NIMR Reports is a Fan Fiction Magazine on the World Wide Web for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea starring Richard Basehart and David Hedison.


Journey With Dave

by

Alison Passarelli
(with apologies to Dave)


Some pertinent but extremely alleged "facts" to mull over before reading this story:

Fact:

One of the most extraordinary things about Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was the professionalism of its two stars, Richard Basehart and David Hedison. No matter how nutty the stories got, those two, to their everlasting credit, always played it straight. And considering the "far-outness" of some fourth season episodes, that's an incredible feat. Makes you wonder how they managed it . . .


Fact:

"Journey With Fear" is an example of a rather daft VTTBOTS episode, but I still like it. I usually refer to it as "Journey With Frogs".


Fact:

The great Irwin Allen, executive producer extraordinaire, a visionary, a man of boundless energy and enthusiasm, wore glasses, had a big ego, questionable taste, loved to use 'stock' footage, and was known as the "Master of Disaster".


Fact:

While in his late 30's, David Hedison briefly dated 19 year-old Lana Wood, the younger sister of Natalie Wood. In an interview published at the time, Hedison positively raved about the young Miss Wood. For one thing, not only did the girl cook for him, she cleaned up all the dishes as well! Oh, and she didn't chatter too much. Hedison comes across in the article as charming, romantic, and utterly dreamy. And perhaps, to politically correct ears only, the teensiest weensiest bit chauvinistic -- (though in the sweetest, most endearing way possible) -- not unlike most of the men of his generation. But hey! Those men struggled through the Depression -- without whining -- and fought a couple of wars in our behalf, so give 'em a break, huh!


Fact:

Ohio native, Richard Basehart, was once a reporter for an Ohio newspaper. He also loved boating, and cooking gourmet French dinners for friends and family.


Fact:

After VTTBOTS went off the air, Bob Dowdell (Chip Morton) went into the Real Estate business.


Fact:

With his friend and partner, Carroll O'Connor, Terry Becker (Chief Sharkey -- the one and only!) produced and directed numerous plays and television programs.


Fact:

David Hedison's first love has always been the Theater. He guest-starred on a gazillion TV shows throughout the 70's and 80's in order to "pay the mortgage" (so he explained in an interview with Starlog Magazine). With regard to VOYAGE, Hedison complained, and rightly so, that his character, Captain Crane, was hardly even essential to the show. For example, when Mr. H called in sick, his lines were usually given away to other people.


And Fact:

Shortly after VOYAGE's run, David Hedison was the first man approached to play the Dad in a new sitcom called, The Brady Bunch. He turned down the role flat, went off to Europe, and the rest, as they say, is history.



Disclaimer:

The David Hedison in this story is a figment of my imagination. Any resemblance to the real David Hedison is purely coincidental. (So please don't sue me, Dave!) Mr. Hedison is a fine actor, and a fine gentleman, and I admire him very much. (Have since I was five years old.) I've merely used his persona to represent any and all drop-dead-handsome TV stars from the 60's whom we baby-boomer girls had crushes on in our youth.



Dedication:

This silly little fantasy is for all the 'Debbies' in the world whose childhood dreams included a certain submarine Captain . . . But it's especially for one Debbie in particular.



 

July, 1967 . . .

On his way to Richard Basehart's dressing room, a fast-walking David Hedison accidentally bumped the left elbow of the make-up girl, Debra O'Toole.

"Hi, Dave!" burst the bubbly brown-haired beauty.

"Mm," grunted the man in khakis.

Poor Dave. He doesn't look happy, mused Debbie, as she reached for a fresh sponge from her make-up case. The first sponge she'd been holding got knocked to the floor when Dave brushed by her.

Seemingly oblivious to the universe, Hedison ambled past O'Toole, muttering under his breath: "Fossil men, plant men, lobster men, menfish, and now frogs! Darn that Irwin!"

Poor Dave. He doesn't sound happy, either. A moment later, as she was about to apply Max Factor Number 3 to Bob Dowdell's fair face, Debbie flinched.

So did Dowdell. Hedison had slammed Basehart's trailer door so hard, half of L.A. flinched!

 

Fifteen minutes hence, the assistant director came a-knockin' at the trailer. . .

"We're ready for you on the set, gentlemen."

"Coming!" shouted Richard Basehart. "Well, Dave? Are you ready to go out and shoot the ridiculous Venusian frog-men/falling rock scene?"

"One more Scotch, Dick. I can't possibly go out there unless I have one more Scotch under my belt."

"All right. But hurry up. I'm supposed to cook up a gourmet French dinner for the wife tonight on the boat. Say! Why don't you come along? But don't bring Natalie Wood's kid sister."

"Why not? She cleans up real good. And she hardly ever speaks unless spoken to. Talk about a dream come true!"

"I dunno, Dave. She doesn't seem to be your type a'tall. Besides, do you really think you should be dating a teenager? If this were the 90's, 'steada the 60's, you'd be up on charges, fella! And as my wife put it to me the other day: 'When is that handsome-hunk-a-man gonna find a woman his own age and settle down?'"

As Hedison swallowed his whiskey, he pondered Mrs. B's question. Maybe it was the booze . . . maybe it was the knowledge that in thirty seconds, he'd have to go out and talk to a frog . . . maybe he was just dizzy from being slammed from port to starboard every five seconds for the last four years . . . but whatever it was, Basehart's words had struck a chord.

Sure, of course he was a handsome-hunk-a-man. That part went without saying. But could Dick and Diana be right about the rest? Ought he, a 40 year old guy -- albeit the best-looking one to come down the pike since Tyrone Power -- to be dating a teenager? Hmmmm . . . He needed time to think. Hedison took a last jolt of Scotch to fortify himself, then placed the empty shot-glass on the counter.

