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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Danielle Thamasa

A small diner with six booths, three tables with chairs, as well as ten seats along a bar for people eating alone. Charley's Diner is mostly a joint where everyone knows your name. The waitresses make polite conversation as they take your order and serve your food. Sometimes, ol' Charley will walk around as well or will sit around with some of the customers and chat.

Popular hang-out spot for high school students, though you'll almost never see a combination of schools. It is like each of the three high schools, the two private and one public on this side of the city split up the nights. Each school gets two nights and they leave Charley's alone on Sundays.

1/31/2009 . Edited 2/16/2010 #1
The Star Catcher

Warren entered Charley's Diner. It seemed like a friendly place, with tables of people chatting and laughing while scarfing down piping hot meals. The alluring scent of roasting coffee and sizzling meat entered his nose even before he looked inside.

Sylvia followed him tentatively, her bright eyes glancing around the area. Her white hands clutched Peter's and Bridget's tightly, while Conlan stuck protectively at her side as if he was in charge of protecting his mother. Warren scanned the area for Miss O'Malley.

"So Miss O'Malley's coming here too?" Conlan asked Warren. Warren had explained the plan while they walked to the diner.

"Yes," Warren said.

"Is she your friend?" Conlan demanded.

Warren wasn't sure how to answer. He had only known her for about two days, but was on friendly terms? He knew her as more than just another classmate, but he didn't know her yet. Would that be considered a friend or an acquaintance?

"Perhaps," Warren said.

2/1/2009 #2
Phoebe Powers

Lillian walked into Charley's and smiled as she saw Warren. "I see you found Charley's without any trouble," she commented. "We should probably go and pick out a seat."

2/1/2009 #3
The Star Catcher

"Miss O'Malley, this is Mrs. O'Sullivan. Er-" He paused as Sylvia gave him a look. "Well, she prefers to be called Sylvia. Mrs--Sylvia, this is Miss O'Malley, a classmate of mine from school."

"How do you do?" Sylvia said kindly. She would've held out her hand in greeting, but both were clutched tightly by her children.

2/1/2009 #4
Phoebe Powers

"I am well; thank you for asking. It is wonderful to meet you Sylvia. You can call me Lillian." She smiled. "I believe that booth in the back is available. It should have enough room for all of us."

2/1/2009 #5
The Star Catcher

They all went to the booth in the back and settled into the seats.

"Peter, darling, please don't fidget," Sylvia urged the tiny boy. He obediently sat still.

"Mama, Miss O'Malley says that I'm a princess!" Bridget informed her mother happily, "and that Conlan's a knight."

"Bridget-" Conlan started to scold, but his mother's soft hand on his shoulder calmed him down.

"How sweet," Sylvia said gently, smiling at Lillian. "Bridget always loves stories with princesses and knights. You should see her reenact fairy tales in our fire escape. Her most favorite is Fair, Brown, and Trembling. Have you ever heard of that story?"

"Mother, it's an Irish tale," Conlan said. "I doubt she'll know it."

"What fairy tales do you like, then?" Sylvia asked.

2/1/2009 #6
Phoebe Powers

Lillian smiled. "My family is Irish as well," she said. "I have heard my fair share of Irish tales."

Then she looked at Sylvia. "I've liked all of them that I've heard or read."

2/1/2009 #7
The Star Catcher

"Are you rich?" demanded Conlan. "Because you seem rich."

"Conlan, mind your manners," Bridget snapped at him.

"Have you ever met an immigrant that gets rich? I've never," Conlan said accusingly. Warren felt his cheeks go hot. This was not a very cheery relationship between Conlan and Miss O'Malley.

"If you work hard enough, you'll succeed, darling," Sylvia said gently. "That's the beauty of America, isn't it?"

2/2/2009 #8
Phoebe Powers

Lillian shook her head. "No, I'm not rich. My family settled here when my great-grandpappy came over from Ireland. We have had plenty of time to stabalize ourselves."

Just then three young women walked up, all of them with hair cut short and perfectly styled. They were wearing make-up and dresses that were short and revealing. The blonde in the front looked at the table. Her family was rich and well known around the city. Everyone at Stone Ridge Private School knew of Blanche Stewart and Blanche knew practically everyone at school as well. "Taking on charity cases now, Mr. Hester?" she asked, looking at the company he kept.

Lillian looked away from Blanche, her cheeks flushing as she shifted a little in her seat.

