Doubles

 

by LaJuan

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

 

A sailor appeared at the head of the steps leading down from the plane.  He looked back as he descended a few steps and waited.  The next person that approached the steps was Captain Lee Crane, somewhat worse for wear.  Even at a distance, the NIMR men could see that he had bruises and his left arm was strapped in a sling.  He came down hesitant, but under his own steam and keeping within arms reach of the sailor before him.  He approached his boss.  "Admiral, it's good to see you."

"I'm glad to see you too, son.  Let's get you home."  He waved his arm toward the staff car.

Morton stared at Lee and went up to put his hand on Lee's good shoulder.  Without saying anything, Chip gave his arm a squeeze and piercing blue eyes looked deep in amber brown eyes. "Lee, when we get to the medical center, I'm going to ask you to do something for me.  Don't question me.  It's going to be important for you to just do it."

"Medical center?  There's no need to go there.  I'm fine."

"The next stop is the medical center and you will stay there until I'm satisfied that you are fine."

"Jamie, there's no need.  Admiral Starke made sure I saw his medical people. I'm fine."

"I just signed for Starke's package.  I have to make sure it's in good condition. Captain Crane, you are going to have a checkup by the ship's doctor and Jamie, I expect a full checkup and report, ASAP."

"Of course, Admiral, that is if we can get him moving."

"March, Captain."

With a sigh, Lee replied, "Aye aye, sir."

At the medical center, Lee was perched up on the side of the examining table and was trying to button his shirt as Jamie ushered Admiral Nelson and Commander Morton into the room.  Chip went up to Lee and took over the buttoning chore. Standing and listening to Jamie's report, Chip watched Lee.

"Admiral, he has a concussion, broken and dislocated shoulder, and cuts and bruises over much of his body.  He's dehydrated and has lost weight. I going to keep him overnight, rebuild his fluid level by IV, and pump him full of antibiotics.  Then we'll take him into surgery tomorrow morning and reduce the dislocated shoulder and put a cast on his arm."

"Jamie, I just want to go home."

"In time, Captain.  From the looks of your eyes, I bet you have one big headache.  Once we get you settled, I'll give you a mild sedative to bring the pain level down.  We'll be doing neurology checks throughout the night.  So for right now until we move you, settle back."

"Jamie."

"Lee, just do it."

"Aye, Admiral."

"Lee, I said I would ask you to do something for me."

Gazing over at Chip, Lee nodded.

"Lee, I want you to lay down and I'm going to take your shoes and socks off. I want to look at your right foot."

"Chip? Why?"

"Lee, we've gone through too much, you look and sound like yourself, but I've got to know for sure.  I've got to see that scar from Academy days."

Looking at him strangely, Lee nodded.

Chip helped him to lie down and as the Admiral and Jamie watched, Chip removed Lee's shoes and socks.  He examined the area between the two little toes on Lee's right foot and looked up into Lee's quizzical eyes. "It's there. Welcome back, Lee."

"Okay, what's going on?  Why this and why have all three of you been staring at me since I got off that plane?"

"Trust me, Captain.  We don't intend to keep you in the dark, but before we answer that, let's get you settled in a bed and get the fluids and antibiotics started."

"I guess I can wait a little longer, as long as I get a full report, Jamie."

The Admiral replied, "Oh you will, Lee. You will."

Once he was settled, Admiral Nelson and Chip Morton took turns telling the story, with small asides from Doctor Jamieson.  Jamieson stayed more to observe the Captain and to stop the conversation if his patient tired out. Finally the story was told and Lee looked at them with a thoughtful look on his face. "That explains why I was taken and I know now I wasn't hallucinating when they took me."

"What do you mean, son?"

"Admiral, I was on my way out of town when I was ran off the road. The blue sports car that nearly swiped me had spun out and came to a stop not far from me.  No one was moving and I got out of my car and went to check on the driver.

I leaned in to check him and he came to life, grabbed and pulled me down and through the window of the car.  His passenger put a cloth over my mouth and nose. I could smell something and was getting lightheaded. Before I passed out, the driver said he would need these and took my signet ring and my wallet. I heard him tell the other guy to transport me in my own car to the airport. I imagine it's still there in long-term parking. Admiral, the driver sounded and looked like me." Lee suddenly yawned.

