Rum N Pepsi Cola
By Missy

SERIES: Rum N Pepsi Cola



PART: 1 of 1

RATING:  PG-13 (Adult content including described nudity; themes; era-dictated racial references *see footnote*)


DISTRIBUTION: To Myself  so far; any other archives are welcome to ask, but disclaimers must be included, my email left intact. send a URL, and provide full disclaimers as well as credit me fully. Please inform me if you are going to submit my work to any sort of search engine.  Please do not submit my work to a search engine that picks out random sets of words and uses them as key words, such as "Google"


Please contact me in order for this story to be placed on an archive, or if you want know of a friend who would enjoy my works, please email me their address and I will mail them the stories, expressly for the purpose of link trading. MISTiers are welcomed! Please do inform me that you'd like to do the MiSTing, however, and send me a copy of the finished product. I'd also love to archive any MiSTings that are made of my work!



SETTING IN TIMELINE: alternate timeline; takes place in approximately 1945 Milwaukee. 

SPOILLER/SUMMARY: "We Got a Lot of Hope In This House" (Lavenny/Carly AU)

NOTES: This was written for Laverne Month in '07.  Please note there are era-correct use of slang references to people of German and Japanese descent, and they neither reflect the author's opinions on racial matters nor the root character's (probable and completely non-existent) opinions. 




The shrill whistle pierced Laverne's eardrum as she turned the final screw of the day.  Wiping her brow on the arm of her blue coveralls, she glanced at her wrist watch - it was five at last. 


The conveyer belt ground to a halt, and her fellow workers put in their last touches to the fruits of the day's labor.  As soon as she could get away she headed upstairs to the break room and began stripping off her heavy coveralls and work smock.


Underneath sat a simple yellow sweater set and grey slacks, both worn in the fashion of her idol, Rita Hayworth.  She glanced in the teeny mirror mounted to the inside of her locker and primped her hair. 


Laverne grimaced and shoved a stick of Teaberry Gum between her lips.  Who the hell was she making herself look all pretty for?  Her boyfriend was...


She clamped her fists down on the edges of her locker, cold metal biting into her palms reminding her to stay calm.  Recalling for the millionth time not to worry - that he could take care of himself, she retrieved her purse and headed down the hall and to the first floor to clock out.


"Hey, DeFazio," huffed Rose Greenbaum, her cigarette-scarred lungs billowing desperately for air as she ran to catch up with Laverne's retreating body, "can I thumb a ride from you?  I'm out of gas credits."


"Sure - I'm walking."


Rose bit off an unladylike curse as Laverne punched her time card, putting on her heavy winter overcoat and tying a handkerchief over her head.  "You coulda told me before I busted my ass trying to catch up with you."


"Thought you could stand to lose a couple of pounds," Laverne shrugged.


Rose puffed up.  "Yeah, the same way you could stand to dye those roots..."


Laverne snarled, balling her fists around her purse.  She couldn't sock Rosie in the jaw - fighting onsite was verboten, and she needed this job more than anything.  "Back off, Rosie, or I'll knock you on your can."


Rose mumbled something indistinct as she rustled around in her purse for her timecard.  Laverne surprised herself by waiting patiently in the stairwell for her to finish, then follow her out the side exit and to the street corner.


Typically, Rosie was already flicking a lit cigarette in the darkening night before they were halfway down the block.  She jogged to keep up with Laverne, who was all but running in an attempt to put distance between them.


"Want one?" Rose asked, holding out a Marlboro.


Laverne's nose turned up, mostly because cigarettes unfailingly reminded her of her father's smelly pipe.  "No thanks.  I don't smoke."  She leaned back against the support post of the bus shelter to avoid Rose's bright red nails.


"I didn't used to.  Now I smoke 'em cause they remind me of Ogden."


Laverne glanced sideways and watched Rose suck on her cig as she ran on her stiletto heels, her face pinched with emotion.  In the fifteen years she'd known the woman,  Laverne had never seen Rose Greenbaum cry, and it scared her.  And, she thought as she wrapped a sheltering arm around Rosie's shoulder and slowed her pace til they walked side-by-side, Rose had every reason to cry.    "Have you heard back from The POW office?"


"Nothing," Rose cleared her voice, tried to master it.  "I guess that's a good sign.  As long as they ain't found him there's a little hope..."


Laverne forced herself not to think of someone she hadn't heard from in two months, someone who could well share Ogden's fate.  "Yeah - like Shirl says, there's always hope."


