CW: Some suggestive language, gunshot.
Queens, New York, 2021.
Frank made his way across the street onto the cracked sidewalk while the rain drizzled down his face and matted his hair on his forehead, giving him a sensation of a wet mop on his head. He was grumbling at having forgotten his umbrella at work and having to stay so late in the office the sun had gone down and the moon had risen to take its place. He turned around swiftly between two cars letting his trenchcoat float in the cold wind, and his briefcase swung by his side.
It was a Friday, thank the lord, after an especially busy week at MOS. This was a company he owned as a gift from his now deceased father, a real estate business which helps rich pricks look for mansions. And after dealing with some particularly irksome clientele, he decided that this weekend was going to be his. No calls, (he would turn off his phone), no visitors, (he would put up a sign that said the building was under maintenance), and no communication with any other human. Not his colleagues, not his neighbors, not his family-although he didn’t have much- and certainly not any more kids selling cookies or books or whatever they used these days to take his money. He absolutely despised them.
But suddenly a hand grabbing his coat and yanking him into a small alleyway interrupted his train of thoughts. He was thrown onto the ground, resulting with a searing pain going through his arm coming from his elbow, and his head hitting the ground. The alleyway hadn’t even caught his attention when he was passing it, and a figure emerged out of the dark shadows from the buildings.
Head spinning, and a sharp pain so strong it partially blinded Frank, this figure became a strange alien shape. A voice that boomed through his head releasing both adrenaline and cortisol. Only being able to register every other word, this deadly voice that seemed to speak through a megaphone said something along the lines of; “Get down...Money… Shoot you… Or else… Now!”
As he tried to get up he felt a kick in the ribs pushing him back down to the ground. But Frank Kenneth was not to be pushed down.
Of his many bad qualities, some less pronounced such as a bad (terrible) temper, anger issues, selfishness, or anything similar to those his best quality was his intelligence. And of his not so many other good qualities such as bravery, forgiveness -if earned- and perseverance, his worst quality was his ego. Not just his ego, but his big, giant, enormous, ginormous, humongous and stupendous ego. And those two qualities made a very unpleasant but confident and powerful person.
“And why should I listen to you?” Frank asked the gunman, trying to buy more time.
The man smiled, cocked his gun, and replied “Because I said so.” with a menacing grin.
Frank’s head had enough time to stop spinning, and he started to regain his senses. He knew that it was not smart to stand up for himself. That he should listen to the man and hand over his wallet or keys or whatever he was looking for. But letting a stranger diminish him like this, treat him as someone to push around, did not sit right. So, even if it wasn safe, wasn’t smart, Frank stood up and lunged at the man as fast as he could.The man kicked Frank away, raised his gun, and then without hesitation sent a bullet straight into Frank’s stomach.
Time froze. Droplets of rain hung in the air. The body of the man named Frank standing, blood spilling out of where the bullet entered and exited his stomach and back. The gunman locked into position, his weapon held in the air with a tight grip.
Frank realised what was happening. He had been shot. A searing line of pain that started from his stomach went all the way to his back, hitting his spine. No no no no NO! he thought. This couldn’t be it, couldn’t be the end. He was dying, and he knew he didn’t have much time.
The droplets of rain fell further down then froze once again. Frank had now lifted off the balls of his heels onto his toes. In that split second, Frank focused not on his thoughts but his physical surroundings, letting him hear a siren. But once he realised it went back to normal speed he sank deep into his head, closing his eyes just in time. But it was too late. What was happening had now sunk into his head, and while time had not resumed to normal, every minute he heard his watch ticking indicating a second. Every minute he went further into the air, slowly but surely.
"It's not real! Youre just too dumb to realise that it’s your parents that do it. There's no such thing as Santa or the Easter Bunny!” Frank yelled.
He was back into his first grade class, during lunch period when Zoe had exclaimed just how excited she was for Santa to come this year. Frank, exasperated and bewildered at how little her mind was, he went on a rant. A six year old rant because he couldn’t live with the fact that kids still believed in that. His parents would never lie to him like that. No they wouldn’t, he thought.
