Sharon H



Manifests. Invoices. Requisitions. Replacement part forms. Chip Morton's desk was an organized  mess—if there was such a thing—littered with neatly stacked piles of paper work. Chip scrawled his name on another form and dropped it in the 'out' box. Reaching over blindly, he snagged another form off a pile and quickly scanned it, frowning as he read. Without warning his eyes went out of focus, crossed, then slowly refocused. Placing the palms of both hands over his eyes, he reveled in the semi darkness, ready to admit that just maybe he'd been staring at paperwork way too long.


 He sat the forms aside then the clock on the wall caught his attention. After 1900. Funny it didn't seem that late. Funny how time flies. . . With a final glance at the pile of paperwork Chip decided there was no way he was going to finish this tonight. He could get an early start on it in the morning and get it finished up tomorrow in time for the weekend.


His stomach growled, reminding him that lunch was a now faded memory. Maybe he could  have something delivered. Chip gathered up his jacket and briefcase then tugged his hat down over his short blond hair.


Chip closed and locked his office door, walking past his secretary's empty desk. Two doors down on the opposite side of the hall a light filtered under the closed office door of Seaview's skipper. Chip paused outside of Lee's secretary's open office door, wondering if he ought to stop and check on his friend. His stomach growled again and that made up Chip's mind. Knowing Lee, the skipper had skipped lunch. Maybe he could bully Crane into eating dinner with him.


 Chip knocked twice then eased the door open. “Are you still here?” Chip asked as he stuck his head in Lee Crane's office.  Lee looked up at his friend from his desk and dropped the pen he had been writing with. It landed on the desk top with a dull thud.


“I should have left hours ago but I got caught up in all this.” Lee waved his hand in the direction of the mounds of paperwork on his desk. Chip snorted.


“Looks my desk. Come on, it'll be there in the morning. I need food and if I know you, you either skipped lunch or you took two bites out of a sandwich and tossed the rest. What a waste of perfectly good food.”


Lee rolled his eyes and rose up put of his comfy leather chair, stretching his lean 6'1” frame, hearing his joints pop and creak  and loosening muscles grown stiff from hours of disuse. “Charles Morton you always need food. Trying to get you full is like trying to fill a bottomless pit.”


“Like I keep telling you, I'm a growing boy. Were you planning on taking root in here?” Chip asked, sauntering into the office proper and perching himself on the edge of the desk.  He took a good long look at his best friend and decided he didn't like what he saw. Lee looked tired, dark circles stained his undereyes, and his normally bright amber hazel eyes were dull  with fatigue. How long had he been  at the computer?


“How long have you had your nose stuck in that monitor? Have you had any lunch?” Chip's voice carried definite tones of disapproval.


“I had a sandwich from the cafeteria,” Lee said defensively. By now examining the desk with a trained eye, poking around the piles of papers and folders. He found the object of his search hiding under a blue, tabbed file.


“This sandwich?” he asked, setting the half eaten ham and cheese sandwich down in front of Crane. The edges of the bread had turned brown and the ham hanging off the edge had dried, the cheese cracked and hard. The skipper blinked and stared at the offending object as if he had never seen it before.


“I got sidetracked. I wasn't really hungry,” he replied weakly. He gave Chip a watery tired smile.


Chip rolled his blue eyes. He tapped a finger against the top of the monitor.

”Shut that thing down, we're going to dinner.”


Lee raised a dark eyebrow and ran a hand through his curly hair. “Dinner?”


“Yes, dinner. You know, it's a large meal that usually falling at the end of the day consisting of several courses, and if we're lucky, a very good wine,”


Lee scowled, the effect lost by the growling of somebody's stomach. “I know what dinner is,” he said sourly.


“That's debatable.”


“Did you have something specific in mind for dinner, or are we just going wing it?”


Chip considered the question. “I don't know. Italian?”


“Too much garlic.”




“Too spicy.”




“Too rich.”


Chip growled in exasperation. “Well what do you feel like?”  he demanded. Lee just grinned.


“Why not just a burger?”


Chip rolled his eyes. “I'm buying, and all you want is a burger? Pal, something's wrong with you. I don't know about you, but I'm in dire need of egg rolls,” he replied sourly.


“Now, wait a second, you never said you were buying,” Lee replied, as the two walked toward the open office door at the end of the hall.






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