Yvette MinuetThis story contains intense reference to child abuse
knocked at the Captain's cabin door.
It wasn't uncommon for the Skip to be up this late. He often ‘walked’
the boat' in the wee hours or even take the
"Enter," Crane's voice interrupted his musings.
"I noticed the light on under the door earlier and I kinda thought you might like one of these..." he offered his CO a huge mug of hot cocoa, heaped with whipped cream and a generous sprinkling of chocolate shavings.
"What’s this all about?" Crane asked, bemused, still in his crumpled uniform, looking up from the paperwork on his desk.
"Er...well, I couldn't sleep either, and I know it helps me..."
"It’s not that. I have a lot of paperwork to do.”
"Begging your pardon Skipper, but it doesn't take rocket scientist to notice that you've been taking on a heck of a lot during the Owl watch…”
"Is it that apparent?" Crane rose, ran a hand through his hair and sat down on his bunk.
“When's the Admiral coming back? Everyone's beginning to talk...."
"Your guess is as good as mine. Kyle DeLubian's taking up most of his time," Crane stared at the deck, and the seaman noticed his hands had knotted into fists.
"Are you okay Skip? I mean...well...oh shit...everyone's seen how bad he’s been treating you..."
It was after 0900 and the Captain hadn't yet appeared for his meeting with Sharkey. Morton was concerned as the Chief had reported to the XO in the Control Room saying Crane was more than a half hour late. This was not the Lee Crane either man knew.
"Excuse me, Mr. Morton," Kowalski turned from his console," But, er...he was up pretty late last night..."
"Again," Riley whispered shaking his head.
"That wouldn't keep him from a planned drill,"
Morton said. "O'Brien, take the
"Ski? Just how late was late?"
"Any why were you up at that time?"
"Um hm..."Morton said knowingly. Years ago Kowalski had taken on the self appointed role of chief babysitter and bodyguard of the then new Captain but only after a few first bumpy weeks of sheer antagonism against the man. That had quickly changed as Crane had earned the respect and admiration of the entire crew.
Morton knew the crewman was concerned. Hell, they all were. He shook his head and headed aft stopping at the Captain's cabin.
"Lee?” he called out before knocking.
"Lee? Do you hear me?" he knocked louder, then gingerly opened the door, finding the man
hunched over his desk, sound asleep. Apparently he hadn't even been to bed.
Lee was holding a framed picture. It was impossible not to smile or notice the admiration the two men, Nelson and Crane had toward each other in one of the Crossing the Line ceremonies.
"Ummhuuuh?" Crane began to rouse.” Chip? What time is it"
"The Chief’s going to kill me!" Lee rose, bumping
the desk, the picture falling off the desk and shattering the glass on the deck.
"I'll get it,” Morton said.
"Thanks. " Lee moved to the head and splashed some water on his unshaved face, "We had a drill planned..."
"We had a lot of things planned …"
"Please, Chip. Don’t scold. "Crane dried his face, and sat on the edge of the bunk. His eyes were bloodshot and the dark circles and unkempt appearance made him look actually sick.
Morton dumped the pieces of broken glass in the wastebasket, and sat on the edge of the desk, a habit he'd actually picked up from Crane.
"Speak to me, bro," Chip said.
"I’ve been considering leaving Seaview."
"God knows I don't want to...but this thing between Nelson and I... he’s lost confidence in me. It could imperil the boat, the crew..."
"What are you talking about? Nobody lost faith in you...?"
"Well, he has. Or maybe it's something more personal...I just don't know..."
"You look awful, Lee. I suppose it's a foregone conclusion that you haven't even been to bed yet."
"Why bother. I can't sleep. Why does Harry suddenly dislike me, distrust me? And why all his spit polish and brig attitude all of a sudden? That's not what Seaview is. At least it hasn't been...It's almost as if he wants to hide from me, Chip. Me. What have I done wrong? I don't exist for him outside of the Control Room. All the thing’s we’ve shared…it’s all gone, like our friendship never even existed. He’s just…swept me aside…. "
Crane rose and began to pace around the cabin, "You remember Zeraff's city under the sea? When Nelson came to the village undercover he told Melina he was my 'friend, enemy, partner, rival, big brother, blood brother and that sometimes he wanted to bash my head in'. And he’d meant it. Every word. We laughed about it a lot later. But now…it’s as if it never happened. And now he's gotten all chummy with Kyle DeLubian. DeLubian, of all people!"
"Well, he had to take on a new business partner, didn't he?"
"No, he didn’t. The Institute finances were doing just fine. Never better. Don't you see, leaving Seaview to go visit DeLubian all the time is just an excuse to get away from.. from Me."
"Lee, please don't take this the wrong way...maybe you’re a little...jealous of this new friendship?"
"Of DeLubian? That self important jackass? Even if I were, Nelson has no business treating Seaview and her crew so badly. If it were only me, that’s one thing, but…"
"He's the boss. He can treat us any way he likes."
"Not on my watch he can't. And he wouldn't be without some outside influence. Mr. Wall Street Wizard influence.”
"You haven't even met the man! You’ve never been this judgmental before." By now Morton was growing far more disturbed by Lee's attitude than Nelson’s. The older man had always been unpredictable, but Lee, while sometimes a brooding presence on the boat, had taken such disappearances, even the occasional disagreements between them in his stride. Something was very very wrong.
"Chip," Lee continued, "I can’t help it. DeLubian’s rubbed me the wrong way since he stepped aboard…It’s that or…never mind…”
“No, there’s more. Go on.”
Crane took a deep breath. It was now or never…he looked up at Chip, his eyes haunted. “What if..what if the feelings I've had for Harry have been wrong all along...what if...he’s sensed it. Something in me that he can’t abide? Then he’d have no choice but to snub me publicly and get away from me to prevent anything from happening..."
"Lee! Stop it!” Chip grabbed his shoulders and shook them, “What are you talking about? Nelson’s your closest friend. So what if he's gotten friendly with DeLubian. He’s got other friends and you’ve never gone ballistic. He’s practically your…do I have to say it? He’s more like your father when you get right down to it."
"Not any more…and…what if the feelings I've had for him are more than that..."Lee whispered.
"More than what?” Chip asked, totally confused.
“Do I have to spell it out? What if they’re…sensual," he finally said, shamefaced.
"Sensual?" Chip snorted. "Oh boy, your imagination's gone into overdrive...have you had an urge to give him a kiss or something?"
Crane flushed. “Of course not, but..sometimes…I’ve had…stray thoughts…"
"Which you've never acted on, right?"
"See? Lee, you're only human. The mind plays tricks on all of us.”
"I'm not sure it’s that simple. Chip? I..I love him so much it hurts. Is that brotherly, familial, or...or..." Lee was growing flushed again, and agitated.
For a moment Chip was silent.” Well, no matter what it is, it still shouldn't excuse his behavior treating you almost as a non person this cruise."
"It's a moot point I guess. Whatever we used to have, we sure don't anymore."
"I can't believe that. Look Lee, he's just distracted by the kind of lifestyle Kyle DeLubian has. Everything Nelson would have had if he hadn't followed his dream of Seaview and the Institute. Andy maybe he’s just getting a few pointers for improvements, that sort of thing….think about that. Now, as for you, high time you got to bed. I’ll have Doc give you something. "
"What's wrong with him, Will?" Morton asked Doc Jamison after Jamie left the Captain's cabin. "He didn’t even argue about me calling you."
"Now I am concerned…sorry, bad joke…He’s over extended and completely exhausted; that's what's wrong with him..at least physically. But after the past few weeks, I’d swear he’s been suffering from some kind of separation anxiety, even when Nelson was aboard."
"He thinks they’re not friends any more…and he’s blaming himself for it. Making up excuses for the Admiral's behavior...he thinks...er...never mind,” he flushed, it’s kind of complicated."
"Go on, Chip. Spill it. It if upsets you remember I’m his Chief Medical Officer…it won’t go out of this room..er…corridor."
