Archive for November, 2013

Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter 6. A Mid-Summers Nights Storm.

November 25, 2013

Chapter 6

A Mid-Summers Night’s Storm.


              The sun was warm when it arose on that Thursday morn.  In the household of Emil and Rose, Emil awoke with a smile on his face, Rose was fully refreshed to face the day.  Arthur awoke a little earlier, excited because he had a new nanny, whatever that was.  But Nadia was fun, she smiled, she talked a little funny, and when she picked Arthur up and held him on her lap, she smelled fresh, and had a good firm grip on him, so he felt safe.  Jerry was a slug-a-bed, sleeping in until almost 8 o’clock.  There were three bedrooms on the second floor.  The big one stretched across the front of the house, and overlooked the front yard and the street.  In the back was the two smaller bedrooms.  The stairways in the middle, on one side, were matched in width by the bathroom on the other side, with a central area, not really a hallway, but about 10 feet square, big enough to have a desk and chair for writing, or homework away from the noise of the family.  The storm the night before had left the air fresh, and clean. 


              Wednesday night, after supper, Rosie had offered Nadia a bed in Arthur’s bedroom to sleep on, with the little tike, or the unfinished space in the attic.  There were screens in all the windows upstairs, even way up there in the attic.  Four dormers faced each direction, and when open with the screens, a new invention here that would not travel overseas for decades, the wind flowed through regardless of the direction.  If there was no wind, the warm air could travel up the stairs if the door on second floor was open, and the breeze of the air from the house up the stairs and out the windows provided motion.


              Nadia had never had this much space to call her own.  There were boards on the floor, and an older rug was brought upstairs from the parlor to cover the area from the painted steps to the bed and was about 10 feet from 12 feet.  Nadia had never had a rug to walk on.  Her bed was metal, with posts at all 4 corners.  It had been Emil’s and Rosie’s when they were first married, and when they purchased a wooden bedroom set from Sears, they had kept the old metal bed, and the mattress, which had seen its share of use.  Both children had been conceived on that bag of feathers, and there had been many trial runs at conception.  Their delivery had been at the new Saint Mary’s Hospital.  This was very 20th century, having the births in a hospital, with a physician in attendance, rather than at home, with midwives, or neighbor women attending.  By having a physician, a man with training, who had done this many times, and had experience dealing with the problems of birthing, the rates of death among infants, and mothers had plummeted.   


              The Swede and Emil had disappeared upstairs while the women put a light supper together.  The four beers they took upstairs timed their disappearance to about 25 to 30 minutes.  This was enough time to move the trunks, and the boxes to the back of the attic, sweep, and set up the bed.  Emil brought up sheets, and a blanket, if the night air proved chilly, but left them on the mattress for Nadia to arrange. 


              Supper was served at the big table in the dining room, usually reserved for Sunday with visitors, or holiday dinners.  With the Swede, and his new maid, and Nadia, the table was full.  Emil noticed that Karin held knife and fork like a farm girl, and the new Nanny, Nadia, held her service ware in the proper, highly stylized manner of those of higher birth, or perhaps, the servants of those of higher birth, who had been trained in proper table etiquette   so that they could train the young.  The girls ate full meals, and both had two glasses of the wine, which under prohibition could be made at home, just not bought in a store.  That it was made in a home owned by the Sicilian, by friends of the Sicilian, not family, was not important.  It was an excellent red, tasty, and with a fine alcohol content.


              The children were on their best behavior.  Emil noticed his wife also had two glasses of wine, and he thought if she takes a sip from her bottle tonight, she will sleep the sleep of the dead.  The Swede was seated across the table from his new maid, Karin.  Emil was at the head of the table, Rosie was at his right hand, and the new Nanny, Nadia was at his left.  The two children were next, across from each other, and the Swede and Karin at the end.  From the looks they were giving each other, they approved of what they saw. 


              In the course of conversations, it became apparent that Nadia did not have many clothes other than what she wore at the train station.  Something about her baggage being stolen in Oslo when it was left on the dock to be loaded by the stevedores.  Such things happen at the docks, and Emil had asked Rosie if she had any clothes she could loan Nadia.  The Swede also invited Nadia to come over the next day, and she and Karin could look through his late wife’s things, and see if there was anything that would fit, that they would like. 


              Soon enough, the meal was over.  The women cleared the table, and were in the kitchen with the dishes.  With three sets of hands, that would not take long.


              On the front porch, the two men, Emil, and the Swede enjoyed the last cigar of the day.  Down the block, across the street, on the front porch of the banker, they could see the glow of the man’s cigar.  They knew that his daughters would be with him on the porch. 


              Emil said, “Swede, how do you like your new hired help?  She looks sturdy enough to get a good days work out of her.”


              “That she does.  I don’t supposed you noticed the legs on that calf, she has not sat down for much of her life.  Her smile makes a man take notice, and her complexion is that of a statue, perfection, but not fragile.”

              Both men puffed, the glowing ends of the cigars signaled a moment of silence.  Then the Swede continued.

              “Bet you didn’t expect to grow your household by giving me a ride to the train station today?”


              “No sir, but by the way she holds herself, I think that there are stories to be listened to from that one.” 


              Swede nodded.  “And more stores to come from her new life in America.   I don’t think that one waits for things to happen.  I think that she makes them happen.”


              Emil was about to say something, but the women came out.


              Rosie said, “I found something for Nadia to wear tonight, and in the morning we will try out some of my things.  Karin is sure that there is something for her over at the Swede’s, so I think that we should head to bed, for the morning comes early this time of year.”


              Nods agreed, and the Swede and Karin started down the stairs, good byes were exchanged from the sidewalk, and they made their way down the darkened sidewalk about 300 feet to the Swedes’ castle, with the electric light on the porch burning brightly.  The moths surrounded the bare bulb, and it was found that putting it on the far end of the porch kept the critters out of the house.  Swede also had made screens for almost all the windows.  He still needed to make them for the kitchen and dining room, but the windows upstairs and in the living room were able to be left open for the air. 


              Once they were enveloped by the darkness, about halfway there, Karin found the Swedes hand and held it for the remainder of the walk.  Off in the southwest, there were the occasional flashes of light on the horizon, indicating someone, somewhere was getting a beating from a thunderstorm.


              The house had lights, Electric Lights.  Karin had never been in a private home with switches on the wall that provided illumination.  It was magic.  Swede led her up the stairs.  His home was build off the same plans as Emils’ and Rosies’ , delivered in boxcars from Sears, everything from the biggest pieces of wood to the screws needed for the hinges.  All was packed, delivered from the rail yards usually by horse drawn wagons, these houses had been unloaded directly from the tracks that ran behind the houses.  A crew of men, larger than that of the carpenter’s crew, recruited from the bars on Williamson Street down by the farm equipment sales area, made short work of the 5 boxcars that each house needed.  It was necessary to clear the tracks twice a day, at 7 am and at 6 pm for trains to come into town, so regardless of if the work was done, the switcher engine, coal fired as they all were, came and moved the cars a few blocks downtown to the yards.  The next day, at about 7:15 the cars were brought back and the unloading was finished.


              Swede had the big front bedroom upstairs as his own, with a big bed.  He was a big man, so he had built the frame himself, strong, from metal.  Heavy canvas straps were used, instead of the springs most beds used, and the feather mattress he had custom made at the bed works.  Thicker than usual, with about twice the usual amount of feathers, it was both soft and firm.  He and his beloved Emma had loved that bed, and each other, usually twice a day.  She was gone now almost two years, and his tears had dried, but, he missed her voice, her touch, and her shapely body, with its secrets. 


              Karin was shown her bedroom, on the other side of the bathroom, a good sized room, with a rug, and a single bed.  The dresser was wood, and there was a table and a chair.  The house was so modern, there was a closet on the wall it shared with the other bedroom.  She looked inside, and found about 6 dresses, from the late Emma.  She looked in the dresser, and the top drawer had foundations.  Freshly laundered from the Chinese laundry she would later find out was on the same block as the Swedes business. 


              The storm was closer, the grumblings of thunder 25 miles away could be heard.  Karin was not a stranger to storms, but in the Norwegian valleys that were home to the farms, the hills kept the most of the light and noise away, unless the storm was directly overhead.  Here on the American plains, the storms could be noticed sometimes a hundred miles away from the flashes, and the sound would travel well in some weather. 


              Down the street, Nadia was looking in wonder at the bulb hanging in the middle of the room in the attic.  With one light switch at the bottom of the steps, and another at the top of the steps, magic of a most strong sort must be employed.  Putting just a bottom sheet on the bed, a pillow case on the feather pillow, she marveled at her luck.  Ten days ago, she was in Oslo, chased by the Bolsheviks, having to kill 4 of them, witnessing the death of another.  Poisoned, and sneaking on a ship, bribing the steward, and tagging along with Karin, had landed her in a world of wonderment.  The men treated her with respect, the children were in awe, and the woman of the household, was kind, gentle, and with soft voice.  Nadia undressed, and hung her dress on a hanger hung from a nail in a joist.  Her slip was next.  She did not have any other underwear, and unknown to her, in the house of the neighbor on the opposite side from the Swede, the man had his eyes treated to something amazing.  A beautiful, long, dark haired woman, was naked in the attic of the Buick man, the guy next door, with a wife and kids.  He had a naked woman in the attic.  Damn.  The light went out, and he shook his head.  His wife came into the bedroom and was surprised by his ardor.  What was normally a two minute ordeal stretched out to five, then seven minutes before he collapsed on her.  Whatever had happen, she hoped for more.  So did he.


              At the Swedes, both prepared for bed in their respective rooms.  She found a beautiful silk gown, last worn by the late Emma, who had been a little larger than Karin.  The gown draped on her shoulders fine, but, being bigger around than perfection would have been, there was a gap in the front that would seem larger than proper.  Sleeveless by design, the armholes were larger than a woman of her size would warrant.  From the side, her breasts were showing in the mirror above the dresser when she turned to the left or right.


              She would have to remember this, and wear a robe, or be dressed when she was not in her room.  A proper Norwegian girl would not show this much anywhere outside of her own bedroom, with the door closed, and locked.    


              Clean sheets, from the same laundry as the underwear were something that she loved.  These were of high quality, and seemed almost squeaky against her skin.  On the other side of the bedroom, the Swede undressed.  His shirt off, the suspenders hung loose, he undid his trousers and sat on the bed.  Lifting one foot, then the other, his shoes and socks were removed, then the trousers.  He had always slept in the nude, after he started sleeping inside.  After his arrival in America, he had travelled by train to Minneapolis, in Minnesota to stay with relatives.  Once there, on their farm, in rural Minneapolis, he took well to horsemanship, the art of roping, and herding cattle.  One of the hired hands, an old cowboy, past his prime, but with too much knowledge to be put out to pasture, taught him to shoot, both pistol and rifle.   When he had proven himself with the Colt revolver, the seasoned veteran had sold him his rifle.  A piece that had been put to good use by the grizzled veteran of many ambushes, the Sharpes 45-110 was a lever action, breech loader.  The usual barrel length of one of these was thirty inches, this one was custom at 34, giving more accuracy, and more muzzle velocity.  The rifle had been modified to take a special 45 caliber, 110 grains of powder in a metal cartridge, with a 540 grain paper patch bullet, double set triggers, and a Vernier sign, marked to 1200 yards but proven effective at over a mile.      The Swede had been on many cattle drives in his teens, and in his 18th year, met the owner of a huge ranch Teddy Roosevelt.  Over a camp fire, the discussions of rifles and accuracy had led to a heated discussion of the men in Mr. Roosevelt’s age.  Then the old vet, witness to the Swede’s prowess with the Sharpes, had made a small wager with Mr. Roosevelt.  If the kid with the old gun could hit a marker the size of a man, at one mile, the kid and the old guy would be on the payroll of Mr. Roosevelt thru the winter, a time of usual neediness for cowboys.  Mr. Roosevelt had though that the bet was a capital idea, and with his usual exclamation of “Bully” the bet was on.


              The next day, with the rising son at his back, in a calm, the Swede had lain down on the rise.  About a mile away, nobody knew for sure, but it was agreed that it was close enough, for the lay of the land dropped down after that point, a scare crow had been relocated.  Rather than digging a hole for it, it was leaning toward the shooter, with a sawhorse keeping it upright. 


              Using the skills the old vet and taught him, he adjusted the site, which was still about a thousands feet short of being useful.  The dead calm reduced the need for an adjustment for windage.  Holding his breath, then letting it out slowly, his fingers worked their magic on the triggers and the bark of the muzzle and the smashing of the stock into his shoulder marked the flight of the bullet.  The scarecrow didn’t have a chance.  The bullet found hit mark squarely in the middle of the figure, and the splinters of the branch that formed it’s spine could be seen by those with spyglasses.


              Totally in character, Mr. Rosevelt exclaimed with a snort, “Bully.”  Looking at the two, he said, “You are guaranteed three hot meals and a bed at the big house this winter, just don’t get the maids knocked up. But, in the spirit of the thing, would you like to prove yourself and cut the saw horse in two?  If you can, you can have your pick of the yearling horses in the corrall, and I will stand you to the tack.  This was no small wager, for there was a magnificent stallion, a large horse, a huge horse, and a horse that had a mind of its own.  The Swede had admired that horse, a horse he would never hope to own, or even ride.  With a nod, the challenge was accepted.


              The lever of the Sharpes ejected the spend cartridge, which the Swede picked up and put in his pocket, feeling the heat.  Mr. Roosevelt notice that and asked,  “You don’t reload those monsters do you?

              The Swede shook his head no.  “It wasn’t here when I got here, it won’t be here when I leave.”  The man who would be instrumental in the formation of the national parks system nodded. 


              New bullet in place, in the chamber, the shot was more difficult.  The side of the board in the saw horse was only 4 inches, at a mile, barely visible.  Knowing the amount the bullet would sink was easy.  Seeing the target, difficult. 


              The sighting complete, the finger took its position and the trigger squeeze began.  The Swede knew what was on the line.  His horse, never quite big enough for his rider, was getting up in years.  The Black Stallion would be  big enough, and smart enough to make a great partner for the Swede. 


              The bark of the big Sharpes made some of the observers jump.  The old cowboy had a smile on his face, for he had seen the Sharpes hit an apple in a tree.  None of the other observers, that time 20 years before, had believed the shop until they saw the shreds of apple in the grass under the tree. 


              A mile away, the sawhorse bucked like the horse it represented, the big bullet hitting the middle of the board squarely, and taking out almost 12 inches of the wood.  The two pieces jumped in the air, and were seen even by those without the spyglasses taking a journey backwards. 


              Mr. Roosevelt quietly said, “Bully, damn Bully.”


              A comfortable winter, in a heated prairie home, with the attentions of the cook, and the maid was cowboy heaven.  In the spring, surprisingly, the old cowboy’s companion was fresh with child.  The cook was happy, the cowboy had done the honorable thing, proposing, and when the preacher came through on his rounds, the proper thing would be done.  The marriage certificate and the bible would be postdated 10 months before the birth, the marriage performed first, and then the baptism, as God intended.   The maid, imported from Paris, and wise to the needs of men, had put the training she received from the photographer of postcards to good use, and made the Swede happy in the manner of men, and avoided the burden of the cook, who was in her late twenties.  The maid was only twenty-one, and later would go to San Francisco where there was great money to made in the future as a madam, not far from the wharf.


