One spring in the late ‘seventies, when I was in my mid-twenties, I drove solo from Los Angeles to Provo, Utah in my first car, a tan 1976 Ford Mustang. Everything I owned, which wasn’t much, was stuffed beneath its hatchback. I had left Provo and my friends about six months previously, looking for adventure in the land of glamour and movie stars. When I ran out of money and dreams, it was time to head for the nearest exit.
Well, it’s happened to me again, and I still don’t understand it. This time, I was in the bakery of my local supermarket, scanning the doughnuts, when suddenly view was cut off by a squat, bald man who had been talking to another woman. I moved aside and continued my sugar selection, when I heard a squat, bald voice say, “Smile. It can’t be all that bad.”
When I moved in with my friend Molly, her husband, four kids, three dogs and three cats, I had no idea how everything would work out for me. I wasn’t that big on kids, but I’d always loved cats in spite of, or perhaps because of the fact that my mother hated them.
My most powerful and far-reaching memory, my first recalled betrayal, occurred when I was five years old. I was playing at the house of the family across the alley. My older sister played with their daughter, and I played with their son Jay, who was a few years younger than I.
Corporal James McElroy slowly climbed the front steps of his childhood home in a small midwestern town. The afternoon was bright and sunny and he stopped for a moment to soak in the silence. Well over six feet and broad-shouldered, he filled the doorway. He ran his hand through his short sandy hair and looked down at the battle fatigues he still wore. He was reluctant to go inside the house; reluctant to let his parents know he was home. He had burn scars on his face and torso, and was still healing from several broken bones. So he leaned on his cane and stood quietly for a moment, listening to the world he once knew so well, but which was now completely foreign to him. It was all so surreal, this new/old reality of his.
Marcie put on her headphones and turned the music up. Tonight she didn’t want to think about anything, or to hear the regular, everyday noises her family would be making. Aunt Emma was arriving tomorrow from some foreign port, and Marcie knew she would not feel like listening to exotic stories of a journalism career, not now, when her own life felt like such a mess.