A Public Appearance

By Michelle Pichette & Holly Cushing

"Your number cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number and try again." Chief Petty Officer Sharkey wished that there were a person he could cuss out on the telephone telling him this. Yelling would have made him feel a whole lot better. What did the recording mean it couldnít complete his call? It was the number to the Nelson Institute and Sharkey was absolutely certain heíd dialed it correctly the half dozen times that heíd just tried it from this stupid pay phone, always with the same result. Didnít the telephone company realize this was an emergency, that the situation was getting desperate?

"Oh, Mister Sharkey!" came the just a little too sweet voice that he had been dreading.

He turned to see Ingrid Horst, head of the local public television fund-raising drive, standing right behind him, smiling warmly. "Is the Admiral on his way, Mister Sharkey?" she asked, her expression eager. Sharkey struggled not to grimace.

"I havenít been able to get through, Maíam," he told her, figuring that honesty was probably the best policy. The Admiral had promised to put in an appearance on the fund-raising drive, even man the phones for a while. The Skipper and the Exec were supposed to be here, too, Miss Horst saying that their handsome faces would be sure to bring in some pledges. All three of them were supposed to have been here at the Television Station a half hour ago for makeup and stuff like that. The rest of the guys that had volunteered to help out had all been on time, even Riley for once. It was really unlike the officers of the Seaview to be late like this, unless something serious had kept them away. "I donít know whatís keeping them, Maíam. I know theyíll try, but I donít know if theyíre gonna make it, Maíam."

Sharkey expected her to be disappointed, maybe even mad, but she was still smiling, her enthusiasm not seeming diminished in the least. "Well, youíre here, Mister Sharkey. Youíll simply have to fill in," Miss Horst said.

"What! Me?" Sharkey backed into the telephone, horrified to the thought of having to go in front of a camera. He was supposed to be here to stand behind the scenes to make sure that the guys behaved themselves when they were on camera. That had been the only reason he had agreed to come, because the Admiral had promised he wouldnít have to go anywhere near the front end of the cameras and now he was supposed to take the Admiralís place? Aliens, monsters, spies, saboteurs, them he could handle, but public speaking? Sharkey shuddered.

"Now, now," Miss Horst said, as though she were talking him down from a high ledge. She might as well have been. She took his arm and firmly lead him toward the studio. "Nothing could be simpler. Weíll just be chatting. Maybe Iíll ask you a question or two about Admiral Nelsonís work at the Institute. Iíll talk about our pledge gifts and you only need to smile, possibly ask people to call in. Now, that isnít so intimidating, is it?"

Sharkey was thinking fast now. There had to be a way out of this. He looked at the men who were just settling behind the pledge phones. Riley was the best looking, but putting him out of a representative of the Institute would not earn Sharkey any praise. Kowalski could do it, if he didnít have that broken arm and a minor concussion right now. It had been a stupid accident, Ski having been right at a flight of stairs when the boat got hit by that giant, mind-controlled whale. The poor kid had been so embarrassed when he woke up in Sick Bay once everything was over with. Sharkey knew that Kowalski having a dizzy spell, or worse, fainting dead out while being front man for the Institute would be exactly the sort of image the Admiral would leap at. Sitting next to him was Patterson. He was a nice enough kid, but Pat didnít talk much, not even to people he knew well. Most of the guys chalked it up to him just being the quiet type, but Sharkey knew that it was because Pat was incredibly bashful. ĎChatting,í as Miss Horst had put it, especially with a total stranger in a stressful situation, was simply beyond Patterson.

Sharkey continued down the line of volunteers which pretty much the same results. Much as he didnít want to admit it, he was not only the best choice available at the moment, he was also the ranking man here. It was his responsibility to make sure that everything flowed smoothly, just like it was on the Seaview. Sharkey sighed as Miss Horst plopped him down in front of a big lighted mirror and another woman quickly began to quickly apply some makeup. "Now, Wishbone will be ending soon..." Miss Horst started.

"Wishbone? You have a show about a wishbone?" Sharkey asked. Sharkey would be the first to admit that he was totally out of his element, but who would watch a show about some bone?

