[center [pic http://alecsoth.com/photography/wp-content/gallery/sleeping-by-the-mississippi/St_Genevieve.jpg] ]
[center [i ""I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for[u [b all."] ] ] ]
As soon as the music stops and I take a moment to breath it’s as though everything stopped. I can hear the cheers of the crowd but it sounds muffled and I can see the people clapping but it’s as though everything is played in slow motion. This is what I came to the city for and now that it was happening I didn’t want to let the moment pass me by too quickly. I just want this to last a little longer because I really don’t know when I might get the chance to sing again. Although, a part of me is quietly confident that I may have done enough to secure a residence here but I don’t want to jinx anything. There was nothing in the world that could wipe the smiled from my face right now.
I glanced over towards Charles and noticed that the gentleman who had introduced them had now returned from wherever he had been and as Charles stood, his friend made his way towards her on the stage where I had returned for me to finish the song. I smiled towards him and let out a small laugh as he addressed the crowd. It was such a rush to hear the crowd cheering for me once more and I was overcome with so much adrenaline that caused an unplanned laugh escape from my lips and I nodded towards the crowd as some more of them rise to their feet.
I closed my hands over each other and bite the inside of my lip as the man leans into towards me so to whisper something in my ear. The residence was confirmed in an instant and I felt relief and I couldn’t help but show the happiness upon my face as he asked the crowd to congratulate her. This made the move worth it. Tony walked towards Charles and I followed behind slowly, still elated from being able to secure everything I wanted to from this situation. As soon as we stopped in front of Charles some confusion came over me. Why on earth did the boss want to meet me? I’m just a singer and it didn’t make sense but that didn’t matter right now. I glanced over towards over towards the door that Tony had pointed out.
[b “He wants to meet the both of us? Why?”]
Of course, I would've mind talking to the beauty which say across from me more however i was more interested in watching her performance which was about to take place. Leaninf back againat my chair, my eyes turned rowards the man who was snatching her away from me and an eyebrow raised as he mention the prospect of a free drink. Shaking my head, I polite declined. If anything, I walked in the mood for smoking a cigarette what, with the smell of smoke so potent in the air but that matter nor. Instead, I was prepared to be dazzled by the sight of the female dancing upon the stage and right as she took the Mic, that was when Tony Jr came to sir down by my side.
A smile was in his face as he reached into his pocket and pulled our a cigar like he was some hotshot. And he was indeed, since his uncle was the club owner of this club. The moment that the band started to play, I was taken aback by the sound of it all. It didn't have the melancholy tonality that the southern spirituals that the negros had. Instead there was something about it that was different, something which drew me in. Leaning forward, I slowly watched as her body and voice complimented the music. Unaware that I was in the presence of such a fine woman who held such talent.
And as she neared the song and walked through the crowd of people, watching as she stopped to sing occasionally to the people, I felt my breath hitch up in my chest as I saw the way she stopped just short of me and I caught her eyes for the briefest of moments before I heard her song the last note. As soon as her voice dies out, the room was filled with people clapping and whistling. People stood to their feet and there was a smile upon my face as I also clapped my hands. Placing a hand upon my shoulder, my friend spoke to me. [i "What ya think eh, Jr? She ain't half bad ya? The type of girl worth pickin' a fight over ya?"]
Nodding my head, I spoke over the road of the crowd. [b 'She sure is.."]
[i "Good, I'm glad ya think so.. Cause well, you'll see.."]
Standing up, it didn't take long for my friend to make it over to the girl and flash the crowd a wink. There was another Mic on stage, and as someone went to hand to him, he spoke [i "Lets all give a round o applause for the Miss beautiful Ruby Grant and her one a kind voice ya!?] He spoke smiling.
Blinking, I wonder what it was that he had up his sleeves for her, I always knew that my best friend was always scheming and trying his hardest to stay ahead of the game and so as he clapped his hands, he leaned in whispering something to her head before he turned once again ask the crowd to congratulate her. [i "And she'll be back here next week, so make sure ya guys come back her for that! To!!" ]
After all that was done, Tony walked towards me and jerked his head towards a door that I hadn't notice before hand, it must have been covered or something cause what he said next came as a surprise. [i "Alright Junior, time to get down to business. The boss wants to meet you and the girl..]
Blinking my eyes I must have had a look on my face cause he laughed. [i "Dontya sweat it. I ain't never done ya wrong and I ain't gonna to eithee."]
