ANOTHER (SPOOKY) DAY
by Helen H.
a good thing Admiral Nelson couldn’t see the guy whose reflection stared
back from the bathroom mirror.
Lee Crane almost didn’t recognize himself.
gash across his left hairline was healing nicely, and, with his hair
combed in just the right direction, barely noticeable.
It was the two black eyes that were hard to overlook, being puffy
and purple, with green edges to the bruises.
In a way, it was funny, he thought, pushing on the skin on his
forehead, wincing. Never in a
million years could he have expected the cook who wasn’t a cook to grab
the first thing that came to hand as the ONI team burst through the door
of the cantina: a very large and very full can of pinto beans.
It had caught him right across both eyebrows.
A half an inch lower and he’d have a broken nose.
That hadn’t occurred to him until much later, more occupied with
stumbling backwards in pain and slamming into the busted door while his
team grabbed the guy before he could find some other kind of missile to
throw. Luckily, the admiral wasn’t due back from Washington for a few
more days. Most of the damage
would be gone by then. Nelson
didn’t need another reason for fighting to get him off ONI duties.
back muscle contracted, and unthinkingly he twisted his torso, immediately
regretting the movement and
the resulting ripple of pain deep in his right side. He was black and blue
there, too. At least no ribs
had been broken in the ensuing fight with the other members of the gang
they’d surprised. A
fist-swinging bruiser had attacked him while he struggled to get upright
from what was left of the door. Ducking
the punch, he’d slipped and fallen again, bashing his
ribcage and wrenching his knee against the side of a metal cook table. Probably
when he’d twisted his left wrist, too, he figured. The mission was all
pretty much of a blur, first from hitting his head on the hatch of the
‘copter as it hovered over the beach they’d picked for the drop zone,
and then the decking by a can of beans.
Stitches from the one, and painful, discolored skin from the other.
Just his luck.
tugged on the black t-shirt, pulling it down over the heavy bandage around
his torso, tucking it into the black pair of swim trunks.
He probably should have told Jenny there was no way he was going to
make it to her department’s Halloween party, but he knew how
disappointed she would be if they weren’t part of the costume contest.
She had picked his costume out especially for him, saying that
since he was as skinny as a beanpole it would be perfect.
They were going as a skeleton bride and groom.
He hoped she didn’t get any ideas.
That was never going to happen.
the costume from its box, Lee sat down on the edge of the tub and began
pulling it over his feet, wincing and grunting.
The scratches on his shins were healing nicely, he had to admit.
The poison ivy he’d brushed against while tramping through the
jungle had only found a couple of spots on his legs.
That wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t torn his pants coming
off that damn helicopter. The
thing was out to get him that day,
the hood over his face, he contemplated his skeletal self.
The eyeholes were perfectly aligned with the bruises.
Jenny wouldn’t have to use the makeup she’d bought.
He pulled down on his chin and rotated it a bit, grimacing.
The crack he’d taken to his jaw from one of the other ‘kitchen
workers’ barely hurt anymore, but it still hurt.
The guy had packed quite a punch.
Luckily, it hadn’t loosened any
up his keys, limping just the littlest bit, Lee headed for the door.
He smiled broadly and then grimaced, still aching in many places.
From head to toe, there were reminders of every scrape, bruise, and
scratch he’d received on this mission.
He sure hoped they’d pick up some kind of prize from the costume
contest. That would make Jenny
very, very happy. What he had
to do, to have a good time!