“Oh yeah?” Kowalski asked, more than a little irritated with Riley’s
badgering, and very irritated with all the beach flies. Some shore leave.
“Yeah! Look, ‘Ski’, if you want the girls, you gotta show a little guts! And ridin’ one of the big ones is a sure way to impress them! Or are you chicken?”
“How would you like a broken jaw?”Ski threatened, “And you don’t have to surf to catch a dame.”
“Having a good time guys?” a plain, somewhat pretty redhead asked as she sat down on the beach towel next to Riley’s upright surfboard.
“We are now!” Riley grinned politely. Any dame was fair game.
She returned the compliment with a beautiful smile. “And just which one of you owns the board? I’m afraid I don’t know much about them. Too many dire warnings by big brother and his avenging angels, I guess.”
“Would you like me to show you?”Riley jumped at the chance to impress her.
“Uh, look, Riley, I’ll go get us a couple of hot dogs or something, and you miss?” Kowalski used his equally good manners.
“My my, chivalry’s not dead is it. I’d love a hot dog and a lemonade, Mr...?”
“Kowalski, just call me Ski. Everybody does. And the surfer boy here is Stu. Stu Riley. Just don’t let him talk you into taking out the board unless the lifeguards are on duty.”
All three laughed as Riley began to explain the history of surfing and how it was an actual mode of travel between the Hawaiian Islands not so long ago.
“Ow!” Lee Crane yelped as Doctor Jamison slapped some antiseptic ointment
on his right buttock as he lay face down on the sickbay gurney.
“Serves you right Skipper! What’s the big idea anyway, you’re supposed to be on shore leave, not aboard working on electrical circuits!” Jamie then removed Lee’s socks and tossed them in a heap with the remainder of Crane’s clothing. Examining his feet the doctor continued, “ I’m surprised you didn’t electrocute yourself! Of all the pigheaded, asinine, cockamamie stunts! Getting hurt underway or on a mission is one thing, but on shore leave, it’s ridiculous! Furthermore...”
“Excuse me Doctor Jamison,” the nurse popped her head into Seaview’s sick bay, “ But the conference begins in a half hour. I can take over if you like,” she spoke without any indication of embarrassent.
“Captain Harris!?”Lee practically croaked, “ What are you doing here? Who gave you permission to come aboard?”
“Why, captain, that should be obvious. Jamie here called away to an emergency on Seaview?...dockside?...what else could it have been but her errant captain up to trouble again! I thought I should see if I could give Jamie a hand, especially as he’s the one scheduled to speak first...on the handling of accident prone captains!”
“Will you get out of here?! And get off my boat!”
“Actually,” Jamie said calmly, handing Harris the medical report and handing Crane’s clothing to her, “ you’d be a big help, he has some burns and the explosion caused some lacerations as well. I’ve stitched those already. And I certainly don’t want to be late. I’ve been waiting to attend this medical conference for months. He’s all yours Harris. Oh, and as Seaview is moored and Crane’s officially on leave, don’t pay any attention to him. Just slap on the ointment where he needs it. I’ll see you at the conference.”
“Jamie! You can’t leave me alone! Not with Harris!”
“Sorry, Skipper. I’m leaving you in very capable hands, as you well know,” Jaimie smirked. Of course Lee was bound to know. He’d spent quite a lot of time in a Naval hospital after a very grueling undercover assignment, and Harris had been his nurse, giving him as much hell as he gave her. Crane was not a good patient, and an expert at escape. Poor Harris.
“Mmmm. Do that again,” Admiral Nelson said dreamily, as June Gunther rubbed his shoulders. “I could use you aboard Seaview.”
“Well, if you’d use your brain for once, and sit upright insead of slouched over your microscope or manuscripts, you wouldn’t have pulled your muscles.”
“I know. I know. But I just got ...too involved.”
“What species is it this time Harry?” June asked, sighing to herself. Harry was never going to get serious. Might as well marry a lobster. This was supposed to be a vacation, and what was he doing? Spending all his time in the research department of the Honolulu public library. She’d flown all the way from Ohio to meet him. We were supposed to be having fun. That was the problem. Harry was having fun. Just as she was thinking of telling him off, he turned to face her. Oh, why do you have to have those puppy dog eyes?
“You’re bored aren’t you Junie.”
“Well, I....”she sighed.
“I’ve haven’t really been a very good host have I?” he grinned. Can’t let her get away. “Come on, let’s go.”
“Go where and do what?”
“Someplace you’ll like and something you will never forget. I assure you.”
She couldn’t help but to smile. She had him back. Just so it’s not another damn aquarium.
“Hey Chief!” Patterson called out, entering a local bar, with a girl
on each arm. “This is some shore leave isn’t it? Hawaiian shirts and hula
dancers. Oh, uh, this is Amy and this is Donna.”
“How do you do.” Sharkey said bitterly.
“Something wrong chief?” Patterson asked, a little surprised at Sharkey’s sour attitude.
“Wrong? I just found out through the grapevine that some bozo wrecked the circuitry room that’s all. And to top it off we gotta let the Navy do even more to the old girl. Man, if the skipper were here, he’d kill the guys! Some technicians! Ha!”
“Well, take it easy. Things will work out, you’ll see.”
“Chief Sharkey?” Lt. Epsom approached the group.
“I’ve got the data you requested. I agree with you that your captain might like to see it when he’s back from shore leave. The damage isn’t really all that bad, but I understand the man involved was somewhat injured, burns, cuts, and a few bruises, but it can’t be too bad because your doctor left our chief nurse in charge of finishing the job.”