I couldn’t quite decide what I thought about the man that sat across from me just yet. I was still so unsure about why such a meeting had been set up or even why this man had introduced Charles to me, but I try not to judge other people. I reserve judgements for [I after] I get to know people rather than trying to guess what their motives were. As Charles begins to speak I could not help but notice a few of the men over at the next table looking over at me. It was so obvious that they were talking about me by the way they were pointing at me and smiling with a wink. I couldn’t help but blush slightly, not quite sure how to handle that kind of attention. This had been part of the reason why my parents were so against me moving into this industry in the first place. They didn’t see how one simply become a performer without also losing themselves into the forbidden world of sex because apparently men could not see anything else when they watch a singer on stage.
I forced myself to look back towards the man before me and decided to focus my attention on him rather than the crowds who were trying to get my attention. He was a lot more interesting to me anyway. It was so obvious that he had a past and that made him who he was and I was sure the moment he started to talk that I could listen to him talk all day, however it seemed that there were other plans in play for me. As Charles finished his drink, I had noticed that I had finished my glass of water and just on time, the man who had given me the show made his way over to our table and he smiled towards me before turning to Charles.
[I “Can I get you a drink? It would be on the house too as I am afraid that I have to steal Ruby away from you for a moment.”] I raised my eyebrow as he spoke.
[b “Oh? Why might that be Jeremy?”]
[I “Well princess, there are a lot of people in here demanding to hear you sing again so I was hoping that you might go up there and sing again and then when you are done, I want you to come by tomorrow to talk some more about a residency here.”]
The moment he said those words I couldn’t take the smile from my face. In an instant I leaned over to kiss Jeremy’s cheek before making looking back towards Charles.
[b “I’ll be back. I hope you don’t get anywhere.”] There was nothing more exhilarating that being on the stage and as I made my way there the different song choices running through my head.
The crowd was so loud the whole time I spoke to announce that I would be singing one last song. I made sure that my eyes were locked with Charles’ for a moment, mainly to check that he was still there and watching. This performance was slightly different to the others in tempo. It was slightly slower and required a different approach to the raunchy attitude I had given to some of the songs in my previous set, but the attention of the crowd was still focused on me. As the song began to near it’s end I moved my way through to the crowd and stopped occasionally to sing to members of the crowd before ending my song not too far from Charles.
The more she talked about herself, the pre it made sense that the other Junior introduced us to each other. His father was the man who owned the very club were are at; he figured that a jazz club would be the perfect cover for his illegal liquor trade. Stirring the glass of whiskey, I nodded in acknowledgment to her words when it came to being a soldier. If anything, I didn't miss the loudness of the war. Or the constant fear that came with it along with the faces of lifeless soldiers staring back in the pit of the trench, again, life as a soldier wasn't to, to bad. It allowed me to see Paris, or what was left of it at least. The women there were rather beautiful the only plus to being stuck in a hospital fighting for my life.
Sipping on my whiskey again, I looked at her and spoke, [b '"Part of why I'm here is actually because my friend, Tony Jr.. we're both named Jr, his unclw owns this club actually. And he brought me here as a favour since we both fought in France. The war was how we met."] Setting down the glass of whiskey, I let out and sigh. There was something about the burning sensation which always warmed me up quite a bit. And help loosen my tongue.
Not that it needed to be loosen, however as she spoke about performing again I cocked my head to the side. So it was the second guess that seemed to hit the mail on the head. I was indeed in the presence of a singer, and a beautiful one at that which caught my intention even more and kept me enthralled in this conversation. Her comments on jazz was evident. Even though it didn't speak to me personally-at least not yet- it did remind me of home. A part of me missed the negro spirituals that the workers on my uncle's farm would sing whilst they worked for him. I remember sweating beside them whilst I picked cotton on my uncle's farm to earn some money for candy or pop. That was the sorta man he was. The only family member that didn't have a racist bone in his body. He believed a man was worth what he worked and skin color didn't make a bit of a damn difference to him. It made me miss him dearly.
[b " You strike me as one with a lovely voice, Miss Ruby. So I wouldn't mind at all watching you perform on the stage if I was given the chance."] It was an honest answer from me. In truth, [b "I don't think I've ever sing a woman sing jazz.. back home, in the south, the closed thing I guess we have to jazz are the songs the sharecroppers on my uncle's farm would sing back when I picked cotton next to them during the Missippi summers."]
