Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The right pose

Vivi floated to school the next morning on three hours of sleep. She spent her classes dreaming of the phone call last night, hearing Wade's voice sliding silkily through her ears instead of whatever boring, insignificant things were teachers were babbling about. She marked her way through dance class, letting her body repeat the movements she'd always known without feeling them in her soul.

All she could think about was him.

All day, the answers to the questions she asked buzzed through her mind like a volt of electricity. Wade was 19 and had graduated the year before. He had deferred attending Princeton to study engineering because his grandfather had suffered a stroke. Since his father worked as a lawyer in the big city forty miles away, Wade knew his grandfather would sell the ranch rather than ask his son. So he deferred going to college and spent the year caring for his grandfather and the ranch. He spent nights working at the Dixie Dining and Dance hall for a little extra spending money. He didn't smoke, didn't chew, didn't drink.

If he had told her he had three eyeballs, she wouldn't have cared.

"You're perfect," she had told him, forcing her eyes to stay open as her breaths became more shallow. She had so much more to ask, so much more she needed to know. Damn her body for wanting to sleep. Couldn't it tell she was falling--falling hard?

"I'm not perfect," he had repeated, his voice turning serious. "Vivi, have you ever heard that George Strait song?"

"Who?" she blinked. The only George she knew was George Williamson, the world champion ballroom dancer from last year.

"He's a country singer," Wade had told her. She remembered she could hear the smile in his voice, and it made her toes tingle. "Anyway, he sings a song called "You know me Better Than That." Listen to it. So whenever you think I'm perfect, realize you just don't know everything that's underneath yet."

"But I want to know," she had told him, her exhausted voice rising to a high pitch whine. "I need to know."

He had laughed. "Darling, what's the rush?" he asked. "We got nothing but time."

Vivi didn't tell him that since she had danced with him, all she did was rush through time. All she wanted to do was twirl across the dance hall. Her drill team routines, football games, ballet classes, jazz, tap--nothing seemed to matter anymore. All she wanted to hear was steel guitars and a lilting fiddle in the air.

Finally, her dance teacher called it a day. Normally, Vivi hung around after practice to improve her technique. Today, she fibbed and told her teacher she had a huge exam. She rushed out the studio and leaped into the car, pulling her jeans over her tights the second she was in the front seat. She threw a shirt over her leotard and fired up the engine. As she flew down the road, her heart pounded in her ears. Part of her wanted to curl into a ball and hide after their conversation. It was easy to tell someone everything in the dark on the phone. It was harder when your faces were inches apart in harsh neon light. And it was even harder to face them after her dad had humiliated her.

Vivi swung into the parking lot and pulled on her boots. She hurried up to the restaurant and flung the wooden doors open. Weaving through the crowd, she scanned the faces. She didn't see him. Shoving her way through drunk cowboys, she pushed past the bar and scanned the dance floor. He wasn't there. She hated to admit she was glad he wasn't dancing with another girl.

She stared at the wooden floor longingly, watching as women whirled by beaming at her partners. A hand tapped her shoulder. She turned to see a freckled-faced red headed cowboy peering down at her.

"Vivi?" he asked.

She narrowed her eyes. "Who are you?"

He held out his hand. "Bill Anderson. I'm a buddy of Wade's. He said you might be out tonight and I was to take care of you in case he couldn't make it."

Vivi's heart fell to the floor and burst into a puddle that seeped through her toes. "He's not here?" She felt tears spring to her eyes and scolded herself. This was getting dangerous. She'd known him for two days. She had just danced with him, for God's sake. It wasn't like he had kissed her or taken her on a date.

"Well, no," Bill said, his lips twitching in a frown. He couldn't stand to see women upset, especially a girl as cute as this one. "Let me buy you a burger, all right?"

Vivi hesitated. The last thing she wanted to do was have dinner with a stranger. But maybe if she waited, Wade would come.

"You don't have to buy me a burger," she said, forcing a smile to her lips. "I'll just wait a few minutes."

"A piece of apple pie then," Bill said, a relieved grin spreading over his freckled face. "You can't pass up Hilda's pie. It's a legend."

"All right." Vivi grinned at him, a true smile. Bill beamed back. He led her to a table in the front and sat her down with a glass of sweet tea. She took one sip and blanched. Her ballet teacher was going to have her doing plies for a week to burn off the sugar.

"You just wait here," he said. "I'll go get your pie." He melted into the crowd, his hat mixing with all the other cowboy hats in the bar. Vivi tapped her boot against the floor, trying not to glance at the clock. Where was he?

