Shadow Dancing by Vincent Barry

Lately at night I turn on the “Easy Listening” channel and shadow dance in the dark until my legs ache. I picture myself back at the Hurricane, in Little Falls, with its corny tropical storm effect and cheesy boys band — but for all of that, for all its corn and cheese, my all-time favorite place on Saturday night because it’s there I most feel her nearness gliding over the floor. Then back in her house, snuggling by the glow of the fire, never going “all the way” because we’re good Catholics and true believers. But, for all of that, our bodies locked together. And afterward — in the song’s “wee small hours of the morning” — on the sidewalk, outside her house, where the street is empty and damp and her breath is like summer, we can’t bear to part till the very last minute, when, in the song’s “hush of the night,” I hold out my hand and see my heart in it. “See you tomorrow,” I hear her whisper once again, and once again she gives me a tap of a kiss, and leaves me once again counting the hours till midday Sunday dinner. . . . Shadow dancing — it can’t end, it mustn’t — those embers of memory must linger, otherwise I’ll just dry up and blow away. . . . Then my wife walks in and catches me, and I blurt out everything. “You’re seeing someone?” she goes. No, no, I protest, it’s not that — it’s just someone I knew a long time ago that I can’t stop thinking about. “Even worse,” she goes, flumping on the bed like a fighter on a stool who can’t answer the bell, “you’re dreaming about her.”

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Vincent Barry’s affection for creative writing is rooted in the theatre. More years ago than he prefers to remember, his one-act plays caught the attention of the late Arthur Ballet at the University of Minnesota’s Office for Advanced Drama Research and Wynn Handman at New York’s The American Place Theatre. Some productions followed, as well as a residency at The Edward Albee Foundation on Long Island. Meanwhile, Barry was teaching philosophy at Bakersfield College in California and authoring textbooks. Now retired from teaching, and living in Santa Barbara with his wife and daughter, Barry has returned to his first love, fiction.

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