Carol D. Foss
final revision c. Dec. 11, 1997
"Well, Chief, home at last," Admiral Nelson sighed as he sat in his Ďfront porchí with his scotch, watching the swirly waters dance against the transparent hull plates. It was almost hypnotic, the observation nose, and very relaxing. He needed a little relaxing, all hands did. "Everybody ready for a nice long shoreleave?"
"Yes sir, admiral. It was a rough mission...Iím beat. And I donít admit that to just anyone you know."
"Excuse me sir," executive officer Chip Morton approached the two in the observation nose, " but there seems to be a bunch of commotion ashore."
"Commotion? What the devil is it?" Nelson asked, irritated.
"Uh, streamers, balloons, and a bunch of women".
"Women? Humph, whatís wrong with security? They know docksideís off limits... probably bribed the guards to ignore them while they wait for our gallant captain to come ashore and decide just which lovely lady heíll be escorting to dinner. Just like a bunch of cats, fighting over Lee...."Nelson grinned, "I wonder what they see in him".
"I donít think so sir... I saw some of our crewís wives, children, and ...a bunch of little old ladies...and Miss Nelson."
Nelson tried to stifle a laugh. Though Edith was considered fairly attractive and was only a little younger than Lee and Chip, the three seemed stuck in the Ďfriendship only modeí. Surely they canít be afraid of me if anyone got serious! He stomped to the shipboard monitor and took in the view himself.... "Oh, no!" Nelson whacked his forehead with a slap, " Not yet! Chief, whatís the date?"
"Uh, let me see, oh yeah, itís Motherís Day."
"Sir?" Chip asked warily, as Nelson groaned. Hoo boy, the old manís really pissed!
"Chip, alert the crew," Nelson continued, aggravated and somewhat sarcastic, " the Instituteís Motherís Day celebration has begun. damn, I forgot all about it. Edithís cockamamie plan for morale...I only mentioned we were running on fumes. She came up with this idea for an Institute picnic as an emotional booster! I only told her Iíd think about it, but evidently she went ahead and made Ďarrangementsí! It was just supposed to be a picnic! A simple little picnic!! She only mentioned how nice it would be for the mothers to look inside their sonsí boat, I never promised that I would actually let them! Look at that, all prepared, dungarees and jumpsuits, no less." Nelson sighed, outmaneuvered, " Best behavior, everyone."
"What??" Sharkey and Morton asked in surprised, " Youíre really going to let our mothers aboard?"
"I donít have much of a choice, now do I," he replied, sarcastic, " what would it do for morale for the old-old man to disappoint all those moms, not to mention all the complaints...and chief, alert the captain. "
"Just..uh...stand clear and wear earplugs."
"Aye sir," Sharkey acquiesced, awaiting his doom, for if anyone was going to be upset, it was the skipper. They just finished a gut wrenching expedition and just now, when they were coming into port, this. A bunch of yackity females and families. Not that the skipper didnít like the idea of his crew having families, or mothers, for that fact. But not now, not when he was finally able to put in a little sack time, not now, when Seaview wasnít exactly up to her standard and repair parties were still at it.
Sharkey felt the boat as it docked and the screws stopped . They were home.
"Admiral, Leeís not going to be too thrilled about this."Chip said gloomily after having dismissed his crew from their stations.
"Thatís a polite way of putting it...thereís only one thing to do in a case like this, Chip...letís get out of here!"
"Admiral, this is OíBrian," the voice came over the PA, " Miss Nelson is requesting permission to come aboard."
"Too late sir," Chip sighed.
"Sometimes I think Edith ought to be an agent for ONI!...okay OíBrian,"Nelsonspoke into the mike, " let her board, but nobody else yet."
"She did WHAT?" Captain Crane asked, sitting on the edge of his bunk, between shock, displeasure, and admiration all rolled into one.
"Yes sir...the dames, I mean the families including some of the guyís momís are gonnaí take kindaía guided tour of Seaview...I donít have all the info yet, skipper, but the admiralís really mad about it and told me to tell you."
"And Miss Nelson is in charge of it?" Lee asked incredulously, every inch the captain, in spite of his tousled hair and pajamas.
"Uh, yes sir, it appears so sir."
"Get her! Now."
