Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sweet Mischief

Margo repositioned the towel around her neck. It was rolled up with ice inside and fixed with a rubber band at the front like she was wearing a big fat bow tie. She felt the welcome relief of the melting ice running down the centre of her back. She flipped over the three potato pancakes in the deep fryer then leaned over to Rita, “Are we on then?”

Rita took the steaming hot plates from the dishwasher and stacked them in piles of six, the exact amount she’d decided were not too heavy or too light to finish the job efficiently. She nodded her head and smiled. “Yeah, no curfew. They’ve gone to Milwaukee to see Gran.”

Margo got back to the pancakes. It was dead hot, so hot she’d stopped sweating hours ago. She couldn’t wait to get out of there. It would be cool by the lake. Margo thought she’d likely strip off her clothes and jump in, that is if they didn’t find any rich boys.

Two hours later and they were in Rita’s mother’s station wagon heading for Lake Geneva. It was mid summer; the time when Chicago’s wealthy left the hot, sooty air of their city for the weekend to play along the lake. The parents would scamper off to the Playboy Club and their children would finish pockets full of money in the arcade along the lake.

“There! Park it there!”

“It’s so far,” Rita complained.

“That’s the point. Do you really want them to see this boat? It’s bad enough we smell like french fries.”

Rita parked the car. Margo pulled out her Lovehearts Perfume and sprayed herself and Rita. “Now remember, my name is Mischief. What name do you want?” Margo asked.

“I don’t care what you say; I’m telling them my real name. You never know, Margie, they might want to call us.”

Margo rolled her eyes. They’d been through this so many times. Rita had delusions that one day she’d meet one of these rich Chicago boys and he would fall in love with her. In her crazy dreams, they got married and Rita became one of the ladies stepping into Chez Pierre’s wearing mink on a humid July night. Margo tired of reminding her that no rich boy was going to marry a stupid poor girl from a no-name place in Wisconsin. These trips to Lake Geneva were not meant for that. It was research- nothing more.

Margo’s take on it was that the Chicago boys knew things. Things the boys in their town didn’t. Margo long realised that she and Rita were severely deficient in the important life skills parents and teachers loathed imparting, so she took it upon herself to find out everything. So after work on a summer Friday or Saturday, they would slip away to Lake Geneva to find things out for themselves.

Margo flipped her hair over and back again, unbuttoned two more buttons on her blouse and pulled it out of her jeans tying it high, just under her breasts. Rita checked the car was locked one more time then turned around. “Wow! Don’t you think that’s a bit much Margie?”

Margo started walking toward the beach front. “I told you my name is Mischief.”

As they made their way down to the arcade, local Lake Geneva boys tried to waylay them, but Margo and Rita could spot them a mile away. Margo turned and hissed at them. They got the message.

The arcade was crowded but Margo spotted the Herculean was free. “Come on,” she said grabbing Rita’s arm and pulling her over to the pinball machine. They just started the second game when the two boys made their approach. Margo knew straight away that Rita would take the tall one with his dark hair parted on the side. She kept a list of the characteristics of a good husband and hair parted on the side was point number 7.

“You girls are good at this,” the other blond, spiky haired one said. Margo was playing, so ignored him. Rita smiled and moved over to let Side Part stand next to her.

“It sure is hot,” Rita said up to him.

That was the sign for Side Part to ask if she wanted to take a walk on the beach. Margo still hadn’t said a word. She was already 1600 points over high score and wanted to finish the game. Besides, she believed a girl named Mischief wouldn’t just throw herself at a rich boy from Chicago. That wouldn’t be her style.

“What’s your name?” Spiky Hair asked.

Margo watched her last ball slip through the paddles. She turned to him. “Guess.”

He began a list of names while Margo turned and walked out the arcade and down the wooden pier. He followed behind calling out names while Margo kept walking ahead of him shaking her head. She climbed down the wooden steps of the pier to the beach underneath. The moon was out and it left a shaky trail of light along the water’s surface. Margo sat down at the edge. She took her shoes off and rolled up her jeans. The cool water move up and down her legs. Looking down the beach she could just make out Rita and Side Part. They were making out.

“So are you ever going to tell me?” Spiky Hair asked sitting down next to her in the cool sand.


“That’s your name?”


“I don’t believe you.”

“That’s your choice.”

They sat quietly. “I’m Jake. Jake Donaldson. We’re from Chicago.” Margo gave him a look she was sure Mischief would have approved of; a look of -yeah so what?

