The Bootlegger's Daughter

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Halloween

We had a normal supper that evening. Nothing eventfully happened. My family just avoided the elephant in the room about it being my mother’s birthday. Robert got yelled at because Miss Hayes sent home a note saying that he cheated off of a boy in our class named Percy. Aunt Emma was furious at him. He has gotten away with a lot because of our family but she couldn’t stand him cheating. She lectured everyone at the table about the importance of doing your own work. It was very fun to listen to especially because I have never cheated on a test before and I never plan on doing so.

Uncle Henry shared with us about what was going on at the speakeasy tonight. We never throw parties or anything like that, but some holidays there are little celebrations at the speakeasy. Every Halloween patrons are invited to dress up and have a nice time. Hence why I have a costume. Not much goes one, but it is fun. And who doesn’t want an excuse to dress up for something?

After supper I went to my room to get ready. I had a spider costume that year. The funny thing is that I’m terrified of spiders. Well, the point is to dress up as scary things, therefore I’m not in the wrong. The costume was cute. It was a normal dress with fake spiderwebs at the bottom and under the long sleeves that looked almost like wings. There were a few spiders on the fabric of the dress as well. And of course, to top it all of, a hat that had a crown so to speak of spiderwebs. Luckily the hairdo that Mary gave me was good enough for the costume so there wasn’t a need to go and bother my cousin again. All I really had to do was change my makeup to make it look more dramatic.

When we all had finished getting ready everyone besides Aunt Bertha and Matthew went to the speakeasy. Matthew was still little so he stayed home with his mother to go trick or treating. The boys all had on costumes with masks so it was a bit hard to tell who was who. Mary (who skipped out on supper because of her trip with Mr. Connor) went for a more abstract costume that year. She saw it in some magazine and decided to play it off as if it was her own creative idea. Mary went as “Spring.” She used one of her mother’s old green dresses from about ten years ago and added fake flowers and a golden veil. She insisted on not just buying or ordering a costume; she wanted to make her own. Although making her own just meant adding a few things to an out of style dress.

I must admit that I do enjoy being in the speakeasy most days. I love the environment and just the idea of me sitting at a bar with a fancy dress on, smoking a cigarette, and having a drink. And while the mood at the speakeasy on Halloween is definitely different than the mood on a normal day/evening, I still love it all the same. When the building is crowded with people, all of whom are in costum, I get a joy that is hard to replicate. Even though I was in a terrible mood that day, being at the speakeasy made me smile.

Halloween is always one of our busiest nights. The Halloween of 1922 was no exception to this. I’m not exaggerating when I say that within five minutes I had lost David, John, and Father. I didn’t care where David and John went and every Halloween Father disappears only to turn up when he wants to go home. I think he sits in a back office until the night is over. He doesn’t care to celebrate anything that day besides Mother’s birthday.

I went to go sit at the bar and ordered a drink like I normally did. I fulfilled my little fantasy about drinking and smoking at the bar. It was quite nice. Granted I wasn’t wearing some fancy dress and in reality was sitting there in a spider costume, but that was close enough. There was no one to talk to so I just sat and watched everyone else.

I spotted Mary almost instantly. She was hard to miss with that green dress of hers. She was talking and laughing with a bunch of people. Men and women I had never seen before. They might have been her friends; I knew she had a lot. While watching her I realized how it looked like she was almost flirting with the boys. I don’t believe that she was being unfaithful, but it was still odd to watch.

“Nice hat.” Sam said to me as I was watching Mary. It startled me and I jumped in my chair. He sat down next to me and I turned to face him. “What are we looking at?”

“I’m watching Mary. Look at her talking and laughing with all those boys.”

“Has Connor asked her parents yet?”

“No. She’s still planning on going through with the wedding. Right now it is scheduled for the first of March.”

“Wait, so they have set a date but they don’t have Mary’s parents’ blessing?” Sam asked. I nodded my head. Sam and I had taken up gossiping about my family members to pass the time. Mary was our favorite one to talk about because of her engagement. But we never talked about certain things. Sam hardly ever talked about his family or what the war was like. I never pushed him into talking about things he didn’t want to. So we were content to talk about my strange family, excluding David. He soon found out that I was complaining about him, but not going in too deep when talking about him, if that makes any sense.

