Author Topic: "Princess Of Oklahoma"  (Read 3776 times)

Offline port111

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"Princess Of Oklahoma"
« on: May 29, 2006, 12:28:32 AM »
 :'(  Be gentle, I'm sensitive.   :'( There is racism in this story because in Oklahoma in the 1930s, Jim Crow was king. Oklahoma was as repressive as avy deep south state. The young man grows as the story unfolds.

Chapter 1 The Princess And The Pauper

The sky was overcast and dark dust clouds hid the sun. The frail looking girl seemed much younger than her few actual years. Childhood illnesses had taken their toll. Matilda, the maid responsible for when she was out of doors made certain she was safely seated in the sturdy enameled oak chair swing her father had purchased for her just weeks before. She sat listlessly, pushing herself slightly with one foot without the energy to do more.

Her flame red hair hung in soft flowing waves to her waist, tied at the nape of her neck with a bright green ribbon. Colleen Marie Summers looked around her, nothing much registered. She sighed, vaguely thankful for the sunless day that permitted her to sit out of doors for a while. The fried chicken, vegetable plates and cake sat on a small serving cart close at hand, placed there in hopes of tempting her to eat something, anything. Even the tall glass of chilled milk remained untouched as usual, mute testimony of her lack of an appetite. Listlessly she moved the swing lightly with one foot again, sighed her boredom and looked downward at the neatly manicured lawn.

“Hey.” a voice called from the front gate. “Hey. You going to eat that there chicken? If you ain’t, I sure would like some. That there milk looks good, too.”

She raised her gaze to see who way calling to her. A boy who looked not much larger than she stared expectantly through the fence. His slightly oversized head was punctuated by a round freckled face all grinning mouth and wild mouse blond hair that stuck out in every unruly angle possible. His clothing was more appropriate to a rag bin than worn by a young boy. 

She looked at him haughtily, “Polite people do not beg for food. It is very impolite, you know.” She stuck her tiny nose up in the air and looked away from him.

“Yeah, well maybe them polite people ain’t hungry like me. Now I’m hungry so I don't have to be polite, see?” He grinned a happy, friendly puppy dog smile and looked pointedly at the platter of fried chicken and then at the chocolate angel food cake. “I bet that there cake tastes real good, too. That is way too much there for one skinny girl to eat.”

“Are you always this rude?” she asked him, every bit the young mistress of the manor. As the daughter of by many millions of dollars the richest man in Woodman, she had learned early that she was expected to be ladylike at all times.

His face changed, showing sadness, “I ain’t rude, I'm just hungry.” he answered her slowly.

“Well, why don’t you just go home and ask your cook to fix you something?” She was exasperated that he seemed incapable of figuring out what he should do by himself.

“We ain’t got no cook, we’re poor,” he explained. He thought a moment and added, “My ma done took off with that singing feller and she been gone for three days an’ I’m hungry.”

“Well, all right,” she answered him crossly, “Just don’t expect me to have to get up and serve you through the fence.”

“Oh hell. You all ain’t got to do nothing like that.” To prove his point he squeezed through the wrought iron bars of the heavy fence and hurried over to her. He grabbed a piece of chicken and ate it in what seemed like one continuous bite. He swallowed gulped once and took the glass of milk and drank half of it, almost seeming to pour it down his throat. One piece of cake followed. He wiped off his mouth and stood in front of her smiling his happy go lucky smile. “That was pretty good.”

“That was ill mannered, boorish and totally impolite,” she informed him haughtily. “Nice people eat with proper manners and they definitely do not ever wipe their mouths on their dirty sleeves. You should bathe, you know. I can tell you don’t bathe regularly. You smell awfully bad.”

“Well, I ain’t got no tub to bathe in and I’m sorry I stink bad. But at least I’m nicer than you are.” Tears formed in his eyes, testimony how her words hurt him.

“Nonsense. Everybody has a tub and a shower and soap and ___” Her voice trailed off as she suddenly realized how hurtful her words were.

“We ain’t got none of that,” he told her and turned to walk away.

“Oh, come back, I’m sorry,” I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. Truly I didn’t mean to. You see I never knew a poor person before. Would you like another piece of chicken?”

“Well, you shouldn’t talk to people like that. Nobody likes to be made fun of.” He turned around and slowly took a drumstick from the plate and began to eat it.

“Would you hand me one also, please?” she asked him. As he handed her one she said an automatic, “Thank you.” She took a bite, chewed slowly, swallowed. She drank some of the milk left in the tall glass.

