A Friend in Need

Wednesday, 15 February 2659 - Long Island, New York

This afternoon while walking across the campus of University of Hartford, I received a call.

“Howdy, fancy-pants.” The voice on the other end drawled in a Western accent. I recognized it as once as Dr. Henry Darrel.

Cowboys (that's Henry in the middle with the white shirt)
“Henry, old boy!” I said, “How nice to hear from you. Where are you?”

“Long Island.”

“Really? I’m just across Long Island Sound in Connecticut. I’m practically in the neighborhood. Would you be available to share supper?”

“Sounds good.” Henry words sounded a little slurred.

“Are you all right? Debriefing a bit rough? How much beer have you had?”

“Feeling no pain. Uh, I gotta a favor I wanna ask you.”

“We can discuss it over dinner. Where would you like to meet?”

Miners (Henry's in the back)
“Saint Hugh O’Flaherty Hospital.”

“Hospital? Why do you want to eat at a hospital.”

“Because they won’t let me leave the bed.”

I stopped walking. “What? Are you making a joke?”

“Do you hear me laughing?”

“Good Lord! Are you all right, Henry?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. Oh dang, there’s that nurse again. Gotta go. See ya.” Henry then hung up.

It was then I realized Henry wasn’t drunk, but on pain medication. What the blazes had the man done now?

For those of you who don’t know Henry, he is a Temporal Anthropologist for the University of Wyoming. We are both studying the 19th century, but in our own way. I’m a mere tourist compared to Henry.

He started out studying his cowboy ancestors by working beside them. Since then he has taken all sorts of jobs: railroad engineer, fur trapper, factory worker, miner--to name a few. He is studying the working man of the period. Unfortunately safety standards in 19th century were sorely lacking . Life in the Victorian Age is dangerous enough without looking for trouble!

Edison's First Lamp Factory (that's Henry in front)
I took a hover-taxi to St. Hugh OFlaherty’s, hang the expense. I was quite flushed and gasping for breath by the time I found Dr. Darrel’s room. There sat the twit in bed grinning at me like a Cheshire cat.

“Howdy, Wendell. You look like you been rode hard and put away wet.”

“What in the name of heaven have you done now, Henry? Did you loose another finger?”

Henry held his hands up and wiggled them at me. “Nope. Got eleven like everyone else.”

He doesn’t really have eleven fingers. “Are any of those original? You keep getting them caught in machinery and then have to have them cloned and reattached.”

“I think the left pinky came with my birthday suit.”

"What did you do this time?”

Henry pulled back the blanket and I nearly passed out. Below his knee was a plastic case preserving the tissue of a stub. The foot was gone! I sunk down in the nearby chair before I fell over.

I swallowed the bile in my throat. “Again? Is this the same foot you lost last time?”

“Nope. Thought I would make them a matching pair.”

“How did you lose this one?”

“Steamboat ran over it.”

“That joke was bad last time you told it.”

Loading Steamboats (Henry is on the plank--see him?)
Henry just grinned at me, and covered his stub back up. “Okay, I lost it playing lumberjack. After I did the interview and took footage of what there was of the place, thought I’d get my hands dirty and help cut down trees so they could clear land then use the wood to build houses. Like working with my hands.”

I was completely lost. “Where were you?”

“Olympia, Washington Territory, 1857. I went back to do a little job for Wazoo.”


Henry frowned at my ignorance. “Washington State University. You know, in Pullman, Washington. They wanted me to go back and to find George W. Bush.”

That name sounded familiar. I pulled out my pocket computer. “43rd President of the United States? You aren’t allowed in the 21st century.”

“Not that yahoo. George Washington Bush, one of the first pioneers to Washington State. One of the founders of Olympia, it’s capital.”

“Ah! Now it makes sense.”

Henry as a train engineer
“And that’s where the favor comes in.”

“Name it...as long as it doesn’t involve cutting off my foot.”

“I had planned to return today so I could be in Pullman, Washington Saturday to show the footage I took. They already made up posters and invited half the state. And I was wondering--”

“If I could hobble something together and take your place.”

“Yeah, since I can’t even hobble. Cloned foot won’t be ready until next week. Meantime I’m kinda doped up on pain medication to think too straight. I could cancel the shindig, but it would disappoint a lot of folks.”

“I had planned to do some work this weekend, but it’s nothing that can’t wait. I would be happy to help you out.”

Henry gave me a crooked grin. “You’re a real pal. I owe ya one.”

“Some day you can come to Cambridge and give a lecture on 19th century industrial safety, or lack there of.”

“Done. I’ll show off my new foot.”

Of course this means extra work for me, but I don’t mind. Henry would do the same for me. The man would give you an arm and a leg. Erm, I believe they are both cloned, too.

This is as adventurous as I get (that's me in the back)


  1. "An arm and a leg"--I'm torn between laughter and sympathetic horror. Poor Henry! D:

  2. That would be "Anonymouse"--my 21st-century cellphone technology doesn't seem to play nicely with your 27th-century blog :)
    - @mousewords


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