HOP TO IT, CAPTAIN - Dizzy Dolphin
With thanks to the Voyage Chat group, where the idea
for the story was born, and especially to Diane who helped ‘dress’ Lee, and a big thank you to Carol, who worked her magic and got the pictures to attach even though they didn't want to.
A quick, short bit of holiday fluff.
A quick, short bit of holiday fluff.
It had been a very quiet cruise for Seaview, to quiet for a pair of senior officers and the pranks had begun 3 days out while they were standing station at the first sample collection site.
Lee came out of the head in his cabin wearing only his skivvies and a damp towel draped around his neck. He sat down at his desk and fired up his laptop, while showering he’d thought of a couple of items he wanted to add to his personal log. He tried to open WORD. Every time his mouse got close to the icon, the icon jumped to another part of the screen.
What the heck? He tried to open his mail, same thing happened. Great, how on earth did I end up with a virus on my computer. He opened the virus scanner using shortcut keys, and according to the scan, his computer was virus free. As he sat puzzling out the situation, all of the icons on the screen began to move around, slowly at first, then faster and faster until they were just blurs. Then the screen did a slow fade out and came back up with rotating puzzle pieces, which eventually formed a picture. A picture of a smiling Chip Morton!!!!!!
Lee’s bellow of ‘MORTON’ could be clearly heard in the intended recipient’s cabin and elsewhere.
In his cabin, Chip smiled broadly and headed out to answer the summons, he’d been expecting it. He composed his face, knocked twice, then opened Lee’s door, “You hollered, mon Capitaine?”
Lee swung his laptop around so that the screen was facing his friend and XO.
“Nice picture Lee, handsome fellow.”
Chip barely ducked in time to miss getting a face full of hurled damp towel.
Nelson had come quietly down the corridor and saw the towel come flying out of Lee’s cabin and heard Lee’s growl of ‘FIX IT’ to Chip.
Harry smiled, turned and went back to his cabin, he had wondered how long it would be before his two senior officers started on each other. He closed his door and again smiled, this time at two large boxes on a chair. Yes, this will work out just fine.
Chip approached Lee, cautiously. “What’s the problem, Lee?”
“As if you didn’t know, try and use it.”
“OK, I’ll humour you.” Chip moved the mouse and the picture of his smiling face disappeared and the normal desktop appeared.”
“What did you want opened?”
“Start with WORD.”
“OK,” Chip moved the pointer over the icon, it stayed put, he clicked on it and WORD opened.
Lee wasn’t ready to surrender yet.
Chip again moved the pointer, this time to the mail icon, no problem.
Lee stared at the screen, then looked at his friend, who was wearing his ‘all innocence’ look.
“This isn’t over.”
“No idea what you mean Lee. Was there some sort of problem before?”
Chip saluted smartly and executed a perfect about-face, complete with heel click.
As he exited he picked up the towel from the corridor and tossed it back into Lee’s cabin, “See you at breakfast, Sir.” He softly closed the door while listening to Lee mutterings about ‘smart-ass’ XOs. Smiling he headed to the wardroom to await his Captain’s arrival.
Nelson watched as life on Seaview went on, apparently normally, if you didn’t know what to look for. He noted that Chip was very careful around Lee, he double checked anything Lee handed him, looked at anything Lee gave him as if it was a bomb about to go off. Lee ignored Chip’s cautious behaviour, although a couple of times in the Control Room, he did manage to come up quietly behind Chip without being noticed. Chip jumped a mile each time Lee’s hand landed on his shoulder. Lee would just smile and whisper, “A little edgy are we?”
By the end of the watch, as far as Nelson could tell, no return prank had been played. Seems Lee is going to sweat Chip for a bit.
That evening, Kowalski happened to be going down the corridor where Sickbay was located and saw Captain Crane exiting Sickbay. The Skipper seemed to have something in his hand.
“Good Evening, Skipper, everything all right, Sir?”
“Yes Kowalski, everything is just fine.”
The crew tended to be very protective of their Captain; he had a tendency to ignore his own injuries or illnesses while making sure they were all well cared for.