“You all want me to push you in your swing?”

“Yes, that would be nice.” As he got close to her, she sniffed and told him, “You really do smell badly. We must do something about that. Come along.” Slowly she slid out of the swing.

She held out her hand to him. He took it with one of his and grabbed another piece of chicken with the other. She smiled at him and reached for a piece of chicken with her free hand and took a bite. By the time they reached the front door all either had left was a bone. She led him through the hallway and into her room. She started the water running in her own bathtub and made certain there was a bar of soap handy.

Wide eyed he watched her as she next went to her small chest of drawers and removed a neatly ironed and folded pair of overalls and a shirt. Quickly she thrust them at him and ordered him to bathe. “You go in there and turn off the water and get in the tub. Don’t you dare come out until you’re completely clean.”

“You don’t expect me to get undressed and get in no tub of water, do you?” he asked her in a shocked voice. "That ain’t nice ‘cause you’re a girl.”

“Well, of course I’m a girl. Girls wear dresses. All that does not matter because I am not going to bathe with you. You must understand, though, if you are going to be my friend, you shall be my clean friend. I have no dirty friends, you know.”

“Well, don’t you peek none.” He hurried into the bathroom and shut the door. She sat on her bed and waited patiently. Ten minutes later the skinny, under fed little urchin came out a clean skinny, under fed little urchin. The overalls fit him fine after he let the buckles on the straps out. The blue checkered flannel shirt was one her father had ordered to be made special for her in the vain hopes she would accompany him when he inspected their farming properties. It was barely large enough for him.

“You mean that about us being friends?” he asked her uncertainly.

“Well, of course I did. I would only let a friend bathe in my tub,” she answered primly. “You must learn to use use better table manners.”

“If that don’t beat all. Let a woman give you a piece of chicken and she gets ready to run your life.” his face expressed open rebellion.

“No, I am not interested in running your life. In our house everyone eats properly. Even our colored help all eat properly. That is just the way things are done here. Those are the rules, you know.”

She mentally crossed her fingers at her small lie. Actually she had never seen any of the household help eat a meal, ever.

“Well, all right, but only because rules is rules. Miss Gould, my second grade teacher said that without rules people is only animals.” He nodded, happy to share his nugget of wisdom with her and added, "That was before she kicked me out of school."

“Come along now,” she told him. “You may swing me since you are clean.” In moments he began to push her in her swing while she messily ate a piece of cake. She was suddenly hungry. They shared the chicken and the cake, even drank from the same milk glass. She was happy. This was great fun.

Finally, The magical moment was shattered. Their maid, Matilda came scurrying out of the house and called, “Miss Colleen. It’s time for you to come in and have your ___” She stopped and looked at her charge, face smeared with chocolate cake, hands covered with chicken grease and chocolate frosting. “Oh my Land. What has you done with your beautiful self? You get in the house right now.” She stopped her tirade as she saw Colleen’s guest.

“No, I shall come in after a bit. Right now I am busy entertaining.” The frail young girl looked at Matilda in a way that brooked no argument.

“No, Missy, you come in right now and this raggedy muffin white trash will get out of here right now.” She firmly took the girl by her upper arm to lead her into the house.

“You let go of me right this instant.” Colleen was horrified. Nobody, not even her father or mother had ever laid hands on her like that.

Before the maid could respond, a small whirlwind flailed at her. “You let her go right now.” The young boy's eyes blazed with a fearless wrath. “She’s a princess. No old nigger is going to touch my princess.” He sank his teeth into Matilda’s wrist and clamped down hard. Matilda let go of her charge and cuffed the boy with her other hand, knocking him loose from her wrist. Momentarily dazed, he shook his head and charged back at the hapless maid. “Nooo.” he screamed.
“Stop it this instant.” Colleen shouted. “Don’t you dare bite her again. Matilda is my friend Stop it right now.”

It was as if he ran into an invisible wall he stopped so suddenly. Eyes filled with confusion, he protested, “But she grabbed you and you all is a princess.”

Matilda glared at her recent assailant, then turned to her young charge and begged, “Please, Missy. If your mamma sees you like this she blame me. An’ you been talking to white trash like this one, I’ll get in all kinds of trouble. Please come in, Miss Colleen.”

“I shall be in after a bit. First I must see to my new friend. We were having a peach of a time together before you interrupted us.” Suddenly she noticed the bite marks on the maid's wrist. “You go take care of your bite. I’ll be along directly.” She smiled a chocolate smeared angel food smile at the unhappy maid.

