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Terry Moore: “My Husband’s A Fast Worker!”

“Gee, it’s good to be home,” said Gene McGrath.

Terry Moore, his wife, flopped down on a huge sofa beside him and looked around at the apartment, a modest twelve-room, two-storied affair in the middle of Caracas, Venezuela. “Yeah,” she said. “Only this is the third home I’ve come home to in the last two days! And only two days ago I was in Hollywood, and in another two days I have to be there again.”

“Just like last week,” said Gene.

“And the week before. And the week before that.”

Gene kissed her. “This,” he said, “is what you get for picking me up at that party.”

“Picking you up,” said Terry. “We were formally introduced and I couldn’t get rid of you.”

“Same thing,” grinned Gene. “I was irresistible. Admit it.”

“Persistent!” said Terry. “That’s what you were. The most persistent man I ever met, and the fastest worker.”

“And irresistible,” said Gene.

Terry kissed him on the nose. “Persistent!” she said. “And maybe just a little irresistible—just a little.”

She stretched out on the couch and thought about it.

It had been at a run-of-the-mill Hollywood party. Terry was with her mother. Her eyes idly skimmed the crowd and finally focused on a tall, well-built young man in his early thirties leaning against a wall near a potted plant at the far side of the room. He had wavy dark hair and soft brown eyes and wore a conservative grey ivy league suit. He held a drink of ginger ale in his hand. Terry looked him over carefully until she came to his eyes. They were staring intently—at her. Terry blushed a little and turned away. She looked back after a moment and the man was still staring. Terry turned away and went to sit with her mother. In a moment John Wayne was by her side, the young man in tow.

“I’d like to present a friend,” Wayne said. “Mrs. Koford, this is Eugene McGrath—and this is Terry Moore.”

“How do you do?” said McGrath, and sat down beside Terry without being asked. “You’re a very pretty girl,” he said.

“Thank you,” said Terry.

“Now that the formalities are over with,” said Gene, “let’s get out of here and have dinner.”

Terry tried to glare. “We just met thirty seconds ago.”

“Wasn’t it wonderful,” said Gene.

Terry gazed at him pop-eyed. “I’m not in the habit of running away from a party right after I’ve arrived,” she said, “nor of dining with total strangers.”

“I’ll get your wrap,” Gene said.

Twenty minutes later Terry Moore, Mrs. Koford and Gene McGrath were seated at a small table in a Beverly Hills restaurant. Terry’s expression of offended dignity had changed to one of glassy-eyed confusion.

“Look,” said Gene, “I have an idea. Today is Thursday. Why don’t you both have dinner at my house Saturday night?”

Terry exchanged glances with her mother. “I suppose it will be all right,” she said. “Where do you live?”

“Panama,” said Gene. “I’ll get the tickets in the morning.”

“Panama?” asked Terry. “Panama! What tickets?”

“The airplane tickets,” said Gene. “You can’t take a taxi, you know. I want you to meet my mother and my brothers.”

“What for?” asked Terry.

“Oh, you know how families are,” said Gene.

He fell to with the Chow Mein—and Terry and her mother both sat with their mouths agape. Finally Terry managed to sputter a protest.

“It’s insane,” she said. “I have to be at work Monday morning.”

“You’ll make it in plenty of time,” said Gene, “Would you pour me some tea?”

Terry poured the tea.

A home in every port

It was an elegant dinner that Saturday night. The glass doors to the dining room of Gene McGrath’s house were open to admit a small breeze. The table was graced with slim candles in crystal holders and white linen and gleaming silver. Seated, eating a meal that was an epicure’s delight were Terry, her mother, Gene and his brother Bob and his wife. Every once in a while Terry would block her ears to the dinner conversation and calculate back on the last forty-eight hours. Almost as though they had been under hypnosis she and her mother had packed and boarded a plane at Los Angeles International Airport and suddenly they had shaken off the spell and found themselves walking into a dining room more than two thousand miles away from home. “How did this happen?” she had whispered to her mother. “Don’t ask me,” said Mrs. Koford. “I’m not even sure I’m here.”

Gene McGrath’s voice broke into her reverie. “What time do you have to be at work on Monday?” he asked.

“Oh,” said Terry, “my call has been cancelled.”

“Good,” said Gene. “It will give me a chance to show you my apartment.”

Terry looked around the room. “You mean,” she said, “you keep this house and an apartment, too?”

“Two,” said Gene. “I’ll show you the one in Caracas first.”

Caracas?” said Terry. “That’s in South America!”

“You know your geography,” said Gene.

“I suppose,” said Terry, “your other apartment is in Africa.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Gene. “It’s in New York.”

Terry put down her fork and got up. “Mister McGrath,” she said, “may I have a word with you on the terrace?”

Gene rose. “By all means,” he said.

Who are you?

There is no night for conversation like a night in the tropics. Terry led Gene to a low wall at the edge of the terrace.

“Now,” she said, “who are you?”

“I’m McGrath,” said Gene. “You remember. John Wayne introduced us at a party a couple of days ago.”

“I don’t mean that,” said Terry. “I mean who are you? What do you do? Are you an American? Are you a Panamanian? What do you do? Are you a burglar? And last but not least, how did you hypnotize me and my mother and drag us down here? And why?”

