Old Timer on the Rocks

Miriam swirled the swizzle stick around the naked ice cubes in her rocks glass, cigarette clamped in her teeth, mind a million miles away. The left side of her mouth twitched upward in a distant cousin of a smile as she pondered whether she’d spent more of her life on this very bar stool or out in the rest of the world.

The bar stool was the likely winner.

She squinted her eyes against the smoke curling upwards from her mouth and held her glass aloft. Greg nodded in her direction, and she set the glass back down on the bar, exactly in the ring of condensation staining the cocktail napkin. He finished swapping the pint glass in the sink and dried his hands on the towel tucked into his waistband before grasping the neck of the half-empty bottle of house bourbon.

“Only the best for my gal. How ya doin’ tonight, Mir?” he asked, talking as he poured. “Sorry I didn’t get a chance to catch up when you came in.”97cc7ccdc0a2270cf13cc91842aa9c38

The half smirk returned to her face. “It’s alright, Greg. I saw you were busy. But you know I’d rather wait a few minutes for you to pour me one than tip Joe. He’s been here a year if he’s been here a day, and he still can’t remember my name.”

Greg chuckled. “He’s been here less than three weeks, and he can’t even remember my name, Mir. Sometimes I’m not so sure he remembers his own.”

Miriam shrugged and took a slug of her bourbon, baring her teeth and hissing at the liquor’s harshness. “They all look alike to me, Greg. You’re the only one that’s been here near as long as me. You and ol’ Chuck over there,” she added, raising her glass to the mounted deer head hanging over the cash register.

“You’re probably right,” he agreed, refilling her glass again.

“Thanks, Greg. Maybe something stronger now?” she unexpectedly asked.

He reached up to the top shelf. “You betcha.”

The final OLWG




But None to Be Found Just Yet

Remember the girl who was left behind? Let’s find out what she’s been up to lately.


It had been a long, dusty day traipsing along the side of this highway in the middle of nowhere. Her whistle had long since petered out. Perhaps it was time to take an inventory of her situation, she thought.

Yes. That was probably best.

A patch of shorter grass was just up ahead, and when she reached it, she plopped down on her behind to go through her pockets. She smoothed the grass even smoother and began laying out her life.

Her right front pocket was empty.

The first thing she pulled from her left front pocket was a particularly round rock that she had just picked up, maybe five minutes earlier. She inspected it anew, twisting and turning it to check for any more appealing attributes that she may or may not have noticed the first time she picked it up. It appeared to be the same. She placed the rock on the smooth spot that she’d made.

Next up was a Dentyne gum wrapper, sans Dentyne. Normally, she recalled, she jammed the gum wrappers into the crevice of the back seat of her (former) parents’ car, but for some reason, she had kept this one. She shook her head, unable to recall any sentimental value for this particular wrapper. Next to the rock it went, just in case the reason she’d kept it came back to her.

Underneath the gum wrapper, she discovered seventy-eight cents in various coin denominations. She stacked them in order of increasing diameter, and checked her back pockets.

Her left pocket was as empty as the right front, not even occupied by a stray chunk of denim lint, but her right pocket was slightly more lucrative. She smiled as she read over the grocery list that she had swiped from her (former) mother three days earlier. The woman had searched and searched for that list, and never suspected her darling little girl had possession of it.

She sighed at the memory, knowing that at the moment, she was no one’s darling little girl. It was time for that to change. She gathered her small pile of belongings up and carefully replaced them in her pockets before standing up and stretching.

She arched her back and decided that it was time to come to terms with her new situation.

“New parents, here I come! Get ready for your darling little Frannie to come home,” she called to the vast prairie stretching before her.

And she set off walking again, whistling with renewed vigor.

PP #40