Adventure American Contemporary

  Donald Netherton’s Vision—George Davis

  Donald Netherton drove up to Lookout Mountain in the hills overlooking Cumberland Falls, Maine. He’d been up here many times before. He enjoyed the view; the vast fields that surround that small town, the towering chimney at the paper mill, the S curves out around the village. All these things made Donald a happy man from the best little town in the world.

  Donald looked through the telescope mounted on the solid rock surface. This old device has been up here since he could remember. His father often drove up the mountain on weekends for a family picnic. His mother would make sandwiches, usually egg salad, and she’d mix up some Zarex fruit punch for Donald, coffee for his dad.

  The scope used to take quarters, but due to inflation. It now took four quarters. 

  The dollar ensconced in the meter, he looked down on his town. Yes, it was his town. His great-grandfather was one of the founders of this small burg, thirty miles northwest of Portland, and snuggled in the Bickford Woods, a wooded area that skirted the town. 

  “Wait a minute,” he exclaimed. “What is that?” Donald saw something that was out of the ordinary. Eyes glued to the telescope he stared in unbelief. 

  “It can’t be. I’m seeing things. I must have eaten too much for supper last night. It’s, as old Scrooge said, a bit of undigested beef.”  

  Donald stepped back from the scope, looked down the slope. It isn’t there he thought. It’s gone. ‘Oh no it isn’t Donald,’ his conscience told him. ‘It is still there. You just can’t see it with the naked eye.’ Turning back to the tall silver machine, he looked through the lenses. There it was. Unable to remove the vision he saw. He continued to look, no study, what was playing out inside this scope? 

  He screamed, “What, or who are you?” No answer from the telescope. He stared again. It was like a movie. It was telling him, in pictures, what he had ever done since birth. It was now dark. The flicks stopped. It would take another dollar to see the future. Donald inserted the four quarters and waited.  

  Suddenly a man’s face appeared. He looked familiar, but Donald couldn't place him. “Donald Netherton, do you want to see your future?” The voice said. “Let me warn you. Once you see it; you are destined to live it out. Do you still want to see it?” 

  “I need some time to think about it.” 

  “Come back here tomorrow with your decision.” The screen went blank again before it reopened, and once again he could see his town in the telescope. 

  Donald tossed and turned all night. He wanted to see the future, yet he was afraid of what it might hold. However, if he didn’t look into his future, he would never know how to prepare for it. 

  Rrrrrriiig. The phone woke him. It was time to get up and dress. He told himself he was going up the mountain early, right after breakfast. 

Donald’s heart was pounding; his palms sweaty, as his Kia Soul moved slowly up Lookout Mountain. Actually, Lookout is more of a hill since its height is only 5,310 feet. 

  Donald parked his car in the sectioned lot marked ‘Automobiles.’ As he stepped out of the car, he noticed a man using the telescope. He walked over to the long wooden bench and sat down to wait on his turn. Fifteen minutes elapsed. Isn’t that guy going to let someone else use the scope?  He’s a hog. Donald thought, should I say anything to him? I am in a hurry. 

  The man turned and faced Donald. “Are you waiting to use this telescope?” He asked. The man was tall, maybe six-three, and weighed, Donald, guessed 225 pounds. 

  “Yes, I am.” The man walked over to where Donald stood. “You do know that this device predicts the future, don’t you?” Taken aback by the man’s words, Donald said, “I don’t know. What do you mean?” He wasn’t about to tell him what the telescope told him yesterday. 

  “If that device asks if you want to know your future, say no for Heaven’s sake. That’s why I was on that thing so long today. I told it I wanted to know my future. I’m a scientist by nature and by trade. I do not believe in inane matters such as this. I’d like to know who uploads this ridiculous foolishness. Don’t waste your money. You do know you have to put another dollar in to find out what lies ahead, don’t you?” 

  “No. Thank you for telling me. By the way, what did it tell you about your future?” 

  “It said, in a deep sonorous voice ‘before you leave here today. You will die a most horrible death.’ 

  “And what did you say?” 

  “I swore at it, and almost took the viewer off its stand.” 

  “I don’t know what I’m going to do, but my curiosity has been aroused.” 

  “Well, good luck, my friend. Give it an extra kick for me after you discover your future.” 

  “I certainly will. By the way, my name is Donald Netherton.” 

  “My name is Anthony Devlon. Nice to meet you, Donald.” 

  “Same here. Have a nice day.” 

  The next morning the headlines read: Man falls to his death on Lookout Mountain. The name of the victim is Anthony Devlon. He leaves two sons and a daughter. The police believe Devlon exited his automobile and walked over to the edge of the rock where he leaned too far over and fell to his death. 

  “It can’t be. It is too much of a coincidence. The telescope predicted he would die on the mountain. 

  Donald, anxiously put the dollar in the telescope and waited. After a few seconds, the vision cleared, and a voice said, “Do you want to know your future?” 

  “I think so.” 

  “Remember, once you say yes you cannot back out. You will be told everything. Is that clear?” 

  “Yes. Go ahead.” 

  “Well, Donald Netherton, you will live to see three more presidents elected. However, in the last two years, you will spend in a nursing home, an invalid with dementia.” The town was now visible. “Hey,” Donald said, shaking the telescope. “Come back here.” 

  Fifteen years after Donald received the prediction. He became very ill. For months, his life hung in the balance. His memory faded, and he became more dependent on others for his well-being

  “Nurse,” Donald’s roommate hollered. “Hurry.” 

  “What is it, Jacob?” She turned and saw that the patient in the next bed was half in and half out of his cot. Examining him, she found Donald Netherton deceased.

  Time can be a friend. It also can be an enemy. Donald Netherton died as it was predicted eighteen years ago.

  The old telescope on the summit of Lookout Mountain was removed, believe it or not, eighteen years ago after it failed to function.

  No more predictions were heard from that device. As far as we know, Donald Netherton and Anthony Devlon were the only two men who received their futures read by that old, rusty telescope on Lookout Mountain.

February 23, 2022 16:02

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