Rosebud and pear trees were putting out their first buds that spring; the spring that Naomi said yes; the year he and other young men went off to war...
Melanie and her friends spilled through the front door, laughing and talking.
He’d courted her since she was fourteen, on horseback, and with long walks along the dirt roads under the elm boughs as golden light brought out the red highlights of her hair, making it shine like a copper penny newly minted...
“Grandpa! Grandpa?” She shook him.
“Hmph,” he muttered and leaned the other way in the chair. His John Deere cap dropped down over his eyes.
“Is he ok?” asked Katie.
“Yeah, he’s just sleeping. Let’s get some Cokes out of the fridge.” They dropped their book bags on the floor by the door and headed for the kitchen.
“Mr. Mayes, it’s a girl,” said the nurse in army green, handing him his baby girl. So tiny...four fingers curled around his own calloused one. They’d named her Marianne...
The girls came back and turned on the Motorola. Dobie Gillis and Maynard Krebs were ogling and whistling at the babes.
“Isn’t that Maynard is just the dreamiest?” Katie put her clasped hands against her cheek and rocked on the floor as though she were dancing with the dreamy Mr. Krebs.
“Lieutenant, you and your men line up on the ridge above the town ...”
“Oh, no, for me it’s Dobie. I’ve got a thing for wavy blonde hair,” Melanie giggled.
“Wait ‘til I tell Robert,” teased Kellie, fending off a playfully tossed cushion.
...gunfire rained down...women and children, running, screaming in the streets below...
“See the U.S.A in a Chevrolet!” sang the T.V. as the girls returned to the kitchen for chips and dip.
...gunfire was returned from behind buildings...men beside him falling, gasping and screaming...
“Noooooo!” his mind wanted to scream at the past.
“...you and Robert going up to the point this weeken...”
“Shhh!” motioned Melanie, nodding toward her Grandpa, whose eyes were still closed and hooded under ole’ John Deere.
More giggling ensued.
“Mr. Mayes, it’s Sergeant Harkins from the Peoria Police department. Sir, there’s been an accident. Your daughter and her husband were...the little girl is in serious condition too.”
“Hi Honey. Where’s the Beav?” asked Ward Cleaver as he dropped his hat in the chair and kissed June on the cheek.
“...but they weren’t in that village,” he puzzled.
“Shouldn’t we turn it off?” asked Kellie as they picked up their bags to go study at the library.
“Nah, Grandpa’s sleeping ok with it on. Let’s go.”
The T.V. continued to chatter on about the idyllic life of the ‘50s as Grandpa slumbered. “Hmph,” he murmured once as the volume went up on a Mr. Clean commercial.
“Lord, is this what I fought for? Silly television shows with people named ‘the Beav’ and Dobie and Maynard for teenage girls to giggle at; and jangling commercials? Is this what my friends died for?”
The front door opened and closed.
The T.V. was switched off. “Good Heavens, what a waste of electricity.”
“Harold, Harold! Are you awake?” She bent to kiss his cheek, lifting the hat from his head.
“Hmph,” he smiled, opening his eyes and reaching to take her hand.
His sweet Naomi; “No, you’re right Lord; this – this is what we fought and died for.”
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