Ski's Site

None But the Brave

Bike Week
The Java Connection
The Skipper's Tattoo
Who's Got The Button?
This and That
None But the Brave

I was happily on the prowl for a little beneficial  female companionship in a little outdoor French café’ while Pat  and  some our other buddies (on shore leave while Seaview was parked on the Seine), had decided on a little more lively action next door, namely a ‘Can- Can ‘show at the ramshackle bar/hotel by the name of Yvette’s.

Paris, like New York I guess,  is a very noisy city, even late at night. So when there was some kind of altercation going on in alley but nobody paid much attention to it. And after all, Mr. Morton had warned us to ignore any such local problems and to just let the Gendarmes take care of things. That it was none of our business. As Yanks we were damned if we helped, damned if we didn’t.

Well, just  as I was trying to make the unattached mademoiselle in the little red dress  and heels understand I wanted to buy her a drink, I was savagely bumped from behind, spilling my drink all over her.

“Hey!” I turned, only to see that the man who’d bumped into me had blood dripping down his hair and a split lip. The mademoiselle (and her friends) were  yelling at me, as if it were my fault! But I didn’t have time to quibble with any of them and dumped some bills on the table to  help cover the cost of cleaning, for the man who’d bumped into me, running from a couple of big thugs, who were sporting the same kind of injuries… was the Skipper.


“You’re sure it was him?” Pat hissed, as I sought him out at Yvette’s. I had to tell someone, anyone, even though just about all of my buddies were   in a bit of a stupor, more from watching the girls than filling themselves with all the booze.  Even Curley, aka ‘rock gut’, who didn’t normally  socialize with us mere swab jockeys was there, and  hadn’t taken his eyes of the dancers.  I suppose  everyone’s eyeballs were bulging due  to the fact that these dancers  weren’t’ wearing what you’d call real underwear  under their frilly skirts. I guess you’d call it a more ‘traditional’ Can-Can. In fact, this place was rumored to have been closed down numerous times due to a sideline that you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company. But hey, who said we were polite. Yvette, the owner, was supposedly legendary in that department, if a bit picky, regarding those who could ‘qualify’ to win her favors, not to mention take home one of her white lacy designer bra’s as a kind of victory token. The kind that really didn’t hide anything.

“Of course I’m sure, pretty sure, well, yeah, I’m sure it was the Skip, ” I insisted, my mind back on business,  “ I followed, but I lost him …well, what are we gonna’ do about it?”

“Well as I see it, Ski,” Connors slurred, “he got himself into trouble, let him get himself out of it. I don’t like him much anyways. You sure had a change of heart.”

“I don’t care if you don’t like him! He’s the Captain!”

“Okay, okay,  look,” Pat said, “Ski, it’s a big city. There’s no way we could find him even if we tried.”

“He’s bleeding!” I couldn’t help pouting. One did not let one’s shipmates suffer, if at all possible. Oh it happened now and then, still...

“Just when the show’s getting a bit more interestin’, ” Curley hiccupped as the girls were gyrating a bit more provocatively, “Sides’, everybody’s got a twin somewhere… Could be it ain’t the Skip at all you saw, but we’d better check this out or there’ll be hell to pay if the Admiral  finds out we let the Skip go get himself hurt his first night out in over a month. And  these knotheads will volunteer to help too, won’tcha, guys.” It wasn’t a request. Nobody but nobody was brave enough to refuse to be volunteered by the Chief, even if some of their hearts weren’t in in.

Mine wasn’t exactly all that gung ho, either. I mean, I was supposed to be enjoying my shore leave. Instead I was chasing after the Captain. A Captain, mind you, that still had some of our collective noses out of joint. Oh, he’d accomplished all of the impossible missions that we found ourselves on, and he wasn’t really all that bad, for an officer. But some of the guys still had a sour taste in their mouths from the way he’d first snuck aboard (to test our security, he’d said). I, of all of the crew had the most reason to dislike him after he punched me in the jaw in a kind of reflex action when I tried to waylay him.

