leave," Patterson said as the two left the night spot in Ski’s hometown of Brooklyn, the returning drizzle unwelcome but not the bitterly cold it had been earlier.
“Any time bud, any time, besides I’ve been bragging so much about my mom’s home cooking it’s about time you got a chance to sample it!”
Pat grabbed Ski’s arm, interrupting, “Over there!”
Without hesitation the two ran to render assistance to the man being beaten and mugged, but the three thugs had already given their victim a final shove to the ground and run off down the closest alley waving the torn ruffle from his shirt as a kind of victory banner.
“I’ll get ‘em!...”Pat panted.
“Deave it Pat,” the badly stuffed up, hoarse, though familiar voice said firmly from the muddy gutter.
“Skipper?? What are you doing here? We gotta’ report this and...:”
"I said deave it," the rheumy eyed man said brooking no argument. “C’mon, dets get out of here before anyone else gets too...too...ah...ahhh.. ahhhchoo! interested...”
“You taking anything for that cold?” Ski asked as he took in his Captain’s disheveled appearance, looking even more so in the ruined tuxedo.
“Yes mudder,” Crane said exasperated, but then immediately guilty for his outburst. It wasn’t Kowalski’s fault that the crewman had suddenly become ‘in loco -corpsmanitis’. “Sorry Ski, dat was uncalled for. You doe how Doc hovers. I guess I snapped. Now, go on and enjoy what's left of your evening...and danks for the help. I reedy hab to geb back to the Pla...ahhh ahhh choo!” Crane sneezed," the Plaza."
Pat whistled in appreciation at the name of the super deluxe hotel. Nelson must be paying him better than they thought or maybe ONI was footing the bill...but right now there was a more pressing need and he took out a $20, “Ski, you got enough we can poole together his cab fare?"
Crane smirked, “Tanks, but there’s mugged and there’s mugged,” he pulled out a $50 from under his mud stained cummerbund.
“At least let us get you dried off and warmed up a bit first. My mom’s only 15 minutes from here. You’re cold and wet and sick. I’ll even drive you to the Plaza myself afterwards, okay?” he pulled off his jacket and put it over Crane’s shoulders. "My grandfather's car is just sitting in the garage anyway. It'll do it some good."
“Add a cup of Joe and dit’s a deal,” Crane said after a moment, a little surprised at his acquiescence and of the crewman’s more than generous offer.
“Uh, well, that could be a problem,” Ski handed him a handkerchief for his runny and bloody nose, “My mom’s decaffeinating. But how about a cup of cocoa?”
“Close eduff,” Crane grinned.
“Another stray?" the aged Grandpa Kowalski whispered as he watched his grandson helping Crane up the stairs to the bathroom.
“Well, at least that one smells good,” Mama Kowalski whispered back.
The sound of a kettle on the boil demanded her presence as the Kowalski's watched Patterson emerge from one of the upstairs bedrooms with a flannel shirt and baggy sweatpants, quickly handing them to Ski inside the bathroom.
“I doed deed a bat!” Crane complained, irritated that his ‘quick’ warming up was going to include a complete strip and dunk as the crewman turned the tap and added some 'Mr.Bubble' to the tub.
“No, but it’ll warm you up real good. Now, you just take a nice long soak to get yourself warmed up, sir. Just holler if you need anything," he left the man some privacy to strip and headed downstairs with his friend.
"I still think they should have reported it," Ivan Kowalski said under his breath to his father as they watched Ski carry the cup of foaming brew upstairs." A mugging is nothing to sneeze at."
"Maybe he's hiding something?"
"Of course he is, only..there's something about his bearing..."
They heard the boys knock on the bathroom door right at the top of the landing. There was no answer so they tried again.
"Skipper?" Ski called, growing concerned. "Pat, just what was that cold medicine he said he was taking?"
Suddenly both men envisioned Crane having fallen asleep, slipped underwater, and drowned.
They barged in, grateful Ski's parents had removed the lock when Gramps had shown signs of slight dementia.
Startled, their dozing Captain merely opened his eyes from the bath pillow and raised a questioning eyebrow. “What ‘I do? Squeeze your rubber ducky do hard?” he toed the small floating object in the scented suds.
Pat nudged Ski to look in the corner where the rumpled ruined tux lay, taking in the blood splatters on the shirt they hadn't noticed before.
