Non-fiction: Semper Fidelis
By: Richard D. Hartwell
She’d been plying him with gifts for a month or so. He started to stay over about halfway through the month. A few of his uniform things hung in her closet, but mostly the new things she’d bought him: shirts, pants, a sport coat. She was spoiling him, I guess, to keep him.
My Bonnie and I didn’t like him. He was overly sweet to both of us and it was just plain false. We told my mom so, but she was so taken by him that she ignored her mother and me. Like always!
Anyway, it was about nine one night when there was a knock at the door. I was already put to bed. Bonnie was probably knitting in her room and mom slept in the living room. I figured it was the marine again. Bonnie probably did too, at first. I guess mom answered the door and I could clearly hear two voices beginning to rise. One was my mom’s and the other was another woman’s, not the marine.
Well, the next thing I know mom is in my room opening her closet. She started taking out his uniforms and carried them out into the living room. She must have been really mad because she forgot to close the door. I could hear them clearly now.
I’m no good at telling after the fact what this person said and what that person said back, so I’ll just summarize. It seems the other woman was the marine’s wife! That sort of got my mom all pissed off. So when the woman asked for her husband’s clothes, my mom had gotten the marine things and carried them out to the living room.
That wasn’t what the woman wanted at all. She wanted his pants and shirts and such. She even mentioned the fancy sport coat. Well, my mom started screaming and the other woman started screaming and by this time Bonnie had come out of her bedroom and even she had a raised voice until my mom yelled at her and Bonnie came into my room to calm me down, or so she said. I didn’t need any calming down, I just wanted to hear it all.
My mom came into the bedroom one more time. She didn’t look at either of us sitting on the bed, but just took the rest of the guy’s clothes out, still on hangers. She must have thrown them down, or maybe at the woman, because I heard the hangers hit the floor. And my mom yelled, “Get out!” That I remember. The door slammed moments later.
I usually minded my Bonnie, but when she told me not to look out of the window, I ignored her. My bedroom looked out on the main street and I could see the woman carrying the clothes to the car. Someone opened the passenger door from inside and the woman threw the clothes over the seat and into the back. Then she got in, closed the door, and the car drove off. I think it was a man driving, at least it looked so in the dome light and through the rear window the driver was taller than the woman.
I was much older when I first heard Semper Fi and learned what it meant. I’d learned earlier and much later that it only applied to the Corps.