There was just one problem staying angry with him. He was the best damn Captain I’ve ever had. Beat Phillip’s in the strategy dept.(God rest him), and even had the balls to argue with Nelson! Nobody but nobody (at least nobody under three stars)  in living memory  ever talked back to the Admiral. Nobody till Crane. And he got away with it! Of course, there were always extenuating circumstances. Like getting  whatever mission it was accomplished and protecting Seaview. Which kind of made me feel that holding a  grudge against him was a bit adolescent.

But back to the situation  at hand. Reluctantly my buddies had joined the Chief and I in our search for the Captain. We looked everywhere in the vicinity. Every still open business,  every alleyway. Along the river. Anywhere we somewhat drunken sailors could stumble. We even got some Gendarmes to help. At first they told us that I was probably mistaken. That  the man who’d been chased by two others was a look alike. After all, they insisted, getting into a brawl wasn’t something US Naval officers did, much anyway, but  they’d check the local jails and we were welcome to come along. Which was pretty nice of them as there was still a bit of anti-American sentiment  in France, even in Paris.

To make a long story short, Crane wasn’t  incarcerated in any jail we went to. Finally they told us sooner or later he’d show up somewhere and put in a report for the day watch to check for any body  floating in the river. (Gee, thanks for the encouragement guys.)

In any case, we decided to call it quits and managed to make our way back to the nightlife or to the boat in varying states of inebriation (we’d grabbed some wine and cheese from various all night café’s on our expedition).

I wasn’t as drunk as the rest, and  decided to return to Seaview. I took the shortcut through Officer’s Country  to the Mess for some coffee as I had the beginnings of a bad headache and it always seemed to help.

 You can imagine my surprise when as I was just about to pass by the Admiral’s cabin, it’s door slightly ajar,  that I heard him chewing somebody out.

My heart bled for the poor soul on the other end of his tongue and tried to figure out who it could be and what he’d done to set the boss off.  Well, at least it wasn’t Morton’s tongue.

 “Damn it, Lee!” Nelson’s voice roared.

I almost wet my pants. Seaview. The one place we didn’t check for him. Shit. The Chief was going to have my hide for all the time we wasted searching for the Skip, when he was here! I mean, when I thought of the extra-curricular activities we might  have talked those showgirls into, maybe even Yvette…signt unseen, still...

“I had no choice, " the Skipper was saying.

‘Hold still.”


I couldn’t help myself. I peeked through the crack. Nelson was bending over the Skipper, who was dripping wet on the chair next to the boss’s bunk.

“I’d appreciate it,” Nelson kept dabbing the laceration on the Skipper’s scalp with rubbing alcohol, “if the next time you go sauntering off on some kind of special assignment that you’d keep me in the loop!”

“I wasn’t assigned to anything! I just happened to be in the right place at the right time! What would you have me do? Ignore my duty?”

“Your duty is to this submarine!”

“My contract with NIMR, as you well know, sir,  allows me to maintain my status with the Agency.”

When they request you!”

“There wasn’t time to get in touch with them for instructions or to get another agent . You’d have done the same  if you were in my shoes! Don’t tell me you wouldn’t have!”

“We’re talking about you, not me! Now, let’s get that sweater off….”

“I’m fine.”

“I’ll do it myself then.”

“Oh good grief, you're acting like my mother,” Crane tried to pull the turtleneck off , but he was having a  little difficulty.

“I’ll do it!” Nelson eased it up and over his arms and head, letting it plop the deck where it joined the puddle that was forming under Crane’s chair. “Good God, Lee, where the hell do last week’s plot table bruises end and these new bruises begin? And don’t squirm! Those ribs may be broken or cracked at least.”

“They’re not broken!”

“We’ll let the Corpsman decide that. When’s he due back anyway?”


“Well, that’s just great! Why’d you allow Morton to  okay leaving Seaview without any corpsmen aboard?”

“Because Frank missed last time's shore leave to hold the fort, not to mention he and the field corpsmen  missed the shore leave before that as well. It’s not as if we’re stuck in some god awful place without decent hospitals for a real emergency. I keep telling you that you’re  too cheap to get additional  Corpsmen! What’s the hold up getting Doc Jamison full time anyway?”

 “Frankly, Lad, I can’t get him to sign on the dotted line because of   you.”


“Have you forgotten your service together aboard Halliburton, or do you have a concussion?” Nelson prodded the Skipper’s head, looking at his eyes.

