They didn't want to go to the party. He had been out of the hospital for just two days, and really didn't feel like partying. His release coincided with the annual Halloween party his family threw every year, and as the whole family was going to be there anyway, they turned it into a welcome home celebration. So costumes were improvised, and Jaime, with Beth beside him, became the center of attention.
There were hugs, tears, and back slaps galore, But Jaime especially appreciated the handshakes and quiet words from men who had 'been there, done that' also. He was moved beyond words when they were presented with a two day getaway to Vegas,
a trip meant to be the honeymoon they couldn't afford when they married. He was also stunned when people pressed cards into Beths' hands, a
"little something for the trip" they said. He knew they contained money. His people were all working class, and in a bad economy they were all struggling, which gave it all a deeper meaning.
Beth stood clutching the cards with tears streaming down her cheeks while Jaime idly wondered if there was a bus leaving for Vegas soon.
The surprises weren't over yet. The family literally dragged them outside. In front of the parking lot was a yellow 2006 Mustang convertible, with a banner draped across the bumper saying "Jaime and Beth, Vegas or Bust!"
Jaime was speechless. Beth was sputtering "How? What, who..."
His grandfather pointed to a man.
A small man in his sixties stepped forward, using a cane, smiling.
"My brother owns a used car lot. I got him to loan you this for a week. It's got independent dealer tags, and a letter in the dash stating It's covered with insurance for a week long test drive. Have it back by next Friday. It's got a full tank of gas, and a dealer gas card in the console good for three fill ups. That should get you there and back."
He was the owner of the vineyards most of the family worked for, a well respected man. He pulled Jaime in just a bit closer, showing him is drivers license embossed with a purple heart and a silver star.
"Son, a private word. Don't ever be embarrassed what these things bring you. You deserve them. And you earned them, with pain and sacrifice. Your country owes you, we all owe you. Good luck in life. Love your woman well, she shared your suffering too. She's stood by you, not many do this day and age."
Leaning back, he hands Beth an envelope with instructions not to be opened until they reach the Nevada border, and whispers to her he put six bottles of his finest wines in the trunk. They watch as he hobbles back to his Cadillac STS. Jaime recognizes the Vietnam ribbon on the tag, as well as lt. colonel insignia.
Two hours later they've left the smog laden valleys of California for the high deserts of Nevada. Even though Beth wanted to open the envelope right away, out of respect they waited.
The moment they passed the "Welcome to Nevada"
sign he had to pull over. Her scream echoed across the desert.
It was reservations for a full week in the honeymoon suite at a major hotel, all inclusive and paid for. There were also ten one hundred dollar bills, and a note.
"Kids, one of my distributors has this hotel as a client. I told him about you, he made some calls, and this is the result. Everything short of gambling money has been taken care of, even the gratuities. Use the spa, enjoy the shows. And Beth, when you get there ask for Grace. She's been instructed to take you shopping for a wardrobe befitting a beautiful bride, and it is included in the package. Jaime, you'll need a suit or two, it's taken care of."
"The money came from my old outfit. When I told them about you they wanted to do this. And Jaime, when you muster out, call the men on these business cards I've included. Some of us have been pretty successful, and even in this economy we're always looking for a good man. Call me first. Now, enjoy your lives."
It was signed "Lt. Colonel James Marsden, ret., and the men of C Company, 82nd Airborne, 1967.
After recovering they continued their journey. Even though it was cold, she had the top down. With the windows rolled up and the heater going full blast it wasn't warm. but bearable. She had the seat reclined and was looking up at the full moon and the bright stars.
"I feel like I can almost touch them."
Jaime smiled. "They're not quite that close, honey."
She giggled. "I know, silly. But honey, can we stop and do a little stargazing?"
Jaime, who had slept under enough desert stars to last a lifetime, grinned. When they were first getting together, and completely broke, they would scrap up bus fare to as far into the hills as they could get. They each had a backpack and he carried a sleeping bag. The packs would be filled with bottled water, some cheap wine if they could afford it, a few cans of soup, pork and beans, maybe some potted meat and crackers and chips. They would walk to the highest point accessible, find a suitable spot, and set up their meager camp. If it wasn't too dry or too wet they would have a small fire. And if it had rained recently, and if the wind was blowing in the right direction, they could actually see some stars, if they bothered to look up.
This didn't happen too often, as they were busy making each other see stars.
Ten miles down the road they found a pull off and a parking lot designed for people unloading four wheelers for desert riding. There was a small knoll rising about a hundred feet at the edge of the lot. A clearly marked trail started at the edge of the lot leading up the hill. Jaime got out and pulled Beth after him. He got two emergency blankets, a flashlight, and two bottles of wine out of the trunk.
"Come on babe, let's walk to the top. I bet it's got a great view."
She hesitated. "Honey, are you sure? Will your leg..."
He interrupted her quickly. "My leg will be fine.
We're going to walk, not run. We'll use the flashlight and go slow. It will be all right."
Slowly they made the ascent. She tried her best not to hover but she knew he noticed. There was a flat smooth circle at the top, with a great view in all directions. He spread the blanket and said,
"See, just fine. Now let's open that wine."
They sat cross legged on the blanket, facing each other with the other blanket wrapped around them. They had to drink out of the bottle since they didn't have glasses. If he hadn't been a corkscrew on his swiss army knife, they wouldn't have been drinking at all.
It was the first time they had been alone in an intimate setting in almost eighteen months. As the wine took it's effect they touched more often, slowly and tenderly. When they finished the bottle they rolled up the coats to use as pillows and lay down, drawing the blanket over them.
She rose up over him, kissing with an indescribable passion and hunger. He returned in kind, their tongues seeming to draw the very soul out of and into each other. After about five minutes they broke apart and she snuggled into him.
Looking up at the stars again, she said "Think there's any one up there looking at us?"
"I doubt it'" he said lazily "and if there is, they're probably so far in advance of us we would look like trained monkeys in a circus."
Jaime was softly caressing her breast, gently rolling her hardening nipple. Tugging the hem of her shirt up, he lowered his mouth.
"If there is something or someone watching us, let's give them a show to remember'" he whispered just before his mouth made contact.
She lay there, waves of excitement and contentment alternating through her body as she watched the stars. As her hands captured his head and drew him more into her breast she whispered quietly.
"I bet there is someone out there. And I hope they're watching us right now, so they can see what love truly is."
At the edge of the clearing was a small bush about two feet tall. Underneath it, even though it was absolutely windless, there appeared to be a small disturbance in the dust, hanging as a haze underneath the leaves.
"She senses us." said the male.
"They all do, at some level in their brain. The females are more intuitive. It will be many thousands of their years before their thought process evolves enough to recognize us for what we are." replied the female.
They were called Particulans by other beings that were advanced enough to interact with them. Long evolved past the need for corporeal bodies, they existed as particles of pure energy.
They had no need to eat, breathe, or sleep. They could draw enough energy out of a bush leaf or a star, or anything in between, to sustain them for incredible amounts of time. They seemed almost immortal. They weren't, though, and they were so highly advanced each knew the exact time when they would stop being able to absorb energy, and their particles would unbind and disperse.
Despite being highly evolved and living incredible spans of time, as a race they were dying.
The High Council had noticed this and had taken steps to reverse it. Sending out scouts across multiverses, searching for something not quite definable. Soon all the race was involved, compulsively seeking knowledge without understanding why. Instead of bringing them closer it made them more solitary and less prone to interaction. They were always happy to meet and exchange information, but seemed to lack the desire for anything else. Since there were male and female entities, to reproduce they had to interact, mate as it were, to produce a next generation.
.... There is more of this story ...
Science Fiction /