The rain beat on the city street of Atlanta, as though it didn't want its newest citizen to exit the airport and begin the next chapter of his life. Dane Ferrer stared out the terminal window. He debated about taking the hidden message the weather sent, returning to the ticket counter and purchasing the return fare to New York.

He wore a fedora. His dark hair peaked out under the brim; the waves touched his neck, just above his collar, too long for popular 2012 fashion. The black hat sat low on his forehead like a shield, as if he could hide from the memories that had been battling their way to the forefront of his mind. Wrapped in suit and tie, he wondered why he hadn't just worn jeans, the formality wrong for this place and time. It wasn't like he had a business appointment, and the rain could make finding a cab a challenge.

"What are you afraid of?" The rhetorical question issued from his lips in a deep baritone. The rain wouldn't answer, but Dane had asked himself the same question at least once a day for the last month. All through the process of selling his condominium, through the hours of closing his last Broadway show, and at the bedside of his father just before he died.

With a sigh, Dane considered that change was a good thing, as long as you kept moving. Now he had a leather suitcase in his hand; a fist full of unfulfilling memories and the haunting feeling that 'man searched for meaning', and didn't find it for a very good reason. Dane walked out onto the covered walkway, and entered the line for the row of taxis. One would take him towards another condominium. The movers would be there tomorrow – tonight he'd sleep on the floor. The prospect didn't excite him.

"Where to?" the cab driver said.

"Peachtree." Dane settled into the rear seat after naming the small suburb. He brushed some of the rain from his jacket. "When we get closer I'll give you directions."

The cabby nodded, set the meter, and took the airport circle towards the highway. Dane knew he had a half hour to relax during the drive, but the weather, and fatigue from the last months events kept his shoulders tense and back straight.

It was nearing sunset, but one couldn't tell through the clouds. Slowly the glow of the street lamps and the car lights announced the fall of night. Dane forced himself to lean back against the leather seat, to adjust his hat forward over his eyes.

Perhaps he dozed….

The car swerved, and Dane awoke with a start. His body slammed into the door as the cab driver applied the brakes and coasted to the side of the road. Looking outside Dane saw a rural landscape and a relatively deserted two lane road.

Confused he thought, 'Must have left the highway for a short cut.'

The cab driver looked at his passenger, explaining, "Got a flat. Probably something in the road, but it was too dark to see."

Dane nodded, his mind a little fuzzy from the unplanned nap. It continued to rain. The windshield wipers beat a slow, intermittent sweep, thumping like the beat of his heart.

Radio dispatch for the cab company squawked. The driver mentioned their position as Route 54, just outside Fayette, but it would be at least an hour before help or another cab arrived to continue the journey.

"There was a diner, back about a quarter mile," the cab driver shared. "You could wait here, or..."

Dane's stomach growled, making the decision for him. "I'll take a walk." For a moment he debated leaving the suitcase behind, but then thought better of it. He'd packed all his other possessions for transport, but wanted to have the musical score with him. The pages were a year's worth of work, and if they hadn't left his side for a thousand miles they wouldn't leave now. Unfinished they were the current cross he bore now that his father's illness was over.

Funny how he thought of music now as a chore. As childhood piano prodigy writing songs had been a part of his life for as long as he could remember.

"I've got my cell phone," Dane said, offering the man the number on a business card.

"Probably won't work all the way out here." The cab driver said, with a toothy grin a few short of pearly whites. "So, don't panic if you can't reach me. I'll come for you. Just walk back the way we came and you can't miss that diner on this road. The sign said Light House Café."

Dane nodded, and eagerly left the confines of the cab which had grown chilly with the engine and heater not running. Outside the rain turned to a misty drizzle. The walk was straight forward, but his leather dress shoes would never be the same.

The diner appeared simple: glass windows with a white flat roof and a touch of blue neon. The sign proclaimed the name. As Dane walked towards it one of the e's went out, then flickered back on. The building wasn't shaped like a lighthouse, and no water body was in sight. "Odd name," he muttered to himself.

Something with a 1950's Americana theme would suit better. Black and white floors with red leather booths reminded him of a situation comedy he grew up with. The inside looked deserted and although the florescent lights offered a warm glow onto the road; he wondered where the customers were.

The door opened to his pull. A jukebox played. The Platters sang in four part harmony about a Great Pretender.

"Booth or counter?"

Not seeing the speaker until that moment, Dane almost dropped his suitcase in surprise. A waitress in a pink and white uniform stood behind the Formica counter. The red and chrome stools offered a barrier between her and the riffraff that might walk in.

Apparently she thought Dane hadn't heard her first offer. "Booth or counter?" she repeated with a snap of her gum.

