Tio Lee







This story uses the characters that are found in Mission: Possible found at http://www.teelajones.us/uw/missposs.html.  You may want to read it first.  LaJuan




Hours earlier, he had dragged his sorry hide out of his office and from the piles of paperwork on the sub's refit.  Normally, it would be his executive officer and best friend's job to tackle the mounds of red tape to repair and replenish the Seaview's coffers.  Currently, Chip Morton occupied a bed at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research Medical Center nursing a concussion. His headaches were spectacular and stuff legends were made from.

Wincing from his memory, Captain Lee Crane heard again the heavy thud of Chip's head connecting with the bulkhead when the Seaview had been hit with the tidal wave on their last voyage.  Only one other crewman was injured and Chip had the misfortune to share a room with Chief Sharkey.  The Chief was laid up with a compound fracture of his left leg, but nothing was wrong with his mouth.

In a moment of sanity, Chip had confessed to Lee that his immediate goal was to stand, so he could either escape the room or stuff a pillow down the Chief's throat.  Lee made a mental bet that Chip would be out of the Center by midweek ahead of his predicted release date, maybe in time to go on a little leave, like the rest of the crew and the Admiral.

Unfortunately, there was no leave for Lee.  Carrying a double load and his worry was wearing Lee down.  He was due for a break.  Wiping his hand across his eyes revealed his weariness. Told to leave and get some sleep by his suffering friend, Lee said goodnight and left.  He went out into the fog and threaded his red sports car through the hairpin turns leading up the mountain side to his home.  The mountain mist would have been snow, had it been winter.  As it was, late spring was the season and the coolness of the droplets was welcomed over the heat of the valley.

Turning into his drive, the motion sensors detected his presence and lighted his way to the door.  Stepping over the threshold, he felt the mantle of security drape over his drooping shoulders.  Standing with bowed head and arms wrapped around his chest, he pondered whether to travel to his bed or to unwind before the fireplace.  Both were tempting, but the calmness he knew he would get from the flickering flames won the battle.  Turning the gas on, he lit the fireplace and waited until the logs caught.

Shrugging out of his jacket, he went to the bar and poured himself a brandy.  Sitting down on the sofa, his legs sprawled in an untidy mess until he summoned enough energy to stretch them out and cross his ankles.  The stillness of the night and the crackling of the burning logs lured him into sleep, as the fog cocooned his home.  His glass was untouched.  He softly snored while his body sought the much needed rest.

The shrill scream of the telephone startled him awake.  His heart pounded as he pulled himself to the end of the sofa, grabbed the phone and groggily whispered, “Hello?”  

“Señor, Señor Lee.  Lo siento.  I need Pat.  Niño comes.”  

His sudden headache throbbed in time to his heartbeat as he tried to calm down Patterson's pregnant Mexican wife.  “I know where he is, Angelina.  He's still on the boat doing some electrical work.  I'll call security and get him there.”  

“You come too, sí?  Little Anita calls for her Tio Lee.  Scott staying with friends.  You stay with Anita, sí?   Pat and I go to the hospital to have niño?”  

His body screamed to go back to the deep, dreamless state he had been jolted from, but this was a cry for help he couldn't ignore.  From the time that Anita was an infant, he had a bond with the little heart stealer.  She gave him hope that one day he would find his soul mate and produce an Anita of his own.  She had given her heart, soul and trust to him without hesitation.  He could do no more for her.  

“Yes, Angelina.  I'll take a quick shower and be there in forty minutes.  Can you hang on 'til then?”  

“Sí.  Anita came faster than this niño is.  I will wait for Pat and you.”

Lee immediately called NIMR security and told them where Pat was and to get him and Angelina to the Medical Center as soon as possible.  He asked for a nurse to come along to check   Angelina and to stay with Anita if, by chance, Lee didn't get there in time.  

