Author: Edward George PM
Love conquers all, so the saying goes. Seven thousand, four hundred air miles separated Dave and Maryann; Hawaii, USA to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Both were in the Army in 1973. Maryann had reenlisted for Hawaii to Dave's disappointment, but she knew Hawaii was still considered a State side tour; it was easier for her to apply for a transfer to Germany afterRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Words: 9,454 - Published: 08-04-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3047695
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Romance/Drama – Military 1973-74
Love conquers all, so the saying goes. Seven thousand, four hundred air miles separated Dave and Maryann; Hawaii, USA to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Both were in the Army in 1973. Maryann had reenlisted for Hawaii to Dave's disappointment, but she knew Hawaii was still considered a State side tour; under Army policy it was easier for her to apply for a transfer to Germany after a year than it was for Dave to come to Hawaii.
"AH, Ah, Choo! Damn dust."
"God bless you," said Teresa's mother. "And don't swear your father doesn't like you girls swearing. So much junk here. I can't believe it."
"Thanks, Mom." Teresa replied. "And I didn't swear."
Maryann sighed again tossing a couple more old unused items in the trash bag. Her twin 12 year old daughters looked at things that she was tossing more than helping.
Mary, Teresa's twin sat on a box as she started looking through a notebook. "What's this Mom?"
Maryann straightened up to see what Mary was looking at. "Oh, so that's where those books have been."
Maryann looked at a couple pages. "Oh my God. This your father started putting together not long ago then stopped. I pretty much finished it."
"What is it, Mom? All kinds of photos and newspaper clippings." Teresa sat beside her sister looking at the pictures.
"A scrap book and photo album." Maryann pulled up the stool to sit down as she looked at the photos and clippings with the girls. She stopped at their engagement photo. She and David were in uniform, she stood behind him. Almost symbolic of their marriage. The picture was taken at the Frankfurt PX photo shop. Tears of memory came to her eyes as she gazed longingly at the picture. "So long ago, so many memories we made together."
Mary turned the page and a newspaper clipping filled the page. She looked up at her mother with questions in her eyes. "Here, Mom, why does this say Dad got the Silver Star – twice?"
Maryann looked at the photo of her – when she was younger – kissing Dave in front of the entire NATO Command. "Yes. But it is a long story of how he received the medal."
"Tell us, Mom?" Teresa asked, wanting to hear the story of how their parents met.
Maryann again at the memory of times long ago when she and her husband was younger.
"Well, it begins a long time ago when I was in the WAC's, the Women's Auxiliary Corps … in a place called Hawaii."
Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
The large manila envelope just fit in the mail box as Sergeant Maryann Conners attempted to pull it out along with other letters, mostly from her twin sister at Fort Benjamin Harrison, mother and an aunt.
"Another tape from Dave, huh?" Karen Thompson said as she watched Maryann finally get the envelope free of the small box.
Maryann couldn't help but smile as she looked at the return address then checked the cancelation stamp over the postage fee tape: May 5, 1973. "Yes. I wonder what he's got on the tape this time?"
David Jordan and Maryann Connors were both serving in the Army, however Dave was stationed in Germany and Maryann was in Hawaii. Maryann often regretted the move which had been nearly a year since she reenlisted in the Army for Hawaii.
Karen followed Maryann upstairs to the second floor of the WAC Detachment at Schofield Barracks.
"So what are you going to do about John?" Karen asked. "He is interested in you – at least from what I've seen."
Maryann sighed. "I wish he'd understand I'm not interested in him. What is the saying – I'm not in to him."
Karen raised her dark pencil thin eye brows. "Well I got a date tonight. Ta."
Maryann continued on to her room she shared with another girl. Maryann tossed her hat and purse onto the bed to open the envelope. "Damned, he can sure seal an envelope."
She finally tore it open to dump the cartridge tape box onto the bed. She opened the cartridge tape box and placed the tape into a tape player starting the player and set the volumn.
The voice came on: "Hello, Maryann, my love, Dave. Hi, honey it's been another rainy day here in Frankfurt and the suburbs where I live now. The first song is like the weather here from the Cascades."
Maryann opened her locker and laid her glasses inside then began to take her blouse off.
She had several pictures of David inside her wall locker door. She glanced at the
picture of Dave standing beside a mud splattered four wheel drive truck; another of him at the office where he was assigned. Another showed her with David with her long blonde hair cascading down her back.
Where does he find these songs? Maryann mused as she began to pull the uniform shirt out from the skirt and unbutton it.
The song started: Rhythm of the Falling Rain. Maryann stopped to listen. She listened to the song almost all the way through.
I – I never knew he felt that way about me. Oh what have I done to him?
Maryann punched the off switch and tucked the shirt back into her skirt. The door opened, it was her roommate Betty Hamilton.
"The commander still here?" Maryann asked grabbing original her assignment orders from the wall locker.
"I guess so," Betty said as Maryann slammed the wall locker door shut, locking it, and starting out the door. "Why?"
"Tell you later." Maryann darted out the door and downstairs, her heels clacking on the stairs.
Betty watched as Maryann ran from the room. She left the tape cassette player on her bed. Betty felt tempted. She knew if the commander was still there Maryann would be with her awhile. She noted the number where the tape stopped then played it again. She'd heard a couple before; sometimes Maryann played the tapes over and over not only for the music but to hear Dave's voice. Betty reversed the tape to the beginning. She watched the counter as the tape started.
