What Happened in Florida by Stan Dryer

Friday, November 4, 2022
Everybody's favourite waitress Maya has returned to Lenny's Diner after disappearing to Florida, and Stan Dryer's character tries not to let on how glad he is to see her.

Image generated with OpenAI
When I entered Lenny's Diner, I knew instantly something had changed. The level of conversation was a little higher, the tone a little brighter. It was as if a bunch of people just eating their lonely meals had morphed into a roomful of people enjoying dinner together.

I puzzled over this transformation for a moment then realized what had happened. Maya was back. She was out of sight down at the far end of the dining room, but her laughter was not. It filled the room, asking me to join her in the pleasure of some unknown joke. Even the owner, ever-pessimistic Lenny, sitting in his booth across from the cash register, had to fight back a smile.

Big hulky Warren, Lenny's son and heir, came out from behind the cash register with the giant plastic-encased menu in his hand. "Usual booth?" he said.

I nodded and followed him down to my favorite booth by the front window. It is where I can watch the comings and goings in the parking lot and play my favorite game of putting words in the soundless moving lips I observe. Half the screen plays I've written got a jump start thanks to that little game.

A couple of minutes after I was seated, Maya appeared next to my booth. She is a tall woman, probably three inches shorter than my six feet but a bit taller if you add in the crazy wound-on-top waitress hairdo. She's slightly on the heavy side, but you get the feeling that the extra weight is mostly muscle. She handed me that smile that gives me a quick heart flip and fixed me with her serious grey eyes. "How is Clandestine?" she said. "Did the two of you get along all right?"

"Once I got rid of that crappy brand of cat food you left for him, we have gotten along just fine."

"I hope what I just heard doesn't mean what I think it does. Tell me you haven't switched him to those tiny little cans of cat food that cost sixty cents each."

"Not that much if you buy them in the twelve-pack."

"You understand there will be no going back to ordinary food now. Why didn't you consult with me first?"

"You had disappeared off to Florida. Remember?"

"Aside from now demanding the finer things in life, how is Clandestine?"

"I would say we're bonded, which is nice except for the part where he sleeps on my chest every night."

"Why do you let him do that?"

"I'm sorry if I spoiled him," I said, "but I wasn't sure I'd ever see you again. He was the best substitute I had."

"Excuse me, I'll be right back," Maya said. Warren, in passing my booth, had pointed at a table where he had just seated a couple of new customers.

Maya did her thing with the water glasses and the little boat full of bread sticks, then came back to my booth and leaned down on the table.

"So what happened while I was away?" she said.

"Well, we all missed you."

"It's pretty obvious you all missed me. This place has gone to hell in just a month."

"Also, I am personally glad you're back," I said.

"What kind of glad is that?" Maya said. "Glad I now can make sure Joey doesn't screw up your eggs?"

"I don't have to spell it out," I said. "I'm just plain glad you're back."

"Spell it out anyway, Mr. Wordsmith."

I decided to lay it on thick. "Because it is nice to have a caring, compassionate, sensitive, warmhearted, empathetic and sympathetic person around. Also, one who cares about other people."

Maya looked at me with her drill-into-your-heart look. "There seemed to be a lot of redundancy in that statement."

"With you, there can't be enough redundancy," I said.

"I guess that's a compliment," she said. "But with you, one never knows." She stood up from the booth. "Got to get those orders before Lenny has a fit. You want the meatloaf?"

"Sounds good."

She punched me on the arm as she left. "Flattery will get you everywhere," she said.

Ten minutes later she came back and slid into the seat across from me. "So what else is new?"

"Well Mrs. Weinman's husband died," I said.

"So that's why she's sitting alone," said Maya. "I just thought lover boy was working late again."

All of us but Mrs. Weinman knew working late meant her husband was having a quickie with his girlfriend Vivian. "No," I said, "He died of a heart attack about three weeks ago."

"He wasn't with Vivian when it happened, was he?"

"No. He was home in his own bed. The missus knew he'd expired because he'd stopped snoring."

