hideaway lounge

William Torphy

William Torphy’s opinion pieces have been featured in blogs, including Solstice Literary Review and OpEdge. He is a host and frequent reader at LitCrawl in San Francisco where he serves the arts community as an exhibition curator.

His fiction has appeared in a number of magazines, including Bryant Literary Review, The Fictional Café, ImageOutWrite, Sun Star Quarterly, Burningword Literary Journal, Chelsea Café, Arlington Literary Journal, The Meta Worker, and HOME:An Anthology. He is the author of three books (poetry, biography, Young Adult) and has written for a number of magazines, including Artweek, Exposee, and Pacific Magazine.




Hideaway Lounge

written by William Torphy

Every couple has their favorite place. For Margaret and Bernie, it was the popular film-world hangout, Hideaway Lounge — a Hollywood watering hole for cameramen, wardrobe mistresses, and carpenters, located at the Sunset Inn.

Hideaway Lounge is the story of Margaret and Bernie’s long marriage, told through a series of nostalgic flashbacks to Hollywood of the 1950s, alternating with the present day. As they near the end of their long lives, the couple hatches a surprising plan, and one fateful night they return to the Sunset Inn, where they first met sixty years earlier.


Read by Tom Zingarelli

     He was twenty-four years old when he arrived at L.A.’s Union Station in 1956, carrying a battered leather suitcase that held a pencil-marked screenplay he’d labored over during that last year Milwaukee.

He opened the Hideaway’s door, and he spotted her. She was holding a drink and laughing at something the bartender had just said. The ceiling fan ruffled her chestnut hair, raising energetic little wisps around a face with the most beautiful complexion he’d ever seen.

 “The room’s definitely seen better days,” declared Bernie. The drapes were worn and the towels thinner than he remembered. They laughed it off, and, inspired by the memory of their first year together, spent most of the weekend in bed.

“My wife and I met here at the Hideaway Lounge.”

     “That was before my time.”      

     “The bartender made the best Manhattans in L.A.”

     “Nothing lasts forever, right?”

Q&A with William

Tell us about your story...

Hideaway Lounge is told through a series of flashbacks alternating with present time. Bernie Lauer was a screenwriter and Margaret a film-workers’ trade union advocate who met in the 1950s at a popular film-world hangout, Hideaway Lounge, located at the Sunset Inn in Hollywood.

Now, after a long marriage and with Margaret dying of cancer, they return to the motel for a last fateful night. I don’t want to give too much away to those who may read the interview before listening to the podcast.

What was the inspiration for this story?

This story is one of eighteen in a collection I call “Motel Stories” that all take place at a seedy motel on Hollywood Boulevard. The fictional Sunset Inn is modelled after a motel I checked-into on a visit to Los Angeles a few years ago. The characters and situations are based on personal observation and my imagination.

With Hideaway Lounge, I hoped to connect the motel’s original glory days to its present diminished state, beginning with the couple meeting at its now-shuttered bar and making love for the first time in the same motel room they return to 60 years later.

I have a nostalgic relationship to Hollywood of the past and the writers associated with it: Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner, Dorothy Hughes, Graham Greene. Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust profoundly influenced my perceptions of society as a young person.

What have you recently read that you loved?

I recently picked up Jennifer Egan’s novel, Manhattan Beach. It combines literary fiction with a kind of noir. The story is set in New York and spans the Depression-era into World War II.

Egan seamlessly integrates telling details of time and place that make the story come alive. Her sensitive and complex characterization, beautiful, descriptive language and vivid appeal to all five senses are positively breathtaking.

Someday I want to...

Edit the novel I wrote a few years ago. It’s deeply flawed, and like many first novels, primarily served as personal catharsis, but I still think it has potential.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I served as an agent for visual artists for many years and believe that I’m a good motivator. Perhaps I motivate others in order to motivate myself.

And I make a mean chilli.

On the weekends I like to...

Hang out with good friends (pre-pandemic) after a week of intense writing.

Tomorrow, I absolutely refuse to...

Feel guilty about anything. I had an Irish Catholic upbringing. Need I say more?

Heard any good jokes lately?

I don’t know if this one counts, but the “best joke” I’ve heard lately is the U.S. Attorney General, the U.S. Postmaster ,and various Republican politicians all deny they’re playing any role in voter suppression. At least the President publicly admits it.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Only that I encourage anyone who believes they have a story to tell, personal or otherwise, to take the time and write it down. All stories are important whether or not it’s shared with the world. They all contribute to human history.

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