"Dick? If that offer still goes, I'd love to join you for dinner tonight. And I'll come stag."

Slapping Hedison on the arm, Basehart replied, "Splendid! What say we get this show on the road then?"

As the two stars left the peace and quiet of Basehart's dressing room for the noisy sound stage (Irwin Allen was out there!), Hedison continued his ruminations.

Hmmmm . . . What'll I tell the Kid? She was expecting to see me tonight. I know! I'll tell her Dick and I have a scene to rehearse. Meanwhile, she can stay at my house and vacuum. She'll love that. What dame wouldn't? What more could she ask for? Unless . . . okay, why not give her a real thrill: let her do the laundry, too. She can even iron my sheets if she wants. Boy! That girl has it made!

"Dick? Dave? Ready for the next shot?" asked the director, Harry Harris.

Hedison barely heard Dick acknowledging for the both of them. He was still cogitating. (And jeepers, it was nearly five o'clock! Pretty darn good cogitating for nearly five o'clock!)

Impatient, Hedison tilted his head so that the make-up girl could powder him off.

Debbie, who'd had a crush on the dashing Dave for years, gathered her courage and dared to smile at him. But the man in uniform remained stone-faced.

When the girl's face fell, Hedison felt a slight pang. Nice going, Dave. Now look what you've done! You've hurt . . . What's her name again? Oh yeah, Debbie. Aw, what was he worrying about? Hey, when he had time he smiled at her, didn't he? Once he even winked. How was he supposed to know that'd make her pass out on his shoes? He tapped her hand and went and got her a drink of water, didn't he? And he even gave her an autographed picture -- for free! And they called him aloof?

Ceasing to fret over Debbie, Hedison stepped under his key light and continued cogitating about Lana:

Maybe I should call it quits with the Kid. Armenians and Russkies don't get along. Besides, I'm getting tired of Mom falling to the floor and sobbing hysterically everytime I bring Lana around for a visit. I keep telling her the Kid's not a heathen -- she's just Russian Orthodox. Anyway, with Lana's Mom constantly calling me a cradle robber, and her Dad giving me the evil eye and muttering Russian curses under his breath all the time, I've about had it! Hmmmm . . . Have to work it out, Dave. Have to work it out.

"Let's have quiet on the set, everyone!"

"Scene 78, take 1."

The crisp crack of the clap-board brought Dave back to earth. Or rather, back to Venus -- which was where he was supposed to be in Scene 78.

Venus?!? What in blazes is a submarine commander doing on Venus! Great Scott! Even those little-brat baby-boomers'll see the holes in this one! Hedison shuddered at the thought. Then he shrugged. Aw, relax, Dave. Have a little fun. Just go with the flow. So what if the plot stinks. If Dick can say his lines with a straight face, then so can you, pal. So can you.

Harry Harris was just about to call "Action!" when Irwin Allen interjected: "Dave, can you try to look a little more grim please? This is a serious scene."

"Irwin, do you realize you're condemning me to a career of nothing but guest shots on other people's shows?"

"Whada you care, Hedison, so long as it pays the mortgage?"

Suddenly furious, Hedison roared, "What do I care! I'll show you, you four-eyed, megalomaniacal, taste-up-your-tail, Master of STINK-aster!"

While Hedison chased the frightened (though amazingly fleet-footed) executive producer all around the Twentieth Century-Fox lot, Richard Basehart flopped into a chair, ran a hand through his graying red hair, and sighed: "I shoulda stayed in the newspaper business."


The next morning, Sound Stage 4 was mighty subdued. Mighty subdued! There was no sign of David Hedison anywhere. Scuttlebutt had it he was either (A) still gazing at himself in the mirror after his morning shave, (B) off doing some whacko play in Pasadena, or, (C) just plain fired.

The director had no idea what he was supposed to do. Dave was scheduled to be in five scenes that day: two with Basehart, two with Dowdell, and of course, one with the Venusian frog-men. By 9 a.m., murmuring on the set had gotten out of hand. However, at 9:01, when Irwin Allen crossed over the threshold, a huge silence fell over the cavernous sound stage.

Allen was wearing an ouchless Band-Aid over a blackened left eye, and a mean scowl over a fat lip. "Okay people, lithen up."

That was some fat lip!

"Uh, excuse me Irwin," put in Bob Dowdell, "but is this little speech of yours going to affect me? I'm right in the middle of studying for my Real Estate exam."

"Yeah," echoed Terry Becker, "and I gotta call my buddy, Carroll O'Connor."

Allen, wondering why he ever left the Bronx, said in an annoyed tone, "Yes, Bob, it affects you. And you, too, Becker." Clearing his throat, Allen waved away a proffered bull-horn and instead, bellowed to the crew in his inimitable, ear-shattering baritone: "Now hear this, gentlemen! A certain hot-headed Armenian, who shall remain nameless, is on 24-hour suspension. Therefore, his lines for today will be given away to any minor characters who'd like a little more screen time."

A dubious-looking Del Monroe was next to put his two cents in. "Gosh, Irwin. With Dave being the Captain an' all, can you really just divvy up his lines willy-nilly to the lower ranks?"

"Now get this straight, Monroe, and the resta ya, too. The only Captain around here is ME! Hedison's just an employee. I say 'jump', he jumps. I say 'swim', he swims. I say 'make like ya got a concussion and lay on a table in Sick Bay for an entire episode' and he does it, otherwise, he's history. And that goes for everyone else around here, too!"

In that distinctive, sonorous voice which had helped turn him into one of Hollywood's finest thespians, Richard Basehart declared matter-of-factly, "You certainly can't mean me, Irwin."

