Lush melodies drew her to the door of the lounge, the friendly smiles enticed her inside. But as soon as she entered the room, she was hit by an atmosphere thick with the aroma of cigars. It reminded her of her father and a room in their house, which was actually a spare bedroom, when she was a young girl. It was the one place in their home where her mother permitted her father to smoke his cigars. This place smelled just like that room, and she wondered if all the men in the lounge would smell like her father did each time he emerged from that room of his. Strangely, the thought being in a room with men who smelled like her father both repelled and attracted her.
She made her way through the fog of cigar smoke until she reached the bar, where a man wearing a fedora was sitting by himself sipping on a martini and puffing away on a fat cigar. She stood next to him and asked the bartender to fix her a vodka martini, which he did. The bartender asked her if she wanted to start a tab. “Put it on my tab,” the man in the fedora said.
She sat down next to him. “Thanks,” she said. He tipped his head and said, “You’re welcome. We don’t get many classy dames like you in this place. What brings you here?”
“I was supposed to have dinner at the restaurant next door with my father, but he stood me up. I haven’t seen him in over ten years, since shortly after my mother died, and I was hoping to reconnect with him tonight. But when he never showed, I didn’t feel like sitting there by myself, so I left the restaurant and came over here when I heard the music,” she explained.
“Ah, that’s why you’re all dolled up,” he said, giving her the once over. “Your old man must be a fool to have left you sitting all alone like that.”
“Thank you, I guess. I’m Monica,” she said, extending a hand. “And you are?”
He took her hand and squeezed gently. “I’m Frank. Pleased to meet you, Monica,” he said. “That’s a nice name.”
“My father’s name was Frank,” Monica said. “Like you, he enjoyed his cigars.” Monica looked more closely at the man sitting next to her. “Would you mind taking your hat off? I want to see your face.”
“Sure, babe, whatever you want,” Frank said, removing his hat and putting it on the bar to his left.
Monica let out a gasp. “Oh my God,” she said. “You look remarkably like my father when he was a younger man.”
“Should I be flattered or insulted?” Frank asked, a smile on his face.
Monica had heard her father use that expression many times over the years. A weird feeling came over her. “What is your last name?” she asked Frank.
“Grayson,” he said. “Frank Grayson, but my friends call me Smitty.”
Monica felt faint. “This can’t be happening,” she said. “My last name is Grayson and my father’s nickname is Smitty. Is this some kind of a sick joke? She stood up, put down her drink, grabbed her wrap, and ran toward the door.
“Hey, honey, it’s 1955,” Frank yelled as she was leaving. “You need to lighten up in these modern times.”
As Monica left the lounge, Rod Serling appeared just outside the door. “Monica missed her estranged father terribly,” he said, “but when he didn’t show up for dinner tonight, she left the restaurant and walked into the past, where she finally met her father again…in a cigar lounge called The Twilight Zone.”
Written for the First Line Friday prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The first line is “Lush melodies drew her to the door of the lounge, the friendly smiles enticed her inside.” Image credit: “Cigar Bar Evening Lounge” by Brent Lynch.