A continuation from Ted’s story where we meet Madge and her new partner Ronnie entering a dance marathon- read it 1 here and inspired by some family photographs I recently found – the lady is my Great Aunt.
Madge felt she could sleep for days, and perhaps she would’ve if she lived somewhere else; instead she was brought rudely to wakefulness by the clanking sound of the plumbing, protesting at her neighbours’ requirement for water with which to flush, shave, bathe and cook. All around her, apartment doors were opening and closing, feet clattering on the winding staircase. The street door slammed frequently as those living hugger mugger, having made their morning ablutions, set off to work.
She threw an arm over her face, shielding her eyes from light streaming in through her narrow window, but even that limb felt leaden. Madge’s legs were worse, her knee and hip joints screamed from overuse while her feet were throbbing as insistently as when she’d slipped off her dancing shoes the night before.
But we won! She reminded herself, then rolled stiffly over to check the money was still stashed safely under her mattress, folded into her winter muffler.
Now she was wide awake, her mind began gnawing at the problem of their next competition. White City Amusement Park was a step up, but pretending to be married – that didn’t sit easily with her. Ronnie was a dreamboat, for sure, but what did she really know about him except that he came from Cleveland?
They were meeting at the diner for lunch, she could put him through the hoops then, find out his intentions and prospects. Pulling the thin blanket over her head to cut out the light, Madge was determined to grab another hour of rest now the building was more or less empty and the water tank was silent.
* * *
Yeah he was cute. Madge smiled at Ronnie as he approached her and slid into the booth.
“Morning,” he smiled, acting as bashful as she felt.
Strange, they’d danced together for nearly four days, held each other close, offering support to one another as fatigue made their limbs sag like cooked spaghetti. Now they were giving each other sidelong glances and there was a silly grin on her face she couldn’t wipe off.
“What can I get you?” Their waitress looked tired, her apron bore a splash of gravy from today’s special, Irish Stew.
Ronnie looked expectantly at Madge, ladies first his eyes said, and she awarded him points for politeness.
“A plate of the stew please.”
“You want that with potatoes or cornbread?”
She chose potato, mopping up sauce with bread seemed unladylike, and she wanted Ronnie to think of her as a lady.
Ronnie ordered the same, but with bread and collard greens.
“Coffee?” the waitress asked, and when they assented, she brought them large white cups which she filled to the brim.
Adding creamer and sugar, Madge found sipping at the hot drink revived her. It also gave her a chance to study Ronnie, to notice the velvet depths of his brown eyes and a cheek dimple when he smiled.
“So – what next?” she asked.
“Find a job I guess,” Ronald shrugged.
“What do you do?”
“I was training to be a butcher,” his eyes flicked to hers, gauging her reaction.
“So you’re planning to stay?”
“Why not? We’re good together, we got another competition coming up. We could make a go of this.”
He lowered his cup, leaning back as the waitress set wide brimmed bowls in front of them. The rich gravy steamed and settled round slow cooked carrots, beef and onions. Madge’s stomach growled loudly, and both of them laughed.
“So you plan to stay in Chicago?” she asked once she’d swallowed a few mouthfuls.
“Sure,” he nodded, “Can’t exactly travel back and forth.”
“What about what the promoter said – better if we were married?”
Ronnie chewed his mouthful maddeningly slowly, Madge’s toes curled in her shoes. Finally he raised his eyes to hers, dark brown meeting green with gold flecks.
“That wouldn’t be so bad.”
Her stomach gave a swoop worthy of a ride on the big dipper.
To be continued on Ted’s blog. This post submitted to MindlovesMisery’s Sunday writing prompt : Light