Some Enchanted Evening
Lou Ann Steele
"Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger across the crowded room."
From SOUTH PACIFIC
Seaman Patterson was definitely not in a mood to party tonight. He had been in a foul mood that had lasted, according to everyone on the ship from Lt. Commander Chip Morton to Cookie, for over the past two months. Normally, he was quiet with an easy going personality, but the last couple of months he was being short tempered and snapping at everyone, except for Admiral Nelson and Captain Crane. To them, he was extremely quiet to the point of not talking at all unless he was asked a question. To every one else, he was periodically angry and argumentative. He found himself growling at everyone for no reason at all and he didnít understand why he felt the way he did. Nothing had occurred to make him behave this way. He simply felt irritable and unfortunately he was letting everyone know it and he couldnít seem to stop himself.
Lt. Commander Morton had tolerated his foul mood for a week, but upon seeing that the situation was not getting any better, had ordered Patterson to Sick Bay for a complete physical check up. Doctor Jamison said there was nothing wrong with him physically, but that he was probably suffering from job burn out and needed to socialize more and participate in new activities while on shore leave. That had been two months ago and they had been at sea for that whole time without leave, so he hadnít been able to blow off any steam until tonight the first day of shore leave.
By this time, Patterson was so agitated and miserable to be around that Chief Sharkey had threatened to throw him into the Brig and throw the key overboard if he didnít come back from shore leave in a better mood. Sparks, who was normally easy going and patient, told him if his mood didnít improve that he would personally throw him overboard and forget to yell "man overboard". Kowalski merely threatened to beat some sense into him and Riley added he would volunteer to hold him while Kowalski was doing the beating.
Before leaving the ship, Kowalski found out about a party being thrown at Corpsman Scott Bradyís house. Scott Brady was a known party giver and he had invited both Kowalski and Patterson to come that evening. He promised that there would be plenty of food, drink and girls.
Patterson had declined the invitation because he wasnít feeling in a socialable mood to party, but Kowalski told him whether he liked it or not he was going even if he had to knock him out and carry him into the party unconscious.
Lt. Morton, upon hearing about the party and Pattersonís refusal to attend, had put his two cents in by strongly suggesting that Patterson should attend the party. He told him the party was just what he needed to unwind and blow off some of that steam he had been carrying around for over the last two months.
With so many of the crew ganging up on him, he decided to attend the party, but he wasnít happy about it, but according to the crew what else was new. So at nine oíclock that night he found himself with Kowalski in front of Bradyís home. There had been so many cars parked for this party on the street that they had to park Skiís car a couple of blocks away and walk to the house.
Scott Brady owned a two-story Spanish style adobe house that was painted beige in color. It was evident that the party had already started. There was loud 60ís music blaring from with in the house, the sounds of unseen people trying to talk over the music and there was a group of casually dressed people outside in the lawn smoking cigarettes and drinking.
"Come on Pat!" Kowalski, who loved parties and planned to have a good time that night, grabbed the reluctant Patterson by the arm and pulled him inside the house. "Scott has great parties."
"Ski, I really donít feel like partying." Pat complained, as he was being maneuvered into the doorway of the house.
"You will once you have had a couple of beers and meet some girls." Ski assured him. "Just forget your troubles and lose yourself in the atmosphere and music."
Once inside, they noticed that the house was decorated in 60ís style pop art, posters and black lights. Disco lights hung from the ceiling in the living room sending a shower of colored lights to dance around the room. Iron Butterflyís "In A Gadda Da Vida" was playing loudly through out the barely lit rooms and people were either gathered in groups talking, drinking or dancing on the make shift dance floor. There was a table ladened with all kinds of food and a fully supplied liquor bar located on the opposite side of the room.
Kowalski hauled Patterson over to the bar and placed an ice-cold larger into his buddyís hand. "Now, I want you to drink, mingle and have a good time even if it kills you."
"Has anyone told you lately that you are a pain in the Ö" Pat started.
"Yes and so are you lately. Now go and have a good time." Kowalski grabbed his own larger and made his way around the room checking out the girls who had come to the party alone.
Patterson popped his can lid and took a long drink before making any move to follow Kowalskiís orders. He glanced around the room to notice there was about thirty people in this living room area in groups of couples or larger. They were all casually dressed and they seem to know each other. Many he recognized as employees of Nelsonís Institute and some were ONI operatives.
