Our story so far: Frank Connell used to own a condominium in Northwest Washington, but he sold it and invested all the money in a new restaurant called the Red Bean. He's living with his mother in Alexandria until the restaurant opens and starts to generate income. To catch up on earlier episodes, go to www.washingtonpost.com/adventures.
Frank Connell rides into Shepherdstown, W.Va., in a rented pickup truck. He's come here to see the Morning 40 Federation, a New Orleans-based rock band whose members are old buddies of his.
"That's where my dad lives," Frank says, pointing to a brick house in this artsy community 75 miles northwest of Washington. He whizzes past without stopping.
He and his father have been on the outs lately, Frank says.
Frank, 43, has always been closer to his mother, Joan Connell. She and his father divorced in 1979 when Frank was 19. He says he still saw his father regularly after that. His father worked for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and got Frank a job with the Washington area stagehands' union. Occasionally, they would work the same shows, setting up instruments, adjusting microphones and building stages.
His father is in his seventies now and lives alone, Frank says. He suffered a stroke two years ago, which affected his speech. By phone, it's hard to understand him, Frank says. His father also has been losing his sight.
Six months ago, when Frank revealed his plans for the Red Bean, his father wasn't exactly enthusiastic. They haven't spoken since, Frank says. And that's not about to change, despite his visit to Shepherdstown. He's come to West Virginia for a concert, not a family reunion.
Frank meets up with a friend, Billy Houdek, at a bar in downtown Shepherdstown. They have a drink, then head to the house where Billy rents a room from a woman named Carol Dyer. "She's cool," Billy says to Frank. "You should meet her."
Carol, a 56-year-old jewelry maker with long silver hair, greets Frank like a prodigal son. What brings you to Shepherdstown? she asks.
Frank explains his various connections to the town, including the fact that his father and Carol are practically neighbors. He tells her a little about his father's declining health and their rift.
Carol folds her hands across her lap. She says she didn't get along with her own father, who fell ill about five years ago. She traveled to his bedside in California, hoping to heal old wounds. "He still wasn't nice to me," she says. "But at least I had made the effort." Her father died shortly thereafter. She urges Frank to speak to his dad. "You only get one" father, she says.
Later, Carol tells Frank that he's welcome to crash on her couch after the concert, and he thanks her for the hospitality. You're welcome, she says, but there's one thing you have to do for me. You have to promise to go speak to your father.
Can I vacuum your carpet instead? he deadpans.
But Carol has clearly gotten him thinking. Later, en route to the concert, Frank wonders aloud: "Maybe I should call my dad."
-- Tyler Currie