The room fell into stunned silence before everyone made a mad rush to the door. Glasses hit the floor and shattered. I knocked over a chair in my haste, eyes darting all over the room for my friends, but George and Alexandra were nowhere to be seen.
Archie grabbed my wrist, pulling me to the corner where everyone seemed to be going. The crowd surged and my hand slipped free. Archie was lost in the sea of humanity.
Several loud bangs announced the entrance of the police. The door at the top of the stairs burst from its hinges, hanging sideways as policemen poured into the speakeasy.
I tried to hide my face, to push my way closer to the front of the crowd, but it was no use.
Someone grabbed me around the waist, lifting me off my feet.
“No! Put me down!” I cried, panicking. I kicked and struggled, but was handed off to another officer. This one, at least set my feet on the ground, but twisted my arms painfully behind my back, snapping a pair of handcuffs into place.
I flinched. “Please, stop! You’re hurting me!”
The cop grabbed my shoulders, spinning me around. “Dru Faust?”
Blood drained from my face, and I groaned inwardly. “Hi, Mr. O’Neil.”
The policeman frowned. “It’s officer. Come on.”
He dragged me roughly up the stairs. On the street, police vehicles waited, including three large wagons to take prisoners downtown. This time when I groaned, I did it audibly.
A police woman waiting by one of the vans saw us and ran forward. “What on earth–Dru? What are you doing here?”
“Hi, Mother.” I hung my head, mortified. This was exactly what I’d been trying to avoid.
“I found her downstairs with the rest. Thought you’d want to take care of this yourself.”
“Yes, thank you.”
Officer O’Neil unlocked the handcuffs, then hurried back down into the speakeasy. More officers were coming out now, leading handcuffed dancers in front of them. Some were still struggling, and had to be dragged by force. I looked for any sign of the others, but couldn’t see them.
Mother pointed to the stone steps in front of a stationary store across the street. “Sit down. Wait for me. By rights, I should arrest you myself!”
“Yes, Mama.” I did as I was bid, waiting on the cold stone as two dozen revelers were loaded into the trucks, including one of Archie’s girls. The clarinet player was still holding his instrument awkwardly behind his back as one of the policemen helped him into the truck.
“I ain’t sittin’ next to no nigger!” shouted a man already inside the truck.
“You shoulda thought of that before you broke the law. Now sit down and shut up!” the officer shouted right back, brandishing his club.
It was another twenty minutes before the police managed to round up everyone and get them loaded into the wagons. Mother exchanged a few words with Officer O’Neil, who then climbed into one of the police cars and started the engine.
Mother came over to me. She wasn’t a tall woman, but from my perch on the stoop she towered over me, arms folded over her ample chest as she glared down at me.
“I’m sorry?” I tried. “It was only the once. It will never happen again.”
“It had better not. Do you know how dangerous being here tonight was?”
“We were just dancing. I wanted to get some more practice in–”
“These clubs are illegal, Margaret! The swill they serve borders on poison, or haven’t you been following your father’s reports? And as if that weren’t bad enough, you could have been hurt in the raid, or, heaven forbid, killed driving home!”
“But I wasn’t drinking–”
“I can smell it on you, Drusilla Carolyn!”
Well, there wasn’t much I could say to that. While I was waiting, I noticed a damp patch on my dress, and realized Alexandra’s drink–or someone else’s–must have spilled in the mele. I’d barely had a sip of gin, but I sure did smell like a bar.
Mother took a deep breath, calming herself, and sighed. “Where’s the car?”
I pointed to the end of the block. I’d parked just around the corner.
She held out her hand, and I gave her the keys. “We’ll talk about this in the morning. Do you have money for the streetcar?”
“Good. If you hurry, you’ll be able to catch the last one of the evening.”
Standing, I continued to stare at my shoes. My beautiful, new shoes. “I’m really sorry, Mother.”
She sighed again, repeating, “We’ll talk about it in the morning. I’ll be home soon.”
Checking my watch, I saw it was almost eleven. I would have to run if I was going to catch the streetcar, and home was much too far away to walk.