Once more, i reached for my glass to sip my whiskey and let out a long sigh. It was the final sip that finished off the glass. And even though my lips were thirsty for more whiskey, I'd rather have some more water. Getting drunk in the presence of a lady seemed to be wrong.
Intriguing was certainly the right word for the man who sat before me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was about him that made me feel that way. Perhaps it was the fact that the man who had introduced the two of them felt the need to lie about his involvement in this establishment. I smile towards him as the waitress brings us our order and I take a sip of my water. It was exactly what I needed considering how I had just spent the last hour or so on the stage. I still hadn’t got over the ecstasy that the performance had given me and for some strange reason it made me feel brave. Whether that would come to any use whilst I sat conversing with Charles, I didn’t know but it sure couldn’t cause any harm.
I watched his face as his contemplated my question and I could almost see the thoughts crossing his mind as he attempted to find the right words to say. Either than man did not have a line of work and he was attempting to falsify one or he was simply taking his time to answer me to increase my levels of interest. I could not deny that it worked. Raising my glass to my lips once more, I waited patiently for a response. It wasn’t long before I got one. My lips turned up into a smile as he spoke and I made sure that he knew that being a solider definitely counted as a line of work. If anything, I think my intrigue increased along with my respect as his admission.
[b “I believe that being a soldier counts more than any other profession. Although I can imagine that it is hard coming back to America like this. I do hope that you find a line of work that pleases you if that’s what you wish for.”] the last thing I wanted was to offend the man. Being unemployed was not exactly what a man wanted to admit to someone but in my mind a soldier deserved to take some time to re-evaluate priorities and choose a career that would make him happy.
[b “That is exactly why I love jazz myself. It speaks to me more than any other kind of music and it has certainly made me the woman I am today.”] I took another sip of my water as Charles seemed to enjoy his whiskey. I personally didn’t like the smell of the stuff but I wasn’t exactly close enough to allow the aroma to enter my system.
[b “You would be right. This was actually my first night performing here. I hope it might turn into a permanent residence here but I suppose that would depend on the reaction of the punters.”] I looked around and noticed that some of them were looking towards me and could only come to the conclusion that they were talking about me. [b “I’m not going to lie. I am hoping that I get to perform again before the night is out. Perhaps you might stay and listen.”]
The answer to her question, I found was a rather hard one to answer correctly. Back during my time in the war and my time in France, i had wondered around trying to come to terms with the aftermath if the war, it was unfortunate, but many of the men around me caught a certain sickness and more men died from that damned illness than actually combat. So I found myself fighting that sickness as soon as victory had been won. Whilst lying sick in the hospital bed dreams came to me. Some of the pass and some of a future which I didn't know was for certain. But, seeing as how luck was on my side, my father had sent me enough money to stay in Paris for a while unto it was my turn to return back home to the State of America.
So, in retrospect the only line of work I had was proving to be a tough bastard to kill. Smirking a little in amusement of the thought of me somehow being immortal, I ordered a glass of whiskey to wash away the bad memories before I turned towards the girl again. [b "Does being a soldier count as being in a line of work? Otherwise it would be embarrassing to say that as of right now, I'm underemployed.."] I didn't meant to lie to the miss and say that I was unemployed. But, seeing as my friend Jr, the Italian one, was currently trying to get me in with his father's business, I hardly knew what exactly it was that I had else to say.
Now, of course, when she made the jazz comment I couldn't help but nod my head in acknowledgment. [b "Mmhm. I'm newcomer when it comes to the art of jazz."] But that didn't mean that I was oppose to learning more about it's strange but soaring melodies. It captivated my heart and held me mesmerize and a way that certain words couldn't properly describe. [b " It reminds me of home..."]
And it did truly, I was envious of Any one that could willingly bare their souls out like that. Swirling the cup of brown liquor together, I slowly took one sip from the whiskey and let out a sigh. It'd been too long since I truly enjoyed a good alcoholic drink and this one hit the spot and seemed to warm up the depths of my soul. Setting it down, I cock my head sideways. I was very interested in her, I'm guessing with the way she looked and why my friend had said earlier, she was some sort of singer? I didn't want to be rude and jump to conclusions, but, I couldn't help but feel as if there was some truth in that conclusion.
