The Newsie

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It occurred to me Giovanni might have attended the Wild Bunch’s horses. I wouldn’t ask him to break Miss Fannie’s Code of Silence. I had a few secrets of my own. “I’ve come to you because I believe I can trust you. You enjoy the company at the bordello—”

“Hey now,” he said through a lop-sided grin, “only as a bystander.”

“Giovanni, you always search for missing pieces. You know everyone in San Antonio. Can you think of another blonde woman in town who might be involved? Can you help?”

He stifled a belch then leaned toward me, his eyes more adult than juvenile. “Meta, you know what I do when I lay in bed next to my wiggly sister? I stare at a bowed ceiling and wait for it to fall on me. I squeak back at the mice, tell them if they want more food, they should move along some place else. And then? If it’s not raining and I don’t have to mop up the puddle by my bed, I think about what I’d read in the newspaper that day. If I have a question about something on those pages, I keep it in my mind until I can ask at the office. When the lantern’s down, I picture myself typing like those folks at work. I picture getting a real salary. I’ll help if I can. I don’t sleep much anyways.”

Stupefied by his Revelation, I said the only thing that came to mind. “Anyway. No ess at the end.”

Excerpt from The Last Bordello (published)

Daily word prompt: Revelation

I’m ashamed, and shocked

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… but I don’t take full responsible for my ignorance. As you, my blogger friends and followers know, I have very little patience for the intolerance in our world. My belief system stands firmly planted to the principles of social justice, civil rights and equality. So, why did I just recently learn about Emmett Till? I’m curious. Have you heard of him?

I am currently living in 1963. While working on my new manuscript, I am researching various aspects of life in the 1960’s. Presently titled Olvie and Chicken Coop, teenager Grace Cooper tries to befriend a “Negro” boy who’s visiting from Alabama, but can’t understand why he is so stand-offish. (Not the whole premise of the novel but I’ll tell you more about that another time.) But my particular story line was set when research introduced me to Emmett Till. (I must have missed Bob Dylan’s 1962 song, The Death of Emmett Till)

I know about the Woolworth sit-in, Rosa Parks and the bus, the Freedom Fighters, etc.  I didn’t realize, but now know, that many African American’s moved from the south to Chicago to distance themselves from the John Crow laws — Chicago where they could walk with their heads held high.

I was shocked to learn that this fourteen-year-old boy, who travelled from Chicago to Mississippi in 1955 to visit relatives, never made it back home and the mortifying reasons why.

This boisterous, self-assured young man, didn’t know the “rules” of the south at the time. In some disputed way, either by words or by wolf-whistling at a married white woman, Emmett Till was hunted down by the man’s wife and his half-brother for flirting with a white woman. After being terribly brutalized, Emmett’s body was discovered in the river. The murders were acquitted and set free.

God Bless You, Emmett Till, a kid with only candy in his pockets.

And, ironically, just over a month ago, Emmett Till’s accuser admits she lied. Time to clear her conscience?

For more about Emmett read here.

 

 

 

 

Murmuration Agitation (with a little Bible recitation)

3ef024404abdee652d9a1635c923c75aOn my damn lawn, at least twenty people stood behind Mrs. Stoddard. Some chanted, some murmured. I took in a breath and let it out, trying to appear unruffled and bored. “And I won’t rest until Marcy’s true killer is found. Sadie didn’t do it, Mrs. Stoddard. But I assure you, Sheriff Tobin is doing everything he can to find the killer.”

“Tobin, huh!” Stoddard spat the words. “From what I’ve heard, the big sheriff is only protecting you for personal reasons. How’s he going to help if he’s playing nice with you under the covers?” She looked down as if shamed by her words.

Even so, I clenched the fabric of my dress to keep from smacking her clear across the street.

“We want justice,” the crowd chanted, louder each time.

“Now listen here,” I shouted, my patience waning. “We want justice too. We are all upset. Let’s work together and find the real killer. Now, as I said. Get. Off. My. Property.”

“Tells them to kiss your hiney and go to grass,” Reba whispered beside me, still hidden from view.

Reba’s version of “go to hell” gave me the idea. “Good Christian folk…” I forgot the passage, turned to Reba, and whispered out the side of my mouth. “What’s something good to quote from the Bible? Something about judgment.”

