*Thank you Kate for beta-ing.
By Sea Spinner
“I’m telling you, Ski, you’re wrong,” Sharkey said adamantly.
Patterson hit Kowalski lightly on his arm. “I’m with Sharkey, Ski. You’re on your own with this one.”
Kowalski scowled. Since when was he wrong about anything the Skipper did? “You’ll both see, the Skipper’ll…”
“The Skipper will what, Kowalski?” snapped Chip Morton.
The rating gave the XO a guilty look. “Well, Sir, uh, I, um…”
Sharkey jumped to Kowalski’s rescue. “You see, Mister Morton, the Admiral isn’t coming on this cruise, Sir. He came down with a sudden bout of that stomach virus, which means…”
A call from Captain Crane interrupted Sharkey’s explanation.
“Mister Morton, report to the bridge at once!”
Chip frowned. “I wonder what’s going on.”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you, Sir. The Skipper’s not going to like this cruise one bit.”
Sharkey, Kowalski and Patterson all grinned at each other.
“Girl Scouts,” replied Sharkey.
“The guests on this voyage are a pack of Girl Scouts from Santa Barbara,” Sharkey said apologetically. “I guess the Skipper just found out.”
The color slowly drained from Chip’s face. “Girl Scouts, oh no.”
“Mister Morton, whenever you’re ready,” growled Lee’s voice over the intercom.
“I wonder if it’s too late to come down with the Admiral’s mysterious stomach flu’,” he muttered, heading quickly towards the door.
By the time Chip hit the control room, he could tell that Lee had a full head of steam up. His eyes zeroed in on Chip, and he swallowed nervously. Perhaps now would be a good time to ask Jamie to slip Lee a sedative.
“Mister Morton, would you be kind enough to escort our…our guests onto Seaview and take personal responsibility for them while they’re on board.”
“Yes, Sir.” He stood in front of Lee for a few more seconds, trying desperately to find the words, but without success.
“I’ll be in my cabin,” snapped Lee, turning on his heel.
Chip watched Lee retreat and sighed. Things were going to get ugly. Talk about a recipe for disaster. Take one disgruntled submarine Captain, add twelve hormonal teenage girls to the mix and watch the sparks fly. He fervently hoped that it wasn’t the same unit from last year. He groaned out loud as memories of the trip came back to him. Until that voyage, he’d always thought that Girl Scouts were cute little girls who were well behaved. No wonder the Admiral had stomach troubles - he could already feel an ulcer coming on.
“Excuse me, Mister Morton, the Girl Scouts are asking permission to come aboard.”
“Ah, Chief, could you please escort them to their cabins, get them settled in and show them to the observation nose? Oh, and I’m making you personally responsible for them while they’re on board.”
Sharkey looked horrified, and Chip had to bite his tongue to stop the bubble of laughter from bursting out.
“But Sir, shouldn’t someone more senior than me be responsible for them, no disrespect intended?”
Okay, maybe if I dig my fingernails into my palm I won’t laugh, thought Chip.
“Chief,” he replied with his best straight face. “How much trouble can they be? After all, they’re only a few young girls? Mister O’Brien, you have the con,” he managed as Sharkey growled a response that he missed completely.
Chip managed to get as far as the top of the stairs as a howl of laughter made it out. After a few moments he was able to compose himself and headed towards the wardroom to make sure Cookie had organized refreshments for their visitors. As he passed Lee’s cabin he heard raised voices.
“I tell you I’m fine,” snapped Lee’s voice.
“After last time, it’s a wonder the Admiral even allowed them back through the front gate,” came Jamie’s voice of reason.
“Jamie, I tell you, I’m okay. Besides, Chip’s got the matter in hand.”
“Oh, is that why I heard him chortling at the top of the stairs just now?”
Uh oh, now there’ll be trouble, thought Chip as he nearly ran all the way to the gangway, bumping into Cookie as he walked around a corner at the wrong time. The food and drink ended up scattered all over the passage, Chip and Cookie. Chip didn’t need to see the look on Cookie’s face to know he was in real trouble.
“I, uh, sorry, Cookie, I promise I’ll make it up to you,” he apologized hurriedly.
He dusted himself off as best he could and continued his mission, feeling guilty for leaving the chef with such a mess to clean up. By the time he got to the gangway the Girl Scouts had disappeared and the Lee had paged him to his cabin. It’s happening again, he thought miserably, only it was him, not Lee who was in the firing line this time.