              In 1898, the conflict with Spain came to war.  Mr. Roosevelt recruited his army partially from the ranks of cowboys, men who could ride, and shoot, and do both well at the same time.  The old cowboy wanted to go, but Mr. Roosevelt told him that he was needed here at the ranch, to run things, and train the young cowboys, barely in their teens.  However, the Swede was needed, for long range shooting.  In the campaign in Cuba, many widows were created with the Sharpes, for it was Mr. Roosevelt thoughts that if the officers were removed, the rest of the army would act like untrained rabble.  The Swede and the Sharpes were to prove him correct many times. 


              Upon his return to the ranch, Swede found that the maid had left on the train for the big city of San Francisco.  He had picked up the art of metal working at the ranch, and in the army had worked with metal when there was no fighting.  He found that keeping busy made the time go fast.  With only the cows, and Thor, the black stallion at the ranch, he decided to move to Madison, Wisconsin.  He had talked with other soldiers, and two from Madison had convinced him that it needed a man of metal, for the new factories, the building trades needed tools, and there was always work for a good man with skills.


              It only took a few weeks of easy riding, mostly following the railroad tracks from the ranch through Minneapolis, and then down through Wisconsin to get to Madison.  Two days after arriving, he was at the blacksmith shop on Park Street, where the man who owned it was in bad shape with coughing and spitting blood.  Cholera had stolen his wife and boys.  The girls were married, and their husbands were good providers in their own work. The smith had work that had backed up due to his illness, and when Swede cleared out the backlog, and organized the shop, the smith had realized that Madison had a new blacksmith.  Papers were drawn up, and for the princely sum of $1, the Swede owned three hundred feet of frontage on Park Street, and that went back a full four hundred feet to the rear lot line.  The building was sturdy, for a smithy.  They were usually built lightly, for they burned frequently.  There was a lot of business, for the people who watched him work saw a knowledge, and a manner of work that spoke of expertise.  Through the years his business grew, and his apprentices saw that it was better to work for the Swede than try to go out on their own.  There was a somewhat better appreciation of their abilities when they told people that they worked for the Swede, than admitting to having an anvil and a forge, because the Swede was a total metal man.  Welding, cutting, forging, pouring metal into forms, he did it all.


              And now, the big man, undressed to his underwear, debated leaving it on, or taking it off.  He had never been in a house, where there was a woman not in his bed, who was familiar with all of his body.  But this girl, Karin, was beautiful, quiet, somewhat shy, and frankly, everything his Emma had been.  What if he went to the bathroom during the night and she was there? Should he put on his shirt and pants?  Would underwear be ok?  Or, should he just chance it, and sleep as usual?  He decided on the later, for that is what he knew he would be most comfortable with.  As he walked back to the bed, the thunder was closer, good for the grass, now coming up in the new yard he had got around to seeding this spring.


              Somewhere around midnight, the storm hit with a fury.  There were many lightning strikes, a barn past the west edge of town, by the two cemeteries, the Catholic one on the left,  the city one on the right, was hit by lightning and burned to the ground.  The cattle of that farm were out in the fields, and two were killed under a tree.  Over on Keyes Avenue, several strikes close by work all in the houses their except for the deep sleeping Rosie.  At the Swedes, Karin fled her room in terror, her hair streaming behind her and she opened the door of the now awake Swede.  Her voice filled with terror asked.


              “I am afraid, I am so very afraid, can I stay with you until the storm is over?”  The man, himself a bit shaky from the proximity of the blasts, was thinking of the war in Cuba, and San Juan hill, nodded yes, his non-verbal answer understood in the light of the electric storm.  She was in the bed, under the sheets before he fully understood that the girl now grabbing him closely, in terror, was virtually naked, with only the oversized gown of Emma between him and her.  As she dove into the bed, the front had opened up, timed perfectly with a blast of lightning, and he could see the fullness of the teenagers breasts. As he then lay back on his own back he felt her soft flesh against his bare chest.  She snuggled instinctively under his huge biceps and rested her had on his chest.  Never before had she felt this safe.  She thought that he was just shirtless, in the summer heat, and her hands were wrapped around his chest. 


              The Swede was never more awake then he was now.  The beautiful blond, wrapped around him just like his Emma had so many times.  Her head on his shoulder, hair cascading everywhere.  Then, one of her bare legs climbed his, and wrapped about it, like a serpent.  She must know, she must know that there is nothing between us.  Her regular breathing signaled that she was right with the world.  Looking toward the foot of the bed, the Swede noticed the tent formed by his penis, only inches from a silky, unknowing thigh.  Sleep came to the Swede, but, not easily.


              Three hundred feet to the north, that close by lightning  hit was not unnoticed.  Emil awoke from a deep sleep.  After the house had gone dark, his beloved Rosie was sleeping a very deep sleep.  The three glasses of wine would have been enough to insure slumber, but she had her little bottle, and a sip or two from that was a nighttime regular.  Emil knew that with the two drugs, the alcohol, and the laudanum, a tincture of 10 % opium, and 90 % alcohol would make her totally asleep, and unaware of anything happening near her, or to her.  One of the French postcards had suggested something that was prohibited in the bible, and would have never entered the mind of a gentle person or breeding.  But the crockery, with large print of the word in French for butter,   beurre hinted of a necessary lubricant.  The position of the man and the woman, with the need for lubricant, left little to the imagination of anyone knowledgeable of human anatomy of the depicted activity.  Emil had become an aficionado of this activity, with his wife almost lifeless underneath him.  One of his customers, Dr. Shapiro, an expert in the area of female hysteria, with an office near the capital, but on the opposite side of that structure from the Buick Garage, had supplied him with the French letters that had been issued by the millions to the GI’s when they went to France.  Emil was too old for the Great War, but, a couple of the mechanics working for him had described them in detail when the day was over, and a bucket of beer was carried out the back door of the tavern down the block and down the alleyway.  After the first time, without the French letter, Emil had talked to Dr. Shapiro who gave him a supply in exchange for some gasoline from the large tank next to the garage.  Now, each adventure used one letter, and there was no evidence of malfeasance, nor was there a mess on his most favored body part. 


              The blast of lightning brought him awake.  Rosie was snoring slightly on her back.  He had to pee, and to get rid of the used prophylactic.  A trip to the necessary facility was in order.  Being used to padding around the house with children who would sleep through the end of the world, and a wife who would sleep through the resurrection, he was used to not wearing anything but yesterday’s cologne.   Tonight, the lightning was providing more than enough illumination to get to the bathroom, but he turned on the light so his aim would be sure.  The used prophylactic was deposited in the toilet bowl, and he started to pee. 


              It is well known that great minds think alike, and upstairs in the attic, the lightning blast had awakened Nadia.  The three glasses of wine had worked their way through her kidneys, and her bladder was full.  Like a cat, using the skills the Cossacks had taught her, she made her way down the steps using the outside of the stair treads, so there would be no creaking noise.  Her weight, slight as it were, was very close to the heavy wood that the treads rested upon.   When she was selecting something to wear, with a smile, she had held up one of Emil’s heavily worn shirts.  The cotton had been laundered so many times, it was soft.  Not quite silk, but soft.  A few buttons were missing, but two in the middle would suffice for sleep wear.  It was this she was wearing.  Long enough to cover her privates, but with the roundness of her cleavage readily apparent, she padded down the stairs like the predator feline she often felt she was.  When she was at the bottom of the stairs, she took the knob, pulling the door slightly toward her as she turned the knob.  When the knob was fully turned, she opened the door, slowly releasing the knob, silently.  This she had been taught by the leader of the Tsar’s assassins. 


              As she exited the door, she saw the light was on in the bathroom 10 feet directly in front of her.  The man of the house was standing and a strong stream of urine was launching into the bowl.  Her feet carried her closer to the door, and the motion caught his eye.  Naked as the day he was born, unable to do anything because the stream was not to be stopped, he looked at her like a deer caught in the headlight of the night freight train.  He then notice her smile, and when he finished she walked closer.  Shaking the penis, he turned to her.  She looked in the bowl, noticed the soiled French letter, and being a woman who had been kept busy in the bedroom arts, as well as the stable, the woods, the steppes, and on top of galloping horses, she know what he had been busy at.


              Taking his hand, she turned him to face her.  While watching, she had slipped the two lone buttons, and with him facing her, she slipped the shirt, which dropped silently to the floor.  She put her hands on his hips, and leaned forward.  She took his right nipple in her mouth, something that had never happened to him, which was surprisingly pleasurable.  Standing, she looked him square in the eye, and said one work.




              With that, she kneeled, and demonstrated to him that the women in the French postcards did not have a monopoly on the arts of love.  Her hands went to his Gluteus Maximus, and she hung on while she did her work.  The resulting explosion, which was impressive when the actions of two hours before were considered, did not take her by surprise, but she choked and coughed a bit.  Standing, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and taking the back of his head with her right hand, she kissed him fully on the mouth, insuring that he was fully appraised of the most recent happening. 


              Her work completed, she went to the toilet, and did that which she had started her jurney downstairs.  He was still motionless, after the kiss, and when she was finished, she approached him, taking his left hand to her breast, and kissed him again.  Although it would be some time until it was ready for battle, she took his sword with her right hand and stroked it a bit.  Looking at him, again, directly in the eye, she whispered.

              “There is more of that, and much more, if you treat me like a woman, and not a whore.  I will take care of your children as if they were their own.  Just respect me, and we shall enjoy life more fully than either of us should expect.”


              With that, she turned, picked up her shirt, and walked to the door up to the attic.  Silently, she opened the door, and after it was closed, again, silently, Emil was unable to hear her feet on the steps.  His only hint that she was in the attic was when a board creaked under her step.  She heard it too, and made a mental note to obtain nails and hammer, and secure it so it was silent.


              Morning was only a few hours away.  Emil returned, and slept the sleep of the exhausted.  He was awoke sometime after the sun shone in the front windows of the bedroom.  He rolled over and saw Rosie starting to stir.  Continuing his roll, he found himself on top of the still slightly drugged wife.  Her legs automatically parted, and the third release in less than seven hours was not fast in arriving, but arrive it did.

              The new showers were great for a quick clean up.  Swede had made them out of copper pipe and a sheet of copper formed into a head 6 inches in diameter, with over two hundred holes for the water to come out of.  Breakfast with the family was fun, with the new addition.  The table in the kitchen wasn’t really big enough for three adults and two children, so the meal was served again at the dining room table.  The wife to one side, the nanny to the other, with two beaming children at their sides.  The summer was still young, and it was just starting to be interesting.


              Three hundred feet to the south, the Swede had been awake for an hour or so.  Karin was still draped over him, hair washing over his shoulders, her face on his chest, one arm possessively over his chest.  Her leg, previously dangerously draped over his large muscular thigh, was now next to it.  The sheet provided some degree of modesty.  When she awoke, and by god, he loved watching a woman awake, the transition from sleep to awake was with a degree of comfort.  Blinking her eyes, she whispered.

              “Thanks you Swede, I was so frightened, and alone, and when I asked, you comforted me.  I will never forget that.”


              Ever the gentleman, he let her use the bathroom first.  As she went to get out of the bed, her entire breast was visible through the armhole of the gown.  Full, and high on her chest, the nipple was full and erect.  Smiling, knowing what he had seen, she turned to him, with a million kroner smile, and blew him a kiss. Turning to leave, her thighs were strong, with nothing but firm muscle.  As she left the room, she grabbed the hem of the gown, lifting it in preparation for sitting on the toilet.  The ever observant inactive sniper, saw the curves, the gentle curves of her butt. 


              “Mein gott, what have you blessed or cursed me with.”


              A breakfast of eggs, some thick bacon, and the sweet breads from the German baker on Monroe Street was the standard breakfast on Keyes Avenue in the 1920’s.  As Emil was leaving his house, to get into the Buick Touring Car, he saw the Swede alighting from his porch, the beautiful young teen on the porch waving goodbye to the huge man, and blowing him a kiss.  The Swede met him, driving the Model TT truck he had bought from Emil for almost nothing, surplused by the Faurenbach Brewery when the Volstead Act made breweries about as legal as counterfeiters.  The two men met, seated in their cars, one facing south, one north, and they exchanged the glances of men who had not slept much the night before.


Questioned Emil, “Did ya sleep good Swede, you look a little peaked.”  Said question with smile attached.


Replying, with the same smile.  “Yes, slept like a baby, burped and farted all night.” 


              With that the two men went about their day’s work.  They were content that the evening would be interesting  to say the least.







Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter Five. The Emigrants.

November 24, 2013

Chapter Five

      The Emigrant



The sun rises early in the northern latitudes, and when it does the sunlight will flood the rooms in the upper parts of houses first.  Up under the eaves in her Uncle Tobias’ home, the light moved across her body. 


Her toes, first to feel the warmth of the early sun, wiggled a bit, and the sunlight moved up her torso.  Due to the warmth of the first day of summer, and because all the heat in the house moved up, naturally, the usual morning temperature in the upper levels of homes in that small village, about 10 kilometers from Oslo, was about 80 degrees, unless there had been rain during the night.  At first, when she had moved there, two years ago, she had worn her nightgown, but, in the heat, without covers, it proved to be too much.  Soon enough, she had found that sleeping as nature had intended, with nothing but a light glistening of sweat, was the only way to get a good rest.  At the start of the night, sometimes, after cooking, and the heat of the day, it was up to 90 degrees, or more upstairs.  The two windows, one at the east, and one at the west, if they were open, often proved attractive to bats, and other nocturnal creatures, so they had to remain closed. 


              This morning, like so many others, found her, on her 18th birthday, curled into a fetal position, with the pillow half under her head, and half with her arms cuddled around it.  She had stopped having the nightmares, the nightmares that had started with the Spanish flu of two years ago, when half the village had perished.  The young men were hardest hit.  Responsible for the animals, they had pushed themselves to handle the chores when they were hit with the flu, and the additional stress from the heavy work, and the cold of the Norwegian winter and combined with the virus to kill far more of the boys/men in the 13 to 30 age brackets. 

              In her village area, of the 58 males in this age, a full 44 had died.  There were no men here, or anywhere around close by of marriageable age that weren’t already either married, betrothed, or, in the case of a couple, a little feeble in the head.  Ok for the heavy farm work, they weren’t what made a woman wish to carry their children, for, who wants to mother the village idiot.


              Karen had come down with the flu, along with her younger sister, Marthine her older brother, Alf, then her mother, Emma and father Joakim.  She watched with horror, as in a matter of days, first her sister, then her brother, and then with horror both parents suffer the ravages of the illness, then grow quiet after the racking coughs subsided.  Luckily, the village elders had met, before half of them died, and had the survivors, who were now immune, gather the dead, and after a blessing, dispose of the dead.  Due to the deep frost in the ground, burial, dug by the few with any strength was not possible.  Viking style cremations were held, the bodies kept in the cold for a few weeks in one of the barns without animals, the only way to store the dead inside, so the wild animals were keep from feeding.  Every fortnight, for it took that long to forage enough fallen wood in the forest, gather and transport to the village, the wood and the bodies of the fallen were interspersed, and at nightfall the survivors gathered to pray for the deceased, the religious elders would bless, and the fire was lit.  Through the night, tended by the strongest of the survivors, and fed more wood, the flames did their work, until the virus, and the dead were just memories and ashes.  Talk was of a memorial in granite, sometime in the future, but, for now, it was just talk.