He made it in thirty minutes.  Security and an ambulance were parked in the driveway, Pat's car was on the street.  Angelina and Pat were getting in the ambulance and a nurse was holding Anita in her arms on the porch.  Lee hurried up the walk and took the toddler into his arms, as she yelled, “Tio, Tio!”   

Turning, he watched the nurse climb in and the ambulance started off.  It stopped, the door opened, Pat stepped out, and threw an object to Lee.  Catching it with his left hand, he looked back over at Pat as he got back in and shouted over his shoulder, “Thanks, Skipper for taking care of Anita.  That's the key to the house.”

He was left on the porch holding his godchild in his arms, staring at the blinking lights diminishing in the distance.  “Well, munchkin, let's see what we can do to get you ready for bed.”  


“Yes, I'm your Uncle.  Come on squirt, let's go in and find your pajamas.”  He eventually was able to get Anita changed and ready for bed, thanks to the teasing help from the giggly toddler.

“Tio, me hungry.”

Looking at his watch, he realized that it was late, but not too late to have pizza delivered.  “How about pizza?”  

Anita went hopping off and crying out, “P'za, p'za!”  

“Okay, hon.  Let me put on the television and I'll order our meal.”  

He got her settled down with one of her toys in front of the set and ordered the pizza.  Within thirty minutes, she was happily munching on a slice of cheese hamburger and sipping apple juice.

After that, she was more agreeable to being rocked and he was rewarded with a sleeping child.  Putting her to bed, he sat down to call the Medical Center and check on Angelina.  

“Sorry, Skipper.  It's going to be a while.  This baby is taking its slow, sweet time in coming.  Are you and Anita doing okay?”  

Lee chuckled at the concern he heard in the seaman's voice.  “We're doing fine, Pat.  She polished off two large slices of pizza with apple juice and she's sleeping now.  I thought I would take her to the zoo tomorrow afternoon, after we finish up at the office.”  

“That sounds good, Skipper.  I hope she's not much of a bother?”  

“None at all, Pat.  It the baby arrives in the morning, call my secretary.  She'll know where I'm at.”  

“Will do.  I appreciate this, especially since Ski and Riley aren't around to help out.”

“I'll see you tomorrow.  Goodnight, Pat.”

Lee leaned back and stared at Pat's lifeless fireplace.  This was where he had been earlier in the evening, well that is, without a dead fire and a sleeping three-year-old girl in the bedroom down the hallway.  Running his hand through his black hair, he admitted to himself how exhausted he was and decided to bury down on the sofa to sleep.

The next morning was taken up with getting a little, live-wire ready for the day, going by McDonald's for breakfast, and cruising up to his mountain home for a change of clothes and shave.  After going into the office and checking in with his secretary, he decided to knock off early and take the giggling and chattering toddler to the zoo.  

With his height and her petiteness, it was easier to carry the girl, rather than allow her to walk.  They wandered from exhibit to exhibit and her jabbering at Tio Lee got the attention of many ladies, who appreciated the sight of the tall, handsome man with the little girl.  One of those ladies was Betty Johnson, a single widow who was sitting on a bench under the overhanging tree limbs.  

She had been despondent over her new life and frequently came to the zoo.  It calmed her to sit and watch the visitors as they enjoyed the sights.  It brought a smile to her face watching Lee with Anita.  He had set the child down as they watched the monkeys scamper from tree to tree within the screened enclosure.  Lee was imitating the monkeys to the merriment of the child.

He picked her up and they went on down a side lane leading toward the lions' cage.  The smile left Betty's face as she watched two rough looking men following Lee and Anita.  One was coughing.  Quietly, she picked herself up and hurried after them.  

Further away, Lee had put Anita down as he knelt to tie his left shoe.  She was making a game out of it by pulling on the string as he was tying the knot.  Once finished, he reached out to the toddler when he felt sudden pain in his head and everything went dark as he dropped to the pavement.  

One man went through Lee's pockets, as the other one stood watching.  

