Captain Spaulding on Skull Island

Frank, Jr.

September 24th, 2012


Once again it’s time for a Flash Fiction Challenge.

The insanely talented Patti Abbott has asked writers to come up with a story called “Frank, Jr.” That’s the only guideline, it has to have the title “Frank, Jr.”

To see what people came up with, you can go to Patti’s blog.

Here’s mine:

FRANK, JR.
.

“What’s the deal with Frank, Jr.?”

“What do you mean?”

“His dad’s name is Dave,” Waylon said. “He’s not a junior.”

Billy Weston and Waylon Preston were riding around Currie Valley’s south side in Billy’s truck, a 1996 black Dodge Ram. The windows were rolled down and the crisp late-September air was a relief after the long summer. It was 8:37 on a Friday night and there was nothing to do.

“I was at the L & L the other night, sittin’ at the bar, and he came in. The waitress was all ‘Frank, Jr.’ this and ‘Frank, Jr.’ that.”

“Everyone calls him that. Everyone calls him Frank, Jr.”

“Well,” Waylon said, “It’s weird.”

They drove for a moment, looking out the window at houses and street signs and a boarded-up Dairy Queen. Billy’s truck smelled like old salad and exhaust. “Brass Monkey,” by the Beastie Boys, played on the CD player.

When he’d had enough of looking at nothing, Billy asked, “What do you want to do?”

“I got an idea,” Waylon said. “You still got your toolbox in the back?”

“Yeah.”

“With your hammer in it?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Let’s smash somethin’ with your hammer.”

“That’s what you want to do,” Billy asked. “Smash somethin’ with a hammer?”

“Yeah.”

Billy though for a moment. “Okay,” he said. “What do you want to smash?”

“Frank, Jr.’s mailbox.”

“What? Why?”

“For bein’ Frank, Jr. when his Dad is Dave.”

“That’s not right.”

“That’s what I’m sayin’!”

“No,” Billy said. “I mean, that’s not a good reason for smashing a man’s mailbox.”

“You got somethin’ better to do?”

Billy thought for a moment. The only new movie in town was something by Tyler Perry and Billy couldn’t abide Tyler Perry. There weren’t any parties going on and they didn’t have the money to go sit and drink in a bar. Sitting at home, even with Waylon, could get a little lonely. “No,” Billy said. “I can’t think of anything better.”

“Then let’s do it!”

Billy made a left turn and headed toward the center of town. Frank, Jr. lived alone in a modest yellow house behind the Currie Valley mall, where he managed the Radio Shack.

“Brass Monkey” ended and “Slow and Low” began to play.

“Frank Capra had a son named Frank,” Billy said.

“Who’s that?”

“Frank Capra. The movie director. He made Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It Happened One Night and It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“Okay.”

“His son made some movies, too. Frank Capra, Jr. He was a producer. He made a couple of the original Planet of the Apes movies. And a Chuck Norris movie, I think.”

“Chuck Norris is cool.”

Billy made a couple of turns and drove past the mall. He turned right on Columbus road and approached Frank, Jr.’s two story home. The mailbox was next to the road, at the end of his driveway.

“Slow and Low” changed to “Time To Get Ill.”

“The lights are off,” Billy said. “He must be at work. How do you want to do this?”

“What do you mean?”

Billy pulled over. “Did you want to drive by and swing out of the window to smash it? Or did you want to get out, run over and smash it and then hop back in the truck while I speed away?”

“I went trick or treating in this neighborhood when I was in Junior High.”

“You did?”

“I spent Halloween night at a friend’s house. I don’t even remember who it was. He lived in this neighborhood, though.”

“Great,” Billy said. “How do you want to do this?”

Waylon pointed at a house across the street from Frank, Jr.’s. “Mr. Lammers lived there.”

“The biology teacher?”

“He gave out bite-sized Laffy Taffy. He gave me three bananas. Ever since that night I’ve loved Banana Laffy Taffy. It was a good Halloween.”

“Okay,” Billy said. “We might be a little conspicuous, just sitting here. How do you want to do this?”

“Oh,” Waylon said, coming back to the 21st century. “Right.”

Waylon got out of Billy’s truck, went around to the bed and climbed up to grab Billy’s toolbox. The neighborhood was quiet, like everyone was either out for the evening or had already gone to bed. He opened the lid and took out Billy’s silver Craftsman Claw Hammer with the black rubber grip. He then hopped down, crossed the street and hit Mr. Lammers’ mailbox as hard as he could, caving in the side. The “thunk!” sound of the hammer hitting the aluminum sounded like an explosion in the calm autumn night. He hit it again and the mailbox broke off of its’ post and fell to the ground. Waylon gave the mailbox three more good whacks, denting it beyond repair, and then hurried back to Billy’s truck.

Billy sped away.

“What did you do that for?” Billy asked. “I thought you wanted to smash Frank, Jr.’s mailbox?”

“Seeing Mr. Lammers’ house,” Waylon said, “It brought up all of these memories and feelings and things. When I was a kid, I was pretty happy. I’m still happy enough, but I’m not as happy as when I was a kid. Seeing that house where I got Laffy Taffy reminded me of that and made me sad. So I smashed his mailbox.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Billy said. “But what about Frank, Jr.”

“Frank Jr. doesn’t do nobody no harm. He’s just got a weird name.”

Billy turned right and cut through the Currie Valley Mall parking lot to head back to the south end of town. He switched the Beastie Boys’ License To Ill with Sammy Hagar’s Greatest Hits. “There’s Only One Way To Rock” began playing. They drove, looking out the window at houses and street signs and a string of empty storefronts that used to be a Laundromat, a sandwich shop and a locksmith.

When he’d had enough of driving and looking at more nothing, Billy asked, “What do you want to do now?”

-the end-

4 Responses to “Frank, Jr.”

  1. Patti Abbott

    I feel like I know these two. Did you write about them before? This is so beautifully done, John. They remind me of junior versions of the guys in Pulp Fiction. Mailboxes today, something more tomorrow.

  2. Evan Lewis

    Damn. I love a story that makes me laugh. This one did!

  3. Jerry House

    I think I knew those guys in my younger days. They’re probably running the country now.

    Good story.

  4. Dana King

    It’s hard to make a story about two guys with nowhere to go go anywhere. You not only pulled it off, you made me want to go with them, to see what they come up with next, even though they didn’t really come up with anything the first time. Nice.

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