Sharkey grinned as he hurried out of the captainís cabin. Now the little upstart was in for it, sister of the admiral or not. Nobody messed with the skipper! Especially when it concerned his boat.
"Edith, this is a pleasure," Nelson said coolly as he waved her to a seat in the nose. "Drink?"
"Uh, oh, do I detect a note of anger, brother mine? You never offer me anything more powerful than lemonade...what is it Harry? Are you all right?"
"Edith, why the...what is it Chief?"
"Excuse me sir, Maíam, but the skipper wants to see Miss Nelson right away."
"Well, in that case chief, youíd better escort her to the captainís cabin. Right away, he said, Chief?"
"Yes sir, right away."
"Very well, you go on along with Sharkey, Edith. Iíll wait here." Until youíre out of sight and then Iím getting out of here!
"Yeah, well I sure can think of a bunch of things Iíd rather be doing!" Riley complained while helping Kowalski with the finishing touches to the aft crewís quarters. " I never thought Iíd have to play host to a bunch of gossipy old dames."
"Watch it! one of those gossipy old dames just might be my mother!" Patterson laughed, " Though, I could have used some notice. I was going to go out with Sheila."
"Are you sure theyíre actually going to come aboard?"Kowalski asked as he finished dusting the air vent grille.
"Not if the skipper has anything to say about it thatís for sure," Sharkey entered the room and nodded in satisfaction.
"Yeah. When I told him about it, he was livid. Wanted to see Miss Nelson right away."
"Better plug your ears, guys." Patterson chuckled.
"Well, I took her to his cabin and he gave her a glare I sure wouldnít want to be on the other end of."
"Well, whatíd he say?" Ski asked.
"You think I'm gonna' stand around and try to eavesdrop? What do take me for...besides, the admiral called me on the PA before I could put my ear against the door."
"So" Lee said ominously, " you went ahead and planned it down to the last detail, including a guided tour of the boat?"
"Really, Lee, you donít have to be so upset. I thought it was a good idea...so do all the families that could attend."
"Edith! Donít you think you should have waited for...oh never mind...whatís done is done. How many?"
"How many what?" Edith asked demurely, sitting on the edge of Craneís desk, fluttering her eyelashes in mock innocence.
"How many people are going to be traipsing through my boat?"
"Mighty possessive of the old girl, arenít you? And for your information, Sir Lancelot, strictly speaking, sheís Harryís boat, not yours. You just make sure she doesnít end up on the bottom as a wreck. Oops, knock on wood." Edith looked for some wood, and finding none, knocked on Leeís forehead. " You know, Lee, you need to get away for awhile...I think your mindís getting a bit adelpaited. All you can think about is your precious Seaview...there is another world out there you know."
"How many?" He pounded his fist on his desk.
"You know youíre kind of cute when youíre mad, even if you are in your PJís and robe, though its a forgone conclusion that youíre probably even more attractive out of them."
"How many people?!" Lee exploded, flushed with embarrassment and exasperation. He couldnít help but to remember hearing about the distaffís unofficial survey. He was voted the most handsome male employee, not that he was supposed to know about it.
"76 wives," Edith continued, " 274 children, 29 fathers, 3 grandfathers, 8 grandmothers, 5 dogs, 2 cats, one goldfish and 87 mothers were able to attend. Most are already at the picnic grounds awaiting the rest of your crew and drawing lots for the first group to tour the boat. Donít worry, itíll be nice and orderly. Nobodyís going to drop ice cream on your polished deck or wipe a nose on a console. So, captain, when can I bring the first group aboard?"
"When repairs are completed...about an hour if weíre lucky... and you tell your little gathering, that nobody, but nobody goes anywhere on the boat by themselves...and thatís after a security check. Now, " Lee softened his tone somewhat, " just whoíve you decided on for tour guide, other than yourself?"
"Why, Lee that should be obvious!"
"No,"Lee sighed wearily, longing for a little shut eye, peace and quiet, "no, itís not."
"Why, you of course!"
Nelson was simply trying to get to his office, but as he was continually cornered by somebody or otherís mother, child, parent, spouse, or dog, he decided to glue on his good manner face and prepared for a long long detour of idle chatter and promising to look after his Ďboysí. The fried chicken he was offered was good, at least, but heíd still rather be writing up a paper for National Geographic, or studying a specimen in his lab.
