The Brunswick Hotel

1658 Words7 Pages
The Brunswick Hotel has stood at its current location since the 1920s; some jokers say the piano player has been there almost as long. In exchange for room and board plus tips, she plays three shows a day. Her Barrel house is slow from her arthritis, and her voice--roughened by decades of whiskey and tobacco--cracks on the high notes. Sometimes she dreams about her twin, the other playing fast melodies in the upper register while she pounds out a boogie-woogie bass line, four feet tapping time better than a metronome. "Come on get happy," she sings to an indifferent after-work crowd. She plays whether anyone 's listening or not. She plays all the old pop standards to the ghosts. "It Don 't Mean A Thing (If It Ain 't Got That Swing)."…show more content…
They shared little that was vital, just a large section of the skin of their torso, parts of their stomach, and a few blood vessels. In 1920, though, separation had meant dangerous surgery beyond what modern medicine could handle. Both girls had two working arms, hands and legs, but Lily 's left foot turned inward. The meaner roustabouts called her Clubby and Hop-along. Rose was forever pulling Lily, making her move faster. Rose wanted life to be an adventure. She was always the first to try something new: a smoke, a drink, a kiss from a boy. The girls found their pace and slithered sideways along the heavy curtain the roustabouts had set up the day before. When they reached the backstage area, Lily turned away so Rose could peek. “Look at all of them out there,” Rose gushed. “And they 're all waiting for us.” “Uh huh.” Lily hated being on display like a zoo animal. Sometimes, the patrons threw rocks or food. Or worse. Little Timmy ("barely two feet tall") lost an eye and Gene the Lobster Boy was doing time for manslaughter, after a fight with a mark. Once, a drunken mark broke into their trailer after he 'd been stiffed in the hoochie-coochie tent. Since then, the girls kept a butcher knife under the bed. It was a living. Lily elbowed Rose when she heard the opening strains from the phonograph, a tootling bugle and swinging cymbal. "Me And My Shadow," Lily sang, loud.

More about The Brunswick Hotel

Get Access