Looking over the great artiste, Allen replied, "Don't push your luck, Dick."

"But I'm the Admiral!"

"Admiral, Schmadral. You can be replaced like that!" Allen said, snapping his fingers. Looking around the set, he exclaimed: "So why aren't those cameras rolling?!? Let's get to work, people! Time is money!"

 

Meanwhile, back at Dave's house, Lana Wood had stopped by on her way to school to cook breakfast for her man. She was standing in front of a hot stove, scrambling eggs and frying bacon, while Dave was stretched out at the kitchen table, catching up on his fan mail.

"Dave?"

"Hmmmm?"

"Do you know how to prove triangles congruent?"

His facial features cast in puzzlement, Hedison reluctantly glanced up from a particularly engrossing missive to say, "Huh?"

"That Geometry class at Bev Hills High is really giving me trouble. I try and I try, but after the 'Given', I'm completely stumped. You're always plotting courses, and using slide rules an' things. Can you figure this stuff out?"

Hedison drew the line at helping her with her homework. This relationship just wasn't working. He'd have to tell her -- after breakfast -- well -- after she cleaned up the dishes. No sense spoiling the Kid's morning. Boy! Am I thoughtful, or what?


The Next Day . . .

"So that's the story, Dick. Lana and I are no longer an item. Poor Kid. Hope she gets over me. Problem is, I'm the type of guy gals carry a torch for. Anyway, who's gonna make my dinners now?"

"Don't worry Dave. I think I know the perfect girl for you."

"Oh yeah? Who?"

"Debbie."

"Debbie who?"

"Debbie O'Toole, of course. The make-up girl."

"You want me to date the make-up girl?"

"Why not?"

"But I'm a star."

"Oh for Pete's sake, Dave. Will you come down from Mt. Olympus for five minutes? Debbie's swell. Why she's a remarkable person! She's beautiful, witty, extremely intelligent, and best of all, she's not a teeny-bopper."

"But the make-up girl???"

"You know she only does this make-up gig in order to pay for graduate school. After all, she's studying to become a nuclear physicist and a dental hygienist!"

"Wow! I had no idea."

"How could you have had no idea, Dave? She's been with us for four years. Don't you ever engage her in conversation?"

"Sure. All the time. Why just a little while ago I asked her if my tie was straight. And before that, we talked about whether I should part my hair on the other side. You know . . . the way I wore it in The Fly? Debbie says not to change it, that I'm perfect the way I am, and I tend to agree. But what do you think, Dick?"

Blowing out a frustrated breath, rolling his expressive blue eyes, and placing a fatherly hand on Hedison's shoulder, Basehart responded, "David, listen to me. You need someone like Debbie to help straighten you out."

"Can she cook?"

"Now that's exactly the kind of thing I mean! That sort of talk is out with a capital 'O'. It's squaresville. Mark my words, Dave, when Women's Lib comes along in a few years, they're gonna run you outa town on a rail. You'll be the poster-boy for Neanderthal men. If you don't start to mend your ways, my friend, you'll end up in England. Or maybe some worse backwards country. You may even have to enter the Witness Protection Program!"

"You really think I'm Neanderthal, Dick?"

Smiling sympathetically, Dick said, "Let's just say you're old-fashioned. If this were 1919, why you'd be the cat's pajamas! But broads don't go for that macho style anymore. It's not where it's at. It's not groovy, man."

"Boy, Dick. You're really hip to what's happening."

"That's why you should listen to me, Dave. Now do yourself a favor. Take Debbie out for a nice dinner. You won't regret it. But watch what you order, she's Vegan."

"Really? I thought she was Irish."

From across the Set . . .

"Ouch! Watch it, Debbie! That's the third time today."

Peering over Hedison's shoulder, Basehart could see Bob Dowdell rubbing his left eye. Debbie was at it again: sneaking a peek at Dave while Dave wasn't looking, and accidentally poking make-up sponges in cast members' eyes as a result.

Unaware of the goings-on behind his back, Dave said, "Do you think she'll want to date me, Dick?"

"Believe me, she'll jump at the chance. But bring along a couple of ammonia capsules."

"What for?"

"Haven't you ever noticed she keels over everytime you glance in her direction?"

"Yeah, but I just figured she had narcolepsy or something."

"She has Dave-itis, is what she has. So when you ask her out, for heaven's sake, make sure she's not up on a ladder, all right?"

"All right, Dick. I'll take your advice."

"Good. And by the way, Dave, your tie's crooked."

Hedison looked down. His tie was perfectly straight. What was Dick playing at? Before Dave could get out a 'What gives?', Dick twisted the thin black tie in question, completely wrecking a beautiful Windsor knot.

"Hey!"

With a devilish grin on his face, Basehart said, "Why don't you let Debbie fix it?"

"Ohhhhhhhhhhh! I getcha."

 

Two minutes later . . .

Hedison studied the woman who was re-tying his tie. Funny, up until now, he had never noticed how pretty she was. Obviously, like himself, Debbie was a Winter. That was a plus. It meant at least their wardrobes would never clash. Hmmmm . . . Dating her might be fun at that. Just then Debbie looked up at him. Her hazel eyes -- or were they green? -- were sparkling. And she was wearing a shy, but very appealing smile.

"All fixed, Dave."

"Thanks, Debbie. Say, Debbie . . ."

"Yes, Dave?"

All of a sudden, Ara David Heditsian began to sweat. He felt weak in the knees. What was going on? This wasn't like him. He was a man of the world. He'd never had difficulty asking a woman out to dinner before. And he'd dated stars galore. Why was Debbie having such an effect on him?

