Blog, The Fantasy Realm

A Fantasy Realm Tale: A Murder at Moxie’s, 1922

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*The following is a transcript of a WHUS Radio FM broadcast aired on Wednesday, April 17, 2019 from 1-2 PM along with the music used to accompany the story*

A MURDER AT MOXIE’S, 1922


{Legends of Azeroth (Main Title) – Tracy Bush – World of Warcraft}

Well, hi there, sugar! You’ve ankled your way into a portal here on WHUS Storrs and are now in The Fantasy Realm. Come on in! I’m your guide, The Sage. Today, we take on the streets of New York with a deck of Luckies in one hand and some giggle water in the other. That’s right; we’re taking it back to the Roaring 20s. The speakeasies are the bee’s knees, but crime’s afoot. Looks like you’re the gumshoe who’s going to figure out the mystery. What kind of detective are you, anyway? You a shamus, with your own private snooping business, or do you work for those buttons, the New York police? Well, you get to decide. That’s the game, is it not? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to see a man about a dog. Don’t worry, your story’s starting up soon.

{The Bad Beginning – Thomas Newman – Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events OST}

If you’re looking for rainbows and kittens, I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong place. You see, the Roaring 20s looks like it’s all berries, what with all the partying and drinking and glamour, but under all that jazz, things aren’t so glamorous.

We’ve got the worst kept secrets in all the world. Speakeasies are a great idea for all the prohibition nonsense, but not when their disguise can’t even fool a dumb Dora, and not when all you need is a nickel to tell a cop to look the other way. We’ve got gangsters under all our noses running the place, and we still don’t treat everyone right, though the folk down in Harlem sure know how to play a good tune on a trumpet.

Still, it ain’t all bad. We got flapper girls shaking up the scene. We’ve got people enjoying some leisure time for the first time in their lives, and we’ve got voices telling us all about the country with these radio things.

Life’s a marvelous thing, until it isn’t. That’s why Officer Richard Shaw is waiting for you. He’s of the New York Police, and he’s found a body with no clue as to why it’s dead. He’s asked you to help him figure out the case.

Before I take you to him though, I’d like to take you to the scene of the crime, before the crime was committed. You ought to know your onions before you try to solve anything.

Let’s talk a walk down this street here. We’re not far.

The street looks like it’s covered in grime. It’s been raining something terrible, so it all just looks like the concrete has been weeping, and all its mascara has now become crusty in the edges of its droopy eyes, the eyes themselves dark and drowning in tears.

Bricked buildings line the avenue. They’ve got the color of lipstick left on a handkerchief under dimmed lighting. You can hear some of the sewer pipes coughing a bit, along with some of the stray alley cats. Their nails are clinking at every metal rod they can find. You can smell the smoke of cigars and cigarettes dancing their way through the air. The cigar smoke holds gentle cigarette smoke like a damsel in distress, but not so tight to as insult her. Some shady folk stick to the shadows. The only evidence of them being there is the cigarette smoke and hushed talking. You should keep your eyes forward, though. Look at a fella the wrong way, and you might not get to kiss whoever’s waiting at home for you tonight.

Come on now, sugar, just around this corner. The city’s quiet, except for a few honking cars and people’s stepping. That’s because the sound is all underground. We’ll get there soon.

There it is. There’s a sign out front of a small shop that says “Charlie’s Goods”. It looks run down and worthless, but it’s 1922 which means it’s anything but worthless.

Inside, there’s a man named Charles who will get you a cheap deck. If you give him the password though, he’ll get you something even better.

Oh, the password is green light, by the way.

You go inside the shop and see a man with a mustache reading the paper. You tell him the password: green light.

He nods, walks you over to a door labeled “Employees Only”, and takes you to the back. When you get there, you find yourself at a walk-in freezer door. When he opens it, you don’t see cold cuts of meat or boxes of ingredients. You see a wooden stairwell, and you hear the sounds of the Roaring 20s hit you like a man half-seas over for the first time.

{Hittin’ on All Sixes – Jeremy Zuckerman – The Legend of Korra: Original Music from Book One}

Welcome to Moxie’s. This here’s the best jazz and gin joint around. You can find any kind of drink you’d like at Moxie’s, and it’s the good stuff too. Besides the drinks, all you’ll find here is good people. Some of the best jazz bands have been on that stage. The crowd’s real swell. Flapper girls are touching up their dark lipstick at the bar, showing off their legs like ain’t no one looking. Fellas are enjoying taking a smoke with a drink or two at their table. We’ve got some Oliver Twists on the dance floor, showing their girls a good time.

