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Friday, August 7, 2009

The four Villani sisters go to a USO dance to "cheer the boys up"


World War 11 has been going on for two years and the gals back home are getting restless

This week's excerpt from the World War 11 novel, S'mothered.....

Suzie suddenly stirred and asked, “does anyone feel like going to the USO dance? It’s still early enough to dress and make the 8:30 bus.”

Almost in unison, five of the six yelled back, “Let’s go, great idea Suzie.”

Lucy said she had a headache and Dorothy said she wanted to go, but had to ask Jimmy. She called to him across the hall, “Jimmy come over for a minute, have to ask you something Hon.”

Jimmy ambled over and she said “Hon, the girls are going to the USO dance at Camp Kilmer, I thought maybe I would go with them. We need to lift the morale of the soldiers there.”

Her husband looked at her with a devilish grin, grabbed her hand and said “No way Dorothy, get your tail across the hall and lift my morale.” He gently tugged on her arm,and merrily pulled her with him as she and the others laughed. Dorothy really would have enjoyed helping the soldiers by dancing with them, but she never crossed Jimmy when he made a decision. She liked his forceful nature and never apologized to anyone for her preference. Delightedly, she scampered after him.

This left the four sisters to kick up their heels tonight. They seldom went anywhere as a group. There was some slight friction between Suzie and the two younger siblings. They were all in a good mood tonight and, differences aside, they wanted to get out of the house. Lucy volunteered to watch over the children.

Quickly, they changed into almost identical outfits, tight hemmed, above the knee dresses, with padded over sized shoulders.

Susie laughed when she noticed and said, “Gina, put something different on; we can’t all wear the same outfit, we’ll look like we’re a singing group.” She was kidding as fabric had been rationed since the war started, so pleated and flared bottoms were out.

Vera sent a picture of herself dressed in this "home front uniform" to Alan before he was captured, he wrote back and kidded that "she looked like a carrot."

The bus ride took 45 minutes, so they were in the huge hall at the Military base by 9:30. The Bobbie Troup band was playing “In the Mood” as the girls entered.

The floor was packed with dancers and hundreds of soldiers milling around them, hungry for a woman to dance with. It was a woman’s paradise. There were twenty servicemen for every one female. Most of these soldiers hadn’t been near a woman, since they left home. They would dance with anyone they could get their hands on.

Tomorrow they might be on their way to Europe, to relieve the exhausted and wounded soldiers at the Normandy beachheads. A few days later, many of them would be dead._

The girls hurried to the rest room, freshened their lipstick, and returned to the hall where soldiers of all shapes and sizes pounced on them. Whisked onto the floor, they waved to each other, laughing, smiling, and feeling alive for the first time in weeks.

As usual, the oldest G.I. snatched Gina. She looked over at Jenny, frowning, as if to say “what can I do?”

Vera was being pushed around the floor by a chubby guy who was perspiring and looking anywhere but at her. Obviously, he hadn’t danced much and was painfully shy.

Her sisters were trying to smother their laughs with their hands.

Jenny was so thin you could lose her in a crowd like this. She seemed to be enjoying herself with the handsome tall soldier who was holding her, as if she might break. She had an attractive, if not classic face, but even her hair was thin, and it detracted from her wholesomeness. She looked malnourished and yet was always eating. Gina, Vera and Suzie could not figure out why she stayed so thin. Their mom said it was because she was so nervous.

Suzie had been spirited away by a broad shouldered, confident looking guy from Chicago who reminded her a little of her first husband. Within five minutes, he had told her his life story and then gradually drew her closer and closer. By the time, the band played the first slow dance of the night it was obvious he was making a play for her. He had spotted her when she came in the door.

She looked gorgeous; her brunette hair appeared streaked with a rainbow of colors because of the revolving show lights.

This used to happen to her frequently, and she was flattered by the soldier. Her husband, Hank would be home before too much longer. She would be thirty-four by then. Anxiety about her age consumed her. The attention from this stranger made her feel she was still desirable. She smiled to herself, recalling the married guy in the smoking car on her trip to California.