“So just which of your maintenence inspection technician guys busted my boat?”
“Chief, I realize you’re upset, but it wasn’t one of my men I assure you. The marines did say they were told to guard the sickbay, so my guess is that it was a saboteur. I’m sure your captain has things well in hand, especially as he was the only person from Seaview aboard when the explosion happened.”
“The skipper?!” Sharkey and Patterson exclaimed in unison, all thoughts of fun forgotten.
“That’s right, Edith,” Riley said, bracing the girl on the board as
they rode a small wave, “ hey you gotta natural talent. So, you can tell
big brother you’ll do just fine.”
“That’s not easy. He treats me like a child. They all do.”
“His avenging angels...his employees,actuallly, but most of all, they’re his friends, and one in particular I really like, but, oh, I know they’re all only worried about me, but sometimes...”
“Hey, something’s going on ashore. Hang on.”
“Riley!” Ski shouted as the surfboard swooshed ashore, “ The chief says
the boat had an explosion, there was a saboteur and the Skipper was
aboard and might have got busted up!”
“Oh man, look Edith, I gotta go, my skipper might need me.”
“Yeah, our captain. Lee Crane of the Seaview.”
“Uh, yeah, you..you know him?”Riley asked incredulously.
“I know him. I’m coming along. I’ll just call my brother first though.”
“Uh, look, miss, ”Sharkey tried to be polite, “ but uh, I don’t think the old man would approve.”
“Oh, I know he wouldn’t like me aboard, but it does concern me and if Lee’s hurt, he needs to know.”
“I don’t understand,” Riley asked. “How can your brother be involved with Seaview or the skipper?”
“Didn’t I tell you?...oh, no, I guess not. I’m Edith Nelson. Harry’s my big brother and Lee’s my...uh, well...I ....just lets get going okay?”
Oh no! This is great, just great! A nice little dish, and she’s the old man’s sister! And the skipper’s well... something,Riley thought sourly.
Ski found it very hard to suppress his amusement at the revelation. Any thoughts of either of them of having a romantic anything with the girl had immediately evaporated, she was now modus keepawayus.Especially if the skipper was involved.
Edith had no luck finding Harry. He’d left the library. With June. She tried the hotel, but there was no answer. Harry had taken shore leave but had the whole Hawaiian Island chain to explore, especially with June. Well, the hotel was on the way to the pier, she could leave a note.
By the time Edith arrived at the hotel, a great many more men of the Seaview had been told about the explosion and rumors were flying. It was best just to get to Seaview and find out from the skipper just what had happened. Nobody wanted to take it for granted that he was okay. Not till they saw him alive and breathing unaided.
“Since it’s an emergency,” the desk clerk said quickly, “ perhaps you
should take the note into the room. Sometimes our guests don’t bother with
checking thier boxes. Here’s the key.”
Edith was accompanied by Sharkey and Kowalski while the accumlating crewmen gathered in the lobby.
Sharkey quickly unlocked and entered the penthouse. The admiral always traveled first class. Better than first class even. He could have had the VIP suite at the Naval Base but he never too advantage of his rank or fame, retired or not.The group had decided the best place to put the note was the bathroom. The best place to catch his attention. Just as Sharkey was about to open the bedroom door which led to where the bathroom was located, he heard it. Nelson’s groans. Oh man,now he’s dyin’ or something!
Smashing the door open, Sharkey stopped as though he’d been shot. Fleeing the scene,and swallowing hard, he motioned Ski and Edith out of the room.
“What is it Sharkey?”Edith pale with concern.
Confused silence still reigned as Sharkey kept his companions from going anywhere near the suite.
“What the devil’s going on?!” Nelson roared, emerging from his accomodation.His hair was tousled and bits of plastic still adorned the hastily donned courtesy robe placed in all the rooms.
Oh man he’s gonna kill me. “Uh, there’s been an explosion aboard Seaview. And a saboteur got the Skipper. We don’t know much else.”
Suddenly serious, all thoughts about dumping Sharkey overboard vanished. “Have you called Crane on the radio?”
“Uh, no. The maintenence refit has everything in a jumble. But they said somebody called the marines to guard sickbay.”
“I’ll be with you in a moment. Edith, what are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to be in London.”
“I changed my mind.”
“Oh,” Nelson smirked gently. “And His name is Lee isn’t it? Getting a bit serious are we?”
“Stop it Harry! Lee could be hurt.”
Picking up the phone, Nelson contacted the necessary authorities and discovered Jaime had indeed left a patient in the care of Captain Harris, but there was no word on Crane except that he’d been aboard. Probably holding the fort.“Really Edith, if Lee were hurt, do you think Jaimie would have left him? Give me five minutes.”
What was he so mad about Sharkey?”Ski whispered. “We’ve woken him from
“Look, lets just get to the lobby, okay?”
“I heard.” June emerged from the bedroom, hair in disarray, as Nelson
re-entered the suite.
“I’m sorry June. Duty calls yet again.”
“I’d like to come along.”
“I’d like that. But you could be a bit...distracting.”
“Why Harry...that’s just the point you know.”she smiled.
By the time Nelson arrived at the dock where Seaview was moored, he
was accommpanied by more than 85 men, Edith, and June. After confirming
with the marine guard posted on the dock, he was assured that Crane was
still aboard. Now we’ll get to the bottom of things.
Passing the circuitry room, they noticed how badly damaged it was. In fact the entire corridor looked like a bomb had gone off. Perhaps Lee really was hurt. Increasingly concerned, Nelson quickened his pace and soon saw the marine posted outside the sickbay confronted by Captain Harris.
