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15 December 2006 @ 12:41 am
...a voice within me keeps repeating you, you, you...  
Like the beat, beat, beat of the tom tom
When the jungle shadows fall
Like the tick, tick, tock of the stately clock
as it stands against the wall.
Like the drip, drip, drip of the raindrops
when a jungle shower is through.
So a voice within me keeps repeating you, you, you.

I clutched my cola and shifted in my seat a little uncomfortably. The band was playing a sweet song by Mr Cole Porter. It had just come out this year, and the sound of it made me sigh a little inside. I wondered if I would ever yearn for someone the way the person in the song did. Or if anyone would ever want me like that. It seemed unlikely, given that I was a plain bluestocking who would probably end up a schoolteacher. Which wasn't such a bad thing, really. It wasn't like there were many jobs I could do. It could be worse.

I looked around where I was, and thought - yes, it definitely could be worse.

Caritas. It wasn't the usual sort of name for a bar like this, but it was exactly the sort of place Mother and Father had despised and warned us against. And now my sister - my sister! - was working here. A few minutes ago one of the dancers had walked through, already in her skimpy costume, and I had blushed at how much skin was exposed. Would Buffy look like that? I was afraid she might. But I had promised I would come and see her and offer my support. After all, she was doing this for me. I couldn't help feeling guilty about that. Of course, I was working too - a few hours a week at a diner - but it wasn't enough to support us both, and pay for my college books and things. Luckily I had a scholarship to a women's college here, so we didn't have to worry about fees, but money was still tight. Buffy and I shared a little apartment which had a whole range of leaks, creaks and cracks. Not at all like the nice house we grew up in. But Buffy had got in trouble at home, and Mother and Father died, and... Here we were. In the City of Angels, although Father had always insisted it was a City of Devils. A place of whores and niggers. I always winced a little when he said that. It just wasn't nice. But Father had never worried too much about being nice.

Night and day
under the hide of me
There's an oh, such a hungry
yearning burning inside of me
And it's torment won't ever be through
Till you let me spend my life
making love to you
Day and night
night and day

I blushed slightly as the singer sang the last verse of the song. It was only last year that I had found out what "making love" was. I know, in this day and age an eighteen year old should know better, but Mother hadn't thought nice girls should be too worried about such things. And it wasn't as if many boys had called at the door for me. Or any, actually. Lots had come by to visit Buffy, but they were always the wrong sort of boy. I wondered if Buffy had made love with anybody. She probably had. Then I found myself blushing again.

The song finished and I clapped politely. I was about the only person in here. I supposed it didn't really get busy until the girls danced...

[Open - to Buffy/Gunn/anyone who might be at Caritas. Your call!]
Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on December 16th, 2006 02:36 pm (UTC)
Caritas. Home away from home. Got no clue what the name of the place meant, only that it was my home away from home. Lorne was a good guy, even let me call him Lorne. None of that 'mister' stuff he'd told me when I first started here a year or so ago. He's not like other people in this here town.

I swear, if one of em calls me Uncle Tom one time, I'm gonna slug him. And end up in jail no doubt. Better watch flappin' my gums to much, or I'd get in trouble. Just like Darnel did with them white boys gang. Wanted him to cough up protection money and he went to the cops. Yeah, that's a laugh, like the coppers are gonna do somethin' for folks like us. Not gonna happen.

Naw, they's to busy solvin' rich white people's crimes. Like the chick that kicked the bucket over at the library. I aint allowed in the library, no way, no how. So I don't really care about that broad. 'S fun watchin' the in-fes-ti-gation. Gotta say, the chick with the newspaper gots some balls. Sayin' all that in the her paper. If I'd done that I'd be mob-lynched on the spot.

Life aint fair, but whatdya gonna do 'bout it? Go to your home away from home and get lost in the music. Just about the only place I could get lost in anythin'. So I came in early and left late again. Wasn't to crowded yet, my most favorite time I think. Could play any kinda music we'd like for now, till the girls came up and the wilder music was needed.

We finished the song and I smiled when a lone figure applauded. White girl, looked way to young to be sittin' there. Then again, can't really tell with them white folks how old they are. Think I've seen her before, not sure. Think it was with that new girl. Muffin' or something, had a weird ass name.

"Liked song huh?" I aked, cleanin' the mouthpiece of my sax. Least here I could talk to white folk without gettin' the deathstare.
Tara: i had a secret love (tara/gunn)taramber on January 6th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
After I clapped, I was surprised when one of the musicians looked directly at me. The other musicians got up and started moving around, talking and laughing, but he started cleaning the mouthpiece of his saxophone.

