That's How the Cookie Crumbles
Revised 20 Sept. 2001
" I'm sorry Cookie, but I can't force the Captain to enjoy your culinary creations," Seaview's XO leaned back in his chair, hand on his chin, contemplating the exasperated man. The new chief galley chef of Seaview had become increasingly agitated and angrily paced the XO's small cabin.
" Then either he goes or I go!"
" Chief Conway! Calm down. Even you have to agree that's the most absurd demand ever made by a crewman in the history of the sea! Now sit down. I know you were top in your class at the Navy's cooking school and you came to us with outstanding reports from all of your previous boats. And I only have to look at my growing waistline since you've been aboard...but " Chip Morton leaned forward, "why don't you tell me what's really the matter? I can't believe you're this upset because the Captain hasn't been drooling over your meals like the rest of us."
" I...I...well, sir, when I think of all the training, the years of experience, all the hard work I do, the...sir, he doesn't even notice what he's eating, if he even eats at all and..."
" Well," Morton interrupted, "even Doc complains about that too, but it's not a crime, sailor."
"But it's as if...it's as if I don't even exist at all,"Conway looked at Morton abjectly," Sir, I don't even have a battle station. When I spoke to the Skipper about it yesterday, he looked at me as if I were insane and then he said...he said...."
"Any particular post in mind?" Morton interrupted, as he and just about everyone else aboard knew exactly what the Captain had said.
" No, but I am a qualified submariner sir, I think that makes me rate a battle station like everyone else. At least it did on all my other boats," Conway pouted.
"Chief," Morton rose and patted a friendly hand on the man's shoulder,"you have to understand Seaview is not a Navy boat, but I'll see what I can do, that is if you've decided not to force me to set you adrift right now?"
" I'll get back to duty sir," Cookie said, "but I want a transfer back to the Navy as soon as possible."
"I think you're making a big mistake, but your request is noted. Dismissed."
"Damn!" Nelson shouted,"who's got my cookie?"
"Sir?" Angie asked as she entered the Admiral's office at NIMR.
"My cookie," the Admiral explained, "it's a kind of ...bookmark in your computer so it doesn't take so blasted long to get to where you want to get going online, keeps your passwords, etc...It's missing, and I know I didn't delete it. Somebody else must have. Spies, hackers everywhere. It was supposed to be secure. Now everything is ruined."
"What are you trying to find?" the pretty assistant looked over Nelson's shoulder at the new computer's display screen.
"Oh, I can find the online pages I want, I just don't remember my handle and password that will let me enter into them further! That's why I allowed cookies in the first place. So I wouldn't have to remember!"
"I'm sure the webhosts will get back to you."
"Have you ever had a 'pop server error' Miss Hathaway? This email program hasn't been working for over a month. They just can't get it into their thick skulls that the problem is on their end, not mine, not my server. They can email me all they like, but what good is it if I can't receive the emails? I'm stuck. Thank goodness it's only my personal system, not the institute's."
"Sir," Angie said gently, "there's only one man for the job."
Nelson ran a hand through his hair and gave her a sheepish grin, "Get him."
"I thought I'd made myself clear to him already,"Crane looked up from his desk.
"I thought, well, maybe you could invent a battle station for him. There has to be something we can assign him to, perhaps with a drill, even if it's only for show."
"He'd only be in the way! I know it, you know it, and he knows it."
"Well of course he does, after you told him so, right in front of his shipmates.... The man needs a little moral support. Lee, you're his Captain, he only wants a little encouragement, a pat on the back, a..."
"A pat on the back? Chip, the crew almost worships the ground he walks on as it is. That's all they talk about, what's on the menu? When's Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks....he's the most popular man aboard! Seaview's galley cook has always been a non-essential, and has never had a battle station before, why is it so important now?"
"He had them in the Navy."
"We're not in the Navy. I'm not obligated to assign him a station or to sing his praises Chip. I know you go to bat for the crew, I do too, you know I do, but only to a point. This is ridiculous. He actually stood there and demanded you choose between us because I've never said 'oohh ahhh' to his food and didn't give him a battle station? "
"Excuse me sir,"Sparks appeared at the semi-open door, " message for Mr. Morton from Admiral Nelson," he handed over the small printout.
