Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
All Rights Reserved
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Correspondence may be directed to:
Mario V. Farina
Email: [email protected]
These are 16 stories in which women are the prominent performers. In this series, you’ll see the following stories.
Woman On The Phone
The Woman In The Diner
The Girl In Red
Girl With Binoculars
The Judge’s Dilemma
Mary Pickins Economist
What Was That You Said About Eloping
Nice Twin Mean Twin
I Married A Ghost
Terrible But I Loved It
A Reenactment To Justice
The Heavenly Sacrifice
“Hello Hildy, it’s Millie. You were right! He admitted it to me last night. I’m calling from outdoors. I don’t want Gerry hearing me. I’m not going to waste any time on this. I’m going to use the same attorney you did.”
“Good thinking,” responded Hilda Ellis, Mildred’s friend. “Lee Williams helped me a lot with my divorce. Lee bled that scoundrel of mine as much as anyone could. So far as Gerry is concerned, I think the quicker you get that worm out of the house, the better.”
“Thanks, Hildy. You’re a good friend. I’ll see if I can make an appointment for tomorrow. Bye.”
Mildred Olsen initiated another call.
“Gerard, I’m making an appointment with a lawyer. Hilda gave me the name of the lawyer she had when she divorced Frank. I want a divorce as soon as possible.”
“Shouldn’t we discuss division of assets before either of us sees an attorney. This way, each of us will make out better.”
“No, Gerard. I think the lawyers, fighting it out, will decide the best division. I’ll be talking to my lawyer tomorrow, and I’ll need to know the name of that bimbo of yours. Who is she?”
“That’s my business, Mildred. There’s no reason to get her mixed up with this.”
“Well, we’ll see what my lawyer has to say about that.”
Mildred was furious as she abruptly broke the connection. She decided to walk through the nearby park to cool down and think things over.
She was about half an hour into the walk when her phone rang. She hit the Talk button and was assailed by an angry voice. It was Gerard.
“Where do you get off talking to my lawyer?” he demanded!
“I did nothing of the kind,” she responded. “I don’t even know who your lawyer is.”
“You talked to Lee Williams and made an appointment for tomorrow. Cancel it!”
“I’ll do nothing of the kind,” declared Mildred. “Lee’s name was given to me by my friend, Hilda. I have the right to be represented by any lawyer I want.”
“This would be a conflict of interest for Lee. Cancel the appointment!” He hung up.
Mildred hit the buttons for Hilda’s number.
“Hildy, that snake is trying to steal my lawyer,” she exclaimed.
“Lee Williams? He has the same lawyer?”
“Yes, have you any idea how that happened?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Are you sure you don’t. There’s something sneaky going on here.”
“If there’s anything sneaky, I don’t know anything about it.”
“Hildy, I hate to ask you this, but you and Gerry seem to be a very cozy couple. Are you the one who’s been having the affair with him?”
“No,” shouted Hilda! “How dare you suggest that?” There was a loud click at the other end and the call was ended.
Mildred placed a call to Gerard. “You’ve been seeing Hilda, haven’t you?”
“You know who! My so-called friend, Hilda Olsen, that’s who! I just talked to her. She all but admitted it!”
“That’s crazy, Mildred. I hardly know her.”
“Go fry an egg!”
Stewing, she sat on a bench.
The phone rang. She hit talk. “Yes?”
It was Hilda.
“You told Gerry I was having an affair with him?”
“I’m sure of it!”
“You’re out of your mind.”
She hung up.
The phone rang again almost immediately. She hit talk and shouted, “If you’re going to apologize, forget it.”
“This is Lee Williams. Did you think it was somebody else?”
“Yes Lee, I apologize for the way I spoke to you.”
“That’s all right, Mildred. We’ll have to cancel our appointment for tomorrow. I can’t represent you.”
“Why, for goodness sake?”
“I’m representing your husband.”
“I’m afraid so!”
“Can’t you drop him and represent me instead, as one woman to another?”
“No, I can’t. I’m the other woman, Mrs. Olsen! I felt you needed to know sooner or later.”
The phone disconnected itself when Mildred dropped to the floor in a dead faint.
They were just finishing their Macaroni and Cheese. It was delicious, as usual, the way Adele had prepared it. She and Michael, her husband, ate in silence.
“Why have you been coming home late?” Adele asked the question in a quiet voice.
“No special reason.”
“Are you seeing someone?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a little.”
“Please answer the question!”
“Well, yes, I suppose it could be called that.”
“Who is she?” Her lower lip quivered. She had gotten the answer she feared.
“Just a woman.”
“Just a woman? How could anyone, besides me, be the woman in your life?”
“I mean, she’s not important to me.”
“What’s her name?”
“You don’t really want to know.”
“What do you have in mind with this person, who is just a woman to you?”
“Do you intend to marry her, this woman who is not important to you?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Have you made love with this woman?”
Michael was silent.
“Have you made love with this woman?”
“Yes.” He mumbled the answer, barely audibly.
“How long has been this going on?” Tears began to form in her eyes.
“I don’t know, a month, maybe more.”
“And you expect me to accept this?”
“I don’t know what I expect from you.”
“You don’t know what to expect? After almost five years of marriage? What’s the matter with me? Aren’t I good enough for you?” She began crying softly.
“There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s me. I’m the problem. Maybe I’m hypnotized. I don’t know.”
“Don’t come to bed tonight.” Adele went up the stairs to the bedroom.
Michael sat in the living room watching TV. His eyes were on the screen but seeing nothing. On an impulse, he walked up the stairs and into the bedroom. Adele was sobbing bitterly. He watched silently for several minutes without her knowing. He turned and went back to the living room.
He sat on the couch in his usual place, turned down the sound on the set, and picked up the phone. He dialed a number that he had memorized several weeks earlier.
“Irene, I need to tell you something. I just had a talk with Adele. We can’t go on.”
He listened for a long time.
“I know all that. I’m very sorry. It was mostly my fault. It was wrong.”
He listened again.
“All I can say is . . .” He didn’t finish the sentence; the other person had hung up. He placed the receiver back on its cradle.
He lay on the couch. Sleep did not come easily. The next day he left for work without showering or shaving, wearing the same clothing he had worn the day before.
Almost immediately, Adele entered the room and sat in the same place that Michael had occupied the night before. Using the same phone he had used, she dialed a number. “Wilma,” she said, “what’s the number of that psychologist you used when you and Fred were having trouble?”
Listening, she made a note, on a slip of paper pulled from the drawer of the end table nearby. “I’ll get back to you,” she said hurriedly and hung up. Staring at the paper, she dialed the number she had written.
That afternoon, she met with Janet Hilbert, the psychologist whose name Wilma had given her.
Janet was middle-aged, gray-haired, slightly overweight, wearing simple clothing, scholarly looking. She greeted Adele warmly, and invited her to sit in the overstuffed couch near the wall. Janet sat in a simple wooden chair facing her. “Tell me why you have come to see me,” she asked.
“My husband, Mike, told me last night that he had been unfaithful to me. This is all new to me. I need help in deciding what to do.”
“There is no one thing that is the right thing to do,” responded Janet. “Some women will feel that no amount of unfaithfulness can be tolerated. They will demand a divorce immediately. It will not matter what their financial circumstances, whether children are involved, what others may think. A single instance means the marriage is ended. I term these women as being, One Strike and Out. Others, rightly or wrongly, will attempt to save the marriage. It will never be the same; it will never even be approximately the same. But they will feel that a marriage is forever. I term these women, Devotedly Yours. I cannot tell you which type you are because every case is different and must be decided by the woman herself.”
“Is that all you’re going to tell me?”
“You haven’t helped me very much!”
“I believe I have. I’ve told you what you must do in order to decide what you should do!”
At home, Adele dialed Wilma. “I talked to Janet Hilbert,” she said.
“What did she tell you.”
“She told me I needed to decide whether to trash the marriage or fight to save it.”
“I hope you’ve decided to end it!”
“No, I haven’t decided yet. I wondered what you would advise.”
“I’ve already told you! Kick the maggot out! I did, with that rat of mine.”
“Thank you, Wilma. You’ve told me what I wanted to know.” She hung up.
The front door opened and Michael, disheveled and haggard looking, walked in. He didn’t speak.
“You’re home early,” said Adele.
“I was sent home. To clean up,” Ed said.
“You look terrible, Mike.”
“That talk we had last night. It bothered me.” He sank into the couch. She sat beside him.
Glaring at him, she said, “It bothered me too.”
“I’ve stopped seeing her.”
“I called her last night, and told her it was over.”
“That was very brave of you,” she declared sarcastically.
“You’re not making this very easy for me!”
“I don’t know why I should!”
“I want to get back to you, the way it was.”
“That impossible. It can’t ever go back to the way it was!”
“Adele, I don’t want to lose you!”
“Mike, it isn’t that easy! I need to do some thinking. I need to decide what kind of person I am.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I have to decide whether I’m of the type termed One Strike and Out or Devotedly Yours.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“Never mind, you don’t need to. Give me a moment.”
She was silent for a few seconds, then said, “I’ve decided what type I am. Go upstairs, clean up, and take a shower. When you’re done, come back. I’m devoted to you and to this marriage. We need to have a long talk about the future.”
11On this day, I did not go to the diner at the usual time. I had overslept and it was about nine. The Liberty Diner was a little less crowded than usual. I strolled toward my favorite booth and was unhappy to see a young woman already sitting there. She was reading a book while having breakfast.
There was an empty booth on the other side of the aisle. I selected one where I could keep the woman in view. She had caught my interest. First, she was reading a book. Nobody read books any more! I was a teacher of English Literature at Linden High School and no one knew this better than I. Second, she was attractive, but seemed lonely. Though not actually beautiful, there was a kindliness in her face that more than made up for that. Third, I was lonely too. At thirty, I had let love and marriage effervesce by being too preoccupied with academic affairs. These interests had taken their toll with wasted time. When the magic number of thirty arrived, I felt something should be done about catching up. I couldn’t tell what the woman’s age was but it seemed to be in a range that I should find acceptable.
