The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest

Submitted into Contest #161 in response to: Write about a character who lives a seemingly charmed life.... view prompt

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Adventure Fiction Western

         Now, this fairy tale here concerns a young fellow named Frankie Lee and his encounter with the mysterious Judas Priest. Well, saying Frankie Lee lived a charming life would be an understatement. He had more money than his grandchildren could spend and a red-headed gal that would soon become his bride. She was finer than frog’s hair split four ways. Bless her mighty soul! Ya’ll folks wouldn’t believe me if I said this, but Mary Ann was the prettiest gal from Texas all the way to West Virginia. Even a blind man on a galloping horse could see she and Frankie were like peas and carrots. But I wouldn’t be telling ya’ll this if it were only sunshine and rainbows, you see, strange things began to happen in Montgomery one day. Some said it was the death of his mother that haunted him; some said it was the Hand of God punishing him for his sins. But Frankie himself claimed that it was the doings of Judas Priest. Judas Priest? Nobody in Montgomery ever heard of no Judas Priest. They thought he meant the Judas in the Bible but Frankie Lee assured them with absolute conviction that his name was Priest—Judas Priest. Frankie ascribed all his fortune and success to this Priest, though he also blamed him for his terrible afflictions and eventual demise. Unfortunately by then, his words couldn’t even amount to a hill of rotten beans. So, let me get my guitar out, and bring you back to 1869 when the first transcontinental railroad was finished in Utah and Ulysses S. Grant became the president of the United States. It all started over yonder in southern Alabama, where gospel echoes like rain and moonshine flows like holy water.

The bottle of rum and the pitcher of gin

Was where Frankie Lee did hide

Much to his mother’s despair

Bled his money clean, drank his pockets dry

So when Frankie Lee needed money one day

He planned to execute a heist

Crept into church under the silence of night

He escaped all but the eyes of Christ

The alms were empty save seven dirty dollars and eleven filthy cents

When Frankie Lee suddenly noticed the spot where Judas Priest did stand

The cross o’er which he leaned to kiss

Hung Jesus bent over to offer his hand

But Frankie Lee forsook his choice then

So rooted was he in the greed that ruled men

Disappointed in God he turned to leave

And saw Judas clutching a roll of tens

Frankie Lee reached for the money when Judas turned and winked

“Judas!” He exclaimed and his head began to spin

“I’m no Judas,” the statue said with a voice as cold as ice,

“I’m Priest, as I ever will be and always have been.”

“Sorry, Mr. Priest, I never meant you no harm”

Said Frankie Lee in terrible fright

“Jus’ that I saw you were richer than Jesus here,”

“An’ your money had never left my sight”

With the wicked eyes of Judas on his soul

Frankie Lee was about to faint

But when Priest offered his hand to him

He took it like it was another Saint

“I don’t want a roll of tens,” said green-eyed Frankie Lee

“I want more money than I could ever spend”

“Well,” said Judas Priest as he pocketed his bait

“Since you asked so nice, I’ll give what I can lend” 

So Judas Priest snapped his fingers and declared the deed done

Frankie Lee asked where he’d be after he’d be gone

Judas Priest spoke no more, he turned to kiss Jesus whose tears had sprung

And for Frankie Lee, his misery had only just begun

         You see, Frankie Lee had a mother. Poor Mrs. Annabelle, bless her unfortunate soul! She became a widow after her husband, General Lee, died in the war, but she was left with a substantial fortune, mind you. However, she never let Frankie Lee put a finger a single cent of it, for she knew that if he got his greedy little hands on that much money, it would be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next. That didn’t mean poor Mrs. Annabelle didn’t love her son, but Frankie Lee was so troublesome, he could’ve worried the horns off of a billy goat.       “My son ain’t got the good sense God gave a rock,” she would she cry to her neighbors, “When is he gonna clean up his act and get a real job?”

        “I guess he’s jus’ a late bloomer, Annabelle,” her neighbors replied, though they all knew by the time he remedied his habits the cows would’ve already come home and pigs would’ve learned to fly.

        Naturally, Frankie Lee wasn’t too happy with the way Mrs. Annabelle talked about him. It was bad enough that she never gave him any money when he was broke, but belittling him was too much. Whenever he was caught stealing by the sheriff or came home drunk at night, she’d be madder than a wet hen and so loud the whole town could hear.

        “Son, you’re about as useful a screen door on a fishing boat. I swear to God, if you come home like this again, I’ll slap you so hard you’re gonna see tomorrow today.”

        Then, after a beating that left his bottom red and eyes bloodshot, he would return to the bar only to be called Spanky Lee by all the grown men. Boy, did Frankie hate that woman.

        As you can guess, he was happier than a dead pig in the sunshine when he found his mother dead after he came home from church. As vile as it sounds, I daresay Frankie Lee was grinning wider than a possum eating a sweet tater.

        When the sheriff came knocking on the door and asking where he was when Mrs. Annabelle died the next day, Frankie pinched some tears out and said, “I wasn’t here when Ma died. Bless her heart! She was ill for a long time, sheriff. I was at church praying for her health.” And that was that. I swear, that Frankie Lee talked with his tongue out of his shoe, but he somehow managed to fool the whole town.

