You could barely see across the room with all the smoke that was floating around the air, but she stood out. Above anything and everyone you could spot her out from a mile away. Smiling and laughing at those who were doing everything in their power to impress her. Everything she touched seemed to glow as much as she did, form the glass of champagne in her hand to the smoke swirling around the end of the cigarette she was holding. And although she was laughing with those she was sitting with, her attention was somewhere else, anywhere else. She was looking for something, or someone rather. Always looking over her shoulder and glancing around the room as if she knew someone else was watching her, as if she was prey, waiting for the most opportune moment to attack. But I doubt they would. She had big mean looking bodyguards surrounding her and scattered all around the room, one was even sitting next to me, if anyone tried anything they would be dead in half a second. She was guarded like a queen, in all honesty she probably was one. All parts of her looked like a queen, from her hair, to her sparkly golden dress, and even her smile was one that could only belong to a queen. She looked flawless and fearless, but behind that queen faisade, deep in the iris of her eyes, I could see a glisten of fear. Things that she kept to herself, but nightmares she was scared of coming true. Something that no one else in the club or anywhere in New York thought about nowadays let alone feared, reality. Her eyes were filled with the reality of everything that was going on, or rather everything that wasn’t.
She knew something no one else knew at the time, she understood that with everything good, comes a bad. That history is a never ending cycle of good then bad then good and on and on and on. My boss, who was sitting next to me flirting up a storm with a couple of flappers, all of a sudden turned to me “Go talk to her, she can’t bite.” He said noticing my staring at the girl.
“Somehow I doubt that.” I stammered looking down to the bottom of my now empty glass, I must have drank it without noticing.
“C’mon boy, what’s the worse that can happen?” He was right, there was nothing she could do but humiliate me infront of a bunch of strangers, and really what did I care what they thought. I stood up, pouring myself another drink and walked over to her. Immediately I wish I hadn’t. The big guards that were protecting her flinched at my every step, they all reached behind them, ready to pull their guns on me, and the ones that were standing right next to her stepped in front of her forming a human shield. Who was she, and why was she so important. That was a question I would soon be answered, though I’m not sure if I really wanted to know.
Right as I was going to give up and call it a night a smooth and soft voice from behind the human shield spoke up “Boys, let him through, he can’t hurt me.” Almost immediately that men moved aside revealing what I thought was an angel. The person who was sitting in front of me was that same person whom I had been staring at the whole night, only now that I was closer she seemed more beautiful and queen like, if that was even possible. “Hello there, you are?” She asked with the same soft voice.
For a moment there I almost forgot how to speak “erm James.” “James what?” She asked with a warm inviting smile.
“Pines.” I said almost whispering it.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you James Pines, would you like to sit?” She asked gesturing to the empty seat next to her. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest and I had to force myself to not jump into the seat.
We sat and talked for hours, or at least what felt like hours, before she leaned in and whispered “Wanna go somewhere else?” I nodded slowly as she grabbed my hand and yanked me up, the men guarding her following us. She looked back at them and told them, “you can follow us, but stay further behind. I think I’ll be fine.” She said glancing back at me.
We walked through the streets of New York and although it was past midnight, the streets where no where near empty. We would walk together sometimes, hand in hand, occasionally she would take a few strides ahead of me out of pure excitement, stopping every now and then to say hi to just about everyone. She knew every inch of this city, from all of its people, to the best and worst places to go party, but in her eyes it seemed as if she was experiencing the city for the first time ever. Every now and then we would pop into a club or a bar saying hi to people and having a drink, some of them I knew due to my boss, others where strange faces with familiar names. I smiled and nodded at them all, but none of them seemed to pay attention to me. The girl was always the one everyone was interested with.
It wasn’t till we had walked out a small jazz club and ran into a couple whom seemed to know the girl well that I realized I didn’t even know her name. I waited until the couple had left before asking her. “What is your name? You never told me.”
She looked at me mischievously, “A name has a lot of power to it, I have to know if I trust you before giving it to you.” She said with a little laugh, placing a small kiss on my cheek.
“And when will that be?” I asked, wanting to know her name more than ever now.
She didn’t say, she just smiled, took my hand, and began to ran. “Whoa, slow down there, where are we going!” I asked shocked at the sudden change in pace.
“You’ll see.” She said, not slowing down a bit.
We ran into the flatiron building’s lobby and straight to the back elevator. No one stopped us, chased us, or even asked us what we were doing. I think part of the reason was because of her. We ran in and she immediately pressed the top button.
“Will you tell me where we are going now?”
“Soon.” She said blatantly.
With a small ding the doors of the elevator opened, instantly my lungs filled with smoke, my ears filled with the jazz music that was being played and I could barely see what looked like a private poker game. The girl lifted her chin up and she walked through, me trailing behind her.
“Hello boys.” She said without looking at them. They look up, and immediately I recognize one of them. Al Capone, a famous Mobster in Chicago. He worked closely with my boss occasionally, he tilted his hat to the girl, not noticing me. I recognized another man at the table who worked with my boss here in New York, and he recognized me.
“Hey James, how’s the big man?” he asked.
I awkwardly smile before saying “He’s alright, business has been slow.”
The girl looked at me almost shocked that I knew the men, before shaking off the fear and saying “Well that’s his own damn fault, the man can’t run a business let alone a mob.” She said it whilst lighting a cigarette and walking out to the balcony. Right before she exits she looks back at me, “Coming James?” She asks before walking out. I tilt my hat to the men around the table before walking out on the balcony myself.
