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.

FFfPP — Stay Away From Spicy Foods

E9C58511-94C4-40ED-8DA9-57ECD141D1ECIt was pure happenstance that Tina had just left a class in emergency first aid when she encountered a man on the sidewalk outside of a restaurant who appeared to be having a heart attack. A crowd of people had gathered around him. Normally an aloof and indifferent person who hated to have an audience, Tina sprung into action. There was no time to evaluate, just to act.

She told one bystander to call 9-1-1. As she started the chest depressions, she saw a young woman who was in tears and was a basket case. Tina looked up at her. “What’s your name, honey? Can you tell me what happened to him?”

“I’m Dana and he’s my father,” the young woman said. “He knows he’s supposed to stay away from spicy foods, but he’s such a stubborn old coot and never listens.”

“Dana, I think I’ve got him stabilized. The EMTs are on their way and will transport your dad to the hospital,” Jenny said. “You should notify his primary care physician.”

“Thank you so much,” Dana said. “You saved his life. How can I ever repay you?”

“Just keep your dad away from spicy foods.”

(196 words)

Written for this week’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner from Roger Shipp. Photo credit: Gaborfromhungary at

Also for these daily prompts: Ragtag Daily Prompt (happenstance), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (aloof), The Daily Spur (audience), Weekly Prompts (evaluate), Daily Addictions (basket), Word of the Day Challenge (spicy), and Your Daily Word Prompt (notify).

Friday Fictioneers — Tacky, Campy, and Kitschy

319AF249-8523-4678-906F-1CFBAC0F8B58“Tacky,” Adele said as she looked around and offered her unsolicited opinion about the restaurant’s decor. “What is that monstrosity on the wall? A papier-mâché orca? Really, Gladys, why would you even suggest a place like this for our weekly lunch?”

“Oh Adele, don’t be such a snob,” Gladys said. “I think it’s kind of campy.”

“I sort of agree with Adele,” Arlene said. “The decor does seem kind of kitschy.”

“Campy? Kitschy? Seriously, you two are just being bitchy,” Gladys said. “This is a restaurant, not a gallery. We came here to eat, so shut up and let’s order.”

(100 words)

Written for this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Photo credit: Dale Roberson.

Split Pea Soup

46b5b051-4f24-4e1e-b800-bc99878c2cd3“Mom, I am so upset,” Elaine said. “I just checked on Yelp and my favorite neighborhood restaurant went out of business.”

“Oh, honey,” her mother said, “no wonder you’re looking so forlorn. But you know, sweetheart, this part of town is in transition and a lot of those hipsters are buying up a lot of properties and are taking over the neighborhood, so some of the older, established businesses can’t afford the higher rents and are taking flight.”

“I know that, Mom,” Elaine said, “but that place was so adorable and it had the greatest split pea soup in the city, next to your homemade split pea soup, of course.”

“Elaine, I have a great idea,” her mother said. “I got a circular yesterday from the farmer’s market. They’re having a special on dried split peasHow about we head over there, pick some up, and I’ll whip up a kettle of my world famous split pea soup for you. Would that make you feel a little better?”

“You’re the best, Mom,” Elaine said, giving her mom a big hug.

Written for these daily prompts: Word of the Day (yelp), Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (forlorn), Ragtag Daily Prompt (flight), Your Daily Word Prompt (adorable), Daily Addictions (circular), and Swimmers (peas).

JusJoJan — Serendipity

For today’s Just Jot It January prompt from Linda G. Hill, Jill from J-Dubs Grin and Bear It, suggested the word “serendipity.”

Serendipity, according to, means “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”

I like to think that my being set up on a blind date with the woman who eventually became my wife was a serendipitous occurrence.

But when I think of the word “serendipity,” two things come to mind. One is the blog by that name published my Marilyn Armstrong.7506a8d2-71dd-4ac9-ac27-37e42a591913You should check out her blog if you’re not already one of her more than 11,000 followers.

The other “serendipity” I think of is the restaurant in New York City’s Upper East Side, Serendipity 3.86517c4d-c4c9-4914-b717-c0234b1c9f47The menu at this nearly 70-year-old American restaurant includes burgers, footlong hotdogs, thick-cut fries, country meat loaf, four different pastas, and chicken pot pie. But desserts are the real draw, including Serendipity’s famous frozen hot chocolate and its outsized sundaes.4f2acea7-2a82-4aee-b10c-f2acd270507eI’ve only been there a few times, but whenever I went to NYC, which is rare these days since I live in San Francisco now, I made a point of stopping by for dessert at Serendipity 3.