“And just how did he get out of here? Did he dissolve into thin air?”she squaked.
“Captain,” the marine spoke, “ I’ve been here without a break since I came aboard! Nobody came out of sickbay!”
“Captain Harris? What’s going on?” Nelson asked, echoing the men and women crowding the corridor.
“Admiral! Am I glad you’re here! Maybe you can order him back!”
“What the hell is going on? Did the sabotuer escape?
“What saboteur? I’m talking about Crane!”
“Crane! Your gallant captain decided he didn’t trust the Navy maintenence team so he tried to do things himself! Well, boom! So he gets a stint in sickbay and as soon as my back is turned for one second, he escapes!”
“How badly hurt is he?”
“Burns, cuts, bruises and his normal sour mood...how you manage to put up with him is anyone’s guess. But how on earth did he get out of here?”
A quick glance by Nelson to one of the air vents answered the question.
“Lee?” Nelson spoke into a mike, amid a few relieved chuckles and smirks of his crewmen, “ Lee, this is Nelson. Get back to sickbay immediately.”
“Oh, sure admiral, he’s going to be a good little boy and come marching right back,” Harris said sarcastically.
“Care to place a bet?”
“You seem mighty sure of yourself.”
“Let’s just say I have a reason to be.”
Nelson strode to Jamison’s office chair, sat and lit a cigarrette.It was crowded in sickbay, but Edith and June had managed to squeeze in. It was a long wait for Harris but a short one for Nelson, as five minutes later, crewmen breathing sighs of relief, opened a pathway for Crane to enter sickbay. He looked okay. Even if his jeans and denim shirt smelled like he’d just taken them out of mothballs. As soon as Lee saw Edith, he froze.
“Edith! What are you doing in Hawaii?”
“I had a date.”
“Oh shi...I...I’m sorry. I forgot.”
“Now wait a minute. We made that date months ago, it was easy to forget... I mean...What are you doing wearing... that...that thing?”
“It’s called a bikini, as if you’d even notice.”
“Notice?!”Lee expoded, “ You go put something on right now!”
“I don’t have to do what you say!”
“Well you have to do what he says!”Lee pointed to Nelson, “ Admiral, make her go cover up or something!”
“I don’t have to do what he says either.”
“You do when you’re on his boat!”
Nelson cleared his throat to get thier attention but addressed his inquiring look to Crane. “Well?”Nelson asked cooly.
“Well what?” Lee answered dangerously.
Nelson said nothing and waited, raising an eyebrow.
“Ah, hell, admiral,” Lee finally sucumbed to Nelson’s undisputed authority, “ I just couldn’t stand it. All those techs and not even one of us aboard to supervise things. Somebody could have screwed up and...”
“Did you or did you not bust orders to stay in sickbay?”
“Jaime did not order me to stay here.”
“I don’t take orders from Harris,” Lee pouted.
“You do now.” Nelson replied. “From the begining, what happened?”
After giving Nelson a glare that could melt titanium, he sighed and succumbed to the suggestion that he talk, “I’d left the missle room and decided to check the circuitry room after the techs made two mistakes on a firing panel. They seemed nervous and had hands made of butter!”
“With you staring down their backs they would have.” Harris interupted.
Lee continued, “ I decided to check the circuitry room where they’d just finished.. I saw some crossed wires and misconnections that could have blown us to kingdom come. So I had the power cut at the mains, and disconnected the wires myself. But there must have been some juice left in the system somehow and it blew. It ripped out a bulkhead and started a fire, and nobody knows how the circuits came to life. I tried to close them, but before I knew it one of the circuitry panels shivered and collapsed right on top of me..so I got busted up a bit. End of story. Except Jaimie came aboard, looked me over, started to patch me up, and gave me to Harris to finish. But he didn’t order me to stay put!”
“Don’t you think you could have spoken to me first, Lee,” Nelson asked cooly, “ or that you could have called the officer in charge and made a formal complaint?”
“But would they have listened? Chain of command, red tape...Would you have listened?..I mean....Oh, hell, Harry. I wanted you to have a good time. No worries, no concerns...”
“Ummhumm...so you do things yourself, end up hurt, and foul up everybody’s shore leave, including mine?”Nelson spoke gently, trying to hide a grin.
“I didn’t mean too, I ..I guess I really botched things...I’m sorry admiral. I guess I really screwed things up.”
“Well, considering practically the whole crew raced to Seaview with visions of their captain bleeding to death, I should certainly think so.”
“Some grapevine..”Lee grinned at his crew, “and you? What did I tear you from? New species of something or other?”he asked gently.
“You might say so...well Captain Harris, he looks okay to me. But give him a thorough going over to check him out just the same after finishing up whatever you were doing...and Lee...I’ll ask Edith stand guard if I have too. In fact, she can even help.”
“WHAT?”Lee asked, visibly shaken.
“Mmm. That’s right Lee. Besides, she’s signed up for nurse’s aide training this fall. It would be good... experience.” Nelson grinned. “Gentlemen, I think we all have shore leave to attend to, our captain is in capable hands, so I think we should leave him for Captain Harris and her...assistant to deal with.”
“Perhaps I can help?” June asked.
“Do you have medical training?”Harris asked.
“I aced in first aid.”
“Consider yourself drafted.”
“Now wait a minute!” Lee complained.
“Now Lee, let’s let our medical team do their job shall we?” Nelson winked, amused at Lee’s outrage of three women to...uh...well, do what they had to do.