              Karin had been welcomed into her mother’s sister’s home after the deaths.  Besides the two adults, Aunt Inger, and Uncle Peder, there was her cousin, Balder, a 16 year old boy, and his sister, Inga, 19 years of age, and a stunning blond.  Karin was treated like a member of the family, and her schooling continued after the schools reopened.  The farm of her mother and father was a valuable property, even with the decreased population.  The people who were interested in farm property  knew that there was competition for such good flat land in a country knows for fiords and mountains, and Karin’s uncle had helped her dispose of the farm.  After bills, there was left the equal of 10 years pay for a skilled man, which the uncle had directed the bank in Oslo to deposit in very safe investments.


              The winter of death, 1918, was followed by a warm spring.  Karin’s new family was quick to welcome her as one of their own.  Besides her own strong back and hands, Karin’s trousseau included all of the canned goods she and her mother and sister had put up the previous fall.  The larder had been full for a winter with the food expected for essentially 4 adults, and an adolescent girl, and that larder, of course, came with Karin. 


              She had had her beloved brother and sister, and like siblings throughout time, there were times of immense love, and compassion, mixed with times where she could have murdered either, or both of them.  As she aged however, she was more tolerant of her siblings, and had grown to love them, in spite of their failings, occasionally, because sometimes, they tried to act like civilized human beings.  As such, after the flu, she was aware even more so, that she must love those around her, and seek to make them happy, as well as herself, for there had been so much pain already.


              Uncle Peder had built a sauna in the back of the yard, away from the barn and out buildings, near enough to the house so you wouldn’t get lost, but out of earshot of the house, and out of smelling distance from the barn.  The prevailing winds kept the barnyard odors moving away from the house and the sauna.  This sauna was a Norwegian style, with lots of heat and steam, while his neighbors, the Tajiks, Margit and Erik, both survivors, in their early 30’s, had built a Finnish style sauna, favoring a dry heat.  Of course, in reality, all the difference was throwing some spring water on the hot rocks, above the coals, but, by maintaining the difference, the two men were easily able to persuade their wives to visit the neighbors for a different type of sauna.  


              After the children had bedded down for the night, or, sometimes even before, the two couples would meet for a sauna, the four would disrobe completely, for there is no room in a sauna for modesty.  The fire, lite for a while had brought the heat up, and dry, or wet, the occupants would soon start to perspire, heavy sweat for the men, glistening for the women.  Sometimes the children would join, for sauna was a family event, at first, towels were used, but after a while, the extra laundry of the towels for everybody was a burden, and the youngest questioned why they needed all the towels, because she had to wash them all and dry them.  Soon after, nature was the order of the day.  The sauna was great for relaxing the muscles, and the children learned the art of massage from watching their mothers massage the backs, chests, and legs of their men.  The massages after bedtime for the children, were someone more intense, and reciprocity was the order of the day, the women receiving the massage from the men, and not necessarily from their own husband.  The soon to be adult Karin was introduced to the sauna a few years before the flu, and she had seen her mother and father disappear into the little house with the chimney with her aunt and uncle, and sometime with the neighbors.  With six adults, there really wasn’t a need for a fire to make it hot and sweaty in such a small place.


              Sometimes, the older people got a little frisky when the children were present. Among themselves, the kids let it be known that it was fun to relax with your eyes almost closed, and with regular breathing so as to appear as though the child had fallen asleep in the sauna with the older people .  When the parents thought that there were no peeking eyes that were awake, they felt that they were free to explore and renew acquaintances.  Thus was sex education in the early 20th century in Norway, and for that matter, most other locations around the world. 


Karin had witnessed this many times when she was growing up, and she had been considered an adult since her 16th birthday, and free to watch and join.  She had been there when her parents and the neighbors had played together, but just as a witness, and there had been times when her cousins had invited her to the sauna.  One day, Uncle Peder and Erik the neighbor had invited Karin to a sauna, with just the three of them, and there was much to recommend the activities of the event.


Today, on her 18th birthday, today, June 21, 1920, was the start of the rest of Karin’s life.  Recognizing that there was nothing there in the village for her, no job, no man, no real future, she had asked the village elders, much fewer in number now, for advice on the rest of her life.  The women, old at age 50, told her to take her fortune anywhere but at the village.  One suggested going to America.  She had a son who had gone to Madison, Wisconsin, in the middle part of America.  His letters told of a good life, weather not as bad as that of Norway, with good crops, good people, and a good future for those who were willing to work.  He was a man of metal, starting as a blacksmith, and becoming an expert in the art of fabricating things from iron, steel, copper, bronze, and brass.  He had success, and had a modern new house, with running water, a furnace, a gas stove, and plumbing that was inside the house, imagine that! 


Karin asked the woman to write the man, her son in America, especially after his mother told her that the man had lost his wife to the flu two years earlier.  Karin suggested to the mother that the mother tell the man that there was a girl, in the village, also one who had suffered grievous loss in the epidemic, who was well educated in the art of keeping a house for a man, knowledgeable in canning, cooking, cleaning, watching little ones, and as a plus, easy on the eyes.  Karin smiled at that.  The farm life kept her stomach flat, her arms and legs shapely and strong.  She was a tall girl, about 5 foot, 6 inches, barely 125 pounds.  Her mother and father had given her beauty in the face, blue eyes like the fiord, blond hair half way down her back, the color of a hay meadow in the fall.  The midwives in the village had told her that she had good child bearing hips, and that her breasts, full sized like her mothers, would be good for feeding the hungry mouths of her children, and would be noticed by the men in her life.  Not all of this was in the letter she wrote to her son, the letter that Karin watched her write.  After Karin had left the house of the mother of the rich man in America, the mother took out another piece of paper and another envelope and wrote the next letter to her son. 


In this letter of recommendation, she compared Karin to the Norwegian woman lost by her son in the epidemic.  The beautiful hair, almost to her waist, the eyes that were pools that a man could become lost in, the face of an angel, and the figure, the figure that men would fight over.  The Vikings had valued their women highly, and bred the more beautiful ones over and over, so their offspring were highly desired by men around the world.  She wrote, “This woman, this woman I am sending you, it a god send to a man who has known the best.  Remember your late wife, but remember, that she would not have condemned you to a life of loneliness.  This woman, she is a woman that your late wife would have loved as a sister.  She is kind, gentle, quiet when she needs to be quiet, and, if it was she that I heard from the sauna of Erik, a woman of needs, and appreciations. 


Karin is coming to you as a servant girl, as a maid to a bachelor.  She is shy, and a lady.  I don’t think that it will be long before she loves you as a husband.  Be gentle with her, let her take the lead, and offer her kindness, a shoulder to cry on as the two of you grieve and share your losses.  I could not find a better woman for you, son, if I searched the entire country.  I look forward to your letters and pray for your happiness.” 


These two letters, picked up by the Postman on his rounds through the village, had been received by the man in Madison, Wisconsin.  Knowing his mother, and that she would be looking out for him in the best way, the Swede wrote back saying she would be welcome in his home for as long as she wished to stay with him as his maid.  Thus, a great journey was started.  He had sent money enough for a passage on the Red Star Liners that passed between the continents of Europe and America on almost a daily schedule.


In Norway.  Mama had shown Karen a picture of the man, sent with a lot of money.  Karen was pleased.  A Kodak picture of the man, in front of a huge new house, showed a tall man, square jawed, with the arms of a blacksmith, a smile that she found to make her melt, and a strong countenance that would make a woman think of a protector, and a provider.  The mother of the Swede, god, she hated that nickname he had chosen, was herself a descendent of the Vikings, and in the family it was still understood that the Vikings, not that damn Italian guy, had found the new world.  It belonged to Norway, but, as with many things it seemed, the guy with the hookup to the rich and famous seemed to get the attention.  Hmmmmm.


And so, on this day, a warm and sunny day in June, June 21, 1920, the great adventure began.  Her uncle, and the neighbor took her by horse and carriage to Oslo where she boarded a huge ship, bigger than anything she had ever seen before.  Its smoke stacks, three in number, had black smoke coming out in good amounts, which her uncle told her meant that the ship was soon to leave.  After kissing both men goodbye, and not kisses from a little girl to an uncle, but the kisses of lovers who would be separated, perhaps for the rest of their lives.  The neighbor would never forget that kiss, either.  Damn, that little girl had kisses like a woman who had a long history of kissing and pleasing. 


Once aboard, she was shown a cabin by a steward.  In the small room, there were six bunks, three high, on each side of the room.  Under the lowest there was room to store the valise she had brought, as well as the belongings of the other two girls who would bunk in that stack, and the bed as soft as a cloud to someone who had grown up with a mattress of straw, with a pillow of feathers.  Three of her roommates were already there.  A young mother, with a girl of perhaps three or four was in the lowest bunk on the left side of the room.  On the other, the top was taken by a shorter girl, perhaps 16, with black hair, and black eyes.  She was laying on her back, wearing a skirt and a blouse, and it was apparent that she was a girl of some shapeliness.  She rolled on her side and said hi, I am Jenny.  I am 18, and I am traveling to America to live with my uncle and aunt in Chicago, and they will pay for me to go to the University of Chicago.  The mother was silent, and watched Karen get settled in.  Karen chose the lower bunk, on the side that Jenny was on.  Karen exchanged pleasantries with Jenny.  The other woman, on the top bunk above the mother was face down, and there was a smell of gin about her.  Jenny said.

“She was drunk when she came aboard, she made a pass at the steward, and made a big show of wanting to be on the top.  She barely made it there.  I used to have a father who was drunk, and my mother told me to roll drunks on their stomachs so if they got sick they wouldn’t choke and die, so she, (motioning to the young mother) and I rolled her onto her front.  I don’t know what her name is.”

At this, the young mother looked at Karin and said,

“I am Inga, this child and I are all that are left in my village after the flu.  I tried to make a living in Oslo, but, there were no jobs for a mother without a man.  I was the only survivor in my village, and I had to take care of the dead, so I gathered all their gold, silver, and money when I left for Oslo.  I don’t know for sure who the parents of the baby are, but I know, they are dead, because I buried all of my village in a mine shaft in the mountain where they used to get iron ore.  When they were all gone, but us, I took the dynamite that they used for blasting, and did what my father, the blaster showed me how to do.  I closed the mine with a blast that changed the outside of the mountain, and good riddance to that place.” 


This was more words than Inga had said in one time since before the flu.  She had had no one left in her family, or in the village, and she didn’t know where she was going in America.  What the others didn’t know, was that in her valise, there was enough British Pounds Sterling to buy a small hotel in a modest   town.  There had been gold and silver from the village, but that had amounted to over 100 pounds of coins.  A man she met in Oslo, who had provided her shelter and food for both her and the girl child, in exchange for not much more than a wife would have provided, had been a banker, and had told her that the only way to travel was with British Pounds Sterling.  Quietly, going to banks in Oslo that were not the bank he worked at, she had converted the coins to paper money.


After she had missed two monthlies, she had told the man about that, and he had kicked her out.  The next one showed up in a couple of weeks, but by then she had decided to go to America.  Thus, she and little Kari were in the cabin with the other wayfarers who were escaping the past, with a sunny future ahead of them.

              A few minutes later, the steward opened the door, and escorted the last two women for that bunk room in.

Smiling at the room, now full, he said.

“We will depart in about a half hour, at 4:30.  Dinner, for this room each night is prompt at 7 pm.  If you miss it, the next meal will be breakfast, served for this room at 7 am.  Your lunch is the second lunch, at 1 pm.  There are clocks in all the passages, directly by the stairs between decks.  That is the time you will use to determine when to eat. There is a tavern for you steerage class customers, which is located directly under the dining hall.  There are maps in each hall showing where you are, and you should be able to find your way from them.  Your space is forward of the bridge, under no circumstances are you go behind the areas with the signs saying   ‘Steerage not allowed past this point.’  If you can’t read, you will spend the rest of the journey in lockup.”  Enjoy your trip, thank you for sailing with the Red Star Lines.

The two young women he had escorted in looked at the two remaining bunks in the middle of each stack, and looking at each other moved to through their carpet bags, identical to each other, on their respective bunks. Amy looked at Amber, and addressed the crowd.

“I’m Amy, this is Amber, and we are identical twins.  We are from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and we are returning home from visiting our grandparents in Oslo, the Andersons, perhaps you have heard of them.”

Looking at the four heads shaking no, the two girls looked at each other and shrugged their identical shoulders.  Upon close inspection, everything about the two was the same.  Same dresses, same haircut, same smiles, eyes, and figures.  If they were standing in front of a piece of glass, you might have suspected that it was a mirror.


Pleasantries were exchanged all around, again, except for the drunk in the top bunk.  At the proper time, checked by the clock out in the hall, the five young adults, and the child left for dinner.  The drunk, still face down, breathing regularly.


Dinner was fresh chicken, fried in the American southern style.  This was possible because they were tied up at the dock when the cooking was going on.  A pitching ship was no place for frying in large pots of grease, but, at the time the dinner was served, the dry steam heat from the warming closets made for a tasty meal.  All the girls ate hearty, for, they were of Viking stock, even the twins from Minnesota, and the pitching of a boat was not foreign to them. 

The dinner was finished, and forty minutes after they had started, they were escorted out of the dining hall, for in another twenty minutes, the next feeding would start.  The intervening 20 minutes was for cleaning the tables, new linens, silver wear, and crockery.  The dining room staff were efficient, most had had this job, or one on another line since they were barely out of childhood. 


The women went back to their room, stateroom wasn’t really appropriate, because that title would have suggested amenities, such as chairs, tables, perhaps a dresser.  There was only a desk, with no drawers, and a chair bolted to the floor, at the end of the room opposite from the door.  The chair did rotate, and the first woman in the door found the drunk siting in it, facing the door.  Holding her head in her hand, facing the floor, she looked like death warmed over, but not too much. 


Amber asked, “If you get that drunk and sick, why do you drink so much?”


The reply, with a soft voice, in an eastern accent, was telling.  “I don’t drink, I was drugged.  They wanted to keep me silent, but after I felt the needle stick, I ran, I ran because I needed to get to a place with people quickly before they could capture and hold me.  The ship I had a ticket on doesn’t leave until the day after tomorrow, so I paid the steward handsomely to get me on this ship.  I am safe now, but I feel like a Cossack on the day after payday.”


Karin asked “Russian, are you Russian”


Her reply was telling.  “White Russian, used to be with the tsars household, have been on the run since the revolution.  Do you know what a White Russian is?  Nothing special, just a Russian who is not a red communist.”  The Reds are after me because they think I know something about the Tsar’s family, but, what would it matter, the bastards killed all of them, right down to the youngest.   


The drug was wearing off.  Karin had grabbed some fruit and some bread from the table, along with a fried chicken breast.  Nadia, the Russian, looked at the meal like a Russian wolf on the Siberian steppes would look at a sleigh full of rich fat tsarists.  She asked

“Is that for me?”

A nod yes was sufficient.  While eating, she continued her story. 

“I have been on the run since the slaughter of the Tsar and his family.  I have disguised myself as a peasant, a nun, a whore, and a revolutionary.  Believe me, the easiest disguise is that of a whore, nobody cares, except for that which a few coins buys.  They don’t want to know your history, your past, which side you favor, your age, how many children you have, nothing.  ‘Here’s a few coins, girl, on your back.’”

