SHORT STORY: Let Me Be the One by Nancy Goldberg Levine

2012 LASR  Book Cover Let Me Be the One 

Let Me be the One
Nancy Goldberg Levine

Rosie Reid hovered nervously backstage at The Point, where she and her two band members were about to rock Cincinnati in a New Year’s Eve concert. New year, new beginning, she thought, as she ran her fingers through her short brown hair. She was finally free from her cheating ex-husband, who had decided that it was okay for him to have an affair, but she wasn’t even allowed to look at someone else. Cory Tremayne, her fellow band member by night and fellow cab driver by day, was easy on the eyes, and he’d been a good friend in the last year and a half.

His golden hair shone in the backstage lights as her other band member and fellow cab driver, Jay Galloway, grinned and said, “Break a leg, guys.”

“I don’t want to do that,” Rosie said. “I’ve got enough problems.”

That was true. It was hard to stay positive when she’d just had yet another run-in with her ex-in-laws. Her brother-in-law, who was living in Florida, had died a month ago, but no one in the family had bothered to inform her. She’d only found out because she’d e-mailed her sister-in-law. She reminded herself that in a few more hours, it would be a new year. Time to start fresh and straighten out whatever feelings she had for Cory. They were about to sing a rock and roll duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for the band’s opening number.

Cory stood next to her and started to sing “Everything is Rosie” from “Bye Bye Birdie” in her ear, which made her laugh. If he got Jay started, she’d never be able to start singing because once the three of them got going joking around and making wise-cracks, they were unstoppable. This was a rock concert, not a stand-up comedy routine, but right now, she needed all the laughter she could get.

“It’s show time, honey,” Jay told her, before they stepped on stage. “Are you nervous?”

“Are you talkin’ to me?” Cory asked.

“No,” Jay said, and Rosie tried not to laugh at his failed attempt to sound solemn. She told him she wasn’t nervous, but she was. The whole day had been so bizarre what with her ex-mother-in-law saying “I don’t know why you’re so upset. It‘s not like you‘re part of the family anymore” to kidding around.

Backstage with Cory and Jay. Her laughter bubbled over and all she could do was give into it and hope not too many people in the audience heard it. Laughter was good for the blood pressure, she reassured herself.

Looking out toward the crowd, Rosie was happy to see lots of her relatives and friends there. Her friend, Dina, was there with her family. Rosie’s son and dad were there, cheering her on, too. She loved her dad. Sometimes he acted like Archie Bunker, but she knew he only wanted what was best for her. Kevin Gooch, her ex, had not been best for her. She’d always be her father’s little girl, and he’d never think any guy was good enough.

Jay, her second “brother,“ was backstage, giving his encouragement. He was short and slim, with dark hair and a goatee. Cory stood next to her singing, a stark contrast to Jay since he was tall and blond; the differences in appearance worked in the band‘s favor.

Rosie felt strange all dressed up in a red dress, embellished with sequins and pearls, covered up with a faux fur coat she’d borrowed from a friend that she took off as soon as she started to sing. Rosie was not a dress and faux fur kind of person, so she was glad it was only a costume. Her dress of choice was a T-shirt or tank top and shorts in the summer, and thermal tops or sweatshirts and jeans in the winter.

She tried to sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in the flirtatious way she’d practiced, hoping Cory wouldn’t think she was being too silly with this number. He didn’t, and played their duet up to the hilt. At the end, everyone in the audience was clapping and cheering like they were the New Millennium’s answer to Sonny and Cher.

“That’ll show that bastardo ex of yours,” Jay said, once again making fun of the name of one of the Philadelphia Phillies relief pitchers, Antonio Bastardo,. He’d also managed to work in a jab at her ex-husband, which didn’t hurt Rosie’sfeelings in the least.

“I hope it shows my ex’s family, too,“ Rosie said. “I can’t wait ‘til The Point has the Battle of the Bands in February,” Rosie said. “Jay and the Cincinnatians will win this year, for sure.”

“They will if we have anything to say about it,” Cory said, putting his arm around her waist. “Your ex’s band always wins.“

Rosie tried not to feel attracted by the gesture, but he was so cute.

