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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Marlene has ended her first marriage and wants to marry Randoph, the man she should have married.
Some problems arise but not before 'love finds a way', and all 'problems' are discarded.

Submitted: June 17, 2016

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Submitted: June 17, 2016




A Short Story 

Nicholas Cochran



Rand watched her turn at the sound of her name and wave back at him with a vigorous wave comprised of a flapping hand and five bobbing fingers.

Rand dropped his file case on the park bench and rushed to meet her; they almost collided.

“I was sure it was you,” he beamed, “you look fantastic.”

Rand’s vocabulary was a distant second to his good looks.

Nevertheless, Marley gave him an unrestricted glowing face, creased by a smile of genuine pleasure.

*  *  *

Risky as the whole project might turn out to be, Randolph Hammer was eager to begin; immediately. 

Rand, as he asked to be called, simply understood the power of his own two eyes and the thing called his soul, and they told him that he was in love with Marlene, a recently divorced redhead of twenty-nine, blessed with large oval blue eyes.

Marley, as she liked to be called, stood tall and possessed a striking figure.

Rand was barely an inch taller; extremely fit—bordering on acceptable-muscular, with black hair and moustache, and a perpetual tan. When he smiled, he presented two rows of perfect dentition. Rand’s commanding bass voice manufactured a hearty laugh on many occasions. (usually the correct ones)

However, his ears erupted from the sides of his head like mature mushrooms, and provided the one flaw in his otherwise ‘good looks.’

Marlene Storm was his step-niece.

or whatever she is ; all I know is that she was my uncle’s  stepbrother’s child; or maybe she’s just my cousin of one degree or another.

Even as he approached forty, Randolph continued to find the whole family tree thing damn bewildering by itself, without adding some step-someone or other into the mix.

In whatever family category Marlene belonged, Rand could care less.  

Whenever Marley had been near him, Rand would fidget and, on occasion, he would get the shakes, episodes that Marley had found both amusing and yet vaguely disturbing.

Nevertheless, overall; she admitted to herself after only two years of married life that she should have waited for Rand to ask her hand.

Rand had separated from his wife of two years some months earlier.


“Where have you been, Rand?” perhaps a mite too eagerly, “I saw your sister last week and she assured me that you knew of my final decree . ”She stopped, and closed her smile when she realized she had overplayed her hand; or, at  least, she thought that she had. However, Rand was oblivious to anything she might say, just so long as he was permitted to look at her, 

A soft summer sun sprinkled flickers of light off her smooth hair, while a balmy breeze happened by to flutter the collar of her white blouse. Rand would have died happy at that moment, or at least be content to suffer the lot of Lot’s wife, provided that Marley was preserved in that moment; in that time; in that position; in that overwhelming crack in the edge of time.

She wasn’t.

The following breeze blew her hair over to one side and revealed more scalp than Rand had known lay beneath her locks of flaming autumn-leaf. Then an opposite breeze resettled her locks in the former position and Rand’s smile returned in a broader version.

“What brings you here, Marley; where are you off to?”

“Oh, just walking; gorgeous day, isn’t it, Rand; I’ve had enough of the shop for today. I thought I’d take a shortcut and pick up Stanyan after a trek through the park; avoid the pavement, and get some rays. And you?”

This provided a very awkward moment for Rand. He had momentarily forgotten why he had taken to the park in his Boss suit with Bill Blass tie; and carrying his file case; as well as hauling along a damn large package tucked against his left side.

“Well, Marley, I was hoping I’d see you,” he lied, “my sister did tell me you were around; even probably in the park,” another lie, “and so –well, here I am.”

He wanted to grasp her and pull her to him; to feel her breasts warm and daring against him, to cup her head on his hand while he kissed her forehead.  .  and then her lips and her eager tongue, to . .

Rand;  areyou all right?” genuine concern.

Rand’s instant erotic daydream had flown from his eyes to Marley’s and startled her.

“Oh; I’m fine . . . fine, Marley,” vainly attempting to rebottle the horny genie, “just had some bad news,” lying again, “ seeing you startled me because the news concerned a young woman much like you. Same age and approximate height; and she also had red hair.”

Marley produced a silvery laugh and used the moment to dial back her obvious excitement in seeing ‘Uncle Randy’ again; and so soon after her final; after waiting the entire six months before having a second chance to land the man she should have wed in the first place. 

When she had married, Rand had been tied up in a marriage following a long engagement to a redhead named Martha.

