A friend of mine has been so close to marriage with the same woman I fear it may never happen and yet it seems probable. I can’t say why or how or when, but my gut feeling is that they will one day tie the knot if only in old age and about to die and be buried. Did you ever have a pair of friends like that? Now I knew Bill from my time in the service, we had survive Vietnam together and he was an engaging fellow. You know, the type, quick wit, mannered and polite, not your ordinary six pack beer drinking good old boy. Not that I have anything against good old boys. Corporal Treadaway was certainly one of Georgia’s finest examples and a hell of a good friend in a fire fight, lord has mercy. But Bill was a bit different from the norm. He never made rank beyond private first class, not for lack of leadership ability but it spite of it, if you know what I mean. He was never deemed worthy in military terms and yet the squad, perhaps the entire company would have followed him into the jaws of hell itself. Well, just saying.
Marilyn was bill’s girlfriend, his fiancee, if you like. Not that there was ever a formal pledge of troth between them, just an understanding, much like a gentleman’s agreement, to use an old outdated term. If anything, Bill was a man of honor, it set a standard among the platoon. but all good things must come to an end, if one can call time spent in the years of compulsory service to one’s country. And the assumption was that when Bill went home it would be the start of a new life with wife and children and some suitable job that paid the bills (no pun intended). My own life plans when I returned, home form the hill, was a stint in college and then that promised middle class life on saw in Look and Life magazines. But he who travels on the GI Bill travels best alone. I put aside all thought of hearth and family and kin gathered round the yule tide table with figgy pudding and roast goose. I thought that bill would make that transition to local job and family but I was surprised to hear that such was not the case. The marriage was to be put off momentarily. Bill, had of all things, become a rough neck in the oil patch and that meant long periods away from home. Well, I can understand, what right does a man have to tie a woman down to the life of a nomad. He said that he needed a nest egg for their happiness, or at least his. Men like some sense of independence and being tied to a skirt was demeaning.
I had graduated with a degree in English and Literature, the thinking was that I would become the next great American novelist. Such lofty goals and apparently so little talent, what can I say, I over estimated my abilities. So I took a job as a technical writer for an Oil company, of all things. Good thing I have a good sense of mechanical application, something I credit to my father and brothers. Bill was working steadily in Texas, Oklahoma, and several other states. He wrote and said he was saving quite a bit of money and he might be ready to go into business for himself. What kind of business, I asked? Oil field supply replied he. Two years later he was broke and Marilyn was assuming the role of old maid. I told him, “Damn it, marry the woman, come hell or high water. She deserves better than to be kept waiting.” “no”, was his answer, “I want it all to be right.” Well, it seemed that Smokey and the Bandit was sweeping the country and Bill became a truck driver. He was home so little that one wondered if he was still alive. Yet he had a plan. He would become an owner operator and then turn independent trucker, maybe start his one specialized transportation company. There was money to be made hauling windmill blades cross country. Well, next thing you know is that he now has five trucks and four drivers working for him and he is back to making some money.
Then came the raging inflation and the very high fuel prices and that put him right out of business again. I was beginning to think his run of bad luck might be perpetual. Mean while Marilyn was remaining true to him. Not like she didn’t have the sharks circling round her hose every night. Let me tell you, Marilyn was one of those women one dreams of having as a wife. she is self sacrificing, loyal, loving, devoted, well I could go on with her virtues. Lets just say that she was a good hearted woman in love with a good timing man. Oh, not that Bill was on the make or involved with other women. His virtue was that he was just as loyal to Marilyn as she to him. Now it was a year after his last bankruptcy and Bill was down on his luck, so to speak. Hell, let’s not mince words, he hadn’t a penny to his name and Marilyn provide him with a new stake. At times I could have wept for them. But I could have wept for myself as well. the oil company didn’t need my services any longer and I was cast adrift. Well, from technical writing I went into the machine shop business. I had some savings, a partner, and a bank loan. We made good on the investment and the work load keeps us busy. I was now officially middle class with the income to show for it. A least I put away a goodly portion for my old age. I guess the third times a charm for Bill had finally stumbles upon something that was needed, was profitable, and would give him security for the next twenty or forty years, Without benefit of university classes, Bill had become a fiction writer. He found that secret to story telling that is so elusive to those of us who would write.
I talked with him at length one night and he told me that once he understood how to tell a story the rest was a breeze. He said the stories just flowed, as if by magic. One day you didn’t have a clue as to write a story and the next stories came pouring out. So now it is almost twenty years later and he is a well know author making a decent living. Seems he is reaching that middle class status we all longed for but had difficulty reaching. I received a letter in the mail last week from Bill, he wanted to know if I would do the honors of being best man. Seems he was determined to make an “honest” woman of Marilyn. He was going to put an end, as he put it, to her “wedding bells blues.”