Kowalski was one of the few that could get away with calling him on it, albeit very carefully.
As the Skipper seemed to be fine, Kowalski continued on.
The next morning brought no bellow from either Lee or Chip. Lee and the Admiral were already in the wardroom for breakfast when Chip arrived. The Admiral was seated at their customary table and Lee was just selecting food for his plate, Chip joined him at the breakfast buffet.
“There you are Chip, the sausages look really good this morning, here, let me give you a couple.”
Lee passed Chip a plate and proceeded to grab a couple of sausages with the tongs and put them on the plate.
Chip stared at them. “Ah Lee, tell you what, let’s just trade plates.”
“What on earth for? Both plates only have sausages on them.”
“Uh huh, but I want your sausages.”
“Why?” Lee drew his plate closer to himself.
Ah ha, I thought so, there’s something wrong with the ones he’s trying to foist on me, well I’m wise to you buddy.
“Just humour me Lee, ok.”
“Fine,” Lee handed over his plate looking thoroughly annoyed.
Nelson had watched the exchange, O Chip; I think you underestimate your Captain.
Lee and Chip added Eggs Benedict to their plates and hash browns, then they joined the Admiral at his table. Lee pushed his sausages to the side and began on the eggs.
Chip smirked and forked a sausage, looking at Lee he took a big bite and started to chew.
Hmmmm rather juicy.
Lee watched as Chip’s eyes started to water and perspiration broke out on his forehead. Chip reached blindly for his glass of water and started to gulp it down.
Nelson having an pretty good idea of what had happened quickly got up and fetched a glass of milk, he pried the water out of Chip’s hand and gave him the milk.
Lee continued to slowly eat his breakfast as if nothing was going on, he forked his own sausage and made sure Chip saw him bite into it, chew and swallow, with no ill effects.
Once Chip had somewhat recovered Lee leaned over, “Problem Chip, anyone would think you didn’t like the sausage?”
Chip glared at Lee. “Just a wee bit spicy, Captain.”
Lee smiled and ate his other sausage, he fingered the syringe in his pocket, the one he’d obtained from Sickbay the night before. Cookie always had Mad Dog 357 Ghost Pepper1 hot sauce on hand, he added it to certain dishes, a drop at a time. It had been easy to load the syringe and spike a couple of the sausages. The tricky part had been making sure they ended up on Chip’s plate but Lee knew his friend well and all had gone according to his plan.
Nelson heard two sets of footsteps approach his door, then a quick 3 knocks.
Lee and Chip entered. “You wanted to see us, Sir?”
“Yes, yes, sit down gentlemen.”
Lee and Chip each took a seat in front of the Admirals desk. Nelson leaned back scrutinizing his two officers. He almost felt sorry for what he was about to do, almost.
“I take it that due to the rather humdrum nature of this cruise that you two have started a prank war.”
Both men fidgeted in their seats. They knew that the Admiral was aware that they did this sort of thing from time to time, but he’d never mentioned anything about it before.
Lee started to say something but Nelson waved him to silence. “No Lee, no explanations are required, I know that neither of you would do anything that would endanger the boat or the men. I have no objections to a little light-hearted shenanigans. As a matter of fact I intend to throw my hat into the ring.”
Lee and Chip exchanged an uneasy look.
“Gentleman, I propose that I will get both of you before this cruise is over. To make it more interesting, I also propose a wager. If I’m successful, and I will be, you will both owe me a favour, of whatever nature I choose.”
“And if you’re not successful, Sir?” Lee asked.
“Well then I’ll owe each of you a favour of your choosing.”
“Can we have a minute to think this over, Sir?”
“Of course you can Chip.”
Lee and Chip got up and went over to a corner of the cabin. Nelson could hear them whispering but couldn’t tell what they were saying.
“I don’t know Lee, he’s damn smart and tricky.”
“Come on Chip, if we watch each other’s back he won’t be able to get us both, likely neither of us.”
“Lee, do you really want to spend the rest of the cruise wondering what he’s planning and when he’ll strike.”
