An Unexpected Departure

This is a story of Army Intelligence on a lower  intelligence  level.

It was late spring in 1950,  at the time of rising conflicts on the  Korean peninsula. Having, as an 18-year old, enlisted in the Marine Corps during WWII, I decided, if I was going to serve during some Korean action, it should be in some role more suited to my recent 4 years of education at Columbia College. I enrolled in the 338th Military Intelligence Army Reserve unit in New York. By the time summer was over (“Whoops!”) , the 338th became the first reserve unit in New York City to be called to active duty. That brought us all to Fort Meade, MD, just a half-hour outside of friendly Baltimore, Maryland. Thus, as a reward for our daily mental struggles to live up to our “intelligence” reputation, stupid relaxation was available to us at night in the “City of Churches”.

One of those nights, I was at a favorite haunt (had been there more than twice), the bar at The Pan American Hotel, and  I made a nice connection with a dancer. This led to a few drinks followed by an agreement that when she was got off floor duty at 1 pm, I would “wait ten minutes” then depart and meet her in the parking lot for some late evening antics. My under-used  loins throbbing, I waited, and then, at the assigned time, I paid my bill and tried to walk casually out and around the back to the parking lot. Neither car, nor dancer, were in sight. As any horny soldier would, I waited more than half an hour,  giving her various logical excuses for being delayed. Finally, with what was left of my tail between my legs. I shuffled to the bus stop and with no story of conquest to tell, returned to my Fort Meade quarters, trying not to awaken anyone to ask, “How’d ya’ make out??”.

A week later, perhaps seeking to encounter my antagonist, I returned to the Pan American. I sat at the bar downing a few beers in anticipation of anything when, lo and behold, the dirty dancer came in and walked to the bar. However, to complicate matters, she had a rather swarthy Hispanic male with her. They came directly to where I was sitting, with an empty bar stool on each side of me. I thought, “Is she going to apologize?”. But, no, he spoke to me instead. “Senor, por favor, could you please move over so My girl and I can sit together?” He was polite enough. So was I. “No”. I answered with a smile. He looked confused. “Maybe you no unnerstan’ me, I said please move over one stool so we can sit together.” “Maybe you no unnerstan’ me”, I replied, “I said, NO!” My girl (His girl) looked perplexed. I realized she didn’t even recognize me. Me! The handsome intelligence soldier with the “ex-marine” patch on my shoulder! That pissed me off even more. “Senor!!!” said the Hispanic male in his most macho voice, “Let me ask you just one more time – MOVE OVER to the next stool!!!

Without thinking  and, as though I did it all the time, I picked up my beer bottle by the neck and crashed it unto the bar between us, leaving a very jagged glass weapon for him to consider.

Thank God, he was smarter than some Macho Men I have met. He grabbed the girls arm and dragged her with him to a table across the room.

At the same moment, the lady bartender came running down the bar and addressed me. “Are you finished with that beer, soldier, here let me give you a fresh one”. She put a new bottle in front of me, while I gently handed her the neck of the bottle to dispose.

She then called  for a bus boy who swept up the remnants of the bottle at my feet.

The bartender, said, “I’ve seen you here before soldier, was she somebody you knew?” She nodded towards the distant couple.

I nodded and said, “Yeh, gotta admit, she had me wait until she got off, and made a date for us to meet in the back but she had disappeared.” I touched her arm, “Sorry, I did not mean to give you trouble.”

“She’s trouble, not you.” She grabbed my hand with hers, “Not all of us are like that. We respect the guys from Fort Meade.”

“That’s nice”, I answered in a monotone.

“No,” she came back, “I mean it. I’ll prove it. I get off at 1 a.m. . My car is in the back. I would like to take you home and show you some real southern hospitality.”

I suppose I my mind thought for a moment, ‘Not twice in the same place!’ But, my mouth said, “Name is Jack. You’re on.”

She answered, “That will be two of us.” I laughed as she hastened back to serving her overly-curious patrons.