The chicken was the first she had tasted cooked that way with spices used as if it was served in the finest restaurant in Atlanta.  The bread was a good quality bread, with no sticks or rocks, or sand from the grinding wheel.  The fruit was fresh, not starting to rot, or with animal bites already in place.  To Nadia, this was a feast.  There had been some half-weeks when she had not had this much to eat.  The food helped her to come out of the drugs.  The water, fresh, with no bugs, dirt, or leaves, was sweet to her palate.  She continued with her story.


“After the slaughter, I made my way to the west.  The Americans, and the British had sent some troops, but, true to politics, they were kept from being efficient or effective.  It took some time, walking, mostly, but sometimes catching a ride with the supply trucks, huge things with solid tires, they called them Macks.  The Americans and British were for the most part gentlemen, and those who weren’t, were trainable, or they died.  Mostly, I found if I started the conversation, a negotiation was easy to make, and I got transportation, food, water, and protection for nothing more than any other man I would have travelled with would have wanted.  I made my way to the border, crossed in the night, and it took a year to make it to Oslo, In Oslo, there were some men, the damn Bolsheviks, on the look for Russians, White Russian, Red Russians, didn’t matter, they weren’t supposed to be in Oslo, so these men would find them, follow them, drug and capture them, and nobody would see them again.  We found a couple of them, the other Whites and I, and cut their throats while they slept, they thought with whores.  The money we stole from them bought passage for three of us, but, the other two were caught in a café, and were shot in the back of the head by the Bolsheviks.  I was in the bathroom, and when I heard the shots, saw what happened, and quietly left by the back door, with a bag of table linens.  They ran past me as they made their escape, and I made my way with the bag back to the little room way up high in a rooming house.  We had our own money, and I took all of it, and on the way down the steps, the two shooters were on the way up.  I brushed past, and the last turned and said something.  I ignored him, and he stepped in front of the other’s gun and took the bullet intended for me.   The shooter swore are me, and tripped over the dead guy and fell.  His revolver bounced on the step, and hit me in the back, I picked it up and shot the bastard in the head.  Down the stairs, out the door, I ran, I found another Bolshevik outside, waiting, and he stuck me with a needle when I ran out the door with my bag.  I turned, and shot him in the face.  I hope I killed him.  I ran for the ship, and two more came around the corner.  Guns drawn, they didn’t recognize that a woman with a laundry bag and a valise was a danger, and I shot them both in their balls.  With only one bullet left, as I approached the boat, I faked a sneeze, and dropped the gun over the dock into the water.  I made it up the gangplank, and bribed the steward, and here I am.”


With that, she went to her bunk.  Having admitted to four murders in the 30 minutes before she boarded the boat, all 5, with wide eyes, looked at Karin who made a sign with her finger across her lips, like a zipper.  Silence would be good for all.  


The mother went to her bunk, and lay down, with the child between her and the wall of the cabin, looking over her shoulder, she smiled at the four, and turned her head back to cradle the child, as if it was her own.


Like a pack of she-wolves on the prowl, Karin, Nadia, Amber, and Amy and the petite Jenny left the room, looking for the tavern.  Soon enough, the noise and the smell of tobacco smoke beckoned.  They arrived, some with a few coins, others with funds they did not want to spend. 


Finding the tavern, was easy, getting in could be another.  In first and second class, the men and the women were separated when they drank, even man and wife, unless they were in their stateroom.  Here, in steerage, the women were encouraged to not enter the male territory of the tavern.  However, the two crewmen who were supposed to watch the door were otherwise occupied with two Irishmen who had booked from Oslo to Liverpool, and who had discovered that the strong Norwegian beer was quick to go to their heads.  Getting somewhat obnoxious, they were escorted back to their cabin where they would sleep it off.


The girls waltzed right in, and the men in the tavern, sensing a good thing, closed in behind them as they headed to the bar.  The back bar, even in steerage, was an immense wooden thing, covering the entire wall at the end of the tavern with wood shelves and cabinets.  The women targeted this destination.  As they went past a table of Germans, trying to act like Norwegians, but with a definite German accent to their textbook correct Norwegian, two glasses of fine lager were pinched by the twins.  As the other two were getting close to the bar, Amy and Amber wandered off with their glasses, while two of the Germans wondered what had happened to their drinks.  Looking on the floor for broken glasses or spilled beer proved to be highly entertaining to the real Norwegians in their proximity.


Having lost Jenny in the crowd, Karin and Nadia approached the bar.  Wonders of wonders a space opened up as the young men, seeing opportunity approach, moved to make room for the women at the bar.  Nadia looked at the bartender, her eyes squinting in recognition.  He looked at her, with a similar hardening of the eyes, which suddenly opened wide.


Nadia whispered. “The name is Nadia, and yes, it’s me.”  Because they were now speaking in Romani, the language of the gypsy, no one was the wiser.  To the others, surrounding them, there was just a murmuring, most of their speaking was by lip reading, a skill the two had practiced when they were young, and their parent’s caravans were often together.  He nodded.  He was there himself under another’s name, and identity which the real owner was past missing.  An error while riding a horse on a dark road, and a broken neck do not make for an interest in the present.  Two beers were instantly passed across the bar.  Nadia introduced Karin to the bartender now know at Theodore, and the two women took their leave.  Amber and Amy were in deep discussion with two Oslo boys who were desperate to polish their English.  That the object of their attention were two angels, identical to the smiles on their faces just made the shine that much better. 


Nadia sighted in on a table with four stools bolted to the floor, just three men, actually boys, were there and all three gave up their stools for the two women.  The women made their choice of seating arrangements and small talk ensued. 


One of the realities of ship life, is that there is little privacy outside your cabin, and when your cabin is shared with six other humans, the opportunity to spend time with your beau is rare indeed.  However, Amy and Amber had found two lads who had the good fortune to be two of the four who actually showed up in their bunk cabin when the ship departed.  The other two had been sea sick since the departure, and were tucked in for the night on the deck in two deckchairs.  It seemed to make the rocking and rolling of the ship more tolerable.  This was soon explained to the twins, who had already had the fun of leaving the room together, and returning to the other’s stool, and taking up the conversation with the new friend of their respective sisters.  The boys never caught on, and if they did, probably wouldn’t have cared. 


They had seen Jenny, the queen of the party, in a circle of about 7 young men.  She had a glass of the lager in her hand, and seemed to be having the time of her life.  Amy and Amber left with the two lads, after a brief discussion of the value of generosity.  Upon their return, about 40 minutes later, the Jenny girl was still surrounded, this time with 6 men.  Nadia and Karin were having interesting discussions with their boys, and Amy and Amber located the next fishes in the barrel. 


Nadia excused herself when she saw Theodore going out a door to the side of the back bar, and quickly made her way there and was through the door in less than a half minute.  Theodore was thrilled to see her, and the two lovers reunited behind the now locked door.  Upon her return, she looked at Jenny, evaluated the situation, and like a dutiful big sister went to the now tipsy Jenny and plucked her from the party that was soon to happen in the bunk room of the six cousins.  Taking Jenny by the arm, she collected Karin from the three new best friends and made their way back to the cabin.  Amy and Amber were returning again for the second time.  As they were not new to this behavior, they had left off the lipstick and facial makeup, as if they needed it at their age.  Thus, nothing was askew, nothing was a telltale as to their behavior that evening.  Joining the group of three, they made their way back to the cabin.


Thus was spent the remainder of the trip.  The evening trips to the tavern always resulted in the twins adding to their purses, Nadia was brought up to date on the happenings with the family, and the rumors of the Tsar and the remnants, few indeed, of the household and the government now destroyed.  She was told of another good friend of the Tsarist household, a cousin of one of the Cossacks, who was in Hollywood, California, and had made the transition from the stage, the thing they called vaudeville, to the new entertainment, the moving pictures.  He told her how to find him, it she should ever get there.  Jenny was pretty much a moving target for anyone with pants who she was noticed by.  Her smile, her short stature made her look like a young target of opportunity, which, frankly, she was.  Nadia was forever looking over her shoulder and dragging her away from dangerous liaisons.  Karin, well Karin was still mourning, and didn’t see the point in making new friends who would disappear forever in a few days.  Besides, Karin was soon to be in Madison, Wisconsin, and if she kept her mind about her, perhaps to be married to a man of substance.  Perhaps.


The ship trip, and the time in immigration quarantine at Ellis Island took a while, and they were released on July 5, 1920.   Amy, Amber, Jenny, Nadia, and Karin all booked passage on the same train to the Midwest.  Inga and the child disappeared, perhaps forever into the depths of New York City.  Claiming to have relatives, it was agreed by the rest that she would be alright.  Perhaps.


The train schedule, printed on tissue paper, showed that the train would be in Chicago on July 7th, 1920, at 7 am, and after a transfer, all but Jenny would be on the same train to Madison, then Minneapolis for the twins.  Nadia thought that she would stay on the train with the others to Madison, check out the city, and then pass on through to Los Angeles, California in due time.  Not a bad decision, but one that would lead to some surprises.   


Right on time, the train pulled into the station by Wilson Street, Williamson Street, and they picked up their belongings and left the two businesswomen, Amy and Amber to their future in Minneapolis.  Arriving back in town with more money than they had left with three months before, they were already planning their next trip.


On the platform, Karin was quick to see the Swede.  He was a head above the others, a regular looking family.  A man most would see as handsome, a wife of some substance, a loving smile, and a shapely figure, with two children.  A daughter of perhaps 9 or 10, and a beautiful little boy, perhaps 4.  As the two women started down the platform, Nadia was planning her future.  Uncertain at best, she had build her grubstake on the ship, a little from the card games she knew from the Cossacks, and a lot from her womanly knowledge and charms.   She watch Karin get greeted from the man she introduced as the Swede.  The names of the family blew past her as she checked the rest of the platform for the next mark.  Then she heard Karin say that she, Nadia, was an established nanny, having worked in Moscow, and now needing both a place to stay, and a job. 


The mother looked at the man, with a look in her eye, that only another woman familiar with men would recognize.  The man, knowing his wife, nodded, and the wife addressed Nadia directly. 

“We have been thinking of a nanny, to take care of the house and the children while I am busy with some charity work.  We could offer you a trial period, and if you work out, $5 per week plus room and board.  You would eat with the family.”

Nadia did not have to think twice.  “I would be most grateful for an opportunity to prove myself as a worthwhile addition to your household.  Thank you for this opportunity.” 


After more talk, the group, now seven in number, moved out to the street.  While there were a few horse draw freight trailers, this group approached a new Buick Touring Car.  The men and the small boy entered the front, and the mother took the girl on her lap with the two new emigrants flanking her.  The journey began.

Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter 4. Night Life.

November 19, 2013

Chapter Four

Night Life


The milk bar had been a tavern before the passage of the Volstead Act, also known as prohibition.  Built in the 1880’s the building had two stories facing the front, and set back from the front wall, another story.  The business filled the front of the building completely, because the stairway to the rear was off of the side street.  The building was 25 feet wide, and about 100 feet long, frame construction, with a brick veneer on the two sides facing West Main Street on the front, and Fairchild Street on the side. 


When prohibition started, there was a last blow out on the night before tee totaling became the rage, and what was left of the liquor and beer disappeared into people’s basements at home.  Reopened the next day as a milk bar, the same waitstaff served the same customers the same beverages.  The only difference, was that the Police department was encouraged to look the other way through the application of funds to supplement the small salary that they were paid.  In some cases, the supplement exceeded the salary, and the policemen were aware of who was making their life worthwhile.


Occasionally, there had to be an arrest, and when it happened, the papers printed the story, and it was usually accurate, because the reporters and the publisher frequently drank lunch there, and were the witnesses.


The owner always claimed that he had no knowledge of illegal activities and showed the storage cooler and its supply of milk (which ended up at the hospital and the orphanage).  The bar tender, frequently one of the near-do-wells all communities possess, hired for the day and paid well to take the hit, spent some time in jail and had a bar tab waiting for him when he came out. 


This Monday night, there was a band, the milk was flowing in the front, but, if you went through the secret door up in the front, down the stairs to the secret passageway along the inside basement wall, then came up the vertical ladder into the speakeasy, the beverages were beer, local; and whiskey, imported from Canada, or so they said.  Through the magic of a glass which looked like a mirror from the milk bar side, and like a tinted window from the speakeasy side, the band could be enjoyed by both sides.  That night, in the milk bar side, there were two rather good sized men, who during the day loaded and unloaded railroad cars, sipping their milk, and a couple of girls, not quite 18, and who everyone agreed should spend their time in the milk bar side of things.


The door opened, and the girls from the Park Hotel entered, Marie, the polish girl smiled and hugged the two giants, and hugged the two teenagers.  The new women, Karina, Edyta, and Anastasia, also were introduced to the men, and similarly held hands and hugged the girls.  Knowing the way, the leader of the pack went over to the area near the wall, and pealing back the throw rug, lifted the ring from its place imbedded in the wooden trap door, and opened the door in the floor.  She tripped lightly down the steps into a long hallway, about three feet wide that went under the area where the band was playing.  At the end of the hall, she started up a series of steps built into the wall, and flipped a light switch at the top, just below the trapdoor in the floor above.  The guardian of the door, seeing a dim light blink, opened the trapdoor, and guided Marie out.  Smiling at him, she gave him a wink and a hug.  His hands wandered, and worked their way around from her back to her chest, where he reacquainted his hand with her bosom, certainly not for the first time that summer.  Enjoyed by both, and witnessed by the three gypsy women, the grope ended, perhaps too soon for both involved.  Wisely, with strangers, the also large man took each of the women’s hand in turn, and gave them each a kiss on the back of an offered hand.   The older women, to his surprise, took him in her arms, and kissed him fully on the lips, while her right hand explored his privates, and determined that all of him was bigger than average, and growing.  His eyes now open, he smiled and nodded. 


There were about 25 people in this part of the establishment, a bartender who was busy, a back bar man who brought the beverages to the coolers from another stairway to the basement, this part of the basementnot connected to the subterranean passage, and brought ice to chill the drinks.


The band played the popular songs of the new decade, the piano player was a man of color, known in the area for his command of the ivory keyboards.  Another man of color, a string man, had a guitar, and a banjo.  A coronet player also covered the alto sax, and the sax man, who worked in a bank during the daytime hours was also a vocalist.  Tonight, they had a female singer, who in later years would become famous and would marry well, to a Hollywood man.  Tonight, she was a 19 year old local girl, who had also sang in the choir at the cathedral, but whose father had the appliance store, and an endless supply of music for the Victrola.


The band had just finished its version of “Yes Sir, that’s my Baby” by Gene Austin, and was rolling into “Empty Bed Blues” by Bessie Smith.  This song showcased the voice of the local girl, Angella, another girl who had lost someone to the Spanish flu.  In her case, her mother and brother had passed, and just one year later her father had been hit in the head by a horse’s hoof and lingered for two days before death came to his bed.  Nowadays, she worked in the bank of the saxophone player, and sang to forget her pain. 


The polish girl, Marie came to the bar, and was recognized by the barman who came right over.

“Four beers for my friends, and one for you.”


Even at her young age, the girl had figured out that if you bought the hired help a beer, smiled, and flirted, they weren’t going to ask any questions, and might even cover for you if it was needed. 


As he handed the frothy three day old beverages over the bar, Harry asked, “Is the young one old enough?”


With a wink, her reply made him pause and think.  “In your humble opinion, kind sir, would you kick her out of your bed for not being old enough?