There’s something in the air of this place; you can’t quite put your finger on it. It’s like the first time you feel that warmth in your chest when taking a good swig of some strong liquor. It hugs you like you’ve never been hugged before, and it’s a hug you’ll never feel again, because every drink after that feels forced.

The bartender offers you a drink. Don’t worry about a thing, sugar. This here’s the good stuff. The owner makes sure of it.

You see, some places will make what we call bathtub gin. You see, these days, with all the business going around, bootleggers try to save every penny they can get to spend for themselves. So, when they supply the alcohol, they’ll add water to it or they’ll even try making home-made stuff that can actually kill a man. Some places keep what they can get, and they’ll add some kind of soda or maybe some fruit or lemon or mint, just something to get rid of the bad taste. I hear some people have been calling these things “cocktails”. Funny word, but if the shoe fits.

Don’t need to worry about that here though. The owner of Moxie’s keeps the business with high quality drinks. It’s why it’s the place to be on a great evening.

Not a single raid has gone through Moxie’s. All the other speakeasies on this block have shut down. Now, don’t get my words twisted. New York City’s still got plenty of different blind pigs to satisfy that giggle water thirst, but none of them are like Moxie’s. With her golden lights and red stage curtains matching the red table cloths, anyone will feel like a thousand bucks in this place. The owner loves making everyone feel like they’re just any old Egg from Long Island with those great, big mansions out there. To him, everyone deserves a dance partner, a great establishment, and a good drink in hand.

Oh, here’s the owner now.

{Cohen’s Masterpiece (From “BioShock”) – Salome Scheidegger – Play: A Video Game and Anime Album}

Clyde Perkins is the owner of Moxie’s. He’s old money with a soft spot for any new money. War hero too. He never leaves his place without his medal of honor from the Great War. The war made him age like cheese. You see that life has worn him down, yet he is still a shiny new penny no matter which way you turn him. He’s a real cool cat once you get to know ‘em. He was one of the first few to open up a speakeasy.

See, Charlie and Perkins have known each other since before they knew how to read. After the war, Charlie got in some deep trouble, and Perkins helped him out. The two got in business together, and it’s probably been the best thing to happen to either of them.

Well, except for Viola Mae.

Viola Mae is Perkins’ Sheba, his bonnie, his partner in crime, and his wife. They met each other when Perkins spent some time in Baltimore after the war was over. Viola Mae was an unhappy people-pleasure. She spent her days doing what her family told her to do and spent her nights crying because her life was going nowhere.

One day when she was picking up some milk, her eyes locked onto Perkins, and they have yet to go astray. She fell in love with him like a blind fool, and he fell in love with her like a rich fool. He stole her away, and they made their home in New York.

Now, Viola Mae takes as much pride in this joint as Perkins does. Perkins handles all the business and negotiations. Viola Mae takes care of all the entertainment. She books the bands from all across the city. She gets girls to dance on stage when she gets word that a big crowd is coming to party. She even walks around to get acquainted with her regulars, making sure Moxie’s stays on the map as one of the best speakeasies around.

Perkins is sitting at one of the tables at the far back with Viola Mae at his side bobbing her head to the music. Perkins sees someone behind you. You turn around. You don’t turn fast enough to see a face, but a large man passes by you heading toward Perkins. Behind him, a woman with a champagne-glass figure follows him.

Viola Mae perks up as she sees these two people approaching them. Viola Mae has the smallest smile on her face before she is sent to the back by Perkins.

The man sits next to Perkins. The two exchange a few words, hardly looking at each other. Then, Perkins discreetly hands the man a fat stack of something green.

See that man there, the one Perkins is giving all that money to? That’s Donny “Dimebag” Davis. He’s an up-and-coming gangster hoping to play with the big boys one day. He supplies Perkins with that giggle water. Not directly, of course. That’s not his job. His job is to make sure it gets to Perkins’ back door and to collect the insurance.

If Donny’s around, then so is his Dollface. Eva Nickles: now, that’s a bearcat if I’ve ever seen one. She’s a lively, fiery spirit. You’ll never see her without her makeup done or a cigarette out of her mouth. She hangs out by the bar smoking and orders a nice cold drink, letting the men do business.