"What is it?" Crane asked as Morton read it.
"Somebody stole his cookie."
"His what?" Lee raised an eyebrow.
"Computer stuff, Lee. Sparks, tell him I'll be right on it, get me a tie-in to his personal computer and set up a video link to my cabin."
"Aye sir," Sparks departed.
"I'll take care of Conway,"the Captain said firmly, "Go on and help the Admiral. You know how he has a love/hate relationship with the marvels of the modern age. I'm surprised he's waited this long to get a personal computer."
"It's probably nothing, but hey, you never know. Lee? Please don't stuff Conway in a torpedo tube. He may not be an essential, but I'd hate to spend the rest of the cruise with nothing more appetizing to eat than powdered milk and peanut butter.
"Oh go on and get out of here, I promise not to disappoint your tummy."
"Conway,"Crane said as the galley chef stood before him in the galley, wiping his floury hands on his apron. "I didn't mean to give you the impression that I didn't feel you were qualified to have a battle station. It's just that Seaview is not a Navy boat and assigning you one wasn't warranted. As it is, there just aren't any posts available. There's no place I can put you. Now as for the other matter; it's not that I don't like your food, it's just that I'm not used to giving it much thought. Even my own mother complains, so please don't take it personally."
"Anything else sir?" Conway asked woodenly.
"Yes, a snap decision like a transfer is never a good idea, think about it until we reach port at which time, if you're still of the same mind I'll approve it and get things rolling for you. By the way, chief, never give us Mr. Morton or myself an ultimatum like that again, or you really will be cast adrift, understood?"
"Very well, return to duty."
"I'm sure sir,"Chip said over the videophone from his cabin,"nobody can go in and remove a cookie but you. An online company can place one in your hard drive, and while it may be able to track how many times you log on, etc, they can't actually get your computer to do stuff like delete files, etc."
"Then how did it disappear?"
"I don't know sir, perhaps," Chip took a breath, "perhaps you may have deleted it by mistake."
"Very well, Chip, by the way, that uniform is looking a bit tight," Nelson grinned. "I assume it has something to do with the new cook I hired?"
"Absolutely, but he's already requested transfer back to the Navy."
"What? He seemed happy enough to leave it for Seaview."
"Well, he was, he is, but..."
"Actually there's a personality conflict aboard, and if I had to guess I'd say Conway feels unappreciated and he's having a problem coping with it."
"Well, the crew can't help but to miss Freddie; there's bound to be a period of adjustment. Is the crew grumbling that much about him? I would have thought that..."
"No sir," Chip quickly interrupted. "Just about everyone aboard likes him, and his food. It's just the...the one person he's having a problem with."
"Well, tell whoever's responsible for ruffling Conway's feathers to lay off awhile. Good cooks are hard to find. I'll tell him myself. Who's been upsetting my galley chef?"
"The Captain?" Nelson said, then sighed, "Goodbye Conway."
"That's what I'm afraid of too sir, but..."
"Chip?"Crane entered the open door, "Oh, good afternoon Admiral."
" Lee, what's all this business with Conway about? Do you have any idea how hard it was to pry him away from the Navy? "
" It's a long story, and no Chip, I haven't made him walk the plank. He's going to reconsider his request for transfer until we reach port."
"Well, that's a relief," Chip said, patting his stomach. "At least I don't have to make a decision on which two of you to keep aboard."
"What??" Nelson asked.
"And I thought my job was secure, " Lee grinned at Morton.
"I think I'd better be briefed on this entire affair, gentlemen," Nelson ordered.
"I can't believe he'd make an ultimatum like that Harry,"Admiral Jiggs Starke said as he puffed on the cigar. "I'd have kicked him off the boat faster than.....Why are you laughing? This is a serious breach of protocol."
"Perhaps, but I think we'd better let them fight it out between themselves. Ever watch two tomcats Jiggs? Each one testing his own territory? Somehow I don't think this is much different, however, I think I have an idea.."
"Territory? The entire boat's Crane's territory."
"True, true, but Chip may have hit it smack on the head about Conway feeling unappreciated, if only by the Captain. I have the perfect solution..."