“Are you okay?" Ski asked, "We mean it sir,” he held the shirt up.
“Just by doze, and a couple of scrapes...dook,” he turned slightly so Ski could see one of the grazes on his side. It really was rather minor.
“Anything else?” Ski demanded, his protective instinct taking over again.
“Dat is kinda’ private mister.”
“A kick in the pants okay?" Crane admitted, “You still want to check?”
“Uh, no sir, not particularly, but...”
“I’ll do it, son," Papa Kowalski said at the doorway, "You boys go downstairs and help mama with the chicken soup she’s heating. Off with you now. I’ll let you know if it’s anything serious.”
With a sigh of relief Ski left his ‘post’.
“He’d never had made it as a medical corpsman, no matter what he thinks, ” the man said as he closed the door, “Name’s Ivan Kowalski. You?"
“Lee Crane. Really, sir, dis isn’t necessary. I’b fine.”
“Let me be the judge of that, I was a hospital orderly in two wars and one 'conflict'. I think I know enough to spot trouble. Up with you, lets get you out of all those blasted soapsuds,” he helped Lee to stand, “Ever since some TV star swore by them for the sniffles...I’m not sure about the duck.”
“Just desting it’s seaworthiness," Lee grinned with a sneeze following.
As the elder Kowalski turned him this way and that, even to checking his eyes for signs of a concussion, he began to distract the man with his tales of the MASH units he’d been assigned to until he was satisfied with his inspection. “You’ll live..” he tossed him a fluffy towel, then the sweats.
“Is everything all right in there?" Mama Kowalski asked from outside the door, “Should ve maybe call an ambulance?”
"No need Mama, he's fine except for a bad cold," he opened the door now that Crane was reasonably attired though still pulling on the flannel shirt that never seen the light of day.
"I’b sorry, Ma’am,” Crane said, “I didn’t mean to ubsed your evening...I’ll return these after I ged back to the hotel and....”
"You're not going anywhere. Your eyes are red, your throat is hoarse, and you're sick as a dog. Papa, put him in Cassie’s room. It’s all right, she’s at a friend's. You’ll find it quite comfortable.”
“Uh, doe, tank you. I couldn’t...please, I’ve been enough trouble.”
“And there will be plenty more if you don’t do as I say! Papa, put him to bed. I’ll get a mustard plaster ready. The soup already is. And a good hot cup of herbal tea wouldn't hurt.”
“Please I...ahh ahhh choo!”
“Help papa get him into bed," she ordered her son and his friend who had now squeezed into the bathroom, "The very idea going back to a hotel. No one to look after him...that is right isn't it? No one is waiting for you? I didn't see a wedding ring...”
"No, I'b nob married but..."
“He’s staying at the Plaza Mom,” Ski said trying to back up Crane, “They got everything...”
“I don’t care if he has room service and a penthouse suite, he won’t get the kind of care he needs...”
“Uh, do you sir?” Patterson asked as they gently took Crane’s arms, “have a penthouse suite?”
“Enough chat, to bed, now!” Mrs. Kowalski ordered.
“You sure it’s nothing serious Pop?” Ski whispered to his father as they stood just inside Cassie's room, watching Mama apply the mustard plaster to her ‘patient’ in the fluffy canopied bed. Crane was either too sick or too much a gentleman to fuss much anymore, Ski couldn’t tell which.
“You’re letting your imagination run away with you son,” he said as the woman gently wiped some stray curls from Crane’s forehead and buttoned up the flannel pajamas to the collar that had been quickly purloined from Gramps. Checking that the heavy ski socks she'd insisted her husband add to his attire hadn’t fallen off his feet, and satisfied that the two hot water bottles were giving off enough heat, Mrs. Kowalski bundled the thick comforter under Crane’s chin.
“You rest now. I’ll be back shortly.," she noticed the men at the door, "I thought I told you to go bring back the vaporizer we loaned to Mrs. Flynn last month."
"Pease, Mrs. K., it's not neces...” came from the bed.
“Shush! Not another word from you unless you want that throat to get worse,” she ordered, “What are you waiting for," she turned back to her son then continued to putter around Crane.
“Man, it’s cold out there!” Ski said as he plopped down at the crowded kitchen table, vaporizer in hand, “How is he?”
