Slow Dance in Purgatory
Author:Amy Harmon

Slow Dance in Purgatory by Amy Harmon






For my four children,


I write for you, I dream for you,


I live for you













The halls had long since expelled the energetic swarm of youthful humanity, and the din of lockers and laughter had long since settled into stillness. It was his least favorite time of the day. He could lose himself in their conversations, lurk behind them as they ran, as they danced, as they embraced one another. He could sit in on many a lecture, solve the most challenging equations, recite the first chapter of a Tale of Two Cities word for word, and as long as life filled the halls, he could pretend he lived among them. But when they were gone he was utterly and completely alone. Alone as he had been day after day, year after year, decade after decade. There was a time he had descended into madness - but time had brought him out again. What good is being crazy if there is no one who can deem you insane? Or for that matter - care whether you are normal? Insanity was exhausting and futile. So was pain. For a time, the despair was so great that he begged for oblivion. But time had taken even that from him. Now he simply wished to feel anything at all. And so he continued on, waiting for redemption.











Link Wray - 1958






August, 1958




The parking lot had been freshly lined, and the pavement was so new and clean it gleamed in the moonlight. The final touches had just been added on the brand new high school that cast a long shadow over a pile of construction debris that had yet to be hauled off. Crickets chirped, and the breeze sighed, and from far off the sounds of a souped up Chevy with a loud muffler grew steadily closer. Then, as if the noisy muffler had awakened the night, the sound multiplied and split, and lights from several vehicles swung onto the long road leading to the school. Soon shouts and music could be heard spilling from open windows. Shiny chrome and heavy curves slid and jerked to haphazard rest as arms and legs and exuberant youth spilled out of heavy doors painted in dizzy pink, pastel yellow and cherry red. As the cars continued to fill the newly minted parking lot, battle lines began to emerge, as each vehicle seemed to pick a side, leaving a swath of empty black between the two. It was a party atmosphere with an undercurrent of danger, and the expectation in the air hummed along with Chuck Berry reelin’ and a’ rockin from the radio tuned in on every car.


The cacophony of laughter and leers feverishly peaked and then hushed in anticipation. The guys pulled their combs nervously through greased back waves, and the girls made sure their red lipstick was freshly applied as a low-riding, black Chevy Bel Air with thin red flames curling down the sides slid down the empty space between the opposing sides, like a dancer taking center stage. The car slowed and then swung into a spot left open just for him. The heavy door of the shiny Chevy opened, and a black boot hit the ground as Johnny Kinross stepped out of his pride and joy and lit a cigarette like he had all the time in the world and no one was watching.


He was dressed like some of the other guys -- jeans, boots, white tee and black leather jacket, but he seemed suited to his choice where others looked posed. His dark blonde hair swooped high off his forehead, and his blue eyes swept over the kids standing by or sitting atop somebody’s Studebaker or someone else’s Lincoln or any one of the various cars and trucks arranged in two lines. Johnny noticed that Irene Honeycutt's pink Cadillac convertible took up two spaces. It was a miracle she hadn't dented a tailfin yet. That baby was so long it could drive in two counties at once. Irene was the only girl in Honeyville who had her very own spankin' new wheels. He wouldn't mind taking that car for a ride, not to mention the girl.