|The Hickory Billiard Club Part 1
Author: Orange Lantern PM
1927, Detroit. The liquor business presents challenges and obstacles at every turn. The response to these challenges can lead to great reward or great consequence, and everybody has their own way to deal with their problems. Will some soar? Or will the challenges of smuggling alcohol during Prohibition be to arduous for to handle? Rated T for now.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Crime - Chapters: 3 - Words: 6,538 - Reviews: 2 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 08-10-12 - Published: 08-03-12 - id: 3047524
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I'm posting this because I want to push myself to actually finish a story. Usually, I'll get the idea for a story, plan it out, maybe a write a little bit of it out, but never completely get it down. Feedback would be nice, but don't feel obligated to review. I'm not usually comfortable allowing my writing to get judged, but that's not the point of this. This could very well be awful. It could very well be great. But I just want to have it all written. (That being said, I hope it turns out to be good).
I'd also like to warn anyone that reads this that I don't normally edit my stories before I post them. Grammar and spelling isn't normally a problem (though I apologize in advance if there are errors) but there may be some slight inconsistencies (character actions, plot focus, not fully getting a point across…). That said, I'll try to keep everything as smooth and focused as possible.
Lilith didn't enjoy walking through the cold streets of Detroit very much, especially when October was ending and the air became more brittle than usual. But her low-paying job at the Malachi's Convenience Store was on the other side of the city, and she certainly didn't have the money to afford a car to drive herself.
Detroit was entering a boom period economically, which should've made finding good work easier for Lilith. But unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
Not many companies wanted to hire an African-American woman with hardly any proper education. And any that did weren't going to be paying too much for her services. The boom of Detroit was bringing in white workers from all over, so any business that needed a job could probably find someone coming off of a train that would fulfill their needs more than Lilith ever could.
And that was why Lilith settled for working at Malachi's. It wasn't an especially bad job. But it wasn't what most people would describe as a good job, either. It gave Lilith almost enough to pay her rent (a part-time job at a donut shop helped cover the rest) and had decent hours. It was also in a decent part of town that didn't encounter too many robberies.
As Lilith walked home she began to feel that the air was colder than usual, and that a hot cup of coffee would do her well. So instead of continuing down the road she was on, she took a right at the next intersection.
Fortunately, the green neon that distinguished Overton's Donuts from the other shops that lined the street was still on.
Lilith had been a loyal customer to Overton's Donuts ever since she had lived in Detroit. They were the only shop on her way to work that made a coffee she liked. Because of this, she stopped there almost every morning.
The heat that embraced her as she entered the shop was a welcome change from the chilling temperatures outside. Walking past the familiar black tables that sat in the front of the shop, she made her way to the counter where only one man was working.
"What can I get you?" said the young man, seemingly excited. He might not have had another customer over the past few hours. Not many people needed donuts or coffee at night.
"A small coffee, black with three sugars and a bit of cream," Lilith spoke.
The man at the counter immediately turned and began preparing her drink. Lilith was disappointed, but couldn't exactly be surprised, that the man who usually took her orders in the mornings was absent.
"Do you know a Patrick Addison?" Lilith asked to the man making her coffee, his back facing her, "He's the one who normally takes my orders in the morning, and he's usually here in the afternoon too."
The man responded without turning, "Pat? Yeah, he doesn't work evenings. He's got some other line of work in the evenings; he's pretty vague about it though. Almost seems like he's hiding something, I tell you! I think I'd known Pat long enough to know when he's lying, though!
"Here you are, miss," he said placing her coffee on the counter as Lilith presenting the appropriate amount of money. The man was about to give her change, but Lilith held out her hand, "Keep it."
"Why thank you," the man said with a grin. The man waved to her as she exited and Lilith smiled warmly back at him. Lilith thought he seemed like a nice young man.
As soon as the door closed behind Lilith, she immediately needed a sip of her drink. The air had seemingly dropped ten degrees since she had been in the store.
Lilith took a few quick sips of her coffee before looking down at it with slight distaste. "Pat makes it better," she said aloud.
Continuing her walk home, Lilith frowned. "If this is what the weather's like in October, I can't wait to see what it's like in December!" she spoke to herself.
