For Carol, my beta, who lets me touch the stars. Thanks for all of your help.
Bright Shining Stars
William Stanton Thorn was a bright, energetic child with dreams as big as the stars he watched every night. He was fascinated with the minutia of Marine Biology and enthralled with engineering and science that allowed him to explore worlds previously unknown to a budding 5th grade scientist. His greatest hero was Admiral Harriman Nelson of the famed Nelson Institute of Marine Research. Commodore Lucius Emery was a close second with Drs. Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer rounding out the tie for third place. Young Mr. Thorn was addicted to some very serious disciplines of science and he was not to be deterred by anyone including a very over bearing mother.
William had some serious and continuing childhood health issues that required the services of the Mayo Clinic and Janna Thorn was not about to let her young son “exert” his limited resources yet Stanton M. Thorn encouraged to his son to live to the fullest and not set limitations on his mind.
The doctors were exceptionally surprised at how well the boy had adjusted and even thrived despite the earlier gloom and doom projections of his pediatric team.
weren’t God and William had every intention of joining his hero, Admiral
Nelson, aboard Seaview, or at the Nelson Institute. There was going to be a science fair at
school and he was convinced he could make a lasting impression combining
nuclear physics and environmental containment. He reasoned that nuclear power
plants could be used safely if the fuel could be reused and the waste products
not left anywhere on earth that would cause undue contamination. Why not recycle the waste and reuse it as
well. He won both his school's
and the regional Grand Prize, but his mother, as usual, nagged. He was overtaxing himself, and adamantly
refused to let him enter the Sate Science Fair. Not only was it a stupid idea,
she stressed, but also he would be too far away from his doctors.
William had disabilities; he had been born with Cerebral Palsy but his
brain worked just fine. He wished his mother wouldn't baby him like this. Nothing he said made any difference to
her. This was the last straw. It wasn't worth the effort to keep trying. It
would be easier to lock himself away in his room, stuck with the parts that
didn't work right. Maybe it would be easier to just die and get over with it.
“Out of sight, out
of mind!" Janna Thorn was yelling at her husband, while she
destroyed her son's work along with the awards he'd won. "He has to focus
on the future, not some silly dream. What's he going to do when we're gone?
Live on welfare? "
“Our son is disabled, not stupid! You've seen how he uses his mind to go places his
body won’t take him. Now you're going to stifle his mind? I won’t allow this
any longer. The doctors have said to let
him do what he can…encourage him, not discourage him. Do you even listen to yourself sometimes? Our child is not a possession but a
person…living flesh, a mind, a soul who you want control…admit it!” shouted
He stormed out of the kitchen where the latest battle had played itself out and made a call to a former classmate asking, begging for help.
“Lee, I’m sorry to bother you at work
when you have so little time, but,” started
“Say no more!” interrupted Crane emphatically. “I know one or two scientists that might pique William’s attention or get him at least to eat, not to mention talk a little sense into Janna.”
"Do you really think you can? I mean, Nelson's a busy man..."
"Leave it to me. Besides, we're all getting a bit weary of all the paperwork in port."
"I don't know how to thank you."
"Who stood by me when I needed a friend? Expect us tomorrow. "
"I really do appreciate this Admiral," Lee was saying the next morning, "I know you had plans, but..."
“Nonsense, Lee, I told you, it's no
trouble at all,” commented Nelson as he strapped himself in the Flying Sub.
“Besides, I'd like to meet this lad. Nuclear waste and reclamation is one of my
pet projects. I'll be damned if I let this boy's enthusiasm and intelligence go
At approximately 11:00 a.m. FS1 was cleared for landing on the runway at the municipal airport. It was immediately parked in the Air National Guard Hanger and guarded by armed servicemen. As Nelson and Crane disembarked the flying sub, several airmen did a double take of the 'Fly Navy' sticker Lee had tacked to her belly.
"I don't suppose one of you can call us a cab?" the Admiral asked, amused that the soldiers were paying more attention to Crane's full commander's shoulder boards and uniform than to his own tweed suit, and were waiting for Lee's affirmative nod.
The trip to the Thorn home was quiet except for the occasional laugh about Nelson's lack of identity at the airport, and questions about William’s condition.
“Good afternoon,"Nelson began when Mrs. Thorn opened the door, "We're here to see William Thorn."
"You must be Janna," Lee joined Nelson, with his eyes in full twinkle.
Janna Thorn simply stared at Lee and was speechless.
“He has that affect on most women,” laughed Nelson as her husband approached.
"Lee!" he hugged his old friend, "Thank God you've come."
“Stanton and Mrs. Thorn," Lee smiled and with his best ' hello, nice to see you, please let me in the door, I won’t bite' smile, "may I introduce Admiral Harriman Nelson of the Nelson Institute of Marine Research.”
Janna was stunned and for once in her life was at a loss for words.
“William is upstairs and he won’t come out,” commented a worried father.
