Harlan grew up in a sprawling ranch in west Texas, with a whole compound, an oasis as green as a golf course in the middle of the flat, wild plains.
Harlan, was a smart, great kid, but troubled, according to his father. About ten years before the events of Unwind, when he was sixteen, Harlan got in with the wrong group of friends and got caught and was arrested for stealing twice in Odessa. His father, a big-shot Admiral, got him off twice. The third time, he wasn't. As one of the fathers of the Unwind Accord, the Admiral was expected to set an example. When his parents signed the order, Harlan was taken right out of school to the harvest camp, and was rushed through. When his parents changed their minds, it was already too late--it had already been done. Afterwards, his mother left the Admiral and formed a foundation in Harlan's memory, and his father left the military and sunk into depression before, seven years later, he took over the airplane Graveyard and began saving Unwinds.
|“||That's why people call him Humphrey. 'Cause 'all the king's horses and all the king's men... couldn't put Humphrey together again.||”|
The story about "Humphrey Dunfee" was based on the nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty. No one knew his real name, everyone assumed it was Hal or Harry but went with Humphrey anyway. According to the stories, his parents were not very stable people, so when they decided they didn't want Humphrey unwound after all, they took a copy of the list of every single person who received a piece of Humphrey and went traveling around the world to find them and take back the parts and bit by bit make Humphrey whole again to talk to their son again.
In reality, rebuilding Harlan piece by piece was never the plan, although it is true that the Admiral was able to get access to the records of the parts department, The National Unwind Database. Their main goal was to bring them all to Texas and to put their son together in the only meaningful way they can. For years, his family had searched for them and brought them to live in their family ranch in Texas. By his twenty-sixth birthday, they have all been gathered for his party. Of sorts. Men and women of all ages who received parts of Harlan attended, each wearing a name tag of which parts of Harlan they received.
And as the Admiral and his wife watched, something amazing happens: the conversations begin to converge, the babble of voices coalesces into a single conversation.
The Admiral is so overwhelmed by emotion he cannot speak, and so his wife looks at the man before her, at the people beside her, at the crowd all around her, and she welcomes them all, Harlan, home.
- Zachary, right lung.
- Girl, left lung.
- Hayden's friend, claims he has Harlan's liver.
- Young man no older than 25, right hand that has a scar between the thumb and forefinger from when Harlan went fishing when he was nine and tried to gut a trout.
- Man older than 'Right Hand', brain; memory of fishing with the Admiral
- Woman, memory of a movie she never saw.
- Man, memory of friends he never saw the movie with.
- Unknown, wrist that still hurts when it rains.
- Unknown, either leg or motor cortex or memory.
- Unknown, either nose or some olfaction-related part/s.
- Man, vocal cords.
- Various, several other memories and emotions, including:
- Harlan being chased by a bull when he was six, and being so scared, then climbing a wall and falling off, and having to wear a wrist brace for months.
- A summer when Harlan's asthma wasn't so bad and he felt like he could do anything and that the world was just waiting for him. They were reminded of this by the smell of the flowers in a field in the ranch.