The Franklin Files

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     When I got home it was just before dinner. Dad was home, and watching the news in the living room. I went in and said hi. Glancing at the screen they were talking about Watergate.

     Watergate-Watergate-Watergate. That's all you ever heard on the news. I didn't know a thing about it, just that it sounded like a type of toothpaste.

     Then they talked about something called P.O.W.'s which I didn't know what that meant either, and I didn't really care. I was nine years old.

     "Hey dad?" I asked.

     "Yea," he said.

     "What are P.O.W.'s" I asked?

     My dad without turning from the screen said, "Prisoners of War."

     "Oh," I said. "Hey dad?"

     "What?" he asked turning towards me.

     "How can I get my record player to play a record backwards?"

     My dad looked at me quizzically, then glanced at the record I was holding in my hand. "Records weren't designed to be played backwards. Why in the heck would you want to play it backwards?" he asked.

     "I don't know," I said.

     My dad just continued watching the TV. Now they were talking more about Richard Nixon. I left the room and headed towards my room.

     I put the record next to my record player and flopped down on my bed and started reading the Spiderman comic that Scott lent me.

     I got through the first story, and thought it was rather chilling. I wasn't into horror comics. This story was about a guy who turned into a lizard man. The very last page was just weird. It showed a close up of the lizard man's face with words that filled the whole page "ONLY THE BEAST REMAINS....THE LIZARD LIVES"

     I put the comic under my bed and I don't know why but I felt sleepy and although I hadn't intended to go to sleep I did fall asleep. I was woken up by my mom exclaiming that it was dinner time.

     After dinner I took a bath and then read the other story in the Spiderman comic. 

     It was about a scientist guy who discovered some ancient chemical formula to make a person young again. The scientist sells the formula to this real bad mobster guy whose been spending all of his life looking for the fountain of youth and he's really old.

     The guy drinks the potion and he gets younger. He gets young enough to do battle with Spiderman and actually kicks Spierdman's butt. (I hated that about Spiderman-- that's why I didn't like the series-- he was such a wuss, always getting his butt kicked all the time, although he always ended up winning in the end.)

     The bad guy keeps getting younger though and pretty soon he's a teen aged boy and then a little kid, then he becomes a baby and then just poofs out of existence. I guess he died.

     "Weird," I thought to myself.


. . .

     The next morning I decided to listen to the record. I found the track titles on the record label and started playing the song "Stairway To Heaven"

     I didn't play it backwards though. I had no idea how to do that. There was no reverse switch on my record player.

     As the song started up, I was surprised that I actually liked it. I don't know. I was expecting some kind of ear-numbing anti-harmonious hard rock song, and instead it was a very pleasant song. At least it started out that way.

     I listened to the words like Scott told me to, and I have to admit, I didn't have a clue what in the heck he was singing about, but he wasn't singing anything like the country songs do, that's for sure. 

     John Denver sang about Country Roads, and Rocky Mountain High and it was easy to understand what he was singing about. 

     The Rock songs from the 50's were easy to understand too. Mostly they were singing about girls.

     This was different. I was listening to the words but they weren't making any sense to me. I couldn't figure what he was singing about. A Stairway to Heaven apparently, according to the title, but it didn't sound like he was singing about that although that kept repeating in the refrain.

     The song got harder and harder, and at one point it began to hurt my ears, and I pulled the needle off of it. It turns out it was a hard rock song after all, it just started out as a ballad.


. . . 

     At about a quarter to eleven I headed off on my bike with my precious Superboy that I wondered if I would ever see again. It turns out I wouldn't, but I didn't know that at the time or I never would have agreed to do this.

     I kept the record at home because I wasn't done listening to it yet.

     When I got to the school, I had to leave my bike next to the fence. I hopped the fence and then headed over to the bridge. Scott was already there waiting for me.

     I looked at Scott, squinting, for it was hot and bright that day. It was late July, and getting hotter and hotter every day.

     "Why are you looking at me like that?" Scott asked.

     "Like what?" I said.

     "You have one eye closed," he said.

     I hadn't realized it but I did have one eye closed. My right eye was completely closed tight as I was looking at Scott with the sun behind him and glaring off of his white skin and blond hair.