Maryann reached the ground floor and stopped at the First Sergeant's office. She knocked. The First Sergeant looked up: "Yes, Maryann?"
"Yes, First Sergeant, I need to talk to you or the CO about transferring to Germany."
She stepped in to the First Sergeant's office.
The First Sergeant had heard many problems, most girls finding boyfriends there in Hawaii; girls who'd gotten pregnant by a guy, but never anyone asking to be transferred to Germany. Supposedly that was the "real Army" over there; the other, Vietnam was winding down; then there was Korea.
"Okay. And how long have you been here in Hawaii?"
"Six months. I am on my first reenlistment and – I well made the mistake of thinking
this was a good assignment. My … boyfriend, my fiancé is in Germany."
"I see." The First Sergeant was an old hand at this problem. A boy or guy was usually at the center of the situation. "Even if you were to put in the DD 1949 now, no guarantee it'll be approved for at least ninety days – if at all."
"Yes, First Sergeant, I realize that. I'm willing to take the chance."
"Very well then, see Specialist Cahill and she'll help you fill it out. I'll talk to the Captain about your application in the morning."
"Yes, First Sergeant."
Betty listened to the tape up to the point where Maryann stopped and stopped herself.
She went to her side of the room. Thinking about the tape, she realized what got to Maryann about the tape: it was the song, an old song by the Cascades, Rhythm of the Falling Rain and certain stanzas in the song. The guy finally got to her.
Maryann eventually returned to the room.
"Going to the mess hall?" Betty asked as she was changing.
When Maryann and Betty got to the mess hall, Maryann looked around to see if John Buckmann was there. She knew he would sit down with them whether he was eating or not. He was becoming persistent in the last month. He'd been hitting on Maryann more in the last month and she told him that she was not interested in him, that she had someone waiting for her already. Maybe getting out of here was the best thing. She knew that she would have to get clearance from Major Thomason, her duty commander which may not be such a bad thing after all.
She hoped John was on duty or something that would delay him. The two girls quickly ate and returned to the WAC Detachment. Maryann wanted to listen to the rest of the tape. Betty sat across from her polishing her heels and brass as they listened to the tape.
Maryann began working on a letter to Dave. It was obvious to her the guy wore his heart on his "sleeve" for her. Now she regretted giving Dave back the engagement ring. She wished she still had it on and the argument they had that afternoon. Dave was nearly crying as he held the ring asking her: "Why? What have I done to you to deserve this treatment?" It was almost a half hour later of bitterness they separated, but he never gave up on her. He always expressed his deep and undying love to her. Unlike John Buckmann she sensed what Dave wanted – he wanted her as his mate and wife. John on the other hand, she sensed wanted out of her and no matter what, he wasn't giving in. Now, she was about to take Dave back as her lover.
Betty said in a quiet tone: "Writing to Dave?"
Maryann nodded her head with a forced smile and tears as she carefully wrote the letter. "Yes." The tape expressed Dave's thoughts to her; the guy was lonely and desperate for her. She was telling him she would let him take her back, she was sorry too for the way she acted toward him. 'Please, David I am sorry too for the way I acted toward you. Now I am ready to come to you as you have so desperately asked and wanted …'
There was a moment of silence then Betty said: "Tell him I like his choice of music."
The girl in David Jordan's section who took care of the mail handed David several letters plus a package that held something he had been waiting on almost two weeks. David Jordan set the other letters aside to open Maryann's first. He read the first few lines. Maryann's tone changed. She was more upbeat, more than that, Maryann had applied to leave Hawaii and come to Germany the tape she included was the third since he had been in Germany. He could not wait until he got home, his apartment to listen to the tape in private.
The trip from work to home via bus seemed to take forever. The tape and letter were tucked inside his shirt for safe keeping next to his heart. He read part of the letter at the office, his heart pounding as he read those few lines. It was better that he waited to read the rest when he got home. His loft apartment was his sanctuary. That was the advantage to being an NCO, he was able to live off post in a modest apartment close to the street car, or as it's called, the strasse bahn line and bus route.
When he got home his hands shook as if from a palsy as he took the tape from the
envelope and place it in the tape player to start the tape player. Sitting at the table he listened to the tape:
"Hi, Dave, sweetheart, Maryann. Got your tape and letter yesterday. Oh – first, my roommate Betty wants you know she likes the music you've chosen for me – I like it too. Very important, I talked to Captain Jamison and Major Thomason about a transfer to Germany. The Major doesn't see any difficulty as many people want to be assigned to Hawaii. Maybe I should have gone to Germany with you…"
Dave was cheering. "Yes!"
He listened to the tape, more to hear her voice. He listened to the tape which was nearly a repeat of what was said in the letter. He heard what he wanted. He'd have to get busy and find a larger place. The loft was okay, cozy and private, however, he thought of her first; unless she wanted to move into government quarters once they were married. He anticipated a wait of a least a month – maybe two before Maryann left Hawaii. In the meantime Dave had to content himself with the fact that she had a good chance of the transfer taking place.
Maryann still had to cope with the unwanted advances of John Buckmann. She only went places with her friends, even avoiding the NCO Club and other places around the Post she normally went to where Buckmann usually hung out when not in Honolulu. Karen and Betty knew all too well Maryann's desire to stay away from John. Maryann feared that John was desperate enough to try something with her. Sometimes she felt as if she had become a prisoner in the barracks: she would report for duty, mess hall, and back to the Detachment barracks was all. It was an anxiety filled month as she waited for an answer back from the Team II Personnel office on her request.
