Sunday, August 9, 2015

      My good friend Morrie Greenberg submitted this short story for my blog. Enjoy, Joyce                                 


  Frankie and Johnny  592 words
                                      Copyright 2015 By Morrie Greenberg                      
          “Yeah, I shot him.  He was my man and --“
          “I now, I know, —you said it ten times already--he done you wrong.”  Defense attorney Ken Wilkins let out a deep sigh He sat on one side of the desk the jail provided attorneys; his new client sat slouched on the other side.
          “Frankie, just tell me what happened.”
          “He tol’ me he’d be true…” 
           Frankie, still slouched in her chair, poured out her story.           
          “He said he was just goin’ out for a beer….I  looked over the transom…saw him, heard him squealing with that woman… got out the forty-four I had under my slip. Shot him three times.   He was my man---“
          .”I know Frankie, I know, but he done you wrong.  Listen, that story---it ain’t gonna fly.
          Forget it.  Suppose you had a gun to protect yourself from all the bums.  Suppose you thought Johnnie was in trouble.  Suppose you rushed in to protect him.  You’d never used a gun before and you accidentally squeezed the trigger.  It was—an accident”.
          Frankie let loose with a soft, long “Oooohhh.”
          Oh my God, he thought, I think she’s got it.
          Over the next few weeks, Wilkins came to the jail almost every day and questioned Frankie as though she were on the witness stand.  In short time she was spouting out the story very much as he had suggested.  Now he felt they had a good shot at manslaughter or second degree.
           No one who was there that warm spring day in 1908 would ever forget it   ‘
          “Your honor, the defense calls as its first and only witness Frankie.”
          A buzz traveled across the courtroom.  Frankie, clad in a tight fitting print dress slithered out of her seat.  Once seated Frankie feigned pulling down her dress.
          Wilkins walked toward her, dismayed at the dress she wore that highlighted her curvy figure.
          “Can you tell us what happened on the  afternoon of February eighteenth?”
          “Well, when Johnny did not come back, I went looking for him at Joe’s saloon and—“
          Good.  Wilkins thought: that is just the way they had rehearsed it.
          Then Frankie paused in mid-sentence.
          “Yes, go on.”
          “And so, I, I, I…”
          Why is she stammering?  She said it just right yesterday.
          A sudden fire blazed in Frankie’s eyes. Her face reddened as she swiveled on the witness chair to face the jury.  The movement lifted her dress above her knees, but this time she made no effort to pull it down.   
          “Me and Johnny, we were sweethearts”
          She waved a hand toward her lawyer to keep him from interrupting.   Wilkins felt the blood drain from his face.
          Frankie’s eyes drifted from one man on the jury to another as she seemed to sing-song her story.
          “Lordy how we could love
          Swore to be true to each other
          Yeah, true to the skies above
          He was my man, but he done me wrong.”
          As Frankie rambled on, Wilkins glanced at the men on the jury.  Their eyes glistened.  A few had tears.
          The prosecution had no cross examination.  As Frankie stepped down she offered Wilkins a quick wink. 
          The jury was dismissed to deliberate.  Thirty minutes later the jury returned.  A nervous Wilkins stood next to a relaxed Frankie as the verdict was announced..
          “Your Honor, we find the defendant not guilty.”

          Before they parted Frankie hugged Wilkins and whispered in his ear, “…he done me wrong.”  Wilkins only listened.  This time, he thought, she was certainly entitled to the last word.