One thing Dane liked about Georgia was the accents. He'd grown up here although he didn't remember much. Fame took him away. He'd seen every state in the U.S. by the time he was fifteen. New York was his favorite, but there was something about this part of the world that was warm like honey. Not that the waitress was a southern bell. Her eyes looked older than her skin. Her voice didn't have the soft twang he expected. It reminded him of a tow truck with a worn clutch.

"Counter's fine." Dane walked forward and took a seat. He debated about something from the menu, but at the moment he needed something warm. "Coffee, please."

She brought the coffee. Apparently he didn't appear the cream and sugar type since she didn't offer. Fortunately black was the way he took it, no 'double half calf, vanilla, soy latte' cravings that required the extras.

Headlights reflected in the window glass as a small red car pulled into the deserted parking lot. Considering the atmosphere, Dane was a bit surprised to hear the door open to another patron. A woman walked in - young, blond and overdressed for the location.

"Booth or counter," the waitress asked.

Dane found himself smiling, glad he wasn't the only one who didn't rate a hello.

"Counter," was the answer.

The accent was tempered by perhaps Wisconsin or Nebraska. If Dane heard more than one word he might be able to place it, accents and voices a hobby.

The waitress seemed to know her order. "There you go, Roxi," she said, setting a mug down on the counter along with a napkin, spoon and creamer.

Dane tried not to look, but the gold and green clothes were form fitting on the blond and a splash color in an otherwise drab and deserted establishment.

Roxi's curls bounced as she took a seat beside Dane. "Lost?" she asked.

He blinked, realized he'd probably invited the comment and conversation by staring. He rectified the situation, glancing down into the black coffee, and wondering how long it had been since it was brewed.

"Cab broke down," Dane offered. Finding little else to say, he took a drink. It wasn't quite as thick as he expected, and it tasted surprisingly good considering the circumstances.

The waitress stood in front of him. Snapped her gum and raised a pencil over a pad as though his next words were important dictation. "You wanna order?"

Dane hadn't opened a menu. The kitchen was dimly lit as viewed through a cut out in the wall, but he couldn't see a chef. No sizzle of grease or smell hinted at anything cooking. The special's board looked dusty as though it as always chicken fried steak day. Or rather 'chicken fried st_ake' since someone had put a fallen 'e' in the wrong spot. Dane decided to forgo ordering last week's leftovers.

"Maybe later," he said.

His foot moved; it accidently tipped over the suitcase which fell with a noisy thump. Dane bent forward and righted the bag. He wasn't one for small talk, but the jukebox stopped and felt a need to fill the void with words. "Come here often?"

Roxi turned at the sound of Dane's voice and offered a shake her head. "Not as often as I used to." Her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, "I've never seen anyone else here, though."

Surely others had to come or the Light House Café simply couldn't stay in business. Dane was about to say that if all they served was coffee that might explain things, but the woman went on to add, "Certainly not one as well-dressed as you. Business trip?"

She glanced at the suitcase, then back at him. Her words reminded Dane that he still wore the damp suit jacket. With a weak smile at his own formality, he shrugged out of the coat and draped it over the stool beside him. He'd gone to the airport right after his father's funeral. Somehow changing would have taken too much effort. So, the reason wasn't business, and it wasn't pleasure. "Habit," was his explanation.

He often did wear a suit, even at the theater – cloth armor to keep the actors away. Over time he learned that if he appeared business-like performers didn't ask him for things: change a note, add a song, or compliment them.

Maybe the need for the buffer was age creeping up on him, like the few gray hairs on his head. It was hard to tell with women, makeup and attitude tended to mask age, but he suspected he was at least ten years senior to the customer next to him.

The lack of music seemed to bother the waitress too. The tile floor carried the sound of her walking over to the jukebox to select another set of songs. Dane didn't have any change in his pocket. At the airport he'd deliberately donated all metal to a random charity box near the security gate. Yet the thought of having to listen to 'Rockin Robin' for an hour while he waited for his ride caused Dane to follow the waitress to view the choices. What he saw was an eclectic collection based on the older record format of the '45.

For a moment he considered asking the waitress who was president. Instead he pointed to one album. "The Temptations. They were originally named The Questions - not quite as memorable. Questions have answers but life without temptation would be boring." With a scan of the titles he chuckled, "Although, we probably don't need 'I Wish It Would Rain'."

The waitress looked at him and snapped her gum.

Dane took the hint that his vast knowledge of trivia failed to impress. He glanced out the window. The weather outside hadn't improved. If anything the sprinkles turned to a more respectable downpour. For a moment he felt guilty about the cab driver alone in the rain. Then the first record kicked over and he closed his eyes, enjoying the sentimental melody. Music would always keep him rooted. All thoughts of returning outside left him.

"Nice choice," he said.

