Tag Archives: music

Piano (flash fiction, free write, whatever….)

The piano sits silent. I can’t bring myself to touch the keys, to place nimble fingers on the black and white and produce the smallest measure. I am empty, devoid of music and sound, preferring this, the beauty of the vacuum left behind by my melancholic spirit. I am but the husk of an artist, bewildered by the absence of inspirational thought, or the motivation to create something from the nothing. I long to see the notes again within my mind’s eye, fearing it is now lost, cast out into the void to be found by someone else, who will make more of it than I ever did. The hall is unoccupied, the applause a memory. The piano sits silent. Alone. 
Paul D Aronson July 2017


Rest In Peace Chris Cornell

No poetry today. No stories. Just devastation over the death of Chris Cornell, one of my favorite singers of the grunge era. We have lost so many of these amazing artists. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Layne Staley (Alice In Chains), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone), just to name a few off the top of my head. Adding Cornell to the list was unexpected, and like other fans I’m in shock. Today I won’t be writing . I’m too numb. Instead I will be listening to Chris’ bands, Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, and Audioslave, as well as his amazing solo work. For in the 90s he helped provide the soundtrack of my life and moved me on a deep, emotional level. Rest In Peace, Chris.

Advocate For The Dead Opening Theme

If you are familiar with my writing habits, you know I create playlists and soundtracks for my stories. These are designed to help pump me up for what I’m writing, and to help illustrate the story in some small way. Sometimes the songs in my playlists get referenced in my chapters , other times no one but myself is aware of their influence. So, as I have been compiling the rock and roll soundtrack for Advocate For The Dead, choosing songs by artists like Alter Bridge, Daughtry, and other modern rock acts, I came across a very cinematic track by Midnight Syndicate that I thought would make a great instrumental theme if my story were a movie. I play this song every time I get ready to go over another chapter for its second draft. If you like horror or Halloween themed music , you can’t go wrong with Midnight Syndicate, so check out the song  I selected below and have a listen. ..

 

NaNoWriMo 2016: Time Of Our Death Chapter 34

Time Of Our Death

By Paul D Aronson

Thirty Four

Halloween or not, it was still early in the day. It was a Saturday, so school wasn’t in session. Lori had an idea to sneak into the high school and change our grades so we’d look like better students. I thought that was a cool idea and was all for it, however Brian and Kelly didn’t seem to care what others thought of them. And anyway, they kept their grades up pretty good. Donald was also uninterested and just wanted to go see his mother again. I understood that. After all we were living in the mystery hour, meaning we didn’t know how many hours we had left until they pulled up the bus and it’s bloating occupants. So Lori’s idea was scrapped in favor of checking in on the folks one last time.

Donald said we didn’t need to go with him to see his mom, but I felt like it was the right thing to do. After all, we had started out as ghosts doing this very thing. Might as well be what we end on as well. I hated having the attitude of “it’s only a matter of time”, but it was inevitable that this would come to an end soon. We couldn’t wander around as ghosts forever, especially when recovery operations were underway to bring us up out of the river.

At Donald’s we were surprised. Over two dozen neighbors were at his house. They had brought over food for his grieving mother. Some had brought flowers and cards with money to help her out. As we moved among them all, I caught snippets of conversation that led me to believe no one carried any hope that Donald was alive, and that soon there would be a funeral, with or without his body.

The outpouring of goodwill towards his mom touched Donald. In life, apparently not many of these neighbors ever came to visit, but with the tragedy they all pulled together to comfort and console a family that was wrecked with grief. Perhaps in all this, the good to come was that Don’s mother didn’t have to be alone. His passing had drawn others to her, and she was finding herself with offers to join the bridge club, the ladies civic club, as well as several churches extending their condolences and open arms to her.

“This is nice,” he said. “I was worried she would be all alone now.”

I had to agree. It was very touching, this outpouring of neighborly love. I had to wonder if Lori’s family could expect the same thing. It made me think of my family too. I was trying not to think about it much, but seeing all the neighbors here reminded me that my parents had seemingly vanished from public life.

Lori, ever the one for reading my mind, tried to be a comfort. “I’ll help you look for them if you want.”

