“Goddamn. What now?” LCDR Curly Norton watched his paging code blinking. He picked the phone up from his desk. “The ER?” Norton pressed the button to disconnect from the operator. “Oh God, now they’re paging CDR Friendly,” Norton shuddered. Every time they paged the MOOD, a page for security was not far behind.
“ER, Corpswave Gassly.”
“Commander Norton–you paged me?” He gave her his “this better be important” tone.
“Yessir. We have an incident here and need you right away.”
“What kind of incident?”
“Well, sir, there are actually two situations needing your urgent attention.”
“Two? Who’s the medical officer in charge there? Let me speak to someone of authority.”
“Yessir. Here’s Dr. Norman.”
“Curly, we have two things I need you for. One is that Santa Claus is drunk and needs containment. We don’t want media exposure.”
“That’s easy. What’s the other problem?”
“The Press lady somehow aspirated snow into her lungs at the helo-LZ when Santa came in. She’s in the stall next to him.”
“Next to him? Christ, I hope she doesn’t pick up on this.”
“Too late Curly. Sergeant Santa puked his booze-and-breakfast all over her. Come on up. I also called the MOOD. We may have to notify the Exec.”
“I’ll be right over.” Norton slammed the phone down and shouted, “Fuck-Shit-Damn. Pinino, we’re going to the ER. Bring your clipboard.”
LT Angelo Pinino didn’t question his superior. He grabbed the clipboard and followed like a newborn deer.
“I agree that Thornbush will be okay. What did you have in mind for Santa?” MOOD CDR Ransom Friendly shot a grin at Norman.
“LT Zettler has already run his Santa suit through the Laundry off F-2. We need another Santa and fast.”
“Who do you have in mind?” Friendly was wary now.
“Relax. Here he comes now.”
“All right Doctors, give me a quick briefing.” Norton with his beer belly and plethoric body habitus looked from one Medical Officer to the other.”
Pinino went over to Zettler to document each incident.
“You better start with the Press lady. I think Norton is going to be busy with Santa for a few minutes.” Zettler motioned for him to follow her.
“Hello Miss Thornbush.” Pinino watched the patient puffing on the Byrd machine while at the same time brushing out the particulate matter from her hair. Huxley motioned for Thornbush not to speak until the treatment was over. She looked at them with raised eyebrows but did not remove the mouthpiece.
“I’ll leave you alone until Dr. Norman comes back to listen to your chest.” Zettler left.
“You’re done Ms. Thornbush. Take three long slow deep breaths in and out.” Huxley received the mouthpiece attached to the green corrugated Bird tubing from Thornbush.
“Oh, God. That’s much better. The cough is almost gone. I can breathe. Thank you so much.”
“I have to give you another treatment in 10-minutes and then Dr. Norman will be back.” Huxley left.
“Ms. Thornbush, remember me–LT Pinino from Security.”
“Yes. You’re seeing me at my worst. I’m so embarrassed.” She sent out magnetic waves to Pinino’s gaze.
“Oh… um. You look better than okay. I have to ask you what happened.”
“Okay. Can you tell me about Santa? He got sick after he stepped from the helicopter.” She laid her hand on his.
“All right but I haven’t seen him yet.”
“I just need to sit up straighter. Can you help me, please?” She purred.
Pinino put his right hand on her left shoulder and helped her to a full sitting position. As soon as his hand left her shoulder, Thornbush gave an unseen tug on the hem of her Johnny and it dropped from her shoulders to her lap.
“Oh. I’m so sorry. Please let me get you covered.” Pinino was stunned at the sudden exposure of Thornbush’s succulent breasts. His face became crimson.
“Forget it. Accidents happen.” She very slowly raised the Johnny to her shoulders. “Can you tie me up in the back?” She stared at Pinino’s crotch. “LT Pinino I would really appreciate it–I mean really–if you could find out what happened to the Navy Santa. In my condition and dress I can’t really go over there.”
Pinino found the back of his right hand now covered by her warm hand, which gave a slight squeeze to punctuate the reporter’s question.
“Yes, ma’am. I have to go over there next and write up the incident for the security report.” He started to leave but Thornbush clung to the back of his hand.
“Please come back–and don’t call me ‘ma’am’. My name is Thule like in ‘tool’ with a ‘Y’ on the end.” She gave his hand another squeeze and clutched her Johnny to accentuate her soft bust line.
“You can count on it Thule.” Pinino’s blush was gone but he had to adjust his pants before he left the drawn curtained area.
“LT I need a friend in this hospital. What’s your first name?” Her voice was like velvet.
“Angelo. My friends call me Angie.”
“Angie–please come back.”
“Most definitely Thule.”
Pinino approached the curtained Santa cubicle. Dr. Friendly and Dr. Norman were in serious conversation with Norton. The curtain was still drawn around Santa and there were muffled voices and some physical jostling going on around the gurney.
“Gassly, I got his right arm and leg secured with the restraints. Hold his other side down and I’ll attach the right wrist strap.” Zettler was small-framed but she was strong. Together, they applied and secured the restraints. “Stay here. Dr. Norman ordered 50mg of Thorazine to sedate him. I’ll be right back with it.” She pushed aside the curtain and brushed by Norman, Friendly and Norton.
“You have to do it Curly. It’s a Navy tradition.” Friendly continued his appeal to Norton. “You owe it to the Navy. One little pillow and this phony beard and you’ll be perfect.”
“Ridiculous, I have a security job to supervise.”
“What better way to do it for another hour or two than in disguise as Santa Claus.”
“That drunken Santa threw up over everything, for God’s sake.”
“The ER Duty Crew washed everything and dried it in the sterilizer. The clothes and the beard are ready now. I don’t want to call Captain Fascetta on this.” Friendly maintained eye contact with Norton.
That stopped further resistance. They had their Santa. Norton stepped aside and motioned for a private conference with Pinino.
“Santa’s falling down drunk and I have to sub for him. Any remarks by you or anyone else making light of this situation will regret it. You got that Pinino?”
“Yes, sir.” Pinino restrained the urge to laugh and suppressed a smile.
“Officially, I’ll be undercover as Santa–got that?”
Norton went into the supply closet to change into the Santa suit and beard. When he emerged, he truly looked better than any department store Santa. He still had the military walk but other than that he exuded the physical stature and aura of Santa Claus.
Norman, Norton, Friendly, Gassly, Zettler and Pinino applauded his new identity.
“HO, HO-friggin-HO,” was all Norton could say. Despite the sarcasm, the group detected a slight grin with the expletive.
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