It wasn’t until Veda had been in Paris for a couple of weeks that I realized that she had made the trip just to see me and it was at lunch that day when I realized that she had an “agenda” . Evidently she ‘d heard from my Dad that I was planning to get married and she wasn’t comfortable with that at all. Given the fact that she was a contemporary of my father’s and I was just pushing 21,
Veda was asking me about my French bride-to-be, Jacqueline,who she’d met last night for the first time
“So how old is she then?
“Thirty” I said nervously Veda continued the interrogation:
“And you’re twenty?”
“Twenty one” I answered.
“Oh yeah, your birthday was last month. Did you get my card?” Veda questioned
“And the check. Thanks, it was very generous” I said. It was generous and that was all the more reason for me to feel uncomfortable and Veda knew it. She went on:
“She was married before and she’s got a kid?” This was getting really uncomfortable. It all began to sound crazy.
“Uh huh, her name is Frederique and she’s almost four” and before I could take a deep breath,
“What the hell do you need that for?”
and I told her:
“I don’t need Frederique but she does need a Dad”
Veda sat very still for a couple of minutes, took out a cigarette and lit it and then, she said,
leaning over the table so close we were almost kissing:
“Sweetie, you don’t need a four year old kid and you sure don’t need her thirty year old French . Get smart, she’s looking for a new life in the States and you’re just a means of transportation
I knew Veda was right but I still said:
“ I’m sorry you feel that way but I know what I’ve got to do”
“You mean you have to marry her - she’s pregnant?” Veda asked, starting to sound slightly hysterical. I replied:
“She’s not pregnant - that would probably kill her at this point” Veda asked:
“ Why would being pregnant kill her, she’s already had one I told her “She’s got TB and she’s not strong enough to have a baby now”
Veda almost screamed:“Jesus!” “You really are insane”and continued:
“I’ve known about a lot of sick love affairs and disastrous marriages but this one is a strong candidate for ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not” “If you go ahead with it”
Now I was starting to get angry:
“Don’t you think you’re exaggerating a little” I said and Veda answered:
“Obviously I’m not getting through to you at all. Your father says he can’t do anything because your 21 but the real truth is that he really doesn’t want to get involved. He’s a nice guy and one of my closest friends, but he’a also a lousy fathe”
She got up, left a ten thousand Franc note on the table and said
“Think about it and call me in the morning”
I called Veda the next day and told her I was going through with it.
I heard a moan and then “So long kiddo, don’t take any wooden nickels”
I never saw Veda again, she died in Cuernavaca, Mexico the same year Jacqueline and I were divorce