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Author Topic: Traveling Soldier  (Read 726 times)

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Offline That Girl AnaliseTopic starter

Traveling Soldier
« on: November 15, 2010, 04:42:51 PM »

Marissa Johnson adjusted the jukebox volume for what felt like the millionth time that shift. The girl she worked with, Julie, while smart, had the tendency to turn the volume up to a point that customers would begin to complain. It had been a long shift overall; dissatisfied customers, large groups, that kind of thing. But what could she do? A little over an hour and she would be able to go home. The best part? It was payday. Marissa had been saving up to go see her boyfriend a couple of towns over, and she was so close. She wondered what he was doing right now, and if he was thinking of her. She would know in a couple more weeks, wouldn't she?

Offline Kaizen

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2010, 09:18:44 AM »

Two weeks before his birthday, James received his selective service letter.  It was titled. ‘Order to Report for Induction’.  He had been drafted.  The letter didn’t really bother him, in some ways he was relieved to get drafted.  He knew his name would be called when he heard on the news that congress had doubled the draft.  Maybe if he had someone it would have been different, James didn’t have any real family or friends.  Maybe if he had someone he cared about or someone who cared about him he would have tried to dodge the draft.  But there wasn’t anyone.  Just an alcoholic uncle that couldn’t care less about him, the man was actually overjoyed and eager to be rid of the burden of fostering his dead brother’s kid.

On the afternoon of August 15th, two days after turning eighteen, with a green duffle slung over his shoulder, and in a matching green uniform James started walking down the road.  His orders were to be in the lobby of the post office when the bus arrived at seven p.m.  He set out early in case he couldn’t hitch a ride, twenty miles was a long ways to walk.  After about five miles, he managed to thumb down an old flatbed pickup truck.  The driver was nice enough to let him ride in the back all the way to town.

“Thanks mister.” James shouted with a wave as the rusty old truck drove away.  Kicking at the dust in the street, James walked to the post office and took a seat on an empty bench out front.  There really wasn’t much to look at.  It seemed like any other typical town.  A movie theatre, “Spinout” starring Elvis was on the marquee, a dime drug store, and a diner lined the street opposite the view from the post office.  It was going to be a long wait.  The unexpected ride put him far ahead of schedule.  James thought about going to see the new Elvis movie, but he really wasn’t in the mood.  His nerves were a mess.  Not wanting to be alone, and the diner his only other option, James snatched up his duffle and went to the diner for a bite to eat and hopefully some company.

A small bell chimed when he opened the door, but the volume of the jukebox overpowered any noise the bell could produce.   The Four Tops belted out over the diner, “Reach Out I’ll Be There” as James shuffled his feet to an empty booth and after slinging his duffle in, he slid in on the far side of the booth so he could watch the folks in the diner.  He picked up a menu even though he didn’t have much of an appetite or much money either, and pretended to read. 

(Picture: Yearbook Photo, Senior year 1965, James Lloyd, Offensive Guard)

Two days past eighteen
He was waiting for the bus in his army green
Sat down in a booth in a cafe there
« Last Edit: November 19, 2010, 02:49:29 PM by Kaizen »

Offline That Girl AnaliseTopic starter

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2010, 10:05:45 AM »
At first, Marissa hadn't noticed the male who had walked into the diner. She hadn't heard the bell signaling his entrance, and had been busy attending to a couple with a newborn. She had been cooing over the little thing for a few minutes before she looked up and noticed the male in Julie's section who had yet to be served, wondering how long the male had been there. By the looks of it, he'd been drafted to fight in the Vietnam war; they would get these every once in a while; men who came early to the spot they were to report to to kill their time. She had no problem with the crowds, but she always felt sorry for the men she saw uprooting their lives to go fight against their will. What the government needed, though, they took, and for now it just so happened to be these men's lives.

With Julie nowhere in sight, Marissa walked over to his table. "What can I get you today," she asked, fighting the urge to give the male sympathy. She needed to treat him as just another customer, as giving a person special treatment could upset some. She looked the male over: such a shame that he'd have to leave. He probably had a girl who was madly in love with him, someone he had probably been planning to marry. She thanked her lucky stars that her beau had yet to be drafted, and hoped she'd never have to worry about the person she loved being killed in a war. She didn't envy those that did.

Offline Kaizen

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2010, 11:47:49 AM »
“Oh, Ah… Ah… Hi, I’m James.”  Was all he could manage, wide eyes and stammering to find words to say.  James was stunned.  His waitress was a looker, a real beauty, something right out of the movies, or at least it seemed to him like she was.  It took him a few seconds to realize he was staring, but he snapped out of it and ordered something.  “I… I’ll have the apple pie and a glass of milk please.” James said. 

