“The years went by, and Mary Alice and I grew up, slower than we wanted to, faster than we realized. Another war came, World War II, and I wanted to get in it. The war looked like my chance to realize my old dream of flying.
“I was thirteen at last, so I’d thank you to call me Joe, not Joey, and I walked a few strides ahead of Mary Alice.
For one thing, she’d been taking dancing lessons all year and never went anywhere without her tap shoes in a drawstring bag.”
“The Coffee Pot was where people went to loaf, talk tall, and swap gossip. Mary Alice and I were of some interest when we dropped by because we were kin of Mrs. Dowdel’s, who never set foot in the place. She said she liked to keep herself to herself, which was uphill work in a town like that.”
“Mary Alice turned back. “You look good,” she said. “The hat’s dumb, but you look good.”
“So do you.” Though I’d never noticed before, Mary Alice was going to be quite a nice-looking girl. I supposed boys would be hanging around her pretty soon. It was a thought I’d never had.”
“I didn’t know he could dance.”
“Dance?” Mary Alice sniffed. “He can barely walk. What do you think I’ve been doing all week? I’ve been giving him ballroom dancing lessons. And the big clodhopper tramped all over my feet. I’m crippled for life.”
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