Wednesday, August 12, 2009


For the last few weeks I’ve been enmeshed in the re-writing of my second novel, We Danced to Ray Charles. The night the story’s two life-long friends, Amy and Mark, first kiss is a key moment. In the book’s current version. The scene occurs about half-way through as a flashback/dream told from Amy’s perspective.

What I’m thinking about doing is adding Mark’s version of the same scene to the opening chapter. That’s what I’ll be posted today. In a few days, I’ll post the scene in which Amy recalls that evening. A third and final post related to the event, will detail what happens when they chance to return to that spot.

For those faint of heart and/or weak of stomach, they don't go, "All the way." Maybe they should. Maybe it's too detailed or not detailed enough. Maybe the whole idea is weak. Your feedback, whether it be brickbats or bouquets, hallelujahs or hand-grenades, posted here or sent by email, is needed and will be appreciated.

Bayou Bill


You Must Remember This
An excerpt from Chapter One of, We Danced to Ray Charles
by Bill Fullerton

Bebe fluttered her fingers in a goodbye gesture as she pulled away. There was a brief squeal when her tires hit the asphalt road. Mark watched the taillights vanish into the sultry night while touching the spot she’d kissed.

A warm breeze drifted past. With it came a faint scent of spring flowers and the succulent eroticism of approaching rain. It reminded him of another night and another girl. His hand droped, his smile faded, and he whispered, “Ain’t life a bitch?”

It was like a bad joke. The once unobtainable Bebe Boudreaux, the girl he always wanted, seemed interested in him. That would be great, except he’d just fallen in love with Amy, someone he could never have, someone he loved so much it hurt to even think her name.

Even the possibility of a well-financed shot at becoming a state representative couldn’t get Amy off his mind. Once, they both loved politics. He still did, and had always wanted to run for office. But after today’s meeting with local big shots, all he could think about was how, after what Vietnam did to her brother, she no longer cared.

Thank God he’d run into Bebe. What politics couldn’t do, she could, almost. With Bebe around, it was hard for thoughts of anyone else to slip in, hard, but not impossible. The moment she drove away, memories of that night with Amy came flooding back along with a familiar, sick, hopeless, soul-shriveling sensation.

A swarm of hungry mosquitoes began intruding on his thoughts. An absentminded attempt to wave them away failed and he headed for his car. He wanted to think, to try and figure things out, not feed mosquitoes.

The tree-lined streets of Pinefield featured more gentle hills than traffic signs. Even in the downtown area there were few other cars passing the lighted storefronts. Mark ignored these icons of his youth as he tried to focus on Bebe and what happened at the dance. But his mind kept going back to Amy and that night on the levee.

The party had been his dumb idea. To be dumped by a guy you’ve dated for over a year is tough. To have him do it for another guy—devastating. That’s what happened to Amy, and Mark had never seen her so confused and depressed.

So the idea, the hope, was that after a couple weeks of mourning and talking his ear off on the phone, a casual beer-bust with friends would kick-start her back to life. And while everyone else seemed to be having a great time, he could tell she was miserable.

That’s why he kept checking on her and noticed when she drifted away from the center of the party and then vanished into the late evening shadows. At first he thought it best to let her be alone. But he changed his mind when a tall, arrogant jerk with a long-standing case of the hots for Amy seemed ready to follow.

In the breeze off the river, he heard a faint, whimpering noise like an injured animal might make. He followed it to her hide-away behind a driftwood log.

They’d talked and talked about what happened and why she felt so damn depressed. There was more to her mood than just breaking up with a boyfriend, much more. But by now he didn’t know what else to say. So he just sat beside her and said nothing.

A fresh breeze came off the river and she shivered. He put an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. With a low, anguished wail, she buried her face against his chest and began soaking the front of his shirt with what seemed like an endless stream of tears.

When her sobs began to taper off, she didn’t pull away and try to apologize. Instead, she continued to lie against him, silently sliding a fingertip across his soaked shirt. It felt good, very good, and he smiled

That’s when she lifted her head and looked at him. Even with all the crying, she was still beautiful. He’d never been “turned on” by Amy’s looks—neither had Amy. Maybe it was a trick of the mind to protect their friendship. Still, he understood why guys--.

His evaluation of Amy’s beauty came to a sudden stop when she slipped her hands behind his neck, pulled his face to hers, and began to kiss him, and kiss him, and kiss him.

Later, he wondered if that was when he fell in love with her. Did that first touch of her lips, her tongue, and the warmth of her mouth against his melt whatever barrier had stood between their friendship and love? He’d never know. What he did know was that by the time their lips parted, something in him had changed, forever.

There was a look of serenity, or something like that, on her tear-streaked face. But he sensed another, more subtle emotion. With a jolt of disbelief, he realized she was waiting for him to do something. The problem was he had no idea what that should be.

He tried to think, tried to be rational and decide what was best. Amy was wasted, hurt, vulnerable. He’d never taken advantage of a girl, and didn’t want to start with his best friend. But the memory of that kiss, and the way she kept staring into his eyes, made thinking about anything other than kissing her again, and again, and again, impossible.

This time she didn’t have to pull his face to hers. At some point it occurred to him that Amy was one helluva good kisser. He envied the guys she’d dated.

The next time they parted, he started to say something about stopping. Maybe joke that he wasn’t sure how much more of this he could stand. Only it wasn’t really a joke.

Before he could get started, Amy snuggled closer and pulled him back down onto her mouth. Though unsure if he’d fallen in love with Amy during their first kiss, what now followed made that a very moot point.

As if on autopilot, his hand slipped under her sweatshirt. Amy shivered and tried to pull him closer. He took possession of her breast, savoring its firm, silky smoothness. The nipple was already hard, as if waiting for him. As he gently rolled it between finger and thumb, Amy broke their kiss and moaned.

He took his time kissing her eyes, her cheek, her chin, letting his lips trail down to her neck. There was no resistance when he pushed the sweatshirt higher, exposing her small, perfect breasts to the pale moonlight. A moment later his lips encircled one of her nipples. Amy gasped and tried to press herself deeper into his mouth.

Once again he told himself he should stop, but his hand seemed to move of its own accord down her slim torso. When he began fumbling with her zipper, Amy made no move to stop him.

More than anything in his life, he wanted to make love with Amy Marshall. And he knew if he didn’t stop now, that would happen. Only it wouldn’t be love, it’d be screwing. And though aching with desire and need, he didn’t want to do that to his best friend. And he didn’t want to risk losing his best friend over what, considering his present condition, would probably be a two-second burst of ecstasy.

With a resigned sigh, he gave up on the zipper. His lips released her breast and returned to her mouth.

Their tongues performed a lazy dance from one mouth to another. He pulled her sweatshirt down, covering breasts he’d probably seen for the last time. For a moment, he allowed his fingers to caress first one, then the other. He wanted to remember their texture, shape, and warmth.

The kissing became less intense but didn’t stop. He hated to break that last contact with her. Besides, they both needed to cool down before returning to the--.

The irate blare of a car horn brought Mark back from the Mississippi levee to one of the few Pinefield intersections with a traffic light. A light he’d just run. He waved in apology at the offended driver, and headed out of town. If he was going to let himself think about that night with Amy, he better get off the road.

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