Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
When he heard movement on the balcony above, Roberto pointed the little flashlight at Toussaint’s script and cleared his throat. Toussaint did not hear the creaking of the balcony, but he saw the appearance of the very large shadowy figure. He tried frantically to signal Roberto, but Roberto was staring at his script and reciting his words of love:
“Oh, petite flower, you make the moon stand still, because you’re such a thrill, you’re my blueberry hill . . .”
At the first words, the woman on the balcony started and began to retreat through the door. But then she stopped, returned to the edge of the balcony and looked down, searching the shadows below for a sign of the intruder.
“I walk the line over you, baby, baby, because you are my sunshine, my only sunshine, even though right now it’s only moonshine . . .”
She still watched, but now she was content to listen a bit longer to the words coming to her from out of the darkness.
“Hold me close, hold me tight, make me scream all the night. I don’t only have eyes for you. I have lips and arms and a nose – but just a little one – for you. With all these things I have, I want to caress you . . .”
The woman on the balcony swayed to the sounds below, and the balcony creaked even more, so Roberto was forced to speak even louder.
“I want to squeeze you like a snake, pinch you like a crab. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you and want to touch you . . .” Roberto heard heavy breathing from above, and although it sounded very heavy indeed for his diminutive Marianne, he guessed that his words were affecting her deeply, so much so that he skipped ahead a few lines to the good stuff.
“I want to touch you all over. Put my lips to your sweet . . .”
Toussaint was to him now, shaking him, whispering urgently, “It’s not Marianne.”
“Lips,” Roberto continued before fully understanding what Toussaint was saying.
Upon understanding the error, Roberto wanted so desperately to sneak away, to try another day, but the little hibiscus that was his concealment had become a prison as well. Now the balcony was quaking in earnest, and a thunderous soprano voiced pierced the tropical night with its melody:
“Take my hand, you little stranger in paradise . . .”
Roberto knew full well the import of that singing – it was too late for him and Marianne. If only he could escape with what little dignity a wretch such as he could have.
Having sung, the fat lady concentrated on coaxing her bashful secret admirer from his sanctuary: “Wherefore art thou, my little cupcake. Come out, come out, whereforever thou art.”
Toussaint was about to smugly point out the mistaken usage by the siren on the balcony when Roberto turned as white as a 400-year-old poet. Marianne had joined her mother on the balcony and together they were scanning the shrubbery for signs of Mama’s plucky paramour.
“Oh, don’t let her see me,” Roberto pleaded. “Make me invisible so she won’t see me.”
“If you don’t come out, I’ll come find you, naughty boy,” said Marianne’s mama as Marianne tried unsuccessfully to contain her laughter. In mortal fear of being identified as Mama’s Romeo, Roberto seized Toussaint and, with the strength of ten Robertos, hurled him into the open courtyard.
“There you are, my speckled bird,” cooed Marianne’s mama. Toussaint stood and grinned. “Wait right there, sweet boy. Your blueberry hill is coming for you.” Roberto watched from the hibiscus, and Marianne from the balcony, as Mama appeared in the courtyard and chased poor Toussaint into the darkness.
Roberto stared up at Marianne, as lovely on the balcony a she was on the beach, and suddenly words of his very own creation poured forth as effortlessly as if he were pantomiming to someone else’s speech: “All day, all night, Marianne . . .” And he stepped out from behind the hibiscus into full view of the balcony. “Down by the seashore sifting sand.”
“Aren’t you the one from the beach?” asked Marianne. “I’ve seen you many times, but you seemed not to see me.”
Let a hundred – no, a thousand – fat ladies sing, thought Roberto, as his words of love for Marianne continued to tumble forth.
This story originally appeared in American Way, the inflight magazine of American Airlines. It is included in Calypso, Stories of the Caribbean.