[b "and how about you, Miss? Is it right of my to jump to the conclusion that you are an entertainer of sorts?"] Judging by how she order the glass of water it wouldn't have surprise me if she was a dancer or a singer perhaps. I doubt that she was one of those flapper girls, which I heard rumors about. I've never met one, personally. But I wouldn't be against meeting one at all,
I couldn’t help but take the loneliness as an opportunity to look around the establishment, sure to look around at the people as much as I looked around at the building. Everyone here seemed to be having such fun that they wold not have a single care in the world. Perhaps once I am completely settled here I might find such luxuries in the little things that this city has to offer.
All I have ever known is a small farm out in the country. I was supposed to settle down with a farmer, like the other women and keep a farm of my own, raising cattle and honouring my wifely duties to whomever might have become that man. I could almost laugh at the prospect of it now, knowing that might have been my life if I hadn’t been brave enough to turn away from what was offered to me.
It wasn’t until I turned my head and begun to look towards the door that I noticed that two men were beginning to walk towards my table. It was so clear that these two men were the men I had been beckoned to meet. The moment that I realised they were here for me, I rose to my feel so that I could greet them properly, although I am still not accustomed to how a lady should address a man around these parts.
I made sure that my smile was as charming as possible, and I greeted the hand that was offered to me with haste. [b “Well it is a pleasure to meet you both.”] I couldn’t help but notice that the gentleman who took my hand did not take the time to tell me his name, but he was quick to introduce his friend who stood beside him. My gaze finally went to him and I smiled once more before lowering myself back onto the chair that I had so quickly left when they arrived. Soon enough the two of us were left alone and I couldn’t help but let out a quiet laugh.
[b “Charles Jr. I do believe that your friend might have told a little lie about how much influence and knowledge you have around here.”] My tone was not unkind, in fact I found it rather comical and I couldn’t help but let out a laugh to let him know that it did not bother me. [b “Forgive me, you just don’t appear to me as someone who might know much about jazz other than the pleasure it might offer to you when you take the time to listen. Tell me Charles, what line of work do you find yourself in?”]
As I finished asking my question a waitress appeared at the table and asked if we would like something to drink. I have very little trust in alcohol, so I would not let any pass my lips this evening, besides I needed to be ready if anyone were to ask me to sing again so I asked for water, waiting to be left alone with the intriguing Charles Jr once again.
The interesting thing about me and my Italian cohort was that by luck, we b9th had the same middle name. Charles Jr and Antonio Jr.. Whether it was by luck or not, we somehow met during the heated battle o the war to end all wars. Bogged down in the trenches, surrounded by the smell of death, or human fluids, it was an experience so terrible that some times I find myself waking up trying to escape the feeling of the dread that came from deep within. Somehow, he'd taken a shine to me and near the end of the war he had made me a promise that if, somehow, we got out of the war alive and all in one piece that he would stick with me through thick and thin. And he meant it.
Part of the reason why I moved back to America was because he'd sent me a letter explaining how the time had come for me to return home because he had a away of making us Both wealthy. While most people invest in the ever growing. Stock market and were able to make it big that way, he assured me that that was the easy way. And the thing about the easy was that it didn't make it the right way. Instead hard work and shrewd negotiation skills was the surest way to make a profit. "If you don't feel sweat dripping from your brow, than the money you earn to me isn't worth a Damn."
With a pay upon my shoulder, he gave me a wink which shook me from the past event and brought me towards the present.
The woman before us had an air about her that struck me as someone who'd went along with Jr's belief. A dimly lit fire was in her eyes and as we approached her, a hand was held out towards her by my friend before he nodded his head and swept his other hand towards me. "Miss Ruby Grant, might I introduce you to my friend Charles Jr? My uncle's owner of this little uh, Jazz club. And I figured since he and the junior over here had matters to attend to, and you might need an inside friend to help with your career, why not I introduce the twos of ya." With that he bowed his way out of the conversation and left me alone with the beauty.
Grabbing the tie around my neck, I once again adjusted it before taking a seat at the table before the lady and looking at her once more. Setting me up to be an "insider" was a pretty stupid me on my friends behalf. I understood that the intent was to impress the lass and hold her attention for me, but at the end of the day deep down I was just a simple country boy from the south. Even if living in Abroad in France had and now living in New York for quite some time had made me use to city life, I still slipped up and address those as mister or misses or sir or ma'am. That, and my country accent always sometimes threw people off. There was something about the southern twang in my voice that sometimes attract people and other times made them snicker a little. I was hoping that this would be the former instead of the latter.