“He thinks he may have been having...I guess you could say, gay thoughts about Nelson. And he’s very ashamed of them."
"A great many people have the occasional same sex thoughts. Doesn't really mean anything..."
"I agree, but he thinks he may have had some real ones and that Nelson's picked up on them and that's why he's abandoned Lee."
"Abandoned him? Is that what he thinks Nelson’s done? The Admiral’s just taking care of business, isn’t he?"
"Lee says Nelson wants to get away from him..."
"I know Nelson's been treating him like a undervalued lackey, but it's not the first time..."
"I've never seen Lee so defeated, Will. He said he was thinking of leaving Seaview...to 'protect' her and us from the unspoken battle between them.”
“Worse than I thought. I think I’m going to recommend some professional counseling…”
“Did you give him something to help him sleep?"
"Yes. But we can still wake him for any emergency."
"Very well. I'll be in the Control Room."
"Something wrong, Harriman?" Kyle DeLubian asked over his Eggs Benedict. The breakfast nook overlooked the river and the two were enjoying the morning sunrise.
"Normally, I'd be itching to get back to Seaview by now, but frankly I think I could get used to this," he spread his arms. "I've had a great time, Kyle, as always. How about joining me aboard Seaview for a few days? She’s due to complete her mission soon, but we could still put in some diving…”
"I’d be delighted. But I’ll need to clear it with the office. If I don’t my staff is liable to mutiny as you’d say.”
“I’ve been meaning to ask you but you’ve kept me so busy, how’s the model of Seaview coming along?”
"Oh just about the most difficult piece I've ever attempted! Back in a moment, Harry. Need to answer the call of nature."
Nelson studied DeLubian as he retreated, unable to takes his eyes off of the narrow hips and firm buttocks which sharply reminded him of Lee's. Coughing from the risqué and totally inappropriate thoughts, he returned his attention to the delicious bread pudding and ladled on the heavy rum sauce. An odd choice he thought for Delubian, certainly more used to elegant haute cuisine.
Elegance wasn't a sufficient word for DeLubian. Immaculately groomed, with salt and pepper hair. Today he was attired in green tones accessorized with emerald gemstones in his tie tack and cufflinks, embossed with Harvard’s logo. He was never without it, even though he’d never graduated. Only Lee could look more dazzling. But Lee would look dazzling with a month’s worth of unshaved beard, jeans, and sneakers…when would these thoughts about Crane cease? Nelson chided himself and returned his musings to Kyle.
He was the epitome of the modern self made billionaire. He was
well respected in the financial world, and was known to contribute heavily to several
museums and was a noted collector of antiquities. He was equally well regarded
as an artist and
sculptor in his own right, though he'd only had one year of
formal training. He just had a natural talent for it. He was also a gourmet,
having spent a few years in
A mega yacht softly bounced alongside the private pier while Nelson remembered a delightful outing on her, and encouraged him to man the helm while the captain and crew stood by obediently, or was it…warily? Surely a three star Admiral wouldn’t sink the boat. Kyle and Harry also enjoyed taking out various other small craft, sea going sailboats, day sailers, and even sea scooters which Nelson had enjoyed immensely. Because of his time with DeLubian, he’d already ordered a few of the same vessels for the Institute's private marina. Nothing like a little recreation for his employees to make them forget his sour attitude of late. He hadn't exactly been sociable lately, especially toward Lee. In fact, when he got right down to it, he'd treated the boy rather badly. But it had been the only way that he could avoid...
"I have a slew of conference calls today," Kyle returned, "in fact there's one in a few minutes... we can be off tonight, if that's agreeable to you Harry."
"Marvelous. I'll arrange for the Flying Sub to come pick us up then. I'd like to go to town for awhile today anyway. I promised my sister I'd get her some souvenirs. Even a postcard or two of the DeLubian castle," he laughed.
“I think I can do better than that, Harry,” he flashed him a smile that made Nelson think of Crane again, as he retrieved something from behind the desk. Oh, Lee, he turned and looked out the window. He'd left the man he regarded as close to him as a son behind in bitterness and confusion. And all because he, Nelson, had had some stupid dreams and been afraid to admit them. Coward, Nelson chided himself. Coward! Everyone had dreams. That didn't mean you'd ever act on them. But they'd been so vivid. Disturbing. Perhaps just due to a surfeit of hormones. That was it, he'd told himself over and over, he'd been chaste for so long. But in spite of some repeated jerking off to relieve himself, the dreams had continued, even here, so far away and removed from the object of his lurid fantasies. The dark lean man writing underneath him on the beach, dripping wet from the sea, stark naked, as Nelson lifted his buttocks slightly to spread Crane's legs wide apart, who welcomed Nelson's touch as Harry forged his swollen torpedo into Lee's trembling, yet willing body. Welcoming the painful invasion of his virgin passage, which caused the sphincter ring to tear slightly and and drip blood onto their joined skin.. 'Lee...Lee...Lee...oh my love..my love' his mind's eye shouted in synch with each imagined deep and hard thrust.’ My brother, my brother', he thrust again, deeper, "my son, my son!' he thrust deepest still, semen exploding from his body into Lee's. Lee's swollen member came too, more from the stimulation of his prostate than from Nelsons' fumbling attempts at fondling the massive penis, the spasms splattering his own seed between them. Nelson gazed at Lee's look of absolute adoration and trust. Trust? Trust? Sex with his colleague? His friend? His son? For that was what Lee was to him, wasn't he? Damm him!
Shaken by his daydream, Nelson had a hard time getting rid of the vision of his semen oozing out of Lee's ass, down his legs and onto the sand, a thick mixture of creamy white streaked with the trickling blood of Lee's surrender...
"Harry? Harry?' DeLubian knocked on Nelsons' forehead, "You in there? Here,” he handed him a glossy vintage 8x10 of the ‘castle’ when it had first been built. His grandfather stood proudly in front. The ladies with him in billowy long white dresses and parasols. “I’m sure Edith will enjoy this…now, how about some homemade Irish Stew with dumplings for supper. In honor of your heritage.”
"Thank you, and if the stew’s as good as the bread pudding, I'd be delighted. Am I correct assuming I have you to thank for personally cooking it?”
"Guilty. Glad you liked it. I enjoy puttering in the kitchen."
"You could give Cookie some pointers."
"Er, Harriman, speaking of pointers… " Kyle raised an eyebrow as he looked at Nelson's damp stained crotch pointedly. "Perhaps you should change...please don't be embarrassed. It's our age. Then we’ll go to my studio."
Thanks to Doc, Lee had been swept into the arms of Morpheus almost immediately. But he was tormented by ugly dreams. Not all were the same, but most were of the same vein. Nelson slapping him, telling him in no uncertain terms to get out of his sight, get off of Seaview, and never to set foot anywhere near him again. But the real ache in Crane's heart was when Nelson told Lee he was disgusted with him….
"Skipper? Skipper?" Kowalski gently opened the door to check on the Captain. He’d heard his cries of ‘No! No!’. Aware that Crane had been sedated, as a frequent assistant to the Corpsman and sometimes to Doc, Ski knew it didn't matter this time how bad the nightmare was, he shouldn’t wake him. But he'd still better report this to Jamie and Morton.
Three huge helpings of stew and dumplings later, Nelson and DeLubian were aboard the flying sub whisking them to Seaview, Sharkey at the controls, Nelson claiming he was too full to do anything but enjoy the flight.
“I think I’d like to try my hand at this, Harry,” Kyle grinned. “Maybe even buy one. But I wonder if the FAA would allow it. I’m not exactly a licensed pilot.”
“Actually, she doesn’t quite fly like an ordinary aircraft…perhaps Captain Crane can give you some lessons…”
“I’d like that.”
“Chief, contact Seaview. I’d like Crane to meet our guest right away when we dock..”
“Actually, he’s kinda’ down for the count…but I’m sure Mr. Morton will be glad to….”
“What’s wrong with Crane?” Nelson asked.
"Er…Better let Doc discuss it with you sir." There was no way he was going to tell Nelson in front of a guest that the Skipper had been sedated.
