Winter Blogfest: Janet Yeager

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Thank You, Gene Kelly by Janet Yeager

What a glorious feeling

Perhaps. Gene Kelly’s movies did—after all—bookend our immigration.  

On the night before our departure to America, in a gilded London theater, my lovely wifeMaria’s head bobs to Gershwin’s score as Gene and Leslie Caron—chic and lithe—dance and sing their way across Paris. I envy his joie de vivre.

Later, as we walk to our hotel, Maria, humming the score, extends her elegant legs in athoroughly Parisian pose. We’ll be Americans in Los Angeles,” she says. “Perhaps Gene willwrite an enchanting sequel.”  

The move’s opportunities present unexpected challenges. Our home isn’t The City of Angels, but a rough-hewn, brawling railroad hub nicknamed “Stumptown,” where I find work as a locomotive engineer.

‘Singin’ in the Rain’ is the first movie we see in our New World. After buying the soundtrack, I often come home to find Maria twirling an umbrella, tap dancing, and singing along with Gene, Debbie, and Donald.

We delight in our beautiful surroundings, but we also face sadness. After the first snowfall, Leslieour beloved long-legged kittendied after being mauled.

Then, our record player broke. No more music. No more dance. No more singing in the rain. Our house grew quiet.

While on a layover, I spy a sleek two-piece hi-fi in a store window and make an easy purchase.

The scrawny feline in the railroad’s roundhouse laps diesel fuel. He’ll prove to be a tougher sell.

He seems determined to make a go of his life in his own way. Valiantly shaking off the bitter cold and snow, he resists my enticements of milk and cans of fish. After some consideration, he decides I’m worthy and strokes against my leg, leaving a smear of motor fuelon my coveralls.

I poke holes into a scrapped, dented shoebox. Grabbing the hissing and yowling creature, I close the lid, tying a string around the box to keep him secure.

Given his piteous crying, he and I’ll be in for a long fourhour journey aboard the locomotive.

The hi-fi appropriates the entire trunk and back seat of our ’48 Nash. The kitten sleeps in his box next to me on the front seat.

Like a peddler with a sack, I wrestle the boxes across the newly-fallen snow, praying that Maria will be asleep.  

Turning on the Christmas tree lights, I silently set up the stereo cabinets and hold onto the shoebox.

Then, finding what I hope will bring a smile to my sweet Maria’s face, I set the stylusdown on the record and turn up the volume. Gene warbles a familiar tune.
I wait for my glorious ballerina to appear.

A tousled head peers around the corner.

Maria pirouettes across the floor as tears stream down her face.

Going to the stereo to replay the song, she turns as the kitten mewls in frustration. Opening the box, she nuzzles him, whispering, “Gene, you’re my Gene!

Love’s a glorious feeling. Thank you, Gene.


When teenaged misfit Kory Mowat violates Norway’s Resistance’s codes of audacity and silence, he and his brothers by honor learn hard truths about their friendship. The occupation of Norway by the Germans upends Kory’s mapped-out life. Joining the Norwegian Resistance and using codes from a game called Solsvik Bridge, he and his friends smuggle munitions and pass information that they place inside German propaganda. But when he and his Nazi-collaborator brother vie for the attentions of an unscrupulous girl, Kory’s naivete and combative rivalry blind him to what he promised to uphold. Just when he thinks he has made it and that he and his friends can conquer the world, and for all his betterment, his touchstone is ripped away, leaving Kory to learn the truths of friendship.

Janet Yeager is the author of Brothers by Honor. She is the recipient of numerous awards through the Tulsa NightWriters and Oklahoma Writer’s Federation. A Montana native, she lives in Tulsa Oklahoma.