Mary picked me so I never really trusted her. She was my cocktail waitress
for a couple of years and one night she simply followed me home. Her devotion to me was complete and entirely unjustified.
She was too optimistic and too pretty by half. I've always been attracted to a sort of plain girl with low self-esteem. I have bad posture and post-adolescent acne so I was sure my wife would be looking at her shoes when we were introduced. Mary moved into my apartment and contented herself as my live-in non-girlfriend. After five years my little voice told me that my indifference to her was a kind of cruelty. My little voice told me to find my wife.
It happened one night at the bar where I work. Jimmy Buffett's song "Frenchman for the night" was playing on the jukebox and a girl appeared at the end of the bar. She had her back to me and was looking out the window of the bar at the creek below. I caught a glimpse of her face reflected in the window and acted on impulse.
I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "I think you're my wife."
Relief washed over me when I came to my senses and noticed her wedding ring. After an awkward silence I asked her if she was a married lady. She looked at the ring on her hand for a weird, long moment and told me that she was. She turned and left without an introduction.
When she showed up at the bar near closing time a week later I knew that we were being moved by destiny. When the
"Frenchman for the night" song shuffled into the jukebox again I got a chill.
My boss rounded the corner and I expected him to bust my chops for sitting at the bar but he didn't. He smiled his biggest smile and handed me a videocassette. He told me that Jimmy Buffett had been on Good Morning America so he taped it for me. He excused himself with a bow and left me alone with the nice married lady.
Our conversation was strange and pointed. We interviewed each other like job applicants and when I closed the bar we parted without so much as a handshake. I drove home that night under a full moon that cast enough light to read a newspaper.
When I got home I told Mary I had met my wife. I told her that she didn't have to move out immediately but that she had to go. I told her that ours had been a relationship of convenience and that it must end. I ignored her weeping protests and her prescience in telling me that the girl I aimed at was flighty or confused. I was confident that I was doing the right thing in being forthright with Mary.
I remembered the videotape my boss had given me and popped it in the VCR to distract me from Mary's audible grief. Jimmy Buffett and The Coral Reefer Band were gathered on a black soundstage. Brother Jim was dressed in white from neck to toe. They performed an uncharacteristically haunting song called "Frenchman for the night".
"By the light of the moon, he's a Frenchman for the night..." The song spoke to me directly. Each verse seemed to chronicle my strange odyssey with the married lady. "The girl he knew, with eyes of blue, waiting on the shore..."
This could not be simple coincidence. Mary moved out a month later.
I was alone with my Labrador
on the 4th of July
when the thunderstorm struck. The dog was usually good company but she was a nervous wreck that night because of the storm. Emmy had doggy epilepsy
and I feared the storm might trigger a seizure. She'd emerge from the episodes unharmed but they were a horror to witness.
My little house was rocked by the storm, Emmy was a basket case and Mary's shadow wouldn't leave me alone. I did what seemed the only sensible thing and called my mother. Mom said that Mary was the best thing that ever happened to me and that I was an idiot for letting her leave. She told me that I was probably not a knight in shining armor, that I was more likely an adulterous scoundrel who may soon be answering to a jealous husband. She told me not to shove.
The married lady called me that night from a campground up north. She told me that, while she was camping with her husband, she was thinking about me. I told her she wasn't doing her husband any favors by hanging around a loveless marriage and that Independence Day would be a good time to bag it. She asked him for a divorce that night in the tent.
Lightning struck my little house a couple of hours later as I lay in bed with my epileptic Labrador. Not metaphorical lightning, the real kind, which bathes you in a strange blue light and makes your hundred pound dog stand bolt upright on your chest. It melts the phone jack into the wall and turns the stereo system into so much cooked plastic.
...the kind of lightning that mysteriously cures your dog's epilepsy.
Mary and I used to watch her seizures through wet eyes. We called them her "wiggles" to make them sound less serious and wished them away with all of our might. I wept now wishing that Mary was around to hear the good news.
"Emmy and I were struck by lightning and we've both come to our senses. Please come home!"
The married lady fell off the radar after an ugly year or so. I found my Mary waitressing in a diner on the north side and begged her, on bended knee, to be my wife. To her credit she spurned me but her maternal bond with my dog clinched the deal. We were wed the following month. Emmy hasn't had a seizure since the storm.
My brother Billy told me that the same song that directed me to my soulmate made him go home with the trashiest chick in the bar.