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LSS: The Last Word



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Sun Jan 23, 2022 5:39 am
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looseleaf says...



The Last Word
An LSS Storybook

Image

Characters

@Plume - Julian Latkowski
@looseleaf - Aloysius "Louis" Mills
@MailicedeNamedy - Sophie Gladys Malraux Cox
@Elinor - Caroline Ruth Craig
Along With Hoover
Last edited by looseleaf on Mon Mar 07, 2022 3:11 am, edited 2 times in total.





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Tue Feb 01, 2022 3:11 pm
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looseleaf says...



The Beginning
By Elinor, Plume, MailicedeNamedy, and looseleaf


The summer of 1928 seemed to most at the time to be just an ordinary summer. That June, Herbert Hoover was officially selected as the Republican nominee for president after Calvin Coolidge declined to run for re-election. For his vice president, he'd selected Charles Curtis of Kansas, a Native American, and it was interesting how, in the years that followed, people would seem to forget about the four years he'd held the office.

On the other hand, the Democrat, Al Smith, was subject to anti-Catholic bigotry, among other prejudices, in his unsuccessful bid for the White House. The 1920s were full of these contradictions, it seemed, and this was especially true in the United States.

By mid-August, the Summer Olympics were wrapping up in Amsterdam. The United States had won the most medals so far, winning fifty-six by the end of the events. Germany - allowed to participate for the first time since 1912 -was far from close to beating the U.S. By Friday, August 10th, it was clear that the Americans would be the decisive winners. The victorious athletes would return home to a booming economy and a society that was seemingly too glorious to fail. In April, the Tamiami Trail was opened for the public and it was not until May that the first regular schedule of television programming began in New York.

But on the other hand, it had been eight years since the eighteenth amendment prohibited the production and consumption of alcohol. The act was supposed to prevent "lousy" husbands from wasting their health, and paycheck, away at local bars and, beyond that, stop what some viewed as a key factor in the degradation of society.

Obviously, no one had actually stopped drinking. Instead, the distillers who made alcohol lacked proper regulation, and as such, made liquor that was more dangerous to drink.

When the amendment passed, a majority of Americans supported it. In every year that followed, it had become increasingly unpopular, adding to the culture war between older and younger generations that had begun at the beginning of the decade when women shortened their skirts and cut their hair.

Beyond that, it had created the industry of organized crime when criminals saw an opportunity to make themselves very wealthy. Chicago, was in many ways, its epicenter. Speakeasies sprung up all over the city, often disguised as run-of-the-mill, completely legal businesses, like restaurants, apartments, and pharmacies. One of these places was the Johnson and Co. Pharmacy. It was situated on the more "gritty" side of Chicago, where parents discouraged their children from ever going to. Johnson and Co. Pharmacy provided special remedies and medicine unavailable in most places. People who frequented the pharmacy knew that all you had to do was ask for gas for a silver Packard and you were set.

The dirtiness outside of Johnson and Co. carried on into the "pharmacy." The walls were dark, stained paneling. On the right side, there was a bar made of the same wood as the walls and a door that no one ever used. Cigarette smoke covered the ceiling and partially blocked the lights. In the back of the room was a stage with barely enough room for a piano and a place for a singer. A woman was singing to the unattentive crowd, her voice and the piano only adding to the noise. Loyal customers filled the room, leaving every table but one filled.

569 Words





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Tue Feb 01, 2022 3:13 pm
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looseleaf says...



Aloysius Mills
By looseleaf


"I'm leaving for the day, Lillian," Aloysius exclaimed to the office secretary. She was a kind-looking, younger woman who had a thick, Southern accent. Aloysius never bothered to learn what state she was from but, quite frankly, he didn't really care. Despite this, he was grateful towards her because of how much easier she made work.

"Have a good day, Mr. Mills!" Lillian said as he exited the room, briefcase in hand. Aloysius had nearly made it out the door when, to his dismay, Lillian called him back.

"Mr. Mills? You forgot something!"

Aloysius groaned, "What did I forget?"

"The letter!" Lillian replied, getting up out of her seat and handing him an envelope. His mother's delicate handwriting covered the back of it, "You really need to write her back, you know."

"And you need to mind your own business," Aloysius retorted, shoving the letter into his pocket, "I'll see you soon."

"Bye, Mr. Mills," Lillian returned to her desk.

Aloysius made his way out of the building and onto the street below. His pride and joy (also known as his car) was sitting there waiting for him. He threw his briefcase into the trunk, but he did not enter the car. Instead, he walked down the street to the nearest subway station.

Today was his favorite part of the day. Now, he could go to Johnson and Co. Pharmacy.

The subway ride to the pharmacy was uneventful, as it always was. Groups of women dressed in nice clothes turned into dock and factory workers on their way home. Above ground, the sun no longer beat off of newly built "sky-scrapers." Instead, a thin layer of grime seemed to cover most buildings that only reached a few stories.

Aloysius walked down several blocks to the pharmacy. Anyone who looked at the area would probably understand why he had taken a subway and not his own car. There were a lot of cars parked along the street, most of them being beat up and falling apart. Even if that wasn't the case, Aloysius's own fear of losing his car prevented him from ever driving it into the area.

Aloysius entered the store and greeted the man behind the counter.

"What can I help you with today, boy?" the man asked him.

"Could I get some gas, please?" Aloysius responded, "For my silver Packard, of course."

The man nodded, smiled, and walked out from behind the counter. He then unlocked a door and allowed Aloysius through. Aloysius made his way through the crowd to the bar. He ordered a Manhattan on the rocks before scanning the room.

He laid eyes on the only table and, quickly before anyone else could claim it, sat down at it. His mother would say it was rude to sit at a table for four when it's only you. Aloysius didn't care and sat down, disregarding his mother's voice in his head.

485 Words





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Tue Feb 01, 2022 8:54 pm
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Elinor says...



Caroline Craig
By Elinor


Late in the day on Friday, Caroline found herself mindlessly operating the machine that wove seemingly infinite amounts of yarn into even more infinite amounts of fabric. The fabric would later be transported to stores across the country, and the fabric had to become all sorts of things. Mostly clothes. A summer nightgown worn by a woman in Los Angeles. A day shirt worn by a man in Florida.

All of it had to start somewhere, and sometimes that somewhere was Fredrickson Textiles Inc, on the corner of Jackson and Wabash street, in the hands of dozens of other girls like her, all minding their work, all there for some cause nobler than what Caroline was doing in the city. As much as she hated the job, it was sometimes awe inspiring to think about.

Caroline knew she had to be careful, since she'd just cut her hand on the machine three days earlier, the last time she'd been daydreaming. It could have been a lot of worse. She'd been away from her station for ten minutes, and had to wrap the bandage around her own hand to stop the bleeding since Mr. Watts had refused to let any of other girls go on break to help her. It was fine, but she couldn't afford another injury. Even so, she couldn't bring herself to care.

An alcoholic drink and night of dancing at the Golden Vanderbilt sounded nice. The past few times, she'd gone with Emma and Rebecca, two women she'd befriended at the boarding house. But the problem was that they'd both be unavailable. Emma was in going to head to Ohio with her boyfriend. She'd be back Sunday, and Caroline was almost positive she would return an engaged woman. Rebecca, similarly, in Michigan with her boyfriend, leaving Caroline alone. Ordinarily, being single didn't bother her. Still, she couldn't help but feel a little sorry for herself that she would be alone. She'd have to use the rest of her extra pocket change for the week to buy a drink. But that was okay. It wasn't like there was anything she desperately needed to buy.

