By: El Chacal
Summary: A visit to a photograph studio becomes a moment never to be forgotten.
Disclaimer: I only own the idea for this story. No profits are being made nor is there any copyright infringement attempted. Please do not sue. I only own Michael Escobar, Amelia, Abigail and Alexandra.
A/n: This is my first Boardwalk Empire story and is set in S2, which I only have bits and pieces of details of. I also thought that I would attempt to bring the Darmody family together again and give Harrow a sense of belonging in my own way.
One day, Angela was walking down the boardwalk when she noticed something that she didn't see before. The photograph studio had reopened with a new name and a new owner.
Walking inside, she saw a much different store than the one owned and operated by the Dittrichs. The walls were smooth mahogany wood and the portraits were evocative with attention to lighting and shadow while not taking attention away from the persons in them.
Several of them were conservative portraits of families and children while a few of them had women who were more daring than any she had seen before in her life.
"Buenos dias, senorita."
She turned to see a man tall enough to be two inches over 6 feet tall dressed in a three-piece black suit and black shirt. His black shoes were polished immaculately as they tapped on the smooth floor. The white rose that rested on the lapel was the only thing bright on his person. His skin was fair but his hair was as black as his suit. His eyes were hidden by spherical tinted spectacles. As he walked towards her, she couldn't help but notice how he only had to take three strides to approach her.
His lips curled up into a smile usually found on a wolf or a crocodile. His mustache and goatee seemed to make him menacing yet charming. "Bienvenido a mi estudio. ¿Cómo puedo ayudarle?"
"I beg pardon, sir. I don't understand your language."
"I didn't think so." The stranger said, the smile never wavering. "I have not met you before today and I can tell you are an artist yourself. Or at the very least, you have an eye for beauty captured on canvas and film." Extending his hands to her, which were also covered with black gloves, the stranger shook her hand vigorously. "My name is Michael Escobar from Florida. I take the pictures no one else will take and I take pleasure in wowing the public."
Angela was more than amazed at his enthusiasm. From the way he was shaking her hand up and down, he probably thought she was an old fashioned water pump.
When he finally released her hand, she couldn't help but be amused by him. "I'm Angela Darmody. How long have you been here?"
"I have been around for some time. Since there is no hooch in my parlor, I'm clearly not on anyone's list of people worth knowing. Even that lecherous treasurer and his aldermen do not walk through my doors. They just walk on by as though I was never here at all."
"You don't drink?" Angela asked. Michael shook his head. "The taste of hooch does not agree with me."
Angela looked at the rather provocative women in the portraits and asked, "Do women in Florida dress so risque?"
"Those of the Bohemian disposition would not mind. Wouldn't you agree, Mrs. Darmody?" Michael said kindly. "I am sorry but I have to go home and prepare supper for my family."
"Mrs. Darmody, there is no need to apologize for thinking of your family. If it's not out of your way, would you mind bringing your family in for a group photograph?"
"I do not know how you charge for your work and I would not insult you with not being able to pay for your services."
"I confess that my services are rather costly. The images captured on film are as immortal as the paintings you create." He said with an eccentric tone.
"How did you know?" Angela asked suspiciously.
"It takes an artist to know an artist. The specs of paint under your nails kind of tells the story."
Angela smiled. "Mrs. Darmody, each member of the family can pay me in their way. Your son can pay me with a stick of licorice from the sweet store. Mr. Harrow can pay me with a loaf of sweet bread from the bakery. Your husband can pay me with a fresh red apple from the grocery store."
Looking at her through the darkness of his tinted glasses, Michael smiled gleefully. "What would I have to pay you with?"
"Your arrival tomorrow evening when the moon is full at my studio with the family. That is all."
Unnerved that he never once mentioned money, Angela said her goodbyes and was just at the door when he said, "I will see you in time."
When she arrived home, Angela found a note waiting for her on the dinner table. Jimmy and Richard took Tommy into New York earlier that day and were to return by nightfall.
As the living room clock chimed the hour of 9, the doors opened. "Ange, we're home." Jimmy called out.
"Mommy!" Tommy called out as he ran up to hug Angela, who scooped him up into her arms lovingly while Jimmy and Richard were bringing in bags from the car.
"How was the trip to New York?" Angela asked.
"It was a lot of fun. We stopped by the candy shop and got several treats. For some reason, Tommy kept insisting that we buy licorice." Angela was startled to hear that. It had to be a coincidence. "That sounds wonderful.:" Angela said. "Tommy, you didn't eat all of then on the way home, did you?"
Tommy shook his head. "The lady in red said to save them for tomorrow."
"Lady in red?" Angela asked, looking to Jimmy and Richard, who answered, "One of the shopgirls. In the sweet store. She suggested that. He save the licorice. For tomorrow. Complete stranger to us."
Contented with the answer, Angela took Tommy to his room so as to get him ready for bed.
