Doubles

 

by LaJuan

 

 

 

Chapter Six

 

 

Admiral Nelson rolled over on the sidewalk to see Betty Hazard throwing herself down beside John Doe I.  Reaching out to his neck she felt for a pulse.  She shouted at the man, "Les! Les!  Stay with me. Wake up."  She reached out to put her hands on his bloody chest.  Her entire focus was on the injured man.

Nelson saw that their police escort was also shot and still.  Various hospital personnel came running out to quickly pull the group back to the safety of the building.  The two men were raced into the ER area for treatment as Nelson and Betty were taken to the waiting room.  She sat there staring at the blood on her hands. Nelson went to the restroom off the waiting area and brought back wet paper towels and gently cleaned her hands.  She slowly looked up into his face and asked, "Why?  Why Les?"

"He may not be Les.  He may be Lee.  I don't know why.  Lee has made enemies over the years, so maybe he's the target."

Two police detectives bursting through the door interrupted them.  The next few minutes were spent answering questions and then the emergency room doctor quietly came into the room.  The four stood and the doctor indicated for them to sit.  "The police officer will recover.  The bullet went cleanly through his shoulder."

"What about Lee?" queried the Admiral.

"What about Les?" Betty asked.

"Pardon, I thought there was only one other man.  I was not aware of another victim."

The Admiral replied, "We've been calling him John Doe I until his memory returns and we would know him as Lee Crane or Les Wayne."

"Oh yes.  I remembered when the John Does came in.  It created a mighty stir down here in ER."

"Doctor, his condition?" asked Betty.

"I'm sorry ma'am. I'm afraid you still won't know which one he was. There wasn't anything we could do. The bullet went through his heart... he's dead."

 

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

 

At NIMR, Chip Morton was experiencing frustration.  The refitting of Seaview was not going well.  Some of the parts were coming in by freight train and were trapped in an avalanche in the mountains.  His best friend, the Captain, had lost his memory and was soon coming out of the medical center.  Pat Patterson and Kowalski had gotten into a brawl at a local bar.  Pat was in the center with a concussion and a broken arm.  Kowalski had a bloody nose, cuts and bruises.  As punishment, Morton had assigned Ski to be bodyguard to the Captain.  He was to be a constant shadow to the man while Morton juggled computers, lawyers and researchers in an effort to trace Les and Lee's background.  Lee's new secretary was throwing a tizzy over the color of Lee's car and was getting nowhere with the body shop.  Dana McClain had called three times and Admiral Nelson had not called once.

Kneading his forehead with his fingers, Morton was interrupted from his slow burning temper by Dr. Will Jamieson coming into the office.  "You know I have drugs that can take care of that headache."

"Yeah Jamie, but it won't take away everything that's causing it," Morton replied as he waved his arm over the mounds of paperwork on his desk.

"Well, you have Nelson's, Crane's and your secretaries.  Put them to work."

"Not a bad thought.  I've got to get Crane's secretary off her fixation on the color of his car.  Maybe giving her something else to work on will calm her down."

"Not to add to your burdens, but I'm releasing John Doe II this afternoon.  I've had Patterson in the same room and he's done an excellent job of keeping Pat awake with his talking about naval history."

"Well, Lee always enjoyed history."

"Where do you want Kowalski to take him?"

"I need his memory back.  So let's work on giving him all the opportunities. Tell Kowalski to take him on the standard tours of NIMR and Seaview. Then take him to his home."  Putting his hand into his pocket, Morton pulled out his keys. Taking a key off his key ring, he handed it over to Will Jamieson.  "Jamie, here's a key to Lee's house. Give it to Ski."

"Will do.  I'll send something back for that headache.  You'll still be able to work today, but I prescribe at least seven hours of sleep tonight."

"Doc!  I can't do that."

"Commander Morton, right now we are depending on you to run this place and Seaview.  We can't do that if you collapse from exhaustion.  One sleeping pill and seven hours sleep or I'll have security drag you down to the medical center for one enforced night in sickbay."

Glaring at Jamieson as he rubbed his forehead, Morton saw the practicality of the suggestion and gave in.  "Aye, sir."

Chip Morton finished out the day with the help of Jamie's painkillers and went home to a sleeping pill and seven hours sleep.  He left a wake up call with the NIMR's switchboard and went to bed.

The next morning he woke up with a nagging thought eluding him in the back of his mind.  Throughout the morning, he had the feeling that he was missing something important.

Kowalski knocked on his opened office door.  "Commander Morton, can I talk to you privately?"

"Yes, where's...?"

"He's out here."

"Let me get his secretary down here to watch him."

After Morton got John Doe II occupied in Lee's office, he ushered Ski into his office and closed the door.  "Okay, report."

"Commander, he looks and talks like the skipper but I don't think he's Captain Crane."

"What makes you think that?"

"Little things.  I've been watching him closely through the tours and through the night.  He doesn't recognize anything, but there are two main things that bother me.  He's turned down both coffee and hot chocolate in favor of herbal tea and he favors his left hand."

"What?"

"He's ambidextrous, but I've noticed that when he doesn't think about it, he uses his left hand.

Sitting back in his chair, Morton allowed his thoughts to roam as he stared at Kowalski.  The eluding thought popped into his mind and he knew what to do.  "Kowalski, go get him and bring him back here.  I think I know how to determine if he's Lee."

