About Us

Contact Us


The 21st Century

Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters
Lifestyles 1
Lifestyles 2

The International Writers Magazine

Richard Meyers

Soon they were spinning under the dazzling chandelier, gyrating with easeful steps and pure spirals

Alfred Morris could feel that the interview was not going well. Mr. Johnson asked for references, and Alfred's voice vanished. As Mr. Johnson reached over and took the job application from Alfred's hands, Alfred's heart pounded, and his legs ached to run like the boy in his nightmares who flailed in choking corridors of office buildings.
"You mean you have no letters of recommendations?"

Mr. Johnson's probing words pumped stress and doubt into Alfred's veins as he walked past his old high school. Teenagers were lingering in the schoolyard, heads cocked with a feigned confidence. He was thirty years old and he still lived in the old neighborhood. It was discouraging to think that his two years in the Peace Corps in Africa hadn't made much difference in his life.

Where were the letters of recommendations he wondered and searched his suit pockets. The inside pocket contained two curious postcards sent to him from a friend who had remained working in Sierra Leone. The vest pockets were bulging with debris and tangles of string, dental floss and a tiny tin box of Sensens to freshen his breath. His inside vest pocket bulged with everything you might look for in the pockets of thoughtless schoolboys. He thought that perhaps it was his untidy appearance that had turned the job interview so sour. His hands explored all his pockets as he thought about the job he really never wanted. There ought to be some connection, he thought, between the things he never wanted, the objects he had shoplifted or randomly found and those things he lost. Was it just coincidental? Pocket knives and key chains, rings and cigarette cases were examples of those superfluous, faintly wanted things that seemed to have a way of their own of disappearing. Fumbling fingers probed his pockets for the Pez dispenser he found in Thompson Park last week. Yes, he mused, you see, it's gone.

Often he'd find in his pockets little shreds of memories of moments he had wanted to embrace but never quite could-telephone numbers he never called, a plane ticket to Morocco he never used, Museum tickets and lecture passes, debris of evidence of missed opportunities. For twelve years now he had kept in his wallet next to the unused credit cards a ticket stub from the Bijou Ballroom where he had wanted but never found the confidence to ask Mary McDonnel for a dance. Years ago Alfred had stumbled across the ballroom floor under musical chandeliers, and just inches away from Mary, he had lost his nerve, frozen clumsily and exited the dance hall, ashamed and dejected.

It was Friday night and the weekend lay ahead before his Monday interview as editor for the Scranton News Service, a job he knew he wanted. Peering at the old ballroom ticket stub, he boarded a trolley downtown to the Bijou. Much to his surprise the ballroom was still operating, in fact, this night there was a dance featuring Ray Delrosa and his five-piece band. Alfred furtively climbed the stairs and gazed across the unpopulated ballroom. Nothing had really changed. The floors were still waxed slippery, the stage with its gaudy décor still looked like an unsteady boat on stilts. Across the ballroom Alfred saw a gathering of men and women, more or less his age. Ray Delrosa stepped up on the stage with his saxophone, and the orchestra joined in a romantic slow number. He watched the figures fidgeting, hesitating on the verge of the dance. Alfred walked alongside the few couples dancing. And there standing against the far wall were two women and one of them was Mary McDonnel. The song was Nat King Cole's "Answer Me", a melody that had haunted Alfred all his life. Mary hadn't changed really, except for a face more sharply angled and a few more pounds around the waist. She still had that radiant smiling face. Once again he was caught in the nervous spell, and he stumbled on hesitant feet across the ballroom. The chandelier sparkled and dazzled his squinting eyes. He inched his way towards Mary; clumsily his feet froze, but his mouth managed the words that he had so long repressed, "Mary, it's Alfred. Alfred Morris. Would you like to dance? With me, I mean?"

Mary McDonnel consented. The two walked out under the lights onto the dance floor. Stumbling at first, he could not remember which foot to lead with. Mary pulled him in closer and guided him with the angling of her hips. Moments later he was finding his way back into the memory of rhythms. Soon they were spinning under the dazzling chandelier, gyrating with easeful steps and pure spirals. He felt so tender towards the whole world and both Alfred and Mary were caught in that circle of earthly delight, understanding each other perfectly without the use of words. Old gestures of awkward and forgetful character seemed to flake off. Warm and human, he lost himself in the music of Ray Delrosa's Orchestra. For the final number of the evening, the musicians chose another Nat King Cole favorite, "Unforgettable." Dancing delightfully the ballroom floor, Alfred imagined that the chandelier was a shower of meteors twirling and piercing through the black amnesias of his past life. Alfred found on the dance floor with Mary lost moments retrieved.

On Monday morning he awoke eager for the interview for the Scranton News editorial position. He dressed carefully, putting on his navy blue corduroy suit, and he looked approvingly at himself in the mirror. On his way out the door, he reached into the jacket pocket and found four envelopes containing the letters of recommendations. The morning went smoothly and after being hired and filling out the papers, he thought to himself, "The letters. They were here all the time." Alfred examined the letters with some curious delight. Returning the letters to his pocket, he found a crumbled scrap of paper with a phone number scribbled on it. He searched his memory and discovered that the number was Mary McDonnel's telephone number. She had given it to him years ago; he had had it all the time.

© Richard Meyers March 2004

See also

Sweetened Memory


Dreamscapes Fiction Archives


© Hackwriters 2000-2004 all rights reserved