Black dress

It started like any other Saturday night. I smoothed the black stockings over my legs and fastened the silver clasp on my four inch heels. My floor length black dress hugged my curves and it made me feel like the ultimate femme fatale.  I slipped the flask of whiskey into the garter at my thigh and checked the time. Charlie was waiting for me and I was a bit more than fashionably late.

My bodyguard, Frank, was standing outside my door. He was 6’5 with skin like midnight. No one got near me when Frank was around. He was all the protection I needed. Well, that and the small .38 I had hidden on my body.

We climbed into the car and the chauffeur took off. He had his own orders from Tony and nothing I said mattered. We were late and he was going to get us there or die trying. I was really going to have to talk to Tony about this. It was more than annoying, honestly.

When we finally pulled up to the speakeasy, it was a bit of a shock. I know these are supposed to be hidden in plain sight, but this was taking it to the most extreme.

The house, if you could call it that, was barely standing. A condemned sign would have been a welcomed addition to the property. The roof looked like it was barely hanging on, and while I could hear the music coming from the inside, I was wary of even setting foot on the walkway.

Frank finally nudged me. The driver was getting anxious so I needed to get out and make my appearance in this rundown joint. I sigh heavily, prompting another nudge from Frank. I have no choice in doing what I do….so I do it well.

I make my way through the over grown weeds and grass to get to the door. Frank knocks and gives the password. I, being a female, and apparently having no common sense, am not allowed to know it. We are allowed entry and I am utterly shocked at the difference of the interior of this place.

Red velvet and gold cording. Lights and mirrors. Art deco decorations everywhere. I almost squealed in delight. It was actually quite beautiful.

I quickly got myself together, as I was here for business not pleasure, and walked to the bar to talk to Charlie.

Charlie was the quintessential speakeasy bartender. Tall, dark and handsome. He was the one all the ladies wanted to dance with and all the men wanted to be friends with. He ran a good line of cock and bull which made it easier to take his good looks. We were friends and he didn’t hit on me too much. Frank made it even less so.

“I came to see a man about a dog, Charlie, whatcha got for me?” Charlie laughed his reply “Roxie, you own the dogs, girl.” I laugh loudly and nod. He’s right. I own them all.

He makes my usual drink, the corpse reviver, and I head towards the stage. It’s long past time for me to have started, but it’s alright. Everyone is drinking so no one really cares if I’m late or not. Just as long as there is banned booze and my voice.

I notice the man in the far corner, but only as one would notice a stray dog. He’s not one of the regulars. He’s in all black. Not the colorful suits the men usually wear. I barely spare him a glance as I climb the stage and the band greets me.

After a few nods, hugs and handshakes we start our set. The first song is Love me or leave me. Our favorite cover. I love how my voice trills over the notes. While caressing the song, I notice the stray has come closer to the stage, he seems enthralled. This is nothing new…my voice usually knocks people around.  They don’t seem to expect it.

The problem was he threw me. Something in his face. Something I wasn’t expecting when I walked into this shack. My voice faltered a bit and it was enough that Frank came over and stand in front of me. blocking me from the view of everyone. This in and of itself was completely uncharted territory.

We finish the song and I beg a break, something unheard of. I’ll sing until I have no voice and Frank has to drag me off the stage.

I grab my drink and toss it back, then shiver at the taste. It’s not the best batch of bathtub booze, but it’ll do for this crowd. They don’t know the difference between high class champagne and barnyard beer. It’s a shame really, but then, it keeps my pockets full of jingle and my house full of baubles. Honestly, it keeps me from relying on Tony. I won’t be some mobster’s moll again. After Legs died, he left me enough money to keep me from having to resort to that again. Bless that dimwitted man and his deep pockets.

Frank tossed me a concerned look and I just shrug. “I need to talk to Charlie again, Frank”. He nodded and turned so I could lead the way. He always had my back. Literally. Ever since Legs got stuck, Frank has been attached at my hip to protect me. I’m lucky. Most guards go find other work. Frank stayed.

We make our way though the crowded room towards the bar and I stumble when I see the stray chatting it up with Charlie. Why? I know Charlie is a talker, luckily it’s not ever anything important. He knows who pockets he’s in.

We get to the bar just in time to hear Charlie say “I hope that you’re able boy, cause I’m tellin ya, she knows where it’s at!”.  “Hiya, Chuck. I need a refill.” I talk over the chatty bartender. If he’s talking about me, Frank will have his head. And Tony will cut out his heart.

The stray just stared at me. It was more than a little unnerving. No one has had the guts since Frank became a permanent fixture. I really didn’t know what to think.

As I was about to snark out a comment, there was a commotion off to the side of us. I turn and see two minor hatchet men were brandishing their 45s. I grab the stray’s arm and pull him quickly behind the bar. Frank and I had enough practice to know what to do, but this kid would have been a lamb in a slaughter house.

There was a gunshot and some stupid moll screamed, but then it was quiet. Against everything that Frank made me swear not to do, I popped my head up over the bar to see what was happening.

Nothing. Not a single thing happened. One of the guy’s guns went off as it hit the floor in the scuffle and no one was hurt. I was relieved. The last thing we needed was some stupid gumshoes mucking about here. Every last one of us would do some time. Even the girls. The stray was tugging on my hem and I tried to shake him off. I looked down and he had a Smith & Wesson Triple Lock. My first thought was this idiot was going to shoot himself.

I dropped back down to the floor and said, “Put that thing away. I bet you don’t even know how to use it. God save me from these heroes!” The stray looked at me (had he ever even looked away) and said in the deepest voice I have ever heard, “I’m no hero, miss. but your guard is about to lose his cool if you don’t settle down and let him do his job.” I turned my head to look at Frank and almost had a heart attack.

The big black man was mere inches from my face and had the most terrifying look on his face. Is this what everyone else sees? It’s no wonder I’m left alone. I attempt to stutter out an apology but he simply held his hand up and i clamped my lips shut. I already know the chewing out I’ll get later.

Once Frank had checked everything out and tossed me the head nod of approval, I stood up and looked around again. Charlie was making an attempt at getting the party going once more, but it appeared as though no one was buying what he was trying to sell.

I turned around and promptly tripped on a spilled drink. I fell to the floor in a very inelegant heap at the feet of the stray. I have no idea who moved faster but I do know that Frank was trying to yank me out of the stray’s arms that were suddenly supporting me. “Gentlemen, there is enough of me to go around, though I do believe I am in an immense amount of pain. Could we dispense with the machismo and get me to my bed please?” I was fading in and out, I guess I hit my head. I heard Frank and the stray arguing about whether to take me home or to a doctor. I tried to say no to a doctor, but all that came out was a long low sigh, then blackness.

When I came to, I was , luckily, in my bed and somehow in my favorite dark green silk nightgown. I was immediately incensed. WHO??  I know Frank wouldn’t have nor would he have allowed anyone this kind of freedom with me. I bolted upright and regretted it. My head swam but I also had vague memories of someone with striking eyes changing my clothes. The stray?  No.. there is no way.


————————————

Dear Readers,

This is not the story I had in my head about 2 weeks ago. I have no clue where this one came from. It flowed through my fingers and I typed like a woman possessed.  I am also not done. I believe this will be a 2 part story….maybe more.  I just wanted to get this bit out and posted before I lost it as I am prone to do.

Even if I never come back to this one, I am happy(ish) with how it is.

 

Thank you for reading!

Wyld

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