It was not too difficult for Nelson to put family members together in his mind. Over there had to be OíBrianís wife of two months, their smooching said it all. Kowalskiís brother Stan and family surrounded Ski with hugs, kisses, and extra helpings of homemade apple pie. Ski seemed positively embarrassed as his shipmates watched. As for the men who had no relatives at the gathering, why, they were quickly drafted into the many games and grouped together with their pals. Maybe Edith was right. This was good. For everyone. Thinking of everyone, Nelson wondered how Lee was going to manage Seaviewís Ďtouristsí, grateful that Lee had been drafted and not he.
"Uh, sir...Iíd like you to meet my folks." Sharkey said rather sheepishly as he approached the admiral.
"Iím honored, Mr. and Mrs. Sharkey. Francis here is indispensable!"
"Thank you admiral," Mr. Sharkey replied, " I rather doubted that heíd ever amount to anything."
Nelson couldnít tell if he was joking, and Sharkey had his Ďstone faceí on.
"Oh, I never doubted it for a minute," Mrs. Sharkey smiled, " but I was upset when he took that cooking class in high school. It may have been a joke, but when he got called into the principalís office for ogling the girls, well..."
"Uh, the homemade ice cream looks like itís ready, can I get you some?"Sharkey interrupted in an undisguised effort to escape.
"Oh, Francis," Mrs. Sharkey grinned, "that would be lovely dear, you go right ahead, Tom, why donít you help him".
She waited a moment while they departed and then took the admiralís arm.
"Admiral? He really is...all right? I mean...he really does do a good job? His leaving the Navy was so sudden and..."
"Francis was drafted to Seaview for one reason and one reason only Mrs. Sharkey, because he was the best submarine CPO in the Navy...tell me though, he has such an unusual name, I had wondered about it. You donít find too many Francis Ethlebertís you know."
"Oh, my yes, his name.."she blushed, " Well, you see admiral, his great grandmother was determined to have the family name passed on. Francis was her husbandís name, and Tomís great great way back to the whatever hero ancestor was a royal person of some sort by the name of Ethlebert, so Iím afraid we let our elders decide. Just to quiet them. We were very young. Poor Francis. He was kidded a lot. But we called him Frank in front of his friends. Only the teachers used his legal names...but I think the kidding actually made him more determined than ever to prove himself as it were. Iím just glad everything worked out in the end".
"I certainly understand, after all, I have to put up with a name like Harriman!" Nelson laughed and gently eased her back toward the picnic tables, and her waiting family.
As Nelson strolled along the grounds, he saw Riley trying to show the techniques of surfing on a towel on the grass to some giggling teenage girls, ĎCookieí was busy exchanging recipes with a group of indulgent mothers, Doc Jamison was showing off a surgical skill of some kind with invisible needle and catgut, while a dog chased after a Frisbee, and Chip was sampling even more cookies, pie, and cake offered to him by a bevy of ladies indulging their maternal instincts. By the time the day is over heís going to need bicarbonate or a stomach pump.
"Admiral!" Chip called out, escorting his proud parents to meet the man in charge. Just so they donít tell the old man about my ballroom dancing lessons before I injured my ankle. Iíd never hear the end of it. " May I present my mother and father."
"Iím very glad to meet you both at long last. Chipís told me a great deal about you," Nelson fibbed. The only time Chip had mentioned them was in asking Nelsonís advice as to Christmas presents. There was certainly no mistaking them for Chipís parents, as the family resemblance was amazing. He looked just like his mother and had his fatherís striking blue eyes. The conversation began to drag and Chip managed to steer them away and back to the picnic grounds. Glad ĎChipperí can still read me like a book, at least when Iím wishing that I was back aboard the sub or in my lab, or somewhere else.
"Oh, good afternoon, Chief Sharkey. At least I think youíre Chief Sharkey, with all those stripes telling on you," the trim, strikingly attractive older woman greeted him, as she passed his family group, en route to the picnic grounds.
"And who might you be?" Sharkey asked good naturedly, "I gottaí say, Iím haviní a hard time putting everybody together."
"Fiona. Fiona Crane."
"Mrs. Crane? As in the skipperís mom?"
"The one and only...much to my sonís chagrin at times, no doubt...surely, heís
complained about me?"
"Uh, no, not once, actually."