But maybe she could go to the Golden Vanderbilt anyway. She knew where to go, and she knew how to get in.

Caroline stole a glance at the large clock in the main hall. It was quarter to five... fifteen more minutes. She'd go home, change into the pink party dress she'd gotten as a hand-me-down from one of the girls who had left the boarding house to get married. But no one else needed to know how she'd gotten the dress. It was beautiful, still in good condition and she wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise.

She'd get a quick dinner, probably at a hot dog stand on the way home because it would be fast and cheap.

Once she'd made her mind up about going alone, social mores be damned, the rest of the day inched by like a sloth. Then, the bell rang, and the day ended as it always did. Gathering of bags. Chatter that Caroline was never included in. A line to the front door because their bags had to be checked to ensure no one stole anything.

The boarding house was quiet, and it seemed as though most of the girls had plans for their Friday night.

As she put on the dress and a dash of makeup, there was a comfort in her reinvention. She didn't have to be Miss Craig, anonymous, poor old maid with no family at bench fourteen of Fredrickson Textiles, Inc. She could be someone. Anyone. That's what she loved about the Golden Vanderbilt, even though she'd only been a few times.

She didn't love having to put a fresh bandage on her hand, but thankfully it seemed like she'd only have to wear one for another day or two before the injury was completely healed. It would leave her a scar, but that was the way of these things.

Luckily, the Vanderbilt was in walking distance, and she watched as men's heads turned to watch her walk down the street.

"Hey sugar, are you busy tonight?" One less than handsome called after her.

"Afraid so," said Caroline. "I'm meeting Jack Pickford for dinner at the Palmer House."

If only.

The man gave her a look and started to walk away. "What did you do to your hand?"

"I broke a champagne glass. Silly me."

The men gave her an even more confused look and continued to walk away at a faster pass.

Shortly, she'd reached Johnson and Co and walked inside and asked for gas for a Silver Packard.

Caroline was surprised that the speakeasy was so busy, but she supposed that she should have guessed, since it was Friday night at peak hours.

But it was so busy there was only one available table next to an average looking but seemingly nice enough man with a Manhattan.

Caroline supposed she'd have to say hello, and if anything, she could make a new friend. It took her a minute to order a pinot noir from the bar. The one table was still open, so she took her wine and sat down.

"Busy tonight, huh?" She remarked.

857 Words

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney





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Wed Feb 02, 2022 7:01 pm
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MailicedeNamedy says...



Sophie G. Cox
by MailicedeNamedy


The streets were still filled and the summer heat was evident. It was striking yet camouflaged, almost as if it were a game of hide-and-seek being played. Passing passers-by, the van drove across Chicago. No one knew exactly where it was going except for the driver and passenger. Just then an intersection was taken and some boxes as it seemed slid against the inside left wall.
"Slow down a bit, can you?" Came out from the back, followed by a knock.

The driver understood nothing, he was engrossed in the cigarette that was slowly burning between his fingers. His passenger was pressed all the way against the door, herself lost in thought with several scowls directed at the driver.
Sophie was just pulling her cloche hat lower over her head, almost as if to hide with it, when the driver took a drag of his cigarette and began to speak.

"Do you have a minute, Sophie?"

He pronounced her name in a low tone, almost as if he was coughing out the smoke from the cigarette.
Sophie stared at him as he drove on, not taking his eyes off the road. The young woman didn't quite know how to respond and remained silent.

"I'll take silence as consent."
"Liam, I don't want to talk now, I feel sick."
He laughed briefly, but that laugh sounded like a cough. Again he turned too quickly at a crossroads and again there was a knock from behind.
"I'll be careful! Be quiet in the cheap seats!"

"You're careful?" said Sophie sardonically, "Tell that to Louise and Theodore. She'll be a widow before she's thirty and her son will be an orphan."
Liam slowed down for a moment and didn't speak immediately. Again he took a drag from the cigarette and threw the rest out the window.

"That was a one-time mistake. I had it all planned out."
"Putting a relationship at risk, and this job too, just to impress, doesn't sound like much of a plan."

Liam tried to pat Sophie on the head, as a father would probably do with a small child, but Sophie evaded it. Sophie was rarely able to speak her mind forcefully and with any assertiveness and even now her tone was more like she was reading off a script.
Suddenly, however, Sophie continued to speak.

"You don't know what you have from Louise. She's a wonderful person, but you're only interested in yourself. I was glad - really glad - when I found out you were debt-free, but you've gambled it all away again and are back in the same boat as before. You must understand that this makes me lose faith in you. And the bad thing is that Louise doesn't even know about it."

"There's nothing wrong with a little card game."
"But bragging loudly about where you come from and what you do is. You're putting Louise's life and your son's life at risk!" Said Sophie, "And not just them, but everyone here."
"I'm glad you were there."

Sophie shook her head, only tentatively remembering the moment when she stopped him from bragging about being one of the delivery boys in a speakeasy. Sophie didn't even know what she was getting herself into when her sister said she should go in her place because her son was ill. Sophie judged herself in her head and did not notice that the van was getting to its destination.

Rather, she was busy trying to calm down about what had happened and trying to make a vow where she would never leave with Liam again to help him keep the business going at the speakeasy. At the same time, it was probably one of the most exciting things she had experienced so far.

All at once Sophie was thrown out of her daydream as Liam opened the door for her.
"Enchanté."
"Mais seulement de ton point de vue!"
"Sophie, I don't always know what you're saying."
"That's fine."

Sophie got out of the driver's cab and watched as the men sitting in the back were busy unloading the boxes all and taking them through a back door into a building.
"Faster," Liam ordered loudly, banging on the van. He watched the men work along with Sophie, rolling a cigarette meanwhile. Sophie didn't know why she stayed with him, she was more inclined to go home now or at least have a drink.

"Would you like one too?"
"No, thanks."
Neither had taken their eyes off the men.

"Louise can be exhausting sometimes. Especially since giving birth -"
"Louise is my sister and she's not exhausting. And if she really is, it's only because you cause her so many problems."
"Now listen. I'm very grateful to you for helping us, especially because Louise is looking after your nephew right now, but you also have to realise that even though we're married, we each continue to have our own lives."
"A life of your own where you abandon the life of your son and your wife?" she asked slowly.

Sophie was about to make to leave when Liam grabbed her by the arm.
"If you didn't have me, what would happen?" asked Liam, "Where would Louise be? What about you? Especially since we took you in after you came to Chicago. You're all alone here in Illinois. No one is helping you and that's why I made you an offer."
Sophie didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Arguing with Liam is like talking to a wall. Except at least the wall isn't as possessive.

"Louise will want to know -"
"Louise won't want to know anything. As long as I make her happy, everything's fine." Liam broke it off.
One of the men approached them. He lifted his flat cap and muttered something to Liam. Liam threw the cigarette on the floor and patted his hands.
"We're done here."

Sophie shook her head.
"No, we're not."
 "Then come and have lunch with us tomorrow and you can tell Louise all about it yourself."

Sophie closed her eyes. She felt like she had been taken back. Somehow it felt like it was her fault and already her thoughts were blurring with reality. She took a few breaths and extended her hand to Liam.
"I gratefully decline."

With a wave, she said goodbye and slipped through the back door before it was closed. Even though the sound from outside had disappeared and could be cheered up by a sonorous moment, she was numb. She didn't know what to do.

