John Fields – Patron on the Strip

John Fields was eager for a night of R&R as his lodge members called it…ribald-revelry.

It was his turn to pick up the girls, visit the apothecary and return to the lodge with enough cocaine and opium to keep a dozen people loose and up all night.

He was eager for it, despite the storm.

It was well before sundown but the sky had darkened as the rain clouds thickened and a genuine deluge had begun soak the city.

John was not deterred.

He navigated Lake Street in bumper to bumper traffic with his windshield wipers working overtime and merged into a line of cars filled with men, and some couples, all looking to do the same thing as he was doing, all hoping a pretty young woman with blonde hair and blue eyes would jump into their car for a night of sex and booze and drugs.

Since the end of prohibition Saint Anthony had become the most licentious city on the northern plains, a destination for those who delighted in the skin trade, and Lake Street was an open-air brothel.

It was the reason John moved here, that and his lucrative job at the grain exchange.

He rolled down his window when he pulled up to the curb in front of the apothecary; a teenage boy soaked to the bone took a handful of bills from John, counting it in a flash before pocketing the money.

“Two balls of cocaine, one opium,” John said to him.

The boy nodded and flashed some hand signs to someone John could not see and seconds later another boy came up to the car with a brown paper bag to hand him.

He pulled away from the street pharmacy and rolled down the strip a little farther looking for his next score.

He was just in front of the Round-Up when he saw a commotion at its front door.

And then a bright flash of lightning appeared to strike the sidewalk twenty-feet in front of him, its thunder shook everything, including him inside his car. He pushed on the brakes and came to a quick halt, and then he was rear ended.

John cursed his bad luck.  

Ivan “The Wolf” Wolvenson

Ivan Wolvenson sat in the front parlor of his patron’s home waiting.

He was pensive. He didn’t like waiting. He was a man of action, but he never questioned his.

He had been told to retire to the house in Tangletown, a sleepy neighborhood with lovely cottages on the banks of the narrow stream named for the maiden Minnehaha, made famous by the poet Longfellow.

Ivan, who most people knew as The Wolf, was fond of sitting on a bench on the banks of the stream, allow his mind to move with it: up-stream to its headwaters at Lake Minnetonka and the Big Island where his patron operated a gambling house, and down-stream over the great waterfall, to the Mississippi, New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico.

Today he sat in  the parlor watching the deluge take the city.

The storm was chaotic; and he didn’t like it, weather like this was not good for business.

His patron had sidelined him, telling him that he would go alone to the Round-up to make the deal. He would not even bring his ordinary muscle with him.

Ivan never questioned Mr. Thorrson, and so he sat in the parlor watching as the sun sank behind its veil and the deep-stormy night set in.

He was pensive. He didn’t like waiting. He was a man of action.

He let his mind ease into the stream flowing past the house, reciting in silence Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha…

By the shores of Gitche Gumee

By the shining big-sea water

Stood Nokomis, the old woman,

Pointing with her finger westward,

O’er the water pointing westward,

To the purple clouds of sunset

He retreated to the interior space of his thoughts, reliving the poem as he had memorized it, waiting for his patron’s call.