Near the following month the orders for the transfer arrived. Maryann was thrilled when her NCOIC handed her the thick packet of orders.
He said: "You got your wish, Sergeant Conners. Seems somebody found an opening for you – Frankfurt of all places. Sorry to lose you like this."
"Yes!" she hissed. "Thank you, Sergeant. I'll miss you guys, but this is something I have to do myself."
"Don't thank me thank whoever found the opening for you. Besides, your replacement will be arriving about the time you're leaving anyway. You'll be leaving by the end of the month."
At supper time John sat down with Maryann and her friends.
"Hi," he said taking dishes and glasses off the tray.
Maryann looked up at Betty and Karen. She ignored John Buckmann as he sat down.
Maryann tried to ignore John as he tried to make small talk with the three women.
She had had enough and figuratively dropped the "bomb" on him: "By the way I got my orders to Germany today. I'll be leaving in two weeks."
John stopped eating. He flicked a glance from Maryann to the others. It was obvious the three women were suddenly enjoying themselves. Betty could not hide the smirk on her face; Karen buried her face in her diner to keep from laughing.
"You did? But when – how will...?" John was too stunned by the news to go on with his dinner.
"Yes. I leave in two weeks. I think this is it, John. You need to find someone else."
"Yeah, I guess so…" He looked at Betty for an answer.
"Don't look at me." Betty continued eating. "Personally, I don't care."
John drew in a sigh and quietly picked up his tray carrying it to the tray window.
"Actually I don't think that will be the end of it until you leave," said Karen watching John walk out of the mess hall.
"Not soon enough," said Maryann finishing what she had. "I couldn't believe it when Sergeant Simpson handed the orders to me. I almost expected them to be denied, I hadn't been here over a year."
Betty lowered her voice. "He would have caused you problems. He strikes me as that kind of person. Besides, the key word for you is 'overseas'."
Maryann knew once she and David settled in together how their lives would be. He lived off Post in a nice neighborhood in the suburbs of the city.
Two days later she went to the Post doctor to talk to him about birth control. She knew something of it but the conventions of her upbringing and life prohibited the use of contraceptives. However, Maryann decided this one time until she and David were married it wouldn't matter. No one else needed to know. She and Dave talked about children and his desire was a girl; hers was a boy – she remembered that they often laughed about the girl would play soccer – she would be a soccer mom.
Friday afternoon in Germany, Dave Jordan stopped in to see the landlord. The lady
who did the actual leasing of the apartments listened to Dave as he explained to her that he wanted to upgrade to either a one bedroom or two bedrooms for now. He would have to wait until Maryann and he were married to put in for government quarters. But he was more concerned about the present when Maryann got there.
Besides the things he invested in for the apartment, he got from the PX, thinking about all the things he had to get for them. He was lucky on the one hand, the unit he was assigned to required him to live off Post; he had most of the household items already.
Dave and the landlord stood in the middle of the living room area of the apartment building that was still occupied, the people who would be moving within the week. Dave looked it over imagining what it would be like once Maryann put a "woman's" touch on the apartment.
"Great," Dave finally said nodding his head. "The lady will be here at the end of the month also, so the swap will work out for us."
Someone else looked at his apartment or loft and wanted it. Dave signed for the apartment and the other couple that wanted the loft, signed for the space, and the land lord was happy everything was working out in her favor.
Maryann was safely aboard the plane at Hickam Air Force base. When the plane lifted off from the runway, she started crying feeling relief and joy that she was leaving her problems behind. The Air Force flight across the Pacific to Travis Air Force base was fifteen hours.
Betty and Karen went over Maryann's agenda suggesting ways to make the trip easier. Even though she would arrive in country ahead of schedule by a week, the time would help her to get settled in with Dave. In her purse were the last tape and letters explaining what he was doing to get the apartment set up for them and keep them within street car distance of the facilities where they both worked. With the Main PX in the middle the two buildings they worked in were not far from each other.
She stayed overnight at the transit billets on Travis Air Force Base then caught the next flight to McGuire Air Force base, NJ by way of Saint Louis, Missouri where her parents picked her up.
The rest was behind her now. Hawaii and John were behind her. She was about to
embark on a whole new life as she stepped off the plane at McGuire. Her parents and youngest sister were there to meet her.
"How did you finally get transferred to Germany?" Her father asked as they walked out of the terminal. Her father was a retired Sergeant Major and nothing his daughter told him added up.
"Easy, Dad people want Hawaii as an assignment, but few really want Germany which is an overseas assignment."
Her father shook his head. "I know. I understand all that but I still don't get it. You weren't there a full year on your reenlistment."
"My year was nearly up and I would have been transferred elsewhere anyway."
Maryann was keeping quiet about the real reason she was going to Germany. She knew Dave still held a deep grudge against her father for denying them the opportunity to get married the year before she went to Hawaii. There was a deep rift that would take a long time to heal before David would even talk to her father.
The whole time she was home she did not say anything about what happened a long time ago. She wanted to say something – let her father know he had done a lot of damage to her and David's relationship. She wanted to go to Hawaii but not under the circumstances she did. The assignment was nearly a disaster because of Buckmann's unwanted advances. The situation almost made her feel like she was cheating on David the two dates she had with Buckmann; that is all it took for Buckmann to think she was interested in him, which she was not.
