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What Happened to Doreen?

What Happened to Doreen?
By Joe Phillips Dear Me
What Happened to Doreen?
By Joe Phillips Dear Me

Margaret Doreen Boyer re-invented herself. The awkward, but attractive, young woman slipped from sight and disappeared like the moon sliding under the horizon. She climbed into a shiny car and was a mile down the road before the first motes of dust fell back to earth.

Her family was frantic. The sheriff took a report, but during the war many young women disappeared. Some, war brides, became freshly pregnant and slipped away with lovers or alone. A few green widows decided to try it again somewhere else.

Doreen was bewitched by an engineer from Buffalo, one of the Yankee bosses who glimpsed her leaning over a worktable at the Bell Bomber plant in Marietta. Assembling wiring harnesses is repetitive work and soon can be done by muscle memory.

”Mr. Boss' stopped by Doreen’s table, they shared lunch, met on her only day off, and things went from there. It was Mr. Boss’s shiny Packard that drove Doreen away from her three-room house at the end of a dirt lane near Stilesboro.

Mr. Boss lived in one of the hastily thrown-up furnished apartments in Smyrna just off the base. People moved in and out with such frequency that lives and lies were taken at face value. Few questions were asked when a slender, angular young woman named “Maggie” shared Mr. Boss’s apartment.

“Maggie” was quiet and considered quizzically intelligent. She had little to add to a conversation but could keep others talking.

Part 2

She wore new clothes well and the right amount of makeup accentuated a face with high eyebrows. She wore a perpetual halfsmile and smoked her cigarettes with elegance.

While another young woman developed fingertip calluses at the wiring harness assembly table, Maggie slowly put together a life story to tell anyone who asked.

“Yes,” she was from the South, Tennessee, in fact.

“College?” Yes, briefly, a small women’s college where she met Mr. Boss.

On Saturday nights Maggie stood in the kitchen watching men play cards. Smoke hung heavily over the table covered with pennies, sandwiches, ashtrays and glasses.

On Sunday mornings she must have recalled her family’s unshakable habit of worship in the Stilesboro Methodist Church.

Mr. Boss was a Lutheran, whatever that was. Doreen didn’t know anything about Lutherans; she only knew Methodists and Baptists.

It is easy to wonder if “Maggie” missed being Doreen. Boredom might have set in quickly after she cut ties to life as Doreen. She could not visit the Bell Bomber plant and seldom rode the trolley to downtown Atlanta at a risk of being recognized.

She might have been relieved when Mr.Boss’s duty at the Marietta plant ended.

They packed up, fueled the Packard with one of the generous number of gasoline ration coupons and headed north towards Buffalo.

I wonder, if on the day she left, she gave any thought to returning to Georgia. She would.

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