Trouble Down South Art Challenge
Painting No. 17
Tulane’s Dress Boot–1895
My next paintings will deal with characters and scenes from my Bootlegger Haze (Books One and Two) for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta. Tulane Broussard is a character from Bootlegger Haze (Book One-The Saga). She befriends Marie Claire Jefferson after meeting her at the Louisiana State Normal School, a college for colored teachers. After causing Marie Claire and herself to get kicked out of the school, she convinces Marie Claire to become a saloon girl. Read more below.
Tulane’s strong influence on Marie Claire was evident from their initial encounter, Tulane wasting no time inducting Marie Claire into the cruel realities of adulthood from the fine art of smoking cigarettes to the harsh delights of potent liquors to educating her on the lascivious nature of the opposite sex. The first night they arrived at the school, Tulane convinced Marie Claire to sneak out and follow her to the local saloon. She had seen the saloon on her way into the city and decided it would be her first site of exploration for that evening.
Tulane and Marie Claire stood outside the saloon, watching the crowd of people entering the joint, the clatter of the Steinway piano playing inside the saloon filling the evening air. Tulane pulled out a cigarette and lit it, imitating the fashionably dressed women in hats elaborately adorned in eye-catching confections of flowers and ribbons in the vibrant colors of reds, blues, golds, and blacks. As they sauntered into the saloon on the arms of finely dressed gentlemen in a frock coats, derbies, and top hats, their gloved hands dangled cigarettes from their fingertips, giving them an air of feigned sophistication.
Tulane passed the lit cigarette to Marie Claire who hesitantly took a puff. She inhaled and, without realizing it, swallowed the smoke. She began coughing and gagging, her chest burning inside and her nasal cavity raw from the sting of the smoke that exited her nose and mouth simultaneously. Tulane giggled as Marie Claire struggled for air.
Tulane offered her another cigarette, and Marie Claire, still tasting the bitterness lingering in her mouth, cried out, “No, I don’t want any more of that. That’s the foulest-tasting concoction I’ve ever had.”
“What’s wrong? You ain’t never smoked before?” Tulane asked.
“No, I haven’t,” Marie Claire said timidly, as if she had missed out on some great life-affirming act that other girls her age would have already experienced.
“I’ve been smoking since I was ten,” Tulane said proudly.
“You have? I ain’t never smoked before.”
“You’re a prude.”
“Everyone can’t be as worldly as you,” Marie Claire said, realizing just how sheltered her life had been in comparison to Tulane’s free-spirited upbringing.
“Well, maybe something else is more your fancy,” Tulane said, noticing a gentleman who had come outside the saloon, leaning against the lamppost and lighting a cigarette.
She walked over to him and, from Marie Claire’s vantage point, seemed to cajole the gentlemen into giving her something. A few minutes later she returned to show Marie Claire a flask filled with Wild Turkey Bourbon the man had given her. In thanks for his gift, Tulane waved to the gentleman who was still leaning against the lamppost.
“This is more like it,” Tulane said, twisting the cap and taking a swig of the potent liquor and letting it linger in her mouth for a second, her jaw swollen to lessen the sharpness as it rolled to the back of her mouth.
She swallowed and felt the heat as the liquor made its way down to her stomach. She handed the bottle to Marie Claire, who wasn’t as daring as Tulane, taking a sip at first, the liquor leaving a stinging sensation on the tip of her tongue. She took a bigger swig and this time could feel the kick as the liquor warmed her insides.
“See, nothing to it,” Tulane said, smiling at Marie Claire.
“Hum,” Marie Claire said, feeling the intoxicating effects take root.
They spent the evening smoking, drinking, and watching the parade of men and women exiting and entering the saloon. They drank the entire contents of the bottle, Tulane consuming the better portion of it, until they were fully intoxicated. By early morning, they made their way back to the schoolhouse, sneaking into their rooms, unnoticed.
Prints are available for purchase of the painting “Tulane’s Dress Boot–1895.” Prints are available in sizes 8 x 10, 11 x 14, and 16 x 20 inches (unframed). Email Katrina Williams at stepartdesigns at hotmail dot com for prices.
Check out the 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge with Leslie Saeta–http://www.lesliesaeta.blogspot.com/.
I am an artist and an author of southern and historical fiction and short stories. View all my artwork on my artist page at Daily Paintworks.
Check out more of my artwork at my Art Blog–KPWms Art Studio.