It was late afternoon in
"Are you sure you won't join us, Jiggs?" Nelson asked as he straightened his tie in the comfort of his cabin. Armani really didn't suit him but Edith had given it to him for his birthday.
"You forget, I've experienced her cooking before."
"Just don't toss anyone overboard while we're suffering.... "
"You think I've been too harsh on this field inspection too?"
"You tried to bounce a quarter off the Captain's bunk! This is the Seaview, not boot camp."
"Well, I had to do something. No boat ever gets a perfect score."
"I also thought you'd adjusted to his style of command."
"Perhaps..." Starke smirked," perhaps not. Have to keep him on his toes don't I ? you certainly don't."
"You're playing a dangerous game, Jiggs. The crew can be troublesome if they feel you're deliberately trying to find fault with their Skipper. By the way, did the coin bounce?"
"Yes, but there were two wrinkles where the blanket was tucked in the corner."
"Heavens...sometimes I think you'd arrest your own mother for jay walking."
"Very funny. At any rate, I see no problem with Seaview maintaining her status as a missile carrier."
"Thank you. Well, I'm ready to face my sister. I'm not so sure Lee is."
"I'm surprised he's agreed to go along."
"Only way he can get a respite from your nagging."
Both men laughed as Starke escorted Nelson to the Control Room.
"I can't believe you suckered me into a stupid card game instead of going ashore," Ski complained in the Observation Nose.
"Ain't no way I'm goin' ashore,"
Sharkey responded, "Not tonight. I'm telling you, I got a bad feeling
about us just being here....in
"What's the matter with
"Well if you must know...."Sharkey began but was interrupted by the sight of a classic Cadillac with tailfins pull up alongside the dock as they watched through the great view ports.
"You don't suppose the Admiral got the idea for Seaview's design from his little sister's car?"Patterson asked.
Kowalski simply spread his arms with a grin.
Sharkey gaped at the vision that was Miss Edith Nelson. She was pretty enough in a plain sort of way. An ordinary 'girl next door' type. It was the pink cashmere sweater over a pink blouse and skirt, with matching shoes and tiny pillbox hat that threw him. She even had pink earrings.
"Add a pull string, and she could pass for a talking Barbie," he snorted.
In moments his musings were forgotten as they began their game. In fact they hardly jumped all when Nelson clicked the mike in the Control Room.
"Lee? Let's get a move on..."
"Lee?" Nelson piped up again, "Sorry, lad, no hiding in the bowels of the boat."
"Do I have to go?" Crane's voice pleaded after a moment. "I mean..."
"It's no use Lee," Nelson laughed, "No minor crisis that I'm aware of. You promised to give me a little moral support. Chip's already topside with her. "
"Give me about five minutes. There's something I need from sickbay."
"Sickbay?" all four card players mouthed, instantly on the alert. Nothing but nothing could make that man actually volunteer to seek out his 'secondary quarters'. In fact, he spent most of his time when seconded there trying to escape. The men were about to scramble down there, when he came forward into the Control room, taking another slug from a bottle. Something bubblegum pink.
"It's not the end of the world, Lee," Nelson said.
"Tell that to my stomach from last time she got into a domestic mood..."
"Maybe it would be better to be safe than sorry," Nelson grabbed the bottle and took a swig himself.
"Heavens, you two act as if she's out to poison you," Starke laughed.
"You didn't have your head down the toilet the last time she had me to dinner."
"Er, Lee," Nelson said soothingly, "It wasn't exactly her fault my specimen frogs jumped out of their box on the counter into the Vichyssoise when her back was turned."
"They were doing the backstroke! And it still didn't taste good. "
"I agree it was a bit...disturbing...but it wasn't that bad, tastewise. I know because I'd sampled some before, well, before they added their own..special flavor."
"So what about the time when she..."
"Hmmpf," Starke snorted, "Will you quit stalling at get up there, the poor girl's waiting!"
"O'Brien, you've got the..."
"He knows he's got the conn,"Starke interrupted, "Move it!"
"And it you need Doc, he's at.."
"Gracie's. Cheech, you've told us enough times!"
"O'Brien,"Starke ordered, "as Acting Captain will you please shove Crane's six up and out of here before I do it myself! That goes for you too Harry!"
With a reluctant sigh, Crane ascended the ladder followed by Nelson.
In moments Starke and O'Brien joined the crewmen in the Observation Nose and watched the command crew speed away.
“Man, did you get a look at the Skipper's face?" Ski laughed after the officers had retired to O'Brien's cabin.
“She’s that bad a cook?” Sharkey asked.
“Worse,” Pat said.
“But Nelson can't order the Skipper or Mr. Morton to supper with her can he?"
"No, but like, getting away from Starke is worth a little indigestion! Dig?" Riley answered.
"Well,"Sharkey said, "I sure hope they can enjoy their night out without too much tummy trouble.
"I have to admit I wasn't altogether honest with you about dinner Harry," Edith said as she pulled into the long drive. "We'll actually have a buffet at the Halloween Party at City Hall."
"City Hall? Halloween party?" he sounded aggrieved, "Then what's this all about?"
"I want you to field test my new cookies."
"Cookies, bro, cookies...I'm going to sell them!"
began. How was he going to tell her it would be easier to sell oil to
"It's not what you think. These are special."
"Pumpkin, I'm not sure that..."Nelson began.
"Speaking of pumpkins, how do you like mine?"
By the door, was a brightly lit jack-o-lantern. The house itself positively glowed with warmth and welcome against the promise of a chilly moonlit night.
The little used Nelson mansion was an odd combination styles from Colonial to Victorian, but what gave it the most charm, or on dark stormy nights, an eerie feel, were the parts of actual sailing ships built right in, some sporting style stern windows sticking out at odd angles .
"I hope you don't mind the cobwebs. I only opened it up yesterday," Edith said, as they got out of the car.
"You know," Patterson was saying as he played another hand, "I heard Morton say that the old Nelson place was haunted."
