This was written purely for fun!
The SUV sped along the dirt road creating a storm of dust in the dry conditions.
The driver looked across at his passenger and laughed. “Must have been a very good vacation. You haven’t stopped grinning since I collected you.”
Will Jamieson moderated his smile and tried to appear innocently casual. “I’m not sure I know what you mean. I was visiting an old friend that’s all, just an old friend.”
Chip Morton chuckled. “Really, Doctor? I saw the old friend … not so old if you ask me!”
Chip had arranged to attend a school friend’s wedding during his leave and decided to drive his latest acquisition, a brand new Jeep Cherokee. He had explained to his commanding officer and best friend, Lee Crane that he wanted to give it a good shake down. While Lee always favoured fast, sporty models, Chip Morton preferred practicality and reliability.
It was during this discussion that Jamie had mentioned Chip would be virtually passing by his own friend’s home where he was going to be spending his leave. It had then seemed a sensible arrangement for Chip to make a slight detour to collect Jamieson on the way back, saving him the necessity of travelling to the local airport to get an internal flight.
“Dr. Sorenson is a leading biochemist and we haven’t met up for some time. We got to know each other when we worked together on those drug trials last year and this is the first chance we’ve had to renew our acquaintance and discuss her latest research.”
“Hmmm! If you say so…but if I had a friend who looks like she does, I don’t think talking about research would be high on my priority list.” Chip laughed as he glanced at Jamieson and saw the faint rise of colour that flushed his cheeks and the way the scenery outside seemed to suddenly fascinate him. So, Chip thought, that’s the way it is. This will provide Lee and me with an interesting diversion for a while…
“It’s kind of a remote place for scientific research out here,” Morton commented as he surveyed the mountain slopes.
“She likes privacy and the ranch has all the facilities she needs since she set it up.”
Both men lapsed into companionable silence as they rode along the back road to the main highway.
“Chip, up ahead, it looks like someone’s broken down. Let’s stop and see if we can help. This road’s not all that popular at this time of year!” Jamie exclaimed.
As they pulled over in front of the other vehicle they saw that its driver was female and seemed grateful to see them.
Both men got out and walked back to the car. The lady had not exited her car so they leaned down to speak to her through the open windows. Immediately they saw her predicament. In Jamie’s expert opinion she was at least eight month’s pregnant.
“Good afternoon ma’am, can we help?” Chip asked politely.
“Oh, you certainly can!” she replied with obvious relief. “I’ve run out of gas. The gauge has been acting up for weeks and I kept meaning to get it fixed but I kept forgetting…now today I just miscalculated. I don’t suppose you carry a spare gallon, do you?”
“No, ma’am, I’m afraid not. How far are you going? We could take you on somewhere so you can arrange for your car to be refuelled and collected if that helps?”
She hesitated a moment and scrutinised her rescuers. Dressed casually in shirts and jeans they looked respectable enough, but could they be trusted?
Reading the thoughts that obviously pre-occupied her, Chip took out his I.D. and passed it to her. “My name is Chip Morton and this is my friend Dr. Will Jamieson. We work for the Nelson Institute in Santa Barbara, if that reassures you a little.”
She smiled as she read the details contained in the soft leather wallet. “Commander Morton, that would be so helpful, if it won’t inconvenience you.” She smiled up at him as she returned his property.
“Not at all. Why don’t we just get you settled in my car, Mrs…?”
“Weston, Sandy Weston.” She replied as they helped her from the vehicle.
Jamie smiled as Chip quickly realised just how very heavily pregnant she was. “How far are you from delivering.” Jamie enquired as he walked her slowly towards the SUV while Chip saw to locking up her car.
“About two weeks give or take a day.” She smiled the turned. “Oh, Commander, would it be alright if we took the two suitcases from my trunk. I’m moving into town to stay with my sister, to be closer to the hospital.”
Chip nodded and went to do as she requested.
Jamie opened the rear door of the Jeep but she hesitated, “Would you mind if I rode up front? I get terribly motion sick if I ride in the back of cars.”
“Well, I don’t recommend it for pregnant ladies but I can understand your problem.” Gently he settled her and took the back seat behind Chip as they set off again.
“Is this your first child, Mrs. Weston?” Jamie asked as he leant forward to speak to her.
