|This story is based on a real event and real people. The real Jeremy was a sweet young man I had in one of my library classes. He would never have been able to do what I had my character doing because his disability was much more severe. Jeremy takes characteristics from several other students I have had. The ending is much the same, however, except in reality, of course, there was no Lee Crane.|
Captain Lee Crane studied his reflected image in the motel mirror and then put on his cover. The dress blues fit his lean frame perfectly, the service bars shining golden against the dark material on his sleeve, rank insignia on his collar. The only thing he had left off were the medals he had acquired over the years. That would have been too pretentious. He pulled out a small box from his pocket and opened it up. A set of captain’s eagles, bright and shiny, never worn. Those were appropriate. He looked at his watch and saw that it was time to go. His destination was only a block and a half down the road of this small town. The fall colors were particularly spectacular, so he decided to walk. The young motel clerk acknowledged him with a nod and an awed look of approval. They had chatted yesterday; she knew why he was here. And as he walked, he thought about what had brought him here………
Lee was appalled at just how quickly the storm had
arisen and how violent it was.
No matter that the guidance system had chosen this time and place
to go haywire on them. And no
matter that lightning had screwed up the radio, they were here and they
would have to set down somehow in a semi-remote mountainous area.
“You get any bearings yet, Pat?”
“No, sir,” a very nervous voice returned.
Lee had to smile softly.
Patterson had been nervous about going up in the aircraft from the
very beginning. It was
a quick smile, though; he had to put all his concentration in maintaining
control long enough to land. The
wind was horrendous. If there
weren’t microbursts in this storm, he’d eat his flight jacket.
But where could he land? They
had passed a very large river/reservoir.
If he could make the turn and head back.
But then they would be heading back into the teeth of the storm,
probably caught sideways before they could complete the turn.
“Yeah?” he responded tersely, his eyes trying
to penetrate the cloud enshrouded skies.
“And what’s the altitude?”
“Uh, depending on which mountain we’re
crossing, two hundred feet.” There
was a pause. “Did I ever
tell you why I joined the Navy?”
Lee fought the bucking controls. This beautiful little extension of the most efficient
submarine in the world wasn’t build for flying in these kinds of extreme
conditions. Perhaps a more
experienced pilot could have done better, but there wasn’t a more
experienced pilot. There
was just the two of them. Two
scared-spitless submariners getting tossed around two hundred feet above
the Appalachian mountains. What
a helluva way to die. Enough!
What’s the old saying? Any
landing you can walk away from is a good landing? Just gotta land! Then he remembered Patterson’s question.
“Uh, so I wouldn’t have to fly.”
Lee couldn’t help it.
Even as he stared intently ahead, trying to make a hole in the
swirling mass of black clouds, rain, lightning and wind, he laughed.
“That’s a good one, Pat. I’ll
remember that next time I need a cross country co-pilot.”
Then he saw it—a break in the clouds.
A tiny one that showed the narrow ribbon of a river below them. Not what he had in mind and certainly not as large as the one
they had passed over when they met this storm, but something.
Anything. “Hang on.” He
dived and heard the seaman’s gasp.
“Uh, been doing that for the past fifteen
The hole gaped and then closed, but Lee had seen
the river and had marked the bearings.
It curved ahead, but he should be able to see it again another
hundred feet down. If he
didn’t see a mountaintop first. Hmm,
what was that song? Rocky
Top? Yeah, last Patterson had
told him, they had been flying in a northwest to southeast pattern and
were crossing Tennessee. East Tennessee to boot.
The clouds seemed to boil like the sea against the clear hull
plates of the Seaview and then parted enough for him to see the
river not more than eighty feet below him.
“Damn!” he shouted. It
was shallow, the kind of river that kayakers and rafters loved.
Nothing that he could submerge in.
Desperately, he searched for something he could plane in on.
There, slightly left of center.
The wind caught him and drove the Flying Sub to the right.
He compensated. Fifty
feet. He cut the engines.
They were gliding. The
controls were more sluggish and it took all his strength to bring it to
port, but it responded. Thirty
rocks down there!” Patterson
sounded as though he was trying hard not to sound hysterical, but only
But he didn’t respond right away.
Keep heading port. Keep
the nose up. The flying sub
was trying to dive without the power to keep her aloft.
She didn’t have the lift that a normal aircraft had.
Nose up. “Planing,
Patterson,” he said tersely, trying to inform and reassure.
There was nothing reassuring about their situation.