Sophie didn't want to go home. It made her feel as if someone was waiting for her there. It seemed she couldn't avoid the loneliness, she was lost in the warehouse without directly seeing where she was stumbling to.

"Slow down, young lady. Where are you going?"
Sophie didn't look up as a man jumped down beside the crates, but muttered at the ground.
"It's me. Liam's assistant."
"It's all full inside. Don't you want to have a drink with me here?" The man asked, pulling out a teacup. His smile was played, his eyes too eager. Sophie ignored him.
"I'll find a seat."

It was crowded and Sophie was uncomfortable. No one had probably noticed that she had appeared next to the bar and slowly sidled up to the bartender and asked out for a drink without looking up.

It wasn't that she didn't like being here, but it was too crowded for her. Still, there was something she liked a lot about it, even the crowds. She wanted to draw, all the people here who were hanging out and enjoying themselves. There was something magical about this place that attracted her, even if Sophie had been very critical when Louise had first told her about it. And now she was so taken with the place, the people and the smells that she couldn't describe what it was that attracted her.

"There's room at the table."
The bartender pointed to the one where only two were seated. Sophie didn't look up. She thought the bartender was joking with her and trying to set her up with some shady guys.
"I suppose you're going to drink yourself some more courage before going?" He grinned.
"No, I don't."

She picked up her glass and marched off in the direction the bartender had pointed. Among all the filled tables, she felt out of place. She was isolated here, even if she struggled not to be.
Without realising it, she stood in front of the table, looking straight ahead at the wall.
"I suppose there's a vacancy here."
Sophie took a seat without continuing to lower her gaze, spilling just a little from her glass onto the table as she did so.

1458 words
Reality is a prison and time is its guard

I´m just a random girl with gentle manners

Every bad voice in your head was once outside





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Sat Feb 05, 2022 1:14 am
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Plume says...



Julian Latkowski
by Plume

"Um, we'd like to get gas? For our silver Packard?" Each phrase that came out of the blonde's mouth was spoken like a question. Her eyelashes were long like beetle legs, matching her scarab brooch. Her eyes kept darting back and forth between the gaggle of friends surrounding her and Julian, lingering on each for barely a second before leaving.

Julian gave his best smile. "Right this way, ladies." They giggled like a group of twittering canaries as he led them towards a door in the side wall of the pharmacy, sliding the key in with practiced ease. They murmured breathy "thank yous" as they filed in one by one.

As soon as they had all walked through the door, Julian let his smile fall. Locking it once more, he returned to his place behind the counter. He sighed, leaning on one arm and letting the other dangle. It was busy tonight, as was expected for a Friday. While this was good for business, it was bad for Julian. It meant that most of the staff would be working at the bar, which meant he'd be stuck as the gatekeeper, shuffling people in and out of the speakeasy, instead of being behind the piano.

"Aye, it's like this, Julian," Angus Doyle, the owner of both the pharmacy and the speakeasy, once said to him after he'd asked why he had to be the middleman on busy nights. "If it's too crowded, the chattering'll cover up any of your plinking on the ivories. At a certain point, you become a nuisance."

Julian disagreed. In his opinion, piano playing could never be a nuisance. But whatever Doyle said went, so here he was, wasting away behind a counter.

As his mind wandered, his fingers began tapping, an imaginary keyboard beneath his fingers. It was something he did from time to time, when he wasn't at an actual piano. He knew it well enough that he could trace the finger movements on songs. It felt almost like dancing. He could hear the music in his head, his fingers tracing notes, each movement purposeful and elegant and—

"Oi. Latkowski."

Julian startled out of his stupor, turning over his shoulder.

"Hamilton!" he exclaimed when he saw who it was. "Have you come to relieve me from this torture?"

Elliot Hamilton, normally found behind the Golden Vanderbilt bar on busy nights, smiled. "Actually, yes."

"Doyle could spare you?"

"Nah. But he needs you more."

"I thought I wasn't supposed to play on busy nights."

Hamilton shrugged. "Guess Doyle changed his mind."

Julian hesitated. "You sure?"

"Look man, are you really gonna question him? I see you itching to go play at all times. Why wonder when you could be playing?" He clapped Julian on the shoulder with a meaty arm. "So go, man."

Julian did not need to be told twice. After stashing his apron under the counter and exchanging it for a jacket, he dashed towards the door, unlocking it before tossing Hamilton the key. He reminded Hamilton to feed Hoover, the stray dog who lived outside the pharmacy, before ducking through.

His fingers itched as he wove through the crowds of people in the speakeasy. The chatter was at a high tonight. Strange, he thought. Of all the nights, why would Doyle want him to play for this one?

His questions were soon answered. Doyle was waiting for him by the piano, an arm over the scuffed top of the piano, drink in his hand.

"Hamilton got you. Good." He gestured to the piano bench. "Play, Latkowski."

Julian eyed him warily. "I thought you didn't like me playing on busy nights."

"Ah." Doyle waved his free hand dismissively. "I'm in the mood for some piano tonight." His words were slightly garbled. "I told you, play."

So he was drunk. That happened sometimes on nights that were busy; the infectious chatter pulled him in and he couldn't resist his own products.

Julian shrugged. "Of course." He slid on the bench, his fingers hovering over the keys. "Any requests?"

"Something lively-like. Jazz."

Julian grinned. "Your wish is my command." He took a few moments to shuffle sheet music around, and then began to play.

His whole body relaxed as soon as he played the first notes. Soon, the music surrounded him, peppering the air like sultry perfume. The sheet music felt like only a courtesy, like a failsafe if he ever had need of one. His fingers were flappers' legs, dancing rehearsed steps over each white and black key. He let his eyes shut, arms tensing and relaxing with each dynamic shift and note change.

He got scattered applause after playing a few pieces, letting the last notes linger before being completely drowned out by the chatter. Shrugging off his jacket, he suddenly realized how hot it was in the speakeasy; playing always warmed him up, and the many bodies crowded into one small-ish room didn't help. He ran a hand through his hair and pushed back the bench. He needed a drink.

He raised his arm in salutation as he walked towards the bar. Melvin was tending the bar tonight, along with some others who only worked weekend nights. Julian hadn't bothered learning their names.

"Melvin!" he said, leaning with both elbows on the bar. "My friend."

Melvin sighed, the mustache on his upper lip fluttering. "You don't have money on you, do you."

Julian smiled. "How'd you guess?"

"You never do, Julian."

"I'm an employee. I shouldn't have to pay."

"Doyle's rules."

"Doyle can kiss my ass."

"Say that to him, you won't be an employee anymore."

"And that's why he doesn't have to know."

As they chatted, Melvin's hands had already started moving, making Julian's drink, a South Side cocktail. They'd gone through these motions several times before.

Before Melvin slid the drink over, he held up a hand. "Do me a favor. Play some Gershwin."

Julian grinned. "Of course. Anything for you. I owe you."

"You say that every time." Melvin set down the drink, crossing his arms.

With one last laugh, Julian scooped up his drink, tossing his jacket over his shoulder. "And I mean it!"

He scanned the speakeasy, looking for a preferably empty table to sit and rest. Each table seemed to be full, except for one where three young people sat: a dark haired man and woman and a blonde. The man and blonde woman seemed to be in casual conversation. I can deal with a bit of socialization, he thought.

He made his way over, maneuvering around speakeasy goers. He set his glass down when he arrived, drawing their attention to him. Flinging his jacket over the side of the chair, Julian sat down. "Some night, isn't it?"

