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Maureen's Story (Part Two): Life is like a Buffet Supper

John has many years of writing experience in poetry, short fiction and text for children's books. Basically he just loves to write.


Maureen's Story (Part Two): Life is a Buffet Supper

Maureen's Story was written to demonstrate how to use a single sentence as a prompt to construct a short story or poem. If you missed reading the original hub and the first part of the story you can read it at the following link: "How to Construct a Short Story Using One Sentence as a Prompt"

This is how the first part of the story ended :

An example of what Maureen's new outfit may have been like.

An example of what Maureen's new outfit may have been like.


One afternoon Frank phoned to say that he would be home on time for a change and Maureen was excited. She went to great effort to cook his favourite meal of roast lamb and vegetables, then applied makeup, and took the opportunity to 'try out' some of her new provocative wardrobe. A romantic evening was on her mind.

As her husband drove up and parked in the driveway Maureen met him with a seductive smile, plaid mini skirt, black knee high leather boots, and a figure hugging white satin blouse with the top two buttons unfastened.

Frank looked her up and down, his slight grin quickly turning upside down, "What the hell are you wearing Maureen?" he questioned, pushing past her, "For God's sake dress your age."

Maureen was shattered. Her cheerful smile was replaced by tear filled eyes as she stormed inside and upstairs to the bathroom where she hastily rubbed at her makeup, then angrily stripped off her new clothes and replaced them with one of her dowdy house dresses.

After regaining some composure Maureen returned to the kitchen but deliberately left the roast in the oven too long out of spite. Nothing was said as they sat at the table and picked tentatively at the charred meal.

Leaving half his food uneaten Frank stood up from the table, grabbed his coat and anounced gruffly, "I'm going out. Don't wait up for me."


Maureen's world was falling apart. Her beloved son was living away from home and her husband wanted barely anything to do with her. In front of everyone else she put on a brave face and immersed herself more than ever in the buffet dinner parties, although Frank no longer attended.

In November 1971 Danny graduated from college with an Arts Degree and, in a welcome moment of togetherness, Maureen and Frank attended the ceremony and both were happy and excited for their cherished son. Danny returned home with his parents for the holidays and a much needed break before applying for suitable teaching positions.His dreams however were soon to be dashed, as were those of his parents, when just after New Year an official Government letter arrived addressed to "Mr Daniel McLaughlin" and marked "PERSONAL."

Conscription (National Service Scheme)

Often known as conscription, the National Service Scheme was introduced by the Australian Government in November 1964.

Under the NSS, twenty-year-old men were required to register with the Department of Labour and National Service, they were then subject to a ballot which, if their birth date was drawn, meant the possibility of two years of continuous full-time service in the regular army, followed by three years part-time service in the Army Reserve. As part of their duty, national servicemen on full-time duty were liable for ‘special overseas service’ including combat duties in Vietnam.

As the number of men eligible for call-up far exceeded the number needed for military service, the bi-annual ballot determined who would be considered for national service. The ballot resembled a lottery draw, even to the extent, that the final five ballots were fully televised. Numbered marbles representing birthdates were chosen randomly from a barrel and within a month men whose numbers had been drawn were advised whether they were required for participation in the scheme or not. Those failing to register without an acceptable explanation were automatically considered for call-up as well as being liable to a fine.

(source: http://vietnam-war.commemoration.gov.au/)


Danny slowly opened the letter and after a quick perusal began to read it aloud to his parents. Maureen almost fainted as he read:

"Mr Daniel McLaughlin


Dear Sir,

I am writing to inform you, in relation to your liability to call-up for National Service, that you are required, in accordance with the provisions of the National Service Act, to submit yourself to medical examination before a medical board.

You are therefore required to attend for this purpose

at Brisbane District Employment Office, 24 Turbot Street

at 6.15pm on the Ninth day of February 1972

At the same time you will be interviewed with regard to your suitability for the various postings in the Army and other matters concerning national service.


Frank tried to console his wife that this was a proud day and that the war was surely close to ending anyway. Danny said little but was resigned to the need to serve his country. Nothing could have made Maureen feel any better however.

By the beginning of 1970 President Nixon had begun to withdraw troops from severe contact border areas within Vietnam however, as this was being implemented, North Vietnam invaded Cambodia at the request of the Khmer Rouge. The US and allies were therefore forced to deploy additional troops into that country.

Within a month of his 20th birthday Danny was recruited and after six weeks training was deployed to join the Australian, US and allied forces fighting in Cambodia and Laos.

Despite his initial positive reaction, the thought of his only son fighting overseas distressed Frank and he became more and more distant from his wife who was constantly depressed and tearful.


