THE TRIP OF FIRE (Good Friends)
We were on some river in Michigan called the Newaygo. I had never felt so close to nature, so much a part of nature. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not exactly what you might refer to as a tom girl or even an outdoor lover. But this night was different. There was a bright full moon that reflected not only on the calm water of the river but also against the one hundred foot sheer granite walls that rose to the sky on the other side of the river. It was deadly quiet except for the ever so low pitched wash of the slightest wave gliding onto the sandy shoreline. For the first time in my life I understood what they meant when they said “one with nature.”
Of course Jake had a way of finding these places. He said he had fished for King salmon here years before in the days when using “snagging hooks” was legal. He told me that the banks of this river were filled shoulder to shoulder with men dragging the bottom in hopes of snagging a forty or fifty pound salmon off the bottom as they made their final journey upstream. But that was for another time he said, tonight was for building a fire, quiet reflection and Courvosier.
We had left Florida Tuesday and as usual Jake had driven straight through, stopping only to get gas, let me pee every once in a while and grab a Mickey D. We only had four days he said before he had to leave again. That was the good and the bad of it. I had him all to myself for four non interrupted days but then he was off to the middle east again. Possibly, he said, for as long as four months.
I stood, surprisingly warm in this enormously heavy black fur
coat that the owners of the cabin that Jake rented provided us, while Jake gathered enough wood to build a nice fire. He was in his element as I watched him scurry back and forth, in and out of the woods that began about a hundred feet from the river bank. He piled the wood neatly and stuffed some dried leaves all around the wood and lit it. Before long we had a great, warm fire to sit next to while we talked for hours and sipped the brandy. I always felt so safe with Jake around.
After my third brandy I made my pitch for him making an honest woman of me again, just like I had so many times before, and once again he explained in his loving, caring way, that I was too young, he was too old, he didn’t want to leave me a young widow some day, and the worst cut of all, that as long as I was still single there was always the chance that I would meet someone closer to my age and fall in love…..He’s such an asshole.
We have an open relationship you see, always have. I see other men, usually when he is out of the country, and he has women all over the world. We don’t talk about it much…it just is.
I fell asleep in his arms this night and when I awoke the fire had gone out and the shivering had begun. He kissed me gently and carried me back to the car.
I don’t think we left the cabin for the next three days. We made love constantly. When Jake made love to me he did it like it may be the last time he’d ever get to do it. He was amazing. I think he’s fifty-eight now and I’ve never met another man, of any age, with the energy and stamina of Jake.
He tells people we’re married, so I know he’s not ashamed of me. Men!
I packed our bags on the morning of the forth day when he sprung the big surprise on me. He had to catch a flight out of Lansing in about eight hours.
“That’s just great, so now you are going to stick me on a jet back to Florida, by myself?”
He laughed loudly. “Oh no kiddo I’ve got a really big surprise for you this time.”
I didn’t like the sound of that laugh.
“You’ve heard me speak of my best friend Martin?” he asked.
I nodded cautiously.
“Well, he will be landing his seaplane at the mouth of this river in just about the time it takes us to drive there. I’ll load you aboard and he will fly you back home to Florida. He’s great company, he probably won’t stop talking the entire flight home. He’s a Brit you know. You’ll love him I’m sure.”
“You’re not serious” I protested. “You want me to get in some kind of two seat coffin with wings and fly all the way to Florida with someone I’ve never met?”
“I think it has four seats kiddo and you’ll meet him as soon as he lands. Now let’s get going, we don’t want to keep Martin waiting, do we?”
“Jake…..you know…..sometimes you really test me.” I said just a little perturbed.
“And you always pass the test baby…always.” He said as we drove away.
Jake had talked about Martin quite often over the years. They met in Vietnam and must have become very close over the years. They were stationed together in a number of locations over Jakes twenty-five year career with the Marines, and Jake had told me one night after a few brandy’s, that he would not have made it out of Vietnam it it weren’t for Martin. I never got all the details because he fell asleep before I could get the whole story out of him, but it had something to do with quite a large scar in the middle of Jake’s back. My mood improved a bit when it occurred to me that Martin might be a bit more informative than my Jake.
We drove most of the way to the lake with the river right outside my window. It was a pleasant ride and we didn’t speak much except for Jake asking if I would forgive him for his latest antic. He knew I couldn’t be mad at him for long, he was way too good to me….and for me.
