Listen to the Beat

Dancing FeetThe solemn speeches and formal presentations of the podium gave way to the music of the dance floor. Henry watched as the young people leapt to life with the beat blasting from the speakers. The songs were those same played at weddings and celebrations everywhere, decided upon by some secret convocation of DJs. The dancers jumped and shook and gathered in clumps. They stood on chairs and lip-synched “I Will Survive.” The young girls shouted “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.” The son of the company president, 12, spun on his back and tried the worm.

Henry watched as the adults began to loosen up, first with slow songs, where young lovers danced no more intimately than the manager and his wife, married for 25 years. Steve and Doris showed off their ballroom dancing. Laughter accompanied the arm motions of YMCA. By now, even those who remembered hearing it on the radio when it was new participated. After a few false starts, more than 50 people moved in relative rhythm for the Electric Slide.

Heaven surely resembled this, Henry thought. The pulse of the music invigorated him; what perfect freedom was in the carefree energy of his friends moving joyfully, unconcerned with appearance or position! All that was sad and dull and unfair seemed a far-off dream.

“Henry…”

“How are you?”

“I’m getting tired.”

“All right. Let’s go home.”

Henry’s wife pushed his wheelchair off the dance floor.

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