Part the First

Every night he would see them on the dance floor, floating in a world of their own making. The Man in his crisp white shirt and creased slacks, and She always in a vibrant floral gown. 

Most nights on this cruise he found himself making excuses to walk through the dance floor, hoping to steal a peek into their world. And every time they were there. He would stop just for a minute or two, a voyeur witnessing an entire universe in dance. Sometimes a waltz, sometime a tango, even the occasional disco. No matter the style, they danced above the music, above the masses, almost into heaven itself. 

Then it happened. He got caught gawking. One knowing glance that said, “I see you. I always see you,” a little smirk from The Man and  then… the voyeur ceased to exist again.

This twenty-eight night cruise was a gift to his wife. A sort of mea culpa for hurting her in that way that is both cliche, and gut-wrenching. A bribe meant to buy something resembling redemption. He spent most of the cruise alone. 

It was morning eleven and he was up early having breakfast among the masses while his wife pretended to sleep in. The Man stood there for a moment before the voyeur realized he was the one being watched. He looked up mid-bite, eyes growing wider as The Man chuckled. The voyeur, full mouth agape, just stared. 

“May I join you,” The Man asked, “all the other tables are full and, well…”

Standing awkwardly, mouth full of eggs, the voyeur said, “yes, of course, please!” A mouth full of eggs made it sound more like, “yeffoofcershpuss!”

The Man laughed as he sat. He had one of those big, room filling laughs that caused the tables around to take notice. 

“Someone should teach you not to talk with a full mouth,” he chided as he sat still laughing. 

The voyeur glanced at The Man’s khaki short clad legs and found himself surprised at how extremely ordinary they were. Wrinkly Q-Tips sprung to mind. 

“I see you watching the dance floor almost every night, I never see you dance,” The Man said before taking a perfectly reasonable sized bite of bacon.

The voyeur swallowed hard on what remained of his mostly chewed eggs, “I don’t really dance.”

“Hmph,” The Man said, “why not?”

“I… dunno. My wife doesn’t like to I guess.” 

The Man winced, offended that the voyeur would blame his wife. He swallowed his perfectly reasonably sized bite of bacon and stared at the voyeur for a moment. The Man’s face scrunched in thought as he scooped a perfectly reasonably sized portion of eggs onto his fork before asking, “how do you know she doesn’t like to dance?”

“She’s my wife, I know her,” the voyeur said defensively. But he didn’t know that she didn’t like to dance, not really. He knew that they liked to get drunk and mock the people that danced badly, which in their usual drunken haze was everyone dancing.

“So you asked and she said ‘no’?” The Man set his fork down and stared, waiting for an answer. 

The voyeur stumbled, “I… she… what’s your name, by the way,” he said, deflecting. 

“Kenneth. Now answer the question, please.”

“I’m Raul-“

“That wasn’t my question,” The Man, Kenneth, said matter-of-factually. He let out a sigh, picked up his fork and resumed his perfectly reasonable breakfast. 

“Right, sure, yeah. I’ve asked my wife to dance plenty of times. Other than at our wedding she’s never been all that interested.”

The Man, Kenneth, chuckled and shook his head, “don’t ask her, lead her. Take her hand and lead her to the dance floor.” Kenneth scooped another reasonably sized portion of eggs onto his fork, “she’ll follow.”

“You don’t know my wife.”

“Ha! Fair enough.” The Man, Kenneth stared at Raul for a moment, measuring both his next words and the man who sat before him. “But I do know strong women. I married one. She is, without a doubt, the most obstinate person I have ever met. Yet, when we dance, she trusts me to lead.”

Raul smiled. Patronizing.

“Maybe your wife doesn’t dance because she doesn’t trust you to lead.”

~ End Part One. 


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