Lilith still hadn't quite gotten accustomed to the coldness of the north. She'd only made her way up to Michigan six months ago, but then it was spring. This was to be the first Michigan winter she'd get to experience.
Previously, she had lived down in Macon, but life was hardly suitable there so she followed a friend up to Michigan in Eaton Rapids. Her friend, with the support of the family she had up there, managed to find a good job and a decent place to live, but Lilith had found nothing of the sort. So Lilith had moved from Eaton Rapids to Lansing, then to Howell, and then to Brighton before finally making the move to Detroit in late April.
Detroit had been the first place where Lilith had found a job that paid enough for her to get a place to rent by herself. She probably could've found something in one of the other towns if she had kept looking, but she also couldn't resist the big city environment Detroit offered. Something about the enormity and grandness of the place marveled her.
She wished she had found something better, though. Lilith couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed that in a city that promised so much, she was only able to grasp onto so little. She managed, but she had definitely wanted more.
Lilith reminded herself to write her friend in Eaton Rapids as she crossed Woodward Avenue on her way down Gratiot Avenue. Her shoe had just come untied so she set her coffee down gently on the sidewalk and bent over to tie it.
Across the street, she saw a man, clearly drunk, step into his car. "Why can't people just follow the damn laws?" Lilith muttered to herself as she looked down away from the man, now starting his car, to finish tying her shoe.
She could hear the engine increase in volume as she tightened the string on her shoes to make sure they wouldn't come untied again. Lilith reached over and grabbed her coffee before standing up.
She was met with bright headlights shining at her face and the car of the drunken man not ten feet in front of her when she was suddenly knocked to her side.
Lilith landed on her side, spilling her coffee on the ground as a loud piercing sound echoed in her ears. Lilith, her adrenaline pumping, took a brief moment to steady her breath before pulling herself to her feet and seeing that the car had crashed into the building right next to where she was standing. She would have been dead had she not been knocked to the side.
Lilith suddenly remembered that the blow that had saved her life and turned to see her savior, lying face down on the sidewalk. At first, she thought that he may have been horribly injured or even killed, but when she bent over to check him the man began to chuckle heartily without looking up from the ground.
The man finally looked up, smiling at her. He had fair skin and his hair was the dirtiest of all the dirty blondes in the world. His eyes were a deep brown but the attribute that stuck out most to Lilith was his appearance.
He was freshly shaven and wore an expensive looking brown trench coat. On the ground next to him was a golden pocket watch that must've been worth a lot of money. Lilith politely picked the item up and handed it to the man as he picked himself up off of the ground.
"Why thank you, ma'am," he said delightedly as he took the watch from Lilith and shoved it back deep into his pocket.
"I should probably be the one thanking you," Lilith smiled, "You did just save my life after all."
They both looked over at the car that still was bent up against the side of a building. The hood was releasing smoke and a crowd of people were assisting the drunken man out of his car.
"Back away from my car!" the man shouted crankily, "I got in it, I can sure as hell get out of it!" His claim was quickly proven to be false, however. The people assisting him backed away and then man carefully placed one foot outside of his car, but as he tried to take his other foot out he stumbled and ended up losing balance and falling on his back.
Lilith and the man who had saved his life both chuckled at the man's misfortune.
"There are a lot of people like that in this part of town," said the man to Lilith, "It's amazing his friends let him try to drive home like that." The man laughed and looked at Lilith, "How could they!? He could've hurt someone."
"Well, thankfully no one got hurt," Lilith said gratefully, "Although I did spill a bit of coffee on myself."
"Coffee? At this time of night?" the man asked.
"It was keeping me warm."
"You got that from Overton's," the man noticed the label on the cup that still lay on the ground.
"Isn't that a pretty far distance from here?"
"Depends on what you consider to be a long distance."
"How long have you been walking in this weather? A miss such as yourself shouldn't be in the cold for such a long period of time."
"Oh, I work on the other side of the city, I've been walking for the better part of hour, but I live only a few blocks away on Superior Street." Lilith spoke as if the distance wasn't anything long – the commute had become a daily routine of hers – but the man's seemed shocked that she would endure such physical exertion.
"Why don't you just drive all that way!?" he asked.
"Do I look like I can afford a car?" Lilith asked, pointing to her poorly sewn shirt.
"Well, let me at least drive you the rest of the way."