“Well,” said Gene, sitting on the wall, “I’m an American. I was born in Panama and I live here most of the time. I operate an insurance company—a very profitable one. I deal in stocks, bonds and real estate in Central America, South America and the United States on the side. I am thirty-four years old. I have a few dollars put away. I am not a burglar. I didn’t hypnotize you. And my intentions are honorable. I wouldn’t have brought you here without your mother. Now let’s go finish dinner.”

Terry Moore had been home from Panama and South America just three days, via New York where she had inspected the New York suite, when early one morning the doorbell rang. She answered it to find a florist delivery man staggering under a huge bouquet of red roses. The man lugged them inside and put them on a table, and when he had gone she read the note attached. “Pick you up in an hour for breakfast (signed) Gene,” it said.

And in an hour he was there.

A little matter of business

“What are you doing in Hollywood?” Terry said at the door.

“I had to come up on some personal business,” Gene said. “It will take about three weeks, I think. We’ll spend a lot of time together. Come on, let’s go.”

Terry started to follow him out but halted on the doorstep. “Just a minute,” she said. “Where are we going this time?”

“Just into Beverly Hills,” Gene grinned.

“California?” asked Terry.

“Of course,” said Gene.

“Okay,” said Terry, closing the door behind her. “I’ve found out recently a girl has to ask these things.”

The next three weeks were happy ones. They were parties, quiet dinners, happy lunches, and evenings just sitting before a fire at home. Although Terry and Gene were well past the stranger stage Mrs. Koford generally went along—a bow, no doubt, to Gene’s adhesion to the Spanish custom of chaperoned dates unless a couple were engaged. Once or twice Gene had kissed her a tender good night on the porch, and as the days passed Terry found herself watching his face when he was unaware of it and searching the warm brown of his eyes. Christmas came and they all went shopping—and under the tree at Terry’s home they exchanged gifts. Early on the morning of New Year’s Eve Gene came over.

“Let’s all go up to Las Vegas for the New Year,” he said to Terry and her parents.

“Is your business here finished?”

“Almost,” Gene said.

New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas was something. It seemed as though all of California was there—and Terry, Gene and the Kofords did all the clubs and casinos and shows. It was dawn when they got back to their hotel. Gene took Terry’s face in his hands and kissed her gently. “Sleep well,” he said. “I’ll call for you late tomorrow.”

“Good night,” said Terry.

She was dressed and waiting when Gene came by the next afternoon. He had a dapper, silver-haired man with him.

“This is Terry Moore,” Gene said. “Terry, meet Wilbur Clark, my best man.”

“How do you do,” said Terry. Then she sat down quickly and caught her breath. “Your best what?” she gasped.

“Best man,” said Gene. “You can’t get married without a best man.”

“Who’s getting married?” said Terry. “You?”

“Both of us, silly,” said Gene. “Come on, get your folks and hurry up. I’ve got everything arranged.”

Tears sprung into Terry’s eyes. She grabbed Gene by the sleeve of his coat. “Excuse us a minute, Mr. Clark,” she said, “I want a word with Mr. McGrath.”

She pulled him into a hallway and clung to Gene’s lapels.

“You are a terrible man,” she sobbed. “You come barging in here and out of the blue you tell me we’re getting married. You haven’t even proposed to me.”

Gene held her close, his lips against her ear. “Yes, I did,” he whispered.

“I don’t remember,” Terry sobbed. “I guess I’d remember a thing like that.”

“It was at that party,” said Gene. “The first time I met you. I looked across the room and proposed to you. And you turned your head away and blushed.”

“And what was all this talk about having some personal business here when you came up three weeks ago?” said Terry. “I suppose that was a lie, too.”

“No,” said Gene, “it was the truth. And if we hurry it will be finished in about half an hour.”

And for the first time, in that dark hallway in Las Vegas, he kissed her properly.

Terry—the world traveler

Back in the apartment in Caracas, Terry Moore McGrath sighed and opened her eyes. Next to her, Gene was reading a paper. She gave a malevolent glare.

“You did too hypnotize us,” she said.

“Finish your nap,” Gene said. “Dinner will be ready in half an hour.”

Terry turned her head away from the light and shut her eyes. To get here, to this sofa in Caracas, she had spent almost twenty-four hours in an airplane, had had breakfast in Guatamala, lunch in San Salvador, supper in Nicaragua and late dinner with Gene in Panama. She had had two suitcases perpetually packed for months, ready for her weekend flights home. To her four homes. She never unpacked them. She had been through customs, passport bureaus, typhoid shots, snowstorms and hurricanes. Sometimes she felt more like a sack of mail than anything else—she had to go through, no matter what. But after all, how many girls had four beautiful homes—with a handsome husband in each? How many girls got to go round the world once a week? How many girls who never heard of Eugene McGrath one short year ago were married to him today? Terry blinked.

“You cast a spell on me,” she muttered sleepily. From the looks of her, curled up in a contented, well-traveled little ball, she didn’t seem to mind.



Terry Moore will soon appear in the 20th Century-Fox film Between Heaven And Hell.



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