There’s an old saying about the best
laid plans. I’d hoped I could get Lee to relax a bit after our last mission, take his mind off of Seaview and his increasingly
hen pecked relationship with Miss Hale. (My words, not his, but I’d be blind not to see it.) Frankly, I was surprised
he’d agreed to my suggestion that he stay the night after Seaview docked at 0430 and watch the big game on TV with me
later that day. The fact that my current abode was ‘above the shop’ and he was closer to Seaview had nothing to
do with his accepting my invite. Or at least that’s what I told myself.
Saturday dawned-well had already dawned, by
the time I arose and confirmed with security that I was up and could someone bring me the morning paper, I found Lee, at 1030, hair tousled, unshaven, still in pj’s
and robe, laying on the living room carpet, flipping channels on TV while guzzeling down what had to have been his seventh
cup of coffee if the percolator’s level indicator was to be believed. I swear the boy lives on the stuff alone, and
I’m sure there has to be study someplace about the dangers of excessive caffeine use, especially on an empty stomach.
I really have to talk to Will about that. Maybe a word from the Surgeon General to help the active fleet decaffeinate would
help, Lee’s such a stickler for duty even as a Reservist.
Anyway, the buzzer rang before I could even
say ‘good morning’ and upon opening the door, who was there but Cookie, giving me a wink and rolling in a cart
bearing all sorts of covered dishes. “Excuse me Admiral, Security was passing by with your paper, and since I had some breakfast leftovers the clean-up crew didn’t
finish and thought you and the Skipper might like some, I said I’d bring it along.”
“Well, what do we have here?”
I asked as I lifted one domed lid after another. “Lee, get your butt off
the floor and come see this…”
“Can’t it wait?” Lee asked,
not bothering to turn away from the TV, “you know, there has to be a psychological reason why the writers of this show
have a squirrel living at the bottom of the sea with a fry cook sponge and a pink starfish…”
“You’d better hurry, Lee or there
won’t be any pancakes left.”
Lee turned. If there’s any food on the face of the earth that Lee has a
passion for, and trust me, there aren’t many; I can’t count how often
his lack of appetite has Doc threatening to force feed him, it’s pancakes. Especially his mother’s pancakes. He’s adamant that as good as any diner or restaurant’s might be, nobody but nobody’s can even come close to hers.
“My Grandma’s recipe, “ Cookie said proudly, using his almost never fail ‘you’ll hurt my feelings if you don’t at least try them, Skipper’
look. “Had a bit of cake flour left and I had to use it up ‘cause
Mr. Morton said it was more economical to just get some new stores stowed than save a few cups of the stuff that’ll
go rancid by the time we get Seaview all ready for her next cruise. What with the refit and all. “
“Refit? What refit? ” Lee asked, half rising, instantly on the alert,
like a jungle cat ready to pounce.
“That’s what he said, sir.”
“There’s no refit! Oh, I don’t care if you made pancakes!” he said angrily, “Morton put you up to this, didn’t
he? Or maybe Doc, ” Lee stood, his arms across his chest, menacing, “Wouldn’t be surprised if you
had a hand in this too!” he glared at me. “I wish everybody would just leave me and my stomach alone!”
“I had nothing to do with this, but
I’m glad they did!” I argued, “You’re not just thin, Lee,
you’re skinny. Underweight. Malnourished. It’s not healthy. And no
matter what you say, it was nice of Chip to leave us some breakfast, even if I’m the only one to appreciate it. I thought you liked pancakes. These really
look good, Cookie.”
“Yessir, Admiral. It was hard for him
not to finish the lot. Real hard. A lot of grannies and moms used to use cake
flour instead of the ordinary stuff like they do nowadays. Makes the fluffiest, thickest, most mouthwatering pancakes you ever had…only…er…I don’t
think you ever had any of this recipe, Skipper.
You musta’ been off on one of your special assignments when I made
“I..I’m sorry I flew off the handle
Cookie,” Lee decided it wasn’t a good idea to aggravate the cook, “it’s not your fault you’re
a pawn for everybody trying to fatten me up…I do admit that they look good,”
Lee sighed, the scent of the freshly made disks having drawn him closer, despite his sulking, “that’s
not sugar free syrup on them, is it? Lola tried that sugar free stuff on me. She used fake butter too. Can’t say I liked
any of it. ”
“She musta’ used a box mix,”
Cookie said, “if you want, I can teach her how to do it from scratch. Here, ”Cookie took a pristine fork and seduced
Lee as he used it to cut through one of the stacks, twirled the forkful in more
syrup and handed it to Crane. “Not as good as your Mom’s, I’m
Lee hesitated but took the offered forkful,
expecting a tasty yet usual disappointment, but quickly followed it by a look upwards and licking the little trail of buttery
syrup running down his chin with his tongue. He looked all of ten years old, I thought, even with five o’ clock or rather
ten o’clock shadow, that is.
“Well, what are waiting for, Harry?”
Lee took the plate and headed back toward the TV, placing it on the coffee table and sitting on the floor to resume watching
cartoons. “Er…”he looked at Cookie as if he was missing something.
“Yessir,” Cookie read his mind,
“I got some nice bacon to go with it,” Cookie picked up two more lidded plates and sat them down next to Lee’s.
‘And this is pure Maple Syrup,
straight from Vermont. Here’s some extra pancakes for you too.”
“I think I’ve died and gone to
Heaven,” Lee tried to say, his mouth full, as I wondered if Cookie had another plate of them hidden on the cart for
me too. He didn’t. But then…I didn’t need the extra pounds. Lee did.
“So, son,” I took my own plate
to the coffee table and sat down next to Lee, which wasn’t easy, being
on the floor. “These good as your Mom’s?”
er…you’re not going to tell her, are you?” he looked up, like a little boy caught doing something naughty.
Never. You, Cookie?”
“My lips are sealed,” Cookie opened
the door to leave, his mission accomplished.
“Yes sir, Skipper?”
“You’re not going to tell Lola,
I mean Miss Hale what I …er..well…what I said either?”
“Far as I know, Skip, you love her pancakes, sir. Even better than mine.”
It wasn’t long before Lee and I soon
settled down to a day of relaxed laziness after our pancake breakfast. Now if I could only think of something to feed him
during the big game.