By: Garland Davis
Johnny was in love! She was the prettiest, most innocent girl who had ever actually talked to him and she said she loved him. She had told him so. He had met Mercy last week. She was a hostess at a bar on Magsaysay Avenue in Olongapo, just outside the gate of the Navy Base at Subic Bay in the Philippines.
She wasn’t like the other girls he had met in the bars. Mercy had explained to him that she was working as a hostess during the summer to pay her tuition at the University in Manilla for next semester. She explained that she only worked for drinks and didn’t go to the hotels with the sailors like the other girls did. She was a good girl and saving herself for the man she really loved.
Johnny had seen her every day except Friday when he had the duty. She told him that she was so in love with him and decided that tonight she would give herself to him. But she asked him for a favor. Her mother needed to see a doctor and Mercy asked him to loan her two thousand Pesos.
As soon as “Knock off” was passed, Johnny was in the shower, shaved and ready for a night of love. He was first off the brow when “Liberty Call” was passed. A quick stop at the Spanish Gate for a hamburger and then to the money changer. Johnny changed a hundred-dollar bill he had been saving to buy a stereo system when the ship reached Japan. The exchange rate was a little over forty pesos to one dollar. Johnny had over four thousand pesos. If she needed it, he would give it all to Mercy.
Johnny knew that Mercy didn’t start work until six, so he had a couple hours to have some beer. He was still having a problem that such a ravishing woman could love an Iowa clod-kicker like him. He heard country music emanating from a bar and stuck his head in for a look around. A couple of deck apes from the ship were at a table with two girls. One of them yelled, “Hey, Johnny, come alongside.”
By the time, Johnny was seated, a cold San Miguel was placed in front of him and someone took his arm and asked, “May I sit with you?” A very pretty girl smiled shyly at him.
“Yeah, Okay, sure,” Johnny stammered. He was astounded. She was even prettier than Mercy.
“My name is Amelia. What is your name?” the girl said with a smile.
“Johnny,” remembering that the girls got paid for drinks, Johnny asked, “Would you like a drink.”
“Yes, thank you,” she said as she signaled the waiter.
Johnny spent a pleasant hour drinking beer and talking with Amelia. She asked if he had a girlfriend and, for some reason, Johnny had told her no. Amelia said, “Can I be your girlfriend? I have a small apartment nearby. If you pay my bar fine, we can be together until tomorrow.”
“I have to go someplace for a little while and meet a friend from the ship,” Johnny told her. “I will be back later,” he added, with no intention of returning.
“I will be waiting.”
As Johnny left the Country Bar, he saw Mercy and a sailor she was clutching by the arm enter the door of a hotel across the street.
Johnny turned back to the bar and said, “Amelia, I changed my mind, let’s have a few more drinks and go to your place.