Ickory Dickory Doc
by Cindy D. Baker
"She'sh sush a pretty boat," Riley slurred loudly as he gazed with awe and admiration at the gray submarine that had been his home for the past several weeks. "Ya know, Ski-" he started, his voice going up several octaves.
"I know you're gonna get us thrown in the brig if you don't pipe down!" Kowalski sternly whispered, catching his friend under the armpits when the young sailor's knees buckled as he spun to address Ski.
It had been their first shore leave since Riley had joined them three weeks ago, and naturally, Stu had wanted to celebrate. Being in Hawaii for the first time in his life had also inflamed the already excited young man, and Kowalski, understanding completely, saw no reason why he shouldn't let him have a little free rein.
What he hadn't known was that Riley was a light drinker--four drinks and he was out like a light. By the time he realized this, Riley had already finished his third beer, and had become fearless in making his presence in the bar known. It was only by sheer luck that they had made it back to Seaview without…1) getting into any fights; 2) getting picked up by the Shore Patrol, and 3) getting caught by Captain Crane or even worst--Mr. Morton.
"Ya know, I wanted to work on Seaview ever since she was built, but I didn't believe it was parssible. Nope," he solemnly shook his head as Ski did his best to keep him steady. "Never thought in the million years I'd get the chance to work on her."
"Well, it's going to be a short million years if I don't get you onboard before Mr. Morton catches us," Ski warned. Wrapping his left arm firmly around his companion's ribcage, Ski practically lifted Riley off his feet as he directed him towards the dock and the gangplank that lay just beyond that.
"She'sh sush a pretty boat," Riley again slurred. Then breaking into huge grin, he waved a limp arm towards Seaview--nearly slapping Ski in the face in the process--announcing proudly, "I work there!"
"That's right, you do, Stu, now keep it down!" Ski hushed fearfully, the dock and the gangplank were still several yards away. When he had given the taxi driver the directions back to the marina, in the dark he had gotten confused--and distracted--about which side Seaview was docked on, and as a result found themselves in the parking lot of the dock area adjacent to the one they should have been in.
Now stumbling Seaview-bound, Stu Riley had plenty of time to let off some inebriated steam. Unfortunately, they also still had plenty of time to get caught.
But, as the saying goes, Kowalski thought as he pulled Stu to his feet once again, so far so good.
"My love," Riley suddenly began to sing loudly, "across the sea, she waits-,"
"For crying out loud, Stu! Keep it-"
Riley suddenly fell down to his knees, forcibly taking the unaware Kowalski with him.
"Riley!" Ski snapped irate, rubbing his pulled shoulder from his sitting position on the graveled road.
"It wasn't me! Someone put a hole in the floor!"
"I'm gonna put a hole in your head if you don't stop clowning around!" Standing, he reached down, wrapping his arm again around Riley's ribcage.
"Ah, Ski…?" Stu said suddenly, surprisingly sober. "I think my foot's hurt."
"Riley, so help me!" Ski seethed. His patience was running thin, his headache was getting bigger, and his arms and back were getting sore from carrying his drunken friend.
Then he looked down. Even in the semi-darkness he could see the torn pant leg and the blood that was now dripping onto Riley's white sneaker
Bored with the music at the bar, and missing his family, Patterson had decided to call it an early night. Arriving at the marina, he had been just in time to find Ski grappling with their young friend. Riley was barely able to walk even if he hadn't been drinking, giving Ski no choice but to take on Stu's full weight. Kowalski had managed to get them halfway across the dock when his strength suddenly deserted him--in full view of anyone and everyone who might come along.
Glad to give Ski a hand, Pat had no doubt about reaching Sick Bay with a minimum of trouble. The deck officer on duty that night happened to owe Pat a big favor, and once they got past him, getting to Sick Bay would be smooth sailing. Now if they could only keep Riley from singing!
"Is it broken, Ski? It doesn't feel broken?" Riley parroted as Ski and Patterson awkwardly carried the young sailor down the stairs to Seaview's B deck.
"Riley, at the moment, you can't feel anything!" Patterson commented sourly, unconsciously holding his breath, hoping when his foot touched down it was on a step and not on mid-air.
"Pat, do you think it's broken?"
But the older man ignored him. Riley, if you don't quit squirming, we're all gonna end up in Sick Bay! he thought fearfully, concentrating hard on finding the step beneath his feet, and keeping his balance; at the same time, his one and only free hand tightly gripping the railing as Ski tugged at them from the below.
Reaching B deck's level floor, Patterson took one step, drew in a breath of safe relief, then nearly fell as Riley suddenly cascaded forward onto the irritated Kowalski. However, having had a tight grip on him and the railing, Pat managed to keep them all from hitting the deck.
"Ohhh, Seaview must have hit some real heavy weather!" Stu muttered, looking innocently at Ski and Pat.
Looking from Stu to each other, Ski and Pat knew they wanted to strangle him.
"Are we home yet?" Stu then asked, his eyes slowly closing. "I want to lie down, I'm tired."
Ski and Pat looked at each other again, then suddenly broke into knowing grins, the idea of strangling Stu instantly gone as memories of their shore leaves came crashing back with a vengeance.
"Was I ever that bad?" Kowalski asked, pulling Riley's arm over his shoulder.
"You were worse!" Pat grinned back, taking Riley's other arm.
With Stu Riley firmly in hand, they continued on their way.
Now, several steps from Sick Bay, both men held their breaths. If Doc had gone on shore leave….
"Doc? You in?" Ski shouted, maneuvering them sideways through the Sick Bay door. "Doc?" he repeated, leading his buddies to the nearest bunk where they promptly dropped the drunken sailor onto it.
