Beau Fisher walked deliberately toward the wrong side of town, where squatters, naked to the waist, huddled around oil drum bonfires at night; where it stunk like Hell; where the old textile mills had been picked to bare iron bones; where every parent in Cook County never wanted their children to go.
He walked toward the gilded sunset, hands shoved in the pockets of his worn denim jacket. He walked with the gate of a seventeen year old who had a chip on his shoulder. He’d left his house in an angry whirlwind. Too many questions from his parents: What about the girls he never brought home; never took out? Was he in to girls at all? Beau thought about the skirts at school, all done up in ribbons and cashmere, eager to become housewives. Those girls weren’t his style. He couldn’t make his parents understand why.
A few pieces of his tawny hair had fallen loose from his pompadour and hung in his face. He shook them away as he squinted through the dusk. He saw a petite figure sitting on the steps of a gaunt brick house. A sign above the porch read: Three Wishes Gypsy Palace. A Studebaker whisked past him and the driver tapped its brakes as it passed, red-blaze lights illuminating the figure. He recognized the girl as Lucine.
Everyone knew of Lucine. She didn’t keep to her end of town like the other whores did. Some doubted whether she was a whore at all. She’d been raised at the Three Wishes by the Madame, Flora. Every Tuesday, Lucine sat just off of Rt. 1, selling pestis, doilies, and iron kettles. She tied scarves of silk and Croatian lace into her thick black mane. When the moon was waxing, she came into town to shoot billiards. She collected bird cages and smelled like gin and cinnamon. She never spoke, substituting words for cigarettes and the sad notes of her cracked clarinet. There was an intangible element to her; something like vapors of disappearing fog at dawn.
Lucine eyed Beau as he approached. She patted the step beside her, demanding that he sit. He did.
“I’ve seen you,” she said. Her voice was low, lonesome and rich – the way despair might echo from velvet tapestries hung in an empty dining hall.
“You don’t belong here,” She observed when he said nothing. She offered him the bottle of laudanum she’d been sipping. He took a swig – it went down like sand. She turned, placing delicate hands on either side of his jaw and kissed him. She pushed his face from hers and stuffed a cigarette between his lips. Pulling a tatty leather purse from the ether, she began rummaging. Beau watched dumbly. In the depths of her bag, a crystal ball reflected the glow of his cigarette.
She produced a sepia photo of herself. She was nude, lying on a chaise lounge, a chiffon shawl draped over her sex.
Shortly after dawn, Beau sauntered into the kitchen. His parents were sitting at the table, white knuckling coffee mugs. Before they could speak, he pulled the picture from his jacket and tossed it onto the table.
“Here, I brought one home,” He spat, then squared his shoulders and headed towards his bedroom.
©2012 This work is the property of the author.