Doubles

 

by LaJuan

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

At the Huntington Beach Hospital, the phone in the Emergency Room went off.  The nurse went over to answer the call from the local library. The estimated time of arrival for the ambulance was in ten minutes.

Five minutes later, the same chain of events was repeated when another ambulance called in with a patient who had been fished from the ocean.  Their estimated time of arrival would be in ten minutes.

When the first ambulance arrived, the patient was sent into treatment room two. Vitals were taken, x-rays, blood tests and a CAT Scan were ordered.  The slender built man was covered in bruises, both externally and internally.  He had a concussion and both hands bore extensive abrasions to the fingers.  The man had not gained consciousness.  After his doctor perused the test results he gave orders to admit the man as a John Doe and to send him up to ICU for observation for the head injury and possible internal bleeding.

True to the estimate, five minutes later the second ambulance drove up with the second victim within.  The attendant jumped out and helped to move the gurney into the hospital's treatment room three.  The nurse set about getting vitals while waiting for the doctor to finish with another patient.  She looked up when he walked in and took a glance at the patient.  With a look of astonishment on his face, he blurted out, "But I just sent him up to ICU.  What is he still doing here?"

"Doctor, you haven't seen this patient yet.  He was just brought in."

"He looks just like that other patient I saw ten minutes again.  Well, let's see what we have."  He busily worked at looking over the unconscious man on his examination table.  "His pupils are not equal in reacting.  From this gash on his head, something hit him hard."  Moving over the rest of the man's body, the doctor found no other major injuries. He ordered x-rays, blood tests and a CAT Scan. The man's blood pressure, heart rate and temperature were noted and the doctor proceeded to treat the abrasions on the fingers and the still bleeding, deep gash running down the left side from elbow to knee.

After treatment and viewing the test results, the doctor turned to the nurse and gave her instructions.  "Let's send him to ICU.  I'm concern about his head injury.  Admit him as John Doe II.  We don't want to get him mixed up with his look-alike that just went up to ICU."  The doctor turned to leave to continue on his rounds and mused, "This is going to be interesting; I'll need to stay in touch with the floor doctors to see how this scenario plays out."

 

 ************

 

The next morning, Betty Hazard, drove into the library parking lot intending to go to her office.  She was the Library Director and needed to prepare for a meeting with Les Wayne, her Assistant Director, and with Caroline Fury, Director of Finance.  They had received a federal grant and needed to map out strategies. She parked beside a blue sedan and wondered who could be here before her.  Just as quick, she dismissed the thought from her mind.

By 9:30 am, she was getting angry.  Les had not shown up for work.  Betty hated to have these meetings without him.  He had a calming influence over her and all female participants.  This meeting had gone bad and the Finance Director lived up to her name and stomped out of the office in a huff. Betty's secretary had called his beach house and hung up after 15 rings.  His new pager was called.  Les never called back.

By 11:30 am, Betty began to be worried.  Friends, neighbors and family were now being quizzed about Les's location.  No one had heard from him that day.  Neighbors had seen him running on the beach headed for the Huntington Beach cliffs close to dusk the night before, but didn't recall him returning to his home. They promised to be on the lookout for him.

Betty thought for a moment, picked up her phone and dialed the police chief's number.  "Chief, this is Betty at the library.  I wonder if you can do me a favor?"

"What do you need?"

"My Assistant Director, Les Wayne."

"Well, Betty, I haven't seen him over here this morning."

"He's not here either.  We have called everyone we can think of and he hasn't been seen since last night on the cliffs."

"Betty, technically, you can't declare someone missing until they have been gone for twenty four hours.  But, for you and those chocolate chip cookies of yours, I'll have an officer go out and check around his place."

"Thanks, Dave. Keep me posted on what he finds."  Hanging up the phone, Betty frowned and winced.  She didn't have a good feeling over this.  Les was never late or inconsiderate.

 

 ************

 

"Where is Captain Crane?" bellowed Admiral Harriman Nelson, as he slammed open the office door of his tall blond XO, Chip Morton. "He's four hours late reporting back from shore leave."

"Admiral, I don't know, but I will have a search begun immediately.  I'm sure he left contact info with security," said Morton.

"Belay that.  Give him two more hours before you put feelers out," replied the Admiral.  "Maybe he got delayed in traffic. I'll be in my office."

