Dr. Jamieson sat in his metal chair hunched over his beat-up lucky desk in the darken office. The lamp on the edge produced a narrow circle of light over the paperwork he had been trying to concentrate on for the last hour. He wasnít making much headway, even knowing that the report that had been demanded by the Admiral was due. He was exhausted and deep frown marks marred his forehead.
His sickbay had dark shadows interspersed by strong beams. Blinking color LED lights on his equipment danced to the tune of their own drums. The steady blipping of the heart monitor and the hiss of the respirator in his sickbay vied to assure him that, once again, he had pulled the rabbit out of the hat.
In the center, on a gurney, was the one man that Jamie never wanted in his territory, but always managed to drip blood across the threshold. This time it was close Ö too close for comfort. Cats were reported to have nine lives. Jamie was sure that some of them were slipping this man some of their extras. In fact, if it hadnít been for the supply of crewmen waiting patiently in the hallway to give blood to him, Jamie would have lost the man.
Putting hands to face, Jamie wiped at his gritty eyes and itchy nose, while his mind wandered off into a different direction. A stray thought went skipping through the cobwebs and fuzzy spaces. "When had he eaten last? For that matter, when had he slept last?" Neither question did he have an answer for.
It had been a long surgery, solving the puzzle by putting the man back together. There had been so many injuries, so much blood everywhere. He knew now how it felt to be Dr. Frankenstein with his very own monster. So much stitching, he should have been a tailor. With this man, heíd had enough practice sewing. They were small and precise. There would be little scarring and what there was would fade in time.
Time Ö he looked up at the clock on the bulkhead. How could it slow down so fast? Earlier when he had sewed at a frantic pace, trying to plug all the holes, the minute hand was chugging around the curves like a thoroughbred stallion in a race. Now look at it, it was just as sluggish as Jamie was. He caught the flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye and smiled as the pleasant odor hit his nose like a sledgehammer.
He grinned up at his savior as all his senses were called into attention and focused on the mug of steaming coffee placed so precise in front of him. His corpsman bent down and opened the bottom drawer of his bossís desk and brought out the whiskey bottle. The lifted eyebrows asked the question and Jamieís nod answered. Slowly, the Irish was added to the coffee and the bottle was returned to its resting place, until it was needed again to heal the physician.
He gazed at the man in the next room as he draped his long fingers around the mug and sipped on the spiked coffee. Just a few centimeters to one side on one of the wounds and he wouldíve been staring at a shroud covered body, instead of a living, breathing, human being. He shuddered to think of when that day would come. The irony of the situation was, in this case, his patient hadnít been fool hearted with his life, deserving of being dressed down. He had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time when the boiler blew, scattering shrapnel around. The crewman heíd been talking to took the brunt of the deadly missiles and was in Jamieís morgue.
"So," Jamie mused in his mind, "Was he lucky or unlucky to have taken that instance in his walk around the boat to stop and chat with a crewman?" That was a thought to ponder when he wasnít so tired and foggy. Taking another sip of his coffee, he heard the change in tone of the machines and the alarm went off on the heart monitor. In his haste, Jamie didnít notice his cup tipping over and the steady pouring of the hot mixture off of his desk and the slowing down to slow dripping. He was too busy rushing to his patient.
Twenty minutes later, he returned to find his corpsman mopping up the spilled coffee. Jamie thanked him, poured himself another mug of spiked coffee and went back out into sickbay to start the watch he had performed so many times before.
Pulling a chair up to the gurney, he sat and viewed his patient as the man slumbered. He felt grateful. He could easily be leading the crew in a choir of grief and sorrows, but by a miracle, he saw signs of healing in his patient. The heart rate had settled down, the blood pressure was rising to more normal levels and he was showing signs of consciousness returning.
Thinking back over the years of serving on the boat, Dr. Jamieson thought he knew this officer very well, especially since they had spent too many hours conversing in his sickbay. His thoughts continued smoothly, without effort. This man, and his companion in crime, were best friends, but so different. One was blond, with piercing blue eyes, calm, hard as nails, analytical, compassionate, and fiercely loyal to a fault. The other one was black-headed with greenish gold eyes. He had an explosive temper and more than ever, led with his impulses. He was athletic, a born leader, who had inspired loyalty and protectiveness from his crew. Jamie grinned at his reflections. Both officers had that protectiveness from the crew.
Too many times the crew had brought one of the two friends into sickbay to be put back together or to be cured of an illness. Both were stubborn and would avoid sickbay like the plague. There was respect between Jamie and the two. Their friendship extended outside the boat. It was just part of their makeup that they wouldnít give in to less than perfect as far as their bodies were concerned. The two were a handful to control and were always pushing the envelope with each other, the Admiral and with Dr. Jamieson. That was what made them the best to run the Seaview. Too many times, it was the teaming of their talents that pulled the boat out of trouble.
He watched as the manís eyes shifted back and forth under his closed lids and his fingers flexed. Checking the monitors, Jamie stood and adjusted the flow of fluids flowing through the IV embedded into the manís left arm and made sure that the Foley was firmly placed. Jamie went over to the intercom on the wall and called the Admiral. "Heís waking up."
"Iíll be right there."
It was just minutes when the remainder of the command trio crossed the threshold of sickbay. Pulling up an extra chair, they took up their vigil of waiting. They both talked to his patient, insisting on a return to the land of the living. Jamie watched from the wall that was supporting his exhausted body. The ties that bonded these three together was legendary throughout the navy and he once again saw the magic working between them. It was a slow progress, but his vigil was rewarded when eyes opened and hands were squeezed from weakened fingers. The man tried to speak, but was too dry and a squeak came out. The Admiral gave him sips of water and then the talking started.
Jamie wasnít surprised that the man had no memory of the accident, with the concussion he had. The physician was reassured that healing was definitely progressing when he heard, "Whereís my clothes? I want to get out of here."
Catching Admiral Nelsonís eyes, Jamie grinned and shook his head, no. Leaving the two to keep their friend and co-worker company, Jamie called over the corpsman, instructed him on the care of Lee, and took himself off to find some well deserved sleep. Sorrows had been avoided once again.
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