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The Dance Palace

by Wayne Scheer

Wayne has been nominated for five Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Nets. He's published numerous stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments, a collection of flash stories. His short story, “Zen and the Art of House Painting” has been made into a short film.  Some of the first stories he published after retiring were in Clever Magazine.  

Elliot and Karen arrived at the hotel late. No tables were available at the restaurant, although food was still being served at the Dance Palace, also part of the hotel. Hunger overwhelmed their doubts, and room service was too expensive, so they shuffled off to the Palace.

As soon as they pushed open the heavy front door, music blared and lights flashed nearly knocking them off their feet. But the dinner menu looked good. A lot less expensive than room service.

They ate and watched dancers twitch to the music, looking like epileptics on speed. Elliot watched a man with hair as white as his own dancing with a blonde easily half his age, her body so covered with tattoos she looked like an ad for a graffiti artist.

Elliot leaned towards his wife, but still had to shout. "Good to see the old guy out with his daughter."

"Grand daughter," Karen shouted back. She was shaking her head to the music. Elliot knew she'd love to dance.

He imagined himself taking her hand and walking to the dance floor.   At once, he transformed into John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  The dancers stepped aside to give them room. The young blonde with the tattoos obviously admired his moves.

Elliot imagined he and Karen partied through the night. Before leaving the dance floor, the blonde shimmied up to him, whispered her room number in his ear and offered to show him more of the graffiti artist's work. He shook his head and took his wife's hand.

They were back at the table, his fantasy replaced by reality. He stood and motioned toward the dance floor.

"It's all right," Karen shouted. "You gave up anchovy pizza for me. I gave up dancing. I still got a good deal.”

He sat back, relieved. They sipped after-dinner drinks and watched the crowd, now hopping as well as twitching.

Finally, the band played a slow song and Elliot stood up again.  “I think I can manage this one.”

On the dance floor, Elliot swayed from one foot to the other while holding Karen close. He kissed her neck, tasting salt and perfume.  She slipped her hand over his rear and whispered, "We're wasting a perfectly good hotel room."

"You read my mind."

They paid their bill and left the dance hall, hand in hand. Elliot glanced

at the white-haired man, still dancing with the graffiti-covered blonde.

He looked exhausted.

Elliot felt exhilarated.

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