The Bootlegger's Daughter

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Supper with Entertainment

Supper was terrible. I bet that wasn’t a surprise. The entire family plus Sourman and Jack Reaney were there. Yet the table felt empty because of David’s absence. I didn’t miss him, but I did because an empty seat at the head of the table was very obvious. Father had told Uncle Johnny about John’s involvement. Uncle Johnny gave John disappointed glances the whole time. It would have been funny if I didn’t get expelled for that to happen.

The meal was very tense, although not as bad as it was in the car. Even the people who had no idea what happened felt it. Honestly that was everyone besides Father, Uncle Johnny, and me. Aunt Bertha knew something because she knew that I was in trouble. Jack even commented on the tension when he said “Well something happened today because you all are a bundle of joy. Anyone want to enlighten me?”

“Shut up,” Father said. It shocked everyone at the table because Father didn’t normally talk like that. Sure, he could be strict and he didn’t mess around, but he never really said things out right. Because Father was mad. And everyone was startled by it, besides me.

“Alright then,” Jack said. “Excuse me, Sweetie. I don’t know who ruffled up all your feathers, but whatever happened you don’t have to take it out on me. I am innocent.” And that right there was Jack Reaney’s fatal mistake. I should know; I made a few of them that day.

“Oh, you are innocent?!” Father yelled. Up until then I had never seen Father yell at someone like that, especially at supper. While it wasn’t surprising to me that he was mad at Jack, his yelling did scare me.

Father’s voice reminded me of once only about a month after Mother’s death. David, being only a small child, had thrown a crying tantrum. Father yelled at him. But it not only scared David enough into shutting up, it made me cry. Then Father remarked about how both of his children were crying. I felt so bad that I ran up to my room and refused to leave. Eventually I did because Father came up and apologized. But I never forgot that. Father yelled the same way at supper as he did when I was a child. A small part of me wanted to crawl under the table and cry.

“Sweetie, I don’t know what you are talking about,” Jack said. But he was starting to get scared. He even put his hands up trying to deflect Father’s anger.

“No?! You have no idea why my son is in the hospital, and why you are involved with him being there?” Father stood up. Things were getting bad. Never has a day been this unlucky, and I haven’t even gotten to the last part.

“David’s in the hospital?” Jack asked. He did sound truly concerned, because he had no way of knowing that that had happened. There were other murmurs from around the table. It was mostly Sourman because he didn’t even seem to notice that David was missing. “Listen, I have no part in anything that happened to David. I didn’t know that he was sick, or injured, or whatever he is in the hospital for. And I truthfully am sorry that he is. But I didn’t do anything! You are falsely accusing me of something that hasn’t even happened yet!” Jack really doesn’t know when to stop talking.

Father had heard all he needed to. Jack had dug himself a hole too deep to climb out of, and he knew that there was no use even trying. Father got his evidence and now he would sentence him. What happened next is hard to describe because of the speed of it all. Father walked over to Jack and in one swift motion, punched him in the face. It happened at what I can only imagine was the speed of light. This is because the next thing I realized was that Jack was on the floor having fallen out of his chair. He held a hand to his face. Aunt Bertha had let out a little shriek. Normally I would say that she was being dramatic, and she was, but it did happen very suddenly and I don’t really blame her. This time.

“Who’s idea was it?! Yours, David’s, or John’s?!” Father yelled at Jack who didn’t even try to get back up. I dared a look at John who was now shifting uncomfortably in his seat; Uncle Johnny still staring daggers at him.

“David’s, I swear! He told me about it, and I said that I would help him. Please, I didn’t do anything! I have done nothing wrong,” Jack tried to defend himself.

“Get out of my house,” Father said in a low voice. Jack tried to get up as quickly as he could. He then ran out the house. Our maid, Martha (not to be confused with Mary’s friend Martha), tried to show him out, but he was gone so quickly that I’m not even sure he grabbed his hat and coat.

Back at the table everyone was too stunned to even say anything. It was as if we were all frozen in time. Maybe it was just shock.

“John, go to your room,” Father said. No one else dared move.

“What? Why?” John asked.

“Now!” Father yelled. John looked at Uncle Johnny for help, but he gave none. I think I saw him mouth to go, but I can’t be sure. I’m no lip reader. John got up while grumbling about having to leave. All the chaos felt as if it had passed, like the calm after the storm. And just like after Jack had left, there was a still silence all throughout the room. I looked over at Mary who was visibly confused about what just happened, but she was also drunk so I have no idea what she thought was going on.

Sourman, being the brave man that he is, decided to speak first. “Well that was a lovely meal, Mrs. Sweet,” he said to Aunt Bertha. She meekly nodded in reply. “Sweetie, I thank you greatly for the entertainment you have given me, but I truthfully must be leaving. I have that meeting that we talked about yesterday.” Sourman stood up and walked to the doorway where he stopped. “I hope your son gets better.” Then he looked at me with his stupid little eyes! I don’t know if he knew what I did or if he just assumed that I had something to do with it. Either way I hate him for it. Thankfully after that he left.

The rest of the family slowly followed in his lead. For a while it was only Father, drunk Mary, and me. Then Mary left after a bit saying “Robert never even got yelled at.” Her comment made me laugh, but Father glared at me.

“I’m sorry, this is somewhat all my fault,” I said once Mary completely left.

“You are not off the hook. Aunt Bertha told me what you said to her,” Father said. I cursed under my breath. “But thank you, Lucy. Thank you for standing by me when your brother doesn’t.” He walked over to me. I stood up to try and fail to match his height. “I really do love you, but you are still in trouble.”

“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” I replied. Father kissed my forehead. Little moments make me happy.

“Now go make sure you are ready to leave soon.” I nodded and ran off to put on my suit. Luckily Ruthie never noticed that I wore the same tweed suit every week.

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