I. Jimmy. June, 1921.
“Ange, what are you doing?”
Angela Darmody stood in front of the living room window of her house, watching the tide and the occasional beachgoer pass by. Jimmy Darmody straightened out his vest. He walked up to Angela and stood behind her.
“There’s something out there, Jimmy. Something better.”
“What’s wrong with what we have? We have a roof over our heads. Much better than that dump we used to live in.”
“We have a house, a child and food on the table. I know.”
“What else do you need?”
Angela took a breath. “I don’t know what else I need.”
“Maybe you’d like to take a trip?”
“Yes. Maybe I need a vacation away from Atlantic City.”
“Tell you what. Whenever I can get some free time, maybe you, me and Tommy can go to New York together.”
“Can we go to the Village?”
“We can go to the Statue of Liberty, the Village, wherever. As long as you’re happy, Ange. Look, I gotta go meet Al at the warehouse. See you later, okay?”
Jimmy gave Angela a peck on the lips and left.
A few moments later, Angela picked up a chair and pulled it towards the window. She grabbed her sketch board and started sketching the beach and the people on it.
II. Angela. June, 1921.
Sometimes Angela dreamed of the past. In some dreams, she saw herself making love to Jimmy while he was at Princeton. The Angela of the present wanted to throw the Angela of the past off Jimmy before he reached orgasm. Yes, that would mean Tommy wouldn’t have existed. But Angela would be free of Jimmy and his mother, Gillian, telling her she should abandon her dreams of being an artist in favor of raising Tommy.
Sometimes Angela saw her past self meeting Gillian. She would notice how Jimmy acted towards his mother. She sensed something was wrong with their relationship but she couldn’t put her finger on it. The Angela of the present wanted to take Jimmy and the Angela of the past down the stairs, out of Gillian’s sight.
Sometimes Angela saw Jimmy beat up his professor in front of Gillian. The Angela of the present wanted to grab Past Angela’s hand, find a car, and flee Princeton, New Jersey. It didn’t matter where the car took them. As long as they were out of Princeton, they were safe from Gillian and whatever she was turning Jimmy into.
Then the Angela of the present would wake up, back in Jimmy’s house. Sometimes Jimmy would be beside her, but more often than not, he wasn’t.
III. Richard. June, 1921.
Angela walked by Richard Harrow’s room. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Richard close a book and place it under his bed.
“Richard, are you okay?” She walked back to his doorway.
“Are you sure? You hid some book under your bed.”
“Richard, I know you have a book. Can I see it?”
Richard pulled out the book. It was his Bible. Angela walked into his room.
“I didn’t know you were religious.”
“Mmm, I used to go to church with Emma after the war. We tended to ourselves when we were there.”
Richard dropped the Bible on the floor. It opened to one of his collages he made in the book, illustrations of families having dinner from magazines.
Angela picked up the open Bible. “What’s this?”
Richard stayed silent. He looked around the room.
“It’s okay, Richard. I won’t tell anyone.”
“I don’t want to live like this.”
Angela sat down beside Richard. She started flipping through the Bible, looking at Richard’s collages. She stopped flipping when she found the picture she had drawn of Richard beside a pre-war photo of him.
“The war took any chance I had of being normal away from me.”
Angela hugged Richard. “You can still have those things.”
“Not with what I’m doing.” He looked at the floor.
“You’re not alone, okay? You have me, Jimmy and Tommy. We care for you.”
Richard continued to look at the floor. Angela put her arm around Richard’s back and her head on his shoulder.
IV. Louise. July 2, 1921.
Angela put on a disc record on Jimmy’s phonograph in the living room. After winding the phonograph up, she sat beside Louise Bryant.
“This was the only day I could sneak you in this week. Jimmy and Richard wanted to go to the radiophone broadcast of some boxing match on the boardwalk and I didn’t. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. Oh, and it’s that big ‘Fight of the Century’ match they’re having today in Jersey City. Jack Dempsey versus Georges Carpentier. I heard they had to build an amphitheater there just for that match. It’s pretty big.”
“Oh. Boxing’s never been my thing. How’s your book going?”
