Don't call him Frank Jr. He hates that.
Beside, he changed his name to Brian.
Frank Sr? Oh, Brian hates his guts, although it wasn't always like that.
Frank Jr. was six when his parents split up ever so civilly. Frank Jr. stayed with his mother in the big house while Frank Sr. ended up in a condo a few miles away. The couple remained extremely cordial to each other and Frank Jr. got to spend weekends with his father. Holidays were divided evenly between his parents and Frank Sr. never forgot a birthday. As the years passed, Frank Sr. was seen at his son's Pop Warner football games. (Of course, by that time he was dating a woman whose daughter was one of the Pop Warner cheerleaders.)
Weekends with his father were fun. They often went to the park where Frank Jr. ran around madly, playing with other boys and girls. Sometimes they went with whatever woman Frank Sr. was dating at the time. Most of these women had children Frank Jr.'s age or younger; surprisingly, they were all girls -- never boys. One of these young girls had a strange, frightened jackrabbit look about her whenever Frank Sr. got too near her. Frank Jr. thought nothing of this other than the girl seemed a little odd. What the hell, Frank Jr. was a kid. What did he know?
When Frank Jr. was thirteen, the girl next door, eleven-year-old Nancy Woznic, disappeared. Nancy was a freckle faced stringbean with dark hair, a wide grin, and long coltish legs. Sometimes she hung around with Frank Jr. but he didn't mind that too much because Nancy could throw a ball, had a wicked sense of humor, and could swear much better than Frank Jr. Anyway, Nancy was walking from school and never made it home. This was on a Wednesday. By nightfall, officals were searching the area and, by the next day, search parties were combing nearby woods, checking abandoned buildings, and looking in closed-up swimming pools. By Thursday evening, parents throughout the town were beginning to panic and were starting to keep deliberate eyes on their own children.
Even though his parents had been divorced for seven years, Frank Jr. never heard them argue. Not once. Not until late that Thursday night. The shouting woke Frank Jr. He sat up in bed, confused. Then came his mother's scream and a gushy thump that he could hear all the way to his bedroom. He rushed downstairs, he slid on a large pool of blood and almost fell over his mother's body. Well, the body was his mother's But the head...the head was this gory distorted thing. The front door was wide open and Frank Jr. could see his father's car as it screamed down the road..
It took three days for police to catch Frank Sr., sleeping in the back seat of his Cadillac on a dirtpath well into the woods. Frank Sr. offered no resistance. His face was unshaven, his clothes still spattered with dried blood. Police had gone through his condo and his office and found things which sickened them on his computers and locked in suitcases. Suffice it to say that there photos of a number of little girls, including Nancy Woznic, and the photos were no where near as pretty as the little girls had once been. And there were souveniers, lots of them. There also were books and videos, hateful ones directed against certain races, almost all religions, homosexuals, and women -- along with a number of tomes dealing with satanism, human sacrifice, and witchcraft. Police also found a storage locker rented under an assumed name; the locker held all sorts of weapons, many of them of the cutting kind -- these had blood traces on them which later identified some of his victims.
Surprisingly, no one in town told reporters that Frank Sr. seemed like "such a nice man." Most of their remarks were along the lines of, "I thought there was something a little bit strange about him."
Four days after Frank Sr. was arrested, a hiker found Nancy's body -- actually most of Nancy's body; parts were never recovered. Nancy's mother screamed and screamed and had to be sedated and she was the never the same after that.
With no other relatives, Frank Jr. went into the foster care system. Now, here are any number of wonderful foster families out there and there are a few that could not be describe as wonderful by the wildest stretch of the imagination. Frank Jr. was not placed with a wonderful foster family. He also had to continue going to the same high school he had started just a month earlier. There were several boys in the school who had young relatives that were also victims of Frank Sr. Of course, Frank Jr. had the exact same name as his hated father. The boy was a constant reminder of the evil that had recently stalked the area. Frank Jr.'s high school experience was not one about which you could wax nostalgic. He was shunned, spat upon, beaten, a despised. Not a happy childhood. As soon as he was legally able to, Frank Jr. took off on his own. He legally changed his name to one that he had randomly picked out of an old city phone book. As Brian, he went out into the world with a heavy heart and hatred for his father.
And Frank Sr.? He was officially connected to thirty-seven murders, and suspected in several more. He went to trial, was found guilty and was sentenced to be executed. Good riddance, I say.
Our legal system does not want to condemn an innocent man, or -- if it does, it wants to do it properly -- so there are such thimgs as appeals, and Frank Sr.'s lawyers (all pro bono, anti-death penalty lawyers, mind you) milked the system for as long as possible. Now, after nine years in jail, Frank Sr. was going to be executed.
Meanwhile, Frank Jr. -- excuse me, Brian -- Brain was in a strange city and in a strange bar, just one of many cities and bars he had travelled to, drinking beer (about all he could really afford), and getting a gentle buzz on. "Soon," he thought, "soon it will be all over. The bastard's going to die today. No more delays, just let him get what's coming to him." Perhaps then Brian would be able to shake off the last vestige of Frank Jr. that remained inside of him. Another beer. A slightly larger buzz on.
Meanwhile in prison, Frank Sr. had a quiet, confident smile as they shaved his head.
Frank Jr. noticed a woman at a nearby table. Kind of cute. He swung his stool around an was about to make his move when some guy joined the woman. She was smiling and had obviously expected the man. Oh, well. Frank Jr. swung back to the bar and reached for his beer.
Frank Sr. said some nasty things to the prison chaplain. The chaplain had heard them all before, but never as vehemently as this. Now Frank Sr. was mumbling some words the chaplain could not understand, a language the chaplain had never heard before.
The beer was having more of an effect on Frank Jr. What the hell? It's a night for celebrating. Frank Jr. signalled for another one.
They walk Frank Sr. down a corridor. He goes seemingly willingly, still mumbling something.
The room begins to spin and blur for Frank Jr. as he swallows more beer.
The chair is just ahead of Frank Sr. He sits and they begin to strap him in.
Spinning. Jesus, is this room spinning! Frank Jr. closes his eyes.
And opens them when someone places a wet sponge on his bald head. He tries to complain but his mouth is gagged. He tries to get up but something is holding him down.
Frank Jr. will never have to resent being Frank Jr. again. Because he is now Frank Sr.
Then the pain --the sharp, blistering pain -- hit every nerve ending in his body.
Frank Sr. swung his bar stool around and saw the woman and the man in deep conversation at the table. Nice. Frank Sr. wondered if she had a daughter.
This is my response to Patti Abbott's most recent flash fiction challenge. Patti asked for a story, under a thousand words, any type, any style, revolving around the words "Frank Jr." For more (and certainly better) responses to her challenge, please go to Patti's blog pattinase. Among those who usually answer Patti's flash fiction challenges are a number of superlative writers, as well as the others who are just pretty damn good.
Oh, this is a dark one, Jerry. Well done. I wonder if a Jr is more tied to his father than the average kid. Girls almost never confront this issue.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Patti. I've always thought "Juniors" and "Sonnys" had it a bit rough but, then again, we all do in one way or another. I shudder to think of some of the issues girls face,Delete
Nice. The Jr. - Sr. back and forth at the end was brilliant.ReplyDelete
Thank you, kind sir. This was a fun challenge.Delete
Nice Twilight Zone ending. Serling would have liked this.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Dana. I was a great fan of the original TZ. Maybe some of it filtered through.Delete