Same old story - girl falls in love with boy, gets her head turned and her legs opened by pretty words and promises he'll never keep, gets knocked up, parents kick her out, and starts turning tricks for money.
Sally brought me down to the Deuces and promised to watch Bobby for me while I talked to Mr. Torrio. I remember being so scared my knees knocked together, and Fiona, the madam, told me to "quit your shivering, ain't nobody in this joint gonna hurt you". I'd learn she was only sometimes right, cause nobody who worked for the Deuces ever raised a hand to the girls, but the johns? For the right price, they could slap you around, beat you black and blue as they liked.
I'd expected Mr. Torrio to be in an office, sitting behind a huge desk like some king in his counting-house. Shows how little I knew him - he kissed my hand, called me "honey", and sat me at the bar with a glass of brandy. And he told me to call him Johnny.
"Listen, honey," he said. "I take half of whatever you make, and yeah, that's a big cut. But I keep a roof over your head, pay for your meals, and as long as you earn, you'll be provided for. Anything I oughta know before you come work for me?"
I could've lied. A lot of the girls did, Sally told me. They kept their children or their families secret when they started turning tricks, cause what the boss don't know don't hurt him and could hurt you. But something just made me look down at the swept-wood floor and spill out the entire story.
"I've got a kid. Two months old. I won't give him up, and he won't cause any trouble, but he stays with me."
Johnny sighed. "I suppose his father up and did a bunk?"
"Right when I told him I was knocked up."
"You couldn't have taken care of it?"
No, I couldn't have. Mama and Daddy raised me Catholic, and killing a child is a mortal sin. I try to keep those down to a minimum. Johnny's Italian, probably would understand if I told him why I kept the baby, but it would also tell him too much about me.
"Doctor said it was too late. If I took care of it, might take care of me too - know what I mean?"
"Yeah, all right," he said, taking a swig of his flask. "I'll cut you a deal; whatever you pull in, you pay me 10 dollars more of it every month. You can keep the kid with you, work something out with the other girls to watch him."
This was practically a dream come true, for a broke girl from the South Side stuck with a baby. Of course I said yes, and I don't regret a single second of it.