Encounters with John Wayne Ch. 27bysurober1©
Part 1 – Don’t say good bye, just say good night…
John Wayne looked at his friend Ward Bond and asked him if he would mind driving them in the Duke’s car to take Diana Maitland home from Ward's beach house so he could spend a little more time just holding her. Ward said he’d be happy to do that, so they took her things out to the car, and Duke and Diana sat in the back seat while Ward drove them back to L.A. He noticed that they didn’t say a word to each other the whole drive, but he would glance in the rearview mirror every once in a while and see them kissing softly; but mostly she was just leaning on him with her head on his chest and his arms around her, both of them looking sad and scared. Ward felt a lump form in his throat as he could almost feel their pain just from the looks on their faces.
Diana lived less than a mile from the studio; she didn’t own a car so she walked to work or took the bus if the weather was bad. She relented to let the Duke walk her to the bottom of the stairs that went up to her apartment, but she told him she didn’t want him to go inside with her—she couldn’t handle having any memories of him in her apartment. Ward stayed in the car and watched while they walked up the sidewalk to her apartment stairway and stopped at the bottom to talk. He felt the lump in his throat get bigger as he watched them.
When they stopped at the bottom of the stairs to her apartment, Diana stepped up on the first step and turned to face Wayne, and she took the box with the black dress, undergarments and shoes he’d bought for her and set it down on the steps behind her. He grabbed her and pulled her against him tightly, hugging her with his left arm at her waist and up her back and his right arm around her left shoulder with his hand on the back of her head; she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and neck. They just held each other as tightly as they could for a few moments.
Then he loosened his hold on her slightly and put his mouth next to her right ear and asked her quietly, “When will you know?”
“In about a week or so,” she answered softly. Then she continued, “I’ll get a message to you somehow, to let you know.”
He pulled his head back to look at her, moving his hands to her waist, and said, “No. I’ll be at the studio again in a couple weeks and I’ll come to you. This is something that I want to hear from you personally…don’t argue with me on this,” he commanded when he saw her start to protest. She nodded her understanding. He brought his hands up to the sides of her face and neck and stroked her cheeks with his thumbs, and stared into her eyes as he said huskily, “And don’t you dare say ‘good bye,’ just say ‘good night,’” as he leaned in to kiss her deeply and tenderly.
She had moved her hands to his shoulders and then moved them up to grasp his neck as they kissed for long moments, and he finally ended it slowly when he heard her whimper in desperation that sounded both passionate and sad. She was trembling slightly and there was a shimmer of tears in her eyes as she opened them slowly; she licked her lips and swallowed hard, and then looked into his eyes and whispered, “Good…night,” as she turned to pick up the box and head upstairs.
He watched her as she walked up the stairs and paused at the door to get her spare key from where she kept it hidden, since her main keys were in her purse, which had been left in her office all weekend. She paused to look back at him before she went in and shut the door. He walked back to his car and got in the front seat with Ward, and asked Ward if he could stay the night at his house—he knew he was going to have to get good and drunk in order to be able to get any sleep tonight and he didn’t want to do it alone. Ward said it was no problem and they made the drive back in silence.
As soon as Diana shut the door to her apartment, she felt like she was dead; like she had poured every ounce of her life force into loving John Wayne, and after being with him steadily for almost 58 hours straight, she was drained and her heart felt like it didn’t want to beat any more. She felt empty; she already knew she wasn’t pregnant—she didn’t know how, she just knew that if she was, she would feel it somehow and she wouldn’t feel this empty. She would only have to wait a week or so to confirm it, but she already knew and she hadn’t had the heart to tell him…he wouldn’t have believed her anyway.
She collapsed into bed that night and slept fitfully, between the haunting dreams that she was still with him. She made herself get up the next morning and go to work as usual, thinking that getting back to her normal routine would somewhat keep her mind from being completely occupied by thoughts of him. She was thrown slightly when her boss came in a little while later and stopped at her desk and asked, “Was Mr. Wayne pleased with you this weekend?” She jerked her head up to look at her boss and murmured a quick “what?” and her boss continued, “Was Mr. Wayne pleased with your work for him this weekend? I called his hotel concerned because you never returned after the tour with him, and he left me a message saying that he had asked you to check on the availability of some of the production crew for the movie from his office. Were you able to get the information he needed?”
