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Charlene went to see Doc Roberts on her own. Charlene openly talked with Doc Roberts about her new boyfriend, Jason Stiles. Old Doc Roberts was very helpful with giving her a prescription for birth control pills. When Charlene talked with Doc Roberts about her depression, he prescribed her Valium. Being an old country doctor, he was not well versed in the use of antidepressant medication, but he knew that even a single dose of Valium would give the patient a short term measure of relief from uncomfortable feelings. Once again, Charlene’s symptoms were placated, but the underlying cause of her suffering was not addressed.
Charlene’s girlfriends told her that the appointments with Doc Roberts should be kept a secret from Grandma Kate. These things were Charlene’s private business. The other girls had learned from hard experience that their mothers would become furious if they learned about such things as late night meetings with a boyfriend, birth control pills or other medications. The mother’s need to control, and the teenage daughter’s need to escape that control is an archetypal theme, played out with intensity as teenage girls approach young adulthood.
Charlene’s childhood and upbringing were in perfect concert with her biological development. During her teenage years she blossomed into a voluptuous beauty. She was buxom and had a well-defined hourglass figure. Her physical attractiveness was spellbinding for young men, and could create jealousy in women of all ages. Unexpectedly, Charlene discovered that being pretty and attracting the attention of young men was her brilliant talent. She could have had any number of guys in high school as her boyfriend. During her sophomore year she found herself very attracted Jason Stiles. He was cute and easy to talk to. Not to mention that he seemed a little wild and frequently had the smell of whiskey on his breath. Among his peers he was the troubled bad boy that needed taming, which made him very exciting for Charlene. Within a matter of days, flirting with Jason became the most important part of going to school.
As time went by, the furtive romance between Charlene and Jason seemed to take on a life of its own. Jason had a driver’s license and an early model Chevrolet, so Charlene would sneak out at night and meet Jason. Together, they would go parking out by Brown’s Lake, enjoying the sensuous pleasures provided by alcohol and each other’s embrace. As surely as one footstep follows another, Charlene found herself falling in love with Jason. It was a deep love that touched her to the core. Her infatuation with Jason was all encompassing. The very sight of him in the school hallway sent chills of delight up and down her spine. One could best describe Charlene’s infatuation as being held in a trancelike state. This trace was one part logic and three parts magic. It seemed that falling in love with Jason had carried her away from her emotional turmoil, at least for a while. Jason became the focus of her whole life. He became her everything.
Whether by fate or fiat, Charlene’s love affair with Jason was happening just before his impulsive decision to join the Army. In stark contrast to her feelings of infatuation, Charlene could not tolerate the thought of Jason shipping out to join the Army. This tough reality infuriated her and left her feeling out of control. Her response to Jason’s impending departure did not come from a place of cool logic. She secretly decided to stop taking her birth control pills. She reasoned that if she could not have Jason while he was away, perhaps she could have a likeness of him in the form of a child. This primitive wish had nothing to do with rational planning. A few weeks after Jason was in boot camp Charlene discovered, to her feigned surprise, that she was pregnant.
Can it ever be said that pregnancy is accidental? How can a woman act surprised when pregnancy occurs? Routinely, couples will declare that they have no idea how they got pregnant! When a man and woman discover there is a pregnancy at hand, it is as if they are both dazed and confused with disbelief! “How could this have happened?” they chime in unison, as their proclaimed innocence of the event somehow validates their disbelief. They act as if they had never held each other tightly in the sexual embrace of torrid love making. Aye, but denial of the event does not change its realness.
The amount of planning and crafty intention that goes into a dating couple having intimate sexual contact for the first time is truly remarkable. These couples, especially the girls it seems, spend endless hours indulging in wanton fantasies and courtship rituals, with full awareness of setting the stage for their wishes to be fulfilled. Never underestimate the cunning designs of a young woman in pursuit of a desirable man. She will spend hours setting the trap, as it were, with flirting, seductive clothing and salacious makeup. Her body movements become lithe and erotic, designed to captivate the unending attention of her desired mate. He must become the bee drawn to the intoxicating flower. All the while, these girls will act as if nothing unusual is happening, at times seeming unconscious of their underlying drives.
