THE PHANTOM....A SEQUEL
(Author’s note…There are so many fine sequels to the Phantom Episodes, that I hesitate to put this on paper, but ‘faint heart never won fair maiden’ or something like that …here is my attempt at a different spin on Lee Crane’s recovery from his shooting & possession by Nelson/Krueger.)
My phone was ringing incessantly as I turned the key in the lock.
Damn the answering machine must be filled…again!! Damn telemarketers!
The key stuck, naturally, as I tried to open the door quickly, and not drop the grocery bags that I had in my arms. The fact that the ringing did not stop alarmed me… It had to be something fairly serious…. someone wanted to talk to me!
I dropped the bags on the table in the kitchen, and lunged at the handset. I picked it up in the middle of a ring… "Hello! Hello!!"
The voice on the other end was barely audible. "Can you meet me at the airport?"
"Lee!" my heart lurched… "Lee?"
"Can you?" he sounded so hurt…and miserable.
"Yes, my love….yes! When? Where?" I asked him anxiously.
"The private terminal… as soon as you can get here!" His voice was fading.
"I’m coming, Lee … I’m coming…"
He hung up the phone, and I dropped the handset of mine and grabbing my keys, ran out the door. I never drove so quickly in my entire life… the traffic was light. On a weekend, there was little for anyone to do in my small community. The way to the airport was direct and clear. I reached it in less than the usual 40 minute ride, and followed the signs to the private terminal. On the runway, I saw the NIMR private jet. There was no sign of Lee Crane. I parked, and ran into the doors of the terminal, my eyes desperately searching for my Love. I finally saw him, and terror struck my soul. He was sitting huddled in a seat on the far side of the large room, a tall man with light hair and a military bearing standing ‘guard’ next to him. I ran across the marble floor, time seeming to be an eternity to cover that small distance. I slid to a stop then dropped to my knees. The man with him looked at me, knowing who I was, I hope, from Lee. His eyes were closed, his face horribly pale, and his frame, usually so straight, was folded over. I looked to the man with him.
“He was shot in the abdomen." he mouthed at me. My fear increased as I reached out to touch his hands, finding they were cold, very cold…
When he did not react to the light touch, I increased the pressure of my touch, and called his name… "Lee… Lee, I’m here."
He stirred, and opened his hazel eyes. They were dim, and pain-filled, slightly glazed, I assumed with some type of medication. He reached for me, and grabbed my hand in his.
His grip not as strong as it usually was… "I need you," he said so softly I could barely hear him. "I need to be with you…Gil brought me… in the jet… he …knows…he’ll help us…"
I leaned toward him and kissed him gently on the forehead. He closed his eyes again, and I stood, my hand holding his tightly. I looked at ‘Gil’ my face a picture of questions.
He began to answer some of them, before I could speak. "Gil Foley, Ma’am. I’m one of the pilots for the Institute. I’ve flown the Skipper here several times," he said that simply enough, with no criticism about our relationship indicated in any way.
"Something took place on the boat, ma’am. I don’t know what. No one from the boat is talking about it, but it was something mighty strange. The Skipper was shot, and he spent three weeks in the Med Center. Doc Jamison sent him home to recuperate, but he wanted to come here. He told the Admiral and the Exec that he was going away for a while…. To get his head together, he told them. They told me to take him wherever he wanted to go, and he wanted to come here, to you…I’m to stay nearby, in case I’m needed…. And I have to let the Admiral know that Captain Crane is all right." He smiled slightly, "Don’t worry, Ma’am. I won’t tell them anything that the Skipper doesn’t want them to know!"
I nodded mutely to him. Lee would tell me when he wanted me to know…for now, I had to get him home, to make him comfortable… to see to his needs.
"Can you help me get him to my car? So that I can bring him to my house… If you want to, you can have the couch…I only have a one bedroom bungalow"
"That’s okay, Ma’am… I have a room at a local motel. I’ve a rented car, too. The Admiral told me to do whatever was needed for the Skipper."
I nodded, and bent to him. "Lee, " I said softly… "My love…. Come…we’re going home. Gil will help us."
He stirred and opened his eyes again… he reached out and touched my face, his fingers so cold that they chilled me. He smiled, slightly… "It is you…. I was afraid that I was dreaming…that I was here….that it was all a dream…Oh, God! I wish some of it was…" Gil stepped to his side, and reaching down, slid an arm under his shoulder, and around his waist.
"C’mon, Skipper. We’re going to the car, and then we’re going to get you settled, and comfortable." Gil looked at me, "If you could grab the bag, ma’am and show me to the car…Jamie sent some meds and directions and they’re in the bag."