“I’ll tells your mamma,” Matilda muttered as she stalked away holding her bloody wrist.

Less than a minute later beautiful young woman in her late twenties hurried outside. If Colleen’s face hadn’t been so smeared with cake and frosting, the relationship of one to the other would have been very obvious. As it was the red hair was a dead give away. Mother and daughter’s hair were an identical flame red color. “What is going on out here, Colleen?” She got her first look at her daughters face and asked, horrified, “My word. Did you fall into the cake? She saw the demolished lunch table that had been set out. The chicken bones and the remnants of the salad left her confused. “What in heaven’s name has happened out here?”

Wiping her hands on her pinafore dress, she smiled at her mother, “My new friend and I were having lunch and Matilda interrupted us. And he mistook me for a princess and bit Matilda and Matilda hit him and he started to attack Matilda again until I ordered him to cease. And, oh Mother, Do I really look like a princess?”

Taken aback at the verbal barrage from her usually taciturn daughter she stood there speechless. Unable to think of anything else to say, she asked, “Dear, what happened to the food?”

“Oh, we ate it. I was hungry and he has bad manners, but he promised to improve them. I am confident he shall.” She looked at the maid’s wrist and added, “She really should have that taken care of. It might get infected, you know.”

Offline CarrieSheppard

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2006, 06:16:01 PM »
Lovely start to the story.  The whole thing is really visual and the characters built very well verbally and behaviourally. 

The setting tells you whythe people are behaving they way they are  -  we are let into a world we know existed (and let's face it, does still exist in some places) and though we are perhaps horrified, we are allowed to understand that this is how it was.

Cheers
Carrie

Offline port111

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2006, 07:08:33 PM »
Thank you for your kind words. I was born into that world or paternalistic racism and ignorance-is-virtue world back in the thirties. I remember how older members my own family preached "We must care for our coloreds and nurture them for the precious souls they are." Then I also remember the "less enlightened" ones who stated over and over again, "The only good nigger is a dead one."

I have tried to shar my experienceswith others in the form of short stories and two novels and so far find other than the short stories I haven't made the grade. I hope to make Princess a novelette and add another one set in the same time and place of about the same length so the two make a novel length book.

Steinbeck's "The Grapes Of Wrath" was a fine book but didn't really catch the exxence of Jim Crow Oklahoma when Bonnie and Clyde and Pretty Boy Floyd were cult heroes to much of the state.

I have my work cut out for me.

katinka

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2006, 07:54:34 AM »
Love your style, nice flow, very visual, characters well developed. I was transported into the scene.
kat

Offline port111

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2006, 06:19:24 PM »
Would I be remiss to post the rest of the chapter? Not for strokes, but to share where the story goes. The second, companion novelette I'll add to "Princess" is "Depression Soup." It shows the pov of a boy growing up on one of the farms in western Oklahoms in the thirties. This deals witht he race issue of that day. This is made up of true stories offered as fiction. It's a series of interrelated vignettes trhat are also stand alone short stories.

I'd give my eye teeth (if I had any teeth left) to get a grant and return to Central and western Oklahoma and carry a tape recorder just to record attitudes and culture. Maybe if Rockway publishes "Enchanted Outhouse" I can fund myself and take the tour.

katinka

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2006, 06:48:53 PM »
bring it on ;D
kat

Offline port111

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma" rest of Ch. 1
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2006, 08:36:39 PM »
“Oh, we ate it. I was hungry and he has quite terrible manners, in fact they are atrocious. But he promised to improve them. I am confident he shall.” She looked at the maid’s wrist and added, “Matilda really should have that taken care of. It might get infected, you know.”

Millicent Summers looked down at her young daughter with the older person way of speaking and agreed. “Matilda, please have cook clean and bandage that wound, it looks badly in need of attention.

“Oh, Miz Summers, I don’t likes to leave you all alone with that little animal. He bites. He’s dangerous.” She glowered at her young antagonist.

Millicent smiled down at her daughter’s young defender, “I believe I’ll be safe from our young gladiator. You won’t attack me and bite me on the hand, now would you?”

“No’ ma’am, I never bite the hand of nobody that feeds me. I wouldn’t of bit her, except she laid her hands on the princess here.” He looked over at his "princess" and smiled.

