It’s Fiction Friday and there’s a lot of 1920s in my life right now. It inspired me to write a longer-form fiction in parts. It’s fantastically flapper but there will also probably be a murder and definitely an art heist. Enjoy!
Hazel wasn’t sure why Dot insisted on bringing her to this party, but she wasn’t complaining. After hearing their parents rave about the French neighbor’s soirees, Hazel had been pining for an invitation. Dot – who had already been sitting at the adult table for a year and a half now – had pleaded with her parents to bring Hazel, “it’s the last big party of the summer! She’ll get into trouble if she’s stuck at home.” Dot wasn’t wrong, Hazel had already contemplated how much time she could safely spend perusing her father’s study and smoking his cigars while they were gone. Not that she ever actually smoked the cigars, she just liked the sophistication they lent her visage. Especially when she leaned back in her father’s chair, threw her large feet onto the desk and proclaimed into their new telephone, “I need those numbers by tomorrow morning, Weatherby!”
By then, the smell of the putrid tube filled with mysterious leaves would usually cause such a headache that Hazel generally put the phone back and turned her attention to one of her father’s leather bound books. Try as she might, she could not fathom why most of these classics had become so classic. Aside, of course, from her father’s secret favorite: Treasure Island. “Technically, Treasure Island is a children’s book, but it’s the best adventure there is…just don’t tell my colleagues” her father had said with a wink. Recently, Hazel liked sneaking into his study to read it when she was stuck at home with her little brothers. Though she was desperate to see the spectacle that was bound to be the Frenchman’s party, she hadn’t pushed her parents that hard to take her. She didn’t mind her little brothers; after-all, they are the best people to play make-believe with. Now that she could see the Frenchman’s mansion glittering at the end of his driveway, however, she was grateful Dot had pushed for her inclusion.
Her father slowed as he turned into the driveway, passing a small brick gatehouse and stables. Lined with white, peeling trees, the driveway had been outfitted with hundreds of paper lanterns hung from the trees’ branches. The effect was breathtaking, though Hazel wondered how the trees didn’t catch fire. Dot gasped and the sisters clasped hands in delight when, through a break in the trees, they got their first full view of the house. It was truly massive. Tudor style, brick rising high with mysterious crests adorning the enormous wood double-front doors, it was a wonder such a structure could be so inviting. Hazel counted nine chimney stacks as their car made it’s way slowly to the front door in a parade of other impressive automobiles. Hazel was suddenly distracted from the grand house when Dot whispered in awe, “There she is.”
Hazel nearly lost her felt hat when she popped her head out the window to see who she was. Dot was leaning toward Hazel, craning her neck to get a better view. Neither of them worried about making a spectacle of themselves and though their mother chastised them lamely, it was obvious she was equally enthralled with the couple at the front of the line. Hazel and her family watched as the most striking woman Hazel had ever seen flung open the driver’s side door to a blood-red convertible. She didn’t know much about cars, but her mother let out a low whistle. As the woman moved toward the house, her dress swayed around her, completely obscuring her figure. Hazel couldn’t tell if it was blue or green or purple; it was as if the dress itself couldn’t make up its mind. Hazel was reminded of a peacock, iridescent feathers glimmering in the lantern-lit night, accented with a smattering of twinkling diamonds. Instead of a hat, the woman’s dark hair was fashioned with a sort of headpiece: a cap of dancing beads with a sweep of peacock feathers that almost entirely hid the woman’s deep set eyes. Hazel felt Dot shift uncomfortably in her seat and tug at her own, less ostentatious, frock.
By the time Hazel noticed the man accompanying the flashy woman, they were nearly inside the house. He was festooned in what Hazel assumed was a very expensive suit. It just looked expensive. Wide pants hitting at the ankles, Hazel could just make out a subtle shifting color in the suit’s fabric before he disappeared inside. “Who was that?” Hazel exclaimed to Dot as they clambered out of the car. The girls linked arms behind their parents to join the party inside. Dot responded in a hushed rush, “Greta Elliot Kingsley and Jack Davenport! You remember, she was all over the headlines last winter when she bought the Chicago Sun. They couldn’t believe a woman had the wherewithal to sneak-in at the last second and scoop up one of the most reputable, and profitable, papers in the nation. Then there was the scandal earlier this summer when she took up with Davenport, an earl or count or something from England,” she paused for a breath and then continued conspiratorially, “apparently, he left an English rose veritably at the altar, hopped on a ship and sailed here because he couldn’t get Greta off his mind.”
As they passed through the front doors, thanking the valets who took their stoles, Dot added as an after thought, “I suppose they met sometime previously when Greta was in England on business. Rumor has it she’s trying to widen her paper’s European prospects. I think she’s really quite an astute business woman, no matter whom she keeps company with.” Dot said this with an air of propriety, but Hazel could swear she saw a longing glance toward the grand hall where Greta and Jack were currently making their entrance.
To be continued on another Fiction Friday!