Of Mice and Men Prologue

The sun set through the window of the bar. A girl with bouncing brown ringlets and yellow feathers in her hair and deep blood red lips was set on a bar stool talking to the bar tender, “I tell ya what Tony, one day I’ma be somethin’, you just watch. I ain’t selliin you no baloney. I’ma go into town, get outta this hell hole and make something of myself. I wasn’t born to be a nobody singin’ in a bar every night that’s for sure, I’ma make it big Tony. I’ma be in the pictures one day.”

“You need to stop dreamin kid. It ain’t gonna get you nowhere just broken hearted. We all have our hopes an’ dreams, but nothin’ ever happens. You best go get ready now, you’re on in five.”

The girl was barely 16 in her bright blue eyes, but was looking more than 25 in her low cut sparkling sun yellow dress. She shuffled off her bar stool to the stage where she stood in front of her microphone facing the audience of big burly men shouting at each other, playing card games, and drinking ale.

The man on the piano started playing and the room went silent, all except one voice and a piano. The sweetest sound anyone in that room had ever heard. The girl sensed all the men’s eyes falling on her and she cherished the attention. She started to shake her hips and glide around the stage, lapping up the wolf whistles from all the men.

Two men entered the bar, both the same height; One was an elderly men, with white hair and a beard, the other just slightly older than her. They stood out amongst all the other men in the room that were dressed in denim. They were seated at the table right in front of the stage. The girl couldn’t take her eyes off the younger man. Something about the mystery of him was giving her stomach butterflies.

She finished her show to a big applause and shouts from all the men apart from the two at the front who just applauded quietly. She took her place back at the bar, “say, Tony, what are them two doing here?” She pointed carefully at the men near the stage, “They certainly ain’t from this town, for sure.” Tony looked over and sighed, “Don’t know who they think they are, flashin’ their stuff like they somethin’ special, folk like them got no business in places like this…” Tony quickly stopped talking as he saw the youngest of the men walking over.

“Hey, my name is Rico Millegrew, I work for a talent agency. Me and my old man heard you were good and came to check it out, we’d like you to join our agency, try you out for acting, get you in the pictures, we seen what you can do with your singing and you’re quite a looker, we think you could really go far.” The young girl looked astonished, “What you tryna say?” Her face gleamed and the excitement grew inside her when she thought of all the nice clothes and money she’d have. “Just give me your address and I’ll send a letter out to you first thing”.

Tony who had been listening very carefully to the conversation slipped her a piece of paper and a pen, “Lola, think what ya doing kid, it could be a scam, you hear about this kinda stuff all of the time, guys pretendin’ to be somethin’ they ain’t to take advantage of young girl like you.” Lola stared at him, “Shut up Tony! What do you know? Just ‘cuz you’re goin’ nowhere with your life don’t mean you can try to ruin mine. I know you want me to stay here in this hell hole wit you ‘cuz you got no chances but I ain’t, you hear me? This is my chane, I’ma make it big Tony and then we’ll see who was right!”

The anger flared in the girl’s eyes as she listened to the cruel words of her friend trying to ruin her dream. In anger and excitement she scribbled down her address and name and gave the paper to the man, “promise ya’ll write, you better make sure you write to me now!” The man looked at the stressed girl and muttered before leaving the bar with the other man. The girl grabbed her coat and ran underneath the moonlight, all the way to her house.

She flung open the door, “Ma’!” she cried towards the middle aged morose looking woman sat next to the fire rocking a cradle. The woman stared at her like she was mad as she told her the story of the men at the bar and how she was going to make something of herself. “You’re crazy!” she shouted at the young girl, “You ain’t going nowhere, you’re too young, you don’t think we all have dreams? Well I had a dream once, look where I ended up! A single mother with six kids, and you screaming nonsense at me! Some life this is ain’t it!” The woman panted to catch her breath, “Stop bein’ so ridiculous, life ain’t a dream, life ain’t easy, you ain’t takin’ any easy route missy, you just gonna end up like me and all the other women in this god forsaken town, a worthless nobody, only good for poppin’ out babies an’ your husband runnin’ off with some cheap lousy tart” The young girl was reduced to tears, she ran upstairs where she refused to come out of for days.

Lola spent three, slow months waiting for the letter. She’d been panicking that it wasn’t coming, worrying she had given the wrong information, blaming Tony for making her blow her top in front of them. After another three months, June was approaching. Eventually, 6 months of waiting and blaming everyone for it not coming had made Lola realise there would never be a letter.

The hot sun gleamed through the bar window. Tony stood in his usual spot behind the bar cleaning glasses, he noticed the tired dead eyes and flat dirty brown hair of the girl that had just walked in wearing a dirt stained sun dress. After 6 months, Tony hardly recognised the girl that was staring at him and he immediately knew what had happened, she never got the letter. He didn’t say anything, just got her a drink. “On the house.” He said to Lola. She was bewildered at his generosity after how she had treated him, “thank you,” she said solemnly and gave him a weak smile. She took her drink and set at the bar till the sun set, drinking till she was half-dead.

“You’ve had enough Lola,” Tony said looking at the limp body sprawled across the bar, “you need to be getting off home.” He looked around the room for help and saw a small man with coarse wire hair standing near the bar, “you couldn’t give me a hand now could you?” He asked the stranger. The stranger looked at the girl and said “Sure. My name’s Curley by the way. This girl looks dead!” He put his arm around the girl and Tony did the same, “NO!” she shouted, “No, I’m not going back there! Not a chance in hell am I goin’ to go back!” The men looked at each other dumb strucken, “Say, my old man owns a ranch not too far away, why don’t she come stay up there for a few nights until she gets herself sorted?” Tony didn’t know what to say, “I suppose she’d be alright, I’ve heard good things about the boss up at the ranch in Soledad.” The girl muttered a drunken plea, “Anythin’ but that place”, she said.

The men took the girl outside and placed her on a strong horse. Curley then climbed up and set behind her. “Make sure she’s alrigh’!” said Tony to Curley. Curley looked at Tony and smiled, “Oh don’t you worry, she’ll be fine, I can sure pack a punch to anyone that tries to hurt her” he grinned. Tony was reassured and waved him off.

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