"Kowalski?" Doc called, hurriedly coming from his back office. "Patterson, what…?" Riley's bloody foot couldn't be missed. "Set him up on the table," he said uneasily. So much for peace and quiet, he thought with a frown as he gathered his equipment.
"Hi, Doc!" Riley greeted cheerfully, then grunted as Pat and Ski hastily hoisted him up off the bunk and onto the table.
"What happened?" Doc asked, cutting the pants from around Riley's calf. That too was covered in blood.
"Coming through the parking lot, he stepped into a pot hole," Kowalski replied, remaining by Riley's side to keep the swaying man from completely falling over.
"I did?" Riley asked surprised. "I don't remember that."
"I think there was broken glass in the dirt," Ski continued, ignoring him.
"Hi, Doc!" Stu greeted happily, like he hadn't see the man for weeks. "Doc…" he started with a smile, watching as the medical man probed his leg, then frowned. "Doc…?" his brow crinkled thoughtfully.
"What is it, Stu?" the physician asked absently, twisting Riley's foot this way and that. "Pat, get me a bowl of warm soapy water; Ski, a clean washcloth from the cabinet, please?"
"Aye, Doc," the sailors automatically replied.
Meanwhile, Riley's forehead remained crinkled in befuddlement. "Doc…," he repeated, his bafflement deepening.
"Yes, Riley? I don't think it's as bad as it looks," Doc said to no one in particular, having examined the wound. "But it isn't a clean cut either. More like deep scratches."
"Doc…?" Riley repeated yet again, he face squinting in concern, like he wanted to say something but couldn't remember what it was.
"What is it, Mr. Riley," Doc asked with controlled impatience. Taking the washcloth from Kowalski, he dipped it into the pan Patterson held out for him. He had learned to tolerate pain, alarm, and confusion from the patients and their families, but when a patient was inebriated, they tended to be anything but intelligent. Some drunks were funny, some thoughtful, and some even became very mean and violent, but what they all had in common was asking useless, repetitive questions and that always drove him nuts!
"Ya know, ever since-" Riley grimaced as Doc began to clean the wound. "Ya know," and grimaced again as the soapy water penetrated the cut itself. "Ya know," he said persistently, "ever since I got here to Seaview, all I ever heard you called was 'Doc'".
"Doc is fine," the man answered without looking up.
"No! No, it isn't!" Riley adamantly insisted as his voice got louder. "My mommm always told me to have ressspect for my elders, and I ressspect ya, Doc. Hell, I like you, Doc!"
Taken off guard, Doc smiled, his impatience waning. He heard a lot of things from the men, but 'I respect you' was rarely one of them, even though that he knew that they did.
"So it is out of my very deepest, sincsssershist ressspect for you that I ask this question--what is your last name?"
Standing up straight, Doc blinked at him several times before turning to Kowalski and Patterson. "You didn't tell him?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
Guiltily, Ski glanced at Patterson, who he could tell was already trying to come up with a good explanation. But when he didn't come forth with one, Kowalski knew he had drawn a blank.
"We-ah, just kind of forgot. With all his training and all…," Ski shrugged apologetically. "But it's not like it's a really weird name," he encouragingly added, trying to hide the drunken giggle that was forming.
"There are worst names," the silent-till-now Patterson suddenly volunteered.
"Yeah," Ski chimed in happily. "You think my name is bad, you should hear my grandmother's!"
Doc again smiled. He had heard the grandmother's name, and Ski was right, it was more difficult than "Kowalski".
"Doc," Riley said, with all seriousness. "I don't care what ya name is, I zwear," raising a hand to cross his chest, he promptly fell to his momentarily-unsupported side; his boy scout formed fingers now pointing towards the wall instead of the ceiling. "I zwear, I will ressspect you in the morning."
Rolling his eyes, Doc helped Ski pull Riley upright. Staring at the sincere young man, the physician shook his head, his bemused grin getting bigger. "My last name is DOCK," he said, lightheartedly. "As in…D-O-C-K."
"D-O-C-K," Stu slowly repeated with wide eyes. "But that spells-"
"Dock," Doc finished for him, as he headed for the medicine cabinet. "As in where you tie a boat up to."
"Like Ickory Dickory Dock, Doc?" Stu's eyes questioned unbelievingly.
"That's Hickory Dickory Dock, Stu," the physician corrected, returning to the table. "You've been around fish too much."
"Your name is Doc Dock?" To everyone's surprise, Stu didn't laugh, his expression remaining dead serious. "Doctor Dock?"
"Wow!" he yelled, his eyes getting wider. "Boy, did you ever catch it in medical school!"
"You have no idea," Doc replied casually, having been through this same conversation hundreds of times before.
"So…so if Dock is your last name, then what's your first name?"
Doc let out a deep sigh before hesitantly replying: "Jonah."
"Jonah?" Riley repeated, thoughtfully. "As in Jonah and the-"
"Don't even say it," Doc warned with a chuckle.
Solemnly Riley nodded. "I think I'll just call you, Doc."
"It's for the best…," Doc smiled knowingly, remembering the other times he'd been through this.
But then Riley giggled. Then he chuckled. And then he broke into a full belly-laugh, nearly falling off the table before Kowalski and Patterson caught him. However, his laughter didn't last long.
Pulling the syringe from Riley's arm, Doc complacently grinned. Sedation is such a wonderful thing!
T H E E N D
Copyright 2001 by Cindy Baker
Please send your comments Cindy to: CBB47@aol.com
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