He was sitting in the orchestra pit, listening to the rants of the conductor. Would the guy just get on with it? It was time for the swim-suit competition â€“ the run-through before tomorrow nightâ€™s Miss Oklahoma Pageant. And the conductor wasnâ€™t happy with the intro to the music. At least he wasnâ€™t happy with the way the orchestra had played it. But the assistant director had told the conductor the girls were getting restless backstage.
The girls, the girls. Wasnâ€™t that the only reason heâ€™d taken this job â€“ the fine- tuned graduate of Tulsa University. What a nice view to have while you played cheesy show music. Of course the bread was nice, but there were other gigs â€“ going on the road with Stanâ€™s band for example which would happen in just a few short weeks. Heâ€™d been called by the band manager and asked to join the famous orchestra as lead alto saxophonist and jazz soloist. His career upon graduation was getting off to a brilliant start.
â€œStop daydreaming back there!â€ His head snapped to attention when he realized the conductor was shouting at him. â€œAll, right â€“ letâ€™s try it againâ€¦with the girls.â€
The conductor kicked off the band and the bossa nova began.
He played his part perfectly the way heâ€™d played it all evening during the damned rehearsal. He wasnâ€™t the one who kept messing up. And then a bevy of long legs swept into his peripheral. One was more lovely than the next â€“ there was a blonde in a green suit, a red-head in a blue one, a petite little thing all in whiteâ€¦thenâ€¦ he stopped playing. The tall brunette floated by in flaming red. Her dark brown locks cascaded down her back and nearly rested on her perfectly shaped derriere. Mile-long legs stretched to the floor, pouring into crimson spiked heels. She twisted down the runway, made a sweeping turn then headed back toward the stage. She smiled broadly, lips glistening scarlet. She looked straight ahead, her posture as perfect as her walk. He realized he still hadnâ€™t played a note but what did it matter?
As she reached the area next to him in the pit he shot up out of his seat. â€œHey, babe â€¦where you from?â€
â€œWhat?â€ she nearly tumbled over as she came to a stop.
â€œWhere are you from?â€ He grinned from ear to ear.
â€œYeah? Iâ€™m from Bartlesville.â€
â€œOh.â€ She looked embarrassed.
â€œWilkerson! This is not the dating game!â€ The conductorâ€™s baton rapped frantically on his music stand bringing the orchestra to a halt.
Confusion crossed the girlâ€™s face as she turned to the conductor. But Wilkerson paid him no mind. â€œWhere do you go to school?â€
â€œIâ€¦ start Tulsa University in the fallâ€¦â€ she stammered.
â€œI just graduated from thereâ€¦Iâ€™m going on the road with Stan Kenton in a couple weeks. We should get together afterâ€¦â€
He sat back down and took the sax back to his lips. The music started once more. The girl began walking again but with her head turned back. Their eyes remained glued to one another. And then she dipped backstage out of sight.
Wilkerson was fired from the orchestra that night. But he went on to tour with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Then he moved to Los Angeles, married a girl from San Diego, did television and film work and led the typical life of a musician in LA. But he could never forget that image walking down that runway.
Three years later, he was divorced. When he returned home he looked up the girl. He proposed on their third date. They have been happily married for twenty-seven years. And he still likes to tell the story of the girl in the red bathing suit.