The Moonshiner and the Truth: Part One

The second installment of The Literary Incident of Margaret Lowry

An Open Page Series by Mimi Cocquyt

            “Rum and Coke, please.”

            Margaret blurted out the request the moment she sat down at the hotel’s bar. She fished through her purse and slapped a twenty-dollar bill on the counter.

            “Heavy on the rum.”

            She glanced up at the bartender. Hewas a slender man with slicked-back hair styled like a dandy. Outfitted in a white tux and mechanicallydrying a single cocktail glass, he eerily reminded her of a younger version of Lloyd from Kubrick’s film,The Shining. He studied the twenty-dollar bill a moment before shifted his gaze to her. The corner of his mouth quirked up humorously.

            “You know you’re not supposed to talk about that here.” Behind his smirk, a look of warning glinted in his eyes.“You’re a funny gal, Maggie.”

Margaret tensed at the use of the nickname. This was all getting a little too creepy and a bit too personal. ‘Lloyd’ set the glass down on the ledge beside him. Then he braced his palms on the granite countertop and leaned toward her.

            “How about a Coca Cola?” he asked, jovially.

            Seemingly from thin air, the drink was set down in front of her. She jumped at the pop of carbonation as the lid was removed from the vintage glass bottle.

            “On the house,” Lloyd said, then moved away to tend to another bar fly. 

            No longer blocked by him, Margaret noticed the sign on the back shelf of the bar. ‘No booze sold here. Booze hounds stay away’ was printed in gilded cursive handwriting. Strange, she thought, what kind of bar did not serve booze?

The place was home to a smattering of daytime drinkers. However, rather than alcohol in their glasses, they sipped coffee cups or a bottle of soda. The lobby was abuzz with conversation. She watched people rush by, excitedly entering and exiting the hotel in pairs. Men in business suits grouped together and conversed. Women lounged in their day dresses atop the large wing-backed chairs of the various sitting areas. A squeaking sound piqued her attention, and she looked to the front entryway. A bouquet of balloons bumped against each other in the wind of the ever-opening lobby door. They were attached to a newspaper stand with bold headlines that alerted readers of the impending speed duel between the racehorses, Man o’ War and Upset. Margaret did a double-take. Then she caught sight of a nearby bar occupant, who held a copy of the newsprint in hand. She peered closer at the paper’s date. August 18th, 1920.

“1920,” she whispered, aghast.

Slowly the newspaper lowered, revealing its reader. Thegentleman regarded her with confusion. He was dressed into a white linen suit, and spats adorned his feet. His eyes hid behind thick spectacles, their base practically touching the upturned ends of his moustache.On the table before him rested a straw boater hat and a shuffle of betting cards. 

“It’s 1920,” she repeated, louder.

“Yes,” the man responded suspiciously. Then he folded the paper in half to look at its cover as if double-checking. “It is 1920.”

Either she was going crazy, or she had fallen into the novel that she was writing. At the thought of it, she hurriedly searched her book satchel for the loose pages. Nothing. She had left them in her hotel room—the place where that man, no, fictional character had materialized. Recalling Golden McCollough’s searing glare as she had escaped, Margaret was hesitant to return there. As much as she wanted to get her novel back, she had no intention of crossing paths with the gangster again. The hollow feeling returned to her stomach and she set the bag aside. She needed a stiff drink and some perspective. Then she remembered the Volstead Act, a government ban on the selling of liquor.The passing of which began the age of Prohibition a year earlier, and the roar that went with it.

“I just had to end up in the one era without alcohol,”she complained.

“I’m sorry?”

She re-focused on the older gentleman. “Nothing.”

She faced forward, attempting to collect her thoughts. Her distracted gaze was altered by Lloyd’s returning presence.

“Is there anything I can do for you, Maggie?” he asked quietly, voice laced with genuine concern. “Would you like me to call Golden?”

“No!”

His eyes widened at her tone, and her hands began to shake.