“Hurry up, Dick and put a lid on your coughing.”  

“I am, I am Sam. Hey, we hit the jackpot with this one.  This billfold is loaded.  Hmmm...I think I'll take this watch and ring too.  Should be able to get something for them.”  The man continued to cough.  

“Forget them.  Someone's coming.”  

“What about the little girl?”

“She's too young to recognize us.  Let's get out of here.”  They took off running, Dick muffling his cough by covering his mouth with his hand.  

Betty arrived just as they disappeared.  She found Anita sitting by a prone Lee.

“Shusss,” the little girl ordered, putting a finger over her mouth.  “Tio Lee sleeping.”

“It's okay.  I won't wake him.  I just want to see if he's okay.”  Betty gently moved her hands over his body and found the lump behind his left ear.  It was bleeding from a two-inch gash.  Fishing some tissues from her purse, she held them over the wound in an effort to get the bleeding to stop.  Looking around, she saw a couple coming up the walk.  

“Help!  This man was mugged and is injured.  Can you get some help?”  

While the man ran for help, his girlfriend picked up Anita and rocked her back and forth.  “And what's your name, little one?”  

“ 'Nita.”  She pointed toward Lee.  “Tio Lee sleeping.”  

The two women didn't get anything else out of the child, other than Lee was sleeping.  Soon, zoo security and medical help arrived.  Statements were taken and Betty and the couple were sent on their way.  Lee was still out cold and he and Anita were whisked off to the Santa Barbara Hospital.  

Across town at the NIMR Medical Center, chaos had erupted.  Angelina was finally in active labor, angrily spouting rapid-fired Spanish, gesturing at anyone who came close and yelling for Pat.  Pat was in the waiting room and could hear his spouse down the hall.  A television droned in the background as he paced, sipping on tepid weak coffee from the vending machine in the corner.  

The door was flung open and a nurse came in asking for Pat.  He was told that the birth was eminent and Angelina wouldn't cooperate unless he was there with her.  As he turned to leave with the woman, his daughter's sweet voice came over the television, “Tio Lee sleeping.”  


“There's no time to wait.  We need you there now.”  

“Then get security for me.  My daughter's on the TV and I want to know why!”   

He gestured at the set, watching a shot of an unconscious Lee in the hospital bed and his daughter in a stranger's lap.  The voice of the announcer was saying, “If you know this man and child, please contact the Santa Barbara Police Department.”  

The nurse glanced at the view, recognized the Seaview's Captain and made a snapped decision.  “I'll talk to security and get them to find out, after I get you into the labor room.  Now come on, before your wife literally throws the doctor out!”  

She grabbed Pat's wrist, pulled him into the hallway, and down to Labor and Delivery.  Tossing a gown over him, putting a facemask over his mouth, and shoving a pair of gloves at him, she pushed him through the double doors.  Angelina's voice and pitch were climbing in volume.  As the nurse left to find security, she could hear Pat's voice gently saying, “It's okay, honey.  I'm here.  Calm down.  It won't be long.”  

By the time Angelina had calmed down, had her baby boy and Pat had passed out cigars to the expecting fathers in the waiting room, his daughter was on her way to the Medical Center.  It would take a few hours more before all the paperwork was processed to transfer Captain Lee Crane to the Center. 

On the way, he woke up in the ambulance and was instantly searching for Anita.  His agitation lessened when he was greeted by Pat and Anita at the emergency room entrance.  With his mind at ease to her safety, Lee steadily improved and within the week he was released to go home on limited activity.  Dr. Will Jamieson insisted that he have someone stay with him, but withdrew the stipulation when Lee's temper exploded over all the coddling.

Lee had not gone back to work yet, when a week later Pat Patterson called Dr. Jamieson.  “Doc, something's wrong with my daughter.  She's running a fever, not wanting to eat or drink and her cheeks are swollen.  I don't know what to do.  We're keeping her away from the baby.”

