Shortly before my discharge from the Marine Corps in 1945, I was a patient at the Seattle Naval hospital. Like many convalescent patients, I took advantage of the open gate liberty promised to those of us who volunteered to work. My temporary boss at the hospital, Lt. Kardash, was asked to find a 5th Division marine as a speaker for the 7th War Bond Drive.
The symbol chosen for that drive was Rosenthal's famous Iwo Jima flag-raising photo, which involved the 5th Marine Division and had electrified the country. While having the bad luck to be wounded hardly qualified me for the status of a hero, I was reasonably articulate, and came equipped with a Purple Heart and a pair of crutches. What more could a bond drive chairperson ask?
During the next several weeks, I spoke before civic groups and in company lunchrooms all over three counties. I don't know how many bonds I may have sold, but as usual, I was able to find fringe benefits.
One of the last talks I gave before my discharge papers arrived from Washington was to the staff of the Olympic Hotel, which was then Seattle's leading hotel. There were perhaps fifty people in my audience, ranging from hotel executives to the housekeeping staff. This bond drive featured a queen contest. The hotel's candidate was a lovely young elevator operator named Shelly who had been introduced to me before my talk, and who sat in the front row while I delivered it.
I had difficulty tearing my eyes away from her to look out into the audience as I spoke, and for good reason. Even in her clumsy elevator operator's uniform, she was a very pretty girl. She wore her cute little pillbox hat tilted high upon a coil of the richest reddish hair I have ever seen.
The uniform effectively concealed her figure, but I noticed, when we shook hands, how soft and unblemished her skin was. She wore only a trace of lipstick on a mouth that was at once sensual and inviting while at the same time displaying an impish little smile as if she knew I had noticed that her eyes were green, and wondered what her body looked like under that stiff uniform.
After I gave my little pep talk, one of the hotel big shots took me to one side and asked if I was free that evening? And would I like to escort Shelly to dinner as a guest of the hotel? Is the Pope Catholic?
I returned to the hotel at the agreed time that evening and found Shelly waiting for me in the lobby. At first, I was nearly speechless. I simply could not believe my good fortune. I don't know what I expected, but this was the first time a girl had dressed up for me and I scarcely recognized her.
She wore her hair in lush reddish waves that fell to her shoulders and framed her face while complementing her green, semi-formal gown. A single strand of pearls called attention to her graceful neck and decolletage that emphasized her fresh young bosom. The gown hugged her womanly hips, and fell midway between her knees and ankles. She looked like a movie star as she rose and offered me her hand.
"Hello, Corporal Moore," she said in her soft voice.
That was embarrassing. I hoped others nearby had not overheard her formal greeting. I hoped they would think she was my regular girl friend. "Please, call me Denny," I said as I took her hand. I was almost tongue-tied at first, responding to her comments about the weather, the dinner that was to come, and finally the peculiar circumstances that had brought us together with shy monosyllabic responses while I desperately tried to think of something clever to say.
At last she took my arm and I escorted her into the dining room. The ma"tre'd was expecting us, and led us to a table on the edge of a small dance floor at the far end of the room. Two couples were slowly dancing between courses to the music provided by a small orchestra on a balcony above the dance floor. This was, far and away, the most elegant dining room I had ever seen in my 19 years, and I'll admit I felt a bit put off because of Shelly's obvious sophistication in the way she consulted her menu and then with our waiter. As I watched her, I became somewhat melancholy, feeling sorry for myself, like a kid with his nosed pressed against the window of a candy store. I was already keenly aware that Shelly was out of my class; and that this evening's entertainment was no more real than an afternoon spent at the movies.
No doubt sensing my uneasiness in these opulant surroundings, Shelly said, "I feel just like Cinderella."
"Does that make me Prince Charming?" I asked for wont of anything intelligent to say.
"We'll see," she said.
The significance of that cryptic remark escaped me at the moment, but I remembered it later. Dinner was served. Later, while we waited for dessert, a photographer appeared and flash bulbs began popping as Shelly and I smiled dutifully into the camera's lens. After he left, I screwed up my courage and impulsively asked Shelly if she'd like to dance. She knew I was wearing a steel leg brace and still using a cane. Obvious concern was in her voice as she asked, "Do you really feel up to it?"
"Sure," I said with a confidence that I hoped didn't sound too false. Frankly, I wasn't sure. Besides, I was never a particularly skilled dancer, but I found the prospect of holding this goddess in my arms so intoxicating that I was sure as hell going to try.
