Thursday, February 6, 2014

flash fiction challenge accepted #1- written by me

                                                       The Ritzy Peacock
  1 part blue curacao 1 part champagne a shot of vodka (cotton candy flavored) and a splash of orange juice on ice-

She stood in the middle of the busy city sidewalk and looked up at the tall building. She grew up in the “middle of nowhere” so for her the city was large and new. She didn’t know what drew her to this building but she could not move as people and vehicles quickly went by. The sounds and world seemed to disappear. A man who knows the city well is not looking where he is going when he runs into her and they fall to the ground.
“I am so sorry” says the man as he gets back onto his feet, he lends her a hand and helps her up

“Its fine, I’m fine I’m sorry I must have been daydreaming.”

“A dangerous thing to do especially at rush hour. Can I help you with anything?”

“No yes I mean…there is something about this building.”
“Have you been here before?”“No”

“Maybe if you come inside, something will come to you? I live on the sixth floor”

The woman hesitates “I shouldn’t, I…

The man quickly answers “I’m not a rapist or serial killer and if you still don’t trust me there is a little old lady who lives across the hall, I could ask her to join us.”

“I’ll take your word for it” He takes his keys from his pocket and opens the door. She follows him to the elevator and they ride up to the sixth floor. He holds the doors open for her as she steps out. He walks in front as the two move down to the end of the hallway. While he is opening his door the little old lady opens hers.

“Good afternoon Mrs. L.”

“Hello Gabriel how were the cookies?”

“As tasty as always, thank you again.” Mrs. L closes her door. “Told you” The woman smiles and they enter his apartment.

“Would you like a drink? He opens the refrigerator “I have Diet cola, Root beer, real beer and white wine.”

“Wine please.”

He opens the wine and pours two glasses, the woman walks over to the large window facing the same street where they ran into each other and looks out. The man walks over to her and hands her the glass. “In case you missed it my name is Gabriel, Gabriel Thatcher.”

She shakes the hand he holds out and responds “Matilda Williams” She continues to look out at the city “When I was looking up at the architecture I noticed a name but couldn’t read it what did it say, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Not at all-The Ritzy Peacock” Matilda smiles again, Gabriel continues “I know a horrible name. In the 1920s and 30s this was a classy hotel with the best bar in the city.”
They stare out the window in silence.

Gabriel finishes his glass and speaks first “Nice view, isn’t it?”
“Buildings, traffic, people typical city stuff.”

“Said the girl who’s never been to the city.”
“How did you know?”

“The way you look at the buildings, traffic and people.”
Matilda is now finished with her wine “Thank you for the drink but I should get going. She starts to walk to the door.

“Jake Ennis”
Before her hand touches the doorknob she turns and asks “Who?”

“A man who lived in this building and was part of that view every day for eight years.”
Matilda sits on the couch I could have another glass if you want to talk about him.”

Gabriel pours two more glasses of wine and sits on the couch next to her “Jake was my friend since grade school. After college he came to the city to make a name for himself, the business world was too much for him and when the economy got bad he got a job as a high school teacher for economics. He took the subway to work every day and would walk the last three blocks. That day he was rushing home to meet me for dinner. I was in town for a meeting and I wanted to ask him to be m best man.”
“You’re married?”



“Jake wasn’t paying attention when he was crossing the street and didn’t see the cab with the driving who was more concerned with his passenger then the road. When I got to the hospital the doctor told me he died instantly and felt no pain. I’m sure he felt pain, how could you not?” He looks at Matilda who looks as if she is about to cry.

She responds “I am so sorry”

“After a postponement for the funeral I got married but I guess I never got over the What Ifs and a year later I was divorced the apartment was still up for sale and I moved in.”

“You moved into your dead friend’s apartment, you didn’t think that was…”

He interrupts “Strange, stupid, not in my right mind?”

“You admit it’s odd.”

“At first I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing but once I got all my stuff here I...well to be honest I don’t believe in spirits or an afterlife but I got settled and three years later it feels right living here.” 

Again her glass is empty, she places it on the table in front of the couch “Thank you for the wine and conversation. It’s getting late and I have an early flight I should leave.”
Matilda stands to put her coat one when Gabriel takes her hand “If you want to stay a little longer I could make some tea and tell you more about The Ritzy Peacock?”
She sits down “I haven’t been here for very long and it is beginning to grow on me, Mrs. .L is still across the hall and I can always take a later flight. Yes I would like to hear more, if it’s good?”