“According to him, he’s fine,” Papa Kowalski said without seeing Patterson's eyes roll heavenward. "But your mother's convinced he's at death's door."
"Yeah," Patterson laughed, "even though it's only a teensy temperature, all of 99."
"Probably from all the hot water bottles,” Gramps said.
“Maybe, but," Ski hesitated, "but maybe not,” he added as Pat already had the measuring cup full of water, and a disk of Vapo-Rub to melt in it.
“Son, it’s just a cold.”
“I told you he missed his calling,” Gramps said, indicating Ski, “he would have made a fine nurse. Wrong gender but...”
“Oh it’s not like that at all anymore Mr. Kowalski,” Pat said to the elder man, “guys do all sorts of stuff that only women used to do...”
“Well, if I were sick, I’d rather have a woman tend me. Softer touch.”
“You wouldn’t say that if they had to bathe you or do other stuff,” Papa said.
“Oh I don’t know, might like it,” Gramps said with a smirk.
The elder men laughed, while a red faced Ski prepared to flee upstairs; never in his wildest dreams could he imagine his wrinkled old grandfather with a libido!
Pat watched as Ski added his kid sister's old 'baby minder' to Crane's bedside a short while later, after Mama had reluctantly gone to bed.
"Self preservation," Ski whispered by way of explanation. "Only way I could assure her we could keep an eye on him 24/7. Even if he so much as sneezes again," he chuckled," we'll know. But" he headed out of the bedroom, "I'm sure as hell not going to loose any sleep over a piffling little cold."
"Ski, what do you think of tonight?"
"Shit, I don't know," he turned on the device absently, "you think he's up to something too?"
" 'There's mugged and there's mugged'? Pat repeated. "Of course he is. Or maybe Nelson's just paying him too much for him to notice."
Both men laughed at that and hit the hay.
"Mama, it's 4 o clock in the morning!" her husband complained.
"I don't care. I'd better check. I didn't like the look of him when I checked at midnight."
"And 1 o' clock, and 2, and 3...I'll do it. Will you just try to get some sleep? "
The sight that met his eyes was not quite what he expected. Sprawled in a torn beanbag chair next to Crane's bedside was his pajamaed son, sound asleep. His friend Patterson, lay in a sleeping bag at the foot of the bed, wide awake.
"Taking your duties seriously, I take it?" Ivan laughed softly.
"Tell me about it," Patterson yawned, getting up wearily. "I've hardly had a wink... wouldn't have been so bad if Ski hadn't told me about some neighbor who went to bed with a cold, woke up with pneumonia and died before lunch...I couldn't stop thinking about it...Ski was already here when I joined the watch."
"Trust me, it's just a cold."
"Yeah, I guess. it's just...well, he is the Skipper after all."
"Come downstairs for some milk and cookies; I have an idea the only person to get a good night's sleep will be him!"
"I still say you don't get those kinds of scars in the ring, even if you are a Golden Gloves champ," Ivan said over the cookies, "I suppose he's seen his share of action, then?" he prodded.
"He's an experienced Naval Officer."
"Naturally, but has he ever been captured by the enemy? I've seen signs of brutality before, even torture..."
"I uh..I don't know. Hasn't been aboard a year yet. Maybe he got them on a camping trip or something."
"You don't know your own Captain's service record?" Gramps asked.
"I'm just a swab jockey, they don't give us a bunch of details, except he was the youngest sub skipper the Navy had ever had at the time. I don't remember the name of the boat though..and he's had a few since.."
"Mom woke up and kicked me out," Ski yawned, joining the men in the kitchen," Said I was in the way..."
Lee awoke to the sound of a garbage truck and the sound of purring. He hadn't noticed a cat before. It was a big one, grey and white and it's fur was thicker than any he'd ever seen. It was comforting to the touch as it snuggled against him. "Hey dere, what's your dame," he looked at the license, "Dinkerbelle?" he read out loud but it threw him into a severe coughing fit.
Almost immediately he was surrounded by the bleary eyed Kowalski family and Patterson, some still in their night attire.
"Sorry...I didn't bean do wake the house, or scare Dinkerbelle away..."
"You didn't," Gramps said, "Some of us were already having breakfast when we heard you on the baby monitor."
"Wha...oh," he cast Ski a particularly accusing glare.