"Are you okay, Dave? You look a little pale."

"Debbie?"

"Yes?"

"Would you . . ." Hedison gulped. "Would you . . . um . . . would you like to go out to dinner tonight?"

Debbie swallowed. "With YOU?"

"Mm-hm."

CRAAAASSSSHHHHH!!!!

Fortunately, the girl came to again in a jiffy. Another minute though, and Hedison would have had to start CPR. On his knees, holding Debbie by the elbow, Dave said, "Shall I take that as a yes?"

Debbie nodded. She had to -- it was virtually impossible to talk through that darn oxygen mask!


That Night at the Brown Derby . . .

It turned out Dave and Debbie had an awful lot in common. First of all, they were both crazy about him. Secondly, Debbie was a church-going, veil-wearing, Saturday-morning-confession kind of Catholic -- not quite Armenian, but close enough for jazz (and Mom!). And third, Debbie liked camping on the weekends. (That explained why her knees were always bruised on Mondays.)

At ten o'clock, after a glorious dinner, Dave and Debbie headed out into the Los Angeles night. The weather was warm and soft. Stars were twinkling overhead. Dave took Debbie's hand in his. She smiled up at him demurely, and he smiled back in the same, modest fashion. They walked at a leisurely pace down Hollywood Boulevard, missing all the sights that famous American thoroughfare had to offer: for those two had eyes only for each other.

At about ten-thirty, they decided to head back for Dave's red Ferrari. Next stop was going to be a quiet little coffee-house Hedison knew of on the outskirts of town.

"Let's take a short-cut, Deb."

"Anything you say, Dave."

And so they turned down a deserted side-street.

Before too long, Hedison heard foot-steps. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He looked over his shoulder. Two men were coming toward them. Hedison's instincts, honed to a fine edge during his short stint in the spy series Five Fingers, told him those men were up to no good. Not wanting to alarm Debbie, Dave casually directed their stroll across the street.

The footsteps followed. In seconds, the couple would be overtaken.

"Debbie, RUN!"

Hedison pushed Debbie forward and turned to face the assailants. Both men jumped him, knocking him to the ground. One engaged him in combat, while the other ran toward Debbie.

"Gimme your money, lady, and you won't get hurt."

Debbie reached into her bag and handed the criminal all she had: six dollars and forty-two cents. (Good thing payday was tomorrow.)

Shouting to his cohort, the young thug said, "Let's go!"

Bad guy number two (six-foot five if he was an inch, and built like a Sherman tank) landed one last punch in Hedison's ribs before stealing his wallet and running off down the street, out of sight.

Debbie was at Dave's side instantly. "Oh, Dave! Are you all right?"

Hedison had a bloody gash over his right eye, and was bent over in agony. Struggling up from his knees, he said, "Whew! I haven't been hit that hard since 1958, when the hydraulic press accidentally slipped and came down on my fly head. Thank God for that rubber mask!"

Finally, Dave got to his feet. He couldn't have managed it sans Debbie's help. Without her shoulder to brace his arm around, he would have taken another header. As it was, he couldn't see straight. "Debbie! I didn't know you had a twin sister!"

"Oh, no! We have to get you to the hospital right away!"

"No, I'm okay."

"Stop trying to be a hero! You're hurt and you need a doctor!"

"Well, the car's twenty blocks back. I don't know if I can make it that far."

Looking him over, Debbie declared, "You couldn't make it twenty feet, Dave. I'll hail a taxi."

"How will we pay for it? They took our money."

"My Mom always told me to carry five dollars in my shoe in case of an emergency. I think this qualifies."

A cab came their way a few minutes later. Debbie helped the faltering Hedison into the back seat. As soon as the vehicle took off, Dave promptly passed out. Debbie wet her handkerchief and tried to clean some of the blood from Dave's pale face. Unfortunately, his expensive Italian shirt was a lost cause.

 

One hour later, at General Hospital . . .

David Hedison swung his feet to the floor and stood up. "Where's my jacket?" Swaying, he held onto the edge of the bed for support.

The attending physician steadied him with a hand to the elbow. "Sir, you have a fractured rib and a concussion. I strongly recommend you stay overnight for observation."

"I can't, Doc," replied Hedison, slipping his long arms into the navy blue jacket Debbie was holding up. "I have to fly the ship home from Venus tomorrow morning. And if I'm not there to do it, Irwin'll let Dowdell take the con. Before long, the men'll be calling HIM 'Skipper' instead of me."

Leaving the patient's side to put in a quick call to the Psych floor, the overtired, overworked, underpaid third-year Resident exclaimed with glee, "Boys, get the lock-down unit ready. I got me a gen-yoo-ine looney in the ER."

"No, doctor," piped Debbie defensively, "Dave's not cookoo. He's an actor on TV."

"Oh," said Doc, hanging up the phone. "That explains it then. Listen, ma'am, are you his wife?"

Debbie's pinkish Irish cheeks darkened to red. "His wife? No. I'm his . . . He's my . . . I mean we're . . . Dave and I are just good friends."

"Well he's going to need a good friend tonight. I suggest you get him home, brew yourself a great big pot of strong coffee, and hope there's a good movie playing on the Late Late Late Late Late Show. Since he's refusing to stay in the hospital, you'll have to sit up all night and make sure he doesn't slip into a coma. He needs to be awakened every half hour without fail. If you can't rouse him, call an ambulance."

 

Midnight at Dave's house . . .

A stiff-walking Hedison made it through the front door under his own steam, but pulled a Dick Van Dyke over the ottoman. (He thought he saw two of them.) The fall, of course, reminded him that he had a broken rib. He hoped Debbie couldn't see the tears in his eyes.

