Sign me up for all the latest razzmatazz about the Chronicles books and the 1920s and get the novella DESTINATIONS for FREE!!Don't miss out!

The Unstoppable Jennie Justo: Episode Eight

Episode Eight: Sent Up ©

Nothing like a long train ride to aggravate any twinge or ache. I figure we have another few hours before pulling into Madison. Will Mama be at the station? Will she welcome home a jailbird who’s served her sentence for selling illegal booze at a speakeasy? Crime may be the family business, but it’s different when you’re a girl.

Habit makes me pick up my knitting. I have to get this baby sweater finished for my new nephew. With each stitch, my mind travels another step back. Back into the courtroom. Full circle to where this whole mess started.

*  *  *  *

I had sat in the courtroom, jaw clenched shut, filled with rage. Oh, the words I had for Roy the Rat-Fed and his god-damned partners in crime (sorry, Father. Hail Mary, Full of Grace).

I glared at the statue behind the bench. Lady Justice, blindfolded. On one side of her scale you could pile up the Volstead Act that made my business illegal during prohibition. On top of that, you could add the crooked police, like Mike, whose payoffs were supposed to keep me open. And the bastard Federal agents, like Roy, that thought they had the right to extract all kinds of favors to look the other way.

On the other side of those scales, there was me: just a dame trying to run a business the best way she knew how. The scale didn’t seem so balanced in court, that day.

I sat there, fuming, thinking about how easy it would be just to give up, do what was expected, obey the law, get married, and let my husband look after things. But God gave me a brain, a strong back, and two good hands. And let’s be honest, a flair for business. I was raised to be a risk taker, and I’d watched my parents make good money by taking advantage of opportunities that came their way.

My lawyer, who was also Mama’s nephew, had told me that things wouldn’t be easy this time. Forces were against me, he said. Like I didn’t know that? I’d managed to get off with a fine and a lecture in the past; I was hoping that this time wouldn’t be painful, either.

The judge, an older gentleman with twinkling eyes, reminded me of Kris Kringle, only in black robes instead of a fur-trimmed red suit. I pouted prettily, used the brown eyes to my advantage, eyelashes too.

I’d stood there twice before and learned that if I shed a tear, and appeared contrite, there might be a fine, but I’d be home in time to pour the first round during the supper shift.

Men were so easy to fool. I grew up in a house full of brothers. Between the high spirits of the customers at my two speakeasies, the police interest in my inventory, and the bootleggers who sold me my hooch, knowing how to work a man was second nature.

Kris Kringle smiled, then he raised his gavel and brought it down. Bang.

“I sentence you to six months in Milwaukee House of Corrections,” he said.

What? Contrition be damned. I wouldn’t be pouring anything tonight, or tomorrow. I was headed to the joint.

If you’ve missed an episode, you can get it here…

Episode One

Episode Two

Episode Three

Episode Four

Episode Five

Episode Six

Episode Seven