Background

A Pool Hustler's Daughter grows up in subterranean America. She dreams big, hustles daily and loves her Daddy. With empathy, fascination and grace she navigates and inhabits every tier of society; sees beauty and hope and magic in all things; respects and lives by the "mitzvah."
A Pool Hustler's Daughter calculates the trifecta payout at the racetrack, hides money on three parts of her body, has an arsenal of "Uncles," and keeps a baseball bat by the front door. She values friendship, loyalty and experiences over "things." Like her father, she seeks to learn "The secrets of the universe" and believes "Life ain't on the square." She applauds the self-made and those who learn to "overcome" their circumstances. Her door is always open for a sofa to sleep on, a hot meal, or an eager listener for a life story.
























Monday, October 14, 2013

Pool Hustler's Daughter: A Head For Numbers

Rule # 1 : A Head for Numbers

Francesca, “Frankie” Giovanne Jones, always woke up to the same

dreadful thing: numbers. In Frankie’s world, numbers were to be taken very

seriously. Numbers could make you rich or make you poor. Numbers

could save your life, even. If your number was up, well, then you had a problem.

When Frankie was a little girl, her grandma Katie, on her way out to play

bingo or cards, would ask her: “You gotta number, kid?” Even Frankie’s Great Aunt

Irene dreamed a set of numbers once, played the lottery the next day, and

won thirty grand.

On a Craps table, before blowing on the dice, a neon light

hits a number, it twinkles, in your eyes at least, and you bet that number,

and win. You’ll say it was a sign.

At the Racetrack, forgoing names of horses, jockeys or colors, you choose

to pick a winner based on a number instead – the same number as the day of

your first kiss, your wedding day, or the hour your child was born. You don’t

forget those numbers.

Most importantly, a head for numbers wards off cheats and

thieves. Without a good enough grasp of numbers, you could get

“robbed.” The ability to calculate odds in a millisecond is important, not only to

ensure that you are paid the correct amount of money on a pool table, or any

other gaming situation, but to prove your mettle, so you couldn’t be fucked with.

You weren’t a sucker.

Frankie’s father, Giovanni Jones, “Pops” to Frankie and “Gio” to everyone

else, began drilling numbers into Frankie’s head at the age of three. First it was

with a deck of cards, then a pair of dice. No flashcards were needed for

multiplication tables or division. Gio drilled Frankie constantly with “payout”

questions like, how much she should expect back on a horse or horses

to win, place or show; perfecta, quinella, trifecta, superfecta; $20 bet, 3 to 5 odds,

for instance.

Young Frankie always accompanied her father Gio to place a bet, or cash

out, as in the pool room, Gio always hid one third of his winnings in Frankie’s

knapsack or diaper bag. Frankie could recall, to the penny, how much money

she carried — including the quantity of each bill - like ten one dollar bills,

three five dollar bills (fins), four tens (sawbucks), seven twenties (doubles) and if

Gio was really lucky more than a few c-notes (one hundred dollar bills.)

She never missed a count. Not once. The guys at the pool room, when

not watching a match or playing Backgammon, used to make side bets with Gio

testing her math skills. Frankie was still waiting for her cut of that money.

Since Frankie’s mother, Sandy Jones, an ex-Playboy Club Bunny and

model, was vain and argumentative; Gio put all his stock into Frankie, thinking

her his only child, and the one person he trusted in the world to share his hustling

secrets with. It was not just a matter of winning money for sport, it was about

surviving, under duress, and hopelessness. It was about overcoming all of the

odds against you – those dangerous numbers – and succeeding.

Shortly after graduating high school from Saint Mary's Catholic School for Girls, two years early, the number eight replaced

Frankie’s Crucifix. Her favorite number was eight, or the infinity symbol, and it hung on her neck in the form of a

solid gold charm, which nestled in her bountiful cleavage, both gifts from her

highly decorative and voluptuous mother. Sandy had been happy to see Frankie

get off of the medication various specialists prescribed her to control her OCD.