"Wasn’t my idea Skipper," Ski said. "Mom wanted to..."
"Enough," she said, "Now, do you think you can handle some breakfast, or maybe soup?"
"No dank you. I'b been enough trouble. I'b really dot to doe to ged back to the hotel."
"Absolutely not!" she said. "You look and sound even worse than last night."
"Ski?" Crane pleaded.
"Uh, look Mom, maybe he..."
"There is no maybe about it. You want he should develop pneumonia?"
"I am heating you some more chicken soup. And not another word from you," she felt his brow, not really satisfied, and went downstairs, followed by Gramps shaking his head, and Papa Kowalski mouthing 'sorry' to Crane as he turned off the 'minder' with a wink and left the Captain with his crewmen.
"Ski, Pat,?" Crane coughed, "you hab to get me out of here..."
Whatever else he was going to say was forgotten as the coughing fit lasted a while and did indeed sound worse. "Or," he was finally able to say, albeit reluctantly, "do be a little errand for be maybe?"
Ski looked at Pat. Pat looked at Ski, was it their imagination or had the Skipper just asked them to take on an...assignment?
"What do you want us to do?" Ski said, as willing a participant as Patterson, for whatever challenge their own 'James Bond' had asked of them.
"I thought the boys were going to the football game today," Mama said as she stirred a home-made mix for apple cake.
"They're taking his Tux back to his hotel," Gramps said, "I guess he considers them his own personal slaves."
"I agree it could wait," Papa said," but perhaps the place has a cleaning service... And maybe they're bringing him back his clothes and things, sign him out of the place. Dad, why don't you call a cab and we'll go give them a hand."
Gramps was about to complain but Ivan's quick nod and eyes indicated an ulterior motive and he was all too happy to help out.
"Be sure to bundle up," Mama ordered, "I'm almost glad they're not going to be outside all hours."
"I assure you gentlemen," the desk clerk repeated himself, "there is no Lee Crane registered."
"Look, bud," Ski leaned over, "If the Skipper said to return his Tux here..."
"This tuxedo?" a brunette assitant manager intervened, grabbed and examined it.
"Yeah, why?" Pat asked.
"Security!" she yelled.
Crane was just getting around to kissing the naked Tahitian beauty as the Bounty sat off anchor when the phone rang waking him up. Dazed at first, and more than upset to loose such a nice dream, unable to remember now if he'd been one of the mutineers or not, he heard the woman's exasperated mutterings.
"Brs. K?" he called, his throat was so raw, "Brs. K?" he tried again without any luck. Tinkerbelle meandered across his chest to paw at the baby minder.
"Dank you. You're a smart dat," he turned the unit on. "Brs. K? Is eberyting okay?"
"I dink we hab a problem," Lee rose in a coughing spasm and was just about to get out of bed when Mama appeared.
"I'm sorry dear, but I have to leave you alone for a short time. I'll be back soon."
"Id anyding wrong?"
"Oh, the boys just got themselves into a little bit of trouble. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation why they're in jail."
"Well," she sat on the edge of the bed, "Apparently the Plaza's accused them of theft."
"Dere's got to be a misdake!" Lee said, or tried to say. "I'b going wid you."
"You'll do nothing of the kind!"
"I inzist. Id's all by fault probably."
"I don't see how...get back in that bed!"
"I probiss I'll crawl right back after we've sprung dem. Pease?" he gave her his best irresistble lost puppy look.
"Who?" the desk sergeant asked absently of the two at the crowded precinct.
"I said," and Crane did, with some effort, "by nabe's Dee Crane...I sent Kowa..ahh..ahhh...ahhhhhh chooooo!"
"Hey! Have a care there," the officer grabbed an all too tardy handkerchief and held it over his nose, "now, who did you.."
"This is Lee Crane," Mrs. Kowalski said, "my son, his friend Mr. Patterson, my husband and my father in law, the Kowalski's, went to the Plaza to return his tuxedo and..."
"Beauregard?" the Plaza's brunette perked up from her discussion with some officers at the water cooler and headed over at full steam.
"Uh oh," Lee said under his breath.
"Where the hell have you been?"
"I thought you said you were Lee Crane?" the desk sergeant asked.
"No, he's not," the woman pooh poohed the apparent lie, "He's Lee Beauregard, the worst temp I've ever had the misfortune allowing to set foot in my dining room!"
