First Line Friday — Reconnecting

4D2FE010-5CE3-4ADB-B1CC-506C99417764Lush 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.

Time to Write — The Peephole

513BBE11-0F37-4BDE-AB11-0E0A58674BEA“How did you find me?” Jimmy asked Anita.

Just an hour earlier, Jimmy had been sitting on his living room couch sucking on a joint and watching a baseball game on TV when his doorbell rang. “Damn, who the fuck could that be?” he said aloud. He slowly stood up and walked to the door. When he looked through the peephole, he saw a young woman, maybe in her late teens or early twenties, someone Jimmy didn’t recognize.

He decided to just ignore the unexpected visitor, whoever she was, and to head back to his couch and finish watching the game, but as he started to back away from the door, the doorbell rang again and he heard the woman’s voice say, “I know you’re in there. I saw you look through the peephole.”

Jimmy opened the door and said, “Whatever you’re selling, whether it’s Girl Scout cookies, magazine subscriptions, or Jesus Christ, I’m not interested.” He started to shut the door when she literally stuck her foot in the doorway.

“Wait,” she said. “Are you James McMurphy?”

Surprised that she knew his name, he said, “Yeah, who the fuck are you? What do you want?”

“Do you know Rebecca Hartley?” she asked.

“No, I don’t,” Jimmy responded, although in the far reaches of his mind, the name did sound a little familiar.

“Did you go to Northgate High School?” she asked.

Jimmy was losing patience. “So what if I did? Who are you and what’s this all about?”

“May I come in?” she asked.

Jimmy sighed, stepped aside, and waived her in. Once she was inside, he shut the door and said, “Yeah, so?”

The young woman made a sniffing gesture and smiled at the familiar aroma of marijuana. “My name’s Anita,” she said, putting out a hand for Jimmy to shake. “And you’re my father.”

Jimmy started laughing. “Yeah, right,” he said. “Listen, I don’t know who you are or what your game is, but you need to get the fuck outta here.” He reopened the door.

“Rebecca Hartley!” she blurted out. “She is, or was, my mother. She died last month.”

Jimmy closed the door. “I’m sorry about your mother, but I don’t know your mother and I sure as shit ain’t your father.”

Anita reached into a backpack she was carrying, pulled out a few old photographs, handed them to Jimmy, and said “That’s you in these pictures with my mom, isn’t it?”

It had been 22 years since Jimmy had seen these pictures, but when he looked at them, his mind was flooded with memories. “Becky,” he whispered. He looked up at Anita and said, “You’re Becky’s kid?”

“And yours.”

“No way. Becky would have told me if I’d have knocked her up.”

“She never told you because she knew you weren’t right for each other,” Anita said. “You only went out three or four times, but she said you were hot and, well, I happened. It was the summer after you graduated when she found out that she was pregnant with me. You were getting ready to leave for Ann Arbor on a football scholarship and she didn’t want to burden you.”

Jimmy was dumbfounded. He walked over to the couch, sat down, grabbed the remote, and turned off the TV. He picked up the joint and lit it, took a deep drag, looked up at Anita, who was still standing by the door, and asked, “How did you find me?”


Written for this week’s Time to Write Sentence Starter prompt from Rachel Poli.

 

Their Forbidden Garden

497BCD2A-6991-42DA-8D60-DA0D94D04AF9He looked at her, and nodded toward the garden. She nodded back, her tacit acceptance. Despite the fact that her father was full of dispraise for him and forbade her to be with him, their desire to be together could not be quelled. They would have their tryst in their forbidden garden.


Written for these daily prompts: Ragtag Daily Prompt (Garden), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (tacit), Your Daily Word Prompt (dispraise), and Word of the Day Challenge (desire).

Finish The Story — The Chapel, Part Last

41504FCB-7911-4C5A-A5AA-D77E6C909541Teresa, the Haunted Wordsmith, has this habit of starting a story and then pawning it off on another blogger to write the next part of the story. The “rules” are simple.

  • Copy the story as it appears when you receive it (and the rules please)
  • Add to the story in whichever style and length you choose
  • Be sure to pingback or comment on the original post please.
  • Please use the tag THWFTS
  • Tag only 1 person to continue the story

Teresa tagged Michael (Morpethroad), who tagged Crispina (Crimson Prose). Then Sadje (Keep it Alive) ran with it before tagging me.

So here’s what we have so far.

Teresa wrote:

Far beyond the city, in the middle of nowhere, sat a tiny chapel. No one knew who built it, why it was in the middle of nowhere, or why any traveler in need would always find the light on – but I know these things. I am alive because of Father Chris and the little chapel in the middle of nowhere.

I just turned eighteen and was so sure of myself. I knew everything I ever needed to know – at least I thought I did. I was an adult and didn’t need anyone’s permission to leave. So I did. I left home the morning of my birthday with a few clothes and what little money I had stuffed in a backpack. Mom and Dad weren’t up yet, which made it a little easier not having to listen to Dad ask why or listen to my Mom cry and ask me to stay. No, it was better the way I did it. At least it seemed that way at the time.

I boarded the Number 3 bus heading out of Jasper and …


And here’s what Michael wrote:

… noticed the light on in the chapel. I was curious as it was a shade of green I had not seen before. In the vestibule was Father Chris. He was a tall man, taller when he stood up, and he was standing there looking at me as I passed.

I watched, as around him, the green light seemed to throb as if suspecting I was flying the coop of my hometown. He was dressed in his customary black, but his clerical collar radiated a blinding white light. I looked away with a sense of betrayal and guilt.

