Frank by Teresa Sweeney

Steven Falconer Roadside Fiction

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Photo by Steven Falconer
 
 

‘Frank’ by Teresa Sweeney

You know how it is when you know someone so well? You know their expressions, their habits. It is like you know what they’ll do next before they know it themselves.

That’s how it was here. For example, I knew that Frank would continuously stir his tea while adding the milk. I knew that he would blow on it twice before taking a sip.

I would have liked to sit with him, share a pot of tea with him. I would have brought him a blueberry muffin.

But it was busy this morning. Too many stressed looking faces embraced in dull dark suits. They shuffled along by the counter, staring at their smart phones, or talking loudly like lunatics. Barely a glance in my direction.

‘Good morning, what can I get you?’ I said over and over a million times a day.

I recognised them as they came in the door, the customers. If they order in here more than once in the same month, I will remember them. It is a gift I have.

This woman comes in every Monday to Thursday morning just after twenty past eight. She is probably my age but she is a miserable looking cow. Her face is so white and her hair so black and then she wears this bright red lipstick just to complete the look. She might have money, well actually she does have money, the labels spell that out, but she sure as shit has no style.

She doesn’t stay here for her ‘skinny latte’ she takes it away. Big paper cup to match her two-piece and leather briefcase. It is all about The Look. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she never even drank it.

She always smiles and says hello to Frank. I don’t know why. It bugs me. She doesn’t know him, and it isn’t like she stops up to try and talk to him. I think she is attempting (badly) to flirt with him. It pisses me right off. She kind of saunters by his table, trying to sway her narrow, bony hips. It doesn’t work. In fact it makes her look like she has a limp. Then she does this slow head turn thing, where she glances back over her shoulder at him. I swear I’ll swing for her one of these days.

I should probably say it to him. We would have a right laugh. But, to be honest, he probably doesn’t even notice. And I am not about to point out to him that another woman is giving him attention. I know he would have no interest in her skeletal boy body, but I’m not about to put thoughts into his head.

Anyway, today wasn’t Monday to Thursday. It was Friday. And it wasn’t 08:20, it gone half past. But in walks the same skinny bitch that I was just telling you about.

I mean, it doesn’t bother me who comes in or when. I serve anyone, whether they are pleasant or not, I will still make sure that they get the same standard of service as the gentleman before them.

She wasn’t staring at her smart phone today, or talking loudly into her earpiece like someone demented. She wasn’t even wearing a suit. She was in jeans.

And she was looking, practically staring, right at Frank.

He hadn’t looked up when she came in the door, I would have noticed. He was engrossed in whatever paper he was reading. I prefer the broadsheets myself.

So anyway, she shuffles along by the counter, doing her limp/sway thing. She passes out all the pastries of course. In my opinion she could have done with a few croissants. No harm at all. So she reaches the till and I said, ‘good morning, what can I get you?’

‘Latte please,’ she said.

I was taken aback by the ‘please’ bit, but I kept my composure.

‘Skinny or regular?’ I said.

‘Just a regular, thanks,’ she said.

I stared at her. I was shocked. And in my defence she had been coming here on the same days, same times, with the same order for months and never once had there been a please or thank you. And certainly never a latte with full fat milk.

‘Right. Regular Latte so?’ I said.

I wanted her to know what she had just ordered. Sometimes people get distracted and make mistakes.

‘Yes please,’ she said.

Maybe when she took off the suit it was like a persona peeling off. You know like wearing a mask? Evolving into the character? Like that one from X-Men, who can be different people?

I turned to the coffee machine and started to make the Latte. I steamed the milk, and I kept thinking, she will not drink this.

I glanced over my shoulder to see if she was giving me funny looks or trying to call me.

I couldn’t believe what I saw.

There she was sitting down at Frank’s table, all smiles and teeth.

They were laughing about something. Her hand reached across the table and patted his arm.

In my state of shock and confusion, I felt the jug of scalding hot milk drop from my hand and onto the floor.

I ignored the milk all over the floor, ignored the customers waiting in the queue. There was no stopping me now.

