Beginnings of a story, would appreciate any and all feedback!
|"Freedom? It all depends on yer point of view, ya know. Now, see this guy in his fancy SUV. He thinks he has the freedom to do whatever he wants, ya know. But some other guy will be on his back all day: 'you done that job yet? Why you behind on yer numbers this month?'. He reckons he’s free, ya know. But he’s not. Not a chance! Now, me? There’s no guy on my back, ya know. That makes me free to go wherever takes my fancy."
Frank had been a fixture of Sandeville for as long as I could remember. He was one of “those” people - one of the unseen. Sure, he was a real person. You’d trip over him on the corner of Bakers and Kelly if you didn’t watch where you were going. And people tended to watch where they were going as they approached the "Franks Corner", avoided him like you avoid a puddle in the sidewalk - subconsciously, aware there’s something in your way and your feet do the rest leaving your eyes free to look straight ahead without seeing.
The first time I actually saw him properly, was October, few years back. Opposite Frank’s Corner there’s was a little deli, one of those that seemed to be made out of junk scavenged from the dumpster, rickety crates for shelves, that kind of thing. I’d just started out at Taylor and Malone’s, first “real” job where I had to wear a proper shirt every day (Ma made me cut my hair before the interview and she’s convinced to this day that’s what got me the job). Everyday, I used to walk down Baker’s to Jose’s Deli for a takeout. Most day’s I’d head straight back and pretend to work some while checking out the exciting the lives of all my buddies on the various social media channels they occupied. They’d all headed out of town on the bus marked “anywhere but here” as soon as they could. I’d had the chance to, offer of the promised land out on the west coast but, somehow, I never quite made it. Probably scared, if I’m honest. Sandeville did that to a person. Nothing ever happened. I guess that was the attraction. It was safe. Reliable. You could always find Frank on his corner. The cattle train rumbled through every Thursday at two. The only excitement was when a luckless tourist ventured off I-40 in search of a break from the monotony, only to realise Dunkin’ Donuts hadn’t heard of this place either. My only attachment to the outside world was through the daily feed of the latest goings on, which mainly consisted of “liking” how wasted everyone got the night before.
And so it was, on this particular October day, I decided to ignore my friends and enjoy the freshest air Sandeville could offer. It was one of those bright, chilly days that kept the lingering memories of a long humid summer alive for a little longer, yet warned that the greyness of winter was not far off.
Taking up residence on the elaborate wrought-iron bench ‘In Memory of Eileen’, I tucked into my Turkey and Avocado - the deli special - with little to occupy my mind other than the small gang of pigeons that had suddenly appeared at my feet. And that’s when I really noticed Frank for the first time. The discarded pile of cardboard that lay strewn across the back door of Pepy’s Convenience Store parted abruptly to reveal the moth-eaten woollen hat that defined Frank as readily as the Golden Gate defined the Bay. Shocked by the bright sun, he cursed the world in general and urged his aching bones into some semblance of life. By the third attempt, he was upright. Sitting hunched over the sidewalk, clearing his lungs ready to face the joys of his new dawn. Lifting his head, arms outstretched, he offered a “Welcome to paradise!”, not a shred of irony in his voice. Mrs Dalwhinnie didn’t welcome it, not one bit. Scowling, she hurried on by. This seemed to amuse Frank no end, “you enjoy your day now, Miss Connie!” he suggested in his deep, gravelly accent. And that was Frank. Knew everyone by name, always had a kind word and not a care in the world.
I guess, looking back, that shoulda been a wake up call - to set my heights a little higher than Taylor and Malone’s, a little further afield than Sandeville. But, I was comfortable.
To be continued . . .