Taking a Step of Faith
He went by the name of Johnny Boy. Her name is still Shirley. He was a 20-year-old widower, Shirley, the mother of two small children. He enlisted into the Army, she into the Air Force. But neither of them had met until one late afternoon in Hawaii.
Circa 1972. Johnny Boy looked as good as he smelled for a Saturday night in August. His late wife always told him he cleaned up well. He was wearing his best dark denim jeans, a blue and white striped shirt, and his favorite pointed-toe cowboy boots. His hair—he had lots back then—slicked into a dark brown ponytail.
He had walked from base to a bus stop two blocks away. The fellas he planned to meet up with did not put as much effort into their appearance. They are probably on their second drink by now, Johnny Boy said to himself. He noticed the warm orange sun fading into the hills. Soon it would be nightfall, he thought. What was taking the darn bus so long? His feet were feeling cramped and tired without having had his first dance yet. Johnny Boy liked to dance, at least he used to, with his wife.
Johnny Boy sat down on the bench, leaning forward, legs gapped-wide, jumping a tad at every headlight beaming from over the north hill. He needed the distraction. If not, he would have slept the day away. But he had promised his late wife that he would grieve for no more than a year. Afterward, he would start to live his life again. Tonight was the first anniversary of her death.
The next car I see, I’m gonna hitch a ride, he had said to himself, standing up in preparation for his next move. As the lights on the hill drew closer, Johnny Boy stepped off the curb and extended his thumb into the air. A beautiful strawberry blonde in a blue convertible pulled over.
“What’s a good-looking boy like you doing on a corner like this?”
Today was Shirley’s twenty-fifth birthday. She had scheduled a hair appointment and looked a million times better than she did in her uniform. At least, that is what the ladies at the beauty salon had said.
“I appreciate you pulling over, Ma’am.”
“The name is Shirley.”
“Okay, then. Shirley. I think the bus might be down, and my friends are waiting for me.” Johnny Boy heard himself fumble over his words. “I’ll pay you for a lift to Pearl Harbor if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind,” said Shirley. “Because I have no intention of driving a stranger to a bar.” She had only wanted a little playful attention. “But I hope your bus arrives soon,” she yelled out as she drove away.
“Thank you, Ma’am.” He yelled back, the smile on his face lingering as he watched Shirley turn right at the next corner and drive away.
He did not know how long he stood there, watching, wanting her to return. She had been the first woman he had noticed in a year–not that women were nonexistent on base. There were women on base and at the commissary, but none he recalled by face.
Whenever it was that Johnny Boy looked in the opposite direction toward the hill, he noticed multiple headlights. The beams were like those on a commercial vehicle, slowly creeping closer some distance away. I hope this is my bus, he thought. Johnny Boy had stepped back onto the sidewalk by now and was heading to the fast-forming line at the bus stop when he noticed another set of lights speeding past the bus. Inside the vehicle, he saw familiar strawberry blond curls dancing in the wind. It was her.
“Hey, handsome?” she called from about ten feet away.
Johnny Boy looked around and seeing no one to match that description; he pointed to himself. “Me?”
“Yeah, you, Smiley.”
Johnny Boy paused to listen but did not leave his place in the line.
“You have two options,” she continued. “You can get on that bus and never see me again, or you can hop in with me and never look back.”
The sound of the bus braking inches from Shirley’s car cut off anything Johnny Boy considered saying.
“Next stop, Pearl Harbor,” the bus driver announced to the folks in line.
By then, Johnny Boy was long gone. He had flopped fanny first into Shirley’s VW Beetle and nearly landed in her lap.
“My name is Johnny Boy, but you can call me JB,” he told Shirley. And indeed, he never looked back.
Five months later, he asked Shirley and her two kids to marry him. Shirley’s mother told the young couple their union would never last. On JB and Shirley’s fifth wedding anniversary, Shirley’s mother apologized. That was over twenty years ago, and JB is still lovingly head over heels for Shirley—the woman he credits his first wife for sending into his life.
A Second Chance at Romance
I hope you enjoyed Love Letter #4. Now for a Word of Wisdom from James (Jacob) 2:14-17, NKJV
Faith Without Works Is Dead: 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.