"You've got to be kidding!" Lee was aghast as he faced Nelson and Starke on the videophone.
"No, Lee I'm not. It's a top-level experiment the Navy wants us to try out. I'm sure I don't have to ask for your cooperation in this. As Seaview's Captain it's up to you to set the tone aboard. No doubt there could be a few complaints."
"Complaints? More like a mutiny! Mine included."
"Are you refusing the order Captain?" Admiral Starke butted in. "Captain?"
Crane's pursed lips spoke volumes.
"Lee?" Nelson prodded.
"Oh very well. Let the games begin."
"He's going to what??" Conway asked of Sharkey as he finished cleaning up one of the tables in the now vacated crew's mess.
"I said, the Skipper's gonna' be down here tomorrow taking part in some experiment for the brass. You 're gonna' teach him how to cook. And not just for one person, you're supposed to show him how to cook for an entire boat."
"I'd rather die! He has no culinary appreciation, no..."
"You think he's thrilled with this idea? "Sharkey interrupted. "You're gonna' have to play 'Captain', when it's your turn in this wacko 'trade off' stuff."
"Captain? I get to do Captain stuff?"
" You get to do Captain stuff, or die trying, even if it's only gonna' be pretend. So, you teach him how to be the best damn galley chef in the world and then you learn everything he teaches you about being a Captain or I'll make sure you wish you never heard of Betty Crocker!"
"Sure chief sure, but...uh, what are you going to do?"
"I get to pretend to be Kowalski."
"Oh man, who dreamed up this stunt?"
"I don't know. I don't want to know, 'cause if I find out I'd like to stuff him in a torpedo tube and aim him far far away."
" Are there any questions?" Morton held the floor in the conference room with the chosen few.
"Sir," Kowalski said, "we're all qualified submariners and already know about each and every post and...."
"Nobody doubts that, especially the Captain. But how many of you know how to cook, or master the boat...why, Cookie's going to have the conn and the Skipper's going to be our cook...something neither of them ever learned at submarine school or in the Navy or anywhere else. If they're taking part in this experiment for an entire day each, you shouldn't be too upset about trading places for a few hours."
"With all due respect sir, "Ski said, "what if something goes wrong? I'm sure I can handle being chief of the boat but .....
"Nobody's going to be on their own. Your trade-off partner will shadow you and other men will cover for you when needed. And don't worry about the conn. The Skipper certainly won't allow Conway to do anything wrong. I can't guarantee the meals however..."
There was an audible groan.
"Let's not jump to conclusions gentlemen. There's one thing more. Admiral Starke will be coming aboard tonight, and will be the Navy's official observer. Dismissed."
While there weren't exactly new groans, there were a few shaking heads, Morton noticed. He wasn't happy about this either.
The Captain reported to the galley at 0330 sharp, "What do I do?"he asked as Conway nodded and handed him a chef's apron.
"First, you wash your hands...no disrespect sir."
Conway began to assemble vast shiny bowls and implements with rather apparent and loud non-enthusiasm as Crane washed his hands with the antiseptic soap and observed the man. No doubt he knew what he was doing. Crane on the other hand, knew he barely knew a wooden spoon from a whisk. It was going to be a long day.
"Cookie," Starke shouted as he waited in the wardroom after having been pipe aboard, "it's after 0700. Where the hell's breakfast?"
"Sorry sir,"Cookie called out from the galley's open port, "we're moving as fast as we can."
"Do I smell something burning?"
"Cripes, I told him to watch the...." Cookie raced back into the depths of the galley.
"Ow!" Crane's voice was accentuated by the sound of metal clanging on the deck and muttered cursing by both men.
"I'll go see what I can do to help," Chip rose.
"Belay that Morton," Starke ordered. "I'll settle for cereal."
"Yes sir, over there," Chip indicated a sideboard, wishing he could go see what was going on. "I think...I think I'll have some too. A nice change." His stomach rumbled.
"Well, anything's better than nothing."
"C'mon, C'mon,"Ski said under his breath in the crew's mess. There had been a run on the individual small cereal boxes and he was about to forget the whole thing when finally Cookie emerged carting a vast tray of hot biscuits. At least they looked like biscuits, sort of. It was hard to tell which would be better to try, lopsided or charred.