"Haunted? Well, that's just great!"Sharkey fussed, "They go traipsing off to a haunted house and on Halloween, and nobody told me??"
"Like, you're really going to tell 'em not to go?" Riley said, "It's the Admiral's home!"
"Yeah, well somebody should have given him a piece of my mind...that didn't come out right. You know what I mean. We should've at least kept the Skipper from going."
"Yeah, man, he's, like, ghost fodder," Riley added as they laughed nervously.
"Guys, what if there is a spook prowling around," Ski said. "The Skip had nightmares for weeks after Krueger. I wasn't all that far behind."
"Let's go get him,"Sharkey stood.
"Go get him?" Patterson asked.
"You really want him to get possessed again? Or something worse..."
"What could be worse?" Ski asked.
"Witches for one thing. This is their night too isn't it? Don't forget Aliens and monsters have used him for their dirty work too."
"Yeah," Patterson said, "Now that you mention it...he's kind of a magnet for that kind of stuff."
"Magnet?" Ski snorted. "It's like he has a neon sign on his forehead guiding them."
It would have been funny if it weren't so serious. The men quit their game and sought Lt. O'Brien.
The den was a haven of masculine comfort. It exuded wealth and refinement. Leather upholstery, stained glass windows, to the ugly yet highly valued ceramic dogs gracing the huge and blazing fireplace. An early 19th century gilt framed painting hung above it.
"My God, it looks just like you, Admiral," Morton gasped.
"Uh, yes...poor fellow. Found it about a year ago in the attic, didn't you Edie?" Nelson hedged. He'd never revealed the truth bout the rich ancestor to anyone. He was ashamed and embarrassed by him. Nor had he ever mentioned his own eretheral experience with his ghost. And he wasn't about to now.
"What about those?" Lee asked regarding the ceramic dogs. "Where'd you find them? Flea market?"
"Actually," Edith laughed at the pun, "those are genuine Staffordshire dogs. Could probably pay for the entire estate and then some."
"You're kidding aren't you?"
"One man's junk is another's treasure," Morton said lighthearted, "I remember a..."
"Enough chatter, it's crunch time," she interrupted, picking up a waiting tray of identical brown cookies. "Go on, have some."
For a moment all hesitated, each man dreading the coming confrontation to their taste buds.
"I've never met a cookie I didn't like," Morton bravely took the first plunge. Crane had to admire his courage. "Wonderful," Morton responded, truthfully, and began to munch happily. "Chocolate Chip, my favorite."
"Fitting," Nelson said, relieved, "But er...I didn't see any chocolate chips on that one, or any of the others," Nelson said, confused. In fact all the cookies looked alike to him. Round almost burnt disks.
"Well they taste like chocolate chip."
Nelson was next to tempt fate, "Hmm. Ginger Snap," he nibbled it appreciatively.
"That’s the charm of it," Edith said, "they taste differently to everyone..."
"Huh?" Lee asked.
"According to your own likes and dislikes...and your biological make up. There's a special herbal ingredient in the recipe. Don't worry, it's harmless. In fact I found it in an old handwritten diary I bought in an antique shop. 1676. Saw the recipe and just had to try it! There's a lot of the same herbs growing wild in the kitchen garden."
"The kitchen garden's been overgrown since before you were born!" Nelson said.
"Then it's a good thing I recognized it from the pressed one in the book! Most of the pages are just too faded to read, but the cookie recipe wasn't. And according to it, they taste just what you'd like them to taste like, or, what you'd be if you were a cookie!'
"They also believed in blood letting back then," Crane said.
'Lee," Nelson warned. "Give it a chance."
"No, wait a minute, " Lee said, stopping Morton from grabbing another cookie, " you have to be careful with herbs. Some can be harmful...."
"Heaven's Lee," Nelson scolded, "Old family recipes are usually harmless. A food that was harmful wouldn't have been written down." Nelson was already eating another cookie and licking some of the excessive crumbs off his mouth, so perhaps now was not a good time to argue the point.
O'Brien bit his mouth, "You really think I'm going to let you interrupt their evening out just because you four are antsy about Halloween? Besides, don't you think the Admiral would call if anything goes amiss?"
"If he could, sure, but what about the Skipper or..."
"What's going on here?" Starke entered with a new stack of reports he placed on O'Brien's desk.
"We need to get ashore sir," Sharkey said.
"Yeah, it's kind of an emergency," Ski added.
"And he won't let us," Riley pouted.
"They want to save the Skipper's tummy," O'Brien said.
"No sir, that's not what we said at all, "Sharkey stressed. "it's...the ghosts sir."
"The what?"Starke asked dumbfounded. He'd heard some whoppers in his time but this was just plain idiotic.
"The ghosties sir...Riley explained. "They'll take one look at him and..."
"The Nelson house," Patterson said. "It's haunted. Mr. Morton said so himself."
"A lot of old houses claim that superstious nonsense. But could that possibly have to do with Crane?"
"Well, uh...they have a point actually," O'Brien said. "A ghost took over the Captain's body so he could make whoopee with his long dead sweetheart...."
"Yeah," Riley interrupted, "he got a girl for her to possess too..."
"Only they probably didn't have time to...er... I mean," Ski said, "the Admiral had to go and rescue him after he shot him..."
"The Admiral shot the Skipper so the ghost could possess him..."
"Harry put you all up to this practical joke didn't he,"Starke said.
"Er, no sir, there really was a ghost," O'Brien explained, "A world war one sub commander. He sucked the air out of the boat and was crushing us on the bottom. Nelson had to save us, so he shot him."
"He had to,"
"You can't kill a ghost," Starke snorted.
"I know it's hard to believe..."O'Brien said.
"You see sir,"Sharkey added, " if Krueger wanted the Skipper's body then other ghosts will too and," he gulped, "it's Halloween ...you know when they all come out of the woodwork."