Maya covered her mouth with her hand to stop from laughing. "There is nothing funny about that," she said. "I should be ashamed of myself."

"Well his dying at home vastly simplified things," I said. "I suspect Mrs. W. still doesn't know about Vivian even though the latter showed up at the funeral. She had the decency to sit in the back row, at least."

"Good to know," said Maya. "Excuse me while I offer my condolences."

She walked over and sat down opposite Mrs. Weinman. I couldn't hear what they were saying. Maya said something and reached out to squeeze Mrs. Weinman's hand. The latter started to cry. Maya yanked a couple of napkins out of their stainless steel container and handed them to Mrs. W. They talked back and forth some more. Mrs. W. stopped crying and said something that caused Maya to open her mouth in obvious amazement. She stood up and punched Mrs. W. on the shoulder. "Go for it," Maya said loud enough so I could hear it.

Maya came back over and smiled at me. "That is going to be one fucking short widowhood," she said.


"There's this widower one floor down in their apartment who's had the hots for her for like a hundred years. Feelings are mutual, apparently."

"How the hell do you pry things like that out of people?"

"I'm just a good listener."

"The only good listener I know where I can't get a word in edgewise," I said.

Walter Malerson and his wife Linda were sitting catty-corner across the aisle behind Maya. He pointed at his empty coffee cup and at Maya.

"Maya," I said and pointed. She swiveled her head. Walter repeated the coffee cup point followed by a little hurry-up motion with his hand.

Maya gave him the finger but went swiftly over to the coffee bar and returned to Walter's booth with the coffee pot. She poured the coffee, reached into her apron pocket with the other hand and tossed a creamer at Walter.

He snatched it out of the air with one hand.

"Too bad that scout for the Yankees isn't here today," Maya said. "He'd sign you up for the outfield in a New York minute."

"Way out in left field," said Linda. "Walter's favorite spot."

Maya's laughter rippled around the room.

Walter tried not to smile as he opened the little creamer container and poured the contents into his coffee.

Maya came back over to my booth and sat down opposite me. "Now where were we?" she said.

"I was about to ask you what happened in Florida," I said.

"Nothing happened in Florida."

"Excuse me. All of a sudden the world's most trusted waitress decides to leave the lovely summer weather of New Jersey to fly down to the hellish heat and humidity of Florida for some unknown but obviously important reason. And you say nothing happened?"

"Let's just say things didn't pan out."

"What didn't pan out?" I said.

"Why is all this so important to you? Why don't we just leave it at not panning out?"

"What didn't pan out?"

"Okay Mr. Inquisitor, if you really have to know, I was stupid."

"You are never stupid," I said, "perhaps a bit impulsive at times, perhaps uninformed, perhaps not totally thoughtful about important issues, but never stupid."

"Why do I feel that wasn't a compliment," Maya said. "I was stupid. I got on this over-fifty dating site and met a guy in Florida who looked like Mr. Right. Things seemed to click, so I thought I'd check him out."

"And was he Mr. Right?"

"More like Mr. Wrong. The bastard had lied about his age. He wasn't sixty-five; he was more like eighty-five and was obviously looking for a free housekeeper. I never bothered to try to find out if the part about the yacht and the vault full of gold bars was true or false."

"I'm sorry," I said.

"It wasn't a total loss. I got to visit my son, his loser wife and their undisciplined kids."

"So how did a quiet, compassionate and forgiving mother-in-law get along with the wife?"

"I never physically abused her during the whole visit," she said, "although it was a close thing a couple of times."

I saw Lenny pointing at Maya and at the long counter where Joey puts out the orders.

"Lenny's pointing," I said.

Maya slid out of the seat and hiked over to the counter to collect her orders. She doesn't use a tray but stacks about six orders on her arms. Everyone stops eating to watch how she manages the trick. No plates drop. No food slips off onto the floor. My plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and peas slipped suddenly onto the table in front of me. Not a drop of gravy touched the surface of the table.

"Pig out, fat-ass," Maya said.

Down the line she went, dealing out the plates booth by booth with a quick word at each so everyone took those first bites with smiles on their faces.

