The Saturday Night Kid

September 29, 2008
"Lillian, hurry darling! We can't be late for the Rochester's brunch, now can we?"

Lilly paid no mind to her preoccupied mother. All she had done in the way for preparing to go on any outing was to don her skimpiest slip and stockings and brush absent-mindedly through her copper red curls. She had meant to re-pin them the night before but was otherwise engaged. Now they were limp and slept-on, but that took nothing away from Lilly's precious doll face. Light freckles (God's paprika, Miss Mildred always said) that sprinkled lightly across her little round nose contrasted just right against her porcelain complexion.

Lilly was daydreaming at her vanity, smiling at her pretty little reflection as she twirled on her satin-upholstered stool. Her silver-plated brush and comb set given to her as a Christmas present from Grandmother lay askew, thrown every which-way, but for one piece. The set missed its brush which was being pulled thoughtlessly through a big wig of striking red hair, over and over. Eventually Lilly returned the brush back to its tray and pulled out the strands of red she had lost. If she had kept at it much longer she would have enough hair to sell to a wigmaker for a fair penny.

Winding the hair around her fingers, Lilly rose from her seat at the vanity and headed to the half-open window. She opened her hand and let the breeze have it. In an ordinary case, one would hope for a bird to find it floating along in the grass below and use it in his nest. Not in this case. This was New York of the 1920s, where apartment buildings rose to new heights, factories littered the city, and you could not walk ten blocks without finding a joint full of newly discovered taboos.

Stopping at the window, Lilly looked across the long drop to the alley below to see a handsome creature doing precisely what she herself should have been doing at that moment. She opened the window effortlessly to its farthest stretch and leaned precariously over the expanse. “Hey stranger!” she called. Her beau paid her no mind as he stood in front of his mirror, buttoning up his freshly starched shirt. With a sparkle in her eye, Lilly bounced over to her desk to dial on the radio. She searched until she could hear the greatest noise the world had yet heard. Swing: the music that her mother despised and made her lover tick. Pushing off from her desk chair, Lilly slid in her stockings across the polished oak floor where she landed gracefully on her window seat. Aiming to get a better look at James, she tied back the slightly yellowed lace curtains. Now her beau was vainly trying to get his hair to waif; to look utterly gorgeous for the upcoming brunch.

Staring intently at him from her window seat, Lilly shouted, "Oi, sugardaddy! Let it flop, it's so much swankier." This caught James's attention and to Lilly's amusement he rolled his eyes and flashed her favorite grin with a only a slightly dead look leftover from the night before. Lilly felt none of the effects from clubbing as James did, and instead jumped up and began to jive along with the radio. Keeping eye contact with James, Lilly's delicate lips were turned up in the largest grin. When the song ended, James called out with over-the-top flair, “You, my choice bit of calico, must be getting ready for the wonderful brunch we both have the fortunate chance of attending.”

This did not ruin Lilly’s fun, for she could not yet take the preparations needed for the up and coming social event that was entirely too important to her mother. Miss Mildred had not come up from the laundry with her fresh spring day dress. Instead of taking a seat back at her vanity like a proper girl of her age, Lilly turned to her radio and dialed the volume louder than before. She danced 'round and 'round her room, just as she and James twirled carelessly the night before.

The previous night, as with most all Saturday nights, Lilly riskily climbed over the long drop between her and her lover's apartment buildings. A make-shift wooden plank that Lilly kept under her bed frame aided her in getting across the short stretch every time she wanted to sneak over to James' room. Once Lilly made the trip, she ran over to his bed where he was pretending to sleep and stole a kiss. Or five. They had been playing around for a bit when James shoved Lilly off him and shuffled over to his wardrobe and pulled out a little bottle of absinthe. "Jamesy, darling, wherever did you get it?" Prohibition had been in effect for awhile now and no one prim had seen alcohol shortly after it came into effect. James poured a glass for himself and a glass for Lilly, each over a sugar cube. After being loosened up and sharing their hopes and dreams, they grabbed their jackets and headed down the fire escape. They took a cab to the most daring dance hall they knew of, over in Alphabet City. Song after song, the lovely couple would be out on the dance floor until finally Lilly passed out from too many shots of vodka. Finally getting home at three o'clock, Lilly and James had good reason to be exhausted and not have any wish to go a brunch that celebrated the exact opposite lifestyle they embraced.

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