Georgie sure loves to dance! Said his lil’ sis taught him when they were in junior high. She’d pull him into their parlor and show him all the latest moves. She’s a real hoofer. When she learned the Jitterbug she took him to the center of the room where Georgie pulled up the carpet and they bounced and slid across that hardwood floor like it were ice. He’s no dud; his sis talked him into entering a local contest and they took first prize. He’s won dozens of trophies, and he’s the real deal—I’ve seen him dance, he tears up the floor!
I take a drag on my cig and notice Emmy Lou’s walking over to me. She looks real hot, with her shiny black curls hanging down and her blue gown shimmering. Just last week I told her blue’s my favorite color. She’s the bees knees tonight, with a big purple sash around her waist—can’t miss how tiny she is. I could put both hands around, and still have them touch. Yeah, Emmy Lou is one sweet honey!
“You look swell,” I say, as she slips her arm through mine. I lead us over to where Cab Calloway is singing. His band is playing Jumpin’ Jive, and the place is packed. Georgie’s smack dab in the middle of the floor, and he’s got a real looker with him. She’s all red hair and wearing a pink satin dress. It falls down her knees with a huge round skirt that floats like a parachute. She’s a flashing neon sign, I think, as she swirls like a bright comet toward us.
A circle’s formed around them, and we have to shove our way through. “He’s really something,” I say. “The crowd’s going bonkers!”
Just then, Georgie swings the redhead in our direction, jumping and jiving like a live wire.
“Check out that skirt,” Emmy Lou gushes. “It’s flared out like a big pink umbrella!” She’s got her arm laced through mine, close and cozy, and she‘s swaying to the music. “Love how he holds her—even while he’s flying. Look!”
Suddenly, Georgie jumps sky high and does this huge horse-leap. It’s like he’s got wings! The crowd explodes and claps thunderously.
“Holy Mackerel, he’s good!”
I smile and nod. “I’ve seen that move before. It’s what he calls his Gambado—won a lot of contests with that. He’s a real pro.”
The crowd’s still applauding. Georgie’s redhead stops dancing, runs her hand through her hair, and drawls, “Well, I’ll be!” Then she grabs his hand and finishes off the dance with a kick. Cab beams down at us from the stage where he’s had a bird’s eye view of this amazing performance.
“That pistol sure can dance!” Sarge says, as he leads his gal Betty over to us. Sarge is usually stingy with compliments and nothing seems to impress him. But I can see he thinks Georgie aced it with that Jitterbug. “I’m electrified,” he says, as he pulls out a cig. “That was one dynamite stunt.”
Meanwhile, the band strikes up a new song. Cab Calloway, the Hi-De-Ho man, is energetically singing “St. James Infirmary”. You can feel the music in your veins it’s so liquid. I grab Emmy Lou and take her out on the floor to dance.
I hold her close and feel jolts of desire, she’s just so perfect. I’m crushing her against me and swaying to the music.
“We should really be taking lessons from him,” I say, nodding at Georgie.
Emmy Lou smiles and throws her arms around me, pulling me close. “You’re not too bad yourself, private. You give a gal a good run for her money.”
My cheeks grow warm. I love to dance, but I know there are better dancers, like Georgie. But Emmy Lou is like syrup in my arms—and just as sweet. I could dance with her until the sun comes up, and then some.
The song ends, and I can’t think of anything to say, so I just hold her close. She’s driving me crazy. All I can think about is how good she smells. “You’re fresh like lilacs,” I say, as I lightly brush her arms.
She smiles up at me. I’m almost a head taller, and she snuggles right under my chin. I’m so in tune with her that I could stay locked like this, just moving rhythmically, until the band goes home. I can’t believe we’re breaking camp tomorrow. I don’t know when I’ll get to hold Emmy Lou again. This fucking war is just bad timing, why’d I have to fall in love now? It’ll be forever before I get back to Tulsa.
She tucks her head on my shoulder and I whisper, “Goodbye, angel.” I shiver, and get an eerie feeling this’ll be the last time I’ll see Emmy Lou, but I quickly brush the thought aside. The music stops playing, and I take a deep breath and promise myself I’ll be back when the Allies have their victory. Emmy Lou’s my reason for living, I’ll hold her again when we win this damn war.
© 2019 Jeanne M. Halloran, all rights reserved
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2 thoughts on “The Burma Road, a novel, Chapter 13, “Sweet Goodbyes” (Excerpt 1)”
Congrats on your book dear friend! Do you have a publication date?
Thank you, Fran. I actually have a few more chapters to write, and then a complete rewrite of the entire first draft – along with editing. I anticipate it may take another year. But I’ll post “teasers” from time to time. I’ve learned so much about writing, and about WWII, creating this novel. Do you remember how I wrote the “Sweet Goodbyes” chapter with you when you visited in 2017? We attempted to write something using the word “Gambado”? I can attribute this chapter to you, and to your creative writing exercises. I’ve had so much fun when you visit.