Swing Dancing by James Bates

Swing dancing night at the Orchard Lake Retirement Home. “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,” sang the singer. 

Jerry could dig it as he sat off to the side in the community room, watching.  One of the orderlies had a boom box set up on a card table and was playing dance music from the thirty’s and forties. It was the best. In his memory Jerry could picture a long-ago nightclub filled with sweaty bodies dancing up a storm, cigarette smoke swirling and the band wailing to the big beat of the drums and the thumping rhythm of the standup bass. He tried to contain himself but he couldn’t. 

When the next song started, he turned to his wife. “Let’s go cut the rug, Alice,” he said, standing up and reaching for her. “Let’s get on that dance floor and show them how it’s done.”

He grinned as she took his hand and stood with him, smiling. How wonderful she looked tonight, she in her blue and white checked poodle dress, looking like she was born for this, jitterbugging and jiving with him. Swing dancing. What a lucky man he was. He smiled, thinking this must be what heaven was like.

With Alice by his side, Jerry hurried out to the floor ready to dance like there was no tomorrow, ignoring the fact that it’d been fifteen years since Alice had been with him. Fifteen long, lonely years, since she’d passed away after a valiant battle with cancer. But tonight, that was all forgotten.

The crowd watched awestruck as Jerry pivoted onto the floor and began jiving to “In the Mood,” by Glenn Miller, dancing up a storm, a smile as wide as the key board of a piano, as energetic as the wailing of a saxophone. They watched him there on the floor, lost in his memory of those long-ago days, swing dancing across the floor with Alice, the love of his life, together again the way it was meant to be, never wanting the music to end. 

Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories and poems have appeared in over two-hundred online and print publications. His short story “Aliens” has been nominated by The Zodiac Press for the 2021 Pushcart Prize. His collection of short stories Resilience is scheduled to be published in early 2021 by Bridge House Publishing and Short Stuff a collection of his flash fiction and drabbles will be published by Chapeltown books in 2021. In addition, Something Better, a dystopian adventure, will be published by Paper Djinn Press in early 2021. All of his stories can be found on his blog: www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com.

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