Manhattan Serenade

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Manhattan Serenade
Orlando Lujan Martinez IWA

Gary Herrera was always hunting for a sweet and confetti filled Hollywood romance. His kind of woman had to be beautiful, intelligent, and have a good sense of humor. They would be a perfect match because, fortunately, Gary was handsome, intelligent and had a good sense of humor too. But his chances of meeting such a woman was, he knew from experience, very remote, indeed.
One summer night Gary decided, since he only lived only three blocks away, to walk to the Civic Plaza in Albuquerque where every Saturday night, during the summer, there was music and dancing under the stars.
Gary thought if he mingled in the crowd there might be a possibility of meeting a woman of his dreams and have a story book love affair. But he knew that if he wanted to impress her- the yet to be discovered Valentine love forever-he had to be as smooth and charming, as a movie star, because first impression were very important in the love game. And it was wonderful to be alive on a warm summer night in June. A perfect night to fall in love.
As Gary walked closer to the Civic Plaza he could hear "Manhattan Serenade",a nocturnal love song, from the 1930's, weaving its nostalgic spell in the summer air. At first it was faint as if coming from that long ago time, and louder as he walked closer, as if sweeping into this age on the old New York Unlimited, a passenger streamliner of that era. It was a haunting remembrance from of the past but also the destination of dreams.
The last time Gary heard “Manhattan Serenade” was twenty years ago in a television rerun of the 1930's movie Manhattan Melodrama starring the debonair Clark Gable and the wise and worldly Myrna Loy.
And then here it was, after a twenty year absence, rising mystically out of the past, as he turned the corner into the plaza, up on a brightly lit stage being played again by some African American musicians who were breathing new life into the dusty old song. Giving it an totally new meaning as lovely as the transition from winter to spring. What musical magic and from the shimmering heights of Manhattan-no less.
As Gary stood in the crowd enjoying the music a woman in a yellow summer dress, with seductively bare shoulders, caught his eye, and stirred the glowing embers of romantic expectations. Gary moved next to her and ventured to say "Beautiful tune," as simple as that.
And she turned her head saying, "Yes, it is.” And finding a man, unexpectedly, self-assured and friendly, was a pleasant surprise.
They listened in silence until the song was over then Gary said smiling "My name is Gary Herrera and yours?"
"Margaret Berry " she said, noticing a glimmer of sincerity in his eyes, and a warmhearted rhyme in his voice that was missing in her conversations with other men.
Margaret offered her hand to shake and Gary, instead of shaking it, held it gently for a moment, in a romantic invitation, that did not go unnoticed by the lovely and lonely Margaret.
Margaret's said softly "Warm hands. Warm heart."
Gary’s heart stood still, and he tipped his head inquisitively forward, looking up from behind a lock of hair on his forehead, and said with a mischievous Clark Gable grin. “Does that mean that you’ll marry me.”
They burst out in merry laughter, astonish to find love at first sight-at long last. A sliver screen Hollywood moon came from behind a cloud over Civic Plaza and a spotlight from a car sale, somewhere in the city, cast a beam across the summer sky.
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41-45, M
Jul 19, 2010