Miss Horst only patted him on the shoulder. "Itís a show about a dog that encouraged children to read classic literature. Here." He handed him a stuffed toy. "Thatís Wishbone." It looked like a Jack Russell terrier to Sharkey, but he figured heíd take her word for it. "Weíll be on right after Wishbone ends for about ten minutes until the first reel of the Nova special ĎThe Living Seasí starts. There will be a break in the show about every thirty minutes for roughly the next four hours. Weíre hoping to get a hundred pledges by the end of the show. See the counter up there?" She indicated a LCD display that bore the number one hundred in bright orange letters. "Weíll promise to stop the pledge breaks if we meet that quota, so as soon as we get a hundred pledges, your job is done. All right, Mister Sharkey? Or would you prefer Chief Petty Officer?"

Sharkey sighed, looking at the display in the mirror again. A hundred pledges seemed like an awful lot to him. "Just Chief is fine. Can I have a word with my men before we start?" he asked.

"Of course, Chief. And maybe you could try to smile, just a little?" Miss Horst asked sweetly. Sharkey was not in the mood for smiling, but he forced one onto his face all the same. In the mirror, it looked more a grimace. "Now, Chief, canít you do better than that?" Sharkey ground his teeth, then put on his best Ďdealing with brassí smile. "Much better. Why donít you let your men know about the substitution and come meet me back right under the pledge board."

"Yes, Maíam," Sharkey said, getting up from where he sat.

Just as he was about to reach the area where the men were waiting, Riley piped up, "Hey, Chief, if they were trying to make you gorgeous, they better try again."

Some of the men made the mistake of laughing, cementing Sharkeyís foul mood. "You just drew graveyard shift for the next three months, Riley," Sharkey snarled at him. Riley actually had the nerve to look surprised, but before he could complain, the Chief continued, "Look, the Admiral and the Skipper havenít showed up and I canít reach the base, so weíre on our own for this charity drive thing. We need a hundred pledges and I wantíem fast, got it?"

Kowalski glanced at Patterson, who shrugged, then turned back to the Chief, rubbing his forehead. "Uh, how, exactly, are we supposed to make people call in and give us money? Weíre just supposed to answer the phones, not drum up business, Chief."

"Donít bother me about details, just get it done," Sharkey told him. "Iíve got my own problems." With that, he marched over to the where Miss Horst waited for him beneath the pledge board. She looked so happy that he was coming that he slowed his pace and he began to feel a little guilty about being so put out about everything. "Just giviním a little pep talk," he told her, mostly to have something somewhat positive to say.

"Oh, good. They seem like such nice young men," Miss Horst replied with her ever present smile.

"Yeah. Theyíre all just peachy," Sharkey replied, then realized he was still holding the stuffed dog that she had given him. More strangling than holding, he admitted to himself. He handed the toy back toward Miss Horst. "Uh, hereís your dog."

"Wishbone," she reminded him. "No, you keep that. You can give it to your children."

Sharkey rubbed the back of his neck, a little embarrassed about the subject. "Iím not married, Maíam." Of course, these days that didnít necessarily mean that you didnít have kids, but to Sharkey it still did.

"A handsome man like you, unattached? My goodness, thatís almost unbelievable," Miss Horst said. Sharkey found his smile becoming a little more sincere and a light blush creeping up his ears. Miss Horst was not exactly unappealing herself, with her big brown eyes and her neatly cut auburn hair, and she looked really nice in silk shirt and flowered skirt she was wearing. Sharkey mentally slapped himself to stop that particular line of thinking. Now was not the time to be on the make. "You keep him, Chief Sharkey. Iím sure you know someone who will give Wishbone a good home. Oh, look, see the light flashing there? Thatís our sixty second warning. All ready, Chief Sharkey?"

The Chief nodded as he glanced over at the light she had indicated. It was right on one of the cameras, which Sharkey definitely didnít want to look at, so he turned his attention back to the guys. They were in a huddle, and Sharkey frowned, getting ready to yell at them, but thought better of it because they were probably making a plan to get what he had ordered them to do done. Another of the Station people was walking toward them, probably to get them settled again, so the Chief turned his attention back to Miss Horst. She looked calm and composed, while Sharkey was becoming distinctly anxious, especially when two people on the opposite side of the bank of telephones began to talk about incentives for making pledges. The Chief knew that meant the kidís show was over and he was going to be on camera any second. He decided that if he didnít look at the camera he might be okay, so he swallowed hard and focused on Miss Horst.

"And coming right up is our Nova special, The Living Seas," she suddenly said, and Sharkey almost leapt out of his skin. She was talking to the camera, he realized and had fight down another attack of stage fright. "But first, we are very honored to have with us some volunteers from the Nelson Institute of Marine Research and the submarine Seaview. We had hoped that Admiral Harriman Nelson himself would be with us tonight, but he has been unavoidably detained. Taking his place is Chief Petty Officer Francis Sharkey. Chief, thank you for taking the time to help us with our fund-raising drive this evening."