"Like, don’t forget the aliens, monsters, and other slime balls that've taken him over too, dig?" Riley added.
"Aliens?" Starke asked incredulously.
"Well, you see...he's....got some kind, what did you call it Chief?" Patterson asked, " Oh yeah, erethealeal magnetism. Well it attracts all of the creepy crawlies, even from other planets and...."
"It's the truth sir!" Patterson said as Starke rolled his eyes heavenward.
"When I tell Harry about this..."Starke muttered.
"We gotta go sir. We gotta protect him!" Sharkey pleaded.
"Actually, Admiral Starke," O'Brien said, "it's not really a bad idea. Can you give them your blessing?"
"Blessing? Hell, no! Permission? Hell, you're Acting Captain. Don't ask me! Besides, the sooner they get off the boat, the sooner we can get these damn reports finished!"
"Eat any more, Chip," Lee said, after Edith had gone upstairs to powder her nose, "and you'll turn into one."
"Somehow, I don't think I'd mind," Chip said with his mouth full, inadvertently spraying a few crumbs. "I wish you could get into the spirit of things. You barely touched one. Didn't you like it?"
"Well, they're not my mother's cookies. "
Nelson laughed, accidentally spraying crumbs, "That's too bad. Mine have been wonderful. So far, I've tasted ginger snap, shortbread, oatmeal, with and without raisins, and something else I'm not at all familiar with, and sometimes in different bites of the same cookie. Edith will make a fortune with this. "
"Maybe Lee just hasn't decided what kind of cookie he'd like to be," Morton said.
"Very funny. I wish you two would use a bit of caution. It doesn't feel right."
"Lee, Lee, Lee," Nelson chuckled, "can't handle my sister doing something else in her life than globe trotting and charity work? She's entitled to stay in the kitchen or do laundry sometimes, you know."
"She's no good in the kitchen and you know it."
"So she can't learn? Pull yourself together, man. We're here to make Edith happy."
"C'mon, Lee, try another," Chip handed him half of the one he was eating. "Pizza. You've got to like that. "
"Pizza?" Lee frowned and at least had one bite, "It's okay...but...this whole thing's...spooky."
Nelson laughed. Chip laughed. Even the ceramic dogs seemed to laugh.
Crane's stomach rumbled. "What's taking her so long?"
"Well, my tummy's happy," Chip patted his.
Nelson grinned, taking another himself.
Was it Lee's imagination or did Nelson look a bit more rotund than usual?
"Why don't you go and see if she needs anything Lee, first door on the right upstairs."
"Well, you're the one counting the clock."
"Hmph,' Lee muttered and did as he was bid.
"Edith?" he called knocking on the door.
"Edith?" he tried a little louder. Again there was no response. Gently, ever so slowly he opened the door to peek in. Where was she? The room was, as expected, barely lived in. but the bed was made, fluffed with pillows against which lay her purse, and of all things a classic Barbie Doll. Certainly had a thing about pink, did Edith Nelson. Seemed even an old childhood toy wore it. Next to the doll was a book. Ah yes. The diary. It was old, and tattered. As he opened it and leafed through it was difficult to read the ancient script, what was left of it. Ah, here it was. Granny's Toasties, or was that Granny's Ghosties...fitting for something she made on Halloween. then he just happened to notice an addendum in another hand.
Beware - do not consume on All Hallows Eve, else suffer the consequences.
Yeah, her cooking.
Even to the outer husk.
The rest was too faded to decipher.
Lee continued to look in some of the other rooms, then gave up and headed back to the den.
He was not prepared for the sight that greeted him. For one large cookie each remained where Chip and Nelson had been only minutes before.
"Okay Chip, Admiral, come on out," I get the joke. You ate so many, you turned into them...ha ha..."
"You heard me Chip! Admiral? C'mon! This isn't funny!" While he knew this was an elaborately choreographed joke, he was filled with foreboding. A fly buzzed past him.
"Shut up! Let me think!"
Running a hand through his hair nervously he felt crumbs come away in his own hand and looked at them in horror. Suffer the consequences, he remembered the script, suffer the consequences. Oh God, could it be possible? Could it be possible they'd actually turned into cookies and he'd be joining them soon... Outer husk...that had to be their clothes...He'd been with Seaview long enough to endure the totally implausible and unbelievable before. Staring at the crust that had been his fingernails, he knew he had but a little time, "C'mon, c'mon," Crane talked to himself ," think of something..."he inadvertently sprayed cookie crumbs as he picked up the phone.
The men hadn't left Seaview yet, waiting for Sharkey who was insisting on a few armaments. O'Brien had been hard pressed to allow a gun, but had relented in the end. As for the garlic powder, well, it had to just as well for any...er...vampires they might find feasting on Crane.
"Mr. O'Brien?" a duty crewman called from the radio shack, "You can call off the cavalry. It's the Skipper for you."
"Pipe it through."
"Sir?" O'Brien answered into the mike.
"Frank! Thank God! " Crane's voice sounded pained, "Get Doc over to the Nelson house right away...we're in trouble... we've been poisoned! It's a herb. We need an antidote. I have the cookbook. Hurry, it's turned Nelson and Morton into cookies and I'm not far behind...."
"Er.. You are joking, right, sir?" O'Brien took the mike hopefully, "It being Halloween and all? Mr. Morton put you up to it right?"
"Will you listen to me? I'm not sure what anyone can do but...hurry...I'm already starting to crumble...I don't know what's happened to Edith. You're our only hope....I...I....ohhhhcchsssnsndlf."
"Skipper? Skipper?? Oh, shit!"
"They've turned into cookies?" Starke asked, having been quickly summoned to the Control Room as O'Brien called the police.
"That's what the Skipper said!" Sharkey said. "We all heard him."
"I know its hard to resist a good joke on Halloween. Now let me and the Lt. get back to our reports."
"We got it on tape if you don't believe it," Ski said.