"Well, I must say," Mr. DeLubian sat down in the Observation Nose after a brief introduction to the XO. "I'm more than impressed up close and personal.”
"Admiral?" Lee spoke from the spiral ladder. He was still in his rumpled uniform, hair uncombed, singularly scruffy, and though Nelson tried to put away the thought, utterly ravishing.
"I thought Doc put you to bed. I can’t say he did that good a job of it…"
"I felt the vibrations,” he indicated the docked Flying Sub, as Sharkey was supervising Pat and Ski to take the men’s luggage aft. “Besides, I'm awake now… Is something wrong, sir?” he asked the man with Nelson who was staring at him, his mouth agape.
"Oh..er…yes…sorry…it's just that…frankly, you look so...so very much like...someone I used to know.”
"Kyle, Commander Crane, Lee, Mr. DeLubian.”
"Welcome aboard, sir.”
Ski bit his lip. It was more customary for the Skipper to be introduced to a civilian as Captain. This was a deliberate slur so the Admiral must still be angry with him.
"Thank you,” DeLubian raised an eyebrow, “I don’t mean to be rude, Harry, but he looks ill, I sure don’t want to catch any bugs down here breathing his germs."
"Sorry sir,” Crane said. “I’m quite well. Just haven't had a chance to change or shave."
"'So what’s all that bed business all about, Lee?” Nelson asked.
"Oh, just that Chip got a bee in his bonnet about me not having gotten much sleep lately. Made Doc dope me out for a few hours. I feel better now..."
"Very well,” Nelson said, “I want you to buddy Mr. DeLubian in the dive teams tomorrow."
"But the only dives we have left are in the Rainbow Gorge."
"So?" DeLubian asked.
"The gorge is far too dangerous for a civilian."
"I'm a fully certified Scuba Diver Captain," DeLubian huffed.
"I'm well aware of your bio, sir, however..."
"Well, if you’re too scared to be my diving buddy perhaps you can assign someone else.” "The only fear I have is for your own safety, sir," Crane said, "You have to be a dive master for this kind of dive. "
"For Pete’s sake, Lee, it's not that bad a dive."
"Now wait a minute..."
"I believe the Admiral has countermanded your decision, Captain."
"I'm responsible for the safety of the lives aboard this vessel, Mr. DeLubian, including yours. The answer’s no, and that’s final. "
"Are you going to let him speak to me that way, Harry?"
"It doesn't matter how I speak to you," Lee said coolly, "You will not be taking the dive.”
"I'll take him out," Nelson said.
"You’re not qualified either. Mr. DeLubian, give us a few minutes please. Chip, would you escort our guest to the Wardroom, or perhaps his cabin?”
“Right away Captain,” Morton nodded, and ushered the man aft.
Crane closed the pleated door separating the Nose from the Control Room before Nelson could say anything.
"How dare you be so deliberately rude!” Nelson spat.
"Part of my job description. Frankly sir, I've begun to wonder about your judgment...."
"You know damn well Rainbow Gorge is one of the most dangerous dive zones in the world. "
"I am quite aware of the specs."
"Then you know I had no option. You should have agreed with me. Why didn't you?"
"Damn it Crane! Seaview is my boat and I promised Kyle. I’ll take the responsibility.”
“No you won’t. You’re not going. Either of you. And as Captain, that’s final. Now, do you want me log your objections to my decision, or shall you?"
"Get out! Get out of my sight!"
“As you wish, Admiral,” Lee said coolly, opened the pleats and headed aft.
As he did, Nelson chided himself silently. Pride had gotten in the way of logic, or had it been a proactive attempt to keep from showing Crane any favoritism. Lee had been right of course. He'd have to think of something that could serve as an excuse to save face for both.
“Morton? Where’s Mr. DeLubian?”
“I’m sorry about that Kyle,” Nelson began. “Actually, he’s within his rights…we can dive someplace else.”
“I wanted to see what all the fuss was about in Rainbow Gorge.”
“Well, we can monitor from Seaview.”
“Oh very well…I suppose it will have to do…”
“I’m sure Lee wouldn’t object to a regular dive in a less dangerous area, or even being your dive buddy.”
“I wouldn’t have him as my buddy if you paid me.”
“Brrr. He’s only doing his job, Kyle.”
“He’s supposed to answer to you, isn’t he?”
“Only up to a point. Technically, the buck pretty much stops at his feet. And maritime law would side with him.”
“Then the law needs to be changed. I’ve never been so insulted. He’s got a swelled head, Harry.”
“Then show me your dive master’s certificate.”
Kyle remained silent.
“Get some shut eye. We’ll go through the charts tomorrow to decide where the Captain will let you get your feet wet.”
“Okay okay. G’night Harry.”
Sleep was elusive for Nelson. Finally he chose the Observation Nose to brood.
Crane was already there, in pj’s and robe, his reflection in the windows despondent. He didn't even bother to turn from his chair, "So, do I disgust you so much that you couldn't even stand up for me?"
"It was just going to be a stupid dive, Lee. You have to understand. Kyle has a great deal of influence...financial influence. We need him."
"Influence?” Crane rose and turned, "I'm still Seaview's captain and deserve a little respect."
"I know he was a bit curt. I’ve already spoken to him. "
"I didn't mean him. You've made your feelings toward me quite clear," Lee brushed past Nelson without looking back and began to stride up the spiral ladder.
"It's not what you think! Lee! Captain! Stop and come back here! That's an order!"
Lee wasn't going to obey, but years of strict naval discipline took hold and he stopped, turned from the top of the ladder and glared fire. To those watching from the Control Room, it was surprising that Seaview's windows hadn’t melted.
"It's not what you think, lad," Nelson grabbed his arm.
"Don't you touch me!” Crane shook off his hand, furious and practically jumped back down to the deck, "I'm not your lad. You made that choice. And I've had enough of it!”
"You have to give me a chance to explain!"
"Okay, then, explain," Crane crossed his arms.
"I've been afraid to explain because...I might loose any shred of friendship remaining between us....but...I can't talk about it here," he whispered.
"The crew is entitled to know why you've been such a bear to them as well all these past weeks. "
"This has nothing to do with the crew! This is...between you and me."
Crane relented and pushed the button to close the accordion pleats. "Well?” Lee asked now that they had a modicum of privacy.
"I...I..."Nelson's voice caught in his throat," I'm going to be sick..." he doubled over and began to vomit.
Crane opened the pleats as Nelson huddled next to a wastebasket. "Get the Doc up here, " he clicked the mike.
In minutes, most of the sickness was spent.
"I...I still have to....explain..."Nelson argued.
"Sickbay," Crane ordered Nelson as Doc and the
"I don't need Sickbay."
"You're going anyway. No detours. Chip, what's our heading..."
"Well?” Lee leaned on Sickbay’s door frame a few minutes later. DeLubian was conferring with Doc. He must have heard the emergency call from the Control Room. Ski and Frank were helping to steady Nelson, sitting on the gurney, wastebasket in hand.
"He'll live," Doc turned, "I can't say the same about you, Captain. Frankly, you should get back to bed as soon as possible."
“Not until we have a little chat,”DeLubian interrupted, grabbing Lee’s arm,” I’d have already canned you for the way you spoke to me earlier. ”
“No doubt. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’d like to speak to the Admiral…privately if you don’t mind, gentlemen…I…I...”
Suddenly Crane's eyes rolled up and collapsed to the deck with a sickening crack to his head.
"I'm tellin' you," Frank reported to the men gathering around him in the crew's mess for breakfast the next day, " Splat! At first we thought he cracked his skull open or something even worse. Blood everywhere. That set Nelson to upchucking into his bucket again. Man it was a zoo in there. Blood was oozing out all over the Skipper’s hair, down his neck, pj’s, robe, and onto the deck. DeLubian butted in, said he deserved it. That's when Ski decked him, and helped Doc strip the Skipper and sponge off most of the blood so we could see what was what while I examined DeLubian. You know, something's really creepy about that guy. I swear he got a rise out of his flagpole seeing Crane naked..."
