Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bev - a short story based on a true event

This is the first post on this blog. I write novels (2) and dozens of short stories. I have been a columnist for 5 newspapers and have writen about 1500 columns. Hope you like some of my stuff. Please feel free to comment or ask questions....... Jay


by jay wilson©2005

I had heard of her before. Like so many other soldiers on base, I had heard the stories about the blonde prostitute called Bev at The Salty Dog on the river side of town. You know how guys come back off liberty and tell their `war stories’ about how the women just flock after them. Most of these tales are taken with a grain of salt. But this girl kept coming up time and time again with the guys. Some of the soldiers had come in from a weekend pass and were talking about their fun weekend. The subject tuned to this girl. The story was always close to the same. The good-looking girl at the tavern always takes a different soldier home every Saturday night. When the place closed down at one in the morning, she would be leaving with someone. And everyone knew she was choosy about who she took. He had to be clean, neat, and in the military. They were saying that Henderson was the lucky one last night. The strangest thing about this girl was, she never charged for sexual favors.

The only rule she gives is no one spends the night. She wants the affection and love but no commitment. Hell, that’s what most of the soldiers were always looking for anyway. She was easy and the best part was she was free. Well there was one little charge. The only cost was the fifth of peach brandy you had to buy at the bar before leaving. She would take the cap off as soon as they walked out into the night air and it was usually gone by the time you arrived at her small apartment four blocks away. I couldn’t believe these stories were even close to true; at least as they were being told. I heard she was young, beautiful, and eager to please men … any men. I decided to find out for myself. There was something about this story … about the girl I had to see for myself. I didn’t need to go down to the Dog for girls but all the stories had my interest up. I wanted to see this beauty that had all the guys talking. I already knew she was going to be a pumped up story which military guys were well known for.

I had waited all week thinking of what I was going to do. I planned to go to the bar down on River Road. I had not gone down in that part of town. It was known as being a little seedy and on the rough side. Tonight I would make an exception. The street was as I expected. It was poorly lit and dirty. Most anyone would call this the wrong side of the tracks although there were no railroad tracks around. This was a water front area and looked like the water fronts in murder mystery movies. There were drunks and hookers negotiating on every corner, it seemed. I followed the little map one of the guys had drawn for me. He should have just told me to follow River Road until I saw the big neon lights of a huge saltshaker with a grinning dog in the middle of it. As I walked into the Salty Dog I still didn’t know what I was going to do or certain why I was there. I went, I guess like all the other guys, to see what the night held in store for me. I’m no saint. I wanted to do a little partying and release some stream too. And if I were luck, maybe find me a friendly girl. I just hadn’t partied in the river area. I always liked the main part of town. And it was a safer place to be. But I also knew I was here to see this girl named Bev. I wanted to see this queen of the tavern that everyone was talking about. I didn’t expect much. What kind of a drunk makes a believable description of a girl who puts out. I had never been in the Dog before. Honestly, I didn’t care much for bars in general. Still here I was.

I picked out a small table to sit at by myself even though I knew several of the men in there from the base. I really didn’t plan to stay long; maybe just have a look at this girl, Bev. The bar wasn’t what I expected. It was small but really clean by comparison of what I had heard of the others on this end of town. There was a long counter at one end where a white-shirted bartender handed out the drinks on trays. There were three waitresses that I saw who delivered the drinks to the tables. The speakers that were hanging on the wall shouted tunes from the late 60s. A small dance floor was occupied by four couples. One of the girls dancing was pretty and obviously with the guy she was dancing with. You could tell by the way they held each other. The other girls dancing looked like prostitutes that wondered in from one of the street corners. I figured the blonde one was Bev. She didn’t look all that bad. Still she looked like what I expected. I was right. I knew the guys were exaggerating about her beauty. For a woman to be as free as I had been told, she had to look a bit over the hill and this one looked like she had been over the hill a couple of times.

While I was still surveying the room, a young waitress I hadn’t noticed before came to my table and asked what I needed. I ordered a beer and she turned to fetch my drink. I watched her as she walked away. She was the best looking thing in the house. She was wearing tight blue cotton pants with a baggy shirt that came down the back just a little too much to see the shape of her rear. I could tell there was a wiggle going on under the back of that shirt. Her blonde hair was wavy and half way down her back with a bow on top of her head. And she was way too pretty to be working in this place. I smiled to myself. How corny would it be to ask something like what is a nice girl like you …? Too bad this girl wasn’t Bev. But a girl who looked like that would have a little too much respect for herself to be an easy pickup.