“How do you know me?” she demanded.

Lloyd squinted at her, mystified,then slowly started toward the bar’s wall phone. 

“Everything’s okay, Maggie. Just let me call your father,” he stated.

“My father’s dead!”

Lloyd paused with one hand place atop the black receiver, ready to dial. He stared at her like she spoke in tongues, attempting to decipherher meaning.

“Right…”he drawled. “Just calm down. I’m gonna call Golden.”

Before she could oppose him, Lloyd picked up the phone and urgently alerted the operator. The way he spoke her room number without hesitation made it seem like he had done it numerous times before. Margaret’s nerves were flaming with anxiety. Her flight instinct kicked in.Shefled her barstool and scurried to the exit with wobbly knees.

“Maggie!” Lloyd called out.

She ignored him and disappeared into the crowd of the hotel lobby. She was almost to the front door, catching sight of the heavy street and foot traffic bathed in the bright sunlight. Her eagerness to reach it heightened. Suddenly, her arm was seized, and she was practically pulled off her feet.

“Margaret Lowry!”

She met the admonishing gaze of an older woman. Margaret screamed and tried to free herself from her grasp.

“Let go of me!”

The woman only tightened her hold andpulledMargaret away from the lobby. Her scowl deepened as mumbled disparagements slipped from her lips.

“You are making a scene. Stop it now,” she scolded.

            A few passersby paused to observe the spectacle. Margaret’s attention locked on a young woman, who watched her with wide eyes. Margaret pointed directly at her.

            “Call the police!”she cried.

            The girl touched her fingertips to her mouth in shock but made no move to help.

Margaret stood in a small hallway out of sight. The cantankerous dowager looked down her nose at her.

            “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”Margaret raised her voice.

It echoed off the mahogany walls.

            “Language, young lady!”the woman admonished.

Her eyes scanned Margaret’s features then traveled down her body. She recoiled her arm in disgust.

            “Good God, what are you wearing?” she whispered, referring to Margaret’s suit.

            Margaret tried not to be offended.

            “Who are you?” she demanded.

            “Who do you think I am?”

            Margaret was taken aback by the question. She observed the lady closely, realizing her features were similar to her favorite college professor. She had the same faded blonde hair. The typically un-styled bob was now elaborately curled back with a burgundy cloche hat placed atop it. Her face was contoured with a pinkish blush, but Margaret saw past all that and only to the sharp, angular features she was accustomed to. Even her eyes were the same startlingly blue, accentuated by shadowed eye makeup and mascara.

            “Miss Woodward?” Margaretguessed.          

            “That’s what you said last time.”

            “Well, you look just like her.” 

The woman sighed. “If I say I’m Miss Woodward, will you please come with me?”

            Margaret became suspicious. “Where?”

            “Home.” 

            “I would like to go home,” Margaret replied.

            “Perfect. Then I’m Miss Woodward.”

            Miss Woodward started to walk away then she turned and looked back at Margaret, who had not moved.

            “Just to clarify.” Margaret held up an appeasing hand. “Home as in…”

            Miss Woodward lost her temper. “Home! Christ, Margaret, your father is worried sick!”

            “My father is dead. He died when I was fourteen!” she countered, incredulously.

            Miss Woodward grasped Margaret’s wrist again and pulled her onward.

“I am going to tell him you said that. Now, stop acting as deranged as everyone says you are.”

            Perhaps Margaret was resigned to her circumstance or partially intrigue at the next chapter of this maddening story, but she willingly followed. They reached a side door of the hotel, which opened onto an alleyway. It was otherwise deserted, but for the swanky Cadillac limousine parked a few yards away. The engine was idling and the chauffeur leaned against the hood. He was smartly dressed and smoking a cigarette. At the sight of Margaret and Miss Woodward, he promptly flicked it away and opened the door to the backseat.