By noon it was all over the boat.
"If it wasn’t a bug, then what the hell was it?” Morton asked in Doc’s semi private Sickbay office.
"The only thing I can think of is a psychosomatic response to avoid the confrontation he was having with Lee just previously."
"Why am I not surprised," Morton sighed. "Speaking of Lee..."
"Scalp laceration, no concussion. I understand that thanks to Frank the men are saying the Captain is hovering between this world and the next. That, I assure you, is not true. His body, aided by the sedative, simply took over and decided to put him back to sleep without considering where he was at the time. Those pesky neurons did their job a bit too well.
"I want to speak to Harry,”DeLubian poked his head around the door.
"Over there, by Captain Crane,” Doc said, “by the way, how's the face?"
"I’ll live. I hope my assailant will be terminated promptly."
"Kowalski’s already been placed on report, " Morton replied.
"That’s it? Well, it’s not the way I’d handle things if I were in charge…and as one of Admiral Nelson’s friends and business partners, I demand he kick that sailor off the boat. and right now, "DeLubian snorted, and walked over to stand behind Nelson who was so intent on staring at Lee from the bedside that he’d not really heard the conversation.
"Hmm? Oh, hello Kyle..."
"We need to talk, Harry…"he began but had to study the thick dark lashes against Crane's angelic face....Angelina’s face. Then he forced himself back to the present. “Harry, I demand you terminate the man who struck me.”
Lee began to mumble.
"Doc?" Nelson called out.
Will gently took pulse, and blood pressure, then felt Lee's forehead before gently patting Lee's face, "I think he’s coming around…Skipper? Skipper? You in there?"
"Lee? Lee? Wake up. It's Nelson..."
"He's still in REM," Doc said, "dreaming,” he explained to DeLubian.
“I’m well aware of medical terminology Doctor.”
"Mffff...huh?' Lee's eyes fluttered, were still, then opened slightly. He immediately moaned and shaded them from the light, then it dawned on him..."Sickbay?" he tried to sit up but clutched his head with a groan and curled up into a fetal position.
"Easy..."Will turned him back enough to shine a penlight into his eyes to check his pupils .
"Oh gawd, stop it…Agghh! What happened? I don’t remember…wait…Harry? Where’s Harry?”
"Right here, Lee,” Nelson came out from behind Doc’s shadow. “You passed out and hit the deck so hard you tore your scalp and knocked yourself out.”
“Don't scratch those stitches,” Doc moved Lee’s hand away from his scalp..
"But they itch.."
"I've got some salve for that.”
“Harry, I demand Seaman Kowalski’s immediate termination.”
“What? What’s been going on?” Crane asked, confused.
“We’ll discuss it later, Kyle.”
“We’ll discuss it now,” Crane said brooking no argument.
“This isn’t the time or place Lee.”
“I’ll be the judge of that…”
“No, I will be,” Doc said.” You stay put Skipper. You can have a Captain’s Mast when you get out of here.”
“Mr. DeLubian said something Ski didn’t agree with,” Morton said.
“All I said…”
“Enough! All of you,” Doc insisted and pushed Crane back down.
“Stop it. I have a boat to run,” Crane complained, “Where are we now, anyway, Chip?”
"Holding steady at Rainbow Gorge. Mr. DeLubian won’t be on the dive team..but..er…”
“Later,Chip,”Nelson said, “I know it’s morning, but why not break out some of that Bug Juice we got in Tahiti...I doubt Kyle's wine cellar has anything to compare it with… Doc, why don’t you join them…I really need to speak to the Captain privately..something that can’t wait.”
“Go on,” Crane said wearily.
In minutes the Captain and Admiral were alone.
"So, tell me a little about Crane, " DeLubian took a swig of the purple brew in the Observation Nose.
"His career is pretty much public record,” Chip settled for coffee.
"Single, but not due to the lack of applicants.”
“None that I’m aware of."
"Doesn't look very Anglo Saxon for a Crane. If my etymology’s correct the name’s of European origin. Rather odd, don’t you think, for a man with such rather…ethnic looks."
"Not odd at all. Crane's his adopted name,” Jamison answered, adding some sugar substitute to his coffee.
"Ah, yes, I see. Any idea who his real parents were? Or are?”
"You seem to want a lot of personal information, Mr. DeLubian.”
"Sorry, it's just so interesting...when was he adopted? As an infant? ”
"Actually he was seven,” Chip offered.
"Where was he before then, an orphanage? A foster home?"
"Several of each,” Chip said. “Some were decent enough, but a couple were pretty miserable…look, I think we’ve touched on this enough.”
“Wait,” DeLubian interrupted, “surely you can understand Doctor. A young boy with those looks? I suppose he was abused. You know what I mean.”
“That’s none of your business.”
"But it is your business. Both of yours. Your’s Mr. Morton, as the executive officer of Seaview. And your’s Doctor, as it’s a known fact that abused children tend to become violent men...you can't afford that in a Captain responsible for all these men...."
“Now you just stop it!” Morton rose. "for your information the crew worships the ground he walks on, and frankly so do I. Now, if you'll excuse me sir," Chip retreated to the safety of the Control Room.
“I think I’ve had enough myself,” Doc sat the empty cup down and headed up the ladder, DeLubian finished his drink with a smirk, then sauntered aft.
Meanwhile in Sickbay things were not going as well as planned.
"For someone who wants to speak with me, you've been awfully quiet," Lee said.” In fact you're looking anywhere but at me."
Of course he hadn't. While Crane was garbed in hospital gown, and covered with blankets, Nelson couldn't help remembering the medical team working over his nude form. It was the first time he'd ever seen Crane so totally exposed...
"Oh, Lee...."Nelson sighed.
"Are you going to throw up again?"
"Damn...I...you're not going to like what I have to say, Lee. In fact, you may never speak to me again."
"Like I said earlier, try me."
"All right..here goes...I...I've been having dreams..."
"Dreams. Unnatural dreams...indecent dreams..."
Nelson took a breath. "In them, I...I...find myself getting excited... "
"Excited. About what? Bunjee jumping? Just what do you do in these dreams?"
"Damn it Lee. Don't be so naïve! In my dreams I'm excited sexually! I'm making wild passionate love to you! Don't you understand why I can't be alone with you or chat or joke with you like before or take your side on important issues because I keep seeing you in my dreams! Seeing myself pumping into you...cumming inside you...and you in me...fondling you...kissing you! I can't go on being anywhere near you or... I might end up taking you in my arms and...maybe even..even... raping you, because I'm so horny for you I don't think I can stop myself!"
There were tears running down his face.
It was Lee's turn to look askance. Then, "So, you have been running away from me."
"Run? I’ve darn well sprinted. I need to maintain strict naval disciple to cover my own feelings. I have to hide under the manual or stay away from you altogether. Lee.. If I hadn't flown the coop this last time so to speak, I swear I'd have taken you on the deck in full view of everyone! I'm the lowest scum on the face of the earth, thinking of you that way....It's sick, abnormal...you must hate me now.”
"Oh, Harry, " Lee finally said after a moment of silence, eyes downcast, "And here I'd thought you were sweeping me aside because...because I’ve had the same kinds of feelings toward you. I thought you'd sensed them and couldn’t stand me.”
“You’ve had dreams?”
“Not dreams. Thought’s mostly. A lot of ‘what if's'; nothing blatant..."he looked up, "Harry,
All I only know is that I love you. It's the kind of love that has me confused. And I may be wrong, but...I can’t help thinking…would it really be that bad to ...to consummate whatever kind of love it is ?"
After taking a moment for the news to sink in, Nelson began, "I've loved you as a friend. A brother...even as a son. Taken to the next level, sex between us would be almost incestuous...a vile thing."
"Or not," Crane ran a hand on Nelson's brow. An incredibly soft, sensual touch. Then he pulled Nelson closer and was about to place a tentative kiss on his lips, but immediately pulled away.