Somehow, the young woman got the injured fellow to his feet again. Huffing and puffing all the way, the 5'7" Catholic camping enthusiast, half carried her 6'2" Armenian dream-boat to the couch. The future nuclear physicist/dental hygienist placed a pillow under Hedison's shock of wavy black hair, took off his size 11 shoes, and covered him with a blanket. Then she indulged herself with a long look at Dave's handsome features. Only trouble was, those handsome features were marred now by pain. The muscles around his closed eyes were tensed. Every few seconds, a suppressed moan escaped his lips.

Better go make that pot of coffee. Can't have Dave slipping into a coma because you're pooped! "Dave?" Debbie whispered gently.

Hedison opened his eyes.

"Which way's your kitchen?"

He pointed behind his head.

"You just take it easy. I'll be right back."

As the girl was passing him, Dave reached out an arm. He grabbed Debbie's hand and spoke in a thin, airy voice: "Debbie, thanks for taking care of me. Don't know what I would have done without you." He smiled weakly.

For the first time in four years, Debbie felt no urge to faint. For suddenly, Dave looked very different to her. He was no longer an unattainable, superhuman superstar; he was a fellow human being in need. "You're welcome, Dave."

"I'm sorry this happened, Debbie. And on our first date, too."

"Don't be silly. It wasn't your fault."

"Oh yes it was. I should never have suggested we turn down that street."

"Water under the bridge, Dave. Just forget it, and try to get some sleep. I'll be waking you in thirty minutes."

"Listen, Debbie, you don't have stay the night. I'll be all right."

"I'm not leaving you alone!"

Dave squeezed the hand he was holding. "Don't worry, honey . . ."

Debbie's heart skipped a beat.

". . . I'll be fine. But before you go, do you think you could you go upstairs and get my alarm clock? I'm due on the set at 8:30."

"Dave, you're not going to work tomorrow." Her tone was firm.

"I have to. This house ain't paid for yet."

Debbie noticed Hedison rubbing his right palm with that family ring he wore on the fourth finger of his left hand. At the studio, he only did that when he was nervous. Maybe he's really scared. For himself? His job? His future? Poor Dave. I thought that since he was a star, he had no worries. Now I realize he's just as fragile as the rest of us.

Sitting down on the couch next to Dave, Debbie began massaging his forehead and temples. She gently ran her fingers through his hair. She continued to caress the area until the lines of anguish disappeared from his face.

Feeling better for the moment, Dave opened his eyes. Debbie's warm smile made his lips turn up at the corners as well. At the studio, she always seemed so diffident; but now, away from the set, Hedison detected a light-hearted playfulness behind all that reserve. He was captivated by it. In Debbie's bright, hazel-green eyes -- or were they brown?!? -- was that keen intelligence Dick spoke of. In the tilt of her head, there was concern and compassion. And there was something else. She was looking at him now in a way she never had before: no longer with obsessive adulation, but rather, with respectful admiration. He was beginning to feel the same way himself. He wanted this woman to know he respected and admired her. But how to put it into words?

Just then, as if she had read Dave's mind, Debbie nodded silently.

Something had changed the way these two viewed each other . . . .

Seconds later, Debbie took Dave's hand between both of her own. "Dave, please be sensible. You need to be off your feet for a few days. A concussion's nothing to fool around with. The doctor said you might have dizzy spells for weeks."

"Doesn't matter, Deb. I have to go to work."

"But Dave --"

"Look, honey, if I don't show up for work tomorrow, Irwin'll give away my lines again. And he's been threatening for months to bring the Mummy back for a visit. That'd be all I need now! I'm light-headed enough as it is."

"How can you go on camera with a bandage over your eye?"

"If we take the bandage off tomorrow, can you cover the cut with make-up?"

"I can try, Sweety, but . . ."

'Sweety'? He liked that! He hoped she'd call him that again.

". . . what about that broken rib? How will you --"

Hedison stopped Debbie's questions by pressing a finger to her lips. "Quit worrying. And that's an order from the Captain, sailor!"

Smiling, but shaking her head, Debbie said, "You're too macho for your own good; you know that don't you, Hedison?"

"So Dick's been telling me."

"Well, he's right."

Moving aside Debbie's bangs with the tips of his fingers, Dave said, "You know what?"

"What?"

"He was right about you, too."

"Oh? What'd he say?"

"That you were swell. And you are -- really swell: getting me to the hospital; paying for the taxi; filling out that police report; making sure I got home all right. And now, on top of all that, you want to give up a whole night's sleep. That's clearly above and beyond the call of duty."

A blushing Debbie replied, "I'm just doing what anyone would do in this situation."

Hedison called to mind other women he'd dated: sophisticated 'Society Sallys' who went out with him not because they cared for him as a person, but simply because they wanted to be seen with a 'star'; and then there were those ambitious starlets whose first thought was not of him, but of what being seen with him could do for their careers. Debbie O'Toole outclassed those shrews by far. They probably would have left him lying on the sidewalk, a bloody, dizzy mess. "I'm not so sure about that."

"Well I am. Now you just rest, Sweety . . ."

Dave grinned. Even though the world's worst headache was crushing his brain, he was happy, because this kind, gracious, beautiful woman had called him 'Sweety'.

Seems he'd been looking for Mrs. Right in all the wrong places.

". . . while I go make myself some black coffee."

"You're really intent on staying, huh?" Hedison stroked the back of Debbie's hand with his thumb.

"I'm afraid you're stuck with me."

"I can think of worse fates." Dave pulled Debbie toward him. He waited for her unspoken consent.