Maryann was sitting outside admiring her mother's garden, a riot of color, a work of love. She often wondered if someday she could achieve this kind of effort. The heady aroma of the bouquet almost made her dizzy breathing the perfume of the flowers.
"Thinking about him?" Her mother sat in the chair beside her.
"How did you guess?"
"Mothers know. You and your twin never could keep a secret from me for long."
Her mother was silent a moment, then Maryann said: "In some ways, yes I am thinking of David. Father was very unkind, rude and hurtful toward David. That day is the first time I ever saw David close to tears. He went to Dad as a man and gentleman. Dad cut him down with one word. After that David will have nothing to do with Dad. But you, he thinks the world of you. But Father – no."
"Do you think going to Germany will help?"
Maryann thought of a good answer. "If not at least it'll get me away from that Buckmann character."
Her mother reached over to touch her hand. "You've always been a strong willed
woman, Maryann. David I remember could be stubborn and strong willed too. Just don't ruin it for yourselves. But go to him and give him your love. You let me handle your father. When you've decided the time is right, let me know."
"Thanks, Mom." She closed her eyes at the memory of David crying as she gave him the ring back. She turned away from him, turned her back on him as he pleaded with her to keep the ring. She regretted that move ever since, but the move made their love for each other stronger.
Thinking for a second, Maryann smiled. "I owe David his loyalty. Something special no one can take away from us."
Maryann pushed her glasses back in place stood. "I'm going shopping, Mom. Something I want to get for when I get to Germany."
"Oh?" Her mother looked up at the girl admiring her tall lithe young body and shape that had always attracted men to her – but most of all, David's admiration.
Maryann went in the house to get the keys to her car which she'd left at home. She
drove into town, a midsized city finding the bridal shop which she'd remembered from a few years ago. Shoring up her resolve Maryann walked into the shop. "I owe him…"
"Yes, ma'am?" the lady asked taking Maryann's measure as Maryann looked around a moment. She noticed Maryann did not wear any rings.
"A negligee and baby doll?"
The woman showed Maryann several baby doll sets and an array of negligée's to go
with her selection. As she was checking the lingerie sets, the lady also explained the bridal registry. Maryann signed up for it knowing she'd want it sooner or later – knowing David.
Frankfurt am Main
By the end of the week, her mother drove her to the bus station where she got on a bus to Philadelphia. At Philadelphia she would take another bus to McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. She transferred busses at Philly. Approaching the gate to the Air Base she felt the anxiety and stress of the moment as the bus from Philadelphia pulled in to McGuire to drop her off and several other military people to catch flights to England and Germany.
It was nearly evening when she boarded the plane. She arrived in Germany in mid-morning, took the Army bus to 121st Replacement Detachment in Frankfurt, West Germany. One thing she was thankful for, the women staying in Frankfurt were processed separately from the men and taken directly to the WAC Detachment not far from the Main PX or Mess Hall, and from the city bus and street car line. Dave all but gave her a guided tour of the area in his last tape.
She and several other women reported into the Detachment and shown to the day room by the detachment clerk where they started their in processing to the detachment, the First Sergeant, an older women welcomed them then assigned rooms.
"You'll have this weekend to get over the jet lag – which I understand Sergeant Connors, you came all the way from Hawaii. You'll find this is the real Army over here."
Maryann wearily nodded her head. "Yes, First Sergeant."
The First Sergeant went over a few more details, especially about their billets and about men in the billets after nine p.m. weekdays, ten p.m. weekends and holidays.
One girl said under her breath: "Sounds like my parents."
After supply, the last stop for her was to deposit her things in the room. She changed out of her dress greens which she'd have to turn in for dry cleaning after the long trip from Hawaii to home and across the Atlantic to Germany – 7,400 air miles, almost all the way around the globe.
She showered which felt good after the trip, then changed into her utility dress uniform and pumps. She wanted to surprise Dave. That was another detail he made sure she knew where he was located. He gave her explicit instructions on how to get from the WAC Detachment on Migualalle to the building where the section was located on Bertramstrasse, the far side of the Main PX, and NCO Club the Top Hat Club. An hour later she checked the time; it was nearly noon. She knew Dave's letters he sometimes took lunch around noon time. He gave her a detailed agenda of his day – unless he was sent down to Pirmesans or Worms on a courier run he usually ate around noon.
Hurrying down the street to the U-Bahn underground station, which took her under the intersection she arrived at the PX parking area. She saw the other building, part of the Hessinger Rundfunk complex of broadcasting studios. She all but ran to the AFN Building hurrying across Bertramstrasse and up the steps to the lobby she stopped at the reception desk.
"CMDSA, please?" Almost out of breath, she pushed her glasses back in place then asked the lady at the desk.
"Take the elevator to the right to the Second level – or, American – third level top floor."
Maryann hurried to the elevators. She rode the elevator to the third floor, her heart beating faster as she neared the third floor. The doors opened, Maryann all but jumped out. She remembered to turn left then right and along the short hallway to the vault door. Drawing in a deep breath she assured the skirt was fluffed out for him and was presentable and the overseas hat was still on straight. Looking to the ceiling she prayed Dave was in; she pressed the doorbell buzzer.
A few seconds later the vault door opened to a long empty corridor. A Warrant
Officer answered the door. He looked at the girl for a second taking in the blonde, blue eyed beauty before him. "Yes, may I help you, Sergeant?"
"Specialist Five Jordan, please. I'm his fiancée, Sergeant Connors."