Thereafter, circumstances—life—just buggered up the works and left two people very unhappy and the other two without any path to follow.

 The confused and dispirited mismatched spouses spent each unfulfilling day spinning their marital wheels without ever gaining any serious traction.


Her mild efforts to contain her mischievous passion fell short and this lingering glow was immediately sensed and digested by Rand to the point where he had the wild idea of inviting Marley into those bushes over there and, well . . . see what happens.

Marley returned an equal measure of sexual arousal and they both moved a step closer to each other.

Then Rand dropped the large package from his left side and pulled back toward the bench and file case.

Marley followed him, mesmerized by the flitting nakedness of the daydream unfolding inside her private viewing room.

She reached Rand a moment after he had picked up the file case. “What are you doing, Rand?”

There was as much of a command in her voice as a question. Clouds of confusion wrinkled her face and she thought she saw Rand giving her a look of reproach.

 Rand had heard this tone before.

Almost all of them had eventually dropped the loving and sexual interchange, the warm caresses and the caring smiles; no, none of them had persisted in their apparent love for him.

 Was it his ears?

He had always believed that when the last question had to be answered, he asked them:

“Is it my ears?”

However, he had never allowed them to answer.

He thought he knew what they would say.

He was convinced that it would be ‘your stupid ears: they’re so big and so . . . well, ‘out there!” and then they would laugh, and laugh and he wouldn’t know what to do until he decided that there was only one thing to do.

“Rand; are you okay?”

He had to admit to himself that she did sound truly troubled.

His right hand quivered in indecision while the file case bulged and shook.

He heard a new tone in Marley’s voice; not a ‘bad’ tone at all; in fact a frank sincerity filled her question with what sounded like a genuine concern.

He decided to wait.

“Yeah,” forcing a smile and a patented bass chuckle, “I had forgotten my file case and  . . ,” looking past Marley to the point where he had dropped the huge package, “wait here a sec Marley, I need to get my package,” and he set the file case on the bench and moved—very quickly, Marley thought—bent and picked up the huge package with no hint of difficulty.

Although wrapped round with the multiple delights caressing her body and mind as a result of being so close to the one she truly loved, Marley momentarily blinked back into reality and felt vexed somewhere in her core

However, those emotions and thoughts evaporated the nanosecond it took for him to bend, snatch and secure the package; forgetting that her step-uncle, or whatever he was, concealed hours of months of years of weight training and cross training under his modern and very expensive attire.

She was proud of him because of his handsome features as well as his aptitude as a lawyer.

She released another of her finest smiles upon him as he returned at a slower pace to sigh and sit on the bench, still awkwardly keeping some grip on most of the package and pulling the file case next to him.

He patted his hand on the empty space of bench next to the file case in a gesture of welcome and request for Marley to sit down.

She did now, without any reservations.Her entire being was filled with a newly discovered joy; a joy that she suddenly realized she had bottled up for two years ;and especially the last six months; the joy that she knew would now bring them together in an invisible tent of love and happiness for ever.

All he had to do was ask her.

He was silent.

He stared into her eyes as though there was something sitting beneath the horizon of her recent thoughts; something that she was waiting to spring on him the moment he unleashed and unbridled his stifled oceans of desire and longing.

He could clearly sense the flood of love that he possessed for Marley, as well as the uncluttered prospect of their endless devotions and long lives –even into their nineties; or even their hundreds, together, hand in hand and heart in heart.


What was it she wondered; what is he asking my soul? What is beyond that penumbra of golden happiness; what is lurking there?


What  . . . no, it can’t be . . . surely not. Marley was very close to him now; right next to his file case; then she lifted it; frowned at its weight and clumsily dropped it onto the ground.

It quivered a moment but did not tip or spill—or open.

When she looked back at Rand, she pursed her full, moist lips;

“Sorry; hope it’s nothing breakable,” and then laughed merrily, which was one of her million charms: to lighten any awkward situation with her genuine joie de vivre.

He was about to ask her but was restrained by a novel emotion: trust.

He knew then that—at least so far—he trusted her.

He knew he loved her; wanted her; but now, more importantly than anything, he trusted her.

He was silent.

Marley slid over closer to him.

He could feel the warmth of her body; he had to take a deep breath.

“You know, Rand, we have to catch up now; now that I‘m free,” trilling, “and I haven’t kept up with you, or at least anything really about you.”

