This is meant to be a piece of historical fiction. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of history and the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely historic and a work of fiction to guide the reader through history in an engaging way.
The following contains mild language and references to historical traumatic events. Reader discretion is advised.
The morning sun fluttered through the dining room window awakening the day on Juliana Street, the smell of coffee trailing through my Victorian home. I lighted my pipe, sliding my way out of bed in just my smoking jacket. I wandered through the halls of my home as I did every morning, the interior was bright and vibrant, just how I liked it after all those years in the dank housing in the red-light district. Who knew that there were more styles of wallpaper than just old newspaper clippings? I came into the kitchen setting down my pipe and taking of the cup of coffee my wife, Rose, short for Rosaline, always had ready for me.
She and I always took our coffee differently, she preferred a light blond roast with a lot of cream and sugar, whereas I took mine black and stiff like the smog from my childhood; it’s good for a young lad as well as an old one. After finishing my coffee, I went and dressed in a gray linen suit. I preferred the cooler, slightly less sophisticated feel in the summertime. Putting on my straw fedora, it seemed a better alternative because today I wanted to take a walk with the grandkids and my head would not be as hot in the summer air.
“Rose?” I said calling through the house
“Yes?” she replied from the tea room
Going in through the side arch into the tea room from the kitchen I stood there retrieving my cane from the corner.
“Hello love, how are you today,” I said with the same love I had years ago, looking into her blue eyes that were turning a light blue-grey with age.
“I’m fine Cassius, so what will you be doing today?” she said smiling up at me from her knitting.
“I am going to take a stroll over to Avery Street with the grandkids, and show them the site of some of the places of our youth.”
“Hmm yes, just a reminder that Lilly has piano lessons today at four o’clock. Other than that, I see no problem with it. Her fifth-year recital is coming up and she will be playing at the Smoot Theatre this year. Remember darling,” pausing she then continued, “you just watch yourself out there. You’re not as young as you used to be!” she said while chuckling.
“Well, yes, I may not be, but not too old for you,” I winked at her while turning away to round up the kids.
A few hours later Robert, Lilly, and I were well on our way making it down to Avery Street looking at the old Infirmary.
“Children, this is where I was laid up after the attack by the Italians. I’ll finish that story while we picnic on the old Infirmary lawn.”
Lighting my pipe and sitting down on the grass took me back. I proceeded to recount details to the children.
The days and nights were all a blur, I was coming in and out of consciousness, and the smell of sweat, and blood flooded my nostrils. This feeling was like nothing I had ever truly experienced in my life; I was floating in between existences for who knows how long. I do though remember the smells and the noise of grinding and sowing and above all else the hypnotic darkness I was within. The colors of red, blue, green, grey, and purple swirled around my head. Faces of the past and the present fly by at rapid speed, sickening me to nausea again, and again, being able to do nothing about it. The spinning and spinning never ended. Then from what felt like forever, my world screeched to a halt and all was still and it was still for a long time. Then at the end of my stillness my body felt jerked over and over again 32 times it jerked then after all this a cough came forth from the depths of my being. Jerking awake I screamed, thrashed and yelled.
“Mr. Monroe! Settle down you’ll hurt yourself!” exclaimed a woman’s voice.
“What?” I grunted through my throat, which felt raw and lashed
“Mr. Monroe, you are in the Infirmary. You need to settle down so you don’t rip your stitches. Not only that, but you should keep still due to the needle in your arm. It is what is keeping you from losing any more of your nutrients,” she said in a very matter-of-fact tone.
Blinking through the haze in my eyes the room came into focus. I was in a bleak white room that had the smell of pungent medicine, rubber, and sickness. Not much was about me. It was a simple room with a small bed to which I lay, a small metallic tray with instruments which I knew nothing about. The smell of blood still lingered in the air as it always did in such places. Small grey curtains hung above the window, beyond that there was the drip plunged deep into my arm which was hanging on a metal rack with wheels. Gliding my eyes over to the nurse I took her in and absorbed what she looked like. She had long dark brown hair that almost appeared black, she had it up in a bun. Her pale skin glistened in the sunlight that shined through the window, her blue eyes sparked with a strong will and a free spirit. Finally, I looked away from her, noticing what I was doing.
“Not much to it, aye?” I made a brief pause swallowing a bit “the room I mean?” I asked in a strained voice
“No,” she said directly, then she grabbed a glass of water off the metallic tray
“Here drink this Mr. Monroe you appear to be in need of it; you should have just asked instead of struggling,” she said with humor slightly hidden behind her eyes
“Whiskey,” I said dryly
“No, Mr. Monroe you will drink it or go without. You will go without water and me, I see the way you looked at me, you’re not as sly as you think Mr. Monroe. Isn’t that a shame for a Green Vest? A woman can tell when she is being absorbed in the fullest by a man, that for a mobster like yourself should be a thing of subtleness. I guess you Green Vests don’t have the same manners as the people who put you here,” she giggled as she spoke
“Fine give me the damned water!” I said, struggling to sound angry due to the parched nature of my throat.
“Here you are Mr. Monroe, I guessed you would find reason,” she said playfully making fun of me.
“I must be going,” she said resting the glass on the metallic stand. “My shift is nearly finished for the day. You get some rest Mr. Monroe so you can be all healed up.”
She started to walk away when I suddenly asked “What is your name miss?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know Mr. Monroe? Not today, I don’t think, maybe tomorrow.” and with that, she was off and I was to lay here in the Infirmary alone as I had always been. Before I could be content with the stillness and the quiet of my isolation, the door promptly flew open and the doctor had rushed in hurriedly and disheveled as they all seemed to be these days.