"Oh my." she teased, " I must be loosing my touch."
"Now, why would such a lovely lady like yourself say that?"Mr. Sharkey
asked, as amused as his wife and son.
"Well, I can be rather...maternal. Drives him crazy. Always has."
"Well, Mom. I see youíve met the Ď bossí!" Lee smiled as he approached the two. "I hope youíre not telling them how much I need fattening up."
"Not at all, though now that you mention it..."she gave him a stubborn pout.
"Uh oh, did I open that can worms again?"
"Definitely," Fiona smiled, "Now, go and indulge yourself with some good home cooking for a change before duty calls you away yet again."
"Just so you donít tell anyone about all the trips I made to the principalís office!" Lee grinned. Just donít tell anyone about the island!
Some hours later, Lee had finally finished with the last tour group. Walking back toward the picnic tables with a hope of a little more food, for it really had been good, he noticed quite a large gathering all around his mother, laughing and grinning and applauding. Oh, no!
"So," Fiona continued, " unbeknownst to us, heíd already taken some placement tests and came running home with a huge smile on his face waving his equilivency certificates for the next two grades! Then, he sat us down, and said Ďyou know Iíll do it anyway, so you might as well let me. Iíve already plotted the course, and figure it will only take a year or so to sail around the world.í"
"But did he?" Ski asked.
"Well, it was rather difficult to refuse him, especially after he told us while heíd rather have our permission, he was willing to sneak out in the middle of the night and go do it anyway! He kept saying that a guy had to do what a guy had to do! And then he had the audacity to demand that I christen the boat!"
"I did not demand it." Lee interrupted, easing his way into the group.
"Perhaps not technically, but I just couldnít see you taking out that fiberglass excuse for a sailboat without at least a decent bow to tradition. After all, Lee, the Titanic was never christened and look what happened to her! And donít look at me like that, you used those very words to try and convince me!"
"I donít seem to recall..."Edith began.
"No, and you wonít." Fiona Crane continued, amused, " My gallant little sailor only managed three quarters of the trip around the world on his precious Seaview before she sank...so, no Guinness Book of Records...but you will find him listed as a person of note in the..."
"Uh, look, Mom, itís kind of hot out here, why donít we..."Lee tried to stop any more revelations.
"Seaview?" Riley asked, "his sailboat he named Seaview? Way out man!" Riley echoed the widespread feelings of amused awe.
"Figures." Kowalski laughed, joined by his grinning shipmates. It all had to be fate.
Leeís turning red. Going to be some story, Chip thought."Trying to keep your mom from telling us something skipper?"
"As I was saying, with my sonís permission? Yes? Very well," she continued, noting Leeís defeated acquiescence. "Lee is still the only outsider allowed on Dinkleby Island."
"Dinkleby Island!" Chip and Sharkey gasped in surprise.
"Uh, WhatíDinkleby Island?"Patterson asked, voicing the curiosity of some of
"Dinkleby Island, you knotheads," Sharkey answered, " is that quarantine island, where the cannibals run around stark naked and eat you if you even think about landing on it. Donít you ever look at National Geographic?"
"They only ate their enemies!" Lee interrupted, " And that was a couple of hundred years ago! And theyíre not that primitive, they just choose to live that way. They know a great deal about the outside world and have satellite dish television; at least they do now. All they want is a little peace and quiet and not to get turned into another Hawaii or Bermuda."
"Uh, how did you..."Sharkey asked, inquiringly.
"Well," Lee at last said after a weary pause, " the boat had a couple of leaks, I was getting damn tired of moldy food, and saw the island...so I went ashore."
"Knowing it was on the keep away, no trespassing list, no doubt." Chip surmised.
"Well, what would you have done? My radio was dead. I wasnít due at my next checkpoint for awhile, and those coconut palms and bubbling springs looked mighty inviting."
"You could have been killed!" Edith spouted.
"I could have died anyway! My boat was just about ready to sink and I was
thirsty. I didnít feel like another couple of hundred miles to land."
"But you could have made it, couldnít you...well?" Fiona insisted.
"Okay, okay, so I could have made it. But I was really pissed! Sorry, Mom... I just couldnít see putting up with those gales in a leaky boat when I could have food, water and materials for repairs just a short swim away! Going by the book just didnít make sense."
"Uh, so uh, what happened skipper?"Kowalski asked.