Of all the songs on the jukebox, the waitress picked the one from a musical. Delicious irony. The ghost of a smile flirted across his face even though the memory conjured was sad. The Fantastic's wasn't the first show he'd seen with his father, but it had sparked a flare in him, something that playing a concert piano did not. A boy, a girl and a wall – simple and incredibly eloquent. The music timeless and covered by many bands.

Please don't make me remember…

Behind closed eyes, Dane felt the pressure of unshed tears. His jaw set and he swallowed, forcing them back.

"Music lover?"

Again with the mid-west accent. Wisconsin was taking the lead in his guessing game. Dane inhaled, ensured that when he opened his eyes the blue orbs wouldn't betray his vulnerable thoughts. "Yes. But she doesn't always love me back." He'd used the phrase before, the clever quip more true than not when it was 3 a.m. and a troubling set of chords refused to jive. Music was like a woman in that way – fickle, temperamental and demanding.

Roxanne seemed to appreciate the melody, and her body swayed to the music. "Do you dance?"

"I tend to leave dancing to the professionals." He might have a Tony award, but it wasn't because he was a choreographer. Dane understood how the body moved to music and how words needed to fit a beat so that feet could glide, but he could only picture the sequence in his head, he couldn't demonstrate. The few times he'd tried had taught him his own shortcoming.

"Too bad," she said, humming.

This song was little more than a box step. Dane found himself extending a hand in response to the invitation.

When she stepped forward, he placed an arm around her waist. He was taller by three or four inches, and he suspected that her curves would fit well against his body, but he left a comfortable distance between them. The music was sentimental but they were strangers.

And yet, he found himself relaxing as one of his hands laced with hers. Funny, how a touch of human contact after a day like he'd had could loosen his tongue. "I remember the first time I heard this song. I was in San Francisco," the year was 1987 but he didn't want to date himself, "I saw this show and knew exactly what I wanted to be a song writer when I grew up."

He might have shared more, but he stopped himself. Here he was dancing with a pretty woman and he was thinking about something that happened 25 years ago. "And you? You dance obviously." He stepped back, lifted his arm so that she could twirl underneath. "Music lover?"

Roxi nodded. "My father was a musician, and my mother a DJ. I grew up in bars and a radio station."

He matched her shy smile with one of his own. "A radio station. Sounds like fun." He'd spent most of his childhood, such as it was, sleeping in hotel rooms. Dane chose not to add the number of times he'd relied on the radio voice to take him through a long night. His words were true as he added, "I envy you."

But then he studied her face; perhaps the situation hadn't been ideal. Dane chose not to probe. His feet kept beat with the music, even when the song changed he found it simple to continue the slow box step. Roxi made it seem easy. The waitress must have been in a romantic mood. Rather than a rock song, a love song followed. Righteous Brothers. Unconsciously his grip on his partner tightened, closing some of the distance between them. Unchained Melody wasn't meant to be danced at arm's length.

This time it was Roxi who filled the silence. "I take it you've followed that youthful dream of yours."

He hummed a few bars of the melody as he considered his answer. Nothing about the woman with him warned him to be cautious with his words, but sharing his famous name seemed out of place with the mood. "Not a dream really. More like a conscious diversion. Music is a demanding mistress. And she's not terribly forgiving if I don't finish what I start, even if the melody in my head has no words and it's the wee hours of the morning." He snorted, "Of course, all composers probably think that. Suffice to say that the muse and I have lived together for too many years to really be in love anymore."

Dane almost started the next sentence with 'my father' but caught himself just in time. He couldn't share what his father used to say – how music was a gift that he shouldn't squander. Or, the row they'd had when he'd announced he didn't want to tour with the symphony and wanted to write pop tunes rather than classical music.

She seemed to notice the pause. "What would cause you to doubt music's love for you?"

"We understand each other, but…" He dropped his voice to a whisper. "I'm running away. Don't tell her where I am. She's a jealous fool."

Roxi began to giggle. "Not a word!"

Dane didn't normally joke, but the humor was like a lifeline against his grief. He lifted his head and raised his voice to include the waitress. "You won't tell will you?"

The woman in the pink and white uniform looked at him and didn't answer. She went back to refilling the salt shakers.

"I'll take that as a yes," Dane said. His foot stumbled and his knee knocked into his partner's, causing their bodies to collide awkwardly. "Sorry."

Nose to nose he took a second to look at her. The curled hair, the faint smell of perfume. She didn't belong here; meeting her was an accident just like the cab breaking down.

"It's alright," Roxi said, slipping out of his grip.

She hadn't asked his name. Where he'd been pleased with the anonymity before, now he realized he could be anyone. And it probably wouldn't matter. The thought made him a little bit sad. Roxi was pretty, intelligent and a good listener. He knew few in town. It might be nice to see her again.

Dane put his hands in his pockets and asked, "What about you? Where were you supposed to be tonight?"

And who's waiting for you?