The rain fell down another inch then stopped, and he heard a car briefly skidding somewhere in the city, with sirens in the background.
When Frank opened the door, two girls were there and said “Hello sir! Would you like to buy some cookies to support-”
“Get out! Get out now!” he shouted. It had been only an hour since he got an email saying that his colleague got the promotion he was after. That I deserved, he thought.
The girls, both girl scouts going house to house to raise money, ran away to the next house, far from the mean man who yelled at them.
He now became aware that in order to slow everything down, he had to think. Stay far from the real world. Be in his own thoughts.
“Out of my office! You can clean out your desk and then I want you gone. Is that understood?” Frank asked.
“Yes sir.” Eric said, eyes now watering.
Frank had just fired Eric for being late a third time this month. When he confronted Eric, the new employee fired back that it wasn’t a big deal. Bewildered by this attitude, Frank started yelling at him.
This was the fourth employee he had fired this month. Several people complained that recruiting new people became harder now that the public knew the employee’s weren’t treated fairly, but Frank ignored them. The number of people in demand for a realtor went up, and he became extremely stressed, which caused him to be ill-tempered and aggravated by everything.
Frank was conscious he was a foot off the ground. His head started to whip back letting his hair whip a trail of water droplets.
And that’s when it hit him. He was a bad person. His selfishness and ego had made him yes, powerful, but far from a good person. He had no one, no friends or family that cared for him. This was what the world was going to remember him by. Frank Kenneth, the worst man. Frank Kenneth, the dead man.
The gun finally kicked back and sent a jolt down the gunman’s arm. Frank was now hovering half a foot above the ground, slowly creeping closer and closer to the puddle underneath him.
This was what he was going to be remembered by. He was never going to have people mourn for him, never going to have a teary funeral. What, would it just be his uncles?
Five inches above the ground, his lower half now soaring higher than his chest..
No! This couldn’t be it. He had to change. How would everyone know he was sorry?
Four inches above the ground.
There were too many thoughts in his head, apologies, memories, emotions and realisations. All things he wanted to fix. All things he needed to fix.
He would never get to eat, never get to retire, never get to love again.
Frank would never be able to travel the world, see different places. To feel, to sleep, to hear.
Even asleep, his mind replayed the fall. The slow motion, nearing the ground, the floating. The crash. His spine hit first, then his shoulder blades, head, back, tailbone, legs and feet. He could feel the impact vibrating through his entire body, and the hole in his stomach that marked the quick presence of the bullet. Asleep, Frank couldn’t keep track for how long it had been. All he was aware of was what happened, and the strangest dreams of going back to work and bringing pizza for all his workers. He did have the money for it after all. But then he fell back into an even deeper sleep. All was black.
“You’re lucky to be alive, Mr Kenneth.”
Frank started to open his eyes and could make out the figure of a woman in front of him. “Where am I?” he asked.
“Queens hospital. After you were shot some people who were walking by called the cops. Found you almost dead bleeding out onto the ground. We had to stop about two dozen reporters from coming in. You are a popular fellow after all.” the nurse said, mumbling the last bit.
She left the room, and Frank had a moment to himself. I’m alive, he thought in amazement. Looking down at his hands, feeling his face and then the sheets, Frank had half a mind to jump up and start dancing, not that the nurse would be very happy about that. But this was it. This was his second chance. Maybe not god, but someone was listening to him. Someone knew Frank would change, that he wanted to. That he deserved a second chance.
Frank sat up and smiled. With a phone the nurse provided him (his had broken since it was in his back pocket when he fell), he first called the nearest pizza place to the office and ordered enough large pizzas for a small army, then called the supervisor one level under him that pizza was coming, and after they ate all the employees could take a day off.
This was going to be the new Frank Kenneth. A yes rich, but also generous, thoughtful and kind man. He would do enough good things and help enough people that when he died people would care. People would mourn. Frank Kenneth, a hero never to be forgotten, he thought. He then flipped his pillow onto the cold side and layed down. He had a big day tomorrow.