The woman had not noticed me. There would have been no reason for this. She seemed thoroughly engrossed in her book. Every so often she would take a bite of food as if she had suddenly remembered to do it.
She had dark auburn hair. I couldn’t tell how tall she was since she was sitting. I would have guessed about five-five or five-six, perhaps a little too tall for me since I was shorter than average. She was thin and I was a little overweight. I found myself feeling ashamed of my thoughts. I was here to eat, not to evaluate the availability of a chance personal sighting.
The server came and took my order. It was the usual sausage and eggs over easy, home fries, English muffin instead of toast, coffee. “You’re late today, Ben.” Trudy knew my name since she had served my breakfast for, at least, three years. My name is Benton Harris. I don’t think she knew my last name. We exchanged the usual pleasantries. She attended to another table for a few seconds then disappeared into the kitchen. I turned my attention back to the young woman.
She had captured my thoughts! There was something special about her. I knew not what, but it was something I could not ignore. How could I meet her? I wondered. From outward appearances, she seemed to be the kind of woman that my mind had always pictured as being a perfect wife, kind of face, studious, physically appealing. Another person might immediately have gone to her and introduced himself. I’m not demonstrative. This activity would have been too bold for me.
She appeared to enjoy reading. I didn’t think she’d appreciate being disturbed while immersed in a book.
I could try bumping into her as both of us were leaving. No, there would simply be two excuse me’s and that would be the end of the encounter.
I could send her a note. No, she’d think I was a masher.
I might ask Trudy to introduce me? No, Trudy might feel this was not a role she should be expected to exercise as a server in a restaurant.
I couldn’t let the woman go. I might not see her again. Trudy had brought coffee but not my meal yet. I could go to her booth and ask what was the book she was reading. I was mulling over that idea when my food was delivered. I slowly began to partake.
The meal didn’t go well. I kept scolding myself for having been so ineffective. Now, she would finish eating, and I would finish eating, and we’d both leave, and that would be the end of today’s opportunity to meet the woman I found myself so strongly attracted to. Yes, I could come back tomorrow at the same time but there was no assurance she would be here again.
Shakespeare, through Brutus, had expressed my thoughts better than I could when he wrote something like,
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
This might be the day I would remember as the day I had let the girl of my dreams turn my dreams to a sea of regrets.
I continued eating and kept glancing at the woman from time to time. Once she looked in my direction and I quickly averted my eyes. I didn’t want to let on that I had been watching her. I resolved to be more careful.
I berated myself for having failed so miserably. The only plan I could formulate for the future was to come back tomorrow and embroil myself in the same ordeal. I ate without enjoying the food, or even being aware that it was being consumed. I saw Trudy bring the young woman a check. She paid her bill and left some folding money on the table. I returned to my food seething inwardly.
“Pardon me, may I sit here with you?” I looked up. It was her! It was her! I felt myself flushing in several colors. “N-no, n-not at all,” I stammered. “Please do!” She sat at the opposite side of the booth.
“My name is Emily,” she said. “I couldn’t help noticing you. You seemed so deep in thought. I was over there reading,” she said pointing to where she had been sitting. “I couldn’t focus on the words in my book thinking about you. Are you a professor?”
Now that she was closer, I could smell faint scents of perfume. “I-I teach at the high school,” I said. In my spare time, I-I do a little thinking,” I said, realizing, with some humor, that this was as incongruous as stating that Fred Astaire danced a little.
“I eat here every day at about this time,” Emily said. “I bring a book to keep me company but I’d rather talk to someone. Shall we sit together tomorrow so you can tell me what you think about? I would like that.”
I readily agreed. Emily and I did meet for breakfast many times afterward. And for many years! Today, as I write this, we’ll be celebrating the thirtieth year of our marriage.
Cora Fielding, Forewoman of the jury, took a vote as soon as the five men and seven women had been seated. She announced the result had been eleven votes for innocent and one for guilty. Ms. Fielding, about 35, overweight, blond with streaks of gray asked, “Would the person who voted guilty care to identify himself or herself?” Janet Carter raised her hand. Puzzled, Ms. Fielding stared at her. “You don’t look familiar,” she said. “Are you one of the jurors? What is your name?”
“I’m registered with you as Mary Carter,” responded the juror. “My real name is Janet Carter.” Mystified, the other members of the jury remained silent. “This is bizarre,” commented Ms. Fielding. What did you do, switch places with Mary Carter? “No,” responded, Janet. “I’m the same person that entered the room. I took on a different appearance and name while we were voting.”
“Nonsense,” retorted the forewoman angrily. “What’s going on here? As I recall, the other person was young with dark hair. You’re, at least, thirty years older! How did you get in here? Where is the other person?”
“I know this will cause a mistrial,” said Janet. “I have a special reason to being here. The other person was me as a young woman. My present appearance is as I was when I died! We’re here to judge the innocence or guilt of Jerome Carter. He’s accused of killing his wife, Janet Carter. Most people think this trial is a farce since there was no physical evidence linking him to the crime. I’m here because I know he’s guilty! I am the person he killed!”
The silence in the room continued but its character changed from mysticism to shock. There was not so much as a murmur in the room. After several seconds, Ms. Fielding found her voice. “Do I understand that you are claiming to be the murdered person?”
“Exactly, declared Janet!”
“How can we believe that? What can you show? What is your objective in being here?” gasped Ms. Fielding.
“I do have a purpose, “responded, Mary. “Whether you believe what I’m saying or not, does not matter. I want this jury to file back into the courtroom and have Jerome see me, a year after he shot me. We need to see his reaction.”
“I can’t agree to that,” Ms. Fielding shouted. “As forewoman of this jury, it’s my duty to report this to the judge at once. This is for him to handle.” She picked up the phone. “Open the door,” she commanded. “We’re coming back. Now!”
She led ten jurors to the door. Janet followed slowly several steps behind.
There were still several persons in the courtroom. The judge was standing behind the bench speaking to his adjutant. Jerome Carter, the defendant, middle aged and balding, was seated absorbed in a discussion with his lawyer. The prosecutor was having an animated conversation with several reporters.
A great deal of confusion ensued as eleven members of the jury seated themselves. “What is the meaning of this? demanded Judge Allen. “Your honor,” began Ms. Fielding but didn’t get any further. Janet was walking through the door when Jerome Carter caught sight of her. He hesitated for a moment, then rose shakily.
Janet pointed her finger at him. “I’ve come back, darling,” she shouted. With color draining from his face, Jerome sank back into his chair.
“Yes, it’s me, lover,” Janet continued. “Do you have anything to say to your adoring wife? Speak! Though I’m already dead, I’m dying to hear your voice!”
“Jan, Jan, I’m sorry!” shrieked Jerome. “I did it in a moment of madness. I’m sorry!
You’re dead! Go back. Go back to wherever you’ve come from.” He clapped both hands to his eyes and began to sob.
“I’ll go now, beloved,” responded Janet. “But I won’t be far. Stray not one step from the path you need to walk!”
She vanished. The room was quiet except for the tumultuous sounds of Jerome’s continuing sobs.
My name is Meg Taylor. I am the girl in red! I caught the bouquet! The bride’s name was Mrs. David Turner at the time the picture was taken. That morning it had been Gina Lopez. In the picture, her sister, Maria is standing to my left. When Gina threw the bouquet, she was hoping I would catch it. Maria had a better chance to do this than I did, but when the bouquet came toward us, Maria deliberately threw her arms down to her side, thus allowing me to catch it. Is there a story behind this?
The reason that Maria had intentionally fluffed the catch is because Gina had told her what I had done for her and David a few weeks back. Here is the rest of the story:
A year before the wedding, I introduced David to Gina at my birthday party. At the time Gina and I were friends, not best friends, but enough to say we were fairly close. I was pleased when she and David began dating. For them, it had been the legendary, love at first sight! They immediately set a wedding date for the following month!
Sadly, the couple was involved in an auto accident in which they were both seriously injured. A drunk driver had crossed the center line and hit their car virtually head on. Gina was hospitalized with several broken bones. David’s injuries were more serious. In addition to broken bones, he had suffered a severe head trauma. The bones presented no problems for healing, the head wound resulted in loss of memory. It was sadly discovered that he had no recognition for Gina nor recollection of their planned wedding.
In an effort to have David regain his memory, Gina met with him at his apartment on many occasions. She talked to him about how they had met, what they had done together, the dreams for the future they had fabricated. Despite heroic efforts in these endeavors, there was never the slightest twinge of recollection in David’s mind. Though bright and cheerful when Gina was speaking to David, she’d shed tears uncontrollably at home.
“Gina,” I said to her one day, “May I try?”
“I’ve tried everything that it is possible to try,” she replied.
“I know! But I’m a new voice, a new face, a different set of words. I knew him before you did, and I may strike a new note that you may not have tried. Even the slightest recollection of anything would be a start.”
“You are such a dear friend for wanting to do this, Meg,” she said. “Of course, you may try! There is nothing that can be lost that isn’t gone already.”
The next time Gina visited David, she and I went together. She introduced me to David and went into another room during the time that I spent with him.
“David,” I said. “Do you remember me? I’m Meg Myers. I introduced you to Gina at my birthday party.”
“I’m sorry, Meg,” he responded. “I don’t remember knowing you, and I have no recollection of the party.”
We continued our talk for a little while but realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere. I decided to go home and see if I could devise a better plan than I had used today. Gina dropped me off at my home.
Before leaving David, he had said one thing that bothered me. “I like you better than the other lady he said. I’d be happy to meet with you again.” I thought it best not to repeat this remark to Gina.
I did come up with a plan over the next couple of days. I asked Gina if she would tell me some of the places they had gone to, and some of the things they had done. She gave me a short list. I told her that I’d like to see David again. She readily agreed and said that she would not come with me next times I met with him.
During my next visit, he and I went to Westside Park. Gina said this park had been a favorite of theirs. We walked around, but David never said that he recognized anything.
There was a waterfall nearby and we went to the railing from which we could view it. Again, there was no sign of recognition.
