The four of us girls decided to hell with it, it's Saturday night so let's just go out and have a few drinks and listen to some music. We sat at a round table in the corner of the packed, noisy and smoky Avalon ballroom. They had a big band and a guy playing trumpet who was a dead ringer for Harry James. Boy, was he good. We were close enough to the bandstand to be able to feel the music in our bones. It was loud, and it was exciting.
A guy came up to the table, and looked right at me. He didn't pay any attention to my girlfriends. Just me.
"How about a dance, sweetheart?" he said.
He had black, shiny hair, with a white part. A thin, boyish face. Very handsome. And those eyes! Deep, dark, shining eyes that made me suspicious and interested at the very same time. I got up, followed him to the floor.
He told me his name was Mike Quinn. I told him I was Elizabeth Callan.
His parents, like mine, came from the old country around 1900. We had a lot in common, both being Irish, he said. He was a good dancer, very smooth, almost like Fred Astaire. I was 21 then, and he was 22.
I suppose I was waiting for him to make a mistake, so I could write him off. But in the beginning he did everything right. He was sweet, he knew how to make me laugh, although underneath his joking he looked like something heavy was on his mind. He didn't tell me right away what it was about. I had to pry it out of him, later.
But maybe that's what drew me to him. That pained look in his eyes made me want to take care of him, make him feel better. Kind of like wanting to bring home a hungry stray dog.
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