"Oh, thank you, but you've already done more than enough for me today," Lilith stole another glance at the wrecked car, "But it's only a few more blocks away."
"At least let me escort you the rest of the way," the man smiled, "And don't try to refuse me!"
"Okay, I won't," acquiesced Lilith.
Lilith wasn't necessarily being unkind, but she wasn't sure how much she could trust the man she had only met a minute or two ago. You could never be too careful in a big city like Detroit.
As they began walking though, Lilith began to grow a bit more comfortable. The man certainly didn't seem like he had any foul intentions. And Lilith certainly felt that if he desired her harm he would've done something by now.
"I never did acquire your name," the man spoke.
"And I don't believe I acquired yours either," spoke Lilith, sending the ball back into his court.
The man chuckled a bit at her apprehensiveness. He wasn't taken aback by it, he probably expected it. He just found it amusing for some reason.
"Don Raymond," he said, "Your turn."
"Oh, come on. I told you my last name, the least you could do is tell me yours."
Lilith sighed. "I'd tell you if I had one."
"What kind of a person doesn't have a last name?"
"The kind of person who doesn't know her family."
There were a few moments of silence shared between the two of them. Lilith continued to walk forward resolutely. But Don now looked glumly at his feet as he moved.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't mean—."
"It's quite alright." Lilith told him. She herself had moved past this issue a long time ago. She didn't even particularly care if she ever knew her family. What could her family do for her, after all? "I know you didn't mean anything by it."
"So, Lilith…" Don began, obviously looking to strike up some sort of a conversation, "What's your line of work?"
"I'm a cashier at Malachi's Convenience Store" she replied.
"Jesus!" Don exclaimed, "You said you worked on the other side of the city, not in the next county!"
Lilith chuckled lightly at his exaggeration. "It's not in the next county. I told you, I make the commute every day. It's not even a big deal."
Don still seemed shocked by the distance. "It'd be a big deal for me," he mumbled to himself.
"You should really try to find something better, though," Don continued, "This city's booming! There has to be some job out here for you that pays better and is closer to your home!"
"Unfortunately there isn't," Lilith sighed, "I've looked."
Don was about to speak more but Lilith cut him off. "We may be in the north, but that doesn't mean people still aren't giving black women like me the cold shoulder. You'd be surprised at how many people like me can't find decent work despite the booming economy. I shudder to think what'll happen when the city isn't booming. Some black men can get labor jobs, but people like me? Forget about it. It's hard for a black woman to get work anywhere."
Don looked down glumly again. "Well I'm sorry to hear that," sounding truly sorry for the predicament she was in.
But then Don's head unexpectedly shot back up. "Wait a second!" His brain had spat out an idea, and Don was clearly excited about it. "You could work for me!" Don shouted excitedly.
"What are you offering?" questioned Lilith.
"Does your shift at Malachi's normally go so late?" Don asked, ignoring her question. "No. I usually get off a few hours earlier."
"Well then that's perfect!" Don yelled happily. He quickly pulled out a receipt and scribbled something on the back of it with a pen he produced from his trench coat.
"Meet me at this address at 9 o'clock tomorrow. Your shift will go to midnight. It's only three hours, but I promise you'll make more in that time than you do in a day at Malachi's!" Don told her.
Lilith wasn't sure at first. If she was out until midnight, she wouldn't get very much sleep and would be drowsy the next morning. But if she did make as much money as Don was promising, then maybe it wouldn't matter. She could even quit her other jobs if this endeavor turned out to be as fruitful as promised.
She looked down at the address Don had given her: 3346 Lafayette Avenue
"Right across from the Elmwood Cemetery," commented Don, smiling, "It should be a much shorter commute too. It's ten blocks away at the most."
They'd now turned off Gratiot Avenue and were on Superior Street, in front of the building in which Lilith lived.
"Thank you again for saving my life earlier," Lilith said.
"Oh, don't mention it!" replied Don, "Need me to walk you inside?"
"I think I'm fine from here," said Lilith.
"Well, in that case, I hope to see you tomorrow!" Don called before turning and walking in the other direction. Lilith looked down at the address one more time as Don turned back on to Gratiot Avenue and out of sight
"3346 Lafayette Avenue, nine o'clock," Lilith spoke out loud to herself before pausing, "I'll be there."