Nose up! Fifteen feet. There was still a narrow section that was deep enough for
their approach. Ten.
Five. The Flying Sub
hit with a bone-rattling thump and bounced along the river like a skipping
stone. Slam, lift, slam,
lift. Lee felt the waves
catch the bow and try to capsize the little ship, but somehow he was able
to keep the aircraft even keeled. Their
speed dropped drastically and he steered toward the tree-lined shore.
It was getting darker and harder to see.
A quick glance at the chronometer showed it was almost sunset.
The storm made it seem almost like midnight.
Darker clouds closed in above and around, almost
hiding the shoreline, making the trees into thin-clawed fingers stretching
toward an equally inhospitable sky. They
were within ten feet of the shore when the Flying Sub grounded with a soft
Almost as one, the two men heaved sighs of relief.
Lee turned to the young seaman and grinned.
“Well, ye of little faith,” he said lightly, trying to calm the
shaking he felt in his voice. “We
made it.” He noticed the sweat trickling down his back and he pulled
off the flight jacket.
“Skipper, does this qualify as a good
“We’re alive, aren’t we?”
“Yes, sir,” Patterson said, and he laughed,
too. “I guess we’d
better tie her off, though. Or
we may be floating downstream by morning if this rain keeps up.
The mountain rivers can fill fast.”
“Good thinking,” Lee replied. “Dig into the supply locker and pull out some line.
When you’re finished, pull out a couple of blankets, too.”
Patterson pulled out a nylon line and then opened the hatch.
Rain hit them in the face, seeming to try out the seaman’s
“And see if you can do something about the
radio, Pat, while I secure the Flying Sub.”
By the time Lee had made the aircraft fast to a
sturdy tree, and had clambered back aboard, he was soaked to the skin.
Patterson handed him an extra blanket as the captain peeled off his
shirt and pants. While he was
drying off, the seaman dug out emergency rations and handed him one.
After a meal of something more than nothing and much less than
Cookie’s worst, they lay stretched out on the deck between the seats,
trying to get comfortable. The
radio was still inoperative, so the only thing left was sleep.
Occasionally they woke to the movement of the river trying to push
the Flying Sub downstream, but the line stayed fast.
Sometime during the night, the storm calmed to a more sedate
soaking rain and Lee fell into a deeper sleep.
A knocking woke him.
Who was trying to find him now, he thought groggily?
He sat up and, looking through the bow window, saw that it was
sometime shortly past dawn, although it was a bit hard to tell because of
the continuing overcast conditions. The
knocking resumed. Someone
was on top of the Flying Sub. The
nose was toward the shore and dimly, through the mist, Lee saw the
outlines of a house, two story, partially brick with a riverfront deck,
but he saw no activity, except for a large coon-type hound dog barking at
the end of a chain. Figures,
he thought, his mind conjuring all the stereotypes of this region of the
Patterson grunted and rolled over in his sleep.
Lee pulled on his almost dry pants and shirt and slipped on his
shoes. He opened the hatch
and climbed out only to find himself staring almost nose-to-nose with a
young, inquisitive face.
“Hey,” said the boy, who appeared to be about
ten-years-old, tall and thin, his light brown hair still sleep-mussed.
He was barefoot, dressed in damp jeans and his pajama tops.
Dolphins sported across his chest.
His blue eyes held only intense curiosity; no fear, and he studied
“Hello,” Lee answered, pulling himself further
up onto the hull, his legs dangling comfortably inside the Flying Sub’s
“I’m Jeremy,” the boy announced, pointing to
Thankfully, there was no rain at the moment,
because Jeremy seemed to have made the other side of the hatch his
permanent seat. The eyes,
while inquisitive, seemed to hold something different, or lack something
that most ten-year-olds had in their depths.
Or perhaps, Lee thought upon further study, there was an innocence
there, like that of a much younger child.
“Funny kind of boat,” Jeremy said simply.
It wasn’t criticism, just a statement of fact.
Lee smiled. “Yeah,
“That’s my house.
And that’s my dad’s boat,” he said, pointing from the large
structure to a shed where the prow of a small motorboat stuck out.
This child reminded him of someone, but he
couldn’t figure that one either. Lee
nodded. “Where are we?”
“At my house,” came the simple answer.
Lee couldn’t help it, he laughed softly.
This backwoods child had given a very correct answer, even if it
wasn’t what he was looking for. “What state?”
“State?” came the query.
Jeremy pondered and then said, “Volunteer state.”
Lee carefully studied the boy across from him and
then finally figured it out. This
child was indeed possessed of a form of innocence.