"They ain't gonna kill you, you know." Cookie said.
"You sure about that?" Crane said as he brought over a tray of scrambled eggs, and another of pancakes.
"How's it going Skipper?" Ski tried to offer a little encouragement, his former aggravation having disappeared completely as he'd watched with growing horror the foodstuffs the Skipper had apparently prepared, including some misshapen mass of what Ski could only surmise as a possible loaf of bread, it's top overlapping it's sides drunkenly.
"How's it going?" Crane said, "Well, aside from wanting to kill whomever coined the phrase 'easy as pie', I suggest you stock up on bicarb."
Kowalski laughed as did the rest of the men, and they made a grand show of serving themselves the Skipper's creations. A timer dinged and the Captain returned to the galley.
"Oh man," Riley grimaced as he tried one of the cardboard like pancake,"this tastes like shi..."he tried to stop himself in time, but he saw Crane's shoulders stiffen then droop as he went back to 'work'.
"So, Jiggs," Nelson said on the videophone, "how's it going?"
"Most all of the trade-off teams are doing well enough, Kowalski is actually enjoying pretending to be the chief of the boat, but..."
"I don't suppose you could send us some bicarb? We're out of cereal now too."
"Crane's a bad cook?"
"The worst. I hate to say it, but I'm beginning to have second thoughts about this. If Crane is this bad in the kitchen, I hate to think how bad Conway will be in the Control Room."
"But I can't leave the Skipper alone in the galley this long!"Conway complained to Starke a few hours later as he sat at the table in the nose, piled high with technical manuals, pens, pencils, a slide rule and various other instruments of mental torture. " He'll poison us! "
"I think the Captain's level of intelligence is sufficient that he doesn't need a baby-sitter for a few hours. Besides," Starke looked at his watch, "you've already told him what to do, what can possibly go wrong. Now, I want you to go through this manual of procedures again. I don't want you to sink us when it's your turn to take the conn."
"Now about this...."
"I ain't ever going to learn all this stuff!"
"Nobody expects you to take the Captain's place, it's just to get a feel for his job. I'm sure he's trying his best to get a feel for yours."
What Crane actually felt was being muttered with unaccustomed epithets in the galley. The clock was ticking and he was way behind schedule.
"No, no, no, " Conway grabbed the handwritten recipe from Crane's hands,"you're doing it all wrong... you have to add it all in order and ....are you listening to me Skipper?"Conway griped. He'd only just managed to get away from Starke's incessant and unintelligible lecture and while the thought of the Captain getting his comeuppance pleased him, his first duty was not to let his shipmates starve.
"I can read, chief," Crane added another cup of breadcrumbs to the meatloaf mix and continued the endless kneading. "Who cares what order you add the ingredients as long as they all go in the same place?"
"Because that's .....Oh hell Skipper, this ain't working. We gotta bail."
"No, we will not bail out. We finish the course, capiche? I don't like this either. I feel like a complete idiot. And how do you think I feel about giving you the conn tomorrow?"
"I don't want the conn, I just want my galley back!"
"Enough! Now, tell me how long to cook this thing, lunch is in an hour and I have a zillion things to do."
"Again," Starke demanded as the two men walked around the control room.
"Lazer blaster button, fire control panel, inertial navigator, periscope, electric hull charger, fail safe. "
"At least you know where things are," Starke said with satisfaction.Conway looked at his watch.
"You nervous about something sailor?"
"He should be taking it out now."
"Taking what out?"
" The meat loaf and tomato crisp and the...can't I just go check on him sir?"
"He doesn't need checking on, just a little supervisory instruction, which you've already given him along with the galley manual. I want to be sure you're familiarized enough with some of control's nuances so when you do have the conn you don't blow us to kingdom come, even if only pretend."
"But we're gonna starve!"
"Then we'll just have to go hungry. Now, what's periscope depth?"
"I don't know!" Conway whined, "and to hear the chief talk, it changes depending on who's talking!Look, sir, I know you're only doing your job but if I don't ..."
"Wait a minute," Starke observed Morton setting the new watch,as newly arrived crewmen relieved the present. When he returned his attention to Conway, the man had fled.