Smiling, the shake of his head signaled his opinion.  The beers distributed, the four took the first sip.  All but the oldest had faces about the flavor of the first drink.  The older woman, having been accustomed to the brew of the Cossacks, who fermented anything they would encounter, including some things that you would never think of being an ingredient, thought that the beer was ok, tasty, and she could taste the alcohol in it.  Besides, the temperature, about 38 degrees, killed most of the disagreeable characteristics.  Looking around the room, she noticed that the men outnumbered the women in a favorable ratio, from the women’s view.  With about 25 souls on board, less the two barkeeps, and the doorman there were 22.  The three women in attendance prior to their arrival were not even remotely competition.  One, Susan was the victim of the wife beater, in the dark, her shiner wasn’t too noticeable.   Another was one of the “professional women” notorious in the uptown crowd.  Sheila wasn’t above using a Mickey Finn to make her conquests sleep, while she borrowed the contents of their wallet.  Her cousin, the Sargent, had schooled her in the craft of leaving about half of the cash in the wallet, then the mark would think that when he was drunk, he had over spent, and not be alarmed that he had been robbed.  Thus, she had never been suspected, or arrested, and pretty much had her pick of the litter.  In fact, there were a few, who remembered the great time they had had with her the previous time, went out of their way to give her the opportunity to get another contribution.  All they remembered in the morning was that a fine time was had by all. 


The third, a woman in her late twenties, was a stranger, no one had ever seen her before, but she was striking, in her own way.  Glasses, hair down to her shoulders, wearing a wasp-waisted skirt, and a form fitting white blouse, with the top two buttons loosened in the heat of the eve, Sister Michael Mary was totally disguised in street clothes, for she had only been seen previously in the full garb of the Dominican nuns of the cathedral prior to this eve. 


The band started a tune well known as a great dance song, and the men started looking at the women, now seven in number.  Susan, needing some cash to bail out her bastard husband, so he could get back to work to support the family, was the first brave woman, and she selected one of the two swells leaning at the bar and perusing the women.  Her choice was Michael, late of the county jail.  Having done without female company for almost four complete days, he was an easy mark.  After asking, she took his hand and led him out to the dance floor.  According to the statutes of the city, dancing without a cabaret license was illegal, but in an illegal saloon, the flagrant violation of city statute caused by cutting a rug was, frankly, not a big concern.  Following her suite, the professional, Sheila, selected Matthew, the brother.  A look, a nod, and the two were dancing about three feet apart.  Matthew caught his brother’s eye, and winked, which was caught and returned with a nod.


Karina, well acquainted with the formal dances of the Romanov household, had indeed taught the Tsars sons the steps of many of the popular dances favored by royalty.  The dances of the Cossack guards were somewhat less formal, certainly more sensual, including some of the moves borrowed from the belly dancers of Turkey and further south.  But this, the popular dances of the early 20th century, here in America, was different.  She was studying the moves when a well-dressed man, in full suit and tie, with polished shoes approached her.


“Excuse me Miss, may I have the pleasure of this dance, shared only with you?”


“Certainly, but, I have been abroad for some time, I do not know the steps, but I can be considered a quick learner”


Dr. Learner, Bruce by first name smiled at this remark.  Taking her hand, he led her to the dance floor, where the other two couples were working up sweats, the men enjoying the glistening of the moisture on the exposed bosoms of each of the ladies.  Karina picked up the fundamentals quickly from the other two women, after all, this was a dance in an illegal bar, in the middle of nowhere in frontier America.  Soon enough, she was laughing, smiling, and enjoying the dance. 


The band led into another fast song, related to the Charleston, but of their own flavor.  Quickly enough, Marie, the local girl, and Edyta, the 24 year old ex-governess, and the 20 year old Anastasia had grown partners.  Through a couple of more songs, the first three on the floor kept their partners, while the other four women shared themselves with the remainder of the men.


The band leader, seeking the time was right, selected a slow dance, a dance that hinted at full body contact.  Susan seized her partner, and put her hands and arms up around his neck.  He could feel her breasts, considered good sized by her jailbird husband, pressed up against his chest, and as they moved, she rubbed her chest against his somewhat more than the dance required.  Her next step was to slide her leg between his, letting her sweaty thigh rub his penis in a way that let him know that she was searching.  His hand on the wall side of the couple moved from her waist up to her flank, just below her breast.  She looked up at him, smiling, and dipped her knees a little.   The move relocated his hand to her 38 inch chest.  There was no question at this point.  She whispered in his ear,

“There’s more of that, but, I am embarrassed to say, I am short on the rent this month, would you, kind sir, be able to help me with that problem of mine,  I would be so thankful for your assistance.”


Not a shy man, he smiled, and nodded.

“Would a two or three make you happy?”

“Yes, and for three, you would be happy, for a fiver, you could do me twice.”

With a bounce in her step, as they danced, she continued to rub herself against him, now standing directly in front of the aroused man,holding herself tight, so his now fully erect manhood was pressed into her dampened womanhood.  She could feel his bulge against her most private, sensitive bump, and the feeling only increased her sense of wellbeing, her arousal, and her anticipation of the near future.

  Watching his brother, Michael held the pro, Sheila, close to him.  A more slender woman than Susan, her breasts were no less prominent, and to his vision, the sweat was a glistening that drew his eyes from her face, a vision of beauty in itself.  She had high cheekbones, green eyes, and naturally red hair.  Michael was aware of the popular understanding that redheads were a little crazy, and in his history, that had proven correct.  Maybe normal girls used it as an excuse to act out, maybe there was truth, but, a redhead was damn near a sure thing, if a man was smooth, and didn’t push too much.  Sheila was also aware of the other well-dressed man, and the progress the housewife was making.  Probably another of the $3 tricks that made it tough to charge more. 

Sheila took the opportunity of a change in steps to change from a frontal, but not too close position, to one that pressed her breasts into his jacket, and her thighs into his, sliding one between his legs.  Like Susan with his brother, there was an almost instant reaction. Putting her arms up around his neck, the breasts were rubbing him with each dance step. 

Michael damned himself for not taking his jacket off before dancing.  At first the condemnation was for the perspiration that was going to saturate the material, with the change in steps, it was the proximity of a beautiful young woman, wearing apparently just a dress with a slip, nothing else between her breasts and him on her side, but, with the jacket, the vest, and the shirt, and undershirt, there was a damnable amount of clothing deadening the contact of her nipples with his skin.  However, his hand dropped down her back, and resting on her left buttock, he could feel damn little cloth there.  Certainly the dress, perhaps a slip, but, was there any other clothing there? 

His eyes wandered to the four other women who were dancing the slow dance with the other customers of the milk bar.  The polish girl, who had satisfied him multiple times since he checked into the Park Hotel, was with an older man, the two danced as one.  He saw the man’s hand fondling her breast almost from the start of the dance, and she did nothing to discourage his wandering hands, because hers appeared to be stroking him from the front.


The older of the gypsy women, at that description, he smiled. As a con-man since he was pre-teen, he had met gypsies, and picked up many of the tools of his trade from them, and these weren’t gypsy woman.  Their physical appearance told of good eating, they all were taller, with good complexions, and their posture told of good shoes, and an upbringing of character. All three were not looking over their shoulders to see if the cops were here, and they seemed as though they were used to being in a controlled environment, with their next meals secured.  This one, the older, walked with a confident step, and danced with steps that betrayed a classical education in the art of the dance.  She was aware of her surroundings, but with a casual manner, that did not give an alarm.  The partner she had selected, Dr. Bruce Learner, was a recent graduate of the medical school, here in town.  Well-schooled in medicine, he had paid for a large part of the cost with his prowess at the billiard table.  Michael had spotted him at the billiard room at the Park Hotel, and after a short chat over two beers, he had suggested a friendly game at the table.  Michael had lost the first game, as was his do, and when he upped his game at the higher stakes of the second game, he was beaten soundly.  Wise enough to not put all of his grub-stake on the third game, he started out well enough, but at the point in the game where about half of the balls of each player had found their pocket, the good Doctor had cleared the table.  Michael then bought a pitcher of cold amber brew, and proceeded to find out all that the Doctor would share.  His father was a banker, after he started the schooling, father had purchased, or caused to be built, a home on Keyes Avenue, on the western outskirts of town.  He had a younger sister, and like many, his mother had died during the flu outbreak.  Interning with a physician on the east side, who specialized in women’s hysteria, he was ready to open an office on Monroe Street, on the fashionable and growing west side of Madison.  In an area of new homes, there would be a good supply of women who needed the popular treatment of women’s hysteria.


Busy now on the dance floor with the older gypsy, a woman who probably had just seen her 30th birthday, the Doctor and the woman were dancing respectably, not like Michael and Matthew and their partners, who had dollar signs in their eyes.  Michael could see that the two were talking, The Doctors hands on her waist, and her hands on his shoulders. 

The other gypsy women were also engaged. Edyta, a woman of perhaps 5 and a half feet, with blond hair, down to her mid back, was being held by the Sargent of the Legislature.  A military man, he had served in both the Spanish conflict in 1898, and in a training position as a Master Sargent in the camps training the troops for the war to end all wars.  Michael had chatted him up during multiple lunches, and know that he liked the younger women.  A man  of almost 50, he had told Michael that the women his old age had had so many men, for the most part, that they didn’t want any part of a man unless he married them and put them up in a house with a garden.  Dating them was a waste of time, and if something did happen, my god, 50 years was too much for a woman in the early 20th century, especially when there were so many young fillies loosed in the capital city. 


Their dance, during slow one, was enjoyed by both.  The Sargent was still in shape.  In the basement of the capital, he had a weight set, and punching bags in several sizes were hung from the joists.  He was frequently joined in his workouts by the various legislators, both the ones who like some physical activity, and the older ones who enjoyed the companionship of other military men, and the glasses they shared.  A wise man, he wore only a shirt, a cotton one that let the sweat evaporate, and which allowed the pleasures of the slow dance to be absorbed.  Edyta, also educated both in the art of the dance, and in the ways of military men, flirted in a manner barely observable to the outsider, but to the object of her attention, there was almost a painful building of desire when she looked at him.  For, she had been taken aside by one of the older women in the court, the previous Tsars favorite, who had been kept on by his son when the older passed.  From the Tsars bedmate to chief of all the maids and servants some would have seen by some as a demotion, but this woman was also wise to the world.  If she was not in the Tsars household, she would have been outside, and survival outside was very iffy.  Especially if it was known where she had spent her early adulthood through middle aged.  From her, Edyta had been taught that a woman’s eyes tell the observer much.  A steady glance offers a different message than a flirting, but returning glance. A woman‘s mouth told a story also, thin lips, with no smile, did not hold promise to the male observer.  If she wore a frown, it was not unlike seeing dark clouds on the horizon of the steppes.  Bad weather in the near future.  Best to take cover, run, hide.   However, if happy eyes were above a smile, a flirting glance, a furtive look, the message was clear to the observer.  “I am woman, I am available, I am yours.”   Edyta had tried this with the males in the household.  From the macho Cossack house guards, to the mechanics who drove and maintained the Tsars Rolls Royce motors, to the youngest footman, all had experienced the various eye and mouth options, and Edyta found that the seasoned woman was right.  She would be able to get whatever she wanted, just by starting with a glance and a smile.  Twisting her upper torso, with the form fitting blouses she favored, with the top two buttons undone, as they were now, merely lined up the lambs for the slaughter.   


Meanwhile, Karina was enjoying her liai.son with a new male challenge.  Her partner, the good Doctor Learner, was also a student of the opposite sex.  Early on in his medical education, an unlikely mentor, the janitor and boiler man of the medical school, sharing a pint with him in the halls after a long day, has asked him laughingly if he was going into the practice of treating hysterical woman.


Bruce, like just about every man in the times, hadn’t the faintest idea of what he was talking about.  The janitor, who had some steam pipe passages in the walls, told him about using the passages, with the proper holes to view through, to observe one of the older doctors treating a matron of the mansion hill district.  She came to him weekly, the same time every Tuesday, and smiling at the physician, reclined on a lounge with a smooth leather covering.  The good doctor, taking his seat on a stool at the end of the lounge,  reached under her long black dress, and removed her underwear.  Putting some cream or lotion on his fingers, his hand explored up the tunnel formed by the dress, and that his fingers had found their home was evident when the madam’s back arched.  The treatment took sometimes from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, and sometimes, during a successful treatment, the good doctor had to put his hand over her mouth.  Afterwards, a warm moistened towel for her, often applied and used by the doctor, to clean and freshen up her privates, while he cleaned his hands on another.  Flushed and sometimes blushing, the wife of the real estate man, left the medical school clinic building to the waiting linoleum for the ride home.  The janitor has seen a $10 dollar bill pass hands, and the physician shortly after, asked the janitor for a bowl of ice to cool off the cramps in his working hand.  No words passed, but, the doctor, realizing that the janitor was witness to the afterhours visit by the aristocracy of the city, pressed a dollar into his hand.  A knowing look, and a nob, had cemented the silence, and every Tuesday, after the visit, the janitor had a bowl of ice for the physician.  That was the knowledge he used to inform the young, soon to be Dr. Bruce Learner that this particular older physician had some vital career relating knowledge of some value. 


Doctor Bruce had caught onto the tricks of the trade, and apprenticed, as it were, at Dr. Cartwright’s office on the intersections of Atwood Avenue and Winnebago Streets.  A new area, it had a variety of income strata, there were more women in need of treatment of hysteria than even Dr. Cartwright had imagined.  After two years, Dr. Cartwright had felt that the young Dr. Bruce was ready to go out on his own, and the two made a partnership, with Dr. Cartwright being the partner who provided the financial backing to Dr. Learner for a period of five years.  The money Dr. Cartwright laid out for outfitting the office, a desk for the receptionist, the first month’s rent, the lounge, the towels, and the other necessities of the trade was recoupled in a few months, and both were well paid for their efforts.  The new office, on the second floor of one of the new brick buildings on Monroe Street had an entrance in the back, a small waiting room, with only two chairs, and three treatment rooms.  A client arriving would be ushered to a room,  The good doctor would be administering to the treatment of a different hysteric woman in the second room, and in the third room, the fully treated woman who had just completed her treatment would put herself together, and then leave by a different doorway than the arriving patients used.  The front of the building was used by a pharmacist, although the two businesses were separate and there was not passage between.


But now, the Doctor, someone who was with a steady stream of women all day, most in the prime of their lives, was smitten with the foreign accent of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.  Her long hair, parted in the middle, cascading down her back, was accented by bangs in the front down to her eyebrows.  The eyes were fabulous, the clearest blue he had even seen.  And her smile, her smile told him that he was hers, he only had to ask, and not make a total bollixing of the question. 


The banker, nobody’s fool, noticed the dance floor, and continued with slow music that called for slow dances.  The crooner, who worked in the bank that the female lead worked in, noticed the two dandies, strangers to the town, but not to each other.   They were being played by working girls.  Simply a commercial adventure, in the manner of the old fashioned New England general store owner, give good measure for value received. There would be some adventure, some pleasure, perhaps a breeding, and there would be a transfer of value, perhaps a half a day’s wage for a working man.


But, my god, the young Doctor, he had been stricken, the crooner had seen those eyes before.  Venus and Adonis, Romeo and Juliette, The history of man had seen those eye exchanges, romance would ensue, perhaps for the good, perhaps not.  But, it was inevitable, there would be a passing.


Similarly, there was chemistry, although of a May-December variety going on with the Sargent of Arms from the capital.  His partner, also a beauty, had eyes only for him, and a Mona Lisa smile that to even the casual observer could mean only one thing.