Becoming increasingly frustrated with her husband's constant absences due to "business" weekends, Maureen finally confronted Frank with the third degree on one of his returns.

She was shocked though not surprised when he admitted to having an affair. "Ok, I've been with Barbara my secretary. I still love you Maureen, but I'm no longer 'in love' with you," he said, "You are always depressed and we don't have fun together anymore."


Surprisingly Maureen didn't burst into tears and run to her room like he expected. Instead she slapped his face hard, "How dare you do this to me. I have been a faithful wife and stuck by you through good and bad for 25 years. Now you're having an affair with someone young enough to be your daughter and you have the hide to say you still love me! Get out ..get out now!"

Without arguing Frank packed a suitcase with clothes and took as many belongings as he could fit into his car, and moved out. It wasn't until he left that Maureen broke down . She went to bed without dinner, or undressing and cried herself to sleep.


Life on her own was tough for Maureen, though to his credit Frank continued to pay the mortgage on the house and most of the bills.

Day followed night, and night followed day but they were all the same to Maureen. She could barely remember any of them. The doctor had prescribed her antidepressants and anxiety medications which left her in a state of semi consciousness most of the time.

She no longer held her famous buffet suppers and other friends took to hosting them. Maureen made the effort to attend a couple but it wasn't the same as playing host and she soon stopped going. Eventually the invitations ceased as well.

It seemed the only thing Maureen looked forward to were the letters from Danny. He was such a caring son , and received regular letters from him at least once a month. By December 1972 Frank had been gone almost six months and Maureen still hadn't been able to break the news to Danny. Maybe in her next letter.

It was almost Christmas, and Maureen still hadn't received this month's letter from her son. She had eagerly awaited the daily mail delivery but each day there was nothing from Danny. She convinced herself that postal deliveries were always stretched and slow over the holiday period.

