No You Don’t
Lily’s public statement of ownership had not gone unnoticed by the group of women she’d intended to warn off. The b-brigade held its ground against the east wall watching closely as other women, none of whom made any bones about wanting a taste of what Sarge had unwittingly put on display while dancing with Lily, launched single and combined efforts to get him either back towards the clear area near the musicians or off in other much less public directions. From the perspective of the b-brigade, all of these actions were doomed because they failed to address the necessity of separating the man from the woman directly behind his broad back as they moved single file through the crowded room.
Sarge’s polite smile never wavered, his voice never rose in irritation, his free right hand never resorted to applying serious force as he extracted himself from grasping, clutching and caressing hands of women he had never met and a few he had while making repairs in the Flats. Yet he effectively managed to decline each demand and offer without letting go of Lily’s hand or directing her attention to what he was encountering head on while wading through the sea of people. Confused and at a loss for the reason for this unexpected onslaught of feminine attention, but having dealt with far larger and more forceful acts of aggression than a steady stream of uninhibited women blocking his path, Sarge pushed onward thinking the strange scenario would come to an end as soon as they were out of the now jam-packed room.
Within ten steps of extracting them both from the pressing mass of people Sarge suddenly found himself contending with what he immediately recognized as a coordinated group effort involving Lily. His first sense that something new was going on came from activity behind him instead of face to face as previously. A sudden hard yanking of his left hand holding Lily’s caused him to stop moving and look over his shoulder to where she now stood the length of both their arms away from him. Instead of close up behind him as she’d been until a few moments ago, she was facing off with two irate young women while a silent third was leaning against her arm now stretched out full length between her and Sarge. Realizing the intention of the third woman was to get Lily to release her hand hold on his, Sarge turned around and began moving to close the distance between them. As soon as he did this, another woman stepped directly into his way. Laughing and grinning at him, she half fell against his chest in an effort to push him off-balance and backwards. Instinctively adjusting his stance to maintain balance, Sarge became aware of another woman closing in from the left with the same movements.
“No you don’t.” He comprehended the scope of this coordinated action and began dealing with it even as someone else bumped into him from behind then proceeded to get very comfortable and cozy with his backside and belt. He looked away from the women shoving against him to where Lily stood facing the opposite direction as she contended with the two women working themselves up into a fine lather arguing with her without raising their voices to attract unwelcome attention. He saw their silent partner quickly move to where his and Lily’s hands were still holding onto each other.
A hot hand covered his and nimble fingers began trying to pry one of his fingers loose from his grip on Lily’s hand. Thinking she was about to succeed with this action, which by most rights ought to have given her painful physical leverage to force him into letting go of Lily, she turned and sent him a big happy smile over her shoulder. As far as Sarge was concerned her smile confirmed that none of this activity was accidental and that its intent was to separate him and Lily in order to put another part of a group plan into action.
For the amount of time it took him to think how very ironic it was that his life in a world so very different from that of the Flats had more than adequately prepared him for this type of situation, Sarge allowed the young woman smiling at him to continue working at pushing his index finger against the back of his hand. When she knew she had his finger bent far enough back to the point where the pain ought to have already accomplished her goal yet had not, she glared at him then yanked it farther. Sarge grinned back at her and tightened his grip on Lily’s hand hard enough to get her to look his way in surprise. Knowing he had her attention, he suddenly pulled her towards him with enough force to yank her off her feet and send her body slamming directly into the woman at the point of breaking his finger out of frustration. The two women collided and yet Lily kept moving as Sarge twisted hard to his left to keep her body in motion as if she were a fish at the end of a line being hauled out of water. The force with which he put her into motion caused her shoulder to hit the finger-pryer’s chest hard enough to send the woman falling and stumbling into other people. The momentum brought Lily twisting like a top knocking into the two women trying to move him backwards. Finding and keeping on her feet, Lily pushed and shoved against the women to keep her balance.
When her body had nearly cleared them, Sarge pivoted again so that he was now facing the hallway. The woman who’d been yanking on his belt to get him moving backwards now found herself facing him and took a step backwards to steady herself. Sarge pulled again on Lily’s hand causing her to spin a little more before she collided with his side. Immediately his right hand went around her waist pulling her up flush against him. Having accomplished his immediate goal, he smiled down at her red streaked cheeks and startled eyes. “There you are, Lily. I wondered where’d you’d gotten to back there in the crowd.” He nodded at the frustrated woman glaring at them as she stepped away. “Sorry if I stepped on your toes. It’s getting really tight in here. There’ll be a little more room when I’m out of the way.” Keeping a tight grip on Lily, he pushed only slightly less politely than before onward through the curious onlookers.
As always, I’m open to more music suggestions.