1121 words
I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.





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Thu Feb 10, 2022 7:55 pm
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MailicedeNamedy says...



Sophie tried to cover up the stain inconspicuously by putting her arm on the table and then quickly pulling it back because she didn't want to be conspicuous. Her arm was a bit wet and she knew she had to wash it off with water somewhere, otherwise there might be problems if she was seen by the police and they would come to near to her.

She didn't think very much about getting involved in any way at this table, but sat there with her third of the table and tried to calm herself down again. But her thoughts were tumbling all through her brain and Sophie was sure she wouldn't sleep that night. And it was all because of Liam.

Or she could drink it all away so she would sleep again. As Sophie emptied her glass, thinking it was already time to ask for another, she noticed her third of the table become a quarter.

Julian, the musician was arriving. She knew Julian. They had only exchanged a few words and Sophie was sure she wouldn't recognise him if he wasn't in his normal surroundings, but she knew it was him. With a small movement, he greeted the now quartet.

The blonde woman in a pink dress was in the midst of telling the others about a movie she saw that had been rather good. Called Wings, it was air force pilots in World War I. She said the movies were a respite from mundane job. She seemed to be a type of person to fill silences with mindless chatter when things were awkward.

Sophie didn't have to think long about whether she wanted to contribute, but marched back to the bar and ordered herself another glass. Moving between the tables and the guests, she tried to switch off a little and focus her thoughts on something else. But Liam was the whole problem. Since she had first met him, her opinion had already changed several times. He was nice and could be charming but he was also possessing. While Sophie was still young, when she first met him, there was still something that she found interesting on him. Probably that´s why her sister ended up with him.

It was more about her sister and son than Liam that made her angry. But they were connected by it. So much Sophie would have liked to try confessing and admitting everything to her sister, but would it change anything?

Sophie didn't notice when she came back to her seat and sat down. Only then did she realise that she had emptied the glass again and a pleasant, tired drowsiness was spreading through her head.

Suddenly the music was in her head and everyone was dancing away. Blurred for a moment, she had to realise that she wasn't sitting there alone, but had met up with some strangers here. Liam moved into the distance and Sophie watched Julian and the other two from top to bottom as they introduced themselves.

"Great to meet you all. The name's Julian. You, ah, might've heard me playing here?" He stopped to take a sip. "And you all are...?"

"I'm Caroline," said the blonde.

"Aloysius, but call me Louis. Nice to meet you," the man with the Manhatten replied.

She did not directly understand what it was about, but tried to get an idea of the situation. It wasn't the first time Sophie had been drunk and it wasn't the first time she had smiled at people without any reason. She didn't care what they were thinking at the moment. She was plotting her Saturday.

With her head held high, Sophie would show up tomorrow for dinner at Liam and her sister's house and throw the soup on his head. In doing so, she would unpack what she had been eating into for so long. Sophie was so convinced that she mentally began to prepare and memorise her script for Saturday.

As she did so, Sophie didn't notice that she was slowly but surely moving from thoughts to monologue. At first her lips moved, nothing came out but hot air, but the deeper she jumped into this script, the louder the words she uttered became, suddenly talking into the middle of the others' conversation.

"I work in business at an office a little ways from here. We handle business, legal advice, and the like for other companies," Aloysius explained, probably boring the other people at the table, "Most of the attornies we have are defense attornies and-"

"...because of you we will all end up on the street or even worse, in prison!"

Sophie slammed her right fist on the table and managed to knock her glass over. With a clink it landed on the floor. Like the snap of a hypnotist releasing his victim from hypnosis, Sophie tumbled out of her waking dream with the smash. No one else could hear the glass shatter into a thousand tiny pieces except those who were at the table, and yet for Sophie, it was like the explosion of a bomb that woke her.

"Are.. are you OK?" Aloysius asked, concerned, but mildly amused. She saw Julian hiding a laugh behind his drink.

"I... I'm sorry this happened."

Red with shame, Sophie disappeared under the table and tried to pick up the shards individually. She didn't notice how she got a scratch on her left little finger and it bled a little.

Aloysius reached over to clean up the bit of drink that had spilt on the table before it could spread any more.

Caroline stared at the mess. "Ummmmm, okay then," she said. She took her nearly empty glass of wine, left the table, and walked towards the bar, seemingly to order another drink.

Just then the bartender appeared, and in his usual tone, seemed to be in a bad mood.

"Third glass you've broken in here, Cox! You're so scatterbrained!"

"Hey, lay off, Sullivan," Julian said. "Accidents happen."

But he didn't linger in anger for long, instead calling someone to pick up the shards and just leave Sophie kneeling there. With her knees still on the floor, she stared at the last shiny splinters as they became fewer and fewer. When the floor became clean, all her illusion was shattered and she realised how the cloud of numbness in her head brought her back to reality.

"Ouch!"

Sophie slammed into the table, sending the others' glasses tumbling as well. Hastily she sat down, knowing that disappearing now would be a much worse moment than sitting there quietly and pretending nothing had happened.

"You okay?" Julian asked.

"I'm a little annoyed. But that's nobody's business."

Just then, Caroline came back with a fresh glass of wine.

"That's all my money for the week," she said to no one in particular as she sat back down. When no one replied, she turned to Sophie. "I don't think I caught your name."

"I'm Sophie Cox," she introduced herself, "I work mainly as an artist!"

With a little pride, she tried to make an impression, at the same time she knew that at least Julian was a little in the know, that Sophie could not earn her living from painting pictures alone. As she did so, she noticed that her little finger was bleeding and the blood was now slowly dripping onto the table. She was again in a similar situation as before and was now trying to get the teeny tiny spot off with her other arm.

Feeling like she was repeating herself, Sophie tried to keep talking.

"I like to draw the people here. Do any of you want to be sketched?"

"I think I'm good, thank you," Aloysius said, taking a sip of his own drink. It was nearly empty now. He set his Manhatten down and continued, "Did any of you see Hoover when you arrived? I usually pet him when I walk in, but he wasn't there."

“That philistine! I wanted to draw him and he just ate away two brushes! Do you know how much they cost!? Nearly four dollars!”

Sophie was too upset about it, and here she was sure that Julian didn't know that she usually got her brushes paid for by a rich patron who had also given her her flat.

Caroline turned to Sophie. "You could draw me sometime, if you wanted to. I think it would be interesting to have a portrait of myself."

1.407 /2.500 words Week 2
Reality is a prison and time is its guard

I´m just a random girl with gentle manners

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Elinor says...



Caroline had always thought that it would be neat to have someone draw her picture. There was part of her that was entranced by the idea of being immortalized through someone else's art. Not everyone could say that they'd been drawn. Beyond that, for a while now, there was a part of her that wanted to see what she needed to do to get into modeling. Caroline didn't exactly think she was the most beautiful woman in the world, but she knew that she was pretty.. Sometimes, she felt like it was all she had.

And she knew how to navigate the world of men who found her only value in her looks.

She looked down at her glass and took another drink, trying to savor it as best she could. It probably hadn't been the best idea for Caroline to get that second glass of wine, just in case she ended up needing the money for something else. But who could blame her?

At some point, she thought she heard that the younger man's name was Julian.

Julian...