Smiling, Debbie joined her lips to Dave's for a brief second. She knew he was in pain, and couldn't maneuver very well with that broken rib, so she sat up quickly. "Time to go to sleep, Dave. I'll wake you up in half an hour."

"Just make sure you wake me with a kiss."

Petting Dave's hair, she replied, "Is that an order, Captain?"

Dave laughed. "That's an order, O'Toole!"

Debbie saluted. "Aye-aye, Skipper. Now close those eyes!"

"Yes, ma'am." Hedison saluted, too, then did as he was bid. He was in dreamland long before Debbie found the kitchen.

 

She felt a hand shaking her. "Hmmmm?" Eventually, she opened her eyes. "Dave!" Debbie jumped to her feet. She grabbed Hedison's arm. "Are you okay?" she inquired desperately.

"Take it easy! I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" She studied him as though he were a zoo specimen.

"Yes," chuckled Dave.

Debbie O'Toole looked at her watch. It was 7:15! She'd missed the last two wake-up calls! It was a miracle Dave hadn't slipped into a coma! Thank you, Saint Jude! "Boy! Some nurse I am! I can't believe I fell asleep!"

"Don't sweat it, babe."

"Are you really all right, Dave?"

In answer, Hedison took Debbie's chin between his thumb and forefinger, gazed into her gorgeous Irish eyes -- they were green again! -- and kissed her. A heavenly moment later, he stepped back a pace.

Debbie reached up to smooth Dave's hair. "That's a nice way to start the morning."

"Let's start it again," smiled Dave.

Debbie giggled, clasped her hands behind Dave's neck, stood on her tip-toes, and kissed his lips.

Dave swayed. "Uh . . . Debbie . . ."

"Uh-oh." She held his arm. "C'mon, sit down."

For once, Hedison didn't argue.

"I'm calling the doctor," declared Debbie.

"No, don't do that." Hedison settled on the sofa, closed his eyes, and rested his head against the cushion. "Just give me a minute."

Debbie curled up next to him -- and started counting. Sixty endless seconds later, Dave lifted his head again. An anxious Debbie asked, "Are you okay?"

Rubbing his brow, Hedison replied, "I'm okay, Deb."

"Honest?"

"Honest." Meeting the girl's solicitous eyes, Hedison felt tears welling up in his own. "I don't know how to thank you, Debbie, for everything you've done."

"I haven't done anything, Dave."

"Oh yes you have."

Debbie shrugged. "What are friends for?"

He simply couldn't resist that benevolent heart and that adorable expression and those smiling eyes and that sassy short hair-cut. In his effort to put his arms around his honey, Hedison twisted a bit too far. The broken rib sent a shock wave of pain through his nervous system. He winced.

"Oh, Dave," cried a distraught Debbie. "Please tell me you're not going to work today."

"I . . . I can't tell you that." When the pain finally subsided, Hedison let out a breath of relief and opened his eyes again. "Anyway, that's why I woke you. Dick's picking us up in about fifteen minutes. We'll drop you off at home first, then he and I'll head to the studio. You're the one who's not going to work today," Dave said, touching the tip of her nose.

"What are you talking about?"

"Look. You've been up for twenty-four hours. So just go to the phone and call in sick."

"I'll do no such thing. Who'll take care of you at the studio?"

Hedison smiled. "You keep this up, lady, and I'm gonna fall in love with you."

Debbie's grin of delight lit up the room. "I can think of worse fates."

Dave attempted to kiss her again, but the pain in his side prevented him from moving close enough. "When this rib heals, they're gonna have to peel me off you with a crowbar!"

Debbie moved nearer so Dave could kiss her.

He managed a gentle peck on her cheek. "Go on now, honey. Call in sick."

"No."

"Listen, O'Toole. Don't force me to make it an order."

"You ain't the boss o' me, Hedison." Debbie bit her lower lip to hide a telling smile.

Dave squinted his eyes in mock anger. "What is this, Mister, mutiny?"

"Nope. Common sense. You're not fit for duty, Captain. So somebody has to look out for you."

"And you've assigned yourself to the post, eh?"

"That's right. And you better get used to it. 'Cause I can tell you need a lot of looking after."

"You may be right, O'Toole."

"You better get used to that, too, Hedison! I'm always right!"

Pain or no pain, he just had to kiss her. He leaned to his left, and just as he got his lips near hers, the doorbell rang . . .

 

Richard Basehart took one look at his dear, injured confrere and gasped. Over the phone, Dave had played down the seriousness of his condition. He had sounded believable, too. But in person, Hedison was awfully pale; that cut over his eye looked atrocious; and he couldn't quite stand up straight. Despite all that, the man certainly seemed in a pleasant enough humor. Obviously, Dick mused to himself, setting up Dave with Debbie had been a good idea. However, smiling or not, Hedison was in no shape to go anywhere. He ought to have stayed in the hospital. Basehart spent the better part of ten minutes trying to convince his contumacious colleague to stay at home and rest. He used logic, reason, and that authoritative voice of his, all to no avail. Exasperated, Dick threw up his hands. "What am I going to do with you, Dave?"

"Drive me to work like you said you would."

What else could he do with except drive that stubborn young Armenian to the studio! Hopefully, between Debbie and himself, they'd be able to keep Dave out of trouble . . .

 

Debra Kathleen O'Toole achieved a miracle with her make-up kit. She covered that ugly gash over Dave's brow. She even managed to put a healthy glow in his pallid cheeks. But whether the rosy tint was a result of the make-up, or simply due to Debbie's nearness to Dave, Dick wasn't sure. In either case, no one on the set that day had any idea how sick David Hedison really was. And that was the way Hedison wanted it.