     I didn't know it at the time, but I developed a condition called "Lazy Eye" which was a weak eye, and when looking at something bright where you would normally squint, I would squint my left eye and my right eye would completely close. Soon my parent's would notice it and after that they would take me to the eye doctor, but as far as I remember this was the first time I became conscious of it.

     "Its just bright is all," I said. "I'm not winking at you."

     "Do you do that all the time?" he asked.

     "No, I don't think I've ever done it before now," I said.

     "Weird," Scott said.

     "So, now you think I'm weird?" I asked.

     "No way man, I think you're cool and smart."

     "Oh cool," I said and handed him the Superboy.

     Scott took hold of it but for some reason I was reluctant to let it go. After a moment I did.

     "Don't worry, you'll get it back. You know where I live right?"

     I nodded.

     From there we went back to Scott's garage and climbed up on to the loft.

     "Don't you think it'd be better to play inside the house? It gets awfully hot up here," I said.

     "You weren't complaining yesterday," Scott said.

     "That's true," I said.

     We got up on to the loft and I reached into the small of my back and brought out the Mad Magazine; the one with the MAD Christmas Carol's in it.

     Scott handed me some candy and I started eating it as we both sat there with our feet dangling down from the edge of the loft looking at the magazine, and we started singing the naughty Christmas Carols together.

     We had a lot of fun and laughed and laughed, and again, it was real hot up there but the heat felt pleasant to me; it was actually pleasurable.

     After awhile Scott suggested we get more candy.

     "From where?" I asked.

     "Follow me," he said.

     I followed Scott down off of the loft which actually was a bit tricky. You had to be careful because you had to switch your body from one orientation to the opposite in order to negotiate the transition from loft to ladder. I was getting better at it, but Scott could do it fluidly. I wasn't that progressed yet.

     Scott led me across the street to The Ladera Center.

     This was one thing that I was starting to think was really attractive about Scott. Scott lived at home alone with his dad, and his dad worked a lot and was mostly never home.

     Scott could roam around the neighborhood and do just about whatever he pleased. It was a type of freedom that I was unaccustomed to.

     He led me in front of the TG&Y store.

     "You have money?" I asked, "Because I don't," I said.

     "We don't need money, come on." he said.

     I grabbed Scott by the shoulder and said softly, "Scott what do you mean? You're going to steal some candy?"

     "Not just me, you too, and it's easy. Just do as I do, and watch the mirrors." he said.

     "What do you mean?" I asked "Watch the mirrors?"

     "Here's the general rule of thumb. Look up into the mirrors and if you can see someone then they can see you. Don't take anything if you look up in the mirrors and someone is looking at you."

     "Scott, I don't know." I said reluctantly. I'd never stolen anything before. Well, at least not from a store.

     "Come on. It's easy. Trust me."

     "I don't know," I said.

     "Just do what I do, OK?"

     Scott walked into the store and I followed behind him. We went to the candy rack and pretended not to know one another. I watched as Scott would look up at the mirrors and then grab a fist full of candy and then stick it down the front of his pants.

     I caught on quick, I was just scared. I looked up in the mirror and could see no one was looking so I grabbed a bunch of candy with two hands and stuck them down the front of my pants.

     "See, " Scott said, "easy."

     Scott was so cool. He was as calm as could be. I didn't admit it but I was scared as hell. If I got caught doing this my parents would beat my butt red.

     "I'm going to go to another isle where there's more stuff," Scott said.

     I nodded, "I'll meet you outside," I said.

     Scott nodded and I was relieved. I think I had proven to him that I was cool, and I was glad that he didn't protest when I said I was leaving the store.

     I waited several minutes outside the store in pure terror that one of the clerk's would come outside and bust me.

     Scott came out a few minutes later.

     "What took you so long!" I exclaimed.

     "Why, What were you worried about?" Scott asked.

     "What if they came out here and accused me of stealing?" I asked.

     "What are they going to do, make you drop your pants?"

     I shrugged my shoulders.

     "Believe me, they're not going to make you drop your drawers and under-drawers. Just pull your pockets inside out and lift up your shirt and show him you don't have anything."

     "Well, can we get out of here?" I asked nervously.

     "Sure, " Scott said.

