Disclaimer: See part one.
A Sacrifice for Friendship
By DS Bauden
Help me I think I'm falling in love too fast. It's got me hoping for the future and worrying about the past. 'Cause I've seen some hot hot blazes come down to smoke and ash. We love our lovin', but not like we love our freedom...
My eyes drifted open as I heard my alarm turn on. "Damn, again with Joni Mitchell. They need to change the deejay on this channel." I leaned over to hit my alarm, but it wasn't there.
Holy shit, where the hell is it? Now I was starting to panic. There must have been someone in my house last night. Why the hell would they take my alarm clock? Why is it that this song won't stop playing? Where was the music coming from?
I rubbed my eyes again and sauntered over to the window. I looked down and I felt my mouth fall open and pressed my head to the glass.
"What the...?" My eyes didn't believe what they were seeing. I was looking down at my neighborhood, but it looked like it did in the seventies.
Jesus what is going on? The Twilight Zone ended years ago, but I'll be damned if I don't feel like I'm there now. I thought to myself.
I went to bed naked, but here I was with clothes on, and ones I don't remember buying that's for sure. I had on long ass bell bottoms and a gray top with a big flower in the middle of it.
I think I need some fresh air. I'm going to take a walk outside I think and try to clear my head. Where the hell is that music coming from? I couldn't stop the thoughts racing through my head.
As I got closer to my bedroom door the music seemed to be getting louder.
Shit, whoever stole my alarm clock is messing with my stereo and is STILL in my house.
"OK, Frankie, you can handle this." I blew out a long breath and grasped the doorknob.
I slowly walked through the doorway and minded all the creaky spots on the wood floor. I felt like a cat burglar sneaking through my own house. "Jesus!" I whispered, there was a shadow of a person hanging on the wall. My heart was totally racing, but I needed to call someone, anyone at this point for help. Then he spoke.
"Honey, can you help me for a minute?" I heard the voice, but I couldn't believe my ears. This man sounded just like my father.
"Just a minute Frank, I'll be done in here soon." I heard the woman say.
I pressed the back of my head against the wall for support. What the hell kind of joke is this anyway? I needed to see this with my own eyes. I tried to control my breathing and gather up enough courage to peek into the living room.
"Come on Frankie, you can do this." I whispered my own support to myself.
I slid down my hallway that was now empty of all my pictures. I was so close to the front room I could barely breathe. I heard the song end and start back up again. I think this alone is going to be the death of me.
Help me I think I'm falling in love again... Joni kept singing without a care in the world.
Well she has the "help me" part right... I need it really badly right now. One more step and I would be able to stretch my neck into the family room to see my unwanted guests.
As I looked, my eyes instantly welled with tears. There was my father sitting at the kitchen table trying to fix something. I lay back against the wall to try and hold myself up. I took another quick look around to see that my furniture was all gone; only to be replaced by the furniture I remembered from my childhood. I saw the record player; you know the kind that if you left the arm all the way to the side, the record would keep playing? Man I haven't seen a 45 record in ages.
"Sweetie? I'll only be a second ok?" The woman popped her head up from behind one of the counters. Jesus Mary and Joseph… it was my mother! God she was more beautiful than the photos I had. I can see why my dad fell for her. This was too much. I felt my knees start to give, so I grabbed onto the wall for dear life.
What the hell is going on? This just isn't funny anymore. I have seen enough to know that I need to get the hell out of here... NOW.
I slowly walked back into my room, which was now clear of any evidence that I was even here. My room was empty save for a few boxes of things left in one of the corners.
"I have to get out of here." I said to myself. I went over to the window and opened it slowly. I climbed over the fire escape to the ladder, just as I did when I was a teenager to sneak out with Crystal.
I moved my numbing body down each rung of the ladder. When I reached the sidewalk I took another look around. My dad's shop was still there, and looking across the street I could see Mr. Hooper's butchery, but everything was different. Crystal's grandmother's palm reading shop wasn't even here. God, this is really whacked.
I heard movement above me and saw my dad's head peek out of the window. I stared at him but he didn't see me. He shook his head and closed the window. Guess I won't be going back up there anytime soon.
"What the hell am I going to do now?" I asked aloud only to get stares from strangers wondering who I was talking to.
As I made my way down Sheridan Road, I saw the campus come into view. I knew there would be people there that didn't care that I was loony and was seeing shit from nearly thirty years ago. Man, Rogers Park used to be a nice place. It has gotten pretty bad with crime now… or then… or… fuck, this is ridiculous.
