by Deborah Elliott-Upton
My husband already knows, but I have had a long-standing affair with another man. I admit to thinking about him at all times of the day and night, finding secret times I could spend with him uninterrupted, and I never tire of his voice and stories. I fell in love with him when my husband was assigned to Ft. Buckner in the Finance department on Okinawa and worked long hours.
Military wives get lonely, just like soldiers get lonely. I had a small baby and was not about to hit the bars like some soldiers did, but I had to save my sanity and that meant finding something to keep me busy while my husband was away.
It started innocently when an army friend lent my husband a paperback. None of the soldiers had much money, so the idea was everyone bought a paperback and everyone shared. It was a revolving library with no dues, no time limits and no restrictions on subject matter. This was not a new idea. In fact, Louis Lâ€™Amour tells a story about being in Paris when a lieutenant colonel asked if he were the Lâ€™Amour who wrote the Western stories. When Lâ€™Amour said he was, the lieutenant colonel said, â€œThe general reads them all the time.â€ The general would read the books and pass them onto the troops. His name was Dwight Eisenhower.
The soldiers purchased the books, so I read what they read. I read the Mack Bolin series and Matt Helm, the American version of James Bond made famous in film by Dean Martin. I devoured the hilarious No Score by Chip Harrison, who I would later discover was Lawrence Blockâ€™s pseudonym in his early years. But when I found Louis Lâ€™Amour, I fell hard for the â€œotherâ€ man in my life. In a very short time, I became addicted. I read every Sackett adventure, learned all about â€œbear signâ€ and how to keep a cold camp when necessary.
Radigan is still my favorite Louis Lâ€™Amour novel, but I would read any of them again in a heartbeat. Tom Selleck starring in another Lâ€™Amour movie on television? Let me find the popcorn.
Lâ€™Amour had authenticity in his stories. If he wrote about a place, you could rest assured that place existed and Louis had been there personally. His descriptions were better than anyoneâ€™s. I remember reading late into the night about one of his characters brewing coffee over a campfire. Louis made it sound so good, I got out of bed and made a pot and drank it until sunrise.
What people may not know is Louis Lâ€™Amourâ€™s first fiction story sale was to a crime magazine called True Gang Life. The gangster story was â€œAnything for a Pal.â€ A prolific writer, Lâ€™Amour was a poet, too, and probably the best Western writer weâ€™ve ever been privileged to know, but it was short stories that made him a â€œname.â€
Some of his detective stories are in a collection, The Hills of Homicide, which includes the title story plus â€œUnguarded Moment,â€ â€œDead Manâ€™s Trail,â€ â€œWith Death in His Corner,â€ â€œThe Street of Lost Corpses,â€ â€œStay Out of my Nightmare,â€ â€œCollect From a Corpse,â€ and â€œI Hate to Tell His Widow.â€
Wow, a man of many talents. I think Iâ€™m going to put on some coffee and see what Lâ€™Amour has in store for me tonight. Itâ€™s okay. My husband already knows.