Kiss Me Again, Stranger by Daphne DuMaurier – Selection 6 of #DealMeIn2020

The Card: ♦Three♦ of Diamonds.

The Suit: For Deal Me In 2020, ♦♦♦Diamonds♦♦♦ is my suit for stories from favorite female authors.

The Author: Daphne DuMaurier – surely you already know of her from her most famous novel, Rebecca, which was also a Best Picture academy award winner for Alfred Hitchcock. If you don’t know DuMaurier, stop reading this blog and start reading THAT book. 🙂 I’ve also blogged about her story “Don’t Look Now” previously.

The Story: “Kiss Me Again, Stranger” from the author’s collection of stories, “The Birds and Other Short Stories.” This is one of four selections from that book that I’ll be reading for this year’s Deal Me In challenge. I’m most looking forward to reading “The Birds” – I wonder when fate will deal me up that story?

BUT…what is Deal Me In? I’m glad you asked!  Full details may be found here  but generally speaking it’s a reading challenge where participants try to read one short story a week for the year, the reading order being determined by the luck of the draw. See here for the list I’ll be reading in 2020. 

Kiss Me Again, Stranger

“I’m one for routine. I like to get on with my job, and then when the day’s work’s over settle down to a paper and a smoke and a bit of music on the wireless, variety or something of the sort, and then turn in early. I never had much use for girls, not even when I was doing my time in the army. I was out in the Middle East too, Port Said and that.”

I’ll admit to being a fan of routines myself. I’m sure many of us are. With so much – especially these days – competing for our attention, it’s nice to have a few routines where we can, at least temporarily, hand over our controls to the autopilot. The beginning of this story warmed me up to the (unnamed) main character immediately, as he describes how his Post WWII- life had settled into a comfortable mix of routines. What could possibly jar him out of his comfort zone, though? Why, a mysterious and beautiful girl of course, and DuMaurier wastes little time in introducing one.

On an evening’s trip to the cinema, our narrator becomes smitten by one of the theater’s usherettes…

“Well, then I saw her. They dress the girls up no end in some of these places, velvet tams and all, making them proper guys. They hadn’t made a guy out of this one, though. She had copper hair, page-boy style I think they call it, and blue eyes, the kind that look short-sighted but see further than you think, and go dark by night, nearly black, and her mouth was sulky-looking as if she was fed up, and it would take someone giving her the world to make her smile.”

After some limited interaction with the usherette, causing him to be further infatuated – after the show (the last of the day) he does what any good stalker would do, waits for her to leave work and go home. He follows her to a bus stop and gets on with her, sitting right next to her. She doesn’t seem to mind, though and her oddly charming and nonchalant attitude sinks the hook further in. He’s totally under her spell.

“They had a word for it in the army, when a girl gets a fellow that way, so he can’t see straight or hear right or know what he’s doing; and I thought it a lot of cock, or it only happened to drunks, and now I knew it was true and it had happened  to me.”

What happens to end the story I won’t spoil, but there is so clearly something odd about this girl that neither we, nor the narrator have yet to discover. There are some “red flags” as well as foreshadowing – like when she wants to get off the bus at “the corner where the cemetery is” and how she seems suddenly concerned and asks the narrator,“YOU weren’t in the Air Force, were you.” I was almost expecting a supernatural resolution to this story but that wasn’t what Du Maurier had in mind…

I think this is my favorite read so far in the early going of #DealMeIn2020!

What about YOU? What short stories of Daphne Du Maurier have you read? Do you have a favorite or a recommendation? I have three more to go for this year’s Deal Me In challenge, but I’m always “allowed” to read other stories. 🙂

Next up for Deal Me In: My first club draw, Circle and Salt by Sara Cieto from the “Grimm, Grit, and Gasoline” anthology. Can’t wait.