“There he is!” Jake shouted.
Just as we pulled up to a huge dirt parking lot that was right on the lake, this orange seaplane was setting down and taxing to a long dock that stuck out at least two hundred feet into the lake. Jake grabbed my bag and we headed down the dock.
Martin’s voice rang out as he spotted Jake. “Well it’s about time Jake, I’ve been here waiting for almost an hour.” I knew that Jake had said Martin was British but for some reason I hadn’t expected to hear that very thick accent.
“Don’t give me that you limey, I’ve used a gallon of fuel keeping the heater running in this car for the last hour, just so this beautiful young women with me wouldn’t freeze.”
“Well” said Martin smiling, “I say we ask the young woman.”
We were within fifty feet of each other now and our pace had slowed considerably.”What do you say dear?”
“Well Martin, I think I may have to side with Jake on this one since I actually watched you touch down about five minuets ago.” I said as he and Jake embraced.
“How are you old man?” Martin half whispered as they held tightly on to each other.
“I’m good my friend, I’m very good.” They broke slightly to look each other in the eye for a few seconds, and then hugged again before breaking loose.
“And this is Roxanne huh?” He said as he turned and walked towards me with a giant of a smile. He stopped short and looked me over from head to toe and turned to Jake.
“Unless there is something very ugly under that bearskin coat, you are playing way over your head old friend.”
I couldn’t help myself. I cracked up.
“And she appreciates a fine sense of humor.” he said as they both laughed.
“Now” he said sternly, “Open up that coat, I can’t give you a proper hug without all that bearskin in the way.”
I glanced over at Jake who was laughing his ass off. I opened my coat and he took me in his arms, almost lifting me off the ground. Now I’m laughing my ass off and he whispers in my ear, “He’s kidnapped you hasn’t he?”
“Yes” I said desperately, still laughing “Can you pay my
He feigned a French accent “I have no moni mademoiselle, but ef you come with me I will take you to z casbah and we will drink z ginger ale in z moonlight.eh?”
Jake, still laughing put his arms around both of us as we all three walked to the plane at the end of the dock.
Martin loaded my bag into the plane while Jake and I said goodbye. “Be careful Jake.” I said. He just smiled, “Always baby…always.”
I climbed in the plane and Martin followed me in. I took off my big heavy coat and Martin helped me with my seat belt.
Martin had his side window down and reached through and shook Jake’s hand. “Keep one foot on base old man.”
“Always” said Jake. “I love you Martin”
Martin nodded his head “And I you my friend.”
And we were off. That was the last time I’d see Jake for four months.
I’d only been in a plane this small a few times and had never taken off or landed on the water, so when he gained speed the noise from the water banging against the pontoons was a little scary for me. Martin noticed my white knuckles right away and told me it was all completely normal. When we lifted off he banked almost immediately and I found myself looking down at the lake through the side window. What a feeling. It was like riding a motorcycle in the sky.
Martin leveled off and we headed south. Martin’s conversational skills were certainly everything Jake said they would be. He asked about my background, my life before Jake, my first husband and on and on and on. He was very easy to talk to and soon I asked him a few questions. He told me that although he and his parents had moved from England when he was just a boy he had always consciously retained his accent as sort of a reminder of where he came from.
I told him that Jake had told me that Martin had saved his life in Vietnam, but he would never tell me the whole story of how it happened. “Yea Jake has never been too keen on talking about those days, you sort of half to get him all liquored up first. Then he’ll tell you stories all night long…..you’ll not be able to stop him.”
“I’ll try that the next time I get the chance.” I joked.
“Tell me Martin….tell me the story how you saved his life.” I begged him.
Me and Jake first crossed paths during basic training in Carolina. We took to each other from the start. I’m not at all sure why, but I think it may have been because we sensed something. something in each others attitude, something that told us both we may have been cut from the same cloth.
We had been on many recons together since we landed in Nam but that night in September was different. The monsoon was over and the cong were starting to move. We were on a simple mission, about four clicks past the dmz to eyeball a Viet Cong staging area and report the troop strength but it seems every time we turned around we ran into another NVR patrol. We had been able to avoid each one until a small patrol made up of a point man, walking about forty meters ahead, and three more clustered together caught a friendly breeze and smelled the meat eaters among them.