Gio argued against it, but Sandy needed to see Frankie try it first. Gio wasn’t

with Frankie every day like Sandy was and he didn’t know how much she

suffered, they both suffered, from the demanding compulsivity inside her.

Frankie just wasn’t the same girl on the medication; the desire, the heart

of Frankie, what made her tick disappeared. She became pale and plump and

lethargic. Sandy’s People magazines replaced Frankie’s The Economist.

Frankie watched serials on the sofa. and slept all the time. The light that shown

in Frankie, which always made her the second most attractive woman in the

room—Sandy was first, of course, went out. This would never do for Sandy

Jones’s daughter, or for Gio Jones’s daughter, for that matter.

Frankie finding the number eight was a life saver. It centered her and

gave her peace of mind. Frankie was stronger than ever. You could

feel her power and magnetism in any room and craved to be near her. She was

magical. She believed in magic with all of her heart. She touched the “lucky”

eight charm often that replaced her heavy meds. If anyone made fun of her, she

would just throw her long golden locks back, batting her one blue and one brown

eye and chuckle,” I’m the daughter of a degenerate gambler. Of course I have a

lucky number!”

The perceived rhythm and calm of the infinity symbol soothed Frankie.

She imagined herself on a racing track, dressed in a driving cap and goggles, as

in an Art Deco, Tamara Lempicka painting, driving a circle eight formation, over

and over again, in her eggnog antique convertible Mercedes, the one her father

won for her, in a 48 hour game of Pinochle, for her sixteenth birthday, now

parked at her mother’s boyfriend Merv’s beach house, in the Hamptons.

When her OCD was particularly demanding, Frankie would make the

circle eight with her thumb in the air, or over the skin of her thigh, so she could

feel the number, trying hard not to draw blood from her sharp fingernails.

Other numbers, well, they gave her a headache. Eight was the number

She chose, when her parents, who’s love/hate relationship was legendary, finally

agreed to a divorce, shortly after Frankie’s tenth birthday. It was eight whole

days before she saw her father again, from the time he moved out of their

Chicago apartment, taking with him only an old leather Tourister stuffed with a

pair of alligator loafers and his sheepskin winter coat, fallen off a truck, worth thousands of dollars,

weighing over forty pounds, out the door.

Frankie never understood why her parents even needed a divorce. There

was no evidence that they were actually married, except for the fact that they

wore wedding bands, which could have just been for show. There were

no wedding pictures anywhere to be found, or even matching china or silverware,

Frankie argued til she became hoarse. Am I illegitimate? A bastard? A

love child? Does the priest know? Frankie screamed. The Justice of the Peace

married us, sweetheart, her mother told her softly. That’s what you did back

then, when you lived on the road, and in your car. We were married, for a long

time, and now we’re not. It’s better this way, you’ll see, its better.

Any form of eight would do – four plus four, four times two, seven plus

one; as soon as Frankie identified it, believed in it, the anxiety and vertigo spell

she often felt, would drift away. When we make love, I need you to touch my

bottom eight times, she begged her first, and only boyfriend, Charles. He

thought she was kidding.

When Frankie awoke that early May morning, like all her recent mornings,

the process was the same. She turned her head to the other side of the bed to

see if he was there, and well, he wasn’t. She did this every morning, not out of a

call to satisfy the hungry OCD monster inside of her, but because of her need to

believe there could be a different outcome. That was the reminder, every

morning, that she was her father’s daughter. Even life as a Mathematician Phd.

Candidate, at the prestigious Columbia University, could not dispel her

“gambler’s fallacy.”

There aren’t a lot of people who see through the bullshit, Frankie thought,

and Charles was one of them. He asked real questions. He’s gone, she

reminded herself. And he’s not coming back. Even if there was a chance – it

would never be the same – he had a family on the way now. She knew that. He

was her Howard Roarke – from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead - and what bound

them more than anything was a mental connection. To Frankie, that was the

most important connection – the only connection she understood. To have her

body, to have her heart, even, the brain had to come first. He was the first, and

only man, to enter it, to date.

