Short Story #356: Singing Dinah's Song by Frank London Brown

Title:  Singing Dinah's Song

Author:  Frank London Brown


Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
The narrator remarks that a gypsy woman told him to beware of songs that will not leave him and this leads him to talk about his friend Daddy-O whom he worked with at Electronic Masters, Inc.  It's a pretty monotonous chop of repetitive motions and the narrator does his best to recall music (particular Dinah Washington) in order to pass the time.  His friend however started to sing such songs aloud while working at the machines.  Some time later, the narrator is working in the morning when his friend walks in.  The narrator was already exhausted from work and was finding himself also starting to slip into the rhythm of the music in order to complete this tasks.  Daddy-O walks into work dressed up rather fancy.  He walks straight to his machine, skipping the punch-in clock and the narrator mentions this but Daddy-O doesn't respond.  He eventually lights a cigarette and goes to the boss's office and the narrator assumes he is going to quit.  However, Daddy-O returns and begins to mess around with the machine when the boss yells at him to keep him from electrocuting himself.  Daddy-O continues and then several men confront him.  However, he refuses to move away from the machine and threatens anyone that does.  The confrontation goes on and the narrator tries to intervene but to no success.  He then tries to get the telephone number of Daddy-O's wife so she can come and help.  While he is trying to get a hold of his wife, the boss calls the police who show up rather quick to the narrator's consternation (given it takes hours for them to show up when he calls them where he lives).  The officers are ready to assault Daddy-O but the narrator intervenes and works to convince Daddy-O to get into the police car willingly.  When the officers get too touchy, Daddy-O swings at them and is then knocked unconscious with a club.  After Daddy-O is taken away, the narrator continues to think about the music and how it worked its way inside Daddy-O.  He wonders if it is doing the same to him.  


The story feels bleak down to its bones.  The madness that inhabits Daddy-O is tragic and haunting as it slowly begins to creep into the narrator.  
Short Story #356 out of 365
Rating:  4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967.  

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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