Tonight we open the comedy show at the Winnsboro Center For the Arts. The first act is a short play, “Anne-Arky” written by Lindsay Price, and it is great fun. I’ve worked with a great cast of players, and a terrific assistant director, Jamie R. Turney, and it has been a real pleasure these past 6 weeks of rehearsal.
I don’t know how my grandmother met the man I knew as a grandfather, so this is how I imagined it, based on what I knew about them.
Regina finished her shift at the Coney Island early and hurried home to wash off some of the odor of grease and chili that clung to her. She planned to go out for the evening, and it wouldn’t do to smell like a hot dog. Two years now she’d been at the same job, living in the same tiny apartment with no bathtub and a tiny washbasin in the closet of a bathroom. Washing her hair in the kitchen sink was an ordeal she didn’t undertake very often, and she would pass on that tonight, hoping a spritz of perfume would mask whatever odor might be lingering in her hair.
She put on the flapper dress she’d been lucky enough to find at the thrift store, and headed out to Fatina’s Bar. It was her favorite place for scoring a few dates, but the men she met were not keepers. They seldom came back more than once or twice.
Men coming in and out of her life was a pattern that had started with Fred and continued with John, although John had not willingly deserted her. The accident that killed him wasn’t his fault. It was the blinding rain and the narrow pavement that had him crash headlong into a Mack truck. Sometimes she wondered if she would ever find a man who would stay. Someone steady.
But enough of this feeling sorry for herself. Regina shook the thoughts aside and slipped onto a barstool, motioning to the bartender, Tino. He knew her usual and started drawing a mug of draft beer.
He came over and set the drink in front of her. “Looking good tonight, Regina.”
The compliment was accompanied by a wink that stirred a bit of heat. Tino was dark Italian, gorgeous with a well-muscled body that Regina longed to have pressed against hers. He never offered, but they played this little game every time she came in, which was often. She smiled at him. “Don’t be such a tease.”
Tino chuckled and moved down to serve another customer. Regina sipped the ice-cold beer, wondering if she should eat supper here – Tino’s mother cooked the best pasta in town – or go home after finishing her beer. Looking around the room, she noted that there were not many people out on a Monday.
It had been a couple of weeks since she’d had a “friend” over, and she’d been hoping, but the pickings were slim tonight. Based just on looks, the man returning to the corner booth might have been a prospect, but her stomach roiled as a sour smell of his body odor trailed after him. She might be a little free and easy with her body, but she had standards. Not making her throw up was one of them.
Regina nursed her beer for a few more minutes. She’d about decided to go home and heat up the hot dog she’d brought home from work when the door opened and a man she’d never seen here before walked in. What a striking figure he was in a dark trench coat and brown Fedora with a blue feather. His shoes were so shiny she could use one of the tips for a mirror if he came closer. When he glanced down the bar, his gaze rested on her for a moment, and she gave him her best smile. Things were looking up.
The man walked over and slid onto the stool next to her. “Buy you a drink?”
“I don’t know you.”
“Henry. Henry Stewart.” He smiled. “Now you know me. What are you drinking?”
“Beer? Pretty lady like you should have something nicer.”
“I do like a good Scotch whiskey.”
“Now you’re talking.” Henry motioned to get the bartender’s attention. “Two glasses of your finest Scotch.”
Regina tried to ignore the wink Tino delivered with the drinks. He knew her too well. Maybe she shouldn’t try to walk out with this guy in the next fifteen minutes.Henry
took his glass and touched hers. “Salud.” He took a generous swig. Regina took a much smaller swallow. It had been a while since she’d had the hard stuff. Wouldn’t do to choke while trying to impress this guy. The booze slid down her throat, warm and easy, and she savored the woody flavor that clung to her mouth.
“What’s your name, pretty lady?”
She hesitated just a moment. There was something about his smooth charm that made her wonder if she should back off. Finally, she shrugged and said, “Regina.”
“Ah. A fine Italian name.”
“My parents were German.”
“Maybe so, but they gave you an Italian name. Do you know what it means?”
She shook her head. “Do you?”
“It means queen. And quite appropriate I’d say.”
Indeed, she did feel like a queen, receiving his attentions, and it was nice not having to be the forward one. Some men were so dense, you had to spell out what you wanted. This man was different. He seemed to understand. Did she dare hope for more than just a couple of nights of fun?
As always, I welcome feedback on this excerpt. Have a great weekend.