"Look, men, "Starke said, "Whoever it was must have used some kind of voice synthesizer to sound like Crane, even thought I wouldn't put it past him coming up with such a stunt," he added.
"It was the Skipper!"Sharkey shouted. "Something about his tone, sir...no mistaking it at all, sir. We gotta' do something!"
"Chief, why don't you go lie down, get some rest..."
"But if he's a cookie, he's gonna get himself eaten!"Sharkey practically whimpered. "Him and Mr. Morton and the Admiral! Your own best friend you call him!"
"The police are on the way to check on the Nelsons," O'Brien clicked off his call.
"Lt.," Starke shook his head, "this is totally irresponsible. You can't believe this utter nonsense. You'll be laughed out of the service."
"This isn't the Navy sir. And as Acting Captain I'll take full responsibility. Chief, round up any other crew you see on your way to the mansion. I'll get Doc. Here," he pulled out a wad of money, "I've already called a couple of cabs. Seaview will be command center," he handed Sharkey a couple of walkie talkies. "Admiral Starke will monitor."
"If it upsets you, think of it as a contingency drill... Let's go."
"Damn, now I have to deal with Crane clone!"
Starke muttered as he sat next to the temporary '
And so it was that Lee Crane, Captain of the Seaview had found himself a cookie. He could see himself with disgust in the mantle mirror. Why couldn't he have morphed into something more... dignified, like them?
"You okay Lee?" Gingersnap Nelson asked now that Lee could see and hear them for themselves.
"Okay? Okay?? I'm a gingerbread boy!"
"Well, at least you have arms and legs," Chip said.
"And no frosting! I feel so...so...exposed."
"Boys, boys, enough. We have to figure a way out of this," Nelson said.
"I know we can depend on Frank," Lee said.
"To do what?" Morton asked. "This is a nightmare! We don't even know what happened!"
"Got to be the herb or..."
"Well, some kind of spell, I guess. The warning did say not to use on Halloween..." Lee said.
"Look!" Morton yelled as the painting shimmered, the sea captain forming out of it, stretching his limbs.
"Ahh. That's better," the spectre said with an distinctly Irish brogue.
"Did you have something to do with this?" Nelson asked irritated.
"Er...you know him?" Lee asked.
"Gentlemen," Nelson said, "my great to the whatever grandfather, Captain Shamus O'Hara Nelson. And a more despicable ancestor I've never had."
"Why? What'd he do?" Morton asked.
"He was a slave trader."
"Enough!" Shamus stood before them, "I'll not have you be judging me. I've been judged enough! Caught betwtix this world and the next. Doomed to haunt the seven seas save a respite in me likeness here. "
"You never told me you could take a coffee break!" Nelson fumed, "And your purgatory is of your own making! The last time you appeared to me, Shamus, you wanted to trick me into trading places with me," Nelson said.
"Wait a minute," Lee said, "you had a paranormal experience too?"
"Not now Lee. Why show yourself Captain Nelson? To gloat?"
"Harriman, you wound me to the quick, so you do. I was simply thinking that perhaps, just perhaps, helping me boyos might be the good deed I need to release me from my limbo."
"You said nothing about a good deed before!"
"Can he help us?" Lee asked Nelson. "Can he get us out of this fix?"
"I very greatly doubt it. He's a scoundrel and we can't trust him."
"Ach, don't be so pessimistic! Shamus said, "there's always possibilities as yer so fond of saying."
"What do you think you can do?" Nelson asked. "We're cookies. You're a ghost!"
"I don't know. I was hoping you'd think of something. That scientific mind of yours and all."
"And soon, please sir," Morton said, "I just saw a cockroach."
"Look, Admiral," Crane said, "we can't stay cookies. We'll crumble away or...well...I hate to say it, but a house this old probably has mice and rats on top of bugs. We have to enlist his help. If he can."
The doorbell had hardly rung when the sound of the door being forced opened echoed through the house.
"Miss Nelson? Admiral Nelson? Police! Officers Gates and Boggs!"
"Thank God," Morton sighed.
"Hide!" Nelson ordered.
"Hide?" Morton asked, "How? Why? All we can do is sit here!"
"We don't want their attention! Next thing we'll know, they'll be dunking us in their coffee!"
Gates entered. The cookies held their breaths.
"Nobody in this room!" she called out. "You think she'd hire a housekeeper. Oh, what a cute little fellow," she added, laughing, picking up Lee.
"Still fresh it by the feel of it," she said to herself, not having heard or seen anything but a gingerbread boy. She was about to take a bite when Officer Boggs, at the doorway lunged in, grabbing her arm, "You can't do that! Remember her stuff at that bake sale?"
"Cripes, I forgot!"
"And that's personal property! She could sue!"
"Wasn't she supposed to bring some baked stuff for the party tonight? Wouldn't this count?"
"Okay, I guess so...no trace of them, must've already left. You know..." he added with a grin, "Maybe we can give it to the Chief," he snickered, "besides, Edith did promise Headquarters a special surprise."
"That is cruel and inhuman punishment," she quickly put Lee in the breast pocket of her leather jacket. "What about those two?"
"Leave them. We don't want to actually encourage trouble."
"Well, at least we can tell Seaview that their men and the Nelson's must have already gone to the party."
As the cops left, Chip sighed. "Trouble? It's Lee's middle name. Admiral what are we going to do?"
A shrill scream answered, followed by a door slamming shut and the sound of a car revving up it's engine, tires spinning as it raced away.
The sound of hearty laughter materialized. "Now that's the way to discourage visitors!"
"Shamus, what have you done!" Nelson yelled.
"I got rid of the constabulary for ye. Gave e'm a great big 'boo!' so I did but...er......she buttoned up too tight while I was trying to pull the captain out of her pocket. I'm afraid he'll have to take his chances with the law. So he will."
Gracie's was a popular place. Frequented by his friend Dr. Brothers and several others of the medical profession, Jamison thought it felt more like a private club.
