1746 - 1963
By E. MH Ratterman
Copyright © 2016
E. MH Ratterman
Elfrida Hall walked off the dance floor and departed her locale of employ a few dimes richer than when she had walked in… quite a few dimes richer. Feeling she had more money to burn than a big city crematorium had corpses, and more time to kill than eternity, she walked leisurely past Carnegie Hall and crossed Broadway. She danced her way slowly across West 42nd Street to its far side, where she decided to go to her right. A block later, and one left turn, found Frida walking along Eighth Avenue until she veered onto Greenwich Avenue. A few more blocks and half a dozen right and left turns found the dancer wondering where she was. She quickly discovered that her dime-rich assets were of little help to her on this foggy city night.
New York City bred and Big Apple raised, this femme fatale knew she could charm the strongest of kingly men as well as the wildest animals of lower class males. She always managed to ‘have what it takes’ as they say. Though she detested the ever-so-common nauseatingly American demeanor of her feminine associates, she knew within herself that she shared some of those very same world renown attributes; those socially acceptable hindrances that, at times, make a woman so Plain American Jane in character.
Frida strolled along the damp street as gracefully as a pheasant through the brush; the street’s bright lights erected high overhead shone brightly, far above her perfume scented body. Not a taxi in sight, she thought, damn! She pondered her words. Even an aristocratic gold hungry drone must say ‘damn’ once in a while. When a passing dog peed on one of her expensive leather shoes she kicked the little beast firmly, sending it tumbling into the gutter below the street’s curb. Feeling a fleeting moment of remorse, she said to the critter, “Sorry, but ….”
Peering into the misty distance, Frida saw what appeared to be a neon business sign. Continuing along her ever-unfolding evening’s quest, she managed to make out what the glowing words in the distance displayed, ‘BAR’. How original, she thought.
Earlier that morning, she had paid a visit to her bank and had a rather fanciful conversation with one of the tellers. She had always prided herself with her figure, not the silhouetted one slightly camouflaged by one of her many sheer nightgowns, but the selfsame one the teller had referred to, ‘Oh, not your body, ma’am. This final line … here’, he had pointed enviously, ‘the one displaying your account balance’. ‘Wealthy women have great figures’ and ‘I like your figure, ma’am’. Her mind hashed upon the nervous bank teller, over and over, like an undone piece of meat on a less than flaming grill. He was rather cute, she continued in her ponderings, and quite witty.
Passing a dark colored car, she gazed momentarily into its darkened interior. “A Chicago Piano,” she mumbled, before thinking, or, more common to the masses… a Tommy Gun. Maybe that bar up ahead is not the best establishment of choice this evening.
The fog, Frida’s misty gray lover of the night, caressed her supple cheeks. She drew a long, silent breath of cool air, A girl’s got to live, and pushed the bar’s door open carefully. Billows of cigar, pipe, and cigarette smoke floated around the room like summer clouds high in the sky. She recognized the crowd, those from the other side of the coin of wealth; mobsters, politicians, import business owners, those who prefer the nightlife over a hard day’s work; those who leave the mundane life of honesty the sole responsibility of their subordinates.
Interesting, she thought, examining some of the artwork adorning the olive green walls, a fly on the wall with an icepick through it… an ear being hacked off of a brick wall, and a singing canary with two vultures hovering behind it. She understood the paintings’ artistic meanings.
“Say, babe,” came a happy voice, “ya like ‘em?”
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I, Slave: 1746-1963