After tucking him in, Angela walked back to the kitchen where Jimmy and Richard were putting away several things that they had picked up while in New York City. "What else happened in New York?"
"We did some sight seeing with Tommy." Jimmy said as he continued working. "We came upon a grocery and picked up some apples. An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Jimmy said, setting the bushel of apples in a bowl. They all were green except for the last apple that landed on top of the heap.
It was a bright scarlet red.
"On the way back, did you happen to stop by a bakery?"
Richard nodded. "My sister. She used to bake. The best loaves. Of sweet bread. I smelled them. Baking from a window. Of a bakery. I bought them. To share. With you. Jimmy and Tommy."
Richard placed the five loaves of sweet bread on the counter. "I hope I. Brought plenty."
Though her face was unsuspecting, Angela was shaken to the core. How did Tommy, Jimmy and Richard know what Escobar wanted in exchange for his services?
For a reason she could not recall for the life of her, Angela said, "Richard, how would you like to move in with us? You are in many ways a member of our family."
Jimmy was amazed at what she offered since he had thought of inviting Richard to live with them but never got around to do that since he didn't know how Angela would react to it.
Looking between Jimmy and Angela, Richard was more than touched at the invitation. He smiled. "I don't. Want to intrude. Or get in the way.''
Angela approached the war veteran and touched his arm. "You will not be in the way, Richard."
"Thank you. Angela. Thank you. Jimmy. My friends." Richard said as he hugged Angela and shook hands with Jimmy.
There was a full moon out the next night. That morning, Angela pitched to Jimmy, Richard and Tommy the idea of a family portrait in town. They were in such a good mood about it that they agreed to it wholeheartedly. They were curious though as to why Angela was packing a loaf of sweet bread, the solitary red apple and a stick of licorice into a basket.
Jimmy was dressed his sharp blue suit while Richard was dressed in a black suit with green waistcoat, white long-sleeved shirt and red necktie. Angela picked out a simple red dress. Tommy was decked in a boy's suit with a newspaper boy cap.
Arriving there, the quartet were met by three young women who were minding the studio. One of them had long, dark hair and was sweeping the floor with a broom. Another had shoulder length blonde hair and was setting up the displays. The third one had red hair in a bob cut and was preparing hot chocolate with marshmallows.
When they turned to face the Darmody family and Richard Harrow, the quartet were stunned at how attractive they were for shopgirls. "We're here to..."
"You're here for the family portrait." The dark haired one spoke softly. "Of course. I'm Amelia. The blonde is Abigail. The girl with the red hair is Alexandra."
Abigail assisted Alexandra in preparing the hot cocoa for their guests. When Jimmy reached for his wallet, Alexandra stopped him. "The cocoa is on the house but I trust you have the payments in full."
To the surprise of Jimmy, Angela and Richard, Tommy reached into the bag and pulled out the licorice stick. Walking over to Amelia, Tommy offered it to the dark haired woman who accepted it gratefully. "Thank you." Upon the looks given by the boy's parents and the masked man, Amelia said, "When I was a girl, I had a cavity removed from my teeth since I ate chocolate in excess. Then I developed a taste for licorice, which took the place of chocolate for the rest of my life. For a long time, I could not find a licorice stick in town." Leaning over, Amelia patted Tommy lovingly on the head.
Abigail, the fair-haired shopgirl walked over to the phonograph and placed the needle down upon a vinyl record, which started playing the song, 'Is There Still Room For Me 'Neath The Old Apple Tree?', which caught Richard's attention. "Is that. A song you enjoy?"
Abigail smiled. "My father, when he was a boy, grew an apple tree in the front yard of his home. Every great moment he ever had involved that tree. He once climbed to the very top of it just to pick out the right apple for the woman who would one day become his wife and my mother. Whenever I hear that song, I wonder if there is still a place there beneath the old apple tree for me. It's been so long since I have been home."
The story touched Richard since he too felt far away from home at times. Without thinking, Richard reached into the basket and plucked the ripe red apple from it. "May this. Bring you back home then. I'm sure there is. A place there. For you." He said laconically.
Abigail's eyes were wide. It was an apple directly from the apple tree that grew from her father's house. She remembered the distinct feel and look of them. Reaching over, Abigail kissed Richard on his right cheek. "Thank you, Mr. Harrow."
Alexandra, the red head, looked to Jimmy and said, "Is that sweet bread? I can tell from the smell coming from the basket. Is it?"
Jimmy reached in and showed the loaves to Alexandra who became choked with emotion. "Is something wrong, ma'am?" Richard asked. Alexandra shook her head. "My aunt worked in a bakery for 8 years. We didn't have a lot. One of the bakers, he always sent her home with a basket full of pastries and breads every day so there would be food on our table. The last thing he gave her before having passed away from pneumonia was a basket of sweet breads. I had never tasted anything greater than sweet bread since and I have not, until today, seen a loaf of sweet bread."
