The Bootlegger's Daughter

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Bad News at the Speakeasy

I walked over to the speakeasy where I knocked on the door. I turned around and leaned my back on the wall.

“Password?” Carl asked through the door.

“I thought we went over this, must I still tell you a password?” I joke with Carl.

“Aw Lucy, even you still need one.”

“I’ll tell you one if I want to. How busy is it?” I asked.

“Not terribly. Some people left because Lady came and sang but she left half an hour ago to do who knows what.” Carl explains. Happy with this news I told Carl the password and he opens the door to let me in. I figured it’s best I don’t say passwords in this just in case someone tries to sneak in using one. Anyway, I went in and Carl closed the door behind me. It was warm and smoky from everyone’s cigarettes. Figuring I best join them, I took out a cigarette of my own. I was fumbling with my lighter but Carl saw this and did it for me.

“Thank you.” I said through the cigarette after he lit it. I once read in some magazine that a lady should never not have their cigarette in their hand when smoking. I stay loyal to this most of the time.

“Now I’m not here to judge you, but I know that you shouldn’t be here right now. So my word of warning is look out for Sweetie.” Carl said a bit nervously. I feel bad about it now as he was just trying to help me, but I just ignored him and moved to the bar. My uncle through marriage, Johnny was working that. I ordered a whiskey and told him to leave me alone. He doesn’t like me much but I really do not care and have no image to preserve with him. But I am thankful that neither Carl nor Uncle Johnny mentioned my eye. I think that Carl knew better than to ask and Uncle Johnny just doesn’t care. So I sat there enjoying my drink and minding my own business. No one came up to me and I talked to no one. I had no clue where Father was, as long as he wasn’t there. But it wasn’t a mystery for long where Father was.

Although the speakeasy was fairly busy with talking and drinking, I could hear Carl and Father’s conversation even though one of the speakers was through a door.

“Carl let me in here right now!” Father yelled from outside. Some of the guests were turning their heads to see what the fuss was but I didn’t move. I do not know why I did this, I guess I was just uninterested.

“I am sorry but Sweetie said that everyone must have a password to get in.” Carl said. I could tell he was a bit scared because this seemed to be urgent. It is harder to portray in writing but I know I said that Carl was a joking man, but it is worth saying that he was not joking now. I am saying this to preserve Carl’s image in your mind because he really is a good man.

“Fine!” Father yelled. Then he yelled the password and Carl opened the door meekly. I turned around for just a second, forgetting that I had been sent home from school and that although Father wouldn’t care much, he would still be a bit upset with me. The man I saw is not the normal Edward Sweet that I was used to. This man looked scared and actually had tears in his eyes. “Where’s Henry?” Father asked Carl.

“I don’t know. I think he left to meet someone.” Carl said stumbling over his words. “Is something wrong Sweetie?” Carl asked. Father looked confused as if he didn’t register the question.

“Yes something is terribly wrong.” Father said in a strained voice. But I never heard another word so I turned around again to see Father whispering something in Carl’s ear and Carl with a shocked face. Then Father backed away and Carl meet my face. I think Father saw me too just for a split second but I turned around before we could see each other for certain.

“She’s right over there. Along with Johnny. You ought to tell her.” Carl said quietly but it somehow projected to me. I never turned around but I knew Father was walking closer to me. Soon he sat down on the stool next to me.

“Why are you here Lucy?” Father asked in a calm voice. I turned to face him and he made a shocked face at the sight of my bruised eye.

“Got sent home for punching a girl. Before you get angry with me, I didn’t hit first.” I said. Father put his arm on my shoulder and somewhat pulled me closer to him.

“I’m not upset with you.” Father said. There was an awkward pause as neither of us said anything. “Listen…” Father paused again. He is normally a right to the point man, so it was odd for him to beat around the bush when talking to me. But I am sure he could tell by my expression that I did not like the suspense he was accidentally putting me in. “Your grandfather… he was killed today.” Father said in a solemn and sad voice. I froze and did not move. I didn’t talk or blink. I am not entirely sure I even breathed. “He was gunned down by the McKays.” All the information still froze me. I could tell Father didn’t know what to do so he stood up off of the stool. “There will be a meeting tomorrow to discuss this more.” Father said before leaving to tell his brother-in-law.

I got up off my stool and went to leave and go home. I had hopes to go to my bed and sleep for a million years, just so I did not have to deal with what was about to happen. But I saw Carl in my sight before I could leave and I realized I had to tell him something. Carl was all shaken up. You could tell he didn’t think much about death and was shocked at the idea that someone could die.

“Oh, hello Lucy.” Carl said with a forced smile when I stopped at him. I didn’t say anything, which I admit might have been a bit odd. “Are you alright?” Carl asked politely.

“Yes I am fine. I just wanted to let you know that was the third bad thing today.” I said, then left without waiting for a reply.

To spare you a lot of uninteresting things that happened, I will tell you a paraphrased version. I went home and layed down in my bed. I did not sleep, just layed there thinking and feeling a fire of hatred for my grandfather’s killers build up inside me. I do not know how long I was up in my room as I never looked at my clock. But sometime after David, Robert, and John came home, Mary came into my room to tell me that Father had called off all work tonight. Ironically one of the unlucky things that happened to me never did happen. I never came down for supper, and I knew I would not be made to go to school the next day. The only downside of that being that Lillian would think she had the upper hand. But I spent my time getting angrier and angrier. All I wanted was to go to the meeting and find out what I could do to help.

At this point I should most likely explain who the McKays are. If you have never heard the name as I am assuming you haven’t because if you have never heard of the Sweets, I doubt you would know of them. Anyway, they are another bootlegging family. A rival is the best word to describe it as. They are known to be particularly violent while we try not to be. The Sweets are now a more violent group after this. Isn’t funny how different people affect each other? To this day I don’t know why they killed my grandfather. Either they just wanted an upper hand on us and did it without reason, or Father won’t tell us one. Nevertheless, this was the start of a powerful vendetta.

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