Jup, Frank had been in IHOP before. Frank had been that stuttering stupid young boy too, a while ago
One day you’re in a hugfest with so weird chick that keeps following you everywhere, the next day you find yourself staring at a boring baseball match. Boring being an understatement.
Apparently Christopher wasn’t just a suck-up but also good with sport. If he had to believe Phil Chrissy-boy had ‘it all’, whatever it might be. Had to be a dad thing, or a fake dad thing because Phil shared as much DNA with his ‘son’ as Frank did with a fucking raccoon. Maybe not the best comparison he’d ever made but fuck he was bored and sick of hearing all the compliments about nearly-real-son being rubbed in his face.
Of course he had to give Phil a break, the guy clearly hadn’t asked to drag two unrelated boys along on his free Saturday afternoon, while he could be having one of those important father-son bounding moments.
So here was the deal, Phil was the coach of Chrissy-boy’s team. So how did that happen to include Frank in any possible way? Well, because the Palmers where all about family and fucking happy joy Karin thought it would be nice for ‘her boys’ to have a special day together. Frank still hadn’t figured out when he happened to become one of ‘her boys’ (and if you asked him it sounded a little pimp’s ‘n hoes, but of course he kept his murky little mouth about that). For some reason Karin had thought it would be nice for Frank and stuttering little Danny to spend their entire Saturday afternoon on a ass-aching hard bench, watching Chris flutter over the field like the fucking sportsman he was.
Meanwhile Phil was informing them with the rules, the players and pretty much every boring little detail of the torture called Baseball. After twenty minutes of constantly nodding and smiling Frank had given up and tried his best to appear as a loyal supporter. While, in all honesty, he was secretly begging for Chris to be taken down. By a baseball, or just slip or get hit in the face by a fucking bat. He didn’t need to die or suffer any real deal head trauma. But just something, anything worthy enough for a hospital visit. At least that would be thrilling and something cool to show-and-tell at school, at least he would have something normal to talk about.
‘Fuck and tomorrow I’ll be spending my entire day at that fucking house of the hopeless,’ Frank thought bitterly as he nibbled on the inside of his cheek. He was so bored and pissed he was very close of chewing an actual hole through his cheek.
Anxiety started to fill him up too. He wasn’t the type of person who could sit still for more than an hour without getting the creeps. Call it ADD call it nerves, call it whatever you wanted the big fat point was, Frank felt ready to launch from the bench and make a long run for it.
Carefully he nudged Phil and asked: “Can I take Danny across for a hotdog?” He pointed helpfully at the hotdog stand on the parking lot which lay right against the field.
Phil’s eyes flashed from the game to the stand already digging into his pocket. “Sure, go buy yourself something to eat.” And without paying much more attention to his foster kids he turned back to watch the game.
‘Well that went easier than expected’, Frank thought shoving a handful of one dollar bills into the pockets of his new jeans. Danny must have heard the words hotdog stand because he was already on his feet, skipping quickly from one to another, giving the impression he needed to take a wee very bad.
“Let’s go kiddo.” He nodded and pushed the little boy gently into the direction of the stand and rubbed his aching ass. While passing the stand Danny gave him a concerned look.
“I don’t eat meat and believe me, you don’t want to eat that guy’s hotdogs unless you want to end up in the hospital.” Frank explained and ignored the angry glare of the hotdog seller. “Tell me little man which place do you wanna eat?”
About ten minutes later Frank parked his ass on a much more comfortable seat in an IHOP, watching amused how Danny’s face twitched and frowned from concentration debating which kind of pancake he wanted.
He’d counted the money on their way to the pancake house and it wouldn’t cut their meal. Luckily he still had some money left from his illegal part-time job and it would clear his conscious if he spent that money on the kid instead of buying new cigarettes.
Danny finally settled with the biggest Strawberry chocolate chip whipped cream pancake of the whole menu, which was totally fine because Frank had been a kid too. He’d been to an IHOP before, he knew that getting the biggest thing on the menu was like every kid’s wet dream.
“Just some French toast and coffee please.” He muttered at the waitress as Danny added a big gigantic hot chocolate to their order. “And it’s his birthday.” He added.
“It’s n-n-not my b-birthday.” Danny stammered when the lady left.
Frank smirked. “Yeah you know that, I know that. But they don’t and if you just play along you’ll get a little cardboard cap and a sparkler in your free ice-cream.” Jup, Frank had been in IHOP before. Frank had been that stuttering stupid young boy too, a while ago.
When the food arrived he thanked the waitress, being a polite older role model and all. While Danny attacked his pancake like a wolf all he did was picking at his toast. He wasn’t hungry at all, to be honest his stomach crunched tight and seemed pretty clear about not letting any food down there. It was fun thought, watching a little kid binch. Hear his feet tap against the wooded seat and see him smile, an actual well-meant smile.