These four are the faces Moxie’s knows best, but now, three of them are suspects, and one of them is dead.

Let’s get back to Officer Richard Shaw.

{The Gravel Road – James Newton Howard – The Village (Score from the Motion Picture)}

July makes a Friday night in any other month look foolish, even in the rain. Even in a foul mood, a Friday night in July will make you smile. A Friday night in July is young and foolish, and that’s precisely why she’s so loved.

The night of the crime is a Friday night in July, but it’s anything but young.

Officer Shaw waits for you in the back alley of Moxie’s. The alley smells stomach-churning, and the rain water flooding the area starts to feel like cement on your feet. The rain trickles down your detective’s hat, and your body is shivering underneath your trench coat. Still, you keep your cool, and you keep on walking.

The area’s been cleared. Moxie’s is empty of all people and of all the alcohol. The block’s been closed off, and all the newshawks wanting answers are being kept away from you and Officer Shaw.

Now, don’t pull a Daniel Boone, sugar. This is not a pretty sight.

A pool of blood is laid out like a carpet in the middle of the alley. A rackety, old street light has given the body a spotlight, and the body is as white as smoke.

Donny “Dimebag” Davis is dead. His body is twisted as if he were hungover, but he’s not snoring. You crouch down to get a closer look. On his chest, there is a gunshot wound. His clothes have splattered blood. Bloodied freckles mark up his lifeless face. A large wad of cash is sprawled on the ground, drenched in his blood.

Officer Shaw tells you that Clyde Perkins, Viola Mae Perkins, and Eva Nickels are in custody in Perkins’ mansion. You nod, and after one last look, you turn away and head to Officer Shaw’s car. You’ll have to interrogate the suspects to see if you can get the full picture of what happened tonight. What questions do you have in mind, detective?

… May I offer some advice, detective? You can stand around a shop all day, and never know a speakeasy’s inside until you’ve got the password or know someone who’s already in there. Sure, the shop’s important. It keeps the cops away from ruining all the fun, but what’s the point of keeping them away if you can’t get in? It’s not hard to get the clue you need to solve this mystery. You just have to remember that you’re not looking for the shop or even for the speakeasy. You’re looking for the password.

{Not In Blood, But In Bond – Hans Zimmer – Sherlock Holmes OST}

The home of Clyde Perkins is extravagantly humble. The mansion has the bodice of a Victorian first-class woman boarding a train to spend the summer in Paris. White-framed windows line the soft gray mansion. Moss and vine bring life to the achromatic house. The fountains spurt out crystal waters as the birds soar between the tall shrubs and topiaries.

Pairs of police guard the corners of the mansion. They lollygag, kicking pebbles with their leather boots as they puff on their cigars. Their hands lounge inside their pockets as their laughter hammer at their throats. If it weren’t for their badges, you would have thought the police officers were enjoying an evening outside a resort, rather than standing guard at the home of murder suspects.

Entering the mansion, you get a waft of Chanel No. 5 with a hint of aged wood. A blend of coffee brown, olive green, and biscotti yellow enveloppes the environment. Taking an immediate left from the front door, you enter the large living room. Bookshelves and windows line the back walls, tables with playing cards sit by the grand piano, and an extravagant lamp accompanies a side table and a large houseplant. The side table has a copy of the bible, a decanter filled with whiskey, and a pair of reading glasses.

Perkins welcomes you both. Viola Mae fusses with her scarf as she sits on an armchair, looking at nothing in particular. Eva Nickels nonchalantly smokes on her cigarette as she gazes out one of the windows.

Perkins offers both you and Officer Shaw a glass of whiskey. When you take the glass, you feel a coin slip into your palm.

Though he has his own glass of whiskey, Perkins seems too angry to even take his first sip. He stomps around his home, muttering nothings under his mustache.

You clear your throat to get their attention. You explain that you are investigating this crime, and you need them to collectively tell you the events of that night with every detail they can remember.

Eva doesn’t bother to look at you. Viola Mae hides her mouth behind her hand, shutting her eyes tight. It’s Clyde Perkins who pipes up first, and his words are fueled with outrage.

{Elizabeth’s Theme Medley (Bioshock Infinte) – Taylor Davis}

“That traitor, that no good dewdropper!” Perkins says, “Play with dogs, you’re sure to get bit, even if it’s just a puppy. Butt me!”

Viola Mae walks to him with a cigarette in hand. She puts it between his lips, lights it for him, and sits back down in her armchair.

