Somebody for that Red Rose

red roses
red roses (Photo credit: paparutzi)

“I found a dream that I could speak to

A dream that I can call my own

I found a thrill to press my cheek to

A thrill that I have never known”

The radio belted out the dreams of his life, and Etta James knew how to sing it; how to make you believe it.  And Charley bought every line.  It was the love that he was longing for while mopping up the staff dining, in this 10 story office complex.

It was after hours and he figured the guys shouldn’t mind if he played their radio while cleaning up their mess.  He did a good job after all, so why should they complain.  Charley always spent more time in the rooms with the radios.  It was a tiresome job so he was doing his best to make the time pass in a pleasant way.  And while it wasn’t exactly a Roberta’s Killing Me Softly With Your Song mentality that was going on here, Etta James was rocking his world; singing about the love he dreamed of, not the one that had passed.

Charley was alone; no family, no friends.   Everyone thought that he was a loner, but really he was just simply alone.  They used to call him the Killer Whale, as Charley was so ready to eat alive anyone who tried to exert their influence over his world; he moved when he wanted, how he wanted and where he wanted.  But if you had asked him, really all that he desired was someone who he wouldn’t mind rocking his boat.

All of those movies that he sat in alone were just reminders that he still hadn’t found the one whom he was waiting to share his life with. Charley was a good man, just not good with people.  That didn’t mean that he didn’t want someone to give that red rose to.  He was a dreamer.  He could see her in his mind’s eye; the way that she walked, the way that she looked at him, the way that she made him feel.

It was all in his mind until that day she showed up at work.  She was the one that he could spend the rest of his days with; the one that he didn’t mind to decay with.  The one that every rude word that she said became a humorous joke; she was so insightful that he took it as necessary that her wit made cuts in his heart as she spoke.  She was the one that he could live and he could die for, the one that he would poke out his very own eyes for, the one he’d miss sleep to write love songs all night for.

They worked closely together, everyday becoming closer, until one day he knew he had to take the next step.  He summoned his courage and he explained how he felt, that there would never be another in this world for which his heart would melt.  Compassionately she looked him in the eyes, and with the sweetest twinkle and loving sigh, she explained that she was in love with someone else on the crew, that muscle bound dude with so much couth, that always gave her change for the phone booth. That man was the apple for which she would die.  And with that, she told Charley thanks for the thoughts, but to find someone else that could make his world part.

Closing his heart back up, the Killer Whale found his radio, found his Etta James, and found his mop.  The grieving his loss was the hardest part.


  1. First off, Etta James was IT on “At Last.” It’s unfortunate that every singer from Cyndi Lauper to Beyonce (my husband calls her ‘Bouncy’) slavishly follows every note and cannot seem to come up with their own take on the song.

    Your story is so fitting. I was really rooting for Charley – in fact, I know a Charley, but the part about her falling for Muscle Boy and breaking off any hopes he had harbored made me think twice. The ending is bittersweet, yet hopeful at the same time. He WILL find a love worthy of his read roses. True romantics simply have to wait and trust.

    BRILL. Peace, Amy Barlow Liberatore


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