His grandmother saved her egg money for years to give him a college education, and what did Milo do with that money when at last he inherited it? He quit his accounting major and bought a bar on the wrong end of town. Cecile’s Place seemed to have been built as an afterthought and was little more than a jumble of rooms tacked on over the years without any plan, named for the two-time ex-wife of the first owner. No one had changed it since the Eisenhower administration, and Milo saw no reason to break the streak. He was a teetotaler and a grunter rather than a talker, but he loved the smell of cheap bourbon and stale cigarettes, the almost-feral smiles of the patrons on a payday as they scanned the dance floor, Waylon and George and Tammy from the jukebox, the loves lost and made, the confidences shared with him. “You can tell Milo,” everyone said, and somebody even scrawled it on a bathroom door with a tangerine Sharpie. Someone would put on Hank Williams and Milo would slow-dance with the Marilyn Monroe cardboard cutout kept by the front door.

****

Opening of a short story I’ve been working on for awhile now.

7 Comments

  1. Trent

    Cool assortment of images here Melanie!
    I’m a gamer for jukebox style settings – like a diner or such.
    Some reason I dig the mix of “afterthought” and Sharpie.

    Milo surely has something in store – with such a fateful decision to buy the place…

  2. sara lippmann

    What a strong and compelling opening, Melanie — I’m in. The writing and setting transport — and I’m struck by a teetotaler opening a bar, the ironic and aching implications of that.

    Love this: loves lost and made, the confidences shared with him. “You can tell Milo,” everyone said, and somebody even scrawled it on a bathroom door —

    there is such sadness here: Milo dancing a cardboard Marilyn.

    So far, I really love the rate of your unfolding — it feels paced for a longer story — and I am eager to learn what the problem pressing on the forward action is, and how Milo will navigate, which is to say: I’d love to read more.

    with that money when at last he inherited it? — maybe …”what did Milo do when the inheritance came through?”

    Thanks!

  3. Al Kratz

    Very cool setup of this world and Milo is a unique guy. Will be interesting to see what the story is for him. Things I filed away the most from the opener is his doing the unexpected by buying the bar, his being a teetotaler, and the You Can Tell Milo line both in terms of it being a trait of his and also the shared community expression of the trait.

    Good stuff.

  4. John Steines

    Hello Melanie – this really rolls off on a good start and speeds up. I feel so sad for Milo’s grandmother, yet nice that he seems fulfilled in this role – whoever he is. Very nice start and good luck with this.

  5. Constance Malloy

    Melanie, “Someone would put on Hank Williams and Milo would slow-dance with the Marilyn Monroe cardboard cutout kept by the front door.” I have to know what comes after this. I agree that this is a wonderful beginning. The set up immediately pulled me in and the rhythm and language lulled me in a way that I was ready to settle in and keep reading. I wish you much success with this moving forward.

  6. Francine Witte

    Very strong opening. As Sara says, this is paced for a longer story. It is a story I would want to read just based on the voice and the whole setup and voice. I like the feeling of being in the hands of a good writer (which I am here) when i am reading. This works very well. Great work.

  7. Kate Gehan

    I enjoyed this a lot and hope to read more! That Milo isn’t a drinker but put all of the egg money into this bar is a great set up for more.

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