Jake tried conversation but, though Margo might have engaged him, she knew Mischief never would. She kept quiet and watched a too big yacht float by. Jake talked about his school and how much he hated it and how much he liked being here at the lake. Margo just nearly wanted to talk, but restrained herself.

He soon became quiet and Margo turned to him and kissed him full on the lips. Jake was surprised. She kissed him again and he kissed her back. Margo stopped for a minute. She was used to the local boys and their sloppy, wet kisses that made her feel nothing. This was something different. She kissed him again. The third kiss for the local boys meant a free pass for grabbing a girl’s breast. Margo readied herself. Jake obviously ran by different rules.

Jake pulled away. “What’s your real name?”

Margo hesitated. She’d been with Chicago boys before. She wondered if this one was different. She wondered if she should tell him the truth. Maybe this was not just research. It was getting hard for her to tell.

Just then Rita ran up to them breathless. “Let’s go.”

Margo looked up. Rita was holding her torn blouse together. Margo looked around and couldn’t see Side Part anywhere. She jumped to her feet. “What happened?”

Rita looked at Jake and back at Margo. “Let’s just go.”

Rita walked quickly to the car. Once inside, she started crying. “Who did he think he was anyway?”

“What? What happened Rita?”

“I’m not coming here again, Margo. Never. I don’t care if I just marry a local boy. I don’t care. I wish I wouldn’t have told him my name. The creep.”

Margo took Rita in her arms and let her cry her anger away. She watched the rich people pass by on their way back to their cottages and hotel rooms and thought how she’d almost made a mistake. Yeah, she thought, Rita shouldn’t come here again. Neither should Margo. But for Mischief, that was another story.


Anonymous said...

I often wished I could adopt a different persona in my youth. You established who the characters were so well and that little frisson of regret Margot experienced at the end when she had to let Mischief go was brilliant!

Lauri said...

That's funny Selma that you see it as Margo letting Mischief go. I thought she was slipping into her that much deeper. The wonderful thing about stories is the different way people interpret them. I don't think the writer necessarily owns that interpretation.

Anonymous said...

I think Margo enjoys being Mischief for a time but now decided she wanted something else, it's hard to see her or Rita finding the right guy with the way they operate but I like that she wants to left Mischief go

Karen said...

This was excellent! I don't see Margo letting go of Mischief either. Quite the opposite. I see her going back, meeting Jake, and making all kinds of discoveries, good and bad.

Part of me just wanted her to drop the game, tell him her name and talk to him, but I'm glad she didn't. It's more fun thinking she can still pretend.

Lauri said...

Thanks for your comments Lissa and Karen. I find it very helpful to hear how other people see my stories.

I don't know if you guys have this, but sometimes stories just come out, you don't really know what they mean fully. It's your subconcious thoughts mixed up with your concious making this new kind of thinking. Sometimes I feel that writing sort of let's you look through a window to see what's going on inside your own head.

Anonymous said...

"sometimes stories just come out, you don't really know what they mean fully. It's your subconcious thoughts mixed up with your concious making this new kind of thinking. Sometimes I feel that writing sort of let's you look through a window to see what's going on inside your own head".

I think this is particularly true of 'prompt' writing-which tends to more spontaneous than other sorts of writings where one spends a lot more time planning, writing, and rewriting, so, to greater degree, one is more conscious of one's intentions.

Your story was a great read. Thanks.


Lauri said...

Maybe you're right, David. I do find it happening in my other fiction writing too. Not for non-fiction usually, though

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story Lauri and I could write a novella (but won't) about your choice of setting. I grew up 30 miles south of Lake Geneva Wisconsin - in a small Illinois town and spent a good amount of mischievous time in Lake Geneva. In addition to the great story telling I found your piece had a very compelling authenticity, and even in such a short space the characters we drawn with depth - nicely done all around.

I want to ditto David's remark about the prompts, and add that I find my best work always comes from this space we're discussing. A "zone" where I feel that I'm not really the one creating, I'm just the technician at the keyboard (easel,camera, etc.) trying to capture what is coming through me. Don't know if that makes sense or not, but I get what you are saying about the subconscious flow of creativity.

Lauri said...

Kayt what a funny small world we live in. I live in Botswana and through an friend in Australian I meet a person who at one point in her life lived only a few kilometres from me in Wisconsin. I lived near Lake Geneva too. This story is loosely based on our trips after work to go and watch the rich people.