Dance to the Whisperer
Steven H. Short
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Two weeks pass since the tragic death of Eli Johnson and the construction of the airbase is going as planned. Max Murphy left the job site on the day after the killing, saying it was bad luck for something like this to happen on a construction project. Rico, a devoted Catholic, used his beliefs to come to terms with what he saw and his accepted the fact that he was unable to prevent it. He told Turner that God forgives him and that he did everything in his power to prevent anyone from getting hurt. The tragedy is now in Rico’s past.
Early that morning, Turner notices the food supplies in the construction shack beginning to run low. He makes a list of essential items and informs Rico he’s going into town to get supplies and will be back in a couple of hours.
The drive to town takes only a few minutes and Turner finds his way to the towns’ main street that intersects with highway 65. He turns onto the main street and with in two blocks he enters the town square. In the middle of the square lay a park like area with a gazebo, green grass and side walks that meet at a large elm tree in the middle. A two-lane street runs around the outer perimeter and several locale businesses outline the square. Turner takes his coupe and circles the square in search of the supply store. He sees the sign Rose Grocery above the entry to a narrow bricked building, he pulls his coupe into the diagonal parking stall, gets out and enters the store through the front screened door.
The storefront is small, no more that twenty-five feet wide with the entry door located in the middle and large display windows on each side. The inside of the store is fairly dark and hard to see, Turner thinks, his eyes not yet adjusted to the lack of light. Shelves are mounted on the walls from the floor to the ceiling and run the length of the room. There are a few empty spaces but most are stocked with the normal goods, Stevens Oven Baked Rolled Oaks, Rob Roy Coffee and other named brands. In front of the shelves are flat counters with a Holwick electric grinder and a Dayton Scale sitting on top of them.
Turner notices at the end of the room a doorway that appears to lead into the back storage area. Next that back door is a penny scale made by the American Scale Company. To the right of the scale, a woman wearing a flowered dress stands on a stepladder stocking shelves. Her back toward him. He sees the woman and approaches her until he gets to within a few feet. He stops, cocks his head slightly to the left and admires her small waist and follows the flowing lines all the way down to her ankles. The seams on the nylon stockings are centered perfectly in the middle of her shapely legs.
“Would you like some help?” he offers.
Startled, she drops the bag of Nancy Lee Whole Wheat onto the floor.
“Let me get that for you.” Turner bends over and grabs the undamaged bag of wheat and hands it to the girl on the ladder. The two make eye contact and for several seconds the earth stands still.
“Oh, thank goodness the bag didn’t break open. My father would have been very upset with me had that happened,” the girl says, breaking the spell. She puts the bag back onto the shelf and steps down off the ladder.
“I’m so sorry, you startled me. I didn’t hear you come in.” The girl says shyly, somewhat embarrassed by her clumsiness. “What can I do for you?”
“My name is Nelson Turner, I work out at the new airbase. I in need of some supplies,” he reaches into his left pants pocket and pulls the piece of paper out on which he made the supply list, “here’s my list, do you think you can get these things for me today?” He asks.
She reaches out and takes the white paper from the stranger and looks it over, paying attention to the neatness of the writer.
“Oh, I’m sure we can get most of it, but it will take awhile. Can you come back in maybe, lets say, two hours? I should have it ready by then.” She says. “some of this I will have to order, it might take a few days. With the war on, we sometimes have trouble getting everything we want.”
“That would be great, I have some errands to run” he knowingly lies to her, “so I’ll be back in two hours.” He turns and walks out the front door toward his car.
Once in his car, he takes a deep breath to relax himself. His heart is pumping hard and fast and his nervousness is uncharacteristic of him. He takes another deep breath. “Nelson Hunter Turner you have just met the most beautiful girl in the world and you need to get to know her better.” He says to himself.
Turner steers the car back out onto Main Street towards Hwy. 65. He sees the small café where he and Rico ate when they first came to town and decides to spend the next two hours there until he has to go get his supplies. He parks the car and gets out, goes inside and finds a booth and sits down. He notices his heart still pumping and the picture of the girl he just met reels like a motion picture in his mind. Her smile seemed to lighten the dark store and her light brown shoulder length hair, neatly rolled in the style of the time glistened. She’s not more then five foot two and probably weighs no more than a hundred and fifteen pounds.
He stares out the window, watching an Army convoy of trucks heading west down Hwy. 65. The waitress arrives with a glass of water, “What can I get cha handsome?” asks the middle-aged red haired waitress.
“I’ll just have some coffee please, black.” He answers.
When the coffee arrives, Turner slowly stirs the black liquid in the cup, rerunning the few moments he had with the young women from the supply store.
“How old is she? Is she married? If not, does she have a boyfriend? Is he in the service? Where does she live, I wonder.” are some of the questions entering his mind. He looks at the clock hanging behind the counter; “one hour and forty-five minutes to go.” He orders another coffee. Turner sits at the café waiting for the two hours to pass, drinking coffee, staring out the window at the traffic passing by on the highway and thinking of the girl he just met at Rose Grocery.
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