WHEN DARK CLOSES IN
Chapter I – Part 2
1975 – Seattle, Washington
“Hey, honey, are you ready yet?” he asked, coming into the dressing room, grabbing up his car keys from the nightstand. “If you primp anymore we’ll be…” His whistle was the only approval she needed .
“You look spectacular! Maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.” he added.
“Thank you. What ‘idea’?”
“Our being late, or maybe not going at all. We could stay here and have our own party,” he answered, wrapping his arms around her. “Do we really have to go?”
“Are you kidding? Miss a chance to meet my old school chums? Those girls are waiting to meet you. They would hate me if we didn’t show up. You can’t back out now.”
“Right. The enthusiastic, supportive husband parading through the gauntlet. I can hardly wait.”
“Yes, I can see the excitement on your face. But, if you can suffer through Dana, and her boyfriend, I will make our time alone later, unforgettable.”
“Is that a promise?” he asked, a smile spreading across his face, his blue eyes searching hers.
“So. Was she a bad girl in high school?”
“She was kind of…, how to say this…she was…”
“Yes. But other than that, OK. The daughter of a rich Italian guy. She will try her wiles on you too I suppose, so don’t give her any opportunity to…”
“Come on to me? Gotcha. I’ll just wave my gold band at her, and let her know I’m a marked man. You have indelibly so planted your mark on me, that I couldn’t get it off if I tried.” He held up his left hand, wiggling his ring finger.
She laughed. “I’m glad to hear it.”
“And what’s the other one like?”
“Carolyn? Well, she is genuine, honest, but rather opinionated. The guys all called her, “nerdy and wordy,” an educated type, who often corrected our grammar in speech and English class, wrote poetry and essays with words no one else could even pronounce, and scored with the debate club.”
He laughed. “And then there’s you, in between. How did you get those two to even tolerate one another?”
“I didn’t. I just let them scrap it out, until one would walk away mad at the other. Scott was a couple of years ahead of us, and would just laugh at them, and try to mimic them when they weren’t around.” she said.
They were pulling out of the hotel’s parking lot when Marc flipped on a news station.
A returning war correspondent was reporting from his perspective on his assignment in Saigon. “Who would ever think life to take such turns in people’s lives? The world and its inhabitants does for certain contain volumes of history, wars won and lost, leaving still mysteries as to the fate of some, never a promised guarantee for the safe return of another…”
Jennifer reached over and turned off the radio, silencing the news correspondent. She grew pensive, quiet, and reflective.
No! Oh, God. What am I going to do? How can I avoid the questions, the gossip tonight?
She dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
“Honey, are you O.K.? You got so quiet and…” He looked over at her. “Are you crying? What gives? Jennifer! Look at me! Tell me!”
She just shook her head, cutting him off with a hand gesture.
How could she stop the dreams she had? The recent news stories just brought it all back.
They all have the same faces, but no names or recognition with the faces. She keeps seeing the back of a young woman walking through the shadows, her steps slow and halting. Body bags are filled with the corpses of dead soldiers, or their remains. A man is checking off names from military records, matching I.D. tags with identified remains using any possessions available to send home to families or wives. The woman looks through the possessions, I.D. tags, and finally the bodies and faces of the most recently found. She shakes her head each time to the military officer. She approaches the last corpse but cannot look. There is a premonition, a fear of the unknown. She hurries through the shadows of darkness trying to reach the light. But, the light is too far, the shadows, too great, the darkness permeating everywhere. The woman turns around looking for a place to run, a way out of the darkness.
To be continued…
Joyce E. Johnson