She stammered nervously, “Oh. Oh, yes, well…some of it anyway—he…just needed some… information…that his own staff wasn’t able to provide. I…guess he was pleased with me; he was…very kind and generous to me.” Her voice wavered as a lump started to form, so she swallowed it and cleared her throat as her boss frowned at her slightly.
She was sounding uncharacteristically nervous in front of her boss and he knew when she sounded like that, she was scared. He’d found that out when he’d asked her to do the studio recorded singing for some movies, and she had been flustered and stammered as she had politely tried to tell him no because she said she would be too nervous.
Her boss looked at her, and asked, “Are you all right? You don’t sound all right. Did something else happen this weekend?” She shook her head no and said that nothing had happened, she was just tired, that was all, and she’d be fine. Her boss still frowned slightly at her—like he wasn’t buying her story, but he let it go.
At the end of that first day, she was surprised when a delivery person showed up in her office and informed her that he had several packages of frozen halibut steaks to give to her, and said she should get them home and into her freezer as soon as possible. She’d completely forgotten that they’d caught all those fish just yesterday, and she smiled to herself as she realized he was sharing them with her. She would have more fish to eat for a while than she’d had since she’d moved to L.A. over 8 years ago. Oh, God! How she’d missed the taste of fish! The rest of the week passed by in a blur as she just tried to get through each day without seeing his face every time she closed her eyes, hearing his voice every time it was quiet and recalling some vivid image from their weekend together when she didn’t have anything else to occupy her thoughts.
The first weekend after their encounter was hard for her. She couldn’t go out and drink with her girlfriends like they’d asked her to—if by chance she was wrong and she was pregnant, she didn’t think it would be a good idea to drink heavily. She went out with them for a little while to a dance club and had one drink, then ended up going home early because a couple men asked her to dance, and she knew she couldn’t because she’d feel like she was cheating on him. Her girlfriends had asked her what was wrong and where she’d disappeared to the previous weekend, and she told them nothing was wrong and that it had been just “work stuff” last weekend.
She got her confirmation of what she already knew that following Monday, and she broke down and cried in the ladies room near her office at the studio. She tried to wash her face to hide the evidence before she went back to her desk, but if anyone looked closely, they would be able to tell she’d been crying. When she walked in the door to her office, she was taken aback to see Ward standing in front of her desk, and as soon as he looked at her, she burst out crying again. Ward came to her and put his arms around her and asked her what was wrong.
She started to sob, “I’m not…I’m not…,” then she stopped. She couldn’t tell Ward that she’d just confirmed that she wasn’t pregnant! She just leaned against him for a couple more minutes as she stopped sobbing and calmed down. Ward handed her a tissue and led her over to a chair to sit down, and he sat next to her and held her hand while she composed herself. When she was calm, she looked at Ward and asked him why he was there.
Ward explained that he had a meeting with one of the casting people regarding the movie to see if there was going to be a part in it that was right for him, and that Duke knew he was going to be at the studio and had asked him to check in on her if he had a chance. She looked at Ward and told him that she’d been doing fine, for the most part, until today because she’d just gotten a little bad news and that was why she was upset—she assured Ward it had nothing to do with Duke.
Ward didn’t believe her; he looked closely at her and asked quietly, “Are you upset because you are or aren’t pregnant?”
Her eyes widened and she jerked her head slightly, staring at him for a few seconds, then tears came back into her eyes as she said softly, “I’m not pregnant…I’m upset because I’m not pregnant…even though it’s for the best,” she whispered as more tears gathered in her eyes. Then she asked Ward, “Would you tell him for me? I don’t know how I’m going to be able to break this to him. I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle his reaction! I know it’s going to hurt him and I can’t stand the thought of causing him any more pain…please?!!!” she begged Ward as he was shaking his head no.
Ward patted her hand, and said softly, “Diana, this is something that he has to hear from you. I think he’d take it even worse coming from me—he might kill me, but I know he won’t hurt you. And I don’t think he’d appreciate my knowing about this before he does, so please don’t tell him that I even asked you about this! OK?”
