Dreams of the Dreamweaver
He sat staring out the huge window, watching intently as the waves pounded the shore below. He was fascinated by the intensity of the storm as it beat against the sturdy old house.
The house was hidden within the dunes of this part the island, protected from the elements by nature itself. The broad windows that looked out on the ocean had been there for decades, withstanding nature’s force, never yielding. He sat, trying to imagine what it would be like to be under those waves, with windows as broad as these allowing him to see the wonder of the unexplored depths. He put down the book he’d been reading, allowing the words of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Sea to take his already fertile imagination, and weave that fanciful, recurrent image of a sleek and graceful submarine with a bow that was transparent.
He sighed, rose and shoved his hands deeply into his pockets. He paced, then stopped and looked around the room, remembering the times he had spent here with his tutor. He was home, on his first leave from the Academy, for Thanksgiving. He was relieved and trying to relax, just a bit, before getting back into the pressure cooker of Plebe year for a midshipman. The family had come to this vacation retreat, on the Cape, to give him some space and privacy, something they knew he needed. He was delighted to be with his parents, and his baby sister. He knew he had saddened his father by choosing not to follow him in the family business, but his father had accepted his decision for the Academy, and set about putting things in place, just in case he changed his mind. But Harry knew from the outset, that the Academy and the Navy held the future for his dreams.
He had read 20,000 Leagues at least a hundred times since he discovered it at six. Each time he re-read it, the visions came like gangbusters, clearer and clearer, until last year, the last time he had been at this house, when he had begun to sketch his idea on paper. It was still rough, and still had a long way to go, but it was, at last, a beginning. He pulled the sketches out of the back of the book, and going to the desk, carefully unfolded them.
He sighed, and shook his head. He would have to find out a way to do those ‘windows’ in the bow. He looked out again, taking in the size and dimensions of the windows. He left the desk, and went to the window, touching the large pane, feeling the cold, and watching the wet. He knew that the stress on it in the midst of the storm, had to be enormous, and he mentally calculated the forces working on the window. There had to be a way to get windows on a sub!! He decided, then and there, that that would be one of the areas of research he’d pursue, once he graduated. He would build a boat with windows, better than Captain Nemo’s and much better than anything before.
He knew he could! He sighed. But tomorrow, it was back to reality at the Naval Academy, back to being the lowest of the low, the bottom rung in the Brigade of Midshipmen. He sighed again. The firstie in charge of his company was a decent sort. But there were a few others in the First Class that were making his life ‘difficult’ to say the least. If not for one of his four roommates, Jiggs Starke, it would be a lot more difficult. At least Jiggs, after their initial confrontation, had befriended him, and they had become allies against the ‘indoctrination’ of the Plebes, at least as much as they could. He sighed again, one of the firsties, Joel McKenna, promised to be a real problem for the rest of the year. But, he would deal with that. Just because he was small didn’t mean he couldn’t take care of himself. McKenna was the last in his class. Harry was the first in his, his academic mind thriving in the challenges. That was one of the reasons McKenna hated him so much. Because he was smarter at seventeen than McKenna would ever be at any age. Harry sighed again. Seemed like he was going to have to deal with the bully at some point, and he hoped that he and Jiggs could do it the ‘right’ way, without hurting anyone, but resolving the problem.
He went back to the desk, and carefully tucked the drawings away. He would show his father when they were better than the rough draft in front of him. He wanted to share his dream. Somehow he knew Patrick Nelson would understand. He smiled to himself, and turned to leave the library, hearing the sounds of his parents and sister in the hall. Dinner was being served, he thought as he looked at his watch. While food for the Middies was good at the Academy, Plebes had little opportunity to eat, even at mealtime. He shook his head again. He would make up for it, when he was a youngster. Then he would be able to enjoy his food again. He smiled as he walked down the hall to the dining room, dreams of a boat with ‘windows’ still rolling around in his head.
Memories of the Dreamweaver
Admiral Harriman Nelson sat silently on his ‘front porch’, watching the movement of the water as his boat, his beloved Seaview, slid through the waters of the Pacific off the Hawaiian Islands. She was making her way ‘home’ to Santa Barbara, another mission under her belt, preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. Harry shook his head, grateful for the thought of family waiting for him at home, his wife, Karen and son, Sean, as well as his extended family of Cranes, Mortons and all the rest. He remembered both the good and the bad of Thanksgivings long past… he couldn’t help it, the memories came unbounded at this time of the year.