“I don’t know where to begin.”

“Maybe there’s a clue somewhere at your house.”

Brian and Kelly had tagged along with us to Donald’s, but they opted to remain outside, sitting under a tree and sucking as much face as they could until the end. I couldn’t blame them there; part of me just wanted to take Lori’s hand and run away from all this. Spend whatever time was left making out and sharing promises that would certainly be tested soon. With that thought, my mind was filled with the image of Lori and I laying in my bed, curled up together, kissing, touching, and becoming all we could be if only we were alive.

“Hello, anyone home?” She asked, bringing me out of my silent rapture.

“Oh, sorry. I was lost in thought.”

“Yeah, I could tell. Everything alright?”

“I was just thinking how I never had a girl alone in my bedroom before.”

She smirked. “Are you sure you want to be telling me this?”

I chuckled. “No, it’s not like that. I just never had a girl in my room at all. I used to lay awake sometimes, wondering what it would be like to fall asleep curled up to someone. Or when I first started teaching myself guitar, I used to say to myself, one day you’re going to play a song for a pretty girl right here. You’ll be sitting on the floor playing, and she’ll be laying across the bed, listening to your song.”

“That’s a nice image. I used to think something similar. Except I would be playing this boy my cassettes and CDs. I’d play him my favorite song, and he would lean over and kiss me and absolutely beg me to run away with him.”

I smiled. “I like that. What’s your favorite song?”

“Just Like Heaven.”

“The Cure?”

“Yeah.”

I smiled. “I can play that.”

“It’s not heavy metal.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I know. There’s more to me than long hair and screaming guitars.”

“Show me.”

“Alright, I will.” I grinned. “But that means you’ll have to come to my bedroom.”

She smiled. “I’m not scared.”

“Scared of what?” Donald said, walking up to us.

I looked at him. “Of whatever comes next, I guess.”

“Same here,” he replied. “Hey, I’m just going hang out here for awhile, if you guys don’t mind.”

“That’s cool. We’ll come back and get you. We’re going to go see if my mom and dad ever showed up.”

“That’s fine.” He grinned at us as if he knew it wasn’t just about checking on my parents. As we headed off, he called out to us with a laugh as if he were our doting mother, “Don’t stay out too late. Use protection!”
The first time we had went to my house, after discovering Lori’s mom at the library, the television had been on, so had my dad’s computer back in his office. Now, both of them were off. In fact, the only thing on was a small lamp in the living room. Sitting on an end table next to it was a pile of unopened mail and several days worth of newspapers, still folded up the way our paperboy Jeffrey Tompkins delivered them.

“Well, it looks like they were here at some point,” Lori suggested.

“Yeah, it does. Them or someone else.”

“Who else would be here?”

“I don’t know. We are on good terms with our next door neighbors. Mom and Dad play Uno with them some nights. Maybe they are getting the mail and paper.” I stopped for a moment and listened. “And I don’t hear Jake.”

“Maybe he’s sleeping.”

“I don’t think so. He knew we were here the first time. We heard him in my room.”

“Well, you’re supposed to take me to your room anyway,” she replied with a wink.

I smiled. I really adored the flirty Lori.

We went down the staircase to the basement. The door to my room was open. The lights were off, but we didn’t need them anyway. The room looked untouched from the last time we were there, with all of us and Jake. But now Jake was gone. The exuberant Doberman wasn’t in the house. As I noted this, Lori moved around my room, looking at all the rock and roll clippings from Heavy metal mags I had pasted to the wall. Standing in front of the Nikki Sixx poster, she said, “I still think he needs a sandwich.”

I smirked. “What about Bon Jovi?” I asked, pointing to a fold out poster of the group standing in front of a trans am laden with bikini clad girls.

“He gives love a bad name.”

I laughed. “Oh, good one.”

“Oh wow,” she exclaimed, spotting my record collection. The albums were kept in two blue milk crates by a closet, and she squatted down to look through them. I stood there with my arms crossed. This was an alien moment, by myself with a beautiful girl in my room, as she took interest in things that were me. She looked up, holding up the Ratt album, Out Of The Cellar. “Do you have anything other than Metal?”