Colleen stamped her foot, “Mother. This is important. Do I truly look like a princess?” She waited impatiently for an answer.

Amused at her daughter’s sudden display of vanity, she smiled and said, “No, my darling daughter. Right now you look like a food-stained little urchin who fell into a bowl of frosting. Your face and the front of your pretty dress are covered with chocolate. Food is to be savored, not worn.” Suddenly she realized, “Dear, almost all that food is gone. How much of it did you eat?”

“Oh, I don’t know, perhaps half. We were quite busy swinging, you know.” She was more concerned with whether or not she “looked like a princess,” not something as dull and uninteresting as mere food.

“She eats like a horse, if you all don’t mind me saying so.” He smiled happily at his “princess.”

Oh, if only she did, the young mother thought to herself. Oh, if only she did. Colleen’s lack of an appetite was a source of a constant nagging worry since she was born.

“We’ve been feeding each other chicken and chocolate cake. My new friend ate more of the salad than I did, though. He liked it after we ran out of chicken. Did you know that it is very difficult to place food in a moving mouth? I am much better at it than he is,” she informed her mother smugly.

“Does your new friend have a name, dear?”  she asked Colleen.

“Well of course he does, Mother. Everybody has a name.” She thought a moment and asked, “Just
what is your name? You do have one, of course.”

“You bet I got me a name.” he answered indignantly.

“When no name was forthcoming she asked, “Well, what is your name, if it isn’t too much trouble or too big a secret to tell me.”

“I’m Billy Joe Watkins. My friends call me Billy.” He grinned widely and told her, “Your name is Colleen Summers. See? I knew more than you do.”

“Colleen rolled her eyes dramatically heavenward and informed her mother, “Please forgive my friend. He’s a bit thick headed at times. He also has very bad manners. He promised me faithfully to do better and I am certain he shall.”

“The sun is coming out, my dear. Perhaps you had better bring young Billy Joe inside with you. We can finish our fascinating conversation out of the sun. She led the children into the parlor.

Billy Joe looked around him at the collection of musical instruments hanging on the walls of the room. “Boy, I bet if I owned all these music makers, I’d be able to play every one of them. They is really something to see.”

She smiled at Billy and looked down at her daughter, “Dear, perhaps you should wash your lunch off of your face and change into something less food stained,” she suggested to her daughter gently.

Colleen sighed dramatically and answered with, “Oh, very well, mother. Please entertain my guest while I am changing. Oh, and perhaps you should instruct Sissy to clean my bathroom up a bit. Billy Joe made a bit of a mess bathing as I ordered.”

Millicent Summer’s heart went “THUMP” in her chest. “Ah, my daughter took a bath with you?” She tried to ask as neutrally as possible, Colleen had already left the room before he answered.

A red faced and indignant Billy Joe told her in no uncertain terms, “No ma’am. I ain’t never let no girl in no bath tub with me. I took my bath alone and she promised not to peek. She made me take a bath so I could be her friend. She give me these clothes to wear.” He looked down at the food stains on his new finery and lamented, “I guess I got ‘em kind of messy. I’m sorry.” He looked down at the floor sadly.

“Well, Billy, I believe there ought to be another shirt and overalls that might fit you around here. After a while we’ll go see. Then Matilda or Sissy can wash these fresh again for you.” She smiled at him and sat in a Queen Ann chair, perched on the edge.

“Well, I don’t think your nigger is going to want to wash no clothes for me. You see I bit her ‘cause she was grabbing at the Princess. I couldn’t let her do that.”

She took a deep breath and began, “Billy, in this house we do not use the word ‘nigger’ because it is very disrespectful and unkind. We refer to them as colored people. It is a much more polite term. In fact, I feel it would be a very nice gesture if you were to apologize to her for calling her that.”

“Well, all right, is they any other words I’m supposed to say something else for and not say what they is?” He looked up in her face very doubtfully.

“No, Billy, I can’t think of any right now. Please go tell her you apologize for calling her that name.”

Millicent directed him to the kitchen and waited on the other side of the swinging door as he entered. She heard him say, “Hey, I’m supposed to say I’m sorry for calling you a nigger. You see I didn’t know that you was colored.” Millicent slapped a hand across her mouth to halt the laugh that tried to escape. Matilda was not so fortunate. Her snort could be heard clearly.

Sissy, another maid, giggled and told him, “You got to open your eyes wider, white boy.”

