Lost Weekends with Frank Sinatra by Stephanie Valente

In this story, there are palm trees. In this story, you are a cocktail waitress.




You like working at the club. You get to wear black collared dresses and keep your hair short. The manager thinks you look exotic. Like Twiggy or that other girl who cried over a baby. Your manager will say the word exotic with a purposeful intention. You’re not sure what that emphasizes or if you should even care. You like looking like a boy and a girl at the same time. Sometimes, you’ll call yourself a birl. Neither girl nor boy. Something like a pixie. Enchanting. Strong. Tough. Magical. Whatever that means.

It pleases you. You think it shows.




You aren’t expecting to meet him that night. Though, you wouldn’t expect such a late-night chance on any other night of your life, either. No one really expects to meet Frank. Who does?

He smells wonderful. There’s cologne, of course. It has an unremarkable smell that you can’t really place. It’s perfect for him. Black shoes, purpose, and suits. He always has the right amount of cigarettes. He never runs out.




You are serving drinks to some other rabble rousers. Manager gives you the table because it’s after one in the morning and you are still doe-eyed. Or maybe, Frank signaled him over. You prefer the latter. Who wouldn’t?

Bring him a whiskey. The bartender always knows what Frank wants. That’s why he’s a good bartender. You got a haircut that morning. Fresh. Short. Blonde. You might be wearing pink lipstick.

He was with the Pack. There was talk of cards, beaches, and women with names that fall like ice cream.

You never thought much about Frank before. You’re startled when you realize how badly you want him to wink at you. Just once, you think. Know this: once will never be enough.




The first thing he says to you: Hello there, young lady.

Maybe your knees buckle. Maybe they don’t. Maybe you don’t want to be called young lady. Maybe you suppressed that nervous rabbit laugh. Or maybe, he heard it and he liked it. But you definitely smile.

Your voice feels like a tiny slip of a paper. It works.




Eventually, you see him enough that you begin to smell like him.




You aren’t sure about the helicopter rides. He picks you up after work. It’s late but he says you’re more beautiful than Las Vegas. You don’t believe him. So he shows you.

He brings the whiskey tumbler in the helicopter. His lips graze the back of your ear. You want to freeze everything in this moment. Dark breath. His lips on you. Pause. Stillness. Savor it. You want to hold onto it even more. Because you’re afraid of dying.

When you see the neon shapes, the moving marquees, the whole desert lit up, you grab his hand. Notice that he doesn’t pull it away.




The hotel rooms are always grand, always pretty. There are pianos, sitting rooms, a red dress waiting for you, new heels, maybe a small bottle of perfume. The staff bends over backward for him, and by proxy, for you. He tells you to go downstairs and pick out another outfit. Charge it to the room, honey. You do. It would be rude not to.




He speaks in very long sentences. Almost one sentence that never ends. You don’t speak as much. For the first time, you think this might not be a bad thing at all. You can’t tell.

You listen and listen and listen. He talks about bunny-girls, girls like you. He talks about how there might not be a God. His children. Former wives. You know there’s one he misses the most.

You’re a good listener and a good girl and he pats your thighs for it. It’s kind of patronizing, but you feel guilty that it doesn’t feel exactly wrong to you. Especially when he reminds you.




There are shows and limousine rides. There are kisses. There are new bottles of whiskey. Nothing ever really gets out of hand. Frank is carefully controlled. There’s a special kind of beauty to it. After all, you suspect he’s been perfecting it for years. You try to observe him more for tricks. You want to be just like that. Sacred and removed but involved.

But, what you really live for is when his mask slips. When Frank ruffles your short hair. When he tells other men to bat off. When other men ask why your hair is so short. When he raises an eyebrow in their direction and those men drop like dead flies. You smile.




You get yourself worked up all night with anticipation. It starts slow: his fingers on the back of your neck. A hand on your leg under the table. He orders a drink for you. His body gets a little too close to you at points. He introduces you to a showgirl, to a band leader, to anyone who will listen.

The best is when he doesn’t say anything at all. He just holds your gaze with his blue eyes. He remarks how dark your eyes are. Like dark chocolate. You blush. You feel shy.




When it happens, it’s pretty delicious. He likes it when your thighs are more than wet. When it’s been a long night and everything teetered on the verge of an adventure or on the verge of disaster. You wonder how someone could balance so precariously. Or, if he’s not balancing but everyone else is. If you get bored during the card game, the business chatter, or the men-chasing-girls talk, you’ll daydream about him finding your tan lines. You always make time to sun by the pool in the mornings.

The room is dark. There is no music. He loves to kiss your shoulders. He loves to take off your clothes. It feels like dancing but not. You linger inside drowsy minutes.

When it’s over, that’s when he’s a little more honest:

Baby… I don’t want to call you baby, you were dipped in gold a real beauty with that hair; you’re a Greek goddess, baby; I mean, Goldie; you know what I mean, baby; let’s have more whiskey; I like how you smell like coconuts; your skin is so soft, you know that, right; I had a little wife just like you; so soft and tropical perfume and short blonde hair and petite and oh baby, I never told her these things but I feel so comfortable with you, I can tell you anything you know that, right; God, you’re such a good listener; do you want to go to Palm Springs yes baby; I mean, Goldie; I got a house I want to take you there; I would love to see you laying by the pool. Gold necklace gold bracelets gold chains on your ankles like a pretty girl; I’ll sit next to you, of course; yes, wear your waitress uniform; black, right, tight so New York; Goldie, baby you’re my New York gal; you’re perfect you know that, right; skin so soft soft soft; how do you get that skin? pour Daddy more whiskey; yes baby like that just like that; imagine, we’re under the palm trees now; yes baby, made of gold, like that, yes.

Later, you’ll try to remember it all: his one, long sentence taken with a giant breath. You write it down in your journal with the bathroom door locked. Your thighs, still wet.




Months later, when the adventures fade, there will be a flower delivery. White tulips. So pretty. So different. Not exactly girly. The attached note is heavy cardstock with your name printed in heavier letters: GOLDIE XX.

A dress will come that afternoon. Pale blue with a collar. You know it’s something Frank enjoys. You keep them both.

You’ll keep the flowers dried upside down. Years later, your daughter will find them. She’ll look at you and you’ll laugh. Take the tulips away—there is something you want to protect from her touch. A ghost story or a lost spell. Or perhaps, you’re still a little bit greedy over this particular story. That’s okay. Anybody would do the same.



Stephanie Valente lives in Brooklyn, NY. She has published Hotel Ghost (Bottlecap Press, 2015) and waiting for the end of the world (Bottlecap Press, 2017). Sometimes, she feels human.



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