From The Last Bordello
From The Last Bordello
“What is it, Meta? You seem quiet today,” Sadie <the prostitute> said.
“I’m thinking of Emil. He would love this place.”
“You want to marry this Emil fellow?”
“When the time is right. But I also want to go to college.”
Sadie turned away. “Well, marriage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It cements a woman’s future and her feet to a kitchen floor.”
I wanted to tell her that some men look at prostitutes as mere fodder for their tumescent phalluses. I held my tongue. “Did you not hear what Miss Fisher said at the meeting? How women need—”
“I do know one thing.” Sadie inhaled a deep, scrappy breath. “I don’t think men care for their wives after they’ve poked them a couple of times. That goal’s already been Conquered. Girls like me? We sleep with money the same way wives do, but we get paid without the bossing.”
Excerpt from The Last Bordello, historical novel set in 1901
Madame Fannie Porter’s “soiled doves” give Meta, the bordello’s piano player, a gift.
“Meta,” Lillie said, her voice soft, as usual. “We have something for you, too.” She nudged Sassy Sarah.
“Sorry it’s not wrapped.” Sassy pulled the item from her lap and presented Meta with a comb carved with ivory roses.
“Kinda my idea,” Greta said, and ignored Sassy’s frown.
My girls. Their thoughtfulness overwhelmed me. They remained dry-eyed. Maybe too leather-skinned from hard lives to soften now. Some day, perhaps.
Meta shook her head as she placed the hair ornament inside the box. “Thank you,” she whispered.
“Well, missy.” Reba shook her head. “You sure picked a fine time to come to the big city.”
Meta chuckled. “A doozy.”
“I seen doozies of trouble in my day. Most is harder to pull off than ticks. Best thing? Meeting Fannie Porter. Worst? All them days before.” Reba draped a handmade amulet necklace around Meta’s neck. “For good luck.”
Meta didn’t ask what concoction Reba had put inside the amulet. Instead, she curled her fingers around the necklace then stood to hug Reba.
Reba and I had been worried about Meta after the shooting. Unlike my girls, Meta came from a simple, pleasant life. When she came to San Antone, she had seen the hardscrabble side and had proven herself a survivor.
Meta sat quietly, skimming her fingertips across the tabletop.
“What you thinking, girlie?” Reba said.
Meta let loose a wide grin and glanced at each of us. “So many secrets engrained in this wood. If only it could talk.”
“H’yaw, now.” Greta thumped Meta on the wrist. “Cain’t tell everything.”
We all cackled like a bunch of old women at a quilting bee and that image made me shiver.
excerpt from The Last Bordello
Mrs. Helen Stoddard of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union speaks to an unruly crowd.
Mrs. Stoddard scanned the crowd. Some listened while others talked among themselves, paying no attention to her whatsoever.
“I grieve with you, citizens of San Antonio. One woman from your San Antonio Women’s Club continues to grieve for her husband, who fell to his death while drunk. Another woman is dead by the hands of her husband, the owner of a saloon. His only defense? ‘I was drunk. I didn’t know what I was doing.’”
Someone yelled, “Drink or not, Carl’s a louse. Never takes me on credit.” The woman next to him punched his arm.
“Who will be next?” Mrs. Stoddard continued. “Will it be your daughter, still in her youth, whose face will feel the wrath of a hand that has held too many whiskeys? Will it be your mother, your sister, or your aunt who will have the misfortune to be associated with a drunkard? Will the man stumble down the stairs of his home and find an innocent target? Point the edge of his knife to her throat? Will she be pummeled by a fist, discarded like a mere piece of garbage?”
“Maybe she weren’t so innocent.” The man, close to the front, laughed. A few others joined his guffaw.
“In the words of the great Elizabeth Cady Stanton, ‘Reformers from all sides claim for themselves a higher position than the church. Our God is a God of justice, mercy, and truth. Their God sanctions violence, oppression, and wine-bibbing, and winks at gross moral delinquencies. Our Bible commands us to love our enemies, to Resist evil, to break every yoke, and let the oppressed go free…In our creed, it is a sin to hold a slave, to hang a man on the gallows, to make war on defenseless nations, or to sell rum to a weak brother and rob the widow and the orphan of a protector and a home.’”
I turned my back to the bandstand. It was dark now, but the gas lampposts provided enough light to see a shadowy figure behind a cluster of trees twenty feet behind me.
“I’ll be right back, Aunt Amelia. I want to check on something.”
If Sadie was still there, I didn’t want to scare her away. Trying to be inconspicuous, I inched to the left of the tree and then slipped behind it. “Sadie?”
Excerpt from The Last Bordello
This blog post is dedicated to strong women and the men who love us.
In history, although suppressed by politics, there have always been strong women. In the 1800’s women couldn’t fathom the idea of breaking, or even reaching a glass ceiling. I know. We’re closer today, but…
Seventy years after the American Revolution, a different kind of tea party took place. A woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the invitees. Here, at this tea in 1848, Ms. Stanton spilled out her discontent on the status of women in America.
They planned a convention.
Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments” is drafted.
Let’s not forget. African American women had it much worse.
(Today, we have fast-forward buttons- FF>. But in this case, I’ll use FFS> as in fast forward slow. It took us a LONG time to get where we are!)
FFS> to 1920. Seventy-two years later, we get the right to vote.
FFS> to 1936, a Supreme Court decision declassified birth control information as obscene.
FFS> The Women’s Rights Movement began in the 1960’s
FFS> In 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment, which had languished in Congress for almost fifty years, was finally passed.
It’s almost 2017. We have accomplished much but why have we fast-forwarded so slow?
This is what I do know. In this new political climate, WE WILL NOT REWIND AND GO BACKWARDS.