The Reader - Week 8
At closing time, Andy and Jennifer left the pub.
“You don’t have a car?” asked Andy.
“No, I took a cab—I wanted to have more than a couple of beers.”
And both of them had certainly downed more than a couple. The summer night air was quite a bit warmer than the air-conditioned pub—Andy liked the way the warmth of it embraced him. By the time they got to his house, Andy was feeling a little woozy.
“I should’ve stopped drinking earlier,” he said, as he opened the door. He wondered if his speech was slurred.
“If one is not enough and two is better, three should be just right right, no?” said Jennifer. They went into the kitchen, “Retro! I love it,” she gasped.
“I think we had five,” said Andy, “Apiece. How ’bout some music?”
“Yes, let’s dance.”
Andy put his phone in the speaker dock that was the only modern appliance on the counter. Everything else had belonged to his parents. When there was no sound at first Andy thought that he might had hit the mute mode. After a second, however, a strange tune began playing in mid-verse, full of minor sevenths and suspended chords. After a few choruses the sound faded away and a relaxed baritone voice purred from the box:
“Now, here’s a blast from the past—In the Summertime—by Mungo Jerry, ” said the DJ, who had an exaggerated epiglottal push. It sounded as if he was puking up the words:
In the summertime, when the weather is hot,“That’s not the way I remembered it,” said Andy. The song continued to its end, each verse more more twisted than the previous.
Drinking beer, until your mind is shot,
In the summertime, you’ve got drinking,
You’ve got drinking on your mind,
Have a quart, have a pint,
Go out and see what you can find.”
"Banner Year for Beer!" an ad on the radio proclaimed. A choral group perkily sang the praises of a cheap beer in jazzy four-part harmonies.
“Freedom Radio request hour,” said the DJ, “… with this one going out to Andy and Jennifer on the Northside… ”
“They’re playing our song, com’on, dance with me…” said Jennifer, pulling Andy closer.
Switchin’ in the kitchen, hey mama on a Saturday night,Andy put his hands on Jennifer’s waist but he was too drunk to dance. She put her arms around his neck and they swayed in time to the music. When the song ended, Jennifer put her lips next to Andy’s ear:
Twitchin’ with a feeling, everything is goin’ alright,
She’s dancin’ up on the table, man, this girl is really unstable,
Switchin’ and-a twitchin’, on a red-hot Saturday night…
“Nice girls don’t stay for breakfast,” she purred.
The DJ’s voice came on the box:
“And now a slow ballad from Julie London—Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast.”
Andy wondered what was going on.
The Reader is short fiction, published every Friday.