Free Words

The “F” Word

(c) BC Brown 2011


Frankie the Fabulous, also known as Furtive Frank in some circles and neighborhoods, trembled on the stage of the Fifth Light Hotel and Casino.  The fingers of his left hand clenched the frozen ice block that had been provided for him by his current host, Freddy the Finger, on behalf of his boss Mr. Franklin.  Of course, the fact that Frankie was in the presence of his former employer’s sadist, Freddy the Finger, was not lost on him.  Nor was the fact that his right hand, lifeless and looking far more like a fat hunk of hamburger than a hand, was a testament to the fact that no one – no one – warranted a personal appearance by Freddy the Finger unless some fun was to be had by the nondescript man.

“Frankie knows why he’s here; doesn’t he, Frank?” Freddy asked in a rhetorical manner to a phantom that only he could see and hear.  Frank knew he wasn’t supposed to answer, but the overwhelming desire to say something gnawed at his guts.

However, the froth pooled in his mouth, dribbling down his chin and falling onto his fuchsia suit, dissuaded him from saying a thing.  Instead, Frank opened his mouth and closed it like a fish out of water.

“Frankie the Fabulous stuck his foot in his frickin’ mouth this time, didn’t he?” he asked the phantom.  “Four point five hours in the Five-Fifty-Five Station House with First Sergeant Fruchey.  That’s a lot of time spent saying ‘I don’t know a fucking thing,’ ain’t it?”

Listless, Frank did his damnedest to answer, even though he wasn’t really supposed to.  Freddy’s questions were figurative.  But it didn’t matter, Frankie was too fucked up to answer the freaky little sadist anyway. Black background with man's hand and a sparkling ball of white light over the outstretched palm.

“From what we’ve heard, Frank, you’ve said a whole lot more than ‘I don’t know a fucking thing,” you understand?”  Finally a question directed to him, but he couldn’t answer.  Frankie the Fabulous, aka Furtive Frank, had forgotten hours ago that his tongue and lips worked.

“First Sergeant Fruchey is telling tales, Frankie,” Freddy Fingers informs him.  “You now, it’s funny…F-U-N-N-Y…stuff he’s sharing.  He is saying how you are frank in more ways than just your name, you know, Frankie?”

Frankie did know.  Or, at least, Frankie probably did know, but right now the fingers of his right hand were fucking killing him.  Or the fricking stumps here his fingers had been were fucking killing him.  He had a fraction of a section to wonder how he was supposed to maintain his Frankie the Fabulous magic show without the fingers of his right hand but then Freddy Finger started talking again.

“Mr. Franklin isn’t happy with your choir practice, Frankie; because you were singing, weren’t you, Frankie?”  Again with the figurative question, so Frankie concentrated on his finger stubs instead.

How fast can one bleed to death? he wondered.  He could picture his obituary now.

Frankie the Fabulous (there would be no mention of the Furtive Frankie tag due to, ah, political reasons) died Friday, February Fifteenth at 5:55 a.m. (because freaky sadist’s did their work friggin’ early, unlike what most people thought) due to sudden and traumatic blood loss from a fatal wound of severed fingers.  Frankie the Fabulous, best known for his five-fingered spectaculars, founded the Fifth Street Magicians’ Club and was the main headliner at the Five Lights Hotel and Casino (and occasional wheel-man for Mr. Franklin, the city’s most notorious and lucrative mobster).   Frankie Finney (the Fabulous’s legal name) will be missed by family and friends.  Visiting hours are between 5-9 p.m. at Finola Funeral Home in Ferdinand, FL., and the funeral will be the following evening at 5 p.m. to coincide with Frankie’s regular magic show time.

He chuckled.

“And he laughs,” Freddy said.  “I don’t think I’m importing the trouble you’re in here for talking, Frankie.”

He laughed harder.  The truth was, Frankie understood exactly how dangerous the situation he was in was.  The situation was fatal, he knew it.   Mr. Franklin didn’t take kindly to snitches.  And, Frankie was fairly certain that Freddy fingers didn’t take kindly to laughing, but he couldn’t stop himself.  

The irony of the situation was that, despite the fucking misconception they had, Frankie had spent more than four hours at the Five-Fifty-Five Station House with First Sergeant Fruchey but he hadn’t said a fucking thing.  He had sang though.  He’d sang the children’s nursery lullaby Frere Jacques (you know the French children’s song) the whole time he’d been in that interrogation room with First Sergeant Fruchey.  So Freddy Fingers and Mr. Franklin were right.  He’d sang like a finch, only stopping long enough to tell the flat foot that he “wasn’t fucking saying nothing.”

Frankie the Fabulous laughed himself into a fatality because he sure couldn’t say a fucking thing with his fingers severed and the blood pouring onto the wooden flooring of the stage where he performed his fantastic magic act.


Confessions from a Teenage Journal

(c) BC Brown 2016

*performed live at Ash Avenue Comics, Tempe AZ

I am a charismatic introvert. What same may associate with “being an introvert” is the stereotypical awkward, shy, or antisocial individual. However, in my case, as in the case of many introverts, what I actually means is a person who, left to their own devices, can not engage in social settings or interactions unless 1) they have previously been in that setting, 2) there is at least one individual with whom they feel at least a common theme or ground with, or has made them feel openly welcomed previously,  or 3) the introvert is at their “fully charged” capacity, wherein the introvert has spent so much time distanced from social settings that they’ve reached a proverbial Johnny 5 “need input!” state that they are propelled into socialization.

