1958
Francine Witte

Saturday night. Army Elvis on the radio. Night-gowned me dancing with the babysitter. Mother strokes Midnight in Paris on her long, open throat. My father slapping Aqua Velva on his cheeks.

Weekdays, my father works at a store selling good suits to other men. Mother once took me to visit him. Rows and rows of jackets. Under fluorescent light, my father shrunk down to fit. And then, the lady named Lola who kept looking from me to my father to me.

That night, voices from my parents' room. My father saying that all this jealousy can gum up a marriage like sludge building up in a clarinet. But don't worry, he says, he'll quit this job, this crummy job cause it's not what his heart is calling him to do. And mother saying he can't be a music bum now that he's put a kid on the earth. My father has other suit jobs after that. Each one ending with a lady's name. Each one ending with Mother's open suitcase on the bed.

Eventually, they end up with Saturday night. Amateur band at the Elk's Lodge. People tell him that when he steps into the spotlight, he blooms and blooms like a flower. He smiles and thanks them and goes back to work on Monday. He takes Saturday night and weaves it and wears it on his back like a pin-striped suit.


First published: May, 2003
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