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It was almost dark, late for a school night. Her jacket was bright pink but she wore shorts and her legs were cold. Patricia held her mother’s hand, and they walked down Highway 91 where it turns into Soco Road.

We ain’t got all night girl.

“Ain’t” ain’t a word Momma.

You tell me that again I swear I will knock you into next week. Step.

Patricia’s mother lifted her arm and they stepped over a puddle.

Am I staying at Uncle Buddy’s.

‘Course you are, where else.

Buddy Silvestri owned the club where Patricia’s mother worked. Patricia’s mother was a dancer. A teacher once asked, you mean like a ballet dancer, and Patricia said, yes ma’am.

Momma.

What sugar. Careful.

Patricia’s shoes were a size too small and she stumbled.

Lord. We gotta get you some new shoes.

Are you gonna marry Uncle Buddy.

Buddy Silvestri owned clubs all over the city. Gentlemen’s clubs. Like the one where Patricia’s mother danced and took off her clothes. Her mother had very large breasts. She danced and shook them for money. She told Patricia, don’t never worry about taking from a man.

What on God’s green earth gave you that idea Patricia.

I heard you. I heard you talking about it.

Sometimes her mother went out with men she met at the club, and Patricia would stay with Uncle Buddy. They would eat spaghetti for dinner, and Uncle Buddy would make funny faces when he slurped the spaghetti noodles. In the morning he made pancakes, and let her have coffee just like his, except with more cream. And more sugar.

You like Buddy all right. Doncha.

Yeah Momma I do.

He called her “kiddo”. Hey there, kiddo. Patricia loved Uncle Buddy.

So if I was to marry him and that’s a big if, but if I was to marry Buddy, that’d be alright with you.

That’d be okay with me Momma.

Patricia liked to watch her mother put on her make-up. She liked to watch her roll her hair and paint her eyelids silver-green. Her mother had red hair. Patricia thought she looked like Ginger, from that show where they’re stuck on the island.

Buddy Silvestri ran a lot of clubs where women danced and shook their breasts. He ran a lot of places. Some where they did more than just take off their clothes. He was doing very well. Too well, some people thought.

We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. Right now we gotta get you there and then I gotta get to the club.

Buddy owned a lot of clubs, he’d been a lot of places. He was overseas in the war. He’d seen some things over there.

When Patricia’s mother came home from work, she smelled like cigarettes and musk. It made Patricia think of the pictures she had seen in magazines. Drinks with olives in them, men with their hair slicked back and women in sequin dresses who knew they were adored.

Patricia had never been in the club. She pictured jewel-encrusted walls that sparkled in the dark like a crystal cave.

We’re almost there sugar. Careful. Don’t step in that.

They looked at one another.

Pee-Yew! Dog-Poo!

They laughed, and held their noses. Her mother took her hand again and they walked down Soco Rd.

Buddy Silvestri beat the holy crap out of a Para-Dice Rider once, with a tire iron he happened to have handy. The Para-Dice Riders were a motorcycle gang. The newspapers called it a turf war; Uncle Buddy had his hand in a lot of different pies.

Word around the clubs was, the Para-Dice Rider guy took a young girl into the woods, and did things grown men shouldn’t do, even with grown women.

I ain’t gonna get there on time.

“Ain’t” ain’t a word Momma.

You say that again I swear I will knock you into Sunday.

The girl was only eleven. Patricia’s age. There was a light on in the window when they got to Buddy’s place.

Buddy Silvestri was many things to many people.

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