I recently joined a small private writer's group, which has been enormously constructive for me. But I got a little jolt of reality when the group leader, who owns his own publishing business and is an extremely competent editor, commented on the fact that I seemed "afraid" to string too many sentences together into an actual paragraph.
Yep. Blog writing will do that to you. As you know, we bloggers tend to parse our thoughts into small, easily digestible bites for our readers. That along with some of the other work I've been doing, has really affected the mechanics of my writing.
So anyway...it feels good to be using my crafting skills and my imagination again. I've neglected them. And I've forgotten what a thrill it is to build a story, weave the pieces together and develop characters who become so real to me. It's been challenging and really, really fun.
Recently, I received some very complimentary feedback from a published author on a piece I had submitted for one of the group exercises, which, of course, had me walking on air. Then he challenged me to write a piece with an entirely different style and voice, as a test of my versatility.
The topic? "Why I was a Gangster's Moll."
I don't think I've ever posted any fiction work here on Blogs Are Stupid. It's not really what this blog is for. But I have to say, I was tickled pink by this exercise and pleased with the results. And since I have nothing else of consequence to say at the moment, I'm going to take a leap of faith and post it for you today. You can skip it if you like, I promise my feelings won't be hurt.
Ain’t it funny how some people get all the breaks? Well I never got none. What’s the opposite of gettin the breaks? Gettin the shaft? Well that’s what I got then. I got shafted real good. I was born poor as dirt and a dame to boot. If you ain’t got no money and you ain’t got no prick, you ain’t got no options. So everythin I done, I done to survive. And I ain’t ashamed. A girl’s gotta eat and girl’s gotta have a roof over her head. I guess a trip to Europe now and then don’t hurt none either.
The first time I saw Sully DeSilva, I was thirteen years old and didn’t know nothin bout nothin. I sure was dazzled when he stepped outta that big black car. He was wearin a suit the color of butter that fit like a dream and black spats so shiny they seemed like they was made of glass. His hair hung thick over his forehead; black as pitch and almost as shiny as them shoes. He tipped his hat at me and winked. I guess my mouth musta been hangin open or somethin cause I sure never seen no guy like that before. I thought he musta been a movie star.
He bought a paper from Blind Benny’s news stand and turned to go back to his car, which was idlin at the curb. He stopped to gimme the once over even though I didn’t have nothin to make no guy stop and look. I didn’t have no titties to speak of and no plump little caboose. I was all knees and elbows back then. But he looked at me like I was somethina eat. I mighta been young and dumb, but I knew what that look meant alright. It made me feel hot and fluttery, like I had a fever. I tried to act like men look at me all the time but I know I my cheeks was red as a beet.
“Well now….” he said, “Could my day get any better? A hot breakfast, a crisp new paper, and a vision of loveliness before me.” If my face was red before, I probly went pure scarlet right then. He laughed and chucked me under the chin. “I’ll be seein’ ya duck.”
I sure hoped so. I hoped so a damn lot. In the meantime, I daydreamed bout him plenty. I was always wearin a beautiful shimmerin gown that floated behind me like butterfly wings and strappy shoes that never hurt my feet. I had a golden cigarette holder that I held between gloved fingers, real elegant like. He always wore that butter colored suit and those black spats. I just couldn’t pitcher him in anythin else. Sometimes we danced or went to parties with well to do folks. But sometimes just talked. Cause he liked to hear what I hadda say. Course, at the end there was always some smoochin, but sometimes I got yanked back to my stinkin life before I got that far.
“Quit daydreamin and do them dishes ye lazy brat!” or “I’ll beatcha black and blue if that floor ain’t spotless, ye useless tramp!” “Worthless Slut.” “Stupid floozy.” “Whore.” Shoot, I mighta forgot my own name if it weren’t for roll call at school. But in my daydreams, he said it over and over, like it was poetry. “Essssstelllllaaaaaa”. I just loved it; loved it to bits. But I didn’t mind if he called me “Doll” or “Duck” instead. He coulda called me just about anythin and I woulda loved him for it. I just knew he wouldn’t never call me no bad names.
Four years later, I did see him again. I finally had some titties and a real sweet little caboose that I liked to show off in my tight skirts. But I still wasn’t nothin to look at just then, on accounna my face bein all swolled up. My Pap had beat me somethin awful cause I wouldn’t let him put his filthy paws on me. So I lit out for good. I was stayin with my Aunt Rita, who took me in when I showed up at her door and swore to have a piece a his hide if he tried to take me back home. She called him a whoreson and a pervert and a dirty rotten peckerhead. She wasn’t no bigger than me, but she looked so fierce that I didn’t doubt for a second she would beat his brains out with her big iron fry pan if she got the chance. I felt safe enough with her.
Anyway, I knew my Aunt Rita wasn’t no proper lady. She went with a rough crowd and did things only coarse women do. Other women stopped to watch and whispered when she walked by. She always had gentlemen callers too. I didn’t pay em no mind. They went into the bedroom and shut the door and what happened then was none a my concern. She took good care a me and that’s all that mattered.
One afternoon there was a knock on the door. It was her latest “beau” come to call. Rita was gettin dolled up, as usual, so I answered the door. When I opened it, there was my daydream man standin in the dim hallway. My heart likeda drop right into my drawers just then. He smiled, but didn’t recognize me a course. I was a grown up woman now and my face was bashed besides. He introduced himself as Sullivan DeSilva and kissed my hand, which was tremblin somethin terrible. I told him my name and then held my breath while he repeated it. It sounded just like I always imagined. “Essstelllllaaaa.” Ooooh, but my toes curled when he said that.
