Disclaimer: No child or pet were harmed during the making of this photo. All are available on Amazon, well, not the kids or the dog. 🙂
One of “my” kids, who just turned three, had NO desire to be part of my shenanigans (smart fella). So “Cole,” my 13 year-old mini Aussie stepped in on the fly. He might be licking his chops but no, he didn’t eat Ten.
Dad’s ignoring me as usual, but I guess that’s better than a slap on my face. Mother dries off the breakfast skillet, picks up a fussy Delma, and says, “Cono, yer goin’ te town this weekend te sleep over at Mamaw’s.”
“How come?” I ask.
“Aunt Marguerite and Aunt Eva are there. They wanna see ye.”
Well, I can see all the way down to the truth, and it feels like I’ve swallered a ratt’ler. Dad’s still mad that I’d bitten that toothbrush in two and doesn’t want me around. I don’t want to be around him either.
Still, I don’t want to go. I like Dad’s sisters well enough, but I want to stay here with baby Delma.
Mamaw, Dad’s mother, is the toughest grandma I know. It would be a whole lot easier if I just ran away and caught a train to somewhere else. As I sit on that idea like a chicken warming her eggs. I decide against it. Everybody says that the trains are filled with starving hobos on their way to California. They say they like to eat children under the age of twelve. I’m afraid they’d eat me too even though I’m little and skinny.
There she was, the unbuttoned girl who didn’t know right from wrong, who always took the path over thorny ground. Demented in heart and void of conscious. Squeezing the life out of my bordello one person at a time until she did it to herself.
And I never saw it coming. Never saw her falling into the depths of insanity. I did what needed doing. I protected my business. I had her transported to Southwestern Insane Asylum and never told a soul except Reba. And not once did I visit her.
I made a pact with myself. No regrets for what I was about to do.
Why couldn’t wives see the similarities between themselves and a whore?
“He’s a client,” Sofie continued. “But watch, when he sees me, he’ll turn away. So will his wife.”
The man looked away, just as she thought.
“You can’t speak to him?”
Innocent Meta. “Never.” “Speaking to them in public would only break Miss Fannie’s Code of Silence. It goes with the territory. Besides, if we broke Fannie’s trust? We’d be out on the street nothing flat. Folks have tried to buy her black book of customer names but nothing doing. When the Wild Bunch stayed with us, she wouldn’t even give them up to the great Mr. Pinkerton.”
“I’m sorry, what does she call it again? A code of…”
“Silence. A code of silence.” Curious how Meta seemed more fascinated by Miss Fannie’s code than with the Wild Bunch. The bank robbers were the guests of honor at the going-away party Miss Fannie gave them two years after she arrived. The wrongdoers, pleasant and entertaining, the lavish event stood out in her memory with fondness. Perhaps she had a penchant for those who could smile at their criminal endeavors when they never get caught.
Excerpt from Naked, She Lies by C. Dennis-Willingham
In the past when Papa was healthy, I learned of this parable in the Bible. I was so Enamored by that kind of love that I would ask if he or Mama would like for me to wash their feet. Only a few times did Mama succumb to my request. Even at night, her feet were too busy moving, rarely still enough for me to wash.
Papa, on the other hand, would sit in his favorite chair in the parlor and lay down the newspaper he had been reading. He would smile and laugh as I placed the soaped cloth between his toes. Our conversations would move from one subject to the next as quickly as a hummingbird searches for nectar. The ritual seemed to both invigorate and relaxed him.
Yet, when Papa had lain in his bed with a pneumonia-fed bad heart, it was not the same. Nothing was the same.
Nor will it be again.
Excerpt from Naked, She Lies, by C. Dennis-Willingham
Never, ever, will I regret saving that woman from the hangman’s noose eleven years ago. That good-for-nothing she killed deserved being plugged. Even so, a Negro woman who murdered a white man might as well start braiding her own rope.
“’Nough mess … ” Parts of her newest grumble bounced from the parlor into the kitchen. I muzzled my laughter then I heard the thwack, thwack of a dishtowel slapping the velvet settees–Reba’s version of dusting.
Without Reba Mae Tyler, I wouldn’t be grinning at the cash stacked on my desk and organized by denominations. Who better than me, and my five-foot-three-of-nothing-but-glory best friend, to earn this kind of money?
Madam Volvino down the road would have scammed the Wild Bunch. I pictured that dollymop charging a lesser fee for her bawdyhouse services then afterward, jiggling her fat rump straight to the law to collect the one grand in bounty—one grand for Butch alone.
Excerpt from The Last Bordello by C. Dennis-Willingham
Sofie secured her hat with one hand, lifted her skirt with the other and continued running toward Sunset Station. Her legs burned and her black-laced boots were too small, crimping her toes. There was no choice. She had to get to there before the train left.
Beatrice was making a terrible mistake and needed to be stopped. Gullible prostitutes like Beatrice think it possible to leave for love, that the man will be honest and sincere, wooing her to a better place. But no matter how many gifts he had given her, over time they would mean nothing. Beatrice would learn. He would leave her heart when the sex got old. He would stray and what kindness he had would leave just after the matrimonial words passed over stupid lips.
Turning right on West Commerce street, the women at Milam market stared as she ran past. Their eyes, the ones glaring at the whore running for her life, would not distract her. The young maidens and the old mares would stare anyway. Running, dancing, strolling or even walking made no difference. People talked. Even in this large city, gossip spread like influenza.
Excerpt from Naked, She Lies, a historical novel by C. Dennis-Willingham