"Skipper, Skipper!" the chef raced into the galley.
"Over here," crane called out as he carried a wet sponge and a shiny shallow tray.
"Skipper, the meatloaf and the..."
"Already set out. So, how did the tour go?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, uh, just fine...fine..." he glanced furtively through the galley port into the crew's mess.
Men were eyeing the vast trays of steaming meatloaf and tomato crisp, and hesitantly placing some on their plates. Crane joined him at the viewport and held his breath as the first man took a bite. Then another. And another, albeit hesitantly.
Pretty soon, the rest of the men followed suit to Cookie's apparent relief. "Oh man, I don't know how much more of this I can take."
Crane would have answered but had begun mopping the deck with an antiseptic solution.
"Uh, let me do that, okay Skipper?"
"Isn't this something you normally do?"
"Well, yeah, but..."
"Then it's part of the trade-off. Sorry chief. By the way," he indicated the sparkling tray, "I actually found slime growing in this."
"That was mushroom spores."
"What the hell do you think you're doing!" Starke suddenly loomed in front of Conway, out of breath.
"What's wrong sir?" Lee asked.
"He left the control room without permission."
"Is that true chief?"
"I...I'm sorry sir, I guess I wasn't thinking...and it's not like I was actually on watch or anything..."
"You raced back here to check up on me?"
"Uh, well, yes sir."
" You realize I should place you on report," Crane said then grinned, "but considering," he nodded toward the shiny tray, "let's forget it, this time."
"Aye sir, thank you. Uh, I think I'd like to try the chow."
"Anyone throw up yet?" Crane asked.
Conway took another look through the slide through, "Not yet. It can't be too bad, they're still eating it."
"Go ahead chief, have lunch,"Crane said. "Admiral Starke, how about it, care to take a break from cracking the whip?"
"As long as I get dibs on the bicarb, I'd be glad to join you."
Kowalski and Sharkey reluctantly arrived in the galley a few hours later with clipboards in hand. "Sorry sir," Ski said, " I got to inspect the galley."
"Right now?" Crane said, irritated. "I have two cakes and a pie in the oven and I'm in the middle of preparing a...a..."he stopped and looked for the recipe, deep in a pile Conway had retrieved for him, "a marinara sauce."
"Sharkey always checks on the galley every Tuesday at this time.But I can come back sir."
"No, go ahead, and no special treatment, either of you."
"Aye sir," both men said in unison, as they noticed the flour streaked in the Captain's hair, a few trails on the deck, and dusted across various pieces of equipment.
"He's gonna' kill us," Ski whispered to Sharkey as they began the inspection, marking the 'unsatisfactory' boxes as to tidiness and cleanliness of the various areas.
A timer dinged and Crane pulled out the cakes. "That's odd."
"What's the matter sir?" Sharkey asked.
"They look kind of weird."
"May I sir?" Sharkey asked." The tops got cooked too much and the insides aren't cooked enough. Did you preheat the oven sir?"
"I'm gonna kill him!" Sharkey fumed. " I told him to tell you what to do so's..."
"Relax Chief," Crane said," I allowed him to go to Skipper school with Starke in the nose. It's as much my fault that he couldn't teach me as much as he wanted."
"Well, okay then sir, but look, if you want, why don't I hang around and give you a hand. I can..."
"Chief, you're Ski's trade-off partner, surely you have other things to attend to."
"If you'll excuse me, I have to clean up the place."
"Aye sir, "Sharkey said, and quickly scratched out 'unsatisfactory' and replaced the other box with a note 'in progress'.
It was hot in the galley now. Crane wiped his brow wearily. Supper had been a logistical nightmare. If the preparations had been bad, the paperwork involved was a damned nusiance. Nutritional charts, inventory charts, this chart, that chart. He was glad Starke had released Conway in time to supervise most of it. He wanted to know how he was faring but the smell of burnt chocolate chip cookies returned his attention to the duties at hand. Finally, as the last of the salvageable cookies was in the tray and taken away, he began to work on scrubbing things again, surprised at just how much and how often that had been necessary. His own stomach growled and with a glance and a grunt from Conway for permission, he took a break in the now deserted Wardroom.