Then she came over to my booth and sat down opposite me again. "Where were we?" she said.

"We were talking about how Mr. Right turned into Mr. Wrong, and how much you enjoyed your visit with your son."

"Like you enjoy those visits with your daughter when they try to fix you up with her mother-in-law?"

"Moving right along," I said. "Did your little expedition to the Sunshine State turn you off completely in regards to men?"

Maya looked at me hard. "You mean in regards to a long-term emotional relationship with a man?"

"Yeah. Something like that."

"Not completely," she said. "Now let me ask you a question. Have you gotten over Miriam?"

"I'll never get over Miriam. But I think I'm ready to move on if I meet the right woman."

"Do you think this theoretical right woman will be able to live up to the wonder that was Miriam?"

"I don't see it that way."

"How do you see it?"

"I see it as a choice."

"A choice?"

"Yes. I could sit around forever remembering Miriam and the wonderful life we had, or I could move on. I finally figured out that getting involved with someone else doesn't destroy those memories. I'd just be hopefully starting a new set of nice memories."

"And when did this big revelation happen?"

"I don't know. Maybe this past month."

"That's interesting," said Maya.

"Why is that interesting?"

"Oh shit," said Maya. "Barry's spilled his water again." She stood up and whipped over to the booth where Barry Sterling and his wife Nancy were eating. Barry is working on a case of Parkinson's disease and tends to knock things over.

I turned my head to watch. Maya had produced a towel and contained the flood waters, all the while carrying on a conversation with Barry and Nancy. I couldn't hear what she was saying but when she finished the mop-up, Nancy was smiling and Barry was laughing. What the hell had she said? I mean, the guy is slowly dying of a degenerative disease, makes a public idiot of himself and she leaves him laughing.

Maya came back and sat down opposite me again.

"I don't believe it," I said.

"Don't believe what?"

"How you do it."

"How I do what?"

Before I could answer, Gladys and Lorna appeared next to the booth. They are the pair that had been doing double duty to fill in for Maya on her shift while she was away. Gladys is thin, tall and wiry and can come on tough and strong when needed. She is the one who handles the occasional drunk stupid enough to act disorderly in Lenny's. She goes to the seat of the disturbance, leans over the table with one hand on her hip and delivers a short sermon on Lenny's Rules of Decorum ending with the suggestion Mr. Shitface takes his mouth somewhere else.

On the outside, Lorna is the motherly type. Round and rosy, with slightly greying hair, she radiates motherhood, someone obviously ready to let you bury your head on her shoulder and weep out your troubles. On the inside, Lorna has a heart of steel.

Now the two of them stood and looked at us with a definite air of disapproval.

"We have come," Gladys said to Maya, "to let you know we'll cover for you this one shift so you lovebirds can finally get things straightened out."

"This shift, one shift only," said Lorna with a motherly smile.

"Lovebirds?" I said. "What's with this lovebirds?"

"Yeah, where did that word come from?" said Maya.

The two waitresses laughed. It was not a laugh of delight but one of cynical amusement.

"Maya," said Gladys, "you are not the only one in this sweatshop with a vast understanding of human nature. We have observed you going off to Florida so Dumbhead here could discover how empty his life would be without you."

"That's not so," said Maya. "That's not the reason I went at all."

"And we have observed," said Lorna, "Mr. Wonderful's moping sadness after your departure."

"That's not true at all," I protested. "On one or two occasions, I might have acted a bit surly, but that was due to factors unrelated to Maya."

"Oh sure," said Gladys.

"Oh right," said Lorna.

"Was he really surly?" said Maya.

"Why should you care?" said Gladys. "You went off to Florida for some other reason."

"He was really surly," said Lorna. "Also moping, definitely moping."

"Really?" said Maya. She stared at me with a look that had a large percentage of calculation in it.

"Don't listen to them," I said.

"We must get back to work," said Gladys. "But we're only covering your ass for this one shift. After that, you pull your oar like everyone else in this slave ship."