"Sorry you came Will?" Dr. Brothers nudged him quietly.
"No, but frankly..." he was interrupted by her beeper.
She headed off to take the call.
It seemed there were a lot of phone calls here. He heard voices make reservations for dinner, confirmation of flights to exotic locales, even a spa day or two. Damn, the last vacation he'd had watching vigil over at Captain Crane's bedside.
"Well," she glowed, returning, "my editor says there's no problem going to print next week."
"C'mon, why don't we go to the party at City Hall. Has to be a lot more fun that this place."
"Doc! Doc!" O'Brien's voice raced ahead of him, "Thank God I found you. Do you know how many 'Gracies' are in this town? One of them was a...never mind. The Skipper..."
"Well, actually, him, the Admiral and Morton."
"Er..."he hesitated, then whispered in Doc's ear, then nodded in the affirmative at the disbelieving eyebrow.
"Come with me?" Doc asked his colleague, "I think we may need your help. No matter what happens."
Sharkey's cab pulled up to the house as the cops were driving away like a bat out of hell.
"I don't care what Starke said they said, "we're still goin' in. Wait here," he ordered the driver as they scrambled out.
"Like hell," the driver said and sped away unpaid.
"C'mon," Sharkey ordered his men. They'd only found a few extra men on their way, but he was sure word would spread.
The house wasn't dark. But it was still creepy. The men split up to search. It didn't take long before Ski yelled from the den.
Words failed everyone. They were too late. Sorrowfully, reverently, they scraped up the crumbs along with the cookies and placed them in a Tupperware container they'd brought. Nobody gave much notice to the portrait, the figure oddly obscured as if the paint had been deliberately removed.
"Sharkey to Seaview. Sharkey to Seaview," he used the walkie talkie, "We got two of them. One's missing. We're still searching. And there's no sign of Miss Edith either."
"Affirmative," came Starke's voice.
"We'll be back as soon as we can. It's a big place."
"Roger that. Over and out."
"Chief?" Ski asked. "Didn't the Skipper say something about a book? There're a zillion of em in here.."
"Yeah...start going through them, Riley and me'll keep searching for the other cookie. Miss Edith too."
After about a year, or so it seemed to Kowalski, Sharkey and Riley returned as empty handed as Malone and Connolly. They'd even checked the green tinged fountain in the back. Nothing. Except...
Books, classics and first editions lay scattered all over the floor, and Ski held up a tattered diary victoriously.
"Is this it? I think that's a recipe anyway."
Sharkey took a quick look, his heart stopping when he was the pressed herb and the name of the recipe next to it.
"Granny's Ghosties'...this must be it!" he shuddered out of excitement and fear.
"C'mon we gotta' get back to Seaview!"
Chief of Police Sally McCoy was a bit of a legend in
"You've got to believe us," Gates insisted, "The place is haunted!"
"Normally I'd think you both need some down time, but considering it was the Nelson house..."
"We're still on duty, then?" Boggs asked, relieved.
"Yes, I have a request for added security at City Hall."
"City Hall? The Halloween Party?" the girl groaned.
"You have a problem with that?"
"We're okay with it," Boggs nodded to his partner. "Oh, Chief, in honor of the night, here," he picked out Lee from his partners pocket.
"Watch it, buster," Gates said.
"A gingerbread boy?" the Chief took hold of it.
"Yeah...er, on sale, " Boggs lied easily, "Thought you might like it."
"Thank you. Hmm. Still soft. Odd that it's not decorated. Children love to decorate these. My own are mad at me. I'm making them go to the party with me, instead of trick or treating. Not enough candy..."
"When they're older they'll understand."
"Damn, coffee's cold. Actually, milk would go better with this. Head on down to the break room and bring me back some before we go."
"Right away ma'am."
"The car's stopped," Nelson said.
"About time, I have to go," Chip said.
"You're a cookie, you don't have to pee."
"Then why do I feel like I do..."
"Condensation," Nelson said. "I wish they'd left us a bit of breathing room. Punched holes in the lid. I feel a bit damp myself."
"Cookies don't need to breathe," Morton said.
"Don't be a smart ass...sorry. It's the stress."
"Admiral? How do you think Lee is doing?"
"I wish I knew, but it can't be good.. And where the hell is Shamus?"
Lee cringed as Sally poured a glass of milk from the paper container and picked him up from her desk. He'd faced death too many times to actually be afraid of it. But he would have preferred a different way to go. To be drowned then chewed, and finally dissolved in stomach acids? He'd had enough of stomach acids thank you very much, when he rescued the Admiral's diving bell in the belly of that whale. The entire dive teams gear had to be tossed because of that stuff burning holes in them. The divers were lucky to have come out of it themselves with only some minor burns...
"Chief?" a lady clerk popped her head in the door, along with some other female staff including Gates, "We heard you were in here alone with a real cutie..need any help?"
"Very funny," she waved him in the air.
"Wait...you can't eat him like that...I've got some M&M's in my purse..."
"I've got some Gummy Worms!" another said.
"Let's decorate him!" Gates said.
"Ladies, ladies," Sally said, "Control yourselves. This is police headquarters."
"I think we ought to make him a girl," one of the group said, "Most gingerbread boys are boys. How many gingerbread girls do you ever see?"
"I don’t care what it is, all I know is that I'm hungry. Now either pool your resources and go decorate the damn thing, or leave me alone. I've got to get these reports done in less than half an hour!"
Back aboard Seaview, the atmosphere was dire.
"I don't know..I just don't know," Doc studied the herb at the plot table, " I've never seen or heard of it."
"How's that computer doing?" O'Brien ordered
"Nothing yet sir. So far it's only spitting out genealogical tables about grandmothers, patterns for granny square afghans, and all sorts of stuff about ghosts."
"Wait," Doc said, 'this could be 'Toastie's instead of 'Ghosties'...try that."
"Find out," O'Brien ordered. "We need to know what else this might tell us."
