July, 1951

Eileen Genoard-Gandor Smokes, Drinks, and Curses, and then gets grounded

"Eileen, you're gonna die before you're eighteen, mark my words," Scout Genoard-Gandor remarked to his eight year old sister (one of them) who sat next to him at the bar. Despite her frighteningly young age, Eileen just curled her lip and flipped open her lighter with one hand, igniting the flame and lighting the cigarette that she held in the other. She lifted it slowly to her mouth, deliberately, took a deep inhale and blew a cloud of smoke into the air. Scout wrinkled his nose in distaste, lifting his drink to his lips and downing it in a few quick sips before putting it back on the counter. "You're not even supposed to be here." Legally, neither Scout nor any of his sisters were supposed to be at the bar, but since the Gandors controlled many of the bars around this area, the children could come and go as they pleased.

"Have I ever given two shits about what I was supposed to do?" Eileen snapped in response, grabbing her own glass of near-straight whiskey mixed with a small bit of lemonade and downing it in one gulp. "Besides, it don't matter if Ma punishes me or not. You and I both know tha' Daddy will do whateva' I ask him." Scout just sighed as Eileen barked out another order, turning his head to keep an eye on his other sister, Marie, who was currently playing a game of billiards with men more than twice her age and wining. It was partially because, despite being Eileen's younger twin, she was amazing at the game (Dallas often bragged that she got it from him), and partially because the men were drunk. Marie herself didn't drink unless Eileen made her, and she hadn't had anything that night, so she was still steady on her feet and clear-eyed.

"Alright, I think it's about time to get out of here," Scout finally muttered when Eileen laid her head on the table after she'd smoked three more cigarettes and drank a number of shots. She was giggling with her drunkenness, bathing in the light of her habits and the euphoria that the alcohol and nicotine gave her. Scout pulled his sister into his arms, and she barely struggled against him, only gave a few halfhearted shoves before falling still. "Marie, let's go." The blonde haired girl looked over at him and quickly collected a few more dollar bills from a man who'd lost against her, before bounding off after her brother, snatching on to one of his coattails.

Their home wasn't too far from this bar. Every month in the summer, when the kids didn't have school, the Genoard-Gandor family switched from living in a large apartment in the city to the Genoard estate in New Jersey, and right now, they happened to be staying in the apartment, which made things a lot easier. From where they were at the manor, if Scout couldn't get the servants to bring him anything, he'd have to drive a good while to get to the nearest bar. Car trips with Eileen, no matter how short were usually nearly unbearable. Thankfully enough, she was half passed out now, and she probably wouldn't put up much of a fuss going to bed.

When Scout approached the apartment, he could see that the living room light was still on, and he groaned inwardly. So their parents had managed to figure out about Eileen and Marie's escape. Knowing that confrontation couldn't be avoided, Scout pushed open the front door, waiting for Marie to trail in behind him before he shut it. At first, all Scout could see was the great, unmoving shape of a lion lying on the couch, his tufted tail and back paws hanging over the edge, his head resting on his crossed forelegs. He almost looked stuffed, until one great amber eye opened and peered into Scout's. For most people, this would be terrifying, but after he set Eileen on the floor, he cooed gently to the beast;

"You waitin' for me, Leonidas?" The creature let out a low mix of a throaty purr and a moaning sound, before he made his way over to the boy, placing both paws around his shoulders as if he were hugging him. "That's my boy." The family had come to acquire the big cat as a gift from Maiza when he visited Africa, back in 1946. He'd said that the cat had descended from an experimental line of big cats that had house cat DNA implanted in them, specifically the more obedient or doglike breeds of cat such as the orientals, so he wasn't as "wild" as a normal lion. Scout was so caught up in the greeting that he didn't notice his mother's arrival until he heard him speak.

"Eileen Caroletta Genoard-Gandor, what the hell do you think you're doing?" It was very clear to Dallas that his daughter was quite intoxicated. He knew the signs very well. "Sneakin' out this late. Gettin' drunk off your ass."

"'m no' tha' drunk," Eileen slurred, and she almost fell over. Leonidas managed to arrive at her side just in time, however, and she leaned on the sandy colored cat.

"And you've got cigarette smoke all over ya', think I wouldn't notice that?" Dallas continued, appearing to completely ignore what Eileen had said. "Now get your ass in bed, we'll talk when you can stand up. And you're grounded."

"For how long?" Eileen muttered as she fell over the cat's back.

"Until I say so. That goes for you too, Marie." The blonde girl said nothing as she held fast to Leonidas's tail as though it were the only thing she had left on Earth. Scout was silent as the cat carried them upstairs, and he looked over at Dallas as he practically fell into the couch, his hand over his eyes, sighing. "Scout..."

The boy didn't say anything as he curled up at his mother's side, resting his head on his shoulder as if he were still a small child.