Lost Eloise Pt 2
She thought that maybe the old man had fallen asleep as his eyes were closed and he was so still. Dang. She was kinda getting into his story. At the very least it was a good way to pass the time waiting on the bus.
“Hey Old man” she said. “You fall asleep or what?”
“Frank.” He said .
“What?” she wasn’t sure she heard him correctly.
“Frank. My name is Frank.”
His name was Frank. Somehow it seemed to fit him and his story. Frank and Eloise. Sounded almost like a sitcom or something, from, like, the old days.
“Frank. Did you fall asleep or what?”
“No. I was remembering. I saw Eloise every year at the County Fair. Every year she seemed to win the Miss County Fiar contest and every year I seemed to only get 2nd place for my rabbits. Did I tell you I raised rabbits? Well, not me. My father had a rabbit farm.”
“Yea you said. What do you do with a rabbit farm? I mean Why? How many people want a rabbit for a pet?”
Frank laughed, “Not Pets. We raised meat rabbits for eating. And we also did some fur rabbits but not much money in those. Besides they were a pain to raise and slaughter.”
She looked aghast. “You eat them? Fluffy bunnies? Fluffy cute bunies? “
“Yes. Of course. Well, I didn’t eat them but others would. I personally don’t like rabbit. Never Did. Eloise liked it but not me.”
“Is that why you saw her at the fair? “
” I saw her because as Miss County Fair she was the one who handed out the ribbons. I thought she was so beautiful, wearing a crown on top of her long dark locks . The fake diamonds on her crown could not out sparkle her eyes though. I never really got to talk to her too much though because as second place she just gave the ribbon and then moved to the first place winner. They took a lot of pictures of first place I was very jealous of whoever got pictures with her. All I can do was stare. Until one year I actually won. It was the last year I was at the Fair. And I won. Oh I was over the moon. Finally I won. I remember it like yesterday. I stood on that stage and put my arm around Miss County Fair. The paper guy took the picture and everyone clapped. It was over but I didn’t want to let go. She looked at me and said… ‘I am Eloise and it is about time you won. I have waited forever!’ She then kissed me on the check and ran off the stage.”
“Oh wow she kissed you! That must have been something!!” She had scooted closer to the old man. “What did you do?
“What did I do” I chased her of course. I lost her in the crowd for a while but later I saw her in the Midway. She was with a guy named Colin Huntington the Third. He was very rich and handsome. All I was, well, was me. I wasn’t rich and I sure wasn’t handsome or fashionable. She was smiling. I decided to leave her be. A girl could do no better than Colin the Third and his family.”
“Oh No!! Why didn’t you go talk to her. What did you do next?” She let her breath out upon discovering she had been holding her breath.
“Well I joined the Merchant Marines. That is what I did next. I told them I was 18, I was only 16 but they didn’t question it too much. I was first sent to the shipyards in Oakland. There I was helping to build the liberty ships. I tell you it is the first time ever that the government managed to build something fast and correctly. Oh those ships were beauties but I was more excited when they got me off the welding and put me on board one of them . The USS Henry it was. We were not in port more then a few days when we went to sea. Off to the Pacific it was. Our holds were full of coffee and uniforms and cans of beans. And under that rifles and ammunition. And soldiers dressed like civilians. Those things we were not supposed to carry. Merchant Marines were to carry supplies but not weapons, ammo or soldiers but we carried it all.”
“What war was this? And who said what you could carry. I ain’t never heard of merchant marines.”
“Yea many people ain’t never heard of us. It was some treaty I think that said we couldn’t carry soldiers and ammo and stuff. Not really sure. All I know is we did and the Japanese weren’t supposed to sink us but they did. And my ship got torpedoed bomb. That where the damn Japanese dropped torpedoes from a plane. Well they ot us good.”
The old man stopped talking as a bus pulled up. He looked as each person got off and then at all the windows. As the bus pulled away he hung his head. The girl looked at him and could feel his sadness. She actually felt for him. She scooted even closer and put her hand on his shoulder.
Maybe next bus” she said.
The old man looked at her with unshed tears in his eyes. He nodded.
“Yea maybe next bus.”
“What happened when you got torpedo bombed” she prompted.
“Oh that was a mess. I had to rescues the marines we were carrying. Some of em panicked a bit but I got them all to a little island that was near. That damn ship burned and burned. And it would not sink. I tell you when we built em we built em good. Finally since we were stuck on that darn island and we had salvaged what we could form the ship we decided to sink it once and for all. With it burning like that, the ship was a beacon at night. So, I rowed one of our little rubber boats out there loaded with explosives. I tied it to the hull, light it and swam like hell back to the island. BOOM. Let me tell you that was one hell of an explosion but it did the trick and finally it sank.”
“We were on that darn island forever it seems. We had been out of fresh water for about a week when we finally got rescued. Shipped off to Hawaii to recover. I was laying in a bed. I wasn’t really hurt but hey the military says lay there and recover you lay there and recover. I guess someone told someone about me helping out those marines and a general came in to give me a Purple heart cause they thought I might have gotten hurt a little and a silver cross. But you know what? Guess who was with the General handing those medals?”
She couldn’t believe it “Eloise!”
“Yup” the old man nodded. “Eloise was there, looking even more beautiful then ever before”