My Journal - Cold Turkey by Harriman Nelson

Appendix notes
32. Resolution
33. Going Home, Again
31. Revelation
30. Stage Fright
29. Call Waiting
27. Going Home
28. Star Light, Star Bright
26. Bermuda Breeze
25. Awakenings
24. Waiting
23. Limbo
22. Bones
21. Breakfast Buddies
20. Nightmare
19. Bedtime
18. All That Gitters
17. Pieces of Eight
16. Trance
15. Whispers
14. Great Expectations
12. All's Fair in Love and War
13. Blame it on the Brownies
11. Tall Tales
10. Mixed Signals
9. A Right Royal Visit
6.5 The Name Game
8. Bermuda Shorts
7. Champing at the Bit
4. Tears
5. The Quest
6. Facing the Music
2. Cold Turkey
3. Indigestion

This story is the fourth in the ongoing series of the Harriman Nelson journals. One should be familiar with the series for much of this story to make sense.

1. My Story

2. Ahchoo!

3. Cameo

Grateful  thanks to JSRobertson for allowing me to bounce ideas off of her, and for her great assistance with this project.
~Carol aka Catfish Foss~

My Journal

By Harriman Nelson

1. Home Sweet Home

Even though Lee had agreed on our flight home from Boston just a week ago to take my name legally, I can’t help wondering if he might want to renege now that Sheamus O’ Hara Nelson’s dirty little secret is in all the press. Lee, as the newly minted Nelson-Crane, hasn’t been immune from the outrage regarding Captain Nelson and I’ve been worried that he might be finding all of the name bashing as difficult to bear as I have.

Right now, the Boston Nelsons are regarded as the scum of the earth. And all due to a single forbearer who can’t be forgiven by anyone with a heart for his career as a slave trader.

It was with some misgiving that I agreed to a press conference. I’m just not quite sure what I can say and hope I won’t be the recipient of rotten tomatoes. (Tomato stains are so difficult to get out of khaki.)

Is it any wonder that I think Lee will be better off as just plain Lee Crane again? Shouldn’t I want what’s best for him? To be free of the shame, the name that has the mark of evil on it?

As I reached Lee’s new office to show him the paperwork I’d asked legal for in order to rescind our recently formed familial relationship, (yes, there is such a thing as an adult adoption), I took a breath and entered.

Part of me was relieved when I saw he wasn’t there. Part of me wanted to get the damn confrontation to come over with.

And so, while waiting, I observed the chaos inherent in any move. The suite had originally been intended for a Deputy CEO or Vice President of NIMR, neither of which I’d ever gotten around to appointing. It was larger than my office actually, but had a terrible view of the machine shop and parking lot, so it hadn’t really mattered to me  previously that it had become a glorified storage room.

But with Lee’s added responsibilities as my equal business partner, I’d decided to give him the executive office that he deserved, minus the bad view, of course. He was going to be stuck with that until I created a new wing. This office also had a private and well-appointed bathroom, complete with shower, and an outer office for his new secretary. Lee had already moved once before, so he was at least familiar with what was essential to move with him in his new ‘space’, even if he wasn’t all that thrilled about the move.

Despite my best efforts, I hadn’t been able to talk him out of scrapping his bent and banged up four tier file cabinet. Nicknamed by staff as ‘Old Rusty’, it was already here, incongruous with the highly polished desk and bookcase. No doubt, however, that the outer office for his secretary would house more advanced filing systems and cabinetry. At least I hoped so.

“Behind you, sir,” a maintenance specialist (I can’t possibly be expected to know the names of all of my employees) brushed past me carrying a worn cardboard box, its contents on the verge of spilling out.

“No, no, no!” Lee’s new secretary, Mr. Drew Ames scolded the man on the verge to set the box down near the wall. “Put them over there,” he ordered pointing toward the stack of boxes just in front of the desk, which was cluttered with folders and an overflowing ‘in box’.

“Captain Nelson-Crane’s not here, Admiral,” Ames added when he noticed me. “Good thing too; he’d only be in the way.”

