The boat was quiet. Almost too quiet The Delta Watch, ever alert, sat watching their screens and monitors, but there was nothing to observe. Nothing at all.. The boat sat in the center of the Irish Sea, waiting for a contact that they had been told would be meeting the boat.
The Irish Sea! Sharkey and Nelson were particularly on edge, remembering the events of the last time in this area. The Leprechauns had wreaked havoc on the boat and the memory was still fresh, tho' neither man would admit it to himself, much less to anyone else, even one another....Michael and Patrick had made their imprint on them and they were on edge that it could happen again...
Sharkey looked around uneasily, still not quite sure that Mickey or Patrick wasn't going to jump out at him. Naaahhhh.... that green guy got the best of the red one... we ain't gonna hear from them again...
Nelson caught his eye and shook his head so slightly that the CPO wasn’t quite sure that he’d seen Nelson’s gesture, but the Admiral then nodded, and the Chief knew that their thoughts were the same.
When the speaker gave sharp ‘ssss’ both men jumped. “Admiral, incoming message.”
Nelson strode to the Radio Shack, and ‘Sparks’ handed him a
headset. He held one earphone to his ea, and listened intently. When the message
finished, he handed the headset back to the Radioman, and moving out of the
communications hum, he told ‘Sparks’, “I’ll be in the Captain’s cabin. The
contact should be above us in twenty minutes.”
He passed Sharkey, “Chief, come with me.” To Bobby O’Brien, the OOD, he said, “Hold her steady, Bob, we’ll have contact soon.”
The Junior Officer nodded and turned his attention to the helm, watching it and Sonar as the Admiral and Chief went up the Spiral gangway to Officer’s Country.
Nelson led the way to Crane’s Cabin, not saying a word to the Chief. Once he reached the Captain’s door, he knocked once, said “Nelson.” and opened it, walking in without waiting for Crane to respond.
Crane and Morton were huddled over several piles of paperwork, and both looked up at the older man as he and the Chief entered, starting to rise.
Nelson gestured them back to their seats, and taking a third one, sat himself, pointing to the fourth chair, for Sharkey to also sit. He pulled out a cigarette, and lit it, inhaled deeply, sighed, and said, “We rendezvous with our contact in twenty minutes. I’d like the both of you in the Control Room when they board.”
“Would you care to tell us what this is about, sir?” Lee asked. All any of them had been told was that it was rendezvous at the request of the Irish Government.
“Wish I could, Lee, but I know about as much as you do, which is exactly nothing! All State would tell me was that we were specifically requested to be here at this time.”
Crane shook his head, “I really hate it when they don’t tell us the things we need to know, and think that we will be able to handle anything they throw at us!”
Nelson snorted, “You don’t think I haven’t been trying to get information out of them? Talk about being stonewalled! I’m getting the damn runaround.”
“Admiral,” Chip asked, “What are they going to do the day that you decide to say no?”
Nelson grinned halfheartedly, “I think they’re counting on the fact that I won’t. Duty, etc., would prevent it.”
“And if it doesn’t? Someday, I mean?…”
“I guess they’re counting on the fact that ‘Someday’ will never come’.” He took two more drags on the cigarette then ground it out. “Sharkey will bring a crew to the sail at the rendezvous, since the Irish Government requested that he be the one to facilitate the transfer. I have to admit that I’m as puzzled as the both of you. But I assume we’ll have an answer to our questions in a few moments.” He rose, and all three men also rose. “Lee, you and Chip come down to the Control Room in ten, Francis will get the crew to the Missile Room, and we’ll be waiting for the contact.” With that he strode from the cabin, followed by Sharkey. Lee and Chip exchanged glances, and sat back down, closing folders, and finishing the work on the desk.
Fifteen minutes later, they were all assembled in the Control Room, as Kowalski sang out, “Vessel laying off the stern, sir.”
Crane nodded, and Sharkey and crew moved up the ladder to the sail. The Senior Staff and Control Room crew waited as the minutes ticked by…..
Finally, Sharkey came down the ladder, grinning. He handed Nelson and Crane two envelopes, adding, “Sirs, the men are bringing cargo aboard.”
Nelson and Crane opened their envelopes, almost simultaneously, the men in the Control Room watching them. Smiles spread across both faces, and Crane handed his note to Morton, who, reading it, also smiled.
Suddenly, the men began to come down the ladder, each of them with huge smiles on their faces.
Nelson reached for the mike, and handed it to Crane. “Well, Captain?”
Returning the smile with one of his own, Crane double clicked the mike, and when it was on all call, announced, “Attention, all hands. In the galley, courtesy of the Irish Government, as a thank you for a job well done, is a dinner for the crew in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Corned beef and cabbage, boxty and bangers, Shepherd’s pie, soda bread, and more… Each watch will take their turn, once ‘Cookie’ has it set up. The Admiral, Mr. Morton and I add our thanks and wishes for a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Eat well!”
The stream of men stopped, and the men relaxed, the hum of soft talk passing thru the room and the boat.
The aroma of food wafted from the galley as the packages were unwrapped, and Nelson, Crane, Morton and the Chief led the men in a lively and delicious celebration….
‘Cead Mille Failte!!”
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