“Listen here now,” Perkins says as he sits, legs widespread, on the couch across you. “Donny and I did good business together at first. Heck, I even saw him as a brother at times. I admit it! Moxie’s wouldn’t be who she is if it weren’t for Donny, but he’s a fool. A foul, loathsome, inconsiderate, and idiotic fool. Yea, I heard talk on the streets that the giggle water wasn’t as giggle-worthy as it used to be, if you know what I mean. Still, I told him from the start. Moxie’s is all about quality. My customers are good people who deserve quality. I told him, did I not, Viola Mae, I said, don’t take any wooden nickels! Business is good. Don’t ruin it! So, when he comes waltzing in thinking everything’s jake when it isn’t, I admit it, I lost it.”

You ask Perkins to be more precise.

“Donny was trying to sell me bathtub gin for double the price! Double the price! For bad tasting gin?! I won’t allow that at Moxie’s, no sir. Still a rookie trying to get on the level of some of those mobsters on the streets, he should’ve known he wasn’t ready! He should’ve known I wasn’t the man to cross with.”

Officer Shaw tells Perkins that he is saying some incriminating stuff.

“No, now listen here, I did not kill him. I had nothing to do with that. All I did was end my business with him. He got himself killed. That’s what I think.”

“Oh, Clyde, please,” Viola Mae says with a shaky voice, “You said it yourself. We would not have Moxie if it weren’t for Donny. Certainly, you will do your best to respect him. I sure am sorry he is dead. He may have tried cheating us, but he didn’t deserve to die because of it.”

You look over at Eva who is still smoking by the window. She has her arms tightly crossed, her jaw set, and her eyes locked onto whatever is going on outside in the dark, though you suspect, she may just be looking at her own reflection or even something farther still.

You get the impression that because she has such a tough reputation about her, being the Dollface of Donny “Dimebag” and all, she refuses to cry in front of others. Still, you call out to her and ask if she knows anything.

She gives you a quick side eye look, shrugs and says, “He was a good man. He didn’t deserve to die.” She takes a deep inhale of her cigarette, puts it out and then lights a new one. Her hands are shaky, and she avoids all eye contact.

You look back to Viola Mae and ask her if she can tell you about the night, starting around the time of Donny’s arrival.

“The evening started the way any evening does at a blind pig. Men coming for a drink, women coming for some freedom, and everyone looking for a good time. We were expecting Donny early, because we were short on stock and didn’t want to run out before midnight.”

{Squeaky Rags – Jeremy Zuckerman – The Legend of Korra: Original Music from Book One}

“People were swinging and dancing to the good tunes of the night, filled up on our giggle water. We booked a great band. Our dancers were having fun, and people were having a grand ol’ time.”

You are transported back in time to a black and white scene of the evening at Moxie’s. Flapper girls spin, sway, and twirl to the sound of trumpets and clarinets on stage. Every glass is filled with something special, and if it isn’t, it’s taken care of in a second.

Perkins sits in the back of the establishment, near the bathrooms and the bar, awaiting Donny’s new shipment of goods. Viola Mae is in the front of the house, chatting it up with regulars, her dark lipstick complimenting her short bobbed hair.

The staircase above the bar groans as two sets of feet make their way down. Donny arrives right on time, and Eva is right behind him.

Donny looks over at Eva, gives her a smooch on the cheek, and says, “Go on, Dollface, have a good time! I’ll be just a second.” He slaps her butt and laughs.

Eva rolls her eyes, but she eventually locks eyes with Viola Mae. As Donny makes his way to Perkins, Eva strolls over to Viola Mae. As she walks over, she applies her lipstick.

Eva looks at the men Viola Mae is talking to and says, “Excuse us, fellas. This girl here’s all work, no play. She deserves a little fun, don’t she? Perhaps a dance?”

Viola Mae follows Eva to the dance floor among a crowd of all kinds of happy folk. You turn your attention back to Donny and Perkins who seem to be having a normal conversation.

All seems normal in Moxie’s, but you and I know, that isn’t the case. So, detective, what clues are you looking for?

{The Tango – Marc Shaiman – Addams Family Values (The Original Orchestral Score)}

Perkins and Donny are looking over some papers. An ashtray is perched between the two. You look to see if there are any signs of the alcohol shipment, but you can’t see much in the dimmed lighting.