And at the same time he wondered how long that smile would stay unspoiled. How long that innocent and childish shimmer would remain and how long it would take for little Danny to find out the truth about the world. The real world, without Santa. In which monster where real yet didn’t hide out in the closet but lurked around every corner. Standing behind every closed door, ready to slide into your bedroom. Real life wasn’t a fairytale and in foster care it didn’t take years to lose faith in fairies and pretty princesses. Although the evil stepmothers had a good comeback, together with the wolf willingly to devour you if you made one wrong step off the road made of golden bricks.
He made a brave attempt and took a sip of his hot coffee. It sucked, in a few years Danny would be a fucking Frankie clone. Didn’t take a massive or difficult amount of ingredients, not even that many scientific terms. No, all it really took was a steady hand and an endless amount of mental face plants in the ground. It didn’t take a lot to make a clone from all those bits and pieces. Another foster fuck.
He felt like a fraud, not much like a hero. Not a lot of strangers offered a free meal, mostly there was a catch. Or an option B for that. He felt like a fake giving the stuttering boy hopes and dreams and probably a sugar rush or a brain freeze.
Yet it felt good to do a little good, knowing in the back of his head that the real world would only strike faster and harder when he would be gone.
Maybe he should buy the little boy a teddy bear, that would be a better safety blanket then drugs. Or maybe he should be brutal honest and tell Danny how he got enough money to take him to an IHOP. Or he should just pull himself together and let the kid have his perfect little moment with enough sweets to make him throw up at least three times on their way back.
He remembered how he threw up a colorful mess of pancakes and sparkles and how a much older hero laughed and ruffled brotherly though his hair saying: It’s alright kiddo, it’s alright. He never had a brother, or a sister but during that walk back ‘home sweet home’ he’d felt an oozing sting of happiness and shelter. Two strong hands pulling him back on his feet and not bitching about the mess he made all over sidewalk. Just amusement with a hint of pity for the poor kid who got too greedy.
“Let’s get back.” He said when Danny finally had managed to place the cardboard crown on top of his own head without making his ears getting pulled back by the elastic band. “Baseball should be over by now. At least I fucking hope it is…” He muttered to himself and tipping the waitress just because he felt like it. A nice change, not turning every darn penny. It was nice to live off other people in a decent way while making money on his own. Made him felt wealthy, rich a lot better than before.
Little Danny seemed confused, watching how Frank’s nearly untouched plate gets picked up and taken away, but doesn’t ask. Smart kid, must have seen some of the sharp edges of the real world up close.
Walking back Danny tottered along, babbling about everything his young mind found interesting. Halfway through his stuttering speech about Jimmy Neutron Frank suddenly cut in thoughtless.
“Why aren’t you living with your real parents?”
Tactless, yes. But there isn’t a subtle or easy way to ask it.
Danny was silent for a moment, eyes huge an awkward. Face a little pale and hinting towards green but that doesn’t surprise Frank for a bit. “I-I dunno.” He stuttered and paused. “An l-l-lady took me a-a-away. I-I didn’t ask b-but she said m-mom couldn’t t-take care of m-me a-a-anymore.”
“How come?” Frank asked summoning up a list starting with A, is for alcoholic. B, is for beating up. C, is for…
“C-Cause she had n-n-no money n-n-no more.” Danny babbled looking away guiltily. “I c-c-cost too much m-money. So I h-h-had to go away.” Pouting sadly Danny watched the toes of his shoes as he clumsily jumped over a drain. “Dad didn’t m-m-make enough m-m-money.”
Clearly A could stand for assholes too. Through the years he didn’t meet a lot of kids who got taken out of a loving caring home situation. But when he did it was always money-wise. Parents who either lost their job, got their credit cards in a pool of frightening red or simply couldn’t keep up with the economy. And of course in the American way of Justice it would be unthinkable to cut the parents some slack and hand them over a humble bit of extra income. No, that would be too easy, too human. No, let’s take their kids away, that’ll teach ‘em to keep up. That’ll make ‘em search a lot better for a new job and hell maybe they would sell their house for a ridiculous price and live in a dumpster. Who gives a fuck about pure parental love if you can take some blood money out of it?
“W-why did they take you a-a-away?” Danny asked, soft as if he knew that it was a subject to be solemn about.
“Because my mom tried to kill me.” He said and silently welcomed Danny into another piece of the real world. Without taking another look at the little boy he marched back towards the baseball field.
God bless America. There is no nice way of saying it, but the system sucks. It sucks, pretty much everywhere. Kids being used for money, abused for money. It’s sick and it feels like nobody gives a fuck. I love Frankie for that, to me he is the perfect role model for a foster fuck. He is the little boy that had to grow up fast, he was the little boy nobody gave a fuck about. And now you all can read about how that makes a teenage boy feel, how it feels to have nothing and feel like you are nothing. Just two more years Frank, two more years. Question is, then what?
I’ll leave you with depressive thoughts, or hell maybe you’ll start a riot.
Do leave some replies in the doggybag, I’ll love you dearly.