"'Scuse me ma'am," a drunk staggered over and leered at her. "How 'bout a dance?"

"No, thank you." Vivi refused to meet his eyes.

"You're the prettiest girl here," he slurred. "Come dance with me."

"No." Vivi gave him a steely look. "Go away."

"Come on." He leaned forward and grabbed her arm. "One dance."

"No." She jerked back. The drunk's face blazed red.

"Stupid little"-- Vivi jumped back with a shriek as he fell face first into the table. Wade stood behind him with black grease-stained fist in the air, scowling down. The man's back had a single black smudge in the center. The drunk crumpled to the floor and curled into the fetal position with a moan. Bill walked up with the slice of pie and gaped at Wade.

"Golly, Wade," he said, looking at the drunk then at Wade's hands. "What the hell happened?" Wade didn't answer. He simply grabbed a towel from the bus boy and wiped his hands. Then he looked at Vivi.

"You ok?" he said.

She nodded. He grinned and grabbed her hand, pulling her through the crowd towards the dance floor.

"What about her pie?" Bill yelled behind him.

"Save it!" Wade shouted above the crowd. "And tell Hilda I'll pay for the damage. And get me some pie too! And some chicken fry!"

"You got it, hoss!" The words were soon lost in Vivi's ears as the music surrounded them. Wade led her to the floor and pulled her into a waltz.

"Sorry darling," he said. "Car broke down."

All Vivi could do was beam. "You came."

"I always will." Then he lifted her hand, and she twirled across the floor in a swirl of neon lights and steel guitars.

Seven types of country dancing:

1) Two steppping
2) Waltz
3) Polka
4) Line dancing
5) Scottische
6) Cotton eyed joe
7) Cowboy cha cha


Bunny said...

Wade is my hero!! Ok imaginary hero!!LOL!! I love this one sweetie, When I read it your words give me a visual like a little movie when I'm reading it!! You are the BOMB!!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

I used to work in a country (and western ;0) bar. The dancers were always so into it. I remember a few smitten young bucks trying to teach me to two step: quick quick slow slow, quick quick slow slow. Ann Richards famous quote "Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels." always comes to mind when I think about it. Ah, to be fawned over by smitten cowboys again...

Marjie said...

I love that he slugged the drunk. Maybe fighting's "out", but a girl likes to know she's protected!

Maria said...

I am not a country dancer. I didn't even know there was seven kinds:)

Dee said...

Loved this! And how, pray tell, do you know so much about country dancing? ;)

Lore said...

Love country music, but I just can't dance! Loved the story though and can't wait to see what happens next and I sure hope Vivi will change her mind about the pie ;)

Jessica said...

I had no idea there were 7 kinds of country dance...
I am studying speech-language pathology!

Emma Sanders said...

I love your new stuff! WTG! I agree with are the BOMB and so is your blog.

Mary Ann said...

Cute! I didn't realize there were that many types of country dancing- show you how much time I have spent moving my feet!

Pam said...

Wade is the man! I really love this story and can't wait for the next installment.

Mom said...

The Wade in this story reminds me of a young Wade that worked for me years ago. He was also a "cowboy" and a very sweet young man. When I read these stories I visualize that young man.

Bunny said...

Duckie I wanted to ask you permission to do something but don't see an email address to ask you??

jenjen said...

I love Wade -- he's perfect! I missed reading your stories while I was away! Thanks for a wonderful installment!

Lorraine E said...

What a cute, wonderful story! :)

noble pig said...

Wade is perfect you sweet that Wade, I like him.

Prudy said...

Wade is emerging as a knight in shining armor. I love it.

Marie said...

OH Duckie, I am swooning here. How incredibly perfectly romantic. I hope that when this gets made into a movie of the week they get Colin Firth to play Wade! Mr Darcy in spurs. I love me some cowboy, I really dooooo!!! (psssst. Todd has a cowboy belt, western shirt and bolo tie that makes me smile. )

The W.O.W. factor said...

Oh you devil you…am I anticipating what I think I am?? Gonna keep us hangin’ though…bet I’m right in the long run…;)

Ingrid said...

You know it's a double edged sword when you post a new addition to this story. I get the "more" I was craving but not "enough"!

I haven't even read any of the other stories for fear of going crazy with impatience!!!

Corinne said...

George Strait... He's getting old isn't he? I don't think he has a song I DONT like.

Anonymous said...