It's #Sample Sunday when indie writer offer a sample from their work. This is a few paragraphs from my short story My Last Romance from my short story collection, My Last Romance and other passions. It is available in paperback or for Kindle.
Ruby is a former chanteuse with a Big Band now turning sixty who thinks she has a happy life until a chance find recalls a long-ago romance that broke her heart:
I was seventeen when I met Silvio. He and his band, The Silver Saints, were playing a three week gig at The Balinese Room down on the boardwalk. My girlfriend Miranda called. "Have you seen those guys?" she cooed. "Every one of them is dark and slick and hot."
I’d seen them. They sure were dark and slick and hot. "Come on," Miranda said, "this could be your big break."
Miranda was my number one fan back then. I started singing in our high school glee club but what I wanted was to be a torch singer, like Juliette Greco or Rosemary Clooney. I collected all the records—Jo Stafford and Peggy Lee. I practiced in front of my bedroom mirror for hours. It wasn’t enough to get the music right. I had to get the look and the shrug and the pout—the smoke. My Grandma never intended all those sewing lessons to result in the dancing dresses I made. She’d have tanned my hide if she saw the lipstick red, strapless gown I made for my big night. It hugged me right down to my thighs and then exploded in cascades of ruffles. In four inch heels I practiced till I got the wiggle that could set those ruffles swaying. I borrowed some fake ruby earrings from Miranda and I looked like sin itself strutting into the Balinese Room that night.
It worked. Silvio took one look at me and the next song the band played was "Ruby". That’s what he’s called me ever since. And the rest—as the saying goes—was history. Silvio was everything I wanted—tall, dark, handsome and ripe to fall in love—first with my body, then with my voice. Then with me.
By the time the band pulled out of town my sewing machine, my record collection, and my wardrobe were packed along with them. That was forty-two years ago.
I drive out the jetty past the bait shops and the boat rental shacks to the end of the fishing pier. Most of the shrimp boats are gone for the day. I hear them chugging out into the Gulf long before the sun comes up. I roll down the windows and the thick, sticky salt air washes in dampening my hair and cotton blouse. The gulls swoop overhead squawking loud enough to drown out the sound of the waves lapping at the pilings. Across the bay where the water flows toward the channel dolphins leap through the waves with little flashes of silver. In three weeks I’ll be sixty. Too old for the fire burning inside of me. This all started a week ago. Memories are crazy things, sort of like a piñata. You never know what’s inside and ready to come pouring out until it is too late to stop them. What cracked mine open was a copy of the band’s 1957 hit My Last Romance. I found it in a stuffy, drab little record shop off of Avenue L. I keep reminding myself that’s what I get for doing a good deed.