She nodded, so I rose and held her chair while she stood. Shelly proved to be an excellent dancer and was skillful enough to avoid my clumsy feet. Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed myself even though the inconvenience of a partly paralyzed leg prevented any steps more elaborate than a rhythmic shuffle.
When we returned to our table, the other diners, having seen the photographer and assuming, I'm sure, that I was some sort of hero, gave us a nice round of applause.
By ten o'clock, I was beginning to worry how I was going to escort Shelly home. I wasn't sure where she lived, but I knew many streetcars suspended operation at midnight, and I feared it might be a stretch to get her home, then return downtown so I could catch the bus that ran out to the hospital. However, as we left the hotel, the doorman asked if I was Corporal Moore. When I assured him I was, he blew his whistle and summoned the next waiting cab.
"Take these people wherever they want to go and come back here for your fare."
Whew!! You couldn't ask for anything better than that! All that worry for nothing! After we pulled away from the hotel entrance, and Shelly gave the driver her address, we leaned back. I knew I was navigating in uncharted waters, but I timidly put my arm around her shoulders. She came willingly to rest against me, and even reached up to kiss my cheek. It was a long cab ride; but it seemed only minutes before we pulled up before her door. I expected to give her a quick kiss and then direct the cabby to take me to the hospital, but that was not to be. Instead, when we arrived at her house, she almost dragged me out of the cab. "My father has been waiting up to meet you!"
"But how'll I get to the hospital?"
"He'll take you. Don't worry."
Nevertheless, I had very mixed feelings as I watched the cab disappear around the corner. Still reluctant, I followed her into the house, and sure enough, daddy was sitting in the living room, waiting up for us.
I quickly learned that he had been a marine in the first World War. He knew I had been wounded on Iwo Jima, and was anxious to compare notes and swap war stories. Shelly sat quietly on the sofa next to me holding my hand while I described some of the things I had seen and experienced, but finally she stood and yawned. "It's getting awfully late, Daddy," she said pointedly.
I expected the old man to get up and put on his coat, preparing to drive me to the Naval hospital, but instead he looked at his watch. Then he stood and offered his hand. "It's been good to meet you, sir," he said. Then he turned to his daughter. "Good night, dear," and he walked out of the room!
WHAT THE HELL???????
At first, I was embarrassed, confused, and even a little frightened. Literally, I didn't know what to do. As if to settle things, she pulled me down on the sofa and kissed me on the mouth. Her subtle perfume flooded my senses, and my cock was suddenly as rigid as a crowbar. When she took my hand and placed it on her breast, I almost came in my pants! Still I hesitated.
Sensing my confusion, Shelly took my hand. "What time do you have to be back?"
I enjoyed open gate liberty, so that wasn't a problem as long as I was back in time for the morning formation. After listening to me stutter and stammer for a minute or two, she smiled. "Would you like to come upstairs or would you rather stay down here?" I hesitated, but only because events had overtaken my ability to process them. My nervous system was still trying to adjust to this sudden, wholly unexpected and nearly inexplicable turn of events!
"Haven't you ever -- you know -- done IT before?" she asked.
How should a young man respond to a question like that? A dozen conflicting ideas raced through my mind -- what will she think of me if I tell the truth? Will she know if I lie? I tried for neutral ground. "Suppose your mom or dad wake up ?"
"They don't care," she said. "They know I've done this before. I like to think it's my contribution to the war effort!" As she spoke, she unknotted my tie and began unbuttoning my shirt. Then she stood, and quickly circled the room, turning off the lights until only the lamp by her father's chair remained lit. Just as quickly, she unbuttoned her gown, and stepped out of it.
I had my shirt off by now and watched, fascinated, as she drew her slip over her head. I had never seen a live girl in "proper" undergarments -- cast iron brassiere, steel-belted panty girdle with industrial grade garters holding up cotton stockings -- but I thought she was the most beautiful, most exquisite, most delicate, most erotic creature anyone had ever seen.
She crossed the room, and kissed me again. "When I come back," she said, "at least have your shoes off." Then she gathered up her clothes and vanished into the hall. I still wasn't absolutely certain what lay in store. But I didn't wonder long. I had just removed my shoes when she floated back into the room wearing only a kimono.
She had done something to her hair, so when she joined me on the sofa, she seemed to be sitting in the center of a red halo. She pulled my head down so our mouths met again. This time, I was shocked to feel the tip of her tongue touch the corners of my mouth. Hungrily, I took her in my arms, but she pushed me away.