Miss Woodward’s intentions were true. The Victorian-style mansion was only a few blocks away from the hotel, making it a short but excitable ride there. The entirety of which was filled with Miss Woodward’s kvetching about the dangers of living a frivolous existence, and how Margaret was tumbling down the rabbit hole of it. Margaret hardly knew what she spoke of. She was a writer. She did not have a social life. She tuned the woman out the moment they turned onto Broadway, attention rapt on their surroundings. The sepia-toned photograph of Jazz Age America had bled into full color. However, the shock and awe of it faded to mute when she stepped into her home, and her cigarettes were immediately confiscated.

“Hey!”Margaret grouched.

The pick-pocketing maid pretended not to hear her. However, Margaret caught sight of the smirk on her lips as she sashayed down a hallway. Miss Woodward clicked her tongue in dismay.

“No smoking in the house,” she said with finality.

The aroma said otherwise. Margaret supposed that if she needed a hit, all she had to do was lick the wallpaper of the billiard room to her left.

“Now, go wait in the parlor.” Miss Woodward ushered her toward an adjacent room. “Your parents will be there in just a moment.”

Margaret slowly sat down on the tufted chaise lounge. By the way Miss Woodward fussed over her, Margaret suspected she was a governess of some kind. She watched as the woman tarried a moment. Then, she peered back into the room to see if Margaret was where she had left her. With a snap of her fingers and a firm nod, Miss Woodward hustled down the hallway and out of sight. A second maid brought in a tray of food and drink a moment later, setting them on the coffee table. Margaret hoped that if she sat still enough, no one would notice she was there. It proved futile when the maid leveled a disapproving scowl on her.

“You worry the devil out of your mother,”she chastised.

Margaret visibly sat back at her thick Irish brogue.

“Excuse me?”

The maid cocked a graying brow. “Don’t be bold, missy.”

Margaret’s jaw went slack at the woman’s gruff nature, and she averted her gaze.

Behind the chaise, a picture window showcased the front garden and a bustling street. Her family’s house was placed on an avenue only two blocks from the main drag. She knew that because she had driven past the very house on her way into town only yesterday. Although, then, it was a bed and breakfast. She only glimpsedthe travel brochure’s photographs, butit appeared the place’s posh allure had retained. With the deep hues of the furniture and floral wallpaper, itfelt like a time capsule planted at the turn of the last era.

Like the house, Margaret was adrift. Forsaken, she watched the timepiece run circles around itself. People floated noiselessly through the corridor of decades. The thick walls that held countless voices of the past silently wondered just when they were left behind. Only hours ago, she drove the boulevards of the 21st-century. Now, she sat in a parlor exactly 100-years in the past. She could not pinpoint just when she had lost her sanity. Perhaps at the front desk of that hotel?

A melody caught her attention. She looked toward the entryway as the whistling grew nearer and the vocalist stepped into the parlor. Brendon Lowry did not look a day over fifty, which was strange considering he had died thirteen years ago. He paused his whistling to smile at her.

“Good morning, dearie,” he said, then resumed the happy tune.

Margaret remained silent and in shock. Her father reclined back onto a chair opposite hers, a newspaper in hand. He unfolded it and scrutinized the front page. After a moment, he flicked the pages accusingly.

“Arnold is pulling for Upset, but I think good ol’ Manny will come through.” He looked at her over the rim of his reading glasses. “What are your thoughts?”

Margaret blinked.

“Man o’ War, definitely,” she stuttered, already knowing the exact answer.

Brendon chuckled. “That’s my girl.”

He was dressed in tan suit pants and a vest. The collars of his dress shirt sleeves were unbuttonedcasually, and his suspenders draped around his hips. He wore neither tie nor shoes, she discovered when he crossed his legs. His feet were only clad in red and gold argyle socks. By his un-styled hair and the shadow of stubble along his jaw, it appeared as if he were just getting dressed for the day. Brendon set the newspaper aside and blatantly cleared his throat.

“Now, on to more important matters.” 

“Okay…like what?”Margaret asked, uncertainly.