"Liked song huh?" he asked, smiling over at me. I think the only black person who'd ever spoken to me was my parents' maid Laetitia. During the performance I hadn't really looked at the musicians, lost in my own world, but I looked at the man now. Goodness, he was handsome. My father always said "niggers all look alike", but I'd learned that my father wasn't always right - and actually, often wasn't. And this was one of the best looking men I'd ever seen. I felt myself flushing. Why was a handsome man like that talking to me.

"I-it was really pretty," I said. "I-it's a pretty new one, isn't it? I like Cole Porter," I added softly. "He... writes from the heart." I blushed. Why was I telling a stranger this? He was only speaking to me to be polite.
Charles Gunn: pic#31986791_gunn_charles_ on January 7th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
Whoa! Okay, back trackin’ here. White chick is actually speakin’ to me? Like not with the sneer or the y’know, stuff. Usually when you talk here, you get the polite nod, of if you’re lucky a smile. Only the dancing gals and the waitresses talked to you. Y’know, actually talked. Sure things were way better here, they didn’t do the look down at the noses thing here.

Still. There were lines you couldn’t see, but they was there anyway.

White gal just talked to me. So wasn’t excpectin’ that. Pretty white girl too, and cute. What with the stutterin’ and the… Hope she aint afraid of me. Some of them are afraid of the big black guy, like I’m gonna do something awful to them or some shit. Fuck that.

“You do huh? Cole made it big,” I grinned widely at that. Boy sure carved a nice little spot out for himself. Wonder what it’s like bein’ rich like that for one of us. Would they still treat him the same? Doubt it, ‘s amazing what money can do. “So what’s a cute white gall like you doin’ here all alone?”
Tarataramber on January 7th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC)
“You do huh? Cole made it big,” he said, smiling at me cheerfully.

"Y-yeah, I guess," I said, tucking my hair behind my ear. "I hear he's working on a musical," I added.

“So what’s a cute white gall like you doin’ here all alone?”

I blushed at that. Firstly that a guy would call me cute, and secondly because it makes me think of what my parents would say if they knew I was here.

"My, ah, s-sister," I said. "She's called Buffy. Have you met her? She's a, um, dancer," I added, feeling my blush deepen. I was sure he'd see my pretty, slim sister and compare her to clumsy me. Everyone else did. "She just started working here s-so I came to support her."
Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on January 8th, 2007 08:26 am (UTC)
Girls knows a lot ‘bout a black mans music. Course once Cole made it big, he don’t count as no black man’s music no more. No, then all them white folks suddenly know him and adore him and… yeah. Don’t think she’s one of those though. Seems sincere this girl.

And does a very nice pretty blush too. See? That’s what I like about them white chicks. Can see their blush so damn easy. Not that I see that a lot, cause that aint allowed or whatever the fuck. Not that the womanfolk got much to blush about ‘round me do they?

“Your sister?” One of the dancers? Must be that new broad with the funny name. “Oh, yeah,” I nod, putting my sax down in it’s standard. Gonna be needing that one soon enough when them dancer galls skip on the stage. “Thought her name was Muffin, but now that you mention it, it’s Buffy. Which kinda funny name,” I grinned at her. There’s gotta be some story behind a name like Buffy, c’mon now.

“Nice of you to come support her. You don’t look like you’re comfy here though,” I observed, steppin’ down from the stage. “Mind if I sit here, Miss…errr… Fraid, I don’t know your name. Mine’s Gunn,” I grinned at her, “Charles Gunn. Everyone just calls me Gunn.”
Tara: I've kept secretstaramber on January 16th, 2007 12:01 am (UTC)
“Thought her name was Muffin, but now that you mention it, it’s Buffy. Which kinda funny name,”

I can't help smiling at that. "Buffy" is a very strange name, and it hardly sits well with our family's stuffy image.

"It was our mother's maiden name," I explain. "She wanted to keep it in the family."

I dare to meet the gentleman's eyes. He had such an open and honest gaze, but I still felt a little embarrassed.

"Would you like to, um, sit down, M-mister Gunn?" I pointed to the seat next to me. "You, you must be tired after your performance." I realise I haven't answered his question. "M-my name's Tara. Tara Summers." I sip at my cola. "And n-no, I guess I'm not too comfortable here. My, um, parents were never very approving of night clubs, s-so I've..." I feel my ears reddening. "I haven't been in one before." I must sound like such a silly little girl.
Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on January 21st, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
Muffin.. I mean Buffy is a family name huh? Yeah, I guess it would be. Who’d voluntarily give a girl a name like that anyhew. Gotta find that girl and tease her ‘bout it. That’s really to easy come to think of it. Sure she’s heard it all before and she probably don’t like some black guy doin’ it.

