The Bootlegger's Daughter

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I Meet Someone

I told no one I was leaving, simply grabbing my hat from the coat rack and walking out the door. I didn’t even bring my plate back to Aunt Bertha. I’m sure she was mildly upset with me that day. Even though it was not a cold day, there was so much wind that made it colder. If you have ever lived in a big city with tall buildings, you will know how the wind tears through the streets. If you haven’t then you can just take my word for it.

I walked for a while. A few times there would be huge gusts of wind that would make my eyes water. Old me would have refused to cry. I’ve stopped that now if you’re curious. Goodness only knows why I didn’t let myself cry; I suppose I wanted to have the same demeanor as a tough man. But I walked far, all the way up to the lake.

The lake was deserted, probably because of the wind and that it was a workday. But I walked up to the rocky beach and went to the shoreline. Although the city was just behind me, it already seemed so far away. You might be thinking that this was peaceful and let me clear my head, but I’m not sure it did. I just stood there for a long time staring at the water. The whole experience was odd because whilst I was there I didn’t think of my grandfather or anything you would expect me to. All I could think of was that this is the lake where we would get our booze from. I am quite aware that it was a random thought, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.

The point of me telling you this is that this thought progressed to something worse. I do not know how I got to this conclusion, I must have lost my mind for a while. But I came to the idea that the best thing for me to do next was to swim. Not just a leisurely swim or wade into the water, no a swim to Canada. I assume that I was going to bring back alchol to help my family, but that was obviously a dumb idea.

But I had decided on it and began to prepare myself. I took off my shoes and my stockings, then my hat. For the sake of decency, I did not take off my dress or anything underneath, just that. Then I walked gingerly into the water. Unsurprisingly the water was very cold. I only made a few steps in where the water as only a third of the way up my shins, when someone called out to me.

“Miss, what are you doing?” A woman who was in her early twenties said. I turned to look at her and saw that she was not very fashionable yet she had this elegance to her. She also had the faintest Irish accent. By her side was a boy no more than two.

“I am swimming to Canada.” I said matter of factly. The woman smiled sweetly. I looked down at myself at saw that I was doing something in fact quite dumb, so I laughed at myself. The woman walked over to me with the boy still very close to her.

“I am not a smart person, or at least that’s what people tell me, but I don’t think you can swim that far.” She said. I laughed a bit again but said nothing. I walked out of the water and started to put my stockings and shoes. While I was doing this the woman spoke again. “My name is Ruthie. People say that I’m too old to go by such a childish name, but I like it.” I stood up and held out my hand, Ruthie took it and we shook.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Lucy.” Oddly enough I almost considered telling her my name was Lucille, maybe so I could seem superior in some way. But I didn’t, I’m not that cruel. “Is that your son?” I said while gesturing to the boy with my head.

“No he’s my nephew. His mother is off working.” Ruthie said. She then spoke to the boy in a high affectionate voice. “Aren’t they Finnegan?” The boy nodded and started walking around on the beach, kicking at stones. Finnegan was a cute kid. He wore kickers, a sweater vest with his tie tucked inside, and a flat cap.

But between Ruthie and me, there was an odd silence, neither of us knew what to do next. So I decided to adjust my hat that I had recently put back on. This must have prompted Ruthie in some way, because she decided to speak again.

“You seem like a nice lady, would you like to stop over for tea?” Ruthie asked me.

“But it’s not tea time. It has to be only nine or so.” I said, trying to hide a bit of my confusion. I didn’t want to be rude, but it just didn’t make sense.

“Does it have to be the afternoon to have tea? I thought you could have it anytime of the day.” Ruthie said with the same amount of confusion as me. I laughed a little.

“Sure why not. I have time to kill.” I said. Call me foolish for trusting someone I just met, but Ruthie was not the type to deceive someone. If you had seen her you would have agreed. One could even argue that she was more foolish to invite someone she just met over to her home.

“How wonderful!” Ruthie said through a huge smile. I couldn’t help but smile myself. “Finnegan come back now!” The boy ran back to his aunt. She held out his hand for her and he took it. Ruthie started to walk away and I followed her.

We traveled through downtown. Ruthie would talk to me, tell me stories of things she did while Finnegan kicked at random pebbles we passes along the road. Nothing Ruthie said was particularly interesting and mostly stories of how she ran into an old friend of hers at the grocers or her swearing she saw Harold Lloyd on the street once. Truthfully I never believed her. Anyway, we walked for about twenty minutes, give or take a few.

We ended up at what looked like a garage with an apartment on top. I started to get this bad feeling in my stomach, although I couldn’t explain why. Sometimes I can get these feeling about what will happen. I’ll get it for dumb things like guessing who will win a game, but sometimes there will be a feeling about whether or not something will be bad.

Ruthie went up to a door and knocked on it. Finnegan and I stood a foot or two back from her. A tall man came out of the door, holding a gun in one hand. He didn’t hold it in a menacing way, but it made me very uneasy. I couldn’t see Ruthie’s face, but Finnegan did not look concerned.

“I thought you were going out.” The man said in a thick Irish accent. Then the man noticed me. He pointed the gun at me and I started to shake a bit. Not that I am nervous near weapons, I just didn’t have one of my own with me like I normally do. Most of the time I have a small knife on me just in case, but I didn’t think to grab it. I personally hate using guns as they are too loud.

“Finnegan get away from that woman now!” The man yelled. Finnegan ran right past the man and through the door. “Ruthie, who is this?” He asked.

“It’s just my friend, Lucy. You can put that gun away Oscar.” Ruthie said with a sigh. “Really just ignore him, it’s just McKay policy,” Ruthie said to me, then turned back to the man, Oscar, “even Oscar knows you won’t hurt anyone!”

The second she said the name I stopped shaking. This was the McKays. How I managed to get here, I don’t know but I knew I had to get out of here. At least rational me wanted to leave but I won’t deny that something in me wanted to go inside and find a weapon and hurt someone. But I knew that would be a terrible idea and that I should not do anything like that unless Father told me to.

“You know what Ruthie, I think it is best I take my leave.” I said nervously. I also forced myself to shake some more to make it look like I was just scared of the gun.

“Oh really, don’t mind him. Come inside.” Ruthie said but I just shook my head.

“No I should go.” I said and I turned away and started to walk quickly. Behind me I could hear something about how it was Oscar’s fault I needed to leave. I didn’t know what to do. If I went home people would ask me why I looked so shook up. So I went to the only place a person could calm down with no one thinking it’s odd, the speakeasy.

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