First things first, I’d like to thank Jon Paul for coming up with a great idea and hosting this Blogfest. I know I’m a little early (pre-mature blogging…is there a pill for that?), but I’m anticipating a busy week and I wanted to make sure it got posted. For those of you who read my blog regularly, you already know this is another scene from my first book (Slow Dancer) languishing on the shelf (for good reason). If you wish to read the previous two scenes to learn the build-up to this one, they can be found here, Part 1 and Part 2. I really hope you enjoy it!
Oh yeah…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
When the six of us pulled up to the Sunset club, the place was hopping. It was busiest we had seen it all week and it didn’t take us long to find out the reason why. Wednesday night was ladies night and all girls were admitted free of cover charge with the added bonus of all bar drinks for them were only 10 cents from 10 PM until midnight. Andi and her two roommates didn’t know it, but they had just become our new best friends.
Inside we found the girls already occupying one of the large tables in the corner next to the front wall. Andi introduced Gayle and Trisha to the guys, and I introduced the guys to them. Andi was wearing a yellow blouse over the top of a light blue t-shirt and white shorts, Brandi had on a maroon and white striped tube top and a pair of dark green shorts, and Trisha sported a sleeveless red jumpsuit.
The three girls immediately offered to go buy us some 10 cent drinks and after they headed off to the bar we secured enough chairs to sit all nine of us. When they returned, before they even had a chance to sit down Billy and Mark grabbed Brandi’s and Trisha’s hands and darted to the dance floor. “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees had just started thundering out of the speakers.
I sat down next to Andi on the far side of the table facing the dance floor, Kent and Ebe slid into chairs across from us.
Within thirty minutes, our table was inundated with girls Andi and her roommates had met at the Regency. The three of them had quietly spread the word that the Sunset club was the spot to be at that night. Billy, Mark, Raymond and Kent began an endless procession shuttling different girls over to the dance floor. Ebe had a group of girls circled around him, listening intently to something I could not hear. Andi and I were content to sit in the corner talking and watching the fun.
As the DJ queued up certain songs, I watched as Andi subtlety moved to the music, chair dancing. That’s when a sense of nagging guilt began growing within me. It bothered me that she was the only girl not dancing, because of me.
When “Disco Inferno” by the Trammps filled the dancehall, I swallowed hard. I turned to Andi and asked, “Would you like to dance?”
“I thought you could only slow dance?” she responded, surprise all over her face.
“This one I’ll do for you. Just don’t make fun afterwards.”
She smiled brightly and rose from her chair. She took me by the hand and led me to a spot on the dance floor next to Billy and Trisha. She began bouncing and swinging her hips as soon as we hit the wood floor and I instantly regretted my decision.
In making my gallant gesture for Andi, demonstrating my willingness to sacrifice for her, I forgot the number one rule of dating: Never deliberately do anything that makes you look like a dork!
Even though the alcohol had taken the edge off and the song was one I really liked, I could still feel the same stiffness and awkwardness I always felt when I attempted to dance. Andi moved so effortlessly, showing off her natural athleticism in a way that blended sensuality I hadn’t noticed before. She did it all with such an innocent, carefree smile.
I felt like the robot from Lost in Space.
Andi gave no indication of noticing how uncomfortable I was, or hint that she was embarrassed with me out there. Instead, she floated across the dance floor, teasing and playing with Billy and Trisha, then jumping back in front of me to bump hips in perfect timing to the music. She was in her element, and she was happy. Being able to be part of that was worth any discomfort.
As luck would have it, when the song ended the music transitioned to the same slow song I originally asked Andi to dance to the first night we met. We both smiled widely at one another and came together. She hugged me so tightly that it took my breath away.
“I thought you said you couldn’t dance….you liar,” she said into my ear.
“If you call that dancing then I have some serious concerns about your standards.”
She chuckled and then said, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” I answered.
She gave me another squeeze around the neck and we lost ourselves silently into our song.
On the way back to our table, Andi pointed to her watch. It was minutes before midnight and she decided we needed one more round of 10 cent drinks before the special was over, so she moved off into the crowd.
I no sooner reached our table than a commotion near the bar broke out. I swung around in time to see a mass of people heading for the exit. I scanned the crowd for Andi but couldn’t locate her anywhere. Suddenly Mark came running up to me, wide-eyed and concerned.
“Raymond’s in trouble,” was all he said and he was off moving towards the exit. A moment later, I heard someone shout out the explanation for all the activity.
Ebe and I were the only two at the table. I scampered across the top rather than fight my way around, catching up to Ebe near the bar.
Outside in the parking lot that fronted the club, a circle of on-lookers was starting to form around two guys standing nose to nose. One of them was Raymond. Billy was standing just behind and to the right of him, Kent was off to the left, and Mark was still fighting his way through the crowd. The massive hooligan standing across from Raymond was four or five inches taller, at least 50 pounds heavier and solidly built. He had unusually long arms with huge hands and particularly large knuckles.
As I muscled my way through the spectators who were all waiting for the inevitable first punch to be delivered, I noticed a dozen other guys standing behind Knuckles all sporting a lapel pin similar to one on his shirt. It was a Sigma Epsilon fraternity pin.