It was getting late, so I suggested that we meet again the following day to visit more places. He happily agreed.
“Before you go,” he said,” I need to tell you that I like you very much. Seeing you today has been like turning on the sunshine on a gloomy day.”
“Thank you,” I replied. “I’m glad.” I knew I was treading on dangerous territory, but felt that continuing to help David should be my most important objective.
We checked off some additional places from the list on the next day. As before, there was no result. We agreed to meet again. As we parted, he said, “Meg, I love you!” Greatly surprised with this turn of events, I said something inconsequential and hastily departed.
I liked David a good deal. Loving him, I felt, would not be difficult. But, I could not respond to his overtures of engaging in a deeper relationship. I thought of the event horizon in space. This is an imaginary boundary that marks the limits of a black hole. Crossing this line meant doom for planets and stars. If I stepped over this domestic event horizon, it would represent disaster for me, and also, as well, for several other persons. I must not do this!
“Good afternoon, dear,” David said as I met with him the next time, “I’ve been looking forward to seeing you. Where are we going today? When we get back, I have a very important question to ask you!”
I had a good idea what the question was! “We’re going to a place not far from here,” I said. “We won’t be long.”
I drove with him to a small copse of trees near the city limits. I parked on the road. We exited from the car. Using a sheet of directions that Gina had given me, I found a large oak tree. At eye level, I saw some initials carved on the tree. Pointing to them, I asked David, “Do these initials mean anything to you?”
He stared at them. “GL and DT,” he murmured. “What do they mean?”
“Gina Lopez; David Turner,” I replied.
Continuing to stare, he repeated the letters to himself several times.
“Do you remember carving these,” I asked?
Seemingly in a trance, he kept staring at them, Reaching into his back pocket, he pulled out a small penknife. He opened the single blade and began refreshing the carved areas.
“GL DT,” he kept repeating.
Suddenly, he loudly said, “Gina! Gina!” He turned to me. “I love you G . . .” He stopped abruptly.
“Meg,” he exclaimed. “I don’t understand. Why are we here. Where is Gina?”
Greatly exhilarated, I said, “You’ve come back! You’ve had a touch of amnesia. Let’s hurry. We don’t have a moment to lose. We need to bring the news of your comeback to Gina as soon as we can.”
There is a road that runs from Troy to Bennington that has a rest stop halfway up a steep mountain climb. People park to rest not only themselves, but often, their autos as well. There are a couple of binoculars that people can use to scan something like 100 miles into the distance from that point. My home is located on this road not far from this rest stop. For me this Plaza is a convenient point for me to take a daily walk.
One morning recently, I left my home and walked to the Plaza. It had taken perhaps ten minutes. What I would do daily was to stroll from one end of the Plaza to the other. Then I would walk back home. On this day I noticed a young woman whose car was parked nearby. She was using the binoculars to enjoy the magnificent view. As I made my walk, I came very close to her. She turned and glanced at me. She nodded, and I nodded back. Returning to my home I could not get her out of my mind.
She was about five-six, perhaps twenty-five years old, sort of blonde and auburn all mixed together. She had been wearing a blue jacket and a black skirt. She was not wearing a ring on her left hand. I was a bachelor, about her age, and fortunate enough to be able to make a living writing training manuals for various companies in the area. I hadn’t thought much about marriage because my workload was heavy, and I did not have a great deal of time for dating. Besides, where I lived did not make it easy for me to meet women. However this girl at the binoculars had impressed me so much that I felt she might be the one I was looking for.
The next day, I went to my walking place, as I called it, not expecting, very much, to see the girl, but was greatly surprised that she was there at the binoculars, as she had been the day before. As I walked and got nearer to her, she did not seem to notice me at all. There was no glance in my direction, and I did not have the courage to say anything myself. I finished my walk and went home scolding myself.
On the next day, almost the same scenario repeated itself. I could not believe it. There she was, wearing the same clothing as before, with her car parked nearby, as before. She was looking through binoculars, as before. Today, I had decided, if she was there, I would rev up my courage and speak to her. To my great chagrin, I didn’t do it. I had walked by her as before and she had not noticed me, as before. I had not been able to say anything, as before. During the ten minutes that it took for me to walk home, I called myself all the insulting names that I could think of, including stupid, moron, imbecile, and spineless.
I felt I had lost my chance to meet the girl of my dreams. I believed she could not possibly be there on next day. But she was! I began my walk. As I got nearer and nearer to where she was, viewing the superlative scenery, I got within a couple of feet of where she was standing. Suddenly she turned to me, and said, “Aren’t you going to say something?”
Her statement, had come completely by surprise. “I . ., I . .” I couldn’t finish my sentence. “My name is Margaret Wendelken,” she said. “People call me Maggie. You’re Arthur Hillman. I’ve been wanting to meet you. I’ve taken several hours off from work in order to do this. One of us should have had the courage to say something on the first day!”
“You know me?” I said.
“Yes, I work for Hamilton Products in Bennington. We are currently using your manual on Ace Office Works. The instructor, Alexander Smithford, told the class that you live near here, and walk in this rest area every day. Your manual has a picture and a short biography of you. I noted that you are not married.”
“I’m happy to know you, Maggie,” I managed to articulate with some difficulty. “My nickname is Alex. I’ve been coming here several days hoping that we would meet,” I continued.
“I know that,” she said. “And each day I lost some time at work because of it!”
“I’m not very gregarious,” I said. “It’s hard for me to initiate a conversation.”
“I see that,” she said smiling! “And I’ve been coming here hoping that one day you’d open up.”
“Do you live nearby,” I asked.
“In Troy,” she responded. “Your home is about halfway between Troy and Bennington. There are some elegant eating places in the two cities. I see a cute car in your driveway. Are the seats comfortable?”
I smiled. “You know about my Smart Car,” I asked?
“Yes, but I’ve never ridden in one.”
“I’d be happy to give you a demonstration of how the seats feel,” I said bravely.
“My, you’re bold,” she exclaimed! “I’ve been carrying a little slip of paper with my address and phone number on it,” she said. “I’d like to have you phone me.”
“I’ll do that tonight,” I said.
“Just a quick thought,” she said. “Your technical writing is excellent. I’m sure you could write a true to life story as well.”
“Thanks for the suggestion,” I responded. “I’ll try it!”
“I’m late for work. I have to leave now,” she stated.
I watched as she walked to her car, entered and drove off. Smiling, she waved as she went by me. I waved back.
On this day, my walk home was a cheerful one. I couldn’t get over the fact that she said I had been bold. I had never thought of myself that way. I wondered where I had had the audacity to initiate a conversation with a woman that I had never met before!
This is the story of how we met.
Robert and Annette Wilkins were divorcing. They had been married a little over seven years, but Robert had been seeing Margaret Fuller for several months and this had been discovered. Margaret was the wife of James Fuller. James had wanted to reconcile but Margaret would not hear of it. On March 15, Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins appeared before the Honorable Judge Kimberly Sutton in Divorce Court.
This judge was known for her caution in matters involving divorce. She would always encourage reconciliation. On this date, Judge Sutton asked the couple if they were sure that a divorce was what Robert and Annette wanted. Both responded yes. Judge Sutton adjourned the case so that the couple could make one more attempt to reconcile. The next court date was determined to be April 15. Immediately following the adjournment, Margaret, who had been waiting the lobby of the courthouse met with Robert on the stairway outside the courthouse. Their purpose was to decide whether they should continue to meet surreptitiously. They decided that their love was so strong that they could not bear to live without seeing each other until Robert’s divorce became final. Robert and Margaret returned to their homes.
At their home Robert and Annette Wilkins decided that reconciling was not possible and that Robert should move out of their home immediately. Meanwhile, at the home of James and Margaret Fuller, a decision was made and agreed to that Margaret should find a home of her own. Robert Wilkins and Margaret Fuller, having suddenly found freedom from their spouses, rented a furnished apartment in downtown Simmonstown and started housekeeping in their own place. They decided they would be married as soon as their divorces became final.
When Robert moved out of his home, Annette Wilkins phoned Joseph Shelby with the news of her separation from Robert. She and Joseph had been meeting secretly for about a year, but had taken no action to separate from their spouses. Joseph and Beatrice Shelby had not been getting along very well for about a year. They were living in the same house, but sleeping in different bedrooms. With knowledge that their marriage was doomed; neither had felt unhappy enough to initiate a separation. Now, with the news that Annette had separated from her husband, Joseph felt this might be an appropriate time to ask Beatrice for a divorce. The latter was unwilling to grant his request, but said she might be in favor of it at a later time.
On April 15, when Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins returned to Divorce Court, Judge Sutton learned, for the first time, the new developments in the marital situations. She ordered a new session to be held on May 15 to meet, not only with Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins, but also with Mr. and Mrs. Shelby.
During the month that followed Joseph moved out of the home that he had been sharing with Beatrice, and, with Annette Wilkins, took up residence in an apartment in uptown Simmonstown. Beatrice, now free to date began seeing other men. She met a man at a law library to whom she became immediately infatuated. They began dating each other but the man would not disclose his last name to her because, he said, it would result in harm to another person. All he would tell her was that his name was Victor.
On May 15, Judge Sutton met with Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins, and Mr. and Mrs. Shelby. All parties indicated that their desires for divorce had not changed. Robert Wilkins and Margaret Fuller wanted to continue with their divorces so that each could marry another person. Mr. and Mrs. Shelby were adamant about their divorces for the same reason. Judge Sutton, feeling that all parties were being too hasty, decided to postpone any further actions with the parties at this time. Hoping for reconciliations, she set another date for a hearing on June 15. During the month that followed, Beatrice Shelby demanded that Victor tell her his last name. She was shocked to hear the answer.
“Victor” she said, “this whole thing has turned out to be a mess. Does this spoil any plans we might have had for marriage?”
“Not necessarily, Beatrice, Victor responded, I recently discovered that James Fowler has been seeing my wife. I think my wife is getting ready to ask me for a divorce. I would, of course, agree. I plan to have a serious discussion with her this evening to ask what her plans are.”