He couldnít get over the 60ís theme of the party. If he didnít know any better, he would have sworn he was back in time. The disco lights traveled over the walls and across the occupants of the room who were either talking to each other in groups, dancing, sitting on the floor watching the roomís activities or as couples on the sofas kissing and making out. There was a slight smell of incense in the air and the Rolling Stonesís "I Canít Get No Satisfaction" was now playing throughout the room. That song some how fit his mood. He moved through the crowd to see if he could spot a place to sit and watch the activities in the room. He spotted a couple of empty chairs to his right, weaved through the group until he got to the first empty seat, planted himself down in the chair, leaned back and continued to drink from his beer while he lost himself in the music.
A few minutes later, he felt someone standing next to him watching him. He glanced up to see a woman who was balancing two cans of beer and a small paper plate of food in her two small hands. She was in her late twentyís to early thirtyís with long auburn hair that fell halfway down her back in a perm spiro curls. She had short curly bangs across her forehead, freckles that sprinkled across from her cheeks to the bridge of her nose and large grayish blue eyes. Without standing, he could tell she was about five feet five inches tall. She had a large curvy body frame with large breasts and her smile was warm and friendly. She was wearing faded blue jeans, matching blue denim jacket and red polo shirt.
"Hi, I donít think we have ever been introduced, but I have seen you around the Institute. Iím Victoria Stewart, but please call me Tory. I work at ONI. I saw you over here and wondered if you wanted some company?" She glanced down at the beer she was holding on to. "I saw you had just finished your beer and brought you over another one to save you a trip. Please take it before I drop the food plate. Scott will kill me if I mess up his carpet."
Being an old fashioned gentleman Patterson jumped up. "Oh, please do sit down. Let me help you with your plate until you get settled." He grabbed both the plate of food and one of the beers and waited until
she had settled in her chair and had put her beer on the floor before handing her plate back to her. Then he reseated next to her. "Iím Seaman Patterson." His voice displayed his shyness. "I work for Admiral Nelson on the SSRN Seaview."
Tory put her food down on her lap, gave him a big smile and moved her hand over to shake his hand. "I am so glad to finally meet you." The truth was she had been trying to get someone to introduce them for the last few months.
Pat placed his large hand in herís and held it for a moment before releasing it. "Do you often come to Scottís parties?" He was desperately grasping on some type of topic to talk about to keep the conversation going.
"All the time when he has one. Usually he invites everyone from the Institute and itís nice to be able to unwind with friends after work. This is the first time I have seen you here." Wow, he has beautiful blue eyes, she thought.
"Kowalski and some of the other crew more or less convinced me to come this time." More like threatened he thought, as he popped his second can and took a sip from it. "Does Scott usually have 60ís parties?"
"Oh sometimes he stretches them into the 80ís, but normally he keeps them in the 60ís. He told me once that he enjoyed the parties he threw when he was a teenager and he feels the 60ís music and atmosphere helps people unwind faster and the younger generation enjoys the music and atmosphere as well and no one complains. Arenít you enjoying the music?"
Patterson then realized that he was starting to relax and mentally felt better. It could be the beer affecting him or it could be the lady next to him. "Yes, I love this type of music and right now some of the songs are hitting my mood."
"What kind of mood are you in?" She asked curiously as she took a swig of her drink and put a piece of food in her mouth.
"I was in a bad mood when I came in, but I think I am starting to enjoy myself." Pat confessed slightly surprised.
"I hope that it is the company as well as the beer that is affecting your mood." Tory smiled flirtingly at him.
"Oh, I believe the company may have affected some changes in my attitude." Pat flirted back. He listened to the music for a second that was playing and recognized the song "When A Man Loves A Woman". "Would you care to dance?" he asked as he motioned with his head toward the make shift dance floor.
"I would love to." Tory put down her beer next to her food plate on the floor, stood up and allowed Patterson to lead her by the arm to the dance floor.
When they found a spot on the floor to dance, Patterson slowly put his arms around her and she rested her hands round his neck and leaned against him as they danced slowly to the music. Patterson breathed in her perfume that smelled like hot spices and the smell of her herbal shampooed hair. She smelled so earthy and
her body felt so warm against his. He took a fast survey of the other couples on the dance floor around them to see that the six set of couples were either kissing each other or affectionately caressing each other while in their dancing embrace. He needed to do the same, but he didnít want to come on to her too fast. She might get the impression that he didnít respect her and he didnít want to blow his chance with her.
As if she could read his mind, she looked up at him with a tender smile. "Patterson, itís okay to kiss me if you want to." And before Pat could react, she pulled his head down and planted a friendly closed lip kiss across his lips.
Before she could pull away, he put his hand on the back of her head and gave her a short kiss in return and then went back to slow dancing with his hands caressing her back.
Kowalski seeing his friendís romantic overtures to his dance partner nudged Scott who was standing beside him. "Check out the action on the dance floor."