2/2/2009 #9
The Star Catcher

Warren felt his hair bristle with indignation at the sound of Miss Stewart's voice. As hard as he tries to keep his composure in check, he couldn't help but have a colder atmosphere around Miss Stewart. He could take it if she made snide comments against himself, but now she was attacking his friends. This was not acceptable. He could feel Sylvia shift uncomfortably in her spot, and Bridget was glancing fearfully at him and Miss Stewart. Conlan stiffened at the insult. He was young, but he was smart and understood what people said.

"I am taking charity cases now, since I'm talking to you," he said coolly. "If I don't speak kindly to you, no one will. That's a needy case indeed."

He found it quite ironic that he said no one but he would speak kindly to Miss Stewart, when in fact he had just snubbed her.

2/2/2009 #10
Phoebe Powers

Blanche turned her gaze to Lillian. "I was referring to her with that comment," Blanche stated.

Lillian wouldn't even look up. This was why she was careful about when she came to Charley's Diner. Blanche and her friends always made it a horrid experience.

2/2/2009 #11
The Star Catcher

"I obviously wasn't," Warren replied. Why didn't Miss Stewart like Miss O'Malley? He didn't know anything about the school's social ladder (though the ones on the top were obvious; even a complete loner like he could figure it out), but it didn't seem like Miss O'Malley was anywhere in the teasing area. "Why do you think she's a charity case?" He wondered how Miss Stewart could reply to a straightforward question like that. Either way, he already gathered evidence that she was one of the lesser pleasant classmates in Stone Ridge.

2/2/2009 #12
Phoebe Powers

Blanche gave a small smile. "You mean you haven't heard?" she questioned. "Well, I guess she wouldn't want everyone to know, especially not when there is a fella that is actually paying attention to her."

2/2/2009 #13
The Star Catcher

Warren raised an eyebrow skeptically. As curious as he was, he wasn't going to pursue furthur. Whatever secret Miss O'Malley had, he didn't want to delve in and invade her personal privacy.

"Excuse me, miss, but please don't speak to us like that," said Sylvia sternly. She was not going to stand with this.

2/2/2009 #14
Phoebe Powers

"Perhaps some other time then," Blanche said before she and the two girls behind her walked off.

2/2/2009 #15
The Star Catcher

Warren frowned at Miss Stewart's retreating back. What was that all about?

"Is she your friend?" Conlan demanded.

"I barely know her," Warren said. "I'm rather surprised she even knows my name, or vice versa."

"Why don't we order supper now?" Sylvia offered.

Warren glimpsed briefly at Miss O'Malley, hoping she wasn't too affected by Miss Stewart's comment.

2/2/2009 #16
Phoebe Powers

"Supper sounds nice," Lillian said after a few moments. She really hoped they could move past the whole situation and not talk about it.

2/2/2009 #17
The Star Catcher

"Now...how do we order?" Warren asked nervously. "Do we call for a waitress or...?"

2/2/2009 #18
Phoebe Powers

"A waitress should come over here in just a few moments," Lillian answered.

2/2/2009 #19
The Star Catcher

As if on cue, a waitress with a crisp ironed uniform and orange bobbed hair rushed to the booth.

"Good evening, may I take your order?"

"Yes, thanks," Warren said. "I'll have uh..." He squinted to read the 'Today's Specials' sign hanging on the wall. "Um, the potato and rice soup sounds nice. I'll have that, then."

"What do you want, darlings?" Sylvia asked her little children. Conlan furrowed his eyebrows.

"What's the cheapest?" he asked quietly to his mother. Warren overheard.

"Don't even dare worrying about it! All of it is on me."

"I don't want to be a charity case," Conlan muttered, his eyes downcast. Warren felt a lump in his throat and burning indignation towards Miss Stewart.

2/2/2009 #20
Phoebe Powers

"The potato and rice soup sounds wonderful," Lillian said, wishing that Blanche hadn't come over and said what she had. It had ruined practically everything.

2/2/2009 #21
The Star Catcher

"This isn't charity, Conlan, it's just friends getting together and having dinner," Warren said earnestly. "Now choose whatever you want."

Conlan was silent for a while. Warren pressed on.

"If you must pay me back, which I don't recommend at all, then write me a story. How's that for a deal?"

Conlan thought it over. "All right," he said resolutely. "May I have the slice of Shepherd's pie, then?"

