|Maybe he had a point. Who, you ask? Why, Charlie Dashing, of course. Come to think of it, I'll bet that's not his real name. No matter, it's not important. What's that you say? Who is Charlie Dashing? My dear, have you been living under a rock? Oh very well, if you have to ask, you must really need an explanation. I'll tell you, and then maybe you'll understand what I meant when I said that he had a point. Well, maybe he had a point.
I met Charlie Dashing just downtown, at this cute little place called Lola's. Well, downstairs it was Lola's, upstairs it was Herbert G. Farvel's Stationary Shop. Ah, but that was the twenties, darling, dreadfully dull on the outside and shockingly glamorous on the inside. Prohibition was in full, ugly swing, and everyone was living for the nighttime, when the law abiding citizens of Baltimore would go off to bed. Of course, that left those glorious hours of darkness to us, the ones who just wanted a nice cocktail and maybe a dance or two.
So one of those nights, I slipped into my feathers and sequins and headed downtown toward Lola's. I had never been there before, you see, and had only heard the password by chance from a dear friend of mine. What was her name? Oh it doesn't matter, where were we? Ah, yes, Lola's. I entered in through the back door of Herbert G. Farvel's, and walked down some rather creaky old steps to a door at the bottom. A man was standing there, a monster of a fellow with his cap pulled low to completely cover his hair. He towered over me, and I remember thinking that maybe I had made the wrong choice, heading downtown tonight.
I cleared my throat and licked my lips, mentally cursing myself for smearing my red lipstick. “Dandelion?” The monster said nothing, and for a second I was sure that I had gotten the word wrong, and that he was going to pick me up by my sequined dress and toss me out onto Chase Street. After letting me sweat for a full five seconds though, he moved aside and pushed open the heavy door. I breathed a sigh of relief, pressed my lips together, and stepped inside.
Lola's was a cramped place, as most gin joints were, but it had a little stage in the corner, where a negro saxophonist was playing some decent jazz, and a bar on the far wall. I spotted my friend, Maude, on one of the stools and made my way over. She looked lovely as always, her bobbed auburn hair caught back with a sparkling pin and a short, fringed black dress. I had always been jealous of Maude because she was so slender, a true flapper. I, on the other hand, was utterly cursed with brown hair, curvy hips and a generally buxom figure. All of the loveliest dresses just didn't seem to fit me the way they fit Maude.
It has just occurred to me that I have been unpardonably rude. We've never been properly introduced, have we? Here I am, going on about my figure, and you don't even know my name! Ah, well, age will do that to you. My name is Cordelia Van Hart, but in those days, most of the young people just called me Dilly. A carryover from my childhood, you know.
Anyway, where was I? Ah right, Maude. As I made my way over to the bar, she was deeply engrossed in conversation with the man sitting next to her. A mobster by the look of it, so slick he was slimy. I approached the bar, and accidentally knocked his fedora to the floor, three feet away. He shot me a look that might have knocked me off my heels if I hadn't already sat down in between him and Maude. I raised my left eyebrow in challenge, and he stalked off to retrieve his hat. The single eyebrow always seems to work my dear, never forget that.
Maude grinned at me, her jade eyes sparkling. “Dilly! Now what if that man was my soul mate? You may have just scared him away forever!”
“Maude, darling, if that man was your soul mate, I'm afraid it doesn't say much about your soul.” We smiled in easy camaraderie.
Maude turned back to her tea cup, which by the looks of it was full of a gin martini, her favorite. I flicked a manicured finger at the bartender, who was miles more handsome than the mobster, and smoothly ordered the same. My martini came in a tea cup as well, pink and white with tiny flowers around the edges. As if the tea cup would fool the Feds if they came knocking. I wasn't worried though, the neon owl light outside of the Owl Bar hadn't been blinking on my walk down, which meant that the Feds weren't in town.
“That fellow at the door really gave me the heebie-jeebies Maude, I was afraid you didn't give me the right password!”
“Oh Dilly, sometimes I swear you are so easily scared. Door men are supposed to give you the heebie-jeebies, that's what they're hired for.” Maude rolled her eyes, which somehow made her look more attractive, and took a sip of her martini. “So what do you think of the place? I rather like it.”
“It's cozy. Comfortable, like you could really get to know everyone that comes here.”
“Why would you want to do that? Isn't part of the fun not knowing every sheik in a place?”
“Well sure doll, but every now and then, I'm keen to try something new. Oh look! There he is.”
“There who is?”
“Why the reason we're here, Dilly. It's Charlie Dashing! I'm practically goofy over him already.” Maude pointed toward the door, where a tall gentleman had just entered the dimly lit room. He looked up and caught my brown eyes with his blue ones. Charlie Dashing, indeed.