Frank – A Halloween Short Story
by Paul Liadis
I will never forget the time I met Frank. It was the first day of kindergarten and I had just built a huge fort out of those big, blue, plastic blocks. Just as I took a step back to admire my work along came Frank, plowing through my masterpiece head first, knocking it all to the floor. As tears welled in my eyes, Frank put his hand on my shoulder and said “Ugh.” Frank always knew what to say. From that moment on we were inseparable.
Frank had a style all of his own. I don’t think I ever saw him wear anything other than that gray blazer/black T-shirt combo. It wasn’t the most conventional outfit for a five year old, but Frank wasn’t a conventional guy. By the time we were in High School, Frank made it work.
The girls in our class were always into Frank, though I’m not sure why. I could never put my finger on what he had that I didn’t. Maybe it was because he was tall, though I think that had to do with those square platform shoes he always wore. Frank also had the classic square jaw of a movie star, though he also had a matching square head. He topped this look with a flattop, and I’m not talking about his hair. His head was literally flat. How did no one notice this?
When we started high school, Frank immediately caught the eye of Coach Legman, our school’s varsity football coach. Frank had never mentioned any affinity for football in the past, but I guess he decided he would give it a try and immediately became starting varsity Tight End, the first freshman in school history to start every game. I don’t think there was one cheerleader that Frank didn’t date.
I thought about playing football too, but my Mom wouldn’t let me. She was afraid I would get hurt. Instead, I decided to play clarinet in the school marching band. It was Frank who came to my rescue whenever the football team tried to fit me in the Bass Tuba. He was so angry I thought I could see smoke rising out of his bolts, though it may have been the light reflecting off the spit on my glasses.
Frank was almost voted Homecoming King our senior year. Rumor had it that he was too modest and took his name out of the running. I think the real reason was that he couldn’t find a tux collar that would fit over the bolts in his neck.
Towards the end of our senior year, Frank was recruited by several major colleges to play football. I can’t say why I wasn’t shocked when he chose to attend Notre Dame. Somehow it just seemed like a good fit.
Frank lived with his uncle Dr. Frankenstein in a dark old house on top of the hill that for some reason always seemed to attract lightning. I’m not quite sure what type of doctor Frank’s uncle was, though my guess is that some college is handing out doctorates for being a jerk. For example, he was always saying things to Frank such as “Respect me. I made you.” Total crap. Frank earned everything he achieved on his own merits. Frank never told me why he lived with his uncle and not his parents, and I never asked.
The summer before college, Frank and I were hanging out at his house and there was quite a commotion outside. We both ran to the window only to see several hundred people from town carrying pitchforks and torches. I’m not sure exactly what their problem was, though I heard a few days later something about Frank not getting someone’s daughter home before curfew. I still don’t think that warrants people calling him a monster, though. Besides, who in the suburbs owns a pitchfork?
Frank and his uncle left town soon after that, and I lost contact with Frank. I followed his football career at Notre Dame in the paper, always proud to hear what my old friend had accomplished. I had to smile when I saw him on ESPN on draft day, still wearing that goofy blazer as they announced him as the #1 draft pick. I have to admit I teared up a little when he rumbled to the podium and said “Arrgh”, because I knew he was talking to me.