This story is not intended for those individuals under the age of eighteen, or for those individuals who are unusually sensitive to adult or sexually oriented materials. For the rest of you, enjoy.
Captain Frederick J. McAndrews, R.A.F., was young, dashing, heroic, and an absolute fraud. Everybody loved him. Every girl, whether bar maid, nurse or steno clerk, would kill for his smile. Everybody watched his every move. But only I took the time to observe him. I suppose that is why he chose me when he could have had any birdie in town.
It was like any other Saturday night in March, 1944. Everyone was drinking a little too quickly to get it in before curfew, laughing a little too easily, and pretending that Hitler was going to fall any day. Everyone was pretending to ignore the build up around the base. Everyone was watching everyone who might be a Nazi spy while pretending not to watch. So it did not surprise me that no one really took the time to do more than simpy watch Captain McAndrews while he chatted up the locals, or pretended to drink the Yanks under the table. However, it was my job to watch the watchers and the watched.
I was extremely discrete, nursing a pint at the end of the bar, never looking at him directly, but never taking my eyes off of him in the mirror behind the bar. It was the same as always. In the last hour, he had bought two rounds, and been spotted two more, but he had never finished more than a couple of sips from any glass. Although some people came and went, Captain McAndrews was always the center of attention. After the first round or two, he rarely said a word, but it was apparent that he never missed one either. Two or three times, he was accidently jostled by blushing patrons on their way to the powder room. It did not work three weeks ago, two weeks ago, or last week either, but that would not stop them from trying it again next week. It was becoming so predictable that I was considering just adding additional dates to last week’s report.
Mercifully, he decided to make an early night of it. Before he finished putting on his coat and making his numerous farewells, I was out the door. The early evening drizzle was now a downpour. I was still three blocks from home when the wind reversed and ripped my umbrella. I was two and half blocks from home when the car pulled up.
“Say, can I give you a lift?”
It was wrong. The simple and obvious answer was no thank you. Double pneumonia was still better than being shot.
“Thank you. You’re a life saver.”
“Well, I’ve been called many things in my day, but that is a first. I’m Frederick McAndrews.”
“Julie Winters. Pleased to meet you Mr. McAndrews.”
“Pleased to meet you as well, Miss Winters. But call me Freddie.”
“Fine. Julie, then.”
He nodded and smiled. I smiled back. He was much larger than he appeared in the mirror, and his smile was markedly different. It actually appeared to be genuine. I shivered.
“Sorry, Julie. But I’ll have you home long before there’s any heat.”
I nodded, and told him not to worry about it. In a minute, he pulled up in front of my flat. I never told him where I lived.
“I’ve been watching you, too.”
They can only shoot you once.
“Lordy, what time is it?”
“A quarter to five. You can go back to sleep, but I have to get going. And I’m going to need that.”
I was snuggled in his shirt. I liked it. I did not care to give it back. I informed him, “Sorry, but you simply cannot have it.”
“Now see here, Missy...”
I giggled and pulled the comforter over my head.
“If I have to come in there after you, someone is going to get her naughty bottom smacked.”
“You wouldn’t dare, you brute!”
“To the contrary! One... Two... Three!”
I gripped the comforter as tightly as I could. But that only proved to be another Maginot Line. Before I knew what was happening, he bottom half of the comforter and a bundle of sheets flew up from the bottom of the bed. Freddie grabbed both of my ankles in one large hand, and lifted both legs up. As his shirt dropped, is other hand landed three sharp smacks on my poor inverted bum.
He dropped my legs and uncovered my head. “You’re a beast, you know.” I pouted, and was rewarded with a kiss. So I pouted again.
I leaned on my side and watched him finish getting dressed. Unshaven and wearing a wrinkled shirt, I would have bet a pound that he could have reported for duty just like that and escaped a reprimand. As he tied his tie, I rolled out of bed. I walked over and hugged him tightly. I did not plan them, but tears started anyway.