Caroline felt a lump in her throat as certain memories she thought were long past came flooding back. She took a long drink of her wine and as the others were still focused on the glass that had broke, she excused herself to the bathroom. While it was mostly to catch her breath and have a moment away from all the crowds, she

Unfortunately, there was a line. Right in front of her was a man, probably a bit older than her but not older than thirty. He was very handsome and dressed in navy slacks and a white shirt. She thought he looked a little bit like Rudy Valentino, with dark hair, a good face, and deep brown eyes and from the way that he looked at her, she immediately knew what he wanted. But he'd clearly had a few drinks, which made him more unattractive to her. Besides, she'd gone out tonight to have a good time, and wasn't in the mood to meet men.

"Hello," he said.

"Hi," Caroline said softly.

"Happy Friday," said the man in a drunken slur. Instinctively, Caroline took a half step back from him.

"Happy Friday."

"Are you here with anyone?" He asked.

"My father," Caroline said. It was a stupid lie, especially because if he came out to the table, he would see the two other men were around her age. But she knew it would get him to leave her alone.

He was handsome and she was attracted to him. Just not here. Not now. And waiting for the bathroom wasn't exactly the ideal place either.

The bathroom became available. "I'm Henry," he said.

"I'm Caroline." She looked back and saw the frustration and impatience of the people that were waiting in line.

Henry seemed to get the message. "Find me before you leave, baby."

Caroline said nothing but smiled vaguely at him. She wouldn't, but he could deal with that later.

A few minutes later, he exited the bathroom. He smiled at her as he walked past. She smiled back.

In the bathroom, Caroline splashed cold water on her face. She couldn't think of Julian, not now. She didn't know what good it would do.

After a few deep breaths, she composed herself, and went to rejoin who she supposed were her newly found friends.

548 Words

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looseleaf says...



Ah, life. Life was a funny thing. One day you could be exploring the ruins of Pompeii or the beaches of the Caribbean, and the next you could be sitting at a second-rate speakeasy across from a drunk stranger. Oh well. At least Aloysius found his life interesting.

Aloysius looked down at his glass. There was hardly any liquid in it anymore and the ice had all melted.

"Excuse me," Aloysius said to the remaining two as he stood. He walked over to the bar, drinking the last bit of his drink as he did so. He set the empty glass down and leaned on the bar, waiting for Sullivan to notice him.

The bartender never did, so Aloysius called out to him, "Hey, Sullivan! Mind serving me a drink?"

The bartender turned around and scowled while wiping a glass, "You're not the only person here, Aloysius."

"But I'm the only one getting a drink right now," Aloysius rebutted, "And it's Louis, please."

Sullivan grunted, "What can I get you, Louis?"

"I suppose I'll switch it up. A pint of Guinness Stout if you have some. Bass Ale, if you don't, please."

The bartender did as he was told and poured Aloysius some Bass Ale. Instead of picking a new glass, Sullivan used the one he had been wiping. He set it down in front of Aloysius harshly, spilling some of the beer over the edge of the cup.

"That will be thirty-five cents," Sullivan opened the register.

Aloysius fished around in his pocket, eventually pulling out his wallet. For the sake of holding up the bar, he pulled out two quarters instead of exact change and handed them to Sullivan.

"Please, keep the change," Aloysius said, picking up his glass and turning to walk away.

"Oh, you are so generous," Sullivan said sarcastically, "That will really make a difference."

Aloysius rolled his eyes as he walked away. He navigated through the crowd, pushing against women in short dresses and men in hats. He returned to the table and sat down. Caroline was back now, second glass of wine in hand.

"Did I miss anything?" Aloysius asked, sipping on his drink.

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Plume says...



Julian's drink was almost gone, and that meant he should probably go back to playing the piano soon. He whirled around the slowly melting ice cubes at the bottom of the glass, only half-listening to the conversation going on. He was dimly aware that the girl named Caroline got up to get more wine, and the man—Aloysius, he thought?—had too. When he came and sat back down, Julian took that as a cue to leave.

"Lovely talking to you all," he said absently, standing up. He left his nearly empty glass on the table, knowing that Melvin or Sullivan or someone else would pick it up.

He shrugged his jacket back on as he made his way to the piano, tugging at his collar. it was still hot and he wished he could take his jacket off, but if he did, he knew Doyle would probably scold him for "lacking professionalism" or something along those lines. Or maybe not, if he was letting him play the piano— who knows what else he'd let Julian get away with tonight?

His fingers tapping the side of his leg, his eyes roamed the crowd. He was nearly at the piano bench when he caught sight of Henry Grant, the bookkeeper for the Golden Vanderbilt. Normally he avoided Grant— the man wasn't entirely pleasant, and mostly kept to himself. But he hadn't been paid at his usual time, and while Doyle was most likely partially to blame, Grant was the one here now. Also, Grant didn't have the authority to fire him for being annoying.

"Hey. Grant. Henry." Julian held up his hand as he made his way over to Grant, who was, as it seemed, trying to leave the Golden Vanderbilt.

"We're not on first-name basis, Latkowski." Grant kept walking through the crowd, and Julian hurried to keep up.

"We could be if you were friendlier."

Grant stopped and turned towards Julian. "We're colleagues, not friends."

Julian crossed his arms. "Where are you going in such a hurry?"

Grant smirked. "None of your business. Again"—he gestured between them—"colleagues."

"You could at least tell me why I was paid late."

"Talk to Doyle."

"I'm talking to you now."

"I don't know. I keep the books. I balance finances. Maybe something happened in Doyle's life. Whatever it was, I wasn't the reason you were paid late." Grant turned to go. "Now, aren't you supposed to be playing?"

Julian frowned, but let Grant go. Maybe he would bring it up with Doyle. Either way, with his income supporting so many siblings, being paid late wasn't something he wanted to happen again. But if he complained to Doyle, he might not have an income anymore.

He sat down at the piano bench, running a hand through his hair and sighing. He played one discordant chord to get his frustration out, which caused a few patrons around him to jump. After a few muttered apologies, he began to play, albeit slightly less energetic than before.

503 words
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looseleaf says...



Aloysius left the speakeasy in one of the best moods he'd been in for a long time. He would have left later, but he had things to do, other people to see, and he wanted to minimalize how crummy he felt in the morning.

The streets, although dark and scary, seemed safe as Aloysius walked to the subway. The only time he had felt fear near the speakeasy was during his first week of frequenting it. He wasn't used to the rundown, working-class neighborhoods and all the things his parents had told him about them didn't help. Aloysius should have known that his parents were making up things (for the most part) to protect him and not because they were facts. Still, he had been extremely timid and scared of everyone at the speakeasy for quite some time.

Aloysius eventually made his way back to his car. He checked to make sure his briefcase and other work things were in the trunk before heading home.

After about ten minutes, his apartment building started to come into view. It was six stories tall and rose above all of the other buildings on the block, which were on average three stories. Most of them were two-family homes but were quickly being replaced by bigger, more expensive apartments and condominiums.

Aloysius parked behind the building, grabbed his belongings out of the trunk, and made his way inside the building. The entrance was grand and reminded Aloysius of his parent's house back home with its chandeliers and fancy wallpapers.

"Evenin', sir," the elevator man said when he stepped on.

"Good evening, Mr. Thompson," Aloysius replied, "Floor number four, please."

The man did as he was told and, soon enough, Aloysius was back in his apartment. He set his things down in his office, changed, and, within twenty minutes of arriving home, collapsed on his bed and went to sleep.