Just then Angie entered, carrying a stack of framed pictures which she leaned against a wall. “Hello Admiral, if you want Lee, er Captain Nelson-Crane, he's in a bad mood, and went down to the boat. He nearly bit my head off when he couldn’t remember where he’d put the latest batch of expedition proposals. How should I know where he put them. That’s your job Ames,” she added.

“I’m not a mind reader, Miss Smarty Pants and I doubt if even Nancy would have known.”

Nancy was on vacation, and had been both Lee and Chip’s secretary until I’d decided Lee needed his own ‘Girl Friday’. (Okay, so the phrase is outdated and chauvinistic - glad I didn’t say it out loud.)

I had been a bit surprised when Lee selected the only male applicant for the job.

“Where should I put this, Mr. Ames?” Kowalski asked as he entered, holding a large, elaborate name plate. Glass, it was engraved with various insignias, from submarine ‘dolphins’, seals of the Navy, SEALS, and ONI. Lee’s silver eagles were inlaid in the glass, along with a ‘Command at Sea’ pip.  Frankly I thought the nameplate looked  rather gaudy.

“Finally,” Ames spoke to Ski, “On the desk, if you can find a spot that is. For a man in uniform, the captain can be rather disorganized. Though I’ll grant that changing one’s office can exacerbate things.”

“Huh?” Ski asked.

“Worsen, aggravate, impair, intensify …” Ames explained.

“He knows what it means,” Angie said.

“Actually, no ma’am. I didn’t,” Ski said awkwardly, and distracted, tripped over one of the boxes, the nameplate falling from his hands, shattering as it hit the carpet.

“Clumsy oaf!” Ames shouted and bent down to pick up what pieces he could.

“It was an accident, sir,” Ski said, looking at me aghast.“It was an accident, honest Admiral.”

“Ruined, totally ruined,” Ames muttered.

“Lola told me he didn’t like it anyway,” Angie said, “apparently his friend Commander Jackson bullied him into it.”

“It was Swarovski crystal!” Ames said.

“I wonder how long it’ll take to pay for it,” Ski groaned.

 “Enough!” I finally intervened, picking up the separate Nelson and Crane shards. Perhaps the fates had had a hand in my decision to approach Lee about returning to our previous relationship.

Just then the man in question entered, limping, and soaking wet. Angie gawked at him, first like anyone’s mother might do a wayward boy, then her gaze morphed into what I can only call controlled lust. Ames reacted to her gaze with disgust. Suddenly he wrinkled his nose. So did Angie. And I did too.

“For heaven’s sake, where have you been, Captain?” Ames scolded, “the bilge tanks? Go get cleaned up before we have to call the fumigators and carpet cleaners. You’re making a puddle and you smell like rotten fish.”

Yes, Lee stank, and his wet uniform was smeared with a greenish brown goo. Some was even in his hair, which was a tangled mass of curls.  

“Kowalski,” Ames ordered, “go get some clothes from Seaview or stores or wherever there’s something clean and dry he can wear. There’s soap in the shower but bring some disinfectant wash from Sick Bay anyway. The stronger the better.”

Kowalski hesitated. I could see that he was confused. Was he supposed to take orders from this man or not.

“Go ahead, Ski,” Lee said, “Get a jumpsuit or something from stores. I haven’t had a chance to stow anything on the boat yet. What’s this?” he noticed the remnants of the broken name plate, the two names separated in my hand.

“I’m so sorry, Skipper,” Ski said, contrite, “it just slipped right out of my hands.”

“He was paying more attention to Angie than to his job, and tripped. I’ll have payroll adjust Kowalski's paychecks in order to cover the cost if he doesn’t have enough cash."

“That won’t be necessary,” Lee said, then sheepishly, “actually, I didn’t like this design anyway, Ski. Way too glitzy for my taste. I’ll order a plastic one with just my name on it.”

“You’re not sore at all, Skipper?” Ski asked. “But it’s worth a lot of money isn’t it?”

“Not that much. As for being sore, with you, no. With my ankle, yes. Lost my balance in the bilge tank inspection hatch, fell headlong into the drink, and twisted my ankle. ”

“Well,” Ames said, “what are you waiting for, Kowalski? Move it!”

“Belay that,” Lee said. “I just remembered that Tolliver has more pressing matters to attend to than to fetch me something dry to wear. So you can go instead Ames.”

