Ebony Eyes - a short story by author Neal James*, featured on Amber Valley Info
Ricky Madison was a Chicago boy born and bred – he lived and died with the White Sox in summer and the Bears in winter. He loved his job at Mullins Motor Mechanic in Lincoln Park, and could strip down and rebuild the engine of most cars you’d care to name. He’d been there since high school and although the older guys sometimes gave him a hard time, he took it all on the chin.. Had to keep the new kid on the block under control didn’t they? Hell, he’d been there almost six years but to the rest of them he was still a baby.
He’d been out with his buddies one Saturday when Joey, his best friend, had suggested the trip to Orlando. Why they hadn’t thought of it before was a mystery, but by the end of the following week all the arrangements were in place and they were on American Airlines Flight 714 out of O’Hare for a week at Disney World. It was a place he’d wanted to go since he was in short pants, but mom and dad never had the money. Now he was earning for himself things were different, and it wasn’t like he had a family to support.
They’d spent the first few days messing around on the rides, eating too much, drinking way too much and generally acting like some stupid bunch of kids, when they bumped into a group of girls out on a similar vacation. The numbers were equal and a pairing off was almost inevitable. Joey had smiled at Carly but her eyes had been fixed only on Ricky. There was an immediate chemistry between them and Joey slapped him on the back, winked and strolled off arm-in-arm with one of the others. Moving around the theme park during the daytime, the group split up after dinner to go off in pairs. Ricky and Carly ended up at the beach, just holding hands and staring into each others’ eyes. Strange – all alone with a girl and all he could do was gaze into her eyes, her beautiful eyes, so beautiful that he’d never noticed their colour until right now. They were brown, dark brown, no…not dark brown, almost black.
The holiday was over too soon, and on the day they all packed up to go home Ricky and Carly exchanged addresses and telephone numbers promising to keep in touch. Despondently, he told himself that never happened. She would go back to her boyfriend and their meeting would be nothing but a dim and distant, albeit pleasant, memory. He smiled as he and his buddies got off the plane back at an overcast and rainy O’Hare, shook the thoughts from his head and resigned himself to the daily grind back at the workshop.
The phone was ringing when he got to his apartment at the end of that first day back at work, and usually it was his mom ‘just checking that he’s gotten back alright’. Sometimes he wondered if she wanted to know that he’d changed his underpants each day.
“Hi mom, how’re you doin’?” He sighed, ready for the usual interrogation.
There was a silence at the other end before the voice he hadn’t expected cut in and sent his mind reeling back to Florida...
*Neal James is the author of five books: 'A Ticket to Tewkesbury', 'Short Stories - Volume One', 'Two Little Dicky Birds', 'Threads of Deceit' and 'Full Marks'.