The weekend went by uneventfully for the most part. Aloysius awoke Saturday morning and ate a homemade breakfast while reading the paper. It was boring, as usual. Aloysius's stocks were doing the same as they were the last time he read the paper and there was nothing new that piqued his interest.

After breakfast, Aloysius changed and drove to his friend Raymond's house, with who he played on a baseball team. They then drove to one of the North Lawndale baseball diamonds and broke their three-game losing streak. Aloysius earned an RBI and got six people out at third base.

"Man, I don't see why you ain't playing professionally," Raymond said after the game, spitting a wad of spit into the ground. Raymond and Aloysius had two very different backgrounds, Raymond being the son of two factory workers and had never finished high school. Yet, they still had a lot in common and Aloysius enjoyed his company.

"You know, Ray," Aloysius responded, taking his batting gloves off, "my parents. My mother, especially. I got a letter from her recently and I'm dreading opening it. Whenever she contacts me, something inside me dies."

One difference between the two men, besides their upbringings, was that Raymond actually loved his parents. In an effort to avoid the subject, Raymond excused himself and caught a ride with another player named William. Aloysius had lunch at a bistro near his apartment then returned home. He read for a few hours and had a rather passive-aggressive phone call with his coworker.

In the evening, Aloysius went to dinner and saw a film with an old family friend named Elle. Her dad's business worked alongside Aloysius's dad's law firm, so he and Elle had spent a lot of time together, especially in their childhood. It was nice to catch up with her, although she definitely thought it was more of a date rather than a friendly get-together.

The next day was rather uneventful. Aloysius spent most of the day working in his office. His job had promised him plenty of free time and benefits, but with the amount of work he was doing, there was no free time and those benefits were hardly used. Aloysius did sleep in, though, and spent the day in his PJs.

The whole day Aloysius was dreading responding to his mother. His parents couldn't contact him through his phone and the only family he really called with it was his brother. But he was in the army now and was hard to contact. Yet, he felt he had to respond to his mother eventually, as his inheritance and the little status he had were on the line. After reading the letter, Aloysius wrote a half-hearted reply and begrudgingly accepted his mother's invitation to his cousin's wedding next spring. Aloysius had never met this cousin and, frankly, was only going to appease his parents.

Aloysius stayed home for dinner and went to bed early. He needed his sleep for Monday, especially if he was going to stay at the Golden Vanderbilt late into the night.

827 Words
Last edited by looseleaf on Sat Jun 18, 2022 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.





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MailicedeNamedy says...



When Sophie went home that evening and closed the door behind her, she was still not sure what she would do to get through this weekend. There was a chill in front of her as she entered the small room where she hung her sketches and paintings to admire, but she didn't feel like it.

She couldn't remember the last time she had stared out of the big window for so long, out into the world, feeling those cobwebs that wrapped around her body like ants, wanting to plunge her into a deep sadness. Sophie had to tell herself several times that everything that had happened in the last few days was over. She could no longer change the past and this thought tormented her.

It was already well past midnight when she lay down in bed and thought about what she would do. Was she ready to go to her sister and Liam? Luisa was definitely more steadfast than Sophie. Luisa was optimistic and confident. If she wanted something, she worked for it. Sophie, on the other hand, lost herself in her head and saw the mountain in front of her that she actually wanted to conquer.

Luisa had told her several times to imagine hammering in individual steps that would make it easier to climb the mountain. But Sophie couldn't do that. She was too preoccupied with herself to accept it. It could never be as easy to do something as her sister explained. She was sure of that.

Only gradually did sobriety develop in Sophie as she reviewed what had happened in the speakeasy. In order not to let her shame show, she tried to distract herself and fall asleep. What helped her best was to list the 48 states to distract herself. She usually fell asleep when she got to the Midwest and ended up somewhere between Idaho and Colorado.

***


The morning had broken and Sophie was still dozing off. She did not hear the noise on the road as a driver almost lost control and almost hit an elderly mother-in-law on the pavement. She also didn't hear when someone knocked on the door around 10 AM.

It was only just before the midday gong that she realised the sun was already in the sky. She woke up with a yawn, not noticing that she had spread her clothes on the floor yesterday. Slithering, she made her way to the bathroom and slapped the cold water against her face as it came out of the tap. With another yawn, she looked at herself in the mirror and talked to herself.

At first, she was lost in her dream from last night. But with each new interpretation, it went back to Liam and Luisa and suddenly Sophie was wide awake. Hurriedly she ran back to her clothes lying on the floor and looked for the pocket watch.

"I'm late."

It was then that she realised what that actually meant.

"I don't need to talk to Liam about this."

But with that, I pushed the problem away again. Until the next time, when it can get even worse. And then he might get arrested or even killed. If he's not dead already...

Sophie gathered her thoughts and put everything together again. She was convinced she could find a way out by running away from everything until she had the idea to distract herself.

When she wasn't painting in the lonely hours alone, she was usually out and about through the city, drawing whatever came to mind. Or she would sit on the shore of Lake Michigan and dream of just jumping in and disappearing. But between all these people, in the middle of this burgeoning city, there was one place where she never felt lonely, and that was the Art Institute.

***


Every time she entered the museum, the other visitors looked at her with a sceptical look. Always behaving as if on rails, she wandered through the halls, stopping only at the paintings and sculptures she liked and skipping those that did not appeal to her. Several times she turned back to make a sketch and always remained with a neutral expression. Be it in front of the saddest painting or the most beautiful in the museum, it never gave her a reason to crack a smile.

Only a fortnight ago they had opened a new exhibition that Sophie still wanted to visit, but this one did not give her the feeling of relaxation she had expected. The Friends of American Art exhibition took a little getting used to for her. When the last exhibition was of Albrecht Dürer's prints, she could still feel a little of her European homeland, but she was still not used to the art of the United States.

Perhaps Sophie was also too attached to her French idols, whom she would have loved to meet in Paris. As she circled the paintings and exhibits, she didn't notice how she remained in her own world, imagining dancing with Toulouse - Lautrec or at least having shaken Renoir's hand.

She wanted to go to a cabaret like everyone else and draw, this forgotten layer of the population. At least in her imagination, it made her feel as if this culture was its own kind of romance and yet she was too scared about the un-Catholic things that would go on.

***


It was already late when Sophie came out of the museum and caught the last rays of the sun before it disappeared completely into the west. It was the time when she really felt alive, when she realised that something inside her was awakening and driving her. Even today, almost forgotten, she felt new strength coursing through her veins, giving her a drive in this twilight not to go to her sister in person, but to the nearest grocery store where she ducked into the phone booth.

But when Sophie heard Luisa's voice on the other side of the receiver, she was back in lost words mode. Her script had disappeared and with a slow barrage of questions she tried to ascertain how her nephew was doing and if Liam was home. Sophie wasn't sure how long she had ended up talking to Luisa, but she had at least tried to create doubt in her sister's mind about Liam and his very excessive and sometimes ostentatious drive.

And yet she could not say what she had intended to say. She was too constricted in the phone booth, too naked in this public place, not wanting to accuse anyone without evidence. Disappointed at her own incompetence, she marched out of the shop and disappeared down the lakeshore. While the workers were replaced by gangsters at the pier, dusk was already behind them and Sophie strolled briskly back to her castle.

She locked the door behind her, switched on the light in her small studio and began to paint furiously. But all the canvases she began to paint were nothing more than a reflection of her own inability. She frantically started again several times, getting upset in the meantime about Hoover's bitten-off brush and brushing red and black paint onto the canvas.

