At last, the doors of the Smoke Jumper School opened and young men poured out. There he was; tanned and his blond hair bleached white by the summer sun. I jumped up and down, waving so he would find me in the crowd of wives. Of course the other vertically-challenged women did the same, but my shrill whistle, finally, made him turn his head. As always, that smile melted my longing heart. My guy was home; all was right in my world!
All the way back to the car, we looked like every other childless couple there…kissing and hugging as we searched for the right car in the parking lot. Those with children glanced at us; was that envy in their eyes?
I snuggled close to Curt for the miles back to our married-student apartment. This was when I learned that his unit had been assigned as paratroopers. A lot of his duty was spent learning how to jump out of planes. He had sprained his ankles on one of the practice runs with some kind of simulator, but they were fine soon afterwards. As he joked (or maybe not), the Army wouldn’t have cared; he’d be expected to jump when the time came, solid ankles or not.
“You look like you’ve dropped a lot of weight. Didn’t the Army feed you guys?”
“Oh, yeah, they fed us alright. We ran to get the grub at the Mess Hall three times a day.”
“Ran? Why did you run? Were you that hungry, or did they not always have enough, or what?”
“Well, there is a well-known fact with which I see you had not yet been acquainted, either. Jumpers don’t walk; they run everywhere they go…and I do mean everywhere. We ran to the head and back (toilet), we ran to the Mess Hall, and if the food made us sick; then, we ran back to the head. We ran to get in formation; we ran when the day was over and we were dismissed to barracks. Mail call? We ran both ways and then we ran to find a private place to read mail. We just didn’t put those feet to the outside ground, unless they were running.”
“But, why in the world did you sign up to jump out of planes? I’d have been horrified if I’d known you were doing that.”
“Uh-huh. Well, I think you’ve been away from the military world too long if you think they asked us what we wanted to do for the summer we were enjoying their hospitality. We arrived, we stood in formation, we snapped a salute as they handed us our orders; and, then, we ran to the paratroopers’ barracks. No one asked us if that would be okay with us, you know.” I groaned my sympathy. Of course, Uncle Sam made all the decisions; I’d forgotten how it was back then.
But, Curt was home now, safe and sound. That was the most important thing. Believe me, the Army was the last thing on our minds when we stumbled through the apartment door in each other’s arms!
There was an unfamiliar roughness to our lovemaking, but I just attributed it to the urgency related to the weeks of abstinence. I became afraid when Curt’s normally gentle, musician’s voice turned foul. He’d never used such bad language, and never used the Lord’s name in vain before this, in my presence anyway. What had happened to the kind, loving man I’d known since I was ten? He went off to military duty, but he didn’t come back.
“Curt, why are you talking like that? It’s awful.” He shrugged his shoulders as he replied, while walking out to the living room.
“It’s no big deal. It’s just the way we talk; it doesn’t mean anything.”
“Well, it may not mean anything to you, but it means something to me. Do you think hearing that spiteful way you use the Lord’s name blesses Him? It’s so disrespectful.”
“Give me a break, will you? Just let it go. I’ve got something I want to talk to you about. C’mon sit here beside me.”
“I’ve got something I wanted to talk to you about, too, but maybe not today. I’m just so shocked at the ‘new you.’” Curt smiled down at me as I took my place next to him on the sofa. Wrapping his arm around me, he tossed out his proposition.
He was so excited to tell me his new idea. All thoughts of adopting little Molly* dissolved; I was so dumbfounded. I really had never seen this one coming.
****The Beginning of the End, Conclusion…Next Post