Chip made it to Lee’s cabin in record time, successfully avoiding what was left of Cookie’s refreshments on the way. He knocked on Lee’s door and waited.
Lee looked furious, but as soon as he saw Chip, the anger turned to amusement. “Is that pavlova?”
Chip nodded. “And some lemonade,” he groaned.
His friend smiled. “I suppose that happened when you were on your way to the gangway?”
“Yes,” he replied sheepishly. “I was in a hurry and Cookie was coming around the corner and…” He threw his hands in the air.
“Well, you’d better get cleaned up. Sharkey’s giving the Scouts a safety brief in the observation nose.”
Chip turned to leave.
“Oh, and if I were you, I’d wash your hair, although the Kiwi fruit will probably put a nice shine in it,” Lee teased.
Chip pulled a piece of fruit from his hair. “You’re actually enjoying this, aren’t you?” he accused.
The more Lee’s amusement grew, the more glowering Chip became
“I think you’d better freshen up and see to our passengers, Mister Morton.”
“Aye, Sir,” he said glumly.
Chip showered and changed and was heading for the observation nose when he took one step down the spiral staircase and slipped on something. The resulting crack in his ankle as he hit the deck and the bottom told everyone in the nose that there was a broken bone. Sharkey quickly ran to his side, calling for O’Brien to get Jamie. As he got to Chip he saw the offending article that had been responsible for Chip’s fall.
“What happened,” moaned Chip.
Sharkey gave him a look that told Chip he wasn’t going to like the answer. He held up a pen for Chip to see, it had a Girl Scout emblem emblazoned on it. It was the same unit as the one that had caused the chaos and mayhem last year. Sharkey watched as Chip’s face grew red.
“Now Mister Morton, Sir, Doc’s on his way, so is the Skipper. You just lie back and…and relax.”
“Relax!” bellowed Chip. “I’ll…”
“Mister Morton! Jamie will have you in sick bay in a flash.”
Chip looked up to see Lee standing over him, obviously caught between mirth and concern.
“Oh, Captain Crane, I’d given up all hope of seeing you on this trip,” said a mildly attractive brunette wearing a Girl Scout leader’s uniform one size too small.
Chip felt a smile on his own lips when he realized that a broken ankle was nothing compared to what Lee would be going through with the middle-aged Girl Scout leader, Miss Ames.
He smugly watched as Lee took an unintended step backwards towards the staircase. “Ah, Mrs Ames, I’m sorry I haven’t made an appearance. I was waiting until you’d settled in,” he said without missing a beat.
Liar! Cowering in your cabin more likely, thought Chip.
The Leader stepped a little closer to Lee, as if imparting a secret. “Oh, you bad boy, you know it’s Miss Ames.” She tapped her wedding finger. “I’m not married – yet,” she said with a meaning nobody in the immediate vicinity could miss.
Lee gave Chip a ‘you just wait’ look, then returned Miss Ames’ smile. Jamie finally made an appearance followed by two corpsmen carrying a stretcher. He quickly assessed the damage to Chip’s ankle.
“He’ll be out of commission for a while, Skipper.” He motioned for the corpsmen to place Chip on the stretcher. “It looks like a clean break in his ankle.”
Normally he would have protested loudly about having to be on a stretcher, but for once all he wanted was the fastest route out. It was only when Chip saw the cornered animal look in Lee’s eyes that he felt a pinch of remorse. The feeling quickly evaporated when he saw Lee give him one last ‘you’re really going to pay for this’ glare. Oh yeah, he might be in sick bay, but at least he would be safe. There was no way Jamie would let the hormones on legs into his sick bay, so he lay back and smiled despite the pain.
Chip rubbed his eyes. The anesthetic was just wearing off and he thought he was having a nightmare. There were six Girl Scouts standing around his bed, just staring at him. Jamie was at the end and looked resigned to having the girls in his sick bay.
“It was the Skipper’s idea,” he explained without being asked. “These, er, young ladies are going for their First Aid badge.”
The XO heard a muffled laugh from the corridor and raised an irritable eyebrow at Jamie.
Jamie shrugged helplessly. “He came to check if you were alright, but as soon as he saw you were waking up he left.”
“I’ll bet,” grumbled Chip, giving up spending the rest of the cruise in the sanctuary of sick bay.
Lee made his way back to the control room to find utter mayhem. The rest of the Girl Scouts were doing their best to disrupt every operational workstation in the room.