I am an introvert who meets all three categories randomly.

I am, as I stated, however I’m also charismatic. Or so I’ve been told, having been likened to cocaine as addictive “once a person can break the barrier and engage” me. As you can all see, I have no shame, no nervousness before an audience, and am generally quite at ease with public speaking and/or performance.

This qualifier to my inherent introverted state is a boon, although often confused by others as being extroverted, but it is something that I can now recognize at some…blah blah blah…years old.

What you also need to understand is that I am opinionated, but not only that, I have burgeoning opinions that form and swell inside my brain until, eventually, they come spilling out, typically, since I am an introvert, in the form of my writing.

I mean, seriously, you should see the stuff I don’t publish.

To a teenager, full of traditional angst and rebellion, one who felt like such an outsider in her hometown of Agriburg, Middle America, official zip code of 4-H that she had to manifest her inner outsider feelings physically in dress, adopting Lily Munster as her personal fashion icon instead of the town accepted Daisy Duke, and one who self examination was halted while she “explored the deeper intellectualism of the philosophical writers and thinkers of the ages” (yes, that is a direct quote from my journal circa age 14), what did it mean to not understand charismatic introvertedness?

It meant HELL, let me tell you.

Imagine, if you will, having the presence and demeanor of a drag queen, – we’re talking RuPaul on ‘roids – bottled up inside an individual who had no idea how to engage others, so therefore was left quiet in the corner when she wanted nothing more than to curse forth like the Hoover Dam after a San Andreas earthquake. What would such an individual do to find some sort of pressure release valve on the bloat of unrecognized brilliance?

Secretly volunteer to wear her high school mascot’s costume at every single event for three whole years. What else?

Vincennes Lincoln High School mascot, Big A, green amorphous felt suit, orange hat, white and orange 'A' on belly.It wasn’t just that I choose to don a green and orange felt manifestation of McDonald’s long forgotten Grimace character. It wasn’t that, while I sneered at the ridiculous pageantry of organized school athletics, the indoctrination during early developmental years of taste and preference to Top 40 pop and mainstream hip hop, and the fact that, while I had one or two friends in high school, I disdained from talking to anyone other than teachers, administrators, or the special needs students, I actively participated – nay, Enoyed! – prancing around the high school gymnasium or local public park’s community-utilized football field. It was that I knew – even though I didn’t know, you know – I could indulge both aspects of my nature simultaneously: give outlet to my charismatic nature while remaining in obscurity beneath an oversized mascot head and plush and fluffy bodysuit. I could scream and rant, vocalize every adolescent thought and emotion, inside that head – safe in the knowledge that no one in the stands or on the field or court could even hear me over the incessant trump and hum of the jazz or marching band, the harpy shrieks of the cheerleaders, or the mindless thunder of the engaged primitive brain responding to competition and mob mentality.

Each day I performed as the high school mascot – Big A, short for Alice, a historical figure prominent in our hometown during its colonial stages, our city choose as the official mascot for the school, the Alices, but perhaps forgotten that the Old Alice of which our mascot was derived was a former prostitute and owned the brothels in town, of which contributed to our town’s prominence and wealth and expansion in the days of the Northwest Territory…as I was saying, each day I performed as the high school mascot, I took my oversized head off in satiation. I had, unknowingly, addressed both of my needs as an, undiagnosed, charismatic introvert. What was best was that I could do it without anyone I loathed to interact with on a regular basis – pretty much anyone from my high school or in my community – never knowing I had spilled my secrets, my thoughts, my hopes and dreams and disappointments to them, had figuratively laid my soul bare because my school had, after a bad incident of bullying and physical assault on a student, banned the name of the mascot-wearer released, and had even gone so far as to have one designated teacher who would meet the mascot in the main hall just before the end of every game to escort them to a classroom where they would be allowed to change and then allowed to leave the school like any other fan leaving.

If anyone ever raised an eye to seeing the town Bride of Frankenstein in the school car lot after the games, no one ever said or confronted me with it. However, sometimes I wonder, if anyone eventually did put two and two together? You see, despite being able to verbalize all of my angst and rebellion inside the anonymity of that costume, I was, am, and always have been a writer. A spoken word is a wonderful and lovely thing, but its transient nature has always diminished it for me. I need the permanence and immortality of the written word. And nothing says permanent more than my favorite writing instrument – the Sharpie marker.

So while as a teen I may have barraged the world with my spoken journal, I was a traditionalist in a rather untraditional medium. When I passed my Big A mascot head onto the next student, I wonder if, when they settled it over their head, resting the sharp plastic ring of the head brace like a regent’s crown and squaring the foam-encased PVC support columns on their shoulders, if their eyes got wide for one moment at the sight staring back at them, if they ever associated seeing the Bride of Frankenstein in the car lot after games (if they were, perhaps, only a year or so younger than me) and associated her with the detailed but unsigned journal entries graffitied inside the mesh and plastic skull of the Big A mascot?