As Nelson inspected the circuitry room, Sharkey approached and seemed
to be trying to find the courage to say something. Let him stew.Breaking
in on June an me just when...
“Uh, admiral sir?”
“What is it Francis?”
Oh boy I’m in the doghouse. “Uh, I, uh, just wanted to say, uh...”
Nelson sighed at looked at Sharkey. It wasn’t his fault for breaking in on a very private moment. Might as well put him out of his misery. “Francis, its okay. You didn’t know.”
“It’s done and over with, forget it.”
“But the dame? Will she...I mean...I didn’t see anything, really Admiral...not of her anyway...and I...” Sharkey was as red as the missile silos.
“I said, forget it...now, if you can round up a few crewmen who haven’t left the boat yet, lets see just what went wrong here.”
“Aye sir!” Sharkey jumped, relieved at his reprieve and the chance to change the subject. Man, if somebody had barged in on me and a dame while we were...I kinda figured the old man was past it or didn’t care for it anymore.
Nelson sighed as he pondered. Probably all over the boat, he thought bitterly. Well, at least they know I’m not quite as ancient and decrepit as I seem....
“Like wow, man,” Riley munched on a potato chip at a favored bar, “
I mean, the poor skipper. Stuck in sickbay with the broads fussing over
him. I could hear him complaining all the way down the corridor. And one
of the dames his own girl! Kinda embarrassing don’t ya think?Cheeeze. He’s
really gonna be mad.”
“Yeah,” Ski grinned mischievously, “ but think how much madder he’s going to be when he finds out about your attentions to his girl? Especially while she was in that ‘itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini’” Ski sang, “ and a skimpy one at that.”
If looks could kill, Riley would have scored a bullseye.
“And about time.”Nelson stood as June entered the observation nose.
“How is our gallant lad?”
“A sore looser. Good thing you ordered him to sickbay. Harris hadn’t finished with the salve at all when he’d dissapeared, and some of the burns look pretty awful...don’t worry, she’s contacted Jaimie and he’ll be here shortly to check up on him. Meanwhile, Harris has put Edith to work slapping on some more ointment. I’m afraid Lee’s not too pleased, hardly surprizing, considering.”
“Considering? What are you talking about?”
“Well...some of the places injured are...uh...rather...”
“Hmmm. I think perhaps I should have updated my will, because if that’s the case, as soon he’s out of sickbay Lee’s going to kill me.” Nelson grinned.
“Not before Edith gets the last word in. I don’t know which he hates more, the idea that she has to...tend to him... you know, I don’t think they’ve even....well, anyway, or that she hasn’t let him get a word in edgewise! She’s really upset that he stood her up so to speak, though he claims it was a simple mistake. Tell me Harry, when are they going to get married, they certainly act like they already are!”
“Well, they’ve been good friends for quite a while, but so far...maybe they’re afraid too.”
“Well it could be problematic. After all, her brother and his boss...well,”
“That wouldn’t stop Lee Crane!”
“Probably not,” Doctor Jamison clunked aboard,“but it doesn’t help. After all, admiral,the man has a little pride.”
“Are you saying that Lee won’t take the plunge because it would look bad? Sucking up to the old man stuff? Really Jaimie, I’m surprised at you. You know Lee better than that. It has to be something else. I wonder if...well...maybe they just aren’t in love?” Nelson pondered.
“Perish the thought.” June mocked. “ Really Harry, it’s as clear as the nose on your face, the two are made for each other...maybe they just need a push.”
“And just what are you implying?”
“Never you mind. Men are so...imbicilic when it comes to love, present company exepted of course Harry.”
“Of course,” he grinnned, as poured himself another drink.
It was boring today. There was really little to do, so Edith decided
to catch another glimpse of Lee before going shopping. Sequestered
to sickbay, Lee had been ordered to stay there overnight at least, by Nelson
himself as per Jamison’s instructions. As a compromise, Nelson had thanked
Captain Harris and dismissed her back to the regular Navy. Peeking
into the compartment, Edith stood and just watched Lee as he slept, his
hand against his face and curly hair....Oh, he looks just like a beautiful
little baby.He really did forget our date, I shouldn’t have been so hard
on him. He’s so wonderful. He’s always been so nice to me. I sure
wish I could get him to pose in Playgirl. Helping Harris was so embarrassing.
I always knew Lee was handsome, but ...oh,if I had a photo I could see
him...that way... as much as I like.. not my fault I’m interested. It’s
not easy being so damn pure and innocent! He was so mad. But I had to do
what Harris told me, didn’t I? Oh, Lee, I love you so much
it hurts. Why don’t you love me?
“Edith?” Nelson asked, causing her to jump almost two feet and screech in startled surprize.
“Harry! You nearly gave me a heart attack!”
“Sorry sis. What are you doing here?”
“Oh, uh, I just wanted to see if he was okay.”
“Umhumm.Sleeping like a baby I see.”
“Seems so. Well, I gotta run. Big sale today. Bye Harry. See you later.” Edith fled, red faced at being caught deep in sensual thoughts.
Good grief, Lee, why don’t you get a a crew cut for all those curls. Brylcreme just doesn’t do the job. You look just like a little boy!
“Good morning Harry,” June interupted his thoughts, “ don’t worry, I had permision to come aboard this morning. How’s the patient?”
“Driving my sister mad with unbridled passion, I think, and he doesn’t even have to do anything!” Nelson grinned indulgently but with a noticable trace of envy. “ She was almost drooling just looking at him!”