He had Down’s syndrome.
Jeremy had reminded him of his cousin, his aunt Linda’s grandson,
Taylor, only the features weren’t so pronounced on Jeremy.
“Thanks,” Lee said, still getting the answer
he was looking for. “Your
folks up yet?”
“Weren’t when I got up. Should
be by now.” He kept trying
to look down through the Flying Sub’s hatch.
“What’s it called?”
She doesn’t have a fancy name,” he replied.
“Can you take me to your parents?”
Jeremy nodded, but it was an abstract nod.
submarine?” His eyes
widened in amazement.
Lee nodded. “I
will be happy to show her to you after I talk to your folks.
And after my companion wakes up.”
Jeremy’s eyes shone with excitement.
He looked through the hatch without moving.
“You’ll need to move so I can close the hatch.
I wouldn’t want water to get in if it rains again,” Lee said
with a smile.
Jeremy got to his feet, staggering a bit as the
Flying Sub rocked in the raised water level of the river.
Lee reached out to steady the boy as he also got to his feet.
He bent to close the hatch and Jeremy eagerly helped him.
“Watch your fingers,” Lee said, closing the
hatch, but not dogging it.
Just as Jeremy was getting ready to jump into the
shallow water near the shore, an anxious voice called out. Again, he staggered and once more Lee steadied him.
The woman called out another name, her husband, the captain
figured, and rushed to the shore. “Climb
down carefully, Jeremy. Use
the hand and footholds you used to climb up.”
“Aye, aye, sir,” Jeremy called out with a
Lee couldn’t help it, he grinned back, then when
the boy was safely wading toward the shore, he turned his attention to the
woman. She had grabbed
Jeremy and hauled him close to her.
“Sorry, ma’am. This
was where we came down last night in the storm and we just tied our, uh,
plane off until the night passed.”
“Who are you and what in the world is that
thing?” she asked, alternately pointing at Lee and then at the Flying
Sub. Jeremy started to talk,
but she motioned to him and the boy was silent.
Lee climbed down but stood in the knee-deep water until invited to come on shore. She still looked anxious. “Captain Lee Crane, ma’am. And this is the Flying Sub. As I told Jeremy, it doesn’t have a fancy name, just it’s designation.” With a bit of trepidation, Lee saw a man about his size rushing out of the house with a gun in one hand and fear in his eyes. Not a good combination, the captain thought. As he ran to the woman’s side, the man, presumably Jeremy’s father, pointed the gun at Lee’s middle, but didn’t release the safety as yet.
“That’s a . . . what?” she asked, before the
man could say anything.
Acts as a submarine under water and a jet above it,” Lee
explained. “But apparently,
it wasn’t made for this kind of weather.”
He felt the cold water lapping more gently than it had last night,
but still it was cold. “I
hate to inconvenience you, but could I come ashore.
It’s a bit cold out here.”
The man gazed cautiously at him and then nodded.
“Where’d you come from?” the man asked as Lee waded to the
bank and climbed up.
“California,” Lee responded simply.
Now the breeze from up the river was making him feel even colder.
It was becoming hard to keep his teeth from chattering.
He really wished that these people would invite him in, but he
understood their reticence. If
something this different had dropped from the sky during the night, he’d
be wielding a shotgun at the strangers, too.
“The Nelson Institute of Marine Research, to be more specific.
Santa Barbara.” He folded his arms to try for more warmth, wishing that he
had put on his flight jacket before leaving the Flying Sub.
“I hate to bother you again, but the storm also took out our
radio. I need to borrow your
phone. My superior will be
worried about us.”
“Us?” the man asked.
“Yes, my companion is still sleeping inside,”
he said, pointing over his shoulder.
Jeremy’s parents were silent, as though pondering their options.
Jeremy was the first to break the stalemate.
“Come and see my submarine!” he said exuberantly.
Lee didn’t move, waiting for a more substantial
“Sure, come on in.
You look cold. Guess
it’s a bit chillier here than in California,” the man finally said.
He smiled and held out his hand.
Lee shook it, returning the smile. “Just a bit, sir.”
“My name’s Michael, this is my wife, Leean.”
Lee nodded and followed them up the path toward the house.
“Are y’all hungry?” Michael asked.
“We have plenty of breakfast.”
“We are indeed, if you have enough to spare.
And I don’t mind paying,” Lee offered.
course you ain’t paying.
Don’t need to pay for friendliness, especially to those in
need,” Michael protested. “Just
nowadays you have to be kind of careful, you know.”
