Love Stories. Today, a fourth episode of A Summer to Be Remembered by Bob Mitchell: Beth and the Singer. Enjoy your day, Yareah friends. Art is Everywhere!
Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3
At what point Bette arrived I don’t know, but we jumped apart at a very distinct “Uh-hum!” My face must have been crimson as I introduced Beth to Bette. Bette smiled indulgently, but went right to work. After the lesson Bette departed, leaving us alone again. There was not another soul in the church even though the doors were unlocked.
Beth approached me with upraised arms, and a face straight out of heaven. “Oh, Bob!” her eyes glistening with tears, “You have the most beautiful voice I ever heard in my life!” She wrapped her arms around me with her head on my chest and squeezed me. I put my arms around her, squeezing her right back. She looked up into my eyes – and we were kissing again with our bodies tight against each other.
Never in my life had I received such affirmation about my singing. I knew at that moment how much I loved this waif of a girl I didn’t even know.
With less than a week left to spend with her I took advantage of every moment. She introduced me to Grandmamma and I got her stamp of approval. The next night I took her to the only movie in town, Psycho, which had just hit the theaters for the first time in Asbury Park, the town next door. There is no entertainment in the religious village of Ocean Grove. The movie scared the heck out of both of us, but it brought us closer. We were clinging to each other by the end. After the movie we walked hand-in-hand, sometimes arm-in-arm, or arms around each other on the boardwalk. We stopped to enjoy the surf; we took our shoes off and ran in the sand. We dashed toward the surging surf, chirping as the cool water rushed over our toes, laughing and giggling like school children. Stopping for a moment we turned around hand in hand to look back at the boardwalk. It’s eerie at night from the water’s edge; the yellow lights look like candles in a Christmas window. I don’t know how long we stood there basking in the warmth each of us gave the other.
When we finally returned to the hotel I used my key to get on the elevator, which didn’t run this late. This time, as it took us up to her floor, I had an inspiration. Even through our embrace she noticed we passed her floor, threw her head back, and with a gleam in her eye queried me playfully, “Bob, what are you doing? Where are you taking me?” I put a finger across my lips, “You’ll see.”
Previously I had discovered a window on the top floor that led to the roof. I decided to show Beth “my secret.” She held my arm tightly. When the elevator stopped, I led her out into the dingy top floor hallway, off limits to visitors and bellhops.
To our right, one bare light hanging on the wall as in Psycho toward the end of the hall, trying to shine through the dirt that encrusted it, gave the place a creepy feeling. The hall grew darker the further we tiptoed our way along it.
She whispered, “Where are we going?” A tinge of apprehension showed through her smile. But her sense of adventure clearly captivated her as she interlocked her arm with mine.
I led her straight to the window case. You could hear and even feel the salty wind whistling outside. I pulled the window in and up, handing it to her to steady as I crawled through.
“Is this safe?” she whispered hoarsely above the gusts outside.
“Sure! Come on!” Standing on the ledge I helped her through. We now stood on a narrow ledge along the base of the roof at the foot of one of the hotel’s majestic turrets or gables.
She looked down, about sixty feet to the boardwalk below. “Oh, my God! This isn’t safe!”
There was no guard rail, it’s true. But I put my arm around her, pulled her toward me, and gently turned her around so she was facing out, still holding fast to me. I held on to the window ledge with my other arm. “Look!” I whispered in her ear.
“Oh, my God!” she gasped again. But this time her words were hushed astonishment. As she looked out she saw and heard the distant dark waves smashing into the murky beach, all of which appeared dark brown from the boardwalk lights. She could see the white-flashing breakers dancing all along her line of sight.
Then her eyes were drawn back to the Homestead Restaurant, immediately across the boardwalk from us. Its roof, which she had never seen from this vantage point, appeared dark and spooky. “This way,” I directed in her ear, ushering her around the front of the turret to the adjacent roof on our left, which gently sloped up to the apex of the roof in back of us.
We sat down on the roof, wrapped in each other’s arms to keep warm. Shivering, we slid close to the turret to avoid the direct blast of wind. Ocean Grove was quiet, but Asbury Park was still in full bore. It’s blazing, glittering lights lifted our spirits. The great Ferris wheel lights dazzled us as they whirled in their endless orbit. The clang of other rides and hurdy-gurdy music wafted shakily up to us on the ocean breeze.