“Well, Harry, that’s just a normal female response to Adonis here.”
“Well, it’s not his fault, Harry. He can’t help it if women find him irrisitably attractive. And just look at that beautiful thick curly hair. No woman could resist the urge wanting to play with it.”
“His hair?” Nelson asked incredulously, “ That’s what’s women like? His hair?”
“Harry...I’m surprized you don’t realize...why, hair can be very...erotic.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“Well, I think he’s very handsome and even more so when he looks like a little boy.”
“Ah... I think I’m beginning to understand something.”
“And what’s that love?”
“I need a wig!”
Both began to laugh and quickly exited sickbay in order not to wake the patient.
“Well, Riley, good luck. You sure those waves are safe?”
“Safe? Probably not. But Ski, they haven’t canceled the competition yet have they?”
“They’re thinking about it. Well, good luck any way. Oh, uh, Riley? I kind of got drafted into helping out the doc this morning, I’m sorry, but the skipper knows about you and Miss Nelson. He, uh, didn’t exactly say anything. She’d come back from shopping and told him all about you. He sure looked, well, a bit put out. She actually told him how muscular and talented you were, cute, strong, and all that...it’d be kind of hard for him not to be jealous.”
“Jealous?! The skipper jealous?? Of Me?”
“And why not? I mean, if his girl has the hots for you....”
“Oh man, I’m in trouble.”
“Try not to think about it surfer boy. Looks like you got enough trouble,”Ski said seriously, glancing at the violent surf. “ Uh, Riley, look, you will be careful won’t you? I mean, after all, I’d hate to break in a new sonarman.”
“Gee thanks, Ski, for a minute I actually thought you cared,”Riley grinned sarcastically. “Ski,” Riley continued, suddenly serious, “ if anything does happen...I mean, if I wipe out and crack my head open, you’ll make sure my mom doesn’t go bonkers will ya?”
“You can count on me buddy. You can count on me.”
“Penny for your thoughts?” Chip asked Lee, sitting down at Lee’s table
at the sub base cafeteria. He sure looks broody.
“Oh, uh, nothing Chip. Just thinking about the scenery.”
“Everybody’s heard about it you know,” Chip said gently.
“Heard about what?”Lee looked up innocently.
Good grief, he doesn’t even know.“Uh, nothing. Just a wild rumor.”
“Uh, well...rumor has it that...well, that Edith’s dumped you for Riley. Pretty crazy, hu?”
“For the last time Chip,” Lee said wearily, “ there was never anything serious between Edith and me. We were just good friends, that’s all.”
“If you say so skipper.”
Whatever Lee was about to say, paled into insignificance as Lee noticed how Chip was casting a roving eye over a particulary curvatious nurse at a nearby table. She had a friend, too. But Lee’d had enough of medical personnel lately and quietly left Chip to his prey, or was it predator?Maybe he should just take a walk on the beach. Hawaiian beaches were great places to get away and think. Or just look at.
“Junie?” Nelson asked softly.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
“Never. More Harry.”
Sighing, Nelson heaped another glop of spaghetti on her plate. This was supposed to be a romantic evening out. The club was bathed in candlelight and soft music. None of that loud stuff Riley or Sharkey or even Morton liked. Nelson had made sure of that.
“Harriman!” exploded the voice of Admiral Jiggs Stark. “What on earth are you doing here? Oh, I see. Excuse me Miss...uh...”
“June Gunther, may I introduce Jiggs Stark. He runs things at Comsubpac.”
“Pleased to meet you. Wont’ you join us. The spaghetti is wonderful. Imagine. I come all the way from Ohio for a vacation in Hawaii, and I end up eating Italian food!”
“I prefer Chinese myself.” He laughed, “ care to dance? Harry here has two left feet”.
Oh swell, Nelson thought bitterly. First the food distracts her, now he moves in!”
“I’d love to. If you don’t mind Harry.”
“Oh, not at all my dear, not at all,” Nelson smiled graciously. I’ll get you for this Jiggs.
The moonlight danced on the crashing surf. Here and there Lee could
see beach side fires and hear children singing campfire songs. There was
peace here, dispite the stormy sea. But he couldn’t enjoy it. He was used
to the lonliness of command, but now he actually felt empty. Edith and
he were just freinds. Really they were. Neither of them had ever indicated
they wanted it any other way. It was just that...he’d taken her special
kind of friendship for granted. He’d never even attempted a kiss. And now
his own crewman Riley had wowed her with his youth, good looks, muscles,
and of all things, surfing! Surfing! Lee knew there was an age difference
between them, but it wasn’t that much, and...why was he tormenting himself
with these thoughts? Edith wasn’t his property. She could be interested
in whomever she wanted. So why did it hurt so? Why did it hurt...
“Hey bub, wake up. No sleeping on the beach. Rules, man. Especially with the competitors practicing around here.” the burly lifeguard prodded Crane.
“Oh, uh, oh. I...I must have fallen asleep. I’m sorry.”
“Skipper!”Kowalski exclaimed, dropping a can of wax as he recognized the beach bum, “ You look like shi...sorry skipper. You okay?”
“Yeah. I’m fine. Thanks, Ski. I guess I lost track of time.”
“Uh hu. Look, skipper. Why don’t I take you back to Seaview and doc can check you out.”
“I said I’m fine. I just fell asleep that’s all”.
“Okay skipper, if you say so.”
“You’re out early.”
“Yeah, I got drafted into helping out. Two days to go to the big one.”
“The SurferBoy competition? ?The one that pays off a million dollars?”