“Yes, and I don’t mind saying that I’m a little nervous. That’s the main reason for moving into town. Our home is too remote if anything should happen while I’m alone.” She smiled as she continued. “You see, Rudy, my husband is away. He’s a trucker, at least at this time of year he is. The rest of the time he’s working on our small vineyard. We’re only just starting out and he needs to supplement our income, so he drives long distance.”
Both men nodded and Chip said, “That must be hard with the baby due.”
“It is. I’m afraid this little one wasn’t exactly planned. Rudy didn’t want to go on this trip but we need the money. With luck he should be back in time for the baby.” She blushed delicately as she smoothed her extended stomach.
“I hope you’re right.” Jamie smiled.
“I hope so too but first babies are often late so I’m told,” she said softly.
As they continued to talk the miles were eaten away steadily as the late morning turned to early afternoon.
Sandy began shifting slightly in the seat. “Are you uncomfortable?” Jamie asked.
“No, it’s alright. I just get stiff from sitting. I’ve had a backache for a few days now, just an occupational hazard my obstetrician says. He should try having a baby and see if he feels quite so casual about it!” Sandy laughed.
“We have about another twelve miles to go before we hit the highway but would you like me to stop for a while.” Chip offered.
“No, please I’m fine, just a couple of twinges. Let’s keep going.”
Chip nodded but suddenly a large moose leaped out in front of them and Chip swerved quickly to avoid the beast. The car slid sideways on the gravely dry surface and rolled backwards over the edge of the road and down the grassy incline. It was a bumpy, hard ride but they finally stopped at the bottom of the small ravine.
Chip turned immediately to Sandy. “Are you all right?”
Sandy sat more upright and looked about her then reaching up to smooth back her hair said hesitantly, “I… think so. Yes, I’m alright, nothing broken.”
“You’re sure?” Chip assessed her as she nodded then turned around to see Jamie.
Jamison was also straightening himself but cradling his right arm. “Jamie, you okay?”
“Actually, no. I seem to have managed to break my arm.” He grimaced as he moved the damaged limb closer to him.
“Hold on; let me get back there to help.” Chip quickly opened his door and then the rear passenger door and helped Jamie out of the vehicle. He guided him over to a large rock and sat him down. “How bad is it?’’
“Broken for sure but I think it’s a clean break. Go and help Mrs. Weston and then can you get my medical bag for me?” Jamie asked as he slipped his wrist inside his shirt to give it support.
Chip stood up and moved back to the car. He went to the passenger door and opened it. “Here, let me help you out of there,” he said as he took hold of her wrist and elbow but Sandy Weston didn’t move, “Problems?” Chip questioned.
“Is the doctor alright?” she asked him calmly.
Chip frowned but answered automatically. “He has a broken arm but, yeah, he’s okay.”
“I wonder if you could ask him to come over here if he’s able to.” Sandy removed her hand from his and cradled her stomach. She looked at him and gave him an uncertain smile, “I’d like to ask his advice a moment.”
Chip studied her concentration then turned away quickly to get Jamieson, as a small frisson of foreboding raised the hairs on his neck a little.
“Jamie, I think you better see to Mrs. Weston.” Chip cautioned as he helped the doctor up.
“Something wrong?” Jamie asked as he hurried over.
“I hope not,” Chip answered with feeling. He watched as Jamie knelt beside the open door and started to talk to his patient while he turned away to look up the slope they had descended. It wasn’t steep but they were hidden from the road. He estimated they had about four hours of daylight left and if someone was going for help it should be soon. He was the logical choice. He was uninjured and he certainly wasn’t having a baby. Chip glanced at the car and saw that Jamie was still engaged in his consultation.
Chip turned his gaze back to the slope and assessed the easiest route to climb.
“Chip?” Jamie called softly as he returned to him. “I think we may have a problem.”
“Is she in labour?”
Jamie looked a little surprised then smiled. “I don’t suppose it was that difficult to work out.” Jamie eased his injured arm to a more comfortable position and grimaced a little.
“Not difficult at all. Let me get your arm sorted while you tell me about it?”
Without saying a word Chip walked to the trunk of his car and removed the medical bag Jamie had with him.
