Mountains of Memories
Copyright © 2016 by Parker Sheaffer
Lucas announced that he was going to return to San Francisco for a while. He wanted to get away and let Andrew have his little talk with his wife. Meanwhile, Lucas could check on some of his west coast investments and visit some of his old haunts.
Lucas had stayed in touch with Clive through letters and postcards but they had avoided meeting face to face. Although they had managed to put their former love for each other behind them, the pain of their forced parting had remained like a wound that had never fully healed. Lucas wasn't eager to tear open that wound again. Also, it would be a bittersweet experience to see how one had aged and the other had not, so Lucas was unsure whether or not he would stop by the old house. It could be interesting to meet Clive's children, but he had no interest in saying hello to his wife, Martha.
Fate took a hand one day and rendered the decision moot when Lucas was idly examining pictures in a gallery. He turned and almost knocked over a woman who was also not looking where she was going. They both apologized and then stopped and stared at each other.
She said, "Lucas? Lucas, it can't be you. But, but, it is you, isn't it?"
Turning to the man behind her she said, "Clive, come here. Honey, it's …."
Clive paled and his eyes opened wide as he recognized the boy he had fallen in love with so long ago; the sweet angelic boy who was still a boy.
He recovered himself somewhat and held out his hand as he whispered, "Lucas."
Clive was now a middle aged man, approaching fifty, graying and a little thicker around the waist but, still very handsome. They gazed at each other with fondness and longing in their hearts.
Martha said, with a tone of fear in her voice, "What is this? What is going on here? Is this some sort of hoax? It's trickery, I know it and I'm not amused by it."
"Please, Martha," Clive said, trying to soothe her. "It's not a hoax. We don't understand it either but, this is our dear Lucas, returned to us."
"I don't believe it. Not for one minute. Lucas would be what, in his mid-thirties? Take me home, Clive. Take me home now," she said, her voice growing shrill with fear.
Clive and Lucas looked at each other, both filled with a confused mess of emotions, and silently nodded as Clive escorted his wife out the door.
Lucas couldn't see for a minute because the tears blurred his vision. As the door was closing he managed to call out the name of his hotel and he hoped that Clive had heard him. Wiping his eyes he returned to his hotel to be alone.
The next day he had a visitor who introduced himself as Doctor Medford.
"You may not remember me, sir, but I once served on the board of directors for one of the Welser family's holdings. I have known Clive Welser for many years and had the opportunity to make your acquaintance more than twenty years ago."
"I'm afraid you have me confused with someone else, sir."
"I don't think so. Martha Welser spoke to me this morning and told me that yesterday you claimed to be more than thirty years old. She showed me a photograph of you and her husband, taken a year before the marriage and you look exactly the way you look now."
"And just what business is this of yours?"
"I'm a man of science. A respected man of science, if I do say so, and I am looking at a miracle, a puzzle, perhaps something that mankind has been looking for since the beginning of time, eternal youth. I want to study you to see if I can find out the source of your… condition."
Lucas reached for the door knob, intending to usher the man out. He said, "For various reasons I have spent years avoiding scrutiny. I don't want to end up as a public figure of some sort. I place a great value on my privacy."
"I can understand that, but if I can find something about you that can help others, that can make other people healthier, make them live longer, then don't you owe it to humanity to find out?"
"Just what do you have in mind?"
"Come to my office. I have a complete laboratory there and I can examine your blood to start with. After that, well…, we'll see."
"And you think my blood will give you the answers you seek?"
"I don't know, but it's a good place to start."
"How about this afternoon?"
Lucas reluctantly agreed to allow the doctor that much.
When he arrived at the doctor's office there were no patients in the waiting room, and no receptionist or nurse attending. The doctor met him at the door and ushered him into a back room, pointed to a chair on wheels and directed him to sit. There was an examination table in the room as well as shelves of bottles filled with liquids, powders and pills, a table with a microscope as well as various other devices and supplies.
Lucas felt uneasy for some reason and that sense of unease was heightened when the doctor locked the door, saying that he didn't wish to be disturbed. He prepared a tray with a hypodermic needle and five vials and sat in a chair just in front of Lucas.
"Five vials of blood, Doctor? Why so many?"
"Well, one never knows what tests may be required."
"I think one vial will be sufficient to start with, Doctor," Lucas said firmly.
A dark look of anger flashed across the doctor's face, but the man quickly replaced it with an insincere smile.
"Of course," he said. "Whatever you say. Why don't we start with a little vitamin injection first, then?"
He took a small brown bottle of liquid from the shelf and reached for another hypodermic but stopped when Lucas said, "I don't believe I would care for an injection of anything, Doctor. I'm quite healthy and I can assure you I don't need any vitamins."
Filling the needle the doctor said, "Oh, it's quite harmless. Don't be afraid."
"I said no, Doctor, and I am afraid. There is something not quite trustworthy about you. I think I'll be going now."
The doctor quickly pushed Lucas back into the chair and jabbed the needle into his shoulder. Lucas leapt to his feet and shoved the man against the wall. A wave of dizziness swept over him and for a moment he thought he would pass out.
The doctor smiled and said, "There, that will calm you down, son. You just go to sleep now and don't worry about anything."
He started to guide the boy to the examination table.
Almost as quickly as it came the dizziness drained away from Lucas's mind and he felt normal again. He grabbed the shocked man's arm and with a spin he threw him against the wall. Then, with a flying kick he planted the heel of his foot directly on the man's nose, breaking it and sending blood flying. The doctor fell to his knees, screaming, and Lucas felt in the pocket of his lab coat for the door key.
A few seconds later he was trotting down the stairs, his heart pounding. Not for the first time he was grateful for his immunity to toxins, disease and drugs. That could have been a horrible situation. Any thoughts that he had of visiting Clive were now gone. All he wanted was to get away, far away. It was too soon to return to Boston so he chose instead to return once again to the mountains of Tennessee.
Traveling to a place like the Smokey Mountains was not much easier in the early 1900's than it had been sixty years earlier. There were trains, of course, but a hired wagon and driver was still the best way get back into the hills on the rut filled dirt roads. It wasn't the people he had come to see; most of the ones he knew were dead now. No, it was the mountains themselves, as changeless as Lucas was.
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