Hello! It`s time for Tuesday Tales.
Today we have the first issue in my historical M/M romance, Dear Jon. Every issue of this serial will be between 1000 and 1500 words so they're quick reads. Our word prompt today is 'Writing'.
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Caffe Wastrel Coffee House
One never expects life altering news to be delivered over coffee and Danish. Maybe it`s the assumption that cherry, cream cheese, and flaky crust will somehow protect you from the hand of fate slapping the shit out of you. That somehow the sweetness of the tart and the richness of the coffee can envelope you in a cushion of false security. Hell, maybe I just didn`t think anything from the family would dare to come find me in Greenwich Village. Lord knows my father certainly wouldn`t have stepped a foot in this section of the great metropolis.
Leave it to Betty to be the one to flip my world upside down. She was always one of those elder sisters that could make you feel like a king one moment and a pauper the next. It had been ten years since I had heard from my sister. Ten years is a long time. A lot can happen in ten years. A world war for instance. I think I may have been caught up in the glorious aftermath of V-J Day, like every other red-blooded American. We had just celebrated our victory over Japan a month ago. We – and I mean we as in the singular individual and a country – were so hopped up on our own godliness that we – and I mean me now – couldn`t imagine a kick in the shins coming in the form of a Western Union telegram.
However, it had. Now here I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop in my favorite part of New York a scant two blocks from my studio/apartment. The boy who had pedaled across the Village in search of me was antsy. He couldn`t have been older than fourteen but he was prouder than Punch of the official cap and uniform, even if his tie was a little off center of his pronounced adams apple. The two-cent tip brought a wide grin to his gaunt face.
“Thank you, Sir!” He ran off with exuberance. I, with far less exuberance, flipped the envelope over and looked at Charlotte. She lit a cigarette, eyed the missive with her large grey eyes then stood up and left. Her behavior wasn`t odd. At least not for Charlotte. She`s one of the most superstitious people I have ever met.
“It might not be bad news,” I called over my shoulder.
My friend waved my words away like an annoying mosquito and swayed out onto the sidewalk, the door of the coffee shop drifting closed behind her. I smiled at her well-clad back. Charlotte Duvall - aka Charles Goodrich- was one of the best female impersonators I had ever had the pleasure of meeting or seeing perform. The woman was pure vamp.
I had come to Greenwich after the death of my father to find a place where a person could be who and/or what they wanted to be. For me that was an artist who slept with other men. For Charlotte it was looking better than ninety-nine percent of the other women in New York. For my friend Patty it was making a home for herself and her gal Ronnie while she worked on her writing. The Village is the most welcoming neighborhood for the odd balls of society on the east coast. Greenwich is bohemian and open-minded, rich in art and music, and particularly respectful of those who live within its invisible walls of acceptance.
I watched Charlotte going past the front windows, looking damn sharp in a black calico dress with pink pin striping and a jaunty black cocktail hat with a pink flower. Straight men and gay alike turned to admire her. The redhead knew she had it and boy did she flaunt it. I ran my sight up to the fan spinning lazily overhead, my fingers growing clammy. I could see my name and the address of my studio typed out neatly through the skinny window. Somewhere behind the counter, Les Brown was playing My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time. The other patrons had returned to their coffee and their own private melodramas.
Mr. Jon Porter
18 Barrow St.
I laid the envelope on the table, tapping the three-cent stamp for luck before ripping the end off and tugging the folded dispatch out. I knew before I even opened the telegram that the line about this possibly being good news I had fed Charlotte was a just that, a damned line. Betty never contacted me after that showdown the day dad died. What was there to say to each other? I think we pretty much said it all that icy cold afternoon in January. What could she want? There wasn`t anyone left to die aside from a few distant relatives who no one cared about, cold as that sounds. If they knew about me they`d be glad not to have the queer nephew coming to call, rest assured. But, I could have been putting the cart before the horse. Maybe this message wasn't from my estranged sister at all. There was only one way to tell.
Running a hand through my hair, I peeked at the mirror on the wall. Yeah, I was stalling. I was also scared. It was obvious. Worried green eyes stared back at me. I patted down the sandy blonde hair that was scandalously skimming over my collar. Yeah, I looked normal enough. Brown gabardine slacks with a short-sleeved tan shirt. No tie, no hat, no jacket. Still rebelling at twenty-eight, ey Jon?
Finding the guts, I unfolded the telegram, found my coffee, downed a good pull, and then read.
Mr. Jon Porter
18 Barrow St.
Greenwich Village, New York
Sister Betty Porter passed away. Stop. Your presence required home immediately. Stop. Of utmost urgency you return ASAP. Stop. To do with your nephew. Stop.
Theodore Bartlett Esq.
Law Office of Bartlett & Bowen
Hannity Hills, PA
I found my reflection again. I looked stunned.
Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey
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