He pushed the shot glass across the counter and
waited for the barkeeper to fill it up again. He tossed back the shot, and
with a grimace, sat the glass down with a click on the hard polished
He tugged at his tie, thinking he probably should
have changed clothes before coming in here, but Margot knew him, didn't
think twice to pouring a couple of tequila shots to a four star admiral.
Right now the bar tender was wiping down the counter and giving her only
customer a long look.
“Harry, you need a cab?” she asked. Harriman
Nelson only shook his head, running a hand through his still thick auburn
hair. That was one blessing, he supposed. Might be loosing everything
else, but at least he still had his hair.
“No, Margot, I'm fine. Not drunk yet, it's damn
tempting, let me tell you though,” Nelson replied in a low voice.
“Why don't you tell me? Better than a shrink,
and a whole hell of a lot cheaper,” Margot said with a smile.
Harry waited. He toyed with the glass, holding it
up to the light, watching the refraction as if it were the most
fascinating thing in the world. Did he want to talk about it? He wasn't
the spill-your-emotions type. He didn't feel the need to get in touch with
his inner self. This was personal.
He hadn't talked about it at all with Lee yet. He
should have. But right now, Lee and Chip were dealing with it in their own
way. Chip didn't take it well at all. He and Curly had been with Seaview
since day one, since that first rivet, that first rib was set. It didn't
help that Chip had been the one to find the COB's body, when Curly failed
to report when Chip called for an status report.
Curly was dead, cold and still on the Circuitry
Room floor. Doc said it was heart failure, brought on by electrical shock.
Curly must have touched a wire and the shock had killed him instantly.
Chip was hiding it well, but Lee had called it before Harry had the chance
to think about it. After the
funeral, Lee had pulled Harry aside, while Chip had stared at the closed
casket, those blue eyes that the ladies were so drawn to full of loss and
“Admiral, I think I'll stay with Chip tonight.
He doesn't need to be alone. He's just gonna brood and blame himself if
somebody doesn't stay with him,” Lee had said, his voice low and
concerned as he kept one eye on his oldest friend.
“Whatever you think is best, Lee. Take the next
couple of days if you need it. I've called a halt to the refit for the
time being. There's the matter of replacing Curly, and I need the both of
you together if we're going to find someone up to par for Seaview. Take
Chip home. Give me a call if you need anything,”
Lee had turned those intense golden eyes on Harry.
“Yes sir. Are you . . .what about you, Admiral?”
Nelson had stopped
in his tracks. He hadn't considered how he was going spent the rest of the
evening. Then he remembered Margot's. Been ages since he stopped in there.
Tonight might just be the night to stop it and say hello.
“I have an old friend to visit. I'll be fine,
Lee. You just keep an eye on Chip, don't worry about me.”
So that was how Harry Nelson ended up in the small
little bar the local Navy rats found themselves in. Harry used to come
here all the time but as the demands on Seaview and the Institute grew, he
had found himself coming here less and less.
“Hon, maybe you don't need another drink. Least
not here. Let me call you a cab. You look like you just lost your best
friend. You need to be with your Navy buddies, not playing barfly.”
Margot picked up the cordless phone from under the
counter and simply held it up in the air.
“Not my best friend, but a very good friend all
the same. You just might be right. Go ahead and call me a cab.”
Harry had the cab drop him off at the gatehouse.
He had made one stop, picked up something and starting walking up the hill
once the cab dropped him off. He was pretty sure the guard had notified
security. Wouldn't do to have the Boss trip and fall in a ditch.
As he walked, Harry thought about Curly. His laid
back manner, his attitude. Where was he going to find someone like that?
Curly was unique. Replacing like with like wasn't going to be easy. Maybe
he was going about this all wrong. Maybe he need someone different.
Someone closer the men's own age. Someone who understood the command
structure and could work with the rather unique skipper and exec.
That was tomorrow's problem. As Harry neared
Chip's condo, he tucked his package up a little closer to his chest. He
walked around back to the house and as expected, found Chip and Lee
lounging on the back deck.
“Admiral?” Both men jumped to their feet,
maybe a bit on the wobbly side as their boss and superior officer appeared
“Sit down, this isn't official,” Nelson
stated. He sat the brown paper sack on the table. Lee reached over and
pulled out the bottle of Captain Morgan. Nelson pulled off the jacket and
draped it over an empty chair. Chip had gone back into the house, and came
back with a third glass.
Lee smiled. “Curly's label,” he said, cracking
“Thought we'd send off the Chief in style,”
Harry said, watching as Chip sat the glasses together and let Crane pour
the first round. Nelson picked up the first glass and held it high. His
action was mirrored by the two young commanders.
“A toast. To Curly. His kind are few and far
Lee and Chip nodded and the three glasses came
together with a musical click.
“To Curly.” Three men, brothers by choice, tossed back their drinks in memory of Chief Curly Jones.
(and to Sean, a right fine storyteller)
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