A Model For The Future

Stephanie Kellerman

Harry drove east towards the mountains.  He wanted to get away from his beloved ocean.  He had to get away.  After his CFO, Margaret Miles, had told him the bad news about his major supplier he didn't know what he would do.  She was astonished when she heard the news.  She knew how hard Harry would take it so she had rolled her wheelchair out from behind her desk so she could be near him when she told him the bad news. The company had been caught taking kickbacks. That had been the latest news to hit him.  Before that he had found out that another supplier had been cutting back corners and the quality of their materials left a lot to be desired.  It didn't help that the market had fallen and his personal fortune seemed about to disappear. He had to figure out what to do.  Here it was...the Christmas season and he may have to close the Institute, at least temporarily, until things got straightened out.  What would those employees who had families do?  He knew he would give them whatever they needed as long as he had it to give.

Harry continued to drive and hit the mountains just as it started to snow.  He didn't really have a destination in mind.  Just away.. away to clear his mind and come up with a plan. What plan, he didn't know. The snow was coming down harder now and he realized he didn't know where he was. Driving was becoming treacherous now. He wondered how long he had been driving.  He now regretted the total concentration he had given to his problem.  He now had another problem.  There was no way to turn around and he wasn't sure if driving forward would gain him anything.  He eased back on the gas pedal and slowly drove through the blinding snow.  He couldn't see more than a couple feet in front of his car.  He decided he had better stop while he was still in one piece.  

That decision came a fraction too late.  Harry found himself plummeting down the side of a very steep hill.  He held onto the steering wheel for dear life, his knuckles turning white from the strain.  He was glad that he had thought to fasten his seat belt. The car hit a boulder and the last thing he remembered was that at least no one else was in the car with him.

He woke up later and thought about trying to get out of the car.  Once he tried moving, though, he realized he was stuck and couldn't move. That on top of the fact blood was dripping down his face from a cut somewhere, he felt like his left arm was broken and his legs felt numb.  Where is that blasted phone?  Harry thought he had put it in the seat next to him, but it wasn't there.  It probably went flying. No telling where that thing is!  He tried feeling around on the floor for the phone but gasped in pain as he stretched just a bit too far.  Damn! Harry blacked out from the pain and slumped forward.

Darkness faded to gray. He felt warm and dry. He wasn't able to move his left arm, but with his right hand felt the  bandage on his head.  He also realized that his clothes were missing.  His benefactor, whoever that was, had removed them, undoubtedly because they were probably soaking wet. Harry was afraid to open his eyes, but heard a noise near by.  It sounded like someone was singing.  Listening he realized there was a woman's voice singing and the noise was getting louder.  Harry slowly opened his eyes and found a older gray haired lady smiling down at him.  She quit singing when she  realized he was looking at her.

"Well. well. It's  about time you woke up.  How are you feeling?  My name is Margaret."

"I'm, uh...Harry. Harry Nelson.  Fine, I guess."  Harry pulled himself up into a sitting position and looked around  the room he was in.  It was sparse.  He was in a single bed and the room had one dresser and a chair. There was an oval braided rug in the center of the room.  "Where am I?  And how did you get me out of my car?"

"Oh,  I did just fine, thank you. We aren't too far from your car. You are in my humble little house high up in the mountains.  I normally don't get callers...unless they are lost.  Are you lost?"

"I don't know.  I guess that depends on where I am, doesn't it?"  Harry grinned as the wizened old lady smiled at him. "I was just driving.  I had to do some thinking and didn't pay attention to how far or where I had actually driven."

"Well, it looks like you are going to be here awhile.  You have a broken arm, and from your eyes, probably a concussion.  How are your legs?  You haven't actually moved them since I put you to bed."

Harry then realized that he hadn't thought about his legs. He looked down at the blanket that covered his legs.  He tried to move them but without success.  That is when he realized he felt a numbness in his lower back. Harry shook his head as he looked up at his benefactor.   

"I can't move them.  The only thing I feel is a numbness in my lower back." Looking around Harry didn't notice any phone in the room he was in.  "Do you have a phone? I can call and have someone here soon after you tell me where we are."

"I'm sorry.  I don't have a phone.  I just never had the desire to have something disrupting my life every time I turned around.  If I need one I usually walk over to the next hill where my son, his wife and two children live.  That isn't going to be possible right now, though.  Not in this storm."

Harry was at a loss.  How was he going to get out of here?  What is going to happen to his legs if he didn't get treatment right away?

He then thought of his cell phone.  "Did you find a cell phone in the car?  It probably would have been on the floor."

"Let me get your things.  Maybe what you need is among them." With that Margaret left the room and soon returned with some items.  

Harry sighed with relief when he spied his cell phone among the things Margaret handed him.  Turning it on he realized it wasn't getting a signal.  He guessed he was either too far from a tower or the storm was causing havoc with the circuits.  He figured he would try later.

