The Marked Field

Carl L. Biemiller's The Marked Field appeared in
Blue Book Magazine
October 1949, Vol. 89, No. 6

Please respect the copyright.

Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five
Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two Harvest of Memories Biemiller Home


You’re quiet tonight,” said Sally, leaning her elbows on the table. They waited for a dinner check while the Rose Room orchestra threaded the air with violin music. “Thinking,” said Dane; “and frankly, I’m tired.”

“One-play Dane is all fagged out,” she grinned.

The waiter was back at their table. “I have the check, sir,” he said, “and a note.”

Eddie opened it , chuckled and threw it across the table to Sally. He turned in his chair and surveyed the room. “Sucking in with the press, eh!” read the note. His eye finally caught a table in a soft-lighted corner, caught also an impudent nose-thumbing salute from Perkins, Wienstock and Thomas. He paid the check, excused himself and wandered over to them. “What’s the matter?” he ribbed. “You guys jealous?”

They hooted at him noisily, turning the heads of nearby diners well used to undergraduate tumult in the Rose Room. “Be on that eleven o’clock bus, boy,” they chorused.

“What movie are you guys going to see? Tell me now, and I’ll go some other place far away from it,” grinned Dane.

“You won’t get any place with her,” informed Thomas gravely. “Was a guy named Dike who worked himself all into a breakdown trying to get cozy with Sally a year or so ago. She gave him the old straight-arm. Strictly from the Brownie troop, that girl. Football players are nice to write about, but that’s all. At that, you’re lucky dragging her to dinner. Don’t crowd it. Ditch her and come on to the show. We’re gonna help ourselves to a dream of Ava Gardner and listen to a flock of machine guns—better deal.”

“Look,” said Perkins sagely, “you have to try, I guess. We’ll wait for you at the bus terminal, and all go back together. Quarter to eleven, okay?”

“Cripes,” grunted Dane. “The encouragement I get! Okay, I guess I’ll se you.” He turned and rejoined Sally. As they walked the length of the dinning room to the doorway, Dane felt a creeping chill down his back, and he shrugged and turned.

The soft light glinted off knives, forks, plates, napery, the hands and faces of engaged diners. Across the room the Professor was watching them leave. His eyes met Dane’s for a long moment; then Sally’s arm was pulling Dane through the doorway. He was serious again, contained and a bit taut.

Outside the night was crystal clear; the street lights winked down the stretch of Bessemer Boulevard until they misted off into the ever present smog, a bit less thick than usual. Dane glanced down at Sally.

“We walk. We go to a movie. We take a ride in your car. You name it. But I’ve got to make the eleven bus back. I half promised the guys I’d meet them, and I promised myself some sleep.”

“Why don’t you promise me something?” snapped Sally with mock irritation.

“What was it you had in mind?”

“Well-l-l-l--” she drawled.

“I promised myself something concerning you a long time ago.”

They walked in silence for ten paces. “That sounds as though it might mean a great deal,” she said. “It also sounds pretty darn’ fresh.”

“I’m fed. I’m full. I’m peaceful. It was fresh.” He hesitated broadly, like an actor emphasizing a line. “It still is.”

“Well, I’m weak and strangely amenable tonight,” she said. “Up to a certain point, that is; and I don’t feel like riding, walking or going to a movie. Could I entice you into my own house, for, say a riotous game of gin rummy? The family is out; the record player works and Gorgeous George is on the television set. I could have brought my passes if I thought you cared.”

“Passes I’ll take care of,” he said lightly, “and you seem to own a happy idea. Let’s go.”

They walked around the corner, down two blocks to the Independent building, where Sally picked up her car. They drove back to the boulevard, swung east and crossed the bridge to Iron City’s older residential area, and still its finest, clinging to the sides of a set of knolls which lifted into a ridge overlooking the city. The Whittaker house, a square frame structure lifting to a four-gabled semi-peaked roof, was an odd dun shape against the night as Sally halted the car before it. “Come on,” she said. “We’re here, and from the lack of lights, either Mother and Daddy are out, or he’s one step behind her in the house. She goes around turning them on, and he follows turning them off. It’s misguided thrift, too, because he owns stock in the local power company.”

Dane chuckled appreciatively as he followed her up the walk. The house was quiet, and a lamp burned in the living room as they entered it from a central hall. It smelled warm, with a personal fragrance. Sally threw her coat over the back of a chair. “Relax,” she said, “while I case the premises. If you were Timmy Watts, I’d offer you a drink of Daddy’s forty-year-old bourbon, but then if you were Timmy, you’d sit and swill it with Daddy while you cheated each other at cribbage. Try the television id you want. Channel Six will give us the megrims; Eight will have us blind before fifteen minutes have passed; Two will show us a juggler. Later we’ll really enjoy the thing—some years later. Get the card table, too. It’s back of that thing that looks like a chintz pontoon beneath the window. Cards are in the drawer of the refectory table.”

“You told me to relax,” said Eddie, sinking blissfully into the depths of a velour-covered davenport. “Get about your business.” He watched her swing from the room.

