By Cornelia Amiri
U.S. Home front – World War II
Ruby slid the long manila card into the time clock slot and waked across the street to the boarding house. Her cotton overalls softly rustled against her skin as she climbed the stairs to her room and plopped down on the lumpy, bottom bunk.
Her roommate, Connie, leaned down from the top bunk. “Why don’t you come along?”
Her other roommate, Midge, leisurely painted her long legs to look like stockings then slipped a pair of strapped heels on her bare feet.
Midge and Connie were going out for a night on the town. Ruby could be just as wicked. Well not so wicked, but she knew how to have fun.
So Ruby slipped on a smart looking pok-a-dot dress and brushed a tube of scarlet lipstick over her mouth.
“You want to borrow my leg paint?” Midge’s perfectly plucked brows arched as she stared at Ruby’s gams.
“No thanks. When I paint my legs it looks to much like I actually painted them.” Ruby always ended up with stripes and spots.
Midge gave her one of those what-are-you-talking-about expressions and shrugged. “Ok.”
Wearing their best hats, all three girls pranced down the narrow wooden stairs.
Midge and Connie’s dates, two soldiers, were waiting on the front porch of the boarding house. Ruby trailed behind the foursome, down the cracked sidewalk to a nearby dive.
The jukebox roared with the sassy sound of swing. One of the soldiers dragged an extra chair over to a table for four.
Ruby ordered a coca-cola. The bar tender poured the dark, fizzing liquid into a tall glass and topped it with a ripe red cherry. Ruby took a long draw, leaving a ring of lipstick on the paper straw. Wicked.
A deep voice asked, “Do you want to dance?”
Swinging her head around, Ruby glanced up at a tall, dark haired solider with the deepest blue eyes she’d ever seen.
Ruby couldn’t speak. Those sparkling eyes left her breathless.
What’s your name?” Blue Eyes asked in deep but mellow voice that curled Ruby’s toes.
Ruby just looked at him and grinned. Finally she managed to creak out, “Ruby.” And your Wicked.
“Hi Ruby. I’m Jack. You want to dance?”
“Yeah.” Oh no. Ruby covered her mouth with her hands and took a deep breath. She tried again. “I mean, why yes. I would love to dance.”
Ruby felt like she was going to swoon. If only her legs would hold out long enough for her to make it to the dance floor.
Ruby remembered something important: I don’t know how to dance.
Ruby tried, but her feet wouldn’t listen to her head. Her brand new spiked heels kept stabbing the poor man’s toes. But he was strong and brave as any solider, he just kept grinning.
They had a lot of room to dance; everyone else kept backing away from them. In a gallant, sensual moment Jack swung her around. When Ruby’s feet came back in contact with the floor, she fell flat on her bottom.
Ruby covered her eyes and peaked up at him through the spaces between her fingers.
Jack’s lips parted and a deep warm exhilarating sound flowed forth. He was laughing.
Ruby sighed. A chortle escaped from deep in her throat.
They were both still laughing when Jack helped her up.
“I’m really not such a good dancer. Maybe we should sit out the next one out,” Jack’s lips trembled as he tried to stop laughing.
Ruby bobbed her head in agreement. She couldn't speak, she felt like she was going to explode inside. All Ruby could do was giggle. It happened every time she looked into Jacks’ fathomless blue eyes. Wicked
At the gang’s table, Jack offered her a cigarette but she didn’t smoke. He lit his, took a long draw, and blew thin vapory circles into the air.
“Jack,” Ruby sighed out loud.
“Yes.” He leaned closer.
Ruby leaned back and giggled. “Oh I didn’t say anything.” She put her hand over her heart and breathed. It must be his eyes. They are so deep.
Midge glanced at her watch. “Oh it’s almost midnight.”
“I knew you were too good to be true ,” Jack pointed his cigarette at Ruby. “Let me guess, you’re Cinderella.”
“Yes,” Ruby sighed. Then gulped. “Oh no. You see they lock the doors to the boarding house at midnight. We have to get back.”
Jack held Ruby’s arm all the way back to the boarding house. Which was good, it kept her from swooning.
As they reached the curb, Jack pulled Ruby around to face him while the other two couples strolled toward the front porch.
What about tomorrow night?” Jack asked.
“Uh, tomorrow?" What?
Jack inhaled. “Will you go out with me tomorrow night?”
Wicked. Ruby fanned herself with her hand. This could head to some sort of extra wicked pleasure. “I need some ice-cold water.”
“Excuse me?” Jack’s dark brow arched over his blue eyes.
“I think I ‘m going to swoon,” Ruby said just before she did so.
Jack caught her in his broad, warm arms. “You must be over heated from dancing.”
“Sure.” Ruby grinned.
“Does this mean tomorrow night is off?” Jack asked with a concerned look in his eye.
“Pick me up anytime,” Ruby said as Jack helped her back to her feet.
“I tell you what, why don’t I meet you at the boarding house when you get off work? We can sit on the porch swing and talk till midnight.”
“Sounds good,” Ruby said trying not to smile too much. “But, you may be disappointed. When I get off work I’ll be in my overalls and my hair, won’t be done. It’ll be a mess.”
“Sounds delightful.” Ruby could actually see sparks in his eyes.
Wicked and then some.
Ruby bounded up the stairs to her room and plopped down on the bottom bunk. She dreamed about Jack and it was . . . a very wicked dream.