She smiled sadly and nodded that she understood, and then she asked him if he’d seen the big man much over the past week and how he was doing. Ward replied, “Oh, he’s doing about the same as you it appears. He’s walking around looking half-dead, like he’s lost something of himself and doesn’t know how to get it back; but that’s only when he doesn’t have something else to do or think about to keep his mind off of it. Is that about how it is for you?” She sighed and nodded with another sad smile. Then Ward got up and went over behind her desk and picked up a bag and said, “By the way, he asked me to bring these to you…your clothes and shoes from his hotel room. And he said for me to tell you that he still owes you a blouse?!!”
She stood up and immediately exclaimed, “No, he doesn’t! He bought me two dresses and…shoes to match; he more than made up for the blouse…he doesn’t owe me anything!” she ended adamantly. She did not want him to start thinking or feeling that he owed her anything. Ward looked surprised at her tone of voice and told her not to jump to conclusions, that he was sure Duke had meant it as a joke because he’d chuckled when he said it, which Ward said had made him wonder what had happened to her blouse. Diana closed her eyes and smiled and chuckled slightly herself and said, “Never mind!”
Ward set the bag back down behind her desk and came around to her and told her he had to get going to his meeting and that he’d tell Duke she was doing about as well as he was. Diana thanked him and he gave her a big hug and was just releasing her when the door opened as Diana’s boss was entering. Her boss stopped and looked at them, then at Ward and said, “Don’t I know you?”
Ward introduced himself, and Diana’s boss said, “Oh, yes. Aren’t you a friend of Mr. Wayne?” Ward replied that he was, and then Diana’s boss asked, “Well, how do you know Diana?” Ward frowned and looked at Diana, and she jumped in to explain that she and Mr. Bond had met at Mr. Wayne’s office that weekend. Then she said they’d all had dinner together and had gotten acquainted, and Mr. Bond was just stopping by to say hello and that he’d enjoyed meeting her.
She’d stammered in her explanation again and her boss was frowning like he wasn’t buying it, but he just said, “I see. Well, then, nice to meet you Mr. Bond. Diana, when you’re through, I need to see you in my office, OK?” She told him she’d be right there, and as soon as his door was shut, she quietly explained to Ward the story that the big man had told her boss about why she’d disappeared for the weekend—doing work for him at his office—and that them having dinner together was the only thing she could come up with for a story as to how they met. Ward told her not to worry, that it would be the same story he’d tell and pass it along to Duke in case anyone asked.
She thanked Ward again and kissed him on his cheek before he walked out the door. Then she grabbed her steno pad and pencil and walked into her boss’ office and sat down to start taking notes or dictation. Her boss looked at her when she sat down, and she could see concern on his face as he started to speak. “I’ve gotten to know you pretty well since you’ve been working for me over 2 years now…I know when you’re scared or nervous and you’ve been skittish since that weekend. I don’t know what else happened, but I know it’s something that has you scared, and I can’t even imagine what that might be. All I know is, that if you did anything that will blow this deal with John Wayne, I’ll have your head on a platter. Is that understood?”
She swallowed hard and said clearly, “Yes, sir, I understand; but I don’t think the movie deal is in jeopardy at all. I understand Mr. Wayne will be here next week and you can ask him yourself if I did anything at all to jeopardize the deal. Now, is there anything else you needed, sir?” He told her that was all, and she stood up and walked out of his office, closing the door behind her, and went to her desk to finish the work she had started earlier before she broke down in the ladies room and Ward had shown up.
The rest of the week passed slowly and uneventfully, and that weekend, she went out with her girlfriends again but, this time, got drunker than she had in a long time. When a couple men tried to make passes at her, she shot them down saying that she’d just lost someone special and she was not interested in any other male company. Her girlfriends kept asking her who she was talking about since they all knew she hadn’t been dating anyone seriously for a long time; she finally slurred drunkenly, “You wouldn’t believe me if I tol’ ya.” Then she got up and staggered slightly out the door and found a taxi to take her home so she could sleep it off.