Charles wasn’t afraid to ask the tough questions everyone else avoids

asking, Frankie routinely thought.

While the two of them, college aged, sat in the air-conditioning of Gio’s

Cadillac, waiting for him to cash in his ticket stubs at the end of a long, hot day in

the VIP seats at Arlington Racetrack, Charles bravely asked Frankie: “How does

your father make a living? Really?”

“This is it,” Frankie answered, “And any other of a variety of sporting endeavors.

Playing pool mostly. He is good at it, even made the Hall of Fame. But a

degenerate gambler gambles on everything.”

“Even you?” Charles asked.

“Even me.” Frankie answered weakly.

“It must be hard for you,” Charles said softly and sincerely, his muddy blue eyes

looking at the dashboard first and then back up to meet Frankie’s sad, scared,

but warm, almond ones , ”depending so much on chance, on

numbers.”

“Exhausting, “ Frankie answered back, letting her shoulders drop and fall with her

deep breath, feeling a release, brand new. It was at that moment, when

Charles got inside of her head, that Frankie had her first real breakthrough

regarding the world she grew up in, the world she could never fully

disown, her first honest conversation about it with a man – if you can call 22 a

man – he was two years her senior - that she was done for. She loved him.

Would love him. Forever.

With Charles the pesky numbers nearly disappeared, or were loads of fun.

Charles was an athlete (Rugby), sports fanatic, and soon to be Sports Producer.

He respected her father Gio and his athletic ability, marveled at his

accomplishments. He bet the Triple Crown every year and watched ESPN 2 until

the wee hours. He knew the names of all the players on the pool circuit, Gio’s

buddies and pals. Charles told her at the very least, Frankie should admire her

father’s pool talent..

Charles lived with a different set of numbers – like jerseys, stats, RBIs,

Touchdowns, ERAs, goals, matches, sets. She liked his numbers, loved them in

fact. He made numbers playful for her. Frankie’s favorite sport was

baseball, especially the under appreciated Chicago White Sox. Her favorite thing

about baseball was the players – notoriously superstitious. When she watched a

game and saw a batter make the sign of the cross before taking a swing, or a

third baseman smooth the dirt down in a precise number of clockwise

movements with his cleats, Frankie felt a kinship. With Charles, Frankie’s

frenetic brain quieted, and she could think, or not think, just feel, feel good, most

of the time.

Under her puffy white comforter, Frankie’s manicured hand would find the

Remote control. She would press play to the video. A young, but not too young,

College girl, losing her virginity to her boyfriend was the feature. She liked it

because it was “Amateur” and “Homemade” deeply hidden within an online digital

vault filled with Anal and MILF fetish crap. She liked that the boy kissed the girl,

and she trembled when he did so. She quickly turned it off, out of shame, and

went back into her head to clear out the numbers.

Charles assessed that Frankie’s late in life virginity (she was twenty and a

senior in college) was due to Catholic guilt. He called her his “Catholic School

Girl.” She let Charles believe that, it made him happy to say it, while providing

her first boyfriend some ownership, and ego-inflating proof that he had

“conquered” her.

Frankie was extremely spiritual and superstitious, but a belief in one

organized religion did not appeal to her. She was a self-described “Mutt” forever

confused about her ethnicity and never sure what religion she was supposed to

believe in. She let Charles think it was religion that held her back,

although that wasn’t true. No one had ever asked to be with her before him. No

one had ever tried to get close to her physically—or otherwise—ever. If there

was any “guilt” to be found, it was to have a gypsy, underworld, simultaneously

low-rent and nouveau riche family like hers, which embarrassed and humiliated

her, to no end. She felt “dirty,” “untouchable,” an “outsider.” Charles made her

feel “clean,” “hopeful,” and “worthy.”

“You know what I find glamorous?” Francesca joked to Charles, “401Ks,

Dental Plans, Credit Lines at a Bank—not a Casino, Master’s Degrees and

Mortgage payments!”

