Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal

An Office Scene in New York 1926

Terry Collett

Louise sat on the desk with the typewriter close to her leg, her elbow resting on the top of it, a pencil in her hand, looking down at the sheet of paper that Louis had her write. Louis stood looking down at what she had typed. You’ve got sincerely wrong. Have I? Yes, you’ve left out a letter. Louise picked up the paper and stared at it. Well, what do you know, so I have. Louis sighed. How could you miss a letter out? Aren’t you supposed to be a secretary? Louise laughed. Sure, I am, but do secretaries sit on their boss’s knee and do the things that you do? Eh? Louis? Louis pulled a face. Sure, they do, it’s a bonus to them. Louise got off the desk, walked to the window of the office, and stared out. Louis walked over to her, put his hand on her waist. Don’t be sore, it was just a damned letter. Louise looked at him with her dark eyes. When I was a dancer, I never forgot a step. I could dance the Charleston better than any of those other girls. The guys would stand and watch me, and I could hear their brains ticking over, feel their lust from their cheap suits. Louis nodded. Yes, I remember. I was one of those guys. Louise laughed and looked out of the window with her back to him. What a girl, Louis mused, letting his eyes wander over her back, moving his hand closer around her waist. She smelt good. The perfume he’d brought back from Paris. Good stuff. Must have bathed in the damned bottle. Those legs. Praise God for making those. His hand moved slowly over her backside, patted it a few times. She didn’t flinch. Not an air. That was what he liked about her. Unflappable. Fine dame. She’d been a fine dancer. Still would have been if he hadn’t got her to be his secretary, give up the cheap joint she was working in with those unsavoury guys, the mob in and out with their wisecracks and their suits and guns. Louise stared out at the building opposite; then down at the streets below. Manhattan. Sure made it to the top. Of the building at least. She sighed softly. She missed the girls. The laughs they had. The booze. The money to be made. The music of the jazzmen, the smoke, and the feeling of being alive. She couldn’t stick this office work. Like being dead and stuffed away in some coffin of an office with the stuffed shirts and the goody-goody girls with their morals all over their damned asses. She’d tell Louis it was off. He could get himself some other girl to type and touch. Yeah. She’d tell him. Tell him she’d see him at the place she’d been before. They’ll give back my job. I was the best. She turned, pushed his hand from her backside. I’m off, Louis, I can’t stick this place. What’s wrong? I feel dead here. I need my dancing, the jazz and the girls and life. Louis stood and stared. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and strolled out of the office with her cute hips swaying side to side as she used to to get the guys all boiled up and steaming. The door closed and Louis stood trying to capture her swaying hips in his mind for the coming night and his dreams.


Terry Collett is a 59-year-old poet who has been writing since 1972. He has had two slim volumes of poems published in 1974 and 1978. Since that time he has had poems and short stories printed in anthologies, magazines and newspapers. He is married with eight children and eight grandchildren.


© Terry Collett

Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal ISSN 1554-8449, Copyright © 2004-2008