They walked back down to where Lenny was sitting and said something to him. He pivoted around in his seat and looked at me and Maya. He shook his head. The two waitresses said something more to him.

Then Lenny laughed a real, out-loud laugh. I was only the third time since I've been coming to Lenny's I had seen Lenny laugh.

I looked back at Maya. "Well," I said, "that kind of lays things out on the table."

"I'm scared," she said.


"Yes. When my loser husband ran off with that scumbag doxy, I decided I'd had it with men. Worthless, untrustworthy, liars, the whole lot. Then you had to appear on the scene."

"I had to eat somewhere," I said.

"You frightened me. How was it we got along so well right from the start?"

"You get along with everyone. That's what I love about you."

"Did you just use the L-word?" Maya said.

"I guess I did."

"Is that the only thing you love about me?"

I stopped and thought that one over. "No," I said.

"Just no? How about a definitive list?"

"I think I love you because you frighten away my fear."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"I'm scared if we get together, I'll screw it up. It won't work out. Then I see you standing there, a big beautiful woman with a heart that loves the whole world and the fear goes away."

"That's so sweet. Would you mind repeating what you just said? Maybe leave out the big part."

I repeated what I had said but left out the big. I noticed Maya's eyes seemed wet so I pulled a couple of napkins out of their stainless steel holder and handed them to her.

She wiped her eyes then looked at me hard. "I guess you scare away my fear as well. I'm worried I won't be enough woman for you. You and all your writing, all your Hollywood friends."

"You know," I said, "sometimes in a situation if your attempts at analysis don't give any definitive answers, yes or no, you just go ahead and try things out."

"Was that a proposal?"

"I guess it was."

"Well that has got to be the stupidest proposal any woman has ever heard, but my answer is yes."

We stopped talking and stared at each other.

Mrs. Fradler's weird hairdo popped up over the back of Maya's seat followed by her face with the slightly too-red lipstick. She was crying. "I didn't think it was stupid at all. I thought it was beautiful. Congratulations. We've all been wondering when you two would see the light."

Andrea Smithson's funny horn-rimmed glasses appeared behind my seat followed by the rest of her plain and serious face. "You should have turned him down," she said to Maya. "At least make him do it over all proper. Down on at least one knee. A nice, straight will you marry me." Andrea has never married, and thus is still something of a romantic about marital bliss.

I had forgotten that in Lenny's, everything you say in one booth can be heard clearly in the two adjacent booths.

Mrs. Fradler yelled down to Lenny sitting across from the cash register. She pointed at Maya and me. "Finally!" she shouted.

Someone started applauding. Then everyone was applauding.

"This is embarrassing," I said to Maya.

"We better lash together some answers quick," she said.


"Are we getting married or just moving in together?"

"How's moving in together for starters?"

"Okay. Where?"


"Your pigsty or my incredibly neat and tastefully appointed apartment."

"My apartment is not a pigsty."

"According to Deidra, it's pretty high on the Slobs Anonymous scale of messiness."

"You talked to Deidra?" I said. Deidra was a young woman who had been waitressing while waiting for her big break on Broadway. She was a mistake that had happened too close to Miriam's death.

"It's more like Deidra talked to everyone."

"I think her bitterness may have clouded her perception of my apartment. I think you should check it out in person."

"Like when?"

"How about tonight?"

"And are we checking out anything other than the messiness of your apartment?"


Maya smiled. My heart tripped. "Yes," she said.

"Well I guess congratulations are in order," said a voice next to the table. It was Lenny. This had to be a big occasion. Lenny normally never leaves his seat across from the cash register, but runs the whole pony-show just by pointing, waving his hands and occasionally shouting.

"Thank you," I said.

"Thank you," said Maya.

"So when's the wedding?" said Lenny. Lenny is still living in pre-history when being in love meant you got married.

I looked over at Maya. "We're moving in together," she said, "to see if we're compatible."

"But you're going to start doing the discovering you're compatible bit at home now, not here in my diner. Right?"

For a moment, I thought Lenny was worried about us having sex in one of his booths but realized he was just making sure Maya spent more time waitressing and less gabbing with yours truly.

