If anyone had seen me, back then, I know exactly what they'd have wondered.
What the hell is Dave doing in Plattsmouth?
That confusion might well have been universal, for I certainly felt it myself. And, after me and my anonymous questioner, who was there? Who else mattered?
The Platte River makes its way Eastward through Nebraska, beginning who knows or cares where, and ending by dumping itself into the Missouri River. Near that junction is a small town called Plattsmouth.
The Platte is not much of a river. Wide enough, to be sure, but very shallow. I've been told that anyone with a sturdy enough four-wheel-drive vehicle, and sufficient cojones, can simply drive across the thing. Not that I'd ever attempt such a feat. Not me. I'd be the guy that failed, and that somehow got washed away by that sluggish yet steady flow.
So, not much of a river, and that town named after its mouth was not much of a town. Two main streets - three if you drank enough beer and squinted at the map just right.
At the corner of those two streets was a grocery store, and that grocery store was where I found myself one night back in 1987.
I had a reason for being there, you see. Two reasons, actually. The two most beautiful eyes I'd ever seen in my life. To be honest, the two most beautiful eyes I've ever seen, before or since.
Those eyes belonged to a girl, of course. A girl that I'm quite tempted to name right here and right now. But I won't. If she reads this, then she'll know that it's her in this story. If anyone else reads this, they won't care what her name was. Her name was important to me, and I'm assuming that it was important to her, but to everyone else it really doesn't matter.
What matters is that she was as beautiful as any movie star, and that she had eyes that were beyond description.
I'd met her a few weeks earlier, at a bar up near the base where I was stationed. We'd talked for a bit - I don't remember what we'd talked about. Probably just mundane bullshit. But at one point during the evening, she'd told me where she worked. A little grocery store in a little town called Plattsmouth.
I knew nothing of her work schedule, but fate smiled upon me that night. I entered the store and there she was, working one of the registers. I guess, if she hadn't been there, I'd have just gone back home.
She recognized me, and she took a break from her duties to walk and talk with me while I pretended to shop.
I paused for a while at the greeting card stand, and I searched for the card that I wanted.
She asked me if she could help me find what I was looking for.
So I said yes of course she could help. As a woman she would be the ideal person to pick out the card I was looking for. I told her that I'd met a girl. A girl with the most amazing eyes I'd ever seen. I told her that I didn't know the girl at all, but that I wanted to get her a card. Nothing that would freak her out. Something sweet. Something that would make it very clear that I was very interested in getting to know her better.
I tried to read her face as she listened to all this, but I couldn't read a thing. I couldn't get past her eyes.
Those damn brown eyes.
She did pick out a card for me, and when I opened it up and read what was inside I knew that it was the perfect card for the occasion.
She went back to her register, and I followed. I paid cash for the card and for the random crap I'd thrown into my cart, and I asked to borrow a pen.
I wish I could remember what I wrote. Probably some drivel. The point of what I wrote, the last sentence that I wrote, was this:
I told you I could be romantic.Once I'd got my change back, and I'd given her pen back, I sealed the card up inside its envelope, and I handed it to her.
A few months later I was inside her, and I told her that I loved her.
A few years later I saw her at a gas station. She'd aged a lot, as had I. She was married, with a kid or two I think. I was trying to rebuild a life with my ex-wife. We exchanged pleasantries as we pumped gas into our cars, and that was it.
There was a time when I thought she was the love of my life. Maybe, back then, she really was. I think about her now, and I don't remember much about her. What she was like as a person. What she was like in bed. What she possibly saw in me.
What I remember, what I remember are those eyes.
Those damn brown eyes.
They haunt me sometimes.