We sat, drank, smoked, and talked for hours. All my bitterness and distaste for the day had left. I was having a good time. I don’t even remember what we talked about. But I do know that after a while I got drunk. Just like the year before. If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing me while drunk, I get very happy. After a while everything is funny to me and there’s always a smile on my face. That lasts until it gets late and then I just start to cry. My only hope each year is that I get home before I start to cry. Because believe it or not, I don’t really enjoy embarrassing myself like that in front of everyone I know. While I cannot for the life of me think about what we said to each other, I know that at some point Sam asked me to dance. I think I have a good memory of what we said, but just in case, I would take this conversation with a grain of salt because I was drunk. But I know that these events did happen.

Whatever band was playing that night played a lot of dancing/upbeat songs. Sam asked me to dance, and me being drunk I laughed at his offer and accepted it a second later. I had forgotten that I couldn’t dance. We went and joined all the other couples and got a little spot for ourselves.

I put my hand in his and put my other on his shoulder. Sam wasn’t very tall but it would have been hard to reach him if it wasn’t for my heels. I felt Sam place his other hand on my waist which made me jump a bit. I had never been touched like that by a boy before. I have absolutely no idea what dance we did, but I just let Sam move me and I followed.

“You look very nice in your costume,” Sam said. It was loud from the music, the dancers, and all the conversations so he had to talk right into my ear. I felt my face blush a little. Then I laughed.

“Thanks, you too,” I said as my speech slurred a bit. Sam wasn’t wearing a costume, but in fact the same green suit from the day we met. And while my joke was not that funny in reality, we both found it hilarious.

“You know I think that you look pretty every day. Even when you do not have a web on your head and spider on your dress,” Sam said. We laughed again.

“I know,” I said once I stopped laughing. “You called me pretty the first time we met.”

“Oh yeah. I forgot.” I’m sure that it is safe to assume that we laughed after every comment. Again, we were drunk. “Hey, Lucy?” Sam asked.

“Yeah?”

“Can I tell you a secret?”

“Sure!”

“I think I am in love with you.” My face blushed to the point that I am sure I was as red as a tomato. Then I laughed, ruining the moment. “I am being serious.” I stopped laughing quickly and looked right into Sam’s eyes. We had stopped dancing although neither of us noticed. It was so odd and I’m not even sure I could describe what the world felt like correctly. It was as if everything slowed and muted. All I could really see was Sam. Maybe it was the alcohol or maybe it was some sort of love.

He moved the hand that was on my waist to my chin and lifted my head up slightly. He drew closer to me and I found myself closing my eyes along with him. Then I felt his lips on mine. My first kiss. I am certain that it didn’t look anything like the ones that I see in cinema, but that’s alright. I wish I could say how long it went on, but reality felt so altered.

When he ended up pulling away we just stared at each other. Sam smiled and I started to laugh. Then he laughed. There we were, a teenager and a young adult laughing for no reason in the middle of a crowded dance floor on Halloween. On my late mother’s birthday. Sam found my eyes and I thought that he was going to kiss me again. But all of a sudden his smile fell and became terror.

I turned around and I saw my father watching us. He was mad too. Sam let go of my hand and Father walked up to us. I have never been scared of my father before, but I was that night. I thought that he might kill Sam or something.

“I… I am terribly sorry, sir,” Sam stumbled out.

“Don’t you ever kiss my daughter again! She is sixteen!” Father yelled. I felt people’s eyes turn to us. I thought my face was red before, but that was nothing compared to having your father yell at a man who just kissed you in public. I don’t think that Sam could speak. He just nodded. “In fact I don’t want you to ever talk to her again. Do both of you understand that?” We both nodded. “Lucy, get in the car we’re going home.” I waved a meek goodbye to Sam and walked out the door to Father’s car.

The cold night air hitting my hot face brought me back to reality. I sat in the backseat of Father’s car like I was told and started to laugh. Oh what a day! That was all I could think that night as I sat in the car waiting for my Father to round up the rest of my family. I laughed even more when I remembered it was also my Mother’s birthday. I started to sing to her.

Happy birthday dear Minnie. Happy birthday to you.

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