The time was a kind of lark for Wayne Ferry. He was out of the Corps, and though he really did enjoy the time he spent with the Marines, he was okay to be finished with it. He was about to go full time into business with his Dad, Greg and his Uncle Walt. He was trained as a carpenter and general construction worker; they'd seen to that kind of training for him prior to his hitches. The corps had simply used his expertise and he had many chances to hone his skills and learn more. It had all been a positive experience for him.
Wayne was, just then, 28 years old. He was in great shape; the Corps had taught him that, and he learned the lesson well. He kept at his workouts, and actually, unlike so many people, enjoyed them. He had a kind of, what some people would call a 'rugged' look about him, with sandy hair that sometimes would do what he wanted and sometimes just refused. He was a robust 6'3" and in wonderful shape.
But before going to work full time with 'G & W' construction, his Dad and Uncle's business, he had promised himself a kind of a quick driving tour of places that he longed to see, before settling down to work. His Dad and Uncle Walt were fine with that, and Wayne was slated to be one of their foremen, when he returned to the job.
Right now it was the Grand Canyon. He'd always wanted to see it, and so, he'd put it on his itinerary list and headed in that direction.
He found a nice hotel room in a town just south of the Canyon and settled in there. He'd decided that he'd stay for a few days, and wander the area. He knew that he wasn't far from Sedonia and had read about its beauty. He was simply thinking that he might just use this lovely place, his hotel, as a base and do some traveling around.
And today it was the Grand Canyon. He got there and did the drive around the edge of the Canyon, looking at it from every possible view point.
He went to the main, crowded areas and didn't mind the crowds but also sought out the lesser crowded view points, where it was necessary to walk a bit to get to the viewing place.
That's where he was walking to at this point. As he arrived at the lookout point, he noticed one woman only there, looking out over the Canyon.
He stood a bit away from her, since she was busy talking. He didn't want to be interfering at all.
The woman was Lindy, actually Linda but always called 'Lindy', Cowper. She was a woman with a mission. For her, as well as for Wayne, the Grand Canyon was a must.
She mused about it, talking to herself all the while: "It's the place that we were going to; the place he wanted to see, as soon as he was finished there."
She said this softly but still in Wayne's hearing. He noticed, still trying not to be nosey, but it was obvious, that she was getting more and more upset.
He took a deep breath and said: "Ma'am, are you okay?"
She broke from her reverie then, as though noticing Wayne's presence for the first time.
"Ohhh," she said, softly and then she acted in a bizarre fashion.
Linda Cowper was a very pretty 43 year old at that time. She was much shorter than Wayne's 6'3" height. As a matter of fact, if it were measured, she only came to his shoulder.
She was, in addition, in the middle of a very, very emotional event for her.
They had planned, she and her son Arley, to make this trip to the Grand Canyon. It was one of a number of places that they'd promised themselves to visit, when he got back from his deployment.
In fact, Arley Cowper came back in a bag, not to his doting Mom but to a military funeral and all the honors that went with it.
Lindy Cowper was struck down by it. Her Jack had died of a heart attack already three years ago. He was her special man; much older than she and devoted, loving and just a special man.
"Now they're both gone," were the words that moved across her mind, and that she was saying to herself out loud, just as Wayne interjected with his 'Ma'am, are you okay?'
But her bizarre greeting, movement. She turned to this handsome young man, and without a further thought, she simply launched herself into his arms.
Wayne was so taken aback by this that at first he didn't close his arms at all. He just stood there with this sobbing woman holding onto him. But then, when he began to fully appreciate the need, he wrapped his arms around her and let her cry.
"Now they're both gone," she repeated a few times into Wayne's shoulder.
When she lifted her head, and looked into his face, she began to realize what she'd done.
"Oh, dear!" she said, and, bringing out a tissue, wiped her eyes and her nose and said a soft: "Sorry!" And then she went scurrying up the path.
Wayne said nothing. He didn't move. He didn't try to go after her. He simply stared at her, disciplining his waking senses that were already mentioning how lovely this woman was, and how grand it was to watch her move away.