"Well, there I was, happily gathering fruit, fronds, and wood, going deeper into the jungle when I heard a scream. Ziggy, thatís what I called him later, had fallen into a tiger trap. It was a pretty deep pit, and just about impossible to climb out of. So I helped him out. End of story."
"Uh hu, sure, Lee...out with it...the rest." Edith demanded.
"Oh, Iím not sure you want to know, dear,"Fiona said, blushing.
"Itís really nothing." Lee added, with only slightly disguised anger.
"Humor us?" Chip asked, "Please, buddy old pal? Hmm, Skipper?"
"Yeah, skipper, please?" Riley asked as the whole group pressured him to reveal the facts.
"Well," Lee sighed in defeat, " I was taken back to the main village, Ziggy told them what had happened, and I was made a blood brother."
"What Lee is not telling you," Fiona continued, " is that, and you, Lee, might as well know that I do not for one minute believe in your tale of cherubic innocence; is that there he was on an island with a bunch of naked natives, and was expected to...pick a wife!"
"I didnít do anything! I didnít even know their language yet, and they didnít know mine very well, so it was mostly all in mime and sign language...they just wanted me to watch the girls dance, thatís all. This wife business is all just hearsay."
"You were a normal, healthy thirteen year old Lee, do you honestly expect me to believe you didnít even try anything?" Fiona asked, in her most motherly gaze.
"I wouldnít have been human if I didnít watch! It was wonderful, okay?! Beat my friendís playboyís and Geographic layouts any day...but cheeze Mom, I had some morals!"
"You spent three and a half months on that island Lee, and you never even once took up the chiefís own invitation to enter the virginís huts? Alone? Three and a half months romping around the island stark naked, swinging on vines, pretending to be Tarzan and you resisted the temptation?"
"I repeat," Lee said slowly and ominously, " for the benefit of all here, I did not take a wife in the polite vernacular at any time while I was on the island...and you really can swing on vines like Tarzan, and as for nudity, after a while, you donít even notice it!"
" Excuse me," Chip interrupted, hoping to save Lee from a burst blood vessel, "but I just remembered that we need to go over some official business with the admiral and it needs to be done before the mail goes out." Morton unobtrusively took Leeís sleeve and hurriedly steered him away. " Couldnít or wouldnít, Lee?" Chip whispered, his curiosity overtaking his manners.
"WHAT?!" Lee exclaimed, furious.
"Oh, uh, never mind. Itís really none of my business... Morals at
thirteen,Lee?Will wonders never cease..."
Lee cringed as he heard another burst of laugher from his shipmates and he could only wonder at what new revelations were being revealed to his men. But he was grateful for Chipís ruse to get away, and he really did have some reports to go over with the admiral.
"Well, thatís all gentlemen. As for the mission, well done, both of you."Nelson placed the final bit of paperwork in the out basket.
"Thank you sir," Chip replied, " but I think Lee had more of a trying time
"Thatís for sure." Lee sighed, pouring himself a sparkling water.
"I know, I know," Nelson grinned. "If itís any consolation, Iím ready to keel haul Edith myself. All those families. And wives and mothers, well, they can be especially ...irritating."
"Yes sir." Lee replied, " But it wasnít really nearly as bad as I expected. Some of them were actually really pretty nice. But it was hard to be diplomatic when I actually wanted to shove a nine-year- old into a torpedo tube for putting chewing gum on a bulkhead, and then I wanted to make a little old lady walk the plank for asking me for the umpteenth time if I was sure Seaview didnít have any mice! And I didnít like having Seaview on display like a water park ride, though nobody seemed to notice things werenít up to snuff."
"Well, the outingís probably settled down by now. Oh, by the way, Lee, I never have met your mother. Perhaps I should ask her for even more revelations about you," Nelson teased, " I understand from Chip that I missed out on quite an earful."
"I donít know how she could possibly reveal any more than she has today...címon, Iíll introduce you." Lee grinned
It was a short walk. If anything, Fiona Crane was surrounded by even more interested crewmen and their families. The lemonade was really watered down now by the melted ice, but everyone was so interested in Leeís adventures that nobody cared.
