DG Hear and I worked together doing the "Back Up Buddy" and "Hey, Joe!" stories and then collaborating on "Wish Me Luck, The Sequel." This was in addition, of course, to our stories in the two writing invitationals I put together on "This Bed of Rose's" and "El Paso."
So we decided to try it again. DG is writing a story based on Gretchen Wilson's great song, "When I think About Cheatin'" and I am doing one on Tanya Tucker's classic, "Almost Persuaded."
The theme is temptation and how two women deal with it. We hope you enjoy the stories.
This story is very loosely based on the classic song by Tanya Tucker - written by Billy Sherrill and Glenn Sutton.
Thanks to Techsan for his astute editing assistance.
THE TALL TEXAN - KITTY
Last night, all alone in a bar room,
I met a man with a drink in his hand
Almost Persuaded by Tanya Tucker
"Hey, pretty lady, how 'bout a dance?"
The band was playing "Georgia Rag," an old song by Web Pierce that hardly anyone plays anymore. It was a great ragtime number with a strong beat — perfect for dancing — and a catchy melody. I looked up and saw a cowboy dressed up in his dancing finery: he had on a new looking Stetson hat, well worn but clean Levi's and Justin boots and a pale blue shirt with red trim around the collar and pockets. The buttons on the shirt were mother of pearl with a faint pinkish tint.
From my viewpoint sitting down, he looked rather tall, with big brown eyes and coal black hair that looked more than a little curly where it poked out from under his hat. He stood with a bottle of Shiner Bock in his hand, waiting for my answer, a smile on his face that any girl would understand.
I hesitated for a minute, shrugged my shoulders, and stood up. He put his beer on the table and promptly started whirling me around the room... I felt flushed and a bit dizzy but somehow exhilarated. The band went into the chorus and I smiled as I listened:
The Georgia Moon it was shining
It seemed to smile from above
But now my heart keeps on pining
To tell her once more of my love.
Two or three more songs went by in what seemed a moment. The bandleader announced that after a slow song they were going to take a break. They kicked in with a slow ballad and I started to walk back to my table but Glenn — that's what he told me his name was — put his strong arms around me and pulled me close.
I resisted half-heartedly, then put my head on his shoulder and let him lead. Lost in the moment... I remembered.
I had known Billy all my life. His dad and mine were both oil riggers and we were neighbors in two small houses on the outskirts of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. When Billy got to high school he spent summers working with his dad and when we graduated he started working for the same company as our dads. We got married as soon as he started working and, with our folks' help, we were able to buy a small one bedroom place of our own, a couple of miles from where our parents lived.
We were happy and had a good life even though Billy worked hard and often came home exhausted. It was dangerous work and I worried about him all the time. I got a job working part time in the office of the same company where Billy and our dads worked. It was a small company, family owned and operated, and they made everyone feel like they were part of the family.
About eighteen months after we were married we had a baby girl. We named her Sara after Sara Carter of the Carter family. We listened to them on the radio all the time and I loved her voice. I stopped working and life was pretty good for us.
Then the war came. The main effect on our families was that the need for oil was critical and a lot of pressure was applied by the government to discover new oil fields and make them productive as soon as possible. Everyone had to work more hours and I started working full time with either my mom or Billy's mom taking care of Sara.
It put a strain on our lives and our marriage. We were too tired to go out much and Billy was takin' to falling asleep on the sofa right after dinner. We weren't worried too much about the war taking our men from us because oil was a critical industry and not subject to the draft.
Then in the spring of 1943 Billy and I had our first big fight. He came home one night flushed from a couple of beers. The damn fool had enlisted when he didn't have to!
He was adamant, "Kitty, I have to do this. This is my country and I want to do my part."
"But, Billy, you have been doing more than your share just in helping with the supply of oil!"
"Honey, I'm gonna go — just help me on this."
We went to bed mad at each other and didn't make love. The next morning Billy was quiet and left with a quick kiss and a hug.