“It’s worth the risk, we can do this.”
“I don’t know Lee, I think we’d really be asking for it.”
“Don’t make me beg, Chip.”
The two had stopped talking and were just staring at each other, Nelson could tell from their body language that Lee was all for it, but Chip had reservations.
“The things I do for you Lee. OK, he’s more likely to target you first and with the bigger prank, be it on your head.”
Lee turned to look at Nelson, “Challenge accepted, Sir.”
“Fine, fine, shall we say it begins at 0600 tomorrow?”
Chip gave Lee a quick nod of acceptance.
“That will be fine, Sir.”
“Then gentlemen, since you’re relatively safe until tomorrow, I suggest we seal the deal with a drink.”
The Admiral pulled a bottle of scotch out of his lower desk drawer. Lee got some glasses and put them on the desk. Nelson filled each glass halfway and lifted his in a toast, Lee and Chip raised theirs as well. “To tomorrow, I suggest you watch your backs very carefully.” The three each took a swallow then sat around and discussed movies and trivia until they’d finished their drinks.
Lee and Chip were both up well before 0600, they weren’t taking any chances. Together they headed to the wardroom for breakfast.
Much to their surprise the Admiral was already there.
Cookie greeted them with a big grin, “Morning Sirs, the Admiral said you’d probably be showing up a bit early.”
“Morning Cookie, did the Admiral happen to say anything else?” Crane watched carefully for any sign of collusion.
“No, just that I should expect you. Oh, he did tell me to recommend the waffles, blueberry.”
Chip heard Lee muttering under his breath, he knew that Lee really liked blueberry waffles but were they safe? Did the Admiral say that so that we’d eat the eggs? Which one is safe?
The two men exchanged looks, “Ah just toast and coffee for us today Cookie,” Lee told him.
Cooked looked very disappointed, he couldn’t understand why neither Captain Crane nor Mr. Morton didn’t have either the waffles or the omelettes.
On the way to join Nelson, Chip picked up a butter dish from one of the other tables. “Better safe than sorry,” he sotto voiced to Lee.
As they sat down Nelson looked over their breakfast choice, “Neither of you feeling hungry this morning?”
“Busy day today Sir, want to get an early start,” Lee replied. Chip nodded his agreement.
“Really, I wasn’t aware that things were particularly busy today. I was in the Control Room earlier, everything was running smoothly at the time, I don’t recall anything pressing on the dive schedule.” Nelson went back to enjoying his waffles, adding a bit more apricot syrup to them. Not that they needed it, he just wanted to rub in the fact that he had waffles and they didn’t.
Chip and Lee quickly downed their toast and coffee. Bidding a good morning to the Admiral, they hightailed it out of the wardroom and headed for the Control Room.
“Lee, what could he have done in the Control Room? He wouldn’t do anything to endanger the boat or the crew.”
“I don’t know Chip but he was definitely dropping us a hint. We’ll have to check everything from the charted course to every instrument, full diagnostics. The crew is going to hate us.”
When they got to the Control Room Lee went to the chart table and began double-checking every adjustment made and verifying that they were right where they should be and would make it to the next scheduled collection point on time. Chip had begun to order the diagnostic checks of all systems.
Admiral Nelson smiled oh his way to his lab as he heard Chip on the com ordering system checks throughout Seaview. As he worked in the lab, he smiled at each reply coming back throughout the morning that everything was shipshape. He wondered briefly, what Chip and Lee had for lunch. He had arranged to have a tray of sandwiches delivered to the Control Room for them, with a message: “with the Admiral’s compliments, since you seem to be so busy.” He was sure that neither man and touched them.
Chip looked over at the untouched sandwich tray; it looked very good to him. He was hungry after such a skimpy breakfast.
“Lee all instruments in the Control Room check out fine as do all ship’s systems. I don’t know about you but I’m hungry.”
“You want to have a sandwich, go right ahead Chip.”
Just then, Sharkey passed by, “Ah Sirs, if no one is going to eat those do you want me to take them back?”
