Year created: 1934
Chapter: “Rendezvous with Destiny”
Book: Little Ragdoll
Written: 28 December 2010 (later had some lines added in while I was going back and writing in left-handedness for a number of the characters)
Computer created on: 2008 15-inch MacBook Pro
File format: Word 2004
This is Chapter 26 of one of my three great life works, the books I’m proudest of having written. My magnum opus is the handwritten Cinnimin, to eventually be 12 volumes, the other is my first Russian historical novel, and the third is this one, a contemporary historical family saga inspired by a true story.
When I first heard the story behind the famous Four Seasons’ song “Rag Doll,” in the Spring of 1993, I became obsessed with giving that poor little girl a happy ending and writing a book about a girl whom she could’ve been. I’m now glad I lost the original first draft for so many years, since it finally forced me to go back and start over from scratch and memory. The finished product is so much stronger than it would’ve been had I been forced to work around the mess I created at age 13-14.
This was the chapter I’d been writing towards for the entire book up to that point, though it’s far from over. I tried to loosely base some of the book around lyrics from the song, and Adicia (named after the Greek goddess of injustice by her black-hearted mother) still hasn’t met the rich boy who loves her just the way she is and defies his family to be with her. It’s a Bildungsroman, more about growth, change, and development over a tumultuous period in contemporary history, not so much plot-centric. The most plot-centric section is Part IV, which rather reads like it could stand alone.
“Window-washing,” Girl says. “I’ve scored so much money from it I’ve been able to buy Beatles’ records after we’ve bought our food supply for the week.”
“It’s not such a far walk,” Ernestine says. “Yous guys walk here to see us often enough. All you need to get started is a bucket of soapy water and a sponge or rag. We can even demonstrate to you how to do it on onea the cars parked down on the street.”
“Do I need two buckets?” Adicia asks. “I don’t want people to get angry at me if I wash their windshields with the same dirty water I used on thirty or fifty other cars that same day.”
“You think I might get extra dough if I washed a limo or some fancy rich person’s car?” Adicia asks.
“Who could get mad at some poor street kid?” Julie asks. “They’ll know by our ragged clothes and dirty faces that we’re not privileged uptown kids and that we’re one of them. Who could say no to giving one of us urchins some spare change? I got a whole dollar a few times too.”
Ernestine looks at her best friend’s free-swinging breasts and laughs. “I know something else you need to buy with your car-washing money, and that’s a bra. You could get arrested for indecent exposure if you walk around in public much longer with those things swinging around like that.”
At most she’s gotten a dollar bill when people don’t have change, but usually she gets a quarter or a half-dollar. Some people have been cheapskates and only given her a dime, but they’re far and few between. Her favorite place to get business, though, is one light that seems to always last for a good three minutes. With the cars forced to stop for that long, she has more time than usual to wash the windows. She tries to impress the drivers by how seriously she undertakes her endeavor, instead of trying to smile at them and make small talk. If they smile at her, though, she’ll return the smile.
As the light changes, she stands back and waits for him to give her her fair due. She sees him reaching into his pockets to search for change, then hesitating when he pulls out a bill. Adicia hopes he doesn’t want to cheap her out by giving her nothing or only change if a dollar bill is all he’s got. Then, with cars starting to honk at him to get moving, he hands her the bill and starts to drive away.
“No way!” Ernestine gasps in astonishment when Adicia pulls out the ten-dollar bill. “Some guy in a fancy car gave you ten whole bucks just for washing his windshield?”
“Maybe he’s a celebrity who’s in town for the opening of his new movie or play,” Girl says. “Or maybe he’s a new resident with a little money. Boy, I hope the rest of us run into him too, and often.”
Adicia reaches over for the record on the top of the pile, Rag Doll, by The Four Seasons. The face of one of the bandmembers looks oddly familiar, though she can’t quite place where in the world she would’ve seen any famous person before. Then, as she keeps staring at it, it dawns on her.
Adicia sits shaking and confused while she waits what feels like forever to Betsy to come back from across the hall. While the Rag Doll record is playing, she pores through Betsy’s extensive scrapbook of The Four Seasons, looking at every picture and news clipping carefully. Her heart is racing by the time she gets to the last page.
“You washed a millionaire’s windshield!” Ernestine says. “No wonder he gave you ten bucks!”
“Maybe he’ll drive through again and give me fifty bucks next time,” Adicia says hopefully.