Hey everyone! Another new story! And I'm really excited about this one because this one involves something incredibly close to my heart - John Dillinger. I have always wanted to write a fictional account involving his story but I didn't exactly know where to start. Then Evanescence's Love left me a review saying I should write a story about a taxi dancer, and the pieces just fell into place. Which is why this story is dedicated to Evanescence's Love. Without her, this story wouldn't be here.
While Zelda Kelly is my character and her romance with Dillinger is entirely fictional, the majority of the story is based on historical fact. I've read ten different biographies on the gangster, seen at least three biographies on television about him, and have read countless articles on him. So, suffice to say, I'm kind of an expert when it comes to John Dillinger. If you have any questions about him, feel free to ask them because I honestly have no problem answering.
Also, as usual, the italicized lines underneath every chapter aren't mine. They're songs that don't belong to me. I use Norah Jones' "Come Away with Me" and "The Nearness of You," Diana Krall's "Bye Bye Blackbird," and Taylor Swift's "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me." Please don't sue.
Reviews as always are swonderful, so please drop me a line about what you think of the story. I hope you enjoy it to say the least, and thank you for your interest.
"I close my eyes and the flashback starts"
Death was always a tragic thing, and the death of Zelda Kelly was no exception to this rule. Zelda Kelly was born in 1915 in New York to two parents who really didn't care one way or the other about raising her, but luckily she was happy and content being by herself. School was something she was interested in, and she ended up getting an associates degree at a local community college. Life at home got to be too pressing, and from there Zelda started to travel, doing odd jobs here and there to pay for food and board. She was a flapper in every sense of the word, save for the fact that she liked to wear her hair long rather than short. This, of course, caused tension between Zelda and some of the other women only because they would whisper things behind her back.
But Zelda didn't particularly care. The one thing she absolutely loved to do was dance, and if she had to share a dance floor with women who couldn't stop staring and saying things about her hair, then she would. Zelda had never felt more free on a dance floor, and when she didn't have a partner, she danced by herself.
It wasn't surprising that she ended up in Chicago as a taxi dancer at a popular night club. She was twenty now, and had been married only recently after a two month love affair. Marriage was never really something Zelda had thought she would ever do, but when he asked, she couldn't say no. However, marriage wasn't exactly what she had thought, and as a result, she wasn't incredibly happy. But at least she had the music, and at least she could dance.
Her life was a mystery to her four children and eight grandchildren, but as they were all seated in her lawyer's office, they couldn't help but wonder just what their mother and grandmother had to tell them on video that she hadn't told them in life. Because if Zelda Kelly was anything, she was blunt.
The door to the room opened, and in walked Betty Fransky, Zelda's lawyer and longtime friend. "Good afternoon," she said in a soft voice as she shut the door behind them and maneuvered around her guests in order to reach her desk. Once she did, she turned in order to look at everyone, and then slid down in her seat. "I want to thank you all for coming." She paused here, licking her lips as she tried to figure out what to tell the family, how to prelude the video she was about to show. "Zelda was a very mysterious woman, but she was an honest one. And, as we all know, she was desperately in love with her husband."
"Dad was definitely madly in love with her too," Brian, the eldest child said with a grin. His three siblings all murmured their agreements, and the grandchildren giggled and blushed.
"Yes, he was," Betty agreed. "My, when the two of them would come in here… Well, it was just easy to see it in the way they looked at each other."
"That's what Mom would always say," Marianna said with a teary smile. "You can always tell how someone feels about someone else in how they look at each other."
"And Dad was crazy about Mom," Norah pointed out.
"So," Eric said, the middle child. He tilted his head and looked at Betty, not exactly sure as to why he was here. Of course he cared about his mother and his family, but he didn't understand why they were gathered here to watch a tape of their mother. "Why, exactly, are we here?"
Betty smiled at Eric, always the rational child of the bunch. "I'm sure it's no secret that your mother left you a video for you to all watch," she said, turning her head so she could look at the widescreen television located on the far side of her office. "It was of great importance that you see this. I'm sure that you might be wondering just why she didn't tell you everything she needed to tell you while she was alive. After the video, I'm sure you'll realize the answer. I must warn you, this video is somewhat long, so if you're not comfortable where you are, you might want to move in order to get comfortable." She waited a long moment until the guests had situated themselves before starting to talk once more. "Now, you all know how much I cared about Zelda, and when she asked me to video tape this message for her, I couldn't say no. But what she said surprised even me.
"Now, you might wonder why your mother left this while your father, when he died a couple of years ago, didn't do the same. But again, that should all be explained in this tape."
With that, she quickly turned off the lights and started the tape before turning on the television. There was Zelda, sitting in a hospital bed, her green eyes sparkling as mischievously as they had been during her youth. She still looked incredible for her old age; her skin, while wrinkled, was well maintained due to the fact that she was a firm believer in sunscreen, and she still had all of her teeth due to her insistence on the importance of flossing and brushing twice a day. Her hair now thin and grey was left down, as she had worn it in her youth, and though she knew she was dying, no trace of sadness could be seen anywhere on the tape.
"Well, I'm sure you're all wondering why you're here," she said, always straight to the point. "And I'll tell you. But before I do, I want to tell you that I love you more than life itself, as your father did. The reason we've kept this from you for so long was for selfish reasons; we didn't want to spend one minute away from each other, and not one second away from you."
This confused the audience, but they were silent, waiting for their mother to continue.
"Now… I know that when I reveal what I'm about to reveal, you may or may not believe me. And that's fine. Quite frankly, I don't care one way or the other if you believe me or not. The only thing that matters is I tell you.
"You all know that I was born in 1915 and did this and that with my life. You all know that I was married once, for a very short while, before and when I met your father. At the time, I was working as a taxi dancer, and what that means, for those of you that don't know, is that men would pay me a dime – which was a lot back in the day – for a dance. And your father, well, let me tell you, that man could dance." There was a nostalgic smile on Zelda's face as she remembered her beloved husband, and it reminded her children of what she had looked like when she was younger.
"I should probably tell you the whole story so everything is explained to you because what they have in those history books is downright phooey. But…" Here, she let her voice trail off before she sighed. "But that was what needed to be done in order to save your father's life. I know that what I'm asking you is a stretch to believe, but on my life, on your father's life, what I say is true. But so you can understand it, I'm going to have to go back… maybe a few days before I met your father." Zelda paused and her eyes glanced away from the camera so she could look at her friend. "Now Betty, when you show this to them, you should probably pause it here and ask them if they need to get some food or go to the bathroom or something because it's a long story."
Betty paused the tape at that moment and looked at the audience expectantly. She knew she didn't have to ask, and when none of them said anything, she nodded and played the tape once more.
"I should also warn my children that some of the things in here may or may not be appropriate for the grandchildren to hear," Zelda continued. "It involves violence, crime, sex, gangsters – you know. So I should ask Betty to pause it here in case you want to go put your kids in the attached daycare center. You guys know Grandma loves you, don't you? And if it was my decision, I'd tell you, but you know you need to be older for some things, to fully grasp the situation."
Betty paused the tape, and the four children and their spouses decided to heed their mother's warning, and placed the children in the daycare. When they had all returned and were currently reseated, Betty played the tape again.
Another sigh slid out of Zelda's nose. "Again, I'm going to tell you that this is a long story, and there are some parts you may or may not want to here. But since I'm dead now, I don't care. You're going to hear them anyways.
"Let's start off with the main point: Your father was not Jimmy Lawrence. Your father was John Dillinger."