“Do you always take your ‘work’ on vacation with you?” He asked as he laid the bag down and opened it. Searching through the contents he extracted a packed bandage and started to arrange it as he listened to Jamie’s explanation.
“No, not normally but I was on my way home when Angie managed to get a last minute flight cancellation and so I just went straight to the airport. I had no time to drop it off anywhere. Providential as it turns out.”
Chip smiled as he efficiently used the bandage to secure Jamie’s broken limb against his chest to prevent further discomfort.
Jamie laughed as he complimented his friend’s handiwork. “That’s very good job Mr. Morton. If I ever need a stand in for a corpsman, I’ll know who to call.”
“With Lee as a friend don’t you think I’ve had enough practice over the years?”
“Hmm. That’s true for all of us I suppose.”
“Doctor?” Sandy Weston sounded panicked as she called out to them.
Jamie got up and hurried over as Chip tidied away the loose wrappings and closed the case.
Some minutes later Jamieson came back. “Chip we need to get Mrs Weston out of the passenger seat and more comfortably settled in the rear. I need room to examine her properly and I’d like to do it quickly.”
“That serious? I thought first babies took a long time coming.”
“They do, but when the mother-to-be is a new one and doesn’t understand that the backache and stomach discomfort she has been suffering for two days, is really the first stages of labour, and if we throw in a little shock from an accident then we shouldn’t be surprised if the whole process speeds up a little.”
“Speeded up by how much? We’re still several miles from the highway and we only have a few hours of daylight left. Even if I left now at a run it’ll be at least two to three hours before help could get here.”
“I’m not sure we have that long but first we have to make her comfortable. Chip her blue suitcase contains some sheets, towels and things she was taking into town with her for the baby. Unpack whatever there is and place them over the back seats. Then help me move her.”
Chip hesitated a moment. “Jamie, are you saying she’s having the baby here? Now? Can’t you do something to hold it up? Stop it somehow?”
“It’s obvious you’re a bachelor! Chip, when a woman goes into the final stages of labour, a freight train couldn’t stop it!” Jamie saw Chip’s composure slip and smiled to himself as he turned away. “Just get things prepared, after I examine her we may no more.”
Chip did as Jamie asked, all the time listening to Will talk Sandy Weston through another long contraction.
When it was over, both men helped to manoeuvre her into a more comfortable position on the back seats. Chip moved away and kept himself occupied making arrangements of his own as he gathered a few things together in preparation for his leaving to get help.
After about fifteen minutes Jamie came and joined him.
“Well?” Chip demanded.
“She’s on her way all right. The contractions are about five minutes apart and strong, she’s dilated and in my professional opinion, I’d say we have an hour at most.”
“Jamie, there’s no way I can get help that fast. You know yourself this road is a route mainly used by the locals and people heading out to the farms around here. We are completely hidden from the road; no one knows we’re here. When I get up there I might be able to make it to the highway in a couple of hours but….”
“You can’t leave now!” Jamie interrupted.
Jamie looked at Chip and frowned. “That woman over there is having a baby.”
Chip put his hands in his hips and adopted an attitude of controlled patience. “I know that, doctor, which is why I’m the one that has to go.”
“Au contraire, Mr Morton…. You have to be the one to deliver it.”
Just for a moment Will Jamieson thought Chip Morton had turned to stone. So still and shocked did he look that Jamie was sure he had stopped breathing. Then with slow and almost deliberate calm Morton asked. “Why, when there is a fully competent doctor present, would I be the one to do that?”
“Chip, look at me! I have a broken arm. There is no way I can deliver a baby one handed!”
As realisation crashed in on the exec his composure slipped. “Well, I can’t do it! I don’t know anything about delivering babies!”
“Don’t panic, it’ll be okay. I’ll be there with you and talk you through it….”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Just what other alternative do we have? She is going to be delivering soon and needs help. Police officers and fire fighters do it all the time. You’ll do just fine, you’ve faced more difficult situations….”
“You think so?” Morton muttered as he raked his hand through his hair.
“You are a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. Executive officer of the world’s largest, most advanced submarine, and you have the skills….”
“And what skills would those be” Chip interrupted impatiently. “In case you haven’t noticed, submarines don’t have babies!”
