LOWLY SOULS BLUE – Short Story (Part I of 2)

For Part 2 of 2, LOWLY SOULS BLUE – Short Story (Part 2 of 2)

Great-Depression-bread-line-600x400

 

6:11 pm – Louise Powell’s watch showed diligently like always. She was tired from work at the Smithson’s bakers in London just like every day. The evening bus had arrived at the bus stop, twenty minutes late as usual. She held on her shoulder her smirched satchel firmly, that smelled of the bakery: the flour, dough, sugar, cream, and customers; nothing unlike everyday. On this day, not like any other day of Louise’s life for about half a year, the rickety yellow bus with weary tires and weary passengers’ faces welcomed her differently.

She climbed the bus and reached for the conductor for a ticket. Handed him the exact change she daily kept ready and waited for a ticket while the embarking and the exiting passengers made chaos in the bus. The ticket didn’t yet reach Louise’s hand. She sensed something wrong. Realizing the conductor had mistakenly given it to a woman who grabbed the chance and curtly sat in her seat, “You!” she startled everyone in the bus, “you stole my ticket.”

The woman gave a strange look pretending to not know anything. “Mister” Louise now to the conductor, “where is my ticket?”

“What ticket?” the conductor replied puzzled.

“It’s me who gave you the money. I want my ticket. That woman has stolen it.”

The driver was furious for the delay by the conductor to signal to start. The tired, rustic passengers were furious with the whole goddamn commotion and of course the delay. Louise was furious for her stolen ticket.

“It’s my ticket that woman holds. She has stolen it from the conductor.”

Then the conductor was furious, “Don’t play around for a ticket not even a shilling, woman. I didn’t see you giving me money and I do not make mistakes when it comes to tickets.” He said in anger to Louise.

The women, sitting in the seat behind the conductor, acted completely oblivious to what was happening, having more knowledge than anyone in the bus, to the same.

“Shut up, you crazy woman.” “What in God’s name is the problem there?” “Get the hell out of the bus and do your stupid business outside” the passengers yelled in thousand different voices.

Reaching over all these voices Louise shouted shaking with anger for her ten-farthing ticket, “Well. Ask this woman, this thief, the cost of the ticket. Yeah?” she turned to the woman, the thief, “you say that, bitch. How much does the ticket exactly cost?”

She had been caught; she knew that and for the same, she couldn’t be furious at being called a bitch. Stumbling for words, she couldn’t help but look down at the ticket in her hand for the answer. The ticket was handed over to its rightful owner and the bus boom started, leaving a pile of smoke from behind. It was heading to Dunningham village, a beautiful village in the suburbs, an hour distant from London. The year was 1929 and the great depression was burning blue.

 

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LOWLY SOULS BLUE

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Trevor sat by his study with his desk before him that held a typewriter, a stack of pieces of paper, a pen by an ink-pot and a few books; two fictions and one biography of Leo Tolstoy. The room was this unpublished struggling writer’s office for about a year now. He hadn’t written anything published, a lot that was publishable though. Why he hadn’t published was a secret he kept to himself. As to his wife, Louise Powell, he was a pathetic writer for the only obvious reason that he had published nothing. Same was the case with relatives on both Louise and Trevor’s side.

Trevor was, and had always been lonely and silent with not more than just a couple of friends. He had been mistreated numerous times by high school bullies to thugs on the streets. People knew he had nothing to give them, and that they got nothing with him, which had ironically been the main player for all mistreatment. A person, from whom people expect, is a powerful one, one who has got something to give. But Trevor: just a weak suburban who spends most of his time in his small lonely study, spawning nothing. People did not have any idea about what was going on in this little, lonely room. His greatness did not see the daylight outside yet; for again reasons he kept to himself.

The great depression was resulting in utter chaos outside. Farmers to teachers to lawyers to businessmen – everyone were drastically affected with the economic infection. Books were the last thing people bought. Only a couple of big playing publishing houses were accepting manuscripts. If at all anyone had to publish a book, it had to be through private self-publication. People thought Trevor lacked the money to do so.

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“World is hell outside. Hell it is. Filled with thieves, dacoits, robbers, pilferage all around, thieving all around,” Louise reached home with all these words mumbling to herself furiously.

Trevor stood by, looking at her and she looked back at him, “what?” she spat out. “Why are you burning me with those stupid eyes of yours?”

“Nothing…” A long silence pursued. “You look angry today” he said hesitantly with no expression on face.

“What else should I be looking like? With you at house, our poverty, Aunt Paulette dying, the people outside behaving bloody, what else do you expect me to look like?”

“No. No. Nothing.” – Trevor’s usual reply to his wife’s bursts of anger. These spasms of fury of Louise have increased to unbearable levels since six months after she got to know of her Aunt Paulette’s condition at the state hospital. Trevor always lost his hold on words when this happened and as usual, remained silent and took all the anger spat at him and insult made of him, by his wife.

 

“Did you get any letter from Phifficus?” Louise asked Trevor while he was busy typing.

Taking the hands off the typewriter instantly, “What letter?”

“Did – You – Get – Any –Letter – From – The – Bloody – Landlord?” she raised her voice in rage.

Trevor looked at the floor as if gaping in the air for answer and replied, “I haven’t checked.”

“Why the hell can’t you do one thing right? It is me who has to do every thing. And – and – and I should thank you for giving me the honor of being the sole breadwinner of the house too. You earn not a dime with those stupid books of yours… crazy books…. all day in that room… doing nothing…” she walked out of the house to the letter box hung to the gate outside.

To her fear to come alive, there in fact was a letter from Phifficus, the landlord who had lent Trevor and Louise a huge loan a year ago.

She opened the letter…

       I write this to inform you that you have crossed all bounds of my patience. You have been given time no one else had been. Yet, I receive nothing. I expect you to acquit yourselves of all the money I have given along with the interest in a week’s time. Else, I will turn your life sour. Take this from me as a word. The whole amount, I remind you.

 Phifficus”

        It felt like the whole world around her is going against her, routing her every single second. The air all around felt splenetic with insidious sense to destroy her. She threw the paper on the road outside the gate and rushed into the house blood burning hot.

“Hey, you, mister. Stop that tittle right now. What do you think you are doing?” she shouted to Trevor as he sat still helplessly by his typewriter. “I do not know and I do not want to listen any reasons from you. It’s time you start doing something to make things better and not sit there at that idiotic desk like a lousy hippolompic hippopotamus, you lazy…”

“Louise… Louise… What the hell is wrong with you? Please stop it. You are rusting me from inside with those words of yours. Please think for a second how I feel about things. I feel awful with the way things are now in our lives. Believe me I do feel awful.”

“Then get that sleepy ass of yours off that chair and find yourself a job that would help change things around. I cannot live this way in this house…”

“I am earning. I am not wailing my time away. I write to…”

“Write. Great. Write,” she mocked, “stub that writing down the commode. What does it bring? You earn peas with it. And dare you talk about the book you are writing. You must be the most foolish man to think this recession would recede. Have you any brains? For God’s sake forget publishing those insane books of yours. Find a job that pays, for heaven’s sake.”

Arguments pursued and Louise subdued her husband every time shutting his mouth up. Trevor, insulted, walked calmly out.

“Where the hell are you going now.”?

“To the factory to see if my job application got accepted” he replied desultorily hiding his face from Louise, in shame.

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For Part 2 of 2, LOWLY SOULS BLUE – Short Story (Part 2 of 2)

An honour and immense pleasure to be read by you… Keep reading…!!

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