I’ve been all over the place with Alice lately – writing is coming out, but it’s not quite taking shape yet, and my direction with stories is being affected by my current moods for sure… I’m including some samples of random thoughts/unedited/unproofed stuff…
My sister Mabel had always been the one with the gentle soul. From the time we were young she’d spend her days sitting in the shade of the big oak tree in our backyard next to the coy pond. Often reading a book or passing the time brushing the knots out of our hair. I spent most of my time chasing after the little critters that would poke their heads out from the brush.
The woods came close to our yard, as if a part from a forest jigsaw had been removed and upon entering them there was no real way to protect oneself from the choking arms of the branches. If one was to continue forward through them though, they’d find a beautiful clearing ahead, following by a stream that flowed into the most brilliant field of poppies one could imagine. Every time I broke through the tree line my sister would get after me, calling for me to come back as I’d plunge head first through the thicket.
She never followed after, though she’d threaten to tell our father if I didn’t come back soon. However, once through the barrier I’d find myself at ease, with not a care in the world. I’d turn and stick my tongue out at her or scrunch my face, an act she more than likely could not see. The other side became a haven of mine, a secluded hideaway I could always run off too to be by myself, explore and adventure.
I’d return with such fascinating stories of places I’d seen or been, but my sister would only shake her head and brush my hair. Always so practical and one to focus on reason and logic, she’d never understand that some things in life are just not explainable, things don’t always happen for a reason. Always the good girl, always the proper one – it was most odd that she’d be the one to end up face down in the street near the Rabbit Hole. A gentleman’s club. My place of work.
My sister had been running from someone, though she had taken that information to her grave. Why she had been trying to come to me I had no idea. Our parents had passed away a few years past and there was little we had to talk about of late, what with me removing clothes for a living and her with a doctorate in
The Grosvenor Resort. A small three-story brick hotel sits along a row of gray non-distinct buildings. The heart of the river district, the pump from which out flows a current of seedy life.
A man in a trench coat opens the green wooden door of the hotel. It starts to rain and glancing around he starts to move down the street. Inside, a fat lady leans against the back wall of the front desk. He shirt is stained with sweat around her breasts and when she opens her mouth to breath her body shakes as if it will be her last.
“Another satisfied customer, Alice?” She says to the short skinny girl in black coming down the stairs. Her heels, four inches, make a clacking noise as they hit the laminate flooring.
“Enough for now, I’m sure.”
“You be careful tonight, I saw on the news another girl was just murdered not three blocks from here.”
Alice forces a smile and glances back; the fat lady is staring under the desk at a TV not noticing Alice as she walks through the door.
The river district was once a thriving society within the city of NAME, but with years of expansion and most residents moving out to the suburbs, this section had become a neglected portion of inner city decline. It now brought out a new life force, one of drugs, prostitution and filth.
Alice walked down H Street towards the Wet Orchid. A lifeless club that would all but be missed if not for the carving above the front façade, a very phallic like orchid with leaves shaped very much like a woman’s legs inviting the slums around in.
Alice’s cigarette drops from her mouth. It hits the ground and rolls towards the gutter; a rat runs by and causes it to roll down the open drain. If anyone had been standing across the street they would have seen two shiny eyes blink quickly like quarters down a well, then vanish.
There were several police cars out front of the club. Not much of an unusual site, but a body were being wheeled out to a coroners van. Alice hadn’t paid it much attention, but when the gurney hit the curb the arm of it’s victim fell out. Its slender pale arm was covered in intriquete tribal markings. A single pink rose ran down its center. Mabel. Alice’s Sister.
The man in the gray suite and yellow hat sat at the counter ash’ing his cigarette on the floor. A waitress briefly passing by to refill his coffee and moved her hand from behind the bar placing an ash tray beside him.
“There ya go love.”
The man nodded and sipped from his cup. It made a slurping sound.
The door to the Iron Side Cup jingled as it opened. A young boy in sweat pants walked in and stood in the doorway looking around. The man in the yellow hat looked towards his direction and put his cup down. Standing up he reached into his pocket, produced a $20 credere check and placed it on the counter before him under the cup. Walking towards the door the man tipped his hat as he approached the entryway.
“Pardon me” The man said as he extended an arm to the boy’s shoulder.
“No worries sir, good day.” The boy said, his hand forcing a folded parchment into the man’s pocket.
The man in the yellow hat walked down Main Street with a confident step and stopped at the mailbox of Harry’s Butcher Shop. Reaching in to his pocket some time later he produced the parchment the boy had given him and placed it inside. Lighting a cigarette the man continued on his way.