Reba put a hand on her chin and peered down at her feet. “You wants Saint John or Deuteronomy?”

“Whichever’s better.”

“Well, Saint John says—”

“Reba! Give me something.”

“Tell ’em, ‘Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment.’”

Reba tugged at my elbow. “You gotta say it’s from John 7:24.”

“Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment,” I repeated loudly. “John 7:24. Isn’t that what Jesus taught?” I knew I was pushing it. Over the years, only once or twice had I glanced at the Good Book. The Bible never spoke to me like it did for Reba. “You are judging an innocent woman because of her chosen profession. Shame on you. Shame on you all. Now leave before I have you arrested for trespassing.” I lifted Ratchet slower than necessary and heard the gasps of fear. I perched the shotgun over my shoulder like a marching soldier and closed the front door.

Reba and I waited and listened, our backs against the front door. The thrum of mumblings and chanting didn’t stop. “Now what?” I asked my best friend.

“Whiskey slam?”

Excerpt from The Last Bordello, a historical novel

Murmuration

Step Aside, Mr. Mayor

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Mayor Marshal Hicks

Mayor Hicks slammed a fist on the table. “This is a damn murder investigation. That woman had her throat slit. The whore sitting here is known to pull out a knife. Plus, she had possession of the deceased’s scarf. Sheriff or not, you can’t just take them out of here. Miss Dubois has a cell waiting with her name on it.”

Sadie shuddered. Van Riper sat motionless, the emotion behind his squinting eyes, unreadable. Anger? Curiosity?

John shot a dogged grin at Hicks. “What murderer would flaunt a scarf belonging to the person they’d killed? What murderer could slit a throat and have no blood on their clothes when they returned home? Now, step aside. We’re leaving.”

Hicks’s face flushed with rage. “So you can go back to your whore madam? Make a sandwich between the sheets? Talk about a conflict of interest!”

In a  Blur of motion, John pinned Hicks to the wall, his hands around the mayor’s throat.

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

 

 

During the interrogation, Possum speaks lovingly about his wife

Possum bolted out of his chair, knocking it down. “I swannin’, I never kilt nobody an’ I don’t plan to. I ain’t an eye-fer-an-eye kinda feller,” he said, looking at me.

Giovanni picked up the chair. “Hell, we know that, Possum. Calm down.”

Sheriff Tobin removed his hat and patted the table. “Just sit for a spell and hear us out.”

O’Connell did as told, rubbing his beer gut.

Sheriff Tobin stuffed his hands casually in his back pockets. “Miss Duecker, here, says you remember seeing Miss Sanders, the lady with the yellow scarf, at Menger’s.”

Mr. O’Connell let out a shiver. “Gotta show…show…show y’all somethin’.” He retreated to his bedroom and returned with a cat under one arm and a yellow bonnet under the other. “This here,” he said, lifting the cat up to his shoulder, “is mine.” He placed Dawg on the floor and held out the bonnet. “This here belonged to Edna. She loved this head wrap. Had it fer many years. Thought about burying her in it, but I jest couldn’t do’er…couldn’t do’er. Wanted to have it to remember her by.”

Van Riper shifted his weight from one leg to the other and heaved a deep sigh.

“Anyhow,” Possum continued, sitting again, “that’s how I come to remember that yeller scarf. Bright as this here bonnet. I’d been drinking Menger corn juice thinkin’ ’bout Edna when I saw that scarf round that woman’s neck. Almost like Edna done sent me a wink, wink, wink from heaven.”

Excerpt from The Last Bordello

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Lovingly

Daily Prompt – Pimp

The pimp–prostitute relationship is widely understood to be abusive and possessive, with the pimp/madam using techniques such as psychological intimidation, manipulation, starvation, rape and/or gang rape, beating, confinement, threats of violence toward the victim’s family, forced drug use and the shame from these acts.” – Wikipedia

I beg your pardon!

Madam Fannie Porter did none of these things to her “soiled doves.”

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As an acute business woman, she was stern but fair, made sure her girls had health checks, gave them a Class A bordello to live in, kicked out unruly clients who mistreated them and, in The Last Bordello, she defended one of them who was accused of murder.

What’s that you say?

Oh.

The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt was PRIMP?

Never mind.