His partner in singing, and sometimes other things, had also noticed the goings on out on the dance floor.  Two couples seemed engaged in sex, the long-haired beauty had snared the doctor not unlike a hunter snaring a rabbit, the other woman with no past, at least here in the capital city was behaving herself with the Sargent of Arms from the capital, at least for the time,


She noticed, the other women, the stranger never before seen, in a skirt with a beehive waist, a now sweat stained white blouse, previously with two buttons open, now three.  She alone had not ventured out onto the dance floor.  Marie, the local girl with the strong eastern accent; and the young, highly attractive girl, also a stranger, had rotated among the remaining men.  They had danced with all during the fast dances, but now, each had her special dance partner.  Marie was with a man, possibly from the traveling theater group now playing at the theater two blocks away.  He had shown that he was a man of cosmopolitan flavor, knowing the proper steps for all of the variety to music played.  A man of average height, average build, with sandy hair, and no facial hair, in a crowd he would blend in and would be soon forgotten.  Tonight, however, he was Marie’s universe, In this slow dance, she hung on him almost in desperation. She still mourned the loss of her mother, and being in the arms of a man seemed to provide some solace.  Besides, it felt good being held, being crushed into his chest, and besides, her thigh, where it was, noticed that she had an influence on this man, this handsome, gentle man, whose hands did not bear the roughness of physical work, but belayed a career of some gentleness.  From the way he dressed, a man of substance, or some degree of success.  Perhaps a man who would lead her away from Madison, Perhaps…..

Anastasia, was at last cut loose, perhaps for the first time in her entire life, from the watching eyes of the Tsar’s staff, for the survivors were busy in their own personal lives at that time.  She had danced the face dances with 7 or 8 men, strangers all.  Some could dance, some probably should had watched, but all were enthralled by the beauty of the young woman.  She had been schooled in formal dance, just as Karina, but, just as Karina, having knowledge of the basics of fluid motion allowed her to pick up the steps, and improvise in an improved festival of motion.  To a man, her partners were enthralled with their time with her, and truly a fine woman, she had switched partners in each of the slow dances so that all had a chance to have her in their arms.  After all had had a half dance with her, she chose her favorite, a young man with glasses, neatly trimmed goatee, mustache, and his sideburns were trimmed in a manner that was not the fashion at that time.  Well dressed, he had put his jacket and vest aside, and as the temperature was well past 80 degrees in the milk bar, his shirt was open to only the last button before his pants.  She admired his chest.  His work was as an assistant professor in the university engineering school.  She didn’t know that he was also conversant in physics, and molecular engineering, as much knowledge as there was at that time in history.  He was a rising star, but, that night, he was the star in the sky of Anastasia.  Taller than her by almost 8 inches, her head rested against his chest, just under her chin.  Their feet barely moved, and the watching line of men just watched, quietly, jealously, but understanding her choice, although not happily.


Over at the bar, the barman and the back bar man watched the unfolding story.  The women had kept the men happy, and happy men drank well, and tipped well.  No point in impressing on the women that their potential beau was a tight wad.  One of the young girls from the front, not quite 16, had quietly made her way down the trap door, and back up into the bar, witnessing the processions on the dance floor.  The back bar man, noticing her, waved her over, and after exchanging a glance with the bar man, gave her a glass of the tall, exquisitely chilled lager.   After the milk, and in the heat of the night, that was gone in a matter of minutes, without a glance, the barman refilled and set out the second.


Readers, men and women alike, the stage has been set.  I leave it to your imagination, the clock was at 11 pm, the night still young, where the destinations of those involved would be.  For some, the night was like so many other had been, for some, the adventure was similar, but different, to so many other adventures, and for a few. the night’s adventure was a unique experience, perhaps to be the first, soon to be followed by many more over an interesting life of experiences.  Perhaps.


Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chapter Three. The Travelers. B.J.O’Brien

November 10, 2013

Madison.  The Dark Side.  Wisconsin

Chapter Three.  The Travelers.


Ivan awoke, instantly aware of where he was, and with who.  The jail in the two bit town in      Wisconsin held mostly drunks, the three travelers, and one man, at the end, well-dressed, and even now, clean shaven.  His two other companions,   Yanko, the true gypsy, and Nikita, a man who could be friendly in appearance, or could make large men uncomfortable with a dark countenance, awoke slower than he.

The jailer’s assistant came into the area, with a cart loaded with breakfast.  Two slices of bread for each man, a wooden bowl of oatmeal.  Some said that the oatmeal was made using the oats from the horse trough, and if they knew the truth, it was not far from that.  Oats is Oats, some are just a little more finely ground.  The meal was cheap, the men were going to be working all day, so the jailer’s assistant knew to load the bowls full.  If was hot, and there was a lot of it, just, the taste was not there, and the texture not unlike rough sand.   After the meal was finished, the work assignments were issued.  The town drunks were send out with shovels and buckets, to scour the streets after the hard working horse drawn wagons used both for cargo, and passenger use had passed by.  The travelers were told to go outside and look for the Pole, who was in a horse drawn wagon.   Arriving, they were motioned into the wagon and the journey to the area known as Mansion Hill started.  Soon enough, they were at their destination, and the Pole waved them to the Mayors house, the banker’s house, and the house of one of the big real estate men.  In his English, he told them to trim some trees, cut back some bushes, and mow the lawn with the push reel type lawn mower.  No words in return were needed, and the Pole had his own work to do, off a bit so he could watch the men.  They had noticed the revolver on his hip, and assumed correctly, that he could hit what he aimed at.  Besides, lunch was coming.

Around noon, the jailers son, about 15, arrived on his bicycle.  There were four cylindrical metal boxes on the handlebars, freshly dispatched from the café owned by the jailer’s wife.  The steady supply of prisoner lunches and dinners, paid for by the prisoners work, was a needed supplement to the meager civil servant salary the county saw fit to pay the jailer.  If was known that the extra money from meals was the only reason any fit man would take the job. 

The men set their tools in the wagon, the better to find them, and the Pole distributed the boxes.  In the bottom, nested in, was a round metal pot, filled with stew, a fair amount of meat in it, because in the days of the ice box, the meat was cheaper than the ice, and keeping it around for future use was a false economy, because they had to buy more ice to keep it edible.  Two slices of thick bread were folded into the space above the pot lid, and there was a cup for the pot of coffee which had made its way from the café. 

The boy rode off, and the Pole inquired, “So what country are you guys from?”

Then it was Ivan’s response.   “We are all Romani people, from Eastern Europe.  We were in Russia when the Bolsheviks created havoc.  Russia was too dangerous for Gypsies, so we made our way to England, and got work on a Cunard liner.  We were shoveling coal, in the belly of the liner, and our women were in the laundry.  For the crossing we travelled as single men and women, and we reunited in the harbor.  Cunard was holding our pay until the ship sailed to make sure we were on board, but, we just wanted passage, not a career in the bowels of the beast.  Our papers were in order, so we passed thru into New York City as crew on leave.  When the ship was ready to depart, we already had.”

“How is it, that you are here in Wisconsin?”

“Nikita has relatives in California, and we were able to get a ride on the train as far as Chicago, we hoped a freight which took us to Green Bay, and we have worked our way back to Chicago.  This time we will find out where the train is going before we get on the freight cars.”  Ivan was not normally this chatty with the bulls, or their helpers in the jails, but it was important to set up the story of who they were, travelers who weren’t dangerous, but just passing through. 

Nikita filled in, “My brother was here in California, he was in vaudeville, but he has something to do with the pictures shows.” Then, “I have a letter from him saying that we could come to see him, and if we like the weather, with no snow, and easy work, he could help us out.  We were lucky, it took the letter almost six months to get from Los Angeles to where we were working in Moscow.  It arrived just as it was getting hot for anybody who is not a Bolshevik, so we decided to travel.”

The Pole said, “They keep vagrants for three days while they check wanted posters, So you should be released soon enough.  The freight for Chicago heads out at about 5 am, so you will have to wait a day here, because we don’t cut you lose until 6.”

Lunch over, the work crew moved over to the banker’s house.  The banker wanted some painting done, the previous crew had scrapped and primed the house, just the color painting awaited.    Ladders were already there, heavy wooden extension ladders, going up almost 40 feet, needing all four to work the ladder around the house.  Shorter ladders were useful for first floor, and part of second. 

Yanko, the quiet one, climbed the tall ladder with his bucket of paint and brush.  He was working next to a tall window, and he couldn’t help but see inside, where the banker’s wife was taking a nap.  Due to the heat of the day, she was wearing only a slip, and her long legs were visible almost all the way.  The slip was just barely capable of covering her charms, and she pretended to sleep, as she imitated the tossing and turning of a restless recliner.  As Yanko painted, he checked the view frequently, and witnessed her hand relocating itself between her legs.  Through her just barely closed eyes, she saw him watching, and the show she gave him would have make a woman of the night proud.  Alert enough to keep painting, Yanko finished the area, and slowly made his way down the ladder.  At the bottom, he walked over to Ivan and said, “Ivan, I think you should check my work up there, the view from the top of the ladder is magnificent, and I may have not paid strict attention to my painting.” 

Ivan climbed the many rungs up the ladder wondering, on the way us what Yanko was babbling about.  Inside the room, the wife was cognizant of the motion of the ladder as someone climbed it, expecting the swarthy complexion of the shorter Yanko, she was presently surprised at the face of the handsome Ivan appearing at the window.  She continued her charade of sleep, with her hand busy as it had been before.  Ivan smiled, and checked the paint, and came back down the ladder.  Smiling at Yanko, he commented, “Work looks good, brush strokes are as they should be, good work up above Yanko, good work.”

The rest of the day spent with the brushes was uneventful, although the Pole wondered why Yanko was whistling and smiling. 

When the travelers were arrested on the military road from Green Bay to Madison, just as they were crossing the river about a mile east of the great capital building, the men were taken to the jail.  The women were considered inconsequential, and were loaded up in the other “Black Maria” a Ford Model TT extended Panel truck used by the police department for rapid transport of prisoners.  The first one with the men was driven to the jail, and the one with the woman terminated its journey just a few blocks away, at the Park Hotel.  The back door opened, and the women disembarked.

The oldest, Karina, had been in the Tsars household.  She was 32 years old, and her men in her life, mostly the Cossack soldiers charged with protecting the Tsars household, had shown her the workings of rifles, pistols, and she could hold her own with a sword, something that she used with some entertainment when she was search for a new Cossack, when her last lover was transferred, or perhaps killed in the training exercises that the warriors took part in.  Well trained in the domestic aspects of a royal household, she knew when to hold her tongue, and when she could use her feminine powers of persuasion to make things happen. 

Next off the truck was Edyta, a woman of 24, she had been the Tsars favorite.  While her official duties were nanny to the younger children, the older boys, and the Tsar himself had searched her out for attention, be it learning the art of the ballroom dance, or the horizontal mamba. 

Last was the charming 20 year old Anastasia.  None would dare talk of her past, or even speculate on her future.  Should the Bolsheviks fail, it might be that the girl, now a young woman, would be the leader of the great empire of Rus.  Or, perhaps not.  A striking young woman, the men listened to her, and the women bowed, when there were no watchers.

Located at the back of the Park Hotel, they found themselves in the attention of the head housekeeper. 

Maude was an older woman, about 40, and she had known dirty laundry since she was a pup.  Stains of all kinds were part of the job, and she worked her charges long and hard to get the required result, white sheets, white towels, and perfection was the only result allowed.

“Ok girls, I know why you are here.  Your men are in the clink, and you can sleep under the trees, and starve, or you can work for me, sleep in the store room in the basement, bath in the mornings, and eat hotel food.  Your choice.”

All three exchanged glances, and the decision was anonymous.  Nods denoting affirmation were made, and the head laundress brought then inside.  The noon meal was about ready, and after the paying customers were filled, the regular employees were fed, and the remains, on their way to the hog slop, were intercepted to fill three large bowls for the women.  They had only had some stolen apples that morning, and the greenness of the fruit had not set well with them.  Spring water worked well to wash the stew, and the laundress brought three large glasses of beer to go along with the meal.  There are benefits of working for a German.

Lunch completed, Maude gave them the tour.  Each of the three floors of rooms above the ground floor had a walk in closet with the clean laundry.  Chutes dropped the soiled linens to the basement where the large tubs, the boilers, the rollers for dewatering the linens, and the mangle lived.  There was a large table for the folding of large items of linens, and plenty of work. 

Maude said, “Your day is 8 to 10 hours, or until the work is done.  The room in the front of the basement is where you sleep, and you must shower before work.  We don’t want the smell of unwashed women to seep into the clean sheets and towels.  We feed you from the kitchen of the hotel, and you can work here until your men are out of jail, or you show that you are too stupid to wash laundry.” 

A young woman was working at the washing tubs.  She had a loose cotton dress on, unbuttoned to let the heat out, and you could see the sweet on her forehead, arms, and even legs,  When she turned to face them, the unbuttoned dress showed that she was a full bosomed woman, with sweat in beads hanging on her chest, until gravity encouraged a downward journey. 

Maude hissed at her “Button up your dress you slut.  What if the cook sends one of his boys down here to the storeroom and he sees you with your bosoms hanging out like a cow.”

The woman said, in a thick Polish accent, “I guess that they will see what they will see, and probably be the better for seeing it.  Soon enough those boys will figure out what it is all about, and if I am the first, or the last they see, it just doesn’t matter to me.  Why don’t you get a fan to take the heat out of here and then I will not be ready to pass out by noon?”


Turning to the new helpers, she said “My name is Marie Dombrowski, my father and I came here two years ago from our village in Poland.  The flu killed half the village, and the war and the Bolsheviks pretty much did in the rest.  Papa works for the jailer, and I am here.   So, if your men are in jail, they have met my Papa.  Here, let me show you what to do.”

The work was simple enough.  The dirty linens were dumped into huge copper tubs.  The recently installed gas burners under the copper tubs kept the water steaming and the workers stirred the laundry with oars from the boat wright.  Soap was store bought from Chicago and when the laundry was done, the mangle squeezed the water out of the sheets and towels, when dry, they were folded on the table, and then stacked to be carried up to the hotel room floors.  The last batch was in the tubs, and Marie, who waved at Anastasia, who was closed to Marie in age, and motioned her to pick up a large pile of towels and wash flannels.  To the other two, Marie said, “Stir the tubs with the oars, and make sure that the towels and sheets are in motion.  We will be back in a few minutes.”

Marie and Anastasia pickup up the huge piles of towels and started up the stairs, in a hushed voice, Marie shared with Anastasia.  “The money the hotel pays for working here is a sin, but, sin begets sin.  I noticed the stains of passion were on some of the sheets, even when we only had businessmen travelers, and I was working late when I saw some of the fast ladies who frequent the soda bars, and milk bars across the street from the hotel coming up the steps in the rear with the gentlemen lodgers.  We all know that there is liquor and beer sold in the back rooms of the establishments, and the girls there are sometimes fallen women, or just some of the married women whose men are out of work and they have to make the money for the landlord and the grocer.  Well, I figured that I was as good as them, and indeed, a far sight prettier than most, so I keep my eyes on the fellas, and don’t button the dress as high as Maude wants, and they let me know.  The linen closets have a table that is perfect, and sometimes they invite me to their room.  Some things can be done in a few minutes, and some things are better with a lot more time.  It works out.”