Lee gestured to Chip that it was his call.
“Yes, that’ll be fine, Sharkey.”
“Aye aye, Sir.”
Sharkey retrieved the tray and as he left, absentmindedly picked up a sandwich and bit into it. He didn’t appear to suffer any ill effects.
“Doesn’t prove anything, Chip, he could be in on it and knew which one was the only safe one to eat.
“Geesh, listen to yourself Lee, you sound totally paranoid.”
“Didn’t see you trying one.”
“Hmmmm we could get one of the crew to be a taste tester for us.”
“Sure, that would look good.”
“Well I need food.”
“Won’t hurt you any to miss a couple of meals.”
“A couple, it’s three days before we make port.”
“Nothing stashed in your cabin?”
“Not of any consequence. Maybe some Cheetos and a couple of granola bars.”
“We could get out some of the emergency rations.”
“Ewwwww, I think I’d rather starve.”
“They aren’t that bad, better than nothing.”
Nelson knocked on Lee’s door, he heard Lee call ‘Come’ but found the door locked. He chuckled softly to himself.
“Ah Captain, your door appears to be locked.”
He heard Lee mutter something, likely in the four-letter word category and then the door opened.
“Sorry Sir, new security procedures.”
Nelson almost lost it and had a hard struggle not to laugh aloud. He hid it beneath a cough. It was even harder to hide a laugh when he spotted Chip at Lee’s desk. In front of Chip, on the desk, was a mostly empty bag of Cheetos, bright orange powder clung to Chip’s lips and fingers and there was an assortment of open emergency rations strewn about. Well at least they aren’t starving.
“I guess this explains why you two missed dinner. I didn’t know you were so fond of MREs2.”
“Just routine testing, Sir. Wouldn’t expect the men to eat anything we wouldn’t,” Lee commented.
Nelson was sure he heard a low mumble from Chip, “Speak for yourself.”
“Fine, fine, very considerate of you. I just thought I’d drop this off.” Nelson held out a clipboard with sheets of paper on it, Lee took it. “You’ll see that I made a slight adjustment to tomorrow’s dive schedule. Well I’ll bid you both goodnight and Bon Appetit.”
Harry heard the lock click a couple of seconds after he closed Lee’s door. That’s not going to help you. He grinned as he returned to his cabin.
Chip took the clipboard from Lee and studied it.
“ Lee, what did he do?”
“Seems that you and I are diving tomorrow, the first dive of the day, together.”
“We can’t both be off Seaview!”
“Well we are, and being as he’s the Admiral, we don’t get any say in it.”
“Lee, is there anything he could put in our tanks, you know that would affect us somehow but not endanger us?”
“I’m not a scientist Chip, I’ve no idea, but I don’t think he’d risk anything like that.”
“Then it’s because he wants us both off Seaview, he’s going to do something while we’re gone.”
“Sure appears that way. I suppose he could move the boat while we’re out collecting the samples.”
“You think so?”
“Not really, that would put us at risk just like messing with our tanks; no way he’d go that far. We’re just going to have to see what the day brings and be the fastest sample collectors ever.”
Lee and Chip were just about ready to go out, they had their wetsuits and weight belts on and were waiting for their tanks, for some reason the tanks weren’t in the missile room.
They looked up as Nelson and Kowalski came through the hatch carrying the missing items.
“Sorry for the delay gentlemen, I just wanted to double check them.” Nelson told them.
Kowalski started to help Mr. Morton get his tanks on while Nelson assisted Lee. Harry could feel the tenseness in Lee’s body.
Quietly, from behind as he settled Lee’s tanks in place, he spoke in Lee’s ear, “Relax lad, you know I’d never do anything that would imperil you or Chip.” He gave Lee’s tanks a slap and moved away.
“Well what are you waiting for; off you go, have a good dive.”
“Aye aye Sir.”
Lee and Chip moved into the dive chamber and Kowalski passed the collection bags in to them and then sealed the door. As the water rushed in the two men in the chamber sighed, well as much as you could with a regulator in your mouth. All they had to do now was get the samples, and worry about what Nelson was doing onboard Seaview while they were gone.