The Warrant Officer's jaw sagged open. "Uh, yes Sergeant one moment, please."
The door closed. Maryann leaned back against the wall waiting.
The Warrant Officer closed the door and stood for a second staring at the steel panels.
A Staff Sergeant looked out into the corridor. "Who was that, sir?"
"Jordan's – fiancée. I didn't know he had a girlfriend."
"Jordan's got a girlfriend?"
"And a beauty at that."
One of two WACs stepped into the hallway hearing the Sergeant and Warrant talking
about Dave and a girl. "You didn't know that, sir? He's been getting letters from some girl in Hawaii for the past several months."
The Warrant turned away down the hallway. "He's in the vault. I'll go get him."
The Sergeant said: "Then that's probably her in the outer hall then."
A few seconds later Dave was running up the hallway nearly running over his co-workers. He stopped long enough to unlock the door, pull it open and stop when he came face-to-face with Maryann.
"Maryann…" he said almost afraid to say her name in case this was not her.
"David - yes, it's me, Maryann."
"Honey… Oh, my sweet heart, I am glad to see you!" He grabbed her about the waist picking her off the floor to spin her around. "Oh, god – sweet heart I am glad you made it okay."
"Dave …!" Maryann squealed. "Oh…! My glasses! Mmmm!"
The two kissed long and passionately in front of the others with no regrets as the group gapped at the two.
"Told you," said the girl as she went back into the main office.
Her friend, Faye Howard looked past her boyfriend Jean Hart at the two as they greeted each other, both nearly crying for joy as they hugged and kissed.
Faye poked Jean in the ribs: "I hope someday you greet me like that?"
Jean sucked in a breath. "Hey, watch the ribs, girl."
The rest of the group was standing in the hall watching as Dave held Maryann in his arms.
Dave proudly introduced Maryann to everyone. They muttered their "hellos" and "hi's".
Staff Sergeant Augustine turned to the Warrant, Mr. Boehmer: "Well you can be sure we're not going to get anything out of him the rest of the day."
"It's lunch time," Dave said as they all made their compliments to Dave and Maryann then returned to their desks. "Where do you want to go for lunch? The mess hall which is close to the WAC Detachment, the NCO Club down the street here, or the PX Snack Bar?"
Augustine asked: "So what are you two going to do?"
"Treat Maryann to lunch," Dave said, holding her hand.
"Just don't turn it into a French lunch hour."
Dave knew what that meant: See you in two hours. He went back to retrieve his hat from his desk.
Ramon looked to assure the door was closed. "Dave – where did you find her? She is fine looking."
Tony looked around the side of his safe. "Yeah, she is knock-out gorgeous."
"Fort Benjamin Harrison."
But he didn't exactly say where at Fort Benjamin Harrison. Dave nodded his head to everyone as he left; the others staring after him.
"Well now we know," said Augustine as the door banged shut.
Mary merely rolled her eyes in exasperation as she sorted the mail on her desk tossing several pieces of official mail to the side to process later.
"Bet she moves in with him before next weekend," she said setting letters aside for Dave. "Well here's one from her postdated York, Pennsylvania."
The two could not by regulation hold hands as they walked down to the NCO Club, Dave was just thrilled that she made it to Germany safely and was by his side again.
"So you just got in?" he asked as they walked out to the main street running past the PX and the Top Hat Club, or NCO Club complex.
"Late this morning. We were bussed to 121st Replacement; a shuttle van brought the women assigned to Frankfurt straight to the WAC Detachment."
David was floating on the figurative Cloud Nine with Maryann walking beside him now. Before days such as this he could only dream or imagine what it would be like to have her beside him again.
They joined several other people walking into the club for lunch. They were shown to a table on the far side of the floor away from the main crowd. The hostess, a German lady seated them at a table for two.
"Everything I said it would be, huh?" he grinned as the hostess laid menus down for them, took their order for drinks and left.
"It's okay." She smiled and blushed as she read the noon time menu.
"Maryann, I told you about the apartment. Later I'll get the pickup keys from Auggie and drive you over to the apartment to see it. It's not that far. You must have missed my letter about the apartment. I changed from the loft to a two room apartment on the first floor.
Maryann leaned forward toward Dave to whisper: "Why not. I am eligible to live off post if I want. Convention on my part is what ruined us. I did a lot of soul searching while I was in Hawaii and truthfully, I have a lot to make up to you."
Dave was silent a minute then said: "And I have a lot to make up to you too. I'm truly sorry for what I did to you and didn't do, Maryann. I mean, if we were somewhere else, I'd be on my knees begging your forgiveness."
Maryann reached under the table to take his hand in hers. The gesture sent a thrill
through him. "This is enough for me, Dave. We both have a lot to make up for. And yes, now we have the time to go slow. We'll be starting over again."
"And nowhere to go."
The waitress brought them sodas and took their orders.
Later they walked back to Dave's office; Dave was able to get the keys to the section pickup.
Augustine was shocked as David walked out with the keys to the truck. Specialist Mary Urban, the clerk was not surprised.
"Told you," was all she said as the vault door slammed shut.
David drove Maryann back to the WAC Detachment where she was able to get several changes of clothes for the weekend, plus her surprise for David too that weekend.
He drove her to the apartment giving her a short tour of the neighborhood as he drove to the street the apartment was on. "The neighborhood is a morgue during the day."
"That quiet? I think I like it all ready."
"Henri Burgaa Strasse is a one way street, east to west – wrong direction though."