"What's the matter, doesn't it work?  How that thing would work without wires I don't know.  Of course I don't know much about  newfangled gadgets."

"Well, it should work.  Maybe I we are too far away."

"Why don't you quit worrying about that now and eat something.  I have been cooking and I can get you a nice big bowl of vegetable soup.  I'll be back in a minute."

Harry took a deep breath and smelled the cooking food for the first time. He then realized that he definitely was hungry.

Soon Margaret reappeared with a couple bowls of soup. After handing Harry his bowl, which he promptly steadied in his lap, she pulled up the lone chair. "If you don't mind I will sit here and keep you company.  I don't have a lot of people dropping in the way you did. "

"No, no!  I don't mind at all.  I am just glad that there was someone around.  I know my mind sure wasn't when it should have been.  If I had been paying attention I wouldn't be here now."

Silence then prevailed as the two ate in companionable silence.  Harry stared out the window and watched as the snow continued to fall and realized it was getting dark.  He knew he probably wasn't getting out of here any time soon.  He hoped that because of the storm, the Institute personnel knew to start looking for him after a couple of days of no communication. If anyone started looking for him, Lee would be.  Of course since he didn't tell anyone how long he would be gone he wondered how long it would take before they decided he was really missing and not just wanting to be left alone.

"Are you done?  Let me take your bowl."  Margaret noticed that Harry was looking at the window. "It's getting dark.  Why don't you get a good night's sleep.  Tomorrow is another day and we will worry about the weather......and your legs then."  She hesitated then smiled.  I'll also get you some dry warm clothes.

Harry's face turned red at the comment  about the clothes, then smiled. "Agreed.  And thanks again."

Margaret took the bowl, pulled on the cord to turn out the light in the center of the ceiling and left the room, closing the door behind her.

Realizing he couldn't do anything until the morning, Harry pulled the thick quilt up under his chin.  Noticing the smells coming from the old quilt brought back memories of his childhood when he had a similar quilt.  Harry smiled  and soon drifted  off to sleep.  

The next morning the smell of fresh perked coffee woke him.  He opened his eyes and was taken back by the ancient wheel chair sitting next to his bed.  Wonder where she got that?  He the looked down at his legs and realized that the numbness was gone in his back, but he still was unable to move his legs.  He wondered if he would be able to get himself into the wheel chair.  He hoped with Margaret's help that he could.  He didn't feel like spending his entire stay in that bed.

Margaret entered the room and threw some clothes at Harry.  "Good morning.  How are you feeling? The pants might be a little long, but the shirt ought to fit okay. "

Harry put the clothes on and Margaret was able to help him get into the wheelchair.  She wheeled him into the other room and they sat by the fire.  She gave him a couple books to read to help pass the time while she did a few chores.  That evening she helped him get back into bed.  A few days passed with the same routine. Margaret would always help him get into the wheel chair and he would spend time reading while she did chores.  They did talk and she did seem to enjoy listening to him read Shakespeare, but he was getting impatient.  His phone would not work and he was still unable to move his legs.  He seemed to get some feeling back, but movement was still impossible even though he tried day after day.  And he needed to get back to the Institute for more reasons than just his legs.  

Margaret turned on the radio a few times to see if she could get anything , but for the most part all they heard was static...until that fateful day that he heard the one phrase that caused him to give up hope.  A stock market crash.  If the market had crashed then there would be nothing left.  He tried to get the old radio to work again, so he could get updates, but it had died. He didn't feel like trying to walk anymore.  What was the use?  

A couple days later, the snow had stopped. Harry was sitting in the living room next to a roaring fire reading when he heard a quick knock at the door which then opened. A young boy darted in and almost ran into the wheelchair.  A man followed, carrying a small girl, a woman not far behind.  The man put the girl down on the couch then sat down next to her.  The woman then sat down on the other side of the young girl.

"Who are you?'  The boy asked as he disappeared into the kitchen.  "Gramma!  Who is the man in Granpa's wheelchair?"  

"Well you sure are peppy today, John.  Are your parents in the other room?"

"Of course, Gramma!  I wouldn't come here by myself!"

Margaret walked into the living room and found Harry getting acquainted with her son's family.  Harry had introduced himself and found out that Margaret's son's name was William, his wife was Mary, the boy was William Jr and the girl had been named after her grandmother and thus was also named Margaret.  He had hoped that they could call the Institute for him, but was disappointed when he found out their phone was out due to the storm.

Harry soon learned that the reason that William had to carry Margaret into the house was that she was unable to walk.  They were soon talking to each other and Harry told her that even though she was unable to walk that she still would have the world open to her and not let her disability hold her back.  He mentioned that he had a friend, also named Margaret, who could not walk, but was in charge of his money at his company.  He hoped that would help.  He hoped that he could hide his own despair over the thought the Institute could possibly close and  not being able to walk again.  He  worried about the people at the Institute and what they would do if the Institute had to shut down. She did seem to realize how he was feeling, though.  She put her hand on his shoulder and smiled.  

