Detroit, September 1931
Anna Lademan ran an iron along the length of a man’s long sleeve shirt. Not satisfied with the result she sat the iron on its end and picked up a tall glass bottle with a yellow Vernor’s Ginger Ale label and a cork sprinkler head. She gave the bottle a shake and scattered small droplets of water along the sleeve. Again taking up her iron she finished the sleeve, placed the shirt on a hanger, and hung it next to a dozen similar shirts. After a quick glance at the remaining baskets of laundry she placed her hands on her hips, bent backward, chin to the ceiling and sighed. At five cents a shirt she could not afford to rest, but she had earned a quick stretch.
Anna then took a woman’s floral dress from her basket and began to spread it on her ironing board. She did this with a bit of nostalgia. Her wedding dress had been a pretty flowered dress like this one. They had met in late winter, 1916. Her husband Abell had been a big man, with a full head of red hair and a broad back. He was also a romantic; he loved flowers and the spring. He had insisted they marry when the earth was new, crops were in the ground, and flowers were blooming. So, in the spring of 1918, two weeks after Anna turned nineteen they married. He died the next November. She always thought that ironic, so many people were celebrating the end of the Great War, and her husband, who had fought in it hadn’t been there. Abell had gone off to war in January 1917. By the February of 1918 he was home, one leg left behind in France, but home. She had her man and they would be all right. Then came the Spanish flu. Abell left in the morning for his job at the post office, that night he came home with a cough, by evening he couldn’t stand, and he died before morning. The speed of his death had always troubled Anna. She hadn’t had time to tell him how much he meant to her, about their unborn child, to make plans. He hadn’t seen his boy, didn’t know how much his son looked like him; never tussled his hair. Anna’s eyes began to tear.
In what seemed like the Almighty’s ploy to drag her from the depths of depression a crash sounded from the small living room behind her. An instant later Anna’s pride and joy, her son Ezra, exploded into the kitchen. “David told me he needs help selling newspapers today,” the boy announced.
There had been another murder; one of the Licavoli Squad had been gunned down by the Purple Gang. The Times had run an ‘extra’ edition.
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