AN: This is my ode to the great stories of the 1940's.
Any mistakes are mine. There is a glossary of terms and history about the 1940's at the bottom of the chapter.
Thank you for reading.
In Bold Print
Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap.
The thin wood of my pencil connected rapidly with the dark, worn wood of my desk. There was no steady beat, just the rhythm of my impatience creating the symphony of my discontent. I stared at the black phone sitting next to my empty typewriter and tried to make it ring with my mind fixated it's smooth, black metal. If you think positively enough, you can will it to happen. Not that I believe that nonsense, but I was so bored with inaction I was willing to try.
"Goddamn it, Swan! Cut out that racket! Some of us have stories to write. You aren't going to be the next Dorsey Brothers playing that off beat drumming. Why don't you harass some Women's Society Luncheon? Find out the type of table linens they like to use?" Waylon Jennings cackled at me, his large stomach jiggling in waves.
Now I couldn't get too mad at old Waylon. He was a true bona fide news man, in the tallest order. He was one of the few remaining old-timers at The Seattle Chronicle. His breed of reporter was quickly being replaced by a bunch of dandies that the boss man recently hired. Those men came in here with their greased hair and slimy attitudes, more intent on scoring a date with a share crop than landing a career defining story on the front page. Waylon Jennings, on the other hand, was the real deal. His fingers permanently stained with typewriter ink, shirt partially hanging out from worn pants and bright suspenders pulled tightly over his paunch. Paunch that was created by too many steaks, countless cigars and a nightly bottle of whisky consumed in the late hours at the local pubs with his cronies, telling past tales of discovering the seedy underbelly of the big city. In this journalist's humble opinion, Waylon Jennings had earned these vices and many more, because that man could sniff out a scandal like nobody's business. A woman couldn't ask for a better mentor. However, that cranky coot wasn't going to get away with ribbing me about 'Society Luncheons'.
I narrowed my eyes at him. "You talk to a lady, with a mouth like that old man? Why don't you grab that bottle of scotch hidden in your desk, take a swig then proceed to shove that 'Society Luncheon' up your fat as…"
"You are no lady, Swanie. Simmer down. They don't want the likes of a rough and tumble tomboy like you mudding up their hallowed halls. Take a look at these papers for me. I might even want some of your questionable input." He waved a pile of papers in the air at me and tossed them back onto his desk. "This should help pass the time, until the Boss Man sends you to a Puppy Fashion Show or maybe a Toddler Talent Contest."
I stood up and stomped over to Waylon's desk, as he sat there chuckling at me with his deep baritone. I looked at garbage pile he called his desk with a frown. It was covered from right to left with stained notebooks, coffee stained papers, half-eaten pastries and broken pencils. "Pass it over. You could get the bubonic plague from that pig sty, Waylon."
"Don't mess with the system, young'un!" He glanced down at my outfit. "Damn it, Swan. You don't even pretend to be a broad! Ever try wearing a skirt? Are you afraid to flash those gams at the male populace?"
"Cut it out!" I grimaced looking down at my trousers. "You clean your desk and I start dressing like a dame."
Waylon handed me a pile of papers and laughed. "Enjoy your man pants, kid."
I gave him a smile and a wink, while giving a quick glance down at today and every day's ensemble. They were my younger brother Seth's trousers and shirts to be exact. Now that the cad was being straightened out in the armed services, it was military issue for him and hand me downs for me. My roommate, the one and only, Alice Brandon balked at taking them in for me after trying to shove me into a dress. Luckily, she was always up for a challenge and attempted to try and make them a bit more feminine. Only a bit more feminine, mind you, because when you are the only female reporter in the newsroom, a skirt only becomes a symbol of weakness. In a den of tenacious men, who yearned for the make or break story, you needed to be taken seriously. Even if I had to pencil on a mustache to make those men forget I was a dame, the name Isabella Swan will command the same respect as my coworkers. You can bet your bottom dollar on it!