Millicent was touched when Billy Joe added, “I shouldn’t a bit you all, but I was just protecting the Princess.” Millicent hurried away from the door so she wouldn’t be caught eavesdropping.

Billy found her perched on the edge of the same chair as if she had been waiting there all along. “I done told ‘er that I was sorry.”

“I am certain you did very well, Billy. You are truly a fine young man,” Billy was almost  puppy-like the way he responded to her kind words. She was touched at how starved he was for affection he seemed and so grateful to receive it.

“Uh, can you all play that?” he asked, pointing to the player piano by the window.
“I play it very poorly, Billy. Now why don’t we let it play all by itself?” She smiled at his puzzled look. She indicated the round piano seat already set low to accommodate Colleen. “You sit here and begin to pump those two pedals.”

He sat and did as instructed. She threw the small lever at the front of the keys and the hymn, “Amazing Grace,” began to play on the piano. Billy pumped and the piano played through one stanza. As the second stanza began, he sang in a clear, pure soprano voice, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I am found. I was blind but now I see ___.” On and on he sang, sight-reading the words off the paper roll, never faltering.

Tears were in her eyes and a lump formed in her throat as she exclaimed, “Billy Joe, that was beautiful. Oh my goodness, I have never heard such a voice as beautiful as yours. Where did you learn to sing like that?”

He blushed and looked at the floor, “Aw, I just listened to them women down at the Roadhouse sing when there’s no customers around. Some of them sounds pretty nice.”

She hid her shock at his latest revelation as she asked, “I hesitate to ask this, what is a young boy like you doing hanging around a roadhouse? Does your mother know you hang around there?”

“Aw, she knows all right. She works there. She’s one of th’ back room gals. While she’s entertaining some customer I sit around out front and run errands. That’s how I make my eating money.” He grinned his big grin as he proudly told her of his ability to fend for himself and earn money.

 Colleen, all washed up and changed into a fresh dress, a simple jumper rejoined them. “I can play the piano also." she told him as she sat down on the seat and began a simplified version of “Every Little Movement.” Her playing was mechanical and uncertain.

“You play it real good.” Billy was happy to have an opportunity to compliment his new friend.

“Yes I do, don’t I?” You may continue to sing while I play. I heard you sing and it is quite nice, Billy.” She smiled a very princess like smile at him.

Millicent asked them before they could get started, “Now what is this about the two of you feeding each other chicken and cake?”

“Did I do something wrong Mizz Summers? I’m sorry, you alls got so many rules I just can’t keep from breaking something.”

“No, Billy, I was merely wondering about the amount that was eaten. Colleen seems to have eaten more today at lunch than she has in a long time.”

“Oh. If you all ain’t got enough food, I won’t eat none so there is more for the princess.” He nodded his head to affirm that decision.

“Oh no. In fact it would be nice if you would stay for supper this evening. I would like for Mister Summers to meet you. After all, he is Colleen’s father and he should meet her new friend." And we’ll see if your presence is the catalyst needed to cause our daughter’s appetite to improve, she thought to herself.

“Oh mother, I don’t know if Billy should dine with us this evening. His manners are atrocious.” Colleen protested.

Billy looked at the floor sadly until Millicent suggested, “Well, little princess, perhaps you might teach Billy how to conduct himself at the dinner table.”

“Well, yes, I could do that," the young princess answered as she gestured to her new friend, "Come along, Billy. I shall teach you proper table manners. You may sit at the table in the dining room.” Grandly she led the way. Millicent smiled as her young daughter took on all the airs of a sophisticated hostess.

Colleen placed two settings on the table, one for her and one for Billy. Patiently she showed him how to sit and how to hold his eating utensils t. Impatiently she showed him again and yet a third time. Staring hard at the ceiling, she told Billy, “After you learn proper eating habits and manners, we must do something about your speech. It is atrocious.”

“Well, I been talking since I was a baby and nobody had any trouble understanding me. What’s the matter with how I talk? You all understand me when I talk.” The constant belittling by Colleen began to irritate the boy.

“Colleen dear, perhaps we should make haste in a more leisurely fashion. “Let’s just let things be as they are right now.

“Oh Mother, I so want Father to like Billy," she protested. "And he might not if Billy doesn’t measure up to his own standards. I like Billy; he is a very nice person. I want him for my friend.”

“You know, Princess, that is about the nicest thing anybody ever said about me. An’ I think you’re kind of nice too, for a girl.” Millicent was moved to hug the boy as he gave her daughter a look of adoration.