"Who am I suppose to look at?" Scott stared at the couples moving in time to the music.
"Scott, you are such a moron! Look at Patterson and the chick from ONI."
"Oh, Pat and ToryÖWOW, I have never seen Pat come on to a girl like that before. Normally he clams right up when a girl shows she is interested. He is so damn shy." Scott shook his head in amazement.
"It appears that he has gotten over the shyness for the moment. Play another slow song after this one. Play "Ebb Tide" by the Righteous Brothers. Thatís one of his favorite songs."
Scott went over to his record collection stacked in a bookcase against the wall and pulled out the right album and played the song that Kowalski had requested. Pat and Tory stayed on the floor dancing to that song and the next slow song. Ski could tell Pat was finally enjoying himself from his vantage point across the other side of the room and he wanted to keep him in that same frame of mind so he and Scott took turns taking drinks over to the couple to keep them together.
A couple of hours later after some long talks, a few more beers and more slow dancing, Pat and Tory found themselves outside in Scottís backyard for privacy. Pat found a yard bench swing unoccupied and he and Tory sat cuddled on the wooden bench swinging it back and forth while looking at the stars in the sky and listening to the outdoor sounds as well as the music drifting towards them from the house.
"You know I was forced to come to this party by my crewmates. I will have to thank them when I get back to work." Pat confessed as he tilted his head down and gave Tory a long passionate kiss. "You are so beautiful. I love the way you make me feel." He kissed her forehead affectionately. "I never knew I could feel this way."
"I feel the same way. I am not normally so aggressive with someone I just met. You are a very attractive man Seaman Patterson." She gave him a fast hug as she kept her head resting on his shoulder.
"I am attractive?" Patterson asked finding it hard to believe.
"Of course you are silly." Tory sat up straighter so that she could look him straight in the eyes. "Physically you are nicely shaped for you size and you have wonderfully large blue eyes. Your voice tone is low and sexy when you talk and I just love the way you speak. You are a quiet man with old fashion way about you that I find very attractive. I also like the way you kiss. You are a very passionate kisser. Surely some girl has told you that she found you attractive." She ran her right hand fingers softly across his left chin, as her eyes stayed focused on his eyes.
"No you are the first to mention it." He answered modestly as he lowered his face closer to hers. "I am glad you think I am. I feel the same way about you." He nipped her lips playfully with his teeth. "I think
you are wonderful and I am so glad I showed up tonight." Pat put his left hand and both arms around her back. He drew her closer against him as he gave her a serious sensual kiss in which she replied in kind.
When they both came up for air, Tory glanced at her watch that had an illuminating dial and noted what time it was. She said with a sigh as disengaged herself from Patís arms and stood up from the swing. "I have to go now. Itís 1 a.m. and unfortunately I have to catch a flight at 6a.m. this morning." She put her hands in his.
"I would like to see you again." Pat replied as he stood up. "How long will you be gone?"
"Just a couple of days at most. I have to go on an assignment." Tory released one of her hands to dig into her pocket and pulled out a slightly crumpled business card, which she gave to Pat. "Here is my business card. It has my office and home number on it. Give me a call in a couple of days and if I am not there, just leave your number on my answering machine and I will call you as soon as I get back in. If you lose this card, just ask Angie for my number."
Pat stood up and put her card in his shirt pocket. Then he took her back into his arms. He smiled down at her. "I really have enjoyed tonight." He confessed as he leaned down and kissed her again. Then he sighed with regret, released her from his hold and grabbed her hand in one of his. "Iíll walk you to your car."
They walked quietly holding each otherís hand to her car that was parked a half a block away. She dug into her pocket for her car keys and opened her car door to her blue Ford Bronco. She got into the driver seat, secured herself with in the confines of her seat belt and turned on the car engine before looking at Pat again who was leaning toward the her driverís side window.
"You take it easy getting home now." He warned. "Iíll call in a couple of days. There is going to be an evening concert by the local orchestra at Bryant Park in three days. Would you be interested in going?"
"I would love too! Itís a date, if I get back in time. I will even make up a picnic basket. Iíll get back as fast as I possibly can." Tory said as she leaned out her window to kiss him again one more time.
"Iíll be here waiting." Pat said as he leaned down to meet her lips for the last time that night. Then he straightened up and backed away from the car. "Now go home and get some sleep."
"I will." Tory answered back as she drove off down the street. She found herself humming the song "Some Enchanted Evening" to herself as she kept glancing back in the rear view mirror to catch a glance of his silhouette standing on the side walk watching her until he was no longer in sight.
*South Pacific- Twentieth Century Fox