Clifford Ruric Gustav Spellman

For my grandfather

When the war was over, Cliff came home.
He was a tall, good looking man.
He had been in England, France, Egypt, and many strange, unpronouncable places.
He was a glider pilot.

The Army sent him home, to Aberdeen.
Things had changed during the war: buildings were missing, people were missing.
All his girlfriends were married.
He had a week of loneliness working the phone, listening to the distant dance music.

Carla said to him, “Hello!”
He asked if she would like to dance.
“Oh, but she was married now!”
A small noise of frustration hissed through the earpiece.
“She had a friend, though, a single friend. He should give her a call.”
He said he’d think about it.
They talked until her husband came home.

What else could he do?
Her name was Edna, but she was Romayne.
She had dark curly hair.
They went out.

She worked the telephones during the war.
There’d been a panic – the enemy was coming!
She shouted the news.
The other operators burst out of their chairs like a flock of sandpipers on the rocky beach.
It was a false alarm.

They laughed and the orchestra played “I Don’t Know Why (But I Do)”.
King Eric married them himself.