With a smirk, Jimmy handed the loaves to her. "Then I hope you have not lost the taste for them."
Accepting the loaves humbly, Alexandra hugged Jimmy amicably. "You are better than most think you are yet you have much to learn. Don't take it the wrong way. Even in adulthood, you still have much to learn."
Angela looked into the empty basket and began to worry. "Angela, what's wrong?" Jimmy asked.
"There's nothing in here now to pay Mr. Escobar." Angela said.
"He is waiting in the studio for you." Abigail. said, leading the quartet to the photography room. "The cocoa will be waiting for you all when you are finished with Mr. Escobar." Alexandra said as Amelia watched alongside her as the adults and child walked away.
The room they entered into was immaculately white and the scene was set for a proper family photograph. Standing behind the camera, dressed to the nines in black, was Michael Escobar.
Jimmy and Richard were a bit taken aback by the round shades covering his eyes and the toothy smile on his face. Striding towards them with a lively step, Escobar enthusiastically shook hands with Jimmy and Richard. "So good to see you all. Come take a seat and we'll get started."
The first portrait featured Angela sat regally in the armchair with Jimmy and Richard standing behind the chair at her right and left sides respectively while Tommy sat on her lap.
The second picture was a husband and wife portrait with Angela and Jimmy as he held her in his embrace.
The third one was more jovial with Tommy getting a piggyback ride on the back of Richard, who didn't mind the small arms wrapped around his neck.
The fourth one was with Richard in the middle, Jimmy to his right and Angela to his left while he held Tommy in his arms.
Surprisingly enough, it wasn't a problem for Tommy to sit still. He seemed content and calm.
As Michael finished clearing up his equipment, Angela approached him. "I do not have anything left that I was to pay you with, Mr. Escobar."
"Nonsense. My services are paid in full and you are not in my debt in any way." Michael said with an unwavering resolve.
Walking up to Jimmy, Michael whispered something into his year. Taking a step back, Michael smiled before turning to Richard. "Do not question how lucky you are. Just be thankful." Michael spoke to Richard, who nodded in response.
The quartet walked out to the main room where Amelia, Abigail and Alexandra had the hot cocoa waiting for them. They gave Tommy a sweet they called a 'S'more'. A candybar and melted marshmallow in between two graham crackers. It wouldn't get him too lively but it was tasty enough for him to enjoy.
The next day, Richard decided to take Tommy to the moving pictures show so Jimmy and Angela could have some alone time together. Angela finally got to give Jimmy the first and best blowjob he ever had and the sex between them was better than anything either of them thought possible.
Arriving back home, Richard helped get Tommy to bed. Once assured that Tommy was sound asleep, Richard knocked on the door to Jimmy and Angela's room. The door opened to reveal a slightly exhausted Jimmy dressed in a robe. "How are things. Between you. And Angela?"
"Better than they ever were." Jimmy said, sounding the happiest he had ever been when there wasn't any booze to drown himself in.
Walking into the kitchen to fetch some drinks, Jimmy and Richard found several giftwrapped parcels on the table with a note on top of them. "To Angela, Jimmy, Richard and Tommy. From M.E."
"Richard, did anyone else come in here after you and Tommy?"
"There was no one. With us. When we came in." Richard said, surprised as Jimmy that the portraits were there.
The following day, Constanza Studios vanished and became an vacant store front.
Jimmy and Richard looked up and down the boardwalk, asking people if they happened to see a man dressed in black with shaded glasses. No one knew who that person was for they had not seen such a man on the boardwalk.
One morning, when Richard read the newspaper, he found a headline that shocked him.
"Jimmy. Angela." Richard said, calling them both to him. "Richard, what is it?"
"There was a murder. In Florida. Two weeks ago." Richard said as he handed them the newspaper.
A week ago, a photographer named Michael Gabriel Escobar opened his own eatery after several years of success as a photographer. He refused to purchase the illegal alcohol peddled by moonshiners and bootleggers. A week later, he and three waitresses who worked for him were found slain within the eatery. The waitresses were identified as Amelia Bracken, Abigail Hanna and Alexandra Greenwood. Cause of death was attributed to multiple gun shot wounds. Michael Escobar was found with only four gun shot wounds, two of which were fatal.
Two were in his heart.
The other two bullets...each one went through each of his eyes.
He was 30 years old.
Since then, they never saw hair or hide of Michael Escobar. Whenever anyone asked about the family portraits and who took them, Angela, Jimmy and Richard would not be able to find an answer.
Yet when anyone asked Tommy, he would look up to them and say, "Me!" since that was scribbled on the corners of each picture.
A/n: This is my first Boardwalk Empire story and I really didn't get a chance to see any of the S2 episodes of Boardwalk Empire. I'm just winging it with what I know from S1 and from the first episode of S2. Please be kind with the reviews. Thank you. If you like it, let me know.