Whoa. Wait. Did she just actually answer my question with a yes. And a please even. Damn, there’s a first.

“Don’t mind if I do,” I smirked at her, pullin’ the chair out, slumpin’ down in it. Could say what you wanted ‘bout this place, but Lorne sure as hell knows how to make sure customers stay in his club for a while. Them seats are so comfy you don’t wanna get out any time soon.

“Well, nice to meet you, Tara Summers,” I nodded at her, signaling to Sidney behind the bar to come bring me my regular. Hey, I’m one of the musicians, I got some weight ‘round here.

“So,” I wondered, givin’ her a raised eyebrow. “If your parents don’t approve, then what’s you and y our sister doin’ here? Stagin’ a small rebellion?” I asked, risking a wink. “You want somethin’ to drink?”
Tarataramber on January 21st, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
“Don’t mind if I do,” says Charles - I mean, Mr Gunn - and sits down. I can't help feeling a little frisson of - what? Excitement? Nervousness? It's not often that I spend time alone with a man. Okay, let's say I never do. I didn't even have a date for my prom, which is one of the most pathetic things, really. I can't help feeling like my father is going to walk in here and shout at me, though.

“If your parents don’t approve, then what’s you and y our sister doin’ here? Stagin’ a small rebellion?”

"U-um, something like that," I said, not feeling it would be fair to go into the details of Buffy disgracing herself. "I'm, um, at college here." I wonder what he'll think of that. Not all men approve of women going to university. "A-and I work at a diner near here. B-Buffy is the one who earns most of our money, though," I say. "So I'm grateful to her." I really am. Of course, I wish she were working somewhere a bit less... Well, somewhere more respectable. But I appreciate what she is doing, really I do. I smile back at Gunn, feeling surprisingly relaxed in his company.

“You want somethin’ to drink?”

"Just a-a cola, thank you," I say, nodding. I really daren't drink any alcohol. I've been brought up to believe ladies don't do that, and whilst I know that might not be true in a big city like LA, it's a hard mindset to lose.

The barman brings Mr Gunn his drink and takes my order, giving us both a strange look, and I blush.

"So," I say, smiling. "How long h-have you worked here? I-is it a nice place to work?" I'm curious about him - and I also want to find out if there's anything nasty about this club, so I can keep an eye on Buffy.

Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on January 29th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
Sittin’ back in my chair I raise my eyebrow at her. They are doin’ the whole stagin’ a rebellion thing? That’s all kinds of dangerous, ‘specially in a place like this. Could be worse I suppose. This Muffy could be working in one of them dumps and end up with the guys in the backroom doin’ things I don’t think Miss Tara here would know ‘bout just yet.

Luckily we have Lorne here and he don’t like that kinda stuff. The girls here are pretty safe and taken care of. So are we guys come to think of it. Lorne don’t take any crap and funnily enough for a little gay guy? Everyone listens to him when he opens his mouth and yells at those brawlers to get the fuck out.

Only he don’t say it like that.

When Sidney comes over with our drinks I ignore his look and grab the beer instead. That right there hit’s the spot. Sidney worries to much. Such a momma’s boys, makes me wonder how he got to work here in the first place. Then again, he’s from our hood, I’m sure someone put a good word in for him. Probably his Momma. Now he can work and study.

I snort at that thought. Black man studying’ to do what? So he can be the laughin’ stock of them white folks?

Hell, even Miss Tara here will get more respect for havin’ been to school then any black brother. “Makin’ something of yourself,” I nod, “’s Probably a good idea. So whaddya studying?” I ask, skippin’ over her question about whether or not this is a nice place to work at. It is, it could be worse, and sometimes when the lights go out and the club closes? It is worse, but she don’t need to know that.
Tara: i had a secret love (tara/gunn)taramber on February 3rd, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
I notice that Mr Gunn doesn't tell me if the club is a good place to work. I wonder if he's trying to protect me. He wouldn't be the first. Daddy always tried to protect me, because I seemed to much more in need of it than Buffy. And he neglected her, and then - the terrible things happened. I have a brief, sick moment remembering the way Father had screamed at Buffy, veins bulging in his neck, calling her a whore.

I brush the thoughts away.

“Makin’ something of yourself, ’s Probably a good idea. So whaddya studying?”

"I-I haven't declared a major yet," I said. "Um, but I like literature. And art history. So probably one of those. I-It was a sudden decision, coming to college. My father didn't think it was worthwhile. He says a-all you can be if you're a woman who goes to college is a teacher, so I-I might as well save my money and be a secretary." I don't know why I'm telling Mr Gunn this; he's a virtual stranger. Maybe that's why; I'm not as scared of him judging me. And he isn't looking at me like I'm stupid.