Dave circled the block parking the truck in a space just big enough to park a Volkswagen.
"Parking is more confined then Hawaii."
"Hawaii has an excuse – it's an island – Frankfurt's excuse is – it was once a walled city."
The two laughed as Dave ran around the truck to open the door for Maryann and help her out. She had to catch herself from being too independent. Dave was always the perfect gentleman with her: holding the door, extending his hand or arm to her. It was always his desire to be the perfect gentleman with her.
Dave led her to the apartment that was on the first floor, a young German couple took his fourth floor flat; David and the couple spent a weekend swapping apartments. She set her things in the bed room. The room smelled heavenly to her; the scent of starched sheets and a freshly cleaned apartment.
"Mmm, I love that. Smells like my room back home."
He assured she had the section's German or Deutsche Bundas Post phone number and how to use German phones. Finally it was getting late Dave had to get back to duty. He left Maryann at the apartment to get some sleep while he returned to duty.
Watching David leave back to duty, Maryann realized what it was like to watch her man going to work. Someday she'd be having him bring home bread, milk, and butter – and baby things. She closed the door, David reminding her to lock the door. Locking the door she turned her back to it reminding her self again, it was David's love for her that she gave up Hawaii. But then again she was getting tired of being confined on the island, and then there was Buckmann. Buckmann could become too over bearing. She had to do something to get away from him or no telling what he'd have done to her.
Sometimes David could become overbearing too but she found the key to making him back off. Yet, Dave was good to her. She had a lot to make up for. A tear ran down her face as she started to the bed room to get some sleep.
Late day sun light filtered past the adjacent apartment buildings and heavy brocade curtains waking Maryann. She looked at the bedside clock: three fifteen in the afternoon. She still had to come to grips with the time change in Central Europe. She got up, took a shower, dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops.
Opening the shrunk, a large free-standing clothes closet, Maryann started to take a place in the shrunk for her things when she saw Dave's dress uniform. She held the jacket out to look at the combat patch, the 1st Signal Brigade (Forward) and the air assault badge and the array of ribbons. She saw Dave had another Army Commendation award, but it was the Bronze Star with V device and Oak Leaf Cluster, and Purple Heart with Oak Leaf cluster she was interested in. She recalled those decorations when she first met Dave.
She remembered seeing the awards and decorations when David was on Temporary Duty to Fort Benjamin Harrison those three months; it was love at first sight for them. And David waited all this time for her to come back to him. She looked at the ribbons, lightly touching them, afraid to stain them or disturb them.
What kind of man, she wondered, would do that for a woman? Wait for her like this?
By five-thirty that evening Dave was letting himself into the apartment. Maryann was in the kitchen fixing them supper. David finally had someone to come home to at night. They wrapped their arms around each other to kiss and hold on to each other for a moment.
"We have the whole weekend and nothing to do but vegetate."
"We're not rushed like we used to be."
"Strange for once."
They laughed and Maryann showed him what she found in the cupboard. "…And the stove has no broiler so I have to do the meat on top of the stove, pan frying it."
"I know. I had a tough time getting used to that myself."
"Can we go to the commissary tomorrow for a few things I need to get?"
"Sure." He held up the one item that was universal around the world. "Can opener. Only so many so many ways you can change this."
Dave sat down at the table to take his boots off. "Get some sleep?"
"Yes, thank you. You're right; this neighborhood is dead during the day."
Dave looked up at Maryann. His eyes swept over her sylvan body which he'd always admired. Maryann's golden hair free of the severe bun she wore now cascaded down her back. At that point just that they were together was all he wanted. His life as a bachelor had come to an end that day.
He went to change and shower and put on his denim's and old loafers from high school. He stepped into the bath room to see two tooth brushes and two tubes of tooth paste where there was one this morning.
"She's here to stay," he said to his reflection in the mirror.
Dave went back to the bed room to retrieve the small blue velvet box that had been in a safe in his section since he got to Germany. He was going to ask her one more time to be his wife. He put the box with the ring set in his pocket and went out to the kitchen.
Dave helped Maryann finish supper, which was their first home cooked meal together.
The table set, they sat across from each other staring at each other.
Maryann spoke up: "Can I ask something?"
"Can we say grace?"
Dave smiled as he held his hands out to Maryann. They clasped hands as Dave said a short prayer then they ate. They got around to their various jobs. David was hoping to avoid that but they both slipped in to the easy subject of work.
"That was the CMDSA crew." He said with a grin. "How we get anything done around there I don't know."
Maryann smiled remembering everyone from the section in the inside hallway staring at her as David kissed her.
"As far as I know, I'll be working up at the IG Farben Building in the Fifth Corps Headquarters building."
"Good, 'cause I get over there every day during the week – and if you want, I can drive you to work. I have to make the morning run to the Farben building commcenter by seven hundred."
Maryann caught herself almost saying it was okay. He'd have been hurt.
Dave explained the street car or as it is properly called, the strasse bahn and bus routes to her. "Living just off the strasse route has its advantages – we can go anywhere in
the city right from in front of the apartment."
When they ate they went into the living room to sit. The evening progressed to one of romantic kissing and talks of their future together.
Maryann sat close to him, her head on his shoulder as they talked.
David took the small blue box from his pocket. Maryann lifted her head to look at the box remembering the first time he took it out at a restaurant to ask her to marry him. Flipping the box open with the thumb he held it so she could see the ring set.
He asked, the words came haltingly: "Maryann, will you still be my wife?"