“I guess maybe we’re not quite ready for it after all,” Lee said, “I’m sorry…but I still love you just the same.”
“So do I…” Nelson wrapped him in a warm embrace, “Oh Lee, Lee, Lee, the physical stuff; it doesn’t matter. All that matters is I love you…”
Nelson had finished his little talk with Crane, and Doc, after settling his patient down with a little more sedation, had gone to the Wardroom, leaving the patient temporarily alone.
He ever so gently he turned the sleeping patient’s head to expose the back of his neck. With the skill of an artist he noticed the scars he doubted anyone else would have noticed. Pulling down the blankets, he raised up the short hospital gown to see if his previous observation of the misshapen right nipple had been correct. More scars… arms, abdomen, hips, pubis, back…most of them were obscure, faded with time. His pubic hair was thick, and some of the strands curled as ringlets. Just as he’d expected. Upon further examination, he estimated Crane’s penis to be about 9 inches long; and could just imagine the extra 2 or 3 inches it promised erect. As for his meaty, heavy balls, the financier in DeLubian couldn’t help comparing them to Wall Street's famous bronze bull.
Reluctantly DeLubian returned the gown and blankets to their rightful positions, and by the Doc returned to the vacant Sickbay except for the Captain, there was no indication Crane had even been disturbed. Not even the small lock of hair snipped with a pair of manicure scissors would be missed.
“Harry you don’t have to do this,” DeLubian let Nelson assist him with his Scuba Gear the following day.
“I want you to have the best dive of your life; that means buddying you with the best diver…Crane’s been released from sickbay, and I want it clearly understood that he’s your dive leader…no going off on your own. These Catalina caves can be dangerous if you’re not careful.”
“All right, all right. Cheech, Harry. I’m not a rookie.”
“I know that, but I also know you’re not exactly on good terms with Lee.”
“You think? He’s opinionated, arrogant…”
“Kyle,” Nelson took him aside, “he’s also your Captain, and like it or not, my friend.”
“Okay, but I don’t have to like him.”
“All set down here?” Crane entered, ripping off his tie.
“Admiral,” Jamison was right behind him, “I really must protest. I may have released Lee from Sickbay but he still has a stitched up laceration and…”
“Will the dive be a danger to him?”
“Well, no, not exactly. But he’ll need to report back so I can re-clean the wound.”
“After all the stuff you injected me with, any bacteria wouldn’t dare infect me.”
“I still don’t like this, Captain, and have half a mind to forbid it.”
“Admiral?” Kyle pleaded.
“It’s just for an hour or so,” Crane said.
“Oh very well. But at the first sign of..”
“Yes Will, I know…”
“I was just going over a few things with Kyle about the dive,Lee,”Nelson said as he noticed the Chief had given DeLubian the yellow wetsuit. At least Lee wouldn’t feel like a banana. Sharkey have Lee the silver suit, actually Nelson’s personal property. No doubt to remind all that the Skipper was the ‘top dog’ of this dive.
“This is one of the best cave diving areas in the entire Catalina chain,” Crane was saying on the throat mike as they swam further away from Seaview and toward the island shelf.
“Harry said you dive here a lot…”
“Whenever I can.”
“How convenient. Must be a lot of perks being Captain.”
“Admiral Nelson decided on this area especially for you, Mr. DeLubian. Frankly I’d rather have just gone home.”
“To get rid of me, no doubt.”
“Sir…oh, never mind. What’s the point. Here we are…now, keep your flashlight on, and stay close. We can’t risk getting separated; you could be trapped in one of the tunnels forever.”
“You haven’t explored this one? Will wonders never cease.”
“And don’t bump into anything. Some of the rocks and stalactites can crack and cause a cave in.”
“Why’re they sparkling?”
“Luminescence...certain algae’s…you’ll have to ask the Admiral about the different species…”
“You can call him Harry in front of me. I know he likes you more than he should.”
“Mr. DeLubian, his personal relationships are his own business. So are mine.” Had everyone noticed?
“Ouch…touchy, touchy…it was just a question.”
“They’ve sure been gone a long time,” Ski said nervously from his sonar station. It couldn’t pick up the divers as long as they were in the caves.
“I know,” Morton said, “But it’s still within safe parameters. Probably giving him his money’s worth.”
“There they are….” Sharkey indicated the camera monitor just as Ski’s screen had the blips.
“Oh swell,” Morton sighed, as he saw the silver clad Crane pulling the yellow clad DeLubian behind him, “What now?”
No sooner than the missile room hatch wheel turned, Crane yanked DeLubian out onto the drip decking.
“Get the Master at Arms up here! Mr. DeLubian is to remain confined for the duration of the cruise!”
‘Oh for Pete’s sake! It was just a little bump on the noggin!”
“You deliberately ignored my instructions and nearly caused a cave in!”
“Lee, what’s this all about?” Nelson asked.
“Skipper, you’re hurt!” Sharkey said as he held the torn dive cap Crane had just taken off.
“I’m fine. Just opened my stitches...”
“Well, you’re gonna’ need more, ” the Chief ran a hand along a couple of newly torn and bleeding grazes.
“Kyle?” Nelson asked, brows furrowed.
“How was I to know picking up a souvenir,” he held out a stalactite, “would make all those damn rocks break off .”
“Which you were told not to touch,” Crane said as Sharkey helped remove his wetsuit and Jamison arrived post haste. “My dive instructions were perfectly clear. It was a deliberate attempt to thwart my authority in order to show off. I want him confined, Admiral,” Lee demanded, “before he does any more damage, to himself, or any of my crew. Stop fussing, Will. I’m fine.”
“Now who’s showing off, Mr. Perfect Captain. It was an accident. ”
“Enough,” Nelson said. “As soon as you’re out of your gear, Kyle, meet me in my cabin. Lee, Sickbay. No detours.”
It went completely unnoticed that DeLubian smirked as he studied the rivulets of blood on Crane’s head drip onto his bare chest as Sharkey and crew wiped him down with a towel.
“Well, I’m sorry too, Kyle,” Nelson was saying as Sharkey stowed his luggage aboard the Flying Sub. “But it’s your own fault.”
"Can’t you just tell the Captain I said I’m sorry?”
“Your actions could have killed you both…”
“Ah c’mon…we both got out fine before the cave in; all he got was a scratch.”
“That was providential. Mistakes like that can cost lives.”
“You’re being paranoid.”
“Be that as it may, I’m afraid I have no choice but to send you back home. I hope we can still be friends.”
“Well, I suppose. Still, I’m disappointed. You’re not acting like a friend in my opinion. I still think Crane’s a pompous ass, Harry. You’re blind not to see it.”
“Part of his job description…well, have a good flight.”
In minutes Seaview’s guest was aloft. Even Seaview seemed to sigh in relief.
The home movie flickered, the color yellowed with time. But it’s owner paid no attention to it playing on the wall behind his desk. He read and read again the microfilmed and Xerox copies of newspaper reports from long ago, the stalactite as a paperweight...
"…The infant’s bruises and lacerations prove he might have been the victim of an attempted abortion or at least some abuse. Whatever the truth of the matter, whoever dumped the newborn over the fence had no intention for his survival. The boy is being treated for massive external and internal bruising, as well as numerous lacerations, bug bites, and hypothermia. It’s believed the snow prevented broken bones. It remains to be seen if any of the child’s injuries will be permanent.."
“...Complete medical reports have been sealed from public disclosure pending further investigation and the child will not be available for adoption until medically cleared.."
"…Caucasian, with olive tones, the newborn has a mass of curly midnight black hair, and what staff are calling chameleon eyes. Some of his caretakers swear his eyes change color with his moods. The nurses are in love with the baby, who's long eyelashes frame an almost feminine beauty of the little boy."
DeLubian's eyes flicked back to the silent home movie, of the young girl on the screen. Only her chameleon eyes were flashing terror...
"Excuse me sir," a voice on the intercom buzzed.
"Those results you wanted came in.”
“I knew it. I knew it! You sure there’s no mistake?”
