The Bootlegger's Daughter

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A Lovely Meal

I woke up from my name to a soft knocking on the door. Every time I take a nap I feel all hazy and that day was no different. Getting up to answer the door I fell into a small table, knocking over a picture. I picked it up and put it back on the table without really looking. The picture is of David, my cousins, and me sitting on the front steps of an old house years ago. Three-year-old me is looking at Mary who is holding baby David. On the other side of Mary is Robert and next to me is John. But I didn’t stop and stare at the picture today, I went to open the door.

“Aunt Bertha wanted me to tell you that supper is ready.” Mary said in a quiet voice. She was looking better but not happy. I didn’t realize I slept that long, but here I was. I turned back to look at the clock in my room, it said 6:30 on it.

“I will be down in a minute.” I told Mary and she left. I walked over to my own vanity and tried to make my face look better and not like I had just slept for hours. Nothing I did could fix my hazy look so I settled on just going downstairs regardless.

The closer I got to the kitchen, the louder everything was. Once I got to the kitchen, I could hardly move. It was so full and it felt like everyone who had ever worked for Father was there. Aunt Bertha spotted me through the crowd and slowly made her way to me with a plate of food.

“Why didn’t you come eat with us earlier?” She asked as I was handed the plate. I took it without replying to her and walked into the dinning room. There were a lot more seats than usual, but I took my normal one. I was the only one sitting in the dining room, everyone else must still be stuck in the kitchen.

“Do you mind getting up, Lucy? We are going to move some seating.” Father said as he walked in the room. I got up and held my plate in my hands. He walked around the table and pointed to the seat that was next to the opposite head of the table. Grandfather used to sit at that head, and now here I was sitting next to it.

Robert and John walked in next and Father directed them too. Robert sat right across from me and John next to him. Then Mary and her mother, Aunt Emma came in. Mary was put next to me and Aunt Emma at the other side of the table. I won’t bore you with place settings but this happened until everyone had come in. My whole family was there until only Uncle Henry and David were missing. The two of them came in after a minute’s pause. Father stopped them and they stood holding their food nervously.

“David, go sit by your sister, Henry sit here next to me.” Father said. David walked over to the opposite head spot next to me nervously as Father sat down at the head and Uncle Henry sat next to him. David seemed almost concerned that he was old enough and important enough to sit in an important seat. The funny thing is that if you were to look at Uncle Henry, you could see that he wasn’t upset, but Uncle Johnny on the other hand looked furious.

If you are wondering why I made such a big deal about place settings, it is all about power. Father, who has always been the head, basically choose who his successor would be. David was still young, only thirteen. I hadn’t really thought about who would take Grandfather’s spot until Father moved my seat. I once asked Uncle Henry if he was upset that he didn’t get David’s spot, and he said no. He told me that he thought it was possible he might get it, but was content with what he had. Which is what makes Uncle Johnny being upset all the funnier. Uncle Johnny was never up for the running and even if he was mad that Uncle Henry didn’t get the spot, he was not upset.

Once Father took his seat supper began. There was more than just family there that night. The twins were there, Lady was there, even Sourman was there. Plus three other men named Herbert Nicolleti, Timothy Bittner, and Jack Reaney. I don’t know any of those men very well but I know Herbert is a very big man, Timothy must be shy as he almost never talks, and Jack does enough talking for both him and Timothy.

The meal was loud. Whenever you happen to be in a room with the twins and Jack it is loud. There were lots of little conversations but the only one I could hear clearly was Paul telling Uncle Johnny about Sam and how he seemed to be a good fit. Down at my side of the table, there was very little conversation. Robert was doing an impression of a boy he harassed out in the street today, but no one paid attention to him. Or so I thought until Aunt Bertha heard him.

“Robert William Jenkins you should not be throwing stones at people in the streets!” Aunt Bertha yelled at him in an almost shrill-like voice. All the heads turned to Robert and his face turned beet red. Aunt Emma stood up out of her chair and glared at her son. Robert understood her look and got up and left the room. Aunt Emma followed.

“Now you see, David, never do things like that. If you outwardly abuse people then you can never hold power.” Father said in a stern voice. David looked down at his plate and nodded.

“You mustn’t worry, Sweetie Junior is a good kid.” Lady said to Father. I agree with her. I can’t say that David would never hurt a fly, but he would never hurt someone without a reason.

The rest of supper went by without many problems. Aunt Emma came back to the table after a few minutes, but Robert never did show up again. The conversations around the table switched to good stories about Grandfather.

“What are we going to do now that he is gone?” Sourman asked Father at one point.

“All of that will be discussed during the meeting.” Father said deflecting the question.

“Well I ought to get back to the speakeasy. I left control of the door with Frank Terry.” Paul said standing up. I don’t see Frank Terry very often, only at family meetings. He is a nervous man. “May I take some extra food over to Frank and Sam?” Paul asked Aunt Bertha.

“Of coarse!” She said with her happy voice. It wasn’t a fake one, just annoying. The two of them left the room. The others started to get up to leave as well. David and John ran out of the room quickly. I don’t know where they went but I could hear the front door close.

“Come with me.” Mary whispered in my ear. She stood up and waited in the doorway. I got up as well but didn’t leave. I went over to Father, gave him a kiss on his head and then left.

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