After the game, which Strasburg actually won, they headed to the Virginia Restaurant, for old time’s sake. Eventually, Donnie brought the conversation around to Buddy’s future. “Trudy’s in college, Bobbie Jean’s in nursing school, I’m going in the Marine Corps. What about you, Buddy? What are you going to do with your life?”
Buddy’s pity party had not allowed for thoughts regarding his future. He was just trying to come to grips with the fiasco in West Point. Donnie’s question was an eye opener.
“Need to do something,” said Buddy. “Just don’t know what.”
“Recruiter said there’s still room for one more for the Boot Camp that starts on October 8. I told him about you. He’s interested.”
This wasn’t the only occasion when Donnie pushed Buddy toward joining the Corps, but it was the first time that Buddy actually gave it some thought. Bobbie Jean and Trudy agreed that Buddy would look great in the uniform and Donnie reminded him that the ladies go nuts over Marines.
A waitress interrupted the conversation. “What you all havin’ tonight?”
“Lula Belle. How are you?” said Buddy. “Been a while.”
“Yes it has,” she said. “If you don’t mind me sayin’, I overheard you all talkin’ about the Marines.”
Donnie proudly spoke up, “Yes, mam. The United States Marines. Best there is.”
Lula Belle was overcome with emotion as she spoke. “Three years ago a young man sat in that same place where you’re sitting, Charles. And he told me the exact same thing.” Then she began to cry. “He never came home. Don’t go if you don’t have to. It’s been so hard. I miss him so.”
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