“Would you let me know what she says as soon as you can,” she asked?
“Yes, of course!”
The next day, at home, Beatrice, received a call from Victor. “I had that talk with my wife,” he said. “She agreed, that it was up to her to make a decision at the earliest possible time.”
“When do you think that will be?”
“She told me it would be very soon!”
On June 15, Judge Sutton, convened a new session for the parties in regard to their requests for divorces. Present were Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins, Mr. and Mrs. Shelby, Mr. and Mrs. Fuller, and Victor. “I have an announcement to make,” the judge said. “My husband and I have decided to divorce. I will soon become the wife of James Fuller, whom I recently met during the progress of the these proceedings. I am hereby recusing myself from this case since, to continue, would represent a conflict of interest.”
“Effective July 15, these litigations will be taken over by Judge Judith Denver of the Third Judicial Divorce Court of New York. During the month, I will be familiarizing her with the details of this case, and I don’t mind telling you, I’ll need diagrams to help in explaining it.”
Mary and William Pickins had been married a year. They had both been employed by General Technologies at the company’s main plant in Upstead, Delaware. She had been employed as a Supervisor in the Billing Department; and he, as a Scientific Computer Programmer. Mary and William had decided that after their marriage, she would stay at home to control the financial affairs of the home and to take care of the children as they joined the family. The two had felt that William was earning a larger-than-average salary and they could afford Mary’s not working.
At Mary’s instigation, they created a detailed budget, using Excel, for the coming year and created a worksheet that showed the budget and its use. Mary had demonstrated a stronger interest in staying on budget than William did, so most of the expenditure control was done by Mary. She set up a system for the purchase of incidentals. This consisted of a jar on top of a shelf near the butcher block in the kitchen. She kept a supply of bills they called petty cash in the jar so that both persons could dip into it when they needed money for a miscellaneous necessities.
Pay periods at work were every two weeks. William would bring home his check and hand it to Mary. She would take care of depositing it, paying bills, examining accounts for accuracy, and do any planning that was needed for major purchases. They decided that, as soon as they could, they would begin an investment program.
Under Mary’s excellent management, the couple found that, at the end of six months, their financial position was good. They were paying their bills on time and had a good idea what their money was being used for. There was only one failure. They had not yet begun their investment plan.
During the following week, Mary learned an important fact and shared this with her husband while both of them were sitting at different computers in the spare room they called their Computer Room.
“Bill, Honey,” she said. “I saw Dr. Marshall today and he informed us that I’m pregnant and that we’re going to be parents in about nine months!” She made this announcement in a matter-of-fact manner and the message did not reach William’s brain forcefully enough to cause the traditional reaction. “That’s nice, Mary,” he replied.
Mary took off her horn rimmed glasses, pushed her long hair aside, then put them back on. She closed the Excel program she had been working on and started Word to begin a letter to Allstate Insurance.
There was a sudden exclamation from the William’s computer. “What was that you said?” he yelled. The message that Mary had sent had finally reached his brain.
Mary repeated what she had said, and, this time, William responded in the conventional manner. He rose from his seat and rushed to Mary’s side. “How do you feel?” He asked. “Are you OK? Do you need a rest? What can I do to help you?”
“Don’t be silly,” she responded. “We’re at the very beginning of my pregnancy. I’m going to feel perfectly fine for a long time. I will let you know when you can do something for me.”
“Be sure to let me know,” he sputtered. “Doesn’t matter where, when, or what time!”
“I’ll remember that.” Right now, I’d like to call a family conference.”
“That’s a new one on me! What’s the Definition of Family Conference?” he asked.
“I know that’s a new term. I just invented it,” she said. “Whenever I want to have a serious talk with you about family affairs, I’ll ask for a Family Conference. Right now, there are only two of us that would be attending, but in the future, there are likely to be more people, of various ages.”
“Sounds good to me,” said William agreeably. What would you like to talk about?”
“We haven’t started an investment plan.”
“Yes, I know that. We just haven’t had the money that we could use for that. If you look in the savings bowl, you’ll see that there’s nothing in it.”
“I’m well ahead of you,” said Mary. “Now, more than ever, we should be thinking about investments.”
“I’ll see if I can cut down a little with some of the money that I spent during the day for snacks and other things,” said William.” Mary commented that that would be a good plan.
A month went by. Mary kept putting funds reliably into the savings bowl, but this container never seemed to begin overflowing for investment purposes. She decided to take some actions that might turn the situation around.
A couple of additional months went by, and the level of money in the bowl never seemed to change. The level of bills never seemed to rise above an inch from the bottom. William did not seem to mind a great deal. Interestingly, Mary did not seem to mind either.
One day, a month later, Mary said to William, “There is a family matter that we need to take care of. I have made a date for an important meeting that I want you to attend with me this evening.”
“Does it have something to do with the baby? asked William with a worried look on his face.”
“Yes I think so.”
That evening, Mary, with William at her side, drove their Subaru to an address on State Street. It was almost six o’clock. They exited the car, and Mary led the way to a nearby door. Inside, there was a man sitting at a desk. When he saw the arrivals, he rose and walked toward the couple holding out his hand. “I’ve been waiting for you,” he said as he shook hands with Mary, and then with William. On the face of the latter there was a mask of confusion.
Mary introduced the man as Mr. Phillips, An Investment Broker. He invited them to sit at the two chairs facing him at his desk. Then he also sat. “Why don’t you tell your husband why you brought him here,” he suggested.
Mary turned to her husband, and said, I brought you here so that we could open an investment account. You will need to sign some papers.”
“Yes I know we have been thinking about starting an investment account, but we have been waiting to save some money in our savings jar. The last time I looked there wasn’t any money in it. How can we begin an investment without any money?”
“Ah, but we do have some money. I have been stealing it!”
William was aghast. “Stealing it! You can’t possibly mean that! I can’t believe you said that! Stealing it from where? How? From whom? Stealing is against the law!”
“Don’t panic!” Said Mary. Were not going to go to jail. I have been stealing the money from the savings bowl. Look!”
She opened her purse and pulled out a stack of bills and laid it on the desk. There is one thousand dollars here. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s a start. Today, Mr. Phillips bought thirty-five shares of Acme Foods for me and put it into the margin account that I created with Mr. Phillips’ assistance some weeks ago. I brought you here so that I could pay for the stock and have you sign some papers that will make you a co-owner of the account. This is the start of our investment program. Someday, when you retire, you will remember this day, as the day that we made a happy retirement available for the two of us.”
“It’s important to understand that today is just the start,” she continued. “I will not need to steal from the bowl anymore because if I was able to do this without you noticing, then it must be true that we can cut corners enough so that we can continue investing on a regular basis without missing the money!”
William opened his mouth as if attempting to say something but failed. After a few moments he was able to finally, say, “I love you, Mary dear, my wonderful Home Economist!”
“Mom, Dad, I’d like to ask you about something involving marriage,” she said.
Rita Ryan was sitting with her parents in the living room of their comfortable middle-class home in Mount Ridgedale, New York. Robert and Wanda Ryan were on a couch absorbed in the evening news on TV. For a moment or two neither her mother nor father responded. Finally, Wanda did.
“Certainly dear, what would you like to ask?”
“Mom, I’m at an age where thoughts of marriage would be very normal for a person like me, wouldn’t you agree?”
Mr. Ryan, paying sudden attention to what his daughter had said, hit the Off Button on the remote, and tuned his brain to what his wife and daughter were saying to each other.
“Of course, Rita,” her mother responded. “
“I’m twenty now, and I was thinking that if I found a nice boy, I might consider becoming engaged.”
“That’s an admiral idea,” her father interjected. “I’m glad you’re bringing the subject up. Your mother and I certainly have many ideas and suggestions we could share with you.”
Rita, at five-ten was tall for a girl, but her build was suited to her height. She had short blonde hair that was tied at the back in a ponytail. Her parents were middle-aged. They were of average height. Robert was balding, but this was not noticeable if he combed his hair just right. He was a little on the stocky side. Wanda had a matronly look. She was heavier than her husband, and most of her extra weight was at the front of her body. Her hair was slightly gray and she kept it that way at the beauty shop.
“I’m glad you’re beginning to think about serious dating,” her father said. He obviously had not noticed that Rita had been dating this way for well over a year. “It’s a coincidence, that my supervisor, Henry Ashley, has a son that has just come back from the Service. I’ve never seen him, but his father says that he is very good-looking. If I could arrange an introduction for you, you might find that you and he are well-suited to each other. And of course, it would be a good thing for me at work. Henry and I get along fairly well, but we’re not chummy. Having you in his family would be a boon for my career. And this would be a good time for that. I am beginning to think about saving for retirement.”
“Robert, dear, didn’t you say you know someone who knows the mayor,” Wanda asked excitedly. “I read in the paper just a few days ago that his son has been seen around town frequently. He might be thinking of marriage. I think that would be good for you if Rita and he met and fell in love. This would give me an opportunity to get into the social whirl, and I would certainly enjoy that a great deal. Not only that, but the mayor might spring for the wedding. That could save us, oh, I don’t know how many dollars!”
“Marvelous idea, Wanda.” Robert turned his attention to Rita and said, “your mother has a great idea. We need to wait a while before I try to get you introduced to my supervisor’s son. The mayor’s son might be a better catch.”
“Let’s not be too hasty,” his wife responded, “there are so many others we should consider. There is Will Gilman who is the owner of the hardware store. Maybe there could be a partnership in it for you, if his son took an interest in Rita. I hear he’s a bachelor, and maybe a little too old for Rita, but think what a wonderful thing it would be if you were a part owner of the store!”
“I don’t think he’s much older than thirty,” said Robert. Besides, I think a difference of ten years is not too many if the marriage is based on love and not convenience. You and I would of course insist that if Rita married him, it would definitely be for love.” He turned his head to look at his daughter and said, “don’t you agree, daughter.”
