Pairings/Characters: John/Sara, Joanna Crawford
Fandom: The Alienist (2018)/The Alienist: Angel Of Darkness (2020)
Genres: Drama, Slice-Of-Life
Spoilers: For The Alienist: Angel Of Darkness (2020)
Summary: John and Sara meet for lunch while the specter of war hangs over them.
Date Of Completion: August 6, 2020
Date Of Posting: August 16, 2020
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, TNT does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1396
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Note: The entire series can be found here.
Remember the Maine
Remember the pain
Of the dead.
Wave The Flag!"
Sara walked through the bullpen of The New York Times. She liked the controlled chaos: the clacking typewriters, shouting reporters, rushing copy boys and general air of frenetic activity. They had purpose, something she admired.
She gradually spied her husband furiously typing on his brand-new Remington. His intensity pleased her. He had given up strong drink and had added reporter to his position of illustrator at the paper. He was doing a bang-up job, and she was enormously proud.
John paused in his typing, took a deep breath, and smiled. He turned his head. “Hello, Mrs. Moore.”
“Are you a clairvoyant, Mr. Moore?”
“No, I just smelled your lilies-of-the-valley perfume.”
“Ah, I’ll have to watch that. Could be a dead giveaway on a case.”
“Always thinking, eh?” John tore out the piece of paper from his typewriter.
“I hope so.” Sara put her handbag down on his desk. “Can you keep our lunch date?”
“I should. Let me drop this off.” He gathered up a sheaf of papers and delivered them to his editor’s office.
Sara waved at Joanna Crawford across the room, who was working at The Times. Though there were some staffers uncomfortable with her black skin, most of the reporters did not seem to care. Joanna smiled at Sara.
John returned to his desk. “I’m free for lunch.”
“Very good, Mr. Moore.”
He smiled and escorted her out of the bullpen and down to the sidewalk. “The Soup Bowl all right?”
They enjoyed the mild spring weather as they walked to the small café that specialized in soups and sandwiches. It was a pleasant restaurant decorated in pale yellow walls and blue gingham curtains, and blue willow plates decorated small shelves around the room.
A pretty young waitress approached with a pitcher of water. She filled their glasses and left them to decide their orders.
John and Sara studied the chalkboard that listed the day’s fare. As she perused the bill of fare, Sara said, “I heard the Linares family left for Spain.”
“Yes, it seems like the wise move.”
“The New York Journal and New York World certainly think so.”
“Hearst and Pulitzer are making sure of it,” John said sourly.
Sara sipped her water. Not for the first time she was thankful that John had broken his engagement to Violet Hayworth, William Randolph Hearst’s goddaughter. Hearst as a father-in-law would have been a disaster (most people in Society knew that Violet was his illegitimate daughter). He would have insisted that John leave The Times and join The Journal, and it would have broken John.
The waitress returned and John asked, “Soup to start?”
Sara answered, “I’m not into the soup today,” and they ordered sandwiches, John roast beef and Sara chicken. They both ordered a side of potato salad and glasses of Coca-Cola. The waitress returned to the kitchen.
“My goodness, everyone is in a tizzy today,” Sara observed of the people walking by on the street.
“How bad is it?”
“Well, the Maine was blown up in February, so the first wave of hysteria has passed, but it’s still simmering below the surface, stoked by yellow journalism and Spain declaring war on us two days ago,” he concluded dryly.
Sara remembered how Spain had broken off diplomatic relations with the United States on the same day the latter blockaded Cuba with their naval ships. Two days later, Spain declared war on America. “Do you really think we are going to war with Spain?”
John shrugged. “Who knows?” He suddenly smiled. “I’d rather talk about you.”
“Oh?” Sara fluttered her eyelashes in exaggerated coquettishness.
“Yes.” John continued smiling as the waitress brought their meals and drinks. After she departed, he continued, “How are your cases going?”
“I wrapped up two this morning and have a new client meeting later this afternoon.”
“Much-deserved success, Sara. Your solving of the Linares kidnapping case was exemplary.”
“I had a great deal of help, John.” Sara took a bite of her sandwich.
“Yes, but you were the driving force. You kept digging when the rest of us were satisfied that the case was solved.”
Sara smiled. “Thank you, John.” She was warmed by the obvious pride in his voice. “Most of my clients tend to be women but there are men, too.”
Sara shook her head but her eyes were sparkling. “Even some of the women are disconcerted by an all-female staff, but most are delighted. They seem to take great pride in my agency’s accomplishments.”
“And why not?” John sipped his Coca-Cola. “You are a great example of the New Woman, Sara.”
“Isn’t that a Gibson Girl?”
“She can be part of it, but I think a New Woman can be more than a pretty face with a pompadour.”
“The type is also supposed to be athletic, cycling and playing tennis and all that.”
“With less restrictive clothing?”
“Definitely. Any movement that discards corsets is one I heartily support.”
“More support for less support?”
Sara laughed. “You have a way with words, John, as befits a writer.”
He smiled and ate his roast beef sandwich with relish.
Sara took a bite of cold potato salad. The sprinkling of paprika on the creamy potatoes delighted her, a touch of spice she welcomed.
“Laszlo seems quite taken with Karen Stratton,” said John.
“Oh, I like her. She is a good match for Laszlo: highly intelligent, in his field, and possessing a sense of humor.”
John nodded. “A formidable woman.”
“Just what our Dr. Kreizler needs.”
John grinned mischievously. “Do you think there is an announcement in their future?”
“I would not be surprised.” Sara finished her potato salad. She would have to ask Cook to add paprika to her version of potato salad.
“A man should always seek out his intellectual equal for marriage,” John said.
“Or a woman finding a man who is so.”
John lifted his glass of Coca-Cola. “Touche.”
Sara lifted her own glass in acknowledgment. After drinking she asked, “How is Joanna doing?”
“Better than I thought on the social side. As a writer she is unparalleled.”
“Good to hear. She could go far.”
They both knew the impediment she faced, but there had been black people who had enjoyed success in certain professions, but it had taken hard work and determination.
“Speaking of liaisons, how are Bitsy and Lucius doing?” John asked.
Sara broke into a smile. “A completely charming courtship. Oh, John, if you could see them!”
“Marcus told me that Lucius is completely smitten.”
"He's correct. Lucius is shy and awkward but Bitsy finds him fascinating.”
“The Isaacson brothers are unique.”
“Quite an understatement.”
They both exchanged amused looks. The waitress returned to inquire about dessert but they declined and ordered coffee instead. As they drank the hot brew a young newsboy ran down the street waving a newspaper. People turned and listened, surging forward to buy a copy.
John stood and said, “I’ll be right back.” He went out to the newsboy and after some jostling, managed to grab a copy and threw a coin into the boy’s pouch. He hurried back into the café with his eyes on the headlines. He sat down and handed over the newspaper. “So they’ve gone and done it.”
Sara saw the giant headlines: U.S. DECLARES WAR WITH SPAIN! She shook her head. She noticed it was Hearst’s Journal.
John crossed his arms. His words were clipped. “Damn them.”
Sara felt a wave of foreboding. War was never good. She also noticed the mild swear. John never swore in front of her despite her profession and hearing much worse in the less savory parts of New York. This proved he was really upset.
“We’re in the soup now.” John called their waitress over for the check, “I’ve got to get back to the office.”
“I’m coming with you.”
Sara and John left the café and went out into the milling crowds. Oaths were uttered despite the mixed company by agitated men, and women muttered under their breaths. Sara could feel the charge of angry passion in the air as people read the newspapers and talked with each other.
The United States was at war. Heaven help them all.
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