     We headed back to his house, where we both climbed the ladder up on to the loft, and upon getting up there pulled all of the candy out of our underpants to resupply the candy stash.

     "There," Scott said, "Now we have more candy." He handed me a jaw-breaker.

     I put it in my mouth and started sucking on it.

     "Now just relax," he said.

     A couple minutes later he asked, "Feel better?"

     "Yea," I said and I started feeling that pleasant feel to the heat up there in the loft. It no longer felt uncomfortable like heat usually does, it started to feel good. I felt myself getting dizzy but even the dizziness was pleasant. Everything was pleasant.

     "So," Scott said, "What do you want to talk about?"

     "Well, there is one question I'd like to ask you?"

     "Yea? Go ahead." He said.

     "Well, how come we can't play in the house?"

     "Doncha like it up here?"

     "Well yea," I said. "but-"

     "But what?" Scott asked.

     "How come you're always home alone?" I asked.

     "My dad works a lot." He said.

     "I know but, where's your mom?" I asked.

     "My mom's dead," Scott said.

     I was awestruck. I couldn't even imagine such a thing. I was speechless and remained silent for several moments.

     "She died in an accident," Scott added.

     "When you were really young?" I asked.

     "No, just a few months ago." He said.

     I couldn't imagine what Scott must be going through. I suppose a little shop-lifting was normal if you just lost your mom. Suddenly I felt a very strong compassion for Scott. He never gave any indication.

     "I'm sorry," I said.

     "Thanks," he said. "Let's talk about something else," he said.

     "Sure, sure, " I said, and after a moment I said, "Like what?"

     "Have you ever had sex?" Scott asked.

     This kind of hit me out of the blue. As a matter of fact I had, and I told him about it. "Yea, actually, I have." I said.

     "Really?" Scott asked. "You've really had sex?"

     "Yes, I've really had sex really." I responded.

     "Who with?" he asked.

     "A girl I know," I said. I was reluctant to provide too many details I didn't want it getting back to this girl or her parents or my parents.

     "Come on, you can trust me I won't tell anyone"

     "She's a girl that lives down the street from me," I said.

     "What's her name, maybe I know her," Scott said.

     I wiped the sweat that had just dripped into my eyes again. It was very hot and I was light-headed again and even a little dizzy, but it was all very pleasant.

     "I don't think you do," I said.

     "How do you know? I know a lot of girls in the neighborhood," he said.

     "She doesn't live in your neighborhood, she lives in my neighborhood," I said.

     "I know a lot of girls in your neighborhood too, does she go to La Tijera?"

     "No," I said,

     "Just tell me her name? I'm not going to tell anyone. You can trust me."

     "Her name is Nina." I said.

     "Let's go to her house," Scott said.

     "Absolutely not!" I said.

     Nina was the girl my same age, that I had mentioned earlier, and we had a falling out over this very thing. I didn't know what Scott was thinking but the last thing I wanted was to show up with another boy expecting her to have sex with both of us. The whole thing was ridiculous and I just broke an oath even telling him which I wasn't sure why I did. It's just that I felt, well, uninhibited.

     "Did you go all the way?" Scott asked.

     "What do you mean?" I asked.

     "Did you -- you know-- f her?" he asked.

     "Yea, several times."

     "For reals?" Scott asked.

     "Yea for reals," I said...

. . .

     And that's the last thing I remember.

     I know we continued our conversation but afterwards I remembered nothing beyond that point.

     As a matter of fact, almost every day for a couple of weeks, I went over to Scott's house, and would spent time with him up on that sweaty old loft that was hot as hell but felt strangely pleasant, and would remember almost nothing afterwards.

     Besides what I've just told you, I remember nothing else that took place up there on the loft. I remember no other conversations that took place up there or any other activity that took place up there, only that we ate candy and spent several hours up there almost every day for a couple of weeks.

     I am also not aware that we ever went anywhere during that two week period of time (except that trip to TG&Y) or ever went inside the house or even played in the back yard or the front yard or anything. We just went up on to the loft, and what we talked about or what we did I could never remember.


-- Edited by The Phantom on Friday 19th of February 2010 09:25:14 PM


"Sometimes when you open your mind to the impossible,
  you discover the truth." Walter from Fringe.

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