Anastasia’s eyes were opened wide, and she nodded. 

Marie continued.  “The girls across the street sometimes get up to $5, for the really attractive ones, but the normal ones, without makeup, usually get $4, or even $3.  My schooling wasn’t much, but the $2 per day I get for washing stains out of sheets doesn’t look nearly as good at $4 for putting the stains in the sheets.  And, the $2 is for 8 to 10 hours, and the $4 is for an hour or two.  Sometimes, when a businessman is in a hurry, I can put a bounce in his step for $2 for 5 to 10 minutes, and Maude is usually with her bottle when I’m working, so she doesn’t notice.”

Anastasia’s mouth was dry, but she was doing the math.


Marie asked, “Have you been with a man?”

Anastasia replied, with a quiver in her mouth, “Yes.”

Marie continued, “Did you make him pay for it?”

Anastasia, remembering with a frown, the dagger she had buried in the back of the Bolshevik rapist who caught her after the massacre and answered, “Yes, he paid well.”  It was with his life that he paid, and the pistol she had taken from the body had worked well when she freed Karina and Edyta from their assaulters. When they were running from the scene, they had found Yanko, Ivan, and Nikita engaged in hand to hand battle with 5 Bolsheviks, and now, with three revolvers, freshly reloaded from the cartridge bags on the revolutionaries belts, the three women dispatched the combatants with only 9 shells.  A coupe de gras administered by Ivan to three of the wounded men brought the tally up to 12 bullets.  They had had twenty four bullets in reserve in each bag, and with the initially full revolvers, they were left with sixty bullets after reloading. The five dead men had their rifles leaning against the wall of the building they died in front of, so each of the men, and the two older women were well armed.  Their escape was through the Baltic, now open shipping after the war to end all wars was completed through to London, then by train to Glasgow to the Cunard lines.  All this went through Anastasia’s mind as they climbed to the fourth floor.  As they passed to the linen closet, a man impeccably dressed came out of his room. 

Marie smiled at him, “Are you having a wonderful day, sir, and is there anything I can do to make it better?”  He smiled, because he and Marie had had this same conversation the previous afternoon, as he left to go to the first floor for a game of snooker.

He said, “My days are always interesting, but perfection comes only with proximity to someone as fair as you.   May I offer you a kiss of friendship, perhaps more?  As was yesterday, so should be today?”

While Anastasia did not quite understand the totality of the words, the concept was ageless and totally comprehensible.  Marie smiled at him, and looked at her, and said “Wait in the linen closet, we shall be but a few minutes.” 

Anastasia stood her ground in the hallway, and saw through the open door Marie exchange a kiss, a kiss that should have been reserved for married people, or at least engaged.  As the door started to close, she saw Marie break the kiss, and begin to kneel in front of the gentleman.   The latching of the door broke Marie from her stupor.  She know what was happening now, she had seen the scullery maids, the footmen, the field hands when she was out riding.  When there wasn’t time for the full act, or if the woman was concerned that she was fertile, descending to her knees insured the man’s pleasure, and made sure that the woman did not come with child.

Going to the linen closed, Anastasia closed the door, rejoicing that the electric bulb was working.  She sat on the table, and noticed that the shelves were almost full with the linen.  Not having to lift herself up much to get onto the table, she didn’t notice that the height was perfect for the entertainment of menfolk by womenfolk.  Not to say that before the week was over, the perfection of the height would be noted.

While engaged in her thoughts most private, the action in the hotel room was completed.  Marie and the gentleman left the room, and she went to the linen closet.  A knock on the door, and an entry with a smile, she was quick to show Anastasia the two one dollar bills in her hand.  Smiling she said,

“A full day in the basement,  or a couple of minutes on fourth floor, you tell me which makes for a better time spent for the same money.”

Anastasia said, “Fourth floor work pays far better, I just don’t know if I can do it?”

Smiling, Marie replied, “It’s just the same as with husband or lover, but, they just leave you with a taster in your mouth, or a baby in your womb.  This is the same, but with some greenbacks in your pocket, and when the rent is due, if you don’t have a man to pay it, you just get some strange man to pay if.  If you are hungry, the first time for money is not as big a step as the first time for free.  Your choice, let’s go downstairs.”  Marie skipped down the steps, unaware that there was a remnant of the glory on her dress.  Anastasia caught up to her just before she entered the laundry room and wiped her dress with the bandana.  She also felt the firmness, the moistness of Marie’ ample sweaty breasts when she cleared the evidence.  It was good.

Back in the laundry, Karina and Edyta were stirring the copper tubs of steaming sheets and towels.  They were working hard in a hot and humid environment, and they were sweating like Marie had been, both had loosened their tops, and the sweat was reflected in the light of the electric lamps.  They could feel the sweat on all parts of their bodies, and their legs had started to have rivulets of moisture run down into their shoes.  They had removed their shoes, and were barefoot on the cement floor.  Oddly, the cool cement, wet with the splashing of the tubs, helped to keep the girls cooler than if they had their shoes on and laced. 

For the remainder of the afternoon, the four women went about their chores.  Anastasia and Marie had made trips to the second and third floors, with nothing approaching the excitement of the earlier trip to the fourth floor.

Soon enough, the day was over.  At 5 o’clock, the barman came down, burdened with four ice cold beers.  He smiled at Marie, as she came over to get her beverage.  She took the beer from his hand, and took the cool hand and pressed it to her cleavage.   She shivered a bit from the shock, but kept it there as she felt her nipple harder.  Moving away, she motioned to Anastasia, 

“Try the beer, it’s really fresh, Anna dear, and don’t forget to thank the giver!”

Anastasia moved up and relieved the man of her beer.  Taking his hand she pressed it to her chest, and moved it into the now open front of her dress.  His hand became familiar with her breasts, gentling pulling at the nipple.  Edyta’s hand moved the girl away, and standing in front of the man, took the mystery away by urging both sides of her dress off of her shoulders, leaving her topless in front of the poor man.  Putting her hands on his hips, she brought herself very close to him, and then pulled his hips to hers as he held a beer in each hand.  Defenseless, he had to take the kiss from her, then backing up, her hand dropped.  Liking what she found, she fondled it for a moment, then took the offered beer.

Karina, the oldest, walked up to the now red faced barman, and took the beer from his hand.  Whispering in his ear, she said, “The girls have had their fun, the woman offers her reward later on this evening.  Are you man enough to accept?”

Speech less, the man just nodded.  His bulging trousers showed acceptance to the status quo.  He gathered up the empty schooners, and made his way up the steps, quite a development from the hoped for groping of the friendly Marie, to being the subject of much groping from the women of the basement, and the as yet fulfilled promise from the very self-assured Karina.  His breath was almost back as he came upstairs.  Luckily, the light in the bar room behind the restaurant, with its billiards table highly illuminated by incandescent  lamps, was dim outside of the ring of light.

The man at the table, the man from the fourth floor, was winning the second and third game with his mark.  He had played badly the first game, looking like a rank amateur.  The second he had redeemed his virtue as a billiards man, and now, with the real money on the table, the mark was starting to sweat.  Not the warmth of the day, nor the humidity had made this sweat evident.  It was that the money on the table belonged to the Sicilian, and the mark had planned on taking the dandy to town, and relieving a fool of his cash.  Unfortunately, it did turn out that the fool was not the dandy from the fourth floor.

Subsequent to the conquest, the dandy, Matthew, sat back with his drink, and decided to bail his brother out of the jail the next morning.  His brother was a man of math, and science, and he would see the wisdom of letting the county buy him his breakfast, besides, Matthew had some time booked with the laundry lass.  Her talents were beyond adequate, they were exquisite.  Matthew was trying to decide if he should seduce her into moving on to Dubuque when Michael was out of jail.  He would see how the night worked.


Back in the basement, the girls cleaned up the area, scrubbing the copper tubs until the metal was gleaming.  The floors were washed, and mangle whipped down, and the tables made spotless.  When the work was concluded, the women took time in what was probably Madison’s first shower.  A five gallon copper tub in the stairway was hooked up to a copper pipe that went to a larger piece of copper tube on the end.  That larger piece of pipe had had a hundred small holes drilled in it by the metal magician known as the Swede, and when water was poured in the tub, it ran down and drizzled on the occupants under the tube.  A valve allowed for a quick wetting of the body, turning the water off for the application of soap, and a reopening of the valve washed off the soap.  The tub in the stairway was filled and refilled by the large pans of water heated on the single stove burner available to the basement people for cooking and heating water.   Soon enough the four women took their turns in the shower.  If the barman had come down then, he probably would have passed out.  The vision of a young woman under the water, with some of the ladies freshly scrubbed, and letting themselves air dry, while the others were still a bit funky with the sweat and grim of the day.  He would have been a on the floor for sure.

Luckily, the beer upstairs did not run out.  The women had changed into fresh clothing, and washed their other clothes in the small tub used for the shower.  With those clothing pieces hanging to dry, there was nothing to do.  Maude was supposed to lock the strangers in the storage room, to avoid mischief, but, Marie went over to Maude’s house, where she and her husband were already drunk, with the sun barely down.  Marie reported that she had locked the strangers in, and she would be heading home.  She checked in with her father, and told him that she was going to choir practice with the girls over at St Patrick’s on the other side of the square.  He nodded, with a book from the library on his chest, and the light on, he was set for the night.  She would let herself in after choir practice, as she had done on many nights.  Odd, he had never thought that she could sing very well, but, if she was happy, he had been married enough years, with his late wife, to know what life with a happy woman far exceeded life with a woman of issues.  The door slammed, unnecessarily, but never the less, Marie was down the road, back towards the Park Hotel, which she would pass on the way to the St Patrick’s choir practice.

The sound of the music from Kate’s Milk Bar made it out into the sidewalks and streets of the 100 block of East Main.  Marie stopped in the basement of the hotel, and breathlessly came into the laundry. 

“Girls, there’s an orchestra playing across the street, they only want a dime to go in, and the beers are a dime also.  I got a $2 tip today, so it’s my treat!  Anybody interested in some fun.”  The three lounging eastern European women got the drift, and they lifted out of the chairs as one.  Any man watching the four leave the basement would have either smiled, or predicted disaster on the horizon.  In either case, his perceptions would have been accurate.  It only took about a half a minute to get to the entrance to the Milk Bar.  The men at the front door, looking at the four women, realized that they would be a welcome addition to the inside, waved them in, skipping the 10 cent entrance fee.  The money spent by the men inside on the women would far exceed the dime, and encouraging the women to come to their milk bar would encourage the men to come to the bar.  A good thing for all. 

Adam looked over at his brother Earl, and smiled.  Earl never smiled, but he thought.

Back at the jail.  The men supped, washed up as best they could, then listened to one of the wife beaters who had his harmonica smuggled into the jail in his wife’s bodice when she came visit him.  He was promised that she would come back in the morning with the $9 needed to cover his bail.  If he went to court, they would probably get $5 of that back.  Wendy knew that there was an orchestra playing at the Milk Bar on Main Street, and she had always been rewarded for her attendance there. 

Sleep comes early to those who have had a full day of work. To the well-dressed man in the cell at the end of the row, sleep came late.

Madison. The Dark Side. Wisconsin. Chyapter 2. The Independence Day Celebration.

November 10, 2013

Madison.  The Dark Side.  Wisconsin.

Chapter 2.  The Independence Day Celebrations 

While the Swede was walking down the porch steps, Emil and Rosie entered the house.  They started up the stairs with Emil patting Rosie on the hips as they went up.  The pause that refreshes was telegraphed to Jerry, who escorted Artie out to the back yard for a game of catch.  In the bedroom, Emil closed the door, taking Rosie in his arms and kissing her, starting with lips only, then sliding his tongue into her mouth.  She started on his vest, and then unbuttoned his shirt while he worked on the buttons on the back of her dress.  Simultaneously, the shirt, the vest, and the dress hit the floor.  Rosie had the undergarments of the day, a slip, and underwear that would go on to be known as grannies.  She worked on Emil’s trousers, and soon those and the boxers hit the floor.  The kiss continued as Emil took the straps of the slip and slid them over her shoulders, and ran his hands down her flanks, dragging the slip to her hips, where gravity took over the task.  Hands ran down her back, under the grannies, and those too took their place.


Romance ensued.


Outside, the kids playing heard their mother’s voice, but the words were unintelligible, because they were unintelligible even within the confines of the bedroom.  Emil know what they meant, and that was all that mattered.


After about an hour, Rosie rolled off of Emil, and went to the bathroom, and ran some cool water.  The refreshing that went with the coolness was good in the heat of July.  Hopefully, by the time the winter came around they would have a heater for the water.  A sponge bath was good for now, she smiled, in the heat of the day everyone would have a little glistening, a little glow, and for some, a smile.


Emil waited until Rosie was done in the bathroom.  He knew that if he joined her, soon enough she would be bent over the sink, and then they would be late for the Independence Day festivities at the new park.  Rosie came in, smiling and singing softly.

“Emil, why don’t you stay home from work more often?”

“Rosie, you could go back to work for the telephone and telegraph, but then you wouldn’t be here when I am, besides, I make more at the garage, and you know, if I was home all the time, you would get wore out.” 

Emil was headed to the bathroom, and the shock of the cool water was a little more extreme than it had been for his wife.  She had used the water in the pipes that had picked up heat from the walls two stories up, but she had used up the bit  of heat that was in the water, and Emil was getting the water that came into the house from the underground pipes out in the street.  He quickly wiped down the vital areas, paying particular attention to that area he was most fond of.  Hopefully, there would be more activity, and it was generally true that the fairer sex preferred tubed and scrubbed in that area.


Lunch was simple, some home sliced bread, thicker for Emil, butter churned yesterday and the creamery with some ham from one of Emil’s neighbors downtown.  Adolf’s Meats were known for quality, and not too much fat.  People almost never got sick after eating meat from his store.  Adolf’s thumb had provided the extra income which helped him buy a Buick from Emil, thereby insuring that the family of Emil would eat high off the hog.


Pickles and fruit completed the fare.  After it was on the table in the kitchen, a sturdy oak piece of furniture, Rosie called the kids.  Jerry had moved them off to the side of the house, away from the open windows.  The kids came in, washed up at the sink, dried their hands, Artie on his shorts, Jerry on the towel that was next to the dish towel.  All seated, Rosie lead them in the prayer Grace.  “Bless this meal, Lord, and Bless the people who eat her today.  Pray take care of them, and help them see your grace.” 


Emil started with a drink of his fresh beer, then continued on with the sandwich.  Rosie, sitting at the end of the table, smiled on the family.  She was so content with her life, and the little itch was controlled, most of the time.  At the end of the meal, she served Emil a piece of the apple pie, made with the last of the previous years apples.  The Ritz cracker box had a recipe for “Mock Apple Pie,” but the other women in the neighborhood who had tried it found it lacking.   Good enough if there were no apples available, but those who had canned enough during the fall, had no problems.  The kids had peanut butter cookies, and eagerly ate the cookies, washing them down with the milk from the creamery.


Timed perfectly, the Swede called in from the front porch, announcing “Are you ready for the festivities, the ball game starts at 1pm sharp, or maybe a few minutes later.” 

Rosie replied,  “Swede, they never started a game on time, or close to being on time ever since the game was invented.  Fella’s got to have some refreshments, relive the last game, and make their bets.”

Emil also filled in, “Who do you think will win today, and who are you going to bet on?” 

