It was the day from hell. The only saving
grace was that Seaview pulled in and reported a ‘mission accomplished’. Have we ever known anything but?
I was glad I was still covering for Angie,
and despite the backed up toilets, the purchasing department griping about this
and that, the financial directors itching for the latest spreadsheets, the phone calls, etc., etc., it was worth the trip
to Hades if only to catch another glimpse of the Captain.
It was almost funny how most of the female
staff from Admin, to the Med Center and mail center, had chosen that moment to be nearby his still unused office. Captain Phillips still had official stuff there (which no doubt Nelson would clue Crane in on) his personal
items having already been collected by his widow and grown children. There were
bets on what color Crane would choose for the new paint job. Frankly I doubted he’d even considered it. Certainly it
was something Nelson wouldn’t have thought of. But the Directors insisted. After all, the newly hired executive staff
always got new paint for their offices. Surely the new Captain of Seaview would want that too.
It was a lonely place now and I was saddened
not to hear Phillips talk about his daughter’s horse, his grandchildren’s ballet lessons, and of course, I’d
miss his great sense of humor with the staff. We always enjoyed chatting with him and always made a point to pop in at least
once in between Seaview’s cruises just to say hello.
I wondered if Crane would be as sociable on
a regular basis and not just as the new guy.
Be still my beating heart. There he was. I
missed the scruffy hair and beard he’d had before Seaview sailed for the Aegean. Mission over, he had time now to get
acclimated. I was hoping to invite him for lunch, show him the cafeteria, etc… but then I heard Kowalski bragging about
the Captain’s ‘catch’. A pretty Greek girl if his arms waving in a parabola meant anything. Her name was
Melina. And apparently Crane had gotten her phone number after a rather exciting time with her finding some mad scientist’s
city under the sea. To top it off, he’d been captured and beaten, but still managed their escape. I wished I’d
have been able to tag along to listen in. Perhaps Angie, who was due next week,
would let me take a peek at the official report. (I doubted it was classified.)
“Hi,” he interrupted my musing.
“Uh, look, about that…just call
me Lee, even here…if that’s okay with you, that is. I mean, well, I don’t want to make waves…if there’s
a policy or…”
“There you are lad,” Nelson approached.
“Miss Hale,” he greeted me. He always calls me Miss Hale. Cheech, it always makes me feel like a spinster. Even if technically I still am.
“Welcome back, sir. Angie will be in
tomorrow for you to dictate your report….unless…”I hesitated, butting in where angels fear to tread. If
Angie thought for one minute I was stepping on her toes…
“I wasn’t aware you knew shorthand.”
“Actually I was thinking of a tape recorder
sir. Maybe some additional notes…”
“I see,” he grinned and coughed
into his hand, “it would save time, and I think the Captain would have a few things to add…”
Was it possible that the Captain was blushing?
Hard to tell with that Mediterranean tone. Where was he from anyway? What were his family’s origins? Italy? Egypt? Armenia?
My mind was in a whirlwind of exotic locales I’d only seen in old movies. Perhaps he was descended from the Pharaohs,
or from ancient artisans working silver, gold, precious gems underneath Mt. Ararat….all while my ancestors were probably
painting themselves blue and hurling mud balls at their enemies.
Now it was my turn to blush, with embarrassment
as the Admiral waited for me to find the tape recorder and follow him into his office. He seemed amused about something.
It was a short debriefing. I’d be able
to have the typed report on Nelson’s desk before the end of day. Which was all too soon for me.
I could hardly believe it when Crane touched
my arm. What was he going to ask? How about dinner? How about a date? In my fevered mind, I also envisioned him flinging me
down onto my pink ruffled bedspread and having his wicked way with me….
“Do you have time to show me my office?”
Lee interrupted my thankfully hidden thoughts, “There are a few other things I’d like to orient myself with as
“The report can wait Miss Hale,”
Nelson took out gin and poured himself one. “Go ahead Lee. See you tomorrow. You too Miss Hale.“
“Thank you sir,” I grabbed the
tape recorder to my breast and hurriedly exited Nelson’s office into the exterior one and placed it on Angie’s
desk with a post it note ‘Mission Report’.
I had my own ‘mission report’
to record in my diary later that night. Lee was nice but not a wolf. He chose pale blue, almost gray for his office walls.
But he likes red. He has a red car being ferried over from Pearl Harbor. Has a
motorcycle coming over too. And a couple of sailboats in various ports of call. Fixer uppers that he donates to charities
once they’re sea-worthy. He likes cave diving, and stupid me had to tell him how excited it sounded. Now he’s
going to take me to Catalina on Saturday. That gives me a few days to learn how to scuba dive. I wonder if Chief Jones can
teach me. I know, I’ll promise him homemade brownies.
One thing’s for sure. Lee didn’t
mention Melina at all. Not even once. So there, Kowalski.