“Well, I’ve got The Motels in there somewhere. I like Mission Of Mercy.”

“Yeah, they aren’t bad. Only The Lonely is pretty good.”

“I’ve got the Charlotte Sometimes twelve inch in there too,” I told her.

“No kidding? Wow, you are pretty darn cool after all.” She found The Cure single and lifted it out of the box. “Charlotte Sometimes was the first song I fell in love with. That, and All Cats Are Grey.”

I told her I hadn’t heard that one. “Oh wow, you’re missing out. Next time we’re at my house, I’ll play it for..” she stopped, perhaps realizing there was a good chance there wouldn’t be a next time at her house. A sad look crossed her face for a moment, then she mustered a smile. “Weren’t you going to play me a song?”

I smiled, but I was a little nervous. “Yes, I was.” I opened up the closet and got out my electric guitar. “I wont plug it in,” I said. “I blew the amp the other day anyway.”

She rolled her eyes and laughed, getting up from the crates of record albums to go sit on my bed, cross legged style. I did a little tuning of the strings, and thought to myself, please let my energy hold out long enough to play her a song. It would be weird to be half way through the song and the guitar passes through my fingers.

Despite my nervousness, I found the key of A major and began the opening chord progression. From the first lyric of “show me, show me, show me how you do that trick”, Lori sat enrapt, watching me play and sing the song about a boy’s first feelings of romance for the girl he wants to be with. I performed it slower than the original so I could make the chord changes easier, but she didn’t seem to mind. Even as I stumbled on a few words here and there, she smiled with her own set of longings etched plainly in her eyes. I wanted to just stop singing, throw the guitar down, and take her up in my arms to dance in the deepest oceans like the song said.

Three minutes later when I ended the tune and the last chord faded into silence, I did just that. I set the guitar back in the closet so it wouldn’t be out of place the next time someone came down in my room, and then joined her on the bed.

“That was beautiful,” she said.

“You’re beautiful,” I said. “Just like a dream. Like the song says.”

She blushed. “Chris, I….”

I touched her lips with my fingertips, shushing her. I didn’t know what she was getting ready to say, but it didn’t matter. All that mattered to me was that my mouth was on hers, and as my kiss found her wanting me just as much, we laid back on the bed, the room spinning around us. While our lips revealed the secrets of two hearts discovering each other, our hands fumbled across each other, neither of us knowing quite what to do. We laughed at this inside each other’s mouths, and renewed the kiss with a different fervor. One that was not of confused, nor reckless desire, but of a deep affection that said we would live and die together like this, for as long as we had left. Stolen breaths and mutual longings were all we needed, and maybe in the next life, if there was one, we would find the right time to physically consummate all the things our bodies felt.

“I have something to confess,” she finally said.

“Okay.”

“Remember when we were in my room, and there was that photo I took of you and Donald? One of you asked me why I took it.”

“Yeah, I remember. It was a sneaky voyeur pic. From last year.”

She smiled and the look in her eyes were soft. “I took that picture because I had a crush on you. I didn’t really know you then, just knew who you were. You looked so sad and lonely, this nerd boy that no one was paying attention to. You reminded me of myself.”

I started to say something. This time she put a finger to my lips to quiet me.

“I really crushed on that nerd boy. I like your long hair and the rocker I know you want to be, but you’ll always be that cute nerd boy standing on the smoking block, looking out of place to me.”

My eyes started to well up with tears. No one, and I mean absolutely anyone, had ever said such a thing to me. I wanted to respond somehow, but she wasn’t finished.

“When I see you,” she said, “ I see you without disguise. I think I see you as you truly are: the most beautiful boy with the purest soul I have ever met.”

The tears fell. There was no use in trying to stop them.

“If there’s ever a way someone progresses from this life into something better, you’re already there.” She put her hands on both sides of my face, so my tears would stop on her fingers. “You’re my angel, Chris.”

“I love you, Lori. I wish…Oh God, I wish I had gotten to know you sooner. It’s not fair.”