While waiting, I scanned the bar a little closer. It was a little too cramped for me. While two walls were coated with booths, there were eight small round tables in the middle, making it difficult to get to the dance floor from the opposite side of the room. Well, that was okay. I didn’t plan on dancing anyway. In fact I began to wish I hadn’t even come in this place. I already saw what I came to see. I would drink my beer and get the hell out of here. There were much nicer places up on the main drag.

My waitress brought my beer and sat it down on the table. I handed her a five and she thumbed through a roll of bills and laid two dollars down. I handed her a dollar tip. As she leaned forward and took the dollar, my eyes dropped at her shirt where the top button had come open. I saw just a flash of cleavage. My eyes jumped back up to her smiling face. She thanked me and said to shout if I needed anything else. Well at least, the whole night wasn’t going to be a waste. I received a smile from a real pretty girl and almost saw the edge of a breast. I settled back in my chair. I had might as well enjoy my beer before I left this dump. At least, the glass was clean. I checked.

As I sipped my beer, I glanced over to McKay. He was one of the guys who had been talking about the girl back at the base. He had the blonde from the dance floor sitting with him now at one of the darker booths. When he saw me, he gave me the thumbs up. It looked like he was going to score with the blonde but she sure wasn’t like what they had described. The blonde was rough and a little over weight. Her hair appeared to have been bleach-dipped several times too much. The eye makeup was way too thick but I suspect she was trying to hide 10 or 12 years. McKay looked like he was close to already having too much to drink and I’m sure she was a goddess in his eyes. I watched as his hand slipped under the table and onto her knee. McKay looked back over toward me and had he same expression that the coyote had when he thought he had the roadrunner caught. I smiled and shook my head.

My waitress was getting a guy at the next table a mixed drink when she saw me shaking my head. She leaned over toward me smiling and asked what’s so funny. I told her I was laughing at one of my drunken friends. The button was still undone on her shirt and I planned to sneak another peek. I didn’t make it to the great divide. The name `BEV’ printed on her name tag caught my attention. I know my mouth fell open. This pretty girl couldn’t have been the Bev I had been hearing about. She just couldn’t be. My waitress looked down at her name tag as if expecting to see some gravy or dessert spilled on her. I apologized for staring, got up to leave the bar. She placed her hand on my arm but I pulled away. I saw her from the corner of my eye watching me as I left. Now it was her with the grin and shaking her head. She had to think I was an idiot. I felt like I couldn’t get out of the room fast enough. I stepped out the bars door and into the sidewalk before I slowed down. The cold air felt good on my face. I had just made a fool out of myself and I wasn’t sure why. What difference should a barmaid’s opinion mean to me? But then, what she thought did matter. And I wasn’t sure why about that ether. She was the purpose of why I had come to the Salty Dog. She just wasn’t what I had pictured. Her face was stunning and I had expected some old crow bait.

For two hours, I walked the dark streets thinking and trying to put my thoughts into a logical order. Why did she bother me? Why did she surprise me the way she looked? Why couldn’t I get her off my mind? The questions kept bouncing off one side of my head to the other. I checked my watch. It was almost eleven when I decided to go back to the bar. I had … yes, HAD to go see if she left with someone like the stories I had heard. I had to know the truth. For some reason, she had a hold on me and just I couldn’t shake it. It wasn’t the potential of being intimate with her or knowing I could. I had no fantasy of her falling for me. It was deeper. There was something about this girl who is so pretty and nice and yet turns into a free hooker at the stroke of midnight ... or one or two. There was more to her than met the eye and I had to know what it was.