Chuckling, the doctor recognized the symptoms.  “What diseases have you and your wife had?”

Listening, he quizzed again.  “What about your son?”  When Pat had finished talking, he knew what to do.  “Keep your son away from the baby and bring your daughter in.  Be sure to pack some clothes for her.  I'll need to quarantine her for about a week.”

“Doc, the police caught the guys who mugged the Skipper.  They said one of them was very sick.  You don't suppose...?”

“I'll check into it, Pat.”

Within minutes, he had his answer and went to check Lee's medical records.  The results had him tapping his fingers on the counter.  Checking his medical assistant's file, he made up his mind.  “James, I want you to go out to Captain Crane's residence.  If what I suspect is correct, you're going to find one sick man.”  Going to his office, he looked for the keys Admiral Nelson insisted he have for medical emergencies. He came back with a house key and gave it to James with the instructions, “Use this only if he doesn't answer.”

An hour later, James called.  Lee Crane was in his bed, unable to walk and very sick.  Dr. Jamieson told him to stay put and take care of the captain.  Will would be bringing medical supplies and another patient within the next few hours and would take over the care of Lee.

Pat walked in with Anita and a suitcase.  The child in his arms was crying and running a temperature.  Will examined her and shot a look at Pat.

“I'm going to put her into quarantine.  Do you trust Captain Crane?”

“He's her honorary godfather.  She's been calling him Tio Lee ever since she started talking.  You remember the barbecue when he got her asleep in the Lazy Boy chair?  Well, he's been close to her since then.  What's this about, Doc?”

He told Pat what her problem was.  “Lee and Anita have the same disease.  It's not for public knowledge.  You know how the Skipper gets.”


“Well, he can't be moved, so I'm going to take her up to his place until they both get better.  That way I can watch them at the same time and less people know the particulars.”  Will grinned.  “Besides, I always did like his place and I need a short vacation before the Captain finds his temper again.”

“I wonder what the Skipper's going to say when he finds out?”

“A lot!  But, maybe not as much with a little girl around.  I should be able to bring them back down here in about a week.  Call every night and I'll give you an update on your daughter.”

Dr. Jamieson was right.  Lee Crane was livid.  “We have mumps?  How?”

“Your mugger exposed you and the child.”

“But look at her.  She's running around and I can't move from this bed.  Are you sure?”

“Yes.  Children have milder cases than adults.  She should be getting better by the end of the week, where as, you should take another two weeks.”

Looking down the length of his bed at his legs sprawled out, Lee sputtered, “But what... I mean why...?”

“Are you asking about the family jewels?  Trust me, the swelling will go down soon.  It's just a side effect of the mumps and there will be no harm for future offspring.”

“No, it's not a side effect.  It's an insult to injury!”  

“Considering what's happened to you over the last several weeks, I agree.”

Lee closed his eyes in disgust and heard the patter of her feet walking up to his bed.  Reaching out her hand to pat his fingers, she inquired, “Tio Lee sleeping?”

“No munchkin, Tio Lee's awake, just sick.”  

“Good.  Me sick.  We sick together.”  She pulled herself up onto the bed and stretched her length against his side, snuggling down onto his shoulder.

Lee continued talking to the doctor to determine what to look forward to during his convalescent.

Their conversation was interrupted by a loud gasp and then a sigh.  The child started breathing in a rhythmic manner.

“Looks like you still have the touch, Lee.  That's not a bad thing for you to do also.  I'm going to set you up with an IV to get your fluid level back up and I'll come back to check on you in an half hour.”

After the doctor left, Lee gazed down on the sleeping child and whispered, “When we get well sweetheart, we're going back to the zoo again.  I didn't get a chance to finish showing you it. I've been told that there's a beautiful woman there most days by the name of Betty that I need to meet.  Would you go with me?”

His answer was a further settling of her body into the crook of his arm.  Grinning, he nestled into his pillows, closed his eyes, and drifted off to sleep.  


The end.



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