“You know I am fine with you seeing McCollough, but just make sure you tell your mother the next time you’re going out.”Brendon leaned forward slightly like he was about to tell her a secret. “You know how her nerves are.”

Then he winked at her and picked on his paper again.

“I–” Margaret could hardly get the words out. “This is too fucked up.”

She subconsciously reached for her purse, where a second pack of cigarettes awaited. Her hand touched the plush cushion, vacant of the bag. Her stomach sank to the floor.

“No,” she whispered.

“Something wrong?”

She met her father’s inquisitive gaze.

“I left my bag at the hotel.”

She could have cried. First, she fell back in time, then she losther manuscript andforgot her purse on a hotel barstool.

“Not to worry, I’ll call Lloyd to collect it for you,” Brendon placated.

Margaretblurted out a laugh. “His name is not Lloyd.”

Brendon started to the phone then paused and regarded her curiously.

“Yes, it is…”

Margaret threw her hands in the air and stood up.

“I am going bat shit crazy!!”

She started to the door, and a gasp sounded out behind her. Still walking, Margaret looked back over her shoulder. She stopped short when she saw the queen of the house, Sinead Lowry standing at the base of the stairs. She was dressed in a periwinkle bathrobe, her hair styled in pinup curls and her makeup entirely done. It was as if her parents had become the Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore of the 1920s. Even worse, they were not acting. To them, this was very much real life, and Margaret was the star of this time-bending sitcom.

“Margaret Sinead Lowry!I will wash your mouth out with soap if you speak those obscenities in this house again!”

Steam practically spewed from Sinead’s ears, wilting a few of the bobby pins in her hair. Instinctively, Margaret looked to her father for help. Brendon watched the display with veiled amusement, making no move to interfere. Margaret was on her own. She dipped her chin and glanced back at Sinead, willing herself not the shrink under the woman’s heated gaze.

“Sorry, mother.”

To be continued in The Moonshiner and the Truth: Part Two

@blankcoverpress

@missmargaretlowry

@mimicocquyt

An Open Page Series by Mimi Cocquyt

            “Rum and Coke, please.”

            Margaret blurted out the request the moment she sat down at the hotel’s bar. She fished through her purse and slapped a twenty-dollar bill on the counter.

            “Heavy on the rum.”

            She glanced up at the bartender. Hewas a slender man with slicked-back hair styled like a dandy. Outfitted in a white tux and mechanicallydrying a single cocktail glass, he eerily reminded her of a younger version of Lloyd from Kubrick’s film,The Shining. He studied the twenty-dollar bill a moment before shifted his gaze to her. The corner of his mouth quirked up humorously.

            “You know you’re not supposed to talk about that here.” Behind his smirk, a look of warning glinted in his eyes.“You’re a funny gal, Maggie.”

Margaret tensed at the use of the nickname. This was all getting a little too creepy and a bit too personal. ‘Lloyd’ set the glass down on the ledge beside him. Then he braced his palms on the granite countertop and leaned toward her.

            “How about a Coca Cola?” he asked, jovially.

            Seemingly from thin air, the drink was set down in front of her. She jumped at the pop of carbonation as the lid was removed from the vintage glass bottle.

            “On the house,” Lloyd said, then moved away to tend to another bar fly. 

            No longer blocked by him, Margaret noticed the sign on the back shelf of the bar. ‘No booze sold here. Booze hounds stay away’ was printed in gilded cursive handwriting. Strange, she thought, what kind of bar did not serve booze?

The place was home to a smattering of daytime drinkers. However, rather than alcohol in their glasses, they sipped coffee cups or a bottle of soda. The lobby was abuzz with conversation. She watched people rush by, excitedly entering and exiting the hotel in pairs. Men in business suits grouped together and conversed. Women lounged in their day dresses atop the large wing-backed chairs of the various sitting areas. A squeaking sound piqued her attention, and she looked to the front entryway. A bouquet of balloons bumped against each other in the wind of the ever-opening lobby door. They were attached to a newspaper stand with bold headlines that alerted readers of the impending speed duel between the racehorses, Man o’ War and Upset. Margaret did a double-take. Then she caught sight of a nearby bar occupant, who held a copy of the newsprint in hand. She peered closer at the paper’s date. August 18th, 1920.

