Sweet Dixie’s

Valentine leaned over Bobby’s piano and dropped a ten in the Pilsner glass he used for tips. “Play me something blue.”

Bobby, who’d been noodling around a version of Moon River, winked and played the opening melody to Happy Birthday. “Sure Sweetie, but keep the ten. You can buy me a round for your birthday instead.” He paused on the high note, improvising melodramatically with his left hand until she smiled.

Val left the bill in the glass and went back to her seat at the bar. Sweet Dixie herself was pouring drinks tonight, so the bourbon sour waiting for her was strong and tart, with an extra cherry waiting for her at the bottom.

She nursed the drink while Bobby played homage to Gershwin.

The broad-hipped barkeep made her way down the bar. “Valentine.” Dix stretched out the last syllable in her molasses drawl, like the holiday. Val never bothered to correct her. “Where’s the Earl tonight?”

Val blinked back tears. The Earl. Aubrey had loved the nickname. I’m sure there was an Earl somewhere in the family, Valentine, he’d said, amongst the gypsies and Celts.

“Oh, sweet thing,” Dixie passed her a cocktail napkin. “What happened?”

Bobby sidled in next to her. She hadn’t even heard him wrap up his set at the piano. “No girl likes to be alone on her thirtieth birthday, Dix.” Val missed the look that passed between Bobby and Dix. “And you handcuffed me to the ivories on this of all evenings.”

“Take the rest of the night, Bobby,” Dixie said. “Take this pretty girl for a beignet.” She leaned across the scarred bar and stroked Val’s hair back from her temple. “Happy birthday, Valentine. Drinks are on the house.”

It wasn’t until Bobby bundled her into the cab of his truck that Val realized Sweet Dixie had pronounced her name correctly.


A little something new this week, the Trifecta weekly prompt was “Blue: low in spirits : melancholy”

This moment is a part of something larger, but it’s out of context here, so it’s meant to stand mostly on its own. Hopefully.

26 thoughts on “Sweet Dixie’s

  1. I love that story, I remember these people and my heart hurts for Valentine. I remember how much your soul can ache when someone who is suppossed to be there isn’t anymore. It aches, like the music did.

    it was wonderful Cam, as usual, you hooked me and kept me…I felt blue and bourboned and bundled.


  2. As always, your story pulls me in, makes me want to know more about the characters, hints at other threads…

    I love the detail about her name, that you allow the reader to figure out the real pronunciation.

    This definitely stands alone, Cam. And yet I’m longing to read more.

    (Allow me to point out that in the third paragraph, you use the phrase “waiting for her” twice in the same sentence. Other than that? Perfection.)

    1. So I do, Julie. Eegh. Ah well. I’ll fix it in a further draft.
      Thanks for that, and for the sweet stuff, too, but especially for picking my nits. As it were.

      1. I pointed it out only because you said it was a part of a larger work so I figured you might want to switch the wording up. Otherwise, it SO doesn’t detract even an iota from this piece.

  3. Seriously, is there anything that reeks of the blues more than bourbon? I loved this line : She leaned across the scarred bar and stroked Val’s hair back from her temple, because it is so the kid of gesture that one want when they are feeling this way. And I think it stood just fine on its own!

  4. It seems from the comments that there’s more to this story (which I have not read). I like that I could mostly follow it anyway. (Thanks for the clarification on the the pronunciation of her name – I got hung up on that, too :))

  5. You have an amazing way with details. This piece feels real and concrete without losing any of the emotion behind it. Your description of the bourbon sour made me want one right now, but I think my boss would object.

  6. Give me a broad-hipped bartendar with a slow-ass southern drawl and I’ll hang around for page after page.

    I like the Valentine story too and so glad you included it for this. It fits the prompt very well.

    Like Jess said, the way you feel the change in their connection at the end was perfect…more please

  7. Thanks for linking up with Trifecta this week. I loved the descriptions you gave us here. I’ve spent some time in blues bars in New Orleans, and this felt very similar and real to me. Great job with the prompt.

  8. Amid the music and camaraderie, I sense a sadness. I hope things look up for Valentine? Is this a part of a series? I look forward to the next.

  9. little late to the comment party but just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading this “entry” “snippet” uh anyways it was good and I am giving your free ebook on smashwords a read 🙂

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