"Okay, cool it, Marine!" he said to himself severely, and simply filed away the view of this woman's pretty butt, as she went hurrying up the path. "She was in some kind of deep emotional state, my friend," he continued, saying to himself. "Don't make it shabby!"
Wayne was, at that moment, a bit upset with himself about how he'd reflected on her butt, hurrying away.
"If you get a chance," he said to himself, "You'll apologize for that!" He was determined about that but simply put that intention aside also.
A DINNER MEETING:
He stood there for a while, and only after a bit did he manage to get the scene with the weeping woman out of his mind, and the vision of her hurrying away, and concentrate on the wonders before him.
He went to a number of other spots to look down into the canyon and enjoy its beauty, before going back to the hotel and getting himself ready for dinner out.
He took a shower and put on a pair of clean and pressed jeans with a blue chambray shirt and a corduroy spot coat and went to one of the nicer looking restaurants in the town, where he was staying, south of the Canyon.
She saw him right away, as he stood in the line where people were waiting for a table. She was seated alone and immediately, with the kind of decision making process that she was familiar with, motioned for him to come over to her.
He did, simply mentioning to himself that it was one bizarre event after another with this woman.
He got to her table and she said, softly: "Please sit and join me. I know that I owe you a huge apology."
He held up a hand and said: "No, not at all. You were so obviously upset and it was your moment out there. I was only happy to be able to help."
She smiled at him then and he said: "I'm Wayne, Wayne Ferry."
"Linda," she answered, "Linda Cowper, all my friends call me 'Lindy'."
"Lindy it is then," he said.
"Will you join me?" she asked. "It's so crowded here and I just got here."
"What a nice idea!" he said, "It'll be my pleasure."
He sat and they both ordered. She ordered a glass of white wine, and he ordered a glass of stout. They sat and toasted, after they'd put in their dinner orders.
"Let me tell you!" she said.
Wayne's expectation was that she was going to tell him about the death of a husband. It's at least what his mind projected. But it didn't turn out that way.
"It's about my son Arley," she said.
"Oh," he said, "I see!"
"Yes," she said, sipping her wine, "He was killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb."
"Ah, yes," he said, shaking his head. "An IED; I know all about them."
"You do?" she asked. It seemed to be her turn to be a little surprised.
"Yes," he said, "I was with the marines in Afghanistan for two tours."
"Ohhhhh," she said, and now, with the association, her handkerchief came out and she was wiping her eyes.
"Yes," she said, "You know!"
He didn't say anything more about him and Afghanistan right then. He only listened.
"He and I made a kind of pact!" she said. "We were going to make a trip to the Grand Canyon, when he came back."
Wayne nodded his head in encouragement.
"You know how he came back," she said, realizing that he certainly would.
"Yes," he said. "A body in a bag, a coffin draped with the flag he fought for, and a very kind Marine to talk to you."
"Yes," she said, "You know!" Speaking half way into her handkerchief.
"So," she went on, "I came; I had to come and see the Canyon for the two of us. A kind of a —-what was the name of the task from that movie?"
"You mean a 'Bucket List' trip?" he asked.
"Yes, exactly," she said, "It was a 'Bucket List' trip for me."
She took a deep breath and said: "You were there and I was so upset; please forgive me for latching onto you that way. I was half out of my mind."
He held up a hand and said: "Please, nothing to forgive. I was glad that I was there and had the opportunity."
"Yes, thank you!" she said.
Then he spoke what was on his mind right then: "The Corps takes care of its own!"
"Yes," she said, weeping again.
"Sorry to make you cry again!" he said.
She put her hand on his and said: "No, I'm going to get a hold of myself now and enjoy dinner with a spectacular looking former Marine."
He grinned at her and they did indeed spend some time then eating.
As they dined, she talked about the loss of her husband Jack and then the loss of Arley. She tried to be soft and not overly weepy about it. He simply listened to her. She appreciated that.
When the check came, she reached for it and he said, palming it: "No, I don't think so. Dinner with a beautiful woman! What a treat for me! This is mine."
.... There is more of this story ...