You turn back around to see Eva and Viola Mae downing what seems to be their second shot of something strong. Their laughter sounds rich with the liquor warming up their bodies like a candle slowly filling the room with a sweet scent. After another jorum of skee, the two ladies feel a tickle in their toes. As pairs start to take the floor, the two ladies join all the couples, enjoying their time as their men do business. They weren’t the only two ladies, for this was a place where a lady can be anything but a housewife. So, Eva Nickels and Viola Mae took to the floor to tango.

Out of the corner of your eye, you see a large man in a suit with a crate walk over to Perkins and Donny in the back. He shields the two, so you take a few steps over, just in time to see Perkins pull out a hazy glass bottle. He pours a bit out into an empty glass and takes a swig. As if poisoned, Perkins spits it out.

{Discombobulate – Hans Zimmer – Sherlock Holmes OST}

“Are you half-seas over?” Perkins asks. “That’s not what I asked for. That’s bathtub gin! That’s smoke for all I know!”

“You accusin’ me of something, buttons?”

“You’re charging me more for less, Don!”

“It’s not easy to get this here. I’m making this cheap for you.”

“Pft! Tell it to Sweeney!”

Perkins punches Donny in the nose. Blood spurts out and a woman screams.

Donny grabs Perkins by his suspenders and slams his body onto the wooden table. The legs snap, and Perkins falls to the ground. Viola Mae screams, “Clyde!” but dares not approach.

Perkins kicks at Donny’s manhood, knocking him over. The two keep swinging at each other. You can hear bones crack and smell that overwhelming metallic scent of blood oozing its way up your nostrils. Glass shatters as Perkins knocks a bottle over Donny’s back. Shards of glass are stuck in Donny’s back, but he turns quick, spits at Perkins and kicks his ear. With a ringing ear, Perkins shuffles away, but Donny tackles him to the ground, knocking over a few chairs. Donny pins down Perkins’ arms and starts to punch him.

The two are heaving as their faces swell up like balloons. The floor is a mixture of sweat, blood, and ruined whiskey. The commotion has stolen the show, the band no longer playing their gig.

Though you may be compelled to intervene, as some men begin to do before Donny can do some real bad damage, you can do nothing except keep your hands in your pockets. The black and white color of the environment reminds you that this is all in the past. It’s all already happened. Donny is already dead.

Eva keeps her arms crossed at the bar as she watches men pull Donny off Perkins. Perkins keeps kicking, but he stops bothering once Viola Mae puts her arms around him.

Perkins keeps yelling at Donny as Viola Mae hugs him, saying, “Don’t you come back here, Dimebag! I best not see that ugly face of yours here ever again!”

Viola Mae lifts Perkins and hands him over to a trusted friend of theirs who will tend to his wounds. She then helps Donny to the back to take care of his wounds herself, for she didn’t know about why the fight even happened until after she made it back home. As she heads to the back rooms, Viola Mae tells the band to start playing again.

“You never want an incident to ruin a perfectly good mood if you can help it,” Viola Mae says as she shifts in the armchair back at the Perkins’ mansion.

{West End Blues – Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five – The Essential Louis Armstrong}

Muffled music slithers its way into Viola Mae’s dressing room as she’s cleaning up the last of the caked blood on Donny’s body. As she’s cleaning him up, the dancers are coming in and out for outfit changes and makeup touch-ups.

Donny’s left eyebrow lifts as he eyes the long legs of the dancers. He whistles at them and chuckles to himself as Viola Mae finishes up the last of his wounds.

“Stop moving, Don. Can’t finish if you’re squirming like a fish,” Viola Mae says as she cleans up his bloodied face.

“How much, huh?”

“I’m sorry?”

“You know, how much to take a pretty little lady home?”

Viola Mae scoffs, “This isn’t that kind of place, Donny, you know that. Don’t test your luck when it looks like it’s running real low.”

“Perkins’ will come around. He knows good business a block and a half away.”

“And what exactly kind of business are you proposing him, huh?” Viola Mae puts her hands on her hips, awaiting his answer.

“Not the kind of business you need to worry your little head about, Viola Mae.” He grunts as he lifts himself up off the chair. Before he can walk off, Viola Mae stops him.

“I have as much a say in what goes on around here as my Clyde. Now, you tell me what this whole business is about, Donny.”

Donny gives her a pity laugh. “Don’t be a dumb Dora, Viola Mae. You know your place. It’s behind your husband, with an apron, and baking pie. Perkins’ only keeps you around here, because he wouldn’t get as much fun from his girl at home if she weren’t at least a little happy.”

