White to Black

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A kind of thriller short story I wrote a year ago. A little sick, but I like it anyway.

White to Black
Frank Dason stared blankly at the smog rising outside his apartment window. The heavy feeling of self disappointment sat on his shoulders like a large elephant. In his hands was a paper with bright, red lettering informing him that he was being evicted from his apartment, and had to leave immediately. Looking back on the past few years, Frank could see how far he had fallen. But knowing that slope of defeat was too painful to bear. All he could do was give in to the new Frank Dason. The gambler, the alcoholic, the dirty scum-bag that was detested by all. No pressure, no dreams, no time. All he had left of his old life was his younger sister and her family, and she was losing faith in him quickly.
All the more reason to beg at her feet now, before it’s too late, he thought. Can’t lose nothin’ now.
The two once depended on each other completely. After their father left them at ages 5 and 7 for a Carnival job in Tennessee, Frank and Susan helped each other heal and move forward with their lives. Their devotion to one another continued until Frank was fired from his job as a salesman for using explicit language towards a difficult customer. That was when the costly addictions began.
While driving to his sister’s rich neighborhood, Frank began thinking of ways he could make up his debt to her. Becoming her butler, gardener, anything really it did not matter, she would help him anyway which is all that counts. Frank’s confidence kept him in a good mood the entire forty-five minute drive to the Golden Highlands, the best family centered neighborhood around. He tried to look moderately nice for his sister to give her hope. He wore his cleanest jeans, a dirty, light yellow dress shirt that he found in an abandoned house that one time. Around his neck was a blood-red and black striped tie his sister had gotten him for his birthday this past year. He had even attempted to smooth down his thin, auburn hair. Shaving he forgot to do and his eyes were bloodshot from the night before. If he was honest with himself, he would know that this look just made him seem more pitiful.
As he walked slowly up the stoned walkway to the large, white house with baby-blue shutters, Frank felt purpose for the first time in a while. Maybe this is the start he needed to get back on his feet again, just maybe. The doorbell made a cheerful chiming sound that he could hear echo through the house. Frank quickly recognized his sister’s heels on the tile coming towards the door, causing nervous butterflies to fly through him. When the door opened, he realized that he had not really seen his sister in a while. Her thick, light auburn hair had been cut to a bob around her chin. She had wide, green eyes that were framed with thick lashes covered with mascara. Her wardrobe had not changed. Boring but sophisticated was always her preference. A gray, knee-length skirt matched with a black blouse and gold belt fit nicely on her slender figure. It made her look mature and in control. The kind of control Susan needed it to be.
“Hey Susan, it’s been awhile.” Frank said with a shy smile.
“It has, Frank. What can I do for you?” He could tell that Susan was trying to treat him as a customer, with as little feeling as possible. She was cracking at the edges.
Frank took a deep breath. “I would like to talk business if you don’t mind. May I come in?”
A look of reluctance came upon Susan’s face. She held her breath for a second before replying. “I don’t know, Frank ----”
“Just a few minutes, I’ll make it worth your while this time. I promise.” With this vow Frank pulled out his salesman smile. Charming and comforting, it had worked on Susan before, and he was praying it would work again.
“Just a few minutes.”
Inside Susan’s home caramel colored hard-wood floors gleamed from a fresh wax. The scent of lavender hung lightly in the air and fit nicely with the long, light purple curtains that accented the tall windows. A cozy, white loveseat sat snug in one corner, parallel to a simple, cherry coffee table about 2 ft tall. On it was a blue striped coffee mug with a wide handle and lipstick marks on the side. A large fireplace decorated the south wall; above it was a mantel full of family photos that brought personality and a homey feel. A long, "L" shaped couch was angled toward the east windows, and bright, spring flowers lined every surface. The walls were a cream, and were elegantly organized with pictures of the past.
“What do want from me Frank?” This one question made Susan look so tired she could have aged ten years in a second.
“I have a, well, I have a problem.”
“I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what it is.”
“I’m being evicted from my apartment and need a place to stay, until I get back on my feet.”
Susan sighed. “Frank, I can’t help you anymore. I can’t afford to.”
A confused anger filled like a balloon inside of Frank. “What do you mean you can’t afford it? You live so much better than almost everyone else in the city. You can afford everything. Me on the other hand ---”
“Frank! I can’t keep going on this roller-coaster with you! You promise me it will get better and it doesn’t, I can’t emotionally do this!”
“What about me? You think I’ve got it easy? I’m the one on the street here!”
“You’re the one who wants to stay there!”
With that, the balloon popped, exploded really. Frank saw nothing but white. Not even Susan’s scream could break the light in his mind. Only when it was completely silent did Frank come back. But it was too late. Crumpled on the floor was the body of his lifeless sister. Bruises were already starting to form on her long neck.
“Oh shit.” Frank groaned. And with those two words, he grabbed Susan’s purse and ran from the house.
