He heard his name being called out from three aisles over. Frank was talking to Mrs. Lynn and he thought it was pretty important to alert her about the coming thunderstorms this evening. Better yet, Frank needed to tell Mrs. Lynn about the storms that cut through the Ohio valley two days ago.
“Oh the destruction,” Frank said. “It's really terrible for all those families loosing their homes.”
“Yes, Frank dear. But I should finish shopping,” Mrs. Lynn was hunch backed, barely could push the shopping cart in a swift getaway. “Mr. Lynn likes to have his supper the same time every day. Five o clock. It's almost four-thirty---”
Frank put his hand on her cart, held it still. “See, those storms come up on you with no warning. Watch out while you're driving---”
Tom rushed up on Frank, calling his name. His feet shuffled side to side in a strange little walk like he was dancing the Rhumba. Tom was assistant manager at Storks grocery. Frank had been working with Tom for five years now, in every dept. For the last three, Tom has been Frank's boss, never seeing eye to eye, even when standing around talking to the customers.
“You didn't hear me calling out to you?” Tom was too close to Frank. It looked as if he was about to kiss Frank. It looked funny, not only for that. But Tom was two heads shorter than Frank. Tom adjusted his glasses on his face. He always reminded Frank how much he resembled Rick Moranis when he moved his glasses around his face, the way he spoke.
“I was with a customer.” Frank said.
“You were talking, frank. She was trying to get away from you,” Tom corrected him.
“She was asking about buttermilk. I told her the problems with the Dairy truck, is all.”
“Frank. We can always get somebody else to do Dairy. I need a better production period from you. Show everyone on the chart you are productive when you're here. But if you keep standing around talking to vendors and customers, your truck will get done in six hours it takes.”
Frank sighed, nodded.
“Just get the truck done, come in tomorrow at three instead of ten.”
“No,” Frank said. It was bubbling up inside him. He wanted thrash out, tell this guy to go fuck himself. Frank didn't have the nerve. He couldn't even form the words on his lips.
“What do you mean, Frank?” Tom got close again.
Frank hated the way he said his name, like it was a four letter word. Frank looked away for a moment. Tom was waiting for an answer, fuming.
“I have to be at Coney's tomorrow at three. Three to midnight.”
Tom shook his head. “ Jesus, Frank. Aren't you spreading yourself too thin?”
“Don't have a choice. Keep a roof over my wife and kids head. Gotta eat. Have heat when it's cold--”
“Alright! Alright. Come in at ten, leave at two-thirty. Make the dept. sparkle. Might have company tomorrow. Oh, and Frank?”
“Leave the D.M. alone. Stop asking about cutbacks in the company. He knows as much as you do about running of the company finances.”
“I was just being friendly.” Frank said, slowly picked up a box of cheese and placed a bag of thin sliced cheddar on a jay hook.
Frank remembered the days being a kid. Living in Boston, hot summer days. Turning on the Hydrants, cool water flowing in the streets. All of his friends were there, playing tidal wave, splashing. Afterward, running down the corner to the local store Frank's father owned. Getting Popsicle, Nehi's.
Those were good times. Simple times.
“Frank,” His wife called out to him. Frank was standing in the middle of the front yard, a full trash bag in his hands, looking up at the sky. “Frank!” She screamed. Eighteen years, Barbra thought. The man has never changed. “Frank, you're daydreaming again, damn it!”
he snapped out of it. Began smiling sheepishly. Barbra ran to him, handed him a twenty. She was still dressed in her waitress uniform. Still limping badly. Always on her feet, between the dinner and the Nursery, the poor woman only gets to put up her feet when she goes to bed at two in the morning. Then her day starts up at six A.M. To get their two sons off to school.
Barbra handed Frank the twenty. He looked at it, then at her. “What's this for?”
“Supper for the boys, you dope.” She barked.
Frank laughed. “Oh. Yeah.” He said.
“Don't be late for Coney's, alright? Oh. I fixed your Eagle head belt buckle. No excuse your pants to fall down now,” Barbra said.
That belt buckle belonged to my Dad.”
“I know, Frank.” Barbra said. She was tired of saying that. Tired of hearing herself say it.
“I don't want to go in. And I don't want you to go in to the dinner.”
“You know I have to, Frank. Rent is due on this Godforsaken Addams family house.”
Frank looked at the house. He shrugged. “I always thought it was the Munsters kind of house.” Frank laughed. It was a cross from a gasp and a woody woodpecker cackle.
Barbra gave him a disapproving look. “Go get the damn fried chicken, will you. Boys will be home soon. Keep the change for your supper break at Coney's.”
Frank dropped the trash bag at the corner of his driveway. She watched him get into his '91 Blue four door Impala, her arms folded into other.
“I'm going. I'm going,” Frank said.
He backed the car out of the driveway slowly. Out of nowhere, a ford truck nearly rammed him. Frank stopped just in time for the man to dodge him. He heard the man scream, “Asshole!” The truck zipped by, exceeding the thirty-five mile limit by at least fifteen more miles an hour.
Frank could see his wife still watching him. He smiled, threw his arms in the air. Barbra turned, went back into the house.