Lee understood and pulled out his wallet, showing
his military ID. They
walked into the house where Lee was perused by a nonchalant cat, perched
on a chair by the sliding door.
He was offered a different chair, but Jeremy was insistent on
showing Lee his ‘submarine’.
“Jeremy, let the man rest a bit. He can see your collection after breakfast,” Leean said
with slight exasperation. She
looked apologetically at Lee. “He
gets so excited sometimes.”
“No problem,” Lee said with a smile.
He looked at his watch. “If
you don’t mind, I’ll see what Jeremy wants to show me and then I can
at least help you set the table. The
phone can wait a while. It’s
about four in the morning in Santa Barbara.”
Jeremy grabbed Lee’s arm and pulled him down a
hall and into a bedroom. A
smaller boy and girl, about seven and five, respectively, watched him from
another bedroom. Lee
didn’t quite know what to expect in Jeremy’s bedroom, but what he saw
was a beautiful large-sized poster of the Seaview hanging on the
wall over Jeremy’s bed. It
was a reproduction of a painting like one that hung above the admiral’s
desk at NIMR, underwater view, full shot of the boat.
Lee hadn’t even been aware that such paintings had been
reproduced and sold. But
he could see why it might be popular. It exuded power, grace and beauty.
“Isn’t she beautiful?
Sure wish I could see her for real,” Jeremy said wistfully.
“Someday I’m going to join the Navy and work on a real
submarine,” he added, his voice filled with determination.
“She is a beaut; I’ll have to admit,”
Michael said from the doorway.
“Ironic, a kid from the mountains of Tennessee having an
obsession with submarines. When
they have free writing time at his school, he always writes about
submarines, that one in particular.”
It was then that Lee saw other, smaller pictures
of various submarines as well as more of the Seaview. There was a crude clay model of the Seaview on the
nightstand, what appeared to be clippings on the wall.
Somehow, Lee had just thought of his boat as an extraordinary
vessel with extraordinary men, not something that strangers would admire,
hang posters of, dream of seeing. But wasn’t that what he had wished for when Seaview
had been commissioned? Wasn’t
that what he had done when he was about Jeremy’s age?
“I bet she’s something inside, too,” Jeremy
continued as though his father hadn’t said a word.
“She is,” Lee murmured soft enough that Jeremy
didn’t hear him. Michael
looked at him in surprise, but Lee didn’t elaborate.
“Could I use your phone now?
Even though it’s quite early in California, someone will be awake
and I’m sure they want to know that Patterson and I are all right.
I’ll make sure the charge is reversed.”
Nodding, Michael led him back to the kitchen and handed him a
phone. Lee dialed a direct
land number to the submarine. Someone
would be on watch and answer. He
was right; Sparks was on communications watch.
“Sparks, this is the captain,” he said.
He had to wait until Sparks calmed down.
“Yes, I know you’ve all been worried, I’m sure there’s been
a search and rescue ordered, but this is the first chance I’ve had to
call. The storm that grounded
us also knocked out our communications. Tell the admiral that we’re all right and that the Flying
Sub appears to be sound.” Sparks
was asking another question. Lee
turned to Michael. “Where
exactly are we?”
“On the Hiwassee River, Polk County, east of
Reliance. Amazes me how you
landed that thing.”
“Amazes me, too,” he replied with a wry smile.
He gave Sparks the information and the family’s phone number.
“Hope you don’t mind me doing that,” Lee said.
“I know the admiral will be calling when he’s up.”
He put the plates and utensils on a large table near the glass door
overlooking the river. With
the mist rising from the river, it was an almost enchanting view.
Jeremy had finally followed them into the kitchen.
He showed Lee a drawing he had made of the submarine.
Studying it with an admiring eye, Lee saw that the boy had a real
skill. It was the Seaview during his first year on board,
before she had been fitted to carry the Flying Sub.
Again, it was an underwater rendition, similar to the one on
Jeremy’s wall. “I guess
you know that the submarine has had some modifications since you did this
drawing.” Jeremy nodded. “The Flying Sub berths under the bow,” he said to Jeremy
pointing to the place under the clear bow windows.
Jeremy gaped at him. The
only sound in the room was the popping and sizzling of frying bacon.
The thought that had planted in his head when he
had first walked into the boy’s room coalesced.
