It is a story about a man named Frank. Frank Drake to be precise. Until Smith appeared, Frank’s life was manageable. Hanging off a bar on First Avenue feeling sorry for himself. Washed up and unemployed. Smith makes Frank an offer he can’t refuse. He really can’t. Frank is falling in love with Julie. But he’s living with Marilyn and Frank must choose between lovers. The only way that can happen is for Frank to die. Something people around him keep doing with Smith's insistence. Now Frank wants out. But will Smith allow him to leave so easily? Will Mister Black? Will Charlie and Matt find Max Pecks in time? What is Quinn holding up her sleeve? What does the mirror-man have to say about all this? Remember what happens in Tijuana, stays in Tijuana. Don’t bother asking Tomo. His lips are sealed. As for Grimm, well he keeps to himself. There's only one way to find out what happens to Frank ...
Above the bar the televisions are showing the game. But Frank is not watching it, he is hardly focusing. Through the windows in the fading day. First Avenue is turning grey. Rain lashes the streets. To live in Seattle, you have to love the rain. And Frank loved Seattle.
The inclement weather outside only rivalled the inclement thoughts going through his mind. Mid-forties and forced among the ranks of the unemployed. Drifting towards the dole queue with each passing failed job application. Had the information age finally caught up with him? Or was it just another passing recession. Perpetuated by another profit taking merchant bank on yet another punctured Ponzi scheme. Robbing the poor, to pay themselves. Displacing workers and families onto the streets. The redundancy payout would last a few months. Assuming he did not p*** it away first.
“****‘em.” Frank curses under his breath.
Frank stared into this glass for an answer. As though he was searching for something. Something scared he'd lost. And that it could only be found. At the bottom of his glass. The large ice cube that embodied God had now melted to half its size and rattled freely against the sides of the known universe. The ever diluting cosmos of bourbon had become watery and had lost its dark matter.
If nothing appeared on the horizon before then, he would have to join the welfare line. The thought depressed him. He had two choices. To sit rocking in a corner. Or suck it up get on with his life. If not for himself, then at least for his three kids.
Finding sanctuary at a bar on First Avenue. Jefferson’s. Tomo, the high priest and self-anointed druid Sharman, dispensed his own brand of medicine. In Frank’s case. Bourbon. The crazy glue that held his life together. Numbing his senses and dumbing his mind to whatever he was trying to desperately cling on to. Or whatever he was desperately trying to forget. Deferring any dependency issues, until after the next drink. Surrounding himself with fellow journeymen. Each with sad tales of despair and misfortune. Each more pitiful than his own.
To look at Frank, you would have thought he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. A returned serviceman. Shell shocked. But it was far worse. He had an ex-wife from hell. Divorce had been a battle field. Few knew the emotional scars he bore. Unemployment only irritated the invisible wounds. Family courts turned a blind eye. Siting that if he had no ******, he had no rights. As lawyers burnt his money quicker than Salem Puritans burnt Mid-Wives. Whatever was left, could be found at the bottom of his glass.
In the end, Frank simply gave up and surrendered. Drawing a line in the sand. He stepped over it. And got on with his life. Each day, hoping to find the strength to take one more breathe. Take one more step. To live. Hoping one day she would find closure. But that day had yet arrived.
I hope you enjoy reading Puppet on a String as much as I enjoyed writing it.