The pasta dishes had hardly been touched, the sauces had a gooey film, and most of the vegetables sat in uneaten glory. The only appetizing item was one lone cookie, a well-used and outsized jar of peanut butter, and what remained of some bread.
"Skipper, can you come here a minute?" Conway called.
It was only a minor detail, but Crane spent the next ten minutes securing a forgotten casserole, now destined for tomorrow. When he got back to the Wardroom, he stopped and stared."Who's got my cookie?" he asked to thin air.
"Huh?" Conway joined him.
"My cookie! There was one left. Just one, I was going to ...oh,never mind," he sat wearily then looked up at the galley chef. "It's not easy is it?"
It took all of Conway's self control to simply nod in agreement.
Crane started to laugh and it was infectious. For the first time all day, the galley chef actually smiled.
The knock on the door went unanswered and Chip gently opened the door.The Captain was asleep at his desk, still encased in his chef's apron, only his shoes had been kicked off.
"Hmm? Oh, uh," Crane checked his watch, "is it time to check the..."
"Did you sleep at your desk all night?"
"Apparently," Lee gathered his senses and yawned, "I don't even remember falling asleep...I've never been so exhausted in my life. I don't know how he does it."
"Well, " Chip wisely avoided the topic, "you'd better get pulled together. It's his turn to play Captain and Starke's already...what is it?"
"I just thought of something, if he's going to be busy with me in control today, who's going to take his place?"
"Already taken care of buddy, come on, hurry up."
"Come to...to..." Cookie looked at Crane. He'd already made of fool of himself so far, having forgotten everything Starke had 'taught' him yesterday.
"Come to course 507...uh, Skipper? How do you know how to do that. I know he tried to show me but I just can't figure it."
"Did somebody call my name?" Starke asked.
"No sir, we're just about to dive," Crane said.
"Underwater?"Conway asked, then giggled nervously at the absurdity of the question and made a decision. "Sir? This is stupid."
"What's that?" Starke hollered.
"I mean, no disrespect sir, but...but this whole thing is ridiculous. I'll never be a Captain, I mean, it's one thing for the Skipper to know everything about his boat, that's his job, to know everything, but putting me in his shoes? Please sir, let me finish what I'm trying to say. It's not that I'm even doing anything he does. I'm just repeating all the stuff he and you officers tell me...I might as well just sit here and watch and..."
"You want to quit?" Starke demanded.
"Admiral," Crane intervened, "wait, he's not being insolent. And he's not a quitter. It is a stupid idea. I've said so all along."
"You want to call off the experiment?"
"What experiment? I find it hard to believe anyone in the Navy dreamed this up. This was all just for my pigheaded benefit, wasn't it."
"I think we need to have a little talk Captain. Conway, you're dismissed. Morton, you have the conn."
"So, the Skipper's getting chewed out 'cause you just couldn't take it," Sharkey dusted off his chef's apron. As the only man aboard with an A in high school home economics he'd been quickly drafted to substitute for Cookie.
"I didn't mean for him to get into trouble!"
The boat suddenly lurched, Conway and Sharkey tumbled to the deck as the klaxton clanged.
"What the hell was that?"Conway shouted.
"Damage control report!" Morton demanded over the PA.
"Battle stations, repeat, battle stations,"Crane's voice joined his.
"Damn!" Cookie muttered as he helped Sharkey up off the deck,"I don't even have one."
"You just don't get it do you?" Sharkey quipped. "This is your battle station. Fighting men need to be fed, and the officer's need hot joe to help them think, so you get that coffee made, and right now! And find something to grab onto if we rock and roll again and..."
"Captain," Riley's voice came through now," I forgot to lock the port ballast intake valve when I was trading off with Masterson. He'd gone to the head and I just forgot."
"Kill that damn klaxton!" Crane's voice was heard. "Patterson, do you still have that blip?"
"Yes sir.It doesn't configure like anything we know and it's headed toward us like a torpedo."
"Evasive procedures, hard right rudder."
Thoughout the boat men held their breaths as the boat lurched again, and heard the officers conferring in whispered tones.
"Skipper," Sparks called out," I have the Admiral."
"Put him on the squak."
"Lee?" Nelson's voice came through with some static.