“Yeah. Too bad I can’t compete..don’t know a thing about how to ride the waves. But Riley said he’d split it down the middle if he won, if I helped him out, timing his practice rides, helping him wax his board, getting his beer, hot dogs,, stuff like that.”
“Pretty fair exchange, I’d say, if he wins,” Lee chuckled. Riley must be taking lessons from Sharkey about inducing slave labor.
“Yeah, beats loafing. There’s just one problem skipper.”
“Well, it’s the girls. There are a bunch of them around. Really something. But when they discover I’m just a beach jockey, they loose interest. All they’re interested in are the guys who ride the big ones. They think it’s real macho, sensual really, uh, sorry skipper.”
“Am I that outdated Ski?” Crane asked quietly.
“Hell no!, Uh I mean, well, you’re a gentleman...and well, sometimes a girl, well, likes a guy to be a little more, uh...”
Kowalski felt his skin redden. “Uh, well...sort of.”
“Hmm. I know what you mean” Lee grinned, “It’s just that...when a girl is rather...special... It’s hard to think of her other than....Kowalski?” Lee fought to find the words, “Riley’s not just swinging Edi ...Miss Nelson along is he? He is serious about her?”
“Uh, I don’t know, skipper,” Ski gulped, “ Do you want me to ask him?”
Lee smiled, putting Ski at ease. “No. It’s none of my business anyway. Have a good shore leave Ski,” Crane said and departed.
“I thought I might find you here, Lee.” Nelson suppressed a smile, as
Lee emerged from under a console in Seaview’s control room.
“Oh, hi admiral. I thought I’d check out the repairs and no, I made sure the Navy’s supervisor came along with me...he thinks the techs just had a simple case of jitters. I guess maybe Harris was right, after all. I made the men nervous.”
“Perhaps,” Nelson smiled, “but that shouldn’t have made a difference. I went ahead and put in a formal complaint. There shouldn’t be any more accidents...hungry? You look beat.”
“Oh, no. I’m fine.”
“I could make that an order... What is it Lee?” Nelson asked softly, “ Something’s bothering you and it’s not the refit.”
“ Nothing’s wrong. Nothing at all.”
“I’m not buying it Lee.”
After a moment or two, Lee looked at Nelson and sat down on the periscope island steps. “ I just...found out how old I am... antiquated....and” Lee looked up at Nelson, “ I’ve lost her admiral. Edith. I...we were only friends...that’s all. But now, when she’s...interested in someone, I...I realize that I want more,” Lee looked down at the deck, “ And I was a fool not to know it,” he spoke in quiet chastisement.
“Riley.”Nelson said by way of explanation.
“How did you know about Riley?”
Nelson grinned, “ Seaview grapevine...seems she’s pretty interested in him...but...she did spend a fair amount of time in sickbay just looking at you. That must count for something Lee.”
“Probably deciding how to get even for when I came apart at the seams about her bikini.”
“You were a little...possessive.”
“Mmm. I still think she should cover up.”
“Well, we big brothers should stick together... come on, June’s arranged a picnic on the beach. Front row seats for Riley’s competition. Rival or not, he is a shipmate.”
Nelson couldn’t help noticing that when Lee smiled at that, he looked just like a little boy. Amazing that women found it attractive. He just couldn’t see it.
“Any sign of big brother?”Edith asked as she sat another hamper on the
“Not yet. Don’t worry dear. He’ll be here.”
“That’s the problem. I...oh, never mind.”
“What is it hon? You look troubled.”
“I...it’s just that....he’s so good at seeing through things....I...June? I...please don’t tell him that I’m not really interested in Riley? It’s just that..that...well, I had to get Lee to notice me somehow! He cant’ tear himself away from his precious Seaview and he’s never even...he hasn’t even tried to kiss me! Maybe he just doesn’t like me anymore.”
“I find that very hard to believe...look, Edith. Men are well...a different species. They have a hard time expressing themselves. Maybe Crane just, well, can’t figure out how.”
“Ha! He’s kissed Angie enough, and Katie, and Tish, and, oh, just about every other female in his harem. Chief Sharkey even found him smooching with that uptight English girl at lookout cove! I wonder how many other girls found themselves in his passionate embrace and...”
“Harem...but I’m just...I’m just the old man’s sister!” she said mockingly, “ I need protecting! He’s just looking out for me as a duty. He wasn’t even a friend. Just a ...big brother. Just like Harry.” Edith said pouting.
“Somebody call me?” Nelson plunked a huge beach umbrella next to the girls. “By the way, I brought a friend. It helps to have a spare hand.”
“June, Edith.” Lee spoke quietly, as he helped steady the umbrella and retrieved a cold soda from the hamper, handing it to the perspiring Nelson.
“What are you doing here?Not enough excitement on Seaview?” Edith glared.
“Actually I’m here to give Riley a little moral support. A million dollars is nothing to sneeze at. Where is our surfer boy anyway?” Lee asked with no trace of bitterness in his voice, though his eyes were haunted.
“Over there, with the officials, signing in. Kowalski’s with him.”
“Ah, yes. Riley’s slave.”
“His what?” Nelson asked.
“It’s a long story.”
Lee was about to explain, but Kowalski happened to notice the picnickers and waved before turning to Riley.
“Uh,” Ski warned, “you’d better wave, Riley. Over there.”
“Hu? Oh man.”
“Just wave. Act pleased...here, I’ll take care of the board. You go say hi.”
Ski watched in a little trepidation as Riley prepared to meet his fate.
