Michael entered the diner with a face of pure innocence. Soft brown eyes strained bringing attention to the tense expression. The crisp and well-tailored uniform did not hide the feeling rising in the young man. He looked the child, separated from his mother. Two patrons, an elderly couple using the restaurant for the first time smiled at the nervous soldier.
“One sir…would you like a booth or…” The young teenager dressed appropriately for her role as hostess smiled while fluttering deep green eyes. Her scent was light with a fruity hint of oranges. A simple black dress hung perfectly from the proportioned body. The main reason her uncle asked her to fill her summer vacation with employment at the eating establishment. The man’s own daughters would have had male customers to preoccupied with the family trait of large breasts. He would find it hard to be a congenial personality watching a group of construction workers ogling his babies.
“I’m looking for Julia.” Michael’s uniform did catch the young girl’s eye. The distinct aspect of military dress pants bloused in shiny black boots was worn with pride.
The traditional green outfit was still topped by the red beret. Michael had hoped to exchange it for the green one so highly prized. But those thoughts were farther away for the young man than the training he would soon start in North Carolina.
“Who are you?” The owner’s wife, a constant confident of the young woman continued with her questions. “Are you Michael?” No answer was necessary. The bulky woman gripped the muscled sleeve and almost dragged the startled, and vulnerable young soldier to an isolated part of the restaurant.
“I’m Valeria…never mind how I know you.” The woman reacted to Michael’s bewildered expression. “My God! You’re adorable.” A deep breath separated the pair, giving Michael time to collect his thoughts.
“I must see her. They said she’s at work.” The they was Sarah, whose shock at seeing the distraught soldier caused another few seconds for both of them to stand with puzzled looks upon their faces. Michael would react with the speed of an advancing unit under fire, scampering back into his brother-in-law’s Lincoln and speeding to this present destination.
“Listen,” something difficult to say was hanging onto the older woman’s lips.
“Listen…she is up the road in the construction shed? Understand?”
Michael resumed the incredible daylong journey into total confusion.
“Listen…Michael…I feel that I know you…but never mind that.” She pushed the stuttering soldier as fast as she had dragged him, toward the door. “Hurry, I don’t like what she wants to do.”
What she wants to do? The last words rested, or to be exact, cut through the young man’s brain as if on the tip of a saw. He was hustled out the door, and pointed in the direction of the construction site.
The aluminum house glistened in the distance. Michael cut toward the building in fast strides. Crunching jump boots smashed and decimated any unfortunate piece of glass or twig in his path. Thumping vibrations moved the Class A jacket up and down. He could hear the thunder of a heart full of longing. A heart full of love.
As the young man approached the pale white overgrown shed, he could only thing about what Valeria said as she pushed hi down the steps toward the street.
“Michael…hurry…stop her…I don’t like what she wants to do.”
He could only think, “was she in danger?” If he only knew?
“Bitch!” The smack rattled her teeth. John often threatened a smack as a result of something he did not want to hear, but this was the first time she felt his palm on her cheek.
“My wife knows everything…you get rid of the baby…or I’ll lose it all.” A red outline of John’s fingers stood out on Julia’s dark complexion. Her tears would be wasted as she begged for him to understand.
“I won’t bother you. I just want the baby and to be left alone.” Julia hoped to ease the worried philanderer that there would be no fear of “child support” or any need to legitimize the child. Julia just wanted to be free of him.
“And what about next year…or if you need money?” The vice like grip of her slender arm was leaving a matching imprint resembling the streak on the young woman’s cheek.
“Bitch!” Another smack covered the creak of the front door. “You’re a fuckin’ whore and you won’t ruin my life.” John raised his hand again. This smack would be delivered with more force. The smirk on his face was greeted with another tearful plea.
The open hand of the irate man froze in mid-air. The silhouette at the door gleamed with the setting sun shooting from the visitors back. The shining boot stepped forward.