At that moment another cry from the vehicle drew both men towards it. Jamie bent forward and spoke softly to Sandy Weston while Chip stayed just a pace behind then moved away to the trunk and started to search his suitcase for something suitable. Finding what he needed he went to the glove compartment and extracted a marker pen. After several minutes Jamie stepped back again and joined Chip who was occupied on the flat ground behind the vehicle.
“Is she alright?” he asked as the doctor stood beside him
“She’s scared and fighting the contractions.” Jamie answered distractedly.
“Is that bad?” Chip asked worriedly as he stood up.
“It’s not good.” Jamie said as he absently rubbed at his aching limb. “She’s terrified about the birth and what will happen. We have to calm her and give her confidence. I don’t want her fears affecting the baby.” He turned to look at Morton. “I’ve explained to her that I won’t be able to give very much practical help and that you will be the ‘hands on’ part of the operation.”
Chip raised a speculative eyebrow and asked. “How did she take that news?”
“Surprisingly well. It seems she has read of the institute and its splendid officers, her words by the way.” Jamieson smirked, “Your reputation for competence and composure goes before you, Mr. Morton.”
Chip looked incredulous and then sighed with heavy resignation. “I’m really going to have to do this aren’t I?
Jamie chuckled and patted his friend on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, Chip, we have complete confidence in you.”
Chip gave the doctor an XO glare that would have frozen the blood in the veins of a lesser crewmember than the doctor but Jamieson merely grinned.
“Okay, if there’s no alternative I suppose we’d better get ready. But first, do I have time to at least rig this distress signal on the highway?”
“What did you have in mind?” Jamie questioned.
Chip bent down and held up a once pristine white shirt and Jamie read the stark black lettering: - Accident below…need help! And there was an arrow that would give the finder an obvious indication where to look.
“I can rig it up and hope that any passing vehicle will stop to give us some help.”
“Very well. It’s certainly worth a try but you’ll have to be quick, it won’t be long now. In the meantime I’ll gather together a few things we will need.”
Chip nodded and started to ascend the slope carefully. The last thing Sandy Weston needed was another injured rescuer! It took him less than fifteen minutes to get up to the road, rig the signal and slip and slide back down the embankment
He went over to the car and tapped Jamie on the shoulder as he talked to .Mrs Weston
“All done. If anybody does come along they can’t fail to see it,” he informed them both.
“Good, because right now we’re all going to be too busy to worry about that.” Jamie stood up and ordered, “Roll up your sleeves and put your hands out.”
After a quick glance at the frightened mother to be and the silent plea she made with her eyes Chip turned to Jamie and drew a deep breath as he followed the order. After Jamie liberally poured water from a bottle over his hands and then a small amount of alcohol rub, Chip rubbed his fingers together and then dried them on a small clean cloth.
“Time to go to work, Mr. Morton,” the doctor said briskly and moved to the front seat of the car out of the way and leaned over the back. Chip took a deep breath and kneeled down.
He smiled what he hoped was reassuringly at the pregnant woman and nodded. “Are you ready for this?”
She swallowed hard and grimaced as another contraction took hold. “NOOOO!” she breathed quickly.
“Easy, go with it,” Jamie advised from the front seat. “That’s it, now breathe deeply that’s it…good. You’re doing very well, Sandy. It shouldn’t be long now.”
She smiled shakily and then looked at Chip. “Commander Morton, I’m sorry you have to go through this as well. I realise it’s not what you expected at all when you rescued a stranded woman. I… I just wish Rudy was here….” And big fat tears welled in her eyes and slid down her face.
“Think nothing of it Mrs. Weston, no place I’d rather be.” Chip said confidently.
“Liar,” she smiled tentatively, “but I have every trust in you. Under the circumstances, don’t you think you’d better call me Sandy?”
Chip nodded and was spared replying as she reached for his hand and squeezed as she felt a stronger contraction coming. “Oh, oh…I need, need to….”
“Chip this is it… see if the head is crowning.” Jamie said urgently.
“The head! The baby’s head see if it’s visible.”
Taking a deep breath and disengaging his hand from Sandy Weston’s, Chip Morton took the final step that made this whole situation seem all too real!