“Could use it in a court of law.”
"Ah, yes, well thank you. Now, just when will the good
Admiral be called to
"Our sources say the calls' already gone through."
"And arrangements for the Captain?"
"He'll never know what hit him.."
"The best laid plans," Nelson sighed as he straightened the tie of his best business suit in his NIMR office.
"Any idea what it’s about?” Lee asked, sitting on the corner of the desk.
“None, only that it was urgent if I want that book to get published before the deadline.”
“If they want your book so badly wouldn’t they give you an extension?”
“Has nothing to do with it. Some legal mumbo jumbo.”
A knock on the door interrupted. Chief Sharkey was waiting for Nelson's gear. In minutes Nelson was on his way via the Flying Sub to Boson.
“Very well,” DeLubian finished the call and rose, stretching his limbs. Opening up the credenza he reached for a marble statue of the same young girl from the home movie. She bore such a resemblance to Seaview’s Captain it was frightening. Her eyes were even more terrified in the nude sculpture than they had been on the film. Her arms were secured above her head by her assailant. DeLubian himself.
“You know,” Ski said as he munched on a slice of pizza at one of the local haunts, “Kinda’ weird the Skip not hanging around the boat. You think he’s actually taken off this leave?”
“That or another stint with ONI,” Pat replied.
“You gotta’ be kidding. Nelson was in such a snit from the last time, Crane wouldn’t dare.”
“Oh, he’d dare all right,” Morton paid for his pizza at the counter, and intruded, “but I have it on good authority that he planned on taking the Sea Sprite out…”
“That does it,” Ski complained, “he’s got to have brain damage.”
“Oh c’mon, it’s not that bad of a sailboat,” Morton said.
“I just don’t get it. Why doesn’t he just put up his feet on the sofa and watch football or something…”
Morton just laughed and headed home.
Crane's head was pounding. For some reason he felt, what was the word for it, disoriented....but as he slowly became more aware of his surroundings, the first thing he noticed was that he wasn’t aboard the Sprite. Had he fallen overboard? The last thing he remembered was dropping anchor in a Seagull bay.
Was it his imagination or did he hear the strains of a piano? He discovered he was locked into some kind of chair. It was very much splintered and reminded him of the one he’d suffered electrical brainwashing from in the People’s Republic…indeed, the chair was locked into the floor and he was restrained with manacles to the arms and legs and neck. For a moment he thought he might be a prisoner again. But the elegance of the place vied with all their normal hype against such things. As for the jolts of electric shock 'therapy', it hadn't happened yet. Or had it? He was rather odiferous, and his clothes were damp and his pants stained with urine.
Facing him was a huge inlaid desk. Antiques were displayed about the place and exotic stone, bronze, plaster, and china statues and figurines were displayed near and far.
“Where the hell am I! "he began to yell.” Get me out of here!" Not a good idea, his head hurt even worse. And that damn piano music...granted, it was well played, but each note jarred his ears, his eyes...and he still couldn't remember..... He began to yell some more...the piano music stopped.
"Enough of that bellowing!” DeLubian sauntered into the room and sat on the edge of his desk, retrieving the stalactite from the credenza, “Welcome to my parlour,said the spider to the fly. Or should I say ‘Skipper’,” he mocked.
"DeLubian? What is this? What am I doing here!"
"Why I should think that's apparent," he retrieved the small marble and cradled it in his arms. You can understand why seeing you aboard Seaview quite startled me,” he showed it off, “You look just like her, although, of course, she has a much more feminine wraith like beauty..." he ran a finger over the act of forced coitus…
DeLubian struck him. “Have you no appreciation of art? This is my Venus…and me…”he deliberately turned himself in profile,” My younger days of course. Rather good craftsmanship if I say so myself. It was very difficult to show the drops of semen…"
"You’re sick! That’s…. not a real girl is it?” Crane shuddered.
“She was…she's dead now," DeLubian said bitterly, "You killed her."
Someplace in his sombolistic state Chip Morton stirred as the doorbell rang and rang…
“All right, all right, I’m coming…”he yawned as he grabbed his robe and answered the door, revealing two Coast Guard officers. Immediately he was fully alert.
“Cmdr.Morton?” one of the men read the form, “I’m afraid we have some bad news…”
“They said what was left of the boat was just drifting… ” Chip explained to Nelson on the phone. “Almost completely gutted by fire…no sign of Lee…they’re still doing a search and rescue but will be forced to call if off soon. I’ve sent FS-1 out on our own reconn….but…there’s something else,” Morton hesitated.
“They found some blood on the planks. Forensics still checking to see if it’s Lee’s…”
“Oh lord…I’ll be there as soon as possible…I’ll get a civilian flight back. Keep FS-1 searching.”
“What do you mean, I killed her?” Lee asked. “I’ve never even met her!”
“Quiet!” DeLubian slapped him, “I want you to see this.”
He clicked on the home movie. The naked young girl was still wet with soapsuds, her long thick black hair in moist ringlets half concealing her youthful and nubile beasts. Her eyes were terrified as she struggled against the steel cords and duct tape tying her wrists and legs to the bedposts. She was helpless, immobile, against the sheet’s playful kittens design.
Lee turned his head away.
"No, Captain, you will watch, " he struck Lee’s other cheek this time with the staglagtite,“How many men can actually witness their own conception? Give or take. I knew I was right about our relationship the moment I saw you. But naturally, being exposed to the scientific method you of the Seaview appreciate so much, I did a little research of my own. I stole a hair sample from you while you were in sick bay. The DNA match is conclusive. Beyond doubt, my son. Keep looking!” he held Crane’s twitching eyelids open. "Ahh. Here it comes...open wide for Daddy..." he laughed as the youthful and equally naked DeLubian, fully erect and dripping precum approached the girl. “By the way, that term wasn’t hypothetical. You’re watching my daughter and me.”
"Oh gawd…No! No! No!” Lee cried, tears streaming down his face as he was forced to watch the brutal assault on the girl. “Your own…your own…”
"You’d be surprised how many ancient civilizations embraced the idea of incest…By the way, I normally I last much longer, " he laughed, "I suppose it was the excitement of her deflowering."
When the younger DeLubian climaxed and his semen spilled out of the girl to join the blood splatters on the sheets, it was a loosing battle for Lee not to throw up.
“By the way, you had a terrible boating accident…the Coast Guard’s probably given up on you by now…”
A buzzer buzzed.
"Yes?" DeLubian answered the intercom.
"Help! Help me! Help me!" Lee shouted at the top of his voice.
"Very well. I'll be right there," DeLubian clicked the movie off, "That outburst was rather useless. Now, let’s take a better look at you," he began to unbutton Lee’s denim shirt against the struggling form.
“Nothing,” Morton sat down wearily in Nelson’s office two days later, still in his flight jacket.
“Chip? I know Lee’s alive…I’d feel it if he weren’t. I know I would.”
“I want to believe it too, but it’s been too long...”
“Excuse me sir?” Kowalski asked from the doorway. “But I found some interesting info on DeLubian…”
“For Pete’s sake Kowalski! We’re in the middle of a search and rescue for Crane! You of all people should know what our priorities are!”
“How dare you! The Skipper is my priority! ”
“Go on Ski,” Morton said soothingly.
“Well, I got to thinking when the cops asked us if the Skip had any enemies. Sure, we figured maybe the People’s Republic and a few other sleaze bag countries, but nobody thought about individuals. What about someone we wouldn’t suspect? Someone who knows the Skipper and doesn’t like him…doesn’t like him enough to something bad to him.”
“You think Kyle has something to do with the accident?” Nelson asked, incredulous.
“Sir, that was no accident. Look at this…”he dumped a pile of printouts, xerox’s and scanned microfilms on Nelson’s desk, a gemstone tie tack on top of them. “Looks familiar doesn’t it?”
“Kyle’s not the only man to go to Harvard, for God’s sake!”
“Well, okay, but the name’s not all that common,”
he continued, “these yearbook pictures came up on a global name
“My God,” Morton exclaimed, “that girl looks just like Lee!”