Patrick Nelson looked at the diagrams that his son had spread out in front of him. Harry was so much more sure of himself after two years at Annapolis. He had always been feisty, especially when he had been in the private school in Boston, the smallest and youngest in his class, frequently the butt of torment by the bullies of the school, because he was brighter, faster and more liked than the others. He had held his own against them, until Patrick and Bridget had decided to keep him home with a private tutor, to give him all the advantages in travel and learning that their money could give him and open his young and very eager, brilliant mind to all the world had to offer.
Patrick had hoped that Harry would follow him into the family business of banking and securities, but early in his only son’s life, Patrick had seen the wanderlust and desire to know it all in his son, knowing from that time that Harriman Nelson would follow his own path, and not be influenced by others.
Follow his own path he did, scoring perfect scores on the SATs, getting the appointment to Annapolis and leading the way in his class, even in his plebe year, as a 16-year-old Midshipman. Patrick had also known that Harry had dreams of great things. He sat at his desk in the house in Boston, looking at the design of one of those dreams…
“Harry, this is an unbelievable creation.” He smiled at his son, “The question is, can it work?”
“Yes, sir, I think so. I’ve spent some of my free time
this semester in the Physics labs, working with the techs and the
researchers. I’ve done some preliminary work on a substance for the ‘windows’.
One of the guys suggested I call it ‘Herculite’ after Hercules, and you know, I think I
will. I’ve filed the preliminary patent papers on it with the Patent Office.
It's got a long way to go,
but I think it's going to be what I need. It'll take a long time, and
she’s far from even getting specs and precise blueprints, but I wanted to show
you… she’s my dream.”
Patrick looked at the glow in his son’s eyes, as he showed his father the uniqueness of his yet unfulfilled creation. Patrick smiled. He was, as always, proud of his son. Admittedly, his brothers, both of them, were stodgy and old-fashioned, forcing their sons into the ‘business’ without any consideration of the young men’s desires. Thank God he and Bridget had seen those desires in the early years of Harry’s life and vowed not to force him to be anything less than he wanted to be. It was proving to be a wise choice. Patrick was also glad he’d put things into place in case something happened, and Harry was left without his parents and was faced with Edie to care for.
His lawyers and bankers had just finalized everything. If he and Bridget were to die tomorrow, Harry would be able to finish the Academy and live the life he chose, without worrying about the loss of his personal freedom. They had also made Harry Edie’s guardian in such a situation, yet made arrangements for her care. For some reason, Patrick had a premonition, a year ago, Thanksgiving, during the storm, and he had made haste to get everything in place, correctly, soon after. He was going to show Harry the documents tonight, and than Harry had surprised with the drawings of his dream…Patrick decided the papers could wait. His son’s dream boat was far more important to him. Far more important.
He looked into his son’s eyes, “Tell me about her, son.”
Harry glowed with pride as he began to explain his dream. He pointed out particulars in every part of the sketches, told his father about every nook and cranny of his boat and after an hour, smiled at his father.
“That’s it, Dad. Like I said, a long way to go, decades,
actually. Almost six years to build and that’s only when everything else is in
“And what place is that, Harry? What do you want to do with her? Your own personal Navy? Part of the US Navy? What? And How?”
If anyone else had asked Harriman Nelson those questions, he would have, at his young age, thought they were being combative and confrontational. He had seen a lot of that in the last two years at Annapolis. He knew he had a reputation of being something of a geek, something of a bookish sort. He wasn’t an athlete, but he could hold his own in track and boxing, being called ‘scrappy’ by the coach of the boxing team.
The questions as his father asked them were from interest and curiosity, and Harry heard that in his father’s voice, and saw it in his eyes. His father wanted to know all about all his plans. He had his support, and that meant more to young Harriman Nelson than anything in the world.
He cleared his throat, “Well, at some point, after I
leave the Navy, of course, I’d like to do research, and she’d be a great boat to
do it in. There’s nothing like her anywhere today.”