“Oh, definitely,” she responded. “Definitely, the marriage should be based on love. I wouldn’t have any trouble at all with a man, regardless of age, if the marriage was based on love and not convenience! I think most marriages, if not all, should be based on love, and not convenience.”
“Smart girl!” Exclaimed her father. “That leaves the field wide open. Your mother and I can begin looking for a nice boy right away. Don’t be concerned, we can make it work!”
“If the family were wealthy, this might be the gala wedding of the year,” observed Wanda. “What a field day the newspapers would have with this wedding!”
“Rita, my dear,” said Robert, “why didn’t you bring up this idea of getting married sooner?” The possibilities are huge. We might even begin thinking of getting a better car and moving to a nicer area of the city!”
“I really should have thought about this much earlier,” agreed his daughter. “I have been derelict in not thinking before now how I could improve your living conditions. I’m so happy, that I brought up the subject tonight.”
“That’s our daughter!” remarked Wanda. “Rita, you’re a gem!”
“Yes indeed,” her father added, “at least two carats!”
“Would you mind if I excuse myself now?” Rita asked. “I’d like to go to my room and phone a friend.”
“Not at all, daughter dear. Anything you want. You have made your father and me very happy tonight!”
Upon entering her room, Rita picked up the phone and punched a number. “Dan, honey, it’s still light. Would you like to go for a walk?”
There were a few words on the other end, then Rita said, “See you in a little while.”
She put on a back pack and left her room. Her parents were deeply engrossed in a conversation with each other, as she bypassed the living room and exited the front door. In a few moments she met a young man at the end of the block. He was a little taller than she and was wearing jeans. Despite the sunglasses he was wearing, he had a studious-appearing countenance.
Hand in hand they began walking toward the outskirts of the city. “I have a poem in my backpack that I wrote today and would like to read to you when we get to the park,” she said.
“I’ll be very interested in it,” he responded.
“And there’s a very serious question that I need to ask you!” She continued.
“I hope I’ll be able to answer it, hon.”
“Remember yesterday when we were talking about different kinds of weddings that we could have?”
“Yes I do.”
“Would you repeat an idea that you mentioned yesterday?”
“What is that you were saying about eloping?”
“Let’s take a break and have some lunch at Manory’s,” suggested Kelli.
It was early on a Saturday afternoon. The identical twins, Kelli and Mary Lou Allen were studying for a test. They were both attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and taking the same subjects. Kelli had suggested that they take the same courses so that they could help each other pass their difficult topics. They lived in a modest apartment on Sixth Avenue in Troy New York. They were about twenty, very pretty, blond, and of average height.
“Good idea,” responded Mary Lou. “I have about an hour of cleaning up to do. Why don’t you go first, and when you come back, I’ll go.”
“That will be fine.”
“I just got a brilliant idea,” exclaimed Mary Lou smiling. Let’s have some fun with the server. We look alike and are dressed alike. Go in and have your meal, then I’ll go, and pretend that I’m having a second meal exactly like the first one!
“That would be mean,” said Mary Lou. “At least, I won’t be the one being mean.”
“I like being mean once in a while,” responded Mary Lou. “Adds a little spice to life!”
Kelli drove to the restaurant and returned within an hour. “How did it go, asked Mary Lou?”
“Good,” said Kelli. “The server there said his name is Bob Weaver. He’s taking calculus at the same school we are and he needs a tutor. He said he’s willing to pay $20 an hour. I said I might be able to help him at the library. He suggested Tuesdays and Thursdays in the afternoon. I said yes without thinking. Tuesdays are OK but I have a class on Thursdays. I’m afraid I’ll need to cancel.”
“Thursdays are open for me,” said Mary Lou. “Why don’t I do Thursdays? I can tell him my name is Kelli, and he’ll never know the difference!”
“That would be mean,” reiterated Kelli, “but that would be one way of doing it.”
“Then it’s settled,” agreed Mary Lou. “I’ll go have lunch now, and I’ll pretend that I’m you having a second meal just like the first.”
She drove off, while Kelli went back to her books.
“How did it go?” asked Kelli when Mary Lou returned. “It was funny, I got the same server you did, and he couldn’t believe that I had enjoyed the first meal so much that I had come in for another one exactly like it. I told him that tutoring him in calculus on Tuesdays and Thursdays would be OK. This will be at the library like you said.”
On the following Tuesday, Kelli had her first tutoring session with Bob. In her next conversation with Mary Lou, she said that the meeting had gone pleasantly, and he had thanked her profusely. “I’m happy to hear that,” commented Mary Lou. “I wouldn’t want the tutoring to be a boring chore!”
Bob Webster never knew the difference. Kelli would see him on Tuesdays and Mary Lou would do the same on Thursdays. When Mary Lou came back from the third meeting that she had had with Bob, she said, “Bob and I are getting along real well. I like him very much and he seems to like me. I want you to know that I saw him first! Do you understand what I saying?”
“Yes I do,” said Kelli. “He looks like a very nice person. I was getting interested in him myself, but I’ll respect what you are saying.”
The sessions that followed continued with the plan that the girls had concocted. Kelli would tutor on Tuesdays and Mary Lou on Thursdays. To Bob, the tutor was always named Kelli.
“I’m having a problem with Bob,” announced Mary Lou one day. “He said I’m nice to him on some days and mean on some, Tuesdays and Thursdays, actually. He’s very confused. I’ll have to admit that I don’t think he learns very well, and I may be showing it. Are you having the same problem I’m having?”
“No,” responded Kelli. “Calculus is tough. I had a hard time with it myself. I can understand why he might appear slow at times. When I tutor him, I try not to show impatience.”
“I guess I’m not as patient as you,” commented Mary Lou. “Is it possible for you to be a little more like me when you teach him?”
“Are you saying that you want me to be mean when I teach, Mary Lou?” She asked this with some degree of amusement. “I’m not sure I could do that, but I’ll see what I can do.”
After a few more sessions had been conducted, Mary Lou said, “It looks like Bob is getting ready to pop the question. Remember, I saw him first and if he does this, he’ll be doing the popping to me. Is it agreed?”
“I guess so,” responded Kelli. “I like him is much as you do, probably even love him, but he will have to know at some point that there have been two of us.”
“Well that can wait until he actually says something either to you or to me. It looks like you are the nice twin and I am the mean twin. I suppose he will be asking to be engaged to the nice twin, but, remember, I saw him first.”
After Kelli had finished her tutoring session with Bob on the following Tuesday, she came home and told Mary Lou that Bob had declared his love for her, and had given her an engagement ring. I didn’t accept right away. “What do you think would be the right thing to do at this point?” she asked.
“I’ve been thinking about that,” said Mary Lou. “I know what the right thing to do is, but I’m not sure that I am up to it. You are the nice twin and I am the mean twin. He thinks I am you and that you are me. This is not fair to him. One of us needs to back off.”
“Why don’t you think about it until Thursday,” suggested Kelli. “On that day, you can skip your class, and we can go see Bob together. We’ll tell him who’s who and what’s what and he will have to decide what to do.”
“No,” I have a better idea, responded Mary Lou. “I know that I am the mean twin. But you are the one that he has really asked for the engagement. What we need to do is go see him, and tell him that you are the one who is accepting the engagement.”
“That’s very nice of you,” said Kelli. “I think that is the right thing to do. There may be a bit of good news in all this. Did he ever tell you that Bob is an identical twin also?”
“Yes he did. And he told me that his brother is mean. He may be just right for me! We may be able to make it a double wedding.”
They were sitting face-to-face in the pastor’s quarters. “What brings you here Millie,” asked Pastor Harold Cooper gently. He was well acquainted with Mildred Allen. She and her fiancé, Frank Baxter, had been talking to him about an upcoming marriage. All talk on this subject had disintegrated upon word that Frank had been killed by an IED in Iraq. His rank had been Sergeant when he died. In March, his body had been buried with military honors in Wellhaven Cemetery.
“Frank has been coming to me, as a ghost, for several days, Pastor.” Mildred spoke quietly and calmly, as if her words could be considered commonplace. The fact is the good pastor was instantly shaken.
“Frank came to you as a ghost?” Pastor Cooper repeated, as if he had not correctly heard what she had said.
“I know this is an unusual thing for you to hear, Pastor,” she said. “But it’s true
. When Frank comes, I see him as clearly as I’m seeing you now. He is dressed in an ordinary soldier’s uniform. He is clean and neat and well shaven. He smiles at me, and we talk.”
The pastor could not find any words with which to reply.
“We talk about him and me, and the plans that we had been making for getting married. He tells me that he loves me dearly. The most astonishing thing he says is that he wants to marry me. I know people don’t get married after they had died, but Frank keeps repeating what he says about marriage over and over. He really means it. And I want to marry him too. Pastor, is it possible that you can marry us?”
Pastor Cooper, astonished at the request, was silent for several minutes. Mildred waited patiently knowing that what she had requested was probably an impossibility.
Finally Pastor Cooper found his voice, and said, “I do understand what you are asking, but I don’t see how your request can be granted. I don’t know of any case where anything like this has ever been done. I know that people are being married under unusual circumstances these days; same-sex marriages are common. But a marriage between a dead person and a live one, I just can’t imagine it happening!”
“It would not have to be an elaborate marriage,” she said. “If it were done in your chambers, I’m sure that Frank would be happy with that, and my objective at this time, is to make him happy. Can’t it be arranged in some way?”
“I could do a dedication ceremony without any trouble,” said the pastor. “I would expect that Frank would be present, at least spiritually, if not literally. Would this be acceptable?”
“A dedication ceremony is not a marriage.” Mildred said firmly. “And he wouldn’t appear invisibly. I would be able to see him though other wouldn’t. I would expect that he would have on his best uniform and would be wearing his medals.”
“During this wedding, would people be able to see him?”
“I don’t think so. I see him very clearly. But when he came to the wedding, I think I would be able to see him but you would not.”
“Would you expect to, ah, I don’t know how to say this, consummate the marriage?”