These same girls are fond of saying they had no idea there would be the exciting culmination of this drama, with the acting out of sensual desires. Smiling, a young girl might say to her girlfriends, “I had no idea we would make love for the first time last night, I just thought we were going out to dinner together.” Despite all the planning, by some tangled logic of the feminine mind, if the pleasure of sexual union happens in this “spontaneous” fashion, as if by surprise, then it is romantic and not whorish.
With trembling hands and a beating heart, Charlene wrote a letter to Jason while he was still in boot camp. The letter revealed Charlene’s pregnancy in touching words laden with excitement and expectation. Jason read the letter, at first not believing the words as they raced across the page. The news of Charlene’s pregnancy left him feeling very anxious and almost panic stricken. In a word, he was gripped with fear. How could this have happened and why now? How would he accept the responsibility of being a father, especially at this moment when he was facing the unknown events of fighting a war in Viet Nam? The news upset him and made him feel angry, and somewhat overwhelmed. Although perplexed and frightened, he was not a cruel person and he would not retaliate against Charlene. He was, after all, attracted to Charlene and after many midnight rendezvouses he was beginning to care about her, and he missed her terribly. He struggled with a jumbled cascade of thoughts and emotions. And he was puzzled, because he thought she had been taking birth control pills.
Jason had joined the Army, because he thought it was the right thing to do. In keeping with the seriousness at hand, he wrote back to Charlene telling her that he was glad she was pregnant with his baby. He promised her that someday he would return from the war to take care of her and the new child. Jason told himself that he was 18 years old and it was time to grow up and take on all the responsibilities of being a man, but he still felt confused. It was impossible for him to say whether this was a call to duty, a deep caring, or acting out a form of attachment and longing. Such is the nature of thinking of an 18 year old man in boot camp, when placed in the midst of fear and ambiguity.
No sooner had Jason attained this resolve to do the right thing, than he became as worried as a man with a gallstone. Typically, a gallstone reminds the suffering patient of its presence on a daily basis, with a nagging, uncomfortable abdominal pain that is difficult to ignore. Worse still, at night the afflicted will suffer acute gallbladder attacks that are accompanied by nausea and vomiting. No amount of will power or prayer will cure the presence of a gallstone, but occasionally a lucky man will spontaneously pass the offending stone through his colon, whereby both the man and the gallstone attain freedom. To the bane of Jason’s will, his untenable problems would not pass as capriciously as a gallstone.
For Jason, there was life before and life after, Viet Nam. This was so powerfully true for him, that it became one of the primary themes of his existence. He had great difficulty integrating these seemingly separate periods of his life. Try as he may, after returning home from the war he could not be the person he had once been. He no longer felt comfortable when he was around the back hills country folk, with whom he had grown from a small boy into a young man.
nbsp; It seemed to Jason that no other person could begin to understand the deep emotional turmoil he was experiencing after returning home from the war. It was fair and accurate to say that he returned from Viet Nam a damaged man, suffering in his everyday life, and unable to hold a decent conversation with his kin folk, or anyone else for that matter. He was plagued by nightmares of the ghastly scenes of death and destruction, which he had experienced on the battle fields of war. At night, he frequently awakened from a nightmare screaming in terror. He always felt anxious and continued to use alcohol to medicate his deep emotional wounds.
How had this unfortunate transformation occurred? What had happened since he and Luke rode a Greyhound bus across the American landscape to their first day at boot camp? Jason and Luke had become fast friends in boot camp, but were separated after basic training, each being assigned to a different squadron. Jason was assigned as an infantryman and marksman, while Luke was assigned as a door gunner on a helicopter gunship. They were not to fight together in this war, but fate would intervene in their