Sharkeyís mouth went dry. He was supposed to say something, he realized, but he had no clue what. Think, he told himself quickly, what would the Skipper or the Admiral say? "Itís my pleasure," he said, then forced himself not to sigh in relief that he hadnít messed up right at the gate.

"It must be very exciting to live and work on the Seaview."

The smile on Sharkeyís face grew a little more sincere as he thought about all of his misadventures over the last couple of years. "Exciting isnít exactly the word Iíd use," he muttered.

Miss Horst tilted her head, looking a bit confused. "Iím sorry, I didnít quite hear what you said."

"I was just saying that itís not always like that stuff you read in the newspapers," Sharkey told her, hoping that the camera hadnít caught his previous comment.

"The Newspapers do have a lot of exciting stories to tell us about Admiral Nelsonís adventures," Miss Horst agreed. "But I was thinking more about all the wonderful discoveries that he and the Seaview make. Not to mention simply working on such a marvelous ship."

"Uh, boat, Maíam. Submarines are boats," Sharkey corrected her, glancing uncomfortably at the camera. He didnít know how much of this he could take. "And I pretty much make sure things run smoothly. Iím not a scientist."

"Oh, but thatís a very important job, too. After all, it must take a lot of work to make sure a ship... I mean boat the size to the Seaview is kept in good running order. So, the young men here, manning our phones, they are some of the men who operate your boatís different functions?"

Sharkey glanced over at the phone bank. Most of the men looked to be waiting for the telephone before them to ring, one scratching his ear with his pencil. Sharkey was grateful that the kid wasnít doing anything worse with the pencil and that none of them was scratching anything embarrassing. Kowalski was talking on his phone, Patterson listening to what Ski was saying and writing at Skiís prompting. Sharkey hadnít heard any of the phones ring, but apparently someone had called in, so he looked on the end of the line to make sure Riley was behaving himself. Riley, however, was looking right back at Sharkey, wearing a sunny smile and waving at him. It was all Sharkey could do not to clap a hand over his face. Cripes, he thought, someone shoot me. He looked back to Miss Horst and figured heíd better say something positive. "Yes, Maíam. Theyíre good men."

"And none of them are scientists either?"

"No, Maíam, just sailors like me. The Admiral, he does most of the scientific research on the boat. Sometimes we get other scientists aboard, researchers from the Navy mostly."

"And the Seaview is a Navy submarine?"

"No, Admiral Nelson owns and operates her, Maíam. Weíve got Navy ties, sure, but the Admiral calls the shots."

"What about Captain Crane? If the Admiral Ďcalls the shotsí as you put it, where does Captain Crane fit into the command structure of the Seaview?"

"Heís the Skipper," Sharkey said. It had always seemed that simple to him, but Miss Horst still looked confused about the whole situation. "The Admiral, he runs the Institute and he tells us what missions the Seaview is going on. Stuff like that. Captain Crane commands the Seaview and he is the best sub skipper that ever lived."

"Iím sure he is and Iím sure that everyone will love hearing more during our next break," Miss Horst said, then turned to face the camera. "In fact, Iím sure our volunteers might have a story or two that theyíll share when you call in with your pledges. And before we begin our program, Lisa and Jim will tell us about some special pledge gifts we will be offering." She continued to smile in the direction of the camera for a few moments, then turned to Sharkey and said, "You did wonderfully, Chief. I know you were uncomfortable at first, but you really seemed to relax after a few moments. See, nothing to it at all."

"Nothing to it," Sharkey echoed, wondering what he had left to say when he had to do it again.

Just then, a telephone rang, then a second and a third, and Miss Horst reached out and took his hand, giving it a squeeze. "And the viewers must have enjoyed our little chat too." Another phone rang, then another, and Miss Horst laughed softly. It was a pretty laugh and Sharkey felt himself loosening up. "Youíve already got people calling in. Usually we have to wait for the show to start before we get calls." More phones rang and pretty soon all of the guys were talking on their lines. No sooner did one hang up than his phone would ring again. "My goodness," she said, smiling as she drew Sharkey off to the chairs by the makeup table. She sat Sharkey down and took the seat next to him, pulling it close to sit right next to him and watch the pledges come in. "Your sailors are going to be very busy it seems. Look, ten... no twelve pledges already!"

