Book Tuesday – Inspiration from Whitney

Hello and welcome back. Whilst taking a break from studying Shostakovitch, I thought I’d write a little story for you. It was inspired by Whitney Houston’s, I Wanna Dance with Somebody. Okay, here goes:

Ripples of laughter floated across the heated cabins of the car windows on Sixth Avenue. Sweat droplets bounced off impatient foreheads as passengers and drivers alike turned their faces away from the sun striking its midday position with unbearable defiance against the gathering clouds in the east. Robert sat there watching, his features inscrutable to the heated meat packs sweating in their vehicles in front of him. The cool shade of the bus shelter and the comfortable bench meant he could wait for the next bus if the one trapped across the congested crossing was full.

The music lifted. Whitney reached the chorus and gave it her all as she enticed someone to hold her in his arms on this gorgeous summer’s day. Unfortunately, the only person enjoying her invitation to dance was the passenger in the dirty grey van two cars down from the crossing. As grey smoke choked the car behind it, the van wiggled and jiggled as the rotund passenger danced to the beat, joining in with the chorus as his chubby fingers beat the drums on the dashboard. The driver seemed oblivious to this and sat there, his face forward and the strange cap on his head providing little protection from the glare. He didn’t move. Robert’s interest peaked when he noticed the matching black overalls and the same ridiculous cap on the passenger’s head too. They two beefy gentlemen could have easily fitted the description of plumbers on their way to a job, but something about their demeanour challenged Robert’s impression of what plumbers should look like.

The lights flickered at the crossing and cars revved their engines in anticipation. Now the game of who-can-get-through-before-the-lights-change began. Nudging forward, the worm of traffic shuffled past the seated observer. His eyes stayed with the grey van as it crossed over Sixth Avenue and proceeded towards Seventh. Red brightened the dull posterior of the vehicle as it drew to a sudden halt and without warning, two figures flew out at top speed towards the bank set back between a law firm and a bookshop.

A loud bang made Robert jump in his seat. He stretched forward, trying to see through the traffic over the crossing. The van was still there, idling gently and the driver seemed content to sit with that strange cap over his face. In fact, from the little that Robert could make out from the rear view mirror of the car, it looked like a plastic mask pulled over the driver’s face. A cold sweat dribbled down his spine. What should he do? Another bang set him on his feet, just as the bus approached his stop. He looked up at the beast blocking his view and barely recognised his transport. Instead, he turned and ran towards the crossing and waited for the red man to turn to green.

As the bus sped off (the driver quietly swearing the young man who had run off as he had slowed) towards Fifth Avenue, Robert sprinted across the white lines and crossed again, barely making it as the flashing lights changed yet again. He panted, holding his sides as he looked down Seventh street. Shady trees and swanky open terraced restaurants took in the lilting voice of Whitney, still appealing that she wanted to feel the heat with somebody. Dappled shadows danced on the van’s dirty surface and Robert’s eyes widened as a third bang was followed by the doors of the bank just a hundred yards in front of him flying open. So focused was he on the progress of the masked gunmen, he missed the arrival of the police cars in a flurry of sirens and screeching tires. The fun continued as bullets flew and pedestrians dropped to the floor like dry bread crumbs. Hot air rattled in the afternoon sun, punctuated by screams and Whitney crooning, somebody who…somebody who…

Robert’s body lay slumped against the wall of the corner shop where he had stopped to catch his breath. Blood pooled around him and wet coughs expelled droplets of crimson onto his outstretched arm. His pale fingers flexed open and close as his eyes slowly glazed over.

As the sun straddled the five past twelve position, Whitney filled the air on Seventh Street with her need for someone to take a chance. Everyone felt the heat as the bustle of running footsteps and the groans of the injured, sweaty meat packs littering the pavements and restaurant tables searched for loved ones. The chubby passenger from the grey van didn’t feel like dancing at that moment; in fact, he didn’t feel anything any more. Blue eyes, now stilled, peeped out from behind the splattered clown mask and if anyone bothered to check what he was looking at, they would have noticed the young man curled up at the top of the street staring straight back down at him. Just above the young man’s head, a poster of Whitney in Concert sparkled in the afternoon sun. Her eyes looked down at the chaos outside the window. The trailing end of the song whispered up to the window:  with somebody who loves me…

Have a great evening and thanks for stopping by.





© 2018 Copyright-All rights reserved- Eloise De Sousa



One response to “Book Tuesday – Inspiration from Whitney

  1. Gripping and sad and poignant all at the same time. Great story. 🙂


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