Smoke. Laughter. Music. There was something about the atmosphere of this place that could make anyone forget whatever troubles their day had burdened them with. This underground jazz club was one of the most prolific in New York and anyone who was anybody at all spent their Saturday nights drinking up the seduction that filled the air. Business men and ex-soldiers were the usual suspects to spend their evenings listening to the wonderful music and enjoying the expensive cigars that were often sold behind the bar.
Tonight was no different. In fact, the seats were more full than usual because tonight Ruby Grant was debuting on their stage and fresh meat was exactly what the customers thrived on. I could hear the excitement building as the band entertained them while they waited for the main act and as I sat in my dressing room I was powerless to stop the adrenaline flowing through my body. Some might have seen the healthy mix of nerves and excitement if they were to observe me but I was confident that all of the nerves I felt would melt into even more excitement the moment I set foot on the stage.
I can’t remember how long I had the dream of pursuing this singing business but for as long as I could remember I felt the need to get up on stage and perform. It wouldn’t be the first time I performed for anyone but this would be the first time I have done so in this kind of environment. It wasn’t exactly a normal job, singing in a jazz club was not something that my parents had planned for me. My mother was a traditional woman; one who was not happy with the wave of ‘The New American Woman’ that was sweeping across the nation and threatening the core values that were being challenged in this era. She never quite understood why any woman would want to vote for politicians or work when that had always been the role of the male and she always told me that I should know my place. Well, I know my place and it sure as hell wasn’t in some kitchen cooking for a family I never intended on having. So, when l told my parents that I wasn’t planning to settle down, get married and become a housewife, let’s just say that my mother was the first to hit the roof. This wasn’t exactly the life she had in mind for her daughter but I just wouldn’t let them convince me otherwise. I told them my dreams and what I wanted to pursue but they were farthest from being supportive. In fact, they completely cut me off and no longer associate with me but I have made some progress in the weeks since I had spoken to them. Here I am, sat backstage at a club that is ready and willing to hear me sing.
I took a deep breath while I applied the last bit of mascara to my lashes and when I was satisfied with the overall look I rose from my chair so that I could stand a little further back so I could see my reflection in the mirror placed on top of my dressing table. I don’t usually like the makeup and fancy clothes but tonight was different and I spent a minute taking in my appearance. It was certainly different seeing myself dressed up like this. My dress fell to my upper thigh and sparkled in the slightest bit of light. I didn’t look like the Ruby Grant I once was. My lips turned up into a smile before turning around and when I did, I bumped into the stylist who had dressed me.
[b “Sorry Helen, I did not see you there.”]
[i “Ruby, you look absolutely stunning. Are you ready for you debut?”] I nodded whilst Helen ran her hand over my dress, smoothing out any wrinkles and I couldn’t help but smile at the woman. She was someone who understood the importance of looking good when performing but she was also good at making someone feel good about themselves and she certainly did that for me. [i “You need a necklace with this. Hang on.”] She said as she made her way to the dressing table drawers to find out a piece of jewellery that complimented the dress. [i “That’s much better.”] Helen spun me around to look into the mirror and I couldn’t have agreed more about the necklace. It was exactly what the outfit was missing and now I felt complete.
[b “Seems I need to head out onto the stage.”] i heard my name being mentioned and I knew then that it was my cue to make my debut. With a deep breath, I made my way towards the stage and swallowed the remaining nerves before making my way onto the darkened stage. I bowed my head and waited for the spotlight to hit me and when it did, I slowly raised my head; it was showtime now and I had to do everything to make people believe that I could do this. I smiled, ensuring that it ran with seduction and when I started to sing, my voice was as smooth as velvet and I lost myself in a performance that I never thought I would be able to give. Tonight I was merely supposed to arouse the attention of the customers and stay upon the stage and sing along to the music and dance the routines I had been taught. As I did, I imagined what it would be like if my act became popular. I could make my way into the crowd and dance around the chairs and flirt with the men that so obviously came to see me on stage, rather than to hear me sing but that didn’t bother me too much. If they wanted to look, they could certainly do that. Singing was something l enjoyed and if I had to do it showing a little skin, I would happily do so.