"Frank's doing well in command," Nelson observed.
"Starke's hasn't done so badly himself," Morton commented.
Dr. Brothers simply sat quietly in the Nose, observing the men united in their quest to restore their officers. She had heard about mass delusions, but this was a whopper.
Lee had never been so humiliated in his life. The women oohed and ahhed, and giggled as they presented him to Sally. They even took a picture of him.
They'd gone a bit overboard, of that there was no dispute. Even Sally raised an eyebrow, then laughed shaking her head.
And he'd complained about no frosting to Nelson. For here he was, garbed with Gummy Worm 'hairs' on his head, in bright neon colors. And if that wasn't bad enough, two lipstick red M&M's had been placed prominently both sides of his chest.Yes, the women were certainly enjoying their a night in the office instead of a Chippendales club. To his utter shame, Gummy Worms lower down only emphasized the one lone piece of licorice rising up from an unmentionable area.
Why didn't Sally just dunk him in the milk and be done with it, he groaned. But no, he was popular, so she'd decided to take him to the party to show him off to the friends she'd be meeting there. It was going to be a long slow death.
"That's it then,"
"Er..sir?" Sharkey interrupted O'Brien who'd leaned wearily against the periscope island, "Well, I know it's not exactly the time or place for it, but, didn't the cops say Miss Edith, well, maybe she went on ahead to the party? Maybe the Skipper didn't know it...had an awful lot on his mind right then, and she could've left before they...changed."
"They would have called us if she was there."
"Well, some of us can still go, give em' some backup.....just in case they missed her...I mean it's Halloween, she could be in costume you know..."
"Go ahead...but Chief, I wouldn't set my heart on it. Here," he pulled out his wallet."
"Wait," Starke said. "I'll go with you Chief. I'll even spring for the cab fare."
"Thank you sir."
It was an eye opener for Lee that was for sure, and not because he was propped up against the mirror in the ladies room. It wasn't just the girl talk assaulting his ears as the ladies primped and powdered that was embarssing.It was the personal matters they found so easy to talk about. He'd have had a hard time mentioning Jock Itch to Doc! He envied them the mental freedom to be so open, and the fact they had no inkling of that particular malady.
Sally had abandoned him while she had some motherly and police duties to attend to, placing a small sign behind him stating that he was police property and 'do not eat'. That was a privilege for her and her alone. But he wondered if Gates would obey the orders. She'd been in twice now, and looked at him hungrily. Almost like a cat with it's prey.
There was an unusually long line of ladies waiting to use the facilities or worse, just to ogle him. This he theorized as some of them came in, oohed, awed, and left without hastening to the call of nature. He almost felt like demanding a bit of change for the privilege. Would the evening ever end his agony?
The party was in full swing when Starke and Sharkey arrived. Of all the partygoers, none bore any resemblance to Edith Nelson as they cased the place. But what got their attention was a conversation between two women emerging from the facilities, "I can decorate a gingerbread boy better than that," and "You have to admit he's cute."
'Gingerbread boy?' Starke and Sharkey said to each other. They hadn't seen any other cookies on the buffet tables, not even on the dessert or candy counter.
Hurrying to the ladies room, they were about to butt into line when they realized they might need a little help.
Uniforms or not, this was one of the strangest requests McCoy had as an officer of the law yet. Couldn't they wait for the maintance crew tomorrow?
Clearing the ladies room, she motioned Starke and Sharkey to enter, followed by Gates.
"Is this your man?" Sally asked, pointing to the cookie, trying hard not to laugh.
"Yes," Starke lied, not having the slightest clue if this was Crane or not. But one cookie in hand was better than no cookie at all. "Property of SSRN Seaview. Navy Reserve.'
"Edith Nelson made it, technically, "Sharkey added. " Is she here?"
"Officer Gates? Will you please tell these men where you purchased this cookie?"
"Purchased?" Sharkey gulped.
"It was Boggs idea. If Edith Nelson made it, well...he thought it would be a good prank if you...er...well...we found it in the Nelson house Ma'am. With two other cookies, but we left them alone..."
"You stole it?"
"But he's so cute ma'am...even before we..."
"Before you turned him into a porno pastry! Gentlemen, justice will be served I promise you. Officer Gates you will accompany these officers to Seaview and apologize formally to Admiral and Edith Nelson for the theft when they return from wherever they are. You and Boggs are on suspension pending a hearing."
"I can't apologize enough," Sally said, handing Crane over, "And tell Edith Nelson for me that if her little cookies look good enough to eat like this one, they probably are."
"Er, wait sir," Sharkey waylaid Starke. "You can't just carry him out like that sir.."
"He's right," Sally thought for a moment, "There are children here...don't look like that, they use the bathrooms down the hall...stuff him in this," she handed Starke the bowl of Potpourri.
Sharkey made sure Crane was pretty much covered up to his head, before they trooped out, trying to avoid curious stares.
Officer Gates stood quietly with Dr. Brothers, who'd been pretty much ignored all night." There's more to it isn't there?" she finally asked Jamison, as
Sharkey placed Crane, into the Tupperware with Nelson and Morton. Doc had determined that removing the decorations would have been more harmful to the fragile gingerbread than leaving them on.
"We can't bring the ink out. The key to this mystery. It's nothing but a ghost book now."
"Say that again," Nelson mused. "Shamus! Shamus! Hurry up man, we solved the puzzle, part of it anyway, oh by the way Lee, welcome back."
"Nice hair," Morton snorted. "Among other things."
"It's good to see you too," Lee replied sarcastically, then, "I had my doubts."
"Shut up! We need to summon Shamus!" Nelson ordered.
"But why, he hasn't done anything for us," Chip said.
"You heard Doc. The ink, man, the ink. It's a ghost image now...men can't read it, but a ghost might!"
"Oh' c'mon Admiral You're groping at straws!" Lee said.