“Molly’s snuck into an Atlantic City hotel as a maid. She runs around the hotel to see what life is like while avoiding the owner.” Louise grinned.
“Does she get captured?”
“I…don’t know yet. I’ll figure it out soon. I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block. Maybe I’ll get some inspiration from hanging out here.”
The record started to skip. Angela got up and pulled the needle off of the record. She sat beside Louise again.
“Did you want to hear another song? Jimmy has ‘Jazz Baby’ and ‘I’m a Jazz Vampire.’”
The two sat together listening to the waves until Angela broke the silence.
“Jimmy’s planning to take me to the Village.”
“What’s ‘the Village?’”
“Greenwich Village. It’s a neighborhood in New York City. Lots of bohemians live there. I have a feeling I’d fit in better there than I do here.”
“What’s wrong with Atlantic City?”
Angela took a breath. “There’s nothing wrong with Atlantic City. It’s me.” She looked out at the beach. “I don’t fit in with the gambling and booze. And the beach is nice, but…I feel alone when I stare at it. It can’t love me back. Like you can.”
Angela stared into Louise’s eyes. “Do you want to go for a walk on the beach? I can grab Tommy and dress him up. It’ll take five minutes.”
Angela held on to Tommy’s hand. Tommy was attempting to run into the surf. She and Louise walked along the beach as Tommy fidgeted around Angela’s side.
“I had a girlfriend about a year ago.”
Angela nodded. “We were going to go to Paris together with her husband. We even had plans to raise Tommy in Paris.”
“What happened to her?”
“She fled. She and her husband. I think they fled because of Jimmy. He beat up her husband because he thought her husband was cheating with me.”
The three of them stopped walking. Angela looked at the sand.
The ocean drowned out Mary’s name.
Angela closed her eyes. After opening them, she looked into Louise’s eyes. “Louise, I want you to come with me to the Village.”
“I’ll ask Jimmy if you can come along. Then, when he’s not looking, we’ll run away and get lost. We’ll have a new life together. You, me and Tommy.”
Louise looked towards Atlantic City. “I’ll miss this place, Angela.”
Louise lay down on Angela and Jimmy’s bed. She was naked. Angela was sketching her body.
“Are you almost done? I want to see it.”
Angela added the finishing touches to her sketch. She walked over to Louise and let her see the sketch.
“It’s beautiful.” Louise tugged at Angela’s skirt. “Now can I see yours?”
Angela smiled. She took off her clothes, piece by piece, until she was naked. She lay down beside Louise and kissed her.
“Can Tommy come in? I don’t know if he wants to see this.”
“Tommy’s asleep. I always wait until Tommy’s asleep to make love.”
Angela and Louise kissed. Their hands started exploring each other’s bodies.
The last thing Angela saw before her death was the face of Manny Horvitz. She didn’t know his name or who he was, but she knew he was connected to Jimmy and his business dealings. She pleaded for her life. Manny didn’t care. One gunshot to the head and it was all over.
Angela and Louise’s taxi arrived at the Providencetown Apartments in Greenwich Village. The taxi driver placed their bags on the street. Angela paid the driver; he drove away.
“I wish Tommy was here with us,” Angela said.
“He’ll be okay. Jimmy’ll take care of him.”
The two picked up their bags and went inside the building.
As the two headed up to their apartment, they walked past restaurants buzzing with activity and debate. Angela’s eyes widened. She smiled and ran to the elevator in the building. Louise ran to catch up with her.
The hallway that Angela and Louise stopped on smelled of cigarettes. Most of the apartment doors were open. Some people were talking to each other through their doorways. Other people were busy working on figure drawings inside their apartments.
After walking a distance, Angela and Louise stopped at a closed door. Angela unlocked it. The apartment inside wasn’t the biggest in the world—this was Greenwich Village, where the rents were cheap and hiring a taxi cost more than a meal in the building’s restaurants. The smells of the apartment weren’t pleasant and the noise level was higher than Jimmy’s Atlantic City beachfront house.
Angela put down her bags inside the apartment. Louise did the same. Angela squeezed Louise’s hand. They were free.