"Admiral, I think we need to let the Captain get some rest."

"Yes, Jamie I think we should."

As the two men turned to leave, they looked back to see Chip Morton reach into his pocket, bring out a signet ring, and slid it onto his friendís finger. They observed the slight grin on Lee's face as he slipped into sleep.

 

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

 

Several weeks later Lee expressed to Admiral Nelson an interest in meeting Les Wayne.  It was easy to set up a meeting in Huntington Beach and since he had an upcoming mission planned for Seaview, Nelson looked forward to seeing Betty Hazard also. Betty suggested a favorite cafe of hers and Les that had an easy atmosphere for talking while on the pier.  She asked that both Chip and Dana be invited as well. It was a late Friday afternoon when they flew down in the flying sub to Huntington Beach.  The "The World Famous End Cafe" was at the end of the pier overlooking the ocean.  It was well known for its excellent food.  Betty, Les and Dana were waiting for them at the Cafť. 

Once again Lee had the feeling of hallucinating when he gazed upon his look-a-like.  Both men were of the same height and even though Lee had not gained all of his weight back, they were close to the same size.  As they sized each other up by looking into identical amber eyes, the others held back, curious as to how Lee and Les would react to each other. After a long wait, Lee held his right hand out and upon contact, pulled his copy into an awkward hug while protecting his left arm. The two men led the others into the cafť.

It didn't take long until they were all dining. As they finished their meal, Admiral Nelson looked over to Les and said, "Les, one of the reasons I'm glad to see you again is to let you know what we have found out about your twin."

"Ever since this happened I've been trying to make sense of it.  There's still things in my life that I don't remember, but I'm having more and more flashes every day."

"Actually, I think we need to tell you the story of what happened to you. Some of it you know; some you don't.  I'll start with Lee's involvement first. 

Lee was going on a short vacation and had left town to travel down to Oceanside. He hadn't gone far when he was run off the road and kidnapped.  While your twin took over his life, complete with Lee's ring and wallet, Lee was taken by another man to the airport in his own car and flown in a private plane to Mexico.

Your twin stopped on the outskirts of Santa Barbara and went into a grocery store.  His blue sports car was hit by a woman's grocery cart.  She offered to repair it and it was put into a repair shop. He called the Institute and told Lee's brand new secretary that he had put his car in the shop and he was going to get a rental car and continue on.  He must have thought he would be able to come back, get the car out of the shop and exchange it for Lee's car at the airport.

He stopped in Huntington and stayed in a hotel for a few days and was enjoying himself here on the beach.  He went to the library, we're not sure why, maybe to make a copy.  We found a copy of sheet music in his car.  That's where Joe Sands found him and tried to kill him. Dana found him and called for help. He was put in the hospital with no memory.

Joe Sands was originally after you for writing an article about the Mob and the amount of ex-Mob people hiding in the witness protection program.  Unfortunately for you, you recognized Joe as one of those people and confronted him. He determined to kill you and almost did, putting you in the hospital also with your memory gone. I can imagine what Joe thought when he kept running into identical men.

The local newscaster thought that identical men in the hospital were good press and she kept telling everyone about you and where you were.  Joe Sands didn't have to do much research to find and try to kill both of you.  He didn't succeed that time, thanks to Dana, here." Admiral Nelson smiled at the young lady who was sitting between Chip and Les.

"We couldn't identify you through fingerprints, since both of you had injured your hands and fingers. Lee has good teeth and you both had perfect teeth, so dental records were no good. Betty and I came up with a plan to separate both of you when you came out of the hospital and expose you to your familiar environment.  We hoped it would bring your memory back.  If that didn't work, we would switch you and try again.

You were released first and flown to Santa Barbara as Lee.  We thought the other man was you and I stayed to help Betty get him to her house when he was released. This time, Joe Sands was successful in killing him as he came out of the hospital.

Chip remembered a small scar that Lee had on his foot and when he looked at your foot, it wasn't there.  He knew that you were Les and not Lee, so we brought you back to Huntington Beach."