“No, Frank is a spirit. He has no solid substance. But for me, this would not be an important consideration. I know that under certain circumstances, people get married without expecting the marriage to be, as you say, consummated. But for me and for Frank the marriage would be real. And I would become Mrs. Baxter!”
“You would be happy under these circumstances?”
“Yes, because I would know that one day I would a spirit just as he is now!”
“I don’t know of any mechanism by which I can legally grant your request,” said the pastor. “Let me do some thinking, and some inquiring around, and I’ll see what might be possible.”
“I couldn’t ask for anything more!” said Mildred.
After Mildred had left, pastor Cooper sat at his desk, writing down some possibilities. He wrote,
Then he picked up the phone and dialed the number of Congressmen Wilkinson, whom he knew well.
“Jim,” he began, “I have the weirdest request that you may never have heard. One of the members of my congregation, wants to get married to a dead person, a fallen soldier in Iraq. She says that he is a ghost who is requesting the marriage and she wants to comply. I want to do whatever is possible, but I don’t know what is possible! Is there any way that a marriage can be conducted legally under these circumstances?”
The Congressman did not immediately ridicule the request or declare it to be impossible. He said, “Right off the top of my mind, the only thing I can think of is for Congress to pass a law allowing the marriage, on a one-time basis, with the two people that are involved. It would be a request unheard of in history, but for the sake of the serviceman, I think there a chance that it might be passed. Let me check it out.”
“Thank you Jim. Let me know as soon as you can. In the meantime I’ll call the young woman and tell her that we’re working on it and will get back to her.”
They hung up.
The pastor sat motionless for a few minutes, then he dialed Mildred’s number. “Millie, I’ve just talked to a Congressman that I know and he will see what can be done. I’ll get back to you when I know more. Don’t expect a lot. And don’t expect my answer to come right away. But I will call!”
There is much that happened within the next several months. There were the usual wrangles in Congress over the budget, taxes, health benefits, and others. Unbelievably, the House of Representatives actually took up consideration of the bill James Wilkinson had requested. It passed with no dissenting votes. The measure called for Pastor Cooper to conduct a wedding ceremony for a deceased soldier named Frank Baxter to a living person named Mildred Allen at a time and place convenient to both of them. No license would be needed. At the ceremony, the persons needed in attendance with the pastor, were the bride, groom and a witness. The ceremony could be as complex or as simple as the bride and groom wanted it.
Pastor Cooper gave the good news to Mildred as soon as he could. She was overjoyed with the information, and said that Saturday, June 15 at two p.m. would be a good time for her and she would check with Frank to see if this date and time would also nr convenient for him. Pastor Cooper thought, inwardly, that he could not understand why any time at all would not be convenient for a ghost.
On June 15, Mildred and Pastor Cooper were sitting in the same chairs that they had sat in at an earlier time. The pastor wife, Susan, was standing at the doorway. “Is Frank here?” Pastor Cooper asked Mildred.
“I saw him last night,” she responded. “And he said he would be here exactly on the dot.”
“How will I know if he’s here?” asked the pastor.
“I will tell you when he has arrived,” she said. “I’ll be able to see him. Even though you will not. He will respond to your questions, and you will hear his voice. I’ll be looking forward to this myself since even though I have been seeing him for several weeks, I have never heard him speak.”
“I am happy to see you again, Pastor Cooper,” came a disembodied voice. Pastor Cooper, greatly astonished, looked in every direction but saw no one. He had enough presence of mind, however, to stand and ask the bride and groom to place themselves facing him. Then, assuming that they were there, he began the ceremony.
Although the pastor was not able to see Sergeant Baxter, Mildred could see he was there beside her. As she had expected, he was dressed in a handsome uniform and with medals on his chest.
When the pastor asked if Frank would take Mildred as his lawful wife, the clear voice of Sergeant Baxter was heard robustly saying, “I do!” Mildred responded to the question in the same way. Pastor Cooper declared the couple to be man and wife.
The new Mr. and Mrs. Baxter thanked Pastor Cooper for the service he had provided, then left. Susan, who had said nothing during the ceremony, declared, “I never felt so strange in all my life!”
“It was strange for me, too,” responded her husband.
“Oh look,” exclaimed Susan Cooper, “this wasn’t here during the ceremony.” She picked up an item from the table near the door, and handed it to the pastor. It was an envelope containing a thank you note that was signed by Sergeant Baxter. There were also several brand new bills of paper money in the envelope with strange symbols and writing on them. These turned out to be Iraqi dinars, which the pastor and his wife never exchanged for U.S. dollars.
“What’s your husband doing in Albany these days?” Jill asked.
“I thought I had told you,” replied Belle. “He’s attending a teachers’ convention and should be coming home at the end of the week. How did you know he was in Albany?”
“I go there every so often to shop. I watch for the sales, and, you know me, I can’t resist a good sale. I was on Western Avenue, and I saw Ed going by. Didn’t have a chance to say hello.”
“The convention is on State Street,” commented Belle. “I wonder what he was doing on Western Avenue.”
“Well, I don’t think this has anything to do with anything, but he was with a nice looking young lady. Blond. They were deeply engrossed in conversation. Maybe they were on break and having some lunch. It was about two in the afternoon, I think.”
“Yes, that must be the reason. She’s probably a teacher also. And they had simply gone for a quick lunch.”
Belle Cameron and Jill Wallace were having coffee in the kitchen of Belle and Edward’s new home on Mason Avenue in Troy. They had been married almost a year and had recently purchased a small Cape Cod. Jill was a new friend. Belle did not fully believe what she had said about the meeting that her husband was having with a woman. She had full trust in him, and believed that there was nothing wrong, but there was just a slight hint of a doubt. “I’ll try to ask him a simple, innocent question, when he returns,” she thought.
It was Tuesday, and the days passed slowly. Belle couldn’t shake from her mind what Jill had told her. She was going to have coffee with Jill again on Thursday, and maybe she would learn a little more.
When they next met, Belle said, “I’ve been wondering, Jill, how the conference is going. I’ll be happy to see Ed when he returns tomorrow.”
“Funny you should say that,” Jill interjected. “I was in Albany yesterday and was on Western Avenue again. Would you believe, I saw Ed with a different woman. Red hair! I knew I shouldn’t do this, but I kept out of sight and followed them to see if I could find out what they were doing, so that I could tell you and relieve your mind, if you had had any suspicions. They walked together holding hands, until they came to a house on Wilson Avenue. They went in and I waited about an hour, but they didn’t come out. I hope I’m not telling you anything that you wouldn’t want to hear.”
“Well what you’re telling me is disconcerting,” replied Belle. “I will definitely need to ask him about this when he comes home Friday.”
“I’m sure there’s a very good explanation for all of this,” responded Jill. “I wouldn’t worry about it a great deal.”
“Well I am worried. He told me he was going to be at a conference, but I have not heard from him since he left, and I’ve been wondering how he’s been doing. I trust him completely, of course. But what you’ve told me doesn’t seem to have a simple explanation. I just can’t help but think that . . .”
“I would feel the same if I were in your shoes,” interrupted Jill.
It seemed to take a week for Friday to arrive. Finally around four-thirty, the door opened and Edward walked in jauntily. “Hi, Belle, I’m home,” he called out. She ran to him and they kissed their hellos. Belle resisted the urge to begin questioning him. This was not easy but she succeeded.
After dinner, as they were sitting in the living room, Belle said, “Ed, dear, how did the conference go?”
“As usual,” he replied, “dull, but informative.”
“Were there many people there?”
“Oh, several hundred, maybe.”
“What did you do for lunch?”
“There was a Burger King at the end of the block. I usually went there and had a couple of burgers.”
“Did any of the others go with you?” She asked nervously.
“No, I was usually alone. One day one of the guys came with me.”
“One of the guys?”
“ Yeah, I didn’t know him very well. I think his name was Joe.”
“Anything else interesting happen?” she asked haltingly. “Anything that you’d want to tell me?”
“No, nothing at all. It was all routine stuff.”
Belle was not satisfied with the conversation that she and her husband had had. As soon as she had an opportunity, she phoned Jill. “I talked to Ed,” she said. He didn’t tell me anything about the women that he had been with in Albany. “What do you think might be going on?”
“I think it’s very suspicious,” responded Jill. “He and that redhead seemed awfully cozy together. I wouldn’t put it past him to, well, you know! I have an idea; why don’t you arrange a little dinner party and invite me, and some others, and I’ll see if I can worm it out of him what was going on. I’m very good at finding out things that people might be trying to hide.”
“I’m not sure that will work,” objected Belle, “but it’s worth a try. I’ll keep you posted.”
After they had hung up, she went back into the living room, and exclaimed, “I just had a wonderful idea!”
“Tell me about it.”
“I’d like to have a party Sunday and invite Jill Wallace and your sister, Madeline, and her husband, Tom. How does that sound to you?”
“Those are sudden invitations, aren’t they, dear? Do you think they will be able to make it. It’s a coincidence that I was just thinking of inviting my sister and Tom for dinner. So your idea comes at a good time.”
On the following day, Belle phoned Madeline and was pleased that she and her husband would happily accept an invitation for the following Sunday. She called Jill and told her that she had arranged for a party on Sunday, and, of course, she should attend.
“Now, we’ll find out what that scoundrel has been up to,” commented Jill. “I’ve always been a little suspicious of him!”
“He may be doing something on the sly, Jill, but you’re judging him too soon. He could have had perfectly legitimate reasons for being with those women. I’m sure you’ll find out. Besides, this will give you an opportunity to meet my husband’s sister and her husband.”
“I’ll come early so that I can help with the party,” said Jill just before hanging up.
On Sunday, Belle and the Jill worked on the arrangements for the party which was to begin at two in the afternoon. Ed was in and out purchasing last-minute items.
Two o’clock arrived and everything was set for a gala afternoon. All that was needed was the arrivals of Madeline and Thomas, then the festivities could begin. Precisely at two, the doorbell rang. Belle opened the door and escorted the visitors into the living room. She turned to Jill, and said, “Jill, I’d like you to meet Ed’s sister, Madeline, and her husband, Tom.”