‘What are you doing?’ I said to her.

‘Excuse me?’ she said.

She actually had the nerve to smile at me. I was going to slap the smug bitch across the face. I didn’t blame Frank here. He had done nothing to encourage her. Not in all the months she was in here trying to wiggle her flat pancake arse.

‘What do you think you’re doing sitting there?’ I said.

I was trembling I was so mad. The bitch playing dumb.

‘I’m sorry, is there a problem?’ she said.

Frank sat there, saying nothing.

‘You fucking will be,’ I said.

And I pulled back my arm and shoved my fist forward with every bit of strength I’d in me.

I felt the bones of her nose crunch and grind under my knuckles. She went colliding back in her chair, hitting the tiled floor with the impact.

All of a sudden Frank was on his feet. The customers around me moved silently further and further away. Frank practically dived down onto the floor, cradling her in his arms. Rocking her and getting blood all over his nice white shirt.

She was roaring now. Screaming and crying as if she was half dead. Looking at me like she was a frightened deer. It takes a faker to know a faker, bitch, and all that fragile woman shit won’t work with me, or Frank.

‘What is wrong with you? You psycho, what the fuck did you hit her for?’ he said.

I didn’t expect Frank to be impressed with me, even though I was only defending myself really, and him. But I wasn’t expecting that outburst.

‘She shouldn’t have sat there,’ I said.

He was completely over reacting. He needed to calm down.

‘Will someone please call an ambulance and the Guards,’ he said, looking around him at the customers who were at last starting to move back to life again.

‘I already did,’ said a voice near the door. They were slowly starting to move in on us, shuffling forward, their smart phones held out to watch us.

‘How could you do that to her? You are a fucking animal,’ said Frank.

There was no need for him to start insulting me. Maybe I went a bit far. But she really wound me up this time. I could only hold my patience for so long. And she was fine anyway. The blood wasn’t flowing so fast now.

‘She is fine,’ I said.

‘Bitch,’ she said, her blood and spit dripping from her mouth.

Next thing was, I could hear the sirens outside. The blue lights from the Garda car shining in through the glass door.

Shit.

Before I got the chance to explain, again, to Frank my hands were pulled behind my back and handcuffs were clamped tight around them. I was being dragged to the door.

‘I did it for you Frank,’ I said, turning my head and shouting back to him.

‘Who the fuck is Frank?’ he said.

And all I was left with was the picture of him with his wounded deer, as the Guards lowered my head and put me into the back of the car.

 

Did you like the story? Opinions? Praise? Please leave a comment below

 

Bio:

Teresa Sweeney
Teresa Sweeney is from county Galway, Ireland. She writes short fiction and poetry, some of which you can read on her website www.teresasweeney.com. She has been published previously in Roadside Fiction, Number Eleven Magazine, Wordlegs, Boyne Berries and Crannog Magazine. She was a runner up in WOW! Awards 2011. Her short stories are featured monthly in Food+Chef Magazine.
 

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10 Responses to Frank by Teresa Sweeney

  1. Daniel dunne

    I truely thought that this was simply brillant.. And I’m just so impressed with Theresa..

    • Roadside

      You’re giving well deserved praise, Daniel and fair play to you for doing so!

  2. Fantastic Teresa. Taut stuff. I especially like the twist in the end.

  3. Nick Gerrard

    Enjoyed this, good piece of writing.

  4. Thanks so much for reading, and for your great comments! Roadside Fiction always has brilliant stories, I am thrilled to be a part of this issue!

  5. I enjoyed your story, Teresa. I’ll check out your website.

  6. Thank you, Debi, there are a few more stories on my site, hope you enjoy them!

  7. Getting through the stories on RF this week and this was another great one, like a slice of true life and could imagine sitting somewhere in the coffee shop watching this unfold in front of me. A brilliant twist ending there as well, didn’t see that coming at all.

  8. garreth keating

    love how the opening and the ending link up together, it makes the reading feel surprised by something they feel they shouldn’t be, well done, enjoyed this a lot

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