Once we heard the high pitched, panic filled chatter we knew we had been exposed and had to stop them from revealing their presence to the main force.”
Martins voice got very soft, as if he needed to be quiet.
“I was in the best position and silently moved in and cut the point mans throat leaving him on the path in plain sight. Jake was frozen five meters off the path trying hard not to smell like an American.” He laughed. ” Everything went into slow motion as I stood up and launched my k-bar four inches deep into the front soldiers chest just as Jake came charging from their flank. He hit them mid body taking both of them down to the ground and landing hard on top of them just as I surged forward driving the butt of my M-16 into the head of one of them crushing his skull. As the last one struggled to get out from under Jake, he pulled his boot knife and quickly dispatched him.”
“Not bad Jake four kills and not a shot fired……Jake?”
“Jake grabbed my arm as I knelt down beside him.” “I can’t move my legs Martin”
“I quickly saw the reason. The gooks bayonet had penetrated Jakes lower back and it looked to be right in the center. It was only an inch or so deep but apparently deep enough to hit something important.”
“What do you want to do Jake?”
“Well I’d like to walk the fuck out of here but it don’t look like that’s gonna happen anytime soon.”
“I meant about the bayonet you jerk, should I pull it out?”
“No I think we should leave it there and when we get back to camp I’ll have it fucking bronzed.”
” I made my own decision and removed the bayonet and lifted Jakes one hundred and eighty five pounds onto my back in a fireman’s carry. I carried him back to camp, it was really no big deal. And he would have done the same for me, and did similar things a number of times.”
“I said Jake didn’t talk much about it Martin, but he told me enough to know that you carried him four miles, through enemy infested area, into safe territory without stopping to
rest. They gave you a medal for it didn’t they?”
“Yea…well…Rockie, you don’t get medals for being brave, you get them for being lucky.”
He continued to tell me all sorts of stories as we flew our way to Florida. He was funny in a very British kind of way, that could turn quickly into a very serious recalling of the particular event he was describing. One thing for sure, he had the same amount of love and respect for Jake that Jake had for him.
We landed on Lake Parker just prior to sunset, where unannounced to me Jake had left his old jeep last week before we went north. Martin taxied up the dock and I helped him secure the plane.
“Well lets get your bags up to the jeep so I can get back in the air before dark.” Martin said as he started up the hill.
“No no no no no” I protested loudly through my suppressed laughter. “I’m not letting you make that trip back tonight, you’ve been flying since before sunup and you’ve got another six hours home…..and besides I can’t drive a stick shift.”
“Not to worry Rockie, I’ve been blessed with a incurable case of insomnia. I couldn’t fall asleep at the stick for love nor money.”
“And what about me? Do you think I’m going to call a cab to take me home. Jake knows full well I can’t drive a stick, so I’m quite sure he was planning on you driving me home, me fixing you a steak, you getting a good nights rest, and then me driving you back to your plane in my Corvette with a five speed automatic transmission.”
“He is a suspicious character isn’t he?” Martin said with a smile.
He loaded my bags in the back of the jeep. “I’ll be right back, I want to lock the plane and set the electric.”
I watched as he jogged back down to the plane. He opened the door and got in, fidgeted around a bit and then jogged back up to the jeep. He tossed his diddy bag into the back and we were off.
“What did you mean Martin, when you said set the electric?” I asked.
I have a system rigged on the plane that if someone gets within a foot of it they get a warning alarm, and if they touch the plane they’ll get enough voltage to make them wish they weren’t so curious.”
“Ok Rockie, which way to the nearest steakhouse? I insist on buying you dinner.”
“Apparently Jake hasn’t told you of my expertise with a Del Monaco and a grille.”
“I really don’t want to put you to all that trouble Rockie, you’ve had a pretty long day yourself.”
“Are you kidding? I’m having the time of my life. You know Jake as well as I do, he’s the original “loose lips sink ships” guy. I’ve learned more about him… and you today than I knew in ten years living with Mr. Stoic. Take a right up here on 33″
We both laughed knowing what I said was the absolute truth.
We were soon at my place and the seven hundred foot ride up my driveway was the worst part of the trip, especially in that jeep. We soon got settled in the house, I showed Martin to his room and got changed.
I took a couple of steaks from the freezer and thawed them out in the microwave. I was already in the outdoor kitchen when Martin emerged from his room.