Viola Mae gasps. She slaps him across the face, spits at his feet, and storms off.

Donny looks up at the exit of the room to find Eva in the doorway with arms crossed. Her eyes are droopy with a subtle gaze of drunken life, but the liquor can’t hide an upset woman.

“Am I not meant to be in this business either, then, Don?” She asks him.

“Oh, don’t be like that, Dollface. You’re my girl. I take care of you. I put that ring on your finger.”

She points at a delicate ring on her left hand. “You mean this handcuff? You think I can’t make it without you?”

“I know you can’t. Not unless you want to spend your life digging for scraps. Come on, Dollface, let’s leave.”

“Call me Dollface one more time, and you’ll see just how ugly this Dollface can get.” Eva leaves and goes looking for Viola Mae again.

It seems the story is getting a bit messy. What’re your thoughts so far, detective? It’s getting close to the hour of Donny’s death. You must have some idea of who was behind it. What do you think?

{After You’ve Gone – Bessie Smith – The Complete Recordings, Vol. 3}

Viola Mae and Eva head outside to smoke in the fresh air. You pay close attention to them back in the Perkins’ mansion. They’re facing away from each other, deep in thought. You ask what they talked about while they were out there.

They look at each other, their eyes talking in a language you don’t know. Eventually, Eva chimes in and says, “Just chatting about girl things and having a smoke.”

{A Woeful Wedding – Thomas Newman – Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events OST}

The air in the mansion goes cold. A row is bubbling beneath the quaint surface of first class society. The cigarettes are lazy with their smoke, and the decanters seem to have lost their shine. Clyde Perkins is disheveled on the couch, his hair an unkempt mess. Viola Mae is powdering her cheeks, erasing the tear streaks with just a few dabs of her translucent powder. Eva Nickels leans against a bookshelf and looks up at the chandeliers.

You ask the three suspects how they found out about Donny’s death and when the last time they saw him was.

Perkins lifts his hand. “I found him,” he says. “I was going outside to meet someone who was bringing me some more packs of cigarettes from down the road when I tripped over Donny’s body. I thought it was some mutt sleeping in the alley again, until I saw his pale face in the light. I… I really lost it then.” Perkins shakes his head and continues after another puff of smoke, “Last I saw him alive was during the fight. I didn’t want to see that dewdropper again. After I saw him dead, I ran down the street to find a cop. I knew I was basically asking for the death of Moxie’s, but I’d rather her dead than with a marred reputation.”

You look to Viola Mae. She sighs, “After I went back in, I went to the back to check on my dancers. I saw Donny there harassing my girls, asking them for favors we don’t offer. I kicked him out. I said he was certainly not welcome back at Moxie’s. I was about to talk with my dancers when I heard a commotion out the door. Next thing I know, cops are raiding the whole place. I didn’t even know he was dead until after I met up with my Clyde.”

You now look to Eva Nickels. She puts out her cigarette and leans against the window. She keeps her eyes on her feet as she tightly wraps her arms around her body. “When I got back inside, I went to the bar for another drink. I know that gruff voice of his, so I knew he was coming from the back before I even realized why. I saw Viola Mae kick him out. He took a drink from a random glass on one of the tables and then left out the back door. I was about to turn around for another drink when I saw Perkins right on Donny’s tail out the same back door.”

Perkins says, “Careful there now, Dollface.”

“Don’t you call me Dollface!” She yells at him.

“Don’t you go accusing’ me of something I didn’t do,” Perkins says as he swirls the whiskey in his glass.

“I’m only saying what I saw. Why’re you so nervous, huh, Clyde? If you’re so innocent, why’re you jumping down my throat?”

“People like to talk, Eva. Don’t dirty up my name, or I promise, you won’t find work even in the dark alleys of New York City.”

“Don’t you threaten me,” Eva steps over to him.

Perkins stands up. The two are face to face, glowering at each other. Perkins drinks his full glass of whiskey, then walks away from her. You can feel Viola Mae in the corner holding her breath.

Perkins walks over to a cart with drinks when he sees that the decanter with his whiskey is dry. He curses under his breath and strides to the decanter on the side table with the bible, the houseplant and the reading glasses. He pours himself a more than generous amount of whiskey, but he doesn’t drink it. He’s too steamed up, so he starts pacing across the room again.

You ask them to sit tight for a moment as you think.