Then, at 9:00am on December 24th, Christmas Eve, Maureen was awoken by a knock on the door.

~~~~~~~~~ to be continued ~~~~~~~~~

© 2015 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 16, 2015:

Dana, the first part does in fact have a different title. Forgive me, I thought I had linked each part. Here is the link: https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/How-to-Co...

Thank you for the wonderful comment.

Dana Tate from LOS ANGELES on June 16, 2015:

Jodah I am on the edge of my seat. I pray the third chapter is not telling her her son died in service. And that line " I still love you, I'm just not in love with you anymore." I just want to slap everyone who has ever said that. I know I'm getting emotional but your stories are so realistic I can't help it. Oh, before I forget is there a part 1? I couldn't find it, unless it's under a different name...ok, on my way to the finale. See you there!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 31, 2015:

Thank you Deb, hope you enjoy the final chapter.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 31, 2015:

All I can say is oh-oh regarding that knock. This is a very good story, and I read it from start to finish. I will be looking for the next part.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 24, 2015:

Thanks for following this story through Maj.

travmaj from australia on January 24, 2015:

Mmm - things are about to happen again - on to part three...

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 23, 2015:

Thanks Alicia. I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 23, 2015:

Thanks for continuing the story of Maureen in this interesting installment, Jodah. I'm going to read part three now. I'm looking forward to seeing how the story ends!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 22, 2015:

I admit Maureen hasn't exactly had it easy Jo, there are a few more ups and downs to come, but you will find out tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on January 22, 2015:

John, an excellent read. I'm going to savor this and read the next installment tomorrow. Maureen must be due for a little joy in her life, I hope you'll be kind to her. :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 22, 2015:

Glad you enjoyed this chapter Devika. Thank you very much.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on January 22, 2015:

Beautiful photos! You shared such a great chapter.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 21, 2015:

Thanks Phyllis, you are soon about to find out :)

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on January 21, 2015:

Great story, Jodah. I hope Maureen can overcome her sorrow and Frank's betrayal - may even find a very handsome dude who falls madly in love with her. LOL

On to the conclusion ...

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 21, 2015:

Hope you enjoy the ending.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on January 21, 2015:

On to the conclusion!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 21, 2015:

Hi Mary, thanks for the great comment. Yes this story does seem to effect people's emotions. Part three, the final chapter is now up and running. Look forward to you checking it out. I hope it doesn't disappoint. Thanks for the vote up.

Mary Craig from New York on January 21, 2015:

New or old this hits you in the heart. So much to relate to for so many (thankfully not me). Frank is ticking everyone off but perhaps he is a lost soul too?

The suspense you have ended with could go many ways though most of us feel it isn't good news for Maureen. Can't wait to read Part Three.

Voted up, awesome, and interesting.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 20, 2015:

Thanks Mel, hmm for some reason no one seems to like Frank :) Working on final chapter now. Sounds great concerning your prompt...can't wait to read what you come up with.

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 20, 2015:

Good for Maureen for throwing that philandering b***tard out! Can't wait for the next installment. I'm still working on my prompt. I have an idea and it is a lot of fun, but challenging.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 20, 2015:

Thanks for reading Nell. Your right, Frank hasn't been the nicest husband. I thought I had fixed those typos but I mustn't have saved the changes...hopefully fixed now. I should have the final chapter published soon. hopefully it isn't too predictable.

Nell Rose from England on January 19, 2015:

Hi Jodah, I was just getting into it and...love this story, sad, scary and I think I know what's coming next, but are you going to surprise us? I hope she doesn't take that horrible husband back, just when she needed him! really enjoying this, looking forward to the next installment! and yes I noticed the typos too! lol! and your answers!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 19, 2015:

Thank you for that comment missirupp. You have made me reconsider my previous statement. I know I for one always used to enjoy stories that came in installments eg." The Green Mile" by Stephen King. It was published as "novelettes." I tend to get bored or avoid hubs that seem too long, so i personally try to keep mine under 1500 words. I made my last statement after reading the advice on another hub my a noted fiction story writer and a lot of the comments it had. Thanks for offering another opinion. I think it was "Pickwick Papers" that Dickens wrote his installments in.

missirupp on January 19, 2015:

I disagree about not splitting up the story. I was thinking about how Charles Dickens used to write his stories in installments--as did many other authors in the old days. It would be weeks or months before people could read them. I think this sort of story telling should be an art we bring back ,and would be successful, because in our world today, we get everything we want right when we want it (I can watch an entire season of any show on Netflix over the weekend and so on). I think people miss suspense.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 19, 2015:

Thanks for reading missirupp. I like the nostalgic pics from the 50s and 60s (though often very sexist). Glad you enjoyed this, next chapter isn't far away. I have since read advice saying that you shouldn't split a story into separate hubs because it upsets your readers..oh well..in future.

missirupp on January 19, 2015:

Good read. Looking forward to the next installment. I enjoy the pictures that go along with this story. They remind me of my mother's 1950s Betty Crocker Picture Book.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 18, 2015:

Thanks Ann, you are too kind. Working on chapter three as we speak. Hope it doesn't disappoint.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 18, 2015:

Thanks Jamie, glad you are enjoying this. Part three shouldn't be far away. I didn't know this story would developed so far.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 18, 2015:

Oh, the suspense! You are such a good writer; we're all waiting for the next chapter. What with your poetry and these amazing stories....!

Great stuff, John.


Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on January 18, 2015:

What a great story. I love the way you presented the story and it was well written. Jamie

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 17, 2015:

This doesn't sound like good news for the old gal. I sure wish she had had a fling of her own. Now she's a sad deserted housewife on Christmas Eve about to find out her son is dead.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 17, 2015:

Thanks Faith...nope not deleting. I love it when people point out silly errors to me, it proves they read the hub and that they care. I much prefer this honesty then finding the mistakes months later myself. I appreciate you. Oh, and my weekend is relaxing, hope yours is good.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 17, 2015:

Thanks for the great comment Faith. I feel sorry for Maureen myself

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 17, 2015:

Sorry to disappoint you by ending the story Ruby, just when it was getting interesting

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 17, 2015:

Oops, John, you can delete this comment. You have a typo there after where you state "tryout" ome of her new outfits, I believe you meant "one" of her new outfits. Then further down, when she burst into tear, shouldn't it be tears.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on January 17, 2015:

Oh, this is a true depiction of what happens far too often in marriages, sadly. I am fearful of what is coming next for poor Maureen. You are wise to save all your stories and when the moment hits, to give them new life and share with others.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 17, 2015:

Shucks, just when I wanted Maureen to divorve the B and go out and meet someone, you stopped. Ok, I know it will be continued. Loved your story John. Tweeted..

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 17, 2015:

Thanks Eric, much appreciated.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on January 17, 2015:

Fantastic. Boy did this scenario play out a whole bunch in our 70's and you bring it right back to life as vivid as ever. Great job.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 17, 2015:

Shauna, your intuition may be right...then again, you'll just have to wait for part 3 to find out. Thanks for reading.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 17, 2015:

Uh oh. I think I know what's coming next. What will Maureen do when she learns the news? What will become of her? And Frank? Will we see his true colors?

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 16, 2015:

Hey Bill...I am quite frugal and don't like to throw anything away...even old stories can be reused an improved on. Glad you think it worked. I much appreciate your kind comment.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 16, 2015:

I love that you took an old story that was just sitting around, you tweaked it, polished it up, and declared to the world that it is now ready for review...and it is....and I love it!!!!!

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