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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Carols/Carolling (10/02/08)

TITLE: Dancing Joe
By Rebecca Jones


Everyone in the town called the unkempt man in the ragged clothes who danced to music that played in the man’s head as “Dancing Joe”. Susan called him “cousin” – but only privately.

She glanced out of the huge picture glass window every day at her workplace, and felt a huge sense of embarrassment every single time she noticed that quaint figure, singing and dancing in the street, totally oblivious to traffic. Her cheeks burned every time she heard the derisive laughter at the poor man.

Susan was a successful, organized, very put-together sales associate at the local insurance company. She often felt a tinge of guilt as she’d scurry past Dancing Joe, head down, hiding her face so he wouldn’t recognize her. She didn’t understand how he made this unfortunate turn in his life, when hers was filled with money, success and prestige. The strange thing for her, though, was that Joe seemed happy, while she was never satisfied with her lot in life.

Then, a few days before Christmas, Susan was on her way back to the office for the annual office party. Following the festivities, various co-workers would venture out into the cold winter air to raise their voices in song to impress the townsfolk. She faced Dancing Joe head-on. He seemed to be oblivious to her, dancing and singing, “See the little baby,,, lying in a manger,,, on Christmas morning,,, Amen, amen, amen.”

Susan stopped and watched him, incredulous. She was amazed at Joe’s demeanor; his face looked rapturous. Then, he spotted Susan and head over to her, hands reaching out to hers. “Susie-Q!” he exclaimed. “How cool to see you!”

Susan glanced nervously around as he took her small hands into his. “I’ve been thinking about you. I see you as you walk by, and I feel so badly for you.”

“What in the world are you talking about?” Susan replied angrily. “You used to be on the fast track to success and now, you’re the laughingstock of the town! What happened to you? You used to be an excellent artist at the leading ad agency – and now look at you!”

Joe’s face took on a sad, yet understanding look. “Here – I made something for you. Have a Merry Christmas, Susie-Q. And don’t worry – I won’t hug you, in case your friends see you with me.”

He tucked the small bag into her hands, and danced happily away. Susan stood in the cold, a tear making its way down her cheek. She opened the bag to see a small, yet beautiful wooden, handcrafted container. Upon the container were daintily painted flowers and a Bible verse: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” (nkj)

Susan trudged back to the warm, festive office, to the bright lights, and loud voices. She plastered a smile on her lips, but inside, she felt unsure, like she needed to re-examine her life; what happened to her?

The party over, everyone stumbled out into the frozen air, snowflakes falling lightly to the cold ground. The crew huddled together as they sang the usual carols about decking the halls, and resting, merry gentlemen.

Then, they spotted him. “Hey, it’s “Dancing Joe!” laughed Susan’s superior.

“Man, wouldn’t it be terrible to be related to that mess,” added the office manager amid derisive laughter and guffaws.

“He’s related to me,” Susan said softly. Then, more boldly, she added, “He’s my cousin.”

The laughter stopped. “Oh, uh, we didn’t know. Hey, we’re really sorry,” stated the original heckler.

“What’s to be sorry about,” responded Susan. “If you think I’m a good singer, you should hear him at the family gatherings!”

Dancing Joe smiled at Susan as she waved and blew him a kiss. She realized for the first time in a long time that Joe had more than she would ever have had, before now. She had a song in her own heart as she walked arm in arm with a co-worker, merrily singing carols along with the group.

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This article has been read 591 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Olivia Stocum10/10/08
I really liked this. Thanks. Keep writing and God bless. Olivia
Rita Garcia10/10/08
Great story. Really liked the ending.
Jan Ackerson 10/11/08
I'd forgotten about that old spiritual--thanks for reminding me!

Karin Beery10/13/08
Touching story.

There are a few punctuation errors, especially commas (some in wrong places, some not where they could be). Brush up on those and your story will flow more smoothly. Be careful not to fall into run-on sentences though!

Nicely created.
Karin Beery10/13/08
Touching story.

There are a few punctuation errors, especially commas (some in wrong places, some not where they could be). Brush up on those and your story will flow more smoothly. Be careful not to fall into run-on sentences though!

Nicely created.