I nodded, picked up the bag and led the way to my car. Gil helped Lee, supporting him, and moving slowly, so that he could make his way. He was hunched over holding his right side. I hope that I never see him so ill, so badly hurt. I wanted to cry over the pain that he was in, and there seemed to be so much, but I knew that there was more to this…much more… and I also knew that I would know it all in time.
I reached my car, and opened the front door. I drove a late model Chrysler Fifth Avenue, a moderate size that was a comfortable car. It was grey, and the interior was also grey, soft grey velour… it matched my mood at that moment. Grey! I was frightened. I had no idea how I could help Lee…. No idea how really ill he was… We put the seat back and Gil gently laid him back on it. Against the grey velour, his skin took on an even grayer color. He held his right arm to his side. His breathing was light and shallow, but some of the tenseness had left his face. His eyes remained closed, but his hand reached for mine, and covered it. The chill of his skin was what frightened me the most. He wrapped his fingers around mine, and held my hand as if his life depended upon it… perhaps it did,… I don’t know. I don’t remember the drive home…. I don’t remember how long it took. …I don’t remember Gil Foley following me all the way to my tiny house… But suddenly we were there, and Gil was helping Lee out of the car, and I had my key in the lock, and we were in my house… we were home! Gil eased Lee into the Queen Anne chair next to my fireplace. He leaned back into the chair, and sighed.
He cleared his throat, and said somewhat hoarsely, "Thanks, Gil. I appreciate the help." I sat on the floor, next to the chair, holding Lee’s hand tightly in mine. His hand lay on my back, and I laid my head on his leg.
Looking at Foley, I asked him, "Would you like something to drink, to eat…?"
He smiled, ‘No, thank you, ma’am … I’m heading to the motel…. I’ll call later to check on the Skipper, if you don’t mind. He gave me the number here." He reached forward, and put a card on the coffee table. "That’s the phone of the motel, and my room… If you need anything, anything at all…. Call me. Skipper’s and Admiral’s orders! I’m at you disposal." He paused. "Captain, if you need me, just let me know!" He extended his hand to me and said quietly, "Take good care of him, ma’am."
I shook his hand, and smiled weakly at him. "I will , Gil… don’t worry, I’ll do my best!"
"I’ll let myself out, ma’am."
I nodded, and then turned my face to Lee to give him my full attention. "Do you want to lie down? I can help you to the bedroom."
"No…not yet…I just want to sit here, with you…" he became quiet again, and I thought that he had fallen asleep. I moved towards the bag that I had dropped on the floor, and his hand held me back. "Don’t leave me….not yet!"
"I’m not leaving, Lee. I’m trying to get the bag with your medication and the doctor’s directions."
"Oh…" he released his grip on my hand, and I reached for the bag. There were several sheets of handwritten notes, and six different medications for him. The doctor’s notes were lengthy, and explained the wound, the results, and the types of meds, and their purpose. My Love had been, was still, very ill…but the doctor said that he was better out of the hospital, not in one. Lee didn’t like hospitals, doctors, and being ill… he did do better out of them… So he had come to me… The doctor had not said how My Love had come to be hurt…He left that to Lee tell. And now he was still too ill to tell me much… I asked him again if he wished to lay down, and this time he acquiesced.
"Yes," he said softly, "That may be a good thing…Stay with me?"
"Of course…I just have to turn down the bed. I’ll be right back to help you."
I rose, and quickly walked the few steps to the bedroom, and turned down the bed. When I returned to him, I helped him ease himself to his feet. He held his arm tightly to his right side, where he had been shot. He put his left arm around my shoulder, and rose. Slowly, and carefully we made our way to the bedroom. He sat on the side of the bed, and I helped him lie back on the pillows. He sighed, and then he relaxed. I sat on the other side of the bed, next to him
I waited for him to talk to me… to tell me what had brought him to me this time… This time, not our love, our passion, but his need, and what need, I had no idea …I knew that he would tell me…but not right now… now he needed to rest…. To heal… to resolve what ever was haunting him… what ever the deep-seated pain was driving him … I only pray that I can do the right thing to help him.
As I sit on the bed, I reach for his hand, and he holds mine more tightly. We haven’t spoken to one another directly until this moment. He holds my hand tighter and turns his head to me. "The meds that Jamie sent…?" He asks.
"Yes, my love?"
"I need something…" He was in great pain, "The pain pills… Please… it…it just hurts… so very much!" I got the pills, and some water and help him take them, and then lay back.
"Lee," I asked, "What happened? What is really wrong?"