“Trust me what I have to tell you is good and will be worth your night” he walks to his kitchenette and fills a kettle with water and places it on the stove to boil. He then disappears out of Matilda’s eyesight but returns quickly with a red folder. He sits next to Matilda and opens it, the folder is filled with paper copies of articles. “About a year ago a ran into a man, he must have been in his 60s and when I told him where I lived he told me a story that his grandfather told him once when he was a boy that was difficult to forget. I couldn’t stop thinking about what he had told me and went to the library to do my own research.  As I said this building was a fancy hotel with a nightclub and opened its doors in 1919. Everyone knew it was run by the mob but no one talked about it and the police force was corrupt so they were allowed to do what they did to survive.” The kettle whistles, Gabriel goes to make the tea, Matilda looks through the articles.

He asks “Sugar or lemon?”

“Two spoons of sugar.”

He stirs the tea and rejoins Matilda and continues the tale “When you entered into our beautiful foyer where the guests checked in, I don’t know if you noticed but there were two large gold colored doors to your left with a giant lock. That was where all the glamour happened.”
Matilda is intrigued with the story and has not touched her tea.

“The men were handsome and the women were stunning. The waitresses were the best in the city and always drew in the customers. Each wore a broach of a peacock with diamonds as eyes. They even named a special drink after the place. One evening a soldier in uniform walks into the club and sits at the bar, he orders a drink and speaks to no one as the other guest mingle and a piano plays. One of the waitresses’ walks up to the mic, later that night the man would write in his journal that he thought she was going to make an announcement but when she began to sing he instantly fell in love. He got another waitress to tell him her name and to give her a note. The note read my name is Captain Donald Davidson and I would like to buy you a drink. Later that night she told a friend that she never accepted a drink while working but it was five years after the war and he was still wearing the uniform which was tattered and dusty and she felt bad for him.”

Softly Matilda responds “He was still living the war that was suppose to end all wars.”

“PTSD wasn’t a thing in 1923 but they talked the rest of the night. Her name was Betty and she fell madly in love with Donald. The problem was he was from a wealthy family, she was just a singer and although Donald joined the army to leave his wealth and family his parents still did not want him around her.”

Matilda interrupts “Juliet and her Romeo

Gabriel continues “Donald refused to obey his parents moved out of their mansion and got a room at the hotel. Every night he would watch Betty perform and when her shift was over they would return to the room and well we can only imagine what happened behind closed doors.”

Matilda smiles a small smile.

Gabriel returns the smile “It didn’t make Donald’s family smile nor did it make Betty’s ex happy. His name was Vincent Cannoli, head of the Italian mob and owner of The Ritzy Peacock. He would watch the two every night and when he noticed Donald’s uniform was pressed, cleaned and holes sewn he knew something was up. According to one police report he cornered Donald in the bathroom and had two of his men beat him till unconsciousness and another said Betty came into the precinct with letters written in blood of death threats to her and Donald. The Chief of police said there was nothing he could do. The next day when Betty was alone in the club a deputy came in and asked to meet with her and Donald. That night they met at a restaurant outside the city and he told them his name was Timothy Murray and his uncle was the police commissioner who was trying to clean up the city from corrupt police and the mob. When Timothy told his uncle about Betty and Donald he asked to meet with them. The three left the restaurant and when they got to the police commissioners home he asked for their help. Betty was hesitant at first but Donald talked her into it. In the following weeks Betty learned of a meeting between Vincent and the Chief. The two met at a warehouse the police were there, there was a gun fight, Vincent got away and the chief was killed. That night according to one of her final journal entries thinking they were safe Betty and Donald celebrated and Donald purposed but not wanting his parents to find out gave her a jeweled encrusted peacock broach instead of a ring. A month later the two were found dead in their hotel room, only the peacock was missing. The case was never solved, according to the final police report some believed the mob, others said Donald’s family and some decided it was a murder/suicide. In the end my research lead me to believe it happened in this apartment

Matilda’s eyes widen “Please tell me you’re kidding”
He shows her an old photo of the couple, they walk to the window and place the picture and view side by side, the view outside the window had not changed.

Matilda looks out the window then back at the photo “Is it just me or do they look a little like us?”

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