Nelson grunted as he pushed himself along, wondering, not for the first time, how Lee managed to get himself through the ventilation ducts with so little trouble. It’ll all be worth it to win the bet.
He arrived at Lee’s cabin and bracing himself, pushed against the ventilation grid, it opened on his first try; he dropped down into the cabin. As he moved around the cabin, he felt a little like he was violating Lee’s personal space but pushed the feeling aside, after all it was for a good cause. He went over to Lee’s desk and opened one of the drawers, just a crack, then moved the desk lamp a couple of inches to the right. Going over to the bunk he messed with the dust cover over the pillow a bit, slightly pulling out one of the tucked ends so that it wasn’t tight and trim anymore. He was tempted to bounce a coin on the bunk, he was sure it would bounce up to the overhead. Lee made up one tight bunk. He put his hand in the middle and pushed down, leaving a faint imprint. In the closet, he hung the clothes in a different order, moving to the head he found Lee’s shaving kit and opened the zipper about ¼ of an inch. Satisfied he hoisted himself back into the ventilation shaft and made his way to Chip’s cabin, where he made similar adjustments to the contents.
Lee looked around the missile room as he shed his diving gear. There was no sign of the Admiral, not that there was any reason for him to be there. Lee and Chip handed over their collection bags to Kowalski who started to head off to the Lab with them.
“Kowalski, wait a minute.”
“Do you happen to know what the Admiral’s been doing while we’ve been gone?”
“No Sir. Haven’t seen him in the Control Room or here, Sir.”
“OK Ski, thanks. Carry on.”
“Aye aye, Sir.”
Lee and Chip changed as quickly as they could and headed for the Control Room. Having been out on a dive they wouldn’t officially be on duty until the next day but they wanted to do a quick walk-through anyway.
Mr. O’Brien was studying the charts when Lee and Chip entered through the aft hatch. He looked up as he heard the expected footsteps approaching.
“Welcome back aboard, Captain, Mr. Morton.”
Lee and Chip both nodded and smiled.
“Anything to report Mr. O’Brien?” Lee asked.
“No Sir, everything is quiet, no problems.”
Lee wasn’t quite sure how to ask if the Admiral had been in the Control Room. Usually when he was out on a dive the Admiral would check on him, asking how things were progressing, and this time he hadn’t.
“Any change of orders or plans from the Admiral, Mr. O’Brien?”
“No, Sir. He hasn’t been here. He did get on the blower a couple of times to see how the dive was going. He sent the Chief up once to get a report.”
Of course, if anyone knows what the Admiral has been doing it will be Sharkey.
Chip had been cruising the stations and now came up to stand beside Lee. A quick nod of his head indicated to Lee that Chip hadn’t found anything amiss.
“Very well, Mr. O’Brien, carry on.”
Lee and Chip exited the Control Room. They didn’t see Mr. O’Brien pick up the mic.
“Lee, I’m starving, let’s get some real food, it’s not a regular mealtime so it should be safe. Cookie or one of the helpers will make us some sandwiches or something.”
Lee had to admit that it was a good idea, he was hungry himself. As they entered the wardroom they saw Cookie behind the counter.
“Ahhh, Captain Crane, Mr. Morton, I’ve been waiting for you. Admiral Nelson figured you’d be hungry and he asked me to prepare something special for you.” Cookie brought out a tray loaded with two large, steaming bowls of ‘Leek and Potato Chowder with Bacon’ soup, accompanied by thick slices of toasted, cheesy garlic bread; there were equally thick slices of cherry pound cake for dessert.
Lee and Chip looked at the tray. “You said that the Admiral ordered this especially for us,” Chip inquired, despondently.
The answer came from behind him.
“That is correct Mr. Morton, and you and Captain Crane will take that tray, sit down and eat every bit of food on it, that is an order.”
There was no question that the Admiral expected prompt obedience.
Lee and Chip immediately relaxed and followed the order quite willingly; after all, a prank wasn’t a prank if you were ordered to do it. The food was safe.