“This is wrong, you know.”
“Yes, it is. But not for the reasons you think.”
“How do you know what I think?”
“Don’t worry about that. Suffice it to say that you have not done anything wrong or anything to feel guilty about.”
I hugged him tighter. “But still I do.”
Freddie hugged me, and stroked my hair. He leaned down and gave a long deep kiss. Then he took his jacket off, and laid it over the chair. He took me by the hand, and led me back over to the bed. He sat down on the half stripped bed, and pulled me across his knee. I did not resist.
He raised his hand and paused. I held my breath. When I exhaled, he gave me a
frightful whack on the right cheek. I would have cried out, but I had no air. He gave me another fearful smack on the left cheek. But I was ready now. I whimpered but did not cry out.
Smack! Crack! Freddie alternated back and forth leaving no part of my poor bottom untouched. I did not kick or try to pull away. This was a gift, and I recognized it as such. After about two dozen fiery cracks, I fully embraced its solace and with a small sob, let loose a torrent of dammed up tears.
After my final goodbye kiss, I told Freddie that dinner was at 7:30. He shook his head and told me that he could not promise anything. I nodded and told him I understood. We performed this ritual every morning for the next six weeks.
I do not know how he found them, but the package contained six lamb chops. I smiled weakly, kissed him, and told him that it was a wonderful surprise. I refused to start crying. But there was an extra clean shirt at the bottom of his bag.
We made love three times that night. The first time I raped him. The second time I rode him for as long as I could. The last time, I took him as deeply as I could so that that much more of me would remember him. I did not sleep that night. I held him until dawn.
I laid out his clean shirt with his other clothes. I made a pot of coffee, then woke him at a quarter to five. I refused to cry while I watched him dress. Tears would come soon enough.
Freddie finished adjusting his tie. I walked over and hugged him tightly. He bent down, stared into my eyes for hours, then gave me a long kiss.
“This was not wrong.”
“No, Freddie, it wasn’t. But not for the reasons you think.”
“How do you know what I think?”
“It doesn’t matter. But I know you love me.”
“Yes, Julie, I do love you.”
“Mark me, Freddie.”
“I want you to mark me, Freddie.”
I broke away from him and walked to the closet. We both knew this day would come. So several weeks earlier, I had prepared myself. I took out the antique whale-bone cane that I had purchased. I brought it over to him, kissed it, and placed it in his hands. “I want you to mark me, then leave. If I see you to the door, I won’t let you go.”
I kissed him for the last time. Then I took the pillows and put them in the middle of the bed. I laid down over the pillows, and turned Freddie’s shirt up.
June 24, 1944. The marks had faded. The next outward signs of our relationship would not be apparent for a few more weeks. I was not surprised to see the MP’s waiting by my desk. In fact, I was relieved. They took me directly to the Colonel’s office.
All of the papers were laid out on the Colonel’s desk. I was surprised at how much material was there. And I was correct that Captain Frederick J. McAndrews was a fraud.
“Do you have anything that you would like to say, Julie?”
I shook my head no. What was there to say?
“Fine, then I have a few things to say. James Frederick Browne was a fine man, and a great patriot. I served with his father, and I knew James his whole life. I hand picked him for his mission. Though I cannot give you any of the details, I can tell you his work saved a lot of lads on June 6th.
“James was a very thoughtful and dedicated man. But I never would have described him as happy until he met you. The family solicitor will help you with James’s estate. But here are a couple of things that James left with me to give to you.”
I had never seen it before, but the signature at the bottom of the marriage license from April 14, 1944, for James Frederick Browne and Juliette Winters, was mine. The stone on the ring was small, but perfect. Captain Frederick J. McAndrews, R.A.F., was young, dashing, heroic, patriotic, an absolute fraud, and first and foremost, my husband.
KC Copyright 2004; Moral rights to be identified as the author of “The Widow” asserted worldwide (including in Great Britain in accordance with Sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act of 1988)