The bar was eerily empty when Frank walked through the door. The stench of spilled alcohol and week old vomit stained the air making it visibly thick. The place was dark and bare bulbs hung low from the ceiling. There were three small, circular tables and four stools in front of a bar about ten feet long. In the east corner was a small television that sat on a narrow shelf. Arnold, the bartender, was leaning over the bar to watch the Celtics game. They were losing.
“Good thing I’m not betting tonight, huh?” Arnold asked Frank before changing the channel.
Frank was not paying enough attention to the real world to be able to reply. He was busy thinking. Thinking of ways to fix the horrible problem he had caused. Mechanically, Frank asked for a beer and sat glaring into the chipping paint on the bar. Suddenly, a memory of the drive to the bar hit him. A quaint, little boutique with a steady flow of women for customers he had passed. The type of place his sister would shop at. It could work, many people used to think the two of them were twins.
“Hey Arnie! Do you think I’m pretty?”
Arnold looked at Frank with disbelief. “Whatta you talkin’ ‘bout Frank?”
Frank clarified himself slowly. “Do you think I could pull off being dressed as a woman?”
Arnold coughed out a laugh. “Well you’re no Miss Jay.”
“Just a show my daughter watches. Listen, I know you’ve been having a rough time lately but really Frank, ---”
“You know what? Just forget it.”
“Whatever you say.”
Frank sighed. His one almost only idea was ridiculous and pathetic. How could he think his niece and nephew would ever believe he was their mother? Soon Susan’s family will get home, find her body, scream bloody murder, and call the cops. That would be it. The end. The sentence would probably be either life in prison or death.
I suppose I’d be alright with either, Frank thought.
He would have to, of course, act like he were upset about jail, but he would get three meals a day. To him, that was better than his current situation.
But what if he could leave and be someone completely different. He had heard stories of a murderer leaving the state and getting fake identities. They got caught, but Frank was smarter than them. He knew that if he acted out of panic, things would get sloppy. He could go to somewhere where no one really thought about. Where someone running away would be crazy to go. Somewhere like Maine. It was uneventful, small, and unsuspecting. Perfect. Frank knew he wouldn’t be able to make the three to four hour trip with his car and no money, but hitchhiking was always an option. He checked his sister’s wallet.
Twenty bucks. How could Susan only have twenty bucks in her purse? If I’m lucky I can find a dumb teenager to pick me up, Frank thought.
Then he remembered he had had two beers.
$2.50 plus $2.50 equals 5 bucks. That leaves $15. Without counting tax.
Frank slyly glanced around the bar. Arnold was mopping the floor, humming to himself. He would notice if Frank shifted in his seat. There was no way. Unless......
Frank walked out of the bar feeling like a different person. His sister’s death, well, Frank could not think of a way that it could have possibly been stopped. Arnold’s death was an act of desperation.
I’m already getting sloppy, thought Frank.
Thinking about the deaths more as a dream, something unreal helped Frank think clearly.
Traffic on the highway was busy. All of the state officials were heading home. Susan’s husband was probably on his way to find his wife’s body. The police would be called soon enough. Frank wandered down the emergency lane on the highway holding thumbs up sign sideways. It took about half an hour before a large truck pulled up ahead of him and waited. Frank hurried up to the passenger side and climbed in. The driver was a fairly round guy with a big smile on his face. He had on overalls on top of a red T-shirt and a Yankees baseball cap on over his balding head.
“Hey stranger, need a ride? I’m George, by the way.”
“I’m Frank”
“Where’s your destination?”
“That’s near where I’m heading. I can leave you in Kittery if that’s alright.”
“Sure, Kittery’s fine.” Frank was getting irritated and jittery since the truck had not started to move yet.
They drove off in silence. Frank could tell that George was desperate for conversation. In fact, he was itching for it. Frank smiled to himself at getting such a lucky find on the first try. They had been in the car for almost an hour and money was not even mentioned. To thank George, Frank eventually decided to strike up a conversation.
“That hat is pretty dangerous to wear in these parts.” Frank said referring to George’s Yankee hat.
George laughed. “Only if you act like a tourist.”
From there, George and Frank touched on many sports teams and moved quickly onto cars. It was when the two reached Vermont that the first police car was spotted far behind them.
“Someone speeding again, the idiot.” remarked George.
Frank nervously glanced behind them to see two more police vehicles join the first and turn their sirens on. George looked into his rearview mirror, but did not pull over.
“I know it isn’t me who’s speeding, so I won’t inconvenience either of us.”
Frank held his breath and nodded. Soon there were a total of five police cars trailing George’s Truck. George did not get it, why were the cops following him here in New England?
“What the.....”
“George, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have ridden with you so long.”
“What do you mean Frank?” Then George put it together, and a horrified look spread upon his face. “Frank, what did you do?”
The two looked behind them at the same time. The police were getting closer, and they were definitely after Frank. Sweat began to bead on his forehead while George started hyperventilating.
“Listen George, I killed two people, they won’t just let me get away.”
“I can’t......Pull.....Over”
“I can’t get caught either Frank. You know what you just did?”
Frank had never been more scared in his life. He had not realized that he was not the only person in the world who was running away; that there were other people who had done worse things than murder two people.
Frank looked back at George just in time to see down the barrel of his gun. And then everything went black.

Created: Jul 24, 2010


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