Where this was going, where it could go, at the present time, he couldn’t foresee. Where he wanted it to go, he had only begun to analyze. There had been a dark-eyed, thin-faced girl in Italy during the war. There had been a clean-limbed, wide-eyed, honey-headed girl in Houston whom he had once met on an assignment who might have been it, had time and the job permitted…. Beside Sally they paled. The sudden depth of tenderness he felt both abashed and embarrassed him…. The grouping of problems all clamoring for simultaneous answer had never bothered him; but always before, even in combat, his problems had held an impersonal quality, an objectivity which demanded solution outside himself. He was no stranger to emotion—in fact, his past errors of consequence had been on the sensitive side; but even in fear, cold rage and tearing pity, he had not sensed a projection of these emotions into the future of Eddie Dane. They were experiences of the moment. Sally was something for a lifetime, and the completion of his present assignment was the last of a long string unless—he refused to face the implications of that thought.

Sally was back in the room, a sure, direct warmth in her manner, her flame hair loose and ribboned at the back of her neck. The simple, pale neutrality of a dress whose decorative effect depended solely upon figure added emphasis to the vitality of her hair and eyes, the color of which seemed deeply violet in the lamp-glow.

Eddie rose, not realizing that he was staring, but Sally did, and she felt a warming flush rising into her face.

“Hey, what are you doing, wearing out the Iron City Oriental? You don’t even have the box blazing, and that makes you the first male ever to escape the gadgeteering urge which goes with that set. Where’s the card table?”

He crooked a finger. “Come here, Miss Whittaker. You haven’t paid for your dinner.”

She came slowly almost uncertainly, and stood very close before him. He locked his arms behind his back and leaned slightly, kissing her gently with what seemed an exploratory abstraction. “That’s for your fruit cup,” he said.

“Soup and steak and dessert to go,” she murmured, “and they tell me steak comes high.”

“soup,” and then his arms were around her, his hands urging her to him. There was a long, breathless moment.


“Let’s buy the whole steer and go without dessert.” Her voice was low, and it awakened a hunger within him, an intensity which, transmitted into the iron of his arms, welded them into a single entity.

There was a long, sighing shudder in her voice. “Let’s risk the card table.” For answer he took her hand, led her to the davenport, a dignity, a sureness and a rightness in his action matched only be the grace and certainty of her won as she followed him. “I wonder,” she said, “how Gorgeous George is doing?”

“Not me. I wonder how Eddie Dane is doing.”

She pulled him down beside her and he laid his lips in the hollow of her throat while her hands caressed the back of his neck, her fingers sliding beneath his collar. “I wonder if he knows what he’s doing,” she said steadily.

He lifted his head, gazed at her. “No,” he said. “How would he? The guy’s in love.”

Her lips were warm at his ear, and there was only a shred of the whisper. “I’m afraid that’s what’s wrong with the dame too.”

Suddenly her face was wet. He could taste the salt at her eyes, her cheeks, her lips, lips demanding, giving, burning. Not with tears, he thought, and not until…. But while he shaped the unformed impulse, he rose, stood shakily, a puzzled grin at his lips. “Sally,” he said softly, “where’s that card table? A fellow I once knew told me that acey-deucy was a lovely way to learn numbers.”

She gazed up at him, steadily, proudly. “Especially to count up to ten,” she said….

At Bakerston, John Shaw entertained his staff in the first of many Saturday-night conclaves at which resigned wives would gossip, play bridge and trade talk of children while Shaw and his staff analyzed movies.

Central’s game pictures were developed, printed and delivered each week within a few hours after the stadium emptied, thanks to the university’s own photo laboratories and the unflagging zeal of hypo-handed Ziggy Elsback, a reformed newsreel man who was as much a part of Shaw’s autumnal organization as his coaches.

Shaw, Morgan, Ames, Hogan, the freshman coaching staff, and the three graduate players who served as scouts were grouped around a big table, each with a pad of paper before him, each concentrating on the screen at the end of the semi-darkened room. Shaw, seated behind the small projector, ran the game straight through once.

“Okay,” he said. “That’s it. Now we go back and go to work.” For the next two hours he ran plays, re-ran them, let the film go, backed it, and slowly, with much comment, the note-pads filled. Before the big man finally stretched to snap on the room lights again, he called Molly and the rest of the coaching wives. They grouped behind his chair. “Watch this,” he said. “Fourth quarter, our last score. Perkins takes the ball on a pitch-out to Dane, and watch Dane--” The tiny figure on the diminutive playing-field flashed along the sideline. “OH, brother,” said Ames at Shaw’s elbow, “that’s for me!”

“How about some coffee, Molly” said Shaw thoughtfully. “I think we’ve had it here for the time being….”

The Bakerston bus rolled out of Iron City, its tires buzzing somnolently on the highway. It was almost empty; and Randy Perkins, Thomas and Wienstock sprawled in their seats. The eleven o’clock on Saturday night was always nearly empty, a condition not true of the next three late buses, which were usually filled with students. “You know,” said Wienstock, “I got an idea the Dipper missed this bus, for some reason.” Perkins grunted. “I envy him the reason.”

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Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five
Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven Chapter Thirteen Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two Harvest of Memories Biemiller Home