Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Welcome back to Jazz Age Wednesdays. As much as I love Pip and her friends, I was in the mood for a change of pace. Today is the premier of a new mini-series. It is not in the “Pip-verse” but it still takes place during the Roaring Twenties. I hope my “voice” is different enough to distinguish this story from the ones featuring Pip.
A while back Rob Goldstein offered to do some 1920s images for me, when one of my tales reminded him of stories his grandmother told him. He mentioned a song his grandmother sang to him called “Don’t Bring Lulu.” Right away I wanted to do a story related to it.
Don’t Bring Lulu
For several weeks, Rob and I have had a great time playing with ideas for this story. He quickly sent me several images for potential “Lulus,” and he created additional and wonderful artwork as well. Since the Lulu in the song had red hair, I chose that for Lulu — but I wanted to use the other two images as well. So I took two names from the song to be friends of my Lulu.
One last note, my draining “stuff” continues, and I wasn’t able to plan a story. So this is another “three things” pantser tale. The things driving this work will come from Rob and from our brainstorming notes.
Sorry about all my blah-de-blah… Finally, I present to you Chapter 1 of the story. The things driving this episode are Rose, Pearl, and Trumpet.
Rose, Pearl, Trumpet
The vibrant notes of the jazz band echoed in my mind as I faded in and out of consciousness. I wasn’t sure whether my eyes blurred or cigarette smoke still hung in the air, but the place had cleared out.
The last thing I remembered was jumping up onto the stage and doing the Charleston with Rose and Pearl. They were my best pals.
Everyone said I played too hard. What did I care? Those old blue nose busybodies needed to mind their own beeswax.
Even Gramps cautioned me about burning the candle at both ends, going to the speakeasy every night. Bushwa! Now that’s a nice how do you do. It was his speakeasy!
Maybe they’re right, I thought woozily. The three of us closed the place — again.
My grandfather’s speakeasy was quiet and empty except for Rose, Pearl, and me. I noticed that Gramps had draped a blanket across each of us. He wasn’t so hard boiled when it came to us girls. Although you can bet nobody wanted to mess with him.
Garlic from the remains of a brick oven pizza wafted to my nose. My hand plopped down on the table when I tried to pick up the last half-eaten piece. I tried again and managed to get the morsel. Although I was pretty sure there was tomato sauce on my face from trying to actually get it to my mouth.
Tony is the bee’s knees, I thought with a loud belch. Makes the best pizza in town and doesn’t charge me for it half the time. ‘Course, I slip him some giggle water now and then…
Across the table from me, Rose snored softly. Her black hair fell across her face. I wondered if her little turned up nose had anything to do with the snoring. She acted like such a goody two shoes that no one ever suspected her of anything, but she was a swell gal.
In the chair next to me, fair haired Pearl twitched in her slumber. Everyone said she was a darn nice girl. I couldn’t argue with that. Pearl and Rose were invited to every party. True blue friends, they always brought me along, even though for some reason I wasn’t usually on the invitation list.
Me? They called me Hullaba Lulu. Don’t ask me why. I wasn’t any more audacious than any other flapper. I couldn’t help it if I had the reddest hair. So what if I liked to dance and drink and had a good healthy appetite? Although I admit I was clumsy. Gramps had banned me from his glass blowing shop. I wasn’t allowed to touch the dishes in the speakeasy either, because I had dropped and broken so many of them.
It’s an absurd nickname, I thought as I burped again.
Those thoughts swam randomly through my muddled mind just before my head dropped back down to the table. My face landed on my beaded handbag. It didn’t make the best pillow, but at that moment, I didn’t notice.
A noise startled me awake. I lifted my head, the fancy clutch stuck to my cheek. It fell after a second, leaving that side of my face covered with little round marks from the beads. I wiped a bit of drool from my chin and looked around. I could have sworn I heard a trumpet, but the band was long gone. I strained my ears but didn’t hear anything. That was to be expected. Sound didn’t usually get into or out of the speakeasy.
My grandfather’s speakeasy was the best kept secret of the Prohibition Era. It was underground, so there was no noise to give it away. I should back up and explain that.
He built his house around a small structure that was one of the original subway entrances. No one wanted to construct anything too close to Gramps because of the fire hazard of his glass blowing “profession.” Of course, his real money came from the speakeasy.
The old subway entrance was converted to his workshop. A hidden door at the back of his shop lead to the speakeasy downstairs, underground. It was in a disused section of the subway. There had been a cave-in many years before. The subway authority never cleared that section, finding it cheaper to build a new one instead. In case of a raid, the speakeasy had a secret emergency door, which opened to the abandoned tunnel. There was a ladder and a hatch that came out on the street a quarter mile away.
So, I couldn’t possibly have heard the sultry notes of a trumpet. Yet I heard it again ― just as the room started to shake! At the loud rumble of a train I stood abruptly, causing my head to spin. I grabbed the table to steady myself.
“There can’t be a train! That’s impossible,” I exclaimed.
Rose snorted and woke, looking around shocked and bleary eyed. Pearl gave a stifled scream as she roused.
I turned toward the back of the club, looking at the emergency exit. Red and blue lights blazed from the edges of the door. I heard the screech of the subway train stopping. The door burst open.
Spots danced before my eyes. All I could make out was a pair of pointy toed patent leather shoes. When my vision cleared I beheld a man as stunning as the Sheik of Araby.
Pearl gave a fearful little shriek.
Rose made a dramatic gasp that would have pleased Cecil B. DeMille.
“He looks just like Valentino!” Rose and Pearl exclaimed in chorus.
I hope you’ll click over and check out Rob’s blog. He’s not just a brilliant artist, he’s also an advocate for several important causes. Thanks for visiting. You’re the bee’s knees!
PS: Of course, I have to show you the links to my books about Pip and her friends.
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Artwork Copyright © 2018 by Rob Goldstein
Copyright © 2018 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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