"Wade a minude.."
"I realize my staff takes advantage of trading off some days with outsiders on occasion, but Connors was scraping the bottom of the barrel with you! He promised you could serve befitting one of our employees. Hah! I have four complaints and two bills for spilt beverages! Couldn't even return the uniform could you? Probably used it to impress some girl, and..."she examined the tuxedo, "this is ruined!"
"Just a moment Missy," Mrs. Kowalski raised herself to her full height which wasn't easy being only 4ft. 5 inches. "He was mugged last night! And he was hurt!"
"Okay okay, but he's still a lousy server. The women said he..."
"They grabbed be! Caud be off guard."
"No excuse. You should have been prepared for any possibility."
"Nod wid dose piranhas."
"Piranhas! Piranhas? You dare call the Dunbarton lingerie models piranhas? And what on earth would they want to do with you?"
"Well, according to this," a passing clerk handed her the hot off the press tabloid and said verbatim, 'the models did not apologize for groping the waiter, who, startled by their attentions, spilled the margaritas on their designer gowns. It is unknown if he took them up on their proposition for a 'little action', though witnesses to the event claim they don't really blame the girls for trying with such a hunk,'" she eyed Crane, "I sure wouldn't."
"What is your name?" the sergeant demanded of Crane as he ran a weary hand over his eyebrow." For the record?"
"Dee Crane...," he sighed, "Dee Beauregard Crane."
"He means Lee," Mrs. Kowalski said, "He has a severe cold."
"Like I can't tell that, lady."
"Hey! Dote talk to her dike dat!"
"Okay bud, okay. Calm down! Sorry...Now, I think I can safety remove the Kowalski's and Mr. Patterson from custody," he nodded to a clerk. "However, if the Plaza still wants to press charges against you..." he looked at the scowling brunette. "Not a good idea, Miss. After all, he sent his friends to return the suit. Just bill him a late fee and the cost of the replacement. Can you afford it, young man?" the sergeant asked.
"I dink I cab bud..."
"Here," the man scribbled down a number, "Not much of a job, but it's something. Just tell them Gates sent you. Now, as for the mugging...did you report it?"
"Doe. Doo mush tubble. Didn't ged a good dook at dem. And id's not dike they god much."
"Well, next time report it...you don't want other people to get hurt do you?"
"No. Sorry. You're ride. Id woad happen again."
"Good. Well I think we're all cleared up here, now, go home and get to bed. Quit spreading all those germs around."
"Aye? You a veteran?"
"He's the Captain of the Seaview," Mrs Kowalski said, "My son's boat."
"The what?? Well, if I may be so bold, what the hell are you doing waiting tables??"
"Whad ob by ode Davy shipmates couldn't ged off in dime for his wedding..so I hebbed out."
"Shipmate?" the sergeant turned his attention to
the Plaza's brunette, "You declined a
"He had already used all his vacation days...don't look at me like that. It's not my fault they couldn't get the church any later. I have a job to do."
"Oh no you don't," a man in immaculate business suit approached. "Shabby Miss Day, shabby. The Plaza can always accommodate it's guests and it's employees. You could have figured something else out than having the man look elsewhere for someone to cover for him."
"I took Connors word for it that this...this person could do it."
"Did you check his previous employment record?"
"Your check will be in the mail."
"Wade a midut..."Lee pursed his lips, "Everybody makes a mistage now and den...maybe if you gabe her anoder cha...ahhh..achoo! Chance."
"Don't do me any favors! And cover your mouth better when you sneeze!" she huffed off.
"Her loss," the suited man said extending his hand to Crane, "I'm Blakely. One of the Plaza's board of directors. I apologize for the difficulties...now, by way of reparation," he said as he saw the released prisoners dashing toward them, "how about some lunch, for all of your party on us?"
"Fide by be. How about now..ow...ahhh..ahhhh....ahhhhhhh chooooo!"
"When you're feeling better, that is."
"You're sure this is all Skipper?" Ski asked at the car's half open window, indicating the duffle he handed to Patterson to put in the trunk.
"Ib sure. Reedy, Brs. K. I'll be perfedly okay here and..."
"Absolutely not! Roll up the window now Papa. Why the very idea..."
