By Christine Sherman
The Admiral and the gun registered in Lee’s brain at the exact split second the pain hit. Only his eyes, turned to the admiral before he fell, mirrored the betrayal he felt inside. The Admiral saw that betrayal and was suddenly out of Krueger’s control - too late.
Crane’s brain mercifully shut down his memories of Krueger’s occupation - at least for now - and when his eyes once again opened his mind returned him to the Periscope - to the Admiral and the gun. “NO” exploded from his lips.
The Admiral, sitting at Lee’s side as he had been for 72 hours heard the loud “No” and stood upright - their eyes locked. Lee’s mind searched for an explanation - he was no longer in the control room - this was sick bay and Doc was standing at the Admiral’s side. The gun was gone but a new pain in his side was there. He remembered it all and his eyes mirrored the pain and betrayal to the Admiral. The Admiral could only manage “Lee - I, I’m sorry” and abruptly left the room.
3 days ago the Admiral had returned to Seaview with Lee and the Island girl. He needed her, needed her to tell what she saw - to convince people he wasn’t crazy, to vindicate Nelson. When the FS docked the crew crowded around. Nelson had never experienced a reaction such as theirs that day. Nobody spoke but Chip, telling the crew to stand back so the already present medical crew could take Crane.
When the captain was carried out the crew visualized it all over again. Chip again saw Lee fall to the floor, the admiral with the gun screaming at the crewmen, and he took a step backward - involuntarily recoiling from the Admiral. Chip who was trying so hard to believe the Admiral, had never really been sure that the Admiral would return to Seaview when he allowed him to leave in FS1.
“Chip” the Admiral began, and stopped. If Lee died there would be no vindication for Nelson. He would be a cold blooded murderer with the entire crew as witnesses. The Admiral sagged visibly and followed Lee’s body to Sick Bay.
Doc was amazed that Lee was alive. By all rights he shouldn’t be. He had been barely alive when he was first brought to Sick Bay after Nelson shot him. Now Chip was telling Jameison that the Admiral had brought him back from some hell hole island graveyard. Doc would ask questions later - right now the bullet must come out.
Massive infection set in - fueled by who knew what type of jungle microbes. Lee tossed deliriously - most phrases making no sense to the Admiral. But there were those that did make sense. They were the words asking a trusted friend why.
Chip took command, he needed to keep things together, he knew that’s what Lee expected. He set a course for Pearl and informed the Admiral he was still under arrest for attempted murder. He posted a guard outside of Sick Bay with orders that the Admiral was to be confined to sick bay and his quarters only; telling the admiral that he would take no further orders from him till this mess was straightened out.
He asked the yeoman to begin taking statements from everyone present when Lee was shot. Chip spoke at length to the island girl. Recording every word she said. She was scared, but cooperative. She had seen things that she believed impossible and telling this nice young officer about them made her feel better. Who else could she tell this too?
Her story was weird, but under the circumstances Chip believed it. When she told him the part about Lee turning to her and apologizing for hurting her, and then the strange man seeming to become one with Lee, Chip knew the impossible had happened. But impossible or not, he still had to deal with the facts that had to be submitted to the proper authorities.
The Admiral cared nothing about what was going on. Nelson only left Lee’s side momentarily. He hardly ate, he hardly slept - aware only of the guilt he felt. Fully aware of the consequences that would follow - a future of guilt over Lee’s death, and disgrace - his career in tatters.
And then Lee was awake. Doc immediately called Chip who rushed to sick bay to find Lee fighting into consciousness and the admiral gone. Doc said the Admiral couldn’t face Crane - and had left abruptly when Lee woke up. Chip stood beside the bed and Lee formed the words “what happened to me?”
“Krueger” Chip began “took control of the admiral’s mind somehow. I don’t know Lee. How can I tell you what I don’t know.” He faltered and Lee mouthed the word “please”. Chip began again, “I’ll try. The Admiral came down the stairs into the Control Room - he pulled a gun, and when you turned on the Periscope he shot you. We took you to Sick Bay and somehow, and this is where I don’t know what to say, you were suddenly better and in the Control Room again, ordering the Admiral arrested. Then you took the Flying Sub and left the ship. The Admiral was in sick bay and he was telling me that Krueger was responsible. He convinced me that we had to turn the Seaview around and head for some island called Mayloyo. Lee, in all my years as an Officer I never was in a situation like that. They don’t teach you stuff like this in Annapolis.”
Chip thought he saw a brief smile cross Lee’s lips. He continued, “So the Admiral left Seaview and the next thing I know he’s telling me to blow up this Island and that he is bringing you and some girl back to the Seaview. You’ve had surgery, the bullet is out. There was some bad infection but the doc says that’s clearing up too. The Admiral was here the entire time since he brought you back. Boy will I be glad when you can put your input into this.”