He moves his face away from mine, tears beginning to well in his eyes… "I was shot… by the …Admiral. He shot me! …It wasn’t his fault…he tried not to, but…but Krueger…he was strong….too strong…." his voice, barely above a whisper, drifted away… as he drifted to sleep. I was stunned… I was surprised,… and I immediately understood the hurt and pain that he was in, the emotional as well as the physical. I leaned toward him, and wrapped my arms around him. I wanted to give him all the strength, all the warmth, all the love that he gave to me… I wanted to hold him so that he would know when he woke that he was loved, that I loved him, unquestioningly. That my love went beyond the physical need and fulfillment that we shared so many times before this one. That I could hold him, and love him , and give to him that very private part of self that is one’s soul…
We slept like that for hours… when I woke, Lee was still sleeping.. his sleep was restless, and troubled, and the only reason he slept at all was because of the pills from his doctor. I lay there, next to him, and listen to him as he talks and calls out in his sleep…
"No!!! Stay away!… Admiral!… Chip!…Jamie!!! don’t let him near me… keep him away/!! Help me!!!! Please, help me!!!!!!!!"
I hold him closer still, realizing that he is soaked with perspiration. And I too am wet with his sweat. I also realize that it is truly late. Nearly 0129. We have slept a long while… my house is dark, lights turned off by timers. Only night lights guide my steps to the bathroom… I shed my clothes, and don the robe that I keep hanging there. I rummage among his things, and find his blue robe, and carry it into the bedroom. I lay a hand on his shoulder, and he jumpstarts awake. "Lee, my love…let me help you into your robe. You have been sweating, and I don’t want you to catch a chill."
He nods, and slowly rises to a sit. He doesn’t try to help me with his clothes, doesn't fight me. Rather, he allows me to remove them… I see how very thin he has become, and the large bandage on the side of his stomach … he is wrapped with gauze and pads, and the wound is still weeping through the bandages.
"Shall I change this, too?" I ask him, unsure of the answer he will give me… and unsure of how I will react to dealing with such a wound.
"No, no… " he said wearily, "leave it…Do it later… Jamie changed the dressing before I left!"
"Lee, you’ve been sweating, a lot. You hadto change your clothes. The dressing is also wet. It needs to be changed…. Doctor Jamison sent everything he thought would be needed in the bag."
He agrees, too quickly for me. He allows me to ease him back on the pillows and to take that supplies from the bag. I take a pair of scissors, and cut away the gauze that held the larger bandages in place. Carefully, very carefully, I removed the large squares of bandage… a wound lay along his side, smooth, except for the site of entry. The entry wound was a circular site, with incisions leading from it in two directions. The incisions were still weeping pinkish clear fluid, the wound itself, discolored and weeping as well… It wasn’t as bad as the shoulder wound that I had dressed for him another time, but it still looked painful. I tried to be as gentle as possible when I touched it, and put the antibiotic on it, yet he still gasped when I touched it and rebandaged the wound. But it was clean and it was dry, and I felt that it had to be better. Once I slid the robe onto him, he lay back, and I covered him with a sheet and a light blanket. He slept almost immediately, but he was not sleeping restfully…He called out, and he cried against some kind of evil…it sounded as if it was taking his very soul!
I have to do something for him. I have to know what had happened… but how did I find out what had happened, and why he was so very, very ill. I leave him on the bed, and sit in my chair, watching him. The love that I feel for him, he knows…He can,… he has come to me any time, and I welcome him…into my home, and into my arms if he wants that. We often spend hours, and in some cases, days, making love, incredible love, but we also spend hours talking and sharing our lives. I have said before we are soul-mates… we are that and more. I wish I could help him!
I slept… I didn’t realize how long I slept in the chair. I woke when Lee cried out, he was fighting someone, something in his sleep… "no! Krueger!! No!! Leave him alone!!!!! Leave me alone.!!! I don’t want to let you in!!! Leave us alone!!!!"
He was twisted in the bedclothes, sweating again, and pulling at the air and all that was around him. The only way I can describe his actions was torment…he was tormented. His soul was in torment….terrible torment… his soul. .. "Oh My Love!!!! My poor love!!" His soul! What horrible thing had touched his soul?
He came awake, and struggled to sit, holding his head in his hands. "How long have I been here?" he rasped
"Almost two days." I rise and go to his side. He is looking haggard and very, very unwell. He stares at me, his eyes looking haunted. He is haunted. By whatever happened to him. I want to share with him all that is hurting, haunting him… I sit next to him, and my arm goes around his shoulders. "Can I help you , ?…talk to me… please." He wanted to rise, to pace the room, but he was unable to do so. He was physically weakened by the wound, and psychically wounded as well…
"I can’t…" he said in a whisper.
"Why, Lee? Why can’t you tell me?"
"Because you won’t understand,…no one will understand….It was…horrible…he wanted my body…he tried to take my soul… my soul!!! He took my body, and pushed my mind aside, and tried to turn me to his side… it was so evil…so evil….I have never, never felt anything like that … I don’t know how to explain it to you."