His new phone number ended in three eights which only reminded

her of how special he was, and how much she missed seeing his face and

feeling him near her. It was in those times, alone with Charles, that she felt safe.

That was four years ago, and now, at 26, she had one week before defending

her thesis on the Mobius Circle and becoming one the youngest female

Mathematicians at Columbia, which would arrive with some notoriety she never

wanted, nor cared for, and it would force her to keep moving forward, away from

the memory of Charles.

Charles, always available, her friend, smiling, and smart

as a whip; he could keep up. He was never intimidated by the long list of

characters or stories from “Bizarro World” she threw at him, in her various

attempts to get him to abandon her. Or tell her aloud the hidden insecurities she

carried with her. He would never let her see his fear, or disgust; he would never

want to hurt her feelings, ever. He liked being so special to her. He liked being

her only one. He liked, that as a woman, her story was so unique. He was proud

to be her boyfriend. She kept waiting, desperately, for him to leave her, until one

day, he finally did.

He was gentle, Charles, at first, and then a little rough when he finished.

He was big, and although frightened at the pain, the act of their bodies meeting

for the first time set her free — free from all numbers – even the eights. She

didn’t need the eight’s when she was with Charles. He was an eight — her living,

breathing number eight.

Lying in bed that morning, Francesca pictured herself behind the wheel of

her convertible, the wind in her hair, racing and racing her figure eights....Her

Catholic School girlfriend, Eleanor, sent her a giant sex toy for her last birthday,

which collected dust in her closet. She wouldn’t use it, didn’t need to. All Frankie

had to do was remember that moment, that first moment she met herself, her

vulnerable self, imagine her first love inside her, and BANG - she came head to

toe- no numbers, no stop watch, just pleasure, and peace. Frankie sobbed for a

few minutes, into her pillow, as she was known to do, removed her covers, and

began her assent into the bathroom to start her day.

# of steps to bathroom: twenty-seven
# of seconds to bathroom: twenty-five
Room temperature: sixty-five
Days til birthday: one hundred and eighty-one
Days since last menstrual cycle: ten
Days til Department Meeting to Defend Dissertation: eight – hopefully lucky.

Rule 2: Assume everyone is lying to you


Francesca exited the bathroom of her Harlem campus apartment in a

white silk thong and push-up bra. She walked into her tiny kitchen to grab

a scalding Green Tea, and a bowl of cut up Mango, bought at a Bodega outside

the subway stop, at the top of Central Park, the night before. Sometimes she

walked into St. John of the Divine, the largest cathedral in North America, on her

long walk back to Columbia, to say a prayer, or just to mute the numbers. They

bless dogs here, she thought to herself, God won’t mind a Mutt like me.

Francesca dipped the tea bag in and out of the hot water exactly eight

Times, dropping in three ice cubes, and headed toward the closet. She was

slightly shorter than Sandy, 5’9 to her mother’s 5’11. Frankie’s waist,

hips and feet were also two inches larger, (damn that woman!). They wore the

same bra size - 32 DD - all natural, thank you, so at least they had that in

common. Frankie assessed their relationship was a relationship of two’s and

always kissed Sandy on both cheeks; like in Europe, her mother, in her

geographically indecipherable voice, would add.

Francesca knew she was a tits and ass girl. No amount of diet and

exercise could change that(she was a devoted runner though, as it helped

subdue her anxiety). Her body was usually worthy of a few cat calls, at first, and

later found to be too intimidating, to those men trying to talk to her seriously – as

if being a pool hustler’s daughter, with a paralyzing case of OCD, was not

enough to scare them away.

Charles said Francesca’s body was perfect – he only liked an hourglass –

a woman’s body. When they first started dating she stopped eating for two

weeks, fainting in the NYU cafeteria, and he yelled at her, saying she was

acting like some spoiled sorority girl who didn’t get enough money or attention

from her parents. If your body changes AT ALL, I am going to break up with

you. If your boobs shrink, I’m gone. Charles had always been so attracted to

Francesca’s strength, and that was the first instance when he discovered it was

all an act, she did have insecurities, just like any other girl. You’re Francesca to

me, not “Frankie” he told her.