"So, h-how long have you been playing the saxophone? You, you play really well," I add, blushing slightly.
Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on February 4th, 2007 02:35 pm (UTC)
Declared a major? Wha? That some fancy schmancy uni talk? She’s a clever girl she is, but she seems like those guys that come in here sometime and toss them expensive words ‘round. Thinking it makes them look all clever when all it does is makin’ them look all stupid and arrogant. Not that Miss Tara here seems arrogant, just totally out of place here.

Yeah, little country girl in the big city. Sittin’ in a bar she don’t really belong in cause her sister works here. Declaring a major. Whatever that means. “Oh yeah, “ I nod, letting her words sink in and then blink. She got a clever dad, but still. “What’s wrong with bein’ a teacher?”

Fact is, and I don’t know this girl very well, that she seems like the teacher type. “We didn’t get no edu-cated teachers where I come from. But without them we sure as he--ck would’ve ended up in the gutter or something.” Yeah, they tried. Only a few of us managed to make something out of our lives. Me bein’ one of them, and if this is ‘makin’ something of my life’? Yeah, waste of teachin’ now that I think about it.

“How long have I been…?” I blink at that question and glance back at my sax with a shrug. “Don’t really know. Started when I was a kid, only way to get out of the misery once and a while y’know. Music, it’s cool. So, you waitin’ for your sister to come pick you up? Or she on the show tonight?” She’s not gonna be out there walkin’ home by her lonesome is she?
Tarataramber on February 4th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC)
"Oh, being a teacher isn't bad," I say hastily, feeling my cheeks colour, afraid I've offended him. "But I gues my father's point was that even an expensive education isn't going t get me much in the way of career choices." I sigh. Even if I do become a teacher - and it doesn't seem like such a bad idea - I'd have to give it up if I got married. Then again, it's not like men are beating down my door. Somehow, though, the thought of being a teacher, only getting hired at an all girls' school, and going home every night to an empty house depresses me a little. I look at Gunn.

"But - you know - I... can't not do something just because I don't know if it'll turn out well. I-I have to try, you know?"

I guess if someone is going to get what I mean, it will be a black man.

“Don’t really know. Started when I was a kid, only way to get out of the misery once and a while y’know. Music, it’s cool."

I nod. I understand that.

"I like singing. I've never done it in public, but... It makes the worries in my head quiet down for a while when I'm singing." The only person I've said something like that to before is Buffy. I don't know why I'm being so bold tonight.

"So, you waitin’ for your sister to come pick you up? Or she on the show tonight?”

"S-she's doing her first show tonight. I thought I'd watch. Y-you know, support her. Then I guess I'll go home." I take a deep breath and decide to be brave. "Do you want to watch the show w-with me? If I'm sitting here on my own when the girls come in, s-some guys might... Well, I don't want anyone getting fresh with me." I've noticed guys come into the club as Mr Gunn and I have been chatting, and a lot of them look worse the wear for drink. I even see someone I served at the diner today - a handsome private detective who winks at me then takes a seat.
Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on February 9th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC)
Whoa. Watch? As in sit here and watch her sister get half nekkid? I raise my eyebrow at her when she utters those word, takin’ a quick gulp from my beer. Usually I don’t give a shit who’s sittin’ here watchin’ whatever and what them girls are doing, flaunting their good ‘round. Was their choice and all, and I know Lorne wont let it get to far.

But seriously, I don’t think this Muffy girl would want her innocent sister to *watch* the show. Support or now. Y’know. Support is all good, but I’m thinking this’ll go more into the highly embarrassin’ ratin’ for Miss Summers the elder. Not a good plan. Not a good plan at all.

“I don’t think that’s such a good plan,” I point out, voicing my thoughts. My eyes narrow at the small crowd already comin’ in and then turn back to her. And just as I’m ‘bout to tell her she should call a cab and go home, she utters the most insane word I have ever heard.

An incredulous look gets shot her way and I realize just how *innocent* and *naïve* this girl is. If she thinks she’ll be safe from them guys just cause she’s sittin’ with a black guy? Oh boy, does she have a lot to learn. “Yeah, I think that’s an even worse plan, Miss. I’m thinkin’ you should probably call a cab and go home. I’m thinking your sister would appreciate that. You do know what this club is, right?” I can’t help but ask carefully.
Tara: society hates us (tara/gunn)taramber on February 17th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC)
“Yeah, I think that’s an even worse plan, Miss. I’m thinkin’ you should probably call a cab and go home. I’m thinking your sister would appreciate that. You do know what this club is, right?”