“I hope you don’t mind, I stole a quick shower, I was getting not to like myself too much.” he said with a chuckle.
“How about a Courvosier?” Perfect he said.
“Now what can I do to help you Rockie, can I fix something or fetch something, I hate to sit here and watch you do all the work.”
“I’ve got it all under control Martin. But there is something you can do.”
“Anything at all Rockie.” he said as he jumped to his feet.
“You can sit back down and tell me about that night in Canada…..that night that Jake saved your life.”
Martin got a rather serious look on his face. “What do you know about that Rockie?”
“One night when we had been drinking heavily, I asked Jake if he could remember the most scared he had ever been, and all that he would say was “The night I gambled with Martin’s life in Canada.” He was so shaken, so….emotional when he thought about it that I didn’t pursue it any further, and never ask him about it again.”
“Well Rockie, if you’re sure you want to hear this one…. the times were different then, we still had a cold war with real villains, it was easier then to tell the bad guys from the good, and yes thank god we still had clandestine operations, black ops and an occasional coup.” His voice was very serious.
It was a miserable night that night when the three of us moved silently from the private airstrip through the back streets of Montreal to the secret meeting place of the bastards who in the morning were planning to set off a series of synchronized events in the center of the Montreal International Airport that would leave thousands dead and the world in shock. The Company that we worked for had intercepted a coded message months before and had two hundred and fifty operatives working day and night to determine the validity of the message and find its source.
Success came when an Italian intelligence agent made an arrest in an unrelated case and during his interrogation offered certain information about the Montreal operation in order to gain a lighter sentence. All the specific information was given to the Americans including names, addresses of safe houses and most importantly the date of the operation.
The Company decided to make their move on the night before the operation was to take place. This way all the terrorist involved would be in the same place, a safe house on the west side of Montreal. A major problem arose when it was discovered that a number of the men involved in the planning of the attack were high up politicos in a supposedly ally of the U.S. and Canada.
This meant the operation had to be carried out in complete secret. No local police involved, no civilians, no press and no evidence that anything out of the ordinary had occurred that night on Rue Saint-Marie. This operation would require the absolute best operatives the Company had. The toughest, meanest, most intelligent and efficient killing machines the Company had at its disposal. There were said to be twelve terrorist involved in the actual attack but there was no way to send near that many agents into the city and expect them to go unnoticed. So it was decided to let the lead agent choose his men and make his plan to complete the mission.
Jake had been with the company ever since mustering out of the corp. in 1984. After spending three tours of duty with recon in Vietnam he thought he was ready for some lighter duty back in the world pushing around papers for the Company. Little did he know.
The Company was interested in him for his reputation in the bush. His job had been to move ahead of the infantry, spot the enemy positions, and get back to his company without alerting the enemy. He took his job very seriously. When he would find a Viet cong stronghold or munitions dump he would attempt to get as close as possible to determine just how much ammo there was or how many cong were in the hideout. In many cases this meant taking out a lookout or two while approaching to get a better view. He got a reputation for being very efficient with a k-bar.
As they approached the safe house Jake had pre-arranged that he would go in first and kill the lookouts while me and Danny would position ourselves at the front and rear doors to prevent anyone from escaping if they were alerted.
Jake moved silently to the east side of the building, the most logical spot for a lookout. Sure enough behind the corner of the brownstone was a figure, dumb enough to signal Jake with a cigarette that he wanted to be the first casualty. He slid his knife out from behind his back as he moved catlike across the twenty feet that separated them. He froze as the lookout turned his head in Jakes direction. After a ten second stare that seemed to last ten minuets he once again looked forward. No more than he took his last draw on his cigarette, Jakes hand went over his mouth while the point of the k-bar slid silently into his brain, from behind his ear. He was dead before his knees buckled and Jake lowered him gently to the ground.
As Jake moved to the rear of the building he caught a shadow moving in his direction from around the rear corner of the building. He positioned himself at the corner with his knife arm crossed in front of his face. As the shadow turned the corner Jake was prepared to slice through his throat. There was only one problem, and that was that the shadow had snuck up behind me, and before I could stop him had my chin in his hand and a knife laid across my jugular.