Sharkey looked up at the LCD display. Sure enough, it read eighty eight. "Thatís good, right?" Sharkey asked as the display went to eighty seven. He didnít know what the guys were doing, but it was working, whatever it was.

"Almost unbelievable, really. Apparently, Iím not the only one who finds you appealing," Miss Horst said. Sharkey looked back down to her and she was blushing softly, looking at her hands, which rested on her lap. Sharkey found himself blushing right back at her, really not knowing what to say. Usually he wasnít timid around women, but he was incredibly off balance with the threat of more camera time hanging over his head. Not only that, Miss Horst wasnít the sort of woman he typically went for or that went for him, for that matter. He glanced over his shoulder. The counter was already at seventy nine and the phones were still buzzing, so he apparently didnít have a lot of time to figure out what to do about this sudden turn of events.

"Uh, Miss Horst..." he ventured.

"Ingrid," she corrected him, giving him a shy smile. It made her even more attractive to him. "Please, call me Ingrid, Chief Sharkey."

"Francis," he told her in return, then cleared his throat. "You could call me Francis, Miss Horst... er, Ingrid."

"You donít mind? I wouldnít want to take advantage."

Sharkey was about to tell her that nothing would please him more at the moment when suddenly a skinny kid came walking up to them saying, "Miss Horst, is Admiral Nelson going to make it at all to the taping? Mister Bradley is kind of upset about the sudden change. He was hoping to have some tape, maybe some interviews, for the archives."

Miss Horst blushed again, this time in embarrassment as she glanced at the Chief again. "Clint, Chief Sharkey was kind enough to fill in at the last minute and youíre being rude to him."

The boy looked uncomfortable, careful not to look anywhere near the Chiefís face. "Iím sorry, Miss Horst. Itís not me. Mister Bradley told me to come over and ask about it."

"Whoís this Bradley guy?" Sharkey asked as he stood up. He didnít like men who didnít have the guts to do their own dirty work. He especially didnít like how Ingridís smile had disappeared just now.

"Heís the Station Manager," she said. "And heís a very good Station Manager. He keeps us on the air somehow even though our government funding gets shaved a little every year. He was the one that got Admiral Nelson to agree to come on the station tonight. It was something of a coupe. I mean, ever since the bad press he got when he was first building the Seaview, heís been a little camera shy. I certainly donít blame the Admiral for that. He canít be unhappy with the pledges weíre getting, though. Look, weíre already at thirty four and weíve barely started airing the first half hour of our special."

"Maybe I could have a word with him," Sharkey offered. "I could let him know that thereís some sort of emergency and the Admiral wasnít just blowing smoke when he promised to come."

Ingrid gave him a forced smile. "I wouldnít want to put you to any more trouble. Youíve been more than kind already."

"Itís no trouble. So, where is this Bradley guy so I can straighten everything out?" Sharkey asked.

"His office is up the hall to the left," the kid told him before Ingrid could protest again.

"Fine. Be right back," Sharkey said. He handed the stuffed dog to Ingrid then headed off in the direction that the kid had indicated. Sharkey was annoyed, but he reigned in his temper as he strode quickly up the hall. He knew if he laid into this Bradley guy it wouldnít reflect well on the Admiral or Ingrid.

It didnít take long for him to reach the door marked ĎRoger Bradley, Station Manager.í Sharkey took one more deep breath then knocked. "Yes, come in," came an annoyed voice. The Chief let himself in to find what had to be Bradley elbow deep in a fish tank, half soaked, and looking as though the water wasnít cooling him off at all. Bradley looked to be in his late forties and had the look of a news anchor about him. On the desk in between them were glasses with several brightly colored fish in them. Salt water aquarium, Sharkey thought, then started to unbutton his cuffs and roll up his sleeves. He wasnít the expert the Admiral was, but heíd looked after the Aquariums in Nelsonís office and on the Seaview often enough to know that those fish were not going to last long in those glasses.

"What happened?" Sharkey asked.

"I donít know. The power took a jump and the pump shut off and now I canít get it started again," Bradley grumbled.

Sharkey quickly looked over the system and quickly assessed the problem. "No water in the reservoir. Unplug it, then plug it in when I say," Sharkey said. He scooped some water out of the tank then dumped it in the back of the filter system until it was full, then said, "Okay, give it a try now." He smiled as the filter hummed and began to cycle water. "Thatís got it."