First week of college at NYU, everyone was drinking out of a keg in

somebody's Daddy's loft in SOHO. Frankie was only sixteen, having graduated

St. Mary's School for Girls early. Frankie left that party with Charles and a bunch

of his friends. One of them dated her new roommate, Lisa. Frankie was a mid

western girl, but she liked how Charles talked about the joy of walking New York

streets at night. He had already been at NYU for two years. He said he could

walk the streets til dawn without complaint.

Frankie's rag tag group of gals – catty girls who had only known

each other a week on their floor freshman year – one girl from Topeka had just

lost her virginity after orientation – to another girl – another, Frankie had to call an

ambulance for as she thought the girl might die of alcohol poisoning – all followed

Charles and his friends, the seemingly older, wiser, native New Yorkers to a

small, dark dive bar on Thompson, a few steps from Blue Ribbon. Frankie used

her mother's id to get in. Most of the time, noone checked, there was no color or

emblem indicating she was underage. Under eye color it said brown, even

though she had one blue eye. She kept her head down and Charles pushed her

through the threshhold and into the sweaty, humid, room. It felt like one hundred

degrees.

“I like this place. Rugby and Soccer early in the morning on the weekends.

I have a scarf and everything.” Charles stated, confidently.

“You would, wouldn't you?”

“I would what?” Charles asked back, slowly. Frankie tried to ignore his

mild flirtation.

“Anything else you need to prove to me this evening?”

Charles just smiled and pushed his way up to the bar. He reached back to

grab Frankie's hand to pull her forward but instead grazed her left breast. He

knew he only did it on accident, so he didn't turn around to make her feel

uncomfortable by acknowledging it. He also didn't want to turn around so she

could acknowledge both his smiling from having grazed it , and his whisper of the

word “Wow!” which only the uptight, overheated bartender had the pleasure of

noticing. Frankie covered her chest, barely held together by a tank top and push

up bra in the heat, and just stared at the back of Charles's shaved head. I hope

my nipples aren't hard is all Frankie could think; she was in shock; feverish from

the heat AND Charles's touch. She quickly covered her chest with folded arms

as a precaution.

Frankie let Charles order for her. Her mother always told her to let the

man make decisions as often as possible. You want them to think they are in

control, even when they're not, she told her. Do I want this boy to like me? Why

do I even care? Francesca thought, questioning herself, under the influence of a

few keg drafts already. You can throw that women's lib shit out the window, both

her mother AND father had repeatedly told her. It might have been the only thing

the two of them agreed on.

Charles handed her a Manhattan. It was in a real glass, not a plastic one,

with chards of ice and a cherry on top. Charles had one as well.

“A cherry?” Frankie asked, laughing from her overheated beer buzz,

realizing the irony was lost on her only. She looked across the bar, to one of the

girls, Jessica, who had just lost her virginity a few days prior. Would I be next?

“It's a Manhattan” Charles stated, smiling, with joy almost. “Welcome to

New York.” Drinking a Manhattan in Manhattan seemed so affected, but she

loved it, she loved it because Charles acknowledged it.

“I know it's cliche and all, but I love them” Charles said, licking his lips.

Frankie smiled and took her first sip of the stiff drink. The cherries reminded her

of Shirley Temples Gio plowed her with at restaurants, the VIP section of the

racetrack, or in Vegas at the Sportsbook at the Casino, where she would have to

keep herself amused doing crosswords and find-a-words.

The first time Frankie ever got drunk was at her girlfriends house at age

twelve. Her two girlfriends' were both the daughters of artists – one a painter, the

other a clothing designer, so they all had a bit of empathy for one another. They,

too, didn't know if the rent would get paid some months. Their style was

bohemian, like Frankie's mother.