I kicked out at Jake so he didn’t cut my throat by mistake. He took a few steps back just as my captor told him to drop his knife. Jake bent slowly at the knee and laid his k-bar gently on the ground. I still don’t know, to this day how, but when he stood back up he had a snub nose .38 complete with silencer in his left hand and pointed it directly at, what I perceived to be the middle of my forehead.” Martin raised his eyebrows and managed to chuckle a little.
“Jake was never very good with his left hand. Sure he could lead with it, and more than once I’ve watched him pepper some sailors face like a high speed pile driver, but to see him with a pistol in his left hand was not an encouraging sight.”
“Jake began to speak very clearly and directly to the young man who held my life in his hands.” “It is very likely that all three of us will be dead within the next 30 seconds. You will kill Martin, then I’ll blow your face off and then your friends will hear all the commotion and shoot me out the window. You are
the only person who can stop that. If you drop your knife, I’ll let you walk away, it is that simply. You have my word as a fellow warrior.”
“Jake can say what he wants to you, and maybe it’s true, but I can tell you without a doubt, there was absolutely no fear in Jake that moment in time. I’ve never seen him so confident. so assured.” Martin was almost reverent as he spoke.
“I felt the fear in the young mans body, it’s the same fear that all of us have had in the beginning, when we felt we had to stand our ground, that we couldn’t back down because of duty.”
“Walk away son” Jake said calmly. “The young terrorist never moved.”
“I saw Jake’s eyes turn to ice, his finger tighten against the trigger, I tilted my head ever so slightly to the left. The bullet grazed the side of my forehead and blew off the right side of the boys head.
“Under that kind of stress, in those circumstances, there aren’t ten men in a thousand who make that shot. I guess that’s why he looked at it as a gamble.”
I was literally stunned by Martin’s telling of the story. I had known from Jakes reaction that the circumstances were serious, but to actually hear it was spellbinding.”What happened then.” I asked.
” The third man, Danny, a long time agent and a tested black ops man called back that he had a clear view of the first floor and it was empty. He thought that all the targets must be together on the second floor. Jake smiled but thought that was too good to be true.”
“Stay at the front Danny, we are going to gas them. Kill any body that makes it to the front door.”
” Jake and I both attached our grenade launchers and loaded them with cyanide grenades. Once these exploded anyone left in the room after a very short time would be dead.”
“When the first two grenades went through the windows there was shouting that was soon muffled by the double “whump” of the gas grenades delivering the deadly cargo. We both reloaded and sent two more in to be sure. “whump, whump”
And then total quiet. After fifteen minuets Jake and I put on our gas mask and collected IDs from each of the twelve bodies that carried one. Jake called in the clean up crew and we headed back to the private airfield where we had arrived. By three am the crew had the place spotless and all bodies removed without a trace of what had happened.”
“Jake never spoke a word the entire flight home. I handled the debriefing and when we were walking to our trucks to head home Jake took a hold of my arm, and in a tone more solemn than I can remember Jake ever speaking in said, “I had to kill the boy Martin……..why must they send boys?”
“He was going to cut me Jake, you did what you needed to do. And besides you forget old friend, we were just boys when we started.”
We finished the steaks and had another brandy before turning in for the night. I was beat and Martin knew he had a long day coming up tomorrow. I fell asleep thinking about him and the way he told a story. He was one of those people who had a natural talent. His voice and inflections alone made a story interesting, even the ones that weren’t…….
I woke up very early the next morning and staggered in to make some coffee. That’s strange, I thought to myself the coffee was already brewing. I checked Martins room and he was no where to be found. I poured a cup and took it out to the outside kitchen where I sat sometimes to watch the sun come up.
The night had been clear so I expected the sunrise to be brilliant. As first light hit I soon discovered where Martin had gotten to. I saw a silhouette in the back pasture running. Not too fast mind you, but in a steady jog. I watched as he went across the back of the property, nearly a half mile away. He turned the corner and headed back towards the house. This went on for a good forty five minuets.
Finally on one trip past the house he stopped. “C’mon Rockie, make the last lap with me.”
“You’re not serious!” I protested.
“Aww c’mon it’s good for you.” he said as he ran in place.
“I make a habit Martin, of not doing things that are good for me.” I laughed.
I had a cup waiting for him when his finished his last lap.
“How far do you run?”
“I try to do five miles each morning.”
“That’s what Jake does, but he does his on that treadmill over there.”