Patrick nodded, “That I can believe… those windows…I don’t know how, but I’m sure you’re going to do that… nothing like that anywhere. Anywhere at all…” He looked into his son’s clear blue eyes, “I can’t wait til the day you lay her keel, or the day that you launch her. I’ll be there with you, your mom and I!”
Harry laughed again, “Well, it's gonna be a long, long time, Dad. You and Mom are going to have to be around for a long time.”
Patrick rose from the desk, clapping his son’s back with his large hand, “Well, I plan to be there, son. It will be quite a day!”
Harriman Nelson looked out the hull windows and sighed. That had been a good holiday at home. His father got caught up in his own enthusiasm for the boat, and had made several suggestions about funding it, if he kept with his original idea of a private boat with a Navy reserve crew. When he had begun to assemble his dream, several of those suggestions had made it into the plans.
He sighed again, remembering the Middie he’d been that year, and the man that the events of the next year had made him, when his parents had died in the auto accident and he had assumed care of Edie, as a Second classman. That had been a hard time in his life, trying to keep up with his studies, and when he could, see Edie. He had purchased a house in Annapolis, and moved Edie, her nurse and governess, along with a small staff into it, so she was close to him, as close as she could be, with his responsibilities. He had put his plans for his boat aside, and taken to meeting periodically with his father’s bankers and lawyers, who were now his representatives, about his father’s business and interests. It had been hard, especially when his uncles had tried to help. In reality, all they had really wanted was to help themselves to his fortune, but he had stopped them before they made even a slight inroad.
He had managed to settle his life, and move on with the Academy and his studies, and he did finally graduate, and well, the rest, as they say, is history.
Lee Crane had come up behind his boss and mentor, and seeing him in silent contemplation, simply stood, waiting until the time passed.
Eventually, Nelson felt the presence of someone else in the
nose, and he turned in the chair. “Ah, Lee… Everything in order?”
“Aye, aye, sir. Our ETA at NIMR is 2000 hours 23 November. Enough time for everyone to get home, get settled and, please God, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. Chip’s worked out a duty roster that essentially gives all the crew leave until Saturday, leaving a security watch from the Institute’s pool on a four-hour rotation over the weekend. That way, no one will have to give up all of their Holiday…” He slid into an adjoining chair. “Is Edith coming out for the weekend?”
Nelson harummphed and laughed slightly. “Yes. Since Sean’s birth, I swear I think I’ve seen more of my sister than I’ve seen in the last twenty years. My son seems to have his Auntie Edie - her title, not Karen’s or mine - wrapped around his tiny fingers. Oddly enough, she seems to love it!”
Lee smiled somewhat, “Too bad Edith hasn’t had a family of
“She doesn’t want one! She said, time and time again, that she’s ‘too busy’ to have children, and she knows she wouldn’t be a good mother. So she says, anyway. Funny, though, she was the one who was always bugging the hell out of me about getting married. She even had the nerve to say I had married my lab.” He watched his Captain, “Your plans, Lee?”
Lee shifted slightly in the chair, “My mother and I are
taking RC down to the San Diego Zoo on Friday. Karen invited us to your house
for dinner. Mom and RC are looking forward to it, and to the Zoo, too. You know
how I feel about Holidays, sir. They ‘exist’. I celebrate for Mom and RC.” The
shadows that haunted his captain were clearly seen by Nelson in those few words.
“Karen said that Chip and Matty are taking Alex and are heading for the Morton’s
home. Clarry hasn’t been well lately, so they want to spend some time with her.”
Lee shook his head, “It’s gonna be hard on Chip…”
Nelson nodded, his own sad memories again rushing back, then a small smile pushed forward. “We’ll all be with those we want to share the day with, Lee, not at sea on some mission or another…and that, in and of itself, is something to be thankful for…” He rose, moved to the Plot table, and Lee followed. He looked at Crane, then over to Morton, who was OD of the watch, “Gentlemen, what say we see if we can make her get us home a little sooner? I’d like to get to my… our families, as soon as we can!”
With that, he turned, and made his way up the spiral gangway, as the boat seemed to pick up speed as she moved towards her home port.
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