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Today's Story by James Thibeax

You never come back here ‘cause me and Bobby be waiting for you. Bobby ain’t never gonna give you a frappe!”

Bobby Frappe

I can’t make a frappe, but I wish I could. Mr. Thompson won’t let me use the machine on account of me breaking the old one. On top of that, he makes me work the late shift at the diner. It’s nothing but truckers and raccoons. Usually, it don’t mind cleaning white countertops when I’m all alone—except when Big Wilkins, with his red beard and plaid shirt, slumps down and almost bends the stool.

“Hey Bobby! Bobby Frappe!”

“It’s Frapples, Mr. Wilkins.”

“You come down here and shut your mouth.”

He slams a couple dimes on the counter. Big Wilkins only stops here about every three weeks. Because of all the diners he’s stopped at from here to Tennessee, he never remembers what we charge.

“You go on and get me a burger and two shots of bourbon.”

We’re not suppose to serve alcohol at this hour—especially to the truckers, but Mr. Thompson tells me if they can drive till six in the morning, then they can handle a little bit of liquor.

“I reckon there’s gonna be some left over change, so you go on make yourself a burger. I worry about you, Bobby Frappe. You skinny and you never get a woman if you look like one.”

Mr. Wilkins laughs to himself and takes a swig from a flask while I throw two patties on the skillet. I know the joke’s coming, so I pour him the two shots and turn around. I try focusing my heart on the skillet—hoping to God watching two burgers sizzle’s going to make Mr. Wilkins not say it. But as the grease spreads along the metal…

“Hey Bobby! Bobby! You go on a make me a frappe too.”

The grease keeps spreading until the meat’s practically swimming in it.

“Hey Bobby,” he grins while bit of liquor trickles down his beard. “Why aren’t you making a frappe for me?”

“You know why, Mr. Wilkins.”

“Shoot boy, I’ve been all over these states and I always forget. How come you can’t make me a frappe, Bobby Frappe?”

I flip the burgers and watch as their other sides soak.

“Little Bobby, why aren’t you making me no frappe, Bobby Frappe?”

“Mr. Wilk—“

“Make a frappe damnit!”

He throws a shot glass at the Coca-Cola clock.

“I can’t make them!”

Mr. Wilkins laughs like he’s some wicked St. Nick and drums the counter with his hands.

“Boy! Bobby Frappe can’t make no frappe. That sure is something.”

He would have laughed until dawn came up, but the diner door creaks open and a black man strolls in. The man sits down on the other side of the bar.

“Bobby,” Big Wilkins whispers, “Is that there a Negro?”

“I think so, Mr. Wilkins.”

“You let them into this diner?”

We didn’t get any blacks around this part, but if we did I’m sure Mr. Thompson would let them eat. He’d probably he put them near the corner though.

“Hey!” Mr. Wilkins shouts like he was a football field away. “What you want here?”

“Just waiting for the boy,” the black man says.

“He ain’t no boy. You the boy.”

“Let him come down here please.”

“He’ll come when he wants to come. Ain’t that right, Bobby Frappe?”

I put the burgers on a plate and approach. The way Big Wilkins shouted at him, I thought the black man might bite me.

“What would you like?”

“He would like to get out ‘cause he scared. Scared of the white man.” Mr. Wilkins laughs and steals the bottle of bourbon from under the counter.

“Would you mind making a frappe for my daughter?” the black man says, “She’s in the car and won’t fall asleep. I told her since she’s been really good on this drive, I would get her a frappe.”

“Better take a step back, Bobby. That boy there’s gonna kill you and take your money.”

“I just want a frappe for my daughter.”

“Where’s your daughter then, Mr. Negro?”

“In the car.”

“Why didn’t you bring her in here?”

“Why do you think?” the black man shouts.

Big Wilkins didn’t like that much. He stands from the bar, relieving the metal stool, and advances toward him with the bottle in hand.

“Bobby, I’m gonna tell you something good. You don’t serve this thing nothing cause he’s a Negro and that’s all you need to know.”

“Bobby,” the black man whispered, almost pleading “It’s for my daughter, we’ve been driving all night and I just want to make her happy.”

“I’m sorry,” I say to him. “I can’t make frappes.”

I was sure he was going to make a fuss, but the black man stands and heads to the door. He turns around, “Maybe there’s another diner,” and simply walks out.

Big Wilkins wobbles out the door too.  I look out the window and see the black man’s Ford back up while Wilkins slams on his hood. Wilkins shouts, but with the diner door closed it’s only drunken grunts. I look at the passenger side and see his daughter in pigtails. She had closed her eyes and cuffed her hands over her ears. As they drive off, Big Wilkins throws whatever he can at the car: empty coke bottles, papers, dirt. Wilkins comes back into the diner but still shouts to the car in the distance

“You stay in the dark where you belong. You never come back here ‘cause me and Bobby be waiting for you. Bobby ain’t never gonna give you a frappe!”

Big Wilkins slams the door and smiles.

“Bobby Frappe, you a man now. You don’t let anybody tell you what to do, especially that there Negro. We’re drinking this here bourbon and eating them burgers.”

I’ve never seen Big Wilkins so happy. He would never mention again the fact I can’t make frappes, but I wish I could. I still wish I could make them.


James Thibeax has been featured in several literary magazines, including: New Hampshire Writers, Freight Train Magazine, Fewer Than 500, The Write Place at the Write Time, Insigatorzine and This Magazine. Thibeax was also published in 6S:  The Green Bike Stories anthology: (http://sixsentences.blogspot.com) and also in ‘Elf Love
short’ story anthology: (www.pinknarc.com)


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