Working at the textile plant outside Baltimore wasn't too bad. Frank always had time to go see a game, although he didn't really care about sports. Still, it was nice to get out. It was nice to be with a friend, have a beer. Jack Kyle was a descent guy, loved his girlfriend, liked to go out a lot. He took care of Frank at the textile plant. Helped frank when the workers went on strike. Even helped him get a car. The car was alright. Nothing to write home---
“Are you listening to me?” A woman at Frank's register said. She was furious. Slammed her purse on the plastic counter top.”I gave my fucking order three times. Are you deaf?”
“No.” Frank replied. “I was just--”
“Ignoring me,” the woman said. It was almost eleven, closing time. She was a middle-aged short pudgy woman with her hair up in a bun. Her eyebrows were drawn too high on her forehead and her lipstick missed one side of her mouth.
“No, I swear. I'm tired, is all. I work two jobs--”
'I don't give a fuck! I just want my fucking order! I don't want your sad little life story. That is not going to fill my stomach.”
“What was it you wanted---”
“Is there a problem?” Chelsea, the shift manager slowly made her way over. “How can we help you, Ma’am?”
“I didn't know you employed retards. I just wanted two hot dogs and he ignored me.”
“No,” Frank tried. No one was listening. “I swear--”
“Frank, I told you if this happened again I would have to let you go?” Chelsea said, her tongue scraped the braces on her front teeth.
“But I work two double shifts a week for you when you call--”
“Leave Frank. Take off your badge. Apron.” Chelsea snatched the name badge from Frank.
Frank was in a daze. He couldn't believe it. Fired. He'd never been fired in his life. Just laid off, never fired. He walked past the pudgy woman, stopped, looked at her.
“You did this to yourself,” She said smugly.
Frank sighed, shuffled tired feet to the restaurant’s exit.
Frank sat in his Impala, hands on the wheel, just staring out in the night. He was lost. What would he tell Barbra? She's going to be so upset, he thought. He watched the other two workers inside Cony's cleaning up around the woman eating her Hot dogs.
“I should be in there helping them,” Frank said dryly.
He saw the pudgy woman come out the exit, her heels making a clacking sound on the pavement. Frank watched intently. She walked across the parking lot, behind bushes, to her jeep. Frank got out of his car. He followed quickly. He reached around to his belt, removed it from the loops of his blue Dickies.
He fixed the belt into a circle, the eagle belt buckle hanging loose. Frank caught up with the pudgy woman just as she was unlocking the doors of her jeep.
The only vehicle there beside hers was an abandoned beat up pickup. To the side of the parking lot were a row of houses facing the opposite direction of him. All of them with ivy growing on the backs of the houses. The lighting in the parking lot was minimal, light post at least fifteen feet away.
His shoes made clicking noises on blacktop. The pudgy woman turned, saw Frank with his arm up in the air. She started to scream when the belt buckle came down hard on the temple of her forehead. Frank struck two more times, the icon on the buckle made an indent in the woman's head. The last strike was matted in her soft bloody flesh.
Frank was wore out. He stumbled a few inches away from the dead woman, knelled. He heard a breath being drawn. He looked up, saw a woman standing beside one of the houses. Her hands cupped her mouth. Then she screamed.
Frank jumped to his feet, dashed for her. The woman ran, disappeared around the front of the houses, still screaming. Frank thought again. He turned around, ran past the body he'd left laying on it's back by the front tires of the jeep. He came upon that truck, dumped the belt in the back of the truck.
Frank made it to his Impala, started it immediately, spun out of the parking lot.
The snows in Boston were both brutal and beautiful. The city almost never shut down like places down south. People still had to get where they were going. They got there by any means possible. Snow always had a remembrance of Grandmother making hot cocoa over a stove---
“Do you understand what has happened her, Mr. Dorsey?” The plain clothes officer said.
Frank just batted his eyes. He thought for a few seconds. “Sure,” He said, rested his elbow on the small table in the interrogation room. “Someone was killed and your interviewing a lot of people. I hope you catch whoever did it.”
The officer smiled sideways, shook his head. He lit a cigarette, blew smoke in Frank's face.
“I think this winter will be colder than last years,” Frank said. “It seems too hot for too long causes a lot of unusual weather.”
The officer stood, left the interrogation room. Outside in the hallway were two other plain clothes officers and the police chief. They could see through double-sided window the interrogation of Frank in room number one and another man in room number two. Frank looked calm, collected. The other man, a much shorter, chunkier man with curly blond hair, was a wreck. He had been crying, screaming at the other officers, kicking chairs, the table, smoking erratically.
Frank was calm.
“What do you think?” The police chief asked.
“Oh geez, chief,” the officer that interviewed Frank shook his head. “He talks a lot...zones out a lot, too. It's him. Has to be. He had the motive.”
“But we found the murder weapon in suspect number two's truck, victim's blood all over it, his fingerprints. Victim had that eagle belt buckle emblem tattooed on her skull.” Another officer said.
“Here's the witness,” Police chief tried not to look so grim. The young woman tried not to look frightened. She kept pushing her long brown hair out of her eyes, moving her shoulders around for no reason. It was a nervous tick she developed since the incident. “Take your time, Ms. Channel. Neither one of those men can see you. Which one did you see in the parking lot at the time the victim was murdered?”
The young woman looked at frank, then the other man. She swallowed dryly. She looked at the officers, then back to the interrogation room.
“It was him,” She pointed to room number two. “I'll never forget that dreadful face.”