I pulled him to me and held him, as I would hold a small child. "Then don’t …don’t try to explain it, just talk to me about it….tell me so that I can help you!"
He leans into me, and just lays there, breathing heavily, his body shaking slightly, as if with fever. "Try to imagine," he says in a voice that I have to strain to hear… "Try to imagine the worst evil that you can, and then multiply it a hundred fold and you can only then begin to feel the tiniest part of the evil that was Krueger." He shivers, and I reach for the quilt to pull it over him. "He wanted to destroy me…to push me into non-existence! I have never been so terrified….so overwhelmed….I fought him, but he was so strong…I don’t know how…how I didn’t just….cease to exist! I kept hearing voices, even at the worst of times….the Admiral’s….Chip’s….and yours…. And I know that you had no idea of what was going on… but I kept hearing you telling me that you loved me…that you would always be here for me….the Admiral kept telling me to fight him, not to give up! The Admiral shot me, but he shot to wound, not to kill…he didn’t want to…Krueger controlled him…but he was stronger, stronger than me…I should have fought him more!!! And I could hear Chip…just telling me to fight, fight to come back!! And when Krueger was gone, I hurt…. I hurt so much! Did I tell you…there was a girl… Krueger wanted her for Lani…I … tried to kill her…Krueger made me try to kill her… when he left me…there… on Mulayo … I tried to tell her I was sorry…. I was so sorry… I didn’t want to hurt her…and then he came back, and I was so cold ..so very cold! And the hurt went away, but so did I… and then Lani took him away, and the hurt was back and it was worse, much worse… And I didn’t want to fight the hurt any more… but then I heard the Admiral, telling me how much everyone needed me…how much she needed me My boat needed me…My men …. And that I had to come back…and I did fight…." He smiled weakly at me… "and here I am…" He paused, "in all of that, no one wanted to know … no one even asked me what I wanted….what I needed….what I need still…that’s what makes me so tired…I need you. I need to have your love…" his voice fades. I wrap the quilt more tightly around him, and whisper… "You have me, Lee …you have me …and you have my love… and if that is what you need, it is yours…I am yours as long as you need me…want me… I love you , Lee…and you can have any thing you need or want from me…" I hold him, as tightly as I dare… and his shivering finally stops. He falls into a light sleep. He finally seems to relax, more of the tenseness leaving his body.
I lay there, next to him, just holding him, and grieving for him… It was a horrible thing that had happened to My Love…He had gone to death and beyond, and had fought and clawed his way back to life. A life that he now had back and in his control…. And he had had the strength to survive it all …. Now he had to draw on that strength to get back to living his life, not brooding about what had happened, as horrible as it had been. Whether or not he could heal things between him and his admiral was another thing…But I believed that he would …. I knew how deeply he cared for the Admiral… and how much the Admiral loved him.. they would forgive one another, their love and respect for each other would win out over the misguided love that made Krueger so evil… And so I held him, and he began to get better… We made small steps each day. We did not make love for many days… We held on to one another, we cried and laughed with one another.
His body healed. Slowly and at times painfully…He had several more bouts with fevers and he told me that he had had what the doctor called a ‘massive’ infection. He was on several antibiotics, and they made his stomach uneasy. He didn’t eat much, no matter how much I tried to get him to. I understood Jamison’s concerns about his weight. He would never get completely well if he didn’t eat well. And no matter what, he didn’t eat. He was in frequent pain, and he said that the doctor said to expect that because of the type of wound that he had… he called it a ‘gut’ wound. He said that he had had a great deal of tissue damage, and that the infections that followed the damage could have killed him as well….we were together for almost two weeks. By the end of that time, he was well enough in spirit and mind, as well as in body, to return to his boat and his Admiral… he was ready to face it all again, with renewed strength. It would be a while before he was completely well, but he had been away from them, from her too long!!! He needed that final renewal of spirit to walk her decks, and let her know that he was back.
We said good-bye as Gil waited in the car to take Lee to the airport and the NIMR jet. Gil had become a good friend in these two weeks… I have an ally… a friend and someone who is as dedicated to My Love and his well being as I was. I thanked him when he came for Lee’s bag. He thanked me for caring for ‘the Skipper’, for being there for him. He knew that no one else was aware of our relationship, and he would keep it that way.
He grabbed me in a great bear hug, and thanked me, then bolted to the car.
Then it was time for me to say good-bye to my move. There was little more that we could say to one another, that had not been said. He would come back to me, I didn’t know when, but I knew with a surety that he would be back. I held onto him in the doorway, and he held me as tightly. I loved him, and he loved me… that was all that was important. He kissed me… he branded my lips with the touch of his, said good-by and was gone…I stood, holding myself, touching my lips, where his touched mine… we would be together once again… I knew… I knew…. And I loved…I loved……
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