I walked back into the bar and made my way over near the table where I had been sitting earlier. I had to take a seat at one of the booths. I had no more than sat down; my pretty little waitress appeared and had a beer in her hand. As she sat it down, she smiled and told me she had seen me come back in. Shyly, I handed her a five again and she shook her head and said it was on her. I really felt awkward now. Before turning away to take care of her other tables, she gave me a friendly smile. It was one of the sweetest smiles I ever remember. I smiled back as she disappeared into the maze of tables and smoke. I watched the dance floor and found it took my mind off my feeling stupid. And I would watch Bev as she waited tables. I liked her looks. Every so often she would swing by to check if I needed anything. She was very nice and not at all what the guys had said she was. Bev always was friendly and had a big smile for everyone at her tables. She stopped one time with another free beer and we made small talk. In that brief encounter we shared some things about ourselves although, now when I think back on it, it was me doing the most talking. I told her about my joining the Army to get away from an abusive father and this was my chance to see the world. I had already been to Iraq once and was going back with my unit in two weeks. She showed an interest in my feelings about going to war and that struck me kind of funny. It made me wonder if she was one of those peace nuts that don’t believe in war for any reason.

Ten minutes before the clock approached one am, the `last call for alcohol’ announcement was given. I had had three beers and didn’t feel I needed another. As I rose from my booth to leave, Bev came over and asked if I would like to have a little drink after hours with her at her place. My mind fired up its imagination. Of course I told her yes, but I wasn’t sure this was something I should do. She asked me to wait outside and it usually took her about 15 minutes to clean up her tables before she could leave. She said she would hurry. As if an after thought, she asked if I would pickup a fifth of peach brandy from Bob, the bartender. I again answered yes and noted the similarity of the things the guys had been saying. Bob charged me fourteen bucks for a bottle of hooch that I could have bought for eight at the liquor store down the street. Oh well, I had been drinking free beer at the Dog so I’ll call it an even swap.

I waited outside the tavern and at twenty past, Bev walked out with a light jacket wrapped around her shoulders. Following the track of the story, she took the bottle of brandy out of the paper bag and took the lid off. She took a pretty good pull on it and lowered it back into the sack. She smiled and told me to come on as she strolled away. We walked and talked as we waded though the shadows of the night. We came to a small garage apartment and I followed her up the stairs. As she unlocked the door, I took another drink of the brandy more as an aid to killing the cold than for the effect. With the light on, I entered into Bev’s place. She said she wanted to put something on a little more comfortable. I sat down on a love-seat type couch and waited for her return. I took the bottle of brandy out of the sack and sat it on the coffee table in front of me. It was about half full of its contents. And I had drunk half of what was gone.

Shortly, Bev came back into the room. She had replaced the tight blue pants with a pair of gray sweat bottoms and the top had changed into a loose pink tee shirt. The shirt was thin enough I could tell she had also lost the bra. Bev plopped down on the couch beside me. She picked up the bottle and chugged about three or four swallows of the brandy and handed me the bottle. I too took a drink and sat it down on the table. We made small talk about our lives but, as before it was mainly about me. She wanted to know all the details about my going to Iraq. The more we talked the more she drank. When the brandy was gone, she got up and got another bottle that was already half empty out on one of the cabinets above the sink. There was something not right about all this. I had not drunk all that much of the brandy yet it was gone and she was getting more.

Bev’s slurred speech was getting hard to understand from all her drinking but it was clear when she said I had to leave after. I thought to myself, after what? She gave the answer without the question being asked. She took my hand and led me to a small dark bedroom. In one pull, she removed her tee shirt and threw it in the corner. She struck a match and lit a single candle on the dresser. The glow from the candle made her skin seem to glow. My God, she was prefect. She grabbed me around the neck and kissed me as I have dreamed of being kissed since I was a teenager. Her kiss was long and deep and her lips were soft and moist. When we parted, she stepped back and slipped out of her pants. Now totally nude, she kissed me again. I was charged by this woman and yet I was fully conscious of my studying her. I wanted her badly but I wanted to know more about her just as much.

I watched as she went back to the bedroom door and shut it just enough to let a small bit of light in where we were. She folded the covers of the bed back and slipped in. Bev then, motioned for me to join her. I slipped out of my clothes and slid in beside her. As my body touched hers, a warm sensation came over me. We kissed again but still, I felt there was something I was missing. This just wasn’t like it was supposed to be. I am lying beside a beautiful girl who will have sex with me; yet I hold back. Even through the odor of brandy, she smelled so good. Her body was inviting me to partake but I just couldn’t. I sat up on the side of the bed and rubbed my face. I wanted her so bad but these strange thoughts of right and wrong kept dancing through my mind. I just couldn’t do this. I thought to myself she had to think I was crazy. I turned to explain to her something that I didn’t fully understand myself.