        “Poor Frankie Lee,” his neighbors said at Mrs. Annabelle’s funeral, “He’s so stricken with grief he can’t bear to give his final blessing.”

        When in reality, Frankie Lee was holed up in his room reading her mother’s will. As it turns out, Mrs. Annabelle was had more wealth to her name than Frankie ever could have fathomed, and it was all passed down to him. Besides the ten million dollars’ worth of gold and silver buried in safe in the basement, he also inherited the house, seven thousand acres of land, and the second largest cattle ranch in Texas. This was truly more money than he could ever spend. Thus, Frankie Lee became one of the richest men in the southeast overnight.

        Well, Judas Priest, he watched this with a smile

As Frankie Lee was lost in material exile

A Stetson, boots, and velvet tie

He was the men’s greatest pride

No longer did he gulp rail drinks at bars

He sipped with Astor, Rockefeller, and theatre stars

But Judas Priest knew this was not enough

Frankie Lee wanted to buy genuine love

So when Frankie came knocking on the door one day

Judas Priest did ask him to come and stay

“I have a favor to ask you, Judas Priest”

Said Frankie Lee with superior conceit

“I have a price,” Priest he warned

“And I have money” Frankie he scorned

But Judas laughed his perverted laugh

That sent chills along Frankie’s calf

“Name your favor I’ll name my price”

“Promise it won’t be an evil vice”

“Mary Ann is more pleasant than a cool summer breeze”

“But she’s the only thing that money can’t please”

“I’ve given her presents, flowers, jewelry, and skirts”

“She sends them back like they’re all made of dirt”

Judas Priest paused to think long and hard

He ignored while Jesus did stand guard

“I’ve made up my mind, I’ve decided the price”

“Kill the priest who talks of Paradise”

“The priest,” asked Frankie Lee confused

“What will his death be able to do”

Judas Priest he smirked and leered

And the more malicious he did appear

“If everyone listened and helped the poor”

“Ol’ Judas wouldn’t have a job no more”

        “The priest is dead! The priest is dead!”

        That mighty holler startled Frankie Lee like a frightened feline on a hot tin roof. Not because he was scared of being caught, but because he was too immersed in reading the letter Mary Ann had just returned him. Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit, because I’ve never heard of anyone being anxious for the wrong reason just after they had murdered a priest, but that was exactly what happened to Frankie Lee as he read Mary Ann’s reply to his wedding request. The letter was tediously long. Mary Ann explained how she had always waited to marry the right man and how much she appreciated the amount of affection he had gifted her. Unfortunately, Frankie Lee was interested in none of that. His eyes flitted through the lines of text faster than a coyote on a chicken scent before coming to the last line, which read, “My dearest Frankie, I do accept.” And so, the wedding was scheduled for the next day after Frankie Lee generously offered to pay for the priests’ burial and erect a handsome tombstone to commemorate the wonderful service he had devoted to the town of Montgomery.

        Almost half of Alabama showed up to celebrate Frankie’s wedding. Why not? He was a famous man and was about to marry one of the prettiest gals in the south. The church was so crowded, not even a cockroach could’ve wedged itself through the sea of bodies that spilled out onto Main Street and plugged the windows of every house.

        “Why this was a match made in heaven,” said one woman as she wiped her eyes with a handkerchief, “Frankie Lee is so lucky to have her. She’s finer than a summer peach.”

        “I’d say God finally blessed after he lost both his father and his mother. Poor soul. Bless his heart!” Said another man.

        Only Mary Ann’s father stood there crying himself stupid.

        “Now you listen to me boy,” he said to Frankie Lee, “If I ever find my daughter cryin’ or if you ever lay a finger on her, I’m going put you down faster than a knife fight in a phone booth, you hear me?”

        “Yes sir,” Frankie replied as nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers. However, Frankie Lee wasn’t intimidated by no dirty-faced redneck, he was terrified by the unrelenting eyes of Judas Priest that bore down on him from above. Even when they recited the oaths themselves in the absence of the priest, Frankie Lee could see the tips of Judas Priest’s lips curling into a degenerate sneer. It was bad luck to get married under the nose of Judas Priest. Who knew what kind of atrocities he was conspiring right then? Frankie Lee trembled like an earthquake was splitting a chasm down the back of his spine, but all the other folks thought it was because he couldn’t wait to take Mary Ann home. Now, what Frankie Lee didn’t notice was the other person standing next to Judas Priest. He was nailed to the cross alright, but he could still see with his eyes. It is said that as Frankie and Mary finished taking their oaths and leaned in to kiss one other, the faintest halo appeared above their heads. You had to squint real hard to see that circle of light if your attention wasn’t already transfixed on the two lovebirds making it out, but that was an unmistakable omen. It was a blessing from Jesus, the Hand of God at work. You see, poor Frankie Lee was drowning in his own greedy lust. He wanted money, he wanted fame, he wanted love and everything that he couldn’t have. Frankie Lee was lost beyond hope, Judas Priest had him in the palm of his hand, but the Lord works his plans in magical ways. There was no way of saving Frankie from his own self-destruction, not directly, of course. So, just liked Judas Priest cast his spell on Mary Ann, Jesus worked his miracles on her as well, in the hopes that she could return Frankie to the path of righteousness, and that is exactly what she did.