"Kitty, I won't be able to live with myself if I don't do this. I'm sorry."
Another kiss and Billy said goodbye to Sara. And then he was gone. When he got to the reception center they assigned him to the Marines. He didn't even get a chance to come home before he shipped out to the Pacific Theater. He didn't even know where he was going — just over the ocean somewhere.
I missed him. I was by turns angry with him and wanting him something fierce. I hadn't had a kiss or hug — let alone more — in almost six months.
Glenn took my arm and said, "Hey, are you okay? You went away somewhere."
I looked around and we were standing alone in the middle of the dance floor. He held the chair out for me then went to the bar for a couple more beers. He came back and sat down without asking. I didn't mind. I was lonely and wanted to have someone to talk to, to dance with.
Glenn placed his hands over mine - holding them while looking at me. I found myself wanting to kiss him. I'd heard an expression once: "... temptation was flowing like wine." That was how I felt. Just Glenn holding my hands made me feel like I'd had one glass of wine too many and my temptation was making me feel... lethargic, my eyes felt heavy — like nothing mattered.
I was almost persuaded to strip myself of my pride... to push my conscience aside. We danced again — I don't know how much later it was. It was a slow number and he pulled me close and whispered in my ear.
"I need you! Let me take you away and be your man tonight."
I stepped back and looked into his eyes and I saw it... the reflection of my wedding band. I turned and ran out the door to Billy's truck. I sat there crying for a long time. I had almost been persuaded to let strange lips lead me on... but Billy's sweet love made me stop and go home.
The next morning, early, on Tuesday, November 23, 1943 my life ended. The boy delivering the telegram couldn't have been more than sixteen but he brought a message older than time, "Your husband, William James Dixon, is missing in action and presumed dead."
The telegram went on to say that, during the invasion of an island in the Pacific, Billy's squad was separated from the company and caught in a mortar attack by the Japanese. They had found all the bodies but Billy's and he was assumed to have died in the attack.
I collapsed to the floor, crying hysterically, my pain made worse by what I had almost done the night before. I didn't know what the time differences were or anything, but I was convinced that Billy had been killed while I was dancing with Glenn. I had killed him!
I was still laying there, sobbing, the door still open, when my mom came.
"Laws a'mercy, child, what's the matter?"
I handed her the telegram and started crying again.
She sat down and hugged me. "Kitty, I know. I know how it is for you."
"No, it's worse that that, ma. I killed him. I did, I killed him."
She let me cry for a while, holding me and saying soothing words while patting my back.
"Kitty, child, go put some coffee on and I'll take care of Sara."
A few minutes later, Sara — now two — was fed and playing on a quilt on the kitchen floor.
I told my mom what I'd almost done at the tavern the night before, of how I felt I had killed my Billy.
"Kitty, what you done was wrong, I cain't say it weren't. But, child, you didn't kill Billy. The war killed him. I'm glad you came home when you did — thanks to God for that."
We sat and drank coffee, Sara blissfully ignorant... and happy playing on the floor. I started trying to put my life back together... hating myself for my almost betrayal.
BLOODY TARAWA — BILLY
"Casualties many; percentage of dead not known; combat efficiency, we are winning."
Colonel David M. Shoup (Tarawa) - 21st November 1943
I hated the way I left Kitty and little Sara. I know she was upset but this was something important to me. The night before I left we stopped at the bar and my buddies brought me a few beers. We were having fun but truth be told, I think most of them wished they were going with me.
A guy at the bar asked me, "Are you one of those patriots?"
I know he was just jawin' at me but I gave him a hard look and said, "Yes, Sir, Mister, I love my country and I'm proud of it." He turned back to the bar — I guess he was embarrassed.
I was sure surprised when I got to the reception center and after all the testing and such I was told I was going to be a Marine. I hadn't thought about that but it sounded fine to me.
.... There is more of this story ...