{That Night He Told Me Everything – Craig Armstrong – The Orchestral Score From Baz Luhrmann’s Film The Great Gatsby}

You stroll back out into the main entryway. The rain outside is starting to lighten up. The glowing lanterns feel doozy as the puzzle pieces in your mind start to shift around.

The story of the night starts to replay in your mind. You remember every detail as best you can, from Donny’s entrance to the brawl near the bar to the moment Donny leaves out the back door. It seems like he very well could have just been shanked and shot by someone who wanted to make a quick buck, but your gut tells you it’s far more than that. There’s a story here, and you’ve got all the parts. You’ve just got to put them all together. Your eyebrows get knotted in the center of your forehead as you start to pace down the hallway.

Who do you think it was, detective? Was it Clyde Perkins, who got some cheap whiskey for a higher price and felt so betrayed and cheated that he killed a man? Was it Viola Mae, who was getting real tired of Donny’s harassment? Or was it his Dollface, Eva Nickels, who wanted to prove that a woman can survive and thrive in this tough underground business?

Officer Shaw asks Perkins for another glass of whiskey. Before Perkins can oblige, Viola Mae says, “It’s best if you don’t have some, Officer Shaw.”

“Just enough to wet my whistle, if you don’t mind, Mrs. Perkins.”

“I do mind, actually. I think we’ve had enough drinking for tonight after all that’s happened.” Skittering, she rushes over to the cart, “Might I offer you a cigar instead, officer?”

Though disappointed, Officer Shaw shrugs and accepts the cigar.

In the entryway of the living room, you take a quick glance at Perkins’ glass and notice that he still hasn’t taken a sip.

Casually, you stroll over to the small round table with the whiskey decanter near the houseplant. You examine it in the most discreet way you can, and you notice there’s some odd white powder on the tray behind the glass decanter.

You look up just in time to catch a private moment between Eva and Viola Mae. The two women are staring at each other with doey eyes. Viola Mae’s eyes are yearning with a blanket of sadness keeping the yearning warm. Eva has a more protective and reassuring look in hers, though it’s hidden very well beneath her tough facade, just not well enough. The two are in their own little world in a room that’s keeping them hostage, in a world that’s suffocating them.  They hold each other’s eyes for a second that felt like an eternity, before they each look away again.

{Magic Tree and I Let Myself Go (feat. Lana Del Rey) – Craig Armstrong – The Orchestral Score From Baz Luhrmann’s Film The Great Gatsby}

Passion can be as tender or as brutal as a delicate rose with her petals and her thorns. A great author once wrote that no amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart… or in this case, a woman.

You ask Eva Nickels if it was her idea to water down the drinks and to raise the price.

Eva does a double take on Perkins. She stutters, “WellーIーumーyes. Yes, I did. Word around the street was that all the bootleggers were doing it. All the smart ones, anyway. So, I told Donny we should do the same if we want to keep making good money. Good money means good business.”

“And also good for framing Clyde Perkins,” you tell her.

Everyone gives you a confused look. You explain the true story behind the murder at Moxie’s.

Eva Nickels convinced Donny to raise the price for lower quality whiskey, since all the other bootleggers in the city were starting to do it. Donny took the bait and went ahead with the plan thinking it would make for a more lucrative business. In reality, all Eva did was set up the trap to make Clyde Perkins the guilty party.

Knowing Perkins’ ideals for Moxie’s, she set up the brawl between Donny and Perkins, and so, she went ahead and strolled over to Viola Mae. With the music and the dimmed lighting, no one would notice how cozy Eva and Viola Mae were getting on the dance floor. No one bats an eye when they’ve got a good glass of giggle water waiting for them at the bar.

Then, the fight breaks out. Eva stays in the back, just watching her plan unfold. Viola Mae, being the woman of the establishment, takes care of Donny in the back. She didn’t know why he was angry, so she took care of her husband’s business partner to make sure business didn’t get ruined. Then, Viola Mae gets a taste of what kind of man Donny really is, something she’s already too familiar with, and so she leaves, looking for her one best friend at Moxie’s: Eva Nickels.

Eva and Viola Mae spend some more quality time outside when the plan unfurls. It had been a topic of discussion for a while now, but Eva put the wheels in motion, and now she was laying it all out on the table for Viola Mae, and Viola Mae just went along with it.

Everyone is silent. Officer Shaw then asks, “You’re saying Eva killed her husband? But, why would Viola Mae go along with it?”