“Jeremy, you said you wanted to see the Seaview up
The boy nodded his head, an eager gleam in his
“Uh, Captain, we haven’t even been to Myrtle
Beach, much less all the way to California,” Michael said, in a slightly
warning tone. There was a
knock at the sliding glass door. Patterson
stood outside. Michael
beckoned him in. After
introductions, the seaman sat down next to Lee and watched the
“Jeremy, you have done a splendid job with this
picture. Would I be able to
get a copy of this to hang on the wall of my cabin?
You have real talent.”
“Sure,” Jeremy said excited at the praise.
“Take it back to your room for now, before it
gets something on it,” Lee suggested.
The boy ran out of the room.
Lee looked at the Jeremy’s parents.
“The Seaview is in the middle of some extensive refittings
and isn’t going anywhere for several more weeks.
I don’t think Admiral Nelson would mind a visit from an
“Are you saying you have been on the ship?”
Leean said. “You know
Lee smiled, feeling particularly happy at the
moment. “You might say
that. I’m the Seaview’s
captain. Seaman Patterson is
a member of the crew.”
Michael said nothing.
Leean looked misty eyed. “I
have always dreamed of giving Jeremy just a glimpse of the submarine, or
any submarine. He also has a
heart defect. Not a bad one,
but enough to make it difficult for him as he matures.
I tried to get him signed up with one of those wish organizations,
but we didn’t quite qualify.” She
stopped suddenly, as though feeling silly for babbling.
“And we have never had enough to just go and show him one on our
“Then I have your permission to offer Jeremy the
opportunity?” Lee asked. “The
Institute does have provisions for youth studies.
I think this might fall under that category.”
Both parents looked at each other and then nodded.
Patterson looked a bit puzzled, not having been privy to the entire
conversation, but said nothing. Jeremy
walked back into the room, his two siblings in tow.
“When do you want me to make you a picture of the Seaview,
“When you can,” Lee answered. “Jeremy, you said you wanted to be able to see the Seaview.”
Jeremy nodded. “Then would you like to come on board as my guest?”
Jeremy’s mouth hung open in shock. “As the captain of Seaview, I would like to give
you a personal tour. Your
parents, too, if they would like to come.”
Jeremy looked from one person to another, then he
threw himself at Lee, hugging him tightly enough to strangle him.
All during breakfast, Jeremy plied him with questions.
At first they had been an almost furious babbling, but once the boy
had calmed down and taken time to think, he had asked extremely technical
questions. Lee answered as best he could while trying to eat some of the
best biscuits and gravy he’d ever had, but was finally forced to tell
the boy that all such inquiries could be answered on the sub.
The phone rang about the time that breakfast was
over and as Lee suspected, it was the admiral.
He repeated what he had told Sparks, answered some questions and
then he laid his bombshell in the admiral’s lap.
There was a short silence on the other end.
“Lee, whatever possessed you to invite civilians
to tour Seaview?” came Nelson’s flustered question.
“Don’t know, can’t really explain it,
Admiral. It just felt
right,” Lee answered.
Nelson huffed on the other end and then sighed.
“All right, as long as they can come within the next few weeks.
And just make sure you understand that the Institute is not
a make-a-wish foundation.”
“I understand perfectly, sir.”
He also understood, having come to know Jeremy in this short while,
that Nelson would be as pleased with this boy and his knowledge of the Seaview
as he had been. While the
admiral waited, Lee turned to Jeremy’s parents.
“Would you be able to come out to California….”
He paused. “In
“But we have no tickets, uh, we’d have to
contact Jeremy’s school. And
we have to arrange for Melinda and Ben to stay with relatives,” both
parents started thinking aloud of things they had to do.
“The reason I ask, is that we were on our way to
Jacksonville, Florida on Institute business and we’ll be heading back in
about six days. I don’t see
any reason why you couldn’t come back with us.”
“On that?” Michael asked, pointing out the
deck door to the Flying Sub swaying slightly in the river’s current.
“We usually don’t carry five, but there’s
room. Of course, we’d have
to meet at a local airport,” Lee said with a smile.
“I really don’t want to repeat what I had to do last night.”
It was all Jeremy could do to keep on his seat.
Eggs, biscuits and bacon were totally forgotten.
Michael finally nodded.
So it was quickly arranged.
Lee and Patterson would return, landing at the closest airport,
which happened to be in Chattanooga.
Michael laughed and said if the rainy weather continued, they’d
be able to do a water landing there.
Lee assumed it was a local joke.
After examining the Flying Sub as closely as the
current of the river would allow, both men boarded.