The light from the door snuck across the dark room and lit her face. She had fallen asleep or passed out. Whichever, she looked like an angel laying there in the haze of light. Her features were of true innocence. Maybe the stories about her were factual but sitting there, looking at her, I knew I was not worthy to touch her. There was a bigger picture here and I wanted to know what it was. I couldn’t do what I had come to do. I quietly slipped my clothes back on. Bev moaned, turned over to her right side and wiggled down into the warm covers. Her shallow breathing told me she would not be waking up until the morning.

I went back into the front room and sat down on the couch again. I knew I had a lot of thinking to do. I took a drink of the newer bottle of brandy. As I tilted it back, my eyes fell upon a small stack of envelopes on a shelf, tied together with a red ribbon. My curiosity got the better of me. I retrieved the envelopes and sat down again. Each of the 16 envelopes was addressed to Beverly Hoskins. The address was different from this apartment’s address. These letters had been sent to the nicer side of town. They were all from PFC John Hoskins in Iraq and showed the strain of being read many, many times. The date covered about four weeks, just over a year ago. As I opened the oldest letter, it started out, `My dearest wife’ but then I found, they all did.

I felt I had probably done the worst thing any person could do to another. I was invading the most private thoughts and reminiscences of a young woman. Having sex with her would not have been as bad as raping her most intimate memories of her husband. Yet I read on. The first letter explained how sorry John felt that they had to get married in such a rush. Yet they each felt this needed to be done before he went to war. He did not want to leave without her being his wife even if there had not been time to consummate the marriage. In the letter, he thanked her for saving herself for him the two years before the marriage. He understood her resolve to be a virgin on their wedding night. But their most private joining would have to wait until he returned from Iraq. All the letters were full of love, devotion, and the desire to be with his wife. They were each very lucky to have the other as their spouse.

One of the last letters I read explained a lot of things I had seen tonight. As I invaded her letter, I began to understand more. Tears swelled in my eyes as the letter said in part:

“I love you so much that each night I pray to just smell your hair as you lay in my arms sleeping. I know you desire me as much as I do you. On our first night together as husband and wife when I get back stateside, I will light a single candle by our bed that will symbolize our love. We will drink a glass of peach brandy and it will be the warmth of our devotion. And we will make love as sweet as God’s own love. It was not fair for you or me that I had to go to war without my touching you before I left. No man should have to go to war without feeling the kind of love you have in you”

There was one more letter with the stack addressed to Beverly Hoskins but it was not from her husband. It was a letter from the Department of the Army explaining to the newly widowed wife of her benefits. I couldn’t read any more. I was saddened and the tears ran freely. I felt for this young couple. She had become a victim of this war just as he had become a casualty on the front lines. I picked up an earlier letter and read the words “No man should have to go to war without feeling the kind of love you have in you” over and over. The candle, the brandy, the men going to war … it all made sense now, yet made no sense at all.

I went back into the bedroom and now, Bev was lying on her back still sleeping. A pillow was being held in her arms, across her chest. I sat down on the edge of the bed and put my left hand softly against her face. She moved her head just a bit in her sleep, she whispered, “I love you, John.” I softly answered, “I love you too” and at that moment, I did. She smiled and squeezed the pillow a little harder. I left the room, the apartment, and the `river’ side of town.

Early Monday morning, I went in to talk to my First Sergeant on the base. I told him what I had seen and read. I was afraid he was going to laugh at me. Still, I had to do this. I told him about a young military wife who needed some serous help. He listened intently to every word and wrote notes on his pad. I told the whole story and left nothing out. As I finished my report, he stood and shook my hand and thanked me for the information. He told me that the Army looks out for its own and she was military now. The information would be passed on to those who could help her. And I was glad.

I had received word the following Thursday from the First Sergeant’s office that Beverly Hoskins was receiving the help she needed. I didn’t know exactly what that meant but I knew she was going to be taken care of. The following Saturday night, I went along with McKay and his buddies to the Salty Dog. I was pleased to see she wasn’t there. I figured she would never be there again.


  1. Awesome story. Thanks for sharing this with us!
    Enjoy God's blessings,

  2. Great story Jay. Now to keep up with reading all of them! You write so well.