Jill looked as if she had been hit with a sledgehammer. Her face turned various shades of yellow, blue, and green. She opened and closed her mouth, but no sounds came out. She stiffened as rigid as a statue and seemed to be on the verge of toppling to the floor.
“Jill! What the devil are you doing here?” shouted Madeline. “I thought I’d never see you again. You have no idea the hate that I still have for you!”
“What’s going on, Madeline?” Belle objected. “Jill is my friend. Why are you speaking to her that way?”
“She’s a devious demon,” responded Madeline. “When I met Tom and we began planning to get married, this woman, that you call your friend, and that I thought was my friend, tried to convince me that Tom was being disloyal to me. She told me about things that Tom was doing, that were perfectly innocent, but she made it seem as if he was two-timing me. And she made up fake stories completely out of whole cloth. She wanted Tom for herself and was using the most vicious of schemes trying to take him away from me. Tom told me the truth and I ordered this evil person to get out of my life and stay out!”
Belle turned to Jill and exclaimed, “Those things that you were telling me about Ed and other women were lies!”
Jill did not respond.
“Belle,” Ed said. “When I was at the convention, there was a time when I was with Madeline. We were selecting an anniversary gift for me to give you for our first anniversary. She was the only woman I was with while at the convention. If Jill said there were others, she was lying!”
“The next move is up to me,” thundered Belle uncharacteristically. “Ed, would you open the door. I’m going to take this woman by the arm and escort her to the door, then, pardon my French, I’m going to push her out with a kick to her derriere.”
Jerry and Laura Thornton had been married for well over a year. It needs to be said that the marriage had been, and was. a happy one! Jerry was an ideal husband. Not only did he love Laura deeply but he cared for her greatly. So, to a casual observer, it would not have been a surprise when he woke one day with an idea firmly ingrained in his mind. On this day, he must do something special for the love of his life! No, it wasn’t Valentine’s Day; it wasn’t her birthday; it was not an anniversary. It was just an ordinary day, a Saturday, but nothing special about this Saturday!
The fact that this was just an ordinary day, made it all the more important that the something special that he had in mind was needed. When a husband does something special for his wife, it needs to be on an ordinary day, he thought; otherwise, there would be nothing special about something special being done on a special day!
Laura would be visiting her sister on this day. He had several hours during which the something special that he wanted to do could be done. But, what could he do today that would make the day special for Laura?
Sitting at the computer in the den, he made a list. It had eight entries. From top to bottom, he rejected all the entries on the list except the last one. This was to write a poem for his wife. There was no time to be lost.
He finished just in time. The time he had had for the poem had been just enough. When he heard Laura car arriving home, he printed what he had done. He signed his name at the bottom of the sheet, folded it, and placed it in an envelope. There was no need to seal it; he tucked the flap inside, and placed the envelope on the keyboard of Laura’s computer which was located a short distance from his.
Laura walked into the room. She smiled happily when seeing Jerry. She bent her head to where he was sitting and kissed him warmly on the lips. She turned to her computer and, spotting the envelope, picked it up and withdrew the sheet inside. While still standing, she read what Jerry had written.
This was the poem she read:
I wanted to do something special for you,
So thought of a card I might send,
But no card that could come to my view,
Would convey the thoughts I had meant to extend.
I thought of making you breakfast in bed,
Maybe waffles or something else that would please you,
But I’m not much of a cook as you know,
And anything I’d make would taste like a shoe.
I could bring you candy or flowers,
But what kinds would they be?
If I brought you something that you didn’t like,
‘twouldn’t be something you’d be happy to see.
I could buy you a gift of great surprise,
But would you be happy with what I gave?
I might think that a coat would please you
When perfume had been what you actually did crave.
Maybe dinner out would have been good for you,
Or dancing all night at a club.
I might take you at a place to twirl,
When you had wanted to go to a pub.
A romantic week at a grand hotel
With champagne and service galore!
I might choose a place in the mountains
When you wanted a cruise far from shore.
Lingerie might be nice for you,
And I would like that too,
But showing up at a shop to buy it,
Would be something I could not do.
There’s only one thing that I’m truly good at,
A poem of love I can surely write.
It would be full of words of love and devotion
That would you greatly excite!
So, here it is with great love, Jerry
Looking on, Jerry waited until she had finished, then, expectantly, asked, “What do you think of my poem, Darling?”
“It’s terrible!” she exclaimed smiling, “but I love it!”
“Sweetheart, I love you so much.
What more could I possibly say?
The only words that fit are,
You’ve certainly made my day!”
It was Saturday, October 15, 2016. Norman Kendall awoke at seven to a voice that seemed to be coming from everywhere in the room. He opened his eyes and looked around. There was something familiar about the room, but it was not the bedroom in which he had gone to sleep the night before. He felt groggy from some unknown cause. He listened to what the voice was saying.
Norman Kendall, you are reliving a day in your life from this same date in 1991, Arise from your bed, and check to see whether your gun, in the middle bureau drawer, is there.
Norman was fifty-two. He was about five-ten, balding with streaks of gray in the hair that still remained. He was about twenty pounds overweight. His eyes were gray, as was his small mustache. He was wearing blue pajamas.
He placed his feet on the wooden floor and walked unsteadily to the bureau. He recognized the furniture in the room from a bedroom, having the same appearance as this one, in which he had slept many years before. Opening the middle drawer, he saw a small caliber automatic.
The voice instructed,
Do not touch it. Walk to the kitchen.
He was fast regaining his strength as he took the several steps that led to the nearby room. He entered the kitchen. It was not the kitchen that he had used for the last several years. It looked exactly like one that he had known from a long-ago past. At the kitchen table, was sitting a young, blonde woman. She had a cup of coffee in front of her from which she was sipping. She had on a pale, yellow night gown that had seen much use.
“Lillie,” he gasped. “You’re, you’re . . .” He was not able to complete the sentence. He had intended to say, “You’re alive!”
As before, the voice seemed to come from everywhere.
You are in the kitchen of your apartment on the same date as today in 1991. Help yourself to some coffee and sit facing this woman.
Numbly obeying the command, Norman did as the voice had directed. “Lillie,” he muttered, “Is this you? Am I dreaming? I need to wake up!”
Speak to this woman as you did on October 15, 1991.
The woman spoke for the first time. “I’m real, Norman dear. Tell me that you have found another and that you will be leaving me.”
“Lillie, that was in the past. You’re dead now. Why are you here, if you are really here?”
“We are reliving that date, that last date of my life. Tell me about Edna.”
“Edna was a momentary thing! She meant nothing to me! She stayed with me only a short time. What I did, I did from a moment of insanity!”
“Tell me, that you knew I was pregnant! Tell me that I was ruining your chance for happiness. Tell me that you needed me out of the way.”
“Lillie, that was all a mistake. I was looking forward to having our baby.”
“Tell me what you said when I told you that I would not grant you a divorce. Repeat those terrible words.”
There was silence in the room.
Tell her what you said.
“I didn’t mean it what I said! I didn’t mean it!”
Tell her what you said.
“Something about getting rid of her. But they were just words. I didn’t mean them!”
Do what you said you would do!
“I can’t. I can’t.”
The voice was fierce. The demand was intense.
Do it! Now!
Norman stood and walked back to the bedroom. He was gone for a minute, then came back with a gun. He faced the woman and pointed the gun at her.
“Say what you said to me before you pulled the trigger!” the young woman commanded.
Say the words! This is a reenactment of that date. You will not be set free until the reenactment is fully completed exactly the way it happened.
“With this gun . . .”
“With this gun, I put an end to you and that thing in your belly!” Ronald yelled strongly as if reliving the emotion he had felt on that day twenty-five years earlier.
“Then?” It was the woman’s voice.
“I shot you!” he shouted. “Yes, I meant to do it! You were in my way! Norman pulled the trigger. A shot rang out. The woman fell to the floor.
Norman turned from what he had done, and strode briskly from the room and into the bedroom.
Three police officers were waiting for him there. They had heard and seen everything. Two of them immediately put cuffs on Norman and escorted him from the room.
The young woman had risen from the floor and joined the officer who was still in the bedroom. A young man came from somewhere and joined them.
Officer Jamison said, “What is the whole story, Ms. Farmer. How did all this come about?”
This is what Jessica Farmer said:
“The thing that he said was in her belly was me, I’m Jessie Farmer. Lillian Kendall was my mother. I’ve been told that I am the spitting image of mom. I knew my father would think I was his wife who he killed. There had been someone nearby who had heard enough of the conversation and who had acted promptly enough so that my life could be saved. Mom died but there was not enough evidence to charge my father. This reenactment took a lot of planning. We had these two rooms built. My husband, Ted Farmer, here, was a rock in my support. He and I drugged my father while he slept and brought him here. Ted was the voice that you heard. The gun, of course, shot a blank.”
“Your plan worked perfectly,” said the officer. “We might say that it was A Reenactment To Justice!”
Those in the celestial area of the universe, those saints who observe and protect the planet, Earth, were witnessing an ongoing occurrence that concerned them. A séance was being held during which Harold Lindstrom was being deceived by charlatans, Ross and Lena Stillman. They had convinced Harold that they had contacted his deceased wife, Beatrice, and put him in contact with her.
“Beatrice was killed in an auto accident less than three weeks after she and Harold had married,” St. Edward commented.
“He took it very hard. It’s been years since she died, and he’s still grieving.” added St. Lucie
Sts. Edward and Lucie had been saints for a long time. It would probably have surprised and amazed people on earth if they were able to see that saints dress in ordinary earthly clothing. There are no wings, halos, nor shimmering white gowns. Saint Edward had on a pair of brand-new jeans and a blue sports shirt; St. Lucie was wearing a pink blouse and a red skirt. They were not invisible spirits, as one might expect, but substantive creatures, he, handsome in a theatrical sort of way, and she, very beautiful.
“Ross and Lena have been draining Harold for most of the money he earns,” commented St. Edward. “They have hired an actress who speaks to him at the séances that he attends. He believes that the woman’s voice is that of his deceased wife. What they are doing is indecent and immoral!”