"I am in Oz, in clothes that I don't recognize, no money to my name…well…" I reached into my pocket to find a twenty dollar bill. "OK, twenty bucks to my name, don't know where I got it from, but I'm not questioning anything anymore." I knew anyone within an earshot was gonna grab me and commit me to the nearest mental hospital.
I walked a little further to find a tiny diner. I think a blast of caffeine will be just what the doctor ordered. I pulled on the handle and as soon as the door opened, I smelled the greatest aromas coming from this place. My stomach growled in agitation, so I thought I'd get something while I was here. I went up to the counter and sat down. The waitress had her back to me, but I could tell that she was young. Perhaps she was a student at the university.
"I'll get your order in just a minute." I heard her say.
I blinked twice after my head started racing with disbelief. That voice… it was her! Jesus!
She slowly turned around and I found myself lost in the deepest green eyes I had ever seen. My eyes slowly took in the sight before me. Long blonde hair tied back away from her face. Full lips with the tiniest dash of color to them. Beautiful bone structure in her cheeks and jaw. God this was the most angelic face I have ever seen. Her skin was like porcelain, not a flaw to be found.
"Did you want to order something darlin'? She asked again with that beautiful voice.
"Uh..." I so profoundly answered. God I couldn't feel my tongue. "Yes I would." I finally managed to put a sentence together. It wasn't much of one, but hell I was proud at that moment.
"What can I getcha?" She said as she smiled the most amazing smile at me. God she needs to stop that so I can breathe again. Damn, what couldn't she get me?
"Can I see a menu please?" Whoa, good girl Frankie.
"Sure Hon, here you go." She said as she handed me their menu.
"Thanks." I nervously smiled at her.
"Just holler when you are ready, ok?" She asked.
"Sure, thanks." I answered. Thank God she walked away. I needed to calm down. I didn't think I could eat right then if I wanted to. I probably would have lost everything as soon as I ate it. I really wish I knew what was going on.
I looked around and noticed a newspaper on the seat next to mine. I saw that it was the Tribune and picked it up. I took a drink of water from my glass and spit out the contents as soon as the date flashed in front of my eyes.
April 22, 1974
I was coughing and gasping for air as more water jetted into my lungs. The waitress came over to my side instantly.
"Are you ok? Breathe in through your nose and out your mouth slowly." She said as she softly rubbed my back. Funny how you are extremely aware of things like that when you are choking.
My breathing slowly returned to normal and I looked into her eyes again. God I could have gotten lost in them.
"Thank you. I guess my water just went down the wrong pipe." I smiled weakly.
"Well, that's a relief. I would hate for one of my customers to choke to death." She smiled back.
"I think I am ready to order."
"OK." She said as she went behind the counter again. "What'll you have?" God I was thrown back into that bad Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer ad with that Elvis impersonator. Hello... time warp.
"I will have scrambled eggs, a side of bacon, and toast."
"Anything to drink with that?"
"Yeah I'll have a Diet Coke."
"You mean Diet Pepsi?" She corrected.
"No, Diet Coke." I corrected right back at her. There is a HUGE difference.
"Umm… I don't think there's such a thing. We do have Tab and the new sugar-free Sprite though." She offered.
"No, I need caffeine… better make it Diet Pepsi." God, do they still make Tab? Man I wonder if Diet Coke has even been invented yet. I need to watch myself from now on.
She placed the beverage in front of me and I realized that she was wearing a nametag. "Annie" What a perfect name for her. I watched her interact with the rest of the customers in the diner. Everyone seemed to love her. She was talking with an elderly man that kept smiling at her. She just patted his head and touched his cheek as she took the check from him. I wonder what that was all about.
I heard the bell come from the kitchen and Annie walked over to the window to get what looked to be my order. She walked over to me and placed the plate down in front of me.
"You aren't from around here are you?" She smiled.
"What gives you that idea?" My eyebrow went up on it's own accord.
"You just seem a little out of sorts is all. I can read people pretty well." She gestured to the diner. "It comes with the job I guess."
"God, I bet." I smiled at her. "I guess you could say that. I used to live here, but it has changed a whole lot since I was here last." That wasn't really lying, was it?
"The neighborhood is going through quite a bit of change. It seems to be for the better though." She smiled.
I took a mouthful of food and started to hum my appreciation. It had seemed like forever since I had had something to eat. I lifted the glass to my beverage and proceeded to drink almost all of it in one gulp.
"Easy darlin, you'll get a stomach ache." She soothed. "So what are you doing here? Visiting family?"
"Yeah you could say that. I just saw my parents this morning." I smirked.