One of her girlfriend's, Margeaux, named after the wine, but spelled

incorrectly, poured every liquor in the house into a blender and made Frankie

drink it. Somehow a water fight ensued and a Polaroiod was taken of her

topless, which ended up circulating throughout the posh neighborhood her family

merely rented in. She felt like a “guest star” there. Frankie was just taking her

soaking wet shirt off to change and “snap” she was jerk off material for the 7th

grade baseball team. Frankie didn't like the attention. She hadn't been drunk

since.

The Manhattans tasted so good; the Bourbon like candy, Frankie saw

double by Midnight. Her roommate, Lisa, and her new boyfriend, Matt, dropped

Frankie and Charles off at the dorm. Charles and Matt carried a blurry eyed

Frankie up to her bed. Lisa held Matt's hand and they started to walk out the

dorm room door.

“We're just walking down to the Bodega to get some soda and crackers.

Be back in fifteen minutes. Don't lay a hand on her. I'm not kidding. I met her

father. He wears a pinky ring.” Matt laughed and Lisa punched Matt in the gutts.

“Ow!” Matt yelled back at Lisa, laughing.

“I'm serious – I'm not fucking kidding, Matt. Four hairy guys in silk shirts

all introducing themselves to me as her “Godfather” were up here on move-in

day. They all gave me their phone numbers, just in case. One of them works in

the Diamond District for Christ Sake. Its a goddamn snake pit there!”

Charles just sat on the edge of Frankie's bed, smiling brighter the more he

heard from Lisa; the tall, curly haired feminist in Birkenstocks. Lisa and Matt took

off, to fool around in the stairwell, not go down to the Bodega, and Charles,

drenched in his Connecticut t-shirt, began to read titles of books from Frankie's

shelf above her twin size bed.

“Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, James Jones, Norman Mailer” Charles

whispered to himself. These are all man books, Charles thought, looking back

down on the sleeping Frankie. Charles removed the lock of dirty blonde hair that

somehow got stuck in her mouth and up her biggish nose. He didn't want her to

suffocate in her sleep. Charles took a CD out of a case and Talking Heads “This

Must Be The Place” began to play softly. Charles grabbed a garbage can from

under the desk and put it beside Frankie with a bottle of water from the mini-

fridge. He took a bottle for himself, also, sat at the edge of the bed, staring at

her, while he drank it. He wasn't sure what to make of this girl, with the macho

books, big boobs, biting wit and low tolerance. He didn't know if he liked her

liked her, either. He thought she might think him too suburban, too provincial,

and hate him. This thought immediately made Charles more attracted to her.

Just when Charles was about to touch Frankie's hand, Matt and Lisa

rambled into the dorm room, red faced from too much kissing; Matt zipping up his

zipper, in front of Charles, once he walked into the dorm room, just to show off.

“She okay?” Lisa asked Charles, grabbing her shower kit, and throwing

her toothbrush into her mouth, with some toothpaste on it, in front of the small

sink.Matt threw his shoes off and flipped onto Lisa's bed, sauced and now sated,

across from the unconscious Frankie.

“Yeah, she's fine” Charles began, “Can't hold her liquor, this one. Though

she talks a big talk. Thinks she's a tough girl or something.” Charles said sitting

up slowly, chugging some more water.

“She IS a tough girl,” Lisa yelled at Charles, in between minty gargles and

spits. And no, she can't hold her liquor. She's only sixteen.”

“What?” Charles said, spraying a sleeping Frankie with water from his

shocked mouth. Frankie felt the water on her cheek and brushed it off a bit.

Even stuck her tongue out for a second to lap up the water, she was so

dehydrated and in a dream. A desert dream. She was baking in the hot sun.

When she gave up on lapping up the water, Frankie began to snore – loudly.

Next morning, in between boughts of vomiting into a garbage can, Lisa explained to Frankie the events of the night before, and how

Charles turned out to be a gentleman. Frankie smiled, a little bit, to herself,

and then sooner than she would have wanted, threw up again. Lisa, her

roommate, just filed her nails and read the Village Voice.

“Where should we go out tonight?” Lisa asked. Frankie flashed back angry

bloodshot eyes and threw up again.