Ames hesitated, clearly surprised that Lee had used Ski’s given name but not at all chastened by the change of go’fer. “Right away Lee, er…Captain.”

“Sorry, Ski,” Lee said after Ames had left, “I’ll have a little talk with him about the chain of command and his inappropriate tone with you.”

“Thank you, Skipper,” Ski said earnestly as he and Angie left.

“The refit’s finished,” Lee said as he squished his way toward the bathroom. “I can hardly wait to get underway again.”

“Me too. Lee,” I said as Lee took off his soaked shoes and put them upside down on the bathroom’s tile floor.

 “There were a lot of applicants for the job of your secretary,” I continued. “Rumor is that several had better credentials than Ames.”

“Drew’s a former operative. Not really his fault when his last mission went bust, but he just couldn’t bring himself to continue as a field agent any longer.”

“That’s hardly a recommendation for a secretary. You might as well have kept Nancy between you and Chip.”

“Who was it who told me I needed my own secretary when I suggested the same thing? If he can’t do the job, you can hire the next one. At least I don’t have to worry about Drew trying to feed or baby me. We’re birds of a feather. You can take the operative out of ONI but you can’t take the ONI out of the operative. It’ll work out fine, Harry, trust me. And he has plenty of office experience, if that's what you're worried about.”

Before I could respond, Ames returned, a white jumpsuit, shoes, socks and underwear in hand and accompanied by Doc.  “Before you fuss, Lee,” Ames said, “I’ve asked Doc to check out that ankle."

“Good man, Ames,” I said, “Now, let’s get out of here before we need earplugs.”

It was about thirty minutes later when Lee, showered, shaved,  and his still damp hair properly combed, arrived at my office. Barefoot.

“The shoes didn’t fit and the socks itched,” he explained, sitting down on the edge of my desk. “Don’t worry though, my feet are nice and clean,” he added as he wiggled his toes.

“I should hope so,” I began then hesitated.

“What is it, what’s wrong?”

“Lee,” I said, stopping as I ran a hand through my hair. “I um...I’ve been don’t have to keep the new name if you’d rather not. In fact, it’s for the best if you don’t,” I added as I handed him the form that would break the adoption.

“You don’t want me to be your son anymore?”

“I wanted you to be my son so bad it hurt and I still want you to be that son, but,” I paused, and began to pace around the office, “you don’t deserve to suffer all the badmouthing that’s been going on about the Nelson family. I know you’ve been getting almost as much hate mail as I have. About Sheamus, about taking the Nelson name and...”

“It’ll pass,” Lee interjected, giving me his sunshine smile, “and I know the best place for this,” he said as he put the form into the shredder next to his desk. “There’s no way in hell I’m getting rid of the name.”

I noticed that he’d been rubbing the Nelson family ring on his finger when he’d spoken. A silent signal to all that knew him that despite the calm exterior, he was agitated. About my offer to dissolve the adoption or about having to put up with all of the bad press, I couldn’t tell.

“Excuse me,” Angie said as she entered, but before she could say anything, Jiggs Starke barged in. Retired now or not, he knew how to take liberties and get away with them.

“Harry, the wolves are at the door, and… you’re out of uniform, Captain!”

“So I’ve noticed,” Lee grinned. “I’d really rather not drive all the way home just to get a clean uniform, socks and dry shoes for a couple of hours.”

“I see you’re insubordinate as usual, Crane.”

“Nelson-Crane,” Lee corrected.

“Nelson-Crane. Damn, it’s awkward calling you that, and a mouthful to boot!”

“Excuse me,” Ski knocked on the door frame, “but they need the Skipper aboard Seaview. Something about spam.”

“The product or is there an email problem?” Jiggs asked.

 “I don’t think I want to know,” Lee sighed before Ski could answer, though I could tell from his face that he didn’t know.

Lee jumped off the desk. “As far as my insubordination goes, Admiral Starke, I’m afraid some things just can’t change despite my being a Nelson now.” Then he put his hand on my shoulder, “Good luck at the press conference, Harry. I’ll join you as soon as I can.”

It was a short walk to the Visitor’s Center where several chairs and a podium had been set up. I recognized several members of the press, legitimate and otherwise. The public had been invited as well and there was standing room only. Even the mayor was in attendance.