A new round of tears came, but they just weren’t mine. They were hers, too. And as she wrapped her arms around me, taking me into her soft embrace, I clutched her tight as I could, swearing that when the real end came I would never let her go.

 

 

My NaNoWriMo 2016 Day 27: Chapter 27

Time Of Our Death

By Paul D Aronson

 

Twenty-Seven
To be honest, I had been to only one school dance in my whole life. That was back in Junior High, eighth grade. In that stage of school, all dances took place during fifth and sixth period, and was more of a way to get out of class than to take a girl to a dance. Most of the boys stood around pencil fighting or finger flicking, while the girls sat on the gym bleachers wishing they were older so they could go to a real dance. The All Hallows’ Eve dance at Murray Senior High School was much different. It took place at night for one, as most teenagers had drivers licenses and could drive to the school themselves. For another, boys had noticed girls in a big way, and pencil fighting was so stupid when there was a real DJ playing records that teenagers actually liked.

When the five of us sauntered through the gym wall, we were assailed with the sound of Def Leppard’s Hysteria and I knew it was going to be a good night, if we could survive it. A bit of fortune had come our way. Earlier that evening, the news had spread that the cranes and winches they planned to use to bring the bus up malfunctioned. Mechanical difficulties, they reported. We hadn’t done anything ourselves, so maybe Sister Fate had a little mercy left for us. No matter the reason, it was being said around town that they wouldn’t be able to get things working again until tomorrow afternoon, or even later. We all drew a collective sigh on that one. We could relax and enjoy the dance. Well, as far as any ghost could anyway.

We were taking the Halloween dance seriously. It wasn’t just another to crash or place to play pranks. We dressed up in costume just like anyone else, though us five were the only ones who could see it. And we had to rely on things we had already owned. For some reason, we just couldn’t go into a costume shop and take what we wanted. If we had, everyone would have seen bodiless clothes just moving around the dance floor. Not a good thing if you were trying to blend in. But like we had done a few days ago, we learned we could ‘think’ our way into clothes we owned, or had owned at one time.

Brian took advantage of this by creating a makeshift Frankenstein costume and then allowing Kelly to apply green and black makeup to his face. For bolts in the side of his neck, she used two of her favorite lipstick holders. Apparently, you could share these items you owned with other ghosts. I made myself a mental note that if we had enough time I would write the ghost handbook to help other spirits that might come after we are long gone.

Kelly had taken an old white dress and some of Brian’s Ace bandages he used for football sprains to fashion herself as Elsa Lanchester in The Bride Of Frankenstein. An entire bottle of hairspray and temporary black face paint helped her create the bride’s frightening hairdo.

Donald took the easy way out and made himself into a punk rocker again, down to the misfits t-shirt and safety pin through the eyebrow. He had let Lori draw the anarchy symbol on his cheek, and to top things off, he spiked his hair and applied four different colors to it. You would have thought Johnny Rotten had just crashed the dance.
Lori dressed herself as a dark gypsy. With her black goth make up, she looked like a cross between Stevie Nicks, Elvira (minus the revealing cleavage), and that chick from the Lost Boys movie. In my honor, she had adorned her cheek with the Kiss logo. Of course, I’m not sure if she intended it to represent the hard rock band or a target spot for Robert Smith’s mouth.

For myself, that’s right you guessed it, I cheated and went as a long hair rocker. Jeans so tight I could hardly move in them, a spandex shirt that revealed way too much of my bare chest, and black boots with chains wrapped around them. On my head I wore a Guns and Roses headband, on my hands black leather fingerless gloves. Lori had gotten me with the makeup too, adding a bit of painted flourish to bring out my eyes and cheeks in ways that made me look like I was auditioning for a spot in Poison. Brett Michaels would have been proud, if not downright jealous.

We drifted among the costumed dancers. Many of the boys were Freddy Krueger, Jason, and Michael Myers, with a few Klingons and Imperial Stormtroopers thrown in. Girls had selected Princess Leia, the wicked witch of the west, and She-Ra. One adventurous lass was dressed as Sheena, Queen Of the Jungle, but several chaperones made her cover up.