Twenty long, life-changing minutes later, an exhausted mother cradled a tiny bundle to her as her fatigue was ignored and she smiled and wept with joy alternatively. As Chip Morton stood back and wiped his hands on a towel he too was smiling at the little miracle that had just happened.
“Well done, Chip, you were magnificent!” Jamie smiled. “If I approved of smoking I might even be tempted to hand around cigars!” He watched his senior officer as he moved slightly unsteadily away to lean on the rear of the vehicle.
“Jamie, that was astounding. I can’t believe I did that.”
“Well, you did and you should congratulate yourself. I did have a few worries in the beginning but I should have known that your professionalism would take over.”
Chip smiled and then chuckled and then laughed, “My professionalism? Doctor what you saw was blind panic! I was more scared during what just happened than any invading alien, rampaging monster or mad scientist you care to name!”
“Really?” Jamie questioned with surprise. “But you were so calm….”
“It might have appeared that way but when Sandy showed that sort of trusted in me what else could I do?” Chip said tiredly as he sat down and leaned back against the car. “But I’ll tell you this much, I never intend to leave Seaview again! Worse things don’t happen at sea!”
“HEY! Hey the car! Are you all right?”
The voice floated down from the rocky slope and Jamie and Chip looked up to see a uniformed highway patrolman, making his way towards them.
As he reached the bottom he surveyed the scene. “I saw the notice. Very smart, would never have found you otherwise. You the only one hurt?” He asked Jamie.
“Yes, but we have a lady in the car, who’s just given birth. She needs immediate hospitalisation.”
The officer bent down and looked through the rear window. Taking his helmet off he looked at the two men. “That wouldn’t be Mrs. Weston would it?” he asked casually.
“Yes. Are you looking for her?” Chip asked.
“Her sister is raising all sorts of alarms. We’ve been searching all the likely routes into town after she didn’t show up. I found her car a few miles back and started to search.” He looked again at the nursing mother. “You deliver the kid?” He asked the two friends.
“He delivered, I gave instructions.” Jamie smiled as he nodded at Chip.
“Instructions?” the patrolman questioned then listened as they explained who they were and the circumstances.
“Rather you than me fella,” he said to Chip. “My wife’s had three. I passed out in the delivery room for the first one, I stayed away after that! Guess I’ll go tell them I found her. I already called for an ambulance when I saw the sign, should be here pretty soon.” He turned and ambled away up the slope again as Chip turned to Jamie.
“You were saying something about police officers?”
Six weeks later Chip was in his office at the NIMR building when Debbie his secretary buzzed through to him. “Commander Morton, you have visitors. Miss Charlotte Weston and her family.”
Chip heard the definite smile in her voice and answered eagerly, “I’ll be right there.”
Chip opened his office door and saw Sandy and Rudy Weston surrounded by cooing uniformed admirers as Sandy proudly held little Charlotte Emily Weston. “Admiral, Captain, I didn’t know you were waiting. You too Jamie?”
“We weren’t waiting. Security told us of your visitors and we thought we’d come see this small miracle for ourselves.” Lee laughed as he held one tiny hand gently and Nelson the other, while Jamie stroked a soft pink cheek.
“Hello, Chip.” Sandy Weston smiled.
“Hello there. How’s my favourite new mother?” Chip asked softly.
Sandy smiled and laughed with pleasure as Chip kissed her cheek and turned to shake hands with Rudy Weston, “Hi, Rudy, how are things going?”
“Great, thanks to you, Chip. We’ve come into town to sign the contract on the Small Business Loan you set up for us with your friend at the bank. We really don’t know how thank you, this will make such a difference.”
“There’s no need to thank me. I just happened to know someone who could help. You don’t want to be on the road when you have my soon-to-be Goddaughter to care for.” Chip gently accepted the tiny bundle that was presented to him by Sandy. “Hello there Ladybug, come to say hello, have you?” He spoke softly and gently stroked a pink cheek as his friends looked on with genuine amusement.
Slowly he walked back to his office expertly cradling the sleeping baby. “Lee, why don’t you show Rudy and Sandy around? I don’t mind babysitting for a while.” And gently pushed the door closed behind him.
There was a moment’s silence then laughter ensued as the friends and family marvelled at the casual dismissal!