“Let us see what we can do Mr. Thorn. Little boys are very resilient,” smiled Nelson.
“William’s condition is very delicate,” whined Mrs. Thorn.
“Janna, there is nothing wrong with his mind. He needs his mind, its all he has,” snapped Mr. Thorn.
By the time the argument was raging downstairs, Nelson and Crane had made a quick escape and tapped on the only door that read, 'Nelson Institute…If you are not Admiral Harriman Nelson, STAY OUT!
“Succinct and to the point Lee. Will you wait here and keep watch?” asked the Admiral.
Lee gave him a friendly mock salute and put himself directly in front of the door to keep out unwanted intruders.
“William, may I come in,” asked Nelson softly.
“Are you are shrink my Mom hired?” snapped William from behind the closed door.
“No lad, I don’t qualify in that science, my degrees are in Marine Biology and Engineering. I see you have a sign posted to admit Admiral Nelson. Well, here I am."
“Go away! And tell my Mom this is a stupid trick. I’ll only talk with Admiral H. Nelson…the one, the only, the in the flesh H. Nelson. Period, end of story!”
“William Stanton Thorn, open this door now, and for your information the name is Harriman Nelson not H. Nelson,” snapped Harry.
Harry could hear metal clicking and the thumping of footsteps on the floor. The door slowly opened and there stood William holding his unopened box of a model of the Seaview.
Well, the man looked like Nelson, but he glanced at the publicity photo of Nelson on the model's box, just to make sure...his Mom wasn't above sneaking a look-alike in. Still..."Prove it. What's the species of coral that only grows in the Lupe Trench?"
"The Lupe...my god, that was years ago..."
"See, you're just an impostor. Go away," he began to close the door.
"I said it was long ago, not that I didn't know...let me think a moment...even scientists have a chance to look over their notes, just because it is difficult to remember all their discoveries....ahh..yes...we named it after my mother...Isabellia. "
“I’m sorry sir," he said, the door opening wide, "My mom won’t let me do anything. I'm crippled," said sarcastically. I know my body doesn’t work right, but my brain still does,” William's eyes were starting to tear up. "Mom'll even take my Seaview away if she knows I still have it. She threw out most of my stuff..She hates science...It…it's like being a prisoner not being able to explore or study!"
"You’re only as limited as you let yourself be. Forget about what your mother thinks for right now. Do you know of Dr. Stephen Hawking?” quizzed Nelson.
“Of course I do. He thinks all the time and writes books using his eyes,” announced William. “I know all about his theoretical physics and study of the cosmos, but you can’t tell mom, because I'm not supposed to know all that...and I can't do anything anyway.”
“Is his mind limited? Has he let his physical disabilities stop him from realizing his dreams?” asked Nelson.
“No sir. Are you really Admiral Harriman Nelson?” asked the young Thorn. "Mom could've gotten somebody smart who read up on him..."
“Well, then, better ask Captain Crane over there,” smiled Nelson.
“Captain Crane of the Seaview?” whooped William. "It is you, Admiral. Man, I could pick Captain Crane out of a line up...Dad's got lots of pictures in one of his scrapbooks..."
“Hello William,” Lee extended his hand with a smile, " its very nice to finally meet you. Your Dad's told me all about your science project. And Admiral Nelson's read your premise and thesis work already."
“You know, Lad," Nelson sat on the edge of the bed, "Your Dad and Mom love you very much. It's just that it's hard sometimes for your Mom to let go…even just a little,” smiled Nelson." I have an idea and I would like to share with both of your parents. Of course, you and I will have to get the doctors’ permission and make sure you eat and take your medication without complaint. Is that understood lad?” ordered Admiral Nelson. “ 'Of course, a healthy mind requires healthy habits, that includes proper nutrition, medicines, etc...'
“Aye, sir!” came the immediate reply. Nelson knew William would be very compliant under his auspices.
“Disabilities are a family matter,” Nelson said to
Stanton and Janna over dinner with Lee and William, “Both of you need to get
behind William and work with him, not against him or each other. And you know, when the time comes, the
Institute could use a bright young scientist
like William. How about it, William, think you'd like to rebuild your science
project for the state finals? In fact, several of my staff would be very
interested in helping you test your theories. Call it a working holiday, an all
expenses paid month for all three of you in
"Oh boy, would I...if it's okay with Mom and Dad."
"Go ahead and make those arrangements Admiral. Isn't that right Janna? We'll be happy to bring William out."
For a moment she hesitated, William holding his breath.
"I...of course. We'll be glad to accept your invitation."
"Splendid, splendid. Oh, and Lee reminded me you have an interest in the flying sub, William. So, how about we ask the Captain to take you up for a spin before we have to fly back tonight."
"With his parent's permission that is," Nelson added with a warning eyebrow to Janna.
It was a very contented boy who fell asleep later that night, seeing only the bright shining stars that would be his, now, and for every day for the rest of his life.