I was so bone tired that could hardly
be bothered to open my eyes, lest the light of day peeping through the curtains re-affirmed how sore I was. After the Santa
Barbara Marathon, I knew I’d never be able to walk again.
Then it struck me. Something was wrong, somehow. From the ashtray on the end
table, to the 500 plus count sheets. This wasn’t my bedroom!
The pillow was mine, though. Odd, it
was the same decades old pillow I’d always used aboard my boats, including Seaview.
The one Doc had threatened to toss overboard, as he was certain it was harboring so many microscopic creepy crawlies
(ones I couldn’t pronounce) despite fresh pillowcases every week.
What It and I were doing here,
wherever here was, was beyond my current
comprehension. Finally I recognized the patterned bedspread and surely those
were the same drapes hiding Nelson’s balcony? Oh gawd, he hadn’t had to put me to bed here, had he?
The last thing I remembered after we’d
returned to NIMR,( I’d been cleaned up, seen to and checked out of the NIMR Med
Bay), I pigged out on some jelly doughnuts (with powdered sugar) in the
Admiral’s office. (Chip had rushed to go get some after he discovered they were missing.) Sharkey admitted later that
he and some of the crew had purloined from the staff lounge. Not that I could blame them. After all, Chip hadn’t written
his name on the box, nor mine. They’d been a kind of bribe of Chip’s, you see. To help me stay the course. A reward,
so to speak, for when all the running was over.
He’d also returned with an enormous cup of coffee, the kind with a lid on it that you almost need two hands
to hold. (He poured it into an NIMR mug to make it easier for me to handle.) A ‘bonus’ he grinned, handing me
the mug. The going had been tough without it either doughnuts or coffee on the regimen he’d set me up on. Not that I
hadn’t cheated once in a while.
Still seconded in the same wheelchair
that Doc had plopped me into at the finish,(not that I would have cared at the time) it was difficult to enjoy all the congratulations
in Harry’s office. My legs were like rubber, my injured knee on fire, and on the opposite leg, my ankle and foot felt
as if they’d been congealed with Jalapeno peppers.
Staff and crew crowded in and just
outside of the office, and busy congratulating Chip and I for a race well run,
( well, sort of, as for a good deal of it, we walked. Correction, Chip walked. I hobbled.)
Harry pulled out a reserve bottle of
the family label. The one he was saving for whenever his sister got married or a very important occasion. Apparently this
was as good as time as any. (Doc forbade me any though, as he’d promptly put me on pain pills .(They weren’t working.)
We were even on the TV news that night. Praised for our ‘never stop running, or walking' attitudes.
I was glad Chip was being feted more
than I. I was the wounded hero, but he was the self-sacrificing hero. Helping me
with his big mouth to stay the course. (Of course, the TV reporters didn’t know that.)
Oh, our positions had been reversed
to begin with, in that I was the one helping him to stay the course. He hadn’t expected it to be as hard as it was.
No matter how hard one trains, the reality is different. As for me, well, at first, quitting had been the furthest thing from
my mind, even after my collision with a dog.
But as time and the miles went on, and it
got harder and harder, and hurt more and more, I was ready quit.
Suddenly, like some kind of Guardian
Angel, Chip was there. At my side. And I couldn’t get rid of him! He urged me to go on and I was furious with him for losing any chance he had had for himself
at least finishing ahead of me. (It has to irk him, always being in 2nd place aboard the boat and at NIMR.)
Finally, when it really looked as if
I would give up for real, he told me it was okay if I did. Ha! I could see through
that angelic compassion. He was daring me to go on, finish the damn thing.
And we did. Together.
Later, everyone’s words at Nelson’s impromptu party became jumbled as I finished my 6th, or
was it 7th doughnut. Things were a bit blurry too.
The next thing I knew I was waking up this morning in Harry’s bed. (He doesn’t have a guest room.) And the clean ash
tray meant he must have spent the entire night elsewhere. Seaview maybe? I couldn’t envision him stretched out on the
moth-eaten sofa or in the recliner.
My stomach growled and I looked for my watch.
They must have removed it too, when they’d cleaned me up in Med Bay, returning my sponge bathed and braced body to the Admin Center in nice flannel pajamas and terry robe. (It had been a bit embarassing
with some of the ladies around at that little party.)