“Mr. Monroe, the nurse told me you had awakened. It seems as though you came to us under bad pretenses. It seems as though there was an altercation and you found yourself on the wrong end of it. Since then, you have been in a coma this past week.”
“A week!” I exclaimed, cutting him off.
He cleared his throat intently and continued “As I was saying, Mr. Monroe, you came to us a week ago, and since then we have stitched your face, head, and fixed up some of the scrapes and bruises. For your hand though, it will require six weeks more care to regain most of your strength, provided you follow our regimens here at the Infirmary.”
“Aw hell no Doc!” I whined
“It’s your health, but if you want to use that hand again properly then you’ll do as we say,” the doctor said with no emotion whatsoever.
“Fine!” I said in a disheartened tone
Weeks went by and I had not seen the nurse from before, but I was getting better, stronger, and soon I would have my release. Week by week I worked on my mind and body. My muscles had grown, my hand was healing and I had gained more muscle than I had ever before. My regimen consisted of hand exercises, as well as full body exercise on my own time. I had gained over 20 pounds of muscle in 5 weeks. This was to be my last week in, and I had much to show for it. I was allowed to finally be in my normal clothes instead of the ugly gown provided. My clothes no longer fit loosely like before, but I filled them out and my muscles strained the fibers of my already frayed shirt. I had noticed that my shirt was not as dirty as before, still a light brown but not as dark and it had a slight smell of roses.
Time passed slowly now, and there were only two days before my departure from the Infirmary and I was in full health once again. I was sitting on the patio outside behind the Infirmary puffing on my pipe. I had been receiving the Parkersburg Newspaper steadily now and I would sit outside in the afternoons reading and scouring through the paper to see how the Green Vests were doing. On this particular day, I felt hopeful, my vest was open again as it usually was, my pocket watch chain hanging there as it always tended to do. I sat there reading and fiddling with my flat cape when suddenly I read within the advertisement section:
NOTICE OF EMPLOYMENT:
To all those who seek a higher position
contact the Hotel Blennerhassett on all
jobs applicable to such a setting.
Either call ext. 4-2-0 Market or come to
the service entrance at
THE HOTEL BLENNERHASSETT
My pipe fell to my lap as I sat grasped by what I had just read. I quickly yelled out as embers fell on my lap. I brushed them away, cursing at myself under my breath.
A nurse ran over and asked “Mr. Monroe is everything all right?!”
“Yes, I’m fine, please I can’t hear myself read with people talking.”
I then reread it once again. “To all those who seek a higher position,” that was me and today would be the day. I jumped up from my seat, and made for my room. Collecting what little I had, which was my mother’s wedding ring hung on an old ribbon, which was the only thing I didn’t pawn or sell off to get by. I hastily threw it around my neck, and went to the nurse’s station.
“I am checking myself out I only have two days left and they are just for testing,” I said hurriedly.
“Okay, Mr. Monroe. All you have to do is sign right here,” the nurse pointed indicating the line on the bottom of the page. I did so and before I could turn around, I heard a voice that I hadn’t heard in six weeks.
“Mr. Monroe, where are you going?” It was the nurse with the blue eyes, she seemed off – or somewhat different from before.
“I am leaving I am going to apply for my new vocation and it cannot wait,” I said starting for the door. I stopped short when I heard her start towards me.
“Mr. Monroe, aren’t you forgetting something?” she said blushing ever so slightly, or was that just her blush? I didn’t know.
“No, not that I think so, I am a man of few possessions,” I said, slightly annoyed.
“Rosaline Campbell, Rose for short. If you’re going where I think you’re going, then it may pique your interest to know my last name and my father.” With that, she started to walk away, but I grabbed her arm before she could leave. I pulled her into my arms and hugged her tightly.
“Thank you, you are the reason I stuck it out all these weeks just to see you again. Just like you said, if I didn’t drink, I couldn’t see you again. I applied that to everything I did, and I got better, and I did better than I have ever been in my life.” I let her go after I spoke and I slowly turned for the door once again. As I was turning, she said nothing, but before I could take a step away, she quickly kissed my cheek and then ran away into the Infirmary.
Upon leaving the doorway I lighted my pipe and decided to re-read the newspaper clipping advertisement from before, and I noticed something I had not seen prior. Beneath the advertisement, I read the name of the man responsible for placing it. Astounded, I almost dropped my pipe once again. As clear as day it read:
Advertisement placed by George C. Campbell, Proprietor Hotel Blennerhassett
“Alright, children it’s time to head back. We have to get Lilly to her piano lessons.” I said rising to my feet unsteadily, having to use my cane. Slowly, we made our way back up to Julianna Street and eventually to our home. No one said anything, still taking in today’s story. We finally reached the door and Robert paused for a moment.
“Grandpa, isn’t Grandma’s name Rose?” he looked up with those scrunched blond eyebrows.
“Well, my boy, I guess you’re just about right,” I chuckled down at him.
All Lilly could do was roll her eyes and laugh as she walked through the front door for her piano lessons.
About the author:
My name is Logan M. Saho I am the Concierge at The Blennerhassett Hotel. I have been in the tourism industry since my thirteenth year of life, I started out as a tour guide at the Beauchamp-Newman Museum in Elizabeth WV. I also since that time have become an early American period reenactor (1730s-1890s.) Beyond that I have a dual-degree in History and Political Science with a minor in communications concentrating on theatre. After my college years I worked as a living historian at Blennerhassett Island Historical State park for 2 years which geared my path to be working where I am today.