“I.. I know you’re awfully busy,” he said humbly after he ordered, “but I’m feeling pretty low and I need someone to talk to before I go off to...” his eyes fell from his waitress to look down at his hands, he couldn’t finish the sentence.  He didn’t want to say the word Vietnam.  To him it meant he accepted a death sentence.  But there were worse things, like being alone and in Vietnam.  He returned his watery blue eyes back to look up at the stranger taking his order, “Could you please talk with me for a little while?” He fumbled with the frayed corner of the menu, fearing she would reject him, but hoping that she would accept.

Gave his order to a girl with a bow in her hair
He's a little shy so she gives him a smile
And he said would you mind sittin' down for a while
And talking to me,
I'm feeling a little low

« Last Edit: November 19, 2010, 02:50:41 PM by Kaizen »

Offline That Girl AnaliseTopic starter

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2010, 11:59:49 AM »
She smiled at the male before her -James, it seemed was his name. "Well, James, I'm Marissa," she smiled at him, filling up at least some of the silence with her answer. When he did finally manage to make his selection, she smiled "Good choice, the apple pie is one of my favorites! Would you like that warmed up?" she asked as she jotted it down for the chef in the back.

When he made his second request, she paused. She took a good look at the man before her -she wasn't much younger than this man before her... There was a good possibility that he was just barely eighteen. She looked into his blue eyes and saw the fear that was real and devastating, and could only imagine what he mus be feeling at the moment, what must await him after he went through boot camp. "Well..." she looked around the diner; things had quieted down, but she still had duties that she had to take care of before the end of her shift. "I can't really stay and talk right now, I've got customers waiting for me," she paused, thinking for a moment. "I do get off in an hour, though. I know of somewhere we can go and talk, if you want," she said. There was no harm in easing this poor male's mind before he had to go off and fight a war.

Offline Kaizen

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2010, 02:28:29 PM »
“Marissa,” her name rolled off his tongue, it felt every bit as right as syrup on pancakes.  “Warm, yes please.” He answered her question about the pie.

When she said she couldn’t talk right now and paused, James’s heart sank like the Titanic.  The pause lasted forever it seemed to him, someone throw this boy a life preserver.  He checked out the window to make sure his bus hadn’t arrived, but only a few seconds had really transpired.  When she finally spoke again and agreed to talk after she got off work, the relief James felt at not being rejected was enough to encourage his appetite.  Apple pie was sounding better by the second.

“Okay” he managed to say, near speechless, giving Marissa his best smile, “in an hour, you promise?” he asked for reassurance, those blue eyes of his searching for sincerity. 

Over the course of the next hour, he checked his watch a hundred times if not more.  The jukebox played on, the same five or six songs over and over.  Elvis, Simon and Garfunkel, The Four Tops and The Beatles would forever commemorate the afternoon when James met Marissa.  Knowing that she was the last friendly face he would see before going to bootcamp, he felt a pang of regret for not having a girlfriend.  For still being a virgin, and not living life to it’s fullest every chance he got.  Now that it was time for him to leave his home and face death every day on the other side of the world, everything seemed more precious to him.  The apple pie was the best he ever had, the music was the best he ever heard, and Marissa was the prettiest girl he had ever seen.  He tried not to stare, but sometimes he couldn’t help it.  He watched her work, oh how beautiful she was to him.  And all she did was agree to talk to him.  To fill in those last few hours of freedom before going off to war.

Offline That Girl AnaliseTopic starter

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2010, 04:47:08 PM »
Marissa nodded. "I promise," she smiled at him before taking his order over to the kitchen. She had no idea what it really meant to him that she said yes, but she knew it would do no harm to sit with him until his bus came. She was going to take him to her favorite spot: about half a mile down the way and two left turns was the pier, and the area was usually a nice place to go sit and relax; she had spent much time there this summer with her beau, and after he left to go back home she continued to go there once or twice a week to just get away from things for a bit.

By the time his order was ready, Julie had already returned, and Marissa pointed out his table and order. She went back to her job, and, typical Julie, she flirted with the male. What Marissa didn't notice was she was all James was looking at was her. Had she known, she probably would have blushed, would have hidden her face from view. The time flew in that last hour of her work, and soon enough she was hanging up her apron in the back and heading to the front, paycheck in her purse. "You ready to go?" she asked him, and waited for him to gather his stuff and follow her out.

She led the way down the road, not saying much along the way. What was she supposed to say to a guy she barely knew? One that was about to go off and die, no less, in Vietnam.

Offline Kaizen

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2010, 01:21:58 PM »
While he waited, he picked at the pie and mostly daydreamed about what Marissa was like.  He was a bit surprised when she asked if he was ready to go, the time had flown by.  He didn’t expect her to follow through on her promise, but was grateful when she did.  He flashed a big smile and said, “Yeah, I’m ready.”  He grabbed his duffle bag and followed her out.