"Is he? " Shamus hiccupped as he emerged and hovered over them, unseen by all but they.
"He's drunk!" Morton hissed.
"You bellowed oh great to the whatever grandson of me own?'
"The book. Read the book! Then somehow tell them what it says.. it could be the key to releasing us from this spell."
"All right, keep yer pants on...beg pardon, Captain."
"Just do it, Please Shamus, "Nelson begged wearily.
"Aye, that I can.'
"Admiral Look! It's Nelson!" Jamison stared at Shamus materializing.
"I'm Nelson all right, Captain Nelson! Now," he grabbed the book from Jamison. "Now let's see, this here's the page you marked?"
"What do you want it for?" O'Brien demanded firmly.
"I'm here, sonny, to get my blood kin out of his predicament!" he began to scan the pages.
"Uh," O'Brien continued, "That's right, this recipe here...is there something we can do to reverse the herb? The spell? Well?"
"Give me a chance laddie, give me a (hic) chance."
Jamison was glued to the sight until he noticed Dr. Brothers on the deck. Officer Gates was, to her credit, applying proper procedure for fainting.
"Anybody have the time? "Shamus swayed.
"The time? Blast it man, is there a way to bring them back!" Starke shouted.
"Well, now, let me see, Harriman, would telling battle britches here be construed as a good deed, man? It would? Well bless my socks. Midnight's all the cure that's needed!
"Midnight? Midnight?"Starke sputtered, 'what kind of an answer is that?"
O'Brien stopped him, and motioned to the clock. Everyone counted the seconds down.
Flash! Suddenly the three men stood before them. And the ghost had vanished. Scruffy and weary, the officer's clothes were crumpled and stained. The Tupperware didn’t look so good either. Celebration however, would have to wait.
"Quiet!" Lee shouted..."Admiral, when I searched the house, Edith wasn't there, but a Barbie doll was.. I didn't realize it at the time, but I wonder if she's under a sideways kind of spell..."
"Then she should have come out of it the same time we did.."'
"I'll call the house," Starke headed to the radio shack.
Meanwhile Riley picked up a small piece of licorice on the deck, "Er, Chief?"
"Give me that!" Sharkey hissed, tucking in his pocket out of sight. The Skipper had been through enough tonight.
"Harry? Harry?" Edith's voice interrupted Nelson and Morton's snickering.
"Edie, honey, are you okay?" Nelson spoke into the mike.
"I'm fine, but. it's after midnight. What happened? You didn't even leave a note. We're too late for the party... I had the weirdest dream...you're not going to believe this, but I dreamed I was a Barbie Doll!"
"Yes dear. Why don’t I send someone for you and we can tell each other all about it here on Seaview. Bunk here tonight. We're not going anywhere."
"I really let you down Harry. And I wanted tonight to be so special."
"Yes pumpkin I know...we'll be expecting you. Oh, We have two other ladies who may be staying the night...you can girl talk all the way to morning if they do."
Lee rolled his eyes upward. First thing he was going to do was to take a hot shower, soaping the scent of candy off himself, his hair, his clothes, and lock himself away in his cabin from all and any female chatter.
"Er, Lee?" Chip patted his arm as he headed aft, "You've got a gummy worm in your hair."
"Not as bad as that chocolate chip in your nostril."
"Gentlemen, wait," Nelson headed to the Nose and pulled out a bottle of whiskey from the sideboard, 'I think we can do with some refreshment."
"Aye that's a (hic) grand idea, me boyos," Shamus materialized again.
"Are you still here?" Nelson asked. " I thought your good deed would have released you."
"I don't know. I haven't tested it yet."
"Well, it's not All Hallows eve anymore , at least not here, technically speaking. It's the first of November. So if you're not stuck at sea or in your painting...."
"Then,...you've freed me of me..what's that...uh oh..."
"I be hearing me wife. And she's none too pleased that I'm a getting to yon pearly gates a bit late...well, " he laughed, "God be with ye, everyone of ye."
And with that he disappeared from sight.
"My therapist will never believe this," Dr. Brothers sighed, supported by Gates and O'Brien.
Lee was about to have his drink, when he put it down. "I feel more like a glass of milk."
"Lee!" Nelson and Morton shouted in abject terror.
"Skipper? Skipper?" Sharkey knocked quietly on the door the next morning.
"Ohh, what is it Chief. I feel like a lead banana."
"Er. Well. you see sir...Admiral Starke said since you never actually took command back from Lt. O'Brien last night and he said he'd rather kiss a snake than handle this...."
"What is it??"
"We kinda have a situation..."
"I'll be right there."
"Yes, sir. thank you sir, oh, er..one of the crew picked this up last night. I thought I'd better return it you for safe keeping," he sat the licorice on the desk.
"Yes, er, thanks Sharkey."
Crane was so bone tired he hadn't even bother to dress. Pj's and robe would just have to do. He puttered into the control room to see the women, their few belongings at the ready, but as if they were hiding something on the plot table.
"I want to make amends Lee," Edith said, "but your men won't allow..."
"Allow? Allow what?"
They parted to reveal boxes and boxes of...
Doc was at the ready, smelling salts in hand. Thankfully Crane hadn't turned green as expected. Though he had wilted a bit.
"Girl Scout Cookies," Edith continued, "Pure as the driven snow...I had them delivered this morning. Here,"she wrestled with the package, "have a thin mint. Looks just like you."
Stunned, he accepted it with a grin. "Well, okay, they can stay. But no gingerbread."
"No problem, they don't make that."
"Well, that's a relief," he said but finding it impossible to place this confection past his lips.
"Er.. you might want to clear out the gingersnaps and chocolate chips while you're at it."
"I'll take care of em sir," Sharkey said," toss em overboard Ski."
"Now wait a moment," Nelson approached. "No need just because I spent some time as one..I'll have it."
"Lee, the only harm this will do is to my waistline," he said about to pop it in his mouth. Only..." er...maybe it's too soon, after all."
