I was on my way to steal my brother’s girl.

We were on furlough together and stopping off at a middle western city where he said he knew a Lorna Dorrance. Perhaps I should explain we are both sergeants, but while I, Marvin O’Malley, am shy with women, my brother, Butch O’Malley is bold and dashing. Yet I, too, longed to own an address book like his. And oh, yes, I must also explain that we are identical twins.

That was why I was climbing the steps to Lorna’s apartment, my heart pounding madly. Tonight I was Butch O’Malley! The idea had come to me back at the hotel after Butch left to spend the evening at a Turkish bath. I had copied Lorna’s address. Now I was at her door. I knocked.

The girl who opened was a stunning blond in a black silk dress. She smiled bewitchingly. “Come in, sergeant!”

She led me to a comfortable divan in front of an open fire. My knees felt weak.

“Would you care for some ginger ale?” she said.

“I feel bubbly enough now, Sugar pie.” (Butch calls all his girls Sugar Pie.) “Let me read your palm.”love wwii soldier

A delightful electric current shot through me as I took her hand. Then I became ashamed. This was a despicable thing I was doing. But I couldn’t stop. “A man has come into your life,” I said. “His name begins with an O.”

“Is it—is it O’Malley?” she whispered.

Then I knew she cared—for Butch. I should have fled from the room. But her violet eyes were deep pools of fascination.

“You’re a cute trick,” I said recklessly. “You’re a right number. You’re three plums in a row. You’re queen high. I like you.”

She colored at my words. She lead toward me and said: “No kidding?”

The fragrance of her hair was like apple blossoms. Our faces were not 15 inches apart…Ten…My senses were swooning.

“Sugar Pie,” I said huskily.

“Sergeant,” she said softly.

At that moment a knot crackled in the fire, like a warning shot. I thought: “Suppose this is the great love of Butch’s life? Suppose Lorna learns of my duplicity and breaks her heart?”

“No!” I cried aloud. “No! I should never have come here!”

Lorna sprang to her feet. Her voice was pitched low with fury. “Get out! I never want to see you again!”

With listless step I retraced my way to the street. Yes, I had prevented the lives of three human beings from becoming a shambles. But it would be long before I would smile again. I walked the crowded pavements, unseeing.

“Hiya, Marv!” Butch’s voice! There was a brunette on his arm. “Meet Lorna.”

“Lorna!” I gasped.

“Sure. Where you been, kid? I phoned the hotel, but you were gone. Wanted to tell you we’d told Irene when we left the apartment that we’d send you along to keep her company. Wait’ll you see Lorna’s new roommate!”

“I got an errand,” I said faintly. Back into my mind flashed the fateful words. “I never want to see you again!”

This is being written in the hospital.

I tried to cut my throat.

—Cpl. Carl Happel

-AAF, Gulfport, Miss.

For More Reading on WWII Check Out:

Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific

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