"You can do anything too.  You can't walk, but I know you can do what you want to, too."

Out of the mouth of babes!  She was right. He wasn't about to give up.  He would find a way to get back to the institute and get things back on track...whether he could walk or not.  He then would make sure that the girl would get all the help she needed to give her a chance to walk so she could do whatever she wanted.

The family came over quite often and they became good friends.  William Jr and little Margaret would sit with him while he spun his tales of the ocean.  Before he knew it Christmas was upon them and Harry wanted to give the children something.  He got Margaret to find him a good piece of wood and he whittled models of the Seaview for them.  He wondered if a model of the Seaview would be the only thing he would have left when he got back.  Christmas came and went and time passed. They were still pretty much snowed in and he wondered if he would ever leave.  This place was starting to feel like home he had been there so long.

One morning, Harry awoke as usual and  turned over.  Before he realized what he had done, he had moved his legs to straighten out the covers.  Soon he was able to get up out of the wheelchair.  He was very stiff and could only shuffle, but that was a start.  He at least hoped he could soon start pulling his weight and help Margaret a little.  He really felt bad that she was doing all the work.

One afternoon Margaret went outside to go get some wood for the fire. She didn't return.  Moving very slowly he put on an old coat he found in the living room closet and went to look for her. He soon got lost and hit his head when he slipped on some ice.

When Harry came to he realized he was close to his car.  He looked around startled when he hears a familiar voice.  It was Lee calling and he had some of the crew with him.  He didn't think he had ever felt as relieved.

"Admiral!  Admiral!"  Lee rushed up to Harry and covered him with a large overcoat.  Lee was never so happy to see someone in his life.  "I didn't think we would ever find you in this storm."

"Lee!  You found me!  Look we need to find Margaret!  You need to help me!"

"Who's Margaret, Admiral"?

She found me and helped me.  I was staying at her cabin.  She left to get some wood and I haven't been able to find her."

Against their better judgement, Lee and the crew followed Harry through the snow. Soon they came up on a cabin, but by the looks, it hasn't been used for years.  

"This is it!  This has to be it! I know it was it!  I was here for weeks!  She took care of me.  Her son, daughter in law and children came over and visited! What's going on?"

"Admiral, you've only been gone for two days.  You haven't been gone for several days, much less weeks.  If you had you would probably be dead by now."

Harry then looked around and realized that he was back in the uniform that he hadn't worn in days.  His left arm hurt, but definitely wasn't broken. What's going on? They only thing they found in the cabin was a wood carving of what they didn't know as it had long ago rotted.

Resigned to the fact that everything he had gone through seemed to be a dream he returned  to the car with Lee and they drove back to the Institute. As they drove back Lee updated him with the latest news about the suppliers. They had found out that the kickbacks that the supplier was supposed to have been taking was just a rumor that a rival company had started.  They also had found another supplier. It was then that Harry realized that the stock market hadn't crashed.   NIMR would not have to shut down and everyone's Christmas would be saved as all the Institute personnel would still have jobs.

Realizing he was back home with his friends his spirits soared,  and he threw a very big Christmas party.  During the party Harry spied Margaret Miles. There was something he just had to tell her.  He walked over and told her that he wanted to talk to her later.  

The next day Harry went to Margaret's office and began spinning a tale about his dream. He told Margaret about the cabin in the woods, the little girl , Margaret, and how he had, at first told her she could do whatever she wanted. In return the little girl had felt his despair  and had bolstered his spirits about what the future could hold for him.

"I didn't think I was ever going to leave that place.  I felt like that was going to become my home.  I had gotten close to the boy and the girl.  I even whittled a couple of models of the Seaview for them as Christmas presents.  It was so real.  I still have trouble dealing with the fact that it was all a dream."

Margaret opened up a drawer and took something out of it.  She handed it to Harry.  "Do you mean this?"

Harry was astonished as he held the model, turning it in his hands. Could it be?  

"When I was little, I used to go to my grandmother's house over on the next hill.  Her name was Margaret also.  I met this man in a wheel chair.  It was my grandfather's wheel chair.  He told me pirate tales and most importantly about the wonders of the ocean. The man had been in a car accident and couldn't walk.  He seemed so sad because he didn't know how he was going to cope.  He didn't tell me that, I just could feel it.  He had told me that I could do whatever I put my mind to.  I remember telling him to do the same. I don't know if it helped, but after that he seemed to get better.

When I first heard about your sub and saw a picture of it, I knew where I belonged.  I had to work for the man that had a dream and was able to, against all odds, do what he wanted and against all logic, was apparently the same man who gave me the strength to do what I wanted... and also once carved a sub for me."




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