Lee pondered what his friend had said. Vague memories of the control room set in. He heard the confusion around him and Kowalski’s voice saying, “captain - please captain.” He wanted to know more, but he was tired. “Thanks Chip” he managed to say and he reached to grasp Chip’s hand.
Lee was tired - more tired than he had ever been in his life. There was so much confusion in his mind. He couldn’t shake the last image he had, that of the Admiral firing a gun at him. He knew only that he had to regain himself and talk to the Admiral. He had wanted to do that when he first woke up - but the involuntary “No” from him had caused the admiral to leave sick bay quickly. In Lee’s mind he understood that the admiral had guilt. He needed Chip to talk to him again - to give him more details of what happened. But for now, he was going to sleep.
Chip left Sick Bay and walked to the Admiral’s Cabin. The guard outside nodded and Chip knocked. There was no reply. Chip knocked again and opened the door.
The Admiral’s cabin was totally dark - he could just barely make out the man sitting in a chair with the passageway light streaming in. “Admiral. Can I talk to you?” Nelson nodded and Chip closed the door. He moved across the room and turned on the desk light, illuminating the face of Nelson, haggard and worn. Suddenly Chip felt sorry for him, and at the same exact moment remembered Lee in sick bay. The confusion of feelings overwhelmed Chip. Then he decided - his first loyalty was to the Captain of the ship. That was what he had been taught, that was what he would do.
“Captain Crane has regained conscious and he is sleeping now. We’ll reach Pearl at 1500 tomorrow. When we arrive the proper authorities will have to be notified and the island girl taken care of.” The admiral nodded, “Chip - did Lee say anything?” “Not really Admiral” chip replied “he wanted to know what happened to him, but he wasn’t awake long enough to really talk.”
“Good” Nelson answered “Maybe we can get to Pearl and I can get off of Seaview before I have to face him. Do me a favor please and ask Jiggs Stark to meet Seaview. Thanks Chip.”
Chip nodded, suddenly very, very tired.
The next morning Chip’s sleep was interrupted early by a call from sick bay. “Captain Crane wants to speak to you Comdr..” “I’ll be right there” Chip replied.
When Chip walked into sick bay he was amazed at how good Crane looked. “Good morning Lee” Chip greeted him. Crane actually smiled at Chip, “I’ve lost all track of time Chip. Lost all track of everything. Where is Seaview and where are we headed?” Chip recognized his captain’s tone and knew Lee was back. “We are about 8 hours outside of Pearl Harbor, our destination moving at Flank.” “Chip, I need you to talk to me. I have too many blank spaces that I need to fill. Just tell me what happened again in as much detail as you can.” Chip repeated for Lee all the events of the past few days. He ended with saying that the Admiral was still under arrest and that Admiral Stark was waiting in Pearl to escort him into custody.
Lee Crane closed his eyes and tried to put all of the pieces into place. Why was it so difficult to do that? He had never had a problem like this before.
“Where is the Admiral, Chip?” asked Lee. “He went to his cabin as soon as you began to wake up and hasn’t left it since.” “Chip, I need time to think. Reduce speed to standard. “Aye Sir” Chip replied, relieved to have the captain taking charge again.
Lee willed his mind to focus. He had to remember. Only the part of his life not involving Krueger’s presence was available to him. Everything else was a fog. Lee decided that was good - kind of like being sick and recovering. He did remember waking up on the island with the vague impression that he had tried to hurt someone - then seeing a girl cringing in fear. Afraid of him? That was not the response Lee got from women. He had tried to apologize then he went into that dream state again.
Chip had told him that the Admiral was under arrest and that they were heading to Pearl to the authorities. That wasn’t right - Lee had to stop that. He did not believe that the Admiral was at fault, any more than he believed that he had tried to hurt that girl. He could deal with it now. “Doc. Would you ask the admiral in to see me.” And Doc nodded - not knowing what to expect. Did he ever know what to expect any more?
Doc knocked on the Admirals door, “Admiral, Lee is awake and asking to speak to you.” The admiral rose heavily from his chair, Doc had never seen him look as bad as he did. “Alright . I suppose I have to face him sometime.” and the Admiral headed to sick bay.
The crew was usually boisterous when port was near. Pearl was one of their favorites. But they were subdued - had been since the day Lee was shot. Kowalski spoke for them all, “Comdr.. How is the captain doing?” Morton actually smiled. “He’s awake and talking and is starting to seem like his old self again.” It was like lifting a veil of tension in the room, and someone even laughed. Morton would have been happy too, except that he knew the problems that awaited them at Pearl. Then Kowalski asked “What’s going to happen to the Admiral now, Mr. Morton.” “I wish I knew” was the only reply Chip had. “I think that will be up to the Captain.”