"Don't worry," said Maya. "I won't even wait on him. That way he'll still have to leave a tip."

"That is a diabolical side of you I did not know existed," I said.

"I was saving the diabolical stuff until we were betrothed."

"Betrothed?" I said. "That's a word that smells awfully of marriage."

"As well it should," said Gladys. She and Lorna had appeared on either side of Lenny, like two bookends holding up the Big Book of Morality.

"We're going to take it slowly," said Maya. "It's actually going to be nice to be able to do it in private without nosy waitresses listening to our every word."

"You're going to take it slower than the two of you have been taking it here in Lenny's?" said Gladys. "How long have they known each other, Lorna? Two years?"

"More like three," said Lorna. "Only you and I are left in the pool."

"The pool?" I said.

"Yeah," said Gladys. "For ten bucks you got to pick how many months you thought it would be before the two of you moved in together. Looks like I'm going to be the winner. Sorry about that Lorna. A couple of more months and you would have been home free."

"It's not at all clear that you're going to be the winner," said Lorna. "It depends upon the definition of moving in together."

"What?" said Gladys.

"If I know this pair," said Lorna in her fifth-grade teacher voice, "Maya may spend almost every night over with Mr. Wonderful, but will keep her apartment as backup just in case the whole romance goes down the tubes. Ditto for Mr. W. if he decides to move in with her."

"So you're saying that moving in together is only official when one of them gives up their own apartment?"


"Which pretty much guarantees you'll be the winner?"

"I guess that's the case," said Lorna, her voice heavy with feigned innocence.

"All of this is incredibly fascinating," said Lenny, "but I am trying to run a business here. Why don't the two of you get back to work?"

Which they did. Andrea and Mrs. Fradler disappeared back into their booths leaving us with a shred more privacy.

I looked over at Maya. "How much longer does the lease on your apartment run?"

"Three months. How about yourself?"

"Four months."

"That sounds like a reasonable amount of wiggle room," said Maya.

"None the less, we ought to get wiggling," I said. "Are we still on for tonight?"

"Right after work."

When I got back to my apartment, I did a quick declutter. I dumped the newspapers someone had carelessly left on the coffee table into the trash. I rounded up the papers Clandestine had obviously pawed off of my desk and stuffed them into the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. I took the half dozen books I must have pulled out of the bookcase when sleepwalking and put them back in the bookcase. It took just a moment to stuff the dishes and silverware in the sink into the dishwasher. A quick pass through the bedroom got the pre-worn clothes off the floor and into the hamper and the bed more or less made.

I wasn't worried about dust. Mrs. Hammersted, my current cleaning woman, has adapted to cleaning around clutter in her weekly pass through the apartment. Thus I thought I was pretty ready to refute any accusations of messiness when Maya rang the bell.

I buzzed her in through the downstairs door and had the apartment door open when she appeared pulling a little suitcase on wheels. She was still in her waitress uniform so she must have come straight from work. "I didn't have time to unpack," she said. "I need to change so I can wash my uniform."

She left the suitcase near the door and moved into the center of the room. She took a full three hundred and sixty scan of the room, obviously calculating where it stood on the SA neatness scale.

"Sit down and I'll get us some wine," I said.

She sat down in the armchair on one side of the coffee table. After I poured the wine, I sat down on the couch on the opposite side. "Well," I said.

"Well," she said.

At that point, Clandestine ankled into the room, a mottled grey bundle of feline conceit. Maya patted her lap and made little come-kitty noises. The cat took a short but dismissive look at her, turned, jumped up on the couch and eased into my lap. He bumped his head into my chest indicating I had permission to scratch him behind the ears. It was a remarkable piece of stagecraft.

There was a pause as Maya recovered from the shock. Then she spoke. "You rotter. You've stolen my cat's affection."

"It's just his way of letting you know he missed you," I said. "And besides, isn't he our cat now?"

"Our cat?"

"Yes," I said. "You're sitting in our armchair. I'm sitting on our couch."

"Well our armchair is a piece of shit and has got to go, but our cat sounds rather nice."