Maryann put her hands on her mouth. She nodded her head up and down as she started to cry. "Yes. And this time the ring will not come off my finger."
Using both hands, Maryann sat up as David took the ring from the box to slip on her finger.
David set the box aside as they kissed and hugged, Maryann crying as she looked at the ring again, the one she took off over a year ago. David placed the ring back on her left hand finger.
"And I have something just for you," she said sitting up again. "Wait here."
Maryann went to the bedroom closing the door. David sat on the sofa staring at the door to the room trying to imagine what Maryann was doing that would be a surprise for him. Little did he know. A short time later the door opened. Maryann stood in the open door in the pristine white baby doll and negligee and white strappy heels. David felt that his breath had been taken from him as he gazed at this vision of beauty.
Maryann seemed to glide across the room to David's side, the hint of silk as she settled beside him. The ring reflected the last light of the summer day as they kissed and vowed never to be separated again.
Saturday morning Maryann opened her eyes from the dream of her and David and a night of unbridled love making. She rolled over feeling for David – nothing. She sat up looking around. She could just make out the baby doll and panty lying at the bottom of the bed. David's side of the bed was empty. She sniffed the air.
Maryann lay back with a smile. "Coffee. David drinks that trucker's coffee." She felt herself. "Sore. I suppose I'll be okay."
She got up walking out to the short hall, she looked in the living room, nothing. Peeking in to the kitchen she saw David sitting at the table reading. When he got up earlier David let her sleep.
Maryann took a shower and put on clean panties and a T-shirt and the bath robe. She stepped in to the kitchen putting a hand on his shoulder.
"How long have you been up, hone?" she asked kissing him then sniffing the pot of coffee. "How can you drink this stuff?"
David returned her kiss. He grinned laying the book aside. "Hey, that's good trucker's coffee there."
She turned to level a frown on him. "How many scoops?"
Maryann rolled her eyes toward the ceiling. "Oh boy."
He got up to kiss her. Maryann said: "I hate to tell you, hone, but your breath is like the inside of a coffee urn."
"I'll take care of that right away."
Maryann smiled. David was doing everything he could since yesterday to please her.
Maryann pulled out the frying pans and started two of the burners.
David came back to breathe on her. "Okay?"
Maryann turned put her hands on his chest: "Hone, look for us to get along together let's be ourselves. In other words, as the song goes: act natural."
She pulled him down to her to kiss him.
David wrapped his arms around her. "I guess I am still getting used to the idea that I have you back and just happy is all."
"I know. Oh… the pans!"
Later the two changed, Dave took Maryann to the commissary where she was able to get the items she needed plus a few extra groceries for the apartment. Maryann had her list of items figured out. Dave looked the part of a married man as he pushed the shopping cart along the isle with dozens of other men trailing their women. Maryann enjoyed the moment as he dutifully followed her along the isles. She placed each item in the cart and checked it off the list. They returned to the apartment late in the morning.
On occasion he stopped to look at a box, deciding whether to add it to the things she picked out. She would turned, look at the item in his hand, shake her head: "No." and put it back.
The other women would smile their approval at her, the men merely shook their heads in sympathy.
When they arrived back at the apartment Dave wanted to take Maryann out for a walk around the area and hop a strasse downtown to an area called the Ziel – a huge underground mall full of shops, restaurants, clothing stores, gift shops, and bakery's.
Dave lay across the bed watching Maryann as she changed. She took out of her bag a
summer dress she'd bought in Hawaii when she first got there. She slipped it on then turned to Dave.
"What do you think?" She held her hands out.
Dave sat up with a big smile on his face looking her up and down. "Mind if I whistle?"
"Sure. It's been a long time since I had you whistle at me." Maryann lay across the bed facing Dave. "Only you."
Dave whistled then kissed her. "Come on, you have a city waiting to meet you."
Monday morning Dave opened the combinations to the various vaults of their section. He picked up the courier valise from Mary Urban's desk. She had not arrived yet. It would only be a matter of minutes before she arrived.
The latch clicked open. It was Mary arriving. "Dave?"
"In the back section, Mary." He looked around the corner to see Mary. "`Morning."
"So … dare I ask, before the others arrive, how it went this weekend?" She leaned on the door frame gazing at him, her mysterious smile that she used when she did not want anyone to guess her true intentions or what she was thinking.
"Not to pry or embarrass you, but did she – the girl, move in with you?"
"Yes." He knew when he needed to, he could confide in Mary.
"She's a sweet girl. I could tell just the few seconds I saw of her. And she came all the way from Hawaii for you? She has to be one helluva woman to do that for you."
Dave felt a brief embarrassment at Mary's remark.
"We'll have to get together some time so you can get to know her."
Friday that weekend marked the last day of "freedom" for Maryann. Maryann and David were sitting in the living room following supper when two sharp pops sounded outside their window. David, a Vietnam veteran was still keyed up from combat even after three years, and a short tour state side at Fort Carson, shoved Maryann to the floor laying over her covering her with his body.
"Stay down," he told her. "Don't move."
"What is it?" she managed to ask.
The breaking of glass followed the first two pops then more bangs and pops more glass breaking. David held Maryann down talking to himself in radio short hand.
"Gulf – Tango, self-authenticate Foxtrot Victor, request immediate TAC air at grid fifty-nine six Juliet nineteen five how copy over?"
Maryann turned her head to look at David still holding her down, he was staring at the floor talking to himself. She worked herself out from under him.
