Fannie's condescending personality grew from her love of the wild side. In her twisted mind, it kept her out of the boring and mundane aspects of life that she held no interest in. In
spite of this, her girls accepted her leadership because they wanted action as well, and they knew that with Fannie calling the shots, action found them. This group of women loved to take
risks, and after the job they just pulled off, they all looked to Fannie to collect from Fester, the gangster they did a favor for.
In no time at all, madge blanch gossip from the saloon caught up to Fannie, and the dames in the parlor started to gather around. Though not much, the parlor usually housed the best saloon side show in town where everyone could conduct their business. Everything in it stood perfectly positioned to be of service to Fannie and her hostess—especially the large mirror by the powdering station. People could see who was about to come in from the street with a quick glance at it. Everyone else in the parlor knew that something was about to go down when Fannie and her hostess constantly looked into it, and this proved to be one of those days.
“Fester's boy will be here soon and my girls still don’t have their cut,” Fannie muttered while checking the mirror. "I’m worried about this, and after the risks we took, we deserve a payback from Fester. I haven't seen Fester ever since the coppers got on his case when they raided him. He has introduced a spell of trouble because he is nowhere to be found. If his boy didn't break up his stash and sell it, we will have to do something because we are broke.”
She lightly glared at the hostess with a determined look on her face. “When Fester’s boy gets here, send him in so I can milk him for the money that Fester owes us,” Fannie said. Her look changed to one of twisted contentedness. "We did Fester a favor, now it is time for us to collect our compensation." She looked into the mirror and cracked a devious smile. "Speaking of which, here is his boy now. Good, my girl is getting the door open for this ignorant punk.”
When inside the building, Fester's Boy swung the parlor doors open with one hand, while he held a shot of whiskey in his other hand.
“Where is our money?” the hostess said with a stiff upper lip.
“We ain’t got your money, and get this cloud of bimbos off of me, Fannie,” Fester's Boy steamed. “Besides, what did you really do to pitch in?” He adjusted his collar as he looked to Fannie with a disgusted look. Then, he drank his shot and put the empty glass on the table.
“Now you stop that!” Fannie retorted. Everyone except Fester's Boy chuckled.“We diverted the coppers, and we smuggled for Fester just like you wanted. If that ain’t worth nothing to ya, then we’ll hook up with Mugsey from now on.”
“No no! We’ll get your money. I can get it, but I have to hit Bubbs up.” He hurriedly wiped the sweat from his forehead and neck.
“Well ya better or I’ll bust you to boot." Fannie haughtily chuckled because she knew how to get the best of idiots like Fester's boy. She had a telltale smirk on her face, and everyone in the parlor except Fester's boy looked at Fannie.
"As far as the rest of you, stay here in the parlor," Fannie instructed. "Lady J, keep an eye out for coppers. We don’t need to blow any opportunity before we get one. The last thing we need is to lose our reputation for having the money to entertain.” She waved her agenda at Festers boy with a twinkle in her eye that made Fester’s boy feel very uneasy.
"Well, well. We've got company," Fannie said with a dismayed look on her face.
"Get this door open right now!" the copper yelled as he rapped with his billy club.
One of Fannie's girls opened the door, and the copper barreled in with some papers in his hand.
"What can I do for you?" Fannie said as she took a step back to blend in with her girls.
"I got you, Fannie. I got you!" the copper shouted with a look of relief on his face. "For years I have been vowing to bust you, and I finally have the D.A. on my side. "I'm taking you in. Put your hands behind your back, and do it now!"
"For what?" Fester's Boy interrupted by stepping between Fannie and the copper.
"For giving aid to Fester. That's for what!" the copper said while looking at the papers.
"Prove it," Fannie said. "The only people who knew my whereabouts that night were my girls and Fester, and as far as my girls go, you can't even put me at the crime scene. You don't have a case. There are more girls pulling for me, and none pulling for Fester. How will that look with you on the witness stand? The Judge will laugh it out of court. You're wasting your time with me, and if you do take me in, I will file suit and get rich because of your stupidity. Besides, my girls ain't saying nothing, so hit the road. You will never learn, Officer Ganton."