Luckily, the rain during the night had lifted the craft off the
rocky river bottom, making it much easier to push off. The engines did most of the work. The wind had slackened and Lee was confident of an uneventful
take off, despite the fact that they would be bouncing more than for a
usual take off. The last he
saw of the family was Jeremy bouncing up and down, waving exuberantly.
A week later, he met Jeremy and his parents at the
airport and after clearance to take off; they were in the air.
A short time after that, they were safely ensconced at twenty
thousand feet over the heartland of the nation.
Jeremy periodically asked questions and while the ship was on
autopilot, Lee pointed out the various features of the revolutionary
craft. Sometime over southern
Utah, Jeremy fell asleep, only jerking awake when they landed in the ocean
two hundred feet from the Seaview. The
boy’s mouth hung open, his eyes fixed on the submarine.
Lee dived just below the surface and then docked in the Flying
Sub’s berth. Hands from
above opened the hatch and Lee helped Jeremy’s mother up the ladder.
Jeremy and his father followed and then Lee and Patterson.
“Permission to come aboard,” the captain said formally.
“Granted,” Nelson said, extending his hand to
It was a grand and glorious visit for Jeremy.
It had taken the rest of the day to tour the sub and the men who
were part of the skeleton crew had almost made Jeremy a mascot of sorts.
He ate with them and checked out their sleeping quarters, tried on
diving gear and sat in the mini sub.
Jeremy looked as though he had died and gone to heaven when Admiral
Nelson gave him the option of spending the night in the visitor’s cabin
on board. It was a bit
cramped for he and his parents, but no one found that a difficult issue.
On the second day, after seeing a little more of the sub, the
admiral gave the family a tour of the institute, allowing the boy to see
some of what went on there. As
the captain had figured, Nelson was as entranced with Jeremy as he was.
On the last day of the four-day visit, Jeremy had handed Lee a
manila envelope. In it
was the picture that Jeremy had shown him at his house.
“I’ll get a copy of it and get this back to you,” Lee told
“No, I made a copy for me before we left home.
This is yours,” Jeremy said, his eyes shining with the excitement
that had never flagged since they had first approached the submarine.
“You said you wanted to hang it in your cabin.”
“I did and I am,” Lee told him, putting his
arm around the boy. “You
know, Jeremy, there is a need for artists in marine research.”
“And if you continue to do well at school,”
Nelson added, “There could be a place here for you to work when you’re
grown.” Again, Jeremy
gaped. His parents were
silent in shock. Nelson gazed at them. He
was totally serious. “The Institute offers scholarships to promising
young students in different fields. While
Jeremy has a disability, that shouldn’t keep him from going to college
and building on his talents.”
And that was how the visit had ended, with Jeremy promising to work hard in school and Lee promising to keep in touch. They had. For the past two years they had. Jeremy occasionally sent pictures and examples of his essays from school. Lee had sent encouraging letters and had called when time permitted.
Then he had received word last week that while out
with his father, Jeremy had been struck and killed by a train. It wasn’t clear what had happened, as the only person left
to give a statement was a badly shaken engineer.
Jeremy, the boy determined to become a submariner, was gone.
And here was Lee representing the compliment of the Seaview
in a little railroad town in Tennessee paying his last respects.
He walked through the door and was greeted by the funeral home
representative. Both bodies were still in state in a large chapel filled to
capacity. There were only a
few minutes of visitation left before the caskets would be sealed.
Lee walked up to Michael’s casket.
Then he approached Jeremy’s casket, looked at the young face, the
ambitious, eager to learn, willing to overcome boy taken way too soon, and
simply stood there for a moment. Finally, Lee took out the small box and pulled the
captain’s eagles from it. He
bent over and carefully pinned them to the collar of Jeremy’s Sunday
suit. They gleamed, catching
the soft lights overhead. Lee
drew back and saluted, thinking at what he felt the world had lost in a
brief moment of tragedy.
Turning, he saw Leean gazing at him, her cheeks slick with new tears. “Thank you,” she mouthed. Then she enveloped him in her arms. He returned the embrace, unmindful of any one else in the chapel. Finally, Leean murmured, “Please sit in the family section. Jeremy always felt you were family.” Lee nodded and took his seat.
When he returned to the Seaview, he gazed at the framed drawing of the submarine that Jeremy had given him two years previously. Whether the boy would have been able to actually join the Navy and become a submariner, Lee didn’t know. It really didn’t matter. All he knew was that a boy had dreamed, and Lee Crane had been privileged to become a part of that dream.
|Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Contents|