Frank’s Bad Day by Jeff Weddle

Sagging building deserted

Sagging

Photo by David J. Thompson

‘Frank’s Bad Day’ by Jeff Weddle

 
The old man tugged her sleeve and then pinched her on the bottom.  Lucy turned halfway around and caught him a good one with her purse, smack on the left ear.
“Oh sweet Jesus,” he said.

“I’ve had it, Frank.”

“Come on, baby, cut me some slack.”

They sat there at the bar and drank their drinks.  After a while the bartender wandered over and asked if they needed another round.  He’d seen what went between them before, and it was old news.

“Fill ‘er up, Jerome.  Lucy?”

“I don’t know.  You behave?”

Frank ignored her.

“Lucy, too,” he said.

Jerome wandered off to fix two martinis, not very dry, with cocktail onions.

“See, as I was saying, this would be good for us.  A little fresh blood.”

Lucy snorted.  Frank had been trying to convince her to try a three way with the widow Jessup for the past two months.  He’d been hot for Doreen Jessup for a while, but especially so since her late husband, Larry, the man with a crooked spine, fell into the grinder down at the dog food company.  Lucy wasn’t biting.

“Fresh what?”  she sneered over her shoulder at him as Jerome sat their drinks on the bar and wandered away again.

“You have a dirty mind.”

“You’re a filthy little creep.”

Frank sighed.  Doreen was a handsome woman, not much past sixty, and he’d had his eye on her for years.  When Larry got ground up he thought maybe he’d get his chance.  Then he got scruples and decided to ask Lucy in on the deal.  That was a mistake.

The door to the street opened and light soaked into the dead mahogany bar.  Nobody looked up from their drink.  A tall, gaunt, man of forty-five walked over and sat down beside Frank.

“Whassup?” the man said.

“Just trying to show Lucy a good time.”

Lucy blew air from her mouth in an action just south of a snide laugh.

“Don’t pay any attention, Bruce.  You know how she gets.”

“This man bothering you, Ma?”

“He always bothers me, honey.  What you doing in here?  You s’pose to be workin’.”

“I’m takin’ the day off.  I just come in here lookin’ for Frank and you.  I got something to talk to Frank about.”

“I don’t have any money.”

“Did I ask?”

“You were about to.”

“If that’s the way you’re gonna be, forget it.  I’ll see who else wants to get in on the action.”  Frank looked at Bruce and raised his eyebrows.  He had never liked Lucy’s son and any action he had was probably shit.  He listened because he was still hoping Lucy would come over to his way of thinking about the Jessup woman and maybe he’d raise the chance of that by hearing out her stupid son.

“So?” he said.

“So guess what somebody left in my cab.”

“A used rubber?”

“Fuck you, asshole.  Forget –”

“Now you two watch your mouths,” Lucy said.  “Frank, be nice.  Bruce, you tell us what somebody left in your cab.”

Bruce pouted for a moment, then reached into his pants pocket and produced a small box.  He looked around the bar to make sure he wasn’t being watched, then he flipped open the lid.  Inside was gold ring with what looked to be a large ruby, maybe three carats, and a bag of white powder.  The ring looked pricy.  The bag was filled, Frank was sure, with cocaine.

“Well looky here,” said Frank.  “Shit.”

“Damn straight,” said Bruce.

“What is that?  Son, what is that?”

Bruce glanced around the bar to make sure nobody was eavesdropping.  Jerome was down at the end of the counter polishing a glass.  The two other patrons were old men who looked like they didn’t even know where they were.

“It’s drugs, Mama,” he whispered.  And this ring looks like it’s worth something, too.  Look at this shit.”

“And just what do you plan to do with it?”

“I’m gonna sell it.  This stuff is worth money.

“Boy, you don’t know your ass from a bowling alley, but you’re lucky you found me here.  You don’t want to do nothing stupid with this stuff.  This stuff get you sent up the river.”  Frank fingered the bag.  There must have been an ounce of powder in there.  “I’ll tell you what. You want me to get rid of this for you?  We split the profit fifty-fifty?”

“Looks like I should get more, since I found it.”

“But I’m taking all the risk.  Hell, you do it yourself if that’s how you feel.”  Frank knew Bruce well enough to understand he would never have a clue how to get rid of either the coke or the ring.  He took a good sip from his martini and stared straight ahead.

“Okay, fifty-fifty.  When you gonna do it?”

“No time like right now.  I’ll go see what I can do.”  Frank scooped up the box and stuffed it in his coat.  “This may take a while.  I’ll be home when I can, Sugar.”  He kissed Lucy on the cheek and winked at Bruce.  “I’ll call you when I sell this stuff,” he said.

Frank didn’t bother to call ahead at Doreen Jessup’s apartment.  She lived over on Eighth Street, near the slaughter house.  Frank wondered idly whether it bothered her to live so near to a place where animals were cut up after what had happened to her husband.

She answered the door in her bathrobe.

“Doreen, I’ve come to pay my respects.”

“Hello, Frank.  Where’s Lucy?”

“She’s visiting her niece.  Mind if I come in?”

“I guess it’s okay.”

