"Son, your friends and neighbors requested your presence to serve in the military through inscription which is a part of the requirement of being a young man. The US Army needed you but you seemed to ignore the second notice. The law allows me as a federal judge to place you in prison for up to five years and to issue a fine as punishment for your ignoring the service request."
"Yes Ma'am, and who are you in this case? Well, Miss Ruby Hines, I appreciate your concerns and have already considered that Mr. Turnage did not have criminal intent in his not responding to the second draft notice and believe I have a solution to this problem."
"Young man, as punishment for the crime of refusing to respond to a legal draft notice, my ruling allows for you to serve a minimum of three years in the military instead of the normal two. You may complete your present semester in college and will report to the US Army Intake center around the corner the day following the end of your semester."
"No, Miss Ruby I did not ignore the draft so I could help you with your daughter's visit. No, you owe me nothing. Yes, I know you love me and want the best for me. Yes, I know our relationship will change when I am gone. Yes, I know we are special to each other. No, I will never forget you. No dear, I don't want you paying the judge to keep me out of the army. I have no idea when; but, yes, I feel she is the woman I will marry someday. Yes, my parents know how I feel."
This incident happened in early October of 1965 not long after I turned 20 years of age, though at times my relationship with Miss Ruby caused me to feel much older. This beautiful, gorgeous woman who had all sorts of success kept me in a somewhat awkward mental state because she had chosen me to confide in and share what life normally brought years later. She admitted how unprepared she was for much of what she dealt with and knew her lack of much formal education had been a handicap for her. Still in her worse fumbling, she had been able to build a life, which many envied. They had no idea the sufferings she experienced, though. Miss Ruby was often like a delicate flower facing the horrible winds of life which all knew would someday appear. Often she was a contrast in emotions in that she swayed from a demure, caring person to a monster-like heathen. Her attention to detail in her dress and business dealings belied the often uncertainty I saw in her. I was never able to identify what I said or did which would frighten or upset her and send her off into a whirlwind of depressive action. She depended on me far more than I appreciated. I needed my own space and freedom to be who I was to become as a person.
The mysterious ways she was able to find out what I was doing or how she allowed my association with my real girlfriend to not destroy our relationship remained a puzzle. The passion she applied to anything having to do with me was amazing and always a good ego massage. Then at times I felt smothered by this woman though I willingly kept the association alive. She was like a drug to me and offered the ultimate high. Was I a lucky young man or a fool in a cage?
As the weeks passed and my semester got closer to its end, she seemed to be in a state of desperation to have me as often as time allowed. She made excuses for us to meet to discuss even the most trivial of topics. I had agreed we could share a dinner out at one of the finest restaurants as one of our parting celebrations and she freely kept that promise in the forefront. There was constant talk about what we'd have when I returned three years later. I knew inside if I married the woman I wanted to, then our relationship would draw to a close. Though she was willing to be whatever part she could be in my life, I think she knew I was being as honest and forthright as I could. I refused to mislead her.
The Christmas holidays were the benchmark for my final days before entering the Army on January 14. I was in a whirlwind of family activities, time with my girlfriend and entertainment engagements. She was present at every public event and a couple times had gifts sent to the house for me. She even sent gifts to my girlfriend. It was all winding down to a future neither of us knew much about and she wanted every minute of time we could share. Miss Ruby always held huge New Year's Eve celebrations at her lounges but this year she spent most of the night watching me sing at a function for a social club. I knew she was hoping for the possibility that once I got my girlfriend home we might have some time to share. That was her assessment, which was opposite of mine. I had told her I would never do that to anyone I cared about. She persisted, calling me stubborn or too proper for my own good.
We spent our final night together a couple days prior to my departure, with her treating me more like the "Last Supper" and totally wiping out my twenty-year-old body. Her stamina was amazingly more than any woman I have ever met. Admittedly, I knew this was our last encounter and did savor it as much as she did.
The military years passed as they would with regular cards and notes from Miss Ruby updating me on how things were going, with an occasional inquiry as to us getting together to share again. I never addressed that issue again for I knew my separation from her had to be clear. I had to move on with my own life, whatever it was to bring.
My wedding was planned for a couple months after my return from Vietnam. I took leave and came home to get married but did not visit Miss Ruby. On my wedding day she appeared with a large wrapped gift box for my wife and me, dressed as impeccably as I'd ever seen her. At the reception she interacted with family and friends and seemed genuinely happy I was happy.
From that point until she died, Miss Ruby appeared at special family gatherings including childbirths, sibling's weddings and similar events. She seemed a lovely shadow to have in one's life, though we only rarely met to discuss our lives. She felt like a secure image of someone special in my life in spite of the years that lapsed between encounters. I attended a function in her honor when I was nearly fifty years old and could see the remnants of the beautiful lady I once was close to.
Miss Ruby died in 1998, only weeks after her housekeeper had contacted me about her illness. My visit to her hospital room was overrun with memories and a lifelong passion of that young man who had been taught by this woman who was willing to teach him how to please a woma, how to make sure she received what she needed to be satisfied and how to experience and share the ultimate in sexual pleasures. In that hospital bed I still saw the sunlight-like smile she so readily beamed and could still see the remnants of who she once had been.
Long lines of entertainers, dignitaries, former city officials and common folk who knew her, or about her, wrapped around the funeral home for the last time to catch a gander at Miss Ruby. I was able to spend a few hours with her now-grown daughter who had a list of alphabet letters behind her name, yet felt compelled to remind me that I had remained someone special throughout her mother's life. She showed me pictures I had forgotten ever existed, explaining how her mom treasured me not only because she loved me but because I never took advantage of her and always tried to help her improve her life and circumstance.
It took this final chapter of her life to allow me to discover that Miss Ruby was seventeen years older than I. We had found common ground on which to share whatever it was we shared. Miss Ruby still lives in the special memories of my life.
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