"I'm game," Morton having observed, striding down the spiral ladder. 'Imagine, grown men..."
"You didn't say that yesterday after you turned into one," Lee said.
"That was yesterday," he opened the box, opened the wrapper and...
"Well?" Lee grinned at his hesitation.
"Er..."he looked sheepish, "kind of like eating your brother..."
"Edith, "Nelson said, "Thank you for the cookies, but perhaps we should share these with our police friends. Officer Gates?"
"Is it okay Edie?" she asked.
"It's fine," she sighed, "Well,
if I can't bake you cookies, Harry, if I can't even buy you cookies, what can I do when you're in
"Just be here," he gave her a hug.
"Can I offer you ladies a lift into town?" Starke
asked "I'll be departing Seaview here instead of dragging Seaview with me
"I know," he said proudly, "Thank you sir."
While Nelson accompanied their guests topside along with Jamison to have a more private farewell, O'Brien sagged against a console muttering sorrowfully.
'What's wrong Frank?' Crane asked.
"He likes me!" the 2nd officer protested.
Morton patted him on the shoulder sympathetically, but couldn't help joining in the crew's stifled laughter. Even Crane was finding it hard to keep a straight face by the time Nelson and Jaime came down the hatch.
"O'Brien," Crane ordered, "you have the conn. Take us out."
"You sir. And don’t scratch the paint."
'Yes sir, I mean no sir. I'll keep her safe for you, sir."
"I know you will and good job, if I haven't said it before."
"Thank you sir."
"Chip? With me. We need to make contingency plans if this ever happens again."
"Lee it was a once in a lifetime quirk," Nelson said. "Couldn't happen again in a million years."
"You sure about that? Last time I looked Halloween came every year."
"That book is going to be locked safe away in the
Lee couldn't help groaning.
"What's wrong?" Jamie asked."Oh..er..yes..."he remembered the naked cookie in the basket of rose petals.
"Frank?" Nelson nudged him gently.
"Prepare to get underway," O'Brien ordered as Crane and Morton headed aft.
In minutes the great sub had cleared the harbor, course laid in.
Nelson took up residence in the Observation Nose and began to wonder if it had really happened. He knew Jamison was probably writing up his journal. Dr. Brothers had promised she wouldn’t reveal too much to her therapist about her experience aboard Seaview. As for Shamus, well, he was enjoying a new life himself. Morton was probably kidding Lee about the ladies room, and Lee was probably and with difficulty keeping himself from tossing Morton over the side for it.
Yes, all was right with the world, Nelson chuckled.
"Excuse me sir?" Sharkey interrupted his musings.
"Well, me and the guys, we've been talking...what was it like...I mean..."
"Never in my life have I felt so helpless, Francis. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy."
"Is the Skipper going to be okay? I mean..if he could see and hear all those ladies.. I mean they...they...ogled him sir, even if he was a cookie."
"He's a big boy Francis, he can handle it. You know, last night, before we turned in, he told me as difficult and embarrassing as it all was he actually learned something."
"What was that sir?"
"That he hates licorice," Nelson grinned. "And he's not too fond of Gummye Worms either."
Nobody knew what Nelson and Sharkey were laughing about, but it was music to their ears .
Days and weeks passed, and the events of that Halloween night were soon forgotten. That is, until Sharkey passed by Nelson's office, and heard squeals and giggles from the secretarial and administrative staff.
"Er...what's going on sir?" he hailed Morton by the elevator, wincing from the ear splitting pitch.
"Bachelorette planning party. Angie's in charge. Nelson's escaped to the boat."
"You know," Lola's voice carried the most, "This one looks a bit like Lee! "
"t's amazing what they can do with gingerbread boys nowadays,"Tish giggled.
"Well, we'll take this catalog down to Katie after lunch, and see what she thinks we should order."
Morton and Sharkey couldn't get into the office quick enough after they'd gone.
"Gate's Confectionery?...Uh oh," Sharkey pointed to the photo in the gag gifts section they'd bookmarked. There in brilliant color was the ad. 'Decorated Gingerstuds'. To the naked eye the erotically decorated gingerbread boys were probably indistinguishable from the cookie that Crane had been but....
"If Lee sees this..." Morton cringed.
"Is it the same one? I mean..."
"It's the same one," Lee sighed, entering. "There's a fingernail dent in the licorice from when she attached it. Right there," he touched the picture. I knew the cops had taken a picture of me, but...it's just a cookie to them, okay? The girls don’t have to know about this do they?" It was not a question.
"No sir," Sharkey instantly obeyed. "I'll be on the boat sir," he departed.
"My lips are sealed."
"Excuse me sir," Patterson stood at the door, "package for you...from a Gates Confectionery."
"Party stuff goes over there," Lee indicated Angie's desk.
"Er...it's addressed to you, personally, Captain."
"Well," Chip waited for Pat to leave then, "C'mon, c'mon...what is it?"
"One for you, one for me, and one for Nelson..."he held up the three gingerbread boys. "In full naval uniform," he laughed and began to read the letter of apology from the former Officer Gates. Folding it up and putting it in his pocket, he added,"I think we're long overdue for that glass of milk. It'll go well with that new Cherry pie at the cafeteria. We'll show these to Nelson later," he put the cookies back in the box and left it on the coffee table.
Sharkey had just returned to Nelson's empty outer office when he noticed the open box of blue tissue paper.
Unable to resist peeking inside, he almost swooned.
*Chippendales – a ladies nightclub featuring male strippers. Note: They don't take it all off.
Gummy Worms-flavorful confection in bright colors, sweet or tart depending on flavor. Squiggly and related to Gummy Bears.
M&M's –delightful round chocolate surrounded by hard candy shell.
Licorice-an aquired taste for some, narrow tube shaped candy with a distinct flavor.
Guest stars and Businesses in this little piece of fiction are ficticious, and have no relation to anyone else or industry by those names.