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Published by DLGuerra
I had thought of presenting this as a piece of short, short fiction. Obviously it is more of a personal reflection on one of the most marvelous marriages I have ever witnessed.
I had thought of presenting this as a piece of short, short fiction. Obviously it is more of a personal reflection on one of the most marvelous marriages I have ever witnessed.

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Published by: DLGuerra on Aug 26, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 by D.L.Guerra
©2009 All Rights Reserved
My father’s greatest danger came when he jumped from the deck of the USS Noa during the dark of night while enroute to the Palau Islands inWorld War II. A United States’ destroyer’s clumsy maneuver had causedthe debacle. Dad’s active duty -- after having been in “ten operationsagainst the enemy in the South, Southwest, and West Central Pacific”(according to a scrap of type-written paper signed by H.W. Boud, Lieut-Comdr. Commanding) -- effectively ended although he did have the pleasureof attending the ramming captain’s court-martial at a later date. The womanknown, belatedly, to our family as “Crazy Mary” had just one dangerousmoment in her life: when my mother tracked her down with a doublewarning.Growing up, none of us had any inkling of this lost, self-appointed oldlover’s existence. I doubt my father could have recalled her with any precision, although he later applied the blanket term “old flame” after her carryings-on, begun late and at strange intervals, began to annoy my mother.My parents were wed in 1950. By estimation my father, born in 1922,most probably encountered the unfortunate Mary after his return from theservice. By then he was ripe for the optimistic celebration of his generation,a period when twenty-something fellows were “gay young dogs” (as he putit back then) in the full flourishing of young males’ attractiveness, andthrusting forward into the Eisenhower years. Flush with new jobs andmoney, Dad quickly got himself a new car, one he sold at a few hundreddollars’ profit within six months.
Perhaps among friends in a local watering hole, he might have metthis woman, although it is remotely possible they rubbed elbows as older teens in the laid-back Wilmington, Delaware of the late 1930s. Young girlswere apt to put romance and marriage first in those times, with the call tothese accelerating as the war unfolded.It was in the mid-1980s, during a visit to my parents’ house fromMiami or Chicago or wherever we were living, that I beheld my father standing in the kitchen, ear at the receiver of a green wall phone. He bentforward slightly with mouth somewhat open, and listened, stymied, tosomeone’s discourse on the other line.“Who is it? Who is it?” My mother looked up from the table,instantly on the alert for any kind of threat.Dad maintained his polite posture, nodding, but with bulging eyes,and then said “All right, all right. Good-bye now.” and hung up.Then my mother schooled me in the story of Crazy Mary, whoimagined herself an “old girl friend” of my father’s and was more thananxious to reconnect with him after three decades and counting.Perhaps an unhappy marriage or a family crisis compelled Mary totrack him down and start dialing. From the early 1920s, our family’s namehad been present in all Wilmington directories. An unlisted number wasunthinkable. Originally from this staid little town, she had ready access.Oddly enough, my mother informed us, Mary might deliver  protestations of affection toward my father once or twice a year. Anextended silence of months extending into years might break with a jinglingof the phone. These occasional calls persisted despite Mary’s own lawfullyand publicly acknowledged marriage (wherever that was unfolding).

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