This week’s installment of Sweet Saturday Samples is again from Chapter 30 of Little Ragdoll, “Blackout,” set during the Great Northeast Blackout of 1965.
All the power at the bakery suddenly shut off a little before 5:30, though a number of customers still came by to buy their rolls, loaves of bread, and baked goods, as the bakery was lit up by a couple of lanterns that were in a utility closet. As soon as the bakery closed down at 6:00, Allen rushed home through eerily blackened streets, not a single light to be seen in any building. Only a full moon in a perfect cloudless sky lit the way back home.
Lenore is on the fire escape looking up at the beautiful full moon when she hears Allen unlocking their door. She turns around and watches him feeling his way over to where he can make her out, glad he’s home safe and sound and that at least she’ll no longer be trapped alone in the dark.
“I couldn’t get home a moment sooner,” he says as he hugs her. “I hope you weren’t too scared all alone with no power.”
“I’m always happiest when you’re here, my darling.” She nuzzles her face against his neck. “I hope you don’t mind having something cold for supper. We can’t cook anything since the stove is electric.”
Allen looks at her more closely. “You’re not wearing a coat? If you catch a chill, you might get sick all over again. You have to be extra-careful after what happened last winter.”
“I’m fine. It’s not like there’s a raging blizzard.”
Allen puts his jacket over her. “You really have a habit of not dressing properly for the weather. That’s the third time I’ve had to give up a coat to you.”
She rolls her eyes. “I’m not made of glass. I can handle standing outside for a little while without a jacket.”
“You have no idea what it did to me when I found you lying unconscious in the snow, no winter clothes on, not even gloves or a hat. I will never forget that image. It’s even worse now that I know it was my fault you were out there in the first place. I never would’ve told you that about being in love with some other girl I was afraid to ask out if I’d known you had a mutual crush on me all along.”
“I often cried myself to sleep after you told me that. I could barely stand to be around you. You sure had me fooled. I thought your sisters and Ernestine’s friends were imagining things when they told me you had a thing for me, and I always told them you’d never go for me since I was so inexperienced and a lot younger. I was really heartbroken.”
Allen hugs her again, tighter this time. “I hate the thought of doing anything that would make my sweet Lenore cry or break her heart.”
Lenore walks back into the apartment and squints her way over to the kitchen. “So, do you want turkey, ham, baloney, or salami? After we have some sandwiches and cake, we can warm each other up the old-fashioned way.”
“How about we go out for supper? We can find a diner with gas stoves and some candlelight, and have a nice romantic meal together. Besides, I wanna show my woman off to as many people as I can. But you have to put on your jacket before we go anywhere.”
“Are you sure they’ll be open with the power outage?”
“There are always people who wanna go to restaurants. Besides, I’m sure lots of other people must be having the same idea, since they can’t see or have power to cook either.”
Lenore hands Allen his jacket and goes to the closet for hers. “Maybe it will be romantic. It’s not every day that you get to go on a date in the middle of the week.”