I bridle slightly at this. I know I'm not exactly the most experienced girl in the world, but I do know some things.

"I-I know the girls... Don't wear too many clothes," I say. "But it's not, um, a brothel. Is it?" I look at him, really hoping he'll say no. I know Buffy gets in trouble sometimes, but I doubt she'd go that far. "A-and I need to stay to watch. J-just to check she's okay." I cross my arms stubbornly. I may be quiet, but I'm not a pushover, at least not where my sister is concerned. Then I duck my head and smile shyly at him. "B-but after she's been on... Maybe you could, um, help me find a cab? I-if you're not too busy."
Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on February 20th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
Look at that! Feisty girl. She’s hidin’ it though. To polite to get really feisty, to really tell it like it is. She’ll get there though, she’s got it in her. Not about this, however. She’s really not gonna want to see this. Does her sister even know she’s here? If she were my baby sister I wouldn’t want her in here. Then again, when it comes to Alonna I’m pretty damn protective.

“You gotta ask that?” I say, givin’ her a half smile. Yeah, she don’t really know shit. But hey, she’s from a small town and I think the biggest scandal they got here was probably of them jocks knocking up one of them girls. Happens here too, of course, but that’s just the mild stuff.

“Not a lot of clothes? Yeah, you could say that to put it…mildly. I’m sure your sister is fine, Miss Summers. Maybe you can go check in the back? Cause I’m still thinking you should call a cab and go home, wait for her there.”

And I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for her to have me looking for a cab. Less I was wearin’ one of them fancy red with golden buttons long coats, like those bellhops at those expensive hotels. “Why don’t you have Jake the bouncer get ya a cab? He’ll have one in two seconds flat.”
Tarataramber on April 8th, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering what the best way to politely tell Mr Gunn that I'm not going to leave without seeing my sister is when the lights dim and the act starts. Too late to leave!

I'm a little nervous when the act starts, particularly when some men at the front start whooping, but it's better than I expected. Firstly, the girls don't take everything off, and it's all quite tasteful. Secondly, the boys are better behaved than I expected. I guess Mr Lorne keeps the really rowdy types out.

In no time at all, the show is over and the lights come up. I dart a look at Charles. I wonder if he is comparing me in his head to the pretty, thin girls up there, and I feel a bit flat. I wish I were pretty like Buffy, but I'm just... me. Dad always said I was the clever one and Buffy was the one who had the looks. Didn't seem fair to either one of us, really.

Buffy waves at me when she comes out, but goes over to the man I saw at the diner earlier on - a good looking man with sharp cheekbones and a sharper suit. See, that's a smart remark. If Buffy thought of that, she'd say it and get a laugh, but I never say funny things to anyone. I must be dull company.

Buffy gives me a smile, and I know she's okay, so I look at Mr Gunn.

"U-um, w-well I guess I should go. But..." I feel a little embarrassed. "Thanks for suggesting a cab, but I can't really afford it, so I suppose I will walk. Would - would you walk a little way with me? I know it's a bit r-rude to ask you s-since we just met, but... The street is a little scary."

Charles Gunn_gunn_charles_ on April 11th, 2007 09:17 am (UTC)
‘s a good thing, I realize that it’s still early. Earlier shows aint so bad. Girls are just getting started and they don’t do the whole thing yet. Then there’s the dancin’ and shit. It’s when it gets later that it gets…well, okay, worse I suppose. I don’t think it’s entirely legal to go the whole way, but I aint seein’ no cops commin’ in to stop it.

‘Sides, the girls get paid well and there aint on one forcin’ them. Lorne just not that type o’man. He’s a good guy, which aint somethin’ you see a lot round here. To bad though that Tara still had to see this. I watch her carefully durin’ the show. Wishin’ that I could tell her that this is all that the other Summers does. Know differently though, and I aint tellin’ nothin’ less older sis didn’t tell Miss Summers Junior here.

Summers the older aint bad lookin’ either now that I seen her. Kinda like Tara better though. She got that innocent cute thing workin’ for her. Don’t think she’s all that innocent though. Not at all.

The music stops and the lights come back on. Tara stammers out that she should go, which yeah, I been tellin’ her for some time now. And woulda been anyone else? I wouldn’t have bought that whole ‘the streets are kinda dangerous’ thing.

“Sure,” I say, flashin’ her a smile. “Just gonna walk you to the door and get you a cab though,” I shrug, “Gotta do another round in ‘bout half an hour and some more later too.”