The Franklin Files — The Dress Shop

November 8, 2010 by  

Lafayette was cooking at the grill in Merlotte’s, singing:

“He blowing me kisses, he blowing me kisses

I’m staring…and reminiscing, thinking, dreaming,

He blowing me kisses, he blowing…”

“God, Lafayette, would you just shut up? You’re scaring away the customers with that shit.” Tara was happy for her cousin but he was seriously acting a fool with all this lovey-dovey stuff.

“Damn, Girl, you know I’m singing just like Florence Nightingale.”

Tara turned her attention to the source of the problem. “And you, Jesús, I’m holding personally responsible for all this,” lifting her hands in mock exasperation.

Both Jesús and Lafayette laughed but as soon as she saw her cousin went to the back, she sidled up to the end of the bar where Jesús  was sitting and put her arm around his shoulder. “I just want to make sure you’re nothing like your namesake. Getting a body all worked up and in love, then disappearing for three days at a time. My cousin’s heart has been stomped on enough. You hear me?”

“Tara, you’ve got nothing to worry about,” Jesús stared directly in her eyes. “I’m just as scared and in love as he is.”

“Well, alrighty then. Glad we had this little talk. Lafayette, I’m taking a break. Your boy here,” Tara winked at Jesús “seeing as he’s got nothing better to do than sit on this stool, he can let you know if some fool needs something until Holly gets here. She’s due in any minute now.”

“Okay, Baby, we got it, don’t we Sweet Jesús?” Lafayette returned with some drink garnishes he’d cut up for the bar and threw a cherry Jesús’ way.

“Oh, Gaaawwd!” Tara drew the word out for all it was worth. “Before I lose my mind, Sweet Jesús, I’m going to fix myself a big old cocktail, and I’m going sit in that big old empty booth in the back in the corner and upon pain of death, I want y’all to pretend I’m not here. Understand?”

“Yes, ma’am!” They both mumbled in mock humility.

And Tara did exactly that. She also grabbed an old briefcase from under the bar, and after sitting down, and taking a good long drink, she took out the journal and began to read.

Monday, November 5, 1855

Today was spent in intolerable torture at Miss Edith Murdle’s Dress Shop in London. I endure these monthly sojourns with my mother only by the ministrations of one Sallie Hutchins who works in the shop. She has made sure that an occasional spot of rum finds its way into my teacup as Mother tried on every dress in London. Today was a very bad day, indeed. And it was made worse as the rum found its way to my teacup once a little too often.

Mother was in a dour mood for we had met Miss Gwendolyn in the street (O Happy Day!) on the way to the shop. She looked the most exquisite of creatures and I could see that Mother burned with envy. She was wearing a blue velvet jacket over a lovely rose dress and it made her clear blue eyes shine from her beautiful porcelain countenance. Not to mention that her lovely figure had never been shown to greater effect. Mother was seething.

“Well, Miss Gwendolyn and Mrs. General, what a great delight! I’m surprised to see you out on such a cool, crisp morning.” Mother said through a tight smile as she addressed Gwendolyn’s chaperone. “I would think that your family would have a greater concern for your welfare, fearful that you would catch cold so unsuitably dressed for the season.”

“Good day, Mrs. Mott, and Vicar Mott, indeed, what a rare pleasure to see you!” Mrs. General responded, while Gwendolyn smiled up at us with eyes that left me utterly dumbfounded. “I can assure you that Miss Gwendolyn is quite comfortable, quite up to a daily constitutional and quite enjoys a visit to the city. And how are you today, Vicar Mott? I was pleased to hear that your first sermon was such a great success.”

“Franklin? …Franklin? …Franklin?” I was soon aware that Mother was calling me to attention. After a few embarrassing words of idiocy on my part we took our leave. It could not be soon enough. And mother began her denigration of Gwendolyn’s family and Mrs. General although she dared not speak ill of Gwen herself, because she knew that she was a very fortunate match for me, emphasis on fortune. A man of the cloth needs to marry a fortune if he has any hope of a happy life. I was just blessed enough to fall in love with mine. My father was not so fortunate. My mother’s inheritance paid for these excursions to the dressmaker’s and Father never forgot it. I prayed that I would never have to learn the same lesson from Gwendolyn.

Mother tried on dress after dress and was in rare form in her effort to extract compliments from me. It truly was an epic battle. “Do you think this burgundy shows off the raven quality of my hair?” “Does this décolletage show me to great effect?” “Do you think this bonnet is too old fashioned?” “Is my waistline still attractive Franklin?”  “Franklin pay attention, you’re falling asleep!” “I’m sure if Gwendolyn were here you’d be much more interested.”

Every month was humiliating but today we reached our nadir. Upon reflection, it all seems so stupid. Why can’t I just give her a few hours of my time? She’s my mother and I love her. Why can’t I do what she wants? She’s been the one who pushes me and wants what’s best for me. Where would I be without her?  My father wouldn’t look out for me, he’s too weak, too powerless. I need her and her money to get anywhere in life. I should be a more grateful son. I can’t even tell her the truth about a dress, a stupid yellow dress. It was a lovely creamy yellow dress, with ivory lace, beautiful for the holidays. And Mother’s figure looked lovely in it and I told her so. But then she rightly chastised me, for I had forgotten that she looks terrible in pale yellow. She was right, pale yellow doesn’t suit her. I know that. After all these years, the minute she tried it on, I should have reminded her. Thankfully, she remembered and didn’t waste her money. I begged her to purchase the lovely burgundy dress that showed her to such great effect, but she said she no longer wanted a dress, I’d ruined the day for her, and she’d just wear something she already had for Christmas. She feels her beauty has faded and although we tried to convince her otherwise, she’d have none of it. I must make it up to her somehow.

As we left the dress shop, we ran into a very fretful Mrs. Meagles. It seems that things have changed greatly in her home in the last week. She was in town to check on some business affairs of Mr. Meagles. It seems he has taken to bed after being bitten by some sort of snake. Twice, he’s been discovered in the morning out on the lawn, apparently bitten by snakes due to the bite marks found on his person. It is so very strange! I have never heard of such a thing. He is quite weak and pale and Mrs. Meagles is quite distraught and asked that we come out to administer prayers. She also said that not only did Miss Waters and Mr. Flintwich come to call, but after seeing Mr. Meagles take ill, they’ve volunteered to moved in to assist her. But she says they sleep all day and only get up in the evening, so they’ve not been helpful at all.

“And to be quite honest, while I appreciate their many kindnesses, I don’t quite see why they would like to spend time with someone like me,” questioned Mrs. Meagles.

“Well, I sure as hell do,” said Tara. “You need to get those vampires outta’ your house but quick. Snakes my ass, woman!” She slammed the journal shut and put it back in the briefcase. And headed towards the bar.
“Well, boys, I’m gone. It’s been real, y’hear?” And as she was leaving, Lafayette and Jesús heard her say, “All that for a yellow dress? Boy, you better grow you a pair!”

Jesús looked at Lafayette, “Is all your family like this?”

Disclaimer: The Franklin Files are provided for entertainment purposes only and is a parody of the fantasy series, True Blood, and as such, is presented here for your amusement. “Franklin Files” and the various writers that contribute to it, have no relationship/affiliation to HBO, True Blood, or any of the cast or crew of said program nor any relation to Charlaine Harris, or the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

Written By: Sarahfina

Photo & Graphics By: Sarahfina