Ski and Pat climbed back into the car, huge grins on their faces, as they shook their heads and looked up at the lopsided sign over the brownstone building that had definitely seen better days.
"I suppose there's 'the Plaza' and then 'The Plaza'" Pat laughed.
"You don't get out much do you Captain?" Gramps said, "to New Yorker's there is only one Plaza. Why not bunk there? It's not like you can't afford it."
"Gramps!" Ski hissed.
"Id's okay Ski. Easier to day at Connor's place."
"Oh, your shipmate lives here?" Mama K. asked.
"Well, he did. Dot sure where he's going to bunk dow. Hobe id's not here. Bugs."
"Beauregard?" Ski whispered incredulously to his mother as she placed more hot water bottles in the bed and fluffed the pillows while Crane was in the bathtub. For 'medicinal' reasons.
"Beauregard," she answered firmly, "There's nothing wrong with the name dear, though I'm a bit surprised he didn't just use his last name moonlighting, but I get the impression he doesn't like publicity."
"You can say that again," Ski said under his breath.
"What was that dear?"
"Oh, I was just agreeing with you....how's he doing Pat?" he asked of his friend entering the room with a couple of piping hot cups of cocoa heaped with whipped cream handing them to Ski and Mrs. Kowalski.
"Well, he's doing fine, I'm not so sure about the duck. Keeled over from the Vick's Vapo Rub in the bath water or...never mind."
"Don't breath a word of this but I think I saw him using it as a dive bomber attacking one of the mounds of soapsuds."
Both men were laughing when the doorbell rang.
"The FBI?" Gramps whispered from the kitchen, peeking out at the two men in black suits, definitely ill at ease about something.
"It's none of our business Dad."
"Of course it's our business, Ivan, Crane's here isn't he?"
"Idz there something wrong?" Crane asked from the stairs, leaning on the rail for support, a pathetic sight in the hastily pulled on pajamas and robe, a tissue stuffed in one nostril and a squirt bottle of nose spray in one hand.
"Lee?" one of the men stood up while the other climbed the stairs and helped Crane down. "Damn it man," he continued, "I told you we'd get somebody else!"
"But no," the other complained, "The great Lee Crane had to beat us to the punch."
"Dere wasn't denny dime....dook, I dink we maybe deed to dalk elsewh..ahh...choo!"
"Nonsense, this wasn't a classified bug. You look awful man! Perhaps a doctor..."
Ski and Pat cringed, awaiting the explosion that never came. Man, he had to be sicker than they thought.
"Id dere someding do cabe here for?"
"Only that in spite of things, you sure pulled the plug on that cartel. Good job recognizing those agents at the Plaza. Quick thinking, pretending to be Jasper Victor and putting a bug on that company key card. They didn't work you over too hard did they?"
"Dah. Ib fide."
"Reedy. I hab a woderful nurse. In fad I have a whole family of them."
"Well, if you're okay. And Lee? Any time you want to switch streams, there'll always be a job for you with the FBI. Maybe not as fancy or exciting as you're used to," he suddenly realized others were listening, "are these people safe?" he asked of Pat and Ski, and of gramps and Papa who'd fled the safety of the kitchen to listen in.
"I dust dem mit by dife."
"You people swear to uphold and defend the constitution
"Of course!" Gramps said.
"I think he wants you to say 'I do,'" Ski said.
"It's an patriot oath, not a wedding!"
"Do you??" the other agent demanded.
"I do," the assemblage said in unison, including Gramps.
"Good. Consider yourselves under oath. Break it and you'll be sorry. As for James Bond here, good job."
"I dust hab-bed to be dere. Call id a quirk."
"You know Commander, your 'quirk's have a habit of becoming awfully convenient," he picked up a photo on the end table, "ONI was in on it wasn't it? And this Connors fellow? He's one of them isn't he? Oh I know the Chief's an old shipmate, maybe even on his honeymoon, but I'd appreciate being let in on the loop. Pass it on okay?"
"You get to bed. You look half dead."
"Doe dey dell be."
"Take good care of him," the man told Ski and Patterson. "I'd hate to loose a good man to some damn bug."
Crane groaned at the unintended pun, then began to laugh and was soon joined by the others before his laugh turned into a earth shattering coughing spell before he pulled the new microscopic bug off the photo and handed it back to the agent.
"Just want to keep an eye on you."
