Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Story Of Mrs. Tasse's Parlours, Part Three

The Story Part Three


Delores Bleu was often sad because of where she found herself in life. Her large brown eyes seemed perpetually moistened with teardrops, soft and heavy all at once. The globes too full and round for her to hold her eyes entirely open and so they often gazed downward in the direction of her rich locks and flowing curls in gathers and tucks of auburn. Eye lid and lashes too heavy to lift. Her hair looked as if it had been somewhat pressed or at least
unbraided, but it was produced by nature, and therefore natural and not synthetic. The color was like that of a golden tinged chestnut alight in the glow of a flame.

The hair fell helplessly and softly, falling nearly to the ground where sadness wept at her feet. Her lips were soft and slightly parted, as if to put forth a sound should there be a need, however she couldn’t find one. And so she remained mostly silent, quiet and demure. She had the appearance of sorrow. Her lips were shaped almost like the letter M, the deep philtrum full and lush at the base. Lips that spoke soft words, similar to that of an angel about to ‘shush‘ somebody, but couldn‘t find the voice.
Her skin was poignant, face reflected sadness, pity, and regret.

A portrait was taken of her, the photographer known for making his living mostly by taking images of landmarks, machinery or ships for local business. However, he also took personal photographs of the hidden side of local life, notably the opium dens in Chinatown and the prostitutes in the district. Obsessed and compelled with photography, he was handsome and dapper in his twenties. Lived alone and acquired a reputation for eccentricity and was mostly known for his quiet manner, perhaps he gave a little more, but not much, to his friends. His only true love was his love of the finished portrait. He fell in love with a few of his subjects there, but pined for them at a distance knowing they were not destined for his full attention and quite possibly below his family‘s social status. A descendant of an aristocratic Creole family, he spent nearly all the money he had, perhaps on the ladies of the district where his interests laid. Little was known about him, perhaps he hid in shyness or fear, filled with lust for the beauty of art, his portraits were refined and dignified even if they remained hidden from his general family life.

Bleu, as she was known, was photographed in this way, the studio
light softly lit, captured not the pureness of her skin or lips, but fell upon her bosom. Her auburn hair to remain a secret for it was set forever in black and white, stilled there upon glass negatives.
Her right arm is resting on her belly just below her breast, hand clutching a small but full bouquet of peonies and a single rose. The flowers thrust upwards just covering the base of her cleavage, leaves, stem and fern was but a loose garland at her side. Her bodice was a full gather of white, her gown reflected the true depth of black velvet echoed by light and shadow. She had heard the hushed and deprecatory words behind her back:


The words only added to her sadness. Her home but a room, her surroundings outside an indiscriminate jumble of worthless dance halls, brothels, saloons, gambling rooms, cockfighting pits, and rooming houses. She abhorred the barking dogs, animals in need, never to receive love or attention.

Her father died when she was young and she grew up feeling left alone, her mother all but ignored her. When she turned fifteen, her mother was courting a younger man, and seething with jealousy over her own daughter, kicked Delores out of her home and left her to wandering the streets in need of food and shelter.
She used up all the money she had, which wasn’t much, and ended up in the quarter in search of a job, a place to be needed. But as was typical of the late 1800‘s, she couldn’t find any. There was no work for a young fifteen year old girl and she was told to seek the help of a Madame in the district.
She saw a sign for those inquiring, Mrs. F. A. Tasse having just opened up her parlours at Conti Street.
Frightened, scared and alone, she wandered up to the porch where Mrs. Tasse spotted her and rushed her inside offering comfort, a bit of warmth and perhaps a place to stay.

Mrs. F. A. Tasse offered to train suitable girls in the arts of pleasure. The girls seemed to have it all. They were offered great seasoned foods of bouillabaise, jambalaya, gumbo filé, hams and sassafras seasoned sausages, shrimp and chicken. There were sauces with roux, garlic and French buttered breads, potato salads and tasso. There were clean linens, beautiful gowns and underwear. They were offered the services of a doctor where their health was checked upon. They were given jewelry and had hopes of fame and fortune, but it was all for a price. The girls would soon find out they were all owing to the Madame. In debt and having to pay for it all, they relied on attracting a wealthy suitor who might be able to help them find a way out, and perhaps become a mistress.
A few were very successful, but most were not.

When it was all said and done, and the years had passed slowly by, Bleu contracted an invasive form of bacterial vaginosis with oral thrush and vaginitis. Her symptoms became extreme. There was a fishy odor and a whitish-gray cottage cheese-like discharge from her vagina with a curd-like appearance and lesions that would not heal. Over time, it eventually made her unattractive. She ended up on the streets, suffered pain and flu-like symptoms. She was chronically fatigued, fetid, and wrought with itching and profuse sweating.

It was systemic and eventually took her life.

-End part three
Written by Steve Hough

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