A Real Man by Nils Durban

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SUMMARY: Entry for the August '09 flash fiction contest

The whole affair was quite intoxicating. The loud and lively harmonies of the band which teased his entire frame to the point where he couldn't help but jiggle about a little; the laughter and general hubbub from both the dance floor and from the myriad of tables spread out before him; and, underlying it all, an impalpable electric frisson that made him feel more alive than he had ever felt. It made the hair on his arms stand on end and gave him goose pimples. He quickly checked his wristwatch, mentally willing its hands to slow down when he realised that it was already ten o'clock. Another half an hour and his Ma would be on the warpath. He chuckled to himself. It was fair enough, all these chaps going over to France and Belgium to fight the Germans. But if that Hitler bloke ever plucked up enough courage to try and invade Old Blighty, he would have folks like his Ma to contend with. Then he would know what a proper scrap was!

"David, you look miles away, dear!"

The voice addressing him caused him to jump, the glass of lemonade he held almost slipping from his grasp. The fact that he had managed to spill it down the front of his tank top was cause for serious embarrassment as he turned to face her. It was Katie Mullins. She was speaking to him. She was definitely speaking to him because, he recalled, she had used his name. And also because she was staring directly into his eyes with her own piercing green peepers. He couldn't remember being spoken to by her since Elementary, and he suspected that the last occasion was probably some scornful jibe rather than anything civil.

She was looking at him strangely now, and he realised that he probably ought to say something back to her.

"Er..hello, Katie," he managed to stammer out.

Her cherry red lipstick turned up at the corners as a huge smile broke out across her face. "Er..hullo, David," she mimicked in a playful manner.

At this point, the tune emanating from the band was completely lost to him, and the ceaseless chatter and hullabaloo that had so recently filled the room had become no more than a background murmur. He had become totally transfixed by her aura. She was even more beautiful tonight than on those occasions when he peeked between the ad's in Fletcher's window to watch her spending her families ration vouchers. More so than when she cycled down the alley at the back of their house every Saturday morning at nine-thirty three. Nine-thirty three being his allocated time for putting out the bins.

Knowing that he may never get another chance to converse with her, and certainly not without her usual gaggle of friends about her, he decided that he should probably strike up a conversation. Striking up conversations with beautiful girls like Katie Mullins, however, was something that he lacked any experience of whatsoever.

"Why don't you buy me a drink, David," she offered, before he could think of anything plausible to say, "would you like that, do you think?"

She wanted him to go and get a drink for her.

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