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Love Stories of Hawaii

Long Distance Love

Temperature Control
Dedicated to My wife, Elaine

Submitted by Bob

As the mercury rose on Chicago's north side, little gray dots of sweat began to form just below the neckline of his white, Navy-issue T-shirt. July afternoons sizzled in a the barracks, where the only air conditioning was the occasional breeze that drifted through the Quonset hut when the doors on both ends were open.

Hot blood didn't help the problem, either. He'd tried to put Elaine out of his mind by all the normal ways - watching TV, eating a Mounds bar, even studying - but the chapter on capacitance and reruns of "All in the Family" weren't the elixir he'd hoped for. If only he could spend even a few hours with her, he could get his body temperature down to a manageable level.

"That's it," he thought. "I've got a little money. Certainly not enough to fly to Hawaii, but enough to get me to Des Moines." A flip through the Yellow Pages and a dime in the phone yielded the information he needed. Last flight to Des Moines would leave at five-thirty. The clock said straight-up four. No time for the "El." Just grab a duffel bag and a cab to O'Hare. Temperature's down a degree already.

The plane had lifted to 10,000 feet before he could catch his breath. His mad dash through the A-terminal, no small feat in crackerjacks and patent-leather shoes, had gotten him to the gate just in time. In an hour and fifteen minutes - hour and a half, tops - he'd be holding her in his arms.

Or not.

The phone rang at her apartment. He was all ready to surprise the love of his life. But it wasn't Elaine on the other end. It was Jackie, Elaine's roommate.

"Where's Elaine?" he asked.

"Sorry, Bob. Elaine's out with Holly," she replied. "They won't be back until after midnight."

"Darn! Where'd they go?" His temperature rose a couple of degrees.

"To a movie at the River Hills. Brubaker, I think."


He grabbed a newspaper on the way to the cab. The movie was starting at seven. It was a quarter 'til. He'd never make it.

"Brubaker," a nondescript Robert Redford flick about a warden at a corrupt prison, wasn't filling the void any better than "All in the Family." He tried to find her in the darkened theater, but River Hills was one of the largest in the Midwest. Finally, he resigned himself to sitting through the yawner.

At movie's end, he waited outside the theater on the sidewalk, struggling to find her among the throng. As one faceless stranger after another passed by, he began to wonder if he'd missed her altogether, if all the effort of the past five hours had been for naught.

Then he saw her. And she saw him. Years later, Holly would say it was at that precise moment she knew Bob and Elaine would be married. Twenty-two years later, they haven't taken their eyes off each other. And ever since that day, the temperature's been just right.

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