Raymond’s fraternity was Sigma Chi, universal bitter rivals with the Sigma Eps.
Walking up behind Kent I could hear Billy talking.
“--pick on somebody your own size, somebody like me instead,” Billy growled at Knuckles.
“What’s going on Billy?” I said, making sure to speak loud enough to be heard by everyone. I stepped up beside him.
“Kent was asking this redhead to dance--”
“MY GIRLFRIEND YOU MEAN,” Knuckles yelled, not taking his eyes off Raymond.
“Not according to her,” Kent spoke up from the back.
“That’s between me and her,” Knuckles countered.
“Anyway, he started giving Kent a hard time and Raymond stepped in to smooth things out. The Sigma Ep here had a problem with a Sigma Chi getting into his business, and here we are,” Billy finished explaining. It felt odd having Billy outline the chain of events as he did, since he was usually the one needing rescue.
“I can take him,” Raymond slurred, doing his best to remain stationary but instead wavering like a thin tree in a brisk wind.
Stupid frats, I thought to myself. I had watched Raymond endure months of hazing to become part of their silly brotherhood, now he was going to get his ass wupped because of it. I could see the outcome being a foregone conclusion. Raymond was stubborn and drunk enough to refuse to back down and rational talk would have little to no effect on the brute standing across from him. Knuckles was about to kick the crap out of Raymond and in turn Billy would retaliate. Mark would quickly join the fray, as would I. Kent and Ebe would be next to worthless in the ensuing brawl, so it would be the four of us against a dozen of them. I wished I hadn’t worn my favorite shirt. Their groups only hope was if Raymond passed out before anybody threw a punch.
“A problem with my friend…is a problem with all of us,” I said directly to Knuckles.
Knuckles answered me with only a smile. The crowd had grown to maybe 75 people and calls to “hit him” were starting to ring out.
I felt somebody brush past me and watched as Andi emerged from behind us and walked straight up to Knuckles. Using a hooked finger motion, she invited him to bend over so she could say something. Obviously confused, Knuckles glanced back at his fraternity brothers, then back at Andi. Eventually curiosity got the best of him and he bent over towards her. She stood on the tip of her toes and whispered something in his ear. He pulled away abruptly and looked down at her with an expression that was an odd combination of anger, and fear. She leaned in and whispered to him again, and as she did you could see the conflict building in his face. His glare shifted from Andi to somebody in the crowd, and following his eyes, I spotted Gayle and Tricia standing next to a redheaded girl who was defiantly glaring right back at Knuckles.
The brute blinked several times, and as he did the hardness in his face seemed to fade. He raised his huge hands, palms open and facing outward, indicating an end to his hostility.
“You’re not even worth it. Let’s go,” he said, turning away from Raymond and addressing his crew.
“You’re shittin’ me, right?” A blonde hair fraternity brother who was an inch taller than Knuckles but several notches lower on the evolutionary scale, cried. “You’re not gonna let this Sigma Chi get away with that, are you?”
“YEAH, I AM. IF ANYBODY HAS A PROBLEM WITH THAT THEY CAN SEE ME!” Knuckles screamed angrily.
His fraternity brothers quickly backed down, nobody willing to have Knuckles temper directed at them. Slowly they all headed back towards the Sunset club, drawing more than a few boo’s from the now disbanding crowd. The redhead broke away from Andi’s roommates and hurried to catch up with them.
Still stunned, we all gathered around Andi. Nobody could believe we had escaped the confrontation without a scratch.
Kent watched as the redhead disappeared back into the club. “That’s okay,” he called after her. “My feet are sore now anyway.”
“What did you say to that guy?” I asked Andi, still astonished.
“He and a couple of his fraternity brothers are staying at the Regency. I told him that if he threw one punch it would be all over the pool tomorrow that his penis is the size of my pinky.”
We all burst out laughing.
“Should we even ask how you know that?” Ebe asked.
“A little red headed birdie told me,” she explained, her smile adopting a twinge of wickedness.
We all continued laughing for several minutes, each taking turns giving Andi a well-deserved hug. I saved mine for last and as the others starting walking back to the club I held her to me. She whispered in my ear, “I couldn’t have them ruining such a cute face. I hope you didn’t mind.”
I kissed her then. At first just a quick peck that was impulsive and spontaneous, then again slower, more meaningful. Her lips were so soft and moist, moving in unison with my own. I savored the strawberries, cherries, and other fruits mixed with a bit of alcohol, as well as the taste of her feelings for me. Our bodies pressed closer together, I could no longer tell where I ended, and she began.
When I leaned back to gauge her reaction, she kissed me. The heart beating furiously in my chest, or the heat radiating from my touch, threatened to betray the cool exterior I attempted to maintain, but I didn’t care. Time had no meaning within the span of that kiss, and really only one thing did.
A single, two-letter word popped into my thoughts just then. It was one I’d used probably a thousand times before, but never with the significance I attributed to it now. I wanted to say it out loud, shout it to the blue sky above, to hear what it sounded like with its new meaning. But not to show it off, like a shiny new car or cheesy memento. This was something that could only belong to…