I was bone tired from my long trip from
Washington to Norfolk to some flattops until one of their helicopters was in range of Seaview. Being dropped by chopper on
a less than calm sea to the waiting boat below was no picnic, let me tell you. For me or the entire crew. Wonderful boat that
Seaview is, no submarine is designed to be a surface craft and I could imagine Doc or Frank handing out the Dramamine by the
I was also worried about my boys. The latest update I’d had, relayed by the chopper pilot from Sparks was that both the Captain and
XO had been injured from some kind of accident in the ventilation shafts, one by fire, and the other by some kind of head
My fevered mind was in overdrive as I jumped
off the ladder into the Control Room, a bit higher off the rungs than normal,
wrenching my knee in the process. Swell. Now I was injured too. But, at least
I’d be near Lee and Chip.
“They’re okay, sir,” O’Brien
said as he ordered Ski to accompany me.
“Really sir,” the crewman offered
his arm to help steady me as I limped along, and began to fill me in on what he knew.
At first I wondered if what he had was just rumor and scuttlebutt. Morton injected himself with the tranquilizer instead
of Crane? And Crane dragged the drunk like XO through the shafts while yelling at the top of his lungs for help about the killer spiders after them.
“Before you say anything,” Doc
held up a hand as we entered, “they’re fine. Chip had a little accident
with the tranquilizer and we put him in his cabin to rest. He should be
waking up soon. Lee is convinced we’re lying about there not being any spiders aboard that can make themselves invisible.
Chip must’ve really convinced him. Now, let’s take a look at that knee…”
“Where is Lee?”
“With Admiral Starke in the Nose,”
“Do I sense some kind of problem?”
“Sir…it’s not my place…but…”
“Out with it.”
“Well, frankly sir, he’s been
trying to mold Lee into his own image. Filling his head with all sorts of Navy do’s and don’ts with no exceptions.
Lee’s torn between what he wants to believe and what Starke’s told him to believe. Can’t even let the crew
call him Skipper, ‘cause it’s not appropriate due to the circumstances,
as Starke told him. Hold still,” Doc admonished as he finished examining me.
“You’ll live. Here,” he
handed me some ointment, “this heat rub will help. You’ll be good as new in a couple of days. Try to stay off
that leg; here’s a crutch…Admiral? I think you’d better know that for awhile Lee had been saying he’d be better off dead, not being anyone anymore…but after the spider incident, I think he showed us that he was pretty determined to go on living…even
if he had to grow up all over again.”
“Jiggs, we need to talk,” I
approached my friend not much later, “Now.”
“You must be Admiral Nelson!”
Lee stood and pulled on my sleeve, “I’ve seen pictures of you! She’s your
boat! You gotta’ get rid of the spiders! Nobody else will!”
“For the last time, Lee,” Jiggs
said, “there are no spiders! Morton
was just trying to frighten you out of the ventilation shaft.”
“I saw them!”
lie,” Jiggs told him.
“Wait a moment,” I said, as calmly as I could, “there are several unsolved mysteries and as a scientist, we can’t
just dismiss this. In the meantime, we need have a little talk, Jiggs. Lee, would you mind staying here alone for a few minutes?”
“You’re the boss.”
“Come along Jiggs. This won’t
Suffice it to say, after my chat, I returned
to the Nose without my friend. Lee was industriously drawing…something…
“Hungry?” I asked, as I tried
figured out the drawing was of his imaginary and ghastly spiders.
“Really, Lee, you have to learn to
trust me. Now, tell me the truth, are you hungry?”
“Okay, then. Now come along and tell
me all about your experience….”I ruffled his hair, feeling the obvious patch that had burnt. Lola wasn’t going to like that at all.
As we entered the Wardroom, Cookie asked
if he could serve us personally. A rare privilege, even for me.
have my favorite.”
too,” Lee said, “what he’s having.”
“Hold it,” I raised an eyebrow,
“do you really want liver and onions? Have you ever had it before?”
“I don’t remember..”
“Look, I’ll make a deal with
you. You can have a bite of mine. If you like it, fine, we’ll order one for you. If not, though, you order something
you’d rather have. Deal?”
“Okay. You’re the boss.”
“I’m also your friend…and
my friends call me Harry.”
“You’re nothing like Admiral
Starke!” Lee lit up visibly, as Cookie quickly brought out my order along with two forks.
“Go ahead,” I cut him a piece.
His face went through various expressions.
Finally, he said, a bit contrite, “Can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”
“Sure thing Skipper…er…I
mean…” Cookie tried to correct himself.
“It’s quite okay to call him
Skipper,” I admonished. “It’s his name. Right, Lee?”
“But Admiral Starke..”
“Let’s just forget about what
Starke’s been telling you. My boat, my rules…”
“Okay, but I’m still not the
“Granted, you’re not presently
the Captain. Skipper, however, also qualifies as a name, it's not just a term for
the master of a boat.”
real, Harry, or are you just trying to make Cookie and me feel better?”
real, Lee. Hmm. How about some chocolate milk to go with my meal, Cookie?”
“Me too!” Lee said, as I’d
hoped, then added, “for real,” with a grin. Then he pondered something
and I could swear his eyes changed color at that very moment, “How can
you even like me since I lost my memory? I’m nobody.”
“You may have lost your memory, Lee,
and it might not come back as much as we’d all like it to, but you’re not a nobody. And you never lost your soul. And that’s what matters. ”
“For real, Harry?”
“For real, my son, for real. “
Seaview will finish the last of her equipment
tests tomorrow and then we can head home and to the team of shrinks itching to get their hands on Lee. I’m not sure if I’ll let him know that there are no such things as invisible spiders yet. It
might be better to let him tell me that.
But no matter what the outcome, admitting
he’d been duped by Chip, or the specialists giving us bad news regarding the amnesia, one thing’s for certain.
My son’s no longer lost. At least, not to me.