“Yeah,” Ski said, “Angelina DeLubian.”
“Now, wait a moment,” Nelson said. “People from all over the world can look alike. And I don’t see what this has to do with Captain Crane’s wreck.”
“Look at her eyes, sir. There’s got to be a connection with the Skipper. The schools we contacted said Kyle DeLubian was her father.”
“Could be a coincidence,” Morton said.
“Kyle DeLubian the third. As in your Mr. DeLubian Admiral. And he sure don’t like the Skipper. At all.”
“I don’t like where this is headed,” Nelson ran a hand through his hair.
“Admiral, perhaps we should check on this further,” Morton said.
“And do what? Tell the police that we think my business partner set Crane’s boat on fire? That he’s somehow responsible for Lee’s disappearance?”
“Kowalski, Chip…I’m just as anxious about Crane as you are. You both know how much he means to me as a colleague and a friend, but Kyle’s my friend too. I can’t believe he’d do anything like that.”
“Okay,” Morton said, “Then why not give him a little visit…just a social visit. Of course, while you two discuss a sudden financial problem, we,” he nodded at Ski, “can bug the place.”
“Good grief man, you’ve already judged the man as a vindictive criminal!”
“I don’t know about you, sir, but I’d do anything to find out what happened to Lee, even if it’s a long shot.”
Lee was finding it harder to breathe. He was held secure by sliding interlocking manacles in a kind of skeletal metal orb that allowed his captor to move both it and he into varying contorted positions. To ‘model’ for him, as DeLubian stressed, as the man made sketches of his nude form, and occasionally chiseled away at a piece of marble.
Right after he’d used a knife to strip Lee of his clothes, he’d used a tazer on him, again. The resulting pain and paralysis had made short work for Crane’s ‘father’ to move him into the studio and secure him. Lee had been vaguely aware of another person, but he couldn’t remember until now. She’d cast appreciative looks toward his genitals, but neither she or DeLubian touched him except to contort his limbs this way and that.
wonder about t those old scars?” DeLubian asked and began to prod various
areas on Lee’s body, “
After the woman had left he smirked, “You were simply bound and determined to thwart my attempt to abort you,” he chuckled.
“Oh my god…the girl…my..mother..died when you did that?”
“I didn’t say my angel was dead and buried.” he studied a sketch with a frown, then suddenly furious, “The moment she discovered she was pregnant all she could think about was you! You! And you made her swollen, grotesque! You killed her the moment you were conceived! I had to get rid of you. It didn’t quite work the first time I tried. I only wanted you to die, not my Venus…and then, the second time, well, suffice it to say, it brought on labor so I let it be. I didn’t even bother to cut off the umbilical tissue. If it hadn’t been for that damn newscast later, she would never have known I tossed you in the dump.”
“What,” Lee gulped, “what happened to her??”
“Got free of her room somehow. The grounds man found her scarf by the newly broken ice in the quay. Never found her body. I was almost relieved. Bad press if she’d managed to tell the police what had happened…as far as they knew she was a runaway. Case closed. If it hadn’t been for you she’d still be alive! She would have come to love me if it hadn’t been for you! As soon as I saw you aboard Seaview, I knew what I had to do…too bad that cave in didn’t work.”
“I knew you did it on purpose! I wasn’t crazy! Look, Kyle, killing me won’t bring her back.”
“No. But it will give me some satisfaction. For now, I’m going to immortalize you in stone. The rape and death of Poseidon’s champion. Should do quite well. There’s quite an interest in homographic sculpture.”
“Someone will recognize me…when Nelson finds out…”
“He’ll never know. And he’ll never see you gain. You know, you look a bit like a wounded puppy…you get that from me, son…or should I also say grandson,” he chortled.
“He’ll know I’m alive.”
“How?” DeLubian mocked. “It’s only a matter of time that Harry calls off his own search and rescue…”
“Never. Not as long as he has a breath in his body. ”
“That may be. But it will be a moot point. As soon as I’ve finished my masterpiece, you’ll be pushing up daisies…”he tweaked Lee’s nipple.
“Don’t you touch me!”
“As I told you before, son,” he picked up a large brick, “you can’t make demands of me. I think I need to add a few more bruises…and then, I may just enjoy ravishing you as well…for artistic reference of course. ”
Nelson had reluctantly decided to go along with Chip’s
plan. They were assembling a covert team and equipment right now. Equipment
that enabled Seaview, as well as other
“I’m sorry about your man,”Jiggs Starke in Nelson’s office, having unexpectedly arrived to discuss Crane’s disappearance, “but you have to go on. I have the Navy’s approval for Morton’s Captaincy of Seaview…where’re you going?”
Nelson told him.
“Are you crazy? You’ll be ruined! Locked up too, there are laws about such things..”
“Excuse me sir?” Kowalski asked from the doorway. “The Flying Sub’s ready, but we found out some more stuff…and you’re not going to ’ like it.”
“What do you have…”Nelson sighed wearily.
“This has gone far enough. I can’t believe Kyle DeLubian could do such a thing. Rape? His own daughter? This so called friend must be repeating schoolyard gossip. Children do tell tales..”
“Maybe, but somehow I don’t think so sir,” Ski handed Nelson a business card. Jiggs took it from him before Nelson could read it.
“The Little Sisters of New Hope Convent…”
“There’s more, sir.”
“Go on,” Nelson took a calming puff on his cigarette.
“About 7 months after he took her out of school, Mr.
DeLubian reported Angelina missing. A runaway. But her friend was convinced she
hadn’t died at all. That she’d been put away someplace by Mr.
DeLubian to have her baby…or that he’d done away with it or her, or
maybe she’d run away and changed her name…in any case, nobody saw
or heard from her since. Except when Becky Spinner, that’s the nun
sir, saw her a couple of years
later…she was on a field trip to the UN in
“He might want to do something to the Captain, something he hadn’t been able to before,” Nelson said sorrowfully.
“Yes sir. And one more thing sir…he coulda’ caused that cave in on purpose.”
“Something’s not quite right,” DeLubian studied his bruised and bleeding model as he studied Crane and adjusted one of the restraints. “You’re so like her,” he caressed Lee’s cheek, as Crane winced and struggled away from his touch. “Except, of course, for this,’ he raised up Lee’s penis and ran his fingers around the head. Before he could do any more, they heard the unmistakable whine of the flying sub.” It appears we have visitors. It’s time I finished things. Pity. I would have enjoyed having sex with you, son. Don’t get any ideas of rescue. It appears as though I’ll have to keep you quiet too. Permanently.”
“Harry, this is a pleasant surprise!” DeLubian, who’d quickly changed, and dragged a comb through his hair to remove all traces of dust, greeted Nelson in a bear hug. “And who is this?”
“Admiral Starke,” Jiggs introduced himself, “Commander of Submarines Pacific.”
“I haven’t the slightest idea if that’s good or bad, but any friend of Harry’s is a friend of mine. Good to see you again Commander,” he greeted Morton, but totally ignored Kowalski.
“Kyle. I hope you don’t mind,” Nelson
said. “We were on our way to
“No problem at all…oh, this is Tracy Overbrew, my personal assistant…”
“I’d like Kowalski to sit in on our meeting. To take notes.”
“Actually, Kyle,” she said, “I have that other matter to attend to, urgently, remember?”
“Oh,yes. Of course…I’m sorry I can’t offer you gentlemen any amenities, but it’s the staff’s day off. I don’t keep many servants as a rule for this estate, and I simply insisted on them taking a break for a few days. There’s a piano you’re welcome to use to keep yourselves occupied, and the Florida Room’s over there…I can’t say I like the idea about Kowalski. If he worked for me, well, he wouldn’t be working any more.”
“He’s been appropriately punished. Shall we get on with it? Your office?”
“Please gentlemen, make yourselves at home. This way Harry.”
