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In the Shape of a Heart (MIMM Challenge)

Short story By: Mistress of Word Play

This is a story I wrote for a challenge. I have seen Jackson Browne in concert and he is to me still a top notch performer. I was taken by this paticular song. I have included the song at the end of my story. I hope you enjoy it. Susan :)

Submitted:Mar 20, 2010    Reads: 89    Comments: 20    Likes: 17   

I had finished my business meeting early. Tired and spent I had about three hours to kill before my flight would take me home. I traveled to Houston on company business once a month and would be just as happy to leave this time around. I was not unfamiliar with the night life and decided to have a drink while waiting for my departure. The Mercury bar and lounge was not too far from the hotel I was staying at. A phone call later and I rode away in the cab.
I arrived at the club somewhere around nine thirty. I was still dressed in my business clothing and felt more than a little uncomfortable. Everywhere I looked the clothing was a wave of denim and cowboy boots. Silently and swiftly I made my way to the first vacant barstool and parked myself.
A rather large burly looking man with a cowboy hat on greeted me with a grin and said in a heavy southern drawl, "Howdy Missy, what's your pleasure?"
I could not help but smile as the words left his mouth. It had been many years since my last drink and I sat for a moment wondering what my pleasure really was.
"An amaretto sour frozen," I finally answered hoping he would take my order and fix it quickly.
"Here on business or pleasure?" the bartender asked trying to make small talk.
"Business," I replied, "Say is there a band tonight?"
"Yep," he said smiling, "He plays here all the time. Think you might like him. He's a pretty popular fella."
"Okay, thanks," I replied taking a drink of my cocktail, "You did great on the drink."
He smiled and tipped his hat at me. I sat and sipped my drink waiting for the show to start. I could feel that first little buzz I always got from any type of alcohol and hoped the bartender was right about the entertainment. I did not have to wait long to find out. The band returned and started to play. I was flying high and loving it. It was then I noticed the singer. He stood about six foot tall and had dark hair. I did not know for sure but he looked to be a least part Mexican. His eyes are what caught me off guard; they were the most beautiful shade of blue I had ever seen. He had on a ripped pair of tight jeans and a loose fitting shirt he wore unbuttoned thus exposing the white T-shirt he had on. There was something that drew me to him, maybe it was the drink, or perhaps that aura of sadness he possessed. He approached the mike and started singing.
"Was a ruby that she wore on a chain around her neck in the shape of a heart," he sang with that southern drawl I loved so well.
I sat on my barstool and absorbed the song. It was so sad and heart wrenching. The song without him singing it would probably not have brought the tears to my eyes. It was magic as he belted out the chorus.
"People speak of love, don't know what they're thinking of, wait around for the one who fits just like a glove, speak in terms of belief and belonging try to put some name to their longing. People speak of love," he sang and I sat at the edge of my barstool melting like snow in springtime.
I had never seen anyone put so much of their heart and soul into a performance as he did, guess I never will again. He finished the song and his set. I eyed him as he found a table and sat down. Generally I am a very shy person, but this guy I really wanted to meet. Taking a big gulp of my drink for courage I casually walked to where he was. The rest of the band members after mingling with the crowd were making their way to his table as well. I stood there for a moment just staring at him. I must have looked a total fool or one of those people who stalks celebrities.
"Is there somethin' wrong, Ma'am?" one of the band members finally asked with a grin on his face.
"Oh!" I finally said snapping out of my daydream and staring at the vocalist, "I just wondered if I might talk with you for a second? That song you performed and the way you sang it was just amazing."
The band members started laughing and clapping each other on the back. I could feel the color rising in my cheeks and I wondered what had possessed me to express my excitement in such a manner.
"Okay boys," he finally said glaring at his band, "Get lost for a few. Me and this lady here are going to have a talk."
With his foot he pushed one of the chairs out and motioned for me to have a seat. I did so not sure what it was about him I found so attractive and appealing.
"Can I freshen up your drink?" he asked looking me up and down as if I were some type of bizarre creature from another planet.
"No," I stammered placing my hand over my drink, "Could I buy you one?"
Even though he laughed at my comment a deep hollow sadness resounded in his voice. I wondered what had brought him down so low.
"Swore off the sauce about two year ago," he replied pointing to the glass in front of him, "These days Coke is about all I drink."
We sat for a moment in a rather uncomfortable silence when he looked me dead in the eyes and said, "I wrote that song for a friend of mine."
"Well it was just the best," I answered as I waited for more of his story.
"The guy I wrote it for well he and his childhood sweetheart got married right after high school. He was a singer and the girl fancied herself in love with him. He gave her the necklace right after they were married. That girl wore it all the time. A cheap little necklace with a stone that looked like a heart-shaped ruby," he said with a far away look in those beautiful blue eyes.
"He adored her and she said she loved him. I wonder sometimes if she really did. Well to make a long story short he ran the bars performing, she for awhile till the baby came along went with him. They had troubles and problems along the way, but she rode it out with him. He started drinking heavy and smoking dope, she took care of the baby and tried to hold the marriage together as best she could. It wasn't long before the fighting started between the two of them. She wanted better and he just would not give up his life style," he said and then took a drink of his Coke.
"Guess he just didn't realize what she was going through," I said sympathetically, "You know her having the baby and all."
"Yep," he said going back into that trance like state, "Like I sang in the song, she up and left him one night. She packed her stuff and headed back to her parents with the baby. He knew it was over when he found the necklace on the nightstand. She didn't have to leave a note. He knew she was done."
I watched him as he ran his fingers through his hair. Not sure whether he had finished his story or not I sat waiting. In the corner of his eyes I saw what looked like tears. I placed my hand over his. He sighed and tried to smile.
"He went on with his music career," he said choking the words out, "She filed for divorce. I guess some good did come from it all. He cleaned up his act and maybe one day she'll see that he still loves her."
I thought about all he had told me in his story. How love blossoms and grows and then when left unattended it withers and dies. I had been in love so many times and felt the sting of disappointment and frustration. I wondered if anyone really knew what love was and if they did know could they even see how fragile it was.
"I think it was kind of you to write the song for him," I finally answered, "It is a beautiful song and anyone who's been there can relate to it. I hope the two of them can work things out. It sounds as if they might if they really love each other."
"Do you think so?" he asked flashing me a genuine smile.
"I think all things are possible," I replied smiling back at him, "If we just put a little effort into it."
"Thanks," he said.
I noticed what time it was and thanked him for the song and story. He thanked me for the ear and friendship, but as I got up to leave he reached into his shirt pocket and withdrew something. In his hand he held the necklace she had worn so faithfully around her neck.
"I already knew," I said as I headed for the door.

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