Speak Easy
1920s America...where the gin joints were underground, the liquor was fine, women enjoyed life, and organized crime was born.
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J.A. Fletcher

(I know. I'm awesome, right?)

"Where're you from? Around these parts?"

10/6/2011 #661
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"Brooklyn. And you?"

10/8/2011 #662
J.A. Fletcher

"Oh, I'm from around."

10/8/2011 #663
J.A. Fletcher

Russ grinned as they finished up the set and stopped to wipe his sweating forehead with his handkerchief. The crowd on the dance floor was cheering for more, and Russ looked over toward Eddie on trombone.

"C'mon!" Eddie shouted over the crowd. "Let's give 'em more, huh Russ?"

Russ nodded and stood up. He put his clarinet on the chair and walked up to the round microphone. In his clearest diction, he let the words flow out of his mouth with a rhythmic lilt.

"Thank you, thank you! Your taste in music is absolutely terrible!" Laughs. "But in all seriousness, this is a rousing welcome for the debut of our band, and we are most grateful. If you do not know already, I am Russ Stafford, and this is my orchestra. I would like to introduce a piece of music that was just recently recorded by the California Ramblers, and the only song Red Nichols has yet to get to." More laughs. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Art Gillham, because I know he's out there taking notes," the crowd laughed even harder, "I would like the effervescent Jane Kennedy, a most promising female vocalist, to come out and sing, 'Has Anybody Seen My Gal?'!"

Russ turned and looked offstage where Jane was sitting and watching. She looked surprised when Russ called her out, and shook her head.

"Oh, please, Jane?" Russ pleaded over the microphone. "You're not that bad. When I told you that you were as good as Aileen Stanley, that wasn't meant to be an insult!" The crowd roared as they ate Russ's performance up. Jane rolled her eyes and entered the stage. The crowd cheered wildly, although she was an unknown. It was Russ that was getting the crowd fired up. Jane's beauty, wit and delicate voice would certainly help. She stood next to Russ onstage and hooked her arm through his.

10/9/2011 #664
J.A. Fletcher

Charlie looked toward the kids up on stage. They looked no older than Peggy from Brooklyn. And the girl with her arm in the fellow's, boy was she a dish.

10/9/2011 #665
J.A. Fletcher

Russ made an obvious attempt to look bashful at Jane's touch. "B-b-boy!" He exclaimed, wiping his forehead with his handkerchief, this time for comedic effect, "What were we talking about again?"

"The song, silly!" Jane replied.

"Right!" Russ took on a huge grin, then let it fall. "What song?" The crowd went wild with this, and did not stop laughing throughout the exchange.

Jane let out an audible sigh into the microphone. "Oh, Russell, you'd forget your shoes if they weren't glued to your socks."

"Well. how would you expect me not to lose them if they weren't? Although there's one thing glued to me which is very unwelcome."

"What is that?"

"Al Jolson. That creep's been stealing my compositions for a while now."

"Oh, that's silly. I'm sure Mr. Jolson has better things to do than follow little old you around."

10/9/2011 #666
J.A. Fletcher

"That is simply not so. I don't know where he finds the time to do it, anyhow, what with the 22 hours a day spent putting vats of grease into his hair. Any contact with Jolson's head and it will feel like falling into the La Brea Tar Pits."

"Oh, quit being so silly."

"I'm not. Especially when speaking upon the La Brea Tar Pits. That's a very solemn subject to Mr. Jolson. His friend fell into one about a million years ago, and Jolson visits his grave about once a year."

"Aren't you exaggerating a bit about Mr. Jolson's age?"

"Not at all. Mr. Jolson passed away sometime around 1912 and no one's had the heart to tell him yet. The fellow looks good for 118 years old, though. I wonder who his mortician is."

The crowd roared with laughter. They were really eating this up.

10/9/2011 #667
J.A. Fletcher

"You folks think this is funny," Russ continued, "but this is life for Mr. Jolson. Some fellows go for a shave or a haircut, Jolson goes to get his rigor mortis cleared up."

"Now you're just being mean." Jane pretended to act stern, but she was doing all she could to suppress the laughter.

"I may be mean, but I really mean it when I say that Jolie has a very unhealthy relationship with his mother. You've never heard a fellow speak so much about his mammy. When a boy grows into a man, he likes to get out of the house - away from ma and pa. But when a guy is that obsessed with his mother, you know what that means. But enough about Jolie. Boys," he said, turning toward the band, "you know what to do."

The band started in with "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?" as the crowd started to chant, "Russ! Russ! Russ!", a sign that they wanted him to sing. Jane looked a little disappointed.

"Oh, you can sing, Jane." Russ said, trying to compete with the volume of the band.

"No, they want you, Russ." Jane said. She gave him a weak smile. "It's all right."

"Jane, the next one is going to be yours." Russ said, touching her shoulder. He kissed her cheek, and Jane's smile became genuine as the dancers and observers both cheered. "I promise. All right?"

She nodded. "All right."

Russ turned back to the microphone and started to sing.

(Here's the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOUbYw4tW0A&feature=youtube_gdata)

10/9/2011 #668
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"So do you work here?" Peggy asked, spinning.

10/12/2011 #669
J.A. Fletcher

"Me?" Charlie asked, going with the motions. "No."

10/12/2011 #670
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"What do you do for money?"

10/15/2011 #671
J.A. Fletcher

"Oh..." He said, "...odd jobs. I suppose you can say I tend to float around a great deal."

10/17/2011 #672
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"Lucky. I can't find a job for the life of me."

10/19/2011 #673
J.A. Fletcher

"I wonder why that is."

10/19/2011 #674
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"The drink?"

10/19/2011 #675
J.A. Fletcher

"You like to souse up, do you?"

10/19/2011 #676
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"Just a little,"

10/20/2011 #677
J.A. Fletcher

"You look too young to be a drunk. It's low class."

10/21/2011 #678
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"I;m no drunk. I just like to party,"

10/22/2011 #679
J.A. Fletcher

"You like to...what? I don't understand what you mean."

10/22/2011 #680
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"Scotch and a dance,"

10/22/2011 #681
J.A. Fletcher

"Oh, I see. Well, everyone has their faults. And everyone has their charms." He looked at her suggestively.

10/23/2011 #682
Who Is This Girl Anyway

"Should I take that as a compliment?" she smiled.

10/25/2011 #683
J.A. Fletcher

"Lady, I don't very well care."

10/25/2011 #684
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