"Howdy. Name's Bugsy. Bugsy Steel."
It can't be. Julie thought. Bugsy Steel was the biggest silent film star in Hollywood! Why in the world would he be in my dad's local gas station in the little town of Effrinson in Missouri? Julie stared at Bugsy's moving lips. She stared so much she forget to say her name altogether.
"I didn't mean to... frighten ya, kid."
But Julie wasn't frightened. She was starstruck for the first time in her life, and seeing Bugsy Steel right there in front of her register buying a pack of Chester Fields and some beef jerky was the highlight of her day. The highlight of her year. The highlight of her young eighteen year old life.
"I know, I know. I'm a long way from home."
Bugsy winked at her. And Julie's face became a rather dark shade of tomato. He reads minds. He reads minds! She pulled herself together just like what she learned to do in debate class when her fear of speaking would make her fingers tremble, and in a soft high pitch voice said: "You are Bugsy Steel!"
"Shhh. Don't tell anyone."
Bugsy joked, and pulled a cigarette out of his fresh new pack.
"Got a light?"
Julie looked down at her hands. Uh-oh. They were trembling just like in debate class. Breathe, Julie breathe! She took the lighter and tried to light it up, but her anxiety went so rampant that Bugsy noticed her shaky hands.
"Ya gotta get those fingers checked, kid. Here, gimme."
Bugsy took the lighter, lowered his chin with the cigarette in mouth to light it.
His brow frowned as he inhaled and his lips grinned when the fire beamed out of the lighter and into the cigarette. In that moment Julie knew: she was IN LOVE.
She was in love with a movie star by the name of Bugsy.
In her head, a soft dreamy tune played as she spent the next moment envisioning a lifetime with this man in a true silent film genre: He would bring her flowers, she would blush, the title card would say 'Who, me?' And Bugsy would drop to his knees, and lower his hat down. 'There is no one else but you, my love.' The title card would say.
Julie wasn't the most imaginative when it came to romance.
How would she be? She has never seen a love story in real life. Sure, she had her grandparents, but granny was sick of Grandpa and Grandpa was sick of himself, so love wasn't in abundance between the two of them. And ever since Julie's ma died from that horrible disease, pa had to take care of the shop and didn't have time for any love affairs. And the boys in Effrinson High were as interesting to Julie as a pile of bricks. So to Julie, love only existed in fairytales, or in dreams or in movies. The silent ones that came by the little town of Effrinson. The ones starring the same ole' Bugsy Steel.
Bugsy handed Julie the lighter, and for a brief moment - their fingers touched.
Bugsy's thumb was rough, hardened, warm. Her petite small hand was tingly when she touched his. She felt a rush of warmth right down her body, down her spine and right to her fiery womanhood. Her sexual appetite in those days was just beginning to blossom, to find itself, and a random encounter with a real life movie star was all Julie needed to feel a brief moment of real life pleasure. Wow. She thought to herself. Wow.
"You have a pretty braid, kid. That's a very pretty braid ya got."
Who, me? Julie asked with her eyes. She must have gotten better with her silent communication skills because Bugsy responded timely: "Yes, I'm talkin' 'bout you, kid. I don't see anyone else here." He read my mind AGAIN. Julie's face has turned into a plum now. She shook her head dismissing the compliment, hiding shyly her uncomfortable face. "Forgive me, I been calling ya a kid, but now I see. You're a lady."
Julie perked her head up - Bugsy lowered his hat just like he would in her silent film fantasy. He lowered his hat and uttered the words:
'Have a good day, lady with a pretty braid. Have a good day."
And just like that, Bugsy turned around and opened the door like a movie star would open a tavern's barn door in a western. Julie's eyes followed him out as he entered his black shiny mustang. He drove away just like a movie star would, with fire smoking out of his engine, and a rainbow appearing in the sky. Julie sighed a sigh of relief, of a lived up dream, of a once in a life time unforgettable encounter with a real life movie star. She sighed like a woman after her first pleasure, after her first crush, after her first real love. She sighed like a movie star in a silent film.
In April 2020, while experiencing her first ever global pandemic, Tamar Pelzig pledged to write something every day, even if it's only a word, so she welcomed to the world a daily blog to keep her creative writing wheels rolling.
Header Art: Daniel Landerman