by Paul Beckman
I walked over to my vinyl collection and put on Elvis’ Love Me Tender, the song that still, at age fifty-five, gave me chills and a twitch in my shorts. Our martinis, Sari’s gin and my vodka, sat on the coffee table waiting. I dimmed the lights, reached in my pocket, took out a small velvet bag, walked over and picked up my martini. Sari took hers. We clinked glasses and she said, “My turn,” and made a toast. “May your grooves on this record disappear as it’s playing.”
Undeterred by her humor, knowing how I felt about this song, we clinked glasses, sipped and smiled at each other. I’m not a down on one knee kind of guy so I sat on the loveseat and handed her the little velvet bag. She smiled at me and then smelled it and shook it by her ear as if the sound would give its contents away and finally she untied the loose cabled string.
“Hurry up,” I blurted, “the fucking song’s almost over.”
Sari shook the diamond ring into her hand as Elvis sang “never let me go.”
“Talk to me,” Sari said, handing me the ring.
“I love you. Marry me. Whatdoyasay? Let’s get married.”
I took Sari’s left hand and slipped the ring on. It was a one-and-a-half-carat round sparkler that looked at home on her fifty-two-year-old hand.
“Only if you let me break that record.”
“I will after we get home from our honeymoon and dance to it our first night back,” I said.
“But it dries out my insides. Can’t you change to Johnny Mathis singing Chances Are? Now that’s a song that gets me wet.”
“Oy,” I said.
“I’ve hurt your feelings, but Herby used to put that on every time he wanted some action. Do you want me thinking about Herby when we do it?”
“I love you enough to do it,” I said, “but you have to do something for me.”
“Sure. Anything you want, my love. Tell me.”
“No more mac ‘n’ cheese.”
“No more in the house or out. I hate the look, the smell and did I mention the look of that orange cheese? The glop sound it makes when spooned onto a plate, the stain it leaves on your lips and the god awful mac ‘n’ cheese breath. Need I go on?”
“But mac ‘n’ cheese is my guilty pleasure, my comfort food. You know that.”
“I do, but I feel very strongly about this.”
“Yes. Very,” I said.
Sari looked at her hand, turned it back and forth letting the dim light sparkle off the diamond and then reached for her glass and finished her drink.
“Mix me another,” she said, handing me her empty glass. I tossed mine down and walked to the kitchen. While I was shaking her martini I heard Elvis’ Love Me Tender and I said, “Oy,” and carried the drinks in.
Paul Beckman’s micro-story Brother Speak was selected to be in the 2018 Norton Micro Anthology. He’s had over 350 of his stories published on line, in print, and via audio. His website is www.paulbeckmanstories.com and he blogs at www.pincusb.com.