"Admiral, we have a bogy and may be under attack..."
"It's only the flying sub.I'm afraid somebody installed the incorrect transponder frequency when the flying sub was in refit. I only found about it when I saw a report on the web about the company that made them. It's causing some minor havoc with private aircraft already...but I have the correct circuit board with me. I tried to contact you but even the radio frequency is acting up."
"Aye sir, prepare to dock.Attention all hands, secure from battle stations."
"This is Admiral Starke. All trade-off teams return to your regular assignments. The experiment is canceled."
Conway relaxed his grip from the towel rack. It was a good handhold when the boat had rolled. He'd have to remember that. Well, maybe the officers wouldn't need the extra coffee to think now, but he decided to make some anyway, perhaps cappuccino. Maybe the Captain would like some. The galley didn't have a machine for it, and he'd never made it before, but he was a trained chef, it wouldn't be difficult to make some from scratch but....
"So," Nelson asked Morton at his laptop as he sat with Crane and Starke in the observation nose, "my cookie's simply been renamed? Why didn't they just tell me?"
"As far as I can figure it sir, it was just an oversight. They've already sent out apologies to everyone about missing passwords, etc."
"Excuse me sirs, Skipper?"Sharkey appeared, furtive.
"What is it Chief?"
"Uh...I uh, I can't find my recipe for cappuccino. I knew I gave it to Cookie a couple of days before we started the trade-off thing and your'e the last one who had his recipe box but he can't find it and I..uh..."
"Helping out chief?" Nelson asked with a grin.
"Yes sir. He's kinda overworked even if the trade-off's finished and ..."
"Well," Crane rose, " we'll just have to do something about that. I'm formally requesting a couple of galley aides to be assigned to Seaview, Admiral, but first, if you'll excuse me, I have some cappuccino to make."
"You know how to?"
"Actually my mom taught me. Don't laugh, it's the one thing I can make in the kitchen, aside from minimally tolerable meatloaf."
"Then go to it, lad, go to it," Nelson grinned, "oh, Lee?"
"When you speak to Conway, find out if he still wants that transfer. I need to know who's got my Cookie when we reach port."
Crane laughed at the play on words, as he ran his mom's recipe through his head and headed to the galley.
"You think he'll stay aboard,sir?" Sharkey asked as they neared the galley.
"Actually I wouldn't blame him if he high- tailed back to the Navy as soon as possible, but I'm hoping he'll stick around."
"I heard that sir,"Conway stuck his neck out of the crew's mess, "remember what they say, be careful what you wish for."
"How about it, will you stay aboard? I'm getting some help for the galley so you won't be so overwhelmed. And a battle station, even if I have to pull you to control. "
"But I have a battle station sir, probably the most important one aboard. Right here...now, did you remember where Sharkey's recipe could be?"
"No, but I have one right up here," Crane pointed to his skull. "So let's get started."
It had been only a few hours since Seaview docked and most everyone had left on shore leave. Except in the galley. The man scrubbed, stowed, and got things in order for the next time. He'd probably never set foot in the galley again, but he had an appreciation of it and the men who worked as submarine galley chefs as he'd never had before. And he vowed he'd never forget it.
"Oh, hi Chip, almost done."
"You don't have to do this, you know. It took all my power to kick Conway off the boat for shore leave early."
"I know, Chip, believe me, I know...there, all done, does it pass inspection?"
"It passes," Morton said, "and so do you. C'mon, let's go get something to eat. Mama Leonini's is still open."
"As long as it's not meatloaf," Crane said as he finished writing his mom's cappuccino recipe down on a card and filed it away. "It may come in handy again sometime," Crane said, "you never know," he winked.
So Nelson had his 'cookies', both of them; one locked securely in his personal computer, the other on a well-deserved shore leave with bonus pay that Crane had insisted on. Conway was happy, Crane was happy, even Starke was happy. What a cruise, Nelson thought as he opened a birthday package his sister had sent and paused. Inside were two bags of homemade cookies she'd prepared herself. The Institute was rather deserted, but Nelson's laughter could be heard all the way down the hall as he unwrapped one of the round disks and raised it up in a silent toast, "To all the 'cookies' in the world, wherever they may be."