Where did she go?

For readers of Under the Poppy, Vera was well-known as a sharpster, the girl most likely to take your wallet with one hand while she frisked your trousers with the other:

“Vera’s packed her traps,” Lucy says, to everyone and no one. “She’s on her way up the road tonight.” Their startled murmurs, Jonathan’s wide eyes and “The last train,” Lucy says. “Bought her ticket with that money she squirrels away, you note she’d never the price of a ribbon or a cigarette, always promising to pay you back later. Well, she’s paying us back all right. Off she goes, to Victoria she says, and thence to Paris. Paris! She might as well fly up to the moon.”

Readers of The Mercury Waltz will not learn if Vera ever made it to Paris, as her story-thread disappeared from the tale mid-point through the Poppy; and we are most concerned with those gentlemen of the road, Rupert and Istvan, where they went and what they did, what new allies or enemies they gathered in the city where they find themselves making a home, this time for good.

But no character is “just” a character, they’re all intrinsic to the story, otherwise why were they found there at all? Why this floozy, this sharp-eyed, acquisitive, self-protective Vera, sister to watchful Velma, if she did not belong at the Poppy, however briefly? To follow those threads, all of them, what fun it would be . . .  I like to think that Vera made it to Paris, and made a lot of wealthy gentlemen less wealthy, if incrementally more wise.

[Photo of Vanessa Ellen Hentschel courtesy Rick Lieder.]


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