“Yea, he always was a bit of a sissy..” Martin laughed out loud.
We drank our coffee and talked a bit more before he excused himself to take a shower and get ready to fly home. When he came out he was limping quite severely.
“Martin, what did you do, pull something?” I asked.
“Well, I must have stepped in a hole in your pasture. I’m used to running on a track and I must have been a little careless. It will be fine as soon as it loosens up a bit.”
“I’m sure it’s going to loosen up a lot sitting in the cockpit of a plane for the next six hours. I’ve got a better idea. I’ve been known to give a pretty fair country massage every now and then.”
“No no Rockie . I won’t have you go to all that trouble, I’ll be fine in a short.”
“Nonsense, Martin come with me.” I said as I grabbed his sleeve and pulled him behind me.
He followed reluctantly as I guided him towards the workout room where the massage table was set up. I grabbed a big thick bath towel from the shelf on the way in and shoved it in his hands. “Run along now and get ready while I warm up some oil.”
I wasn’t quite ready for what I saw when Martin emerged from the dressing room. I’d known he had been a soldier most of his life just like Jake, but his upper body hadn’t fared near as well. He was heavily scared to the point where I hurt for him.
“I’m sorry Martin I didn’t mean to stare, it’s just that…..”
“It’s alright Rockie, you don’t have to explain.” he laughed,
“Wait until you see the other side.”
He jumped up onto the massage table and I immediately saw what he meant. He had been beaten and had horrific scars all across his back. For one of the few times in my life I honestly didn’t know what to say. It always amazes me to see what men go through in war.
“Is it worth it Martin, the hating and the killing?”
“We don’t kill because we hate Rockie, we kill because we love. We love the freedom we left behind, we love the sound of children laughing and the hands of a beautiful woman. That’s why we fight Rockie, so we can have all those things.”
I didn’t say anymore. I began to rub his shoulders, big muscular shoulders. He was tense as I squeezed and prodded to loosen him up. I could feel him start to relax as I used my hands to massage deeply along his spine. I was hesitant at first when I came to the scars but he quickly assured me that there was no pain, that those valleys of scar tissue and flesh had been pretty much numb for many years.
I poured on the warm oil and massaged it in. “That’s very good Rockie, very relaxing.”
I worked my way down his back, along his sides and down to his hips. He was in remarkable shape for being sixty years old, I don’t think there was an ounce of fat on him. The running and his overall life style had to be responsible for that.
He groaned when I put both my hands in the small of his back. “Did I hurt you?” I asked.
“No…no not at all, I’ve just always been very sensitive there.”
I flattened out my hands and pushed again in the same spot…with the same response. His reaction sent a shiver through me and I automatically repeated the action again. I inadvertently moved his towel down as I continued to push and knead with the heels of my hands.
“Well, well” I said, “A warrior with dimples.” we laughed. “Oh shit” I thought to myself, “I’m flirting.”
I moved to his massive thighs and started to knead and massage one with both hands. His legs were rock hard.
I moved slowly up his thighs looking for something soft enough to massage. “Relax Martin.” I said as my hands inched their way under his towel and onto his ass.
“This is as relaxed as I get.” we laughed again.
“Alright then, turn over and let me do your chest.”
He obeyed immediately grabbing his towel to be sure and keep himself covered. I took each of his arms in turn and massaged them from wrist to shoulder. He was watching me now, almost staring as I moved my hands to his chest. “I know twenty-five year olds who would kill to have a chest like this.” I said without thinking.
I tried to concentrate on what I was doing, but I felt the tension and his staring. I had been trying not to make eye contact as my hands now nervously worked over his pecks and down his rib cage.
“Rockie” he called my name. I waited for him to continue but he never did. I had to look at him, I had to make eye contact.
And when I did……well there was that moment.
He lifted himself onto his elbows and with his right hand reached up and pulled my beret from my hair which I had used to pile my hair on top of my head after my shower. My hair cascaded down around my shoulders and he smiled. “Thats better, much better
.Before this night was over Martin would have me on the pool table, in the shower, in the pool and finally in the grass next to the pond in the back pasture.
We slept most of the next day and night except for a couple of brief encounters, and the next morning I drove him back to his plane.
“Promise me you’ll come back and spend a couple of weeks when Jake comes home.” I said as we said our good byes. “I’d love to have more of your………..stories.”
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