Doreen sat on the couch and motioned for Frank to take the easy chair.  It was an overstuffed recliner that had belonged to Larry.  The seat was mashed down where Larry had sat in it all those years.  The back cushion was compressed at an odd angle.  Frank figured it was because of Larry’s crooked spine.  Doreen’s robe opened a bit as she sat down and Frank tried to get a good look at her legs, but couldn’t see much.

“So, how are things?  You been doing okay?”

“It’s tough, Frank.  You know how it is.”

“Yeah, I know.  Things get hard, Doreen.”  He winked at her and pulled the box from his coat.  “I brought you a little present to make you feel better.”  Frank opened the box and made a show of handing her the ring.

“Oh, my.”

Then he pulled out the bag of white powder and held it up for her to see. Frank opened the baggy and poured a small pile of powder into his hand.

“Here you go.”

Doreen stared at Frank’s hand, then looked at his face.

“Are you crazy?”

“This is happy dust. Good shit.  Come on, Doreen.”

“You leave now, Frank.”

“Hey, Baby.”

“Just go.”

Frank held his hand to his face and inhaled deeply.  He felt the rush hit hard and then he felt his heart seize up.  Frank clutched his chest then fell straight forward, dead before his face hit the floor.  Doreen sat in her chair and screamed.  When she finally stood her robe flew open and her hairy legs, which she had been about to shave when Frank knocked at the door, caught the air and gave her a shiver.  She dialed 911, but flushed the powder before the paramedics arrived.  The ring she stuck in her jewelry box which she hid in her bedroom closet.

Bruce and his mother waited at the bar for more than two hours.  Bruce was getting nervous when the door finally opened at a quarter to five.  He hoped it would be Frank, but instead it was Orville DeBiachi, down from Jersey, Bruce’s last fare before he found the box in his cab and decided to take the rest of the day off.

“I forgot something in the taxi,” Orville said.  “You find a little box?”

Bruce shook his head and took a draw on his cigarette.  He was too scared to say anything.

“You sure about that?  I mean, this was a little box about yay big.  Meant a lot to me.”

Bruce kept his eyes front and his mouth tight.  Anybody could have seen he was lying.  Orville grabbed Bruce by the collar and shook him.  Lucy, till this point minding her own business, yelled for Orville to get off of Bruce.  When he didn’t she screamed louder, then grabbed a bottle and hit him in the face.  Orville, madder than ever, pulled a knife from his pocket and showed it to Bruce.

“You’re a dead man unless you have something to give me.”  He was bleeding from his cheek.  There was something in his eye that said he wasn’t joking.

Jerome stopped polishing glasses and pulled a sawed-off 12-guage from under the bar.

“Hey, Asshole,” he said. “Put down the knife.”

Orville, a blowhard who sold pre-owned Cadillacs for a living, but liked to play the tough guy, shit his pants a little and jerked hard to his right when he saw the gun. Jerome was not one to take a chance that Orville might be going for a piece, and so he pulled the trigger. The blast took out Orville and the unfortunate Bruce who was just too damned close to the action. It took Lucy a good ten seconds to start screaming. Part of Jerome wished he had hit her, too.

Eighty miles away, in Trenton, New Jersey, Mrs. Angeline DeBiachi was thinking about her husband.  It was their anniversary and she was sure he was planning something special.  Orville’s gifts were never routine.  She’d hinted that she wanted the heroin and some jewelry, but Orville was just nutty enough that she was never sure what she was going to get.  He should have been home hours ago.  She knew he always wanted a ménage à trois and her friend Gloria wouldn’t wait around all day.
 

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

 

Bio:

Jeff Weddle
Jeff Weddle grew up in Prestonsburg, a small town in the hill country of Eastern Kentucky. He has worked as a public library director, disc jockey, newspaper reporter, Tae Kwon Do teacher, and fry cook, among other things. His first book, Bohemian New Orleans: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press (University Press of Mississippi, 2007), won the Eudora Welty Prize and helped inspire Wayne Ewing’s documentary, The Outsiders of New Orleans: Loujon Press (Wayne Ewing Films, 2007). His work has appeared in many  venues, including Port Cities Review, Chiron Review, Beat Scene, Midday Moon, Hawaii Review, Journal of Kentucky Studies, Publishing History, and the anthologies Mondo Barbie (St. Martin’s Press, 1993) and Stovepiper Book One (Stovepiper Books, 1994).  Weddle is the author of a poetry collection, Betray the Invisible (OEOCO, 2010), a limited-edition, fine press book handcrafted by master book artist Mary Ann Sampson, and a chapbook of Barbie poems, Not Another Blonde Joke (Implosion Press, 1991). With Beth Ashmore and Jill E. Grogg, he is co-author of The Librarian’s Guide to Negotiation: Winning Strategies for the Digital Age (Information Today, 2012). Weddle is an associate professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama.
 

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2 Responses to Frank’s Bad Day by Jeff Weddle

  1. Mel Fawcett

    Ha ha, great fun, Jeff – but I’m sure glad these characters are swirling around in your head and not mine.

  2. Hey Mel! Sorry to take so long to thank you for the comment. I’m glad I was able to swirl these folks out into the story. My head has enough weirdness popping around, even with them set free. :-)

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