"Oh, from the look on your face, it doesn't seem like it was a good visit." She softly replied.
"Well let's just say that they weren't expecting me." I winked.
"I gotcha, kind of a surprise visit?"
"Yeah, exactly." I answered. Although it was me that was surprised and not them.
I smiled back at her adorable face and continued to eat every ounce of food on my plate.
"So umm… " I started nervously. "Have you worked here long?"
"About two years. I am a student at the university so this helps with the bills."
"What are you studying?"
"A regular William Shakespeare eh?" I kidded.
"Well, not yet, but maybe someday." She winked back at me. God I think I'm gonna faint. Get a hold of yourself Frankie Jesus!
She was called over to another customer thankfully, now I could try to digest my food. The wall clock showed it was about twelve noon. I wondered how long I could stay there without it looking conspicuous. I didn't want her to leave my sight, ever. I needed to find out more about her. Why was I hearing her voice in my dreams? She didn't seem to recognize me at all. I just don't understand how we fit together. I know how I would like us to fit together. Whoa, easy there tiger, you don't even know anything about this girl.
"I am getting off in a half hour, do you have any plans for the rest of your stay here..." She trailed off. I guess this is where I tell her my name. Duh...
"Frankie." I outstretched my hand to take hers in mine.
"Frankie." She smiled sweetly giving my stomach another run for it's money.
"I... uh... actually, no, I have no plans today. What did you have in mind?" I inquired.
"Well, I was gong to take a walk down by the beach. You don't see many April days in Chicago that are over seventy degrees."
"Very true. Do you want me to wait for you?"
"If you want. My boyfriend will be here to pick me up. I'm sure he won't mind giving you a ride."
Boyfriend? Damn, well it was nice while it lasted.
"If it doesn't get you in trouble with your boss, sure I'll wait." I smiled trying to hide my disappointment.
"Great. Well if you see a big burly guy with longish brown hair, that's Billy. Just let him know who you are and you guys can wait for me. Sound good?" She said hopefully.
"Yeah, sure. Why not?" I smiled. Man I haven't smiled this much in months.
"Great. I'll see you in a bit. I have a few more people to serve and then I'll be done." She grinned.
"See you soon. I'll keep watch for Billy."
"Excellent. Bye." She said as she disappeared into the kitchen. I don't know why I agreed to going out with her and her boyfriend. I'm just a sucker for a beautiful face, and she definitely fell into that category. Here goes nothing. A tall longhaired guy walked into the diner. That has to be Billy. He looked over at me and I smiled at him and approached.
"Are you Billy?" I asked.
"I'll be whoever you want me to be baby." He said as I swallowed back the bile that had found its way into my throat.
"Well, Annie said someone with your description would be coming in here soon. I just assumed it was you. I apologize if I was mistaken." I said through clenched teeth. God I don't like him already.
"Where is Annie? She better not be late getting off work again. I got shit to do." He grumbled.
"Well she didn't say that she was going to be late. If she is no big deal, I got no where to be." I challenged.
"Well I'll give her five minutes... after that I'm outta here." He stated. What a dick.
I rolled my eyes and watched the clock over the kitchen doors. God please let her be on time. I don't want to commit murder in the first with an asshole on second. What the hell does that mean? God, Annie just be on time.
Just as I was going to have to control myself Annie walked through the doors with thirty seconds to spare.
"Girl you are damn lucky you are on time." He walked up to her and grabbed her upper arm rather roughly. "You said twelve thirty. You know how I hate to be kept waiting." I saw fear shining through the pale green eyes that were so bright a half-hour ago.
"Sorry Billy. I won't be late next time." She weakly smiled.
"Well see that you aren't, or I won't be here when you come out." He released her arm and started walking towards the door. "Well, are you coming or not?" He grouched again.
"Yeah, come on Frankie. Let's not waste this wonderful day. You don't mind that I invited her do you Billy?" She asked tentatively.
"Whatever, let's just go." He said as he stormed out the front door. God, I really don't like him... at all.
I gave her a tiny smile and out of pure reflex rubbed her back. "Well, he was pleasant."
"You just have to get to know him. He is really very sweet." She defended.
"Oh, I'm sure. I hope to have someone like that father my children." I deadpanned hoping she wouldn't take offense.
Luckily for me she burst out laughing. "Thank you for that. Sometimes he just gets… well, nevermind. Let's go enjoy that sunshine." She beamed while hiding what looked to be pain.
"Good idea. After you…" I said as I held the door for her.
"Thanks M'Lady." She winked as she left the diner.
Ahhh… if only...
Continued in Chapter Six.
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