“I agree,” replied St. Lucie.
“It might be useful for you and I to go to Earth and have a chat with this couple,” suggested St. Edward.
“Why not bring them here to the Conference Hall?” responded St. Lucie.
“Good idea!” he agreed.
The Conference Hall was a huge heavenly structure. In Earth measurements, it would have occupied an entire city block. It was several stories high. Inside, it was dome-shaped. Though there were many rooms in the building along the walls, the center part of the structure was a single cavern with an extraordinarily high ceiling. The entire floor was carpeted. There was a single ornate, wooden desk in the middle of the room with luxurious armchairs both in front and back of the desk.
Within a few moments after the saints had decided to confer with the operators of the séances, the two seats in front of the desk were occupied by humans, a man and his wife, and behind the desk, two saints.
The man and his wife were, of course Ross and Lena Stillman. They were indescribably bewildered by their sudden change of surroundings, and, rigid with shock, were staring at each other.
For this meeting, Sts. Edward and Lucie were wearing wings, halos, and had on glistening white gowns.
“Wh-where are we?” Ross stuttered addressing the saints.
“You are in Heaven for the time being,” St. Lucie said with unsaintly-like sharpness. “I am St. Lucie!”
“And I am St. Edward!” said he.
“Oh my God!” gasped Lena Ross.
St. Lucie continued, “We have brought you here for a severe dressing down that you deserve! I and Saint Edward, have been observing the fake séances that you have been conducting. Your current victim is Harold Lindstrom. This fakery must end at once. You are lucky getting this scolding in Heaven. Unless, your fraudulent practices cease, your next reprimand, and the final one, may be at the other place.”
“At the conclusion of this meeting, you will be returned to Earth,” added St. Edward. “You are to contact Harold Lindstrom and say to him that what he has been experiencing at your so-called séances have been scams, and that you and your wife will be returning any monies that you have taken from him. Do you understand what I have just told you?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Lena and I will absolutely do that!”
“There is something that you will not doubt for a moment,” said St. Lucie. “You will never doubt that this experience took place. You will always know that this was not a dream, not a hallucination, not a fantasy, but real-life. You will also never doubt, that if you do not amend your lives, you will find yourself in greater difficulty than you are now! Do you comprehend? I’d be happy to repeat any part what I’ve said?”
“Yes, yes, we absolutely understand!”
“Return to Earth now, and live a more saintly life, no pun intended!” St. Lucie smiled at her inadvertent pun.
Instantly, they vanished.
“Harold has suffered a great deal,” said St. Lucie to her cohort. “Are you thinking the same as I am?”
“Yes, and of course, the decision that Beatrice makes will have to be entirely hers.”
“Let us bring her here and we’ll find out how she feels about it.”
In an instant, Beatrice Lindstrom was in the seat that had been occupied by Lena Stillman.
“You know, of course, why we have brought you here,” said St. Lucie.
“Yes, I do.”
“You know what the condition of the world is?”
“Yes, I do.”
“No one would fault you if your decision is negative. Do you have any questions, before you give us your decision?”
“Yes, instead of going back and making my return a paranormal event that could not be explained, would it be possible to resume my life with Harold at the point where the auto accident took place?”
“Yes, for you and Harold, it would be the same as if your life had not been interrupted by this terrible event.”
“What about the séances that Harold had been attending?”
“It would be as if they had never occurred. We just gave Ross and Lena Stillman a good scolding about them.”
“Just one more thing,” added Beatrice. “Though I have been very happy here, and would never leave except for my deep love for Harold, I would say no to your request. But because of him, I do wish to return to Earth. While there I would want no knowledge that I had been here until we return together.”
“Granted, Beatrice! What you are doing is making a heavenly sacrifice!”
“Well done, everyone,” came a voice that was heard throughout the cavernous room!
Ms. Elaine Harlow, Psychologist, rose from her seat and walked to greet her visitors, Mr. and Mrs. Theodore Wilson. She invited them to sit side by side on the couch that faced her desk. She returned to her seat and addressed the couple.
Ms. Harlow was twenty-eight, blond with blue-eyes. She was wearing a gray business suit and holding a pair of reading glasses in her hand as she began speaking to her guests. The Wilsons were in their mid-forties. Informally dressed, they seemed uncomfortable seated close together.
“May I call you by your first names, Sammy and Ted,” Ms. Harlow asked. They nodded yes. “From the questionnaires you filled out, I see, you’ve been married eighteen years and are going through some bumps in the road,” she said. “Ted, I’ll get to you soon; Sammy I’d like to start with you. Briefly tell me what brings you and your husband to see me today.”
Samantha Wilson had been lovely some years earlier. Now, this beauty was fading. It was apparent, however, that she had not been taking effective steps to delay this decline. Her voice was weak as she made her points, her demeanor, timid. “
“At the beginning,” she said, “everything was very good. Then, it seemed that having me around was more of a nuisance to Ted than anything having a connection with love. Ted has been coming home later and later and I suspect he’s been seeing other women. I’ve asked him about it but he denies it. We don’t have children. This was not planned; it just happened but neither of us felt the issue was important enough for us to try to do anything about it. I think we’d be happier if we did have children. I don’t work but I try to keep a nice home for him, but I think he has about as much feelings for me as he has for the spare tire leaning against the wall in the garage; unneeded, unwanted, and unnecessary. We’ve been talking divorce.” Samantha’s voice was wavering near the end of her statement; she seemed about to burst into tears.
Ms. Harlow took a box a tissues from a desk drawer and handed it across the front of the desk to where Samantha was sitting. She took it without speaking.
“Ted?” she said. “What is your take on what Sammy has said?
Theodore glanced at his wife as if requesting permission to speak frankly. She showed no emotion. “Ms. Harlow,” he began. “Sammy means more to me than the spare tire that she mentioned. I love her and could not get along without her. I’ve had trouble expressing my love as well as I should. As she says, everything was more than good at the beginning. I was living in Heaven every day, especially when I came home from work. She was prettily dressed and seemed to go out of her way to entice me. And she did! Then slowly, things began to change. It seemed she simply didn’t care any more. She invariably dressed in jeans. I did begin yearning for the old days. I was tempted to stray. But I had let myself go. I was getting heavier and was losing my hair. Yes, we were talking divorce but I did not think this would help us in any way.”
There was a silence in the room. Samantha and Theodore stared expectantly at Ms. Harlow.
“I believe I can help you,” she said. We will need several meetings. I would suggest meeting once a week. “I’ve been a psychologist about six years and have been having success with a method of treatment I developed called Poetic Therapy. For our next meeting, I am asking each of you to express your self in poetry. Don’t be alarmed. I’m not requesting reincarnations of Lord Byron and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Just do the best you can. Rhyming is not necessary. Length is not important.”
“Sammy, I’d like you to write a poem. In your poem tell how you feel. Ted, I’d like your poem to be about what you seek most from a marriage. The reason I want your write-ups to be in poetry is because doing this will awaken old feelings of love that you experienced once. You will yearn for a return to the life you used to enjoy and wish to return to it. People are more free in expressing their thoughts in poetry than they are when just speaking extemporaneously. Whenever I have attempted therapy of this sort, there has been success in, at least, one in three attempts. Are you willing to try?”
The agreements were made with some reluctance. An appointment was made for another meeting. on the following week.
On the following week, after the initial pleasantries had been given, Ms. Harlow asked Samantha to read what she had written. The following is what she read:
I know that God wants us to be happy, still . . .
Isn’t marriage supposed to bring companionship?
How could a person who had received so much love from another return so little thoughtfulness?
Sometimes I get lonely and cry.
I haven’t wanted much, a kind word, a little hug, a pretty flower.
I’ve sent flowers to myself. I was only a buddy and buddies have to pick their own flowers.
But isn’t marriage supposed to bring contentment?
How could a person who had received so much good from another return so little thoughtfulness?
When God says no, it’s because He has something better to offer. Still . . .
I suppose he’s unhappy now. But doesn’t marriage, after all, bring happiness? I’d really like to know.
Ms. Harlow then asked Theodore to read his. This is what he had read:
To be with her, to see her smile, to hold her hand, for a little while, ‘tis what I need.
To laugh with her, to softly cry, to reminisce of days gone by, ‘tis what I ardently need.
To share our dreams, with hearts entwined, to search the depths, and meanings find, ‘tis what I so passionately need.
Inside of me resides a man who longs to be set free from the stoic mind that wields an iron control.
Inside of me resides a heart that yearns to set him free.
“Thanks to both of you,” said Ms. Harlow. Your words have been very revealing. I see a successful outcome from the meetings we will have during the next several meetings. Ted, Sammy revealed a great deal in what she wrote. She doesn’t ask for anything you can’t provide. I’ll give you the original of what she wrote. She’s appealing to you for a share of the attention you place on various endeavors during the day. She is telling you that she is lonely. And she is not asking for a great deal. In the upcoming meetings, we’ll talk about the little things you can do that would greatly please her; a card, a rose, a surprise gift. As your attention grows, you’ll find that she’ll work harder to make herself become more attractive to you. The little thoughtfulness that you express will bring many dividends.
Sammy, your husband is a very romantic person. Somehow he feels bound by habit or childhood training not to show his feelings. He loves deeply but is not demonstrable. You can help break the bonds that force him to hide his emotions. With encouragement from you, you’ll find that he can be a much better companion and lover.
Let us adjourn now until next week. Ted, “As you leave here, take Sammy’s hand and walk with her hand-in-hand to your car. Let this be your first step in escaping from the bonds your stoic mind wields such an iron control!”
These are 16 stories about women in all sorts of interesting endeavors. The titles are Woman on the Phone; Devotion; The Woman In The Diner; The Mistrial, Girl in Red; Judge's Dilemma; Mary Pickins Economist; What Was That You Said About Elopement; Nice Twin Mean Twin; I Married A Ghost; Betrayer; Terrible But I Loved It; A Reenactment To Justice; The Heavenly Sacrifice; The Therapist