Where the hell was he? I’d refused seconds
at breakfast for the simple reason that I had a T-time with Lee on the golf course. And he hadn’t shown up yet.
“Excuse me Mr. Nelson,” one of
the caddies approached while I had coffee on the outdoor patio of the clubhouse, “a Mr. Crane was here earlier but had
to go, left a note for you.”
“Thank you,” I accepted the handwritten
note. I knew Lee’s scrawl and this wasn’t it. It was brief and to the point.
Admiral, but I think Lee and I need a bit more time to talk.
Will? Seaview’s resident sawbones? Aka ‘Doc’, aka ‘Chief
Medical and Torture Officer’? Had Jamie sought him out or was it vice versa? If Will had sought him out, fine and dandy.
If, on the other hand, Lee had sought him out…now that was something to worry about. Oh, they got along fine. But never
in the living memory had Lee ever sought out a medical professional on his own.
But what had happened? Will didn’t mention Med Bay, only that he
and Lee needed to talk. Talk. About what?
Maybe Chip would know. I punched his cell number, hoping it wouldn’t
disturb the contestants. It certainly didn’t. It was on vibrate. But there
was no answer.
Maybe Angie? No, not a good idea to disturb her in her den mother mode.
Lola? No, not a good idea the way she was feeling about Lee and men in general.
A little sleuthing was in order.
“Well, sir,” the clubhouse clerk explained, “No sooner
had Mr. Crane checked in early than another man arrived, and signed in as a guest. They weren’t on the green very long,
but folks did notice each of them spent a lot of time waving their arms about and Mr. Crane really hit some long shots. Then
the older gent put his arm around Crane’s shoulder and they just…left. He gave me this note to give you, and drove
off in Mr. Crane’s car. We had a slight mishap in the caddy shack shortly before you arrived. I hope you haven’t
been waiting too long for the message.”
I really wasn’t in the mood to wait around, so I cancelled my T
time and left, finally recognizing Jamie’s car with his NIMR tag and his IAMADOC bumper sticker. Apparently
they’d taken Lee’s little red Cobra. So I had an entire Saturday with which to either go to NIMR and the latest lab specimens, my office and work on my memoirs, or crash in my apartment ‘above
the shop’ , or perhaps the modest bungalow I also had on the grounds. Or I could go visit the Santa Barbara Library,
go see a movie, to the mall and buy myself a new suit, or I could just sit on the couch and watch TV.
And so it stood. Tonight is Chip’s big night. It will be unusual
to see him in a tuxedo. He said it was white and the officials hadn’t decided on the cummerbund yet. Blue was popular,
but some of the ladies wanted pink.
Yes, I was sure staying home was a good idea, after all, I’d conned
Lee into taking on this job in the first place, and he in turn had conned Chip.
As I flipped channels the news had a momentary stop at the convention
center for the contest and one of the commentators was speaking about duct tape being a secret weapon for contestants.
Before I could even try to figure that out, my doorbell rang. Rather
“Lee!” I pulled him into my humble abode. “Are you
all right? What happened?”
He fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a small box.
“Is this what I think it is?”
“Will made me buy it. Said an engagement ring might help make up
my mind, cause he couldn’t help me decide what I wanted…you’re the only other person I can talk to. Harry?
What am I going to do?”
“You know I want you and Miss Hale to make it legal.”
“I know, I know…but…is it the right thing to do? For
her? For me?”
Never had I seen the boy in quite this state of indecision.
“Lee, son, sit down…let me get you something to drink. You
know I can’t make the decision for you. But we can sort through a few things that might help…”
Never had I felt more like a father to one of my ‘boys’.
I think he’ll take some of what we talked about to heart though he said he hadn’t really decided yet.
For now, however, he’s gone off to the pageant.
To find Lola.