20. The End of the Twenties

I’m back with another “Fiction by Numbers” tale.  We are now up to number 20.

*  *  *  *  *

In her apartment high on the hillside above Hollywood, Lotte raised her glass of champagne to the twinkling lights of the city.

The air was sweet with the scent of hibiscus and geranium. The low buzz of the city, the buzz that had enticed her across a continent, filled her ears.

The champagne tasted bitter. It was 1929. She was 29 years old and tomorrow she would turn 30.

There’d been a financial crash back east, they said, and all sorts of talk of doom and gloom. Winter was coming, just as she was facing the winter of her thirties.

She had begun the decade by accompanying playwrights to restaurants in New York, then followed them out west to be part of the new world of motion pictures. There’d been parties and actors and writers and dances, and even a few walk-on roles for herself.

But her 20s and the glittering 1920s were gone now.

Jimmy, the playwright, had succumbed to drink.

Billy, the actor, had driven too fast on the canyon roads once too often.

Marty, the producer, was a bounder.

Alvaro, the lounge singer, was drop-dead gorgeous, but was, as her best friend pointed out, a gangster.

So what was a girl to do, when she was too old to be a starlet, and had no career to speak of?

Lotte swung around the column on her balcony. The steps to her apartment were so steep, cascading down to Sunset Boulevard, where the sidewalks jostled with new eager faces, just like hers.

She swallowed her champagne.

Such a long way down. Her life was a mess.

The twenties were coming to an end, and she had no idea what lay ahead.

Just then she saw a movement on the steps below.

It was her neighbour. The handsome young guy who worked as a carpenter at the movie studios. Their eyes had met so many times. Tonight he smiled and waved.

“See you at the party tomorrow?” he called hopefully.

That’s right, she remembered. The residents’ party.

“Sure,” she called.

And he kept looking at her, all the way to his door.

Lotte bit her lip. She raised her glass again, smiled at the stars and toasted her thirties.

*   *  *  *  *

Fictionbynumbers

Do you love silent films and cinema? “The House of Lost Shadows” is a paranormal mystery set in 1920s Berlin. Join intrepid Chicago reporter Grace O’Hara as she tries to solve the disappearance of a film director and his crew during the filming of his final movie.

I’ll be announcing a special offer at the end of the week!

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