The DJ, a young man with mullet and beard, changed the song to Whitney Houston, and altered the tempo of the dance floor. It was easier to dance to Whitney than Leppard, so the gym floor found itself with a lot more kids dancing. Some swayed as couples, but most seemed to be single individuals hoping for someone to dance with. Because of the nature of costumes as disguises it seemed our peers were braver than usual and actually approached each other to ask for a dance. Or perhaps it was the newly realized notion that life was short and could be taken away at any time that caused everyone to take a few extra chances.

I looked at my favorite companion. I had to ask myself how in the world I had missed her all this time. How did she move through high school without me taking real notice of her? She was beautiful. Not just pretty like other girls, but strikingly beautiful. She’d hidden it all under her goth attitude an make up, but really when it came down to it, she put others to shame. Kelly may have been the reigning queen of the high school, but Lori was like the gorgeous princess hiding her true self from the wicked stepmother.

“What are you staring at?”

Her voice brought me out of my thoughts with an embarrassed flush. “Um, no reason. Just glad to be here.”

She smiled. “Me too. I don’t think I’ve really been envious of anyone, but I’m feeling kind of jealous now.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Jealous? How?”

“They get to enjoy this next year. We wont be here.” I thought I saw a glistening tear at the edge of her eye. “I can’t believe how I never appreciated any of this. How I just came to school because I had to.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. But hey, we don’t have to miss it just yet. We’re here now. At the All Hallows Eve Dance. Together.” I took a deep breath. A thousand butterflies invaded my stomach. Under the gym lights, she looked so beautiful I wanted to cry and just take…

“Look at them silly asses,” Lori said, pointing out on the dance floor, and making the butterflies scatter as if hiding from a collector’s net.

Brian and Kelly were in the middle of everyone, Frankenstein and his Bride doing a hilarious variation of the twist. While it threatened to become dirty dancing, it was quite comical as they were exaggerating every move. You would think they believed all eyes were on them and that they were still the king and queen of the ball. Perhaps they were.

“I’m going to go to the punch table,” she said. “See if I can sneak a glass without being noticed. You want anything?”

I hesitated. There was, but I couldn’t speak it. “No, I’m alright, “ I said.

She flashed a brief smile. “Okay. Be right back.”

I watched her walk over to the refreshment corner, careful to avoid as many people as she could. A few passed through her, but none had the effect that had overcome me at Brian’s house. Her gypsy dress swayed around her, her bare feet gliding across the polished floor. I couldn’t take my eyes away from how she moved with a slight swish of her dark hair as she lightly bounced up to the table. She reached for a glass of punch, and I turned my head away to see Donald out on the dance floor now acting like a fool. No, that wasn’t right. I was the only fool here.

A new song began. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. I’ve Had The Time Of My Life. I looked to heaven as if to utter a prayer, and then went on the move. I dodged around dancers, shifting from foot to foot, graceful and fluid, as if I were Johnny Castle in the movie. I reached the table where Lori was standing. She had spotted me swaying towards her across the floor and was laughing at my antics. I bounded up to her and held out my hand with the biggest, bravest grin I could muster.

“Nobody puts baby in the corner,“ I drawled. “Not even herself.”

We both stood there a moment, me with my hand held out, and her savoring the moment. Finally she smiled and took my hand, allowing me to pull her out on the dance floor. We tried our best to emulate the signature moves from Dirty Dancing, but it was no use. I was no Patrick Swayze, and thank the stars she wasn’t a Jennifer Grey. But we were Christopher and Lori, having fun under the gym lights, and dancing the best we could, not caring how goofy our attempts to be footloose and fancy free might look. Only three other people in the whole place could see us anyway. Lori laughed as I spun her, one hand holding hers straight out from her, and the other lightly on her hip. Then someone scratched the record.

It was a loud, scraping sound, like long nails on a chalkboard, as the stylus needle was drawn across the black vinyl of the record, interrupting the whole mood. We turned our head to the DJ table and found him looking at his twin turntables in complete confusion. A hush fell over the room, except for a solitary snicker. Donald stood beside the DJ with a finger to his lips, grinning foolishly. Then the DJ’s second turntable started to spin a new song.

