The Bootlegger's Daughter

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John, Mary, and David

I did nothing that day. I thought about going out to the cinema. Robin Hood had come out and I heard that was quite good. But I never did see it. Lunch was a bit later that day because of John’s appointment with the doctor who did come at noon.

When it finally was time for lunch we all crowded around the table. John didn’t eat with us but Jack Reaney had taken his spot. I don’t know why he was there, but it doesn’t matter. Aunt Emma looked a bit upset and worried. Once we had all started eating and the normal conversation hit a pause, Aunt Emma finally told us what was on her mind.

“The doctor said that John is alright in the sense that he doesn’t have cancer or typhoid.” Aunt Emma announced. A few people took a breath of relief, but it was probably just Aunt Bertha.

“What does he have, or do they not know?” Father asked. Aunt Emma looked down at her plate for a second then back up at everyone.

“The doctor said that he has appendicitis. He needs to have his appendix removed or else it will cause serious problems. I’m supposed to take him to the hospital so that he can get treated. I said that I was going to wait until after lunch so I could tell everyone. But as long as he gets it removed, he should be alright.”

She was upset. I’m no mother, but I’m sure that no one wants to see their child ill. And I can only imagine what it would be like for a poorer family because while I don’t know the price for John’s surgery, I’m sure it wasn’t cheap. But I was happy it was only appendicitis. While my family was worried about cancer or typhoid, I was worried about polio. Granted, John didn’t have the symptoms, but I was still worried because I heard that I was very contagious and deadly. I also must admit my ignorance because I truthfully didn’t know the symptoms of polio at the time.

After that lunch went on as normal. Slowly once everyone finished, people left. Jack was one of the first who practically ran out of the house after he finished his meal. Father and Uncle Henry left quickly soon after. Uncle Johnny got up to follow them but Aunt Emma yelled at him.

“Your son could possibly die and you just want to run off my brothers! I don’t care how important it is, you’re staying with John. He’s named after you for goodness sake. I’m sure Sweetie will understand, he’s lost someone to illness before.” She was really mad, I don’t think I’ve ever heard her yell so much before.

So about five minutes later Aunt Emma was sitting in Father’s car and Uncle Johnny was driving them to the hospital. David, Robert, Mary, Matthew, and I watched them leave from the front door. Mary held Matthew up and tried to tell him to wave goodbye to his cousin. He didn’t listen because he didn’t understand what was going on.

The rest of the day passed with nothing happening. I spent a while in Mary’s room. I laid on her bed as she did her hair all fancy and put on dramatic makeup. She was going out dancing with a few of her friends and Hugh Connor. While Mary never had a boyfriend in school, she had a lot of friends. That was the one thing that I could never get, a friend.

Aunt Emma was a bit mad at Mary for going out dancing while her brother was in the hospital. But no one could really control Mary. If she wanted to do something she did it. That’s how she managed to go on that raid the one time. The twins were afraid to say not. Not that they’re afraid of her; they just know that if they did not give her the suit then she would just get one from someone else.

That is something that I have realized about my cousins, specifically the Jenkinses. None of them are afraid of anything. Mary isn’t afraid to do what she wants. Robert isn’t afraid to do anything in general. And John isn’t afraid to die.

It was nice watching Mary get ready. She looked perfect, like a modern flapper. Mary has a boyish body, bobbed hair, and considers herself “respectably modern.” When she gets ready for fancy things she looks beautiful, just like she did that day. Open any magazine and when you see a beautiful flapper, you’ll see just what Mary looked like when she got ready for the dance.

I’ve never been dancing. One time some girls in my class tried to organize one. When the day of the dance came I went home and tried to have Mary teach me. I was a nightmare at it. Honestly, I am a real dead hoofer. So I didn’t end up going because I didn’t want people to make fun of me.

Later Mary stood at the front door waiting for her fiancé to pick her up. I waited with her acting almost like her fire extinguisher. I don’t know how long we were waiting but eventually Hugh Connor showed up. He was driving a really run down car that had what looked like a couple in the backseat. And I am not joking about how terrible his car was. It was a real hayburner, and I could tell even by having very little automobile knowledge.

“Come on, Mary! We’ll be late!” Mr. Connor yelled out the window.

“He still hasn’t talked to Aunt Emma yet, has he?” I asked Mary in a quiet voice.

“No. But you mustn’t worry about that. I’m planning to ask him to do so when we get back from the rub.” Mary said. She gave me a small hug and ran off to the car. She got in and they sped away.

I wish I went with her. Even though I am a terrible dancer, it would have been fun. To go out and party like nothing bad has happened. Granted, the only bad things that Mary has gone through recently was Grandfather’s death and John going to the hospital. All I am saying is that I was still embarrassed from coming home this morning and worrying about Ruthie. That was the funny thing. Besides Aunt Bertha no one really seemed to notice that I had in fact not come home last night. Yet I wished that I did because I was more embarrassed with myself than anything else.

I didn’t know what to do for the rest of the night, so I found myself pacing up and down the hallway outside my room. I went back and forth, back and forth for what seemed like hours. Eventually David came up the stairs and my brain finally clicked into motion. I suddenly remembered my conversation with John and how David was sneaking in Father’s room. I knew I needed to find out right then and there what was going on.

“David!” I yelled at him as he tried to open his bedroom door.”

“What is it, Lucy?” He said. He sounded tired and worn out.

“Can we talk?” I asked.

“No. You are just going to ask me what I was doing in Father’s room and I am not going to tell you.”

“No, it’s not about that. I want… I want to talk about Mother.” I lied. I have never in my life wanted to talk about Mother with David.

“Oh. Alright.”

“But not here, let’s go on a walk and we can talk there.”

“Okay. I will go get my coat.” David said and he disappeared into his room. I did the same. By this time in the year once the sun set the wind was almost unbearably cold, except for of course the day before when it was oddly warm. When I came out of my room I had on a nice fashionable coat and probably one of my favorite hats. It was green and had a bit of a brim. It had flowers and a ribbon that went off to the side. Not that I mean to brag about my hat collection.

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