Nelson sat down at the table with them, inwardly amused at how quickly the two men tucked into the meal.
A little fun was one thing, but after a 55 minute dive and having not eaten all that well beforehand, Nelson was damned if the two would continue on MREs. Not to mention that they would need their energy for what was yet to come.
While his ‘boys’ ate, Harry told them that he had sufficient samples for his study and that Seaview would head for home on schedule.
“Our collection loop has brought us within a day of Santa Barbara; I figure we’ll make port about 1500 tomorrow. I’ve already given Mr. O’Brien the go ahead to lay in our course and head for home. I do not expect either of you to go anywhere near the Control Room until tomorrow. I’m sure you both have more than enough paperwork to occupy you until dinner. At which time I will see you both in here and you will eat a full meal, clear?”
“Yes, Sir.” Came back in stereo.
Chip followed Lee into his cabin, and almost ran into the back of him. Lee had stopped suddenly after taking only a couple of steps inside. He put his hand out to stop Chip from coming in any further.
“You could say that. He’s been in here.”
There was no need to clarify who Lee meant.
“Are you sure? Your door was locked and we agreed at the start that he couldn’t use anything we didn’t have access to, so he couldn’t have unlocked your door with his pass key.”
“Maybe he picked it, or...”
Chip followed Lee’s gaze to the ventilation grid.
“You really think so?”
“It’s a possibility Chip. Only thing I know for sure is that he’s been here. The desk lamp has been moved...” Lee continued carefully into his cabin, Chip close behind. “The desk drawer is open a crack, I always close it fully. Look at my bunk, the corner of the dust cover is loose and the blanket has a mark in the middle, like a hand rested on it.”
Chip took Lee’s word for the lamp and drawer, he could see for himself that the dust cover wasn’t right and that there was indeed a mark on Lee’s normally drum tight and smooth bunk blanket. Lee had moved to the closet and now opened it, “Clothes have been rearranged,” then he opened the door to the head, “shaving kit has been opened. Chip let’s check your cabin.”
Sure enough, they found the same evidence of tampering in Chip’s cabin.
“OK, do you want to do this individually or together?”
Chip wasn’t sure what Lee meant, “Do what?”
“He must have planted something; time is running out for him to get us. We need to thoroughly toss both cabins and find whatever it is that shouldn’t be in them.”
They decided to work together and since they were in Chip’s cabin already, they started there. From bulkhead to bulkhead and from deck to overhead, they examined everything. They emptied the closet and the head, the last thing was stripping the bunk and removing the mattress, they found nothing.
“If he did do something we’d have found it Lee. There’s nothing here.”
“Don’t be so sure. Maybe we’ll be luckier tossing my cabin, then we’ll know what to come back and look for in yours.”
The two men repeated the process in Lee’s cabin, with the same results.
Nelson heard the activity from his cabin but continued working on fine-tuning some of his lab result reports. He was whistling an old children’s song softly to himself, “A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go, Heigh Ho the dairy-o, a hunting we will go.”
“Face it Lee, there’s nothing in either of our cabins.”
Both men were currently sitting on the mattress that was resting on the deck in Lee’s cabin.
There was a quick knock on the cabin door followed by the Admiral sticking his head in. Lee hadn’t bothered to lock the door this time.
Nelson’s eyebrows rose at the dishevelled appearance of the cabin.
“Doing a little Spring Cleaning, Lee?”
“Something like that, Sir.”
“How’s your cabin, Chip?”
Chip saw no point in trying to hide anything, “About the same, Sir.”
“I see, well it’s an hour or so before I’ll expect you for dinner. Should be enough time for you to finish, ah, whatever this is, and set things to rights. See you in an hour gentlemen.”
He closed the door without waiting for a response. Lee and Chip could hear him laughing as he went down the corridor.
Lee started to get a very bad feeling.
The next morning Chip was in a very good mood, they were 30 minutes out from port, and all was right with his world once more.
The deadline for the bet had been set for 30 minutes from docking, no one wanted to be distracted while berthing Seaview, and underground secret pens could be tricky.