Nelson began with a hodgepodge of budget ‘discrepancies’. Enough, he hoped, to keep Kyle busy long enough for Jiggs and Chip to explore. Kowalski had already stuck one of his bugs under the corner of Kyle’s desk. And no doubt Chief Sharkey, Patterson, and Riley, still aboard the flying sub, were already listening in the estate for anything of interest.
Lee had little use of his limbs after the tazer, but he could move them enough to make the manacles clink on the metal struts…
“Do you really think anyone can hear you Captain?”
“Please. Wait. Why are you doing this? Has he blackmailed you? Brainwashed you? What’s in it for you? ”
“Don’t be so obtuse. I enjoy the perks of a, shall we say, financial arrangement. You’re a commodity which, unfortunately, to protect the others, must go.”
“Money? Is that all? How much will it take for you to release me?”
“Submarine commanders do not earn over 4 million a year in interest,” she laughed.
“No, but Nelson does.”
“Ransom you? Heavens, you are daft. There’s be far too many questions. And Kyle doesn’t like questions. You’re a dead man Crane. You were the moment we kidnapped you from your sailboat. Now, if you’ll be patient. It’s been awhile since I’ve used these.”
Lee began to bang the manacles against the struts again, as she cocked the pistol.
“You getting anything, Pat?” Riley asked, adjusting his headset, as the group of three listened in on various checkpoints of the estate.
“Barely. Just the Admiral. Walls gotta’ be made of stone.”
“This system’s able to penetrate steel,’ Sharkey said, “adjust your matrix.”
“I’m getting Starke and Morton,” Riley said, “but there’s still background noise. Sounds like metal on a flagpole. Almost a pattern.”
Sharkey furrowed his brows. “Pattern? Turn it up…”
“Anything,?” Morton asked Starke as he checked the heat sensor in his hands.
“The only moving objects are our men and DeLubian. The girl’s vanished from sight…can’t these things read heat patterns through masonry?”
“They’re supposed too.”
“There it is…”Riley said, the volume up to max.
“Can this thing play back?” Patterson asked.
“What’re you thinking Pat?” Sharkey asked.
“When the Admiral was on the Macklin, he said the only reason they found that enemy sub was ‘Cause the skipper was pounding the ventilation shaft. What if…”
“Play it back, Riley.”
“There’s a pattern all right, but it’s awful short…like it got interrupted…wait…O? S? SOS? Mr. Morton? We got something…triangulating the location now…it’s from the basement…we think it’s an SOS from the skipper.”
“You’re cleared to use whatever force it takes to break in, whether it’s the Skipper or not. We’ll join you. I’ll signal the Admiral he’s here.”
“Pity,” she ran a fingernail over a nipple and downward, “A good looking god like you…”
“You won’t get away with it.”
“Of course we will, surely you appreciate contingency plans. Now, back to business.”
“Harriman, you’re speaking in circles,”
DeLubian sighed. This was dragging on far too long. Was Nelson this dense? “Look, why don’t I come down
and knock some sense into your purchasing department. Seems they could use it,”
then he rose, “I really think you should let me take care of these
matters, Harry. Won’t you be late for that meeting in
A green light on the ‘beeper’ interrupted whatever Nelson was going to say. It told Nelson what he needed to know. “Kowalski.”
The seaman pulled out a gun and held it on DeLubian.
“No…no…no…” Lee’s voice began to fade, ‘Oh God, forgive them, ‘cause I can’t…Harry… love you…” he blacked out.
“Hurry!” Sharkey blasted the locked door open with a shot and the three raced down the stairs to the workshop. Quickly followed by Morton and Starke.
“Where’re you headed, lady?” Starke
The studio was packed with various works in progress, from sublime to disgustingly erotic. A curtain divided certain areas…the group split up to drag them open.
“Chief! Over here!” Patterson yelled.
“Skipper! Oh god…oh god…”
Morton figured out the interlocking struts of the cage and released Lee to a crumpled heap on the floor. The bullet wound in his shoulder was garish, and he slipped on some tissue that had exploded from the shot. “Lee! Lee!” he tried to revive the beaten, bruised, and bloodied man. But there was no response.
“Well?” Nelson asked, disheveled and exhausted as Doc finally emerged into the hospital’s waiting room.
“He was very very lucky she had bad aim.”
“I’m not sure about that. We found pictures of him bleeding to death…pictures! To use artistically, she said! Was he…was he…” Nelson couldn’t bring himself to say it. They’d seen the drawings of Crane being raped, and the incomplete marble. He’d also heard about the home movie as just one of the pieces of evidence the police had tagged later at headquarters. Including the DNA result that DeLubian had requested proving that Lee Crane was his son.
“There’s no evidence he was sexually assaulted.”
“Thank God. And?”
“He’s been beaten worse, but I’m not making light of it. That with dehydration and the gunshot wound, well, he’s going to be seconded here awhile. You might want to pass out earplugs when he comes to.”
“I still can’t believe that Kyle…oh Lord,” Nelson ran a hand through his hair. He was still shaking. “He was my friend…my friend!”
“Well, he’s shown his true colours now, Harriman,” Jiggs Starke entered, with one of the detectives.
“Plea bargain,” he said, “Admitted to kidnapping, assault and battery in return for less jail time for attempted murder.”
“What about the Angelina?”
“Statue of limitations got him off on any charges of rape.”
“Damn. I would have liked the satisfaction even if the girl’s nowhere to be found, or even dead.”
“Actually,” the detective said, “Lee Cranston contacted us as soon as word of this hit the news. Lee Cranston as in Angelina DeLubian. Took on a new identity way back. Told us all about what DeLubian did to her. Doesn’t know Lee Crane is her son. We thought maybe we’d better wait to see what Captain Crane wants us to do about that…”
“Are you sure this is it?” Lee asked the cabby.
“Do you want me to go with you Lee?” Nelson asked quietly. Physically Lee had recovered quickly except for the need to keep the sling awhile longer. It was his mental state that had Nelson in knots. Not only did he make no reference to their revelations of love, it was as if he’d forgotten all about it. Perhaps he had, though Doc said there didn’t appear to be any memory loss. And now, well, Lee had decided to pay Angelina a call…help him find some closure to what they’d both been through.
It was a a picture book house, complete with white picket fence, porch swing; for a moment Nelson thought he’d back out…
“No, I need to do this alone.…”he exited the car and walked up to the door, and rang the bell.
An old lady with red/gray hair answered and stared, before recovering her senses.
“I…I’d like to see Angelina DeLubian…er…Lee Cranston, I believe she goes by now…I…”
“Forgive me for staring. You look so much like….er never mind. She’s out back. We’re in the middle of a birthday party…please, come in…”
Lee could hear the cheerful voices the back yard as the old lady told him to wait in the family room. Pictures were placed in abundance and Crane had a chance to see a kind of time line of Angelina’s new life. Gone was the terrified girl, replaced by a happy, confident teen, and adult. A wedding picture too. A beautiful bride…children…a dog, three cats…different from the ones casting him an indifferent eye. Seeing her so happy now…so removed from the past…in seconds he was re-entering the waiting cab.
“I couldn’t do it,” he explained to Nelson, “she’s so happy…why bring up old ghosts…let’s go home Harry.”
It was a long flight and the weary passengers were glad Angie had sent an NIMR vehicle to pick them up.
“Where to sirs?” the driver asked.
Nelson wanted to say ‘we’ll bunk at my place,’ but Lee had made it clear he wasn’t ready for that all important ‘next step’ yet. “I’ll bunk above the office tonight I think, Smitty.”
“Yes sir, and you Skipper?”
“Seaview’s fine for me…I’m too tired to go home.”
Smitty almost laughed. Seaview was his ‘home’.
Lee couldn’t sleep. He was plagued with doubt about he and Harry. In spite of loving Nelson for himself, he still loved the man as a brother. He still loved the man as a father…and that was the sticking point. His real ‘father’ had abused him and almost raped and killed him. Sex with his ‘fantasy father’ would be almost as vile, wouldn’t it? Confused, ashamed, angry with himself for letting Nelson dangle, Lee needed to think and headed to the Observation Nose.