A Moment of Peace
By R. L. Keller
An exhausted Dr. Will Jamison walked wearily through Seaview’s corridors and into the Officers’ Wardroom. Head down, he nearly bumped into the submarine’s designer and owner, Admiral Harriman Nelson, before he realized it. Nelson reached out a hand and laid it on Will’s shoulder. “Will?” was all that came out, but extreme concern was evident both in that one word, and written on his face.
The doctor gave his boss a tired smile. “Relax, Admiral. The last cut has been stitched, the last splint taped in place, and the last ache medicated. I think,” he amended. “Still haven’t tracked down Mr. Morton.”
Nelson grinned. “He’s in the Conn. And before that the Missile Room, and before that Circuitry, and before that…”
Will held up a hand. “I get the picture. Doesn’t relieve my concern, however. He’s been hanging around his CO way too long for that.” Nelson chuckled softly, and Will finally smiled. “Speaking of whom…” He raised an eyebrow.
“Settled on a stool at the chart table,” Nelson told him, still smiling. “He does much more than wiggle and Chip threatens him with leeches.” A confused expression hit his face. “I gather that it’s some sort of private joke between the two. I don’t understand, but it’s obvious that Lee does. He’s being very good, all things considered.” He gave Will a grin. “Considering how Chip is harassing him – even if it is pretty quietly done – if Lee even suspected Chip of having an injury he’d turn tables and report him.”
“Those two,” Will muttered one of his favorite lines, and shook his head. But in doing so he was – even if only for an instant – slightly unsteady on his feet. Nelson took him gently by the upper arm, sat him down at the nearest table, and brought him a large mug of Cookie’s high-octane brew. Nelson sat down opposite him, not interfering until Will had polished off that helping and had the mug instantly refilled by a suddenly hovering Cookie. Will mumbled his thanks, waved off a suggestion of food – “at least right at the moment,” Will tried to placate the temperamental chef – and finally sent Nelson a raised eyebrow in response to the quizzical expression being directed at him.
“I gather you know what the leeches-thing is all about?” Nelson asked.
Will smiled at the tone of Nelson’s voice. The man absolutely hated puzzles. If they were biology-oriented, he hated them even more. And, obviously, his curiosity wasn’t limited to just marine biology. “One of the few times I’ve actually gotten them to explain one of their inside jokes,” Will admitted. He and Nelson both grinned. Seaview’s two senior officers had known each other since they were assigned as roommates their first day at Annapolis. The friendship that had developed led to them frequently teasing each other about some incident or another, the details of which they usually didn’t share. Will took another long swallow of coffee and continued. “It goes back to Chip’s mother threatening them both every time one or the other of them would show up at home with bruises.”
“Why?” There was genuine puzzlement in Nelson’s voice.
Will raised an eyebrow. “You mean you’ve never heard of how, in the old days, leeches were used to clean out wounds and reduce hematomas? Worked great, I understand. Still used in some third world areas.” Will grinned as Nelson shuddered. “Anyway,” Will changed the subject, “if it’s not too much to ask, Admiral, could you please not turn Seaview upside down again? At least for a day or so. I, and my corpsmen, would greatly appreciate it.
A mischievous smirk hit Nelson’s face. “Riley, as well as a few others I understand, has been heard commenting on what a cool ride it was. As good as some roller coasters.”
“He would,” Will muttered, and emptied his mug with a frown.
Nelson took pity on him. “We didn’t exactly plan it,” he told his CMO.
“Are you sure that it wasn’t something cooked up by the Skipper and XO to break the monotony of a boring charting mission?”
Nelson snorted. “You know perfectly well that Lee would never purposely get crewmen injured.” He sent Will a grin. “Not to mention letting himself in for needing your ministrations.”
Will sent the grin back. “Got me there, Admiral,” he conceded. “Guess we chalk it up to the whims of King Neptune.”
“On the other hand,” Nelson got thoughtful, “it’s possible that Lee’s been so bored that he took out his frustrations on one of Seaview’s bulkheads, and bashed her instead of giving her his usual loving pat. Could be she decided to get even.” Will frowned. “Or perhaps it’s been too long since Lee paid his mermaid friend a visit,” was Nelson’s next thought.
Will sent his boss – and friend – a nasty glare. “I’m not that tired, Admiral,” he growled and stood up. “I need sleep, not silly,” and he stalked out.
Nelson chuckled softly. “Considering what has happened around here on occasion, I’m unwilling to ignore any possibility.” He’d said it mostly to himself, but caught Cookie nodding fervent agreement and sent him a quick grin. He rose as well and headed out the door. Pausing just a second in the corridor, he reached out a hand and patted Seaview’s bulkhead. Calm down, girl, he told her silently, and then checked quickly to make sure that he’d not been caught in one of Lee’s trademark actions before once more heading forward. Around here it paid to use every little bit of help you could get!