Colleen shyly came up to Billy and hugged him also. Then she kissed him lightly on the cheek and hurried back to her seat. Billy turned pale as his eyes grew big and round. Slowly he drew his left hand up to the spot where her lips had touched his cheek. “Oh. I ain’t never going to wash that place where she kissed me ever again.”

“Come, Billy, I shall play and you shall sing.” She took him by the hand and tugged him toward the piano. Tears filled in her eyes and a new lump was in her throat as Millicent watched her daughter show more life than ever had before. She sent a prayer of thanks to whatever God might have been listening, Please let this lase.

Dinner that evening was strained as Martin Summers looked critically at their guest. The young fellow showed all the upbringing of a stray dog. His table manners were atrocious in fact he had none. His language was pure hillbilly white trash. And the way he kept feeding his daughter bite after bite of food, making a game of it. This was so unlike his wife to tolerate that sort of behavior at their dinner table.

It was appalling, to say the least. It was ___ his daughter eating bite after bite as that young cretin shoveled it down her throat ___ bite after bite. He understood. “Would your young friend care to stay the night in the guest room? He would be very welcome, you know.” He smiled gently at his daughter.

“Would you care to, Billy Joe?” Colleen asked.

“Would I care to what?” he asked confusedly.

“Billy Joe, you are very exasperating at times. Would you care to spend the night in our guest room? Would you like to sleep here tonight?” She rolled her eyes dramatically and sighed for effect.

It was lost on Billy, “Okay, that’s fine with me. This would be my ma’s busy night at the Roadhouse if she was in town.”

Martin Summers had just taken a sip of his coffee. It spewed as he exclaimed, “The Roadhouse?” He took a deep breath and asked slowly, “Just what does she do there?” His face was a study in horrified fascination. It was not so much he was an elitist, which he definitely was, very much so, as his strong instinctive drive to protect his daughter. He cringed inwardly, already knowing the answer to his question.

“Oh she works in the back rooms with a couple other ladies,” Billy answered. “It’s like she says, ‘It ain’t much, but at least it’s a job.’ Jobs is real hard to find now a days,” he finished sharing a wise look with the horrified father.

“Father, you should hear Billy Joe sing. Mother says he has the most perfect pitch she has heard besides the Great Caruso.

“With a strained smile on her face, Millicent Summers looked at her husband from her place at the foot of the table. “Dear, I believe we should continue this discussion in the living room. We have much to talk about.”

“Yes we do, and first on the agenda to be discussed is a matter on morality and our daughter.” The hard expression on his caused many bankers and politicians quail. It was a look boding no good for someone.

“Let us continue this discussion upstairs, dear. The children will be just fine here at the table both eating desert.” Her own face set with a look of stubborn determination, she dropped her napkin to the table, pushed back her chair and stood. “Coming Dear?” Her rigid back was the only betrayal of her inner feelings.

Equally angry and determined, her husband threw down his napkin as he stood, causing the chair to move away from him, nearly tipping over. He followed her upstairs and into their bedroom. “Have you lost your mind, woman?” he asked in an explosion of words. “You would permit the offspring of a common prostitute to associate with my daughter? What are you thinking of? Tell me now.”
“Don’t you dare use that tone of voice with me, Martin Summers. I am not one of the overworked and harassed minions toiling in your employ ever fearful of the possibility of losing your favor. You will speak to me with the respect I deserve and demand as your wife. Do you understand?”
“I apologize, Millicent," he answered in a voice that was anything but apologetic. “Now will you please inform me why you would place our only child’s welfare in jeopardy by permitting her to play with that … that … son of a ___”

“Don’t you say it,” she interrupted him. “In the first place, our daughter, Colleen, has for the first time since she was brought home from the hospital the last time, played a game with another child. She and that little boy fed each other food and she was covered with chocolate cake and frosting and chicken and salad from one end to the other.” She looked searchingly at her husband, “Do you understand what that means?”

“It means that she was playing with that son of a ___” he interrupted himself. He took a deep breath and continued. “Our daughter was playing with a little urchin who would do God only knows what, given half a chance. He would steal us blind if our back were to be turned on him.”

“Oh, Martin, how can you be so insensitive, so stupid? Would you begrudge a few belongings if that were the price of our daughter’s health and happiness? We can afford things. We have plenty of things. Don’t you see, we have only one daughter.” She held her hand up, shushing him as he tried to interrupt.