“Yeah, those bastardos always win. What have they got that we don‘t?” Jay asked.

“Two trophies,’ Rosie said, trying to keep from acting like a teenager every time Cory looked her way. All of the sudden, she was acting as silly as her sixteen-year-old son, channeling her inner high school student.

Cory still had his arm around her when Jay sang one of the new songs they’d written called “Second Class In-Law.” She was proud of the words because it was exactly how she’d felt when she was married into “The Gooch’s” family.

“Awesome song,” Rosie said, when Jay was finished and they were taking a break. “I’m sure glad the holidays are almost over.”

“Wait a minute,” Cory said. “You love the holidays.”

“You’re right,” Rosie told him. “I think I like the idea of the holidays, but all the preparation and dealing with relatives has made me bitter.”

“Poor baby,” Cory said, reaching out to touch her arm and making her warm enough to melt any snow falling outside. “I see what you mean, though. We’ve got some relatives we don’t even speak to anymore. I’m glad the holidays will be over soon so Dina will stop making up her own words to Christmas songs.”

“I don’t think she’ll ever quit doing that,” Jay said. “Unless she runs out of songs.”

“She has to be stopped,” Rosie said, sending a conspiratorial grin Cory’s way. “Father Ryan was eyeing me the whole time at Midnight Mass thinking I was going to break into a rousing chorus of ‘O, Holy Crap.’”

“I’d like to have heard that,” Jay said.

“You would say that,” Rosie said. She loved all the camaraderie but it was time to make a bold move. If she wanted to see more of Cory in the new year, besides at concerts and band practices, or at St. Clements Church, where their families both went to services, she had to do something. The question was, what?

The closer it got to midnight, the more Rosie realized she’d turn back into Cinderella if she didn’t express her feelings to Cory. They were in the middle of their big finale, which would end when everyone joined them in singing “Auld Lang Sine,” at the stroke of midnight. First they sang “The Little Dreidel Boy,” then “Rockin’ Around the Menorah.” Jay started the countdown to midnight. As soon as he got to “one,” Rosie knew she should start singing “Auld Lang Sine,” but she left him on the stage singing by himself. Although the crowd was singing with him, Rosie led Cory behind the curtain. She grabbed him around the neck, and started kissing him impulsively. She put all of the feelings that had been building over the whole year into that kiss. She felt Cory’s response, and he didn’t pull away. His blond facial hair tickled her cheek.

“I’m sorry,” she finally said, when she stopped to catch her breath.

“Why?” Cory said. “I’ve been hoping…”

“I know I’m an impulsive person. I shouldn’t have just grabbed you and led you off the stage like that. Jay’s out there by himself and I just ruined the band’s big finish.”

“I don’t think he’d stand in the way of…” Cory laughed, the deep, low chuckle Rosie had come to know. “What do we call this?”

“I don’t know. It’s too soon to say ‘love’ or ‘our relationship.’ How about a new beginning?”

“That sounds good. We’d better go help Jay and try to salvage ‘Auld Lang Sine.’”

“That ship already sailed. It‘s too late,” Rosie said. “Kind of like the Reds last season.”

“It’s too late now, but wait ‘til Opening Day. And as for us, I like the idea of an ‘us.’ So we’re definitely continuing into next year? And maybe beyond?”


As she went back onstage, holding Cory’s hand tight, she had even more hope for a new beginning in the new year.

About the Author: Nancy Goldberg Levine is the author of Tempting Jonah, as well as more than fifty short stories. She wrote this when her shuttle bus driver suggested an idea. She dedicates “Let Me Be the One” to her family and friends who have been so helpful during her difficult year, with their laughter, love and friendship.


  1. Another winner, Nancy! I love how you bring in the Reds.


  1. […] Nancy Goldberg Levine is the author of “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny” and “Mr. Tall, Tan…& Tasteless.” You can find her latest short story, “Let Me Be the One,” the prequel to “Mr. Short, Dark…& Funny” at this website […]

Speak Your Mind