It was raining - as they headed down toward Knapp Street a fine mist had become a series of fat droplets, then a light sheet.  Now Rose kept the pace, increasing it and making Laverne lengthen her stride until they were standing on the stoop of 450 Knapp.


"Hey," Laverne said, taking off her handkerchief in the shelter of the vestibule and trying to shake it dry, "are you okay, Rose?'


Rosie fluffed her hair, hand-combing it over her left eye as if she were Veronica Lake.  "Yeah.  I'm gonna go upstairs and see Mama.  See you at work."


Laverne's eyebrow forked in surprise, as Rose usually never wanted to spend time with her mom.  In fact, that was why she married Ogden - to get away from her mother.  His raised social status as an Army medic was almost secondary to fleeing the family domicile.


She put away that thought and checked the mail slot - nothing.  Shirl must already be back from the bottling plant.  Laverne headed downstairs and had to dig around in her purse for her keys. 


Home - what had been home to her since she was eighteen - was just a two - room apartment in a squat wreck near the center of town, but she and Shirley did what they could to make it home.  There were fresh cookies on the table and she nibbled one, missing the plush taste of chocolate chips and sugar in the barely-sweetened oatmeal raisin cookies Shirley had made.


Her best friend had become an expert in stretching meat rations and sugar points to their limit, and never seemed to get tired of doing her 'patriotic duty' by eating lots of vegetables.  Laverne, after almost four years of this, was starting to miss white flour. 


As if conjured,  her best friend danced through the front door.


Laverne smiled almost despite her black mood; Shirley was nearly aglow as she tunefully sang 'A Tisket, a Tasket' while prancing over to the kitchen in her overalls and tee-shirt - swinging a hoe as if it were a cane, she had clearly been working in the victory garden sandlot next door.  "Okay, Shirl - spill the sauce.  What's got you so happy?"


Shirley smiled and held out a white slip of paper.  "I have a letter from Carminnnnee...." she sang.


Delight ran through Laverne.  "Is there one from Le-..."


Shirley had settled down at the kitchen table and was pawing it open, despite her heavy grey-green rubber gloves.  She peered at the contents and sighed.  "Look at his penmanship!  It's gotten worse since he's been over there..."


"Yeah - but Shirl, is there one from Le-"


"Ohhh, look!  'Dear Shirl, I'm watching a beautiful European skyline...'"


Laverne noticed that Carmine's letters were hardly marred with the black censor marks that "Yeah, that's real romantic...SHIRL...DO I HAVE A LETTER FROM LENNY?"


Shirley frowned.  "I'm sorry, Vernie - there's nothing from him."


The knot in Laverne's stomach pulled tighter.  "Oh..." she sat down next to Shirley and tried to put on a happy face.  "Tell me all about Car-."


At that point, an air-raid siren echoed shrilly through the air.  Laverne groaned - why did they always schedule drills at the worst possible times?  The other tenants looked just as peeved as they tromped down into Laverne and Shirley's apartment in varying states of readiness.  The last person in was their landlady, Edna Babbish.


Laverne spared the widow a wan smile as she tried to avoid the grabby hands of Buddy Hapsberg from 201.  Edna doused the lights, and the low murmur of voices competed for dominance over the whine of the siren. 


Air raid drills were so tedious in Laverne's opinion.  Did anyone really think Milwaukee was worth invading?  What were they gonna do - steal the cows?  She stayed out of sight of the windows while remaining low to the ground 'til the siren stopped wailing.


Ten minutes later, the lights were on; Edna stood by the doorway.  "All right - looks like the emergency's over.  Let's leave Laverne and Shirley in peace.  Thanks again, girls."


"It's all right - anything for America," Shirley said, and Laverne indicated she agreed, despite her malaise.


The other tenants - who didn't like being corralled in Laverne and Shirley's apartment-slash-basement in these times of mock importance any more than the girls enjoyed having their privacy intruded upon - readily began leaving.  One voice piped up from the hallway before shutting the door behind Edna. 


"What emergency?" Hector Kestenbaum complained as he dusted off his pants, "why the heck does the civil defense committee think someone's gonna bomb Milwaukee?  We're fifty million miles from the coast!" Laverne tried not to look at his war-scarred knee before closing the door.


"I tell you what they're doing.  They're tryin' to kill the Japs before they kill us!" declared a nasal voice from the kitchen table.  Laverne spun around to see Andrew Squiggman sitting at her kitchen table, holding the empty cookie platter.


