Stanley was a welder. He had been a welder most of his life. He started back when he was eighteen learning the trade at his uncle’s shop. Stanley was a big kid, even then, and took to the trade and learned it rapidly. Stan wasn’t much for school and books. He liked working with his hands.

That and the fact he had crooked teeth, warts and three fingers on one hand, he wasn’t a big hit with the ladies. He frequently kept his ‘bad’ hand in his pocket to avoid stares and jeers from the other guys. The deformity was genetic, so the doctors told his parents, and there was absolutely nothing they could do to fix it. Learning to live with it and being slightly different from other people had been Stanley’s cross to bear.

He liked the shop. He got to know all the guys and did much of the work alone by himself, so he wasn’t in the public eye much. That was fine with him. The hand was no problem in his work, and he could handle materials just like the next man. Eventually, he started to make good money doing welding. He started to buy the things his parents couldn’t afford when he was growing up. New clothes, a nice car. Eventually, he was even able to afford a little house.

With money in the bank, a new set of wheels and a house to call his own, Stanley became more of a catch. Eventually he attracted a woman at church who could look past the hand and the teeth. A year later they got married. Stanley remained happily married for over twenty years.

It came as a shock and a blow when Genene, his wife, developed ovarian cancer. Within two years she was gone and once again, Stanley was on his own. At fifty, the teeth were still crooked, the bad hand was still the same, but he had now developed a middle-age paunch from all of Genene’s good cooking.

Stan tried a number of activities that involved women. Nothing much worked. He was a complete wash-out at bars. Despite how much money he threw around, he couldn’t compete with the younger, good looking guys. He still went to church, but the women there seemed to get older and dowdier by the year. He couldn’t bowl anymore because of a bad shoulder. So, he was delighted when he discovered the new dance studio. The staff were friendly and eager to help. They were happy to take his money for dance lessons and in return treat him with respect. The staffers didn’t avoid him and he even made some new friends. He was starting to get comfortable. That is until they hired the new girl, Jane.

Stanley goggled at Jane. She was so beautiful. Small and petite. Big green eyes in a pixie face. Small but curvaceous body. It was love at first sight. And, on top of that, she was so friendly! She would call him by name when he came in the door and laugh and giggle when he spoke to her.

Was she flirting with him? His mind reeled at the thought. She would even step in when some of the instructors were busy and act as his dancing partner. She was small and light on her feet. Nothing like Genene who, although Stan loved his wife, he had to admit was as clumsy as all get out. His wife could bang into a barn door going through if she weren’t careful.

No, Stan had to admit, even Genene had never made him feel like this before. Was he in love? He didn’t know what to call it. But, when they were dancing, everyone else and everything else just faded away. It was just him and Jane floating along. He wanted it to last forever.

Continued Part V