Since Ken’s fall last Sunday, I’ve been a space cadet. I knew I was upset when he went down in the garage and his noggin hit the pavement, but I never dreamed I’d become stupid
Here’s one thing that happened the following week. I won’t bore you with all of my ridiculous behavior.
I needed to get the car in for an oil change and tire rotation before the end of September because I had a coupon from the dealership which saved me about $40. I called my friend Pam to pick me up so we could have a cup of coffee while the car waited its turn to have a transfusion and tire adjustment.
We both took off from my house and traveled west. I pulled into the driveway of the garage and thought, “This doesn’t look right. Oh well, I haven’t been out here for quite a while, maybe they did some rennovations to the building.” I drove through the unfamiliar entrance and got out of the car to talk to the intake manager. It went like this:
“Good afternoon, Miss.” (I love it when they don’t call me “ma’am.”) “What can we do for you today?”
I answered. “I have a 2:30 appointment for an oil change and tire rotation.”
“How do you spell that?”
“M C C L O S K E Y.”
He rattled a few keys on the computer and his face went blank. “Your not in the computer.”
“I called yesterday and talked to Patty.”
“We don’t have a Patty on staff.”
Now I really thought I lost my mind. “I don’t understand. I talked at Patty at Palmen Service Department and signed up to bring my car in at 2:30.”
He still wore a blank expression. “Palmen?”
“Ma’am (oh god, now I’m ma’am.) You’re at Boucher. Palmen is two block that way.” He pointed east.
“Well that explains everything, huh?” I actually didn’t blush. “I’m at the wrong dealership. Chalk it up to a senior moment.”
I got in my car and exited the service bay. In my rear view mirror, I saw him laughing as he talked to one of his colleagues. Great! Now I won the reputation of a crazy lady.
A few seconds later I pulled into the right dealership. Honked the horn to get them to open the door. Drove in. Got out and repeated the process.
The guy says, “Your name in not in the computer.”
“I talked to Patty yesterday and made the appointment.”
“We have two Pattys.”
“Good. I talked to one of them.”
“Hmmmm.” The guy tapped on the computer a bit. “We can fit you in.”
“I have a coupon for the oil change and tire rotation.”
I dug in my purse. My husband calls the thing my black hole, and today he was right on. I had no coupon. Then I remembered I left it on my desk. “When I come back, I’ll bring the coupon.”
He must have sensed I was having a bad day. “That will be fine, ma’am.”
I smiled and called Pam because she was nowhere to be seen. “Hi, my friend. Where are you?”
“The question is where are you?”
“I’m at Palmen where I’m supposed to be.”
“I saw you drive into Boucher and then I lost you.”
“Just come to Palmen, and I’ll wait outside for you.”
“Okay.” She hung up.
Two seconds later, we made contact. I opened the passenger’s door and plopped down in the seat. “I need a drink. Not coffee.”
APPLE PIE AND STRUDEL GIRLS – BOOK 6 (CONTINUED)
London, England – August—Danny and other American escapees boarded a U. S. Army truck to travel to Lyon. They stayed for a week before being flown to London. Debriefing took place at SHAEF headquarters at Grosvenor House. Danny requested he be allowed to rejoin his flying group, but learned they all went home a month ago. Instead, he was to report to Major Jamison in London for his new assignment. The first order of business, though, was to retrieve his footlocker that had been put in storage in Liverpool. Danny flew a B-17 to Liverpool. There the returning POWs were directed to storage building which housed the personal belongings of airmen who hadn’t returned to their units. When the sergeant in charge opened the door, Danny’s mouth dropped. Thousands of foot lockers filled the old facility. Row upon row of lockers stacked to the ceiling told the true cost of war. After the men found their lockers, they went to the mess hall for a typical breakfast of powered eggs and toast. There was little chatter during the flight back to London.
Danny waited about an hour at headquarters for new orders before he was escorted into Major Jamison’s office.
“I understand the Swiss held you prisoner after you crashed.” The major said as he lit his pipe.
“Is it true they gave you freedom to roam the towns, attend concerts, and other activities without guards being present?”
“Yes sir. If an airman needs to be a prisoner, Switzerland is the place to be.”
“How did you escape?”
“I gathered civilian clothes a piece at a time and hid my costume in the floorboards of the barracks. When I had all I needed, I had a waitress I grew to know buy me a train ticket to Zurich. I learned the librarian had ties to the French Resistance. She put me in touch with another woman who made arrangement for my escape.”
“How long did that take?”
Danny gulped. If he told the truth about how long his time in Switzerland really was, the major would think he was a deserter. “A couple of months.”
“When did you get captured?”
“In February, sir.” Danny then said, “Why do I need to repeat this, sir? I covered this in my debriefing.”
“I understand. But I need to know for myself. Why so long to get back here?”
Beads of sweat formed on Danny’s forehead. “Well, it took a while to get hooked up with the Marquis.”