No such veil was being lifted for Nelson. He stopped outside of sick bay. And then, with the determination that had gotten him where he was, opened the door. “Can I speak to Captain Crane alone, Doc?’ “Of course, Admiral. If you need anything, I’ll be outside.” The admiral nodded and walked hesitantly toward Lee, stopping several feet away from him, not knowing what those first words would be.
Lee saw him out of the corner of his eye, turned his head and said, “Admiral - come in.” And he tried to reach his hand to the Admiral, but fell back in pain. Nelson quickly crossed those few feet and grasped Lee’s hand. Words suddenly tumbled out, “I’m sorry, Lee. I have spent so much time telling myself that I should have been able to fight him off, to keep him from harming you. But I couldn’t, and to the day I die I’ll have to live with that.” Lee addressed the admiral , “I still don’t understand all that happened, I seemed to be asleep most of the time. But I do know that Krueger was a monster, an aberration that shouldn’t have existed that I’ll never fully comprehend. If I have learned anything as Captain of Seaview it’s that some things are beyond our personal control.” The exertion from his speech tired Lee and Nelson told him to take it easy. “I will” Crane replied, “but first I have to do something. Would you please ask Chip to come up here.”
The Admiral resisted the need to ask why, and picked up the Mike. “Mr. Morton - could you please report to sick bay?” Chip answered “aye sir” and headed there quickly. He was so weary from all of the events that had happened he felt that he couldn’t deal with a confrontation between Lee and the Admiral. But yet Lee hadn’t appeared vindictive, or even angry. Morton hurried to get it over with.
While they waited for Chip the Admiral spoke to Lee. “I have to try to make you understand, I felt like I was watching myself from afar and didn’t have any control of what I was doing. Kreuger had been in my cabin repeatedly, telling me over and over that he would force me to kill you. When the Seaviews air supply was cut off he struck hard, and I just couldn’t fight it. I don’t know what to say or what to do....” Lee had to think before he replied, “Admiral, we can talk about it , we should talk about it , but later.” The admiral nodded.
At that moment Chip walked into the room and straight to Lee. “Chip” Lee looked past the admiral to his XO “The Admiral is NOT under arrest, nor to be restricted in any way. I want you to contact Admiral Stark and tell him that we have a situation on the ship that the admiral and I need to discuss with him, and a passenger that needs to be handled very discreetly, and to please come alone. I want to speak with the girl before Stark arrives so we can try and explain to her the need for discretion. I’ll deal with the rest of this business later.” “Aye aye Captain” replied a suddenly smiling Chip. And he left to find the girl.
Nelson looked hard at his friend. Suddenly he knew that their relationship was intact, that his career and his life were intact. But he still found it hard to talk to Lee. The IV in Lee’s arm, and his pale demeanor didn’t help. Neither did the gasp from Lee when he tried To move. Nelson called for the doc. Jameison came into the room “Captain, you have to lie still and rest.” “Not until I take care of something important Doc.” replied Lee, looking past him at Chip and the Island Girl in the hatch.
“Captain Crane, I insist that you do not exert yourself any more at this time.” The admiral looked at Crane,” Lee, you lay there quietly and I’ll talk to her. Alright?” Lee nodded his assent. Then to Doc, “Would that be acceptable to you, Doctor?” “Of course Admiral” said Jameison “ Just make sure the Captain stays quiet.” The Admiral turned to Chip, “Chip, you took a statement from her didn’t you?” Chip nodded, encouraged by the obvious change in the Admiral. Lee spoke to him, “Chip, would you get me a copy of the statement.” Jameison gave Crane his best doctor look, and growled “captain” and Crane lay back. Chip knew Doc would have his hands full trying to keep Lee quiet, “Aye Sir. I’ll get it right away.” and he left.
With the statement in hand the Admiral spoke to the girl, with Lee of course doing anything but staying quiet. It reassured the doctor to see his Captain returning to his old self. It only took a short time and the admiral walked out with the girl and the captain slept.
Seaview put into Pearl Harbor. Lee told Chip to give the crew 24 hour liberty and a few minutes later Jiggs Stark arrived on board. Chip brought him to sick bay and Chip and doc closed the door and left. It was nearly 3 hours before the door opened again and Admiral Jiggs Stark left, with the most bewildered look on his face. Stark and the girl left the Seaview and Doc headed back to his patient. He found Lee and the Admiral quietly conversive and interrupted only long enough to check on the Captain. Doc knew Crane would be up and about before long.
The crew returned from shore leave to see a wheelchair bound Captain Lee Crane give the order to set a course for home. Lee would have moments when he remembered Krueger’s intrusion, and the Admiral would always have some guilt, but they faced the future as always - a team.
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