"I'd like the baked potato meal," Bridget said happily.

"What about you, Peter dear?" Sylvia asked the little toddler. Peter clutched his mother's dress tightly and snuggled closer to her.

"I think Peter would rather share a meal with me," Sylvia said, stroking his downy hair. "He hasn't much of a big appetite, and my stomach isn't at its prime comfort at the moment."

"Are you all right?" Warren asked worriedly.

"Ah, yes, don't worry about me, Warren," Sylvia smiled. "It's just one of those days. What about you, Lillian? What would you like tonight?"

2/2/2009 #22
Phoebe Powers

Lillian looked at Sylvia. "I think I'm going to get the potato and rice soup as well."

2/2/2009 #23
The Star Catcher

"All right," said the waitress, writing everything down on a pad. "Your orders will be with you as soon as possible." She sped off to give the orders to the cook.

"There's a lot of boys and girls your age here, Warren," Bridget observed, bouncing on the seat to take a good look around. "Are they from your school?"

Warren gazed around. He wasn't exactly sure he would recognize anyone even if they were from his school. He saw Harris Carlisle, the boy who complimented him on his speech, and a couple of his friends, and Miss Stewart's posse, but that was about it.

"They're probably from other schools," Warren said.

At that moment, Harris Carlisle caught his eye on Warren. His gaze wandered to Miss O'Malley and Sylvia, and then Warren, who was right in between. He winked and gave him a thumbs up. Warren raised an eyebrow. What in the world was Harris trying to say?

2/3/2009 #24
Phoebe Powers

Lillian looked at Bridget. "They are all from our school," she told the girl. After all, it was one of Stone Ridge's two days to occupy the diner.

2/3/2009 #25
The Star Catcher

Warren kept a wary eye out for Blanche Stewart. She was at a booth in the corner, laughing with her friends over their drinks. She seemed nice and affable with her friends; why did she act differently with Miss O'Malley?

Dark clouds started to gather in the sky outside the window, threatening a massive storm. Low rumbling could be heard from outside and the sharp crackle of rainfall began to pelt the roof. Peter shivered in his mother's embrace and whimpered softly.

"Shh, shh, dear Peter, it's all right," Sylvia crooned, stroking his hair. "Remember the story of Noah? Even after all that storm, there was sunshine and rainbow at the end."

"Peter hates storms," Bridget whispered to Miss O'Malley. "Conlan once told him that they were war drums of monsters ready to attack us." Bridget shot a death glare at Conlan, who stonily stared right back at her.

2/3/2009 #26
Phoebe Powers

"I always heard that it was a farmer up in heaven who lost a wheel on his cart, causing all of the potatoes to fall out and that's why we hear that sound," Lillian answered.

2/3/2009 #27
The Star Catcher

"That's horrible!" Bridget cried. "The poor farmer, even after a hard life and death, he still has troubles with his cart. And now all his potatoes are gone."

"Don't be silly, Bridget. Besides, no farmer can ever have that many potatoes, dead or alive," Conlan said coldly.

"Now, Conlan, it's a story. Anything can happen in stories," Sylvia told her son as she rocked Peter on her lap."Not everything has to be sensible."

Conlan looked as if he wanted to retort smartly, but silented. He leaned back, crossing his arms and narrowing his eyes at both Bridget and Miss O'Malley. Warren remembered how long it took him to crack Conlan's shell and sighed. Hopefully the food would come out soon so the tension would be lifted from them.

2/3/2009 #28
Phoebe Powers

"Then when the angels hear about the farmer they go and help him fix his cart and pick up all of his potatoes," Lillian finished. "Those in heaven do not have a hard life."

2/3/2009 #29
The Star Catcher

(I just remembered that by the time of the twenties, there should be a compulsory education law, so all kids have to attend school till sixth grade. Also, with the Progressive Era prior to the twenties, child labor would be closely restricted, so I don't think Bridget and Conlan would work in a factory anymore. Just their father)

"If only that's how it was in this life," Conlan muttered bitterly, running a finger down Peter's small cheek.

"Now, darling, life is only how it is in your eyes," Sylvia said. "The world can be as big or as small as you want it to be. You just need the right mindset."

"A little something to help me grasp the mindset would be greatly appreciated," Conlan said quietly. Sylvia brushed a lock of dark hair from his eyes.

2/3/2009 #30
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