Moonlight Serenade

It’s 1945. U.S. Marine, Ron Day, has been fighting on island after island in the South Pacific. His company has another brutal battle on the horizon-Okinawa. Ron has been given leave in Melbourne, Australia before shipping out to Okinawa.

In Melbourne, he meets Charmaine Sturgis, a gorgeous big band singer. Like so many things that happen in war, they fall in love over the short leave time.

…And war steals from us all.


Inside, the club wasn’t particularly special. Red leather booths lined one wall and linen covered tables for two formed a horseshoe around the black tile dance floor. Numerous chandeliers provided adequate lighting, which was augmented by individual lamps on each table. There was a clam-shaped stage where the band currently played for three female singers. The women were doing a melody of Andrew Sister’s songs. A long bar and cloak room took up the third wall. The dance floor and stage were the only areas that didn’t have a smoky haze.

Ron and Johnnie found a free table at the far side of the stage. The trio of Aussie Andrew Sisters finished and went off stage and the grey-haired band leader introduced another singer named Charmaine Sturgis. A redhead who’d make Rita Hayworth and Ann Sheridan weep with envy came out. She wore a red satin gown that clung to her in all the right places, red shoes with ribbons that tied around her ankles and peeked out from a slit in the gown, and blood red lipstick that he’d give a year’s pay to smear. If he ever questioned what he was fighting for before, one look at her reminded him.

She opened with Street of Dreams, then went into one of Ron’s favorite songs, Fools Rush In. She stood behind the microphone as she sang but she looked out over the audience, making eye contact with different people. It never crossed Ron’s mind that she’d be able to see him off to the side and with the lighting casting a shadow near that end of the stage. She sang a few more songs some by Glenn Miller, some by Tommy Dorsey. To his delight she looked right at him and closed with We’ll Meet Again.

The audience demanded an encore and she returned. The orchestra struck up the first few bars of Moonlight Serenade. She picked up the microphone stand and came to the edge of the stage, standing right in front of him. Never taking her eyes from him, she sang that love song to him the way he’d only seen happen to lucky guys in movies.