Promenaders strolled down the sun-streaked boardwalk of Atlantic City, New Jersey; ladies twirled their parasols while gents tipped their straw hats and stroked their handlebar mustaches as they passed each other for it was Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer, a perfect day with sunshine, blue skies and laughing children!

Margaret Wilson and her boy Sam came from Philadelphia for the fresh sea air, to gaze in awe at the hotels built like fairytale palaces along the seafront and to admire the piers dripping with neon lights, the most famous of which was the Steel Pier, known for its dance bands, water circus and other such attractions; in fact, it was revealed that the renowned composer John Philip Sousa and his band would be performing that very afternoon. 

There were barkers selling salt water taffy and cotton candy, minstrel shows, fairgrounds and the famous Diving Horse, specially trained to charge up a 60 foot ramp to a platform atop the Steel Pier where a woman clad in a smattering of sequins leapt onto its back just before it plunged off the pier; horse and rider flew through the air, hitting the water to the applause of delighted throngs waiting below.

But one didn’t have to venture far from the boardwalk to sample less wholesome activities in venues like the Paradise Club where tourists could watch nearly naked women dance to jazz music and, if they wanted something not just risqué but illegal, they could visit the gambling dens and brothels catering to every taste; there was the criminal element, too, with occasional holdups and shoot-outs. 

However today was a holiday and the children laughed gleefully as they rode the giant carousel on horses painted pink, yellow, white and green, even the smallest tyke straining to reach the brass ring while their parents strolled in their most fashionable clothes and made small talk; with the start of school the furthest thing from their minds, nothing could spoil a day like today. 

Suddenly the cacophony of gun shots rang out and people screamed and scattered as gun-wielding robbers ran from a pawn shop, jumped into a waiting car and took off, bullets flying wildly; a momentary silence overtook the Boardwalk only to be shattered by a piercing wail that rose to the heavens and everyone turned to see Margaret Wilson cradling the body of little Sam, shot in the heart by a stray bullet (in his jacket pocket a folded essay, now stained with innocent blood, entitled “How I Spent My Summer Vacation”); the police arrived, removed mother and child and the band played on. 

NAR © 2023
Originally published 2018

Written in response to GirlieOnTheEdge and Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt. The rules: six sentences – no more, no less. Punctuation be damned! The magic word this week is CAROUSEL. 🎠

44 thoughts on “AND THE BAND PLAYED ON”

    1. These gunfights, drive by shootings and school attacks have reached pandemic proportions. It is unthinkable after all these years that the situation of gun control remains a huge and unresolved problem.
      My sympathies to you and the people in your area.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You really packed a lot into six sentences. After I read it, and realized you wrote it in response to a six sentence story, I thought maybe you didn’t follow directions. I couldn’t believe your story had only six sentences. So I went back to read it again. And yet again. Sure enough, you did it in six sentences. Kudos to you, Nancy.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. The most interesting thing was the dancing chicken, but now I realize how cruel that was. You put a quarter in this machine and a chicken comes out and dances and then it gets feed grain. I was too young to realize that they were giving the chicken electric shocks in the floor to make it dance,


  2. Good thing I did not pay attention to the tags of your Six, Nancy, otherwise the transformation of the sunshine-band-playing at the pier- smile into a bitter-smile-of Fates-and human lives would be lost.

    The famous Sicilian Curve-ball!
    Executed (…) at the Sixth Sentence of a Six worthy of its dark ink!
    The folded essay is a masterful final blow before, following a short-lived pause of the world, resuming business as usual… and the band plays on…

    Brava, cara.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Another excellent comment, Nick! I love the way you picked up on all the 6-action going on! And the folded essay … I must say I loved that part as well.

      As you can see by the original publication date, this is an oldie, a favorite of mine. It was great to be able to tweak it for a 6 this week.

      Thank you for always taking the time to give creative and constructive feedback. I appreciate it and you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That took an unexpected twist at the end there, Nancy… although it shouldn’t have, as you placed the clues going along. The diving horse is playing with my mind! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As my friend Nick likes to call it … The Sicilian Curve Ball!
      Thanks so much, Tom. I can see how the diving horse would be a mind game. 😂 I assure you, stunts like that were a real thing back then. It boggles the mind. And of course Henry the Horse dances the waltz! (A little homage to Sgt. Pepper.)
      Thanks for your great comments.

      Liked by 3 people

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