I took my place, and Jiggs stood slightly behind me, for moral support. After I gave a brief welcome, I opened the floor to any questions.

“Just how long,” a reporter asked snidely, “was your family going to cover up the fact that Captain O’Hara Nelson was a slave trader?”

“Surely somebody in your family knew about it all this time,” another inquisitor added.

“We only recently discovered the truth about him,” I answered.

“What does it feel like, having all that family money at the expense of those poor slaves?” another reporter demanded.

“It’s a black mark against the family, certainly,” I said, “but Nelson’s have long contributed most of their time, effort, and wealth for the betterment of mankind, not the enslavement of it.”

“Like that really excuses you scumbags!” a woman spat.

There were hisses vs. ‘bravos’ in response to her outburst, but suddenly there were mutterings of ‘Captain Crane’, ’Captain Crane’, who, still barefoot, had entered the rear of the room. I couldn’t help wishing that he hadn’t come. No doubt he was going to have to bear some of the brunt from this entire business.

“Don’t you pay him enough to buy shoes, Admiral?” one of the reporters joked.

“What’s he dressed like that for? Did he get demoted or something?”

“Sorry,” Lee said as he joined me at the podium, “a little accident with the bilge tanks. Shoes are still drying out.”

“Captain Crane, what do you feel about the Nelson’s ill- gotten gain?”

“That’s Captain Nelson-Crane if you please,” Lee said rather more calmly than I felt. My legs felt like rubber and I was grateful for the support of the podium to hang on to.

“He’s sure sucked up to the old man hasn’t he,” someone muttered.

“Why on earth would you take the name of white supremacists?” the irate woman asked.

“Wait a minute, Harry,” Lee put his hand on my arm briefly with a warning look, then turned to the woman, “Lady, I think you’d better do your homework. The Nelsons are members of the NAACP.”

This was news to me actually. I was surprised Lee could lie so well.

“You’re telling us that Irish redheads are black?” she snorted.

“If you’ll look at the organization’s bylaws, color is not a condition of membership. The Nelsons and I have always believed in ethnic equality. You can’t blame the admiral, Edith Nelson, or even me, an adopted Nelson, for the actions Sheamus O’Hara Nelson took decades ago. Ashamed of him? Absolutely, we are. But are we guilty by association or bloodline? If you use that kind of reasoning, I’d like to know just how many skeletons you have in your own family trees.

“You might not want to forget,” he went on, “that Admiral Nelson and Seaview have always served and will continue to serve the nation and the free world, no matter what your ethnicity. Now, if you’ll excuse us...”

“His mother doesn’t like his new name,” a little girl was saying to her mother, “we saw it on TV, remember, Mommy? I bet it makes him sad.”

The girl’s mother tried to shush her but Lee had heard, came out from behind the podium, and approached them, kneeling before the child, taking her hands in his.

“Yes,” he said gently. “It does make me sad. I’ll always treasure  the name she and my father gave me when they adopted me as a child. But by the same token, I will always cherish the new name I have now. I can only hope she’ll accept both names someday.”

“You have weird eyes,” the little girl giggled, touching his eyelids.

“Yes,” Lee laughed, “and they change color too! I guess I’m part chameleon! Tell you what, how would you and your mother like a quick tour of Seaview? She’s not quite as presentable as I’d like, but...”

“We’d be honored, Captain Crane,” the mother said.

“Captain Nelson-Crane, Mommy,” the girl corrected.

Rising, Lee turned to the crowd, “Now, if there are no more questions? Very well,” he added before anyone could object. As the girl skipped between her mother and Lee toward the exit, Jiggs and I also managed to escape as security began to escort everyone out of the Visitor’s Center and off the grounds.

“You okay?” Jiggs asked as we returned to my office, and poured himself a Scotch.

“Never better,” I lied. Despite Lee’s handling of the press, I knew the slurs would continue. I still felt guilty for being a Nelson. And for asking Lee to become a Nelson legally, which he’d accepted.  And I really needed to speak to him about the so called contributions to the NAACP.

And I still felt guilty as hell for all those poor souls dragged from their homes and put into chains by Sheamus O’Hara Nelson.

Damn him!

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