“Thank you, Marissa.” James said as he matched her pace, walking beside her.  He had no clue where she was leading him to.  He didn’t really care.  His mind was occupied with Marissa and not on bootcamp or the Army.  “Did you have plans? I hope I’m not a bother.  But I’ve been alone for most of my life, and I just wanted someone to talk to before I… I… you know, before I go to war.”  He didn’t want her to pity him, that wasn’t his intention at all.  But he could understand if she did, he would pity him too if he were Marissa.  But feeling sorry for himself wasn’t something he allowed himself to do.  Those feelings didn’t accomplish anything.  They only got in the way.

“So tell me, Marissa, what grade are you in?” James engaged in small talk, asking a question and listening intently on what she had to say before asking another.  He had very little time and he wanted to make a friend out of Marissa before he had to go.  He asked about her family, if she had any brothers or sisters.  What she liked to study in school, if she even liked school.  He asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, her favorite flavor of ice cream, and dozens of other questions someone would ask when getting to know another.  He would share a little about himself as well, even though there wasn't really much to say.  His parents had died when he was seven and his uncle had raised him.  He liked football and cholocate milkshakes, that's about all there was to unravelling the mysteries of James Lloyd.

He discovered where she was taking him to when they rounded a second left turn and saw a beautiful lake, serene and booming with the color of autumn leaves.  There was a pier stretching out over the water.  He imagined it was a summer hot spot for vacationers.  He imagined they would haul their families off to camp at the lake.  He could picture kids running down the pier only to jump in the refreshing cool waters of the lake.  The thought brought a smile to his face.  “Wow this place is so beautiful.” He said as he looked at Marissa, not really talking about the lake.

Offline That Girl AnaliseTopic starter

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2010, 02:09:48 PM »
Marissa smiled at him as he thanked her "It's not problem at all. I didn't have anything important to do for a while, so it's fine," her smile was sincere as she looked at him. She may not have known exactly what he was feeling about leaving, but she could imagine. She wondered what it would be like, leaving her home behind to go to a boot camp and then off to a foreign country, where you didn't know if you were going to live through the night and see the sun the next day... Marissa shivered internally. She couldn't imagine.

As they walked, Marissa answered his questions, asking many of the same ones back, and asking a few of her own, and listened to his answers. She told him she was in 11th grade, and that he loved music... Her favorite class last year was marching band, and she played the piccolo. And she told him about her parents, how she was an only child, but only because her mother had had complications. She admitted that she had always wanted to be an actress, and how her favorite was Julie Andrews, but she had not the talent for such a thing. She told him how instead she would study to be a teacher like her mother had once been. She told him that she, too, adored chocolate milkshakes, but thought there was nothing better than a scoop of plain vanilla on a hot day.

She smiled when he saw the lake, and her face lit up, glad he liked it, unaware that he was talking about her. "This is one of my favorite places in the whole town!" she said, excitedly looking at him. She grabbed his hand and started moving him faster, making her way over to the pier. when her shoes hit the wood she let go of his hand and continued on, giving a little twirl before she got to the end. She sat down and tucked her skirt under her, dangling her legs over the end and looked out onto the lake, looking up at her companion and patting the spot beside her.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 03:16:24 PM by That Girl Analise »

Offline Kaizen

Re: Traveling Soldier
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2010, 02:53:44 PM »
Her smile brought him more happiness in that one instant than he could remember any time since his parents had passed.  She grabbed his hand and like a kite on a string, he dropped his duffle bag and floated into the clouds.  James soared in the sky as he followed Marissa onto the pier.  When she let go of his hand he feared that he might float away.  From his view in the clouds he watched her go down the pier and twirl around so free and careless.  James envied her.  She seemed so free spirited like the wind.  She seemed to not have a worry in the world, lost in the moment and content to just be. 

When the Marissa settled and patted the spot next to her on the pier, James floated down to rest beside her.  His heart thumped in his chest when he realized how close he had sat next to her.  It seemed inappropriate to sit so close to someone he just met - someone he barely knew.  But it felt right.

“Marissa…” he said pausing to think about how to word what he was going to say next.  He looked across the lake, searching, hoping to find the words he wanted to say laying somewhere on the bank.  ”… I bet you got a boyfriend, but I don’t care.” He turned his head and looked at her, into her brown and beautiful eyes.  “I got no one to send a letter to, would you mind if I sent one back to you?” 

She said I'm off in an hour and I know where we can go

So they went down and they sat on the pier
He said I bet you got a boyfriend but I don't care
I got no one to send a letter to
Would you mind if I sent one back here to you

« Last Edit: November 29, 2010, 12:22:35 PM by Kaizen »