While Kowalski was gone on his errand, one of Morton's researchers came in and gave Chip a thick file.  Sitting back, Chip opened it and saw the top sheet was from the Catholic orphanage from Les's adoption records.  Scanning the record, he was not surprised to learn that Les was an identical twin.  His adopted parents were Tom and Helen Wayne and they had adopted Les when he was two years old.  His twin was the weaker of the two and surprisingly had been adopted just two weeks afterwards by married Canadian doctors.  Both twins had been observed as quite close with each other.

Kowalski returning with John Doe II interrupted him.  The file was put aside to be studied later.  "I'm going to have a strange request of you, but I think it will tell me who you are."

"Okay.  What do you want?"

"I want you to take off your right shoe and sock."

With a puzzled look at Morton, John Doe II complied.

Kneeling down on the carpet, Chip Morton grabbed the bare foot and gently separated the little toe and its neighboring toe.  Nodding his head affirmatively, Morton put the foot on the floor and stood up.  "You can put your sock and shoe back on."

"What did you find, Commander?" asked Kowalski.

"Not what I found, but what I didn't find.  When Lee and I were in Naval school we went swimming in a local creek.  His foot, between those two toes, was sliced open by a sliver of glass from the bottom of the creek.  It left a small scar.  I had forgotten about it until this morning.  John Doe II here doesn't have it."

"Then he's not the skipper."

Turning toward John Doe II, Chip Morton addressed the man.  "Even though you look like my Captain and friend Lee Crane, you’re not him.  You’re Les Wayne, Assistant Director at the Huntington Beach Library."

"Then why do I look like him?"

"Les, you're an identical twin.  I just got your adoption record as proof."

"Wow, I'm adopted also?"

Returning to his desk, Chip picked up a pen and threw it to Les, "Catch!"  

Les automatically used his left hand to grab the pen in the air.  "Why did you throw the pen?"  

"Lee is right-handed, you're left-handed.  I've heard of opposite identical twins before.  I believe you both are that type of twins.  I'm going to have Kowalski fly you back to Huntington Beach in the flying sub as soon as I contact Admiral Nelson.  I'm sure that Betty Hazard, the Library Director, will be happy to have you back."  Chip watched as a look of pain crossed Les's face and he clutched at his chest.  His eyes rolled back and Chip caught him as he passed out.  Kowalski got on the intercom to the medical center and called for medics ASAP.

In an hour, Chip walked back into his office.  Jamieson was looking over Les Wayne, but was not sure what had caused the attack.  Les's vitals were normal and he was conscious again.  Jamie wanted to keep Les overnight for observation. The phone on Chip's desk was ringing.  When he answered, he heard Admiral Nelson's deep voice.  "Admiral, it's good to hear from you.  I was just going to call you at Mrs. Hazard's."  

"We're not there.  We're at the hospital Emergency Room."  

"Are you okay, sir?"

"Honestly, no.  Chip, our John Doe was assassinated an hour ago.  Frankly, I don't know if he was Les or Lee."

"I know Admiral.  I just got the adoption records.  They were twins.  I have Les here."

"Oh God, man.  I watched it happen and couldn't do anything about it."

"What happen, Admiral?"  

"He was being discharged and the police officer was guarding him as Betty and I were taking him out to her car.  He still hadn't remembered anything and I had brought some items and clothes over to Betty's from Les's house.  We were hoping that his memory would come back.  We were planning to take him by the library and let him look around to see if that would help."

"Admiral?"

"Yes, I'm rambling.  This is so hard to believe.  Lee Crane’s dead."  He grew silent until Morton prompted him again.

"Admiral! What happened?"

"Ah, we were going out to the car.  He was in a wheelchair.  Hospital rules.  As we got out there, he went to get out of the wheelchair when he was shot.  The officer knocked me down and threw himself to protect Lee.  The policeman caught the second bullet.  They got them into ER, but there was nothing anyone could do about Lee.  He took a bullet through the heart.  He died instantly.  Betty's taking it hard.  She thinks it’s Les.  Lee's gone.  After all the ONI missions and Seaview missions, I always thought he would continue to beat the odds.  But he didn't this time."  Taking a deep breath, the Admiral took charge of his emotions.  "I need you to make arrangements to bring Les back down here and to transport Lee's body back to Santa Barbara."

"It'll be tomorrow before Les can come.  He collapsed with chest pain an hour ago.  Jamie has him in the medical center running tests, but he can't find anything wrong."

"It'll take that long to get the coroner to release Lee's body.  An hour ago, hmmm, sounds like they had a connection after all."

"I'll make the arrangements and notify Jamie.  I'll start on funeral arrangements.  I know what Lee wanted."

"Let the Institute personnel know.  I'll tell Betty that Les will be brought back tomorrow and I'll be driving back tomorrow morning."  He looked over to the television in the waiting room and saw a picture of Lee on the screen.  "Hold on Chip."  The Admiral dropped the phone as he went to turn up the television.

"...breaking news at Huntington Beach Hospital.   One of the two John Does that we have been reporting on was shot and killed an hour ago just outside the ER entrance. He had been discharged.  The other man had been transferred to the Nelson Institute of Marine Research in Santa Barbara earlier this week.  At this time we don't know which of the two men was killed, Captain Lee Crane of the submarine Seaview or our own Assistant Library Director, Les Wayne.  Sources tell us that both their bosses, Admiral Harriman Nelson and Library Director Betty Hazard, are at the hospital now, and we will try to get an interview from them."

Going back to the phone, Nelson gave further orders to Chip.  "Chip, I think Les is still in danger.  The newscaster is broadcasting his location in Santa Barbara.  Double security on him and alert the front gate."

"Aye, aye, sir."

 

 

 

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