I looked back through the window of the bus and found myself just passing the chapel, green light and Father Chris. This disturbed me, as the bus appeared to be travelling at a rate of knots by now having cleared the town limits.

Three times this happened, and I started to feel stuck in some sort of ground hog day. I then pulled the stop cord above me and alighted.

As the bus moved away I saw across the road the chapel, now dark, lights gone and Father Chris standing in the doorway in his radiant collar.

I found myself crossing the road and coming up to Father Chris who….


Here’s Crispina’s Addition:

… opened his arms as if he’d embrace me, his face collapsing into a picture of welcome relief.

“What is it?” I asked, for surely something had happened to cause him distress. But more than that, I wanted to know what that green light I had seen.

“Oh, my lad, my lad,” he said. “I’m so glad you have come. I’m to have a visitation.”

“A …? What, as in Jesus? Or a saint? Or …” I slapped my hand over my mouth “… no, you don’t mean the devil? Is that what the green light?”

He flicked his fingers into my face. “Silly boy! That ‘green light,’ as you called it, is just off Old Bess. But Old Bess is the problem.”

(I’d best explain. Old Bess was Father Chris’s exceedingly antiquated computer—steam-powered I shouldn’t wonder, it’s so old).

“So what’s up with her?” I asked.

“I think she’s not well. She refuses to access my records. And I have the bishop due any moment to inspect them. I don’t suppose …?”

The way he looked at me … what could I do but check out the ancient machine.

The fool of a Father Chris. He’d crammed a communion wafer into the thin slot of the floppy drive. I pulled it out and held it out accusingly. He colored up.

“But, my boy, my boy, I am so grateful. And just in time, for, Hark! That’ll be the bishop now.”

And true enough, a vehicle of sorts was drawing up outside the chapel. But when I looked out of the door …


Here’s what Sadje added:

… it didn’t look like a sort of transport the bishop would use. It was strangely shaped carriage, drawn by some creatures, which weren’t anything I had seen in my life. They had the body of a horse but very large wings attached to it. In fact the carriage came flying through the air on these “flying horses” and landed near us.

The person driving or flying the carriage stepped out and opened the door for the person inside to alight from it. The person who came out of the carriage could be a bishop, I suppose but from some other world. The whole of his body was emitting a strange white light. Father Chris welcomed him with utmost joviality and warmth. He was not deterred by the strange aura surrounding the bishop. In fact he acted as if it was nothing out of ordinary.

“Your Excellency, how kind of you to visit us in our humble abode,” gushed father Chris. “Please come inside, it’s too cold to stand out and chat.” He then instructed the coachman to take his flying horses to the side where a large barn stood. The bishop and father went inside and I followed them. I was wondering who this mysterious bishop was. Was he from some magical place or was I too tired and was imagining things?

When I entered the chapel behind them, the sight which met my eyes was so unusual that …


And finally, my very addition to the very long story:

… I let ought an audible gasp.

“Hey buddy, are you okay?” I heard a voice say.

“Father Chris?” I asked, “Is that you?”

“No, I’m not your father, kid,” the voice said.

I opened my eyes and looked around. I was still sitting on the Number 3 bus and the driver was talking to me. “What’s going on?” I asked him.

“You we’re having some sort of nightmare and you started screaming,” he said. “Listen kid, we’ve reached the end of the line. I’m heading back to the terminal on Main Street in Jasper. Do you want me to drop you off on my way back into town?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Can you drop me at Center Street?” As the bus headed back into Jasper, I saw the small chapel again. But there was no green light shining from within. Just the yellow glow of a standard light fixture. That’s when I realized that the whole thing — Father Chris, the green glow from the old computer, the flying carriage with the flying horses, and the strange bishop — was all just a dream. And now I was headed back home to be with my father and my mother for the holidays.

Even though it was not real, it was my dream encounter with Father Chris that made me see that I didn’t know everything and that what I really needed was be home with my family.


I’m not tagging anyone else. At almost 1,300 words, I think this story has gone on long enough.

So back to you, Teresa.

Time To Write — The Sweet Sixteen Party

56B0365B-FEAF-44CF-A603-E3E863D7DA8A“Who invited him?” Eileen asked.

“I did, Mom,” Christina responded. “This is my sweet sixteen party and he is my father, you know.”

“Yes, Christina, I know that he’s your father,” Eileen said. “But after what he did to me — to us — he has a lot of nerve showing up here.”

“You’re wrong, Mom,” Christina said. “He left you and you may want to never see him again and I can understand that. But he will always be my dad and I know he loves me and I love him. Plus, with what he’s giving you in alimony and child support, he essentially paid for this shindig you insisted on throwing for me. I wanted him to be here for my sweet sixteen party so I called and invited him.”

“I know, sweetie,” Eileen admitted. “But you must understand how uncomfortable this is for me, don’t you?”

“I do, Mom,” Christina answered, “but it will only be for a few hours and then he’ll be gone.”

“Do you see that?” Eileen whispered to her daughter. “That son of a bitch had the nerve to bring someone with him. Oh shit, your father just waved and he and his friend are heading this way.”

Dave walked up to his ex-wife and his daughter. He hugged Christina and kissed her on the cheek. He went to hug Eileen, but she backed away. “Good to see you, too, Eileen,” he said sarcastically.

“And who is this you’re with?” Eileen asked, her tone as cold as ice.

“Eileen, Christina,” Dave said. “I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, Alan.”


Written for this week’s Time To Write prompt from Rachel Poli. We are supposed to begin our story using the sentence, “Who invited him?”