He gave Lee a friendly clap on the shoulder as he came up to the chart table.
“Well we made it, Lee. The Admiral owes us each a favour.”
“I’m not so sure, Chip.”
“What do you mean, times up, he didn’t get either of us.”
“Think about it, what have we been doing for the last couple of days?”
“Well we checked and double checked our course continuously, ran diagnostics on all systems, ate MREs,” Chip shuddered “for more meals than I want to think about. I believe we hold the record for the fastest collection dive.....” Chip started to speak slowly, “and...tossed...both our cabins.” Chip looked at Lee. “How the hell did we miss it?”
“Yep, he had us chasing our own sixes the whole time.”
Just then, the Admiral hailed them over the com, “Captain Crane would you and Mr. Morton please report to my cabin once we are docked.”
“Crane here Admiral, understood. Lee shipped the mic, time to pay the piper, Chip.”
The docking went smoothly, as the crew tidied the boat up before being dismissed for leave, Lee and Chip headed to the Admiral’s cabin.
In response to the knock Nelson bid them enter. He could tell right away that they had figured it out. Both men came to attention in front of his desk, he leaned back in his chair waiting to see where this was going.
“Captain Crane and Mr. Morton, reporting as ordered, Sir.”
“At ease, gentlemen. Am I correct in assuming that no explanation is required?”
“That is correct, Sir, and we’d like to say, well played, Sir.” With that said, Lee grinned and relaxed, Chip followed suit and the two men collapsed into the chairs in front of Nelson’s desk.
“When did you figure it out?”
“When you left my cabin last night and I heard you laughing. It all fell into place.”
“I thought you were a little quiet at dinner.” Nelson smiled. He looked over at Chip.
“Ah, Lee didn’t share his suspicion with me last night; I didn’t figure it out until this morning. You didn’t actually do anything, we did it to ourselves.”
“I wouldn’t say that. I did drop a few comments here and there, made sure I beat you to the wardroom for breakfast, and I did, ah, tinker with your rooms a bit. Lee, how you get through those ventilation shafts so easily I’ll never know.”
“Thought so.” Lee looked at Chip with a small grin.
“I’m sure you two would like to know what favour I’m going to ask of you.” As Nelson was speaking he rose from his chair and walked over to the closet, he took out two large boxes. He gave one to each of his officers.
Lee and Chip looked at the boxes with equally puzzled expressions.
“Well go on, don’t just stare at them, open them.”
Lee got his open first, “What on earth.....” He lifted the contents out of the box. There was a choking sound from Chip as he looked at what Lee held up and at what was in his own box.
“Sir, you can’t be serious!” Lee sputtered.
Nelson grinned, “Well hop to it Captain, get the men released for shore leave and then report to me in my office at the Institute, I’ll be expecting you as well Mr. Morton. I’ll fill you both in on what you’ll be doing with those.” Nelson nodded his head toward the items that both men had now put back in the boxes, closing them tightly.
Easter Sunday dawned with the promise of being a lovely day. Blue sky and birds chirping merrily away. Out on the grounds of the NIMR, in the grassy field at the back of the buildings, two men could be seen with baskets full of Easter eggs of every type and description, designed to delight the hearts of the young visitors they were expecting. The men were hiding the eggs, being careful that they wouldn’t be too difficult to find.
The squeals and laughter of small children could be heard throughout the NIMR complex, making everyone smile. The Easter Egg hunt had started and the children of the staff of NIMR were hard at it. They had each been given a woven basket, decorated with colourful ribbons and told that the Easter Bunny, with the help of his friend, the Big Yellow Chick had hidden lots of eggs for them to find.