He got through the first few hours well enough. But by lunch-time, he was starting to run out of steam. Waves of dizziness had begun to wash over him. When the director yelled "Cut!", after Scene 78, Take 15, Dave grabbed onto the nearest solid object for support. Dick took notice. He was about to call a halt to the proceedings, and spill the beans, when Harry Harris shouted, "Take five, everybody." Camera trouble again. Dave went to his dressing-room to lie down. Basehart followed to ensure Hedison got there all right.

Rubbing his aching forehead, Dave asked, "Where's Debbie?"

Handing over two aspirin and a glass of water, Basehart replied, "I don't know, Dave. I haven't seen her in a while."

"Hmmmm . . ." Hedison swallowed the pills and laid down on his couch.

 

Debbie O'Toole was beside herself in the Ladies Room. In her hands were not one, but two telegrams, offering her prestigious positions in the fields of her choice. And both offers were beckoning her to the East Coast. It's what she'd been dreaming of, waiting for, hoping for, all her life. Only now . . . the timing was . . . terrible! She didn't want to leave Dave. What was she going to do? Should she take that fellowship at Princeton in Nuclear Physics? Become the new Dental Hygienist at the White House? (According to the telegram, President Johnson had a mouthful of cavities!) Or, should she stay at Fox and be a make-up girl for evermore? Have to ask Dave. He'll know what's best.

When Debbie finally wended her way back to the VOYAGE set, Richard Basehart took her aside and gave her the low-down on Dave. He was not in good shape.

Poor Dave. Mustn't do anything to upset him. Guess I'll just keep this to myself a little while longer.

O'Toole knocked on the trailer door and stepped into Hedison's inner sanctum. Just in time, too. His make-up needed re-touching. And he was so weak, he needed loads of TLC. After fifteen minutes of having his head rubbed and his shoulders massaged, Dave declared he was feeling better. He looked it anyway. Good thing, since they were ready for him on the set.

As Dave was closing the door, he thought he saw a tear trickling from the corner of one of Debbie's hazel-green-brown eyes. "Debbie? What's the matter?"

Caught off guard, O'Toole looked up. "Nothing, Dave."

"That better be the truth."

You can't handle the truth! she said in her mind. Out loud, she said with a smile, "Would I lie to you, Captain Crane?"

"Forget that 'Captain Crane' stuff. Are you all right?"

"Relax, Dave, I'm fine."

Unconvinced, Hedison paused a moment. But the assistant director was calling him -- again.

"Go on, Dave. They're waiting for you."

He nodded. Duty called. "I'll be back."

"I'll be here." Debbie blew him a kiss.

Dave caught it and brought it to his lips. Then he was gone -- for hours.

 

During that time, Debbie made a few calls. Princeton had to have an answer that day. If she said yes, there was a ticket waiting for her at Los Angeles International Airport. The flight was leaving at 4 p.m. She mustn't delay. Same deal with the White House. Seems Ladybird Johnson needed a crown replaced, pronto. When it rains, it pours!

Finally, Dave returned. Debbie laid the facts on the table for him.

Hedison was shocked and unprepared, to say the least. He practically fell into a chair.

"I'm sorry, Dave. I know you don't feel well, but I have to let them know right away what my decision is. You'll have to tell me what to do, because I can't think anymore."

So Dave started cogitating. Hmmmm . . . Yesterday I would have said, 'Stay here and take care of me, Debbie.' But today, somehow, I can't do that. I've got to put Debbie's needs before my own. Hedison mustered his mettle and asked Debbie to tell him her dream.

The girl admitted she had always dug plutonium, and had always had a hankerin' to go camping inside the core of a nuclear reactor.

There was the answer then, plain as day. In short, a heartbroken Dave said, "Then you've got to 'climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow, till . . . you . . . find . . . your . . . dream.'"

"But Dave, what about --"

"'We'll always have Paris.'"

"I think you're getting your movies mixed up."

"All I know is, 'life is a cabaret, old chum . . .'"

"What does that mean, Dave?"

"It means . . . 'may your days be merry and bright . . . and may all your Christmases . . . be white.'"

"Oh, Dave! Why did this have to happen now, just when we were getting to know each other? It's not fair!"

"Don't worry, Deb. 'We'll meet again . . . don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day . . .'"

"Well, until then, I'll 'keep smiling through, just like I always do . . .'"

"That's my girl. Maybe . . . maybe you'll come see me in a play someday, hm?" Hedison smiled. "Maybe thirty years from now," he teased, "when both of us are married to other people."

Thirty years . . . It was hard to imagine what life would be like in thirty years. Debbie returned Hedison's smile. "Maybe I will, Dave -- come see you in that play."

"I'd like that. Be sure you come backstage and say hello."

"I will." For the last time, Debbie O'Toole ran her fingers through Dave's hair. After fifty takes of that falling rock scene, it was a mess. Dave still needed a lot of looking after, but now that job would be going to someone else. Take good care of him, Mrs. Hedison -- whoever you turn out to be. Trying to hold onto her composure, Debbie swallowed the mountainous lump in her throat. Gazing into Dave's hazel eyes -- from which tears were about to spill -- Debbie made an effort to lighten the moment. "Hey, Dave, suppose when I come backstage in thirty years, you're still as good-looking as ever, and I pass out on your shoes?"

Hedison laughed. "Well . . . we'll just follow standard procedure: I'll pat your hand, get you a drink of water, and give you an autographed picture -- for free! How's that sound?"

Stroking Dave's cheek, Debbie said, "Sounds like you'll always be a gentleman."

Hedison brought Debbie's hand to his lips and kissed it. "I'll do my best to live up to that prognostication."

"I know you will, Dave."

After an eternal pause, David Hedison pulled Debbie to him for a final embrace.