"Thank goodness," Bradley said as he straightened again, then began to pour the fish back into the tank. "I just bought the green parrot."

"Pretty fish," Sharkey commented as he rolled his sleeves back down and buttoned his cuffs.

Bradley finished pouring all his fish back into their tank, then put the hood back on. He turned to Sharkey and said, "I appreciate the hand. You must be the Officer from the Seaview that was filling in for Admiral Nelson. Thanks for that, too."

"Chief Petty Officer, actually," Sharkey corrected him as Bradley stretched a hand out to him. He took the manís hand and said, "I tried to get a hold of the Admiral just before the show, but the phone lines were down or something. I wish I could tell you what was going on..."

Bradley began to look a little embarrassed and cut Sharkey off saying, "Sorry about... well, whatever Clint said. Poor kid walked in on me while I was fighting with that stupid pump and I probably snarled all sorts of things at him. Poor Ingrid. She probably thinks Iím angry with her about this mix up. What a mess tonightís turning out to be." Bradley ran a hand down his face. He looked tired. Sharkey didnít doubt that he was if keeping this television station running smoothly was anything like keep the Seaview in good order.

"Look, I just came in here because I thought there was some sort of problem. Iím sure the Admiral has every intention of making good on his promise to help out your station as soon as he straightens out whatever made him late," Sharkey said. "And I should probably get back to Miss Horst."

Bradley winced. "Howís it going down there?" He looked at a black and white monitor off to one side of the room and seemed to grow surprised. "Weíve already had sixty eight pledges? Good lord, man, what did you say when you were on camera?"

Sharkey shrugged. "Nothing special."

Bradley smiled outright, came around to Sharkey, and put an arm around his shoulders as he walked him to the door. "Chief Petty Officer..." He paused, probably because Sharkey hadnít told the man his name.

"Sharkey, Francis Sharkey," the Chief filled in for him.

"Well, Chief Sharkey, Iím wondering if youíll be free for our next fund raising drive in six months," Bradley said with a light laugh, clapping Sharkey on the shoulder.

Sharkey resisted the urge to shudder at ever having to do something like this again. "Youíd have to talk to the Admiral about that, Mister Bradley," Sharkey told him. "Iím usually pretty busy with the Seaview."

"If he makes it in tonight, I will. Tell Ingrid everything is all right, would you?" Bradley asked at the door.

"Sure. No problem," the Chief told him then he stepped out into the hall. The door closed softly behind him and Sharkey thought that Bradley didnít seem like such a bad guy after all. Then Sharkey remembered Bradley commenting on the number of pledges being out of the ordinary and he began to wonder if he ought to see what the guys were doing. He walked down to the pledge room only to find the number of pledges already had jumped to seventy five. Sharkey looked at the line of men and they were all busy writing and talking, which was what they were supposed to be doing, but Sharkey had become incredibly suspicious of what was going on. He walked straight up to Kowalski and as soon as the kid stopped writing, Sharkey took his phone from him. "We need to talk," Sharkey said, giving him the look that told him he was in trouble and how much depended on what he had to say.

Kowalski just smiled, not looking at all guilty. "Hey, Chief, you looked pretty good on the monitors."

"Kowalski, where are all these calls coming from? These pledges better be legit..."

"Of course they are, Chief. Geez, this is Public TV. You know, Sesame Street, shit like that. We wouldnít mess that up. A lot of the guys have little kids that live for Big Bird, Elmo, and Barney," Ski said, looking a little hurt at the accusation. "All the calls are on the level. You said you wanted a hundred pledges quick, so... well, I called Connie and she made some calls..."

"Whoís Connie?" Sharkey questioned him.

"Connieís this girl I know," Ski told him. Now he began to look a bit on the guilty side as he rubbed his neck and glanced down at his pledge pad.

"And? Whereís all this money coming from Kowalski?"

"Well, Connieís a Lobbyist and she knows people who know people. Miss Horst was saying earlier if people pledge a hundred dollars or more, that sheíll say their name on the break. And if they give more, like a thousand or even more and dedicate it to a particular show, the station will announce your name before that show as a sponsor. To some of the people Connie knows, thatís pretty appealing, this being an election year and all," Ski said. He was giving Sharkey a sheepish look, but the Chief just smiled. He knew Kowalski knew a lot of women, a large variety of women, but he hadnít known how great a variety until now.