        Following their marriage, Frankie Lee underwent a miraculous change.      “Gee, I just abhor the stench of alcohol when I go to sleep every night,” complained Mary Ann when Frankie Lee climbed into bed drunk blind one night, reeking of liquor.

        All it took was that one sentence for Frankie to go cold turkey. So, the next day, he buried all his bottles and precious vintages and never licked another drop since. Mary Ann was also able to convince him to use his wealth to help the people of Montgomery. They fixed roads, funded the schools, built houses for the homeless, and allocated half their land to the impoverished farmers of Alabama to grow their crops and store their grain. Honestly, it baffles me beyond explanation how anyone could’ve tamed the wild and sinful likes of Frankie Lee, but Mary Ann somehow did manage it, and the people adored them.

        “Yesterday my cow fell into a well on Frankie’s land and he damn near gave me two dozen cattle as an apology.”

        “My house burned down in the wildfire last month and he offered to build me a bigger one, free of charge!”

        “Mrs. Annabelle must be smiling down from heaven to see his son come around. God bless their gracious soul!”

        Of course, Judas Priest saw his benevolence and heard the people’s praise, and boy did that make more saltier than a rotten pickle in a jar of spoiled mustard. Frankie Lee was slowly slipping out of the clutches of his grip, and it was all because of that Mary Ann.

Doctors came and doctors went

No one had a cure for Mary Ann

They said she was dead her life was spent

Frankie would live as a lonely man

He holed himself up he was worried sick

Anguished wails from his house they rang

Death or misery he could not pick

Wretched shrieks from his lungs they sang

Despair lured the wrath of Judas Priest

Desperation was a scrumptious feast

He chuckled he growled

He cackled he howled

In the lonesome streets the dark and foul

It was a heinous evil that quietly prowled

Crops withered and Cattle died

Children were bridled with fevers and scars

There was no place where good peace could hide

For the screams of Frankie travelled so far

The people could see the people agreed

The evil that plagued them was Frankie Lee

A knocking came from the church door one night

Judas Priest drew him in with a portentous smile

“My love is dying, she’s put up a fight”

“But I fear it’ll take her before a while”

“I’ll do what I can my Frankie boy”

“Though I do have a very steep price”

“I’ll do anything her life is not a toy”

“Tell me what you need and I’ll roll the dice”

Judas Priest his face was twisted with glee

On a leash he had poor Frankie Lee

“Come with me on the day you die”

“Promise me this and I’ll save her life”

“Deal” said Frankie thinking it was a lie

Little did he know that it would kill his wife

The mob outside was in public outcry

Their minds were driven and maddened with strife

Torches they held and pitchforks they weld

They found him in the church where Judas Priest did dwell

“Frankie Lee will be hanged for his crimes”

“He and the devil have been exchanging dimes”

Frankie Lee he scrambled to his feet

The seething anger of the mob his eyes did meet

“Why are you holding those pointed sticks”

“I have urgent business my wife is sick”

“Frankie Lee you’ve cursed this town”

“To save ourselves we have to bring you down”

A dreadful realization struck him then

He began to rave before the men

“It was him! It was Judas Priest!”

“He’s standing right there he’s running free”

Judas was only a silent statue

He stood like he had no clue

“He has deceived me with his dirty tricks”

“He’s cursed this town he’s made Mary sick”

“Take him down before he can run”

“Kill the devil and the deed is done”

But the mob only saw a delusional man

Trying to escape with a scheming plan

“We’ve never heard of no Judas Priest”

“You are the only sinful beast”

“My fellow countrymen do you not believe me any more”

“His name is truly Judas Priest. I swore! I swore!”

“Well I do recall a Judas Priest”

“Isn’t he the murderer whose family’s deceased”

The ancient man turned to look at Frankie Lee

“He hung his children and wife to a tree”

Frankie Lee was speechless he stood there aghast

Looking at Judas Priest was peering into the past

The mob rushed forward and took his arm

But Frankie Lee was not alarmed

There was no turning back there was no salvation anymore

He had signed his death the day he opened the church door

As he hung he pointed with his hand

And the people looked to where Judas Priest did stand

Only it wan’t Judas Priest anymore

Frankie Lee’s smile on its face it bore

So, the moral of this story the moral of this song

Is not to take things that don’t belong

Don’t go skating too far on thin ice

Or you just might find yourself

On the other side of Paradise

September 03, 2022 01:15

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1 comment

Tommy Goround
02:28 Sep 06, 2022

Good start point: So, let me get my guitar out, and bring you back to 1869 when the first transcontinental railroad was finished in Utah and Ulysses S. Grant became the president of the United States. It all started over yonder in southern Alabama, where gospel echoes like rain and moonshine flows like holy water. Symbols: Lee, Grant, a hundred southern flossings. Theme: deal with devil. A Daniel Webster. Nice use of "second largest...ranch". King Ranch should be the first. Makes me think that the southern plantation society is pretty ...


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