The Major pressed Danny further because he sensed the whole story remained untold. Six months seems like a very long time lieutenant.”
“Can you explain the delay?”
“Well,” Danny’s lying skills left a lot to be desire, so he took a deep breath and confessed. “The young woman who helped me took in three Jewish orphans, and well, uh, she needed some help. The place she lived in needed a lot of work, and well, uh, I fixed up the place a little.”
“That’s quite an unusual story, lieutenant.” The Major drummed his fingers on the desk. “Did you consider deserting, airman?”
“No sir. Never.” Danny stared the major meeting the superior officer’s eyes.
“I still don’t understand the six month delay to get back here.”
“I confess. I fell in love.” Danny remained straight as an arrow in the hard oak chair. “I got married.”
The Major exploded and propelled himself out of his chair. “You what?”
Danny repeated. “I got married, sir.”
Major Jamison got up from his chair and paced around the room like a hungry lion. “Why on earth would you do such a thing? Didn’t you think an American airman might need permission of his CO to marry a foreigner while in the service?”
Danny gulped. “No, sir. I didn’t.”
“I’m sorry, son, but your marriage to this girl is not legal.”
Now Danny stood. “What?”
The Major and Danny stood face to face. “You’re not legally married in the eyes of the Air Corps.”
Danny didn’t believe what he heard. “How do I make the marriage legal? Heidi means the world to me.”
“I can’t believe you did such a stupid thing!” The major realized he lost control of his temper and lowered his voice. “The proper procedure is to bring her to England. Then I must meet her and sign off on the marriage. Only then you can marry her. Afterward, you’ll be sent home, and she will remain in England until the war is over to be sent to the States.”
“Oh my God.” Danny’s first thought was Heidi. How would find the words to tell her that their marriage wasn’t valid. Danny’s voice quavered. “I never guessed getting married to someone needed any permission.”
“The problem is you didn’t think!” The Major said. “Is she Swiss?”
“No, sir. She’s German.”
“Jesus God! That makes this situation even more ridiculous. You can’t marry the enemy, airman!” The Major yelled.
Danny looked at his shoes. He sensed if he looked at the Major he might cry.
The Major returned to his chair. “Sit down, lieutenant. Let’s take a breath.”
Danny obeyed, but he avoided the Major’s eyes.
“I must say, this is the most interesting predicament I’ve faced. I understand a young guy falling in love with a pretty girl. I’m not dead yet.” The Major chuckled. “But the marry a German? What are you, nuts?”
Danny got the courage to look him in the eye. “No sir.”
The major leaned back into his chair as his mind worked for a solution. ““Give me some time, and I’ll try to work this out.”
“You’ll help me?”
“I’ll explore the options. Getting permission depends upon this girl. I want to listen to her story. But if you say a word about this, and I end up with a reputation of being a softie, I will skin you myself!” The Major said with a harsh tone.
“Let me make a few calls. Come back on Friday.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you sir.” Danny rose and saluted.
The Major returned his salute and then picked up the phone. “James, get me Colonel Chadwick.”
The next three days seemed like three years. Danny killed time by celebrating Armistice Day in London at Westminster Abbey. He went into the pubs at night. He wandered the streets of London and witnessed the devastation the Germans inflicted on the city and wondered how he would react if the Germans had bombed Lacrosse. Then he thought of the cities across Europe which had suffered the same tragedy by the hands of American bombers.
On Friday Danny returned to the Major’s office. He learned the major made arrangements with the French resistance to bring Heidi and the family to Annecy. The Major told Danny he would inform him when her plane landed in London. That afternoon, Danny went into London to look for a proper wedding ring.
Montpelier, South of France, September—The enticement of returning to Paris proved to be strong for Emma. She tried working as a clerk, but everyday the hours dragged by and she found no joy in her work. She spent her days wondering how different Paris might be. She romanticized her return to the apartment she and Marta shared before the war. She wanted to breathe freedom again in the city she loved. The only solution seemed to be to leave the sleepy little town she and Marta called home for the past several months.
Emma realized Marta wanted to make a new home in the south of France, but she couldn’t. She didn’t want to appear as ungrateful and selfish because she knew without Marta’s loving care she never would have recovered fully from the torture she endured. Every discussion they had about returning to Paris ending in an argument. Marta loved living in a quiet paradise. Emma equated the little town as another prison.
After Emma packed her few belongings she wrote a goodbye note.
You are my eternal lover, but I am finding living here is killing me softly. I want to enjoy a free Paris, so I will go ahead and find an apartment for the two of us and write when I am settled.
It is true the war caused both of us so much hardship, but now it is time to put the terrors of war behind us. I possess no illusions about returning to politics. I promise. I performed my duty to my adopted country, and now all I want is to return to my adopted home.
I am sorry to take the coward’s way out by leaving you this note, but I cannot face your tears or anger.
I hope you’ll forgive me for leaving you this way. Please follow me back to Paris.
All my love, Emma