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Shadows and Dancing [ - ]
by OakHillsDrive
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Author's Notes:

     "Laura,"  said a young man talking on the pay phone.  He seemed a little disheveled and not exactly happy about talking to the person on the other end of the line.  "I know.  I'll be home when I get there.  The guys invited me out for some drinks, so I won't be home until late."  He tried to get a word in, but the woman on the other end of the line wouldn't stop talking.  "Like I said," he interjected. "I'll be home when I get there."  He banged the receiver down without a goodbye.

     She's driving me nuts, he thought to himself.  Why won't she just leave me alone for two seconds? 

     Brandon held on to the receiver for a few minutes as he tried to push his anger and frustration out of his mind.  He couldn't get his wife's face out of his head.  Things had been rough lately and her shortness with him hadn't exactly made things any easier.  He'd been forced to take a new job at work and traveling, almost daily, was a big part of the new position.  When he got home after days of being on the road, all he wanted to do was rest and relax, but instead he always walked into an earful.  The kids, the house, the bills, the chores she needed him to get done.  Why was it that she could never just let him relax?  He felt like he was working, rushing, just barely surviving twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  Every chance he had to get out with his buddies was a small chance at freedom.  He hated feeling that way when he thought about her, but she had turned into a package deal:  all the frustration and none of the happiness. 

     How did we get here?  He stroked the back of the receiver.  Life and a love aren't supposed to be like this, are they?

     "Brandon!"  Steve yelled from the lobby.

     Brandon woke up from his daydreaming and walked over to join his group.

     "Ready to go?"  One of them asked.

     "Sure," he said patting his chest.  "Oh my gosh, I left my jacket at our table back in the restaurant.  You guys go ahead, I'll meet you there."

     "You sure you don't want us to wait?" 

     "Nah, I'll be there in two shakes."  He watched his buddies leave through the lobby doors and then brushed his hand on his chest again.

     Oh, my jacket.  Turning on his heels, he walked over to the concierge's station. 

     "Can I help you?"  The concierge asked looking up sweetly from the computer.  One of her red curls hung down at her cheek.

     "Yes, I hope so.   Has anyone turned in a jacket?   My friends and I were eating in the restaurant about an hour ago and I think I forgot it there."

     "Why, no sir.  I haven't seen one."  She said as glanced under the counter disappointingly.  "The restaurant is closed now, but you're more than welcomed to go in and have a look for yourself."


     Within a few quick steps, he was making his way down the short hallway that led to the darkened restaurant.  In front of the opening was a large easel chalkboard with a "CLOSED" sign hung over the "Specials of the Day."  He sidestepped the sign and walked into the dimly lit room.  Making his way through the maze of chairs, he was able to feel his way to the booth he and his buddies has shared just a short time before.  With the help of the EXIT lights, he had just enough light to get where he needed to be without tripping over chairs and tables. 

As he arrived at the dark corner of the room, where his booth sat, he reached over the seats and felt the neck of his jacket that had slid between the seat and the table.  As he felt the cloth firmly between his fingers, he started to pull himself back into a standing position.  It wasn't until he put the jacket over his arm, that he realized he was not alone.  Looking forward,  a shadow was cast over him.  He turned slowly and noticed the shadow continued to glide past him in slow graceful movements.

     He was tempted to yell out, to let someone know that he was there, but found himself unable to speak.  The shadow was moving too softly to be menacing.  He decided, instead, to investigate.  He walked out of the dark corner and followed the shadow until he was within a few tables of the restaurant's dance floor.  As the shadow moved across the floor, the moon coming through the picture window revealed the silhouette of a couple dancing in it's light.

     Brandon, caught by surprise, started to step back so that he wouldn't disturb them, but then realized there was something missing from this scene.  It was oddly. . . quiet. There was no music playing.  The band had left a half hour before.  Sitting there in his curious state, he noticed that even without music, they seemed to be dancing to the same silent song.   He moved back into the darkness and took a seat.   As the quiet music played on, he marvelled at how in brief moments their shadows appeared to be that of one person.   In other moments, he couldn't tell where the woman's hand ended and where her partner's began.  Their faces were barely distinguishable except for the twinkle the moonlight played off their eyes and their smiles.

     Sitting there watching this couple, Brandon wondered what it was about them, about their lives that could make them so happy.  So happy to be dancing together here in the silence.  To the outside world, they might look like just any ordinary pair, but here on the dance floor a magic spell seemed to be cast over them.  