The Society Page is a soul crushing experience of wedding announcements, local parade coverage and the random public interest story. It was mind crushing, because in this feminine body there was a hard boiled reporter digging herself out and trying to find the truth to set her old man free. Revenge and retribution wasn't the only reason for me toiling away behind the clacking black keys. The newsroom was my solace. These dark grimy walls covered in story ideas, haphazardly tacked to peeling paint was my comfort. The smell of the thick cigarette and cigar smoke wafting through the air was the smell of home. Those steady clicks surrounding me of my colleagues' typewriter keys were the noise that my subconscious drummed up to lull me asleep as I laid my head upon my pillow. This was the real me in this room and the best way to ferret out the truth to save my Pops.
I shook my head. Keep your eye on the prize, Bella Swan. You can't do anything to help Charlie today. I looked down at Waylon's article. What?
The Black Family Syndicate
List of Associates and Cargo Containers
Great Caesar's Ghost! What did Waylon just give me? This was all the goods on those no good Blacks! Both Billy and his dirty son, Jacob could possibly be sent down the river if these leads panned out. I looked up to that wily old coot looking at me with a smirk.
"Where did you get this?" I questioned. Waylon put a finger to his lips, making me quickly clamp my mouth shut.
He rose as quickly as he wide girth would allow and with a loud creak of his chair alerting the whole room to his movements. Waylon Jennings waddled over to me and placed a large sweaty paw on my shoulder and leaned over to whisper, "Hush now. Don't let the goods outta the bag. We are going to do this for your Pop, Kid. He was one of the best lawmen a man like me ever had the pleasure to know. Unfortunately, I am too old and slow for a mission of this importance. Not to mention digging into the Black's questionable garbage. You'll have to go in the trenches for me, Bella. For a girl, you are surprisingly smart. You can do it." He gave a tug to a wayward lock that escaped from the bun on my head. "Yorkie can be your Girl Friday. The kid's green, but his photographs aren't too shabby. He's too scared of his own shadow to be corrupt. You can break him in and toughen that thin skin of his."
Waylon and I looked over at Eric Yorkie, Junior Assistant Photographer Extraordinaire. His rumpled appearance punctuated by spots of photo dyes covering his clothing, as Eric frantically pushed around the photo proofs that littered his desk. Yorkie sat down in a huff and the sound of cracking filled my ears. He quickly stood up and exclaimed, "Gee whiz! That's where they went! Oh boy, this is a mess!"
I watched as he picked up a pair of eye glasses that lenses were cracked and held them out for inspection. Yorkie sighed and pushed them onto his face. I looked at Waylon aghast. "You can't be serious? Have you been sniffing the typewriter ink again?"
"You were hopeless when you started, Missy! I gave you a chance and you can give him one too."
"If this goes sour, I am taking it out on your precious whisky."
"You wouldn't dare break my whisky, Swan!" Waylon exclaimed, fear filling his crinkly blue eyes.
I smirked, "I was planning on drinking it, you decrepit drunk."
I hopped out of my chair and headed with my head held high to the skinny man, his newsboy cap sitting askew on his dark hair. I announced with bravado, "Yorkie, my boy! I have a proposition for you!"
Eric Yorkie looked flustered, changing several different shades of red. "Aww, Miss Swan. I. Well. You. . . Umm. . . You never talked to me before."
"Then never a better time than the present! You and I are going on a quest for the truth!" I exclaimed with gusto.
"Me?" he squeaked.
I tried to sound positive, "I couldn't think of anyone better for the job!"
"Not even, Mr. Newton?" Yorkie questioned.
Michael Newton was the bane of my existence. Newton had come with the false assumption that he was God's gift to photography. That man made my skin crawl. The worst part was Newton's hands refused to remain where they belonged. Several times, my knee was able to give him an intense pain in his man regions. Surprisingly, Lounge Lizard still couldn't take a hint.
"Eric Yorkie, I refuse to trust such a sensitive assignment to a hack like Newton. You and I, kid are a team!"
"Gee, Miss Swan! That's the cat's meow! The Big Cheese finally trusting us with the Botanical Garden's Floral Extravaganza?"
I tried not to slap the boy. "No Eric. This is a secret assignment! Once, it's finished we present our article to Aro. We need to show him we can handle the big news makers."
"Miss Swan, I don't feel good about…" Eric began.