Nelson and Crane rose to meet the boy while Edith popped up and gave Riley
a kiss smack on the lips.
“Oh Riley,” she giggled loudly, “ I just couldn’t help myself! You’re so brave and all...”
“Well, aren’t you going to kiss me back?”she fluttered her eyelashes.
I’d rather walk the plank! Riley did manage to give her cheek a small peck, but it was all he dared.
“Good luck Riley,” Crane extended his hand, “ And be careful. We need you back in one piece.”
Cheeze, Even in swim trunks, he’s all captain. Not even a hint of anger. Uh, no. Skipper’s real good at hiding anger. It’s when he’s quiet that we’re in trouble.Like now. “Aye aye sir!” Riley snapped to. “ I mean, I’ll do my best sir.”
“Just have fun Riley.” Lee tried to be cheerful. “Oh, tell Ski that we have plenty of sandwiches, pop, and lemonade if he’s interested.”
“Oh, that’s okay sir. A bunch of the guys are over by the sportscaster’s stand. They brought a bunch of beer and potato chips and the dames are real knockouts...I mean...the guys think they are.”
“I understand Riley,”Edith oozed understanding, “Just so you don’t forget me,” she gave him a beautiful smile.
Nodding, Riley escaped to the relative safety of the competitors area.
It had been a long day. Ordinarily, Crane would have enjoyed a day at
the beach. But his burns hurt even more now, despite his following Jamison’s
instructions about not taking a dunk in the sea, and continued application
of therapeutic ointments. And so he had watched the competition. It wasn’t
easy. Edith was far too distracting. And she wasn’t even wearing a bikini.
She had, Lee thought, succumbed to Nelson’s brotherly admonishment about
such apparel, especially on a beach crowded with hot-blooded men. It was
strange, but did the one-piece black swimsuit seem to be even more revealing?
Lee brooded over his dinner of a can of beans, and hardly noticed the swirling sand that managed to get mixed up in it. Oh, he’d been invited to join Nelson and June for dinner at some fancy restaurant, but had excused himself to simply stay on the beach and “watch the waves”. Even Lee could see they’d rather be by themselves. The sunset cast a beautiful glow to the sea, now swept with monsoon type waves and breakers. Only a few stalwart souls attempted to swim or surf, and the lifeguards were busy putting up warning signs and signaling people to get out of the water.
As for the competition, it had been a rugged one, won by a boy from Kansas, of all places. Edith had raced to Riley’s side after he’d come in fourth place. Oozing concern for such a “noble” attempt, Edith had “drafted” him to a special dinner and night on the town of her own.
It was a strange feeling. Lee had never been jealous of anyone before. But it was hard to ignore his hormones. He was jealous. But he also knew, he had no right to be.
“Well, why didn’t someone tell me?!” Nelson paced back and forth aboard
Seaview. The refit was completed, certified, and they were ready to sail.
But there was no captain.
“I’m sorry sir, but nobody really noticed. After all sir, we were all on shore leave, even Lee.”
“Chip, you know damn well, that Lee has standing orders to report to the ship’s doctor at regular intervals.. It’s been three days since anyone’s seen him! And now he’s overdue in reporting! Jaimie, you did report him late in contacting you, didn’t you?”
“Well, no sir. Lee’s always...busting my...orders sir. It’s just like him to ignore my advice, and it’s not like he’s in any real danger.”
“Well, he is now! As soon as he’s aboard, you send him to my cabin!”
“Admiral,” Jamison proceeded cautiously, “ Why are you so upset, sir?”
“Upset? Upset? Damn it all, of course I’m upset! Something is wrong! Lee does not just disappear for three days without notifying somebody, especially when...”
“He’s always broody,” Chip ventured, “ about what sir?”
“I should think that’s evident.”
“Don’t be flippant!..I..I’m sorry Chip, but after the way Edith went on and on during the competition, Lee has to have been...well...feeling sorry for himself.”
“I find that very hard to believe sir. Lee may have a pang or two of jealousy, but he’s not stupid, or suicidal.”
“Did I say that?! No, Chip, it’s just, he may have been so deep in thought that he could have been hit by a truck or something. Or he went for a swim in those waves and drowned or had too many drinks! Dammit, man, something’s wrong...Sparks! Keep on those contacts and sing out if the police have anything.”
“Cheeze, man,” Riley munched on his shipboard lunch of macaroni and
cheese, “ I thought the old man was going to heave Morton and Jamison overboard!”
“Well, he does have a point. The skipper’s pretty good at getting himself into trouble, isn’t he?”
“Yeah Ski, but the admiral doesn’t have to watch over him like a...babysitter or something!”
“Yeah. I suppose you’re right. But the skip is overdue...I wonder where...what’s that?”
The noise was deafening. It was loud Hawaiian music, and it reverberated throughout the boat. Ordinarily Nelson and his crew would have welcomed such a display of Alohaitis, but not now. Not when the skipper might be lying dead someplace.
“Permission to come aboard sir?” the very familiar voice called down
the control room hatch.
“Where the devil have you been?!!” Nelson shouted in relieved fury.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Lee leapt down, almost cat like in his agility, to the deck. He stood, awaiting the admiral’s wrath.
“And do something about that damn noise!”
“I’m afraid he can’t do that, sir.” the mouse like voice spoke as it’s owner climbed down the metal steps.
“And who are you?”
“Oh, the names Raz.I’m with the governor’s office. I’m here on official business, Mr.?”
“Nelson. Admiral Nelson.”
“Pleased to meet you. Are you the owner of this craft, or should I ask to see someone else?”