A new swell of squeals went up when, bounding onto the field, the Easter Bunny arrived! He was rather tall but this didn’t seem to matter to the children, he was soft and fluffy white, his ears were lined in pink, he had big green eyes and a pink nose with two big front teeth, and long feathery whiskers fanning out from the side of his face. In addition, the Easter Bunny also wore a vest, yellow with maroon piping and lots and lots of polka dots of various sizes coloured green, blue, purple, and orange. To complete the ensemble, there was a humongous bowtie around his neck, of the same material as the vest. He carried a large basket full of little plush bunnies. Hot on his heels was his good friend the Big Yellow Chick, also tall and very soft. As one would expect, he was bright yellow. He sported a fine red cockscomb, orange beak and had red ruffles along his wings. His red legs, from the knees down, ended in a fine pair of large orange chicken feet! In his basket were cute little plush chicks.
The children mobbed the pair and at one point Admiral Nelson, who was watching from the sidelines, wearing a broad grin, was worried that the Easter Bunny was going to lose his puffy white tail. The Bunny hopped about, sort of, handing out his bunny toys and the Chick strutted along passing out his chicks. Ah yes, thought Nelson, ‘that Kodak moment’. He drew out his camera from his pocket and happily captured the ‘moment’. His only real flash of concern was when the Bunny picked up a small boy who had been trying to climb up on him, the boy’s legs were kicking wildly with excitement, and it looked like contact might have been made with a somewhat delicate portion of the Bunny. While the Bunny jerked a bit he didn’t go down or drop the child.
Nelson saw some of the men from the Seaview in a group with their heads together talking while looking and pointing at the Bunny and Chick. They looked towards the Admiral, the unspoken question obvious. Nelson merely smiled and waved. The men would draw their own conclusions, likely quite accurate ones as their Captain and the XO were nowhere to be seen, and they never missed the family events. Aside from supporting any NIMH function, they both loved children.
A couple of hours later the last egg had been put in a basket, the last bunny and chick handed out and the families with tired but happy children had left. Nelson went into the locker room to find his ‘volunteers’.
“Lee, are you sure you don’t want some ice for that?”
“I’m fine Chip.”
“Then why don’t you sit down?”
“I don’t want to.”
“Sure, sure, well how about a cold compress? Maybe you should go to the clinic and have someone take a look.”
“Not on your life. I’ve had worse.”
Nelson cleared his throat as he approached, when he came around the corner Lee was finishing pulling his shirt on. Nelson couldn’t help but notice that Lee’s jeans weren’t fastened. Lee turned his back to the Admiral and with a small grunt, did them up.
“Little Johnny make contact, Lee?”
“Something like that, Sir. I’m fine.”
Nelson had always found that Chip’s reaction to certain statements of Lee’s were often a very good barometer of just how fine Lee was, or wasn’t.
“Chip, escort Commander Crane to the Med Centre, I want whatever is ‘just fine’ to be checked out.”
Chip smothered a smile, “Yes, Sir. Come on Lee, you heard the Admiral.”
Lee scowled but knew he’d have to go.
“I’ll be over myself shortly, you’re both invited over to my place for Easter dinner. Bourbon honey glazed ham, rosemary garlic buttered potatoes, baby asparagus, minted baby carrots, sweet and nutty peas and strawberry Angel cake for dessert.”
The two had been planning to go out to a restaurant for dinner, this sounded much better.
“Aye aye, Sir.”
Nelson noted that Lee did seem to be walking a little carefully as he headed for the Med Centre.
As it turned out Lee was just as he claimed, fine. The doctor had advised him to take Ibuprofen for the discomfort and avoid any physical activity that might aggravate the area.
Nelson managed to keep a straight face while being advised of Lee’s check-up results but Chip couldn’t contain himself. He earned himself a sharp elbow in the ribs from Lee.
“Keep it up Mister and the only part of Seaview you’ll see on the next cruise will be the inside of the ballast tanks.”
“How are you going to explain this to....” Chip never got to finish the sentence as an elbow jab landed in his midsection.
“Lee, if you’ve finished abusing your XO, I suggest we leave.”
“I’m finished, if he is, Admiral.”
Chip held up his right hand, palm out, “Peace.”
The three headed for Nelson’s car and the prospect of a fine dinner and good company.
Nelson had one other prospect in mind, after a few drinks he thought he might be able to find out just who Chip was going to name before Lee quite effectively silenced him.
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