This time, no disappointments. She was there, in her car, with the motor idling.  She waved me in, said, “I’m Ethel. Let’s go home”.

Ethel lived in a small, multi-family, clapboard house, 2nd floor rear. Her flat featured had an inconspicuous living room with a Pullman kitchen jutting into it and an even more modest bedroom which, upon arrival, I went to explore.  I looked out the bedroom window and saw a bare,  un-planted backyard with a typical slatted wood fence. There was no window shade but there was little need for one. I opened the window figuring we may need a little air on what was a rather warm southern October evening. In the minute I was looking out, Ethel sped to the fridge, opened two bottles of Bud, and brought them to the bedroom. She obviously was a woman of her word because, before my second sip, she had slipped out of everything and slipped under the sheets. I put the beer down on a night stand, quickly disposed of all physical adornment on a folding chair (garrison cap, khaki shirt, khaki pants. shoes) leaving on socks and shorts (which modesty demanded} and calmly slipped under the same sheets to feel her warm and very receptive flesh instantly wrap itself around mine. ‘This is southern hospitality at its finest’, I thought.   Then, I turned back to the night table to make sure my beer was safely perched and noticed a framed photo of Ethel and a soldier other than myself. I could tell because this other soldier looked like Lenny Small from Steinbeck’s,  Of Mice and Men, towering above her and filling the photo with his width. He had a gentle, Lennyish, grin on his face but the hand that sat on her shoulder below him appeared to be the size of a small pumpkin.

“Boy friend?” I inquired to make some pre-coital conversation.

“Uhhh, no”, Ethel answered then added,  “Husband.”

My testicles tightened. “Overseas?” I inquired trying not to show any concern.

“Uhhh, no,” she responded, “Fort Dix, just now.”

Knowing Forth Dix was just to the north in New Jersey, I answered, showing casual interest, “Not too far. Does he ever get a chance to come home?”

“Oh, sure. Every weekend.”

As we had met on a Friday evening and were now sharing bodies under her sheets and,  as it was now 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning, I gave this information a nanosecond before replying, “ETHEL,THIS IS SATURDAY!”

She laughed a mischievous Southern Gal laugh, “Baby, don’t worry. He takes a morning train. Never gets here before noon.” She rolled on to me, I guess to make me feel more protected. I responded by trying my best to recover my erection.

After some time, I had succeeded erecting and we were “on” one another in a most enthusiastic way. As a matter of fact, our enthusiasm was rising to vocalized grunts and moans, when …

“knock, knock, knock” said the door.

Ethel jumped off me like a wounded kangaroo. I jumped to the floor. Her eyes said “You’ve got to get out of here!!”. Mine responded, “I’m Going, I’m Going!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!” said the door with more urgency.

I zapped open the window. I grabbed my khaki things and shoes and tossed them to the ground.


Ethel, more cool than I, spoke in a ‘I just woke up’ murmur. “Umm, honey boy, Uhh, is that you.”

I poised on the window sill, trying to estimate the damage the 10-foot plunge might have upon my ankles.

“OPEN THE FUCKIN’ DOOR, ETHEL!” Lenny shouted.

Fuck the ankles, I jumped, landing like a taught GIs, with a shoulder-leading forward roll.

‘Ooof’, I complained softly. But, I COULD stand up. I COULD gather my clothes. I COULD run to the back of the yard. I COULD throw my clothes over the fence.

And, most importantly, I ushered my Obstacle-Course know-how to vault over that fence in not much more than a single bound.

Two couples were gathered on the other side in the alley. They looked at the soldier in shorts and socks and watched as he put on his pants, shirt, shoes, and, finally, topped it off with his snappy garrison cap. They never took their eyes off me and they never said a word. Finally, my cap set at a jaunty angle, I saluted them, saying,

“Just some military exercise!”

As I marched away,  I heard one of the women say, “Should we thank him for his service?”

I chuckled, despite the uncomfortable wetness of the shit in my shorts.


One response to “An Unexpected Departure”

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    Leighton Baker


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