“Stop that! I’m fine.”

“You return to Seaview, drenched to the bone from a dunk in the Seine…”


“Correction, sewers;  bleeding all over my nice clean deck from a cut in your scalp, a split lip, a black eye, cracked and/or broken ribs, missing both pairs shoes and you sit there and tell me you’re fine? Now, I want to know what the hell exactly happened, and not the condensed version!”

“Sorry. Classified.”

“Hmpf.  Convenient.  What’s that noise out there. Sounds like somebody shuffling..”

Before I could run, the old man banged the door wide open glaring at me. He reminded  me for a moment of one of those fairy tale dragons, with fire in his nostrils protecting its young.

“What are you doing out here, mister? Eavesdropping?”

“Shortcut to the Crew’s Mess, sir…” I  managed, trying my best to look wounded by the insult,  “I didn’t hear anything sir, honest,” I lied.

“That may be, but report to Mr. Morton when he returns about breaking regs regarding Officer's Country. Go on now, get out of here. Wait…I just remembered, you have a modicum of medical training, don’t you ?”

“Uh, well,” I scratched my head, embarrassed, ‘I never finished. I don't rate as a Corpsman at all.”

“Some training is better than none. I have a patient for you. Escort the Captain  to Sick Bay. Clean him up, give him a once over, x-rays for sure. God knows what kind of beasties he’s picked up from the sewers.”

 “I didn’t pick up any beasties except…er…”Crane stopped himself.

“Except?” Nelson demanded.

Crane fumbled around in his pants pocket, and pulled out…a baby alligator!

“I don’t think I want to know about any more Paris sewer mythology come to life, ”Nelson sighed, handing me the reptile by the tail. “Put this in one of the specimen tanks in the lab on your way to Sick Bay.Am I correct in assuming, Commander,” Nelson continued to the Skipper, “that you met its mother someplace?”

“Yeah. She was there. Good thing too. She scared the goons tailing me  shitless. I don’t think they even bothered to look back when  I climbed up the manhole ladder.”

 “Excuse me sir," one of the guys from the owl watch approached, holding a rose, “ this here rose is a  delivery for the Skipper…”

“A flower,” Nelson huffed, “you return to me like this, Lee, and you get a rose?” he grabbed it from the rating and read the card. “Ooh la la, Yvette.”

No. It couldn’t be. Not the same Yvette that…

“Care to explain, Captain?” Nelson asked.

“Not particularly,” The Skipper sighed. “Look, it's  code, okay? It means Mission Accomplished.”

“Of course,” Nelson said,  doubtful. “And this 'Yvette' is some kind of fellow spook I presume...Ski? I thought I gave you an order. You too, Lee.”

“But I’m…”

“Yes, yes, I know….you’re fine. You’re going to Sickbay anyway.”

Well,  I delivered the alligator to the lab and the Skipper to Sickbay, where I made him shower, put him into some green scrubs, took some x-rays, and babysat  him till Frank  reported for duty. He studied the X-rays and after a quick exam, pronounced the Skipper fit for duty, who fled back to Officer’s Country, and presumabley to his rack for a bit of shut eye.

Frank picked up the mike and  told the Admiral that he didn’t even have cracked ribs. Bruised, yes, but that was all and he'd given our fearless leader  a tetanus shot and a wide spectrum antibiotic just in case, 'cause of all that sewer crud. The river was pretty polluted too.

Before I left for my own rack, Frank insisted I take the Skipper’s  damp discarded clothes to join the turtleneck the Admiral  had already sent to the laundry.

There was something sticking out of the pants pocket and for a moment I had visions of some other kind of sewer resident,  but it wasn’t  a pal for the alligator in the lab to play with. I wasn't sure what to do with this....this...item.

By now,  Morton had also returned to Seaview, so, I used that as an excuse to let him take care of it, when I heard  the duty Sparks tell the XO that he had a ‘well done’  message for the Skip from ONI.

I handed the  XO the lacy bra with strategically placed holes in it, and had to wonder just what kind of assignment it had been.  Word was ONI only gave Crane those that none but the brave could attempt, but this...oh well, it wasn't mine to question. The Skipper was our resident Secret Agent Man, not me.

Mission accomplished indeed.