My book of quick love stories, “Descending the Beanstalk,” is free on Amazon no through Monday at midnight.
Contained in this collection is the piece titled, “Working on mysteries,” which takes you back to young love, and impending loss, and who’s title pays homage to the music of the time, in this case Bob Seger.
I hope you enjoy!
Working on mysteries
It was music that had first attracted them to each other.
When with his friends, the barrage of “Back in Black” and “Running with the Devil” was non-stop. In the quieter moments, alone in his room with the headset tethering him to the avocado green stereo by a twisted twelve-foot cord, or cruising in the Duster with its soon-to-be antiquated 8-track system, it was more along the lines of “Shower the People” and “Night Moves”. It was this side of him that she liked.
They’d been at the same party. He was deep into the debate – he probably started it – and she was orbiting the cluster of the half dozen people involved in the post-adolescent, six pack greased, discussion centered on all things musical: best vocalist, lead guitarist, drummer, bassist, studio album, live album, album cover, rock song, concert, and radio station.
He spoke with his hands, with pull-tabs from his empties slid onto the little finger of his drinking hand, and waving the black and orange can to emphasize the fact that they would never hear anything better than “Stairway to Heaven” and twenty years later he’d continue to make the same case.
The kid piloting the turntable switched gears and the mood of the fluorescent lit, wood paneled, basement rec room moved from way up there to way down here. It was time to migrate from Van Halen to Boz Scaggs.
Conversation moved to best slow songs and ‘mellow’ was the word they used. Perched on the arm of a tweed-covered easy chair he extolled the virtues of Bonnie Raitt’s voice and James Taylor’s lyrics – and it was from that point she was hooked.
The lights were dimmed, and candles lit to match the mood of the tunes, changing the color of the paneling from chocolate to honey. Amidst the flickering light the pairing-off began and the party became the beginning of a slow dance marathon. His friends were swaying with their dates, or with girls they’d been silently stalking since the school year began a month prior, but he had neither. Alone with his beer, and trying to find another solo act on which to latch, she came from behind him, slid his hand from his back pocket, and led him to the makeshift dance floor – which was actually the orange shag carpeted space between the sectional couch and the combination console television set and hi-fi system.
His heart rate increased, and the sweat of his palms mixed with the condensation of the beer can that he hurriedly placed on a macramé coaster. When he stood and turned she was directly in front of him. They inched toward each other and first their thighs met, then just above – causing her to smile, or something like it. Finally, as she put her arms around his neck and pulled him in she softly rubbed her breasts against him. Their noses and then foreheads were last to meet, just as their eyes closed and his thumbs hooked into her back belt loops.
He’d like to remember the song that was playing, or whether it was a Friday or a Saturday night, but he can’t. She could, and over the years had often helped him with his memory.
The memory of that first physical contact had pushed the rest of it out of his head, not that there wasn’t room, but because he knew that he had to fight to keep it in and he couldn’t face losing it: the motion of the thighs (the metronome of one rubbing up while the other down) and the hips (and the pressure against the inside of the Levi’s) and the breasts (her gentle swirling motion pressed her sweater along his) and finally the lips and tongue (soft and smooth and tasting of a cross between Crest and strawberry lip gloss).
He had allowed her to have the day of the week and the title of the song, for he’d mistakenly believed that those memories were not essential; he had always wanted the others. And now, ever since the accident stole her from him, he still achingly searches for all of them when he closes his eyes.