I knew things were gonna get innerestin' last night when the first woman Starr Ann and I saw as we entered the bar was Siqala Du Chenne, president of our town's chapter of the Kentucky Society of Line Dancing Lesbians. Siqala's a looker, and to her credit she's never let the fact that she's the leader of a group of over 3,000 dancing lesbians, that wields tremendous lobbying power within the state government, go to her head. But even with all that going for her, the sight of Siqala still makes Starr Ann want to run in the opposite direction.
See, Starr Ann has this real alluring way about her when she dances. Walking up there, Starr Ann seems about like any other adorable cowgirl with a real cute butt peeping out of chaps that fit just right. Then, say they start playing Patsy Cline singing San Antonio Rose. Well, first Starr Ann gets to swaying all light and dreamy then the music just starts to noodle right through her body and before you know it hardly nobody can take their eyes off her. I know I sure can't.
Anyway, Siqala's life just won't be complete until she gets Starr Ann to join the Kentucky Society of Line Dancing Lesbians. Every time we run into Siqala, Starr Ann spends half the night thinking up new ways to decline without hurting Siqala's feelings.
So last night, Siqala tried a new tack that nearly worked. She just swooped in on us the minute we walked in the door, hooked her arm in Starr Ann's, and swooshed her off into the corner. About three minutes later, here comes Starr Ann over to tell me she'd agreed to learn a set of steps and dance with them. Seems Siqala gave Starr Ann some sob story about how they were real short on Line Dancing Lesbians that night, what with only about four hundred or so showing up. Siqala said the floor was gonna look positively deserted. Starr Ann said Siqala's voice broke real pitiful when she spoke of how it was gonna look like acres and acres of bare wood out there on that dance floor.
I found myself a table with a good view. No way was I gonna miss a second of watching Starr Ann dance according to a set pattern, fitting in with everybody else.
Siqala had Starr Ann over to the side, teaching her the moves they'd be using for the first song and I was getting comfortable, just about finished with my first drink, when somebody comes up right beside me, puts a fresh shot of tequila and a face down unopened envelope in front of me, and says, "Mind if I sit, Margo?"
I looked up to see Lori standing there holding a fancy schmancy glass of something, so I pulled out the chair beside me and said, "Heck, no, Lori. What in the world is that you're drinking?"
Tossing a careless glance at her glass, Lori said, "Russian River Pino, 2005."
"Dang, they're serving that here at the Velvet Tipper? Seems like just a couple months ago they got that extra tap for Coors Light."
"That would have been my second choice," Lori said, and nodded in the direction of Siqala and Starr Ann. "What's up with that?"
I looked over in time to see Starr Ann perfectly imitate one of Siqala's moves, which made Siqala smile big. "Siqala's finally done it. Talked Starr Ann into dancing with the Line Dancing Lesbians."
Lori settled in, took a discerning sip of whatever that was, and said, "Well, all I know is, it's always pure pleasure to watch Starr Ann dance." Then she tapped the envelope and said, "Came looking for you two on purpose tonight, thinking you'd want to read that right away."
I had to laugh when I saw it was a letter from Lane, to Starr Ann and me, but once again mistakenly addressed to Lori's address. "After all that girl's been through, you know, it makes me happy to see she still ends up doing such teenager things, like not being able to get the address right."
Since the dancing didn't seem to be getting ready to start very soon, I went ahead and opened the letter. Lori and I read it together. Here's what it said:
Hi Starr Ann, Hi Margo!
Well, this letter comes to you all the way from Walter Reed. Things have been crazy and I haven’t had a lot of time to write. Well, I’ve been writing, but not to anyone I know personal-like. I spent a whole bunch of time in the library here and found out that I like the Internet something fierce. I found this website on how to find your congressperson and senators and such and I wrote me a few letters about my holding pattern here. Talked about a few of the things I saw over there too. And, I told them about Jamila and how there wasn’t any need to take her so soon.
Well, that got me a call from the post judge advocate. Wanted to know why I didn’t go through the chain-of-command and got kinda’ annoyed with me. Heard from someone that it doesn’t make them look real good when they have to hear about something from the back end like that. I’ve heard story after story about things gone wrong here. Suicides and stuff. Not good.
So, I spent some time talking to a few folks who hadn’t planned on needing to talk to me. Brought up the fact that they’ve kept me here so long. My leg is as good as it’s going to get after four surgeries, so they started processing me for a military disability pension. Won’t never be running any more races, but I’ll still be able to ride my horse, so I guess that’s all that matters, huh? Could be a while before I hear. What they finally decided was that my PTSD can be treated on an out-patient basis and with some medication. Medication., my ass. I’m on medication for this and for that and for another thing. Apparently, I’m a little pissed off at them here and therapy isn’t doing much. They have me lined up to see a VA counselor when I get back.
Wait, I wasn’t going to tell you that yet. Yup, I get 30 days convalescent leave while they process my discharge and pension stuff, then I get sent home. I hear tell that if I get “lucky” and get 30% or more disability, I can go to college free – with a bad limp and a lot of pain, but free.
Wanted to run this by you two. Thought I’d hop a plane to
Let me know. I miss and (gulp) love you guys.
Right as Lori and I finished reading, the music got louder and the Line Dancing Lesbians were lined up and moving. It was real nice to see them all stepping and swinging and twirling in time. And Starr Ann did real good. Nobody could have told she just learned the steps that very night. Another thing nobody could have told was the magic that usually happens when Starr Ann dances.
Lori tapped my arm and said, "What's wrong with Starr Ann? I usually get goosebumps watching her move."
I said, "I know," and we just kept on watching the dancers a while. Then I leaned over and said, "So, I think there's some real hopeful signs in Lane's letter."
Lori's eyes were still on Starr Ann, so I dropped the subject of Lane's letter and went back to watching the dancing. Then the song ended and Martina McBride's Independence Day started up. Starr Ann was in line, and started moving with everybody else, but that ain't a song about patriotism, and it has nothing to do with staying in line. By the time the first 'Let freedom ring' hit, Starr Ann had broken loose and the music was working its way through her. Before it was over, half the Line Dancing Lesbians were still going through their motions, but even they couldn't take their eyes off of Starr Ann. Told you. Once the music noodles through that girl, she's a sight to see.
After that dance, Starr Ann came over to the table to say hi to Lori. She spotted Lane's letter right away, and said all in a rush, "Lane! What's she got to say? Is she gonna be okay?"
With absolute confidence, Lori said, "That girl tames about as easy as you, Starr Ann. I'm thinking that's what's going to get her through."
I totally believe that.