Swede fired back  “I think the boys from the Greenbush will win, and I will be betting on the guys from the Vilas neighborhood, because I have to walk home with them.”

Artie said  “When I play for the neighborhood, are you going to bet for my team?”

Swede patted him on the head, and smiled “When you play, the neighborhood will be winning all the time, and there will be no other team to bet on.”

Emil went over to the back door and picked up the washtub full of bottles of beer.  Swede went to help, and actually took the whole tub.  “Can you get the door, and where do you want the tub?  Do you want some cold water for this, its dry now?”

“Got it covered Swede, three of the old moonshine jugs with fresh cold water, should just about cover the bottles, and an old quilt to cover the tub, and keep the sun out.  Also have some root beer for mom and the kids.”

Swede loaded the tub into the 1920 Buick Touring Car, putting it on the passenger side of the back seat floor.  The car settled a bit with the load.

Emil  said, lets get rolling, Rosie and the kids got in the back seat, Rosie caressing Emil’s neck as she climbed in, the kids in the middle with Arties legs not even long enough to bend into the tub of beers. 

Swede got into the passenger seat, looking with admiring eyes at the appointments of the new car.  “Leather seats, doors, headlights, and a horn that works.  What will they think of next, tin tops, heaters and radios, I wager.”


Emil hit the electric starter, the engine spun into compliance, and with the smoothest of clutch actions, they rolled down the hill.  Making their way down the street to the next intersection to the west, they could see the farm fields which would soon enough be build up into more homes for the upper crust of the Madison area.  A right turn they got them to the big hill next to Edgewood School.  A place of strict education run by the Dominican nuns of Sinsinawa, Wi.

Over the top of the hill, the mansion of Mr. Crowley, of the Milwaukee Road railroad company was coming along nicely.  Much concrete was used in its construction, and builders from the area detoured to watch it being built.  The garage doors were hinged like a door, and the electric openers were the first in Wisconsin.  At the bottom of the hill, the newly completed bridge allowed the car to pass over the water that connected Lake Wingra to the lagoon.  The family plus one could see where the cars were parked, and where the ball diamond was laid out.  After parking and climbing out, something that the Swede helped Rosie with, both enjoyed the moment when he lifted her, light as a feather, by the waist and deposited her on the ground.  Soon Artie and Jerry followed suit, with a flight in the air before a gentle landing. 


A short walk to the area where the families were, with the Swede carrying the tub, Rosie with the old quilt, and Emil with three folding chairs.  When they arrived they were warmly greated by friends from the neighborhood, frequently unseen since the last year, because the long hours of work, family, church, and now, the entertainment of the radio.

On the first base side of the diamond, the folks from the Greenbush neighborhood had set up shop.  Long tables from the church were groaning with the best food that the best cooks from Italy, Sicily, Sardenia, and Corsica.  Under the tables were boxes covered with sheets, blankets, and comforters, protected from both the heat of day, and the eyes of those who would disapprove.  This group didn’t have much to worry about from law enforcement.  The Sargent with most seniority on the force was sharing some wine with the Sicilian who many respected in his neighborhood.  Vito Co*** was a successful businessman, with wholesale fruit and vegetable warehouses in Madison, and also in Waukesha, supplying both the restaurant and grocery trade.  He was the man to see when there was a problem, and his word was law.  If a widow was having a hard time, she was taken care of.  She might not know Vito was looking out for her, but the basket of groceries from the market, or a load of coal that was lost until it was loaded into her basement was gratefully received.  The people know that Vito took care, and when he asked for something, making it happened made sure that you and yours would be remembered when you had your time of need.  Because, it the 1920’s, it was not so much a case of if you had a time of need, but when.  Vito was a good man to have looking out for you, and similarly, he was not a good man to anger.

Sargent O’Rourke was in a good mood.  Some gypsies had come into town, from Verona, right down the highway that turned into Verona Road.  They looked guilty, so he nabbed them, and found some silver spoons that did not look like gypsy dining utensils.  While the three men were in jail, their women were given work in the bars and hotels downtown, cleaning and washing the floors, in exchange for being able to sleep in a room in the basement, and three meals for them and their kids.  Of course, being gypsies, when the time for sleep came, they were locked in the store rooms, which had been emptied of anything of value.  In the morning they were allowed to empty the slop bucket, wash up, eat, and clean up the bar, or other public areas, where they could be watched, or other work that was found for them.  This was not an unusual arrangement, for it worked for all.  The men weren’t pleased, but three hots and a cot was sometimes better than listening to the women in the camp.


Sargent O’Rourke had given the Captain something to report to the papers, that they had arrested some thieving gypsies.  To some, it showed that there were good coppers watching out for them.   To others, it told them that the live entertainment in certain taverns was fresh, and new.  Telling them they had a reason to go downtown after work.

Sargent O’Rourke finished his discussion with Vito, both shook hands, and Sargent waved Emil and the other fathers over. 

“We are here to have a game.  Not start a war.  Everybody here knows the rules.  No punching, hitting, biting, knifing, shooting, or making a mess on the grass.  Baseball has rules.  Follow them.  Enjoy the game, the food, and the other refreshments.  Do not start a war.  Does everybody understand?  We are friends and neighbors.  Ok.  Let’s play ball.

The game started with the Vilas Boys in the field.  Baseball games are fun to play, and a great opportunity to drink.  Sargent O’Rielly was served, and was savvy enough to know that if he drank wine from the Greenbush and beer from the Vilas area, he would be very sorry tomorrow.  He took a glass of the wine, and sipped it slowly.  After he finished it, the root beer was good. 

Vito walked over to the Swede.  “I have another order for you.  Same size as before.  Do you know where we can get some good motorcars with strong engines that will work well?”

Swede replied, “I just rode over here in that Buick Touring Car.  Self- starter, a large back seat area, and a lot of room between the frame rails.  She rides like a dream, and has double spare time mounts, and room for more on the back of the car.  Should do the job you have for it.”

Vito was in the liquor business, and the key ingredient was not the sugar in the mash, but the transportation.  The need was subtle, get the liquor from point a to point b without being noticed and stopped.  Large trucks could hall a hundred gallons, but they were watched.  A large touring car had the capacity to carry 800 pounds, which was what six adults would weight, so a 100 gallons of alcohol was just about right for the load.  With about 6 gallons per cubic foot, 100 gallons needed about 16 cubic feet of tank.  Swede had the forge, and the welding ability to make two tanks that fit up between the frame rails, securely fastened to the frame, and invisible to anyone looking from the outside.  Drained with a valve at the bottom end of the tank, and filled by a hose fed by a funnel that emptied into the top of the end of the tank, turn around was only about 15 minutes, loading or unloading.  Swede had build about 20 or them, and business with Vito was good.  Paid for when the job was delivered, in gold coins, and sometimes with a tip thrown in, a gallon of dago red was appreciated by all.

Business completed, Vito walked over to Emil. 

“Good day sir, the weather is fantastic, and the company is exquisite,” was the greeting from Emil to Vito.

“And is the family well?” Vito inquired.

“Happy, health, and if the good lord provides, wise”

“Vito, how is your family?”

“Great, the wife’s family in Sicily is sending a couple of the cousins here.  Good for them, get the hungry mouths out of their hair, and good for me, free labor for the warehouse.  Just hope they send boys, the girls aren’t good for much, except that, you know.” 

“Same with my folks.  Talking about getting the money together to send some more relatives over.  Didn’t work so well in 1912.  Who would think that a new ocean liner, even one designed and build as unsinkable, would run into an ice burg.  Six of the Irish side down with that one.”

Vito shook his head, “They learned their lesson with that one.  Going cheap on the lifeboats because they said the Atlantic lanes were thick with ships to rescue, when they heard the radio call for help.  Didn’t really work for them, now, did it.  The Marconi was working, just the damn California was working shorthanded and the operator was sleeping.”

“Say Emil, Swede tells me that the Buick Touring Car is the car to have.  Do you have any I can tryout, and buy?  If I like, I could use several of them for the salesmen to drive.”

“Sure, Mr. Co***, I have three in stock, and they are ready to drive.  I can have them for you whenever you want to do business.  Priced right, and with a full tank of gas.”  Emil had talked to Swede, know the business that the men did, and has happy that the Swede had got him some business.  There would be something for him, something that would make him smile. 

“Ok, Emil, I will drop by late tomorrow morning,  business, then lunch should make for a great morning.”  With that, Vito returned to his side of the diamond, and the two men relaxed, watching their families enjoy the outing.


The baseball game proceeded at all baseball games do, the younger men taking their turns at bat, and in the field, because there were far more players than the rules allowed.  The men all enjoyed the outings, and when they were not in the fields, the talk often resulted in business, or offers of employment, or sometimes the area went to romance, because the guys knew which of the women in their camp were interested, and ready for the alter.  There was nothing wrong with the two camps exchanging women, as long as the trade was equal.  The women seemed to welcome the extra help in finding a suitable mate.

The wives gathered into a circle, sharing gossip, some recipes, and when Mrs. Burgess started bragging about Mr. Burgess, some of the ladies shared their unladylike behavior. Rose remained quiet, because she didn’t want to share her new found activities, she just smiled, and nodded her head.  What they didn’t know, they wouldn’t miss.  The teen girls were also in a circle,  more of a horseshoe, because, while they didn’t care about the baseball game, the guys playing it got their attention.  They were are getting interested in dating, some had already been out with their fellows, or were happily looking forward to the dances at the Central High School, or sometimes at the dancehalls on State Street, near the student district.  Those college kids really knew the steps, and the lucky younger girls who could get in, usually because their relatives owned the establishment, were charged with learning the latest steps, and then teaching them to their contemporaries.  Few had gone much beyond the kissing, which was fine, but most yearned for more.  Some had found out how to get what they yearned for.  Some never would.

The pre-teens, from both camps, played, sometimes getting noisy, but for the most part, they were well behaved.  Somewhat incredible, if you thought about it, but most of the moms had found that a little of the adult beverage, watered down, with some juice, made the little tykes want to sleep, and the older ones mellow.

Some of the older teens, about 15 to 17 were backing away from their sides of the game, for the past ten years, there was an unofficial rendezvous in the tall grasses behind what was now the house under construction.  Sometimes the introductions were perfunctory, because teen hormones being teen hormones, names were just useful addresses for the future.  For the now, words were just something to be overheard by the adults.  For many, these adventures in the tall weeds were the first adventures.  For all, never the last.  Shirts were unbuttoned, dresses lowered, rarely was the act consummated, but the future’s dreams and fantasies were fueled by the next hours adventures.


All too soon, Sargent O’Reilly’s whistle sounded the end of the game.  Dinner was served, each neighborhood going through their lines and the others lines.  Thus, children who might have been fussy eaters, learned that food other than their mothers cooking was tasty, and sometime fun to eat, like the spaghetti or the meatballs sized for a toddlers hands.

As the last of the teens came out of the bushes, the adults were careful to not notice.  Shirts that were miss buttoned, dresses with grass on them, told a story that was best not told.  The nervous smiles, the glances, would be repeated in the new school year, as people who were no longer strangers renewed their acquaintance at the start of the school year. 

Soon enough the cleanup was orchestrated, generally by the older adults.   The leftover food, if it wasn’t going home,was put in buckets for those who had hogs.  The tub of beer bottles, lighter now, due to empties replacing those who had been full, was carried to the car by Emil.  Swede picked up the sleeping Arthur, and with an arm around Jerry, followed Rosie to the big Buick.  Loaded up, the car started, and with the light fading, about 8 o’clock, the car made its way back to the only home it knew.  Keyes Avenue was a good gig for a Touring Car.  No Thompson Submachine Guns firing .45 caliber ammunition at it.  No rattle of shells pinging off it’s floors.  No messy blood.  A good life for a Touring Car, that of the family Truckster.

At the house, Swede helped Rosie out, this time his hand slipped from her waist higher.  The soft tissue was full, and ready for a man’s touch, but the touch of this man slightly surprised her.  But not in a way that signaled objection.  She smiled up at the giant, and that smile, in a second, spoke volumes.  He turned and helped Jerry out, and lifted the still sleeping Arthur out of the leather seat, the horsehair providing a cushy soft place for a sleeping tyke.  He carried him up the stairs, across the porch, and heard Rosie say,

“Can you carry him up to his bed, Swede, I will be right behind you.”  The electric lights came on and showed him the way up the stairs,  knowing that Arties room was on the left side of the house, he made his way with the tyke into the darkened room.  Gently laying him down, he turned and found Rosie standing closer than was proper, She took his face, and pulled it down to a kiss,  Swede got a taste of Emil’s main squeeze, his wife, his partner, and the taste was good for both.  Her hands cupped his manhood, and he heard a little gasp when she understood the size of what she could now feel.  Swede has his pants cut extra sized in that are, because of the package, and she was impressed.

Swede has his hands around her, and they smoothly found their way around to her chest.  The breasts that had been worked by Emil eight hour before now thrilled to the touch of the second man that day.  Big as he was, he knew women’s breasts, his deceased wife had schooled him with that when they were first lovers.  His powerful hands, hands that could take a heavy hammer and shape metal on an anvil, were at once gentle, caring and warm when charged with caressing woman’s flesh.  Taking not more than 15 seconds, the kiss and caresses ended far too soon, but the hope of the future was stirred in each.  Downstairs, Emil had gone to the basement to return the empties, using the inside stairs, and when he was coming up the steps with three more cold beers, he heard the feet on the steps over his head as Swede and Rosie descended from bedding down the kids.  He was a lucky man, a strong friend, who was a good businessman, sending him customers for his Buick Touring Cars, and a loving wife, who know when to be a lady, out in public, with observers, and when to be a loving slut, in private, in a bedroom.  Little did he know.

“Time for a tired Norwegian to be heading home!” said the Swede.

“First time for a brew.  Never know when the next may be the last.” Commented Emil, while handing the now open bottles to his best friend, and his wife.

Both drank heavily, partially due to the thirst of the day, and it gave them something to do with their hands, recently otherwise employed.  Both would remember the moment, and one would vow to repeat it with more and better results.  The other would put up a token resistance, but said resistance was more for the sake of propriety, than to thwart the advances of the other. 

Rosie broke the quiet.  “Boys, this girl has had a full day, I am ready for the bed.”  With that she got up, went upstairs and used the toilet, thankful for indoor plumbing.  Finished, she went into the master bedroom, and stripped, feeling those breasts with her own hands, that had been fondled by two others earlier that day.  Her nipples reacted strongly, pushing up between her thumb and forefinger.  She had been planning to put on her silken draws, and vest, but, keeping in mind what was coming up the stairs to her soon, she left the draws off, then would be off soon enough.  The vest was loosely tied, showing off her magic orbs in the candle light of the taper she light.  When she reclined on the bed, the shadows were exquisite, the darkness between her legs was encased in shadow, while the darkness between her breasts showcased their firmness, their size and that they were there, ready for work.  She heard Emil come up the steps, knowing that he was unbuttoning his shirt as he came.  In their years together, she had never known him to come into the bedroom to sleep with his shirt buttoned.  Sometimes she teased him about being too eager, but that was a successful way to goading him to a stronger performance.  Yes, she loved her man, and loved the reaction teasing him gave her.

He opened the door, and saw his wife, reclined on the bed, ready for her man, her lover, her husband.  For the third time that day he coupled with her, starting with him on top, and soon enough, letting her on and letting her play Annie Oakley, riding her stallion, and getting her gun to fire.