"But what if I were my twin?"

"At that time, we didn't know we were dealing with three men. So we truly thought that Lee was dead and you were Lester Wayne."

"How did you find Lee then?"

"He has a friend in Naval Intelligence who was informed of Lee's whereabouts and he rescued Lee.  His friend's boss, Admiral Starke, returned Lee to us."

"How did you figure out that there was three of us?"

"Chip, would you fill Les in on your research?"

"Les, I had my staff research your and Lee's backgrounds. I assumed that you were twins.  The file they amassed was thick.  I didn't get a chance to go through it until after Lee's funeral.  I really thought we were burying Lee and he was your brother.

Do you remember having your feet printed at the hospital?"

"Yes, I thought that was weird."

"Well that was the key to finding out that you were a twin. You were adopted at the age of two from a catholic orphanage.  So was your twin and incidentally, so was Lee. But the records showed that you and your twin were in one orphanage and Lee was a single birth in another orphanage. Your orphanage had copies of you and your twin's footprints."

"So who was he and why did he help to kidnap Lee?"

"His name was Lucas Anderson. He was adopted by a couple of doctors and grew up in a privileged, yet unloved world. He was the rich kid who got into trouble at every chance. His adopted parents were killed in a plane crash and when everything settled, he found that they had mortgaged everything to the hilt and he was penniless and on his own.

He had some old girlfriends who were models.  They made some contacts and got him some modeling jobs.  A marketing executive for a toy company saw a picture of him in a magazine.  He was the exact image of Lee.  Lee and Admiral Nelson had invented a new toy, but were not going to do anything with it.  Lee was kidnapped to get information from him about the toy and Lucas was hired to substitute for him until the exec got his information. That brings us up to date."

Lee leaned over toward Les. "We may not be brothers, but how about we act like brothers and go see what we can find in this town?"

"Sounds like fun.  I know some hot spots that are fabulous."

"Wait a minute, Lee."

"Why Chip?"

"Iíve got gifts for you." He handed Lee a black beaded rosary, which Lee put into his pocket. "I'm not going to let you go anywhere without this around your neck."  Pulling a necklace out of his pocket, Chip handed to Lee Starkeís cowbell. This got a scowl from Lee.

"Hey, mind if we tag along?" asked Dana, unwilling to give up on either the blond-headed Chip or the dark-headed Les she had gotten to know.

Looking at Les, Lee noticed the smile in the man's eyes. "Sure, we can make it a foursome."

"Gentlemen, you are not dismissed yet."

"Admiral?"  

"I, too have a gift for you Lee, as well as one for Chip and Les."  

"What?"

"Take off your watches, men."

Trained to obey the Admiral, Chip took his off and reached over to take off Lee's.  Les hesitated.

"Les, do what the Admiral asked. He won't hurt you."

"Okay, Betty."

The watch came off and was laid on the table with the other two. 

Admiral Nelson reached down to a package he had on the floor by his chair and tore it open.  He brought out three watch boxes and looked into each one of them. He passed two identical diver's watches to Lee and Chip and a silver band watch to Les.

"Chipís not the only one who wants to track you, Lee.  Admiral Starke said Chip and you had too valuable heads for me to lose. I don't intend to let that happen.  There is an extra button on your watch.  Punch it and the satellite system above will pick up a signal that will be bounced to the Institute.  Each watch has a different frequency.  You can be tracked and located, even underwater. Les, I don't want  to put you into a position of being kidnapped because you look like Lee, so you also have been assigned a watch with a separate frequency.

We'll be leaving to go back to the Institute in the morning and Seaview's next voyage begins tomorrow morning at 0700, gentlemen, so enjoy your night on the town.  Betty and I are going to sit here a little longer and enjoy some Irish coffee."

With grins on the younger menís faces, chairs were pushed back and all stood up. Lee laid the cowbell in front of Admiral Nelson.  As they hurriedly turned to leave, Les turned back with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face, "I always wanted a new watch! Thanks, Mom and Dad."

He left Betty laughing at the look on Admiral Nelson's face.

 

The End

 

 

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