A few of us have been talking about doing a serial story around here. So far 4 of us have agreed to contribute, each in turn. I will post a new installment by a different writer every Monday. If you would like to participate, please let me know in the comments. The only rules--keep in less than 700 words, move the story forward, and have fun. And now... to installment number 1. ________________________
Frank Sinatra Lonergan, lucky lotto Winner number one, slinked into the photo booth, the one used mostly by teenagers and nostalgic elderly morning-walkers. Mall security kept an eye on it, hoping to prevent hormonal juveniles from forever recording some regrettable romantic rendezvous. Frank went to church with Thornton, the head of mall security at the Crowning Plaza, and had greased him to rope off the booth with yellow police tape. It was a fitting office for Frank, really.
Laptop under his left arm, small thermos filled with Bloody Mary in his right hand, and that ticket-stub that had changed everything in his shirt pocket, Frank drew the curtain and sat in the booth. He would write the memoir of a born-loser whose fates had recanted mid-stream. He would write his story. And he would do it here, the place where everything changed. Frank poured a thermos-lid full, took a drink. He felt the wash of fresh cracked pepper, the twinge of juiced vine-ripened tomatoes, and the bite of a Tabasco dash. Then, he opened his computer, and began.
My name was supposed to be Mary. In 1956 medicine couldn’t accurately tell you the sex of a baby, so women puzzled guesses by some combination of midwifery folk-lore and Creole voodoo. For nine months, Momma had prayed to the good Lord for a little girl and she danced around the house singing “Luck be a Lady.” I think Momma thought that if I’d come out a girl, Daddy’d come back around more. I don’t think it would have mattered.
I came screaming into the world in November 26, that unlucky bouncing bundle of boy. When they congratulated her on the birth of her new son, Momma did the only thing she knew to do. She named me Frank Sinatra Lonergan and asked the nurse for a martini, dirty, double olives. The nurse said, “this ain’t no bar, lady.” Momma said, “and that ain’t no girl, sister. Find me my drink.” I never asked Momma whether she got that drink, but she was forever winking at me and calling me by my nickname—Olives.
Daddy didn’t much care about me. He was a truck driver and was somewhere near Spokane on my birthday. I think he abandoned his rig and decided to stay up there. I never really knew him, but momma said he was a vexation. Even though he didn’t smoke, drink, or cuss, he didn’t know how to pray to the saints. And he wasn’t Catholic, either. I think he was brought up in an Assembly somewhere in Tennessee, somewhere where flames of fire dance over Holy Ghost swept hair. A vexation, she was always reminding me.