“Oh My God, “ Lori whispered, with an exasperated sigh. It was Whitesnake. The song, ‘Is This Love?’ began to play and she looked up into my face. “Well, it looks like you get your wish after all.”

“I don’t see a disco ball,” I replied.

“You can’t have everything. This is 87, not 79.”

I smiled. I did have everything. I pulled her close to me, and folded up into my arms easily. She lay her head against my shoulder as I began to sway with her in time to the power ballad. If you’d asked me days ago if I would be dancing with Lori O’Donnell in my arms to Whitesnake under the gym’s bright spotlights I would have accused of messing in the super weed, but tonight it was just as natural as breathing. The slow yet steady bass and drums of the song propelled us in slow circles to new dizzying heights of existence. We were truly ghosts now, because for me nothing else existed but the girl in my arms. And as the verse moved into the chorus, with the singer pondering the notion whether it’s love or a dream, Lori lifted her head to me and I kissed her. Her lips met mine softly, as if they had always belonged there, pressed against mine and breathing in my kiss. Her arms slipped around my neck, mine around her waist, and we danced so close we could have been one entity. And in this embrace, her hips swaying gently against mine, her mouth partially open on my own, I no longer felt like me. Now I was us, and nothing, not even the reaper himself could drag me away from this girl, this song, this dream. And no matter that the song ended four minutes later. We swayed, and turned, moving like forever lovers that none could separate through three more songs, our lips never once leaving the other.

 

My NaNoWriMo 2016: Opening Theme

So to celebrate my NaNoWriMo win, I thought I’d share a little song with you tonight. If “Time Of Our Death” were being made into a movie, this would be the opening theme. As I was writing the early chapters, I kept on imagining this being played on a boombox somewhere on that fateful bus. Having lived through that time period myself, it seems to fit the generation of whom I’m writing. Not only that , it helps to fit with the Bon Jovi wisecracks that come later in the story 😉 I also like the line in the song that says, “if you want to cross that line, break on through to the other side.” Just kind of seems to fit the story…

Hope you enjoy! Rock on dudes and dudettes 🙂

Orchard House Part 46: Street Party

Orchard House: Daily Serial Novel

Part 46: Street Party

As we headed down the gravel drive, I realized we would be parading right past the band on the left, along with everyone seated in the amphitheater benches. I wasn’t used to feeling like I was on display, and once we got alongside people, they started looking. I imagine some wondered if we were celebrities of some kind as we were so overdressed. Most of those seated, and even those who stood at the bottom of the field and out in the road, were dressed as if they just got off from work or had been lounging around the house. With the exception of a few older folks, we were the only ones not in work clothes or jeans. Several ladies wore dresses, but they weren’t nearly as showy as Summer’s outfit. Heads turned on both male and female, and if we wished to truly be noticed as a new couple, we were getting our wish for sure. Feeling like we were walking the gauntlet, Summer squeezed my hand for reassurance. The band went from Stevie Ray to Wet Willie, and a few in the crowd began to dance to the southern boogie. We reached the bottom of the drive and Summer herself began to sway to the music, as the band sang about a street corner serenade of days gone past. Facing me, my beautiful companion tried to get me to dance, but I wasn’t feeling it. It felt like everyone’s eyes were on us. She grabbed my hands and tried to move me.

“Come on, pretend it’s the orchard,” she shouted.

From Wet Willie, the band cut into another danceable boogie number, this one made famous by Little Feat many years ago. I had to give it up to the band, they were playing songs from my era. I finally allowed myself to loosen up and dance a little. Summer moved my hand on her hip, which was in constant motion. It was hard to concentrate on a beat when her hip was against the palm of my hand, and the thin material of her dress made me think of her in more revealing ways.