She felt a tickle of movement in his leg and she moved even tighter to him. “But I did hear that you were off somewhere, like Australia, I think; or was it New Zealand? I can’t remember but you were batting about there for quite a while; almost two years—or something like that?”

There was the flicker again. 

“Well, your sources are excellent Marley. It was Australia. Brisbane. On the Gold Coast; the beaches; God what a marvelous place.

“I was a beach bum and loved every minute of it. Hated to come home; but Granny’s been a bit dodgy and my parents—my adoptive parents; they retired to Coeur d’Alene about the time I took off for Aussie land.

“So I’m it as far as care for Granny goes. Her friends are all in Rossmoor  and she’s missing them; I mean really missing them, so I guess she’ll be in there herself before long.

I’m overseeing things for her, and that’s almost a done deal.”

He turned to face Marley.

His grin was genuine and confident, filled with hope.

“Well we have to—I mean, we should get together Marley; I’m divorced, so; I mean soon--maybe right away.”

“Rand; yes; let’s do that; how about tonight?”

“Excellent. I tell you what; let’s have dinner; what’s your favorite food?”

“Thai,” with a smile and glittering eyes.

Really? mine too. Got to love it in Brisbane. Perfect.

“I have just the spot; Chai Yo; on Polk; where shall I pick you up; I have to take care of this first,” nodding toward the file case and then to the other side where his right hand still balanced the huge package, “Phil Crane at Johnson and Johnson  is waiting for these exhibits and I’m dead meat if they don’t get there before five.”

Marley gave him an address which he remembered perfectly and repeated back to her.

“Oh, Marley, just one question; I know it’s a very silly, if not really dumb—even a suspiciously goofy question—but I have to ask it: what about my ears?”

Marley drew in a breath as she straightened up and leaned toward his face slightly shifting her head from side to side.

 “I think they’re your best feature; you know why?”

Rand was too stunned by her words to feel his jaw slipping as he dumbly shook  his head as a negative to her question.

“Because I’ve always had . . . well, an almost insane crush on Clark Gable.

“Of course not all that many Millennials know who he is, or if they do, they don’t know much about him.

“But the ones—the women who do; well, we all agree, that his ears are the most endearing feature; even before his moustache,”

Rand unconsciously touched his with his left hand,.

“I love  your ears Rand; I always have,” lowering her eyes  and speaking softly, “always will . . . if you’ll let me,” and she leaned toward him, planted an embarrassed kiss on his lips and stepped quickly past him, throwing a “ see you at eight.’’ over a retreating shoulder.


Their dinner was so ridiculously successful that they stayed up all night in Marley’s flat talking and drinking bottles of Pinot Noir.

They went out together the next night and the one after that.

Rand’s final came through.

Rand moved in with Marley until they were married three weeks later.

They immediately moved to Australia—to Brisbane—where they lived, raised six children, surfed and loved into their hundreds, and died within forty minutes of each other.


The San Francisco Police gave up on a missing person’s report concerning a very old woman who was supposed to be driven to Rossmoor on a certain day, but never showed up.

An elderly couple who had told their friends and neighbors that they were off to Idaho and would write from Coeur d’Alene, never wrote or called.

 A close neighbor of the elderly couple, while on a fishing trip to Idaho with some of the guys, decided to check white and yellow pages; Zaba search; and the local records office—he even asked around; but found nothing.

He then simply assumed that his two strange neighbors and their stranger adopted son, had just moved on.


The unsolved murders and mutilation of redheaded women found in Golden Gate Park remains open and unsolved.

The parts of the fifth unsolved redhead murder weren’t found for almost three months.

The head had been carefully jammed into a file case and most of the rest of the victim was wrapped into a very heavy, unwieldy package.

These items were discovered in the middle of the wildest undergrowth in the most remote canyon off the least traveled trail of Golden Gate Park.


Nobody had a clue.


Over a few tall drafts of Dos Equis Amber, a retired psychiatrist from Napa State Hospital told a retired Napa County Sheriff about a patient who he had counseled many years ago in the secured section of the facility.

This otherwise perfectly normal and very handsome man had a thing about his ears; even to the point where they would have to lock him down if anyone mentioned his ears or even hinted that they thought his ears were amusing.


The Sheriff seldom referenced that particular case to any of his friends or even the current Sheriff, let alone anyone in any capacity with the San Francisco Police or Sheriff’s Office.

© Copyright 2018 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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