I confess that I spent more than 25 minutes on this story written for OLWG#86, but it didn’t feel like it was that long. I did almost no editing so its pretty raw. Sorry ’bout that.
I clutched her tight, pulled up to my chest and kept my feet moving from side to side. She slept, her feet on top of mine; her head rolling languidly on my shoulder. She had told me that her name was Bea. The band played on.
I met Bea two days ago when I rolled into this small smoky Pennsylvania town looking for work, hoping to get a job at the mill. I had stopped into a diner for a cup of coffee. Bea was the counter girl. She was pretty and I divided my attention betwixt watching her and reading the bill of fare chalked on the blackboard above the window where the cooks put the orders up. She was refilling coffees and making small talk with the punters, who all seemed to be regulars. She knew each of them by name.
When she got to me she introduced herself. Smiling crookedly she said, “Hi, My name’s Bea,” to reinforce it; she pointed to the nametag pinned on the breast of her cute pink and white waitress uniform, “In case you forget, it’s printed right here.”
“Nice to meet you Bea,” I stuck out my hand and she took it, “Name’s Earl.”
The handshake lasted a little longer than was absolutely necessary. She held the stainless steel orb of a coffee pot in her left hand and I stared into her eyes, green with flecks of copper colours in the iris’. Finally, she broke the reverie, “Coffee?”
“You want some coffee, Earl?”
We released each other and I shook my head, the trance broken, “Oh, yeah. I mean, yes, please.” She giggled and poured before moving on.
I didn’t want to leave. She kept coming by to refill my cup and each time we’d exchange a few pleasantries. I ordered a slice of peach pie and when she sat it down she stopped and seemed to be considering something. She put her elbows on the counter and leaned towards me. I could see the tops of her breasts and the beginnings of a white lacy brassiere.
“Are you a dancer, Earl?” she asked.
“Not a very good one, Miss Bea,” I answered, “but I’m very enthusiastic. Are you asking me to a dance?”
She flashed that crooked smile again but before she could reply, the fat old geezer with the stringy grey hair called out to her, “Hey Bea, can I get some more coffee down here?”
She looked down the counter, “Keep yer pants on, Mr Fredricks, I’m coming.” She looked back at me and ordered, “Don’t go anywhere.”
I held both my hands up, in surrender and watched her walk away. When she came back she picked up where she had left off. “I think I am asking you to a dance, Earl. You look like a strong guy and there’s a dance contest tomorrow at the Elks Club. It’s gonna be one of those marathon dance contests. Costs two dollars apiece to enter but there’s prize money.”
“How much prize money?”
“That depends on how many contestants they get, but they say it’ll be at least a hundred dollars. I got four dollars to get us in and I could use that prize money, couldn’t you? We could split it 50- 50 and you could pay me back your two dollar entry fee when we win. Look around you, Earl. None of these other guys would last two hours. You’re the best chance I got.”
She had stated her case and now she watched me for a reaction. Her green and copper eyes were pleading. What could I do? “A ‘course, I’ll go dancing with you, Miss Bea. ‘Course I will.”
We spent another twenty minutes or so working out the logistics. She gave me her address and we agreed that I would come to her house the next day at noon and pick her up to take her to the Elks Club. That would give us time to register and get ready. The contest was set to begin at 1:00 o’clock.”
That was two days ago. There was thirty-three couples entered into the contest. Bea and I were couple number seventeen and we both wore those numbers on cloth bands wrapped around our upper arms. She was still asleep, standing on my feet with her head on my shoulder and I was shuffling around the floor. We got a three minute break every hour to go to the bathroom or splash water on our faces or grab a bite of a sandwich or a swig of pop. When the bell rang that signified our 52nd hour of dancing I shook Bea a little to wake her up.
“Its break time, Bea,” I told her, “Go take a load off. I’ll bring you a Coca Cola.” I watched her move towards the folding chairs against the wall and I headed to the refreshment table to pick up a couple of cold drinks.
“You’re a real trooper, Earl. How you holding up?” She asked as I handed her the pop.
“My dogs are barking, Miss Bea. I’m pretty tired but the competition is thinning. Number twenty-nine dropped out while you were asleep so that means there’s only seven teams left. I think we got a shot at this.”
She flashed that crooked smile again and her eyes sparkled. I knew then that I would dance with Miss Bea till I dropped. We were gonna bring this thing in.
This week’s prompts were:
- she smiled crookedly
- at least a hundred
- dogs are barking
The “dogs are barking” prompt is the one that snagged my attention this morning. The story grew from that one.