“Mister O’Brien!” yelled Lee before checking his temper. “What is the meaning of…of this?”
O’Brien came to attention. “I’m sorry, Skipper, they just over-ran us. While you were gone, Mrs Ames seemed to have lost all control over them.”
“Miss Ames,” he muttered. “Get the Chief up here and have them herded back to the observation nose. I’m going to the sickbay to get something for my headache.”
“Very well,” he replied, strode over to the radio shack and retrieved the mic. “Admiral, how are you?”
“I’m improving all the time, how’s the voyage going?”
Lee could have sworn at that moment he heard a French Horn in the background – impossible. “I’ve had better cruises, Admiral.”
“Oh, that’s no good. Well, I suppose I’d better go, I’m feeling sick again.”
“Harry, put the phone away, you’re embarrassing me. It’s a concert, not a meeting,” hissed a voice Lee recognized straight away as Edith Nelson’s.
“Uh, Sir, are you – “
“Sorry, Lee. Gosh, I think I have to head off to the toilet quickly. I’ll see you in a few days.”
Lee stood holding the phone to his head – the Admiral had been at a concert with his sister, not in bed, not in hospital, but at a concert.
are you alright?” asked
He passed the phone back to the radio operator and nodded. “I will be, eventually.”
reached the top of the spiral stairs before
“Chip, we have to talk.”
“What about? I think I’ve suffered enough this trip,” he complained.
Lee gave him an evil grin. “The Admiral’s not sick, he’s at a concert with Edith, and I’ve just had an idea of how to get even with him.”
Chip’s face broke into a similar smile. “Oh, and what would that be?”
First Lee ushered the Girl Scouts out of the sick bay then leaned closer to Chip’s ear so that even Jamie couldn’t hear what he was saying. Lee watched Chip’s face light up with the anticipation of evening the score with the Admiral.
“I wonder if there’s a Stores Stowage Badge,” winked Chip.
“I’m sure we can think of some way the girls can earn some badges.”
Four days later, Seaview docked back at Santa Barbara, with most of the crew the worse for wear. Jamie had ended up locking himself in the sickbay for long periods of time and Lee wondered if he had a secret stash of whiskey in there.
Chip was finally wandering around on crutches, but avoiding the Girl Scouts like the plague, and Lee had successfully managed to last the whole cruise without being accosted by Miss Ames.
“Sir, I’ve just had a message from the gangway, the Admiral’s on his way down.”
“Thanks, Ski.” Lee looked at Chip. “Are you all set for a quick getaway?”
Chip tapped the cast on his leg. “I’ll try my best.”
“Lee, Chip…what happened to you, Chip?” the Admiral asked jovially.
“Nothing much, Sir, just tripped on the stairs. Jamie said it’s healing well and I’ll be out of plaster in a few weeks.”
Nelson glanced at Lee. “How did it go, Lee? Did Mrs Ames and the girls have a nice trip?”
Lee flicked his eyes towards Chip and smiled. “Yes, Admiral, Miss Ames and the girls had a very eventful and rewarding trip.”
The Admiral looked impressed. “Well, if you need me, I’ll be in my cabin.”
“Almost everyone’s been released on shore leave, Admiral, so Chip and I thought we might head into town for a quiet drink”
“Where are you going? I might join you.”
“I’m not sure yet, we’ll give you a call.”
“Very well, I’ll see you later.”
“Yes Sir,” they both replied simultaneously.
“Oh, Sir, we bought you a couple of packets of the Girl Scout cookies. I know how much you enjoy them,” said Lee.
“Very thoughtful of you both, where are they?”
“In your cabin, Sir, Scout’s honor,” he said, ignoring the mirth on Chip’s face.
They waited until the Admiral had made the top of the stairs.
“Right, let’s go.”
Lee helped Chip up and they stealthily followed the Admiral to his cabin. Chip was barely holding back his laughter. They stuck their heads around the corner of the passage just in time to see Nelson open his door and fall backwards under a large pile of Girl Scout cookie packets. There were many more where they’d come from – much more.
“What the devil?” roared Nelson. “Captain Crane, Lieutenant Commander Morton, I’ll have your hides for this.”
“Time to leave,” said Lee.
“I think this calls for a few drinks to celebrate.”
“No, to forget.”
“Forget what?” frowned Chip.
“That we’ll be scrubbing the decks with our toothbrushes for the next month,” Lee moaned. “But it was worth it.”