Two hours passed and Chip began to worry.  He made phone calls to security, Lee Crane's secretary, his friends, his home and his pager.  No one knew of Crane's whereabouts and Chip heard the pager chirping from Crane's office.

"Oh, Lee.  You are definitely in trouble when the Admiral finds you.  Pagers are supposed to be worn whenever we are on land."  Wiping his hand across his forehead, Morton stood up. "Might as well give the Admiral the bad news," muttered Morton as he opened the outer door and went in search of his boss.  Down the hall and behind the ornate wooden doors was the domain of Admiral Nelson at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research.  Morton rapped on the door before quietly entering at the loud, "Enter and take a seat."

"Admiral," said Chip.  "I've called all of Lee's friends, neighbors, and contact numbers.  No one has seen him."

"Call his pager."

"I did, Admiral.  It went off in his office.  Could he have taken on a special assignment for the Navy or ONI?" asked Chip.

"I'll find out," said the Admiral, as he reached for his intercom.  "Angie, get me Admiral Jiggs Starke, fast."  Moments later his executive secretary got the call through and Starke's image appeared on the videophone.

"Harriman, for what do I owe this pleasure?" questioned the Admiral from Washington, D.C. 

"It's no pleasure, Jiggs," said Nelson. "I'm looking for my Captain.  Did you tap him for Navy assignment?"

"No. What happened?  Crane got lost again?  He always seems to have the knack for getting into situations that need rescuing. Why don't you put a bell around his neck?" asked Starke.

"Believe me, I'll be sorely tempted to bell him when I find him.  He's six hours late returning from shore leave and no one knows where he is," said Admiral Nelson, as he ran his hand through his thick sandy-red hair.

"Page him," ordered Starke, knowing that Nelson had recently issued the new pager devices to each of his command staff.

Off to the side of Admiral Nelson, Starke could hear Morton's reply.  "Tried that.  It's merrily chirping in his office without Crane attached."

"Well, he's not on a Navy or ONI mission.  I would have discussed it with you, Harry, as I promised," said Starke.

"Ok.  I'll get back with you when we locate Lee," said Nelson.  "Give my best to your family, Jiggs."

"Yes, Harry. I'll be looking forward to hearing his explanation on why he slipped his leash," said Admiral Starke.

Turning back to Morton, after hanging up the videophone, the Admiral's expression registered sadness, tiredness, and the beginning of a temper.

"Call out the crew and start searching.  Give me an update on the hour," said the Admiral.

"Aye, Sir," said Commander Morton, as he smartly stood up and strolled out through the door of the office.

 

************

 

During the early evening hours, Chief of Police Dave Stewart called Betty at her home.  "Betty, I think we found Les."

"Great.  Is he ok?"

"He's been injured and is unconscious in the hospital, but there is a complication."

"What?"  

"He was listed as a John Doe at the hospital.  In fact, there are two John Doe's at the hospital and you can't tell them apart."

"What!"

"Trust me.  I thought this was so odd; I had to go see for myself.  Even I can't tell and I know Les well since I've been helping him on some of his research. Do you want me to come get you and let you see also?"

"Yes."

Within the hour, Betty and Chief Dave were standing in ICU staring first at one unconscious man and then at the other.

 

 ************

 

Admiral Nelson was standing at his window at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research looking out at the moonlight reflecting and shining off of the ocean waters when his desk phone rang loudly.  He went over to his desk, moved his half-filled cup of cold coffee away from the edge, and reached for the phone. Picking it up, he listened carefully.

"Admiral, this is Morton.  All the search teams have reported in, but they didn't find Lee.  I think it's time to get the police and the FBI involved. With his contacts and missions for ONI he's made quite a few enemies.  This could be a kidnapping."

"Okay, Chip.  I'll call the police now.  You’ve checked all the local hospitals?"

"Yes, Admiral.  However, I think we need to spread out to other towns. I vaguely recall Lee saying Oceanside.  I think we need to search south along the Pacific Coast Highway.  If he went to Oceanside, that would be the route he would use to return to Santa Barbara."

"Do it. I know his sports car is in the shop.  You might want to check with the rental car agencies to see what car he is driving."

"Will do, Admiral."

 

 

 

Chapter Three
Chapter One
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents
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