Sidney Takes Leicester Square - Part 3 and Conclusion - A Craven Danger Mystery
“We no sooner hit the dance floor when I lose one of my shoes. And wouldn’t you know it had to be the good one. Well, there was so many jitter-buggers on that floor that I knew I’d never get it back, so I kick the other one off and decided nothin’ was gonna spoil this night for me. I might not have another one like it.
“‘You’ve shrunk,’ Miriam says to me. ‘I like it,’ she says. ‘Now I can see my handsome man eye to eye.’
“I was speechless, FDR. Handsome is something I ain’t never been called before. Or since. So I close my eyes and step in for a little smooch, and wouldn’t you know it, no Miriam! All I got was a lip full of a British Colonel’s medals. Boy, did he shoot me a look. So’s I take my handkerchief out and give them medals a good polishing. He seemed to take it pretty good and stepped back. Like I said, FDR, I wasn’t gonna let nothin’ spoil my night with Miriam. Seems the ol’ guy was tryin’ to cut in on my girl.
“Thank you, Colonel,’ says Miriam, ‘But no. I all ready have a dance partner. We‘re just warming up for the dance contest.’
“‘Dance contest?’ I say. ‘What dance contest?’
“‘The jitter-bug dance contest,’ says Miriam. ‘Turn around so the judge can pin the number on your back.’
“And he did, too. British Empire number 1 is what it said.
“‘British Empire?’ I says. ‘I hope we ain’t doin’ nothin’ that can be construed as illegal, Mister,’ I say to the judge. ‘I ain’t British you know.’
“‘I know,’ he says. ‘I know.’
“He says it twice, FDR. So I guess he was convinced. Then the announcer told us all to get ready, the contest was about to start. If you wasn’t in the contest you had to step off the floor. If you was in the contest you had to stick to the partner you started with. And you know what, FDR. I didn’t blink once through the whole contest. I kept my eye on Miriam every second. And I’m glad I did. Boy, could that sweetie jitter-bug! Me? I was more jittery-buggin’ than jitter-buggin’
“I was a bundle of nerves ‘cause I didn’t want to disappoint Miriam. But I loosened up pretty good once I stopped thinking too much and just let the music take over. I done pretty good, too. There was one part of the dance where Miriam jumps into my arms and tells me to swing her under my legs. I was nervous as heck that I was gonna break something, but down to the ground and under my legs she goes, and just as quick, she was out again and back on her feet. And the audience that wasn’t dancin’ was hootin and hollerin’ about how good they enjoyed it. You couldn’t wipe the grins off our faces if you had a week to try. That’s how good we were feelin’. And when the music stopped, Miriam jumps into my arms, only this time she didn’t ask me to swing her anywhere. She just plants a big fat one on my kisser and now it was my turn to hit the ground. ‘Cause that’s just what I did. My knees buckled and I was a goner. When I come to, the crowd was clapping and whistlin’, and Miraiam was runnin’ her hands through my hair.
“‘Mybrave handsome soldier,’ she says ‘killed in battle by one little kiss.’
“I didn’t know it at the time, but that night would be the last I would ever see of Miriam. The next day my company got the orders to ship out. And out I went.
“But not before I got to walk Miriam home. I made sure it was the longest walk in history, too. I made sure we stopped at every pub along the way. And at each pub we’d have ourselves a dance. Only, no jitter-buggin’. I’m talkin’ about the nice and slow kinda dancin’. Where you hold each other tight, and the girl puts her head on the guys shoulder. And you just kinda walk around in a dream till the music stops.
“But then it was time to go. All the joints was closin' for the night. Miriam took me by the hand and we walked a few blocks till we got to her doorstep. She give me her number and made me promise I wouldn’t leave without calling her the next day. 'Dont go getting shipped out on me,’ she says. ‘I want you to walk me to work in the morning.‘
“‘Hitler himself couldn’t keep me away,’ I say to her. Then she gave me another big smooch and I watched as she walked into the place she was sharin’ with her girlfriends.
“‘You can go now,’ one of them girlfriends says to me from an upstairs window. ‘I don’t believe she meant for you to wait here. Go on now. Go!‘
“So go I went, FDR. I know sooner get back to base when we get our orders to ship out. And, boy oh boy, I must of dialed Miriam's number a hundred times, but all I got was a busy signal. I figured maybe someone in that apartment just didn’t like to get bad news in the middle of the night. Or didn't like to be woken up. So that was my last memory of Miriam. A sweet kiss and her walk away.
“I was over in France for a about a year after that, FDR. When I finally made my way back to London, she and those girlfriends weren't living at the place where I left them. And Miriam wasn’t working at the movie theater any more, either. I did find out her last name, though. It was Reynolds. Miriam Renolds. I must of written to every Miariam Reynolds in the whole British Empire in the three years since I saw her last. I just figure she‘s married now. I couldn't blame her. Or any mug lucky enough to make her acquaintance.
“So ends that story, FDR. Memories is what I got now. What’s that? Now your thirsty. Well you shouldn’t have eaten that pretzel so fast. Oh, I guess we could stop for a root beer. Sound good to you? Sounds good to me too, FDR. Let’s go.”