"We will see what the Judge says because I'm taking it to him, and if he agrees with me, I'm coming back to arrest you and your girls to boot," Officer Ganton said with a calmer tone to his voice. Mark my words. I'll be back."
He stormed out the door, red in the face, and he abruptly shut it behind him.
"Fester is barking up the wrong tree because he is the only one who could have ratted me out to the copper," Fannie said as she sat down. "I do my best for him, and this is what I get. I think about why I do what I do for people from time to time, and I get a bad feeling every time. This ain't no way to have a life, but what can I do? Few people understand my ways, and those who don't have a clue as to what I put up with for some people want me behind bars. Maybe I should go to jail for a while because I feel old and tired more and more these days. I'm in this more for my girls than I am for myself because my girls are all I have. Alright, enough about that. I need that stash sold so you can give us our cut so I can redeem myself to my girls. Come on now. You're Fester's Boy. Backing me up is backing him up. How bout it?"
“I’m outta here,” Fester's Boy ranted. "If I sell Fester's stash, the coppers will catch on to everything in no time. I'm leaving it lay because I have to cover my own ass, and if you can't see that, then you are just as bad as Fester." He cringed and fumed, and walked towards the door.
“Good, now don’t let the door hit you on the way out," Fannie nagged.
Fester's Boy threw his hands up, and left in a big hurry.
Fannie waved her hands towards herself. "Gather around girls because we need a plan.”
“We can bootleg Mickey's on the side to flush Fester out of hiding,” the parlor hostess schemed.
Fannie gave her a devious grin with mildly raised eyebrows. "You have a good idea there," she said.
"When he shows his face in public, we can lean on him to cough up our cut because he will be out wondering who made the neighborhood fat with pills,” the hostess reasoned.
“Good idea, but you are leaving something important out,” Fannie said. “You’re forgetting about his boy. We’ll have to occupy him with Lulu. I’ll pull a few strings with the barkeep so they can do their thing in the saloon. In the meantime, I have a new tender who can straighten our till out. Her name is Jody Hoss. Just what we needed. She should be by any second.”
“Go do your thing girls,” the hostess said with a relieved tone to her voice. “Oh, and hold off on this plan until I get the scoop from Fannie after she is done meeting with Jody. She might have a better idea.”
“Alright, let me handle this,” Fannie said. “Here she comes.”
Seconds later, the door to the parlor squeaked open, and Jody waved hello to everyone with a matter-of-fact look on her face.
“How short are you of breaking even?” Jody asked. She took a puff of her cigarette and handed it to Fannie. “You will be in the red before you know it from what I hear. Remember, I don’t want you feigning till to make it look like you have more money either.”
“What’s the difference," Fannie said. "The last tender I tricked off gave me the jazz and I pumped him full of attorneys. She blew a puff of smoke in Jody's direction. "Bet he will never do that again. At least I feel alright with you being our tender. Besides, you will be one of the girls in no time.”
“Tricking people off is not good for business." There was concern in her voice. "You hired me to fatten your till and now I have to put myself out on a limb just to cover for you. What am I going to do with you Fannie?”
“You are forgetting that I have a way with the boys. On the other hand, what do you have in mind?”
“You don’t have to do anything wrong. You just have to have the right credit with the bank. If you borrow from the bank, you can fill your till the right way and you can get out of this mess.”
“I don’t have any credit at the bank."
“You don’t need credit if you have collateral, Fannie. Your immediate agenda will do just fine, provided you book your business through the bank receptionist. Just write down who owes you what, get it verified, and have the bank collect what is owed instead of you.The banker will buy it because you have me backing you up to the hilt. Remember, I am tight with the Mayor. What can go wrong? The coppers won’t catch on because they will be too busy trying to bust Fester. After what he did the other night, they really have it in for him.”
"Look, I'm not privy to being social, but I have no choice in the matter," Fannie said. "Your plan is better than mine because I don't want to go down with Fester. Once Lulu takes care of Fester's boy, I'll be happy knowing that Fester will be jewed by the bank and punked by the coppers."
"Fair enough," Jody said. "Now let's have a few drinks to celebrate."
"That's fine by me. I'm sick of putting up with Fester and his people."
© Copyright 2016 Paul Harper. All rights reserved.
Book / Other
Short Story / Historical Fiction
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