"Look," Maya continued, "I'm going to have to leave for a while. I'm out of clean uniforms. I'll change into street clothes and take my stuff to the laundromat and come back."

"Why do that?" I said. "Why not just use our washer and dryer?"

Maya's eyes went wide. "We have a washer and dryer? You mean like in the basement?"

"No," I said, "right here in the apartment." I pointed to the twin doors that hide the little appliance alcove.

"To hell with the clutter," Maya said. "I'm moving in here with you."

"Are you saying I don't get a part in the decision? That I don't get to even look at your neat and tastefully appointed apartment?"

"Yes, that's what I'm saying. By the way, why didn't you tell me sooner you had a washer and dryer?"

"I wanted you to love me for myself, not for my appliances," I said.

"How about I love you for both yourself and our appliances?"

"Can't have too much love," I said.

Maya stood up. "Well back to the existential realities," she said.

She disappeared down to her car and returned with a laundry bag which she dumped by the washer. She rolled her suitcase into my bedroom, coming out in a few minutes wearing my bathrobe with her uniform in her hands. She loaded the washer, came back to the couch where I was sitting and dropped down beside me. She reached up, pulled some pins from her waitress hair-do and let her auburn hair cascade down around her shoulders, an event I found more sensuous for all its innocence.

Clandestine suddenly appeared, leapt onto my end of the couch and climbed into my lap. Standing there, he took a long look at my face, then moved over and collapsed into Maya's lap.

"Was he apologizing for not using your lap?" Maya said.

"No. I think he was checking to see who was more likely to scratch his jowls."

She started to scratch his jowls. "It's time we got serious," she said.

"What could be more serious than this?" I said. "Moving in together."

"No. Before we discover how sexually compatible we probably are, we have to talk."

I looked at her. How had a waitress with always a flip answer morphed into this totally serious woman?

"Okay," I said. "Let's talk."

"I think it's a matter of different backgrounds."


"Yes. You remember the happy days of your marriage to Miriam and want to find a new life partner to carry on as before. I recall being married to a total loser who ran off with a chippie and left me with two kids to raise."

"What you said about me is not exactly true," I said.

"What isn't true?"

"Miriam and I were about to get divorced when we found out about her cancer. That was when I figured out I didn't want to live without her but was probably going to have to."

"You poor bastard," Maya said. "How come you never told me that?"

"It's the kind of thing that dampens light conversation."

"Well, if it's true confession time, what I said was not exactly true."

"How's that?"

"After I found out about the chippie, I threw Carl out of the house. Two days later, he comes crawling back, a real emotional mess. He tells me that the chippie was a one night stand and a big mistake and he wanted me to take him back."


"I was carrying a shitload of pride and anger. I threw him out again. Probably the biggest mistake of my life." She started to cry, then bent over and buried her head on my shoulder. I put an arm tight around her.

At that moment, Clandestine uttered an obviously disgruntled growl, thumped down onto the floor and went looking for a place to sleep not roiled up with emotional turmoil.

After a minute, Maya straightened up. I handed her my handkerchief and she wiped her eyes. "I still have my doubts about moving in with you. I have this nice single life all worked out. A nice neat apartment. A satisfying job. Lots of friends who accept me as a single woman. Why the hell should I change all that?"

"Then why did you go off to Florida to answer some old man's ad?" I said.

"I don't know. I guess I was getting away from you."

"And did you?"

"Did I what?

"Get away from me by going to Florida?"

"No, damn you. I kept hearing your voice making rude comments about what I was doing."

"Well," I said, "if it's any comfort to you, while you were away I kept telling myself I had this nice bachelor life going. A nice quiet apartment where I could play any music I liked. The problem was that I kept hearing your voice making rude comments about my taste in music, furniture and frozen TV dinners."

"Frozen TV dinners?"

"Lenny's is closed on Sundays."

"Whatever we work out, you are not eating frozen TV dinners on Sundays."

"So," I said, "You think we should keep our apartments and just have meals together now and then. Spend nights together occasionally."

"You want that?"

