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Occam's Foxtrot

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It's strange, seeing men (men in uniform)--dance together. Pat's not surprised that Colonel Preston left an hour ago, keeping himself officially ignorant and the dance shielded from military discipline.

Strange, too, how it all simply happened. Once the YMCA instruments arrived, a dance band burst into existence along with string quartets and jazz groups. And where there's a dance band, there's dancing.

It seems to be doing morale some good, anyway. Pat hasn't seen so many smiles since before the rations were cut. Most of the chaps are dancing; Pat, who's among the few wallflowers, observes familiar personalities oddly magnified by this unfamiliar context. Impatient Simon is always half a beat early; he looks wistful and is probably thinking of Cathy. Tim dances with perfect correctness, as though this were a regimental ball and his partner a baronet's daughter instead of a Polish cavalry captain. Phil makes a laughing show of his own awkwardness, while George has danced twice with a rather dashing RAF pilot and seems to be enjoying himself more than may be entirely wise. Dick, unconventional as always, was one of the first dancers, and he moves so well that his partners are practically queuing up. There's something effortless in the poise of his body; he's a pleasure to watch.

Pat is still watching him when the song ends. Dick looks up and meets Pat's eyes, and smiles, and shakes his head at a Frenchman's hopeful question, and crosses the floor to him. "Come on then," he says, brushing his tumbled hair back from his face. "Dance with me."

"I can't. Don't know how to follow."

"That's all right. I do."

Ah. That's the secret of his popularity, then.

Or perhaps it's something else. Pat finds himself with his hand on Dick's elegant back, looking up at his, well, beautiful face. He tries to picture Dick as a girl, and can't.

"This is absurd," Pat says. "How can I lead when you're so much taller?"

"Gosh. Life is awfully complicated, isn't it?"


"Dance with me."

So Pat does. And it feels good. It feels simple, being close to Dick, moving with him. Pat forgets who's taller, and then forgets a whole lot of other rules that no longer make sense.

Perhaps instinct is Occam's razor, cutting through life's complications. Pat is dancing with someone beautiful in his arms, and nothing has ever been so easy.