“So, Babs,” said Alexandra, after they had both taken their first appreciative sips of their bone-dry martinis, “how are things out on Sunnyville Manor Road?”
“Oh, fine,” said Babs, lighting up another cigarette. Fine, she thought. My husband is addicted to Dexedrine, my eight-year-old daughter insists on wearing a Davy Crockett costume everywhere, and my ten-year-old son wears a beret and affects an English accent. “Everything’s just dandy, Alex.”
“Yeah, I’m sure, but don’t you ever just miss the old days, Babs, in the WAVES?”
“Well, sometimes, I suppose,” said Babs. Right, she thought, sleeping in a barracks with a pack of gossiping man-crazy girls, typing up orders and memoranda all day while the fellows got to sail the seven seas and fight the Japs and Germans, sure, what jolly fun.
“Tell me, what do you miss about those days the most, Babsy?”
Never a good sign when Alex started calling her Babsy, but Babs considered the question for a few seconds and could honestly think of only one thing:
“I miss the uniforms,” she said. “It was nice not having to choose a new outfit every day.”
“Oh, Babsy, you’re such an absolute scream, but listen, doll, don’t turn around and don’t you dare look but there’s a fat fellow in a grey suit at the far end of the bar over there and he looks oddly familiar to me and I can’t quite place him but he’s looking quite blatantly at you, my dear.”
Babs turned around and looked.
“Babs!” said Alex, “I told you not to look!”
“Oh, do shut up, Alex,” said Babs.
It took her a moment and then it all came back. He was older of course, and he had grown quite fat, and his hair had gone grey. But it could only be him. He raised his glass to her.
“Oh, dear,” said Babs.
“What?” whispered Alex, “What? Who is he?”
“Oh my,” said Babs.
He had gotten up off his barstool, a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and now he was lumbering towards their table, smiling broadly.
“Hey, wait a minute,” said Alex, “that’s not --”
“Cad the Cad!” said Alex.
“Yeah, it’s Cad all right,” said Babs.
Tom “Cad” Cadwallader. The man who had taken her virginity fourteen years ago one hot humid night at the Norfolk Naval Station. Cad the Cad. Her first love. The bastard.
They Call Him Cad, by "Harriet P. Saint-Clair" (Horace P. Sternwall); a Popular Library paperback original, 1959.
(Scroll down the right-hand column of this page to find a listing of links to the opening passages of some other fine but sadly out-of-print novels by Horace P. Sternwall.)