Shirley's features pulled into a tense mask.  "Andrew," she retorted, "we don't have a large oriental population in this state."


Squiggy's brow lowered as his face crumpled.  "Whattya talking about, Shirley Whilelmini?!  Ain't you been down to Chinatown?  And what about Missus Sugura upstairs?  Ain't she from over there?"


Laverne's jaw dropped at the idea of Missus Sugura - who was eighty, too feeble to come downstairs for the air raid drills, and whom she had known since her childhood - spying for the Nazis.  "Shut up!" she snarled, too tired to deal with Squiggy's usual insanity.  "There ain't no spies for the other side in this town, Squig, and there sure ain't any in this building!"


Squiggy shook his head, brushing off a handful of crumbs from his knee.  "You dames've all gone crazy since the war started," he said, handing the platter back to Shirley.  "Shirl, wouldya try putting in less cinnamon next time?  You gotta do better if you wanna be my one and only bride some day," he opined. 


"GET OUT!" Shirley bellowed, pointing to the door.


Squiggy's eyes narrowed, but he marched up the landing and turned to snarl to Laverne, "and you!  Whatt'd Len say if he could see his sweetheart kissing up to the enemy?  He's over there fightin' and you're backing up all the rots who wanna kill him!"


Shirley closed the door in his face, but for Laverne the damage had been done.  She sank numbly onto the sofa.


"Now I'm going to have to Lysol the kitchen chairs!" Shirley lamented.  "AND boil water to wash this platter off - look at the thumbprints he left!  All over my aunt Gertie's good china..." Laverne felt her best friend's presence beside her.  "Vernie, don't let Andrew get to you."


"It's not him.  I know he's just scared but he can't show it, and he's mad because they took Lenny and turned him away."


Shirley wrapped her arm around Laverne's shoulder.  "That's what it's about?  Lenny, isn't it?"


Laverne bowed her head.  "It's so hard, not knowing if he's..."


Shirley's arms scissored around Laverne's middle and gave her a hard squeeze.  "Lenny's fine."


"You don't know..."


"He's going to be fine.  We've been at war for five years now and we've been lucky so far, and I don't know why we'd suddenly be unlucky!" Shirley gave her friend another hug, then got up and headed into the kitchen.  "I'll make us something cool to drink and then get dinner going.  Maybe we could go down to the New View and see the latest Betty Grable?"


"Curfew's at nine, and it's seven now."


"Well, turn on the radio and see if you can find Luxor Theatre, please, Laverne?"


Pushing her concerns away, Laverne reached over and twisted the dial until she discovered the right hailing frequency.




Two hours later they were readying for bed; Shirley was re-reading the latest Raymond Chancellor while Laverne looked over Carmine's letter. 


He wrote, in his charming but guile-loaded style, about his time in the 42nd Battalion.  They had seen action in lots of vaguely European locales, carefully disguised to hide the position of the army.  The stories were generic but exciting; he had been pinned down in what had been someone's house  - had been forced to shoot his way out.  Lost a friend to the crossfire, but saved his own life. 


Shirley cherished the thirty letters she'd gotten from him like diamonds, as if they were the copies of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Daddy Long Legs she'd read as a child.  He sprinkled each letter with nuggets of comfort for his girlfriend - they were in a safe zone, making camp, eating k-rations (which were disgusting) and marching onward.  But in Laverne's opinion there was something pat to Carmine's words - certainly war wasn't as neatly put as these letters were?  He glossed over the death of his soldier friend Pat as if it were immaterial to his life.


But Lenny's letters - she had all hundred plus of then tied up in a shoe box with a green grosgrain ribbon she'd worn in her hair as a youth - were covered with strips of black where his words had been edited.


She carefully folded it over and placed it on the bed stand before snuggling down beneath the covers, "Carmine's a brave guy, Shirl."


Shirley smiled as she pushed back the covers of her own bed.  "I can't wait for him to get home," she confessed. 


"You think he's finally gonna propose?"


Shirley smiled as she turned off the lights.  "Do you think Lenny will?"


The words made Laverne smile in return.  "We got a lotta hope in this house," she said, switching off the light and closing her eyes, falling away into a pleasant memory.




He kissed her every knuckle, then pressed her hand to his neck while staring into her eyes.  She felt his pulse beat away beneath her fingers and smiled, resting her head on his shoulder.