The applause echoed in the room after I finished my first song and I couldn’t stop myself from beaming with the excitement. I raised a heeled foot and lent over to whisper into the ear of the musician who agreed to start playing my request and before I knew it my second song was in full swing and I found myself giving a much more confident performance with a few winks and kisses blown to those who couldn’t take their eyes off me.
There was nothing more thrilling than the excitement of performing on stage and as I made my way through the set I could feel the positivity coming from the audience and that in itself only enhanced my act as I continued to grow in confidence and became the performer that I always knew was a part of me. Before I knew it, my set was over and the applause echoed, even in the back where I placed myself in front of the dressing table once more, looking at my appearance, hardly recognising myself. The band continued to play and different acts would take to the stage now to continue through the evening, probably until the early hours of the morning. I was still a little unsure as to whether my debut would now turn into a permanent position singing for this club but l hoped by the reaction of the crowd that it might.
After a minute or two of looking at my reflection I noticed some movement and saw the reflection of one of the waitresses. I smiled and turned to face her as she offered me a much needed glass of water. [b “You have no idea how much I need this. Thank you.”] I said taking a sip from the glass. As I did I allowed my eyes to close and enjoy the sensation of the liquid running down my throat. Singing had dried my throat completely and I was glad that someone was thoughtful enough to bring me a drink. After I put my glass down in front of me, I took my headband off and checked my hair to ensure that the curls were still intact before the waitress cleared her throat to gain my attention.
[I “I did not just come here with a glass of water for you Ruby. Your presence has been requested at one of the booths. The guests haven’t arrived yet but the gentleman has asked that you wait for them.] She said as she looked down at me. I was still high on the ecstasy of my performance and couldn’t resist plastering a smile of my face. The waitress smiled and shook her head at me, [i “I wouldn’t keep men like that waiting if I were you Ruby. I would, however, change out of your show gear and into a more suitable gown if you are going to join them for some drinks. They will arrive in a little over ten minutes so I would get a move on if I were you.”] She said before turning and walking out of the dressing room, leaving me alone with my thoughts.
Without so much as a second thought, I went to my wardrobe and pulled out a longer dress, one that didn’t show as much skin and one that was not covered in fake jewels. I removed the necklace and placed it on the dressing table while I slipped out of my dress. While the dress looked pretty when I was up there on stage, I can tell you that the material is not a comfortable one and I was more than relieved to see it fall to my feet. I gave myself a minute of freedom before I finally changed into the dress I had chosen and without another moment of hesitation I started to make my way towards the table that the waitress had pointed out. Luckily for me, no one had arrived yet so I simply lowered myself to the seat and waited patiently.
[i "Charles, get up boy. It's time you went with the men today..."]
[i "where we going Pa?"]
[i There are some things you tried can't forget no matter how many drinks you take or how loud the blaring of the horns grow. Like the contorted and twisted faces of the dead or black bodies swinging after being rocked gently by the southern breeze. Or the white faces looking on content with the sight of the lynching. I remember being carried on my father's shoulders close to when the sun was setting and watching him look up at me. Explaining the events which led up to the former display of violence. It wasn't often that such an event happen, but whenever it was lynching time, it was another time to dress up and enjoy a family picnic before watching the events of the hangings.]
[i [b " You remember that nigger boy who was working on Mark's farm as another hand. Turns out his father was a no good Nigger. So their gonna hang the father. I say they should hang the son and good it over with. Niggers can't be trusted."] ]
[i There was such hatred and malice in my papas words that I doubt that he would've change his mind if he had known that later on he was innocent. A neighbor had framed him but at the time there was nothing more exciting than a lynching besides church on a Sunday. Standing up, I looked into his eyes and shrugged my shoulders. A lynching seemed to happen only once a year or every other year. I remember the last lynching before this one was three years ago. So there was a part of me interested to see how this one would turn out, the same as before I guessed, but I was wrong.]
[i This was the first time I remember meeting the Klu Klux Klan. The white hoods simmering brightly against the torches that were lit as me and Pa arrived in the forest. The first thing to greet are ears was the sound of a whip cracking and screaming. One of the hood figures was at working flogging the soon to be hung man and this time there was no women or children. Only men which stood around and watch the whipping as each lash brought a howl from the poor man. A feeling of sickness filled up my stomach as I watch the show continue before the whip was dropped and the poor man bellowed out.]