      In the dim light, he could tell she was blonde,  slender and very graceful.  The gentleman seemed muscular but not in a domineering way.  He looked very protective of his prize and gentle all the same.

     As they danced, the man took the woman's hand and lifted it above her head. With his other hand on her slim waist, he gave her a gentle push. As she slowly twirled around him, a sparkle could be seen as the dim light bounced off the new ring on her left hand. The twirling stopped and she landed safely once again in his arms.  He hugged her from behind placing a soft peck on her cheek.  He slowly spun her out again and then quickly pulled her toward him.  He led her in his trademark quick spin and then dipped her with as much Fred Astaire grace as he could muster.  As he readjusted his footing to pull her back up, the hem of her dress got caught under his shoe.  They both fell to the floor, out of reach of the moonlight.

     In the dark, they laughed out loud.

     Brandon raised up a little in his chair trying to get a look at the couple.

     "Angela, are you okay?"  The man asked, trying to stop laughing as he got to his feet.

     "I'm fine.  I think the only thing hurting now is my pride,"  she said with a giggle.

     He helped her to her feet and pulled her in close to him.  He placed both his arms around her waist and she placed both her hands behind his neck.  They started dancing once again to the silent orchestra playing "Moon River."

     Somehow the invisible music filled the room and Brandon could feel it too.  The song was no longer just apart of this couple but also apart of Brandon's own memories.  He closed his eyes for a second and thought about the last time he and Laura had danced this way.  How long had it been?  Five, six years ago?  The anger that he felt earlier now seemed to disappear into the floor with every step this couple took. 

     They make love look so easy.  He said to himself.  Either this couple has it all or they have really gone to alot of effort to make it look like a fairy tale.  He was tempted to interrupt them, to ask their secret, but as he started to stand up he  heard her giggle once again.  It looked as though the man was whispering something in her ear.  When her giggle  was over, she pulled back a little and stopped.  Even in the dark, Brandon could feel the love beaming between them.  The man turned his head and the silhouette of his broken nose became very apparent.  "Angela"  looked into the man's eyes and they both leaned into each other for a kiss. 

     Brandon turned his eyes and started to make his way back out of the restaurant.  Watching them dance was one thing, but kissing... that was something private.   Kissing was something else.   As he left the restaurant and turned down the hall, he thought about "Angela" and the Broken-Nosed Man.  He wondered what it was about them that could possibly make them so happy.

     "Did you find your jacket?"  Brandon turned to see the concierge calling to him.

     "Yes, ma'am.  Thanks."  He turned to leave and then thought twice.  "Oh, by the way, ma'am.  I just thought you should know there's a couple back in the restaurant dancing.

     "Oh yeah I should have warned you.  Don't worry.  That's Tony and Angela.  They got married three days ago and they're here on their honeymoon.   Every night since they arrived, they've stayed until way after closing.  Nobody seems to be able to get them to leave."

     It seemed so unbelievable that this couple who moved so effortlessly together where only married just a few days before.

     "Wow.  They sure look good together,"  Brandon said with a quiver in his voice.

     "Yes, they do.  Please don't tell anybody, but I found myself watching them last night, too.  Did you know they were friends for seven years before they finally found the courage to tell each other how the felt?"

     "How do you know that?"

     "They told me when they checked in.  They were so happy to finally be married that they were telling everyone their story."

     "Sure sounds like they're happy."

     "Sure does."

     "I wonder how they do it.  I mean being newly weds could make anyone happy, but to still be happy after all these years they've spent together?"



     "I asked them the same question myself.  They told me it was all about the dancing."

     Brandon smiled at the concierge and started to walk out the front door of the lobby.  Before the doors closed behind him, he had turned back around and was walking back in.

     "Did you forget something else?"  The young woman asked.

     "Yes, I forgot to make a phone call."

     He walked over to the bank of telephones and place a few coins in the slot.  The phone rang twice and a woman answered.

     "Laura," he said.  "I just wanted to let you know that I changed my mind about going out with the guys.  I'll be home in about twenty minutes."

     "What's your hurry?" She asked, still angry from their previous conversation.

     "I just realized it's been a while since we danced."

     "What?"  She asked in surprise.

     "I love you, I'll see you soon."  He hung up the phone once again without saying goodbye.  This time, as he touched the back of the receiver, a smile came to his face and a few notes of music left his lips.  ". . .Moon River and me."