I entered an earlier version of this story in the writersdigest.com “Write it Your Way” short story contest for July 2012. The theme was “Summer.” I didn’t win anything, but after reading the stories of the five finalists and the winner I can see that this is not what they were looking for. Prostitutes, Pimps, and Bikers in New Orleans? Oh my! http://www.writersdigest.com/
by Sara Jacobelli
© copyright 2012
“Marilyn Monroe Will Have Her Own Room”
I. The Man
He looked like a business man, expensive suit, clean fingernails. He kept looking at his Rolex. “Let’s go,” he said to Domi with a sense of privilege and ownership that pissed me off. She was glowing, beautiful as always, dressed in some swanky new outfit, lots of glitter and feathers, dripping jewelry.
“But I thought we were gonna hang out.” I leaned in close. “Who is this guy?” He didn’t belong in the Bastille. The Doobie Brothers blared from the jukebox as the bikers and sidewalk commandos sauntered in the swinging doors. The steamy tropical air signaled evening in New Orleans. Earl with the devilish smile was bartending, smelling vaguely of weed, already tipsy on a few Heinekens. The night was just coming alive at Toulouse and Bourbon, and Domi’s running off with some citizen wearing a tie.
“Girl, I gotta go.” Dominique’s voice was a stranger’s voice. I stood there like a fool watching Domi get into a United Cab with the business man. Her perfume lingered in the dingy bar.
“What’s your problem, Tory?” The Weasel asked, popping a shot of Jagermeister, grinning his snaggle-toothed smile. “That woman’s working, she can’t play with you tonight. She’s gotta put some steak on the table for Crazy Dave. She’s gotta put some Harleys on the table too.” The Weasel coughed and sputtered, laughing hard at his own joke, chain smoking Camels. “Earl, run me a tab tonight. I’m doing some work for Charlie tomorrow, I’ll catch up with ya.”
II. The Cemetery
“My little sister is buried here. She was one year younger than me, we were a matching set. Dominique Marie and Danielle Marie.” Domi smiled a thin smile and brushed imaginary dirt from the gravestone. The stone featured a simple carving of a gentle looking lamb, and the words Danielle Marie Chantelle, Our Angel is with Him Now.”
In St. Roch Cemetery you never knew who would get you first, muggers or ghouls. None of this seemed to bother Domi, who was lost in some reverie of sisterhood. She sat contentedly on the grass and told stories about her family as if we were on a picnic.
“Girl, my whole family comes here on All Saints Day, but I usually visit her by myself on her birthday. I always make her a cake. Chocolate, with little sprinkles. But I eat it. ” She let loose with her infectious Seventh Ward Catholic schoolgirl giggle. “So you see, there’s notjust six of us, there’s seven. Six girls and one boy. I just can’t forget Dani, even though she was just a baby when she died.” Domi’s voice softened on the word “baby.”
“Do you remember her?” It was always fun to hang with Domi, even if it was in a cemetery. Some of the crypts were broken up a little bit. I imagined bones and body parts scattered about.
“No, not really. She was six months old when she died, and I was a year and a half. But Mama said I cried and cried for days, I missed her so much. Crib death. There’s nothing sadder than a baby dying.” Domi got that far off look in her eyes. She was quiet for a few minutes.
“Girl, what did you do in the summer up north?”
“We just hung out, you know, in the neighborhood.”
“We had so much fun in New Orleans. Snowball stands popped up in every window. Hopscotch and jump rope. Mama would get so mad when we ran around with no shoes, like little ragamuffins. We went to Pontchartrain Beach with the white kids and Lincoln Beach with the black ones. My family looks so mixed, we could pass for anything.” Domi giggled again, remembering good times.
A pigeon ruffled its feathers and we both jumped.
Domi laughed. “Girl, you scared?”
“Hell yeah, let’s get out of here!” We got up and started walking. She turned back once to look. It started to sprinkle, which felt good in the heat.
III. The Dream
“Did I ever tell you about my dream?”
“My dream, Tory. My dream is to have a good husband, a bunch of kids, a nice house and—–“
She looked at me to make sure I was listening. “I want one room all fixed up for Marilyn Monroe. Posters, paintings, pillows, lamps, everything Marilyn.”
“Really?” I was pleased that Domi shared this with me. “Why Marilyn Monroe?”
“Because I love her. I understand her. Sometimes I wish I could wake up and BE her. That’s my dream. I want Marilyn to have her own room.”
I looked at her creamy brown skin and dark eyes. “You’re way prettier.”
“You don’t understand. You don’t know what Marilyn means to me.”
We walked quicker. I started hoping we could find some place air conditioned.
“Is Crazy Dave the husband, I mean, the one in the dream?”
Domi stopped at the corner. “Girl, it’s getting so hot, I’m dripping sweat, I’ll need two showers when I get home.” She looked at the sky. “I wish it would really rain.”
An older man on a rickety red bicycle squeaked to a stop. He smiled at Domi. “Young lady, you are fine. You are some Creole fine.”
She laughed. “Go on now.”
He looked her up and down. “Mmmm, hmmm. If I was thirty years younger. . . “
Domi played along. “You wouldn’t get my ass on that bicycle.”
“Limousine, baby, LIMO-zine,” he called, as he pedaled off. We both cracked up.
“But is it Dave, I mean, the guy?”
“Tory, sometimes you act like a little kid. First time I saw you I thought That child is under age.”
We stepped over the holes and rubble in the broken sidewalks.
“Of course Crazy Dave is NOT the man in my dream. You think a dream husband pimps out his old lady? You think a dream man beats his woman’s ass if she don’t bring home enough money? You think a dream man beats his woman hard, but not in the face, because that face makes him money?”
My skin prickled at the thought of Domi lying with the rude business man. “I didn’t know about that til the other night. Can’t you leave him?“
She rolled her eyes. “It’s not easy, it’s not like that. “
The happy mood had faded.
“I’m hungry. Got any money?”
“No, but I do have a sugar daddy. That Rich Crab Man from cross the Lake gave me a credit card. Let’s go run up his bill.” Domi giggled again, and we were back in the Quarter, back on familiar streets. “Let’s just hope we don’t run into Dave, or any of his club brothers. Please. I am not in the mood for that shit. I’m liable to talk back and get my ass whupped.”
“Could we eat at Maspero’s?”
“Nah, just them ole sandwiches? Something nicer. Let’s go to Ralph and Kacoo’s. I want someone to wait on me.”
Photo Credit: Wikipedia, Marilyn Monroe in “The Misfits”