[b "I ain't done nothing.... I ain't don't nothin wrong.. pwease... let me go..] [i This only brought laughter towards the crowd and the Klansman took the opportunity to lift his hands upwards and speak. "Tonight is a good night. Tonight is the Lord has deliver a theif into our hands. Right now as we stand here, this beautiful, pure, white country is under attack.. from niggers, from those Damn immigrants, and from Catholics." A murmur rung throughout the crowd as the man spoke up again. "Its time we took a stand! The Klan will not stand for our country to be overrun by niggers and theives, and spics, and immigrants that don't respect this country."]
[i As he spoke they were preparing the man for a hanging, only this time they were pouring gasoline over his whipped body. As he whimpered, I had only now notice that a darkness was sweeping over the land. The smell of gasoline was poured over the male's body before he was hoisted upwards into the sky. At the end of the speech and after his feet stopped kicking a torch was used to lit him on fire and that was when I smelt something I'll never forget.. black flesh burning. And that was when I decided to leave the south and all the hatred that lived within it.. unaware that hatred was everywhere."]
"Ey, Charles, whatcha doin? Fix ya suite while don't cha? You can't go anywhere near the big boss with ya tie all messed up."
Swatting the helping hand away, I shifted the tie making adjustments. It's was night time and yet the city still seemed lively. Three years ago, the war ended and that was my way out of the south. I spent almost two years in France before deciding to come back to America and settle down in re booming city known as New York. I wasn't expecting things to change but they did.
One of the changes was the outlaw of alcoholic drink. Apparently the 18th amendment prohibited the sale of alcohol however it didn't mean the wealthy would stop drinking it. There where ways around the law and as my former war buddy and now Italian friend was on his way to take me to one of the many underground clubs that hoisted drinks. Slapping me on the back, he grinned as he looked me in the eye and spoke up "Look Junior, the war is over. And everyone here in America is feeling fucking great. Soon, you'll be in cahoots with the big boss and if it all goes where you'll be the only white boy who gets in on working with us, mobsters.. Like I told ya back in those shitty trenches we brothers now, and brothers stick together. Plus, I got a pretty gal I want you to meet."
Blinking my eyes, I ran fingers through my hair and let out and sigh. Now I had agreed to enter into this club, but no one had told me about meeting some pretty girl. As he lit a cigarette, he waved his hands to and fro and spoke. "This new laws bullshit anyhow. Just you watch in five, ten years, we'll all be drinking again. This, whole, alcohol destroys families and it's just feminist bulloski. Balony. A man needs a hard strong drink to keep him calm, just like a wife needs to bake a cake to keep her collect you know? Drinking to men is like baking to women, it keeps us all positive and happy."
Now it wasn't normally that Junior said something funny, but that was funny. Letting out a laugh, it was all I could do keep myself from falling to the ground. Instead I got slapped him on his shoulders and wiped a tear from my eye. He was honestly and truly something else that words couldn't even begin to describe. He was absolutely a jokester.
As we into a nearby jazz club, it was than that my eyes turned towards the stage. Growing up my only experiences with negros where either watching them hang, or working watching them work on the farm my uncle owned. Sometimes I would listen to them sing spirituals, and hear the soulful words and try to understand the depths of the words that bleed from their lips. So, it would take some time to seeing a whole stage filled with them. However the one thing that didn't change was the entertainment they provided by for the white faces which sat enjoying the jazz music. One was specifically entertaining as tonight he was one stage blowing his trumpet rather loudly and once more I was captivated by the sound of that bluesy trumpet which filled the air. Wanting to know and understand it more.
Heading further towards the back of the club, my friend patted me on the back and smiled as he revealed steps. "This way to all ya drinking pleasures my friend."
Nodding my head I followed down the wooden steps unto we stopped at the wooden door. As he knocked his hands, a slit was slide back and a gruff voice spoke "Password."
"EY! ITS ME JR, I DONT NEED NO STINKIN PASSWORD." Leaning forward he quickly whispered something I just barely caught was Italian and the door slide open.
Blinking my eyes, I was once more hit with the sweet smell of alcohol and tobacco smoke. It seems rather warm in here. Barrels of the brown liquor were rounded up behind a wooden counter and tables were set up everywhere and ladies and men mingle all together before the male smiled and pointed towards the table where a beautiful lass was waiting for us.
"What I tell ya eh, Charles. I told ya she was a beaut, let me introduce you to her."
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