“Our daughter played and swung and pushed a little boy in a swing. She was breathless with exertion and excitement and happiness. Our daughter was truly, gloriously happy for the first time in her life.” She looked up into her husband’s face, willing him to understand.

“Well, I’ll see to it tomorrow that she has many more playmates that are more appropriate. The applicants will be the children of our better employees. They will be given orders to ___” He was interrupted again.

“Martin, you fool. That is precisely what Colleen does not wish, the children of sycophants who are fearful of irritating the Great Martin Summers, destroyer of all who oppose him." She reminded him, "You, no, we tried that before. It was a dismal failure. The selected children were so afraid of offending our daughter they just sat and stared at her or ran away crying.

“Billy Joe Watkins whose mother is a prostitute, acted like a little boy around Colleen and did little boy things. She shared her food and ate more this afternoon than ever before in her life. They shoved cake in each other’s mouths and, and drank from the same glass, which I intend to rectify tomorrow by furnishing two glasses. That little boy is the miracle the doctors said we needed if we were to see our daughter celebrate her twenty-first birthday.”

Relinquishing his hard line approach, he stated darkly, “Beware of miracles when you do not know the price tag.”  

“Oh, by the way, he bit Matilda,” she tossed over her shoulder as she began to leave the room to go back downstairs.

“Uh. Yes. He bit the maid. Of course, he had a very valid reason, I am sure.”

“I bit her ‘cause she grabbed my princess. An’ she is a princess, you all know. I couldn’t let no old nig___ er colored hurt her.”


Offline port111

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2006, 08:46:05 PM »
bring it on ;D
kat

Well, I brung it on, as far as allowed by ther word limit.

FYI, I was born in 1933 in Woodward, Oklahoma, a town with a very odd history besides being the place where the great grandson of Daniel Boon drank himself to death. I call it the "Road House" in the story. It's prototype was the Bloody Bucket where beer was sold for fifty cents a pitcher and a fruit jar (one quart size with the name "Mason" on the side) filled with corn whiskey sold for a dollar out in the parking lot.

When it was Bob Wills And The Texas Playboys we used to hear "Sing it sweet now, Tommy." Then he became Bob Wills And The Pillsbury Doughboys and then on to Hollywood.

Pretty Boy Floyd used to hide out there and some of the Dillenger Gang stayed a night or two. Those stories need to be recorded for posterity and so many others.

katinka

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2006, 09:26:24 PM »
Well, port 111
I spent 1/2 hour reading it and finding a few things needing correction and then it flew off into cyberspace, probably landing on Mars before long.
I said, I was curious as to the age of the "princess" as she speaks like her mother exactly and I think there should be a difference.
Love the story, send more but not quite as long, Nick has a limit of 800 words.
kat

katinka

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2006, 09:27:53 PM »
Well, port 111
I spent 1/2 hour reading it and finding a few things needing correction and then it flew off into cyberspace, probably landing on Mars before long.
I said, I was curious as to the age of the "princess" as she speaks like her mother exactly and I think there should be a difference.
Love the story, send more but not quite as long, Nick has a limit of 800 words.
kat

Offline caliban1

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2006, 11:35:00 PM »
Hi Port,
I like your story.  I grew up in Kansas and knew many Oakies.  You certainly know the culture.  I am facinated by your stories about Bonnie and Clyde, Daniel Boon's grandson and the others.  I lived near Wichita on the Chisholm Trail.  I played baseball with Jesse Chisholm's grandson and had friends with names like Billy Bob.

I noticed a few little things right at the beginning that you might want to consider.  Isn't the title a bit too close to Twain's "Prince and the Pauper?"  Just a thought.

There is something wrong with "few actual."  It would be fine in dialog, but I think you want your narrative voice in standard Engish and that seems colloquial, at least to my ear.  I am looking forward to seeing more of the story.

Take care,
Caliban

Chapter 1 The Princess And The Pauper

The sky was overcast and dark dust clouds hid the sun. The frail looking girl seemed much younger than her few actual years. Childhood illnesses had taken their toll. Matilda, the maid responsible for when she was out of doors made certain she was safely seated in the sturdy enameled oak chair swing her father had purchased for her just weeks before. She sat listlessly, pushing herself slightly with one foot without the energy to do more.

It is all a metaphor.