As we danced to the music, I couldn’t help but look around. This was tense. A few others had begun to dance, letting Summer’s infectious enthusiasm win them over. She was nothing short of inspiring, and soon couples in front of us and behind felt brave enough to shake what their mothers gave them, too. We didn’t go unnoticed by the band either. When their first round of songs was over they dedicated a song to “the swirling lady in red down there.” I couldn’t recall who originally sang it, but the song was an ode to chasing girls and the color candy apple red. Summer ate it up, and giving me a big kiss on the lips whirled away from me and into the crowd, dancing on her own and trying to get others to join in. While guys tried to cut in and be her partner, she quickly turned to find a different partner in that of a child or older woman. Finally she made her way back to me, and at song’s end jumped straight into my arms. For a moment I thought I heard the sound of a hundred guys mumbling “Aw, man…”

“I’m thirsty,” Summer whispered, and we left the circle of dancing for the dirt road where various vendors had set up on one side. “Oh my God, “ Summer exclaimed, spying a booth set up right next to the artist’s village. “Snow Cones!”

I laughed at her excitement. You would have thought she was a kid at a circus. As if to prove me right, she turned to me with a wink in her eye and the swish of her dress, “Can I have one, daddy? Please?”

A few people began to look at us strangely, and I swear some looked like they wanted to string me up from a tree. Perhaps her youthful exuberance had made them think she was a teenager and I was some kind of lecherous old man. Mind you, with her looking like she did in that dress, I was feeling somewhat lecherous indeed. I got her a cherry snow cone, as the band went through a whole array of southern cover tunes. 38 special, Elvin Bishop, Lynyrd Skynyrd. As the Bishop song played, something about fooling around and falling in love, Summer slid up against me to slow dance and share her snow cone. With one hand on her hip and the other around her waist, she swayed so wonderfully beneath my touch, even more so when she passed the shaved cherry ice from her mouth to mine. And even though I knew there must be disapproving eyes upon us, as well as some that were very approving, I didn’t care. It was just Summer and I and everything was alright.

“I see someone is making their own fortunes,” a voice said from behind us after the song was over. We both turned to see the woman who had told our fortune in the Artist Village. “It is nice to see you two so happy. And I see it’s catching on.” She directed our gaze to those around us. Just like it had been in the field, out in the street others were starting to dance. I’m not sure if it was because of us or because now the band was in full Skynyrd mode, but either way it was good to see the celebration of life was catching on. In fact, I had never felt so alive myself. Any other time and you would never have caught me dancing in public and certainly not with a woman as beautiful as Summer.

The fortune teller moved on, and for a moment it seemed as if it was a parade of all the people we had met here flitting by. We saw the young boy from the Italian restaurant in town with a dark haired teenage girl hanging happily on his arm; Danny, the tubing guy, also strolled by us with some of his friends, including several girls wearing identical college team shirts, who seemed to be enjoying his company and attention. He gave me a nod, and Summer a lingering smile, as if he wished any of the girls with him looked half as stunning as my date. I couldn’t help but feel proud she was on my arm and not his. As if keeping with the tubing theme, a couple of the kids from that particular adventure came running up to Summer to say hi and she graciously told them all how pretty they looked, as if she were the big sister none of them had. I smiled thinking how sweet that was of her. She was so friendly and enthusiastic with everyone she met, so unlike any girl I had ever known. This was even more evident when several of the Latino workers strolled by with their dates and families. They recognized us with a smile and a wave, and she began to talk to them in Spanish, paying particular attention to the young men’s wives and children. They were just as enthusiastic to speak to her in their native tongue, and it appeared the men were introducing us to their families, though I couldn’t follow it all. Before moving along, we all shook hands, with Summer hugging several of the women. And yet we weren’t the only ones who were friendly with them. I watched as they moved through the crowd, and as I was amazed by how welcome they were made in this community. Back home in the city, everyone was so closed off in their three feet of space, with people of other nationalities sticking to their own race, and rarely stepping outside their ethnic group. But here in this tight knit community, everyone accepted everyone, no matter who you were, and it was awesome to be a part of that for a while. Even Summer and I, who may have caused a stir of social conscious scandal, were just two people in love and nothing more. Here we were encouraged to be ourselves or who we always wanted to be. Here it seemed everyone liked everyone without prejudice, and the order of the day was to have fun. As if to prove that thought, when the next song started Summer pointed to the stage.

“Hey look!” she shouted.

