Consumedby Savannah Summers
It was a cold October night and I had just left work from the nearby textile factory. Earlier, the girls and I had all agreed to head over to Dusty's Bar after work for my nineteenth birthday. As soon as the clock struck ten, I left my sewing machine and fled the factory with my celebratory friends to the bar. The pub was full of laughter, booze, and life as I sauntered in. I was used to every eye being on me as I entered the bar, not because I was a drop-dead beauty, but because I don't fit the stereotypical image of the wild flapper who wears astonishing short dresses and heels higher than her standards. I have always been a modest woman, never daring to let my dress rise above my calves. My mother taught me to dress like a respectable women so suitable men would flock to me, but times have changed since dad courted her. Now, men are more interested in mysterious women who attend rumored speakeasies. My mother had also lectured me about the dangers of liquor, but after her passing a couple of years ago I decided to try alcohol for myself. Three years later and here I am, sitting at a bar tossing the poison back.
The night was just what I needed; we kept ordering round after round of drinks, playing billiards, and dancing the night away. Margaret and Dorothy both surprised me with gifts: a lariat pearl necklace and a jeweled cigarette case complete with four Lucky Strike cigarettes. As the night continued, my friends decided it was time for them to turn in for the night, but going home to a dark and lonely apartment did not appeal to me. I resolved, sat at the bar, and limited myself to one more drink as I ordered a shot of gin. To my left I noticed the man who seemed to have been sitting there all night.
"The name's Elizabeth Swank," I slurred. He quietly introduced himself as Jessie Markos, a Greek man who had just arrived in town two days earlier. The night had to have been closing in on one in the morning but it was no matter. We continued to talk about our lives, each interested in every aspect. After his father and mother had succumbed to polio, Jesse left Greece hoping to find a new life in America and securing some riches along the way. I told him about my modest parents and how disappointed they would be that I was within ten yards of alcohol.
Before long, we both became more interested in dancing than drinking. Jessie admitted he was having continual shortages of breath, but we continued to dance, not taking our eyes off of one another. After all the alcohol, I decided to visit the restroom, leaving Jessie at the bar. Just as I reentered the bar, I heard a flop and saw Jessie grab his chest, gasping for air. Collapsing, he seemed to be barely conscious. I ran over and yelled at someone to help him. Seconds later, a man appeared at my side and explaining that he was a doctor. Nothing seemed to work; Jessie would not wake up.
"There's nothing I can do, I am truly sorry," the doctor said. He lectured me about the dangers of alcohol, noting that too much can be deadly. I had heard this from my mother several times. An ambulance arrived ten minutes later and would not let me ride with the man I had just met that night. I will never know if Jessie survived or succumbed. Perhaps my mother was right: liquor is poison and nothing good can ever come of it.
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