“1920,” she whispered, aghast.

Slowly the newspaper lowered, revealing its reader. Thegentleman regarded her with confusion. He was dressed into a white linen suit, and spats adorned his feet. His eyes hid behind thick spectacles, their base practically touching the upturned ends of his moustache.On the table before him rested a straw boater hat and a shuffle of betting cards. 

“It’s 1920,” she repeated, louder.

“Yes,” the man responded suspiciously. Then he folded the paper in half to look at its cover as if double-checking. “It is 1920.”

Either she was going crazy, or she had fallen into the novel that she was writing. At the thought of it, she hurriedly searched her book satchel for the loose pages. Nothing. She had left them in her hotel room—the place where that man, no, fictional character had materialized. Recalling Golden McCollough’s searing glare as she had escaped, Margaret was hesitant to return there. As much as she wanted to get her novel back, she had no intention of crossing paths with the gangster again. The hollow feeling returned to her stomach and she set the bag aside. She needed a stiff drink and some perspective. Then she remembered the Volstead Act, a government ban on the selling of liquor.The passing of which began the age of Prohibition a year earlier, and the roar that went with it.

“I just had to end up in the one era without alcohol,”she complained.

“I’m sorry?”

She re-focused on the older gentleman. “Nothing.”

She faced forward, attempting to collect her thoughts. Her distracted gaze was altered by Lloyd’s returning presence.

“Is there anything I can do for you, Maggie?” he asked quietly, voice laced with genuine concern. “Would you like me to call Golden?”

“No!”

His eyes widened at her tone, and her hands began to shake.

“How do you know me?” she demanded.

Lloyd squinted at her, mystified,then slowly started toward the bar’s wall phone. 

“Everything’s okay, Maggie. Just let me call your father,” he stated.

“My father’s dead!”

Lloyd paused with one hand place atop the black receiver, ready to dial. He stared at her like she spoke in tongues, attempting to decipherher meaning.

“Right…”he drawled. “Just calm down. I’m gonna call Golden.”

Before she could oppose him, Lloyd picked up the phone and urgently alerted the operator. The way he spoke her room number without hesitation made it seem like he had done it numerous times before. Margaret’s nerves were flaming with anxiety. Her flight instinct kicked in.Shefled her barstool and scurried to the exit with wobbly knees.

“Maggie!” Lloyd called out.

She ignored him and disappeared into the crowd of the hotel lobby. She was almost to the front door, catching sight of the heavy street and foot traffic bathed in the bright sunlight. Her eagerness to reach it heightened. Suddenly, her arm was seized, and she was practically pulled off her feet.

“Margaret Lowry!”

She met the admonishing gaze of an older woman. Margaret screamed and tried to free herself from her grasp.

“Let go of me!”

The woman only tightened her hold andpulledMargaret away from the lobby. Her scowl deepened as mumbled disparagements slipped from her lips.

“You are making a scene. Stop it now,” she scolded.

            A few passersby paused to observe the spectacle. Margaret’s attention locked on a young woman, who watched her with wide eyes. Margaret pointed directly at her.

            “Call the police!”she cried.

            The girl touched her fingertips to her mouth in shock but made no move to help.

Margaret stood in a small hallway out of sight. The cantankerous dowager looked down her nose at her.

            “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”Margaret raised her voice.

It echoed off the mahogany walls.

            “Language, young lady!”the woman admonished.

Her eyes scanned Margaret’s features then traveled down her body. She recoiled her arm in disgust.

            “Good God, what are you wearing?” she whispered, referring to Margaret’s suit.

            Margaret tried not to be offended.

            “Who are you?” she demanded.