The guy who had been singing, a young man of about eighteen or nineteen was now joined up on the stage by a familiar face: the young girl in the orchard who had gushed about her boyfriend’s band playing the party. With her blonde hair flying wild and the biggest smile on her face she joined her beau for a cute rendition of the southern rock duet, “Don’t Misunderstand Me.” Summer and I watched the young couple as they bounced their lines back and forth. My date remarked on how cute they were and I had to agree. They reminded me of us if we had only just got out of high school. If we had been back in the cities we’d come from, the kids wouldn’t have even known this kind of music. They were more accustomed to rap and hip hop and modern pop hits, rather than blues, southern rock, and down home boogie. It seemed like a different world here, where everyone, even the kids, were different from anyplace we’d been. After the song was over, the girl returned to the crowd, and to her mother, who we realized was Florence, the church cleaning lady. Summer took my hand and dragged me over to them. Coming up behind mother and daughter, she congratulated the young girl on her performance.

Florence, beamed proudly, and said to us, “So, the Church love birds have moved out into the open. It’s nice to see two people so perfect for each other.”

“Thanks,” Summer replied. “I feel like this is our coming out party.”

“Perhaps it is. Hopefully soon you two will make your love even more official,” she said with a wink. I don’t think either of us knew how to reply to that, even as Florence added with a knowing smile, “You look dressed for it.”

“I’m feeling dressed for dancing,” Summer replied, looking over at me, as if to say, hey, let’s get out of here. I think ,maybe she was nervous with what Florence had been skirting around, so I allowed her to lead me back into the crowd to dance to “giving it up for your love,” another danceable boogie and blues tune from my youth. With each song, it seemed the band was playing the soundtrack of my teenage years. It was strange, but I was enjoying every minute of it, as I felt like I was a teenager again dancing with Summer. The fact she knew the songs too put the fantasy in my head that I was dancing with the prettiest girl in my school at the prom and no one could stop the promise of true love from happening. As if to cement that notion, the band next played Springsteen’s “The Ties That Bind” and I found myself swirling Summer around me. We both erupted into childlike smiles and laughter, having the time of our life.

As songs changed, we needed another break again, so we retreated to the vendor’s area where we bought a couple Churros from a portable booth being manned by a pleasant Spanish couple who smiled when I nodded my head in agreement at their vendor sign which read “Best Churros ever!”

Moving down the line of vendors, we came to one whom we knew very well, as I had a case of her unopened lemonade in the trunk of my car. Twyla sat at a long table selling her summertime concoction and looking to make a good profit at it as well. To either side of her, sitting in portable lawn chairs were Helen and Raymond, leaving me to wonder who was manning the store. When I said something about that, they both grinned. “Closed up early,” Raymond replied. “Can’t miss the street party, even if I’m too tired for dancing.”

Helen smiled at the sight of us. “You two look ready for dancing, or getting hitched. I’m not sure which.”

“I didn’t have anything else to wear,” I answered. “And anyway, when Summer dresses this sexy, I can’t show up next to her in bib overalls.”

She laughed heartily. “Oh no, you can’t! Well, you are definitely the most gorgeous, exciting couple here tonight, that’s for sure. You’ll be the community talk for months.”

The band slipped into a John Mellencamp song and I could feel Summer next to me itching to dance again. Though I was starting to get tired, Helen gave me this look that said, you better go boy, the night is wasting. So, with a friendly farewell we left our new friends and reentered the dancing field as the band moved from Mellencamp to John Fogerty. The song, “Rock n’ Roll Girls” got us moving once more, and I found myself looking back on the street party as something very special. In a way, with seeing everyone we had come in contact with during our stay here, this night almost seemed like a last hurrah before we had to leave this wonderful place behind. Swaying to a couple slower numbers made famous by Steve Miller and Kenny Loggins, Summer laid her head on my shoulder, the music forever ingrained in our heads just as surely as our love was forever nestled in our hearts.

Forever. What a thought that was. And what a night this was shaping to be in our memory.

Part 47: Wonderful Tonight

“Orchard House & The Heart Of Everything” 2016 Paul D Aronson.