Of course, he didn't. Kids like Yorkie were always worried about the Boss Man. Our Editor-in-Large,
Aaron Volturi, Aro for short, was a nervous nelly. Always worried what his two older brothers, who ran this popsicle stand, would think about his decisions. That made him always err on the side of caution and worry about the potential trouble his lone female reporter could get into.
"Listen up, Yorkie…" I began. At that moment, interrupting my chat with the flustered photographer was the biggest hussy to grace this office, a Miss Jessica Stanley. She was one of those Dumb Doras that made my hair stand on end. Jessica Stanley was all tight dresses and teased hair trying to latch onto the male staff. Rumor had it that she was having rendezvous with the boss under his big oak desk. She wouldn't be the first secretary or the last to play that game.
"Oh my heavens! He's starting today! Can you try to make it look spiffy in here?" Jessica yelled to the assorted staff of the Chronicle mulling around the work area.
I rolled my eyes. "Scram, Jessica! Some of us have work to do."
"This is an important day, Isabella Swan! Edward Cullen has come all away from The Chicago Sun to work here! He is an important writer, not to mention gorgeous! Couldn't you at least try to wear a dress?"
"No. I could not. I do not care about some Chicago dandy. I have no reason to impress your new boy toy…"
I looked away mid-rant as Aro clapped in the doorway. Standing next to him was the handsomest man I had seen in ages. Dapper in a crisp three-piece suit with a face that was both boyish and regal, Edward Cullen is what dear Alice would call a dreamboat. He had bronze hair that was made to have fingers run through it and a rakish smirk that made me want to kiss it then slap it all at once.
I had to pinch myself to look away when Aro spoke, "Please help me welcome the newest member of The Seattle Chronicle, Mr. Edward Cullen. Give him a warm welcome and join me in raising him a drink at McClaren's Bar tonight after hours."
Edward Cullen gave the staff a flash of a smile and then fluidly walked over to Eric, Jessica and me. Jessica, for once in her life, was left speechless. Cullen walked closely past me and snaked his arm to my bottom giving it a hard pinch. My mouth dropped open and I turned to look at him. He looked over his shoulder and announced, "Bring me a steaming hot cup of Joe, Doll Face. Black."
He went right over to my desk and plopped into the chair, grabbing my notes from Waylon and settling his legs on top of it. I grabbed a cup of coffee off of Yorkie's desk with a purpose. Eric started to protest when I said with an angry hiss, "Can it, Yorkie!"
Edward Cullen was a dead man. I would bury him with the fishes! I walked up to my desk and the smug fiend sitting there with the cup of Joe held tightly. Cullen looked up with a grin. "This is some fast service around here. Thanks, Sweetheart."
I dumped Eric's coffee into Edward Cullen's lap.
"Wait a damn minute!" Edward Cullen yelled dropping my papers from Waylon back on the desk. "Are you crazy?"
"That was for the inappropriate touching, sitting at my desk and just being the most obnoxious man I have ever had the misfortune of meeting, Mister!" I hissed the word 'man' like it was the same as three day old garbage. "Learn you place, Cullen!"
Behind me I heard Aro yell, "In my office now, Isabella Swan!"
I grabbed the very important and life changing notes off my desk, quickly heading towards Aro's office without looking back. The last thing I needed was that cad, Cullen scooping me on the investigation of those devilish Blacks!
Entering Aro's office to face my agitated boss, I heard Waylon loudly exclaim, "That's my girl!"
Your 1940's slang and important term dictionary terms
Bet your bottom dollar- Bet your last cent
Broad - Derogatory term for a woman
Cad - An unsavory man
Dame - Term for a woman
Dandies - Fancy males
Dorsey Brothers - 1940's Band
Dumb Doras - A stupid female
Gams - Legs
Girl Friday - A female assistant
Great Caesar's Ghost – a saying to imply surprise
Green - New
Hot cup of Joe - Coffee
Lounge Lizard - A horny man
Nervous nelly - A nervous individual
Rake - An unsavory man
Sent down the river - Sent to jail
Share Crop - Loose woman, one with cheap morals
The Big Cheese - Boss
That's the cat's meow! - Fantastic