Offline port111

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2006, 11:16:27 AM »
Well, port 111
I spent 1/2 hour reading it and finding a few things needing correction and then it flew off into cyberspace, probably landing on Mars before long.
I said, I was curious as to the age of the "princess" as she speaks like her mother exactly and I think there should be a difference.
Love the story, send more but not quite as long, Nick has a limit of 800 words.
kat

I'll stay shorter, for sure. I'm just feeling my way here, still stretching my feet and getting my wings wet and all that stuff.

Offline port111

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2006, 11:30:14 AM »
  I lived near Wichita on the Chisholm Trail.  I played baseball with Jesse Chisholm's grandson and had friends with names like Billy Bob.

I noticed a few little things right at the beginning that you might want to consider.  Isn't the title a bit too close to Twain's "Prince and the Pauper?"  Just a thought.

There is something wrong with "few actual."  It would be fine in dialog, but I think you want your narrative voice in standard Engish and that seems colloquial, at least to my ear.


I shortened your post to get "terser." Much of my family came from St. John, Kansas. My uncle had a Nash dealership in Great Bend and my great Uncle Fred Allen (not the comedian) and his wife Grace were followers of Carrie Nation. My second cousin Bertie Green was chief of police of Saint John. I was born in Woodward, Oklahoma and grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. All in all it has been an interesting life.

You are correct about "actual." In fact the opening few paragraphs need be rewritten. They are too stilted.

As for the "Princess and the Pauper" as the title of Chapter one, that was on purpose. Many times I'll use other titles and familiar phrases as chapter titles. Perhaps I use it too much.

If the young girl and her mother sharing speech patterns grates on the consciousness, perhaps I should look closer and change the voice slightly of one. My attempt was to pertray a young girl raised in an all adult environment with no other children to interact with.

Thank you for your input.

Offline port111

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Re: "Princess Of Oklahoma"
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2006, 11:37:03 AM »
This is the last of Chapter 1:

“I bit her ‘cause she grabbed my princess. An’ she is a princess, you all know. I couldn’t let no old nig___ er colored hurt her.”

“I heard what you all said ‘bout my ma. And I guess she ain’t nothing to people fine like you all is. I’ll just get. He slowly turned and started down the stairs. He turned, tears streaming down his cheeks, “I’m sorry.” Suddenly he ran down the stairs and was out the front door before either astonished adult could respond to him.

“Mother. Father.” Colleen called up the stairs. Did Billy Joe tell you he and I would sing a duet. Isn’t that ___” Her voice stopped as she looked for Billy. “Where’s Billy? What happened?”

Shaking with anger, her face white as she attempted to control the rage in her, Millicent answered stiffly, “Ask your father, dear. He has so many good answers. She stepped back into the master bedroom, took up a change of clothing and slowly walked toward the guest room.

“Father?” Colleen asked, “Where is Billy” You didn’t … he didn’t … Where’s Billy?” She rushed away down the hall and out the front door. “Billy. Billy. Where are you? Come back, Billy.”

“Colleen. Come back inside here.” Martin called to his daughter. He hurried after her. Catching up, he grabbed her and carried her inside. She relaxed her body so completely he almost dropped her.

Millicent Summers coldly directed her husband, “Take her to her room and place her on her bed. Then you may do whatever stupid fools do after they endanger their daughters and break their hearts." He jerked his head like he had been slapped. He silently carried his daughter back to her room and lay her on her bed. He quietly walked out, speaking to no one.

As her father left the room, Colleen asked in a dull voice, “Why did you and Father send him away? Was it because he was my friend and not someone you picked out for me to be with? Billy Joe was my friend. He liked me because he thought I was his princess. He wasn’t afraid to have fun with me. Why, Mother?” He listened to the desolate whine in his daughter’s voice and cursed himself for the blind fool he knew himself to be. He walked out the front door and out of the house. Never had he felt so alone in his life.

“Sweetheart, please get some sleep. I’ll find Billy in the morning, if I can, and I’ll bring him back here. I promise you I’ll find him somehow.” Millicent sadly looked down at her daughter as she tucked her in.

Colleen rolled away from her mother and stared unseeing at the window by her bed. Helpless to ease her daughter’s suffering, she left the room.“I shall be sleeping in the guest room down here if you should need anything, dear.”

“I need Billy,” her daughter answered sadly. Unable to speak, Millicent left the room and prepared for bed in the guest room. She turned out the light and lay awake for hours as angry tears coursed down her cheeks. Finally she drifted off into a troubled, fitful sleep.

Colleen stared into the night outside her window. "Oh Billy," she moaned again
and again as she cried herself into a restless and troubled sleep.