So far, Mrs. Crane had managed, with a little coaxing, to reveal Leeís booby trapping of the high school girlís locker room with frogs heíd rescued from the dissection lab, and of his snapping pictures of the scantily clad girls as they escaped into the hall. His entrepreneurial success of selling the pictures to his fascinated buddies who werenít lucky enough to be present was short lived. Word had leaked out and all the pictures and negatives were confiscated, and he was suspended for a week. Other punishments included personally apologizing to each and every girl, parent, and weekend yard work by rotation for each family. Some punishment! Soon the girls were fighting amongst themselves as to which house he was to come to. For some reason, they liked him, in spite of everything!
Heíd also helped some stranded and trapped dolphins get loose from fishing net which caused the furious fishermen to sink his Seaview, and Fiona had also revealed Leeís field promotion as a midshipman to acting captain of the submarine Bluefish after the Battle of Eirwopocsia when heíd single-handedly taken the enemyís rampaging command ship, his own officers having been incapacitated by severe wounding.
"Fiona!?" Nelson gasped as he approached the group and saw Mrs. Crane. "Fiona Parsighian!!" He exclaimed, totally in shock.
"Harry? Harry? Oh, this is impossible. It canít be you?" she almost trembled in the sudden recognition.
"Uh, Mom, Admiral, do you know each other?"
"It...Itís been a long time Fiona," Nelson said, trying to calm himself.
"I, I just canít believe itís you...youíre the Admiral Nelson? There are other Navy Harriman Nelsons... I had no idea that you..."
Lee quickly took over and arranged for clean up crews to be drawn by lot and managed to ease the gathering away from two people whoíd evidently rather be alone. Thus began the good-byes as everyone began preparations to depart for home, shore leave, or other business. It was hard for Lee not to look back, especially as his own curiosity was certainly aroused.
"Man, would I ever like to visit that island!" Riley mused, as he helped the draftees for the cleanup crew.
"You ainít kiddiní," Ski mused, "man,...hey Stu?"
"You believe the skipper? All about all the native girls?"
"Considering that heís the skipper, it would be kind of foolish not to believe
him, at least out loud, donít you think?"
"Yeah...unless you want to be tossed overboard."
"And this is my office." Nelson nervously showed Fiona into the spacious room, his emotions still vying with his manners.
"Itís lovely Harry."
"You.... You never wrote," he said, unable to hide a touch of bitterness."I...I forgot."
"Um hmmm," Nelson came closer to her, and asked gently, " So, what was he
like, this man you married."
"Edward was a good and decent man."
"Did you love him?" Nelson raised her chin in his hand.
"I learned to love him," her voice wavered.
"That doesnít sound like my little spitfire...the truth Fiona."
"I...I had to get married, Harry... I had no choice. They made me. They all made me. Or I would have had to give up my ba...I would have had to give up Lee."
"This Edward forced himself on you?!" Nelson asked angrily, bitterly.
"Harry,...no. Edward simply offered to marry me. He always liked me, you know. And he was a good husband and father."
"Then who was the bloody bastard who left you in a pinch? How could he talk you into it? Did he ra... The SOB!"
"Harry, calm down," she took his arm, " nobody did anything....There...there wasnít anyone else but you,"she spoke softly with a tears forming in her eyes.
"You...you canít mean that one night........me?" Nelson was pale, " I...Iím Lee Craneís...father?" he asked hoarsely, barely croaking the words out.
"I couldnít tell you Harry. They would have kicked you out of the academy! All your dreams...I...I just couldnít let it happen."
"Fiona! I...I could have gone to officer candidate school, I could have..."
She put her fingers on his lips. "Harry. Itís not the same. Please. I wanted this. I wanted you to.."
Before she could finish, his lips were on hers and a long forgotten embrace of years ago was rekindled.
"So Chip," Edith combed her hair in Nelsonís outer office, " now that everythingís back to normal, itís a week later and most everyoneís still home on leave, tell me, do you believe it?""Believe what?"
"All that stuff about Leeís island and things."
"Well, Itís right here, in a reference about the island..ían American teenager by the name of Lee Crane, to date, has been the only outsider honored with island citizenship, due a hero, after he rescued the chiefís son, fifteen year old Ziggisterun from a tiger trap. He is also noted for the introduction of poker, the recommendation, now completed, for television, and..."
"What is it Chip?"
"Uh, never mind, you were saying?"