Rule # 3: Don't ever front the money, unless you absolutely have to...

The first three years of college at NYU, when they were just friends,

Charles only called her “Jones” and she felt more like one of his Rugby friends,

than a potential love interest. He would push her shoulder extra hard, when

passing her in Washington Square Park between classes. Or corner her at a

party and she would watch his puppy dog eyes dilate when speaking. This

confused Francesca immensely. She thought she was going crazy. Did this

mean he liked her liked her? You always take the best notes, he said. What?

One night, after dating a few weeks senior year, Francesca arrived to

Charles’s campus apartment to find him buck naked, candles lit, singing and

dancing to Billy Paul’s soul classic “Me and Mrs. Jones.” Frankie was mortified

and could not even bare to look at Charles naked, or worse, have him look at

her, looking at him, naked. She blushed and put her hands over her face to cover

her eyes.

Jones! Charles yelled and pried her hands off of her eyes and down to his

shoulders. He grabbed her slim waist, hidden under layers of conservative winter

wear, holding her close, dancing her around the room and singing: “Me and

Mrs... Mrs. Jones…..We gotta thing…goin’ on,” until her trembling was replaced

by bouts of laughter. The first boy I ever slow dance with and he has no clothes

on, she thought to herself. You’re nuts! Francesca yelled as Charles began to

peel her wool clothes off as she stood, slightly taller than him, thinking, this guy…

this friggin’ guy…

Upon meeting Charles’s sister and mother, all became clear to

Francesca; Charles grew up with and loved zaftig women – and that touched her.

There were numerous portraits of him between these two very white, curvy

women with Charles all smiles. He adored them. He would adore Francesca,

too. That was quite some time ago, however, and she wore the bust minimizer

for teaching, since discovering a portrait of her bosom, a few eighteen year old

boys left behind, in her Calculus classroom.

Francesca’s long, thick, dirty blonde hair remained up in a towel. Without

makeup, she looked about fifteen. Francesca attributed this to her

Mediterranean genes (Italian, Greek, Jewish?) and her mother’s manic Pond’s

moisturizing routine since she was old enough to see herself in a vanity.

Francesca opened up the closet door, full of vintage designer clothing

hoarded by, and then given to her, by her mother, Sandy. Sandy Jones was “off

the map” so to speak. She was the type of woman who never had more than fifty

bucks in her pocket. Charm was her form of currency. No credit card, car,

apartment or utility bill existed in her name. She didn’t even know how to drive a

car, so there was no license. She never left the country, so no passport, either.

Sandy tried to emphasize that being debt-free was the way to go. This was

anathema to Frankie’s current situation – two hundred g’s in student loan debt,

and only poorly paid Public Sector career options ahead -but she tried not to

think about it. Un tethered made it very easy for Sandy to move around quickly

to different cities, apartments. None of Gio’s hoodlum friends could “pinch” her

for much (i.e. ask her for a loan) – because she never had a dime on her –

everybody knew that.

What Sandy did have were things – designer clothes, shoes, purses and

jewelry from nearly thirty years collecting gifts from delighted men. Sandy and

Frankie had a deal – if Frankie put the storage room out in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

in her name and paid the $250/month till to keep it, Frankie could pillage it as

much as she liked and Sandy would refill it continuously. Even her latest

boyfriend, Merv Stone, a complete gentleman, who bought and sold race horses,

whom she had lived with for over 5 years now, did not know of its existence. So,

DVFs(Diane Von Furstenberg) wrap dresses from the seventies, Halstons and

Jackie O Gucci bags were forever at Frankie’s disposal. Sandy’s old modeling

photos and even pictures of Frankie and her baby brother, Johnny, were also

housed in the storage room. Frankie could never wear her mother’s bottoms

without hitting a tailor, so she shopped, on her own, for jeans and sports wear to

give herself a more modern look. She always had to buy her own shoes, too, as

her gobstopper size elevens would never squeeze into her mother’s nines.



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Goosebump Goddess

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