Chapter 10 – Go Ask Alice

“Was she the one who wrote you the letter you told me about?”

“Letter, letter um…….”

“She thought you might show up on TV. What did you tell her to make her think that?”

“Oh! that letter. Yes that was her. Marge.”

“She didn’t actually know what I was doing in Viet Nam. It was technically supposed to be secret……..

“Yes, I recall,” Agnes added dryly. “I think is was a poorly kept secret.”

“Anyway she wrote that she’d been watching the news clips of choppers and guys getting blown all to hell and she was afraid she’d see me in one of the clips. Her girlfriend’s boyfriend, actually now I think about it, he was her fiancé, had gone to Nam about six months ahead of me and Debbie, the girlfriend, was worried sick about him. I guess some of that rubbed off on Marge.”

“Was it a Dear John letter?”

“You know about such things.”

“Of course. I’ve lived in American culture nearly twenty years. It that what it was?”

“I didn’t know it at the time from the way she worded it but it did turn out that way.”

“So what does Max have to do with Marge?”

“Marge was my steady date. I’m coming to that. I’m just afraid you’ll be jealous. It all fits together, trust me.”

“Jealous?! After all these years about somebody who came and went twenty years ago and I never remembered till just now?”

“You knew about her letter.”

That’s true but I’d have been jealous then if I was going to be jealous at all. So what about Max?”

“I have to tell you about Marge to get to Max.”

“OK, well get on with it.”

“The winter after the trip with my cousins to meet Max, I met Marge. Marge was a friend of a friend and lived in New York City. Jimmy, a fellow soldier, and I along Marge had helped her friend, Debbie, move her apartment. In parting, they thanked us for the help and Marge said, “I hope to see you again some time.” Marge could have said, “Thanks” and left it at that but it seemed that she dangled this invitation to call on the end of the good bye. So I took her up on it. Jimmy had Debbie’s phone number so I called Debbie. I had no phone. I could only call out on the phone booth next to the Coke machines in the company area. Debbie told me that Marge’s number was unlisted and she’d have to get her permission. I told her I’d call back in a few days. I called back and Debbie said she hadn’t seen Marge to ask her. I said I’d call back in a week. In the meantime I enlisted Jimmy’s help. He called Debbie and reported back that she didn’t think it was such a good idea that Marge date me. But Jimmy was quick witted and had suggested that Debbie let Marge decide that. When I called back a week later, Debbie had Marge’s phone number. That was the last time I invested so much effort in getting a date.”

“I might argue that point,” quipped Agnes.

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