The Window

October 16, 2011 at 8:16 am | Posted in Memoir -- Non-fiction Stories, Other Stories | 12 Comments
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I glance up, turn my head and stare out the window.  But the shadowy figure has disappeared.

It can’t be him.

A translucent curtain hides me from passers-by and reduces them to moving shadows.  The man walks beyond my office door so I relax and resume reading.  A knock.  The door creaks open.  Lou.  Holding a bouquet of red roses.

“For my sweet baby on Valentine’s Day.”

What is he doing?  He knows that Inglewood is a white-only enclave. 

“You’re hidden away.  Almost couldn’t find you.  But I had to bring my sweetheart a gift on Valentine’s Day.”

I’ve never received a Valentine present.  I’ve never received flowers.

I walk to the front of my desk and Lou hands the bouquet to me.  I press my face into the blooms, inhale slowly.

“So this is where you work,” Lou says, looking around.

I normally sit behind an L-shaped secretary’s desk, with the typing arm facing the window and the main section between me and the entrance.  A bank of file cabinets stands between my work area and two unused desks.  Once this district sales office had four employees.  Now only my boss and I remain.

Opposite my work area is an open door leading into my boss’s office.  Lou looks through it.

For just a second his smile falters.

“I thought your boss was back in town.”

“He is, but he’s out for the day.  These are beautiful roses.”

Lou looks directly into my eyes and smiles.

“Nothing’s too good for my baby.  A dozen of the best.  Man they cost me.”

No, they cost me.  I lent Lou $200 yesterday.  But he promised to marry me.   I had him sign an I.O.U. stating that he’ll marry me or pay back the total $350 I’ve loaned him.

I gesture towards a chair in front of an unused desk.  “Why don’t you sit down.  I’ve finished typing my boss’s letters and don’t have any more work.”

“I have to go.  Just came to give my baby a Valentine.  I’m getting ready to go on the road again.  I won’t see you for awhile.”

“But you just got back four weeks ago.  Can’t you get more jobs around L.A.?”

“It’s the life, baby.  Always on the road.  You stay sweet and good while I’m away.”

I nestle my head against his chest.  He gives me a hug and kisses my forehead.  Then he’s gone.

Why did he come to my office?  Did he think he’d get me in trouble?  He doesn’t understand my relationship with my boss.  We talk about everything.  Steve knows about my inter-racial dating, and although he doesn’t approve, he accepts it as an interesting quirk.  We’re so far away from the head office that my private life doesn’t affect the job.  And the job is all Steve is concerned about.

Such beautiful roses.  Why do I doubt Lou’s motives?  I’m his special girlfriend.  The one he took to the “invitation only” pre-release of “The Hustler.”  The one he took to meet his record producer.  I’m pretty.  And Lou likes blonds.

He will marry me, eventually.

Shannon Moeser

Card Accompanying Bouquet

Receipt for First $150

12 Comments »

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  1. I love reading stories that are in an “easy,” illustrative style. Like a beautiful painting.

  2. “That” Lou Rawls?

  3. Yes.

  4. A tender, well-written story, Shannon. And truly from a young woman’s perspective of love and apparently heartbreak to come. Brought back memories of this eight year-old boy growing up that year just south of Inglewood in Hawthorne, home of the Beach Boys. My dad was managing an insurance claim office in Inglewood. I remember my folks telling me that the nice homes in Inglewood were too expensive; we’d have to settle elsewhere. I received my first transistor radio a year later and discovered the world of Top 40 music, including what must have been Lou’s early hits. Another evocative story. I look forward to more, Shannon.

    –Dave (from “Robby’s a fan, too!”)

    • Thanks Dave,

      You wouldn’t have heard Lou’s early hits in 1961. He didn’t have any hits until 1966. Except that he sang background (basically it was a duet) on Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” which was a hit in 1962. Lou’s name didn’t appear anywhere on the record because Sam Cooke recorded for RCA and Lou was under contract with Capitol Records. I knew that it was him singing with Sam Cooke because I knew that he and Sam were good friends and had been in a Gospel group with Cooke (Lou told me a bit about that). By the time “Bring It On Home To Me” became a hit, Lou and I had broken up but I recognized his unique voice. It was years before Lou’s part in that record was acknowledged, however. In 1962, Lou recorded Stormy Monday, and in 1963 he recorded Tobacco Road, but they were failures at the time and it was years before they were acknowledged as being among his greatest recordings.

      Incidentally, I sued him, but that was another story.

      • I liked your final sentence; I laughed! (Then sad as I suspect yet another trusting young woman taken advantage of.) Thanks for the clarifications as to when Lou had his first hit. I may look for reissues of those first two albums. He certainly was one of the brilliant African American talents to emerge in the pop music evolution.

        Dave

  5. Thanks for your last comment, David. I was hoping that readers would understand that this was the story of a foolish young woman who was being taken advantage of even though (in her logical mind) she knew she was being taken advantage of. I never forgot this episode but I put it aside in my memory storage system. I never followed Lou’s career after our break-up. But when I started to write my story, I looked up stories about him on google and videos of him on YouTube in order to refresh my memory. From google articles I found that he never changed over the years. From one evening of watching a few YouTube videos, I saw how he manipulated women so easily. Also, ironically, during part of the time I was dating him, I also kept a journal. I hadn’t read it for 50 years. Once I started reading it, I saw that even in the journal I was very skeptical about things he said to me (like he was living with “his sister”). I doubted these statements but still thought I was in love with him. This is a true foolish young woman. She thinks she can “change” a man through her love. I’m glad that you, at least, got this point through my writing. It is what a writer dreams about — having a reader understand the significance of her/his story without hitting the reader over the head by saying — “see, this is what the story was really about.”

    • Gee, Shannon. I’m sorry I was such a dolt.

      • You are not a dolt, Ron. You are a very talented man. I’m proud to be able to call you my friend.

      • Thank you, Shannon.
        I am honored.

  6. Shannon, your appending the two documents to the story is a wonderful touch.

  7. Remarkable! Its really amazing piece of writing, I have got much clear idea regarding from
    this piece of writing.


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