“I’m her owner. What seems to be the problem?”
“Problem? Don’t you know?”
“Know? Know what?” Nelson asked, noticing Lee’s almost furtive look.
“About your crewman here,” he indicated Crane.
“Yes. Why he’s quite the hero. And when we found out he was a member of a vessel that hadn’t been properly welcomed to the islands, well, we just had to give her the official aloha.”
“And just what did he do, prey tell?”
“Well, it’s a long story, but he saw a boy in trouble out in those heavy waves, what with all those sharks and a board that had smashed into his head, and rescued him. How he managed to keep from going under himself, well, is anyone’s guess. Those waves were awsome.
But the currents were so strong that he couldn’t help the lad back to the beach, so he chose to use them. He braced the boy, who was badly hurt, onto the surfboard, and paddled and rode the thing to the next closest island where the resisting current wasn’t as strong.
Just like the old ones used to travel between the islands. It took a few days. Marvelous. The boy’s going to be fine. Just a craked rib and a concussion. We also checked you lad, but he insisted that his cuts and burns were from an industrial accident and not a shark or surfing accident. It was one of our nurses that found out that he had a ship and that it had never really been welcomed to the islands.
And so, at the govenor’s request, sir, I formally welcome your vessel to the freedom of the islands. Aloha and Aloha, may I ask our welcoming committe aboard?”
“Well,” Nelson grinned, “ that’s up to the captain.”
“Would you get him?”
“Right away,” Nelson took two short steps and pulled Lee toward the govenor’s rep. “Captain Crane, Mr. Raz.”
“What? I don’t underst...ah.” he began to laugh. “I thought you looked a little old for a recruit! Well, ‘surfer boy’, may I ask our welcomers aboard?”
Lee nodded, but still embarrassed about anyone knowing of his exploits. Very soon the Seaview was inundated with hula girls, leis, music, and an atmosphere of sheer glory. Nelson declared an extra day and night of shore leave, and quickly contacted June to enjoy the festivities. There was even going to be a topside luau.
It was nearly midnight by the time the last of the hula dancers and
musicians had left. Seaview was still littered with flowers as Edith walked
up the gangplank.
“Permission to come aboard?” she asked softly of Lee, who was plucking flower pieces out of his hair.
She looked so beautiful in the moonlight. “Permission granted. He’s aft.”
“But Lee, why on earth would I want to see him? After all, he’d rather walk the plank. He told me in as many words.”
“Oh, Edith, I’m so sorry.” Lee said gently, “ I thought he was really seri...what is it?”
“Riley never had eyes for me, Lee. And...I used him... to make you jealous.”
“Please, Lee, hear me out...I...just didn’t know how to...”
Before she could finish, his lips were on hers.
I wonder when they’ll come up for air, Nelson thought as he descended
into the now almost deserted ship and smelled the lingering floral fragrances.
All hands had welcomed an extra bit of shore leave, and only he and June
were left aboard, except for Lee and Edith topside.
“Well, Harry, I’d better say goodnight.”
“Now why on earth would I let you do that?”
“Harry! I know what you’re thinking, and you can’t be serious! Here?!”
It was with some speculation the next morning as to why the ‘old man’ had extended shore leave yet again. While not complaining, his crew was wondering about the new “keep out” status he’d placed the boat for the time being. Marine guards even. And the boat herself, why she was still covered in flowers. Did the skipper know? Of course he knew, why surely the admiral would have told him. Maybe the skipper was aboard in a deep top secret discussion with the old man right now.
“Mmm. Yes, Lee?”
“Are you sure?”
“Please, people, quiet on the set! Now, Miss Nelson, I must ask you to be quiet. You’re a disturbing influence on the subject. Now, lights, a little dimmer please. Get that lei placed on Crane properly. Now Mr. Crane. A big smile for the camera please. That’s it. Splendid!”
“Edith, when the admiral finds out...”
“What Harry doesn’t know won’t hurt him...besides, it’s my picture, not his.”
“I think it’s wonderful.”
“Well, I think it’s disgusting.”
“Poor baby. Anyone would think you’d just posed for Playgirl instead of the cover of Surfer’s Own. Though....mmmm....I don’t suppose you’d consider it?” she giggled.
“Only if you pose for Playboy, and if you even think about doing that, I’ll ask the admiral to send you away to...”
Just where Lee would have her sent remained unanswered, for Edith returned
Lee’s embrace of last night and all thoughts of anything else except each
other were forgotten. Until the clock struck 11am.
“Damn! I’m late! The admiral’s gonna’ kill me!” Lee exclaimed.
“Oh, I don’t think so Lee. June called me this morning. Shore leave’s been extended, indefinitley.”
“Ohmigosh, what’s wrong? What’s happened to my boat?”
“Nothing happened to your boat! Really, Lee...it’s just...well...I shouldn’t be telling you this...but...well...you don’t have any outstanding assignments and Harry just decided to...enjoy a little extra bit of shore leave, that’s all.”
“Does June have anything to do with...his decision?”
“Why, Lee, whatever gave you such an idea.”
“Oh, I don’t know, after all, the female of the species can be most...distracting.”
“I stand corrected. C’mon distraction, let’s go and let the studio people get a little work done.”
“But what’ll we do?”
“Well, we can always go surfing...or something else.”
“ C’mon surfer boy, I choose something else,”she whispered, and they kissed again.
“Well,” one of the portrait studio’s helpers grinned as she reset the
stage, “At least we really know Crane’s a submariner.”
“Because they sure took long enough to come up for air!” she laughed.