Toward the end of the following Monday, she found out he was supposed to be coming in sometime on Tuesday. She felt sick most of Monday night, her stomach lurching at the thought of seeing him again and having to tell him “good bye.” She couldn’t eat anything because she was afraid it wouldn’t stay down; out of desperation to get some sleep, she drank about 3 fingers of whiskey, which miraculously, also calmed her stomach. Tuesday morning, she looked haggard but she fixed her face the best she could to hide it and dressed conservatively, and was at her desk promptly at 9:00.
She left her desk at about 11:30 to go to the ladies room, and when she came back, he was in her office sitting on the front edge of her desk, dressed pretty much the same as the very first and last times she saw him. She froze in her tracks with the door standing wide open and the doorknob still in her hand; this time, SHE looked startled, and he was just staring at her with intense longing and that smoldering passion in his deep, blue eyes. Suddenly, her eyes mirrored his as her breathing grew heavier, then the sadness crept into her eyes as she remembered what she had to tell him.
She didn’t have to tell him; he could see it in her eyes. She’d been startled to find him sitting on her desk, she saw the longing and desire in his eyes and she couldn’t help but respond with her own, then he saw sadness replace the longing and desire and he knew—she wasn’t pregnant. He frowned sadly in response and looked down as his eyes misted. He heard her shut the door and then moved just in front of him as she whispered, “I’m so sorry,” and he could hear her voice catch, so he looked up at her to see the tears in her eyes as well; at least he knew she had genuinely hoped for a chance for them.
He couldn’t stop himself any longer; he reached forward and pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her and crushing his mouth to hers and her body against him and between his legs as he perched on the edge of her desk. Her arms automatically went up around his shoulders and neck, their heads turning to the side toward each other to kiss fiercely, so tightly were they crushed together. They forgot about everything else for a few minutes as they just let this kiss remind them of everything they felt for each other; they were so lost in the kiss that they didn’t hear the door open.
Suddenly, they heard someone clearing their throat and they both broke apart at the same time to see Diana’s boss standing in front of the door with it closed behind him; they never heard him come in! Wayne moved Diana around to his side and slightly behind him as he stood up, in a protective gesture, and eyed her boss sternly. Diana’s boss had his eyebrows raised and said, “Well, at least now I know why she’s been so nervous and withdrawn since that weekend…although I would never have guessed…this!” as he gestured at the two of them.
Wayne looked at Diana’s boss and said, “Don’t say anything else. The three of us need to go into your office so we can discuss…this…and come to an understanding. Now!” Wayne boomed in his commanding voice and indicated the producer’s inner office with a jerk of his head when he saw Diana’s boss get ready to say something else. The man snapped his mouth shut and headed toward his office as Wayne took Diana’s hand and led her into the office behind her boss and shut the door.
The producer turned around and immediately started saying, “Mr. Wayne, if Miss Maitland has done or said anything to make you change your mind about…”
Wayne cut him off as he looked at the man with a scowl and barked, “Sit down and shut up!” He continued in a menacing tone of voice, “If you say one more derogatory thing against her, you’re going to be the one who makes me change my mind about this movie deal, you got that?” When the producer sat down with a surprised look on his face and nodded that he understood, Wayne continued to explain the situation and how it was to be handled.
“I care very deeply about Miss Maitland, Diana.” He glanced at her as he continued to hold her hand, then looked back at the producer and let his emotion show in his eyes as he continued, “In truth, I love her and she loves me, but we learned enough about each other over that weekend to know that we would not be suited for marriage…much to my bitter disappointment.” He looked at her again and let go of her hand to bring his up to put it on her face and neck to stroke her cheek with his thumb for a few moments, then removed his hand and looked back at the producer.
“Now, this in no way affects my decision regarding this movie deal other than your promise that you will never divulge anything about…this…to anyone…ever. Is that clear?” The producer nodded that he understood, so Wayne continued, “And furthermore, you will never use this in any way against her. If I ever hear that you have, you’ll never get a chance at producing any movie I’m involved with ever again. Do you understand? The producer nodded again, and Wayne finished with his last request. “And as a request, I want you to continue to use her as a studio recording singer. I applaud your decision to demand that she sing for those previous movies, but you should use her more often, and loan her out to other studios as well. Her voice is too beautiful not to be shared, don’t you agree?” The producer nodded his agreement as he had given up trying to speak.