"Well, you people better not loose him. He has a bad habit of escaping his captors, even the most well intentioned."
It wasn't much longer before the entire Kowalski clan, Patterson, Agent #45 and #21, had Crane in bed, turned out the light and left the patient to himself, the door cracked open. The vaporizer was on full blast on the end table, and he was safely incarcerated under the covers when he felt the soft pussy footing of the cat joining him to add a little domestic comfort. He was asleep in minutes.
"Are you sure about this?" Mama Kowalski asked the Matre' D a few months later. She was bedecked in her best dress, as she was escorted to the best table in the dining room with her husband, daughter, and father in law.
"Mr. Blakely's compliments," the Matre' D placed a bottle of Dom Perion in the ice filled bucket.
"I feel a little out of place," she whispered.
There was a slight commotion at the door. Eyes turned to the vision of two finely suited men being directed to the Kowalski table.
"Hey Mom! Dad! Gramps! Man, this is great! We barely pulled into port when a limo pulled up."
"But," Patterson added as he sat down, "The driver had to beg the Skipper to confirm the reservation! Didn't quite believe he'd be bringing some mere sub jockeys to the Plaza."
"Shore leave! Ten whole days of it! Here !" he handed her the key card. "The penthouse suite! If you want it that is."
"There has to be a mistake."
"Oh no," Mr. Blakely was suddenly upon them," I assure you. Accommodations for your entire family. Please make use of all the accoutrements. Ah, your server will be here shortly," he grinned then whispered conspiratorially. "Be kind. He's not very good at it..."he indicated the backside view of a man in a not quite right looking tuxedo offering a large platter of the most expensive appetizers to a group of rather famous though rude and loud women. Just then one of them groped the server's groin and he removed her hand firmly, placing it on her waist. "I'm sorry. Doesn't come with the service," he turned, flashing the Kowalski party a dazzling smile.
"Skipper!" Ski whispered and Patterson simply groaned and shook his head. It wasn't easy having a spook for a Skipper. And Crane had only told Morton he was going to do a little sightseeing...
"Good evening," Crane said, in full black Navy formal mess dress uniform, complete with medals, formally showing off the platter, "May I offer you an assortment of..." he tried to remember, but unable to, completed his 'script', "uh...these little fancy things?"
"Hey Crane," another uniformed man, came over and took the tray, "thanks bud, I owe you. But first I got to get out of this monkey suit...and rehash the tray. I'll serve your party in a few minutes."
"Commander Crane," Blakely approached. "So good of you to help Meyers out...I see you were at the Mobley retirement party as well. Well, enjoy your evening!" he pulled out a chair.
"Uh, sir?" Ski asked as Crane washed his hands in the men's room. "Do you uh, need any...help?" he whispered.
"I think I can handle things okay by myself..."he began, confused, then laughed. "No, Ski, no 'special assignment' tonight, except maybe...taking care of a bug?"
"Really? Me?" Ski asked, excited and wary at the same time.
"Ummhumm.That one...over there...the monster in the corner with the huge antennae..."Crane flashed him a smile. "I would but I don't fancy cleaning these," he showed off his dress shoes. "Borrowed them from Morton and he threatened me with every curse of the Morton clan from time immemorial if I so much as scuffed them."
"Well, I sure can't let that happen to you," Ski grinned back and did the deed with one pounce. "Uh...you know this fancy place isn't supposed to have bugs."
"Why Ski, you know better. After all, there are 'bugs' and there are 'bugs'," he winked and returned to the other guests.
As the crewman lay in the king sized bed all to himself, stuffed with lobster thermador and chocolate mousse, he had to wonder about that bug statement. Especially when the late news on the wall sized television showed one of the evening's models being arrested for her involvement with a terrorist group. The one who'd groped Crane. Was it just possible? Maybe he'd bugged the woman when he'd removed her hand and put it firmly on her waist? Nahhh. Well, maybe...
Macy's was busy and she was tired, but when the first clerk saw the $500 Gift Certificate, she whistled in appreciation. "'Not for anything useful, just fun,' she read. "From your husband?"
"No," she grinned, "one of my boys."
"Wow. He married?"
"Only to his submarine according to my other boy."
"Lucky boat, that."