            “Who do you think I am?”

            Margaret was taken aback by the question. She observed the lady closely, realizing her features were similar to her favorite college professor. She had the same faded blonde hair. The typically un-styled bob was now elaborately curled back with a burgundy cloche hat placed atop it. Her face was contoured with a pinkish blush, but Margaret saw past all that and only to the sharp, angular features she was accustomed to. Even her eyes were the same startlingly blue, accentuated by shadowed eye makeup and mascara.

            “Miss Woodward?” Margaretguessed.          

            “That’s what you said last time.”

            “Well, you look just like her.” 

The woman sighed. “If I say I’m Miss Woodward, will you please come with me?”

            Margaret became suspicious. “Where?”

            “Home.” 

            “I would like to go home,” Margaret replied.

            “Perfect. Then I’m Miss Woodward.”

            Miss Woodward started to walk away then she turned and looked back at Margaret, who had not moved.

            “Just to clarify.” Margaret held up an appeasing hand. “Home as in…”

            Miss Woodward lost her temper. “Home! Christ, Margaret, your father is worried sick!”

            “My father is dead. He died when I was fourteen!” she countered, incredulously.

            Miss Woodward grasped Margaret’s wrist again and pulled her onward.

“I am going to tell him you said that. Now, stop acting as deranged as everyone says you are.”

            Perhaps Margaret was resigned to her circumstance or partially intrigue at the next chapter of this maddening story, but she willingly followed. They reached a side door of the hotel, which opened onto an alleyway. It was otherwise deserted, but for the swanky Cadillac limousine parked a few yards away. The engine was idling and the chauffeur leaned against the hood. He was smartly dressed and smoking a cigarette. At the sight of Margaret and Miss Woodward, he promptly flicked it away and opened the door to the backseat.

Miss Woodward’s intentions were true. The Victorian-style mansion was only a few blocks away from the hotel, making it a short but excitable ride there. The entirety of which was filled with Miss Woodward’s kvetching about the dangers of living a frivolous existence, and how Margaret was tumbling down the rabbit hole of it. Margaret hardly knew what she spoke of. She was a writer. She did not have a social life. She tuned the woman out the moment they turned onto Broadway, attention rapt on their surroundings. The sepia-toned photograph of Jazz Age America had bled into full color. However, the shock and awe of it faded to mute when she stepped into her home, and her cigarettes were immediately confiscated.

“Hey!”Margaret grouched.

The pick-pocketing maid pretended not to hear her. However, Margaret caught sight of the smirk on her lips as she sashayed down a hallway. Miss Woodward clicked her tongue in dismay.

“No smoking in the house,” she said with finality.

The aroma said otherwise. Margaret supposed that if she needed a hit, all she had to do was lick the wallpaper of the billiard room to her left.

“Now, go wait in the parlor.” Miss Woodward ushered her toward an adjacent room. “Your parents will be there in just a moment.”

Margaret slowly sat down on the tufted chaise lounge. By the way Miss Woodward fussed over her, Margaret suspected she was a governess of some kind. She watched as the woman tarried a moment. Then, she peered back into the room to see if Margaret was where she had left her. With a snap of her fingers and a firm nod, Miss Woodward hustled down the hallway and out of sight. A second maid brought in a tray of food and drink a moment later, setting them on the coffee table. Margaret hoped that if she sat still enough, no one would notice she was there. It proved futile when the maid leveled a disapproving scowl on her.

“You worry the devil out of your mother,”she chastised.

Margaret visibly sat back at her thick Irish brogue.

“Excuse me?”

The maid cocked a graying brow. “Don’t be bold, missy.”

Margaret’s jaw went slack at the woman’s gruff nature, and she averted her gaze.

Behind the chaise, a picture window showcased the front garden and a bustling street. Her family’s house was placed on an avenue only two blocks from the main drag. She knew that because she had driven past the very house on her way into town only yesterday. Although, then, it was a bed and breakfast. She only glimpsedthe travel brochure’s photographs, butit appeared the place’s posh allure had retained. With the deep hues of the furniture and floral wallpaper, itfelt like a time capsule planted at the turn of the last era.