The air around them smelled sweetly of flesh and fabric softener; their mouths were teased with the salt of passion; their skin tingled wherever their bodies touched, but it seemed the only thing Laverne could do was look at the man she'd just made love to.


He smiled at her - wicked and yet innocent.  "You happy?"


She ran her fingers down the chords of his neck.  "Don't this look like the face of a pleased woman?"


"It's the face of my woman," Lenny responded.


"M'I your girl now, Len?" She couldn't stop herself from asking. 


He grinned.  "If you wanna be.  I always wanted you to be my girl."




"Yeah!   Since we was six and I saw you on the lunch line."


She remembered the lunch lines - the poverty.  Her father had sold home-grown tomatoes and cucumbers door-to-door to get her through school - and her mother had not lived long enough to see the New Deal that got him his own restaurant.  "I remember that.  I was so scared, back then."


He lifted himself up on one elbow.  "You don't got to be scared no more, Vernie," he said.


She shook her head.  "He says, after he tells me he's gonna enlist."


His hand stroked over her side.  "This war ain't  gonna be nothing.  I'll go over there and shoot some Krauts and be home before you know it." 


It was easy enough for Lenny to talk about killing and Krauts - his father had fought in World War 1 and had a passionate hatred of the Kaiser that hadn't quite manifested in his son but had left him with a knowledge of the right slang to use.  As evidenced by his friendship with Andrew Squiggman, he took none of it to heart. 


"What about coming back and sweeping me off my feet?"


"You're already off your feet," he pointed out.  "Surprised?"  he teased.


"Today was a big surprise," she told him, rolling over onto her back.  "You tell me you're going off to war, I cry and tell you not to leave, you try to make me feel better and we end up going all the way."


He rolled over on his belly, watching her.  "Why'd'you sound so confused?  I wish I'd enlisted sooner."


"Oh, Len," she snorted.   "You're a card."  She stared at his nude back, which was the unappealing color of library paste but felt like silk under her palm.  She ran it down across his spine.  Lenny seemed to go on forever, a long platter of delicacies and strengths that played at counterpoints to each other.  She was moved to press herself against his back, to feel the strong knot of muscles when she rested her face against his shoulder.  Soon those muscles would  hoist a gun and bring another life to its end. 


She pressed her lips to the crook of his neck and tasted the salt of his humanity.  "You wanna really promise me something?"


"Mmm?" he asked, half-asleep.


"I'm serious."


"Uh huh."


"Promise me you'll come back."


 He rolled her over, pressing her on her back beneath his long torso.  Her entire world was made of blue eyes and a pale skin - she knew how the helpless felt for a brief minute.  "I promise I'm gonna come back," he said.  She closed her eyes as he said, "I'm gonna come back and take you away from here - we'll get married and I'll get a good job.  Line work..."


"And I'll be a mama.  We'll have a little house on the east side and have a little white picket fence..."


"And a radio in every room..."


"Even the bathroom?"


"How else're we gonna get the kids to take a bath?"


She looked into the blue of his eyes.  She wanted to tell him she loved him but fear stopped her voice but she thought he knew - that he understood she'd given every bit of her body and heart in the last few moments. "We'll tell 'em that they need to stay clean or they won't get no chocolate for dessert."


He smiled.  "And we gotta get a dog."


"No little yippy ones.  How about a big ol' basset hound?"


"You ain't gonna make me walk it, are you?"




"I gotta make sure to get a war wound.  Then I can point to my knee and say 'can't do it.  Old war wound.'"  His face fell as he looked into her eyes.  "Or not."


She took a deep breath and forced a smile.  "Don't think about the future.  Think about now," she suggested, her fingers walking down his chest.


He pouted.  "That ain't no fun.  I can't do anything right now - thanks to you!"


"Soldier," she said seriously, her hand tracing ever lower on his stomach, "you gotta get better at thinking off your feet."


He smiled, his eyes closing slowly on a moan.  "Ma'am, yes, ma'am," he sighed.




The memory was unhelpfully erotic but it stirred her in more than one way.  Laverne rolled over in her bed and looked at the framed portrait beside the telephone.  Lenny looked out at her in his flat-top, his eyes unfathomably kind and unaware of the danger to come.  She thought of Carmine suddenly and hoped war was as easy for Lenny. 


Hope - it was all she had.  The daily struggle was to make it everything she needed.  As she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, she bent her mind to the economy of life in wartime and tried to be satisfied with curfews.