"Chip, youíre blushing...whatís in that book? Let me see. Chip! Let me see. Youíre acting like an old fuddy duddy....here...now lets see...í for television and ....it is rumored that .... why that ...humph!"
"Now, Edith, itís just a rumor...who are you going to believe,Lee or a rumor?"
"With Craneís reputation, Iíll believe anything! Where is our matinee idol anyway?"
"On special assignment with ONI. They called him a few days ago. Probably knee deep in jungle stuff or arctic snow. Or maybe itís just a ploy to keep us off his tail as he shows his mom around."
"Thatíd be a cute trick. Harryís kind of smitten with her."
"Chip, you may be a big shot on your boat, but Harryís about as visible as indelible dye. I tell you, heís interested in her! He...oh I shouldnít be telling you this...but...Sharkey was helping his folks with their luggage at the hotel, and...saw him leave her room."
"At Four oí clock in the morning?"
"Leeís gonna kill him!"
"Iím going to kill who?í Lee entered the room, tanned and in camouflage
"So it was the jungle." Edith tried to change the subject."Who am I supposed to kill?"
"Uh, nobody, just a joke, I...uh, left some work undone skipper. So long Lee."
"Itís really none of our business Lee." Edith added.
"Neither of you are going to go anywhere until you tell me whatís been going
on."Lee blocked the door.
"Whatís going on here?" Nelson asked, entering the room.
"They wonít tell me anything. Maybe you can order it out of them."
"Well?" Nelson asked, " Oh, hello dear" he smiled at Fiona, " youíre quick." Nelson kissed her smack on the lips.
Chip and Edith gasped, as Lee simply grinned, folding his arms, leaning back against the wall.
"Lee! Arenít you...arenít you upset?" Edith asked.
"Why should I be? After all... theyíre married."
"Married?!" Chip and Edith exclaimed in unison.
"Married. Hereís the marriage certificate. In fact I gave the bride away and was the admiralís best man. They figured a quiet ceremony was best. Just think of all the fuss it avoided." Lee gave his mother a huge smile.
"And you didnít even tell me?" Chip asked Nelson.
"I just followed orders, Chip. I have to bow to a higher authority now,"he
grinned at Fiona.
"We figured it would be best not to tell anybody." Fiona explained, " At least not until after the honeymoon. Indeed, it was wonderful that there were no interruptions, we could lounge on the beach as long as we wanted to, no congratulatory phone calls or visitors.
Now if you three donít mind, Harryís arranged for me to speak to somebody about redecorating his rather somber apartment."
"I just canít believe it...I just.... Congratulations. Both of you." Chip extended his hand. "Uh, I just thought of something.... You realize, Lee, that the admiralís your father now? Just think, Lee," Chip continued dangerously, " you can call the admiral ĎPopí now. But I wouldnít try it on duty."
"Ohmigosh!" Edith exclaimed. "I...Lee, Iím your aunt!"
"Oh no!" Lee teased, " Now Iím really in for it!"
Lee laughed heartily as everyone else joined in the merriment.
"About time you settled down brother mine." Edith gave both newlyweds a hug, then noticed the reference book. "Oh, yes, Lee...nephew Lee, back to business. It says here that there was a population explosion on the island 9 months to a year after your little visit!"
"So!" she exclaimed with the insinuation.
"Oh, for Peteís sake! You donít think I had anything to do with that, do you?...For your information, Ziggy married seven wives in as many days, hence the baby boom!"
"Oh. Well, I wouldnít put it past you."
I wouldnít put it past me either. Sure could have been fun, Lee thought, grinning to himself. "Well all, how about a matinee as we leave our lovebirds alone for a while? To calm my...raging hormones?"Lee teased.
Edith gave Lee a friendly punch in the stomach and took Chipís arm as the three exited the office.
"Well, looks like things are getting back to normal, Fiona."
"Harry?" Fiona asked after a pause, " Are you going to tell him?"
"Hmmm... Itís hard enough for him to call me Harry...but yes, I think weíd better. I just donít know how, or when."
"Youíll figure something out. Oh, by the way," she spoke softly, " it may not be technically correct according to the calendar, but I think I should have wished you Happy Fatherís Day," as she kissed him on the cheek.
"You know my dear, I donít think Iím going to get any work done today," he grinned as he returned the kiss in a much more indulgent manner.