Like the house, Margaret was adrift. Forsaken, she watched the timepiece run circles around itself. People floated noiselessly through the corridor of decades. The thick walls that held countless voices of the past silently wondered just when they were left behind. Only hours ago, she drove the boulevards of the 21st-century. Now, she sat in a parlor exactly 100-years in the past. She could not pinpoint just when she had lost her sanity. Perhaps at the front desk of that hotel?

A melody caught her attention. She looked toward the entryway as the whistling grew nearer and the vocalist stepped into the parlor. Brendon Lowry did not look a day over fifty, which was strange considering he had died thirteen years ago. He paused his whistling to smile at her.

“Good morning, dearie,” he said, then resumed the happy tune.

Margaret remained silent and in shock. Her father reclined back onto a chair opposite hers, a newspaper in hand. He unfolded it and scrutinized the front page. After a moment, he flicked the pages accusingly.

“Arnold is pulling for Upset, but I think good ol’ Manny will come through.” He looked at her over the rim of his reading glasses. “What are your thoughts?”

Margaret blinked.

“Man o’ War, definitely,” she stuttered, already knowing the exact answer.

Brendon chuckled. “That’s my girl.”

He was dressed in tan suit pants and a vest. The collars of his dress shirt sleeves were unbuttonedcasually, and his suspenders draped around his hips. He wore neither tie nor shoes, she discovered when he crossed his legs. His feet were only clad in red and gold argyle socks. By his un-styled hair and the shadow of stubble along his jaw, it appeared as if he were just getting dressed for the day. Brendon set the newspaper aside and blatantly cleared his throat.

“Now, on to more important matters.” 

“Okay…like what?”Margaret asked, uncertainly.

“You know I am fine with you seeing McCollough, but just make sure you tell your mother the next time you’re going out.”Brendon leaned forward slightly like he was about to tell her a secret. “You know how her nerves are.”

Then he winked at her and picked on his paper again.

“I–” Margaret could hardly get the words out. “This is too fucked up.”

She subconsciously reached for her purse, where a second pack of cigarettes awaited. Her hand touched the plush cushion, vacant of the bag. Her stomach sank to the floor.

“No,” she whispered.

“Something wrong?”

She met her father’s inquisitive gaze.

“I left my bag at the hotel.”

She could have cried. First, she fell back in time, then she losther manuscript andforgot her purse on a hotel barstool.

“Not to worry, I’ll call Lloyd to collect it for you,” Brendon placated.

Margaretblurted out a laugh. “His name is not Lloyd.”

Brendon started to the phone then paused and regarded her curiously.

“Yes, it is…”

Margaret threw her hands in the air and stood up.

“I am going bat shit crazy!!”

She started to the door, and a gasp sounded out behind her. Still walking, Margaret looked back over her shoulder. She stopped short when she saw the queen of the house, Sinead Lowry standing at the base of the stairs. She was dressed in a periwinkle bathrobe, her hair styled in pinup curls and her makeup entirely done. It was as if her parents had become the Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore of the 1920s. Even worse, they were not acting. To them, this was very much real life, and Margaret was the star of this time-bending sitcom.

“Margaret Sinead Lowry!I will wash your mouth out with soap if you speak those obscenities in this house again!”

Steam practically spewed from Sinead’s ears, wilting a few of the bobby pins in her hair. Instinctively, Margaret looked to her father for help. Brendon watched the display with veiled amusement, making no move to interfere. Margaret was on her own. She dipped her chin and glanced back at Sinead, willing herself not the shrink under the woman’s heated gaze.

“Sorry, mother.”

To be continued in The Moonshiner and the Truth: Part Two

@blankcoverpress

@missmargaretlowry

@mimicocquyt

Mimi Cocquyt

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