Surrounded by Dave's strong arms, her head buried in his broad chest, Debbie whispered, "Bye, Sweety."

Hedison kissed the top of her head and whispered back, "Bye, honey. Don't forget me."

Debbie the make-up girl stepped back and peered at this most handsome of men. "Is that an order, Captain?"

Dave put his hands on his hips, and did his best to look stern. "That's an order, Mister!"

"Aye-aye, Skipper," she replied saluting.

Neither one could stop the tears.

"See ya in thirty years, O'Toole," winked Dave.

That wink gave Debbie the strength to smile. "It's a date, Hedison," she replied through quivering lips. Then, without looking back, Debbie turned on her heel and left the sound stage. Soon after, she exited the Twentieth Century-Fox gate, and began the journey to her new life . . . .

A minute later, David Hedison was still staring at the open sound stage door. He wanted desperately to follow after Debbie and let the rest of the world go by. But the rest of the world wasn't going to let him do that. It was closing in on him; intruding upon his thoughts; calling his name . . .

"Phone for you, Mr. Hedison," said the young gopher assigned to the VOYAGE set.

"What did you say?" Dave responded without expression; without taking his eyes from the door.

"I said there's a call for you. It's your agent."

His thumbs hooked in his pockets, his head bowed, Dave walked over to the nearest phone. "Hello?" he said dejectedly into the receiver.

"Dave! Baby! Have I got an offer for you!"

Hedison sighed. "What is it?"

"Paramount wants you for the lead in a new sitcom!"

"A comedy? After all this drama, my career sure could do with a little humor."

"It sure could. And I made 'em promise you won't have to put out any fires, crawl through any air ducts, or get taken over by any aliens."

"And I don't wanna get wet anymore, either. I've been underwater so long, I'm startin' to look like a prune."

"Don't worry, Dave. On this show, you'll be tight 'n' dry."

"What's it about?"

"It's the story of a man named Brady."

"Hmmmm . . . Sounds interesting. What's his M-O? Is he a spy? Does he work for ONI?"

"No. He's an architect who's busy with three boys of his own. Then, one day, the fella meets this lady, who's bringing up three very lovely girls, and they get hitched. So then ya have six kids!"

A red-alert klaxon began clanging in Hedison's bachelor brain. "Uh, how old are these kids?"

"They range in age from fourteen, all the way down to five."

"BABY-BOOMERS?!?! Forget it! I'll take my chances in Europe with the paparazzi."

"But Dave, the youngest one's in curls!"

"I don't care if she's Shirley Temple! I ain't touchin' that show with a ten-foot pole. Sounds like a real bomb, anyway. Probably be off the air in six months."

"I don't know. Somethin' tells me the Bradys'll be around for a looooong time."

"Well they can just 'be around' without ME!"

"Why don't you reconsider? They have a real catchy theme song."

"I said, no."

"But Dave -- "

"Look, I'd sooner be stranded on 'Gilligan's Island', get run over by 'My Mother the Car', and/or have my head examined by 'Ben Casey'!"

"But I already told 'em you'd do the Pilot."

"Well just call 'em back and tell 'em the deal's off. Have you heard from the Bond people yet?"

"Yeah. They've decided to go another way. They picked somebody else to play Felix Leiter."

"Darn."

"Don't worry. There's always next time. I'll keep pluggin'."

"Dave? Dick?" called the assistant director. "We need you. Scene 80 is lit and ready to roll."

David Hedison said 'so long' to his agent, hung up the phone, and stepped over to his mark on the floor.

Richard Basehart was already standing at his. Eyeing his friend with concern, he said quietly, "Are you all right, Dave?"

Hedison nodded, but he wasn't all right.

Harry Harris was just about to call "Action!" when Irwin Allen spoke up: "Just a minute, Harry."

Tapping his foot, Harris groaned, "What is it now, Irwin?"

"This is supposed to be a happy scene. Crane's goin' home to Earth, for cryin' out loud. He oughta be thrilled! Why does he look like he's lost his best friend?"

"Dave," pleaded Harris, "look happy, okay?" Harris pointed surreptitiously at Allen.

Hedison glared at the creator of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

"Why so grim, Dave?" pushed Allen. "Captain Crane should be thinking about his exciting encounter with the Venusian creatures and --"

"Come off it, Irwin. They're frogs."

"Frogs, Hedison? FROGS!!! For your information, Mr. Sarcastic, they're semi-sentient beings from Centaur: the paranoid planet of active amphibians."

"Yeah. Right. Whatever you say, Irwin." Hedison massaged his throbbing temples. "Let's just finish up this scene so I can get the heck outa here. I have a headache like you wouldn't believe!"

"Oh? And why is that, Mr. Hollywood Heart Throb, Mr. Most Eligible Bachelor of the Decade? D'ya have a hot date last night with some little chicky-poo from Central Casting and stay up past your bedtime?"

"Uh-oh," mumbled Richard Basehart.

"You better shut up, Irwin," warned Hedison. "I'm in no mood for your mouth today."

"How dare you tell me to shut up! Just who do you think you're talkin' to, Hedison?"

Suddenly furious, Hedison roared, "Who do I think I'm talkin' to! I'll show you, you fat-headed, bombastic, royal-pain-in-the-neck, executive producer from hell! Get back here, Irwin! When I get my hands on you, I'm gonna stick some stock footage where the sun don't shine! And after that . . ."

While Hedison chased Speedy Gonzalez Allen all around the Twentieth Century-Fox lot, Richard Basehart flopped into a chair, ran a hand through his graying red hair, and sighed: "I shoulda stayed in Ohio!"

THE END


Copyright 1997 Alison Passarelli


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