Her over amorous dancing partner was Tom Tilleson. He was from Illinois, twenty-eight, married two years, with one child. She was feeling some tingling in her body as he held her even tighter. She soon stopped worrying about her age.

He used all his charm telling her how pretty she was “Suzie, I have to tell you, we have good-looking dames back in Illinois but none like you. Hon. you are bewitching.”

She liked his description; many times she felt like a witch when she was with men. Without a man for more than two years, Suzie felt herself melting in this soldier’s arms. Looking into his dark blue eyes, she whispered in his ear “you know I’m married, don't you Tom?” Actually, she had told him so an hour ago when he began moving his body seductively closer to her.

He smiled and said “and you know I’m married honey bun. What’s the difference? Your husband and I will both probably be dead before this god damn war is over so who will know then? Let's go outside for a minute and have a smoke.”

She hesitated, wondering what her husband was doing at this very moment, thousands of miles from here. She knew him and his friends visited Manila when they had a weekend pass. Manila was a big, gaudy city with many clubs and varieties of nightlife.

What if Hank was putting moves on some sexy Asian girl in Manilla while Tom, from Chicago, was making moves on her here in Edison, New Jersey.

The two drinks she drank since they arrived were very strong; she felt dizzy. Tom helped support her, while almost pulling her through the door out into the cool dark night. She hoped her sister's didn’t notice her leaving. The crowded room was oppressively stuffy and the hour of continuous dancing combined with her sexual longings left her very vulnerable.

Suzie had fantasized about this scenario for a long, long time, especially on the hot sticky nights when she thrashed around in bed unable to sleep. It was torturous and humiliating, the crowded room she slept in, with her sister’s beds just a few feet away, too uncomfortable and awkward for any kind of relief.

She could have stopped his touching or tried to cool him off with her hands. Now it was too late. What he had said inside about the war had her angry and at the same time confused. This war had gone on forever; millions of men had been killed already. She was getting old and her beauty would soon start to fade.

She wanted him as much as he wanted her. Many years ago, she had vowed never again to let a man see her so sexually needy. She rationalized this thought away quickly; this was a man she would never see again after tonight, why not let herself go?

Outside now, there were too many lights near the building, too much noise, smokers talking and laughing. They walked further and further away from the crowd until they were near a wooded area. It was pitch black. They could hardly see each other.

Placing a cigarette between her lips, he lit it, let her inhale a few times, then tore it from her mouth, and stomped on it with his shoe. Grabbing her roughly, bending her over gently, he kissed her deeply, as passionately as she had ever been kissed in her life. She returned it with desperation and sadness. The world had gone mad and she and this lonely soldier had also lost their minds. Any thoughts of Hank had vanished in the cool dry air.

She tore at his clothes before he could try to undress her and in minutes, they were laying almost naked on the damp, soft earth, intertwined and moaning. She came almost instantly and he soon followed. Two years of frustration flowed out of her, and she wept softly in his arms. They lay together for what must have been 30 minutes or so, nodding off into a relaxed, barely conscious state.

Suzie heard someone calling her name and awoke with a start, momentarily unaware of her surroundings on this moonless night. She recognized the voice as Jenny’s and sprang to her feet.

Kicking at Tom with one foot while attempting to dress herself, she called back to Jenny “Be right there Jen, we went for a walk, it was too stuffy in there.” Tom finally got himself straightened out and the two of them slowly walked toward Jenny’s voice.

Suzie looked a mess and could only imagine what Jenny would be thinking but was grateful it wasn’t Gina who had been sent to find her.

Jenny was almost apologetic, very in character. “Sorry to bother you Sis, the bus is loading, and we couldn’t find you anywhere, we have to run, c’mon let's go, hurry.”

Suzie wanted to give this man, no longer a stranger, a good-bye kiss, but Jenny was dragging her away. She shouted back over her shoulder at him as they ran to catch the bus “thanks for a nice evening soldier, maybe we’ll see you again. We come here every couple of weeks."

He was shipping out to France the following week and thought about asking for her number or address but decided not to embarrass her.

She never saw him again.