A hot sun baked my neck when I ran up an alley of my neighborhood, stopping when I saw a couple of my friends in Crazy Frazy’s backyard. Teddy and Carol were twins in the second grade at Arlington, but today they were in a backyard we shouldn’t go in.
“Teddy,” I called over from the alley fence, but he ignored me and walked down three steps into Crazy Frazy’s basement. I turned to Carol, “Why’re you here?”
During the time she took to answer me – her slowness always drove me mad, because I knew she’d only tell me that she’d followed Teddy, I noticed how quiet the house was. Crazy Frazy’s mom must not be home; otherwise she’d be on the back porch eating potato chips as always. His dad, the original Crazy Frazy, must be drinking up the Corner Tavern, as usual. Either way, when Carol finally said something new, “Making money for a coke,” I asked what I’d have to do to get a cold soft drink myself.
“Frazy’s paying us to answer some questions for his seventh grade project,” Carol answered, glancing quickly over her shoulder to Crazy’s basement which did nothing to make me more relaxed.
Guessing there may be more to it, I shifted, getting ready to go to the Big Lot where the guys were probably getting a punch ball game going. However before I moved, a low moan came from inside the basement. I was ready to bolt, but Crazy Frazy, his white, frizzy hair and pale clear eyes blazing came out of the basement and right up to the fence. He put one arm around me and opening the gate with the other said to Carol, “Little smart-ass is here. Let him go next.”
Kind of at the same time, Teddy came out the basement door, walking with all his weight on just one leg, and holding up a shiny coin. “Let me through to the Alley Store for my coke.”
My instincts told me to get out of there, but Crazy Frazy flashed a shiny coin at me as his beefy arm propelled me into his basement. I stumbled into an inner room lined with shelves crammed with rods and stuff. A tiny half-window high on the outside wall let in a sliver of the summer sun.
“On the table,” Crazy Frazy said, shutting the cellar door, blocking my exit and raising my fears.
Popping up on the table, my mind raced from fear to thirst to curiosity and back in ever quicker cycles. He asked questions about my age, what games I played, did I run a lot, stuff like that were followed by questions about my health, what illnesses I’d had, what the doctors had done for me, what medicines had I taken, did I ever get injections, he asked it all.
I thought it must be over, so I stood up, but he said, “Turn around and pull down your pants for your injection.”
Straight away, he pushed me so my stomach was against the wood table; I don’t even remember thinking, I just grabbed a curtain rod from the shelf in front of me, turned, and smashed Crazy Frazy in the head with all my might. The blood was bright red against his frizzy, white hair; he staggered against the back wall. Using my chance, I grabbed the coin from the table, unbolted the door, and ran out, past Carol yelling, “Run.”
Only one thought played in my mind in the minute it took to run home – everything else was crowded out by fear that Crazy Frazy was dead and that I would be next when his father came over to my house, to get me.
I leaped up our porch steps and bolted into my house. I hid behind the sofa, grasping for breath, scared I’d killed the crazy boy, mad at myself for getting tricked and unsure if I should have taken the coin I clutched in my sweaty palm.
I’d been given five Hail Marys at my first confession – for wrestling with my brother. Father would probably give a hundred rosaries or more for this major sin – that is, assuming I lived to have my second confession.
Not long afterwards, old man Crazy Frazy pounded on our front door, ranting and raving. Peeking from behind the front room curtain, I saw his son, bandage on head, bloodshot pink eyes, at his side.
In short order, my father made me to come out from behind the couch and explain myself.
When I stood up and tried to explain, one word then another and another came out but they didn’t add up to sentences.
Old man Crazy Frazy looked at me with wide-eyed wonder. Then he turned to his own son and smacked him on his bandaged head. He called him a stupid idiot who couldn’t do even win a fight with a pipsqueak.
After the Frazys left and Dad told me never to do anything like that again, Mom came in from the kitchen, holding a glass. “You must be thirsty after your adventure. Here, dear, have a coke.”
Original Version of “Crazy Frazy”