"No. I want you around all the time. I don't want you to have a place to go and hide if I get on your nerves. I want us to scream at each other, and then realize how stupid we're being and kiss and make up. That's a relationship, not just good food and fun sex."

"I still don't know," she said.

"There is one other important consideration we must think about," I said.


"Clandestine. If we keep our own apartments he is going to be spending half his life in a cat carrier, one disoriented cat, not sure where he belongs."

"Oh shit," she said. "Okay, count me and that blackmailing cat in for the whole caboodle."

She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. Then a sisterly kiss turned into something more passionate, followed by my exploration of what was inside our bathrobe.

An hour later we were lying in our queen-size bed half-dozing with Maya's head on my shoulder. The scene had the frightening feeling of a meaningful relationship.

"What's that noise?" Maya suddenly said.

"I think that's our cat scratching at our door."

"You think he'll go away if we ignore it?"

"Not Clandestine," I said. "I'll go see what he wants."

"No," said Maya. "Let me go. I've got to put my clothes in the dryer."

She got up, put on our bathrobe and disappeared. Ten minutes later she was back.

"We forgot to feed him," she said. "I gave him some of our expensive stuff."

"Good," I said.

"Now," she said, "do you have any pajamas I can borrow?"

"Our pajamas are in the bottom drawer of the bureau."

I sat up in the bed to get a better view. She dug out my favorite blue pajamas and started to shed our bathrobe but stopped. "Just what are you looking at?"

"Just watching you put on our pajamas," I said.

"Are you some kind of a sick voyeur? A lady needs her privacy."

"Wait a minute," I said, "it's not like we didn't just...'

Then I stopped talking and rolled over with my face turned the other way. The learning part of our relationship had obviously begun.

Now discreetly clothed, Maya crawled back into the bed and placed her head again upon my shoulder. We had almost dozed off when a large furry object crashed onto the foot of the bed and moved with pre-meditated nonchalance to a point between our legs where he settled in with a single cat-growl of contentment.

"What was he saying?" I whispered to Maya.

"Probably wondering why we hadn't set up this deal for him a year ago."

"I'm wondering that myself," I said.

"Me too," mumbled Maya as we dozed off.


  1. Stan Dryer’s “What Happened in Florida” can best be described in a single word: charming. It is an offbeat tale of two lamentably lonely people finally finding their way to each other amid the ambiance of a busy restaurant; the backdrop is faithful, true to life, as anyone who has worked at or spent a lot of time in, such an environment can attest. On the path to resolve to live together, the characters explore every question of possible disagreement, from sexual compatibility to the logistics of conveying “our” cat from abode to abode. The reader finds herself rooting hard for these love birds and their unrequited love, and is richly rewarded in the end. This is a feel good story, without the nostalgic element being overly embroidered. Really fun read, Stan.

  2. The problem with this story is that nothing like this happens in real life, more's he shame. I'd love to be eating at the place where Maya waitressed. I know fine brilliant people (a real rocket scientist for example), but nobody is that clever and empathetic as the people in this story. Usually I won't stick with a short story this long, but I fell in like with all of the characters and had to see it through. If not clear, these are all compliments.
    Doug Hawley

    1. I know the world is a rough and nasty place and many of the people I have know have lived through tough and often unsolvable personal problems. But, within the gloom and pessimism of the world, I still feel that individuals can find some happiness, resolve personal problems and change, sometimes for the better. While the setting of my story may be unbelievable, what I hope I have accomplished is to make the characters and their personal dilemmas true to life. I also hope my reader may leave with the feeling that there is still some humanity left in man.

  3. Charming! I agree that this doesn’t happen in real life. That’s why it’s a charming fantasy. I look forward to more from Stan Dryer. There’s plenty of grim realism already to meet that need.

  4. Oh Stan. This reads like a Hollywood film worth watching. Well done!

  5. Super read, fast paced, snappy dialog - sentimental but not over the top. Well balanced! Terrific how the backstory is woven in the dialog.

  6. Fine writing, enjoyed it. And what's a little light-heartedness when things are the way they are.