Furiously, the lines became thicker and stronger. Flames were clearing behind the smoke and suffering people were painted over on the canvases. An ocean appeared in the corner and the flames were extinguished. A castle emerged from the flames and the suffering people became trees. In the meantime, she rummaged through her sketches, trying to bring some kind of face between all the madness.

Sophie was sure that at some point she would be able to paint something again that was not directly guided by her emotions. Something that could make her patron happy. She had long since given up going to a museum and seeing her paintings. At least in a living state. As a ghost it would be possible, she thought to herself. She smiled at the thought and forgot what time it was.

She picked up a new canvas and made a note on her hand that she would have to get new canvases on Monday and began anew to create something that would make her happy.

As Sunday was coming to an end, there was another knock at the door and Sophie woke up from her trance for the first time. The canvas in front of her was scrawled with lines of a sunset. With the few figures on it complete so far, it reminded Sophie of Georges Seurat's Un dimanche après-midi à l'île de la Grande Jatte. It made her unhappy to have the inspiration of her creation so close in front of her and yet be so far away from it.

When there was another knock, Sophie was at the door. The patron, Peter Bartlett stood there, greeted her kindly and entered the bustle of Sophie's flat. With a watchful eye, Sophie had awoken from her dream and now fell back stunned. With a queasy feeling, she showed him a little of what had been drawing her the last few days. Sophie was both dissatisfied with much and amazed when Bartlett stopped in front of the one canvas that was only red and black with barely visible shapes.

Sitting alone in the flat again, Sophie was suddenly $80 richer and didn't know how it had happened. The painting, which she had simply christened Red and Darkness within seconds, had been taken by Bartlett. He found it refreshing and emotional and wanted to give it to his daughter.

Still wondering what had happened, she had already forgotten what Liam had done. She had the money in front of her and could pay the rent for a few more months, buy some canvases and even return to Golden Vanderbilt.

Only this time she hoped not to break anything again.

1641 words
Reality is a prison and time is its guard

I´m just a random girl with gentle manners

Every bad voice in your head was once outside





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Thu Feb 17, 2022 3:46 pm
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Elinor says...



Caroline didn't stay at the Golden Vanderbilt for much longer after she returned from the bathroom. The others at the table were pleasant enough company, but soon a listless feeling had begun to hang over her. While the others chatted, she was looking forward at going back to the boarding house and going to sleep. Occasionally, a thought struck Caroline that she would be fortunate if something happened and she never woke up.

She didn't know why she kept on when it seemed pointless to, or what she had to live for other than the vague promise that things would get better in the future. Her family had turned her back on her. The only friends she had were probably going to leave the boarding house soon, and leave her alone. The one boy she'd ever loved was gone. When she punched out at the textile mil each night, she never felt as if she could fully enjoy her free time because she knew she'd have to be back at it the next day.

Caroline finished her second glass and bid her table mates goodbye. She suddenly remembered the man who had called himself Henry, in line for bathroom. She wondered if he was still there, and was tempted to take him up on his offer to find him. Maybe what she needed was company.

But there was something, call it a gut feeling, that told her that it wasn't a good idea. So she went home alone, The boarding house was quiet still, and in her bedroom, she changed from the pink party dress into her nightgown. Anonymous once more.

The next morning, Caroline drifted down into the dining hall and was surprised to see Emma, sitting alone at a table with a cup of coffee. There were dark bags under her eyes and she did not look well. Immediately, Caroline joined her.

"You're back?"

"Back..." Emma said tiredly, without looking up from her cup of coffee. "I sure am."

"When did you get in?"

"2 o'clock this morning," Emma said curtly.

"What happened?"

"Well," Emma explained. "We never made it to Ohio. I went over to Ray's apartment and we were starting to get packed and we were supposed to leave early this morning. Then as we're getting ready for bed, I see but some model's picture. On the back she wrote with love from Mildred. So I said, who is she? And I got them to admit that..." Then, she lowered her voice to a whisper, "They'd been together!"

Caroline stared, not knowing what to say.

"And I was ready to marry this man!" Emma shouted.

"I'm sorry," Caroline said. She wasn't sure she was in the best position to give advice this early in the morning, but it really seemed like Emma needed someone to listen. "You deserve more."

That was when Caroline suggested that they spend some quality time together. So for the rest of the weekend, that's what they did. Caroline explained that she was broke but Emma said she could cover any associated costs as long as she was paid back eventually. Caroline agreed, knowing it probably wasn't wise to run a tab but it was nice to have a change of scenery.

They went to the movies and to Navy Pier and window shopped on Michigan Avenue. All throughout, she listened to Emma vent about Ray, her now ex-boyfriend, and all the little things that annoyed or bothered her that she'd let slide before. Somehow, even if it was in a moment of crisis, the feeling of wanting to fall asleep forever disappeared in that weekend.

"What about the Golden Vanderbilt on Monday, after work?" Emma suggested.

"Sure," Caroline said. "That sounds nice."

So they made a plan. Rebecca came back from her trip to Michigan on Sunday night and they explained everything to her. She passed on the Vanderbilt because she was tired and wasn't going to be in the mood to go out.

Still, Caroline went to sleep on Sunday night, hoping she could find the strength to get through the workday come morning.

671 Words

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Plume says...



It was well past midnight before Doyle let Julian leave. At two AM, he finally walked out the front door of Johnson and Co. Pharmacy, stopping only to give Hoover a little pat on the head, his eyes threatening to close with each step he took. The August air was still warm even during nighttime, and he was sweating by the time he reached his family's apartment.

After tossing his jacket over the side of a chair, he settled down in it. He would go to the bedroom, but since it housed his sleeping siblings, it'd be best to stay in the main room and sleep on the chair. He was used to this routine from so many late nights at the Golden Vanderbilt. He figured he could get in at least four hours before he was woken up rather unceremoniously by the hustle and bustle of the early morning Latkowski residence.

~

He awoke to the same silence he'd fallen asleep to, which was surprising. Normally he'd expect his sisters Anna and Daria playing with his hair and poking his face to wake him up before they went off to school, with Aleksander caterwauling in the background about the trivial issues of an eleven-year-old boy. Instead, the house was empty, and with a quick glance out of the side window, it proved to be midmorning. From his vantage point, he could see his mother at the small table separating their tiny living room from their kitchen. She appeared to be mending clothes.

As he got up, his mother turned to him. Morela Latkowska was a slim woman, grey-blond hair always pulled up in a bun.

"You got home late," said his mother in Polish. "Many people need medicine at midnight?"

He shrugged, twisting his neck in an attempt to loosen it. His mouth still had the aftertaste of the night before. Coffee. He needed coffee.

"Where is everyone?" he asked, making his way to the kitchen.

"Your father is at work. As is Marta. And the children are at school."

He located the coffeepot and searched for a cup. "And they didn't wake me up?"

Morela laughed. "Oh, they tried. You were sleeping very soundly."

After finding a somewhat clean cup, he poured the last dregs of coffee into it. Already he felt more himself after the first sip.

"Lena will be by. You should stay." His mother shifted her sewing.

"Can't. Doyle wants me at the pharmacy soon." He took big gulps of his coffee now, finally realizing what time it was. He'd need to be at the pharmacy in an hour.

"You are always gone, Julian." She refused to pronounce his name the way he wanted everyone else to, with their wide Chicago voices falling down hard on the "juh" sound. Instead, she softened it, smoothly pronouncing it like started with a "Y." Which was, technically, how it should be pronounced— but it got tiring to correct everyone after a while.