She smiled at that. Commander Crane's gift certificate had come with a letter, a lovely thank you for all her care of him in his time of need and how well she'd raised one of his best crewmen. But one line had leapt out of the ink more than the others. 'To my honorary Mom', it had begun.
"Mama?" Gramps approached, "I don't think that this is exactly what he had in mind."
"Nonsense," she signed the order form and took his arm. "I just hope he likes it."
"Package for you Skipper!" O'Brian called out as he climbed to the conning tower. The Chopper had just departed and Crane was pleased with the smooth transfer of the mailbag to the boat.
"Yeah. Big and heavy."
"Better have security check it out..."
"Expecting trouble Lee?" Morton asked.
"This is the Seaview. We're always expecting trouble."
"The X-ray checks out okay," O'Brian's voice said on the PA from the detonation room, "And it looks like a real Macy's label inside and out."
"What is it Lee?" Chip asked as Crane groaned, leaning wearily on the periscope rail.
"I told her to spend it on herself, nothing useful. Ski's mother...I gave her a gift certificate for having helped me...still doesn't seem like enough. I've never been so sick in my life."
"I hear even the cat adopted you," Chip sniggered.
"Opening it now..."
"Hold it," Crane clicked the mike, "I'll be right there."
"The Macy's Deluxe Cookie Maker and Dough of the Month Club?" Chip asked incredulously, and read the flyer, "Cookie dough mix of the month will be sent to you, all you do is add water. One dozen freshly baked cookies warm from the Maker each month to satisfy even the most picky of palettes...I didn't know you gave her a hard time feeding you..."
"I didn't. I couldn't eat hardly anything, my throat was so sore..."
"There's a note..."
I use the given name as now as your official honorary mother, I feel I have a right to. Anyway, please don't be upset about me not spending the money on something to wear or some such thing. It's really a pleasure for a mother to bake her sons cookies. And as I can't exactly be aboard Seaview, when I saw this I thought what a perfect present. You can share with 'Ski' as you call him, or anyone else you like.
I'm also enclosing a year's supply of vitamin C and Zinc to help combat any future colds. There should also be in the package a pair of battery operated socks that will keep your feet toasty warm in that dark cold water.
"You know," Morton lounged back in the Observation Nose, with Nelson and Crane and patted his satisfied tummy, "There's a lot to be said for being an honorary son. I don't suppose there's an opening for another one?"
"Only if you come down sick sir," Ski said, grabbing one of the fresh baked cookies from the unit on the sideboard.
"Worth it. Oh, by the way Kowalski, your brother here's been telling me how well you crushed that monster bug at the Plaza...I don't suppose you'd care to join the bug basher's when we dock. We sure picked up a bunch of the little buggers in our last port of call."
"The only bugs I'll approve him working on are these," Crane handed Ski a form. "After all, there are bugs and there are bugs. Interested?"
"Aye sir! Thank you sir!"
"You know," Chip mused as the crewman left, "there are rules in the Navy about shipping out siblings on the same assignment."
"Oh shut up. You know, is it my imagination or are these better than Cookie's?"
"Lee, Lee, Lee," Nelson said, munching on his own, "Cookie is a skilled chef. He cooks with scientific accuracy, but, he can't add a mom's love like these, even if it's from a packaged mix."
The mission went well, both Seaview's and the nighttime spy
mission by Crane and Kowalski. It was all too soon that Seaview docked in
Now, to the ordinary viewer watching the late evening news less than a week later, there was nothing out of the ordinary to the scene of police and fire engines were responding to the bomb scare at the busy and popular night spot. But the dark haired man slipping away into the crowd with a backward and satisfied glance, had been all too easily noticed by some of his crewmen enjoying a late night beer at their favorite bar.
"You thinking what I'm thinking, Ski?" Pat asked.
"What else, it's like...fate," he said as the perpetrators were shoved into the police car, and their equipment safely exploded in the street, and their getaway vehicle, a pest removal truck, the 'Bug Buster' was towed away by police.
Bug: by definition a living 'creepy crawlie', or a listening device for clandestine or legitimate eavesdropping, or a viral or bacterial infection.
Vicks Vapo-Rub: by definition a menthol type ointment that helps open breathing passages.
Dough of the Month Club is invented here, but hey, who knows, I haven't been shopping lateley. I don't know if there is a cookie maker machine.
Macy's: One of the
larger department stores in