An older man with a white blood stained shirt and torn pants walked outside his shop later that afternoon to check his mail. Inside the bundle of bills and letters was a loose note of paper which read: “The sheep is at the shepherd’s farm.” The man looked around for a moment before returning to his shop.
Alice sat in the office of a man she had met just moments before when she identified the body of Mabel. He was an attractive man, but his face was serious and his badge scared her more than his gun.
“I’ve very sorry, mam, but if you think of anything that could help our investigation please let us know. My partner here will show you out.” And he motioned to a larger heavy set man standing beside the door.
“Yes of course.” Alice said as she stood up. Her eyeliner surprisingly had held in place, but she wiped her cheeks as if the tears had smudged her. “Thank you.”
Alice passed through the door; she’d had friends in her line of work that had ended up in the place she was now freely leaving, and although she felt certain the men around her knew of her profession, it was somewhat comforting to know that she wasn’t the one in trouble. What the hell had happened to Mabel was all she could think about as she stepped through the last door. Why would anyone have done this too her. “Do you need a ride mam?” a man asked as she pushed through the door.
“No, thank you, I’ll manage.” The door closed and she walked back out into the rain she had been trying avoid when first heading towards the Wet Orchid. What was she going to do now? Perhaps Jason would know something.
It had taken Alice almost an hour to walk back to the Wet Orchid, debating with herself along the way if she had really wanted to get herself involved, but there were too many questions in her mind to not at least ask the people her sister worked with about.
The incense and smoke as she opened the front door made her eyes turn red and water. The door man who she knew approached her quickly, “You alright Alice? You should probably go home after everything you’ve been through tonight.”
“I need to find Jason.”
“He’s in the back, don’t you worry miss, he’s always considered your sister as one of his own. You believe me now; he’ll find this guy personally and let you be the first to cut on him.”
Alice was still numb and walked towards the main stage; Heather was up, though in here she went by Bunny Cakes. Alice moved towards the shadows, she didn’t want to distract her from the draw of the crowd and chance ruining her routine. Two men stood by a door to the side of the stage; they nodded and opened the door as she approached them. Inside was a man in a leather suite yelling on the phone, two girls, not ones who worked there, but Alice had noticed them from the hotel she frequented for business. They sat on the couch, wasted and were practically propped on each other in such a way that kept them from lying down.
“I’ll call you back.” The man in the leather suite said as he turned and saw Alice. “Dear girl!” he exclaimed and moved closer to her, embracing her in his arms. “I’m so sorry Alice, Mabel was one of my girls, whatever bastard did this to her I’ll make sure he suffers hun, don’t you worry.”
“What the hell happened Jason?”
“I don’t know, she had just finished up her routine and was out in back having a smoke when it happened. When she didn’t come back in we didn’t think anything at first, but then when one of my guys went to check on watchmen in the back and he found them. My two men and your sister.”
“I need you to be honest with me Jason, is there some other shit you got going down that would have made them target the girls in this place, some type of retaliation?”
“What? Hell no, I just work the girl angle hun; I’m not in anything else. Look maybe you need to just go home and get some rest. You need any money or anything?”
“No, I’m sorry, look, I just needed to know. I need to know what happened.”
“I know hun, and don’t you worry we’ll find him.”
Alice looked at the girls on the couch; they had passed out on each other. “How much to get what they had.”
Jason laughed, “You don’t worry about that, I’ll hook you up alright?” Alice nodded.
Alice sat down on the couch and grabbed for the rubber sling on the table, as Jason prepared a fresh needle. “You can never be too careful these days. You ready?”
Alice nodded, “You do it.”
Jason knelt down beside her and stuck the needle into her arm. She relaxed her hand as he undid the band around her arm. At first the prick had hurt, and then there was a sudden rush in her arm that spread threw her body, her head went back and she got dizzy, her heart stuttered and she looked around, almost frantic, a brief fear, then everything was numb and good. Her body was at peace and her mind began to drift off, she remembered playing in the woods near her parents home when Mabel and she were little, how the trees would open up their secret pool of water and the soft grass field.
“There you go girl.” Jason said as he tossed the syringe into the garbage can next to his desk.
“Thanks.” Alice said and smiled as she drifted off to a happier time. She leaned over to her side, and then propped her head on the chest of the girl next to her. She smelled so nice, it reminded her of the time Mabel had first purchased an expensive perfume and had her try it. Mabel, I’m going to miss you so much. The tears came back to her.