You explain that it is because Eva Nickels and Viola Mae are in love with each other. As in love as they are, Eva was the one who pushed for a life together, while Viola Mae was too nervous to give it a shot. Once Eva got things going, Viola Mae just kept her mouth shut.

“Whaー” Perkins is dumbfounded. His face is struck with shock. The words are stuck in his throat. Eva slumps down onto an armchair. She has pursed lips as she keeps her eyes on her shaking right leg. Viola Mae is crying silently.

You tell Perkins that their plan hadn’t been completed just yet. They were going to poison him with the whiskey he currently holds in his hand. You explain it’s because with both women taking over their husband’s jobs, Moxie’s could go on as is, and they could live as close to a normal life as any.

“I told you…” Viola Mae mutters, “I told you this wouldn’t work.”

“Don’t say that,” Eva tries to comfort her when Perkins hurls his glass to the ground. Glass shatters around the room as he yells at them.

“I can’t believe this!” He tries pulling his hair out as Eva kneels in front of Viola Mae.

Viola Mae rocks back and forth and pushes Eva away. “No,” she says between gasps, “This was only a fantasy, Eva. A fantasy! How could I live my life with you? Can you offer me what he can? No! You can’t! I have to have a future, Eva, and it isn’t with you. It could never be with you.”

Perkins kicks Eva and yells, “Get out of my house!” He then slaps Viola Mae and tells her, “You and I will talk about this later! I cannot believe this!”

“You don’t know what you’re saying, Viola Mae,” Eva says as she pushes herself off the ground. “Forget the poison.”

Eva punches Officer Shaw and steals his gun. A gunshot silences the night.

{St. James Infirmary – Hugh Laurie – Let Them Talk (Bonus Track Version)}

Though angry at the men in her life that belittled and harassed her, and curious about the woman who made her stomach a butterfly’s home, Viola Mae is still a woman hunting for an assured life with all the rhinestones and diamonds included, and that’s what got her killed.

With the gun in hand, Eva Nickels tries shooting at Clyde Perkins to finish what she started, but Viola Mae jumps in front of him, and the bullet goes straight through her chest.

Eva wails with a hoarse voice as she falls to her knees. She crawls to Viola Mae and kisses her face before the cops pull her away.

Clyde Perkins has red, wet eyes as he kneels before his dying wife. He pulls her to his chest. His sleeves are drenched in blood, but he keeps his eyes on her, furiously blinking the tears away.

She lifts her eyes to him and says, “You’re a good man, Clyde, and I should’ve been a fool. I should’ve stayed a fool by your side. I’m sorry.” She dies in his arms as handcuffs are put on Eva’s wrists.

Eva Nickels is taken into custody and arrested for the murder of Donny “Dimebag” Davis and Viola Mae Perkins.

Clyde Perkins shuts down Moxie’s and opens a new speakeasy just two years later with his new girl. That new speakeasy though is raided and shut down just a few weeks after opening. Thinking his life in New York is cursed, Clyde Perkins moves his family out west.   

The murder at Moxie’s left a bad taste in the mouths of many New Yorkers, but it’s not the only blood that can be found on the streets in the 1920’s. It’s not the only crime we’ll see in this city, and it’s not the only city that will see this kind of crime.

The world is changing before these people’s eyes in a way they won’t even understand until they look back at it all in old, whiskey-stained photos. Freedom and suffocation find new definitions. The bad folk learn new ways to be bad while the good folk fight for new ways to build a good life. Money gets thrown in the wind like raindrops thrown off course by a storm and oftentimes falls in the gutter of another man’s party. People want shiny things until they realize not all things that glitter are gold. Those who follow what’s truly golden will find their lives thrown in the dumpster at some point or another, because this life favors those who follow the rules.

You know, things can get real messy when people are learning how to live their lives in a whole new way, both for the rich and the poor all the same. A party’s a temporary fix, but when there’s no better time than the present, temporary doesn’t sound too bad. No… not too bad at all.

And besides, the music’s sounding real swell. I think I’ll have me some giggle water. Feel free to grab some for yourself, if you’d like. Enjoy the music, sugar.

That’s the end of our tale for today. Thank you for joining me, but it’s now time for you to step back through the portal to WHUS Storrs. I hope you join me next week for another adventure. Until then, fairfarren, traveler.

THE END

Fairfarren, Friends

 

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