"Good work, Kowalski. Good work. Keep it up," Sharkey told him, then went back over to where Miss Horst was sitting. He glanced at the pledge board when he was a few steps from her, smiling that it read eighty seven. Then he thought about the fact that if thirteen more pledges came in, he wouldnít have an excuse to talk to Ingrid anymore. He glanced at the guys again. They were all taking calls, which meant everything was over but for the shouting. It was fish or cut bait, Sharkey told himself, then squared his shoulders and finished walking up to Ingrid. She looked nervous about something and he asked, "Is something wrong, Ingrid?"

Ingrid bit at the inside of her lip. She looked adorable, to Sharkey when she did. "I donít know. What did Mister Bradley say when your talked to him?"

Sharkey grinned, feeling relieved that was all that was upsetting her. "Oh, it turned out that he was having problems with his fish tank and that was why he was all aggravated. He calmed right down once we got everything working again. Seems like a nice enough fella, actually. Everything going okay down here while I was gone. The guys werenít giving you any trouble, were they?"

Now that she knew there wasnít a problem with her Station Manager, Ingridís sunny smile returned. "No. Theyíve been too busy. And look. Only seven pledges to go. It looks like all your work is done until the special is over."

Sharkeyís face fell. "What?"

Ingridís smile brightened. "We have one final spot to do at the end of the program, sort of a wrap up to thank everyone who pledged and lead into the next show. Since the Admiral hasnít been able to come, I was hoping that you..."

Before she could finish, there was a small commotion at the door, drawing their attention that way. Just coming in were the Admiral, the Captain, and the Exec, all looking a bit on the frazzled side, but no one looked injured. That was a bit of a relief to the Chief, considering that most times that didnít seem to be the case. He was walking swiftly over toward the Admiral before he realized he was doing it. "Is everything all right, sir?" he asked. "You missed the whole beginning of the drive."

"We had a... situation back at the Institute, but itís all taken care of now," the Admiral told him. Sharkey was about to ask what had happened and Nelson must have read it on his face because he said, "Pem."

"Oh, not him again," Sharkey moaned.

"Donít worry about it, Chief. Itís all taken care of, just as the Admiral said," the skipper told him, giving him a pat on the shoulder. "Wreaked havoc at the Base, but at least with all the time traveling, we were still able to make it here before we missed the entire drive."

"Admiral Nelson, Captain Crane, Mister Morton, itís so good that you made it," Ingrid said as she arrived with them. "Iím Ingrid Horst, Assistant Station Manager. Mister Bradley will be so happy to meet you. He was worried you would be kept from coming at all."

"Iím so sorry weíre late, Miss Horst. I hope we havenít impeded your progress too badly," the Admiral said.

Ingrid gave him that sparkling smile of hers and said, "Oh, Chief Sharkey filled in for you, Admiral, and I must say he did a wonderful job. We were hoping to have a hundred pledges during the entire show and look." She pointed to the pledge board and it showed ninety seven pledges. "Weíre going to forego the rest of the pledge breaks, but if you would still be willing to do an interview at the end of the program, weíd all be terribly grateful."

"Of course, Miss Horst. It would be my pleasure. And it seems you need some help with all these telephone calls," Nelson told her.

"Right after you meet Mister Bradley. Heís right this way," Ingrid said, starting to lead them off. Before she could go three steps, Bradley appeared at the head of the hall. Sharkey wondered if he had been watching his monitors since heíd left the man in his office. Bradley pretty much scooped up the Seaviewís officers and whisked them off to his office with the promise of drinks. Ingrid smiled and clasped her hands in front of her, saying, "Well, everything has worked out just wonderfully."

Sharkey glanced back at the pledge board. It read one hundred and two, so he shrugged mentally and said, "Ingrid, I know youíre busy with this whole pledge drive thing right now, but... maybe youíll be free for dinner sometime."

She looked at him, still smiling, but something in her smile had changed, becoming somehow brighter. "Well, my nights are going to be a bit tied up for the next week, but... lunch?" Miss Horst suggested, looking back to her hands when she did.

"Lunch. Sure, lunch would be great. Tomorrow?" Ingrid blushed lightly again and nodded. Sharkey smiled, suddenly happy that the Admiral hadnít shown up until he had. This was worth the time heíd had to put in before the camera. It was just like Ingrid had said when they had first arrived, Public Television had something for everyone, even him.

*Nova, The Living Seas, Wishbone, and Sesame Street are seen on most Public Television stations.