"David, David snap out of it! This isn't Vietnam!" she said as she tried shaking him.
The noise outside the apartment was replaced by the sound of sirens and polizie arriving. Maryann listened to the sound. She lifted herself up enough to see a green one ton truck stop behind a car as four Polizie jump out with machine guns, thrown themselves against the car aiming the machine guns at the roof. Additional heavily armed Polizie were jumping out of the back of the truck. Within minutes of arriving, they had the building surrounded.
David stared at Maryann wondering for a second where he was. She could see he was confused, his surroundings were briefly unfamiliar. For the moment he wanted to do something but just what he wasn't sure.
"Dave, you okay?" Maryann pushed her hair out of her eyes gripping David by the shoulders. "You scared me."
Drawing in a deep breath David said weakly: "Yeah, I'm okay." He sat up to listen to the voices of the polizie. He kissed her saying: "Stay here."
He went to the door opening it just as three polizie officers started up the stairs. The last officer stopped. "Stay in the apartment."
The German family across the hallway backed into their apartment, the man gestured to Dave to do the same as he closed the door.
David closed the door. Maryann stood at the living room door tears running down her cheeks. "What is it?"
"I don't know but you don't talk back to the German Polizie SWAT team. And stay away from the windows."
The two stepped back into the bedroom hugging each other.
"It's all right, hone."
Maryann sat on the bed softly crying. Dave went back to the front opening the door
peered out to see the polizie escort the young German couple and their friends down stairs to clean up the mess.
The young man waved to Dave. "It's okay, just a misunderstanding."
"Some misunderstanding," said Dave. He reached in to the kitchen to get the waste
basket and broom. "What did your friends do?"
"Old Bavarian tradition before the wedding," a girl replied in German. "It chases the demons from their doorway."
Dave stepped back to the door. "Maryann, come on, it's okay."
Maryann dried her eyes to see what was happening. Dave with the Germans, the Polizie SWAT team supervising, cleaned up the glass and fireworks.
Dave explained to Maryann the tradition as Hans, the young German man explained the tradition.
"Wrong timing on that though, isn't it?" Dave asked.
"Pardon?" Hans said looking at Dave.
"Aren't the World Soccer championship games being played here, in Frankfurt next week before going to Barcelona, Spain?"
The German kids looked surprised. The Polizie just nodded as the glass was cleaned up.
When the glass and expended fireworks was cleaned up Dave and Maryann stepped back into their apartment.
"I didn't know you spoke German?" she said as he set her down at the kitchen table.
"Street or gasthaus German," he said sitting across from her. "Um, listen, let's get out of here for a while. Relax and – try to enjoy ourselves on your last weekend."
"Romer Platz. I go down there when I want to get away from myself for a couple hours."
Maryann changed from her household attire to a summer dress and walking shoes. They caught the strasse bahn into the city, the strasse letting them off in the Romer Platz. The strasse's door slammed shut behind them and left to its next stop. David and Maryann found themselves in an even worse predicament.
"Oh shit!" Dave breathed as he tightly held Maryann's hand.
University students were crowed behind Police barriers, Police with water cannon trucks were on the other side. The students were protesting the city raising transportation fees the next month.
"David … what do we do?" Maryann asked in a quaking voice.
Dave waved to them. "Um, nice night for a block party eh, guys?"
The students and polizie waved to the two.
"Now run like hell and follow me."
The two turned and ran down a series of back alleys that came out to the Main River.
"This is turning out to be a hellva night," he said grabbing the back of a park bench looking over the river.
Maryann breathed heavily catching her breath. "I've had more excitement in one weekend then I did the whole time I was in Hawaii."
Getting his breath back, Dave led Maryann around to the bench to sit. Getting their breath and frayed nerves back they cuddled up to each other. Quietly they held hands gazing out over the river watching the river barges, tour boats, and a few pleasure craft plying the river in the late summer evening.
After a few minutes of silence Dave said: "More then several of my letters to you were written from here. It seemed to take all day but I'd just sit and watch the boats go by, people walking past, and thinking of you."
"You'd be surprised how many of my letters to you were written on the beach."
"And now we can enjoy the Main River together."
Maryann thought a minute then asked: "Would you enjoy a beach?"
Without hesitation he said: "Yes. But there is only one problem."
Maryann raised a brow. "Which is?"
"We're in the middle of Europe – which one? The North Sea off Netherlands: Normandy, France, or the Rivera? And there are three on the Rivera to choice from."
Maryann smiled at Dave's answer. "Anywhere you'd be is alright by me."
They kissed again then turned back to gaze at the river.
Maryann struggled to ask Dave a question that had been troubling her since the fireworks and breaking of glass on the apartment building steps.
"Dave I need to ask you a question."
Dave turned to Maryann: "Mm?"
"At the apartment when the fireworks went off, did you actually think those were gun shots?"
Looking out over the river, Dave seemed to search his mind for the correct answer.
"I know you were in `Nam, but you never said what you did."
"I was …or have been trying to forget."
The two were silent a moment longer then Maryann asked: "Then may I ask this – it's for my own peace of mind, David. What did you do over there?"
Dave turned to face Maryann. "I owe you that much." He kissed her hand then glanced back to the river drawing in a breath of the damp air from the water. "As you know I do crypto work – which I'm supposed to be a fixed station operator. At least that's the way the MOS reads, but the Army seemed to have forgotten about places like `Nam when the job listing was written."