He disappeared into the bedroom with Aunt Rita and I tried not to think of what they was doin in there. I picked up his coat and hat and smelt his smell on ‘em. It was good. There was a spicy aftershave, tobacco smoke, and somethin else that I somehow knew was his own man smell. I buried my face in the soft cloth (it was cashmere, but I didn’t know that) thinkin I ain’t never felt nothin that fine. I breathed in that smell. That’s when the bedroom door opened and Sully stepped out. He was in his undershirt with his suspenders hangin down. His black hair was all mussed and I could see lipstick on his mouth. I was pure humiliated a course, but there wasn’t no sense pretendin I hadn’t been sniffin his things. He seen me the second he opened the door.
He came over to me and I could see right off he wasn’t mad. He put his hand up and touched my bruised cheek real gentle like.
“Who did that to your pretty face, duck?” he asked.
“My Pap.” I replied. “That’s why I’m livin here with Rita.”
His eyes got kinda squinty and mean. They were blue. I didn’t have time to notice that the last time we met. All them daydreams, never knowin the color of his eyes. I never thought about it but suddenly I felt sad for all them daydreams without blue eyes in ‘em. Ain’t that funny?
“Bastard. What kind of man beats a helpless girl? No kind of goddamn man at all!”
I sorta liked that he was upset about my face. I smiled at him, even though it hurt.
“It’s alright. He ain’t gonna bother me no more. I just gotta get on my feet and find some work and I’ll be just fine. I ain’t helpless.”
“No, you’re not. I can see that. But everyone needs someone, don’t they? Especially a gal like you.”
I didn’t know exactly what he meant by that.
“A gal like me?”
“Oh yes. A woman like you needs to be cherished. You ever had a beau, duck?”
“You mean like Aunt Rita has beaus? No. I ain’t never done that. Not that it’s bad. Aunt Rita ain’t bad. It just ain’t for me.”
“What about if you had just one special beau?”
“Well that would be fine, I guess.”
I was a little confused. I think it musta showed on my face cause he laughed then. He took me by the shoulders and kissed the top of my head like I was a little girl.
“How can a gal look the way you do and still be so innocent?”
“I ain’t innocent! I know what you and Rita does in there. I know you ain’t really her beau neither. But it don’t matter. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. We ain’t got nobody to depend on.”
“That’s just what I mean, duck. Wouldn’t you like to have someone to depend on?”
“What if I said you could depend on me? What if I said I would take care of you? That we would take care of each other? Do you think you would like that?”
I did. I did think I would like that. A lot. But I was no dummy.
“What do I gotta do? Do I gotta do stuff like what Aunt Rita does with you?”
He was quiet for a moment. Then he smiled.
“Well duck, there’s give and take in any relationship. It’s just that these kinds of relationships are more clearly defined. Do you know what that means?”
I shook my head. He was a smart fella; real intellectual like. Some of what he said didn’t make no sense at all.
“It means that we lay things out from the get go. You say what you need to be happy and comfortable; I say what I expect in return. We call those the “terms”. We might, at some point, renegotiate those terms if needed. As time goes by, we’ll learn more about each other and our expectations might change. But most importantly, you need to know that you can end the agreement at any time. You’re the boss, duck.”
That all sounded pretty good. I knew it would mean bein his special girl and not havin any other beaus, which wasn’t no problem for me. He was the only man I ever wanted to be with anyway. And I knew it meant lettin him do things to me. It had made me sick to think of doin them things with my Pap, but when I thought of doin em with Sully, I didn’t feel sick at all. In fact, I felt pretty happy about it; excited too.
“Can I talk to Rita about it before I say yes?”
“Sure you can. Rita’s a sensible gal. I know she’ll advise you well.”
And she did.
“A deal like that don’t come around every day. You take it. You let him treat you like a Queen for as long as he’s willin and you treat him like a King. But listen doll…men ain’t like us. They get tired of lookin at the same old puss day in and day out. So you got to be smart. Whatever cash he gives you, you put away some place safe. Don’t touch it for no reason. That’s your pension plan, doll. And always keep some things on hand that you can hock quick if you need to.”
I promised that I would. It was good advice. Sully didn’t get tired of my puss, but he did have to go away for a very long time. We had a lotta good years before then, though. I found out pretty quick what Sully was, but it didn’t matter. He was good to me. I think he even loved me some. I lived in high style, cause Sully didn’t do low class. I had the best of everythin and all I had to do was look pretty and smell sweet and spread my legs when he asked me to. That wasn’t no hardship. I did everythin he asked me to do and some things he didn’t and I enjoyed every minute of it.
So yous wanted to know why. That’s why. Like I said before; no prick, no options. No good ones anyway. I know Rita didn’t mind helpin me out, but I ain’t no moocher. So I could start turnin my own tricks, go back home and let my Pap have his way with me or work my fingers to the bone cleanin up after rich folks. Or…I could be Sully’s special girl. Since I loved him as soon as I laid eyes on him, it wasn’t no tough choice. And I never thought of myself as no whore neither.
Sully’s gonna be back one day. And I’ll be here waitin. I ain’t gotten no better offers and wouldn’t take em if I did. That’s why I ain’t no whore. Whores don’t got no loyalty, see? I do. I’ll always be Sully’s special girl. Always.