But why put Harry through all the inconvenience of having me stay the night? Why not call a cab to take me home, or if I was unconscious,
just dump me aboard Seaview?
“About time,” Harry peered
in from the doorway, then approached, “try not to make too much noise. Chip’s still asleep. Can you walk?”
he gave me a supporting arm.
“Owwww…” I collapsed as
soon as I stood back onto the bed.
“Doc thought that might happen.
You wait here, I’ll get him.”
I stopped myself in time. Nothing like putting your foot in it. I wasn’t fine. I was in agony. Okay, maybe not agony like yesterday, still, a man has his pride. “Please,
Harry. Not Doc…but I really do need some help. Gotta' pee. Really really bad…”
“Oh gawd,” Chip limped
in, interrupting, sleep in his eyes , in yesterday's sweats, “you feel as bad as you look, Lee?”
“Worse if I don’t get to
pee, but I can’t walk…” I was beginning to get desperate.
“We were just going to get Doc
for some assistance,” Harry said. “This may be a two man operation.”
“Nonsense Admiral, I can help
“You can barely walk yourself,
Chip. But if you take one side, and I ‘ll take the other…”
“Belay that!” Doc entered
and removed Chip’s arm from under my shoulder. “The Admiral and I’ll
do it. Morton, sit down. Your turn next. Damn this Marathon. Like football players, bad enough that they can hardly move the
day after, but when they’re injured…okay Skipper, lean on us…that’s it…little steps…”
you sleep?” I had to know, “not on the sofa, I hope.”
“There’s nothing wrong
with the sofa!” Harry sputtered. “Just because it’s a little lumpy..”
“No,” Chip said, “
when they finally realized I wasn’t going anywhere until you woke up, they let me bunk out in the recliner…not
bad at all…”
“But what about you, Harry?” I asked, concerned, wondering if those dark circles under his eyes meant a
sleepless night. (I wasn’t worried about Doc, there were little bedrooms
set up for the physicians at the Med Center)
“I uh, spent the night aboard
Seaview, Harry finally answered my question.”
“For maybe five minutes, you
mean,” Doc chided, “he crept back here and kind stood watch over the both of you. Don’t deny it, Admiral.
I have my sources. Now, c’mon Lee,” he leaned my hand on the bathroom wall, " you can lean against the hamper for support while you attend to things. We’ll wait outside,”
he closed the door.
After completing the business at hand
I hollered, “In here, quick!”
“What seems to be the problem?”
he, and Harry, and Chip squeezed in.
“My pee!” I pointed in
the bowl, “it’s orange! Am I dying or something?”
“That’s not that orange,” Doc said, “more of a bright yellow and the porcelain makes it look worse than it is….
“It’s never been like that before….”I muttered. Something was wrong.
“You drank a lot of Gatorade
yesterday. Case closed. Chip, your turn. C’mon Skipper, lean on me to the
kitchen. There’s fresh doughnuts waiting for breakfast.”
“If I see another doughnut I
think I’ll puke.”
“Good,” Chip yelled as
he closed the bathroom door, “leaves more for me.”
In the end though, he had some of Harry’s
frozen eggs and biscuits. Then wiping his mouth as Harry perked some more coffee,
and Doc admired the morning vista from the window, Chip got up from his chair and scrounged for something in a plastic bag.
“Here,” he handed me a
“What is it?” I asked.
“Well, read it, stupid! I picked
it up yesterday along with the doughnuts.”
“Dog be Gone…the humane
way to repel unwanted canines. Can also be used agains squirrels, and rodents, Utilizing using sonic waves inaudible
to the human ear, but effective up to 100 yards to repel these animals . Can
attach to a belt, shoes, tie…”
“Pretty expensive practical joke,
Chip,” Doc laughed.
“Oh, it’s no joke,”
Chip grinned, “after all, he’s gotta’ have some protection at
“Good Lord, he was kidding!" Doc exclaimed,
I just gave them my best angelic cherub
“Oh, Lord, not again,”
Now, it may be that I won't qualify
for such a prestigious event as the Olympics,
and if I do, I may not even place anywhere near the finish.
But one thing’s for certain. This time, I’ll be wearing that little keep away
doggy gizmo all along the course.
So will Chip. He doesn’t it know yet, of course. Just my little secret, for now. But
a few minutes ago, thanks to the marvels of the modern age and the fax machine downstairs,
I entered us both for the preliminaries.