He pressed a quick kiss to his mother's head and patted her shoulder. "Hey. It earns money."

She started up at him, covering his hand with her own. "I know. I worry too much. I miss you when you're gone."

Julian smiled, coffee still fresh on his tongue. "I'll be back soon, I promise."

"Before nine?"

"Mmm... before ten?"

"Before nine, Julian."

"Fine. Love you."

Morela grinned. "I love you too. And Julian, take some food with you."

~

Hoover was waiting for him outside the pharmacy, with pleading eyes that had started staring Julian down from a block away.

"Nobody's fed you yet today?" he asked, bending down to scratch his neck. Hoover snuffled in response.

Julian stared at the nearly finished bagel in his hand. Ah, well. He could spare it.

Hamilton was already behind the counter when Julian went in. He perked up when he saw him, hand raising in greeting.

"Good thing you're here. Doyle was so desperate he put me behind the counter, and you know how much he hates doing that." He glanced over Julian's shoulder and out the door. "You fed Hoover too?"

"Yeah. Those eyes, you know? So hard to resist."

Hamilton smiled. "It's how he gets ya. Anyways. I've got some errands and deliveries to run. Madeleine should be here in a coupla hours."

Julian put on his apron. "Got it. Where's Doyle?"

Hamilton shrugged. "Somewhere. I think he was talking to Grant. I'd wait till he approaches you, though. He seemed upset."

"Noted."

~

The rest of Saturday passed smoothly, or as smoothly as it could. He only got to play a few songs at the Golden Vanderbilt before Doyle kicked him off and made him go back to policing the door. He made it back to his house early enough to catch his parents and Marta before they retired for the night.

Sunday he managed to squeeze in a few hours of practice on Mr. Pacholski's piano downstairs before heading to Johnson and Co.

Grant was hanging outside the pharmacy, which was odd. The door should have been open.

"Are you waiting for Doyle?" Julian asked. Grant looked at him. His eyes looked bloodshot. "How long have you been waiting? Is he not inside?"

"Doesn't concern you, Latkowski," Grant mumbled.

Julian went up to the door and tried it. "It's open, you know."

Grant turned away. Julian decided to ignore him and go in.

He found Doyle in the speakeasy portion. "Grant's outside the pharmacy. Does he want something?"

Doyle frowned, but waved his hand. "I'll deal with it. You should be serving customers."

"Are you sure?"

Doyle pointed back in the direction of the pharmacy. "Behind the counter, Latkowski."

Grant was an itch that wouldn't leave his mind, but when he left to eat dinner, he was gone. Either Doyle had dealt with him, or he'd left of his own accord. Whatever it was, it was one less thing Julian had to deal with.

By Monday morning, he'd forgotten all about him.

998 words
I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.





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Tue Feb 22, 2022 4:43 pm
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MailicedeNamedy says...



Sophie continued to be a little breathed in by this strange lightness that made her feel like she was walking completely on clouds. With a little dance, she celebrated how her weekend had come to an end and could look forward to the coming week. She put some of the money in her little tin, where she was saving to buy something she really wanted one day. She just didn't know what yet.

Sophie arrived at Golden Vanderbilt in the late afternoon and entered the pharmacy. Hamilton was behind the counters reading the paper. Sophie was not a fan of taking that route. She felt that she was not just a simple consumer, but also a helper, and that was why she wanted to enter through another entrance, just to astonish the guests a little. Like a princess at an evening ball, she wanted to enter, down the steps, and only be seen with curious glances that made her feel special.

But this did not happen. She stood at the counters, engrossed in her thoughts, and had to be nudged by Hamilton before she said the password. Hamilton smiled at her and Sophie gave a small smile back.

"It's full." He only gave, but Sophie was already immersed behind the veil where the music appeared. She was caught up in the noise of all the people and had to come back to reality. She was surprised that it was so busy at this time of day because it was still nice and warm and sunny outside. Too much so even for Sophie's taste, because she couldn't paint well because the sun was always shining on her. That's why she had hoped to be a bit quieter here, and to meet some magnate she could draw from a safe distance.

But abundance returned her blinkers and she went to the bar, ordered a glass of wine from Sullivan, and looked for an empty table. Somehow, the same table as Friday was the only one empty again. As Sophie walked there, she wondered if this could be any sign, if it was haunted.

"Hi. It's a bit crowded in here, isn't it?"

Aloysius looked up from his beer and smiled, finding himself facing one of the girls from Friday evening, "Oh, hello. It's Sophie, right?"

"Yes. Sophie"

She tried to pronounce it a bit more French but it didn´t work. Sophie slowly sat down by the gentleman and suddenly realised that she had already seen him.

"A bit full again, isn't it?"

"Very full, yes. I'm surprised, though. I'm usually one of only about twenty people here on Mondays," he paused to take a sip of his drink, "Was Friday your first time here? Because I swear I had never seen you before Friday."

"I am something of a volunteer here. I don't come here that often. Can´t speak about it without revealing too much."

Sophie thought and tried to pretend she was busy before he could reply. She took her drawing pad out of her bag and a pen took a sip from her glass and wanted to draw some random lines that she could later use as a start for a new picture. But she couldn´t do it. After some minutes where she tried to look like she would draw, she finally gave up and looked at Aloysius.

"What do you do here so often?"

"Drink," Aloysius chuckled, lifting his glass ever so slightly, "but also to fill time. I don't do many things during the week besides work. What about you?"

"I´m working as an artist. There is something to draw in every corner of Chicago and that´s where I usually am. I think there are many faces of a city just like a person. You can learn so much and that´s it. I´m painting."

Sophie looked around, examining the visitors to the Golden Vanderbilt. There was no one who particularly stood out to her or somehow looked like a person you could make a story out of. Frustrated by this, Sophie wondered if it was time to draw Hoover again. At least this time with a muzzle so he wouldn't eat the brushes.

That's when Sophie went back to Aloysius.

"Do you mind if I draw you? I am an artist, you must know."

"Knock yourself out," Aloysius set down his drink and straightened his tie. He had been painted before when he was a little boy. His grandmother wasn't very fond of actual photographs, although she could afford them, so his mother forced him to be the subject of a painting, "Do you need me to pose or something?"

"No, of course not. Just be normal! Imagine that I´m not here!"

Sophie began to draw some contours and Aloysius with his glass. She had to be too concentrated as she didn't notice how one of the musicians had caught a wrong note and how another customer broke a glass this time. Sophie didn't manage to draw much concrete directly and she wasn't satisfied either. It was neither the light nor Aloysius, but something else. He seemed to notice that too.

He asked and Sophie answered and it was somehow the beginning of a dialogue that Sophie would not have expected. It seemed as if the conversation was now slowly gaining momentum. Sophie noticed that she was loosening up with Aloysius and no longer lived entirely in a shell of her own. Even if Sophie was fibbing a bit at some points and portraying her life more extravagantly than she actually had, she thought to herself that at least she had presented a life that didn't seem as boring and dull as she had. At least, that's what she thought.

Painting became more and more a secondary matter and the glass had been taught several times. In turn, they both went to get a new drink. But when Sophie went to the bar for the fourth or fifth time, something was different when she came back. There were no longer two of them.

1004 words
Reality is a prison and time is its guard

I´m just a random girl with gentle manners

Every bad voice in your head was once outside








The best books... are those that tell you what you know already.
— George Orwell, 1984