I stood a few feet behind the girl watching her, from up here, looking out to all of New York, she really did look like a queen staring down at her kingdom. “It’s beautiful isn’t it?” She said, knowing I was staring.
“Yeah.” I said taking the spot next to her. At first she had her eyes locked on all the mayhem that was happening below. From the moving lights of cars, to the drunk people walking around the streets with no particular destination in mind. She smiled, and for the first time tonight I think her smile was genuine and happy. She loved this city more than anything, I could tell, but why. I didn’t know.
After a few minutes of silence and staring she finally looked at me “So you’re a mobster huh?” She asked, startling me a bit.
I look at her, half expecting her to be scared, but to my surprise she was calm about it. “Umm” I say trying to figure out what words to say, but before I can she interrupts me.
“The man inside he only knows mobsters, and only the ones that work for Scott Villani.” She said taking a drang out of her cigarette.
“I am not a mobster per say.” I say cautiously, “I am Scott accountant.”
She looks at me smiling, “So no big scary gun.”
“No” I say with a little laugh.
She smiles, and although I don’t think she wanted me to notice, she let out a small sigh of relief. “Well what else might I now know about you?” She asked, turning back to the city. But before I could answer one of the large men who was following us, guarding her interrupted.
“Miss Fernsby, the Mayor has to cancel lunch tomorrow.” She looked at me, scared that I might of recognized the name, which I did, before turning back to him.
“Tell him that’s not an option. We must met, and it has to be tomorrow.”
I waited till the man left before I let my jaw drop to the ground. “Ila Fernsby, that’s who you are?”
She let out a soft sorrowful smile, “yes” She said in hushed tones.
“Forgive me for not recognizing you, I have only ever heard stories of you. Myths, I thought. But clearly I was wrong.” I said in complete amazement. Before I believed that she looked like a queen, now I know she is one.
“It’s just a name really.” She said playing with her braclet.
“It might just be a name, but the story, the power that comes with it is legendary.”
“Yes well, sometimes it gets tiring.” She let out before turning around and walking back into the room. “I think it is best I see you off now, it is getting quite late and I have a busy day tomorrow.” Her voice was no longer sweet and soothing, but rather it was harsh and bitter. I could tell I hit a soft spot being as amazed as I was. Not wanting to making her dislike me anymore than I already have I tilted my head and started to the elevator.
She didn’t come to the bottom of the building with me, nor did she actually say good night. But I didn’t mind. I leaned up against the wall of the elevator smiling still, I had just meant Ila Fernsby: Queen of New York. Nay, I did not just met her, I spent the night with her. That was more than anyone else could say. I knew I probably was never going to see her again, but that didn’t matter. I was happy I got what I did, of all the stories I heard, I think that this one was my new favorite.
I walked down the streets of New York, and although I was surrounded by many drunk people coming back from or even going to another party, I felt alone. Everything seemed empty, everything except my mind. I was hardly paying attention as to where I was going I was so lost in thoughts, yet I found my way home. I walked up the few steps that lead to the big purple door that would eventually lead to my home. I pushed the buzzer at the very bottom till I heard it click, “Hey Nick, it’s me.” Was all I said before the door buzzed and began to slowly open.
The hallway was dim lighted, and the few lights that were on flickered on and off, making it hard for anyone who didn’t live here to find their way around. It was not a lavish apartment building, it wasn’t even subpar, but it was cheap, and it was home. I made my way up the seven very creaky flights of stairs to the top floor of the building. Barely having any breath left it me, I made my way down the hall of flickering lights and maroon carpets from the 1850s. At the end of the hall by a shattered window was apartment 13B.
I let the breeze roll over my face as I rummaged around my pockets for the key, but before I could find them my roommate Nick opened the door. “Hey mate, you took ages to come up.” He said. He was a handsome looking guy, way better looking than me, with his untidy brown hair, tall and lean figure, and his eyes. They glistened as bright and vibrant as clean and polished emeralds. He had a soft welcoming smile, and even in his boxers and striped silk robe he looked as dapper as ever.
I walked in and hung up my coat and hat, “So what were you up today?” I asked buttoning my sleeves up making my way to the coffee maker.
“Oh not much, I wrote a little more of my book, before heading out to a party of the Long Island. It was magnificent, you should’ve come.” he said falling back on our torn up couch. I could see the spark of creativity that was began to blaze in his eyes. “Which reminds me” He said lunging over to his typewriter that lied on top of an old wooden crate we found in the alley back when we first moved here. He began to write vigorously, and when the typewriter ran out of ribbon he grabbed a pencil and began to dump every small thought he had on the paper. When the paper ran out I ran around the apartment handing him anything he could write on. Toilet paper, napkins, posters, the crate, and even at one point the walls.
This went on for several hours and it only stopped when the both of us noticed the slow crawl of the sun up the horizon, indicating the early mornings had begun and we had to prepare for the day ahead.
“Finished it?” I asked re-reading what was written on our walls.
“No, but I think I’m getting there. A couple more days and I am ready for the publishers.” He said with a flame of fire still filling his eyes. “Umm add paper and ribbon to the shopping list today.” He said tossing me a pencil. Reaching into my pocket I pulled out a scrap of paper that had a few necessities written on it. Scribbling down the new demands I ran out of the apartment grabbing my things on the way out, heading to work.